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Script Gets Flipped on Speaker Madigan PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 15 November 2015 05:39

“He seems so done with it all,” said one top Republican earlier last week about House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. “He hates this,” said a close Durkin pal not long afterward.

The overtime session’s constant battles with the House Democrats and super-strict marching orders from Governor Bruce Rauner were wearing Durkin down, said some folks who know him. “This summer was pretty nasty,” he admitted to reporters last week.

But that changed by Tuesday. Asked to describe the progress of the previous few days on a scale of one to 10, a cheery Durkin replied, “Eight, nine, 10.” He seemed back on his game.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan clearly had a very bad week.

What’s Really at Stake in Public Meeting with Governor, Leaders PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 08 November 2015 11:34

The concept of a public meeting on November 18 featuring the four Illinois legislative leaders and the governor sounds nice, but will it actually move the ball forward and break the months-long governmental impasse?

As you might know, a group of good-government types recently called on the state’s leaders to sit down and talk about solving the state’s budget issues. The four tops and the governor haven’t met as a group since late May.

House Speaker Michael Madigan quickly accepted and then suggested that the meeting be held in public. The move has quite a few people scratching their heads, because nobody expects anything will be solved while the public is looking on.

So why bother?

A big reason is that the Democrats want the public to see what they’ve been seeing with their own eyes for months. They say the governor walks in, exchanges pleasantries, and then repeats the same basic talking points that he’s been making since April.

Return Doesn’t Justify the Pain on the Turnaround Agenda PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 01 November 2015 21:16

For months now, Governor Bruce Rauner has said he won’t negotiate a state budget unless his “Turnaround Agenda” demands are met. In the meantime, he has slashed funding for the child-care-assistance program, homeless services have been decimated, mental-health services are going without cash, universities are struggling, and even the Meals on Wheels service for the elderly is cutting back deliveries.

But one of the most important things missing from the debate over that “Turnaround Agenda” is how much money the governor’s proposals would truly save state and local governments. Even for those who support the ideas, is it really worth all this pain?

There is simply no hard, reliable, trustworthy data out there because numbers from both sides of the debate on union-related subjects such as the prevailing wage are so steeped in ideology.

Among other things, the governor is demanding that local governments, including school districts, be allowed to opt out of paying the prevailing wage on construction and other projects. The amount is set by county, and all publicly financed projects must pay those wages. Unions say killing off the prevailing wage won’t save much if any money because productivity will drop when inexperienced, low-wage employees are used to replace trained construction and trades workers.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s say that’s not true.

Governor’s Strategy Finally Seems to Be Backfiring PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 25 October 2015 05:55

Governor Bruce Rauner took it on the chin for several days in a row this month.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s recent poll of southern Illinoisans showed Rauner’s approval rating absolutely tanking in a region he swept last year. Just 37 percent of voters in 18 southern counties approved of his job performance, while 51 percent disapproved. The media usually reacts negatively when there’s real blood in the water, and that poll most definitely showed blood.

In both a Chicago speech and during a follow-up interview, former Republican Governor Jim Edgar called on Rauner to stop holding the budget “hostage” to his anti-union Turnaround Agenda demands, claiming the lack of a state budget is hurting Illinois. Edgar remains a popular figure with political reporters, and his statements were a cold bucket of water on the governor’s “things are going great, and if they’re not, it’s all because of House Speaker Michael Madigan” mantra.

Thompson Center Sale Just One More Sideshow PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 18 October 2015 06:00

Last week, Governor Bruce Rauner said that he had spoken with both Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan about his proposed sale of the state's Thompson Center building in Chicago, and that both men were "forward leaning and positive" about the plan.

So I checked in with the legislative leaders, and that's not exactly what I heard.

"The governor and President Cullerton spoke," said the Senate President's spokesperson Rikeesha Phelon. Okay, so far so good. At least these weren't "phantom" phone conversations like the ones Governor-elect Rauner claimed he had with those two on election night last November, but didn’t.

"We will take a look at the specifics of the plan in light of state statutes regarding property control and facility closures," Phelon continued.

Um, wait. That doesn't sound all too "forward leaning and positive." I asked Phelon: Is Cullerton positive about this at all?

"I would say the word is 'open,' but under review," she replied.

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