Illinois’ governor stays on the liberal side

by
March 22, 2011

By Deanna Bellandi-Associated Press

CHICAGO | As Republican governors across the nation gain momentum with conservative agendas, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has stood out for signing a string of laws over the past three months achieving longstanding liberal goals: abolishing the death penalty, legalizing civil unions and raising income taxes.

It’s an extraordinary start to Mr. Quinn’s first full term in office and, if nothing else, guarantees the Chicago Democrat will be remembered as more than just the guy who replaced ousted Gov. Rod R. Blagojevichafter his arrest on federal corruption charges.

While Mr. Quinn deserves some of the credit, passage of the headline-grabbing laws had less to do with the governor and more with timing and the Democratic majorities in the Legislature where powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton run the show. The success of the liberal initiatives also does not ensure that Mr. Quinn will have an easy time pushing the rest of his political agenda at the state Capitol, where he is widely seen as indecisive and less than deft at negotiating with lawmakers.

“A significant portion of that is [Quinn] being at the right place at the right time,” said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, a chief sponsor of the legislation to abolish Illinois’ death penalty.

The law abolishing the death penalty passed without any help from Mr. Quinn, who signed it even though he said he supported capital punishment. He spoke out for civil unions during the fall campaign and helped round up votes, but that issue also was driven by its legislative sponsors.

And while Mr. Quinn called for higher income taxes for two years, lawmakers didn’t take action until they were safely past the November election, when Mr. Madigan and Mr. Cullerton made clear they supported a tax increase twice the size of what Mr. Quinn proposed – and then delivered the necessary votes to get it passed.

“It’s not the fact that we’re the most liberal state in the world, it’s just that there’s a sort of tipping point that we’ve gone over and that allowed this particular situation, all these things to come to a head at the same time,” said Chris Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/20/illinois-governor-stays-on-the-liberal-side/

 

 

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