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Friday, Aug 21, 2015

* I’m probably taking Monday off, although I could change my mind. Until then, turn it up

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Other voices on the AFSCME bill

Thursday, Aug 20, 2015

* We’ve all seen how the governor and the unions have portrayed the AFSCME “no strike” bill. But here’s a take from a Tier One targeted Senate Democrat that I thought you might be interested in…

Forby: AFSCME contract negotiations shouldn’t be politicized

The fight for employee equality advanced today when the Illinois Senate voted on two critical measures that ensure working families are given fair wages and benefits. The first measure Senate Bill 1229, which was overridden by the governor, aims to bar the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees from striking or being locked out while a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated.

The union’s collective barging contract expired on July 1st. The Governor’s office and the state largest labor union AFSCME have yet to reach an agreement.

State Senator Gary Forby (D- Benton), who serves as the Senate’s Labor Committee Chairman, thinks the measure takes bureaucracy out of the negotiations, which will create a platform for non-politicized negotiations.

“Since Governor Rauner began his term, he has waged an all-out war against organized labor and working families,” said Forby. “It’s clear the Governor doesn’t want fair negotiations, so if we take the bureaucracy out of the negotiation process, then it gives us a clearer path to reach an agreement.”

* And from the debate

“There is an unusual degree of hyperbole and hypocrisy about this bill,” said Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. “It does not require arbitration. Both sides can stay at the bargaining table.”

Harmon said similar arbitration has been in place for years for police, firefighters and prison guards, who are not allowed to go on strike. He said AFSCME has never invoked the arbitration provision for prison guards the union represents. […]

Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, is a former director of the Peoria Area Labor Management Council. He said the arbitration bill will actually bring the two sides closer.

“If your proposal is out of line, it has a chance of being thrown out,” he said. “It forces people to the middle.”

* More

Cullerton said current law gives the governor “a real strong position to just impose a draconian plan” that would leave unions with no choice but to strike.

“If we have a strike, then we have trauma,” Cullerton said. “We’re not suggesting the governor can’t continue to negotiate with them, this just makes sure there is no strike.”

* Murph, however, gets the last word

Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said union leaders are fighting for pay and benefits, but those employees are making 80 percent more than they did 10 years ago. “Go home any of you and talk to your taxpayers about that,” he said.

“This is wrong to take the people’s one elected person out of the negotiation room and say we’re going to go to this arbitrator,” Murphy said.

“Do not override this veto,” he warned before the Senate voted.

Watch the floor debate by clicking here. The roll call is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   152 Comments      

Another take on EIU’s future

Thursday, Aug 20, 2015

* From Rep. Mark Batinick…


It’s late. Kid 3 broke her collarbone and this is my wife’s first day going back to work as a teacher. There are likely typos but I wanted to get this information to you. I’m ok with you posting as-is if you warn people that it may not be grammatically perfect. I believe this to be very important information that needs to be discussed.

He was responding to our discussion yesterday about Eastern Illinois University’s troubles.

* So, let’s focus on his considerable substance below, not his style. Here it is…

As you may know, I am on the Higher Education Appropriations committee. I believe Eastern Illinois University is important to the state’s future and wanted to provide additional important information for you and your readers. I am of the belief that the state’s “brain drain” is actually its biggest crisis, trumping the pension situation and the FY’16 budget. Solving our significant issues within Higher Education is a big part of stopping the “brain drain.” We need Eastern Illinois.

A big concern of mine has long been the high in-state cost of our public universities. I compared the tuition of U of I and our directional schools to their public conference peers. I used information from US News and World report to be consistent. Our tuitions are 30%-60% more expensive. I can tell from personal experience that the high in-state cost of tuition is driving our youth out-of-state. My daughter received a better deal to go to school at Truman State University in Missouri. My son will likely take his talents out-of-state as well. Both were ranked near the top of their class and will likely pay a lot of taxes — to another state. Studies show that once a student leaves for school, he is much more likely to leave for good. This state cannot afford to lose tomorrow’s high income earners. If you talk to people with children going off to college, you’ll find many of them leaving the state. Many schools offer out-of-state tuition waivers to good or even decent students. They are stealing our talent!

We currently have a net-out migration of over 16,000 students per year! That is like losing 2 Eastern Illinois’ annually. That’s every year. It’s a multiple of that when you consider that kids go to school for many years. Just stemming that tide, would fill Eastern, Western, and Southern quickly. Also, between 2009 and 2014 we have lost 70,689 students going from 397,018 to 326,329. Look, the easiest way to solve our pension crisis is through growth. We are going in the wrong direction fast. I cannot over-emphasize how this demographic shift creates future fiscal challenges for the state. Access the back-up data by clicking here.

Before taking office, I had assumed that the high cost of tuition is due to a lack of state funding. To my great surprise, it is not. According to the State Higher Education Executive Officer’s 2014 Report we actually rank 3rd in Full-Time Equivalent funding. We spend $12,293 while the national average is $6,552. Supporting data is attached. And the entire SHEEO report can be found by clicking here.

Critics will say that the only reason our FTE funding is so high is because we are catching up on our pension payments. But I have also attached a chart that we were given by the board of higher education that shows that after stripping out all pension costs we still rank 9th in the funding of higher education. I know we are making up pension payments, but pulling out all retirement costs is an over-correction. All universities have some retirement costs even if it is merely the matching social security payment. So reality is somewhere between 3rd and 9th in funding. No matter where that is it is well above the national average.

Armed with this data, I asked representatives of various universities in committee, “Why is it so expensive to educate someone in Illinois?” I repeatedly received the same answer. “The cost of doing business is high in Illinois.” Let’s get specific. The University of Illinois actually cited in our data packet the higher cost of Worker’s compensation and liability insurance. Their liability insurance has gone up 1000% in the last 20 years. That’s a wee bit over inflation. Data attached. They also often cited our state’s regulatory climate. When the cost of doing business is high for businesses, it is often high for taxpayers as well.

Another issue raised almost universally was our procurement code. We would hear about having to wait months for approval on items costing administrative time and often price increases. We hear about how the bid process doesn’t work for purchasing specialty items. In fact, U of I has told me that trying to match the state code with federal grant requirements has caused the University to “house” some grants at Purdue. Our federal grants are moving out of state! And last week I heard a new one. Illinois State University spoke at the Lt. Governor’s consolidation committee I am on about a “soy-bean based ink preference.” I’m not sure if this is something for the farmers or for renewable energy. I currently have the LRU looking into how much that requirement is costing the state. Now I’m for renewable energy. And I love farmers. I even own a car that can run on used vegetable oil. But we can’t save the world if we can’t save the state. We have to do things more cost-effectively. Requirements like this have to go. Click here for a link to me trying to get procurement relief for universities.

While procurement and regulatory relief would help, it likely isn’t enough. I believe that the universities need much more autonomy in the way they operate. With all the stories that I have heard, it seems like the state micro-manages them through all sorts of mandates and red tape. But in exchange for autonomy, the state should be measuring a small set of large metrics. We should more concerned about the cost of tuition, amount of in-state students, graduation rates, and in-state job placements than what type of ink a university buys.

Which brings me back to Eastern Illinois University. With a little freedom, Eastern is set to thrive. I have many friends who had children attend recently. I traveled from Champaign to Charleston often during my college years. It is a great campus in a wonderful town. I’ve only heard positive experiences from students. It is very conveniently located close enough to our population center, while far away enough from Mom and Dad. It’s right off I-57. I also would like to mention that according to the May 2013 Auditor General report, Eastern Illinois University has the lowest administrative cost per student. See page vii of this link. Eastern Illinois should be an integral part of Illinois’ renaissance. I expect it to be.

Stay healthy!

Mark Batinick

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Democrat Day coverage

Thursday, Aug 20, 2015

* The Democratic County Chairman’s Association brunch kicks off today at 9. Click here for live video from The fairgrounds rally starts at noon. Click here for live video from

And watch it all via ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

Good morning!

Thursday, Aug 20, 2015

* The New Barbarians with Ringo

Crazy looking mama
Don’t you know you’re too young to die

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

* Attorneys: Providers still not being paid
* Moody's: Illinois ratings will be based on whether state can deal with revenue problems and show it can make required pension payments
* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* Oh, for crying out loud
* Not as simple as it may look
* *** UPDATED x1 *** State complies with court order on DD payments
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day
* Nuding praises Arduin
* YOU Matter to Illinois Credit Unions
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Point, counter-point
* Not there yet
* Will remap reform proposal hurt Democrats?
* Where are they now?
* Putting two and two together
* No excuse for this loophole
* From a "trap" to a "magnet"
* FOP wants override of AFSCME bill veto
* Report: 34,000 losing independent living services
* No movement yet
* Today's number: $58.1 million
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