Creating the Conditions for Prosperity
Daniel Biss

Daniel. I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful, un-emotional, and bi-partisan prescription for Illinois. I no longer live in the state, but I grew up in Evanston not far from the Chicago border. State politics is still one of my favorite topics of discussion, as Illinois is definitely a special laboratory for Democracy. I think we will gain great data if the country is willing to watch and learn from the experiences of Illinois over the next 20 years.

I think your ideas on common-sense regulation and infrastructure spending are spot-on. I think that occupational licensing overreach, criminal justice hiring reform, and onerous regulations on small business are amongst the most aggravating and consistent problems plaguing state economies today. Our infrastructure, nationally, is in terrible shape, and we have a government that’s trying to figure out how to create more jobs… seems pretty obvious where to focus that effort, if you ask me.

I do caution your stance on Rauner as if he’s merely operating from a perspective of the wrong facts. And if he just knew the standard beltway wisdom of how to structure policy and programs, he could somehow manage to keep the state budget intact.

Rauner is potentially overreaching on years of middle & business class frustration with a state that can’t get its budget or priorities together. Despite the overreach, the concern is not wrong.

You would not be able to create broad social or economic reform unless you can get your funding source on board. European social states operate with broad tax bases. In other words, there is no ‘tax the wealthy!’ panacea out there, there’s just not enough money. Carrots work much better than sticks, and I just don’t see enough incentive for middle & upper class people to ensure everyone else has access to college degrees. Where is the sunset clause ensuring the program will be cut if administered poorly, or if people refuse to attend classes? The controls have to be a part of your proposal from the start.

Unlike a lot of conservatives, I don’t wholeheartedly disapprove of government growth programs. I just haven’t seen ones that do not overreach, create unintended side effects, or mismanage themselves out of relevance (probably the most common case).

Focus on re-evaluations, audits, and sunset provisions. Is the state going to collect data and shut down the programs that were incorrectly administered? What controls and powers will the broad tax base have to control their state destiny? Will their feet be held to the fire by public sector unions operating on dated assumptions about benefits, economic stability, and pension obligations? Will innovators be subject to the protectionist laws that favor government monopolies and the status quo?

Buy-in and individual motivation is also very important to conservatives. It’s hard to believe that free community college will not be taken for granted. Even $100 a semester makes the numbers prettier, and gets us back to that old topic of personal motivation. Weeds out a few of the people who were not going to attend classes, anyway.

Conservatives and business people want proof that policy makers can come to the table and respect their values. Occupational licensing is a great example. We have an army of beltway types and journalists creating committees, podcasts, and newsletters about occupational licensing. I haven’t seen anything happen… time to do something. The private sector answer is simple, you do it, or you’re out of business. Local/State/Federal politics seems to lack that sense of urgency.

You need to start with a few good things to make them interested, then you can give them the bill. That’s deal, we choose the restaurant because the food is good. We pay the bill after the meal. Illinois has operated on the reverse premise for years.

You’re a good man using facts over fiction. I appreciate level-headed political discourse, things are so toxic this year I am dedicating my time to these kinds of discussions.