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The Klonsky Springfield update. Teachers need a Grover Norquist.

January 4, 2013

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It looks like they are really putting the lame in lame duck session.

Nothing will happen. No marriage equality bill. No immigration bill. No gun bill. No Nekritz pension killer.

The State Senate adjourned yesterday without taking action on much of anything other than screwing some more state workers on a pension bill that would still need to be passed by the House.

The House will meet in a few days for a few days. But nothing is expected from them either.

A thousand of us jammed the Capitol yesterday. Mostly Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Education Association.

It wasn’t massive. But I’ve lowered my expectations of the IEA and the IFT. They are not organizations that mobilize from the grass roots for mass action. They’re just not built to work that way. Maybe some day. But not now. So a thousand wasn’t bad.

My main complaint is that they ran out of doughnuts in the warm-up tent before I got one. Although in fairness, IEA Chief Counsel Mitch Roth offered me one of the last ones. I got distracted in conversation.

Cinda thinks mass mobilizations are too sixties. She said so. To me. In so many words.

So a thousand yesterday and maybe a thousand today is not bad. It was mainly done by local people who thought it was important to get mobilized, with some but minor help from Edwards Street.

What now?

Talking to somebody high up in the IEA, they think the main problem for the pension killers in getting consensus around a single bill is the need to shift the cost of the pension obligation from the state to the local property taxpayers.

Suburban and downstate legislators aren’t going for it, fearing a local backlash at the next election.

And with no cost shift it will be very hard to get a pension bill.

I find this interesting because the cost shift has been the weakest part of the union’s opposition. At one point the IEA even said on their web site that they were agnostic on the issue. That is until I pointed out that this was crazy and both Cinda and Charlie McBarron agreed, switching the IEA position the next day.

Can Madigan and Cullerton get enough votes for a cost shift in the new General Assembly? Are we far enough away from the next election that suburban and downstate Democrats will feel they have enough of a cushion and time to vote for it?

If passed, it will mean higher local property taxes. It will be a real burden on working class suburban and downstate districts who are over-taxed as it is in a state that so unfairly puts the burden of funding schools on local home owners.

Talking to a retired pension activist after the rally, she said to me, “We need a Grover Norquist.”

“What,” I aked?

“A Grover Norquist. That anti-tax guy who got all those Republicans to sign a no-tax pledge.”

It’s not that crazy an idea: Going to the community with petitions demanding a pledge from local legislators not to vote for any bill that adds to the property-tax burden of local homeowners while allowing corporate tax give-aways to those like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    January 4, 2013 1:24 pm

    Illinois needs a progressive graduated income tax…like other states…the right wing has hoped to privatize everything and point the finger at public pensions…to control the news….so we all won’t notice the solution

  2. Patricia Herrmann permalink
    January 4, 2013 1:37 pm

    Fred, What’s going on? I’m worried about these little changes. It doesn’t look too me like they are minor. The IEA linked to this account. They may have just read the headlines and heading. You have to go to the bottom and read. :

    http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x65624037/Illinois-Senate-takes-no-action-on-top-issues?zc_p=0

    Nothing that has to do with making pensioners choose between TRIP and COLA is a “small change.” Especially when Quinn is today talking to Madigan and in the burbs talking to DuPage’s Cronin.

    And again: http://www.illinoisobserver.net/2013/01/04/illinois-senate-approves-bill-to-strip-afscme-membership-from-state-employees/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    Not a small matter in the IL/Dem/Repub/Governor combine. We are getting Squeezied not the state of IL.

    Should we be going down next week? Patricia Herrmann

  3. Patricia Herrmann permalink
    January 4, 2013 2:33 pm

    From Capitol Fax: http://capitolfax.com/category/illinois/updated-post/

    *** UPDATED x2 *** Quinn: Madigan agrees to drop cost shift Friday, Jan 4, 2013

    * Gov. Pat Quinn said today that House Speaker Michael Madigan has agreed to defer the pension cost shift idea to a later date so that the rest of pension reform can be dealt with.

    That’s some major movement. But a pension reform bill is still not gonna be easy.

    Quinn appeared with legislators from DuPage County and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin (a former legislator) today to announce that they were working toward an agreement. Here’s the list of the other attendees…

    Rep. Darlene Senger, Rep. Chris Nybo, Rep. Michael Fortner, Rep. Jim Durkin, Rep. Michael Connelly, Rep. Patti Bellock, Rep. Franco Coladipietro, Rep. Randy Ramey, Rep. Dennis Reboletti, Sen. Ron Sandack, and Sen. Tom Johnson. Quinn said he was “real optimistic” that a pension reform bill can be passed by Tuesday.

    Details to come.

    *** UPDATE *** You can watch Quinn’s press conference by clicking here.

    *** UPDATE 2 *** Tribune…

    Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders plan to meet Saturday to try to come up with a compromise to fix financially broken government worker pension systems as the clock ticks down toward the end of the lame-duck session. The talks are scheduled as House Speaker Michael Madigan has indicated a willingness to explore backing off a provision that would shift the pension costs for suburban and Downstate teachers away from the state and onto local school districts. Critics fear such a move would result in property tax increases. A Madigan spokesman today indicated the governor and the speaker have been talking. “Madigan said, ‘I told him to pass whatever he can pass,’ ’’ Brown said Madigan told Quinn. “If that means we defer the cost shift for some other day, to get other things passed, we’ll try to get other things passed.”

    – Posted by Rich Miller 31 Comments

    I’m worried that means the forced choice will be on the table and maybe some of the Nekritz pension killer features will be on the table.

    Patricia Herrmann 630 927 0517 cell 630 653 2306

  4. Patricia Herrmann permalink
    January 4, 2013 2:58 pm

    According to Sun-Times it will be hammered out Saturday but the cost shift is dead. Pension change will be higher contributions and reduced COLA:

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/17386108-418/quinn-says-breakthrough-reached-with-madigan-on-pension-reform.html

    DuPage Republicans and Madigan together. “Quinn provided few details on the pension legislation that he said is taking shape, but said it would include higher employee contributions and a reduction in retirees’ cost-of-living increases.”

    Patricia Herrmann

  5. Patricia Herrmann permalink
    January 4, 2013 3:06 pm

    From the Civic Federation, it will be the Nekritz bill: http://www.civicfed.org/iifs/blog/new-state-pension-reform-legislation-introduced-hb6258

    The DuPage Republicans and Madigan combine forces to push this through. Draconian. Patricia Herrmann

  6. Bill permalink
    January 4, 2013 3:37 pm

    Okay, Fred. So tell me again what yesterday’s rally accomplished. Did you do a lot of lobbying? Convince any legislators of anything? Most senators signed in to get their per diem and got the hell out of town asap. They probably passed your bus on the way out of town. The unions have rallies for the benefit of the rank and file not to affect legislation. Cinda is right. Its a waste off time and effort and doughnuts. Whatever, I’m glad if it made you feel better.By the way, the Nekritz cash balance plan is much better for tier two teachers than what they have now. They don’t get screwed nearly as much and get to keep their own money with a little interest thrown in. It ain’t a pension but at least they could quit being robbed.

    • Fred Klonsky permalink*
      January 4, 2013 4:14 pm

      Good to see you’re with Cinda on all this. Don’t trip over your white flag of surrender.

  7. Dr. Paul J. Mikulcik permalink
    January 4, 2013 4:21 pm

    I agree! How do we get the petition started?

    Paul J. Mikulcik, Ed.D. A National Distinguished Principal, Retired

    “It is our choices. . . that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities” A. Dumbledore/J.K. Rowling

  8. siglisowski permalink
    January 4, 2013 10:51 pm

    Bill, nice divisive comment. It will help us a lot!

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