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Quinn’s big win, Dillard’s big gamble

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013

* Sun-Times

[The pension reform vote win] comes on the heels of Illinois in November becoming the 16th state to sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage after just months earlier the Illinois House didn’t have the votes to even call the matter for a vote.

There’s no doubt the “ineffective governor” label once slapped on Quinn is starting to peel off.

A victory on pensions — aimed at boosting the state’s dismal fiscal shape — robs Republican rivals of their most powerful ammunition against the Democrat.

Already Tuesday, Madigan, D-Chicago, took a shot at Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner, who has repeatedly called the pension compromise a bad deal for taxpayers.

“I find Bruce Rauner to be particularly disingenuous in his approach to this. My view is he would like to blow it up so he could maintain a campaign issue,” Madigan said from the Statehouse Tuesday. “So the passage of the bill, the anticipated signature by the governor — Rauner has lost one of his campaign issues.”

* The Trib included a different take in its coverage

Though Quinn is expected to take the credit for the pension measure, lawmakers acknowledged that it was the leaders of the General Assembly who drove the process. Cullerton, the Senate president, said the governor “did just barely enough” to help get the pension bill passed, but thanked Quinn for his support.

Quinn did more than just “barely enough.” He was crucial to the bill’s passage.

Cullerton doesn’t care for Quinn, didn’t want to pass the bill and wasn’t exactly elated with its passage

“There’s some provisions in the bill that were added by the Republicans that make it less constitutional, there’s no question about that,” said Sen. John Cullerton, Illinois Senate President.

But, credit where credit is due, he worked the bill very hard.

* The pension problem is most certainly a major issue and it’s now off the table. But Illinois still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, an unpopular tax increase set to expire in a little over a year, enormous remaining budget pressures, a continuing problem with past due bills and what looks to regular folks like calcified Democratic leadership.

In other words, Quinn ain’t outta the woods yet, campers.

* And neither is Sen. Kirk Dillard, who voted “No” even though he had voted for every other pension bill opposed by the unions

Dillard said he locked himself in his law office to read the 300-plus paged bill and believes the vote on the matter was rushed.

“Sometimes it takes a couple of extra laps around the track before the race to begin,” Dillard said.

“I have never, never shied away from a difficult vote in the legislature. I can tell you that I’ve voted for tough pension reform before, I’m ready to do it again,” he said. “I’m ready to make that vote. I reluctantly, reluctantly rise against this.”

The decision comes after weeks of speculation that Dillard planned to vote against pension reform in hopes of maintaining a healthy relationship with organized labor. Dillard denied as much to the Sun-Times in the past.

* Mark Brown

[Dillard’s] reasoning came across like a guy trying to justify a strategic political decision instead of as the bipartisan statesman he has long held himself out to be. It was especially inexplicable considering that his lieutenant governor running mate, Jill Tracy, supported the measure.

This was a day where you could see who was interested in standing up and being counted as a truly serious legislator.

* And it may not help. You’ll recall this poll I commissioned

“Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a Republican candidate for governor who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from public employee unions?” 1,614 likely Republican primary voters were asked Aug. 21 in a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll.

An overwhelming 80 percent said they’d be less likely to back such a candidate, while a mere 8 percent said they’d be more likely to do so.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


23 Comments
  1. - Robert the Bruce - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    “Dillard locked himself in his law office?” I thought offices’ locks are on the outside doors.

    Maybe there really are two Dillards, which would explain the flipflops.

    Perhaps the more moderate Kirk Dillard locked the more conservative Dillard in the office?

    Did either Dillard make any fundraising calls during this lockdown?


  2. - Rod - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:16 am:

    Rich you write: “Quinn did more than just barely enough. He was crucial to the bill’s passage.” I assume you have a basis for that statement, for example members of the Assembly who were on the fence and the Governor was able to move to support the bill. Possibly you could provide some such examples.


  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:18 am:

    –“Sometimes it takes a couple of extra laps around the track before the race to begin,” Dillard said.–

    Apparently, those laps involve zig-zagging hard right, then left.

    Counter-intuitive strategy here. Can you really go hard right on social issues — gaining the support of the likes of Penny Pullen and Phyllis Schafly — then try to make nice with public employee unions to draw them into a GOP primary?

    I guess we’ll see. A four-way race. Probably 700,000 GOP voters. It will take relatively few votes to win.


  4. - Classico - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:29 am:

    When Dillard was locked in his law office prior to Blagojevich 2003 vote in favor of hare-brained pension borrowing scheme, what wisdom jumped out from his law books?


  5. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    ===Possibly you could provide some such examples. ===

    I will tomorrow. To subscribers.


  6. - MrJM - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:37 am:

    I find Bruce Rauner to be particularly disingenuous in his approach to this. My view is he would like to blow it up so he could maintain a campaign issue. So the passage of the bill, the anticipated signature by the governor — Rauner has lost one of his campaign issues.

    I don’t always often agree with Mr. Madigan, but when he’s right, he’s right.

    – MrJM


  7. - 4 percent - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    Bill Brady was the only one of the four GOP candidates to act as a statesman yesterday. The other three could be “panderer in chief.”


  8. - PoolGuy - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    Robert the Bruce — doppelgänger?


  9. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    Is Dillard still waiting, hoping , praying, to finally get that big out-of-state right-wing PAC money he’s been working so hard to attract?


  10. - Downstater - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:10 am:

    How does this help Quinn? The average voter and businesses are still paying higher income taxes. Payment to vendors are still months behind. Unemployment is still at record levels. The pension fix will be challenged in the courts and the public will say, “well this isn’t over”.
    The public employee unions will be very unhappy. I don’t see this, as a major win.


  11. - whetstone - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:13 am:

    –I don’t always often agree with Mr. Madigan, but when he’s right, he’s right.–

    I do think Rauner, in his perfect world, would actually prefer a bill that would involve much, much greater cuts. And perhaps he legitimately believes such a thing is politically possible. Keeping it as a campaign issue would have just been gravy.


  12. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:16 am:

    – Unemployment is still at record levels.–

    You can’t be serious.


  13. - truth hurts sometimes - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    Why isn’t anybody talking about the way this bill was passed?

    A bill supposedly saving $160 billion is introduced and passed in just two days? What was the real reason it was ramrodded through? reminds me of Obamacare and the Chicago Parking Privatization debacles……

    I give Dillard credit for trying to read the bill and ask intelligent questions before voting.

    My bet is that less than ten Senators actually read the whole bill before they voted on it.


  14. - Mr. B.A. - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    =Bill Brady was the only one of the four GOP candidates to act as a statesman yesterday. The other three could be “panderer in chief.”=

    Dan Rutherford is pandering to no one, as he has been on record for weeks against pension reform. He correctly stated that this action is unconstitutional and will cost the state time and money with a court battle. Myself, and most of my public school colleagues (all Democrats), will be in Rutherford’s camp come primary time. I expect the leaders of the We Are One coalition to do the same…


  15. - mokenavince - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    Quinn still gave the people something to cheer about when he held up their pay. Quinn comes off as a winner this go round.
    On the radio yesterday Dillard sounded as if he never got around to reading the pension bill.
    Dillard has no chance to be Gov. If Dillard is the Republicans hope of winning, they have no hope.


  16. - RNUG - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    truth hurts sometimes - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    Nothing to talk about. It was business as usual on important issues for the House and Senate. Everything was already decided, the votes were counted, and the role call structured before they ever walked into the chambers.


  17. - persecuted - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    I do not know who you are, RNUG; however when I read these words from you the other day, I knew this was all that needed to be said about Bruce Rauner. “The pension funding is subordinate to bond repayments”
    Thank you for sharing your insight.


  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    –“The pension funding is subordinate to bond repayments”–

    Under Illinois law, everything is subordinate to bond repayments. Every month, the comptroller puts aside the revenue to pay them first.

    That’s what’s so galling about the constant beating from the rating agencies. They know there’s not a chance, ever, that Illinois would default under current law. They’re running a scam to inflate the price of debt.


  19. - catrike - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 4:29 pm:

    “What was the real reason it was ramrodded through? reminds me of Obamacare…”

    Yeah ramrodded. Democrats only worked to get universal healthcare for our citizens since the Truman administration.


  20. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 4:39 pm:

    –Yeah ramrodded. Democrats only worked to get universal healthcare for our citizens since the Truman administration.–

    No, it was Theodore Roosevelt and those nasty old Progressives starting about 1912.

    And, as we know, freedom, liberty, civil rights, justice and living standards have really gone south in the United States in the last 100 years.


  21. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 8:17 pm:

    Gov. Pat Quinn wins on this one, no matter how much Sen. Cullerton tries to minimize it, and to a lesser extent Sen. Brady gets a pat on the back, too, and should be credited–shucks, if BB did NOT vote for it, it’d FAILED! Gee, aren’t politics and lawmaking just intriguing sometimes, when you look at it from angles like that…?!


  22. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:24 pm:

    Nobody won anything yesterday. We all lost something. The lucky ones only lost their credibility, the unlucky ones lost part of their soul. The really unlucky ones lost future income despite the fact that they played by the rules and they never missed a payment.

    Union leadership knew that their retirees were living too long and the pension benefits were overly generous. They knew it would be difficult to sustain the pension benefits they negotiated for their members. They chose to ignore this for a long time.

    The General Assembly ignored it too, all the while borrowing from the pension funds the way the federal government does with Social Security. Except states can’t inflate their way out of debt the way the Feds can.

    This ugly day has been coming for a generation and everybody in a position of responsibility knew about it and saw it coming. No one did anything to stop it.

    Newspapers, voters, interest groups and watchdogs all knew this day was coming and they mostly knew why. We’re all responsible for this, yet it is mostly retired teachers, janitors, clerks and others who will pay for the clean up.

    Anybody who says this was a “win” for somebody needs their head examined. Everybody lost yesterday, some more than others.


  23. - Anon. - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:58 pm:

    ==That’s what’s so galling about the constant beating from the rating agencies. They know there’s not a chance, ever, that Illinois would default under current law. ==

    They may regret it. If the State can renege on its pension debt, it can renege on its bonds, too.


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