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Harmon: Rauner is “bullying” and “holding the entire state hostage”

Friday, May 22, 2015

* Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon responds to Gov. Rauner’s SJ-R op-ed, in which the governor threatened a long overtime session unless Democrats agree to support his reforms…

After reading Governor Bruce Rauner’s opinion piece I agree with the governor on some of the problems the state faces: Our pensions need to be funded and our property taxes are too high.

Unfortunately, we don’t begin to agree on solutions.

Let’s start with pensions. I voted for a major reform two years ago. The Supreme Court just struck it down, ruling that once someone is hired by the state, pension benefits cannot be diminished.

Yet the governor continues to call for diminished benefits “going forward.” We need pension reform, but we’ll never get there with a governor who ignores the Constitution, the Supreme Court and reality.

Yes, property taxes are too high. They’re also extremely unfair to hard-working families who end up getting hit much harder than the wealthy.

I’m working on a solution to provide tax fairness for the middle class.

My solution is a fair income tax, one where higher rates would apply to higher incomes and lower rates would apply to lower incomes. It’s logical and allows middle class families to keep more of their hard-earned money. Nearly every state that borders Illinois already has such a system.

What solutions does the governor offer? None that work for the working families.

He slashes funding for our communities and freezes property taxes. That results in fewer firefighters and police officers, slow snow removal and more pesky potholes.

Illinois deserves better.

It’s clear who Governor Rauner is looking out for and it’s not regular families.

Rauner’s looking out for his Wall Street friends, the corporate millionaires and billionaires who don’t want to pay their fair share.

More alarming is that the governor refuses to move forward on a balanced budget until we approve his agenda. He’s holding the entire state hostage until he gets what he wants, and in the meantime he’s putting real families and real programs in jeopardy. This isn’t leadership. This is bullying.

His plan cripples unions and lowers the wages and benefits of working families.

He wants to make it easier for employers to refuse to pay injured workers.

He wants to make it harder to collect unemployment if your company lays you off.

He wants to keep the minimum wage lower than the cost of living.

That’s class warfare, aimed squarely at the middle class. The only people who benefit from Governor Rauner’s agenda are his corporate pals.

I’m willing to work with the governor to balance the budget.

What I won’t do is dismantle the middle class, no matter what the governor threatens.

The middle class is not a “special interest.” The middle class is the key to a healthy, thriving Illinois.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Norseman - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:37 am:

    Tag you’re it - time for you to bash us for being intransigent and hurting Illinois families.

  2. - Honeybear - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:37 am:


  3. - Peoria Guy - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    Lot’s of unnecessary bluster out there from both parties. That is why many voters tune out,

  4. - Anon III - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    Translation: “I’m a good guy and the Gov. is a bad guy.”

    This is not productive.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:40 am:

    To tip my hat to - Norseman -, I’ll let his comment stand as mine as well, that’s how I really feel, lol

  6. - walker - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:41 am:

    Rauner and Harmon just preaching to their respective choirs.

    But the apocalyptic language of both says that end-of-session craziness has erupted a couple of days early this year.

    Can’t wait til July.

  7. - siriusly - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    Harmon said what most Dems have been thinking all session.

  8. - Louis G Atsaves - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    That Springfield cocoon mentality right about now is absolutely awesome. Both legislatures and the Governor’s office should be held hostage until their jobs are done. May sound harsh but they all had plenty of time to get their acts together. Finger pointing is no solution.

  9. - Beaner - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:43 am:

    The problem with the Income Tax in Illinois is it is not used to the tax rich or wealthy. It is used to tax the W2 wage slave. We need to recognized we have artifically low Standard Deductions and Exemptions to cover up the $4 billion dollar Alcohol Beverage Industry subsidy and the $1.5 billion Casino subsidy. Higher Income Tax rates merely ignores the structural problem in place: mutlibillion dollars to subsidies forms of negative economic development.

    Much of the violence and crime in our society can be directly traced to gateway drug alcohol.

    We won’t gamble our way to prosperity with Gaming profits privatized and the Common School fund shorted a cool $1 billion a year by the Gaming Industry.

  10. - PublicServant - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:43 am:

    Harmon is spot on. Unfortunately, Rauner is governor, so the state is in for a rough ride.

  11. - Anonymous - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:43 am:

    Couldn’t find anything Harmon said that a reasonable person could take exception to.

  12. - anon - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:43 am:

    If there ever was a myth, it is dems caring about the middle class.

  13. - Juvenal - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:43 am:

    The governor is doing a great job of uniting Illinoisans.

  14. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:44 am:

    LOL. Yes, let me just pour some gasoline over here…

  15. - Forklift - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:46 am:

    Anon III: The message is I’m for the middle class and you’re not. If you think that message makes Rauner seem like a “bad guy,” well that’s your issue.

  16. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:47 am:

    Great job by Harmon of explaining pension reform foolishness.

    But he didn’t address 2 of the 4 points from Rauner’s op-ed (redistricting, term limits).

  17. - facts are stubborn things - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:47 am:

    Harmon gets it on pensions….reality check.

  18. - bloval27 - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:48 am:

    While Harmon is saying the right things, I’m still wondering where this mentality was when we had a Democrat governor and legislature?

  19. - 1776 - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:50 am:

    Political speak…

    The Senate Dem minimum wage proposal is also lower than the cost of living.

    And Harmon is part of the Dem leadership that voted for UNBALANCED budgets. Take some responsibility.

  20. - OneMan - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:50 am:

    Beamer –

    Well, it wasn’t conservatives who were the primary force against the last constiutional convention question on the ballot which would have been the easiest time to address the constitutional requirement for a flat tax rate.

    It was the public employee unions who were afraid of changes that might have allowed benefit changes for state workers and retirees.

    Also, why didn’t the legislature put that on the ballot instead of a ‘millionaire surcharge’? Going to a progressive tax requires a constitutional amendment in this state.

    As for the 1.5 Billion dollar casino industry subsidy… Trying to figure out what you mean by that the 1.6 billion they take in

    or do you think the 574 million they pay in is insufficient?

  21. - the Patriot - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:50 am:

    We as democrats are incapable of passing a budget that is constitutional and we think it is not fair for the governor to force us to consider his agenda unless we do our jobs. Very disturbing…

    I have an idea, pass a balanced budget before May 31. If you could, you would, but you can’t, so you won’t. Nice for you to set up we think it’s not fair that we failed, before you actually fail.

    IL Democrats are so used to failure, they are now making excuses before they actually fail.

  22. - Ahoy! - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:55 am:

    yes because Harmon and the Illinois legislature have passed laws that just make Illinois great for working families, at least if you’re working for the government.

    While Harmon wants to pretend that workers comp and unemployment insurance reforms hurt working families, he must not understand a couple things.

    1. Some working families own businesses and employ other working families.

    2. About 95% of working families depend on private sector jobs and those jobs are attracted to states that run responsibly, encourage capital investment and job growth and are not demonized for political gain.

    I would also remind Harmon that he was elected by a map that he and the legislature drew, the Governor was elected because people in Illinois are not currently happy with how our state is being run, while the entire turn-around agenda is too brash, it’s time for change.

  23. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 11:57 am:

    ==where this mentality was when we had a Democrat governor and legislature==

    No, no, no. We exacerbate the problem, see.

    And then when you try fixing said problem, we rail against you for addressing the problem we helped develop into a crisis. No accountability, ever.

  24. - Anonymous - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:00 pm:

    Translation: “I’ve spent years contributing to and supporting the bad decisions that put this State in the mess that it’s in now, so trust me to fix it, not the guy with different ideas!”

  25. - The Muse - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:01 pm:

    Harmon 2018!!!(?)

  26. - Enviro - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:02 pm:

    All that Senator Don Harmon said above is true.

    But why didn’t the Democrats extend the 5% state income tax last year, so they could to use it as leverage for a progressive income tax amendment to the Illinois State Constitution?

  27. - Wensicia - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:03 pm:

    I doubt Rauner would disagree with any of the above and probably is flattered by Harmon’s statement.

  28. - Forklift - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:05 pm:

    It’s time for the middle class to tell the Governor that the rich can’t take any more from them. It’s time for a contract with the middle class!

  29. - CharlieKratos - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:08 pm:

    RtB, “But he didn’t address 2 of the 4 points from Rauner’s op-ed (redistricting, term limits).”

    And he’s drawing attention to what they don’t want to address. Seems like a “showing the claws while exposing the throat” move. I wonder if that’s what BR’s going to drive for once he finally drops RTW. I guess it depends on whether he wants to play the short game or the long one.

  30. - A guy - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:08 pm:

    Point by point rationalizing…Hmmm

    Sorta reminds me of a certain guy who’s a regular here. lol.

    Honestly, I’d take this as a positive sign, since the other chamber is led by a guy who professes not to read the papers.

    This long of a list who tell you someone hit a nerve.

  31. - Cassandra - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:14 pm:

    All that talk about progressive taxation is fine, but it looks to me like the only tax Harmon and the Dems will be left with this spring is the restoration of most or all of Quinn’s income tax hike, which, as a flat tax, falls disproportionately on the middle class. So his talking point about not abandoning the middle class is just a bit disingenuous.

  32. - Nick Danger - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:14 pm:

    Harmon can bloviate with the best. Pulls the typical “class warfare” card. If Harmon gave a rat’s patootie about the middle class, he and his pals in leadership would have addressed the mounting debt crisis (not just pensions) over the last dozen years. They smartly voted in the tax increase using lame ducks to carry it over the goal line, but when push came to shove on keeping the tax increase, they chose politics over sound governance. And in the end, sadly that’s always been the playbook.

  33. - nixit71 - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:14 pm:

    Working families, regular families, real families…

    When a state Senator cannot even choose one adjective to describe the families he purportedly represents, the he may want to glance in the mirror and see where the true problem resides.

  34. - Wordslinger - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:15 pm:

    –point by point rationalizing–

    Rationalizing of what?

  35. - Juvenal - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:16 pm:

    === Well, it wasn’t conservatives who were the primary force against the last constiutional convention question on the ballot which would have been the easiest time to address the constitutional requirement for a flat tax rate.

    It was the public employee unions who were afraid of changes that might have allowed benefit changes for state workers and retirees. ===

    Actually, BEAMER, the effort to quash the Contitutional Convention was backed by organized labor and just about every single business group you can name.

    Conservatives didn’t want to gamble on a progressive income tax or elimination of corporate income tax cap.

    Also, while there might have been a push to eliminate the constitutional protection for public pensions, conservatives were worried that protection might be expanded to include private pensions, or strengthened to require the state to make payments.

  36. - olddog - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:17 pm:

    @ bloval27 at 11:48 am

    Repeat after me: “Democrat” is a noun. “Democratic” is an adjective. Got it? When you confuse the two, you tell everybody: (1) you can’t identify the parts of speech; or (2) you’re parroting partisan talking points. Either way, you’re wasting everybody’s time — including yours.

  37. - MurMan - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:18 pm:

    I agree that it’s self serving for Harmon to ignore term limits and redistricting reform. If Rauner was going to the mattresses and holding the state and the budget hostage for good government reforms like redistricting and term limits, I’d have no problem calling him reformer shaking up Springfield. The fact that his main concerns are union busting and implementing a whole host of conservative economic policies tells me that the whole reformer talk is a crock. It’s a smoke screen to provide cover while he tries to bully the GA to accept his economic dogma. Rauner is not a reformer trying to clean up state government; he is an ideologue trying to bully his beliefs into policy. Harmon’s critique is spot on.

  38. - anon - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:19 pm:

    Rauner forgot more about negotiations this morning than most of these legislators have ever known in their lifetimes. This is enjoyable to watch from the cheap seats.

  39. - nixit71 - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:21 pm:

    Harmon is still upset his “fair tax” didn’t go anywhere last year. The plan he sold as a tax decrease for 94% of the population, yet in very fine print, under his breath, mentioned “based on the 5% tax rate” - with no mention of “EXPIRING” - and what turned out to be a tax hike on 100% of the population. So sincerity is not one of Harmon’s finer qualities.

  40. - Juvenal - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:31 pm:


    Perhaps Harmon didn’t mention term limits or redistricting “reform” because they have as much to do with balancing this year’s budget as the pumpkin pie bill.

    Look, it is silly to argue that Rauner isn’t holding the budget hostage. You can argue that he has good reason to hold the budget hostage if you want, but it is still being held hostage.

  41. - mal lady - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:32 pm:

    I totally agree with Mur Man. RAUNER doesn’t know the meaning of the word “negotiate”. With him, it is his way or the highway. Our only hope is that the Legislature stands strong. We cannot allow him to get his agenda pushed through. It will destroy the middle class. This is true class warfare.

  42. - Distant Viewer - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:37 pm:

    Not the best tone but it is correct. We must fix the income tax in Illinois. And, we can’t just rob municipal governments to fill in state gaps.

  43. - JB13 - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:46 pm:

    My special interest is not as special interesty as your special interest, because I represent the middle class, and I define what middle class is, because I’m right and I care, and you don’t, because you only care about your special interests, not like me - Said Every Politician Everywhere into Time Immemorial. Yawn.

  44. - cat lady - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:47 pm:

    It would be nice if the democrats all stood up to the Rauner agenda that clearly benefits his friends while trying to take programs and funding away from our communities. Harmon’s fair tax plan is the only real solution that would address our systemic problems in the long term and personally, I’m glad someone is thinking about more than just what happens in the next 9 days.

  45. - Short Bus Rider - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 12:59 pm:

    I don’t know what this dude is smoking, all the dems can say is spend, spend, spend. Well the last 12-15 years worked out so well under their guidance. Not once have I ever heard the words cut or save come out of a democrats mouth. This working for and saving the middle class is the only line they have. A good economy will help the middle class and anyone that is “willing” to work more than another poorly run and corrupt govt program.

  46. - Anonymous - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:08 pm:

    @ Short Bus Rider,
    There is a huge difference between threatening and compromising. Your starting to sound like Rauner, who considers anyone who disagrees with him the enemy. I guess money talks BS walks in the gov. office.

  47. - Big Joe - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:12 pm:

    Don’t know anything about Mr. Harmon, but I sure like what he is saying. Somebody that isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Honesty in government. What a novel idea.

  48. - anonymous - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    Harmon proposes a fair tax meaning less taxes for working families. Money that would get spent back into the economy. All political posturing aside, this makes sense and logically should be supported by both parties. Seems like the Gov. isn’t much into logic, compromising or the realities facing the state.

  49. - Wordslinger - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    SBR, if your whole premise is based on the proposition that there were not major budget cuts in the Quinn years then it is simply worthless.

    For crying out loud, did you miss that whole crash of the world economy or something?

    If, after examining the record, you still hold that proposition, then you’re operating at the level of a cult, immune to evidence or reason.

  50. - Anonymous - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:17 pm:

    == a fair tax meaning less taxes for working families.==

    What he’s been on record in the past as actually proposing is not in line with this assumption

  51. - MurMan - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:18 pm:

    I’m not arguing that Rauner is not holding the budget hostage. He clearly is. I do think it matters why he is holding the budget hostage, though. IL government has some real structural problems. Rauner’s argument that the state should address those problems before passing a budget has merit. If he was holding the budget hostage to get these good government reforms I would be behind him. 1/3 of his turn around bills are these reforms. 2/3s are not good government reforms. They are conservative economic dogma. We can debate if those economic policies would help or hurt IL economy, but it’s wrong to hold the budget hostage if the GA rejects his economic vision for illionois. Thats the point I was making

  52. - Former Merit Comp Slave - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:23 pm:

    Meh probably not helpful but a nice change from Rauner’s Union bashing, pension reform blather. Now it would just be nice if all the finger pointing from both sides would stop and actual negotiating and real governing would begin. As Rich says, tick tick tock boys and girls.

  53. - Wordslinger - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:24 pm:

    I don’t know that Rauner is holding the budget hostage.

    I think he’s waiting for the other guys to propose the revenue that would bring his budget “plan” into balance.

    I don’t think that will happen and I don’t understand why he would think they would do that.

  54. - Just Me - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    It’s an entire piece of one-liners, not real substance. The Democrats can’t help themselves but constantly be in campaign mode.

  55. - by the way - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    I wish Rauner’s staff would quit posting comments on this board. They should know better than posting these comments while on government time.

  56. - OneMan - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:33 pm:


    Think you meant me instead of BEAMER…

    Because yeah a state constitutional convention would have tried to make private pensions be such that they couldn’t be modified…


    Besides for the fact that the feds regulate private sector pensions that would have just led to every private sector employer who has their own pension system (not many) to get rid of them in Illinois and/or turned them over to the unions…

    Then again the feds guarantee part of some other pensions so it would have been a way to unload the problem as well.

    But your best bet for a progressive tax was a convention (which is overdue)

  57. - Demoralized - Friday, May 22, 15 @ 1:33 pm:

    ==The Democrats can’t help themselves but constantly be in campaign mode.==

    Oh, that’s rich. It’s not like the Governor hasn’t been in campaign mode for the last 5 months of “governing.” I think I”m going to scream if I keep reading and hearing stuff like this. If all of you victims want to continue to play these games then by all means keep up what you are doing. I would prefer it if people would offer something constructive. If they can’t then they should shut up.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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