(Chicago, IL) — October 17, 2010. Unlike its public broadcasting counterpart in Southern Illinois on Thursday night, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio‘s Illinois governor debate tonight at Elmhurst College will exclude Green Party gubernatorial nominee Rich Whitney. That’s too bad.
The exclusion of Whitney will impoverish the debate because potential voters will be denied an opportunity to hear a detailed, comprehensive plan to close the Illinois $13 billion budget deficit, a deficit that Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes warns will likely reach $15 billion next year.
On Thursday, WSIU-TV public television in Carbondale included Whitney along with Governor Pat Quinn and State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington). While Quinn and Brady fed the listening audience bubble-gum filled, arithmetic-free budget balancing pablum that their partisans and undecided voters could happily digest, Whitney served a nasty brew of budget castor oil.
Whitney laid out a budget plan that included the passage of long-stalled House Bill 750 that would increase the Illinois income tax, hauling in $7.352 billion. Additionally, he would propose levying a miniscule tax on the trading of futures, options and interest rate products, which he referred to as a true “gambling tax”, a plan that would raise $4.5 billion.
While there is plenty to criticize in the policy specifics of Whitney’s blueprint, particularly the heavily reliance on taxes, he at least offered an honest assessment of the scale that the rescue of the Illinois budget requires. To his credit, Quinn acknowledges that some combination of a tax increase and additional budget cuts are necessary to close the hole, but his proposed formula is too feeble to balance the Illinois budget.
Meanwhile, Brady persists in his–pleasant sounding–but bizarre insistence that he can cut 10¢ on $1 from the state-controlled $26 billion portion of the Illinois budget–or $2.6 billion–and still wipe out a $13 billion shortfall in one-year. Basic math bedevils Brady’s plan.
Whitney rightly called both their approaches “fantasy economics”.
But at the WBEZ Illinois governor debate tonight there will be no “fantasy economics” critique uttered by Whitney. He’s excluded.
Instead, WBEZ’s Steve Edwards, in the on-air debate publicity, promises “tough questions”. However, Quinn and Brady will deliver pre-wrapped, sugar-saturated, bubble-gum.
Listeners can chew on that.
The debate panel includes Phil Ponce, host of WTTW-Channel 11’s Chicago Tonight; Bruce Dold, editorial page editor of the Chicago Tribune; and Dr. Jennifer Boyle, chair of the Department of Political Science at Elmhurst College.