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Madigan: No tax hike mandate

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* When your own Democratic House Speaker says you don’t have a mandate for a tax hike, then you don’t have a mandate for a tax hike

“I just didn’t consider the result of the election to be a mandate for a tax increase. I didn’t see it that way,” Madigan said.

Well, that’s it then.

* Madigan also reiterated his desire to move a tax hike bill when he has Republican votes

The speaker, who leads a 70-member contingent in the House, said he would not muscle through a tax increase for Quinn using only Democratic votes: “That’s not my plan.”

When asked why not, given that he controls a majority large enough to provide the 60 votes needed to pass a tax increase in early January, Madigan said, “You know, that word ‘control’ is one usually abused by media people, severely abused by media people.

“You can walk out there,” he said, gesturing toward the House floor, “and ask those people . . . whether they’re under control, and I think they’d say no.”

They might say “no,” but they’re still a bunch of pretty controlled ducklings. Madigan could probably pass a tax hike if he really wanted to. It wouldn’t be easy. A lot of his members are opposed to or frightened of raising taxes. But most know that they’re going to have to do it sooner or later. Might as well do it now in a lame duck session and get it over with. It would be better than waiting a year when the bond firms might start demanding it and a remap election is just around the corner.


Madigan said paring down that deficit could take “three to five years” and will “require an increase in revenue and a reduction in spending. It’s going to have to be a balanced approach.

“Hopefully, now that we’re beyond the election, the Republicans in the Legislature will join and work with the Democrats to craft an intelligent solution,” Madigan said.

Barring a massive and unprecedented economic recovery, he’s most likely right about the timeline. But you can’t dig yourself out of the hole until you pick up a shovel.

* Madigan also offered up some advice for Gov. Pat Quinn

“I would think that he’s going to learn from his experience,” Madigan said of Quinn. “I would think he would.”

Reporters asked Madigan what Quinn needs to learn.

“Be like me,” Madigan responded. “Learn day by day. Try and make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.”

Asked about any advice for the governor, who has been accused by critics of not being able to close the deal on major issues, Madigan was even shorter.

“Stay focused. Stay focused,” Madigan said.

A flat learning curve and lack of focus are two of Quinn’s greatest problems.

* Roundup…

* Pantagraph: Quinn needs to make a break with Blago past

* Simon, White talk teamwork with leaders

* Mayors Plead For Pension Reform From Lawmakers

* Mayors want help with police, fire pensions

* 2-tiered pensions proposed for police, firefighters

* Daley calls on General Assembly to change police, firefighter pension plans

* Politicians helped bring Chicago’s public pension funds to the brink of insolvency

* Mayors of Cities Targeted for Casinos Run Hot, Cold, Lukewarm on Proposal

* Gambling expansion plan hits snag

* Gambling bill would allow East Peoria casino to move

* Slots at the track: Will it save horse racing in Illinois?

* Illinois pondering returning smoking to casinos

* Health-care reform creates opportunities for Illinois, officials say

* Death penalty foes press Illinois lawmakers to act

* The signpost up ahead: Redistricting

* Farnham files another funding fix bill

* U-46 seeks 2nd bite at funding change

* Schools Ask Lawmakers For Driver’s Ed Wiggle Room

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:20 am


  1. So who is going to give Quinn his very own “WWMMD?” bracelet?

    Comment by Montrose Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:27 am

  2. Why isn’t the conversation about why Tom Cross will not put votes on a tax bill? I hear there are upwards of 20 people in his caucus who could vote for it. Why does the conversation always have to be about Mike Madigan finding 60 votes. Believe it or not, the republicans in this state need to step up.

    Comment by Tom Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:32 am

  3. –Madigan said paring down that deficit could take “three to five years” and will “require an increase in revenue and a reduction in spending. It’s going to have to be a balanced approach.–

    A rational, sober, honest approach. The instant- gratification, Microwave Generation will howl, but as I enjoy telling my kids: “I don’t care.”

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:36 am

  4. “When you’re own Democratic House Speaker…”

    I believe you mean “your own…”

    Happens to the best of us.

    Comment by Solomon Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:36 am

  5. Wow. Bummer for Quinn to have been so publicly slapped down by the person who really governs Illinois. Why did we even bother with the election on Nov. 2 between Quinn and Brady and all that money spent? It’s the Rahm and Madigan show now.

    Comment by Responsa Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:43 am

  6. So if the GOP supports a tax hike, what is Madigan willing to give them? That’s the real question. Why should they share the responsibility if they’re shut out of the decision process? We now have the same situation we had before the election: the dems control everything, and they flat refuse to govern if it might hurt them at the polls. Just great. Not that the alternative looked any better.

    Comment by Excessively Rabid Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:44 am

  7. Sometimes I dream, that he is me
    You’ve got to see that’s how I dream to be
    I dream I move, I dream I Groove
    Like Mike. If I could be like Mike.

    Comment by Prognosis Negative Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:45 am

  8. Responsa: The answer Madigan would give you, if he were honest, was the remap. He needed Quinn so the Dems can control redistricting. He doesn’t want Quinn to succeed as governor — where would that leave Lisa Madigan?

    Comment by lake county democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:51 am

  9. After listening to Paul Green this morning on the improved WGN radio and what he had to say about the inadequately funded state pensions, combined with Mike Madigan playing games with whether or not Illinois will raise taxes so that overdue bills can be paid, I am contemplating which state I should move to when I retire.

    Illinois is a train wreck.

    Comment by Aldyth Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:52 am

  10. Tom is right, but so is Madigan.

    The long-term integrity of the legislative process demands that big things like tax increases be passed with bipartisan support.

    The frustration for Democrats, who have all along signaled their readiness to compromise, is that Tom Cross and Christine Radogno STILL have not fessed up to the obvious fact that the state budget cannot be balanced through cuts alone.

    AND they have been unwilling to publicly commit to supporting a tax increase even if every single one of their “demands” is met.

    We’ve seen this “negotiating” strategy before.

    The only way to force Republicans out of their hard-bargaining strategy and to negotiate in good faith is to put an alternative to a compromise plan on the table that doesn’t involve a tax increase AND looks much more unpleasant for Republicans.

    As I said before, I’d start by introducing merit-testing for all college financial aid, ensuring that the most-needy students in the state get 100% of their state scholarships funded before anyone else sees a penny.

    Senator Radogno’s district is one of the biggest recipients of student aid in the state. When parents in her district find out their kids lost their state scholarships, she’ll come around.

    Of course, with fewer students going to college, we don’t need as many universities. Like Eastern, Western, ISU or Northern, all in Republican districts.

    Next, with the shortage of funding for schools, I’d suggest we start means-testing grants to school districts based on their EAV. When the state stops reimbursing DuPage County school districts for special education, phones will ring.

    It gets better, trust me.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:57 am

  11. –So if the GOP supports a tax hike, what is Madigan willing to give them?–

    What do they want?

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:04 am

  12. == So if the GOP supports a tax hike, what is Madigan willing to give them? ==

    @Rabid: The problem is, what do Republicans want?

    Even after rattling off the long list of reforms he wants to see, Tom Cross refuses to say he’d support a tax increase.

    That problem is compounded by the fact that some of the cost-savings Cross says would come from reform are complete fiction.

    Take Medicaid “reform.” Cross says privatizing Medicaid would save $1 billion. BS. Illinois’ medicaid system has administrative costs of 4%. No private company can provide the same coverage at the same reimbursement rate for less and still make a profit.

    The only way to cut Medicaid costs is to reduce coverage or reimbursement rates, neither of which Republicans support because both are opposed by doctors.

    Or “pension reform.” Republicans are peddling this fiction that you can legally reduce the pensions of current employees, something which is clearly and explicitly prohibited by the State Constitution. Moreover, if a bill to reduce the pensions of current state employees, teachers, firefighters and police officers did come to a vote, I’d bet good money that many Republicans would be opposed.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:06 am

  13. Well, the Dog and Wordslinger have just bored right to the core of it. Now, we wait and see…

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:07 am

  14. @wordslinger

    Exactly. As soon as Tom Cross says publicly what he wants in exchange for a tax hike and privately how many Republican votes he’s willing to put on it, a tax increase and all the reforms will pass in a week or less.

    Madigan might be in the majority, but Cross is holding the bag.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:09 am

  15. Fewer students going to college?

    You may want to check those stats Yellow Dog Dem.

    Comment by Wally Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:10 am

  16. Schnorf -

    Let me know if you need a running mate in 2014.


    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:12 am

  17. Holy focus mocus. Madigan, we ain’t asking for more hope. We lost hope long ago. Please start filling us, Quinn, and Republican legislators in on the plan. Work on the plan man!

    Comment by Vole Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:13 am

  18. Vole,
    There is no way anyone will ever know the plan.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:15 am

  19. once again, we see that this speaker is trapped in the past. he simply has no clue to the political realities of this century.

    he may have been a great leader once upon a time, but his intransigence to move any issue of consequence reveals an utter lack of leadership in this day and age. any belief that republicans are going to risk their political futures because michael madigan needs their votes suggests a level of stupidity that is, quite frankly, incomprehensible. even if the people in the speaker’s office are that stupid, we have no reason to think there is a republican out there who is.

    so how do we eliminate the legislature (or at least paying for it), since it clearly will be an obstacle to addressing the crisis that faces illinois?

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:16 am

  20. sorry, ydd, but you can’t defend the speaker AND act like he’s got a real interest in governing. madigan is afraid of losing seats, and he’s assuming that he can trap republicans into helping him out.

    i don’t know, maybe that strategy worked a long time ago. but anybody who paid attention to the 2010 elections should recognize that any republican who supports a tax hike is going to get booted in their next primary. the tea party didn’t exactly go after madigan’s seats in the house, but they sure did a number on those seats he doesn’t care about (congress).

    these are the times that make or break leaders. real leaders step up. the fakers are exposed. but now we know…

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:23 am

  21. Pension reform (including for current and soon to be government retirees) is the elephant in the room when it comes to getting the state’s finances back on track. Everybody knows it. Keeping the issue permanently off the table while public safety and social service agencies are jeopardized by saying, “well, legally we can’t do a darn thing about those promised pensions” is irresponsible and the voters ain’t going to continue buying it and funding it as the state’s conditions continue to deteriorate.

    Comment by Responsa Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:23 am

  22. “Madigan: No tax hike mandate”

    I disagree. Illinois voted against the candidate for governor that was spewing the ‘No tax hike’ line.

    In an election year when the Republicans rode a crest of popularity, practically no seats in Springfield changed parties. The party of ‘No’ was repudiated in Illinois.

    Mr. Madigan, your statement is clearly a canard. You do not need cooperation from the minority to pass a tax hike. Your party controls all the levers of power, including the all important re-districting process.

    Raise taxes now, please.

    Comment by Leroy Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:24 am

  23. *I disagree. Illinois voted against the candidate for governor that was spewing the ‘No tax hike’ line.*

    I take Madigan’s statement to be that you cannot claim the majority of the public is in favor of a tax hike, but we are grown-ups here and have to admit that is what we need. At the end of the day, it does not matter whether the majority of voters agree.

    Comment by Montrose Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:37 am

  24. The House Speaker is absolutely correct concerning there is no tax hike “mandate” by any definition. Had the governor been elected with a majority of the November 2nd vote, he can begin to talk “mandate”, but a plurality of 47% of the vote no mandate makes.

    The House Speaker has not changed, in that he will not advance a tax increase bill unless Republicans (and I am sure he means more than a few) vote to support it.

    So, what should Republicans want in exchange for an income tax increase vote?

    – pension reform
    – signficantly more spending cuts
    – all new revenues to pay for outstanding, unpaid bills and pay-down debt, first, before any new programs are funded with the proceeds
    – passage of the most significant planks of the Randy Ramey illegal immigration legislation
    – a say-so in the redistricting process, noting favorable boundaries for Republicans who will vote for a tax increase

    Just a working list.

    Comment by The Oncoming Storm Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:38 am

  25. I want to add a few nuances here. One, Radogno has been crystal clear that she personally never shuts the door on the need for a revenue increase. She has been very consistent about that. She simply can’t predict what the House Rs will do, and two competing sets of demands from Rs would make matters much worse.

    At some point she probably needs to say to Cross, look, if you can’t/won’t come up with a specific program you can support, you just aren’t leading, get out of the way.

    I’m not sure about Cross. There’s no doubt he has members who are ready, under the right conditions, to vote for a tax increase. He is probably one of those members himself. The problem seems to be finding the right formula of spending cuts or restraints to go with it.

    I personally doubt that too much of what the Rs want would be unacceptable to Madigan (I’m assuming that the “wants” are such things as reduction in Medicaid spending thru more managed care, more stringent examination of eligibility, etc). Things are complicated by the federal stimulus requirements prohibiting reductions in education spending and increased eligibility standards in Medicaid. Those paths will need to be navigated very carefully so unintended negative consequences aren’t produced.

    I don’t know about Quinn or Cullerton’s willingness to accept some of the things the Rs would want. But the clear first step is to articulate a unified, clear list of conditions and commit support in return. Without that, nothing happens unless Madigan changes his mind about requiring R votes, and that ain’t gonna happen.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:40 am

  26. Am I the only one who remembers a pension reform bill signed into law earlier this year? IIRC, it creates a new retirement plan for new state employees. Going forward, we’ll save a boatload even if it costs more in the short term because of the need to pay into social security.

    Did I imagine that? Because all I hear are continued rants of “we must do something about the pensions” from the same set of whiners. These whiners would rather we strip people out of decent public sector pension plans instead of getting more private sector employees into them. These are also the same whiners who think social security should be cut.

    It’s like 95% of working Americans got a tax cut in the federal stimulus bill but 90% didn’t know it. I think Illinois took a major step forward on pension reform, about as far as we can go without rewriting the constitution. And nobody knows this already happened.

    Comment by 47th Ward Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:41 am

  27. If Madigan gives the GOP a stronger voice in the legislature and allows some of their bills to advance unimpeded, that may signal a stronger start to “bipartisanship.”

    Unfortunately, elbowing Republicans aside, and then demanding their support on one or two controversial items is not a way of governing in a “bipartisan fashion.”

    If the Democrats want to go it along (yet again) then go it alone. An angry electorate targeted the federal office holders, in two years their attention may be more focused locally.

    If they don’t want to go it alone and want to share responsibility, they need to play nice.

    Comment by Louis G. Atsaves Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:44 am

  28. There’s another major issue on the pensions that too many people just choose to ignore. If we are truthful, I think, the problem isn’t the pensions, it’s the debt (unfunded liability) and the carrying costs of servicing it that are killing us, and no proposal I’ve seen fixes that. If the pension systems were fully funded, very few people would even be talking about pension reform. The two-tier system takes care of the future, and the normal cost for the current system is very affordable.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:49 am

  29. Then again, the Democrats in Springfield could always put an advisory referendum question on the April 5th ballot asking the public if, in light of the unpaid bills owed by Springfield and the deficits, a personal state income tax increase is needed to either 4% of 5% (whatever the amount it will take to balance the state budget quickly, with additional spending cuts).

    If statewide, the voters say “yes”, the Democrats would have some fallback by saying the voters supported a state income tax at the polls through advisory referendum, and will not need Republican votes.

    Just a thought.

    Comment by The Oncoming Storm Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:49 am

  30. Trouble is, I think, 47th Ward, is that the pension reform bill signed does little about the current fiscal crisis accoording to some. That may be why they are trying to figure out a way to cut current pension recipients/near future retirees benefits.

    Comment by dupage dan Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:50 am

  31. Louis, in a presidential year, with a Illinoisan running for re-election, I doubt there will be more focus on local and less on federal than there was this year.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 10:51 am

  32. So nothing has changed. Madigan’s “plan” is for the Madigans, not for the State of Illinois. MJM will do what is necessary to keep the State barely functioning so Quinn does not get any credit for any recovery. He will orchestrate the next three years so the GOP gets the blame, Quinn gets no help, and the stage will be set for Lisa to come in and be the savior. As MJM has said, he looks further down the road than most. He is already looking ahead to 2014. So Illinois we are in trouble.

    We will once again face two years of haranguing back and forth with nothing of any substance being accomplished. Then it will be “Right after the election we will fix things” for the next two years.

    Mike should have said what he really meant.
    “Be like me,” Madigan responded. “Learn day by day. Try and make today better(for yourself) than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.”

    Comment by Irish Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:07 am

  33. Schnorf and YDD — let me know when you start staffing up.

    Comment by soccermom Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:11 am

  34. Ideally, I’d like to postpone an income tax increase until the next four-year contract between Illinois’ almost completely unionized state work force and AFSCME is finalized. Quinn’s recent history with AFSCME suggests that his representatives will not have a strong mandate to end the no-layoff clause currently in effect (ridiculous) or to refrain from giving costly above-market raises over the next four year contract. Once a tax increase is implemented, I suspect that a large chunk of it, realistically, will go for state personnel costs including public employee raises, pension fund payments, and additional patronage hiring.That’s hard for regular folks to swallow in this economy. Many of us are facing other increases-in health care costs, food costs, property tax increases as well as an uncertain job market in an uncertain recovery. And speaking of job markets, how many state employees Quinn hired, especially patronage employees, since he took office and at what total cost. How many employees have left state service.

    At a minimum, right now, I’d like a report on those savings Quinn and Vaught supposedly wrested from AFSCME-only real savings count!- as well as a final accounting of the 2009-10 budget, which, I assume, will be available at the end of the year when all the bills must be paid. And what about those reviews of contracts over a million that somebody in the Quinn admin was supposed to be doing. What did they find. Contract review would be an important part of cutting costs, but other then references to the above review, there has been little indication that the Quinn admin is aggressively pursuing this avenue.

    Despite the fact that most politicians of both parties probably really want Illihois taxpayers to give up a substantial amount of cash in perpetuity for politicians to direct here and there, we still have only the vaguest idea of how the Democrats’ budget plan (if they really have one) will actually work in the important areas of pension funding, education funding and personnel costs and state contracting.

    Comment by cassandra Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:14 am

  35. Irish: no matter how beloved, accomplished or talented lisa is, there are far too many democrats who are uncomfortable with the governor and speaker being related. i’ve come to believe that the attorney general recognizes that, perhaps even as the primary obstacle to her becoming governor.

    it won’t help a bit that her father had been the primary obstacle to addressing the long-standing, and simmering, problems faced by this state…

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:17 am

  36. @bored now -

    Progressives like you who continue to blame Madigan ignore reality. I’m not defending Madigan, simply pointing out reality.

    Every single tax increase in Illinois history has been passed with bipartisan support.

    Pass a partisan tax increase with only Democratic votes, and I guarantee you four things will happen:

    1. Cross, the Chicago Tribune and Big Business will complain “reforms” didn’t go far enough, even if they got everything they are demanding.

    2. Democrats will be stoned out of office and lose their majorities in the legislature and most, if not all statewide offices.

    3. Republicans will claim a “mandate” and repeal the tax increase, leaving the “reforms” in place.

    4. We won’t pass any bipartisan legislation, no matter how critical, for a generation.

    That said, while I agree with Madigan and others that Quinn doesn’t have a mandate for a tax increase, its also clear that the General Assembly doesn’t have a mandate for opposing tax increases.

    Among House Democrats that lost their re-election bids, Mike Smith was the only one to vote for a tax increase. The others were ousted despite their vocal opposition to a tax hike.

    Daniel Biss was elected to the Illinois House willing to support a tax increase.

    Only one tax hike supporter was ousted from the Illinois Senate. Unfortunately for Michael Bond, a great legislator, his Republican district just couldn’t be held, and no one has argued the outcome would have been different if he’d voted against a tax hike.

    Meanwhile, Sen Noland, one of the legislature’s most vocal proponents of a tax hike, defeated Steve Rauschenberger, who’s supposed to be the GOP’s foremost budget expert.

    And of course, there’s Brady-Quinn. While Quinn didn’t have a mandate FOR a tax hike, Brady couldn’t muster a mandate against a tax hike and for a cuts-only solution, despite having the wind at his back.

    If there is any “mandate” it’s for a responsible budget solution that takes a balanced approach of cutting spending and raising revenue. Exactly the approach Madigan is taking.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:27 am

  37. Cassandra, I think you identify another major issue that needs to be addressed, and I have no idea how. Even with a tax increase and spending cuts, discipline will be needed or we will quickly go right back to where we are, just at a higher spending and taxing level.

    Programs growing at rates in excess of revenue growth have to be reined in. If not, they cannibalize other programs and eventually force additional tax increases when the cuts in other programs can no longer be tolerated. The accumulation of reasonable cash balances have to be accepted as a necessary component of responsible management, not opportunities for spending growth or tax cuts.

    This may well be the most difficult of all, since in involves the behaviors of future governors and general assemblies. It is one strong argument for a temporary tax increase, at least for the purposes of paying off debt. In my mind, a good government perspective argues against such a move, but reality may demand it.

    Madigan’s point about us needing 3-5 years is probably spot on. So maybe you do 1% in the income tax permanent, 1% for 2 years to pay off old debt, broaden the sales tax base, and call it a day, at least for a decade or so.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:30 am

  38. bored now, if you really believe what you just said (as opposed to just making another partisan attack), I think you are absolutely clueless about the state of the state’s budget.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:33 am

  39. @Irish:

    I don’t think that’s what Madigan is saying. I think that what he’s saying is that we’re not going to eliminate the structural deficit and the backlog of unpaid bills in one year.

    That’s not stonewalling, that’s arithmetic.

    We’re not going to pass a combination of $15 billion in cuts and new revenue and eliminate the deficit in one year. Heck, nobody’s proposal does that.

    But we might be able to trim state spending by $2 billion and increase revenue by $3 billion, closing the deficit in three years.

    It also depends on when the natural economic cycle turns around…revenue growth through job creation, rising incomes and greater tax receipts is critical.

    A turn-around in the stock market is also critical to closing our pension deficit. Folks forget that our pensions were in pretty darn good shape as recently as 1999 - when Schnorf was in the Governor’s Office. The collapse of tech stocks and 9/11 cost our pension systems $14 billion almost overnight.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:35 am

  40. @Schnorf - I’ve argued, no offense to you, that a linear increase in pension payments to close the shortfall was a mistake because it ignored the political reality that when there’s an economic downturn, pension payments will always be the first thing on the chopping block.

    What I’d recommend instead is a retirement investment plan that makes surplus payments into the pension system when state revenue increases, which not only recognizes reality but also creates a natural check on the growth of new programs, which sprout like mushrooms when there is new money.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:40 am

  41. Dog, but to do that, we would first need to stop going further into the hole on the current unfunded liability, and I can’t see any way to do that for less than about $5+B a year, $1 1/2B more than we are now spending, and not including normal cost. THEN, surplus revenue growth could pay down the unfunded liability.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:46 am

  42. @Louis - PLENTY of Republicans passed Plenty of bills since Mike Madigan was re-elected Speaker in 1997.

    In speeches to the General Assembly in 1997 and 1999, he admitted that having spent two years under Lee Daniels, his tyranny of the past was a mistake.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:47 am

  43. YDD: i think you’re missing the point. aluding to what has happened in the past doesn’t force us to relive it — unless we choose to. madigan does seem to have a strong grip on the past, but a good student doesn’t make a good leader.

    i believe we’ve had this argument before. the key difference is that it is now 2010. we’ve had a democratic candidate who ran on increasing our taxes AND in an environment where many people thought this would occur in the veto session. despite that “reality,” quinn won. no thanks to the speaker or the dpi, which did little.

    we’ve already passed the time where bipartisanship was going to take place. wishing to relive the past might be pleasant in one’s old age, but the burden of governing illinois continues, regardless. if madigan wants to relive these wonder memories he has of the past, then he needs to get off the stage. if he’s incapable of leadership — as he is now — then we are obligated to say so. again, the burden of governing this state continues.

    there is nothing responsible about making conditions that have no chance of happening. there won’t be any republican votes for a tax increase in the near term. it is naive (or irresponsible) to assume they will come.

    yet the burden of governing the state continues. supposedly, that burden falls upon democrats. except that madigan refuses to allow this to happen.

    steve schnorf: sorry, i don’t live in the past just because it’s convenient for some people. i’ve yet to witness a single example of michael madigan demonstrating the ability to lead in my decade here. i’ve heard lots of stories about the previous century, but once again — in *this* century, the speaker doesn’t have it in him to lead.

    meanwhile. illinois crumbles. the promises of the democratic party crumble with it…

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:47 am

  44. Excerpt from an article in Real Clear Markets by Steve Malanga citing a study by two finance professors –one from Northwestern and one from the University of Rochester.

    The city with the highest per household unfunded liability in the nation is Chicago, $41,966 per household, or $45 billion in total obligations. Illinois, meanwhile, is the state with among the most troubled pension systems, with about $285 billion in unfunded liabilities. “Even if all other spending was shut down, the city of Chicago would need to allocate about eight years of dedicated tax revenues to cover pension promises it has already made,” the study by Rauh and Novy-Marx estimates. Meanwhile, Illinois’ pension obligations amount to seven times annual state tax collections.

    Comment by Truth Seeker Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:51 am

  45. bored, so just exactly how do you think state spending on programs has been reduced the past 3 years?

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:52 am

  46. One point on Medicaid reform:

    The Affordable Care Act mandates - yes, there’s that word again - an increase in the amount of persons on Medicaid. It varies from state-to-state, so Illinois will bear a much bigger brunt than a state the size of Missouri or Iowa. It’s essentially a “safety net” to ensure employees whose employers drop coverage have a fall-back plan. Some states, including Connecticut, have already implemented this mandate. There is no way Illinois could do so right now.

    The stimulus funds will also soon be ending. And, though this should come as no surprised, the Republican Congressional and Senatorial Caucuses have foresworn earmarks. That means bad news for a lot of state grant writers and city and school administrators who were hoping on such a funding source.

    Comment by Team Sleep Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:53 am

  47. YDD and Steve Schnorf - I understand that this mess is not going to be fixed overnight. That’s a given. Yes, it might take three to five years or maybe more. My point is that we have not yet gotten past the partisanship to deal with a very serious issue. Both of you explain, very well I might add, why MJM will not take it upon himself and move forward with a solution to the problem. But in your explanations you illustrate exactly what is wrong with Illinois Government and also our Federal Government. It is simple “Party first, governing second.”

    I watched a very interesting couple of segments that other night on China. It was rather scary how they are moving very fast to become the next economic, technology, and education, superpower. They are expected to take the number one spot away from the United State in the very near future. One of the interesting comments that was made by several people in the piece, some of them very well educated Chinese businessmen. That comment was that the United States has lost it’s resolve and drive to remain number one. It has instead become of country of infighting politicians more eager to lay blame than to progress. That is what partisanship has done to this country and what it is doing to the State of Illinois.

    That was my point in my comments about MJM. He has yet to place the citizens of the State, and the future of the State ahead of his party. The GOP is doing the same. The only way this problem is going to be fixed is when they understand they are there to work at governing and fixing the problems of the State and not there to protect their fiefdoms.

    Comment by Irish Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 11:56 am

  48. HB 174 would go along way toward solving the crisis and it wouldn’t take five years to do it. It has already passed the Senate. The state needs to pay its outstanding obligations NOW. Nine months is two long to ask most providers to wait. They should not have to subsidze Madiganistan.
    What are you people waiting for? About twenty of you won’t be back and your legacy of mismanagement (and a fat pension) is all you will have to show for all your years at the legislative trough. Do the right thing for once. Ignore the so-called leaders and pass HB174. Grow a spine for once in your lives.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 12:03 pm

  49. Truth-seeker, you ought to go read the study. That’s not what it says at all about Illinois.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 12:12 pm

  50. IRISH

    Madigan has placed the citizens of the State above politics!

    If the Dems do not control the House we, the citizens of this State will be at the mercy of Tom Cross and his friends. The same Tom Cross who was willing to cut any deal with Blago to get his share of the “Goodies”.

    Its time to quit the bashing of the Speaker. The problems Illinois faces require bi-partisan solutions. Why is Cross against a tax increase other than to protect his members. Where is his “Statesmenship or Leadership”? Our problems are not the result of just one party!

    Comment by MOON Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 12:32 pm

  51. MOON,
    I figured you would chime inright about now. It is not time to stop bashing the Speaker, the Governor, or the minority leaders. This stupid game of chicken is causing serious harm and the problem is getting worse as we speak. OK, you wanna cut, lets see some cuts. You need more revenue get some more revenue. DO SOMETHING! This lack of leadership or any semblance of responsibility is simply unbelievable. The best bi-partisian solution would have been to vote them all out. That didn’t happen so now we’re back to the same old, same old. If they can just get through this session then they can say they can’t raise taxes in an election year. Same old, same old.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 1:11 pm

  52. Irish -

    How is passing a massive effort to fix the state’s structural budget deficit that will only be repealed in 2013 or 2015 in the public’s best interest? Especially when it comes at the cost of permanently slashing retirements, health care and vital social services?

    Maybe, if the alternate were doing Nothing. But that’s not the alternate that Madigan is pushing for.

    As for the advice from the Chinese, I’ll agree with them in part.

    Its not that we’ve lost our resolve to be #1, its that we think we still ARE #1. Even though we haven’t been #1 at anything but military spending in a very long time.

    For example, a recent study found that despite huge gaps between the U.S. and other countries in education, American students by-and-large think they’re smarter than everybody else.

    And despite obvious objective measures of the gap in health care quality, many foolishly maintain that we have the best health care system in the world.

    Despite the decline of manufacturing jobs, the exodus of high tech jobs, and the growing disparity in household incomes, many still defend our trade, economic, and tax policies.

    Which is why one of the new factoids I love to blurt out randomly is:

    1 in 7 white Illinoisans will fail to graduate high school.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 1:16 pm

  53. Either Madigan or Cross could pass a tax hike. The difference is that Madigan would have to exert control to push people in his caucus who don’t want it, to vote for it. Cross would have to relax control to permit people in his caucus who do want it, to vote for it. It is not a Madigan problem, it is a Madigan-Cross problem.

    Comment by jake Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 1:28 pm

  54. Cassandra - You cannot change existing employes’ pensions. It is clearly unconstitutional. However, you can, and should change free health care coverage for current and future retirees. That is a holdover from many years ago and absolutely no one should get off free. As for the savings from the 2 recent AFSCME agreements, one of the area of savings comes from members agreeing to indefinitely delay (again, as was the case last year) the %2 percent raise scheduled for next July 1. Most members were shocked that Blago agreed to any raise at all and do not object to foregoing it, in exchange for no lay-offs. And, why do you think that is ridiculous? The state of Illinois has the lowest employee to resident ratio of any state in the union. No employees have been replaced for the last 3 to 4 years and there is no more room for cuts.

    Comment by lincolnlover Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 1:30 pm

  55. ==Maybe, if the alternate were doing Nothing. But that’s not the alternate that Madigan is pushing for.==
    That is exactly what Madigan is doing, nothing. Do you know what alternative he is “pushing for” aside from remaining Speaker. If you do you are the only one.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 1:42 pm

  56. A study by Americans for Tax Reform compared states gaining and losing Congressional seats in the decennial reapportionment process and found that states gaining seats had significantly lower taxes, less government spending, and were more likely to have “Right to Work” laws in place. Because reapportionment is based on population migration, this is further proof that fiscally conservative public policy spurs economic growth, creates jobs, and attracts population growth.

    There are eight states projected to gain at least one Congressional seat. Texas will gain four seats and Florida will gain two. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington are poised to gain one seat each. The biggest losers will be New York and Ohio – both projected to lose two seats – while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are on track to lose one seat each.

    The average top personal income tax rate among gainers is 116 percent lower than among losers. The total state and local tax burden is nearly one-third lower, as is per capita government spending. In eight of ten losers, workers can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. In 7 of the 8 gainers, workers are given a choice whether to join or contribute financially to a union. The details of ATR’s study follow:

    Comment by Quinn T. Sential Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 2:46 pm

  57. steve schnorf: i know you think we’re communicating — and i’m more than happy to tell you what i think — but i’m not exactly sure what you are referring to. this happens when conversations aren’t divided by threads. could you please remind me what i said that you’re answering?

    YDD — “1 in 7 white Illinoisans will fail to graduate high school.”:

    another great example of why we can’t wait to start fixing the problems that state has, but why we have to start now, immediately, last year even. if the speaker has a better plan, it’s long past time for him to present it, and deliver the votes in the state legislature for it. then we can be arguing why the governing is holding back illinois, and not why the speaker is…

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 2:47 pm

  58. Average per pupil spending in Illinois is $10,246, which ranks Illinois around #18 in spending. Perhaps there is not a lack of funding, but a lack of effective use of the money.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 3:04 pm

  59. @bored now:

    Contrary to popular opinion, Mike Madigan is not omnipotent.

    I think he has outlined what he sees as a way forward: a bipartisan plan that combines a tax increase with spending cuts.

    That requires either Tom Cross to soften his hard line stance or his members to soften their loyalty. I think the latter is more likely.

    As for continually “Calling Out” Madigan, I think that’s a bad idea. Any plan labeled “The Madigan Plan” is doomed. It has to be presented as a Bipartisan Plan, which is why Madigan is smart to extend the olive branch of cooperation instead of dictating The Plan to Republicans.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 3:05 pm

  60. Actually, I thought that newly eligible Medicaid recipients entering the system as part of national healthcare reform would be cost-free to the states, at least initially, because the feds will pick up all or nearly all of the additional costs. In fact, I believe that California just got a big federal grant to start implementing parts of federal health reform early. I wonder if the Quinn Admin is looking into that. Federal healthcare reform is coming, whether we want it or not. We might as well get started and get the money coming in now.

    I agree that free health insurance premiums and low-cost health insurance for early state retirees (before age 65, when Medicare kicks in) needs to be cut back and probably eliminated.
    Some entities give a cash benefit in lieu of health care coverage to assist early retirees
    in purchasing their own health insurance. This is one option, but I would say that come 2014 early state retirees should buy their own health insurance, since they cannot be denied coverage starting then. This is almost too obvious–early retirement is voluntary after all–but this is Illinois, where even the easy stuff seems impossible where losses of enttitlements are at issue.

    I’m not so sure that the state can’t cut personnel. It depends on what the state is expected to do. It may be less from here on out.
    And technological advances really have made it possible to do more with less and thus operate more efficiently. The business world has already done this in many ways. Time for government to step up and get out of the 20th century. It’s over.

    I believe that unionized state employees will have gotten total raises of about 29 percent over the 8 years ending in 2012 as negotiated by the Dems under Blago Many Public Service Administrators who joined the bargaining unit during that period got big raises as well as part of a lucrative deal. I don’t think we can afford to pay nearly that much this time. Even if Quinn does owe the unions his political soul.

    Comment by cassandra Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 3:17 pm

  61. QTS, other than Utah, the states you listed all have something else in common: they have warm winters. That might have something to do with your migration patterns.

    Comment by 47th Ward Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 3:26 pm

  62. QTS - Republican states also have one other thing in common: they receive far more in federal government spending than they pay in federal taxes.

    Make that two: Hypocrisy.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 4:08 pm

  63. @Lincolnlover 1:30 pm,

    =Cassandra - You cannot change existing employes’ pensions. It is clearly unconstitutional=

    As Rich has stated here many times, existing employees pensions cannot be changed “regarding benefits accrued to date”. Re benefits yet to be accrued - you betcha they can be changed. No constitutional amendment needed.

    Comment by dupage dan Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 4:16 pm

  64. The pensions can’t be changed but I don’t believe retiree health care is included in that protection.
    The unions has tried to make that argument but I think they lost on the retiree dental benefits.

    Comment by cassandra Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 4:30 pm

  65. “Daley calls on General Assembly to change police, firefighter pension plans”

    And….he does this now….after he’s had 20 years as being the custodian….?????


    Comment by sal-says Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 4:58 pm

  66. Steve Schnorf…you need to talk with Mr. Malanga, he wrote the article. Following is his bio…What’s yours?

    Steven Malanga is an editor for RealClearMarkets and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He writes about the intersection of urban economies, business communities, and public policy.

    In his prior job, Malanga was executive editor of Crain’s New York Business for seven years. Before that, Malanga served for seven years as managing editor of Crain’s. During his tenure at the publication it twice won the General Excellence award from the Association of Area Business Publications (AABP).

    Comment by Truth Seeker Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 5:35 pm

  67. Truth-seeker, I don’t need to talk to Malanga at all; I needed to read the study he referenced. I did. You need to also.

    Bored, I meant that Madigan is the primary reason state spending on programs has gone down over the past three years. That’s leadership.

    Comment by steve schnorf Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 6:14 pm

  68. There is no way Madigan will get GOP votes on a tax increase. They are already looking two years away. It’s up to MJM and the Governor. Quinn needs to help Madigan with more cuts like Medicaid and everywhere else to give the Dems cover, otherwise any income tax increase is DOA.

    Comment by Phineas J. Whoopee Wednesday, Nov 17, 10 @ 9:10 pm

  69. Phineas -

    Yes, Republicans are looking two years away.

    What they see is a brand new map that Democrats drew, Sarah Palin running against Barack Obama, presidential voter turnout and no Rod Blagojevich to kick around anymore.

    Its in the GOP’s best interest to cooperate and stave off the losses.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Thursday, Nov 18, 10 @ 7:02 am

  70. steve schnorf: gotcha.

    no, steve, that’s not leadership. that’s credit taking. it’s what all politicians do. taking credit for reducing spending to a minor degree when almost nobody was at risk for doing so is like taking credit for motherhood and apple pie.

    so let’s agree: michael madigan is a red-blooded american.

    leadership is making difficult decisions when there are risks involved. the greater the risks, the bolder the leadership required. now no one is ever going to call madigan a bold leader. the question here is: is madigan a leader at all in the 21st century (outside of the perfunctory title, which he’s clearly earned)?

    here’s the rub: i accept YDD’s argument. i don’t doubt that all the major advances in the past have been bipartisan. i accept the fact that it will require greater political skills to save democratic seats if a tax increase is passed. i simply don’t accept his underlying assumption that there are republicans who will vote for a tax increase — any tax increase — in this age of the Tea Party.

    which means either the speaker is burying his head in the sand *or* he has chosen that illinois be paralyzed, that nothing get done, not just to get the can down the road but actual regression in illinois politics and economy.

    which means the speaker/legislature is responsible for preventing illinois from moving forward. who needs that? we certainly can’t call that leadership…

    Comment by bored now Thursday, Nov 18, 10 @ 7:11 am

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