Dear Friend,

We’re now in month 8 of the fiscal year, and there’s still no budget in sight. The human consequences are dire and getting worse by the day, and our fiscal situation is deteriorating apace.

Obviously I’m doing my best to put this nightmare to a stop, but I thought it might also help to put into writing an explanation of what, in my opinion, this is all about. A lot of the media coverage describes our stalemate as purely political, or even as the result of a personal dispute between a couple of individuals.

I disagree. I see this as something much more important, a struggle between two fundamentally opposing economic worldviews. I composed my thoughts for an op-ed in Crain’s Chicago Business, and I hope you’ll give it a look.

Now, I think a time of divided government is the perfect time to have this kind of argument. Governor Rauner was duly elected, and he has every right to advocate for his point of view, regardless of how much I disagree with it. In fact, I’ve found these debates useful because they’ve pushed me to study up, learn more, and sharpen my own position.

But the nature of an argument between two opposing worldviews is that it can’t — and shouldn’t — be resolved hastily or rashly. That’s why it’s so dangerous to declare that we can’t have a budget until this dispute is over.

I’m happy to negotiate in good faith with Governor Rauner and his allies on any issue. But if he’s not willing to sign a budget until he’s persuaded me to reverse my most deeply-cherished beliefs, then we might eventually be a state without social service providers, public universities, or community colleges. That would be a tragedy and an outrage — which I presume is one thing that the governor and I can agree about.

P.S. I look forward to staying in touch, and of course I’ll keep you abreast of the work I’m doing in the Capitol. In the meantime, I always appreciate your thoughts and suggestions, and would be happy to hear any feedback you have to my piece in Crain’s.