All those robo-calls were for naught.
Illinois GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner's persistent efforts to force Gov. Pat Quinn to veto Rahm Emanuel's pension reform bill went unheard Monday. As it happened, the Democratic incumbent signed the legislation and the mayor did a victory lap, making a concession to reduce a proposed property tax increase that Quinn fervently opposed along with his crusading Republican rival.
"Gov Quinn broke yet another promise by signing the pension bill into law, thereby forcing City Hall to raise property taxes on hardworking Chicagoans," Rauner said in a statement after the bill-signing. "Don't squeeze Chicago families even more. ... I would have vetoed this law."
The Winnetka-based venture capitalist, who talks a big game without saying much to back up his bravado, remains mum on plans for Illinois' fiscal future and did not spell out how he would make up the billions in lost revenue after striking down Emanuel's reforms. He has also not stated how he intends to deal with the looming retirement payments for firefighters and police which have a price tag of $600 million per year.
The city pension bill approved this week increases employee contributions by 29 percent and trims benefits to shore up the underfunded Municipal Employees and Laborers pensions. The mayor, running for re-election in 2015, can stave off a possible property-tax hike following Quinn's support of his alernative measure to administer a local 911 tax on landlines and cell phones.
While Rauner complains in public, his campaign must be secretly thrilled.
As Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz observes, Team Rauner now boasts a "wonderful issue: Those bad Democrats want to raise your taxes again."
With midterms just months way, the Quinn vs. Rauner showdown is shaping up to be a race between "Tax-Loving Old-School Liberal" and "Secretive Super-Rich Conservative," an overly familiar narrative in this day and age.