What Matters to Madigan
The few reporters who covered the "McPier" hearings at the Thompson Center this week "ambushed" Speaker Michael Madigan for a brief, impromptu news conference. It sure sounded as though Governor Pat Quinn's hoped-for 33.3% income tax increase for public education is D.O.A. in Madigan's Illinois House of Representatives.
"That's under review", said Madigan who quickly added, "Americans are not ready for tax increases today. A lot of Americans are very angry about their condition in life."
The above was the Speaker's answer when asked if he would call any bill to increase the Illinois income tax before the legislature's scheduled adjournment on May 7th. In Springfield, the Speaker and Senate President John Cullerton have one-man control over what measures will or will not be considered by their respective chambers. No one else matters.
Cullerton's Democratic majority actually passed its Quinn-approved version of an income tax increase last year. But Madigan, who doubles as the party's state chairman and is the undisputed democratic "boss of bosses", has not allowed any version anywhere near the floor of his chamber. He wants to be guaranteed beforehand that there is at least some republican support for higher taxes so democratic lawmakers don't by themselves face the wrath of voters in the fall which could jeopardize his and the party's total control of state government.
And Madigan has not wavered in his stance despite Quinn's repeated insistence for the past 14 months that new revenue must be a part of any plan to fill the state's gaping $13 billion dollar budget hole.
In a perfect world, a sitting governor who had just won his state's primary election would be considered his party's leader. But this is politics in the far-from-perfect state of Illinois, and clearly, Pat Quinn does not "lead" Mike Madigan who has served as Speaker for 25 of the last 27 years. What matters is what matters to Madigan.
Question: How many times can Madigan publicly stare down Quinn without making the Governor look ineffective and leadership-challenged?
Answer: Perhaps, too many times already.
The latest independent survey (Public Policy Polling) conducted April 1-5 reported Quinn's approval rating has sunk to a dangerously-low 25%.
And the same poll had Republican Senator Bill Brady at 43% to Quinn's 33% among likely voters in the November general election.
If it matters.