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Springfield holds its collective breath as strike talk mounts, budget impasse continues

Friday, Feb 24, 2017

* SJ-R business editor Tim Landis on the impact of a potential AFSCME strike on Springfield and the surrounding area

“If you talk to anybody, any member in any field, and anybody who watches tax revenue, there is this massive amount of uncertainty accruing,” Bill McMahon, executive director of Local First Springfield, said Thursday. […]

Not only are consumers affected, said McMahon, businesses are reluctant to expand and hire as a result of the uncertainty.

“Everyone is waiting for things to settle out,” said McMahon. “It’s all the things you feel like in a recession.” […]

The anxiety is evident in spring and fall surveys of local business sentiment by the Survey Research Office at the University of Illinois Springfield. A little less than half of business owners surveyed in the fall expected sales to increase in the coming year compared with nearly 70 percent who made that prediction in the fall of 2015. In the most recent survey, 56 percent cited state finances as the biggest challenge in the coming year.

Springfield officials, including Mayor Jim Langfelder, recently have blamed the uncertainty of state finances for an estimated $1.3 million shortfall in sales tax revenue for the fiscal year that ends Tuesday.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - illinoised - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 8:58 am:

    I live in a town which hosts a state university. I feel for Springfield (where I used to live) because your angst is what my present town has been feeling for several years. It is akin to living under siege.

  2. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 8:59 am:

    “there is this massive amount of uncertainty accruing”

    The overarching theme of 2017.

    – MrJM

  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:00 am:

    My bank account is locked and loaded

  4. - sickntired - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:02 am:

    State Employees need to prepare for the worst. If employees band together and go on a tight “strike” budget, Springfield, and areas with a large “state” presence, will start to feel the pinch. When local taxes and economy start to falter, they might start putting a little more pressure on the legislature. But then again…. Well, at least you’d have a few bucks saved back!

  5. - Moby - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:02 am:

    Wait, I thought squeezing government employees was good for the economy. Now I’m confused. /s

  6. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:04 am:

    This is exactly why Rauner’s gambit to destroy all Labor was such a deal with the devil. It never works out folks. OW had three things going into this and one of them was Labor Peace. Think of what we could have had with Labor Peace. Now we have this….the literal destruction of mainstreet business everywhere, especially in Springfield.
    Rauner’s greed for corporate profit (by destroying labor) has wrought this ruin.

    I would argue that there is now a wedge between the mainstreet business community and Republicans. If you are Republicans you wouldn’t stand for this. Ahhh, but I forget, you sold your soul. You are now Raunerites who only care for multinational profit and the chasing of it through tax incentives which further starve our coffers. My bad

  7. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:06 am:

    “Springfield holds its collective breath… as strike talk mounts, budget impasse continues…

    Meanwhile, our Heroes, Bruce and Diana Rauner rest easy… knowing full well ‘business decisions’ needed to be made… ”

    If this were a Spaghetti Western…

    Man, this is not how to run a state. Maybe that’s the whole point. Run the state… into the ground, then salvage what’s left by co-opting a ridiculous rationale that only the strong survive, even when they’re purposely duped.


  8. - City Zen - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:08 am:

    @Moby For everyone else, perhaps. For a state capital with an undiversified local economy, not so much. See: coal mining towns, Detroit, etc.

  9. - PublicServant - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:09 am:

    Duh! State Employees are cutting back on spending to build up their own strike fund.

  10. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:12 am:

    OW it does seem to increasingly mirror what Trump/Bannon are doing nationally. When Bannon says yesterday that we wants to “deconstruct the administrative state”, I have to think he should be looking at Illinois. Rauner is a trailblazer with destroying the state.

    I so regret that it took me so long to see this. I wince when I think about how many times I said to myself “Why would they do that?”
    Why would they want to put someone incompetent with no experience in charge? Why would they not fund programs? Why would they not want a budget? Why would they do that to meals on wheels? Why would they zero out the arts in schools? Why would they go after their own state workforce? Why would they destroy our credit rating? Why would they not pay lawful contracts? Why why why?

    It can’t happen here, can it?

  11. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:14 am:

    Tripling the backlog of bills, reneging on vendor contracts, no capital plan, bleeding higher ed, and now a possible strike.

    Governor, are you sure about your “economic growth” strategy?

    Looks to me like “we had to burn the village in order to save it.”

  12. - Out Here In The Middle - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:15 am:

    “It’s all the things you feel like in a recession.” Good analogy. The Governor is essentially causing a local recession in Springfield, in Macomb, in Carbondale, in Charleston.

  13. - Earnest - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:17 am:

    >surveys of local business sentiment

    Do Springfield businesses count as “job creators” under our governor’s budget address definition, or is it only state-wide or multi-state corporations? /s

  14. - Henry Francis - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:17 am:

    Who would’ve thought that electing a businessman governor, to run government like a business, would be so bad for businesses?

  15. - A Jack - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:20 am:

    I don’t think Springfield has ever actively engaged in diversifying its economy. Maybe they will now. Personally, I would have preferred some other major employers besides the state, the insurance companies, and the hospitals.

  16. - VooDoo Economics - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:24 am:

    If only the state employees would become taxpayors like everone else. Problem solved. /s

  17. - Robert the 1st - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:25 am:

    Who knew? If you divert a whole bunch of tax money to a region, that area economically thrives. If you then try to meet all the surrounding states halfway… that region might not thrive as much?

  18. - Huh? - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:25 am:

    Not being a bidnessman, I must be under the misinformed impression that bidness likes a certain amount of stability and predictability in government.

    The current economic crisis is not conducive to growing the economy and promoting bidness growth. There is no stability or predictability in the government, except that the crisis is going to continue.

  19. - Bobby Catalpa - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:27 am:

    It’s surprising to me (and others that I’ve mentioned this to) that Rauner doesn’t understand one simple fact: he’ll never, ever be remembered for making things better during his tenure as governor.

    No matter what happens — if 5,000 jobs suddenly appear due to Rauner’s implementation of term limits or 25,000 jobs suddenly appear because of a property tax freeze — no matter what happens, Rauner will only — only — be known as the governor who crashed the state and sent it spiralling into a recession.

    If the budget impasse had gone on for 6 months, maybe Rauner could have recovered. But at this point it’s *more than half his term* — and no matter what happens, no matter what gets passed or who compromises — Rauner will only be known as the governor who increased the backlog of bills by an order of magnitude, forced a strike on nearly 40,000 state workers, and did nothing to fix the broken pension system.

    It’s surprising to me that Rauner doesn’t realize this — that his legacy — or whatever legacy he hoped to have — is tarnished by his intransigence and reluctance to compromise.

    I thought politicians were worried about legacies. They don’t want to be someone with an asterisk by their names. Or they don’t want to be ranked first by “here’s who caused the most X”.

    It’s weird. I realize that Rauner publically would never admit to caring about this kind of stuff. But privately, he must reflect and think, okay, there’s a lot of damage that’s being caused under my watch.


  20. - Stumpy's bunker - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:28 am:

    It does look like tough times ahead for Springfield’s retail and service businesses. But little has been said about the medical community. If state employees can no longer afford their current level of insurance, and you have to empty out your wallet every time you walk into a doctor’s office, there will be reduced usage of medical providers. This would represent a setback for public health as well.

  21. - Bobby Catalpa - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:29 am:

    BTW — in addition to my point above about Rauner’s political legacy, my other question: at what point do people start to realize that electing “business people” to political office might not be such a hot idea?

  22. - Concerned - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:30 am:

    I think it is time that the public becomes aware of what is really going on. The protests going on at the national level need to start happening on the state level. All of the legislators need to be held accountable along with this governor. It is surprising to me how quiet this issue is. A state with no budget for two years is crazy! There has to be more outcry!

  23. - Anon - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:33 am:

    The problem is too big to overcome. The mess has been festering for years. No amount of tax increases or service cuts can right the ship without a total crash. The state, and country for that matter, lost its way decades ago.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:33 am:

    - Honeybear -

    You don’t purposely fund state government at zero, less K-12 to keep the heat off, and refuse to negotiate with a Labor organization you have for the record disparaged over and over.

    Sadly, this is the feature, destruction and elimination, not the bug.

    The reason “you”, (and many) didn’t see this is because a rational governor would never run to win the Office of Governor to destroy the state they are the Executive of… purposely.


  25. - So tired of political hacks - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:37 am:

    Let’s be clear, Rauner hates unions but AFSCME is just a pawn in his game. The AFSCME contract is the model all others follow. If he can take them down everyone else has to fall in line. University employees, retired, even future contracts for the Unions he already settled with.

  26. - Almost the Weekend - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:42 am:

    The lack of forward thinking and planning in Springfield is comical. The solution to any problem the past two years has been to give out more video poker licenses and open more video poker pawn shops.
    Blame uncertainty with afscme all you want but that’s only the latest problem in this 20th century town.

  27. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:44 am:

    A Jack - Actually, when the factories closed, Springfield tried to diversify by expanding the financial services / insurance sector (this was before the deregulation of banking). The stated goal was to have that sector be to Springfield what State Farm is to Bloomington. Instead, Franklin Life was purchased by AIG, which then moved the jobs from Springfield. As Oswego Willy would say “Skyhook in reverse.”

  28. - oldman - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:46 am:

    As an aside, my guess is Rauner kicks in the 100% insurance increases in the contract late this afternoon when he always does any changes.

  29. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:46 am:

    All of this damage to the state is happening because Rauner wants to turn us into Indiana? Indiana has lost jobs in almost half of the months in the last year.

  30. - chi - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:47 am:

    What a great administration this has been for the state! We sure are firing on all cylinders! Nice work Gov!

  31. - HangingOn - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:47 am:

    I also love Rauner’s use of the word modest when he talks about the increase in my insurance. He says it’s a “modest” increase. So, having a person making the same wages as me pay an extra $36 per month in a tax hike is a travesty and the “taxpayers” shouldn’t have to put up with it, but me paying $250 more per month is “modest”? (This is of course on top of the $36 more I’ll be paying in taxes) Someone get the man a dictionary.

  32. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    oldman, that’s an good guess but I doubt it. He would really foul up the appeal and possibly trigger and immediate permanent injunction. Murashko already has a hill to climb, the mountain of unfair labor charges. (JT emails, IPI attacks, the personal contact information breach, ILRB not issuing a written so that the union couldn’t appeal, communicating straight to employees and not through the union, it’s a mountain of what Yokich called “irreparable harm”.)
    No that’s how I know Rauner has bought the ILRB and most likely the 4th District. The evidence against the state is so huge that a fifth grader could argue for us in front of a fair court.

  33. - AC - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    Ok, I will try again, but it’s frustrating looking up actual numbers and having the comment go off into the aether. The Springfield area made this choice in the Rauner/Quinn race, and they later affirmed this choice in the Wojcicki/DelGiorno race. Rauner aspired to destroy AFSCME and made his intentions clear before he was elected. His actions after he was elected made it apparent that this would be a priority. Uncertainty, and worse, in the Springfield economy is the predictable outcome of the policies advocated by Rauner and his proxies.

  34. - Curl of the Burl - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:56 am:

    Honeybear - but the converse can be said about the 5th Appellate District and any court(s) in Cook County. Also - most of the judges in the 4th Appellate Court jurisdiction (the appellate court itself and the lower courts) were in before Rauner took office. Getting judges out of office is a tough road to hoe. The 4th Appellate District is “naturally” Republican territory and includes some of the reddest areas of the state.

  35. - AC - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 9:57 am:

    Wow, not a good day to try to make a comment.

  36. - Mikey - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 10:10 am:

    Lets ask our local Springfield area reps how they feel. They could have have helped the local folks and state employeed but decided to be puppets. I suggest state workers dont spend a dime locally and then they perhaps buisness will get after our local reps to do something for the locals they represent. Oh wait, they sent a letter to Gov a while back to make it appear they care. A letter, yeah that did anything but PR. Though we are getting the date changed on state seal. Good job!

  37. - JS Mill - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    =Looks to me like “we had to burn the village in order to save it”=

    I think Rauner thinks more along the lines of..

    “we had to burn the village, because we could”

  38. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 10:16 am:

    So, the standoff with state workers, the unfunding of higher ed and so many other programs that serve people in this state………….these things impact private businesses and spill over into the economy in general.

    Does the governor, as the businessman that he claims to be, not understand that all in intertwined and that he’s hurting lots more folks in this state than the underprivileged and union workers?

  39. - Former State Worker - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 10:21 am:

    The problem with Central Illinois cities is that they are too dependent on one company/industry. ADM and Caterpillar have moved their headquarters out of Central Illinois and there are few alternatives for the few of us that actually want to live and work in Central Illinois. I live in the Chicago area now because there just aren’t that many private sector jobs elsewhere in Illinois.

    Healthcare related jobs for the aging population are the only ones available for the most part.

  40. - notbuyingit - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 10:59 am:

    Thank you MIKEY!! A great reminder that there really is more than one politician responsible for this. I completely agree that locals put way too much confidence in our local legislators to see that the intended checks and balances or our government actually worked. Maybe Springfield businesses, bankers, hospitals, churches, need to feel a little of the pain when AFSCME workers are broke and retirees move out of state. Maybe they too will realize what message needs to be sent to local legislators.

  41. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:12 am:

    Former State Worker-That’s why I’m a continual advocate for Healthcare Enterprise Zones. If we have to save something with intensives let’s save rural hospitals. So called “Economic Development” people for some reason hate the idea, which is why I know it’s a good one. It’s great for creating jobs combined with the already existing community college focus on healthcare. Win win, but developers, consultants, and multinationals lose out.

  42. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    –Does the governor, as the businessman that he claims to be, not understand that all in intertwined and that he’s hurting lots more folks in this state than the underprivileged and union workers?–

    To use his words “Whatever it takes” to destroy ALL Labor.

  43. - Mama - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:19 am:

    We had to burn the village because..

    the Republican- Tea Party wants to take over Illinois.

  44. - Piece of Work - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:20 am:

    MJM could pick up the phone today, agree to a few issues, and it is a done deal. State income taxes will increase to around 5% and a few other reforms will be in place.

    Simple Mike, pick up the phone and make the call.

  45. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    Oh - Piece of Work -, lol…

    From GHR…

    === ===“The governor is the top guy. He is the leader. House Speaker Mike Madigan is not. The governor has to make things happen. If he doesn’t get everything he wants, he’s got to figure out how much he can get. To get something done. He’s got to take the wheel. He’s got to have a plan. It’s like everything in life.”===

    A former governor knows… the Governor is the leader here.===

    Governors own.

    Ask former governors.

  46. - A Non - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    I really don’t think he cares about any of that. He doesn’t need the job, or any other job. The only explanation I can come up with is that he’s doing all this for the Kochs. I wonder what he gets in exchange.

  47. - G'Kar - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:38 am:

    “It’s surprising to me that Rauner doesn’t realize this — that his legacy — or whatever legacy he hoped to have — is tarnished by his intransigence and reluctance to compromise.”

    He’ll always have Dartmouth./s

  48. - PoW - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:41 am:

    Willy, did Rauner agree or did he not agree to “revenue enhancements” if certain items were agreed to i.e. WC reform, term limits, etc.?

  49. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    ===…did Rauner agree or did he not agree to “revenue enhancements” if certain…===

    “if certain”

    Rauner’s budget is $4-7 billion out of whack.

    No “if”, it is

    You can’t “give” a requirement. Your phoniness is up there with Rauner’s. Rauner requires revenue.

    What else ya got?

  50. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    A non- I think you are half right. It is to be the Governor that took down labor for the “business builders” It’s about a fantasy legacy.

  51. - PoW - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:50 am:

    Willy just can’t answer simple questions—That is what I got!!

  52. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    I did answer.

    A required must is not a give.

    “if” is phony.

    Rauner needs revenue. It’s not up for debate or discussion.

    The fact you think that that “if” is there for something Rauner requires is Rauner bending, you are clueless to budgeting.

  53. - Rod - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    Rauner ran against all public sector unions and against Republicans who supported having a relationship with those unions. He is implementing what he ran on by forcing this strike. My guess is that the public will stand with Rauner against the unions, just like in Wisconsin where the public stood with Walker against the unions. We shall find out soon enough if that is the case.

  54. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    == did Rauner agree or did he not agree to “revenue enhancements” if certain items were agreed to i.e. WC reform, term limits, etc.? ==

    Rauner said that, but no one believes him. No trust. Rauner has said a lot of things and then done the exact opposite.

  55. - Robert the 1st - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    =The only explanation I can come up with is that he’s doing all this for the Kochs.=

    Brilliant. The man’s given up his personal life and $26 million of his own money for… the evil Koch brothers. I know it’s fun to pretend you’re fighting the dreaded corporate 1%, but try to remember you’re in a public union, not private.

  56. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    When Rauner has a budget that absolutely does not require revenue, you have an argument.

    You have nothing. You are arguing your ignorance to math.

  57. - City Zen - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    ==at what point do people start to realize that electing “business people” to political office might not be such a hot idea?==

    When “non-business people” don’t accumulate $110B in pension debt, $50B in unfunded retiree health care, $4B in unpaid bills, etc. That’s all the product of non-business people.

    If you have an Option C, I’m all ears.

  58. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:19 pm:

    - City Zen -

    Rauner has yet to propose a balanced budget, a budget that has debt and requires revenue, both seemingly ignored by the “business person” governor.

    You have no argument unless you want to say Rauner is also part of the Status Quo… otherwise, your argument is lacking.

  59. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:20 pm:

    –Rauner ran against all public sector unions and against Republicans who supported having a relationship with those unions.–

    No, he did not. In fact, he absolutely lied about his intentions during the campaign.

    –“Pushing any specific labor regulation is not my priority at all,” he told Illinois Radio Network less than a month before voters went to the polls. Four months later, he unveiled the Turnaround Agenda. –

  60. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:21 pm:

    “My guess is that the public will stand with Rauner against the unions, just like in Wisconsin where the public stood with Walker against the unions.”

    If only there were a recent event that starkly demonstrated the significant differences between the electorates of Wisconsin and Illinois.

    Oh well…

    – MrJM

  61. - XDNR - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    Candidate Rauner, August 4, 2014, “We sort of have to do a do-over and shut things down for a little while, that’s what we’re going to do”.

  62. - Unions Man - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    Rauner’s Preference: 1) Destroy AFSCME OR 2) Make them sign an agreement that de-facto neutralizes AFSCME such as Insisting on freedom to cancel union jobs and hire out of state contractors at will.

  63. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    == If you have an Option C, I’m all ears. ==

    The public insisting on a Constitutional Amendment that requires all new State Programs to be approved by the voters with a automatic corresponding tax increase to fund every new program. That takes care of new stuff.

    And an increase in the flat income tax to cover existing programs. If you want, make it temporary contingent on a Constitutional Amendment for a progressive income tax that will bring in equal revenue to the increased flat tax.

    It’s a given revenue is needed to pay the current bills. Businessman Rauner has proven he can’t cut his way out. So all you can do is make sure future new programs have a funding source.

    It ain’t pretty, but that is how we go forward.

  64. - blue dog dem - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    Attention Springfield!! Now you know what its like every time taxes are raised on the working poor and middle classes throughout the state. Practice some fiscal discipline. We all have to.

  65. - IPayTaxes2 - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:13 pm:

    I always try to shop local, but several of you bring up a good point that state employees need to get our local business on board with us, so if there is no sign up that they support state workers spend your money somewhere else. I am a state employee and AFSCME member and I pay taxes.

  66. - sulla - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    “If we have to save something with intensives let’s save rural hospitals. So called “Economic Development” people for some reason hate the idea, which is why I know it’s a good one.”

    Honeybear, every economic development group I’m familiar with either receives money from the area hospital and/or has the hospital directly involved in governance.

    Your claim that economic developers and local hospitals are at odds with each other is completely false and further demonstrates that you simply do not know what you are talking about.

  67. - working stiff - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    ==Insisting on freedom to cancel union jobs and hire out of state contractors at will.==

    out of state? he’s trying to outsource to INDIA!

  68. - BK Bro - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    To be clear, does Rauner have the ability as of today to implement is last, best, final offer? There’s not pending court case that’s holding this up….right?

  69. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    Hmmmm Sulla that explains why so many rural healthcare facilities are in trouble. But hey you economic development folks are doing so well at attracting business why would you even need insentives for hospitals to keep their doors open. I’m sure you’ve already factored in the effects of the death of ACA into you great plans.
    Meanwhile Barnes makes out like a bandit. Drawing people from 150 miles away

  70. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    Bk Bro- there is a temporary stay against implementation till the appeal is denied. Thus implementation could happen whenever the appellate court denies the appeal.

  71. - Give Me A Break - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    And yet, you can take it to the bank Sangamon County voters will march to the ballot booths and vote to reelect Rauner and vote for anyone else on the ballot with a R in front of their name. They have been doing it for years and will continue to do so. The Sangamon County GOP was built by blind support for Republicans.

  72. - A Non - Friday, Feb 24, 17 @ 4:31 pm:

    Honeybear, isn’t it possible, though, that the appellate court could deny the pending motion for a permanent stay and allow him to implement his contract while the appeal is being litigated?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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