First, here’s how people want to address the budget deficit, according to the most recent polling.
Party Cuts Both Revenues Haven’t Thought Don’t Know/Other Total 47% 33% 10% 4% 6% Democrats 36% 36% 16% 5% 7% Republicans 60% 32% 4% 3% 2% Independents 50% 34% 9% 4% 3%SOURCE: Paul Simon Institute of Public Policy…So maybe we don’t want to cut our way to a balanced budget after all. Which makes sense, since it’s more or less impossible to do so without gutting programs that people support and use. That makes the next question all the more relevant: What new revenues do people favor?…But there’s one thing that is relatively popular: soaking the rich. And the more closely targeted the policy is towards the rich, the more popular it is…All in all, it’s a good measure of why we’re in such chaos. We claim we want to cut our way out of the problem, but only one type of cut (pensions) gets even close to an overall majority and is constitutionally prohibited. We’re actually in favor of higher taxes, but only in forms that are constitutionally prohibited, not that even an advisory referendum on a millionaire’s tax can make it onto the ballot. And one of the governor’s pet projects, extremely popular among the electorate and a potentially valuable piece of political leverage, would most likely do little to alleviate any of these problems.
Not a very hopeful analysis. In other words, voters and politicians have worked together to put together plans that significant portions of voters liked (i.e., pensions) but then neither want to enact certain changes (spending cuts and new taxes) that would help solve the past problems.
Is this good evidence for hitting a reset button on the entire state government? Bankruptcy to deal with existing debts? A completely new tax structure? More broadly, a new state constitution? Past actions in a bureaucracy tend to constrain certain future actions while enabling others…has Illinois simply run out of palatable options?