Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gauen: Illinois Tax and Spending Woes Are Full of Irony, or Are They?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gauen: Illinois Tax and Spending Woes Are Full of Irony, or Are They?

Article excerpt

Writers love irony, although some purists say it may be the most misused term in the language.

Is it ironic if you buy two lottery tickets, randomly keep one and give the other as a wedding gift that turns out to be worth millions? (This really happened in Carlinville, Ill.; I wrote the story.) Answer: no.

Is it ironic if a firetruck factory burns? (I covered that too, in Freeburg.) Answer: Yes.

Is it ironic if somebody who really needs a car wins one in a raffle? (My parents in the 1940s.) No.

Is it ironic if a pedestrian safety expert is run down by a bus? (It happened in downtown St. Louis.) Yes.

What's the difference?

Irony is when something happens that's the opposite of what may be expected or appropriate. There was no such twist in the lottery and raffle situations.

Let's try one more.

Is it irony for an Illinois governor on a cost-cutting crusade to hire an education chief who makes more than twice what her predecessor was paid?

Uh oh. Careful here. It might be arguably ironic for an avowed cost-cutter. But is anything really ironic for an Illinois governor? There was nothing surprising about the battle Gov. Bruce Rauner picked with unions over payroll deductions of bargaining fees from nonmembers' state paychecks.

Nor was there irony in his claiming that a budget deal was imminent with the Democrats who control the House and Senate, never mind that they didn't seem to know about it. (They were finally working this week on a stopgap plan.)

After thinking about it, I'm inclined to say it was not ironic for Rauner to hire Beth Purvis, quietly, as his education secretary for $250,000 a year. Here's why:

* Purvis is an expert in charter schools, not mainline public schools. Lots of Republicans seem not to like public schools, some preferring vouchers or home schooling.

* She doesn't get a pension with her $20,833-a-month paycheck. Rauner is bedeviled by a huge public pension deficit. So why not just pay people enough to finance their own retirement? Given that her predecessor was paid $110,000 a year, Purvis could put the extra $140,000 into an IRA or something. …

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