Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

How Mayor Daley Can Help Balance Gov. Quinn's Budget

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How Mayor Daley Can Help Balance Gov. Quinn's Budget
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That crusty old veteran, Mayor Daley, is playing Mr. Miyagi to his rookie governor, trying to school him in the arts of politics. Lesson one: how to balance a budget, without raising taxes.

Daley announced his new budget -- which includes $13 million dollars in cost savings -- on the same day that Quinn begged the state legislature to take up his state income tax increase.

Daley’s plan includes cleaning City Hall less often, locking in lower natural gas prices, and pressuring vendors to cut their rates by 10 percent, to match the lower salaries that city officials are receiving as a result of furlough days.

But it wasn’t enough for Daley to brag about City Hall’s frugality. He had to take a whack at two other Chicago Democrats, still new to their jobs, who haven’t learned to live within their budgets.

“There isn’t one state employee or federal employee taking any time off,” Daley grumbled at a press conference on Monday. “You wonder, why not? Don’t they realize that this is a national recession? Don’t they realize that people are suffering? There’s where the disgruntled attitude is — that they don’t get it. ... They’re living in the Washington or Springfield bubble.”

Meanwhile, inside the Springfield bubble, Gov. Quinn was not taking the day off. He was on the job, asking for more money. Quinn said he’s confident the General Assembly will vote on his one percentage point income tax increase before the legislative sessions ends this month.

“I think they owe it to the people, owe it to the children, owe it to their parents, owe it to the teachers of Illinois to make sure that our school system in Illinois has enough money to operate in the coming year beginning in the fall,” Quinn said.

You don’t survive 20 years in office without being able to read the public mood. Daley realizes that the voters aren’t willing to give the government any more money right now. He saw it when the parking meter deal blew up into one of the biggest outcries of his mayoralty. He saw it when the city was unenthusiastic about hosting an expensive Olympics. And he saw it at the Tea Party rally across the street from his office last week.

Now, if Daley can just teach Pat Quinn to see it, maybe Quinn will stop getting kicked around by that bully Bill Brady, who’s beating him in the polls.

Daley should start by telling the governor to take a furlough day. If he’s not at work, he can’t ask for a tax increase.

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