Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
February 27, 2017
In This Issue:
Ø Senate Plans to Deal with Bargain This Week
Ø AFSCME Takes a Step Closer to a Strike
Ø Congressman Michel Gave Useful Example
Ø Efforts to Sell the Thompson Center Reignited
ØVariety of Bills Pass House
ØYouth Council Readies for Trip to Springfield
Ø Local Dentist Office Recognized
Ø Share Your Ideas with Me This Week
Senate Plans to Deal with Bargain This Week
The topic on everyone’s mind in Springfield continues to be the budget but only the Senate is dealing with the issue at this time. The Senate is scheduled to take votes this week on a number of bills that comprise the “grand bargain”.
In his budget address, Governor Rauner made clear his parameters to the General Assembly on the Senate’s plan. He insisted that the final product must be a good deal for taxpayers and job creators, and said it should include real spending reductions and meaningful pension reform. Rauner also asked legislators if they pass a permanent income tax increase, they should also make a permanent property tax freeze.
The governor stated in his budget address that if the state’s economy had been growing as well as neighboring states over the past few years, we would have billions more dollars to put towards the budget. This fact is why he continues to insist upon reforms to attract job creators to Illinois and why state reforms and the budget are so entwined.
Senate leaders have expressed hope that these issues will get wrapped up in their chamber this week. At that point, it will be up to the House to move forward. House leaders have thus far made no efforts to join the budget discussion. No House Appropriations committees have met and no bill declaring expected state revenues in FY2018, a normal starting point for budget drafting, has been discussed.
It is abundantly clear that neither the Governor nor legislative leaders want to be the first to mention the amount of tax increase that most expect to be part of the budget solution.
AFSCME Takes a Step Closer to a Strike
The state’s largest union--the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees—AFSCME---announced results of a strike vote last week in hopes of putting more pressure on the Governor for a contract. The union said 81 percent of its nearly 28,000 members eligible to strike voted to authorize a walkout. Some of the 38,000 AFSCME members work at jobs like state prisons and juvenile facilities that are prevented by law from striking.
While both sides in this contract battle say they want to avoid a strike, it would appear that is where the state is headed. There have been no negotiations in over a year and the Illinois Labor Relations Board in November said that the two sides were at impasse. The only thing preventing the Governor from implementing his best and final offer is a court order.
The Governor appears convinced that AFSCME members currently enjoy many benefits not received by private-sector workers or even some other state unions. While AFSCME has offered recently to reduce some of those benefits, that is not enough to satisfy the Governor.
Like the lack of a budget, the failure to conclude labor negotiations is not productive for the future of Illinois.