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Today’s numbers

Monday, Dec 9, 2013 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Bloomberg has an interesting piece about last week’s pension reform bill vote which focuses on opposition by southern Illinois Republicans

“I wasn’t going to ask them to walk the plank politically,” [House Republican Leader Jim Durkin] said. “I erased them from the equation. They have a lot of Republican union members down in those districts.”

Thirty-three of those 54 counties south of Interstate 72 lost population in the last census. In some legislative districts in the region, government jobs represent 20 percent of the employment, according to Rob Paral and Associates, a Chicago-based research group that analyzes census data.

“In some of those districts, the state is the major employer,” Durkin said. “That’s part of the problem.”

In the region, 50 of the counties went for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.

Illinois isn’t unique in this regard. In fact, counties with higher proportions of local and state government workers as a share of their total workforce skewed toward Romney last year, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Among the roughly nine in 10 counties where data was available, local and state workers represented 14.2 percent of workers on average. Romney won 81 percent of the counties above that level.

* And here’s a related and very interesting nugget from Greg Hinz

I think Mr. Rauner’s would-be peers in Springfield learned something about his style last week—particularly when, after pretty much accusing the GOP leadership of selling out to unions with “an insider deal crafted behind closed doors,” he showed up at Mr. Durkin’s fundraiser as if nothing had happened. Just bidness, I guess.

* Related…

* Pension reform solution further complicates University faculty recruitment and retention

* Unions may leave Quinn, other pols off donation list after pension vote

* Unions Boxed Into Corner on Pension Reform Vote

* GOP, Dems now face pension vote fallout in 2014

* Tom Cross: Why I voted against pension reform bill

* Erickson: Different perspectives on pension reform votes

* Finke: Illinois pension reform ain’t over yet

* Brady pleased with media reaction to his pension reform vote


  1. - walkinfool - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    Union/government workers often vote for anti-union/anti-government candidates. The reasons obviously don’t include rational economics.

  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:28 am:

    Yeah, Southern Illinois liked Mitt because they’re down on those government-funded takers, lol.

    Keep in mind, too, that every corn and bean farmer in the country has subsidized crop insurance, with the federales paying an average of two-thirds of premiums, that guarantees income, not yield.

    Let me cash my government-funded guranteed-income check, then get Uncle Sam off my back.

  3. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Big Jim set a lot of folks up prior to Rutan, and AFSCME made sure they got to stay.

    Anyone that thinks AFSCME is a bunch of left leaning hippies is mistaken.

  4. - Will - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    Good update on how things look from outside Chicago. All the ad spending in the world won’t make public employee, retirees, and their families forget that Rauner is attacking their livelihood. They’re a large voting block in the Republican primary. Rutherford and Dillard have spent more time on the ground campaigning statewide, so they’re aware that supporting pension cuts is a major liability in statewide elections.
    And it’s not just southern Illinois. What’s the top employer in DeKalb county? Champaign county? McDonough, Logan, Sangamon, McLean, and many others? Government.

  5. - Sir Reel - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    I’m always surprised at how many government employees vote for candidates and a party that are not just anti union but also anti government. What do they think that will lead to? Not them maintaining their pay or keeping their jobs. Maybe they never get past the social issues. Or maybe they think nothing will happen to them personally (because their job is essential).

  6. - Loop Lady - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    Rauner spends alot of time bashing pols, but just can’t stay away from them…this what they mean when they say someone is talking out of both sides of their mouth…”I can’t stand those people, but please help me be one of them”…

  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    –Big Jim set a lot of folks up prior to Rutan, and AFSCME made sure they got to stay.–


    –In 1980 AFSCME Council 31 had 26,000 members, and five years later it had 47,000 members. By December 1990, membership had climbed to 69,500, including 42,500 state workers, 24,000 city and county workers and 3,000 university employees. This growth includes about 6,000 professional employees added since the 1984 passage of the state’s collective bargaining laws for public employees. The professional rank and file
    include 3,500 state workers, 1,000 Chicago city workers and 1,000 Cook County workers. Their jobs range from juvenile and adult probation officers to state lawyers working as public defenders and appellate prosecutors and defenders.–

    For those who have a hard time following timelines, the explosive growth of AFSCME took place long after institution of the 1970 Constitution and about forty years into the state’s pension underfunding problem.

  8. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    I’m always amused when I hear GOP members in central and southern Illinois talking about being for smaller government and running government like a business. But then watch them vote to oppose facility closures and against pension reform. I undertand their talking points sound good, but they and the voters in their districts don’t seem to understand they are Big Government.

  9. - Anon - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 12:10 pm:

    I enjoyed Tom Cross’ explanation of his no vote. He cites one of the reasons as not having the bill properly scored. Funny. When the House passed SB1, the numbers were not back from the actuaries. SB1 numbers were received 5/28/13 although the House passed SB1 on 5/2/13.

  10. - Thomas - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 12:13 pm:

    Great Bloomberg story. It’s a shame the largest paper in the state isn’t doing this kind of reporting. In fact, the Trib has always ignored downstate Republican opposition to pension reform because it doesn’t fit their Rauner-esque narrative of the Democrats being slaves to public employee unions.

    The data in the story just confirms the electoral genius of the GOP since Nixon: getting the white working class to vote against their economic self interest based on cultural issues and racial fear/resentment. Of course, demography is making this strategy obsolete.

  11. - Downstater - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    Public employee unions have created the same environment their brethren in the private sector created by getting good pay and sweetheart deals for their benefits. Their private sector brethren saw most of their jobs disappear and now they are stuck paying the bill.

  12. - Will - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 12:19 pm:

    Sir Reel wrote: “I’m always surprised at how many government employees vote for candidates and a party that are not just anti union but also anti government.”

    Yes, there’s some cognitive dissonance going on with state workers who listen to Rush Limbaugh in the office. I think some convince themselves that Rush is only talking about their lazy co-worker down the hall, not them.

    There’s an opening for Democrats to win over Republican state workers, but they have to provide a preferable alternative. Blagojevich used Reagan’s anti-government-bureaucrat language and treated the state workforce like garbage. Now Madigan and Quinn are attacking their pensions. You can say they aren’t rational for voting Republican, but Illinois Democrats aren’t providing them with a rational alternative either. Since government is the top employer in Illinois, this is not a small electoral issue.

  13. - iThink - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 12:20 pm:

    –Or maybe they think nothing will happen to them personally (because their job is essential). –

    Nail meet head. They’re in the spot because they deserve to be, the rest of y’all are takers.

  14. - OK what - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 2:41 pm:

    “I’m always surprised at how many government employees vote for candidates and a party that are not just anti union but also anti government.”

    So after the last session can you tell me which party is the anti union party?

  15. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 2:45 pm:

    === after the last session can you tell me which party is the anti union party?===

    Up is down and down is up.

  16. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    If elected, I could see Rauner’s style to be as popular with rank-and-file R legislators as Quinn’s style is with D legislators. One difference - Rauner might have more control over a greater percentage of R contributions than Quinn does of D contributions.

  17. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 3:22 pm:

    “skewed toward Romney last year”

    So did the vast majority of counties who doubled their food stamp use in recent years. Who do these people think Romney and the GOP are talking about when they say they want to strip unions and cut public benefits? Thankfully there are others who try to save these people from themselves.

    A sad example of this is something I posted before, but it bears repeating. There was a Mississippi family in a news story around two months ago. This family had major illnesses like cancer and spina bifida, but it hated Obamacare. The family was unsure of whether it wanted Medicaid expansion and just walked around sick. They said they bear their horrible illnesses the best they can. Imagine that, walking around with horrible sicknesses before accepting Medicaid or the ACA, and before asking the wealthy insurance companies to pay more in taxes so that there is a semblance of universal healthcare in America.

    Imagine if you’re a super-wealthy conservative and you want to strip people’s public assistance and lower their wages and benefits, and you have many people who receive these benefits but would club themselves over their own heads just so that you get your way. That is power.

  18. - langhorne - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 3:25 pm:

    rauner is blago 2.0, but with more money. all populist bluster and combativeness. he wants to convince voters to vote for him, to go to war on their behalf–war against union bosses, special interests, self serving politicians, etc. not a clue about how to craft a public policy, or how to motivate legislators to join his cause. (that assumes you can discern a coherent policy anywhere in his blather)

  19. - Juvenal - Monday, Dec 9, 13 @ 6:58 pm:

    Pension reform was always less of a partisan issue and more of a region issue.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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