* Iowa’s Republican governor made fun of Gov. Pat Quinn’s dealings with AFSCME…
Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday he would negotiate in good faith with the state’s roughly 20,000 workers, although he wouldn’t say whether their pay demands are in his budget.
Asked about Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s move last week to terminate the contract of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees with the state, Branstad took a potshot at the neighboring state, one of his favorite targets.
“Illinois is a basket case. Illinois has the most debt per capita of any state. Illinois has the biggest unfunded pension system. They have huge, huge problems,” he said. “And we don’t operate the way they do in Illinois. We negotiate in good faith.”
With no dissenting votes, the Illinois House Revenue Committee Tuesday approved a resolution declaring the state has no money available to give pay raises to unionized state employees this budget year.
The measure, House Joint Resolution 45, goes to the full House. It must also be approved by the Senate.
The resolution says the state “shall appropriate no amount for new wage increases associated with any and all collectively bargained contracts throughout state government for the fiscal year 2013 budget …” The 2013 fiscal year ends June 30. […]
“It simply expresses the opinion of the House concerning the amount of money that should be spent on pending collective bargaining contracts,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, principal sponsor of the resolution.
The resolution does not legally bind Quinn from striking a deal to give workers a pay raise, but if passed, it would send a message that lawmakers are unlikely to include the money for a raise in next fiscal year’s budget. “It’s very straightforward. It simply expresses the opinion of the House concerning the amount of money that should be spent pending [a] collective bargaining contract,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan, who sponsors the amendment. The measure also states that it would be “policy of the state of Illinois” that the size of the state’s workforce will not be part of collective bargaining, meaning that promises to skip or lessen layoffs could not be used as bargaining chip in negotiations. Again, this provision would not legally bind Quinn or governors following him.
The legislature effectively blocked pay increases for AFSCME members last year by not including the money for them in the budget. Gov. Quinn canceled the raises, saying that his hands were tied by the budget approved by lawmakers. The issue is still playing out in court. Although resolutions are not legally binding, the House has also stuck to recent budget resolutions that capped general spending.
Lawmakers in favor of the resolution say that because the legislature approves the budget, the General Assembly should have some say in the spending associated with union contracts. “We’ve put our input in, which is we don’t have additional money. So if you make promises regarding additional money, the state does not have the ability to keep those promises,” said Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Democrat.
But union officials say that the legislature is undermining the collective bargaining process. “Our union has negotiated contracts with Democratic governors, with Republican governors, in good fiscal times and in bad fiscal times. And the current collective bargaining process, uninterrupted, has allowed for contracts that are fair both to the workforce and to taxpayers,” said Joanna Webb-Gauvin, legislative director for AFSCME Council 31.
* And speaking of debt, there was no vote yesterday on a proposal to borrow $4 billion to pay off overdue bills to state vendors, suggesting there aren’t enough Democratic votes for it as of yet. And the Republicans are still not going along…
Legislative Democrats and Republicans bickered again Tuesday over a proposal to borrow billions of dollars to pay those owed money by the state.
Rep. Esther Golar, D-Chicago, proposed House Bill 6240, which would borrow $4 billion to pay schools, universities, healthcare providers, local governments and state vendors who have been owed money for more than 30 days.
“We are in a crisis in this state because of unpaid bills,” Golar told the House Executive Committee, which did not act on the legislation because of possible technical modifications to it. […]
[Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka] testified against the legislation, saying the state’s economy is improving and that she is making some progress at paying off the overdue bills.
Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Tuesday the worst thing the state could do is take on more debt.
Topinka said her office currently has nearly 170,000 outstanding bills totaling $7.1 billion. But she said as the economy improves, the state is making progress paying down the backlog.
* Other stuff…
* Gambling expansion in January?: Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said he expected to see a new version of gambling expansion emerge in January. Earlier this year, Quinn vetoed a measure that featured five new casinos, including one for Chicago. Instead of pushing to override Quinn’s veto, Cullerton indicated that negotiating a new bill with the governor and other parties might be the way to go. It will take fewer votes to pass a bill in January than it does now.
* Hammond mayor wants 2 inland casinos: McDermott tells The Times of Munster that two land-based casinos would help Indiana better compete against proposed new casinos in Illinois.
* VIDEO: Khan Academy on Illinois pensions