Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) was a lonely Republican voice outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, looking over the crowd waving rainbow flags and throwing his support behind marriage equality.
Other Republican lawmakers, such as Reps. Bill Flores (Texas) and Steve King (Iowa), also showed up as the Supreme Court justices inside heard arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case expected to settle whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. However, they spoke against legalizing same-sex marriage. […]
“After my stroke I learned a lot about love and death,” [Kirk] told The Huffington Post after his speech. “I realized that life gets down to who loves you, who you love, and the government has nothing to do with that decision.”
“For me, the real legacy of our party is freedom on top of freedom,” he added. “To remember the Abraham Lincoln legacy that the only way to solve a freedom problem is to provide more freedom to people. That your basic right of association as an American is a right to associate with whomever you want, and the government should not be able to block that.”
1) I’m happy to see the governor has started to discover one of the greatest “real world” benefits of trade unions: They train a highly skilled workforce who make living wages and keep this state in the game. Anyone who has ever driven down I-55 has seen those big union training centers. Our regional economy (including Northwest Indiana’s) absolutely depends on that training.
2) Now, if the governor would only pause for just a moment to consider that maybe we need more of this, not less. “Right to work” would mean less. And then who’ll do all that training, and will it be any good?
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In Bruce Rauner’s Illinois, the common villain behind crushing pension debt, municipalities sliding toward bankruptcy and businesses bypassing the state is organized labor.
“Government union bosses” are also the reason that Chicago Public Schools are likely to go bankrupt, the Republican governor said recently. And residents of the city, which Rauner says faces greater financial peril than Illinois, can blame them if property taxes skyrocket, he says.
In a little more than 100 days as chief executive of the nation’s lowest-rated state, Rauner has begun an election-worthy campaign tying much of Illinois’s financial misery to the actions of organized labor. If union power isn’t rolled back in a state where one in seven workers is a member, Illinois is doomed, he says.
“We’re slowly, slowly starting to become southeast Michigan,” Rauner, 59, a former private-equity executive, said April 15 in a not-so-veiled reference to Detroit’s record $18 billion bankruptcy. […]
“Our government unions are very, very powerful,” Rauner said in a speech Monday to the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Chicago. “We’re 93 percent unionized — the most unionized state government in America.”
“Very high cost, very much featherbedding and overstaffing,” he said.
And again with the Detroit card? Has he ever been to Detroit? People have been playing that card since Harold Washington was mayor. Yes, the city has big problems, but Detroit it ain’t, and neither is Illinois.
With a series of titanic budget votes coming up fast, Gov. Bruce Rauner went into full campaign mode today, depicting himself as a man on a sacred mission to break the hold that “corrupt” insiders and labor unions have on the state’s government and economy.
Speaking to a friendly business group here in Chicago, the state’s new GOP governor appeared to pull no punches and signaled no interest in compromise—and, if anything, he seemed to lengthen the list of things on his agenda.
“We have a moral duty to act,” Rauner told the Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing. “We have a duty to minimize how much we have to take from you. . . .That money belongs to taxpayers.”
Right now, Rauner said, “the unions control everything. There is not a school district in America that can withstand a strike of over a week.” The result, especially here in Illinois, is “higher taxes. Deficit spending. It’s a conflict of interest we’ve got to take care of.”
Alluding to “tough votes” that will occur within a month or two in Springfield, Rauner said “special interests” are “yelling and screaming and trying to intimidate the process.” But they have so weakened the Illinois economy that a “crisis has created the opportunity for structural change.”
Management pushing to make our workplaces less safe and much less fair.
After several rounds of negotiations, there’s little common ground to be found. The Union is pressing for stronger safeguards against irresponsible privatization, while the Rauner Administration is pushing to wipe out any limits on privatization at all. In fact, the Administration is pushing for changes that would allow the employer to lay off bargaining unit employees and bring in vendor employees to… do their work.
The Administration is proposing dozens of other changes to key sections of the contract aiming to undo decades of progress in shaping safe, fair and humane working conditions. They want to do away with any limits on forced overtime, to eliminate bumping and other layoff rights, to require longer hours and less overtime pay—and much more.
While no economic proposals are yet on the table, the Administration included over $700 million in cuts to the group health plan in its FY 16 budget based on a drastic restructuring of health insurance benefits that could cost each employee thousands of dollars annually.
The governor is claiming that state employee salaries are too high and pensions too generous. In fact, neither our wages nor benefits are out of line with other states or with our skills and education. We ‘re on the job every day providing services that citizens depend on, while the governor is travelling the state trying to stir up animosity toward unions and working people.
We’re standing together for a fair contract! We’re standing up for our union rights!
Unity Day — Thursday, April 30 We’ll be wearing green clothes, or wearing union t-shirts, or wearing the new ‘100%’ union buttons. We’ll have union signs or banners. Check with your local union for the “unity day” plan for your worksite
Gonna be a long, hot summer for Roberta Lynch et al.
From the sub-zero temperatures and unyielding snow of winter to the blazing hot summer temperatures that are just around the corner, the state of Illinois knows a thing or two about extreme weather.
Nearly half of Illinois’ electricity comes from nuclear energy, which is always on, providing reliable power when we need it most – even under extreme weather conditions. Without nuclear energy, there would be inadequate energy to meet our needs on the coldest and hottest days of the year.
During the 2014 Polar Vortex, when coal, natural gas, and wind facilities did not perform well, nuclear plants maintained a capacity factor between 95 and 98 percent, allowing businesses and residents the ability to keep their lights and heat on during that period of extreme weather.
But half of our state’s nuclear energy plants may be shut down prematurely because of outdated energy policies. According to the State of Illinois, the cost of these premature closures would be enormous and include:
• Decreased Electric Grid Reliability
• Forcing Consumers to Pay For Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars In New Transmission Lines
• Elimination of Nearly 8,000 Jobs
• The Loss of $1.8 Billion Annually in Economic Activity
• The Destruction of State and Local Tax Bases
• Increase in Carbon Emissions and Dirtier Air
• Higher Consumer Energy Costs
If we lose these plants, things could get really uncomfortable.
Members of the Illinois General Assembly: Vote YES On HB 3293 / SB 1585
I’m a longtime reader (not a subscriber though, I know, shame on me). You’ve touched on an issue in several posts but I’d love for you to dive into it more, that is…
Why do you think Rauner isn’t engaging the media?
I have several theories but I’d like your take. Here’s my short list:
1. He just isn’t good at handling the media’s line of questioning and/or is stiil learning.
2. He’s very big on controlling his message and doesn’t see the media as being able to help him carry that message.
3. He views them as the enemy that’s only going to support the unions and the Dems.
4. He’s naturally a private person and doesn’t see the value in opening up. (That would seem to make sense knowing how little we learned about him during the election.)
5. He doesn’t want to get pulled away from his message, that is union busting and the budget.
Anyway, thanks for all your work. All the best, keep it up.
* The Question: Why isn’t Gov. Rauner talking much to the media lately? Take the poll, click as many answers as you think may apply and then explain your vote(s) in comments, please.
*** UPDATE *** The governor will take some questions today in Springfield…
What: Governor Attends Workers Memorial Day Event with IDOL Director Chaviano
Where: Essentra Specialty Tapes
7400 Industrial Dr, Forest Park
Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Note: No additional media availability.
What: Governor Attends IDOT Listening Tour Event with Secretary Blankenhorn
Where: Hoogland Center for the Arts
420 S. Sixth St.
Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Time: 2:30 p.m.
What: Governor Discusses Turnaround Agenda at IL Association of County Officials Spring Conference
Where: Hilton Springfield
700 E. Adams St., Springfield
Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Time: 5:45 p.m.
Note: No additional media availability.
An effort to bring an employee empowerment zone to Jefferson County didn’t get off the ground.
Hundreds of union workers showed up to protest the proposal Monday evening. County Chair Bob White says Governor Rauner is calling for the zones across the state, which would give communities more local control over union contracts.
White called for a motion to vote on the proposal twice, but no other board members would make the motion.
The meeting had to be held in the county building’s lobby to accommodate the huge crowd…
So far, I haven’t heard anything from the governor’s office. I’ll let you know.
Chicago aldermen and union representatives will get to voice their opposition to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed right-to-work zones Tuesday at a hearing on a symbolic measure that’s the latest bit of political posturing on the issue.
The mayors further complained about Rauner’s statewide tour asking local towns to sign onto his Turnaround Agenda, arguing he has failed to provide details on what exactly it is and what it would do. Tully said in his experience, the details from the governor’s Turnaround have “evolved,” leaving him at a loss over what he’s asking his community to sign on to.
Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig said he was equally at a loss for details.
“Up to date, it’s like a shuffling of the deck. We don’t see the cards, and basically we’re asked to respond to a number of platitudes,” said Craig. “If they can’t put it in clear writing, give me the clear facts and legislation then we’re going to struggle with that. . . . We’re happy to work with him, [but] we’re struggling with the facts that don’t exist.”
Village of Mahomet (Champaign County)
Tuesday, April 28 at 6:00 p.m.
503 E. Main Street, Mahomet
Kane County Board
Tuesday, April 28 at 4:00 p.m.
719 S. Batavia Ave, Geneva
Cook County Board
Wednesday, April 29
* Let’s kill all the unions: Unions have been gradually losing public support as they have lost membership. From the 1930s through the 1960s, about two-thirds of Americans approved of labor unions in Gallup polls. That proportion has fallen to barely over half in 2014. Since the 1960s, the proportion of workers in unions has fallen from one quarter to one tenth.
My name is Susan Males. In 2011, I was a healthy, vibrant woman in her mid-40’s. I was experiencing some irregular heartbeats and it was recommended that I have a cardiac catheterization procedure to determine the cause.
I was assured by my referring doctor that this procedure was done by the cardiologist daily. They told me I’d show up to the hospital in the morning, they would do the procedure and I’d be home resting comfortably by lunch time. There was no talk of what could happen, no talk of any risks to this procedure.
I only briefly met the cardiologist who would be doing my procedure. I put my faith in this doctor because he did so many of these “routine” procedures on a daily basis. I trusted him and assumed he knew what he was doing.
As I awoke after the procedure, I was very, very nauseous with an excruciating headache and my vision was very foggy, to the point where I could not see. My “routine” procedure had turned into something much more. I later learned I suffered a stroke after the procedure and it took over 12 hours for someone to recognize the signs. Had the hospital’s staff recognized that my symptoms were consistent with a stroke, my condition could have been treated and I would have returned to my normal self.
Unfortunately, my vision loss is permanent, preventing me from being able to drive and my future earnings potential has been limited.
I turned to the civil justice system to seek recourse. I wanted to hold the doctors and hospital accountable for their lack of response to my stroke symptoms. Using the civil justice system allowed me closure to this difficult time in my life, and has given me the resources to help me live my life the best I can.
I really don’t want to be a class warrior, but what I continue to see going down is that rich people, no longer satisfied with the privileges of being rich, are going for complete control. […]
Rauner’s anti-union agenda… relies on buying into the concept that life will be better for working people in Illinois if they just give the corporate community what it wants: an easier path to lowering wages and benefits. […]
But if you think Sam Zell donated $4 million for your benefit, then you must also be one of those delusional types who think the deck is somehow stacked in favor of working people in this state.
I was asked the other day why I cared so much about this particular topic. My response was that unions are far from perfect, and maybe even terribly flawed and in need of reform and maybe even reined in a bit on some particular issues.
But they are the only folks who can and are effectively standing up to the power of the super-wealthy in this country. As we’ve seen time after time here, the Democrats regularly cave. The unions don’t. Wipe them out and it’s game over.
We’ll have your daily “right to work” roundup later this morning.
The Carbondale City Council could pass its 2016 fiscal year budget tonight.
The budget includes a 0.25 tax increase as an insurance policy against looming cuts in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed state budget. Carbondale’s budget also has an anticipatory 15 percent budget cut built into it. […]
Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity said, if the cuts are more than 15 percent, the city must come up with more revenue. […]
Baity said the budget proposed general fund is balanced with revenues exceeding expenditures by $9,469, and it is set up so the city did not have to cut any essential services.
Mayors from Downers Grove, to Lynwood to Hanover Park, complained that they already made drastic cuts that lawmakers in Springfield failed to make in the years following the recession and the housing bubble burst.
Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully said the state now wants to dip into a $1.2 billion Local Government Distributive Fund, money that covers 10 percent to 15 percent of local municipality budgets and are dedicated to essential services such as police, fire, garbage and snow removal. They launched a new website, ProtecttMyTown.com, for residents to quickly send letters to state lawmakers or the governor’s office about the potential impact of the cutbacks. Rauner’s proposed cuts were part of his plan to deal with a $6 billion shortfall after allowing the state’s income tax increase to expire. […]
“I’m gonna tell you, it’s like the state’s failing, and they want to take the municipalities down with them,” said [Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig]. “I’m not going to stand for that.”
I support ensuring that local tax dollars remain in my community to pay for essential needs like adequate police and fire protection, street repairs, snow removal, garbage collection and many more services that I rely on my municipality to provide every day.
Proposals to divert this revenue away from municipalities unfairly shift the tax burden onto my community and directly onto local taxpayers like me.
It’s a no-win situation for municipalities that don’t want to impose severe cuts in services that we have paid for and expect, or to increase property taxes to make up for the lost revenue. Either of these outcomes would negatively impact our communities and our quality of life.
Our community has been fiscally responsible and balanced its budget every year. I urge you not to shift an additional tax burden onto my community.
Thank you for your consideration and for registering my comment in opposition to reducing the Local Government Distributive Fund and other revenues rightly intended for use by local governments to provide essential services in their communities.
The effort is backed by several prominent mayors’ groups statewide, including the Northwest Municipal Conference and DuPage Mayors and Managers, showing they’ll be fighting the proposal hard for the next month.
They’re up against dozens of other interests all working to protect their share of the state’s tight budget. Mayors preserved their share in a short-term spending fix approved by lawmakers earlier this month.
But that came at the expense of schools and human services programs. Perhaps most notably, Rauner cut spending for a key autism program, a move that has been the subject of pointed questions from lawmakers.
“Overspending and insider deals put in place by career politicians have created a $6 billion budget hole while the amount of money transferred to local governments over the last decade has skyrocketed by 42 percent,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement. “The status quo is broken and unsustainable.”
Criticizing the new governor puts most of these officials in a difficult place politically. Rauner, who promised to shake up state government, won the collar counties by overwhelming margins last November.
“We want to see where this all pans out. Right now we’re facing a clear and present danger,” said Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully.
It’s with a heavy heart that I inform you that Don is in the final stages in his battle with a virus that has overwhelmed his body. He is now receiving palliative care in the hospital with the love and support of Naydene and his daughters. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family and I’m sure yours would be most welcome.
Despite these most difficult times Don has expressed his concern that the battles we have long fought not be set aside. I will continue to do my best to carry on Don’s legacy in advocating for people with disabilities and representing those agencies who serve them.
While Don is in the waning moments of his life, he will long remain with us in our hearts.
The man is a tenacious legend in these parts. His loss will be incalculable.
Don isn’t accepting visitors, but Vickie says if folks want to send cards or notes they can mail them to his office: 310 East Adams, Springfield, IL 62701.
— Reamortize its pension debt from a 30-year payback to 43 years, and level annual pension payments at about $7.3 billion. They’re scheduled to be $6.8 billion in the next fiscal year.
— Increase the personal income tax rate from the current 3.75 percent to between 4.25 percent and 4.5 percent. The rate was 5 percent until Jan. 1.
— Expand the sales tax to include consumer services.
— Start taxing retirement income on a graduated scale.
The amortization plan is a real problem because it immediately increases costs by half a billion dollars a year. The income and service tax arguments are both politically doable because the Dems would back the income tax and the governor has already proposed a service tax (although his campaign service tax plan mainly relied on revenues from trial lawyers).
But that retirement income tax is a legislative non-starter.
Influential Senate President John Cullerton on Monday suggested the state should start taxing retirement income. Illinois does not currently tax pensions or retirement funds such as 401(k) plans, but Cullerton suggested that the idea be in the mix as part of an effort to change the state’s outdated tax system.f