* Matt Dietrich was at my City Club speech and filed this report…
“It’s very possible that nothing is gonna get done [on pension reform in the lame duck session],” Miller told members of the City Club of Chicago.
But isn’t this THE big issue right now? And isn’t the lame duck session THE perfect time to take on this kind of controversial issue? This year, 35 lame duck lawmakers leave office on Jan. 9. They can make unpopular votes without worry of voter backlash. That’s how Gov. Pat Quinn passed his income tax increase two years ago.
Yes and no, Miller said. There’s still no consensus among majority Democrats on pension reform in the General Assembly. By comparison, raising the income tax in January 2011 was easy, Miller said.
“Raising taxes was a Democratic issue,” Miller explained. “It’s hard to keep Democrats from voting for a tax increase.” […]
Miller also offered a history lesson to those who believe the super majorities the Democrats will have beginning Jan. 9 will allow the party to pass legislation at will then freely override any opposition from the governor. Because of House Speaker Mike Madigan’s longevity and reputation for tight control of his members, there’s been speculation that the House, especially, will benefit from its veto-proof majority.
Not so, said Miller.
“He’s often said that other than the two years he spent in the minority under (House Speaker) Lee Daniels, the worst two years in his career was when he had a super majority in ’91 and ’92,” Miller said. “Because leading a chamber is like herding cats. And leading a chamber with a super majority is like herding insane cats.”
When a party’s votes are plentiful, Miller explained, members don’t want to vote on bills that might stir trouble for them in the next election.
“People don’t want to do anything, man,” Miller said. “It’s like, ‘We’ve got all these members. Why do I have to vote on this stupid bill? Why don’t you get the guys who are going to lose next year to vote on this stupid bill?’”