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AFSCME: Rauner memo “riddled with misinformation”

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* From AFSCME Council 31’s Anders Lindall, regarding a post from earlier today…

Rich –

As you know, AFSCME believes in bargaining at the table, not through the news media. But the letter of Jason Barclay leaked to you is riddled with misinformation that requires correcting.

Among many other false or misleading statements, the Administration claims it has told the union it will not lock out state employees. Aside from the terms of the time-limited, specific terms of the “tolling agreement,” the administration has never made any such commitment—and to the contrary, has actively recruited retired state employees as strike breakers and failed to deny considering the mobilization of the National Guard to break a strike. Our union has been clear that state employees don’t want a strike and in fact have never been forced to strike in more than 40 years of collective bargaining. If the Rauner Administration shares our commitment, why are they planning for a strike, except because they intend to force one?

With respect to the list of our union’s supposed contract proposals, in reality, the union has made very few and very modest proposals. A number of the examples listed are current policies, misleadingly presented. Among them, the “five weeks of vacation” cited by Barclay is current policy available only to employees with 25 or more years of service. The union has proposed no change. Likewise, the state’s step plan is longstanding practice and common among public employers nationwide, and here too the union has proposed no change. More generally, it is misleading and incendiary to suggest that we have “refused to move”. All proposals mentioned by Barclay are economic issues, while the parties have mutually agreed to resolve non-economic issues first. Because those non-economic talks continue, there has yet been no opportunity for us to exchange counter-proposals on economic matters.

In general, the union’s proposals are focused on improving public services, keeping those services under public control not contracted out for private profit, improving workplace and public safety, protecting the rights of public service workers to have a voice on the job, and ensuring that they can afford health care for themselves and their families while keeping pace with the rising cost of living.

Regarding the administration’s claimed “healthcare [sic] savings”, they have proposed no savings at all—only massive, unaffordable cost hikes for state and university employees, retirees and their families. The Rauner Administration’s extreme demands could increase out-of-pocket costs for health care by 500% and leave Illinois state workers with the worst health plan of any state workforce in the nation.

Finally, with respect to the list of 12 supposed “concessions” Barclay claims the administration has made, only two are accurate. After insisting for more than five months on a radical, unconstitutional demand that state employees voluntarily cut their own pensions, the administration finally dropped that demand only yesterday. And we have tentatively agreed to language defining ‘working supervisors’. The rest of the administration’s proposals remain on the table and have not been withdrawn.

I hope these facts are helpful to your readers.


- Posted by Rich Miller   111 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* A synonym and an antonym for both Gov. Rauner and Speaker Madigan?

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Rauner vetoes no-strike bill

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* From the governor’s veto message…

Today I veto Senate Bill 1229 from the 99th General Assembly, which would amend the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act to replace collective bargaining with binding interest arbitration.

For many months, I have advocated that local governments should have the right to determine which subjects are collectively bargained with their public employees. The response from some union officials is that my proposal would “gut” the collective bargaining rights of those public employees. Those same union officials proposed Senate Bill 1229, which goes far beyond my simple proposal. It removes every subject of labor negotiations from the bargaining process and allows unelected arbitrators to impose billions of dollars of new costs on our taxpayers without any involvement of the Executive Branch, the General Assembly, or those taxpayers. This legislation is undemocratic, it is bad for our budget, and it is unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 1229 is also based on a false premise that our Administration has been unreasonable in labor negotiations and wants to lock-out employees or prompt an employee strike. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have negotiated in good faith with AFSCME since shortly after I took office. We came with our proposals ready on day 1, and we made significant concessions from our initial proposals, including revising our proposals on management rights, dues collection, holidays, subcontracting, layoffs, and employee pensions. We asked AFSCME to schedule more frequent weekly negotiating sessions (which they declined), and we voluntarily agreed to extend negotiations even after the current collective bargaining agreements expired on June 30, 2015. At my request, those “tolling agreements” contain express provisions that prohibit a strike or lock-out during our negotiations. Today our Administration signed a new tolling agreement that extends negotiations until at least the end of September. We are working diligently to reach an agreement with AFSCME.

Our proposals have also not been unreasonable. In fact, the proposals we offered to AFSCME are similar to those recently adopted by state employees represented by the Teamsters. It took only two weeks from the time our Administration first met with John Coli, the President of the Teamsters Joint Council 25, to reach agreement with the Teamsters. The Teamsters, to their credit, were realistic about the State’s dire financial condition. They cleared their calendars to negotiate around the clock. They made no outrageous financial demands for large pay increases or new health benefits. They had no problem agreeing to a 40-hour work week. We similarly sought to build a strong partnership with the Teamsters in exchange for their concessions. We agreed to a large monetary bonus pool to reward employees for their exceptional performance. Rather than have an unlimited subcontracting provision, we agreed to allow the Teamsters to bid on any project offered to a private sector company and share in the savings achieved by the State. We also agreed to fund an educational program for their employees, a top priority for our Administration.

Given time and reasonableness, we can reach a similar agreement with AFSCME. This legislation, however, prevents our Administration from doing so. Many are unfamiliar with the concept of interest arbitration that replaces collective bargaining in this legislation. It is not the same as arbitration in civil law, business, or other contract disputes. Interest arbitrators are not allowed to fashion a compromise that Illinois taxpayers can actually afford. Presented with the State’s and the unions’ proposals, arbitrators will be picking winners and losers by accepting either side’s proposal in its entirety. Because they are unelected and unaccountable, arbitrators can decide to impose on the State the unions’ proposals without regard to the dire impact those proposals will have on our fiscal stability. As I write this message, if AFSCME seeks to impose its current proposal, it would cost our taxpayers an additional $1.6 billion in salary and pension costs and would eliminate $500 million per year in healthcare savings that were part of the overall healthcare savings included in both Democrat and Republican budgets. If an unaccountable arbitrator awards AFSCME’s contract, the clear losers will be the State’s taxpayers. And the already-difficult task of balancing the State’s budget in a constitutional manner will become insurmountable, hurting the beneficiaries of State programs and services that would no longer be possible. We cannot afford Senate Bill 1229.

Finally, if enacted into law, Senate Bill 1229 would violate the United States Constitution by retroactively impairing contractual obligations. In the last round of negotiations, the State and unions entered into collective bargaining agreements that spanned the period from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015. Negotiating those contracts in 2012, both sides knew, and bargained with the understanding, that any contractual obligations the parties undertake would expire on June 30, 2015. Senate Bill 1229 changes that bargain by extending the terms of expired agreements beyond June 30, 2015. The United States Constitution forbids the State from enacting a law that changes contracts retroactively. Senate Bill 1229 is therefore unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 1229 would cede major financial decisions to unelected, unaccountable arbitrators. This legislation is bad policy and would derail our efforts to honestly balance the State’s budget and enact meaningful government reforms.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 1229 entitled “AN ACT concerning State government”, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.


Bruce Rauner

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      

Governor’s office claims it’s pledged no lockout, dropped pension demand

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

…Adding… AFSCME has responded. Click here.

* From a letter sent today to all state agency directors from Jason Barclay, who is the governor’s general counsel

As you are aware, agreements between the Executive Branch and labor unions representing state employees expired on June 30, 2015. We initially agreed to a tolling agreement that extended negotiations on new collective bargaining agreements until July 31, 2015. Today, we signed an additional extension until September 30, 2015 or whenever the parties reach an impasse in negotiations. This positive development gives us additional time to reach agreement without the threat of a strike during the negotiations.

Contrary to incendiary comments in AFSCME’s newsletters that have been reported publicly, with or without a tolling agreement the Governor will not lock out state employees. We have told AFSCME that, but they have refused to inform their members.

While unions are prohibited from striking under the terms of the latest tolling agreement, you should nonetheless continue all contingency planning activities for the possibility of a strike. AFSCME has refused to move off the proposals I reported in my last update. Those proposals are outrageously expensive and unacceptable to the Governor. They include the following:

    • An 11.5% pay increase at a cost of over $1.25 billion over 4 years;
    • A 29% pay increase for some employees who receive a general and a “step” increase over 4 years;
    • A 25% increase in longevity pay for Step 8 employees;
    • A 37.5 hour work week;
    • 5 weeks of fully paid vacation;
    • Full health insurance benefits to laid off employees for up to 2 years;
    • Full health insurance benefits to intermittent employees;
    • Full health insurance benefits to part-time employees;
    • A new more expensive health insurance package that covers new procedures such as oral surgery (which is currently covered by the dental plan) and orthodontics for those over 18, without any additional employee contributions;
    • Allow laid off employees to move to a lower employee position but keep their same wage rates indefinitely;
    • Pay lawyers in the union time and half for any time over 37.5 hours per week and pay for them to attend legal conferences;
    • Impose a penalty by doubling wage increases anytime agreed increases are delayed because of budget constraints; and
    • Increase overtime pay at DOC to double time after 6 overtime sessions every 3 months.

Our financial analysts estimate that these proposals would add $1.6 billion in salary and pension costs and would eliminate $500 million per year in healthcare savings that were part of the overall healthcare savings included in both Democrat and Republican budgets. At a time when the current budget is more than $4 billion out of balance, this is unacceptable. It is also far out of line with what other unions have proposed, and which we recently agreed with the Teamsters, who represent over 3,000 state employees across state government, including the Master Sergeants in the State Police. […]

If AFSCME is reasonable, we are hopeful for an outcome similar to the Teamsters. Thus far, they have been unwilling to offer any revisions to their costly economic proposals.

We, however, (also contrary to AFSCME’s newsletters) have made significant concessions from the initial proposal we made months ago. Those include:

    Dropping our request that employees voluntarily move into the Tier II pension system;
    • Withdrawing our proposal to unilaterally implement new work rules;
    • Substantially modifying our proposal regarding the integrity of the bargaining unit – instead of deleting that entire section of the contract, we have proposed returning to collective bargaining language from 2004 that prohibits management from taking any action directed at eroding bargaining unit work;
    • Modifying our proposals regarding management rights, returning to AFSCME’s current language with the caveat that our exercise of management rights will be tempered by the express provisions of the collective bargaining agreement;
    • Turning to the managed-competition model for subcontracting endorsed by AFSCME international;
    • Dropping our proposal to eliminate all “bumping” rights for employees affected by a layoff, presenting a hybrid that allows for senior employees to transfer into vacancies and maintain some “bumping” rights;
    • Withdrawing our proposal to change the rate at which current employees earned vacation;
    • Maintaining the current number of holidays at 12 and a half days a year;
    • Resolving a significant debate with AFSCME regarding the appropriate definition of a grievance and the grievance procedure;
    • Creating a new joint committee on working conditions, safety, and health;
    • Resolving changes to the procedure for temporary assignments and detailing; and
    • Agreeing to a thorough listing of which bargaining unit employees are “working supervisors” and therefore subject to discipline for not enforcing the collective bargaining agreement on behalf of management.

Some emphasis was in the original. The full letter is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   83 Comments      

Dusting off the playbook

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* Rep. John Bradley held yet another committee hearing yesterday in an attempt to figure out which state agency budgets are being tapped to pay the governor’s staff, and how much the governor’s staff is actually costing taxpayers.

Once again, the governor’s legislative liaison refused to attend, instead sending yet another snarky letter, which ends

* The committee’s minority spokesman Rep. David Harris asked both sides to cool their jets

“I would ask you to desist in this effort,” said Harris, the ranking Republican on the House Revenue and Finance Committee, which is chaired by Bradley. “Let’s put it to rest.”

At the same time, Harris also blasted the Rauner administration, saying letters being sent to Bradley by Rauner aide Rich Goldberg are insulting and hurting efforts to bring the issue to a close.

“These letters have got to stop,” Harris said. “They are an insult to the chairman of this committee. The letters are not helpful. They do not move the negotiation process forward.

* But this is interesting

Bradley, who may face a Rauner-backed opponent in the 2016 election cycle, said the hearings will continue because the budget cuts being sought by the governor could be offset by some of the $1.7 million difference in the salaries he’s paying.

“That may not be a lot of money to someone from Chicago, but down in my area that would pay for a juvenile detention center. It would pay for summer jobs. It would pay for an autism program. That’s a lot of money to the folks I represent,” Bradley said.

“Don’t send me a letter from Chicago telling me how the folks I represent feel,” Bradley said

* Bradley isn’t alone. The southern Dems are cranking up the rhetoric against “Chicago”

Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, and Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, have recently stated their beliefs that Chicago continues to stick it to downstate residents.

The Harrisburg Daily Register recently quoted Phelps defending cuts Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed to 4-H agricultural programs for youth. “The fact that the governor wants to target children in Southern Illinois rather than cut wasteful government in Chicago and Springfield puts him lock-step with some of his recent predecessors.

“We’ve heard this song before, with a Chicago governor targeting Southern Illinois for their own political games. “I will fight until the dogs come home for the families in Southern Illinois …”

And here’s Forby recently discussing slated closure of the Hardin County Work Camp with the Benton Evening News:

“We need to keep this facility open. It’s one of the largest employers in one of the most economically challenged areas in my district. I will continue to fight Governor Rauner and this war on Southern Illinois.”

You can pretty much always tell when Downstate politicians feel politically vulnerable by the way they talk about Chicago.

And, like it or not, the tactic is usually effective.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

To fair or not to fair?

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* I did not know this statute existed

(20 ILCS 210/5) (from Ch. 127, par. 1705)

Sec. 5. The Department [of Agriculture] shall annually hold a State Fair at Springfield and DuQuoin to promote agriculture, the agriculture industry, and provide for exhibits and activities in the fields of industry, education, the arts and crafts, labor, entertainment and other areas of interest to the people of the State.

* I found that out by reading a new piece by Jamey Dunn

[Sen. John Sullivan] says entertainment acts have already received some payment from last year’s budget. If the fair were canceled, the state would lose some or all of that money. He points out the economic activity from the fairs brings in tax dollars at a time when the state budget and many local budgets are struggling. “There would be a definite negative impact on the state of Illinois for canceling acts and canceling the fair—number one. Number two, the economic impact that the fair has for the region is actually going to bring money into the state’s coffers,” Sullivan says. “So if you look at it from the local economy standpoint, the regional economy there in the Springfield area, it certainly has a very positive impact. So again, that actually helps some of our problems instead of doing a detriment to us.”

Retired University of Illinois political science professor Kent Redfield says that no matter what’s in state law about the fairs, without a budget Illinois can’t spend on them. That means no operating funds for costs like temporary workers, gas and water. But he notes Rauner has already found a way, through the courts, to keep paying state employees without funding. “If you don’t have a budget, then you ought to be out of business. But obviously there are certain areas where the governor’s office has decided to put extraordinary effort into trying to keep certain things going, and one of them appears to be the state fair.”

Redfield says some in the state might question why the fairs are moving ahead while other state services are on hold. “Lot’s of people depend on the state fair. It has a huge economic impact. There’s every reason in the world to try and make it go. But if I’m a social service provider who’s laying off people or going out of business, I’m probably questioning the state’s priorities in terms of what really is or isn’t the primary function of state government.”

Good points by Redfield.

Speaker Madigan, by the way, said yesterday that “Democrat Day” will take place during the fair this year. The governor’s people told Jamey that vendors could face delayed payments.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** This just in…

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* The Rauner administration and AFSCME have reached an agreement not to lock out or strike until at least September 30th.

* Click the pic to see a larger version of the agreement…

*** UPDATE *** From AFSCME…

The terms of our existing agreement with the state have been temporarily extended through at least Sept. 30. This temporary extension underscores our union’s commitment to reaching a fair agreement with no disruption to state services, and gives us the ability to keep working toward an agreement in the weeks to come.

Even so, the parties remain very far apart on many basic issues as a result of the Rauner Administration’s continued extreme demands that would undermine public services, strip the rights of public service workers, reduce access to health care and make it impossible to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

At the same time, reports have revealed that the Rauner Administration is soliciting strike breakers, including retired state employees and potentially the Illinois National Guard. These actions suggest the Rauner Administration is planning a work stoppage that would be counter to the public interest.

In recent days the Governor’s public comments have changed in tone, forgoing the confrontational tenor of earlier remarks. We hope his Administration’s actions will comport with that new tone—such as making real progress at the bargaining table, halting the recruitment of strike breakers, or enacting Senate Bill 1229 to provide a final recourse of arbitration to settle differences between the parties without disrupting public services.

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      

Over-reading the tea leaves?

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* From the July 27th edition of Crain’s

Companies ranging from auto dealers to television broadcasters are gearing up to fight a tax on advertising even before Gov. Bruce Rauner formally proposes one.

Statewide organizations representing businesses as varied as billboard owners, real estate firms and newspapers are launching a pre-emptive strike against part of Rauner’s campaign proposal to generate more than $600 million in annual revenue for the state by expanding the sales tax to some services. An ad tax would produce nearly $38 million a year in tax dollars, according to the proposal.

The tax is at odds with the Rauner administration’s attempts to improve the business climate in the state, the business groups say. Illinois would be just the third state in the nation to apply a sales tax or its equivalent to ad sales.

With the Republican governor and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly locked in a stalemate over the budget, lobbying against the tax now seems like an act of supreme optimism that a deal might be reached. Moreover, Rauner hasn’t even put forward a detailed tax plan to take advantage of the booming service economy.

Yet the tax aspects of any deal could come together quickly, political experts say.

* But why start the project in June? Crain’s followed up today

“We had never heard anything to substantiate that it was on, that it was off,” said Dennis DeRossett, executive director of Illinois Press Association, which represents about 500 daily and weekly newspapers.

Nonetheless, in June the coalition launched a website attacking Rauner’s proposal, followed by editorials in newspapers that belong to the Springfield-based group.

The website and some of the editorials described the proposal as a nearly 10 percent levy, factoring in both the state-imposed 6.25 percent share of the sales tax as well as the local portion. (In Chicago, the sales tax is 9.25 percent, but is set to rise one percentage point on Jan. 1.)

On June 19, Rauner Press Secretary Catherine Kelly called DeRossett to complain that it wasn’t a 10 percent tax, but a 6.25 percent tax, he said.

Kelly “was adamant that they wanted to get that corrected,” he said.

But the call had an unintended consequence.

“That sort of told us that it was part of the package being considered,” he said.

For the original Crain’s report, Kelly declined to comment, except to say in an email that the proposal “is from the campaign and the administration has not proposed any new taxes at this time.” She did not return messages requesting comment for this story.

Um, OK.

Anybody who has ever dealt with the Rauner press shop knows those folks are about as nitpicky a bunch as you could ever possibly imagine.

So I could definitely see “ck” or Lance reaching out about a mistake like that, particularly when it conflicts with the governor’s perceived anti-tax stance.

I don’t believe a service tax is in play until they get to a capital bill. I suppose it could be part of the budget, but I don’t see how it could be because it would take so long to implement.

But, whatever. It’s their money.

* Also, for the record, I am officially neutral on an advertising tax. I doubt it would hurt my sales and if the cash is used for a capital plan then so much the better.

And while I’d love to see a sales tax imposed on campaign advertising, I can understand why the struggling newspaper industry would be freaked out about this. Then again, newspapers are already exempt from sales taxes on their newsprint, ink and printing machinery. Plus, lots of papers publish those lucrative and mandatory “official notices.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Poor winners

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* From the Illinois Policy Institute regarding yesterday’s House vote to roll back scheduled legislative pay raises, among other things

“This bill is just another effort to meet the governor halfway,” Madigan said on the House floor.

But the move appears to be an empty play for political points in the wake of bad press and a frustrated public, as Madigan has been blocking Republican legislation to do the same for weeks.

House Bill 4225, filed in May by state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, would have stopped lawmaker pay raises for the current fiscal year. The bill was deliberately stalled in the Madigan-controlled Rules Committee.

When state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, requested multiple times that the bill be discharged from the committee so it may be heard, the Madigan-appointed chairperson ruled Sandack was out of order, dashing any hopes of a vote.

No doubt that this was a loss for Madigan. I have no idea why he thought it would OK to not block those pay raises. He said his approp bill didn’t fund them, but whatevs. Bad, bad move and it bit him hard.

* But, the above excerpt shows why the Illinois Policy Institute ain’t exactly a non-partisan outfit. I mean, even Gov. Rauner was gracious in victory yesterday

A Rauner spokesman said the governor praised “those who showed leadership” with the vote and urged Senate President John Cullerton to act on the bill.

“We encourage President Cullerton to swiftly move this legislation to the governor’s desk for his signature,” spokesman Lance Trover said in an emailed statement.

“Governor Rauner is ready to work with Speaker Madigan, (House Republican Leader Jim) Durkin and all members of the General Assembly to pass true structural reforms and a balanced budget.”

* But, wait… There’s more.

From the above-referenced Republican Rep. Mark Batinick’s bill synopsis

Amends the Compensation Review Act. Prohibits cost-of-living adjustments for or during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015 for State government legislative and executive elected officers and appointees in positions for which the Compensation Review Board previously recommended or determined compensation. Effective immediately.

The bill passed yesterday does the exact same thing, as the Institute correctly notes.

What the Institute doesn’t mention, however, is that the legislation also freezes mileage and per diem reimbursement rates, which Madigan said doubled the savings of the original GOP legislation.

So, it was actually a pretty good win by the Republicans. They got what they wanted and more.

* Back to the Illinois Policy Institute’s rant

Illinoisans would be wise to keep in mind why Madigan’s bill is even necessary in the first place. It’s because of legislation pushed by Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton last year ensuring lawmaker salaries, operating expenses and pay increases would be allocated through a “continuing appropriation,” meaning they must be specifically prohibited for a given year for the payments to stop.

Nowhere do they mention that the GA passed that bill after Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislator salaries out of the budget, which a judge ruled unconstitutional.

They passed the legislation to protect the integrity of the General Assembly’s co-equal status in the face of a vindictive, publicity hound governor. That legislation was absolutely justified and was the right thing to do.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

A very bad case of whiplash

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* Giddy clearly got out way too far over his skis

One of the Illinois GOP’s premiere fundraisers has called on U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to abandon his re-election race, saying it likely is unwinnable. The statement is spurring a flurry of phone calls and activity among worried Republicans.

In a development that could help determine which party will control the U.S. Senate after the 2016 elections, veteran GOP fundraiser Ron Gidwitz said in an interview today that though Kirk is “a patriot and an accomplished public servant,” he will be hobbled by a series of recent verbal gaffes that have undermined public confidence in his ability to serve.

“His misstatements put him and the Illinois Republican Party in too much of a defensive position” in what remains a predominantly Democratic state, Gidwitz told me in a phone interview. “I do not believe he will be a U.S. senator in 2017 and, as top of the ticket, he could cause collateral damage (to other Republican candidates). I call on him to step aside and allow other Republicans to seek his seat.”

After I called Kirk’s office for a response, Gidwitz called me back and said he’d like to “retract” the statement. “I’m having second thoughts.” But he confirmed that “I said it. I said it thoughtfully,” and he acknowledged he’d received “quite a number” of high-level phone calls in just an hour. “I don’t want to take the heat I’ll get.”

Apparently, Mr. Gidwitz isn’t the bigshot GOP leader that he and some others thought he was. It used to be that he could use his fundraising base to impact politics. But his money network now looks almost quaint in our current Rauner-Griffin-Uihlein era.

Subscribers know my take on this, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

* Meanwhile, back to that PPP poll

Do you approve or disapprove of Senator Mark Kirk’s job performance?

    Approve 25%
    Disapprove 42%
    Not sure 33%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Tammy Duckworth?

    Favorable 34%
    Unfavorable 23%
    Not sure 42%

If the candidates for US Senate next year were Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who would you vote for?

    Mark Kirk 36%
    Tammy Duckworth 42%
    Not sure 22%

Lots of undecideds, but oof.

* And check this out

If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Jeb Bush, who would you vote for?

    Bernie Sanders 42%
    Jeb Bush 37%
    Not sure 21%

If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Scott Walker, who would you vote for?

    Bernie Sanders 40%
    Scott Walker 36%
    Not sure 24%

When even Bernie Socialist Sanders is beating every polled GOP contender, you gotta figure no statewide Republican is safe here - or the poll is badly skewed.

- Posted by Rich Miller   100 Comments      

Motion, not movement

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin) has it right

“Ordinarily there’s a deal brewing in the backroom, right? But I don’t think there’s a deal brewing,” [Hays] said.

The two sides aren’t even talking, as far as he’s been able to determine.

“When I was (in Springfield) last week they hadn’t met for two or three weeks. It’s possible they met late last week, but I don’t think there’s any reason to believe there’s been any major progress,” he said.

Speaker Madigan said yesterday that he hadn’t met with the governor in ten days.

No deal can ever be cut as long as people aren’t talking. And there just doesn’t seem to be any urgency on either side right now.

So, until then, both sides will lob grenades at each other to pass the time and generate some news.

But, in reality, there is no news because nothing truly “new” is happening.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      


Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* We’ll discuss other results from a recent PPP poll later today. But, first, check this out

Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Bruce Rauner’s job performance?
Approve 37%
Disapprove 43%
Not sure 20%

Not good.

I think the high undecideds may be that people are still willing to give the new governor a chance before pronouncing final judgement. In cases like this we often see folks move from “approve” to parking in neutral.

* What appears to be driving those negative numbers are high disapproval ratings from Democrats in a Democrat-leading state. If there’s any good news for the governor here, it’s that he is still barely holding on among indies, whites and older voters

* But moderates don’t like him much and neither do women


…Adding… People, you gotta forget about the 2018 election. This poll is about the governor’s ability to lead. He repeatedly claims to have the people on his side against those bad old “machine” Democrats. That’s obviously not true.

I highly doubt the public is with the Democrats, either. It is, as I suggested the other day, “a pox on both your houses” sort of dealio, which is probably the best thing the Dems can hope for right now. Drag him down with them.

The worse Rauner’s numbers get, the more pressure he’ll get from within his party to finally drop his silly demands and cut a deal. Maybe he won’t care about his poll results, but Republican legislators will.

- Posted by Rich Miller   130 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Good morning!

Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015

* I was talking back and forth with a good friend last night about how we’ve built a sort of Grateful Dead community here.

Now, I’m not saying y’all are dirty hippies.

I mean, some of you are, but most probably ain’t.

Allow me to explain.

* What most stuck with me from my early days of hanging out with Deadheads was how they’d always say after a Dead show “We played” this song, and then “We did” that song. There was no “they.” It was always “we.”

And that’s really what “we” have built here.

Sometimes, I’ll go off on a riff that I think will stand the test of time. And other times I’ll merely say “The AP says this,” and “The Tribune says that,” and “The SJ-R says another thing” - and what follows is a cacophony of insightful, interesting commentary from everyone here.

* You just cannot imagine how much fun it is to have a website like this. The true genius of this place is that so many people come here for the commenters. Y’all make a real difference.

Could it survive without me? I have no idea. But, then again, I ain’t going anywhere, so we (knock wood) won’t have to think about that for a very long time.

* Anyway, let’s dance

If you get confused just listen to the music play

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      

* About 18 percent of public employee retirees move out of state
* Today's number: 30 years
* That is so Illinois
* AFSCME members ratify new state contract
* Everything you ever wanted to know about Kelly Cassidy
* A missed opportunity
* Yesterday's stories

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