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Republicans Snub Labor in Right-to-Work Vote PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 17 May 2015 05:30

Governor Bruce Rauner had several House Republicans over to the Executive Mansion last week to ask them to vote “present” when the House Democrats called their “right to work” bill the following day.

Right-to-work laws allow union members to not pay for any of their union’s services, even though unions are required by federal law to serve all their members. The laws can cripple unions, which may help businesses but tends to drive down wages.

Why would the Democrats bring an anti-union bill to the House floor? Various reasons – one of them being that they are so opposed to the idea and the governor has pushed it so forcefully that they wanted to finally get the issue off the table by killing it dead. They also wanted to put the Republicans in a tight spot of choosing between the governor and their friends in organized labor.

Pulling Back the Curtain on Secret Working Groups PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 10 May 2015 05:04

I recently obtained a document distributed by the governor’s office detailing the membership list and meeting times and locations of the secret state legislative “working groups.”

The governor’s office has insisted that not only should legislators dummy up about what goes on at the groups’ meetings – which are designed to forge compromises on the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda” – but also that outsiders should not even know the membership of the groups or when and where they’re getting together.

That’s pretty ridiculous. Many moons ago, I began writing about private legislative caucus meetings. That didn’t endear me to the powers that be, but I thought the meetings were too important to the Statehouse process to ignore. I still think that, although caucus meetings are somewhat less important these days.

So I exerted a bit of effort and eventually scored the governor’s document.

The working group tasked with hammering out a potential tax hike is so secret that its very existence would not be confirmed by members I contacted. Legislators were reportedly warned by the governor’s office that if any word leaked about the group, Governor Bruce Rauner would refuse to increase taxes.

Yep, he’s a control freak.

Rauner Playing Hardball on Budget, Term Limits PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 03 May 2015 05:31

The new legislative “working groups” designed to hammer out compromises on Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” finally began meeting in secret last week. At least one of them got a bit heated.

A working group tasked with writing ethics legislation hit a brick wall right off the bat when it came time to discuss Rauner’s term-limits constitutional amendment. Two Democrats on the committee reportedly said there was plenty of time to deal with the amendment next year, since it couldn’t be placed on the ballot until November 2016.

Nope, said the administration representative, according to sources. The governor wants that amendment passed by the end of the spring legislative session. When he was met with stiff resistance, the administration official reportedly became agitated and more than implied that if the constitutional amendment isn’t passed by May 31, the governor would not support any revenue increases to patch next fiscal year’s massive $6-billion hole.

Why Is Madigan Refusing to Cast Votes? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 26 April 2015 14:39

A couple of weeks ago, I started noticing that House Speaker Michael Madigan wasn’t voting on most legislation during his chamber’s floor debates. Madigan was feeling under the weather that week, and was ill enough that a leadership meeting with the governor couldn’t be scheduled until a few days later, so I let it go.

But the pattern continued the following week. A spot check of roll calls showed Madigan was listed as present and accounted for but hadn’t voted for or against much of anything.

What the heck?

Polling, Committee Suggest Rauner’s Roadmap PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 19 April 2015 15:44

Governor Bruce Rauner devised a new way to reward his friends and punish his enemies on April 16 when he created a campaign committee called Illinois Turnaround.

Illinois Turnaround is an independent-expenditure committee, meaning contributions to it and by it are not capped by law. The committee’s officially stated purpose is to “support state legislative candidates who support Governor Rauner’s bold and needed reforms, and to oppose those who stand in the way.”

According to Rauner insiders, the new committee will be given $4 million to $5 million within days of its founding. That’s in addition to the $20 million the governor has in his own personal campaign account, which won’t be touched for this particular effort.

Spending on advertising is expected to begin soon after the money comes in.

The governor’s campaign also released a polling memo that purports to show that the public backs his agenda. While his job-approval rating is just 38 percent, his disapproval rating is five points below that (33 percent). The percentage of respondents who view him favorably was 42 percent compared to 34 percent who viewed him unfavorably.

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