Rauner's Money, Looming March Primary Will Make Illinois Budget Vote Especially Complicated

We're within three weeks of candidate filings for the March 2016 primary.

By January, all legislative candidates should know whether they'll have a challenger in the primary, which means a lot of lawmakers will find out if they're "safe" for the November general election.

This is important, because passing a long-overdue state budget will mean voting to raise taxes, and no lawmaker in a tight reelection or primary race wants to go on record raising taxes right before an election.

With Gov. Bruce Rauner dispensing limitless sums to support Republican candidates, Democrats are especially wary.

As of today, Rauner's campaign fund contains $19.6 million. That's more than six times the amount now held in Democratic Party campaign funds controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton combined. This will shift the landscape drastically for the 2016 primary and general elections.

After years of lagging behind their Democratic counterparts for campaign resources, Republicans next year can turn the tables thanks to Rauner's presence.

In addition, the Turnaround Illinois Super PAC can support Republican candidates independently and another Super PAC, IllinoisGO, bills itself as existing to "encourage Democrats to be leaders in addressing the massive financial challenges facing Illinois and cities across the state."

There's no limit on how much Super PACs can spend on their causes but they can't coordinate their activities or spending with candidates.

And while Illinois campaign finance laws allow candidates to give only up to $53,900 from their campaign funds to other candidates, there is no limit on how much they can transfer to a political party campaign fund and there's no limit on how much political party funds can give to candidates in general elections.

We're talking money, elections and the politics of the state budget on this week's "Only in Illinois."

The full video is here.

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