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Defending Gov. Dangerfield

Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013

* House Bill 3717 was introduced yesterday by Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights). The measure would cut the governor’s office budget by a million dollars

Reduces a Fiscal Year 2014 appropriation from the General Revenue Fund to the Office of the Governor for operational expenses from $5,521,100 to $4,521,000. Effective January 1, 2014.

This is almost undoubtedly a ploy to get some media attention rather than an actual legislative threat.

Harris talked to WUIS about his bill

“It’s my contention [Gov. Quinn] and his staff haven’t done their job, because it’s a cooperative venture here in the state, between the legislature and the chief executive,” Harris says. “We passed 600 bills in the spring session. Six hundred bills. Because we didn’t pass one single bill he claims we haven’t done our job.” […]

In response, a spokesman for the governor sent a summary of task forces, deadlines and public pronouncements Quinn has made to help resolve the pension issue, and says the governor isn’t taking a paycheck until that’s done.

That isn’t enough for Harris, who says Quinn has job perks most legislators do not.

“I’m not driven around by state troopers, I have to buy my gas myself, kay? I have to put food on my table and it doesn’t come from the state coffers at the executive mansion. So there’s a little bit of a difference here,” he says.

Harris also notes that, unlike he did for legislators’ pay, Quinn did not veto his own salary; he is just making a temporary choice to not take a paycheck.

OK, but Harris is now getting paid. And Quinn didn’t use his veto to touch staff salaries. Harris’ bill is focused on staff. That’s a bit much.

* And speaking of no respect for Quinn

The chairman of a legislative panel considering a pack-age of tax breaks for Archer Daniels Midland signaled Tuesday the General Assembly may move forward with a plan despite the threat of a veto from Gov. Pat Quinn.

Earlier this month Quinn said he would oppose any legislation offering tax incentives to the Decatur-based agribusiness giant to keep its world head-quarters in Illinois unless the House and Senate sign off on a plan to overhaul the state’s massively underfunded pension systems.

State Rep. John Bradley, a Democrat from Marion, brushed off the governor’s demands following a Tuesday hearing on a separate set of possible tax breaks aimed at helping Illinois beat out Florida as the headquarters of newly merged OfficeMax and Office Depot.

“We’re used to rhetoric like that coming out of the governor’s office,” Bradley told reporters after chairing a meeting of the House Revenue and Finance Committee.

Maybe so, but there’s no great love for this bill in the GA right now.

* And this is incredibly misleading

llinois Gov. Pat Quinn says publicly that public-pension reform is “a paramount issue right now,” but that’s not stopping him from asking for more than $100 million to hike the pay of unionized public employees.

“In terms of fiscal issues, there’s a paramount issue right now, and that is pension reform,” Quinn told reporters on Tuesday. “We must not step back from it, we must step forward.”

At the same time, however, Quinn is asking lawmakers for $200 million in new spending, more than half of which will go to pay promised pay raises for the state’s public employees.

And that’s not sitting will with some lawmakers.

“Our unpaid bills have gone from $4 billion to $7 billion, this guy is a reckless ship when it comes to financial management,” state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington said. “Yes, we need to live up to pour obligations, but (Quinn) needs to learn to live within our means.”

OK, first of all, that proposed approp is actually about paying off an old, unpaid bill. It’s for pay raises going back to 2011 which weren’t funded by the Legislature. A court has ordered the raises have to be paid. And the raises weren’t negotiated by Quinn but by Rod Blagojevich. And then there’s this

Quinn’s staff is urging lawmakers to pay them sooner, so less interest is piled on. Some agencies have already been able to find the money for back pay in their budgets.

So despite the lede of that first story, paying the raises is basically the same argument that Quinn is making on pension reform. Deal with it now or the costs will increase with every day of delay.

You can make the argument that Quinn ought to find the money to pay the raises from within his existing budget, but then you might be asked where he ought to make his agency cuts. And just about every time he lays off workers or closes a state facility, a large group of GOP lawmakers screams bloody murder.

Also, revenues are coming in about $360 million higher than original estimates. So if you treat the back pay as a past-due bill like all the others, then there’s a very logical argument to make that the supplemental appropriation should be approved.

* For his part, Gov. Quinn refused to directly criticize Senate President John Cullerton over the whole “is the pension debt a crisis or not” argument despite this story’s spin

Gov. Pat Quinn Tuesday reiterated that the state’s pension problems are an “extreme emergency” that demand lawmakers’ attention now.

Speaking at a Statehouse news conference, Quinn dismissed a statement from Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, over the weekend that the pension problem does not rise to the level of a crisis.

“I think it is a matter of extreme emergency, it is urgent,” Quinn said when asked about Cullerton’s comments. “Whatever word you want to use, when taxpayers are paying $5 million a day more in pension liability, to me that’s a matter of grave importance. We have to resolve the issue right now.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 10:44 am:

    So HB3717 passes both chambers and the Governor vetoes it, then who sues whom?

  2. - Empty Chair - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    It’s never fair for electeds to craft policies that punish staffers. Sadly though, they almost always succeed in scoring the political points they desire when doing so. Staffers are underpaid, overworked, and spend significant periods of time away from their families during session. Many have advanced degrees (i.e. student loans) and are often forgoing lucrative careers in the private sector.

    This move reminds me of the recent attempt by the GOP in Congress to kick all Congressmen and their staffs off the Congressional Health Plan, forcing them into the Obamacare Exchanges. In order to score points with the base back home, they’re costing their staffers (many of whom make less than $30k/yr) thousands of dollars and eliminating a standard practice employer-sponsored health plan that works pretty well.

    Rich, as a former staffer (who left to make more $), I appreciate the awards you give out every year. Though I never wanted to win one, it made me happy to know people were acknowledging the work of staffers at various level - from administrative to legislative and comms. Rarely do staffers get a thanks from the bosses, so it is nice when there is some outside appreciation for our work.

  3. - Mason born - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    this is every bit as wrong as Quinns action. That being said Quinn had to know something along this line had to happen. The problem with throwing populist hand grenades at your Co-equal branch of government is they have their own supply to volley back.

    As for it hurting Staffers, I bear them no ill will, it does appear to be a legitimate use of the legislative power. Distasteful but legitimate. Further by targeting the entire Governors office i think they avoid some of the same arguments they just made against Quinns veto.

  4. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 10:55 am:

    This is indeed a PR stunt, and unlike Harris. Is there new House campaign staff at play?

    Harris generally does a good job, but his statement that “we passed 600 bills” is more embarrassing than a source of pride. Maybe 100 of those were necessary and helpful to the state, and certainly less than a dozen are close to the same class as pension reform.

    The rest are ego, and campaign staffs talking.

    I’ve pushed for a temporary rule or understanding for Executive and Rules committees, that nothing gets out ahead of substantial financial and fiscal reforms, (while not requiring change to the regular appropriations and budgeting schedule.)

  5. - truthteller - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    It is interesting that John Bradley wants to move a bill that gives a tax break to ADM, while he sat on a bill that would have appropriated money to pay correctional officers and other state employees in his district the back wages they are owed.

    Speaks volumes about Bradley and whose interests he represents in Springfield. It’s certainly not his constituents he is looking out for.

  6. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    So, one democrat says there is no emergency and we have another that says it is an “extreme emergency”. Do we see a split in the democrat party? One could possibly say that means we have 3 political parties except for the fact that there really is no GOP in Illinois.

  7. - DuPage - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    Governor Quinn said “We have to resolve this issue right now”.
    1. OK, start by reworking the ramp to a longer term.
    2. Make the goal at 80% which is considered a good funding level by actuaries.
    3. Get lower interest bonds to pay off some of the high interest loans taken from the pension systems.
    4. Make pension payments mandatory, and enforceable.
    5. Don’t try anything that is unconstitutional.
    6. Pay the pensions, then get to work on the many other issues facing the state.

  8. - train111 - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    600 bills huh!! Probably 500 are to name some 2 room state building out in Bumbledump County after honorary county commissioner Twinky McTwinkerson. Outside of those types of bills, what did they really pass.

  9. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    Rep. Harris has bigger fish to fry. This tit-for-tat stuff is juvenile. Enough, already.

  10. - Norseman - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    Appropriate header. The problem is that he deserves no respect when he pulls stunts like the legislative salary IV. Harris’ bill is a minor public statement of irritation. Not going anywhere. If the SC doesn’t put a nail in the IV coffin, then you’ll see real retaliation from the folks that matter.

  11. - Reality Check - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    Re that garbage Watchdog story on back pay for state employees, Bill Brady - and every other elected official quoted in the piece - got their back pay last month, within hours of a court ruling in their favor. Why shouldn’t frontline workers be treated the same way?

  12. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 11:46 am:

    Hey, Twinky did a great job - don’t begrudge him his named room!

  13. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    So, some Democrats want to give ADM a tax break to facilitate the move of some high-ranking and highly paid corporate executives so they can live and work in or near the big city lights? We understand why they want to move. Big cities are where the action is. And wealthy folks contribute a lot to cities. But do the rest of us have to pay the rich to help them do it.

  14. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 12:04 pm:

    Quinn’s response to Harris say it all - task, deadlines and public pronouncements. Gee, if that’s governing then I’m running for Governor. What about meeting with legislators or the conference committee? What about figuring out what it’ll take to get the votes? Governor Press Conference in Chicago strikes again.

  15. - Rusty618 - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    Excellent ideas!! They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and now want to blame the baker. It is time for the Cookie Monster to look somewhere else for the cookies.

  16. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:46 pm:

    Well oh well–the “Sure-Is-Vindictive-Looking” Harris Bill, the “Pfff Quinn-We the Legislature’ll do whatever we WANT to Attitude” Bradley remark, the “It’s REALLY all the Guv/my Former Opponent-I-Lost-To’s Fault” more ‘o the same Sour-Grapes hack by Brady, as well as the “WHAT Crisis?/Stick-It-to-YOU, pQ!” tepid Cullerton shot (not to mention the Madigan “Just Altogether-Ignore that Paycheck Veto-stuff, Mr. Clerk” Letter the other day)–ya just KNEW it was a question of time before THIS/these trashy, petty actions/comments started spewing Pat Quinn’s way, ever since the whiff with his 1st 2 Strikes on his Illinois Court System At-Bat took place on the Legislative Paycheck Veto Attack…!

    This all really boils down to the petty/dark-side of human nature and the FACT that they were all royally peeved in both the House and Senate for what PQ did–and now that the Governor’s lost so far in the Courts and they’re back in Session, it’s REALly starting to PUBLICly show…!

  17. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    Not unexpected but unfortunate. Can the adults in the room step up?

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