* For whatever reason, Crain’s Chicago Business published my column online early this week. So, we get to talk about it today instead of on Monday..
Back in 2011, private citizen Bruce Rauner was involved with legislation in Springfield to change how public school teachers were evaluated and to curtail the power of the state’s teachers unions. Rauner didn’t care for the outcome, but after months of tedious and often contentious negotiations, the bill passed with just one “no” vote in both chambers.
Rauner wanted to use the legislation, in part, to prevent the Chicago Teachers Union from striking the following year. One important thing to know about Rauner is that he hates the CTU above all else. But a small portion of a subsequent “cleanup” bill allowed the CTU to decide who could vote on a strike.
“This has to be killed,” Rauner wrote in a May 24, 2011, email to the Illinois House Republican leader’s political director. “Every repub has to vote against.”
Three days later, the Senate approved the bill 51-5 and then the House passed it 116-0. The House Republican leader, the target of Rauner’s insistent email, was a chief co-sponsor.
That may give you an inkling of what the General Assembly has been dealing with since Rauner was sworn in as Illinois’ 42nd governor two and a half years ago.
Rauner came into office with the same bluster he displayed in that email. It was his way or the highway. The only difference now is that when he wants something killed, it gets killed. Republicans almost never cross him. One tried, and Rauner spent millions to defeat him in a primary.
After another failed negotiation session to end the long governmental impasse with Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan last December, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno approached Senate President John Cullerton about devising their own plan, which was eventually called the “grand bargain.”
The e-mail mentioned above is here. Lots of naughty words at that link, so be careful if you’re at work.
And click here to read the rest of the column before commenting, please.