Photo: Fred Klonsky
The Civic Committee’s Ty Fahner walked into the hearing room like he owned the joint.
And in some ways he does.
I spent four hours today at the Committee of Ten hearings at the Michael Bilandic State of Illinois Building, sixth floor committee room that shares the floor with The Madman’s Chicago office.
The Committee of Ten was set up following the early-June failure of the Illinois legislature to pass a pension cutting bill. The House wasn’t allowed to vote on SB2404 and the Senate wouldn’t pass Senate Bill 1.
The Governor wants action by July 9th.
It not going to happen by July 9th.
Ty Fahner gave the standard corporate Illinois-is-broke testimony. Although he spoke for over 45 minutes, it didn’t sound like he had his heart in it.
He was followed by a representative of Squeezy.
And then a lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce pissed off the co-chair of the committee, Senator Kwame Raoul, so much that I thought the Senator was going to reach all the way across the long table and grab the guy by the neck.
Raoul lambasted the guy for about three or four minutes about how the Chamber guy had misrepresented Raoul’s position and I just kept thinking that whatever the Chamber is Commerce is paying their lobbyist – well that’s good money that was just flushed away. Senator Raoul is a powerful guy.
Photo: Fred Klonsky
The issue confronting the We Are One coalition, made up of the unions that represent state employees, is that they made major concessions in their negotiations with John Cullerton and the Senate Democrats on SB2404.
This they admit.
Dan Montgomery of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (left), Jim Reed of the IEA (right), Sean Smooth who represents state police and other state employees and Steve Kreisberg from AFSCME took their seats after noon and mainly talked in support of SB2404.
But SB2404 is dead. So will We Are One be willing to compromise more?
That produced a kind of verbal dance between Senator Raoul and the We Are One folks. My sense is that they didn’t want to give a direct no to Raoul, but that any compromise bill that falls between SB1 and SB2404 would be giving away too much for We Are One to sell to members. Even they admitted that SB2404 was a tough enough sell as it was.
Things got testy in an exchange between Kreisberg and Elaine Nekritz, House Co-Chair of the Committee of Ten.
When Nekritz issued some veiled threats about how health care for retirees was not constitutionally mandated, Kreisberg shot back, “How many promises to the state’s workers do you want to break?”
It was the question of the day.