In a poll conducted a few days ago by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, a record 57 percent of Americans responded that they want more government in their lives, and that the government should be doing more to solve people’s problems.

That’s the highest percentage since they started asking this question in 1995.

In fact, 57 percent is nearly double what people responded in the mid-’90s.

Furthermore, the number of Americans who feel the opposite – i.e. responded that the government is doing too many things that should be left to private businesses and individuals – fell to a near-record-low 39 percent.

Bottom line: People want more government.

It’s hard to even know where to begin with this.

Illinois has elected just two wealthy people to major statewide office in the past 20 years: former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald and current Governor Bruce Rauner.

Both candidates won because they ran as firm, anti-establishment outsiders. Fitzgerald was best known as a state senator in the 1990s for railing against the elders who ran his Republican Party, including many who had been supplying the GOP with loads of money over the years and who’d used their positions to handsomely profit from state business. Rauner also ran against his party’s insiders when he launched his campaign, dismissing them as bought and paid for by Springfield’s special interests.

What establishment-party support both men did receive mostly came at the end of their general-election campaigns. Their personal finances, which allowed them to self-fund, kept them free of establishment taint, and that independence gave both of them credibility as outsiders. As election day neared, some establishment GOP figures decided they’d better swallow their pride and get on board. The establishment needed the insurgents more than the insurgents needed the establishment.

Billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker isn’t following this pattern as he campaigns for governor.

In normal times, a 40-minute late-April meeting to talk about the budget between a governor and the House speaker would be so routine that it would likely go unnoticed by pretty much everyone under the Statehouse dome. These ain’t normal times.

A funded, full-year state budget has not passed during a spring legislative session since 2013, almost exactly four years ago. We’ve had partial-year or “stopgap” budgets ever since.

And House Speaker Michael Madigan hasn’t formally met with the governor since December 6, about five months ago. Governor Bruce Rauner announced at the time there would be no more similar meetings until the Democrats were prepared to offer up a balanced budget with specific reforms – something that the governor hasn’t done since, either.

I have to admit: I don’t normally read the e-mails from the Farm Bureau. I probably should pay more attention to rural politics, but I’m really just in it for the car insurance. And I’ve selected that provider for the most Iowan of reasons possible: My agent goes to church with my family back home. But when I read in one of their updates that U.S. Representative David Young (R-Iowa) had gotten a bill through the House to devote a portion of our nation’s Homeland Security efforts to something called “agro-terrorism,” I perked up. The Securing Our Food & Agriculture Act passed the House last month and its Senate companion – S. 500 – is pending before the Homeland Security Committee.

Illinois now has five public universities with junk-bond credit ratings. That has to be some kind of record.

Last week, S&P Global Ratings lowered the credit score of both Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University into junk-bond status. Eastern, Northeastern, and Governor’s State were already in junk-bond territory, and their ratings were lowered even further last week. The University of Illinois, the state’s flagship, was also downgraded to just three notches above junk status and put, with the rest of the universities, on a “credit watch with negative implications” – meaning it could be downgraded again within 90 days.

The income tax is enshrined into law but is an idea that stands in total opposition to the driving force behind the American Revolution and the idea of freedom itself. We desperately need a serious national movement to get rid of it – not reform it, not replace it, not flatten it or refocus its sting from this group to that. It just needs to go.

Although I appreciated the observation about cherry-picking studies to confirm a conclusion, in an essay (“Iowa’s War on Government-Worker Unions: Attacking Organized Labor Is Good, Divisive Politics on an Issue That Deserves Better”) devoted to the state’s alleged war on government-worker unions, the choice of an “unbiased view” was flawed.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner denied that his two-day tour of the state last week had anything to do with the 2018 election, but it was pretty darned clear that he and his team were tuning up the band for the big show down the road.

Campaign funds not only paid for the tour, but political money was used to promote in it advance. I'm told Rauner's advertising on social and online media served more than a million impressions in the days leading up to the fly-around.

I suppose it’s too much to expect that we get an honest debate about the need for more state revenues in the already-active gubernatorial race. Candidates will be candidates, after all.

Governor Bruce Rauner’s campaign blasted out an e-mail last week telling supporters that newly announced billionaire Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker wants to raise the state income tax to over 5 percent, which, the campaign claimed, would be “higher than it was under Pat Quinn!”

Never mind that Rauner himself privately supports raising state taxes to historically high levels. He’s okay with a 4.99-percent income-tax rate and a 7-percent corporate tax rate. But he also backs a new tax on sugary beverages and a new sales tax on several services. If all that were implemented, state government would be taxing residents billions of dollars more than it ever has before.

As the Senate’s two leaders tried again to find the votes to pass their “grand bargain” last week and end the state’s two-year governmental gridlock, Governor Bruce Rauner began spending more than a million dollars on two new TV ads that portray him as an everyman hero in the fight for Illinois’ future.

“Illinois is broke and broken,” Rauner says to the camera while standing in a well-kept garage and wearing a plaid flannel shirt. “And the politicians that got us into this mess, their solution is this,” Rauner says as he holds up a roll of duct tape. “Higher taxes,” he says as he yanks out a piece of duct tape. “More spending,” he says with another jerk on the roll. “No real reforms,” he says as he takes one more strong pull.

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