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Lack of African-American Support Dooms Gay-Marriage Bill PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 09 June 2013 05:17

There’s more than enough blame to go around regarding the failure of the gay-marriage bill during the final days of the General Assembly’s spring session, which ended May 31.

Governor Pat Quinn knew that African-American House members were reluctant to support the bill, mainly because of pressure from their churches. So, why did he pick a nasty fight with the Black Caucus over Medicaid? Quinn was offering projects to Republican legislators to entice them to flip, but he couldn’t find a few million Medicaid dollars to help poor people get wheelchairs and preventive dental care? That late-session fight over Medicaid spending was counterproductive. Instead of using the disagreement to his advantage, Quinn dug in his heels and so did the Black Caucus, which also initially refused to support a gay-rights measure several years ago after being cut out of a gaming-expansion bill.

Senate President John Cullerton said he didn’t regret passing the gay-marriage bill out of his chamber in mid-February, before the House votes were lined up. Back then, the House roll call was reportedly in the 40s. (Sixty votes are needed to pass.) Usually, proponents try to wire these things so they pass both chambers quickly. Cullerton said he feared opponents would begin gearing up and believed the bill needed to be passed as quickly as possible. But passing that bill without first making sure the House was ready to deal with it energized opponents and gave them time to organize.

 
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.

 
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