Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton to Governor Rauner, “We ain’t ready for reform."


Governor Bruce Rauner and IL DCFS Director George Sheldon answering questions yesterday at the Thompson Center about DCFS reforms, IL state budget impasse, IL budget, economic, political and civic reforms and the Republican Presidential nominee.

Governor Bruce Rauner and IL DCFS Director George Sheldon answering questions yesterday at the Thompson Center about DCFS reforms, IL state budget impasse, IL budget, economic, political and civic reforms and the Republican Presidential nominee.

Begging the Pope for an audience?

Governor Rauner said at yesterday morning’s  press conference at the Thompson Center that his office reached out to Speaker Madigan last week and said, “The Primaries are over, how about if you and I get together, this week, talk about a budget and some compromises?”

The Governor seemed to be grasping, futilely,  for some signs that Speaker Madigan (in that position since 1983-except for a coffee break in 1994-95- is likely to return to the bargaining table for good faith negotiations when the former venture capitalist/investment portfolio manager  informed the assembled Chicago media, “No commitments came back, as to when such discussion might take place… I am hoping that the Speaker and I can meet in private soon, like today, maybe.”

I wouldn’t hold my breath, Governor Rauner.  The Speaker fought you in three  primary races and the Speaker won them all.  That’s not exactly what I would call a state budget impasse “Gamer Changer,” for you. It is as if, “You fought the law and the law won.” Not a surprising outcome.

–Strike one for Rauner

You challenged the Speaker for his own State Rep. seat and he won that easily but he had to spend more than the usual money and devote more than his usual time to win for the 17th time, or so.  So, he is going to kick you around a bit, the way a cat plays with a mouse– when he has him cornered.

–Strike two for Rauner

Governor Rauner, you peeled State Rep. Dunkin away from the Speaker, but the Speaker spent a lot of money and beat Dunkin and you easily last week. So, it will be hard for you to peel any more Democrats from the Speaker’s caucus. Guess what, he knows that.

–Strike three for Rauner

Mr. Rauner, you sought to make an example of Republican State Senator McCann, who went against you on some key votes because McCann thought he had more to fear from the public sector unions than from you, and McCann was right. The Speaker now knows that, too.

So, Governor, you argued yesterday “There are real solutions to MAP grants, we should be funding our map grants to low income kids.” And, if we did procurement reform, that would free up the funding for map grants.”  You said, “Even the other side of the aisle has agreed we need procurement reform– most of them, let’s do that right now, map grants could be funded. “

Further, you said, “Our universities could be funded with hundreds of millions of dollars if we took some excess funds out of special purposes funds and put them into university funds. That bill has already been sponsored on a bi-partisan basis.  We could fund our universities so Chicago State would not have to close. And, Eastern Illinois would not have to lay off staff, faculty.”

Governor, you seemed sincerely disappointed in Mike Madigan’s inaction, saying, “So far, the Speaker has not been willing to call the university funding bill, along with some special purpose fund-reallocation [Fund sweeps from Breast Cancer prevention promotion, fishing promotion, etc.].  I will also say I am very troubled by the lack of social services funding, human services funding, etc.   For example, Catholic Charities does incredibly good work, helping the most vulnerable in our community. They are going out on a limb, financially.  Catholic Charities is struggling.”

Lamenting the Illinois legislative inaction some more, you said, “If we did pension reform, as an example, our pension reforms could save billions. Even President Cullerton’s reform bill could save a billion a year. That could go a long way toward serving our human services at this time. And, I have said I will sign whatever language Senate President Cullerton puts forward. His proposal, I’ve said, I will support it.”

–The Chicago Way

Well, the public sector unions who have given bundles of bucks to the Speaker and the Senate President in the last six months don’t want any pension reform.  The Speaker, Senate President and their union supporters just beat you, but good, several times.  There won’t be any pension reform anytime soon. Welcome, Governor, to the “Chicago way.”

But, Governor Rauner, bent but not broken, you continued, “So far, nothing. And, in the meantime, Catholic charities and our most vulnerable families are being hurt…It’s wrong, people in Illinois are being hurt by this impasse and there are bi-partisan solutions…it seems to me that the crisis is being extended for political gain and messaging, and that’s wrong.”

–Gambling and prostitution in the brothel

Political gain? My gosh, Governor, you sound genuinely surprised. Gambling and prostitution in the brothel? Who would have thunk it?

Well, it might be wrong from society’s point of view, but “To the victor, go the spoils.”  Welcome, Governor Rauner to Speaker Madigan’s course on Poly Sci 101.

Gov. Rauner, you seemed almost ready to cry for the people when you emphasized, “The solutions that we are proposing, the reforms that we are advocating are bi-partisan…every significant reform that we have recommended are supported by the majority of people of Illinois.  Most of them are supported by a significant majority of the registered Democratic voters in Illinois. This is not a partisan, radical extreme agenda.”

–Term Limits

As an example, you said, the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans support term limits… why can’t we vote on it? The vast majority of Democrats and Republicans support re-districting reform to have competitive  general elections. Why can’t we vote on that? Why can’t we have those reforms restore the confidence of the business community in government in Illinois, so they will create more jobs and make more investments– so we can have rising family incomes.”

Come on Governor, I think you know why the Speaker doesn’t want term limits. He wants to keep his power.  And since he won on Tuesday, he can.

–Pension Reform

Yet you continued, on your long, long, slog: “The vast majority of the voters in Illinois, Democrats and Republicans, support comprehensive pension reform. The vast majority. Why can’t we vote on Pension reform.  What’s holding it up.?”

I think you know what’s holding pension reform up, Governor. The Speaker won on Tuesday, March 15 and you lost.  There will be no pension reform in Springfield.

Beware the Ides of March, strike one, strike two, strike three– the mighty Governor has struck out. The Turnaround Agenda? We’ll see. [For Republican House Leader Durkin’s discussion of the specific elements of the Turnaround Agenda and the interplay between passage of reform legislation and new revenue, watch Berkowitz w/Leader Jim Durkin here].

–Local control: Property tax freezes and curtailing the scope of public sector union collective bargaining with IL municipalities and villages

Throw in the towel, Governor Rauner? Nope, you continued your epic poem, “Same thing on local control, you noted– Some people have said, “That’s radical and extreme, it might hurt unions.” You replied, “Let the people in each local community control the costs in their local government [by restricting the scope of collective bargaining with the public sector unions]. Democrats support that, Republicans support that. Why can’t we allow that? And, for those who want to keep the status quo, they can. I am not saying they have to change the status quo. I want the communities that want to change the status quo in Illinois to be allowed to choose that.” Freedom to choose, so to speak, that is what you want, Governor.

–Madigan and Cullerton ain’t ready for reform?

Your closing argument, “These are not radical ideas and they are not partisan ideas—they are bi-partisan. I want to remind everybody as we go forward—Democrats support the reforms that we are advocating.  They are supported by both parties.”

Well, Governor, you might be right on that score, but until you win some political victories, until you can demonstrate you are right on that score– Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President Cullerton? They ain’t ready for reform. [For a different Rauner press conference emphasis, watch Chicago Tonight’s Ponce/Arruza and Gov. Rauner here]


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  • I think the problem you identify for Rauner is one faced by many senior business executives who go into politics: an inability to distinguish between control and leadership. As executives they believe their ability to herd their underlings to follow their dictates is proof of leadership. When they deal with independent equals in the same enterprise they discover that they must persuade and they must compromise.
    Rauner did neither. He relied threats and confrontation. Is it too late for him to change?

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Herding is not unique to business people. Madigan's use of his war chest to herd 68 votes isn't any different. The used to be (if you believed the Tribune), some Democrats in the legislature who were independent and could get things done. Madigan just squashed one of the last ones. I'm still waiting to see what he intends to do about Drury and Franks.

    All Jeff described in his column was raw political power, and Madigan and Cullerton exercised it, and Madigan has shown no effort at compromise, even though the state is going down the sewer.

  • In reply to jack:

    But Madigan knew how to exercise "raw political power," which includes compromises with his members to get their support. Rauner knew only how to spread money. Money goes a long way in politics but it isn't everything.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    There is absolutely no evidence of "Madigan ...compromises with his members to get their support." He either pays for their campaigns or gerrymanders districts so they run unopposed.

    Rauner tried to deal with Dunkin, and Jeff says what the result is. Cullerton keeps saying "Someone call a conference" and when Rauner does, Madigan doesn't show up or just sits there and doesn't negotiate. The House is in recess for the month.

    You can look at the legislative history of bills Durkin has submitted on Rauner's behalf, such as the workers" comp bill I cited in the previous post. They are bottled up in the Rules Committee. It doesn't take any compromise to do that.

    If you have any evidence that we are dealing with other than Kim Jung Madigan, post some verifiable sources, not your imagination.

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