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Rahm’s rocky road

Thursday, Apr 3, 2014

* As you all know by now, there was no progress yesterday on Rahm Emanuel’s pension reform proposal

The rapid rollout strategy was aimed at giving legislators little time to get cold feet and blunting labor union lobbying against the changes. But several Chicago lawmakers raised concerns, Democrats blamed Republicans for not getting on board, and the blitzkrieg approach failed — at least for a day. […]

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the speaker was “still working the roll call” and was trying to achieve bipartisan support for the bill. But many Republicans remained critical, including Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, who mocked Raoul’s explanation that the bill was fast-tracked because Chicago was in the midst of a crisis.

“This state is always in a crisis,” Radogno said. “When will it end?”

Not only did a vote sputter in the House, but the Senate wasn’t embracing the pension plan either. […]

Democratic Rep. LaShawn Ford said African-American lawmakers were split on the pension bill, adding that he opposed it because his West Side community had “already paid the cost to the city” with closed public schools.

* This is part of what really went down

Madigan’s legislation would authorize the City Council to levy $50 million more during each of five years, starting in 2016, to devote toward city pension costs. By year five, that tax levy would stand at $250 million more than today, but Republicans added up all of the revenue collected during that period and dubbed Emanuel’s handiwork as a $750 million property-tax increase that they wanted no part of.

“A $750 million property tax-increase is the last thing we need in Illinois,” said Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, who voted against Madigan’s legislation in committee. “This is outrageous. This is going to kill jobs. I oppose this tax increase.”

During committee, Madigan said he was prepared to amend his legislation to soften the property-tax mandate on the City Council by making it merely an option, not compulsory. That amendment wound up being tacked onto his bill Wednesday afternoon.

The original legislation, crafted by the mayor, ordered the city council to pass the tax hike. No way, man. No way.

* Also

One House Democrat from the city told Early & Often that no one had formally reached out from the mayor’s staff to make a personal pitch for the bill, an oddity given the magnitude of what Emanuel is asking state lawmakers to do on his behalf in Springfield, particularly if Republicans are MIA on the bill. […]

When it became clear the big lift to pass the bill wouldn’t be shared with Republicans, rank-and-file city Democrats appeared to get cold feet with the property-tax component. Others privately expressed worry about opposition to the bill from the Chicago Teachers Union, which last month nearly unseated state Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, in a bitter primary in which his December support for a state pension package became a central issue.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


27 Comments
  1. - Toure's Latte - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    Chicago property taxes aren’t that bad that they could not stand increases. Ben Joravsky in The Reader bleated about the extra TIF gravy it creates, and he has a legitimate point, but think of all the new appeal biz for MJM!


  2. - William j Kelly - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Rahm’s friends play, the people pay!


  3. - Poorly done - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Starting to look like amateur hour for Rahm’s political team. They didn’t anticipate that the GOP would go south on them and didn’t firm up Dem members? Seems they thought the Speaker would do all the heavy lifting for them.

    The GA should just dump this all on the City Council. They could strike the city out of the pension code and let the Chicago use their home rule authority to run and fund their own pensions.


  4. - A guy... - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Even super majorities don’t work when the lion wakes up. The lion sleeps alot, but when awake, all the lion does is hunt…and eat. Fact: Chicago property tax payers pay less than other areas of the state. Most notably, the suburbs. Fact: Chicago taxpayers do not think they are undertaxed. Two realities. The solution was to force a vote before the lion notices. The lion noticed. Now it’s hide and seek time.


  5. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    Once again Rahm demonstrates he cannot make a coherent argument without name calling.


  6. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Let’s ask Preckwinkle what to do, she has all the answers, right?


  7. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    === The rapid rollout strategy was aimed at giving legislators little time to get cold feet and blunting labor union lobbying against the changes. ===

    Yeah. Because that’s the approach you always take when you have quality legislation that has been thoroughly vetted and negotiated with legislators.

    Meanwhile, Rahmm is finding plenty of taxpayer dollars to address other concerns. The least his “team” could do is place a few calls to those being asked to fall on their swords for his sake.

    Especially when most of them are about to come under pressure to vote for additional tax and fee increases. Rahm wants them to double-down on tax hikes just a few months before their names appear on the ballot without so much as a phone call?

    Rahm may wind up having to help himself on this one.


  8. - Chicago Publius - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    One interesting strategy bouncing around the corridors of the capitol is that labor is aksing several senators to formally ask the Senate Parliamentarian, prior to a committee or floor vote, whether the Rahm proposal is constitutional. Now THAT would be an interesting development.


  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Rahm’s team of square headed youth are used to running rough-shod over that legislative body known as the city council. And Rahm’s used to getting what he wants just be telling people what he wants from his perch in the White House or the 5th Floor. “Work a bill? What the hell does that mean?”


  10. - Rod - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    From my reading of the Madigan floor amendment 4 to SB 1922 I do not think it makes much difference whether or not the Chicago City Council approves the property tax increase. Because if the Council does not approve it the amendment requires the State Treasurer to impound an equal amount of state money going to the City of Chicago and deposit it in the Pension Stabilization Fund. Specifically look at page 59 of amendment 4 section (a-4).


  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    Rod, it’s the comptroller, but good point.


  12. - Chicago Publius - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    Rod - the reference to monies held by the Treasurer doesn’t get to contributions required from the City. The provision that you cite requires the State Treasurer to intercept, and send to the muni pension funds, monies that would go to the city by way of “grants of state funds.” Comparatively, the “grants of state funds” to Chicago don’t entail a lot of money — maybe some motor fuel tax and some small portion of locally paid income taxes.


  13. - Secretariat - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    Rahm’s intergovernmental team is nowhere to be seen or heard. What is PQ going to do? Why is Rauner silent?? Conspiracy lovers to at it.


  14. - not me - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    Rahm’s lobbyists are a joke.


  15. - RhamALicious - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    ==The provision that you cite requires the State Treasurer to intercept, and send to the muni pension funds, monies that would go to the city by way of “grants of state funds.” Comparatively, the “grants of state funds” to Chicago don’t entail a lot of money — maybe some motor fuel tax and some small portion of locally paid income taxes.==

    State grants includes LGDF and every dollar the State gives the City. It is a lot of money.


  16. - Rahm's Middle Finger - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    Rahm’s lobbyists are actually some of the most talented and best respected at the statehouse. Bur Rahm dealt them a really really crappy hand to play.


  17. - Rahm's Middle Finger - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    Secretariat-

    You clearly aren’t at the Capitol. In addition to their three full time lobbyists and two well respected contract lobbyists, Matt Hynes, Mike Ruemmler, and the Deputy Mayor Steve Koch are all down. They may not be making a lot of progress, but they are definitely working.


  18. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    How about our lavishly compensated taking pay cuts for the duration of the crisis? Illinois and Chicago have some of the best paid elected officials in the USA who collect big checks for part-time jobs.


  19. - PensionResearcher - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:10 pm:

    Rod @ 1:16 pm, that is only for the first 5 years of the new, 40-year funding plan the amendment would implement. See line 2 of the page you cite, “For levy years 2015 through 2020.”


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:15 pm:

    I don’t understand — Rahm is the most powerful person in Chicago. All his peeps and media say so.


  21. - Rod - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    Rich is right on the controller and it is also correct that the effective extraction is for 5 years and does not go on for ever.


  22. - Sue - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:58 pm:

    why should anyone fear a property tax increase?- the Governor will be rebating the money as part of his plan


  23. - low level - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 6:02 pm:

    @Wordslinger - that is very true. I think he really needs to try and understand the state Capitol better. That it is similar to Congress but not entirely.


  24. - Chuck - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 6:23 pm:

    How about he State reps working only as State reps.No second jobs or other pensions to be had!How about they take their oath of office seriously !


  25. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 6:54 pm:

    ==How about he State reps working only as State reps.No second jobs or other pensions to be had!How about they take their oath of office seriously !==

    So no to the idea of the citizen-legislator? Professional legislators paid like full time workers with appropriate benefits to boot? I like the idea!


  26. - Chuck - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 5:23 am:

    Precinct Captain you must be a state rep!


  27. - Upon Further Review - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 8:30 am:

    Of course, the TIF funds could cover the entire pension payment shortfall, but then the mayoral slush fund for rigged construction contracts would be emptied.


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