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Goaded Senate President Punts on Pension Reform PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 02 June 2013 17:01

I told my newsletter subscribers several weeks ago that, without a doubt, if Senate President John Cullerton caved in to House Speaker Michael Madigan on pension reform, Cullerton’s legacy as Madigan’s junior partner would be forever sealed.

The two men have battled for months over the proper way to proceed. Cullerton has said that the state Constitution requires that public workers and retirees be given a set of options before their pension benefits can be reduced. Madigan has said that idea doesn’t save enough money, and he has looked for the most cost savings possible. With the pension system at $100 billion in unfunded liability and taxpayer costs rising by about a billion dollars a year, this has become the most important state fiscal issue of our time. It has to be resolved.

I ran into Madigan not long after I wrote that stuff about Cullerton’s possible cave. “Rich, you’re not helping,” he said to me.

 
Gun-Control Advocates Quietly Back Away from Concealed-Carry Bill PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 26 May 2013 09:54

Pat Quinn has loved to hold Sunday press conferences for decades. The governor discovered a long time ago that newspapers were desperate for stories on Sundays, so a Sunday press conference pretty much guaranteed coverage in Monday’s editions.

The problem, though, is that newspapers and other media outlets tend to send younger, less-experienced reporters to Sunday events. And sometimes those reporters miss something that others might catch.

For instance, two Sundays ago, Senate President John Cullerton said something pretty important that was completely ignored by the media.

 
Two Republicans Looking Seriously at Attorney General PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 19 May 2013 05:21

One of the worst-kept secrets over the past few weeks is that House Republican Leader Tom Cross has been considering a run for Illinois attorney general.

Cross has reportedly been asked by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and U.S. Representative Aaron Schock to think about a bid in case Attorney General Lisa Madigan decides to run for governor or simply not run for anything.

A former county prosecutor, Cross has long considered a bid for the office. But as recently as a few weeks ago, Cross’ people were denying that he would do it. Now, however, they are saying it’s a possibility. The calls from top Republicans and some major GOP fundraisers have apparently helped focus his mind. “Any time you have so many people requesting that you consider something, you owe it to them to do some due diligence,” explained one Cross backer last week.

 
Polls Show Both Major Parties Have an Uphill Struggle with Voters PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 12 May 2013 05:36

Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady resigned last week just as a new statewide poll showed big trouble for his political party’s brand.

Brady had been under pressure to resign ever since the disastrous 2012 elections. The pressure increased publicly after Brady announced his support for a gay-marriage bill. Multiple attempts to oust Brady were unsuccessful.

The way forward is unclear, to say the least. Some party leaders have a list of more than 25 people to consider. This could easily turn out to be a total mess.

And this all comes at a particularly bad time for the GOP. A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found that 52 percent of likely Illinois voters have a negative view of the Republican Party. Just 25 percent have a positive view, while 24 percent were neutral.

 
Strong Candidate (Wisely) Backs Off Key GOP Job PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 05 May 2013 05:56

In yet another blow to the Illinois Republican Party, state Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) has withdrawn his name from contention for the state-GOP-chair job.

And, no, it didn’t have anything to do with Murphy being injured during the annual House-versus-Senate softball game last week.

Murphy was approached a month or so ago about taking the party job when the current chair, Pat Brady, eventually resigns.

Brady has been under fire all year for publicly supporting a gay-marriage bill, among other things. The Illinois Republican Party’s platform specifically opposes gay marriage, so Brady was accused of being in flagrant conflict with the party’s beliefs. Brady has said that he merely supported gay marriage as a private citizen, but the hard right in the GOP didn’t buy that argument.

Murphy was initially open to the chair idea and seemed to be leaning toward taking it. He wanted assurances, though, that Brady would be allowed to resign on his own timetable.

 
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