Hopefully there is still a state of Illinois this morning. After listening to the General Assembly debate a bill last week it seemed like the end was imminent.

Hopefully there is still a state of Illinois this morning. After listening to the General Assembly debate a bill last week it seemed like the end was imminent.


The source of this distress was legislation giving Gov. Pat Quinn an extra three weeks to get his spending plan for 2011 to lawmakers. He was supposed to deliver it Wednesday, but he now has until March 10.


To listen to the Republicans, however, this is one of the most dangerous and outrageous events in Illinois political history. That's notwithstanding the fact governors from both parties have been granted extensions before and without the lengthy fulminating.


The GOP finds the delay really troubling. It just further illustrates Quinn's incompetence. The delay will force hardships on schools and local governments that need to know their level of state funding as soon as possible. And on and on. Geez, the delay is probably also responsible for plaque build-up.


Please. Do you really think it would make any difference if Quinn submitted his budget ideas Wednesday rather than in three weeks? Anybody going to get more money? Are cities and schools are going to be better off if (maybe) they learn three weeks earlier how much money they will get? Not that it matters since there's no money to pay them anyway. Those extra three weeks will make lawmakers actually seriously deal with the budget meltdown instead of again looking for the easy way out?


Frankly, the Republicans came off sounding like their colleagues at the federal level – the Democratic leader wants something so we've got to oppose it. Just because.


It'll be interesting to see if the GOP lawmakers think they are scoring points with the public and keep up that approach all year long. It will be a long session.


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Scott Lee Cohen’s brief foray into public affairs may not be an unmitigated disaster after all. It looks like he may be able to achieve what Mark Fairchild was unable to do and that's finally change the nutso system Illinois uses to select a lieutenant governor.


Mr. Fairchild, you may recall, was a follower of right-wing extremist Lyndon LaRouche and managed to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in the 1986 primary. Rather than run with Fairchild, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Adlai Stevenson III, formed the Illinois Solidarity Party to run against incumbent Republican James Thompson.


Stevenson was handily defeated. Moreover, with no candidate for governor, the Democratic slate got few votes that year and came close to losing their status in Illinois as an established political party.


Democrats then spent the next few years trying to kill off the Solidarity Party which became the home for aspiring office holders who were, shall we say, shunned by the two major parties.


In short, it was a mess. Enough of a mess to end the Illinois practice of nominating a governor and lieutenant governor separately? Of course not.


This time looks to be different. Even House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is pushing a constitutional amendment to get rid of the lieutenant governor's office. Want to bet that makes it onto the November ballot?


Others have suggested keeping the office, but having the candidates for governor choose a running-mate and then have the two run as a team throughout the electoral process. Ok, but remember that's not a panacea, either. John McCain and Sarah Palin, anyone?


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Oops. In an item last week, we gave way, way too much credit to Republicans for participating in the 2006 primary election for governor. They didn't.


In 2006, just less than 736,000 ballots were cast for Republicans running for governor. This year, about 765,000 were cast. So for all of the moaning about lousy voter turnout this year, it was even worse for the Republicans in 2006.


That said, the premise of last week's item still stands. Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, got 135,370 votes when he ran for governor in 2006. It was only good for third place among five candidates. This year, he's got just over 155,000 in the still unofficial tally. Right now, though, he's first among the seven people whose names were on the ballot.


Brady moved up two places, but it wasn't because a wave of Republican voters suddenly swung to his side.


Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.