HOPF: Costumes, gimmicks provide no substance for Illinois vote - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

HOPF: Costumes, gimmicks provide no substance for Illinois voters

What does a Pinocchio costume and chicken suit have to do with politics?

The short answer is nothing, but it can make good TV.

Gimmicks and mascots in political campaigns are an easy way to get some cheap attention, and you may have noticed a couple of them in recent weeks in the Illinois governor's race. However, they provide little substance for voters.

The campaign for Republican candidate Bruce Rauner introduced Quinnocchio, a mascot that mocks Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn for saying the 2011 income tax increase would be temporary. Quinn has argued that the state's current income tax rate of 5 percent should be made permanent instead of being lowered to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1.

Quinnocchio gained additional scrutiny last week after it appeared outside a Chicago elementary school where Quinn was signing anti-bullying legislation.

It doesn't stop there. Quinn's campaign responded by sending a campaign worker dressed in a chicken suit to a Rauner fundraiser in Orland Park.

Rauner had used chickens at a press conference this month where he unveiled his budget plan. The plan blasted a program that flew in prairie chickens to be introduced into the wild.

The campaigns have also moved to some gimmicky proposals to entice voters.

More than five years after he became governor, Quinn announced last week that he was cutting 80 paid parking spaces for state employees in downtown Chicago garages, which is expected to save the state $100,000 annually. He also announced the state has cut some of its property leases that are projected to save $55 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

While Quinn touts these savings, along with the state's previous Medicaid system overhaul and pension reform, the state continues to have a $5.406 billion bill backlog, according to the state comptroller's office.

Rauner introduced a budget plan that he says would save the state $1 billion, while some observers noted that it would only save one-tenth of that. He has also introduced corporate welfare reforms that would change the state's tax credit program for businesses, tax the sale of racehorses, tax private jet and yacht inheritances, and end the newsprint and ink sales tax break.

While some of the proposals may help the state, none of the gimmicks get to the big picture for the state of Illinois, such as how will the bill backlog will be closed, how more jobs be created with one of the highest unemployment rates in the county and how to improve education.

It's time to leave the costumes at home and get to work.

-- mhopf@whig.com/221-3391

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