Sometimes, the political stars just happen to line up. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has no doubt been feeling increasingly isolated, as his huge tax grab has run into a phalanx of opposition. The Gov’s plan would represent the largest tax increase in any state’s history and has, as a result, galvanized the usual business opposition. No surprise there. But, the Governor’s expected political allies have also come out against the tax. His own Lieutenant Governor, Chicago Mayor Daley, most Democrat constitutional officers and probably powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan have come out against the Governor. Even Jesse Jackson, never before known as an anti-tax advocate, has come out against the tax hike. Through all this, one state Democrat leader–Senate President Emil Jones–has stood by the Governor. Which is nice. You see, Sen. Jones’ wife works for the Governor. In fact, she’s been such a great employee that the Governor’s people have given her a big promotion and two big pay hikes just before and after her marriage to Sen. Jones at the end of 2005. The Gov’s people were even nice enough to quietly change the guidelines for her position so that her lack of a medical degree wouldn’t prevent them from fully rewarding her great work. She doesn’t seem to mind that, at a salary of $180,000 a year, she makes more than her boss, the Governor. Clearly, there’s no connection between Sen. Jones’ solitary support of the tax hike and his wife’s stellar performance on the Governor’s staff. It is just one of those win-win situations that arise often in places like Illinois.
Michael Flynn is Director of Government Affairs for the Reason Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank whose mission is to advance a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law.