* From comments…
Rauner won on the basis that he will do something different and sorely needed to turn things around in this state. Now that he’s holding to his word, everyone keeps dangling the needy out there as incentive to break him from his position.
Well, that has apparently worked with everyone in the past, which is why nothing substantial has been accomplished to start digging us out of the mess we’re in. If Rauner gives in too, what has been gained? Are we really advocating for keeping the status quo??
That pretty accurately sums up the governor’s position. Not his public position, of course. Gov. Rauner would never be so explicit about having such a complete disregard for the “needy” during this war. Indeed, the governor and the Chicago Tribune editorial board say they’re really on the side of the needy for the long term. Just as soon as the governor wins, those folks will have jobs and bright futures.
Nevermind that the promised land of Indiana has a higher poverty rate than Illinois. Nevermind that all of the “pro-business” reforms he’s pushing would lower wages for working people and/or deny quite a few of them compensation if they’ve been injured. That’s not a bug, by the way, it’s a feature.
* I am for reasonable pro-business reforms and I’ve outlined them in the past. For instance, here are three doable yet significant ideas from one of my Crain’s Chicago Business columns way back in July…
* On workers’ comp, the Democrats have moved a tiny bit on requiring “causation,” a connection between the workplace and the injury. But they won’t budge further. Workers who may be half at fault for their injuries should not wind up “on welfare,” as House Speaker Michael Madigan repeatedly has said.
What about rolling back some of the “reforms” that former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law in 2005? Those changes forced employer costs way up. Nobody would wind up on welfare if those were rolled back, and employers would save money.
* I don’t know anyone who disputes that local property taxes are too high. Rauner wants a two-year freeze on school property taxes. The Democrats are willing to give him that as long as the least-well-off districts are helped.
But Rauner also wants to all but eliminate collective bargaining rights for local unions. That will never fly with Democrats.
How about temporarily limiting the growth of employee wages and benefits for, say, five years? Once the two-year tax freeze expires, the caps on wages would free up revenue. Local school districts could use that money—plus property taxes—to gradually start paying for the pensions of its employees. Illinois now covers those costs, unlike just about every other state in the country.
* ”Prevailing wage” is a hot-button issue for the far economic right, and this Republican governor is most certainly in that camp.
If local governments could pay construction workers less than union rates, Rauner says, those governments could do more projects. Union leaders disagree, saying their workers are better trained so they’re less costly in the long run. Plus, God forbid a roofer should be able to afford community college tuition for his kids.
In reality, though, almost nobody ever uses union labor to build their own home. The cost is prohibitively high.
Why not somehow tie the prevailing wage requirement to median prices for local new homes? Locally funded projects that cost less than a set amount wouldn’t have to pay prevailing wages. Cities and villages do more small projects than you might think.
Accepting those reforms wouldn’t require a “surrender” by Gov. Rauner, as the brain-dead zombies on the Tribune editorial board would have you believe. The workers’ comp idea (involving rolling back 2005’s 7.5 percent raise for permanent partial disability) would likely save more than “causation,” according to research by the governor’s own staff.
* On the one hand, you’ve got a governor who’s hellbent on destroying unions, and on the other hand you have a pro-union Democratic Party which is hellbent on destroying the governor.
Eventually, this war has to end. Let’s hope that end date isn’t in January of 2019… or 2023. We simply can’t make it that far.