Democratic Senate President John Cullerton spoke to the City Club of Chicago today and said that the Grand Bargain he proposes to break the two-year log jam on a state budget is dependent on public employees agreeing to pension theft.
From the prepared text of Cullerton’s speech.
I’M GOING TO READ YOU ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THAT IMPASSE:
DURING THAT TIME, SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS WERE FROZEN OUT OF COUNSELING, HOMELESS TEENS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS WERE KICKED TO THE CURB, BREAST CANCER SCREENINGS WERE ELIMINATED, AND LARGE AND FORMERLY STABLE CHARITIES LIKE LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES OF ILLINOIS AS WELL AS SMALL AND VULNERABLE SERVICE PROVIDERS LAID OFF THOUSANDS OF STAFF MEMBERS AND DISCONTINUED PROGRAMS.
THAT’S FROM A RECENT RICH MILLER NEWSPAPER COLUMN.
THAT’S A LOT OF HORRIBLE FOR ONE SENTENCE.
Yep. Even Rich Miller gets that part right.
But who is to blame for the worst budget fiasco in the nation?
ILLINOIS HAS NEVER GONE THIS LONG WITHOUT A BUDGET.
GETTING OUT OF THIS MESS ISN’T GOING TO BE EASY.
LAWMAKERS NEED TO TAKE TOUGH VOTES.
TRUST ME, LAWMAKERS DON’T LIKE TAKING TOUGH VOTES.
AND IT CERTAINLY DOESN’T HELP WHEN, FOR THE PAST FEW WEEKS, EVERY INTERESTED LOBBYIST IN THE STATE HAS BEEN TELLING THEM THIS PART OR THAT PART OF THE PLAN IS A DEAL BREAKER.
FOR PERSPECTIVE, OUR “GRAND BARGAIN” LEGISLATION WAS INTRODUCED ON JANUARY 9. BETWEEN THAT DATE AND THE END OF THE MONTH, 867 LOBBYISTS REGISTERED WITH THE STATE.
THEY ARE THE ONES FILLING OUT WITNESS SLIPS AT HEARINGS TO OPPOSE OUR EFFORTS, WITNESS SLIPS THAT FILLED 188 PAGES.
NOW, I DON’T FAULT THEM … ENTIRELY.
THAT’S THE JOB OF A LOBBYIST. TO PROTECT HIS OR HER CLIENT’S INTEREST. THAT’S WHAT THEY GET PAID TO DO.
The Governor and the legislature aren’t to blame.
It’s the special interests. Like state workers concerned about another attempt at pension theft. Also their lobbyists from the teacher unions and associations representing other state workers.
Pension theft is a key part of the Grand Bargain. Cullerton warns that if any part of the Grand Bargain isn’t accepted as is, the whole thing falls apart.
In the City Club speech Cullerton goes on to describe in great detail the horrible impact of the state’s failure to pass a budget. He is not telling any of us who have been the victims of the budget impasse anything we don’t already know.
What he wants to do is blame it on the state’s employees and the contractual obligation of the state to do what they have not done in seven decades: Pay what they owe.
The Cullerton plan for pension theft is simple.
Employees should choose between two reductions in their pension benefit.
If they include it in the Grand Bargain the courts will rule it unconstitutional.
Whose fault will it be then?