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Around and around and around we go

Monday, Nov 28, 2016

* Doug Finke

When the leaders last met, Rauner also distributed copies of a bill filed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs to overhaul workers’ compensation to reduce costs.

The bill was initially filed in 2015, but the House has not acted on it. Until now. A House committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Monday, a day before the full legislature returns to the Capitol.

However, in a letter to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and the other leaders, Durkin said he objected to the timing of the hearing.

“At the conclusion of (our last) meeting, we agreed to return with feedback on the various reform proposals discussed during the meeting,” he wrote. “Our workers’ compensation reform proposal is a starting point for discussion, not an ultimatum. I believe it is premature to hold a hearing on the matter; our goal should be to use the legislation as a starting point for discussion at our leaders’ meeting (Monday).”

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown disagreed.

“They talked about getting feedback on workers’ comp,” he said. “One of the ways you get feedback is having a committee hearing.”

The hearing on that bill is set to start today at 3 o’clock, the same time as the leaders meeting.

* Tribune editorial

We’ve all seen the stories: Employee claims a shoulder-related job injury. Employee qualifies for workers’ compensation. Employee posts photo on social media of himself hoisting a 150-pound yellow fin tuna while deep sea fishing. Employee busted.

How does this keep happening?

Cracking down on abuse within the state’s workers’ compensation system, which would lower insurance costs for employers, is part of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s so-called turnaround agenda. But he isn’t alone: Legislators on both sides of the aisle agree changes are needed.

That’s a clear case of fraud

Anyone found guilty of any of these actions is guilty of a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1-3 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.

The guilty party shall be required to pay complete restitution, and may be found civilly liable for up to three times the value of benefits or insurance coverage that was wrongfully attained.

The Democrats and the unions have said they’re open to weeding out more fraud. That’s not what’s holding things up.

* Back to the editorial

Yet Madigan keeps reinforcing his battle line: He won’t mix budget negotiations with policy negotiations, even though certain policy changes — workers’ comp included — would improve the state’s economic health. Madigan says the issues are unrelated. Never mind Madigan’s long history of mixing budget negotiations with policy negotiations.

His argument is silly. Improving Illinois’ business climate is intrinsically related to funding the state budget.

Madigan does, indeed, have a long history of mixing budget talks with other stuff. And I agree that our business climate is pretty darned harsh. As long as Madigan is just saying “No” to everything, he puts himself into the position of defending an age-old status quo. He refers constantly to the 2011 reforms (which were good), but won’t talk about the results of the 2005 reforms (not so good).

I’ve long advocated for a reasonable compromise which would roll back part of the 2005 reform bill while creating a credible commission to study alleged insurance company recalcitrance at passing along reform-generated savings to employers.

Nobody listens because they prefer their war.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:18 pm:

    –His argument is silly. Improving Illinois’ business climate is intrinsically related to funding the state budget.–

    Show your work. GOMB is full of whiz-kids who can cipher the “intrinsic relationship” of Rauner’s agenda, the economy and the budget. Any day now.

    –We’ve all seen the stories: Employee claims a shoulder-related job injury. Employee qualifies for workers’ compensation. Employee posts photo on social media of himself hoisting a 150-pound yellow fin tuna while deep sea fishing. Employee busted.–

    Ridiculous strawman. Fraud is fraud; that’s not an argument for changes in causality. Make your case on the merits.

    By the troncasaurus logic, their made-up fraud case is an argument with doing away with the worker comp system altogether.

    But that will just leave it to the courts (sorry, you can’t do away with those). How would that be for the “business environment?”

  2. - WhoKnew - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:22 pm:

    “they prefer their war.”

    Nuff said!

  3. - Bobby Catalpa - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:26 pm:

    Rauner prefers the war.

    There’s no way — no way — that Rauner genuinely wants a budget. No way. Zero.

    The only way path forward for a Rauner re-election is predicated on an eternal stalemate.

    The other path forward — slim to none odds — is that Trump actually does a good job. He won’t, but I know lots of people hope he does. The more likely scenario is that Trump tanks and Rauner knows his only hope is based on stagnation in Springfield.

    No budget? Rauner wins — barely.

  4. - m - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    Rauner wants the budget, with a few TA items. Then in the next policy war, it will be the “reformer”(Rauner) versus the same “old man”(Madigan) fighting any and all “good” reforms.
    It makes the PR part that much easier next time. He wants this “war” to be just the first “battle”.

  5. - Try-4-Truth - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:34 pm:

    ======Nobody listens because they prefer their war.========

    How is war not the only option? When faced with half-truths, or just flat-out lies, how do you negotiate with that?

    I’m asking honestly. I think that Speaker Madigan is put into a position that if he gives in on any one item, the lies and deceptions will only get worse.

    We need one truth to work with, then we can talk about negotiating around that truth.

  6. - Triple fat - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:38 pm:

    Table scraps… the Governor is arguing about table scraps. No matter what is agreed to concerning Workers Comp the manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back. Automation has eliminated more manufacturing jobs than have been lost overseas… I imagine the same can be said for being lost to other states. The pool is getting smaller and smaller. In the mean time … why punish injured workers?

  7. - Illinois Refugee - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:41 pm:

    This is all just more of the same gamesmanship. Madigan’s party just took far too much money from the lawyers for him to allow any changes to worker’s comp.

    I suspect, however, in the spring you will get to see a bill introduced that attempts to limit the amount of profit that the insurance companies can keep. This will allow the dems to claim they tried to fix it but the greedy republicans (looking out for big business) voted it down.

    Just more of the same.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:50 pm:

    ===Rauner wants the budget, with a few TA items===



    Rauner wants his reforms, then the budget will be discussed.

    Once reforms happen, then a budget will be discussed.

    At least be remotely honest.

  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:57 pm:

    As to the “business environment,” I guess GOMB can’t run numbers on the benefits of the governor’s political agenda because they’re too busy shining up the rating agencies and bond investors on how swell the Illinois economy is performing.

    According to GOMB, real good, right now, without any “reforms.” Better than the country as a whole, way better than our neigbhors.

    Per capita income and GDP all growing and beating the stuff out of our neigbhors.

    That’s how the governor is selling it to investors, starting on Page Six at the link below.,%20Series%20of%20October%202016.pdf

  10. - Henry Francis - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 1:29 pm:

    Word, give the Gov his full due. Per page 8, he (with the GA) took several actions in the Srping of 2015 that resulted in an operational surplus of over 1 billion dollars.

  11. - Simple Simon - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 1:48 pm:

    I continue to say the Dems are in an unsinkable position. They cannot propose a tax increase. But they can propose a balanced budget. They can apologize, disclaim, and blame Rauner, but they cannot continue to allow the debt to grow. Debt growing makes the crisis worse, but Rauner does not care, so it will never be a weapon against him.

  12. - Simple Simon - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 1:51 pm:

    That is “unwinnable” not unsinkable. Banned words about autocorrect.

  13. - Dr X - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 2:28 pm:

    Tell the Illinois public exactly what will happen to them if they lose an arm at work with workman’s comp reform.

    Answer = poverty.

    If you don’t say it, then shut it.

  14. - Chicago 20 - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 4:46 pm:

    This is all a vicious canard.

    As ALEC pushes their agenda of “tort reforms” and jury award caps have left a path of devastation across the country the new focus is on workers comp.

    The race to the bottom continues as Illinois is compared to other States where ALEC legislation stripped workers of their rights and shifts the costs of their injuries from the employer to the taxpayers.

    Injured consumers are now openly mocked in the national media after suffering devastating life charging injuries from negligence and the media responds to the dog whistles faster than Pavlov’s dog can salivate.

    Hot Coffee


  15. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 6:44 pm:

    Don’t forget about wrongfully convicted. Illinois should Pay up. With our without a budget, wrongfully convicted who have already been awarded monies need the check.

  16. - My New Handle - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 7:44 pm:

    I would like to see list of all the new “third parties” that are handling CMS responsibilities these days. How are they getting paid and how much? Where does that money come from? What’s the accountability for, and security of, the data they are collecting?

  17. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 8:50 pm:

    Dr. X, Chicago 20, I’m with you.

    In Illinois, at least, in some quarters, the Democrats are standing up for the blue-collar working class against the reactionaries who want to take us back to the Harding Administration — because they’re your friends and it’s good for you.

    If the dingbats who ran the Clinton campaign had stood with and reached out to blue-collar workers, we wouldn’t have some pathetic Manhattan diletante loser taking the White House with his b-s working-class-hero populism.

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