* The Tribune editorial board gushed all over Gov. Rauner today, calling his agenda “The Rauner Revolution”…
“We have a moral duty to have an efficient government. The tax money belongs to the taxpayers. It doesn’t belong to the bureaucracy, and government is not a welfare system.”
— Gov. Bruce Rauner to the Tribune Editorial Board, April 6, 2015.
The common gold-throated U.S. officeholder, politicianus americanus, enters conversations desperate to please you, the voter, right now. Ask about any substantive issue — immigration policy, coal standards, Asian carp — and you’ll often get an obsequious answer intended to convey empathy: “I share your concern about your issue. I’ve looked into it, and, um, everything should be on the table!”
Not so with the rookie governor of Illinois. Bruce Rauner sounds as if he wants to get to every issue, eventually. Now, though, he’s focused on precisely one item: an agenda he calls The Illinois Turnaround. He’s barnstorming the state this week, distributing thick binders and committing himself to transform our governments — especially the broke, broken one headquartered in Springfield.
* And, as usual, the Tribites ain’t worried about the details because WE HAVE A NEW SAINT…
We hope, though, that voters who elected him in November see the thrust of this agenda, if not its every jot and tittle, as a path to growing Illinois’ economy and thus its revenues.
* From news coverage of the editorial board meeting…
Rauner says the package would save state and local governments money and would make the business climate in Illinois more competitive. But during the hourlong meeting, the rookie governor repeatedly steered discussion away from specifics, preferring instead to drive home his contention that “the system is rigged” against taxpayers and employers.
One such moment came when Rauner railed against public worker unions that donate heavily to further their political aims. Asked how he intended to get a ban on union campaign contributions through a legislature that is heavily backed by organized labor, Rauner pointed to the binders his staff had prepared.
“Read it,” he said. “Change the law … that’s what our proposal is.”
Pressed to explain, Rauner simply said: “Crisis. Crisis creates leverage.”
But specifics are important, because you gotta pass a bill. So let’s take a look.
* The newly updated “Turnaround” proposal can be read in full by clicking here. He’s put a bit of meat on some of his bare campaign bones…
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. To recover on a workers’ compensation claim, the employee bears the burden of showing s/he has sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of employment.
Currently, if the employment is related at all to the injury, no matter how indirectly, the employee’s injury is compensable. If a work injury aggravates a pre-existing condition even slightly, the employer is 100% liable for the workers’ compensation claim.
Twenty-nine states have a higher causation standard than Illinois. Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee recently passed laws requiring the workplace to be the primary cause for workers’ compensation to be compensable. Florida’s major contributing cause standard is identical to the one we are proposing.
• The causation standard should be raised from an “any cause” standard to a “major contributing cause” standard. The accident at work must be more than 50% responsible for the injury compared to all other causes.
* Some have the tiniest bits of meat added. For instance…
This legislation would repeal the Illinois Prevailing Wage Law. Projects funded by the federal government would still be subject to federal requirements, including the Davis-Bacon Act. Wages would also still be subject to generally-applicable state laws, such as the Illinois minimum wage. While home- rule local governments would be able to determine local prevailing wages, a local prevailing wage would not apply to a state-funded project (but a federal prevailing wage would continue to apply, if the project is federally funded).
Emphasis added for purely snark purposes.
* Collective bargaining exclusions…
This legislation would authorize local governments, acting through their governing bodies or by voter- initiated referenda, to exclude certain topics from collective bargaining. These topics include:
• Use of third-party contractors;
• Wages in excess of aggregate limits established by the local government;
• Health insurance benefits;
• Use of employee time for the business of the labor organization;
• Required levels of staffing;
• Procedures and criteria for personnel evaluations and use of seniority; and
• In the case of schools, curriculum or standards of student academic performance, conduct, and
discipline in school.
* Some proposals appear to have not been updated to reflect new developments…
This legislation explicitly authorizes municipal bankruptcy. There are no requirements, pre-conditions or other limitations to a municipality’s access to Chapter 9 in the proposed legislation. The decision whether to file is left entirely up to a municipality.
Rep. Ron Sandack has already agreed to create some sort of board to help municipalities find a way out of bankruptcy. Rauner wants none of that.
* And then there’s his property tax freeze…
• Starting in property tax year 2016, payable in 2017, all property tax extensions from local taxing districts will be equal to the extension from 2015.
• This will impact home rule and non-home rule units of government and both PTELL and non- PTELL counties.
• It will still be possible for a property owner to see fluctuations in property tax bills due to an increase/decrease in value, new construction or the expiration of a tax increment financing district.
• Through a referendum voters may decide to break through the property tax freeze.
And, “there’s no chance of the property tax freeze” Rauner wants to impose, [GOP state Sen. Dave Syverson] said, because “he’s already cutting funding for local government.”