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Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016

* Mark Brown

On Monday, Cullerton clarified to reporters that he and Gov. Bruce Rauner really do have a verbal agreement on a pension reform proposal along the lines Cullerton has long advocated. He also said he is willing to negotiate changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws for public employees, just nothing as drastic as what Rauner has sought.

Some insist Cullerton is just there to do House Speaker Mike Madigan’s bidding, and it’s true that he can’t get too far out in front of his fellow Democrat without running the risk of getting the rug pulled out from under him.

But Cullerton thinks for himself, even if he doesn’t quite have Madigan’s power to impose his ideas.

I appreciate his efforts.

He does, indeed, get a bad rap from those who don’t pay much attention to the Statehouse or who already have their minds made up because… Madigan! But, agree with him or not, Cullerton usually acts like the only adult in the room.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Trolling Troll - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:17 pm:

    I have an idea, fund the pensions.

    Now let’s get a budget and Labor peace and move on.

  2. - CharlieKratos - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:18 pm:

    If Cullerton is the adult in the room and doesn’t want to see unions annihilated, I hope he can somehow limit the destruction that Rauner has planned for them instead of just piling on. Union members can be reasonable. Rauner has proven time and again that he cannot.

  3. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:20 pm:

    I really do like Cullerton, and if you’re going to have a foil then he’s the one you want. At least you can work with him and hope to achieve compromise.

  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:22 pm:

    Whatever he is doing with Rauner, let’s hope the Democrat leadership is in on it and he’s not going rogue.

  5. - Chicago taxpayer - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:29 pm:

    Cullerton deserves a lot of credit for trying to do the right thing and do it now. He takes politics into account, because he has to, but he’s not driven by it.

  6. - Joe M - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    I just have a hard time understanding how Cullerton latched on to something so constitutionally iffy - especially in light of the IL Supremes May 2015 ruling.

  7. - Mouthy - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    Cullerton’s selling point to the unions will be to get them to the end of Rauner’s term and then restore any changes to union rights. But, anything that will allow members to bail while still having to bargain for them should be fought tooth and nail by the unions..

  8. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:37 pm:

    Let’s be patient and see what Culerton has in mind for the union. He said he doesn’t want anything as drastic as Rauner.

  9. - DHSJim - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:41 pm:

    AFSCME needs to run out the clock and survive at this point. Live to fight another day. Hopefully Cullerton can accomplish this. And get us a budget. We’ll see.

  10. - anon - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:46 pm:

    If being an adult means being in denial about the language of the Constitution and the decisions of the Illinois Supreme Court, sure.

  11. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:49 pm:

    Like it matters, AFSCME is going to be sold down the river. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now.
    “The strong will do as they will and the weak will suffer what they must.” Sorry, I’m swinging back towards despondent. It’s a good reminder to me. It’s easy to turn a blind eye when it’s happening to someone else. It’s a whole nother thing when it’s happening to you.

  12. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:54 pm:

    [This commenter has been banned for life.]

  13. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:58 pm:

    I agree that Cullerton is a decent guy, the problem he is is like the Queen of England. When push comes to shove, most of his caucus answers to Madigan not him. Get a major deal without Madigan, then you will matter.

    Honeybear, little late to the party. AFSCME was already sold down the river by their own leadership. They hitched themselves to Blagojevich, Quinn and Madigan who cut benefits, cut rights, and tried to steal the pensions. This is why Rauner is Governor. The rank and file finally figured out why support democrats, the republicans will screw them for free.

  14. - Owen, son of Gus - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 12:59 pm:

    Wonderful! Bravo, Cullerton! Reality check: It’s not gonna make a lick of difference because his proposal (viz, “consideration”) is unconstitutional.

  15. - DHSJim - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:02 pm:

    Honeybear, did you attend labor bootcamp last August in Champagne? Heard that quote there.

  16. - Politix - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:12 pm:

    “AFSCME needs to run out the clock and survive at this point. Live to fight another day.”

    This is what they’ve done all year. If things don’t go their way with the labor board, they will sue to get the admin back to the table, dragging the process out for as long as possible. I smell fear and it’s pathetic.

  17. - RNUG - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:25 pm:

    Cut him a bit of slack. Cullerton believes the pension funding problem needs to be solved. His approach is to try to reduce the unfunded liability. I may not agree with that approach, but he is trying to do something.

    Madiar pointed to a possibility for changing things: contract consideration. The IL SC hinted there is a loophole in the pension protection. The MJM version SB-1 decision said outright reduction / theft wasn’t going to fly. The original Cullerton SB-1 and the current proposal are variations on consideration; unequal / forced but still kind of consideration.
    When this bill gets shot down, the court will have further defined the possibilities of changing things.

    Until the goal changes to finding proper funding (and the require tax increase), it will just be propose, pass, challenge, deny and repeat.

  18. - Lincoln Lad - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 1:46 pm:

    Cullerton HAD labor’s support for his version of proposed pension changes before his version was shut down by the Speaker and replaced by another approach that was much more severe in negative impact and clearly unconstitutional. Cullerton will work with labor, that is supported in history time and again.

  19. - My New Handle - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 2:21 pm:

    The union cannot negotiate away a contract (pensions) for all state employees, can it? It is my understanding that pensions are individual contracts for each employee. Am I misunderstanding Cullerton’s intent?

  20. - SIU Prof - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 2:36 pm:

    The proposed bill is somehow supposed to based on contract consideration. Both parties to a contract must give consideration. If one or both of the parties have a pre existing duty to do something, the a promise to do that cannot be consideration. As of right now the state is under a pre existing duty to include all raises as pensionable salary and also to supply the 3 percent annual increase to annuitants. So I am confused. How can the state require employees to choose between two contractual rights they already have and claim the employees received consideration.

  21. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 2:54 pm:

    “Some insist Cullerton is just there to do House Speaker Mike Madigan’s bidding,”

    Got me thinkin’!

    Aren’t these three supposed to be meeting regularly.

  22. - WhoKnew - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 2:56 pm:

    Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 2:54 pm:

    It Was me!!

  23. - Downstate Hack - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 3:02 pm:

    Cullerton is the thinking man’s answer to Illinois’ problems . Unfortunately, Madigan still controls everything and that will continue the Illinois unfortunate dive into fiscal diaster

  24. - RNUG - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 3:27 pm:

    -My New Handle-

    No, the unions can’t negotiate away your pension rights. They may have (possibly illegally) in the past, but it is now clear the unions can’t speak on pension issues.

    Only reason the unions were on board with Cullerton the last time is they were worried about losing (don’t know why because it was clear-cut contract law) and wanted to get the best deal they could for their members. Zero reason today for the unions to concede anything about pensions … because of the court rulings and because they can’t give away your pension rights.

  25. - RNUG - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 3:33 pm:

    -SIU Prof-

    I don’t see any way they legally can force you to chose between existing protected benefits.

    However, you don’t have a right to receive a raise. You only have a right to have any raise received included in the pension calculation. Hair splitting but important distinction. Cullerton / Rauner are trying to walk that thin line but the choices offered don’t pass the smell test.

  26. - qualified someone nobody sent - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 3:42 pm:

    RBUG 100% correct! Unions aren’t scared anymore about the Constitutionality factor. Cook County Board Pres. TONI is touting a “consideration” (diminishment) agreement worked out with several unions (NOT AFSCME) prior to ILSC ruling. She, as well as, the “Superstars” either didn’t read the ruling or are trying to play the same “I did something about pensions” BS game Pat Quinn did trying to get re-elected and balance their budget.

  27. - DHSJim - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 3:50 pm:

    Rauner’s real pension plan is to lay off all State workers and subcontract their jobs. Then there’ll be no pebsions because there will be no more state employees.

  28. - some doofus - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 3:57 pm:

    >Cullerton usually acts like the only adult in the room

    Didn’t you used to work for Cullerton?

    Just kidding.

  29. - present - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 4:00 pm:

    @DHSJim Tier 1 employees.

  30. - History Prof - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 4:27 pm:

    I’m still a newbie, so help me out here. I think Madigan is the only adult in the room. As many have pointed out, the court is not going to let this go through. It’s pointless. So why are some giving Cullerton props for trying: this is not trying. This is banging one’s head against, like my son after Packers lose. I don’t see how it is adult behavior. Whatever one thinks about public employee pensions, that was part of the enticement that got many of my colleagues to give their careers to the state. You don’t get to break that; good or bad, you don’t get to welch on the deal; the Court won’t let you. You have to pay up. To do that we need a progressive income tax, which amendment was proposed by guess who? The adult in the room: mjm.

  31. - My New Handle - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 4:30 pm:

    My post seems have not made it through the ether, but thank you RNUG for your response to my inquiry.

  32. - some doofus - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 4:34 pm:

    >Cullerton is the thinking man’s answer to Illinois’ problems . Unfortunately, Madigan still controls everything and that will continue the Illinois unfortunate dive into fiscal diaster

    This is unfair. Clearly, Madigan is brilliant. A friend of mine talks about meeting him decades ago, before he was in the legislature, when people already pointed and said “see that unlikely looking little guy … he’s going to rule the state one day.”

    But all our assumptions calcify a bit with each passing year, and it’s not clear that Madigan has been able to adapt to his new environment.

    Politically, he seems unable to thrive in the more media-centric arena in which he has to perform this year. It’s not year clear that he has internalized the new fiscal challenges the state faces. Or if he has, he seems thoroughly unable to communicate a viable way forward.

    I don’t like Rauner’s vision, but he clearly has one.

    It’s not clear just what Madigan thinks should happen. What is his explanation for the disastrous performance of the pension funds? I still hear people saying “we had a recession” and when I reply, yeah, but the stock market has more than tripled, but our pension fund backings didn’t they have no answer.

    How does Madigan explain the early-retirement buyouts? How does he give voters faith that higher tax rates will dig us out, rather than enriching the John Bills of the world. I’m not saying Madigan is responsible for the actions of all his precinct captains. I’m just saying that a public leader needs to give the public leadership, and it’s understandable if people are wary of financing government that is quite corrupt. He needs to show the way forward convincingly. To us, not to his financial backers or his captains.

  33. - History Prof - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 4:37 pm:

    Some Doofus,

    THAT my friend, is a helpful and informed comment. Much obliged.

  34. - Elementary - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 4:41 pm:

    DHSJim - No doubt many State jobs could be subcontracted out as you say but it would be impossible to lay off all State workers and subcontract all State jobs.
    Somebody from the State has to get them on-board with agreements,oversee them and evaluate them. They’ll always be some State Employees just for that reason if nothing else.

  35. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 5:04 pm:

    I applaud Sen Cullerton for sticking his neck out on this pension thing(not going to call it a deal just yet). I hope he is working behind the scenes with the RAUN Man on a budget that doesn’t just rely on tax increases..

  36. - History Prof - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 5:11 pm:

    Blue Dog. We sparred a little the other day on academic administration, I believe.

    Name your cuts, and they better be significant. Even Rauner practically acknowledges that there aint no cuts to be had. If there were, they would have been in his budget.

    So while I voted New Democrat back in the ’90s, as I assume you did, that ship has sailed. There really isn’t anything significant to cut.

    Or you can prove me wrong by naming the cuts.

    The problem in Illinois and nationwide is that while private sector job creation has been strong, the public sector has been shrinking. And the public sector, like it or not, is PART of the economy, an important part. It ain’t the 90s anymore. We need more, not less public spending. We need to fix roads and schools and and and. Interest rates and tax rates and wage labor rates are low. Is there ever going to be a better time?

  37. - RNUG - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 7:46 pm:

    -History Prof-

    The way I look at it, Cullerton is doing one of three things:

    1) still exploring the dimensions of the possible loophole the court hinted might exist in order to shed some of the debt by diminishment


    2) trying to get the courts to say no way, no how in even stronger language


    3) trying to force the IL SC to order a mandatory pension funding plan and/or new (unspecified) revenue source

    All of the above with the end game being to shift the blame for the needed tax increase from the GA members to the 7 members of the IL SC

    FWIW - I believe that was the purpose of MJM when he hijacked Fullerton’s original SB-1 bill.

  38. - RNUG - Tuesday, Jan 26, 16 @ 7:49 pm:

    Çullerton not Fullerton … but you knew that.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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