Eye On Illinois: Hoping certain GOP talking points survive to general election

Like the vast majority of Illinoisans, I won’t be voting in the primary election.

Although I have political leanings, I don’t align formally with either party and – at least for this cycle – there are no ballot issues in my precinct.

Still, I’m watching the races closely as a journalist and taxpayer. Yesterday’s column looked at a McHenry County Republican Party weekend event as a microcosm of the campaign strategies of GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, but I’d like to return to that event today to highlight some of the talking points. Although I won’t be voting June 28, there were some discussions I hope advance to the general election.

Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine and McHenry County Board Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Schofield, who is the lieutenant governor candidate paired with former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, of Waterloo, smartly framed the issue of high property taxes as a reason to tackle the unfunded pension problem.

“When I talk about lowering property taxes, [creating sustainable pensions] is the only way to do it,” Rabine said, according to Shaw Media’s James T. Norman. He further reported Schofield blamed the General Assembly for consistently underfunding public pensions.

Far too often, candidates for statewide office pledge to freeze property taxes, seemingly ignoring the reality that doing so only forces difficult decisions on the local governments that set property tax rates: school districts, municipalities, libraries and so on. Those local governments are committing unsustainable portions of their overall budgets to pension obligations largely because for decades the state hasn’t kept up with its share in order to keep such funds solvent.

When a local government has neither a complete control over establishing retirement benefits nor a willing partner in contributing capital to the investment, the end result is untenable.

On a different topic, state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, rightly cast blame all around for the fact Illinois still has a partisan-controlled process for drawing its political maps every decade. While Democrats bear responsibility for the new maps and refusing to change the rules, Bailey correctly attributed some fault to “failed leadership” of previous Republican leaders.

Republicans have won eight of 13 gubernatorial elections since the 1970 state Constitution took effect and no GOP governor flexed political muscle to force a nonpartisan mapping process. On the national level Democrats paint gerrymandering as a Republican sin, but both parties have powerful members who resist structural threats.

Congressional Democrats loudly blast Republican colleagues who oppose federal reforms to force nonpartisan mapping, but those same Democrats benefit when Springfield colleagues draw favorable maps.

“It’s time for the party who believes in freedom to stand up and set the right example,” Bailey said, a message partisans of all stripes should take to heart.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at