J.B. Pritzker’s office and supporters said, upon taking office, the governor immediately set about assessing and correcting the “Rauner Wreckage.”

Ah, the spoils of victory, 21st century-style. Bruce Rauner won’t go down in history as the best or worst governor. He’ll be remembered for wielding little more than veto power, and for not going to prison, unlike some of his predecessors.

Rauner’s “wreckage” mainly stems from partisan budget stalemates, but Pritzker supporters lay all the blame on him for unpaid bills and deferred maintenance. He deserves some credit for election funding reforms taking effect during his watch.

Both parties deserve blame for the state’s monetary problems, most crucially for not finding a way to fund or reduce the costs of public-employee pensions. And so, far, Pritzker’s proposals to correct the problem — such as selling off state assets — don’t sound like viable long-term solutions.

So what “wreckage” can Pritzker and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly cause? Elected executives these days act like they have a mandate from all voters to force through everything in their platform as well as radical proposals from the fringes of their parties.

The first order of business, a minimum wage hike, is not radical. People cannot make a living on $8.25 an hour, even if they work 60 hours. Ratcheting the mandatory minimum wage upward by a dollar a year until it reaches $15 is unrealistic, however. People are not supposed to make a career out of entry-level jobs at grocery stores and McDonald’s.

In the most expensive metropolitan areas in the state, it does take $15 an hour to get by, but many employers there and statewide will not be able to afford it.

As far as funding a government, higher pay theoretically should mean more tax revenue. And don’t get me wrong: I wish everybody made $20 or $30 an hour. But it’s impossible to consider it business-friendly to enact a law requiring an increase to $15. And, four years from now, it’s one factor that likely to get a Republican voted into the governor’s mansion in Springfield (if the governor’s wife is willing to move there).

It’s likely to cause layoffs by midsize employers who have a few too many employees to earn a tax credit, or they might divide their businesses in order to have few enough employees to be able to claim a credit.

My comment about McDonald’s is not meant to be disparaging. The chain’s much-maligned by the anti-meat crowd and blamed for everything for everything related to “fast food.” But the company trained, or at least motivated, a lot of my friends to strive for bigger and better things.


Speaking of McDonald’s: Also, many McDonald’s franchise owners made a great decision when they put in two-lane drive-thrus. They’re busy all the time — at least the one on Shooting Park Road in Peru. It’s so convenient that, I believe I spent my weekly tax-withholding break this year on breakfasts there.

Speaking of taxes: I’ve seen reports about shrinking tax refunds this year. How easy it is to forget that less federal tax was withheld on paychecks in 2018. Tax incentives to the public either immediately or eventually trigger thoughtless spending. (See drive-thru note, above).

Bar biz buzz: When we had a story about legislation to allow more types of businesses to deliver liquor, beer and wine to residences, someone commented on social media, “This will kill the bars.”

A lot of things have made the bar business tougher, not the least of which are DUI enforcement and the state allowing video gambling in more and more types of businesses. When video gambling first was legalized, taverns were the first recipients of the machines.

Some bar owners have been trying new things to, literally, drive business, such as renting out a driver and van or bus to take drinkers to events or bar hopping.

Where to save: I consider myself thrifty, but if I really examine my habits, I see tons of ways to quickly save more money. Where to cut first: Stop using paper plates, cut back on soda intake and make tea from the tea bags that fill a cupboard at our house, stop using so many paper towels, get in shape and pray for health and cut way back on the cable TV subscription. Then again, with this nasty winter, it’s been nice to hole up in the house watching movies or surfing for weird shows to watch.

Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or ntlocal@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.


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