So it would appear we're heading to where a few of us thought we'd end up long ago: An Illinois budget with no income tax increase and some difficult cuts.
That's as it should be.a As that is precisely what Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton promised us when they enacted the temporary 5 percent income tax increase after an election, in January 2011.
And that is good news for now for taxpayers who have been demanding accountability.
But what about the politics of it all?
We'd be naive to think politics wasn't driving all of this.
If there is no tax increase before the session ends sometime late Saturday or thereabouts, taxpayers only will have survived one battle and likely will need to wage another one after the election, again in January. And that battle just might need to be waged no matter who wins the governor's race. Stay tuned and stay on guard.
If there is no tax increase as is now expected before the session ends, it is because Madigan's first priority always has been and always will be preserving his majority. That goes hand in glove with ensuring he remains speaker, as he has for most of the past three decades.
If things play out as expected this week, it appears Madigan might have lured his fellow Democrat, Quinn, out onto a limb while he slowly began sawing off the end attached to the trunk.
Quinn will take a fall at the hands of Democratic supermajorities in Springfield. He came out for raising income tax rates, while his fellow Democrats nearly all managed to avoid voting for them.
You can bet GOP governor nominee Bruce Rauner will use that to his fullest advantage in the months ahead. But is that it? Is it all that simple?
Quinn probably can use the loss of the tax revenue to drum up help, support and votes from scores of unions, social service agencies, current, and perhaps soon-to-be former, state workers who might lose their jobs without that extra revenue. There have been organizations all over the state writing their local media outlets, pleading the case for a tax increase because they rightfully fear a loss in state funding or a delay in state funding that they rely upon to care for children, the poor, the elderly and disabled. And yes, those groups and institutions are organized and the people in them can turn out votes.
Of course, Madigan also is throwing as many Democratic red-meat referendums as he can find onto the November ballot too to try to gin up Democratic turnout. Voting rights? Check. Victims' rights? Check. Minimum wage? Check. Millionaire tax? Check. Drive that class wedge in deeper, Mr. Speaker.
What about Rauner? Well, he can continue to play the politics to his advantage and he's somehow managed to get away with not providing any details at all about how he plans to fix anything so far.
There now are plenty of stories of Rauner paying for robo calls and funneling money to candidates and organizations as he tried to defeat both an attempt at pension reform and the income tax increase. And there's been plenty of criticism and questioning of him for not offering up any details of a plan of his own for how he really would implement the better pension reform and the better balanced budget with no education cuts that he says he can achieve.
"Our legislature and our governor are failing the people," Rauner told reporters last week. "They could do a budget. They could do a plan. They're not. And here's the issue. They're dodging, weaving. They don't have a plan. They're not getting things done. They're not driving results. We will."
It takes something to get away with accusing your opponents of dodging and weaving while you're doing the dodging and weaving. Rauner better have some astonishing plans, followed by brilliant results. Those will be all the more tricky to achieve if Democrats preserve their majorities in the House and Senate.Remember, few of them will have voted for a tax increase.
So, if Rauner wins, has Madigan lured him out on a limb too?
Time will tell, but I'm not sensing any real panic from the speaker just yet.
Madeleine Doubek is Reboot's chief operating officer. She previously managed the Daily Herald newsroom. An award-winning journalist, Doubek served as the Daily Herald's political writer and editor and led the paper's project and investigative work. She believes in more of us taking charge of our state government. Follower her on Twitter at @rebootillinois.