Sadly, there they go again. Governor Pat Quinn and his staff routinely twist reality, mislead the public and insult the men and women who do the real work of state government in their communities every day.
Endlessly repeating lies does not make them true. Yet the 1200 words of empty political talking points issued today by a Quinn spokeswoman are riddled with repeated falsehoods and glaring omissions.
· Quinn deliberately understates the danger posed by his litigious assault on workers’ right to collective bargaining and his long-running refusal to honor union contracts. The governor has broken his contracts with several unions representing state employees, refusing to honor workers’ fairly bargained pay schedules to which he himself had agreed. In a strongly worded award siding with workers, an independent arbitrator found that if the governor gets his way, “the collective bargaining process will be severely undermined.” Rather than complying with the arbitrator’s order, Quinn has provoked an ongoing court battle.
· Quinn echoes Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan talking points on health care and retirement security, arguing to slash the modest pensions earned by public employees and excusing his devastating $2 billion cuts to Medicaid—that eliminated prescription drug help for seniors and took health insurance from thousands of working families—in order to “preserve” these programs, just as Romney and Ryan seek to privatize Social Security and voucherize Medicare on similar grounds. The people understand that the governor’s “forced choice” pension scheme in unfair and unconstitutional, causing retirees to either lose their health insurance or tens of thousands of dollars in pension benefits that enable seniors to keep up with rising costs for food and medicine.
· Quinn time and again minimizes the damage of his threat to lay off some 4,000 disability and mental health caregivers, child protection workers, correctional officers, state police dispatchers and other state employees. He callously claims credit for the job protection provisions guaranteed by the union contract—but is utterly silent on the human consequences of slashing their essential work to protect public safety, prevent child abuse and care for the most vulnerable. He cries poverty but ignores the fact that the General Assembly fully funded nearly all the services and jobs he’s trying to cut. And as for the claim that alternative employment has been offered to every state worker whose job is threatened, it is simply false.
· Quinn’s state-employee pay claims are patently false and wholly misleading. The net general increases received by most union members over the past 8 years equal just 23.25%–less than 3% per year. (Math: Gross increase 32.5% less 4% additional employee pension contribution and 5.25% withheld by Quinn.) Just 2 in 5 state employees are eligible for additional pay that rewards experience and encourages stability in the state workforce, and only a miniscule number could have been eligible for the sort of increases the administration claims all workers received. Meanwhile, Quinn pretends to forget the hundreds of millions of dollars these employees saved state taxpayers via pay deferrals, unpaid furlough days, health plan changes and innovative efficiencies, and never mentions that many do the jobs of two or three workers, since Illinois has the nation’s fewest state employees per capita.
· Quinn ignores the reality of the state’s dangerously overcrowded prisons—built to safely hold just 33,000 inmates but now overflowing with an all-time high of more than 49,000—instead incredibly claiming the seven facilities threatened with closure are “empty,” “half full” and “no longer needed”.
· Quinn twists his record on corporate tax loopholes by emphasizing what he failed to do and failing to mention what he actually did. Seeking accolades for his feeble support for closing a loophole that allows big oil companies to hide profits on offshore drilling platforms—a loophole that was never actually closed–Quinn neglects to mention his cheerleading role in tax giveaways to profitable corporations like Sears, Boeing, Motorola and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They pocketed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with his support, then he cut health care for the elderly and disabled.
In each case, the administration’s playbook is the same: Dehumanize public service workers. Devalue the services they provide. And say anything to drown out or discredit them, regardless of the relationship of Quinn’s claims to the truth.