Illinois Lawmakers Override Governor, Pass Budget For First Time In 2 Years
Lawmakers in Illinois have enacted a budget for the first time in more than two years, overriding a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner and overcoming a last-minute delay at the Capitol. The crucial override vote was delayed after authorities received a report of possible hazardous materials, prompting an investigation, The Associated Press reports.
It's not unfair to be concerned about taxes when there's a quarter trillion dollars to be accounted for. That's going to land on us and i haven't seen any suggestions to bring that number down. Sure, if it's only 50 million in abuses that's small in comparison but that's hardly a satisfactory answer and certainly doesn't make gaming the system ok. Going back to my first comment, I'm in favor of the new rate if it means having a budget. I'm in favor of funding education and services for those in need. And I'm very much in favor of government accountability and transparency if it's means the policies that brought us here won't be continued. This started a lot earlier than two years ago.
Yes Ellie, using pensions as a slush fund started a long time ago. There are other abuses of pension money that have and still might again blow up in people's faces.
Daley went after Miriam Santos mainly because she refused him access to city pension money so he had to put an even more slavish loyalist in so he could play with that fund.
Politicians in many states then use city pension money to attract donors who give pols. big bucks so they can have the use of pension dollars, which end up getting invested in more dangerous (chancy) ways like hedge funds. This has already caused problems in some states.
What do you think Emanuel is doing? I expect taxpayers will bear the brunt of this gaming of city revenue streams. Guess who will be blamed? Not the financiers making millions. Those greedy city workers!
Do some research on this practice. The Nation and others have covered this form of greedy finance and politician opportunism. And no, bad practices have not stopped. One reason is because people like to blame other people rather than look up.
well to be precise, the pension debt is really "only" a fifth of a trillion, not a quarter trillion. Might sounds like a rhetorical difference, but if it were a quarter trillion then we'd each owe another $3,500 on top of the 15. Not so rhetorical :)
and you're right, Ellie; taxes being raised does mean real hardship for many, especially in an already relatively high taxation context. Not trying to diminish that fact. I just wanted to emphasize that we are not heading into some kind of tax nightmare or twilight zone.
Again, the most important thing in Illinois right now is to find some way to levy more taxes on the wealthy so that future increases are distributed better among those who can actually afford them. We are one of only 5 states that has a flat income tax. It was enshrined in our constitution long ago by clever rich people who knew it would guarantee them low taxes well into the future. But now we are in a state of crisis, and we need a new taxation distribution model in order to get out of it.
There is a very good, brief commentary on the budget/tax issue in Chicago Magazine this week, including an explanation from one of the Republican reps who voted to end the impasse. It kind of puts everything into perspective. Voting against the measure and seeking a non-tax solution would have required ALL Illinois expenditures be cut by a whopping 45%. Doing nothing at all would have resulted in immediate junk bond status--which would not have meant higher borrowing rates, but the inability to borrow any money at all:
"It is not an exaggeration to say that there was the very real possibility that the state of Illinois would not be able to survive this added burden":
and a fascinating read from Crane's Chicago Business about how Rauner's new chief of staff might signal more of an extreme-right, Trumpian turn for the governor.
"Her [Kristina Rassmussen's] appointment does make one wonder whether the Democrats were right in suggesting that, whatever his public stance, Rauner never was interested in doing a deal that did not give him total victory."
Well good for Gov Rauner. Thanks to the Democrats, under Michael Madigan, and a few cowardly Republicans who couldn't stand up to him, our state is beyond broke so even adding a few more taxes to the already high taxes won't help. Meanwhile the most productive are leaving and so are jobs. The financial foundations and the structure of this state have to be changed, not tweaked.
Now that we have an income tax increase (don't forget we also have a property tax increase), for those who support the increase, will you now favor constitutional reform so we can cram down the public sector pensions which are killing this state?
I can only presume that by not answering, those in favor of the tax increase are not interested in reforming this state and instead choose to tax their way to financial insolvency.
Looks like the same gullibles who allowed themselves to be tools of the Russians and voted for Trump are the same gullibles who think Rauner is doing something good. Rauner is confused: he is not a CEO - he is a governor. Two different roles. The first thing that people overlook - and former republican Gov. Jim Edgar pointed out - is that Rauner failed as governor to do his job and present a balanced budget to the legislature for debate. Instead he demanded they present to him a budget - and oh, by the way, he demanded that non-budget items be included (reforms that are dubious and no guarantee of anything other than meeting Rauner's agenda). He held the budget process hostage and harmed the financial credit of the state, cost tax payers more as penalties piled on and hurt universities, the poor and small businesses that do business with the state. He is a disaster and needs to be voted out of office.
Please define what exactly you mean by "so we can cram down the public sector pensions"
Do I support reform? Yes. Do I want to "cram" anything? Well, no.
There are plenty of things that can be done -- workmen's comp reform; transition all new State employees to 401k (this cannot be done to current employee contracts -- the supreme court has already ruled on that); and progressive income tax.
Rauner could have been working on all of these items. Instead, he tied all of these nonbudget items, plus things like term limits and the very unpopular right to work, to the budget. That was foolish. It cost the taxpayers millions of dollars for which we received absolutely no return. Plus several credit downgrades. Rauner's ill-advised "my way or the highway" approach did more damage than good.
I don't like the idea of him "cramming" anything upon anyone.
Some of you have bought the bridge and focus on spending as if this is the problem. Or maybe I should say spending on education, social services and infrastructure maintenance.(Illinois is not at the top in spending on these things.)
But rarely is there a peep from the right wing bunch when millions are given in subsidies for corporate benefits and millions are granted for trinkets like sports stadiums and other favors to wired interests. Oh yeah, they go numb whenever some pol. says it generates income (it also generates big profits) or we must kiss the behinds of business to stay in illinois. Economic blackmail has become the go to card when we need to be told "Can't Touch This!"
You don't hear a peep from the trolls when our taxes are used to pay lawsuits because yet another cop has committed another atrocity.
So trolls should at least be silent when we are forced to bite the bullet again to pay for the exploits of the elite. It's partly the result of your jaundiced perspectives.
Nick, if new state workers were transitioned to 401ks, wouldn't this harm current employees' pensions in the future. I'm thinking in terms of the fact that current workers in the private sector pay my SS benefits. Don't public pensions work that way at least to some extent?
What Rauner has proposed is that future state workers accept a 401k plan and also be eligible for (and obviously have to pay into) Social Security at the same time. Of course, his proposal has come with a total lack of resolve, because he will never accept any reform whatsoever unless it's packaged along with one of his pet concessions. He could actually get a lot done if he wasn't such a stubborn idiot. The more I see of him, the more convinced I am that there's something fundamentally unbalanced about this governor.
Requiring new employees to accept a 401k would not affect current employees. They would have to pay into SS, of course, and there are some various payroll taxes. But, overall it would reduce State costs.
Could have been an easy win for Rauner to get that done, but he tied all kinds of strings to the budget and got none of them. He is not very good at his job. And now we have experienced even more credit downgrades since he became Gov. That is taxpayer money down the drain with absolutely nothing in return.
I am not sure if you hear yourselves talking about downgrading public worker benefits. Maybe we should cut all employee salaries by adding an additional tax that would have you pay for the true cost of public services. BTW, lowered benefits for one group tends to lower salary ranges for all over time.
If you downgrade state employee benefits, then they will reasonably demand market salaries. Why would a professor, for example, work at a state institution if a private one will pay more or s/he could work in another state where benefits were more competitive. Benefits were one way folks were encouraged to accept slightly lower wages given their credentials.
Downgrading benefits overtime would lead to a downgraded education since stellar employees could go elsewhere. (They could then compete for your own jobs.) If you want to downgrade benefits, you should be ready to do the same to your own.
It is certainly true that downgrading benefits at a state institution, say a University, would lead to demands for more market salaries. Of course, the hiring trends in public Universities, including in IL, have been dramatically skewed towards administration positions rather than faculty.
"The number of administrators in Illinois’ universities grew by nearly a third (31.1 percent) between 2004 and 2010. At the same time, faculty only increased 1.8 percent, and the number of students only grew 2.3 percent."
Tenured faculty are very expensive. Universities are trying to cut costs by using adjuncts and replacing outgoing senior faculty with junior faculty or adjuncts. This does nothing to improve the quality of the education offered or their ability to attract students.
I don't think that diminishing the value of pensions is a good idea. But if we have a $200 billion pension shortfall going forward, it's hard to imagine a scenario where future pensions in Illinois don't get restructed and cut. But as far as universities go, it's quite common throughout the U.S. for professors to get a 401k plus SS, so I really don't think that particular change would harm Illinois universities.
The "adminstrative" position title is dubious. It includes what people assume: dean, vice chancellorships, and presidents. The majority are student advisers, accountants, nurses, library aides etc. Non-teaching jobs are often categorized as "administrative."
Growth at the very top is a smaller subset and includes ex-politicians who get favors after they leave office and get integrated into the educational system in some way.
BTW, many "admistrative" titles are given to someone who might be a civil service worker. Often you can pay an academic professional less money than a civil service worker and squeeze more work hours out of them. They are paid a flat salary for often inordinate amounts of work. Reducing administrative titles might increase costs because of the default into civil service categories. The explosive increase in these "administrative" positions was often done to save money.
Now if you want to attack the very, very top have add it. These are the ones often protected by the pols. However, the low guy/gal will probably be the one kicked in the butt because of the misnomer and the manipulation of the issue. And we'll end up paying more.
There are already repercussions for the state of illinois being so currupt. If you could be guaranteed a competitive salary and benefits elsewhere why wouldn't you go someplace else? This has affected the most accomplished faculty members.
Most people do not appreciate the talent at state universities. These are the folks that often get recruited eventually to elite institutions across the country.
It's not just high end faculty. If you are getting less benefits at public institutions then you chase the highest salaries, moving as often as you encounter a better option. So it creates less stability at educational instions where stability is so essential.
And remember public pensions were seen as a cost saving alternative. One state left pensions only to return to them. The problem is not pensions but the misuse and borrowing from pensions.
By the way, the same argument to some extent is being used to lower all salaries. Many people have been "right sized." Why pay for a US engineer? They expect to much. You outsource their job to another country where they take less. Why pay to have a business in illinois when the work can be done in a right to work state? That's what Rauner wanted for Illinois. Lower salaries for everyone in a right to work state.
Labor solidarity helped build the middle classes. Now they have been turned against themselves and weakened. When will someone make an argument to rightsize your job?
Gabriel, in spite of your defense of admin positions, the growth in management and admin positions in IL public universities has far outstripped any growth in faculty positions and enrollment has declined. The question remains: Why all that need for admin when faculty growth is low and enrollment is lower?
I could see there is some growth in Admin positions, but 31 percent? That's bloat.
Aim you attack on top leadership positions, not lower level civil servants. Aiming at"administrators" covers too many people, hopefully not you intended target.
BTW, the civil service is and has forced a review in the growth of academic professions, not teaching "administrators." So yes this category has grown in order to pay folks less and demand more hours.
But who do you think will be cut using such broad strokes?
Also, Illinois is no longer at the top of higher education spending. The latest cuts will place it even further down the pecking order. And there have been many cuts over the past decade. Staff salaries are typically at lower than the cost of living. Aiming for the bloated salaried officials is your target not the poor "administrative assistant'" running the office until past normal working hours.
Running the office doing what? Enrollment is declining. Faculty are doing more and more admin work, yet the admin staff has grown more than 10 times the rate of all other positions.
Sure there are more assistants -- because there are more Deans. The tenured faculty have no secretaries. We have a single part-time (often student) employee in our Dept. office. Get rid of all those extra Deans.
It is not true that student enrollment has dropped at all institutions. Enrollment has dropped especially at places where budget cuts have hurt the most. UIC, the largest public university in the city,keeps getting larger. Part of the reason is because other state institutions have had reductions leading to fewer courses, programs and services.
Illinois exports many because students are discouraged from choosing Illinois because of institutional instability. .
People often do not understand what makes an institution attractive. It is full-time faculty, but it is often travel abroad programs, easy registration and admissions processes, good counseling programs, internship and research opportunities, campus housing, athletics, health services, hospitals, research labs, outreach to underserved communities such for health purposes, focused institutes such as in media and graphic design and computing and various areas of engineering; institutes that focus on disabilities and special education and I could go on and on and on. If you want great options that improve your education, you need more than classroom faculty. There are many PhDs, MAs and those with undergraduate degrees that make universities run properly.
If faculty were expected to do it all (virtually impossible) this, they would get on the first jet out of Illinois or at least to another institution. Using UIC as an example, there are about 29,000 students plus or minus in any given year. Add faculty and employees, professional and technical and service, and you are talking about a city within the city. U of I Urbana is even larger.
Higher education institutions do not only absorb money, they are major economic engines of the state. They employ thousands who pay taxes, are a center of consumption and site of development and research and small business incubation. They are sites for launching small business initiatives that are spun off and employ people in a variety of areas. The research faculty and staff's discoveries lead to industrial uses that make the state and the US competitive.
Not to mention innovation, creative production in the arts and producers of doctors,dentists, lawyers, etc.
You can't run these institutions on bitterness. Cut the salaries of top academic officials and limit the highest paying titles if you think it is called for but slicing off the heads of so many others is myopic and is plainly poor economic decision making.
It is only the propaganda of the politicians and their voice boxes in the media that have fueled this silly notion. Choose your targets wisely. By the way, many ill informed faculty sometimes repeat this ridiculous notion until it comes to cutting the lab, institute, incubating center, or services they use and think absolutely necessary.
None of the programs you mention can account for the fact that Admin positions grew at 31 percent in a decade while faculty positions grew at 2 percent and enrollment declined overall. We still had study abroad programs more than a decade ago, and registration is now done mainly Online, so less staff is needed. Many departments are staffed by a single support staff person -- often a part-time student employee. Yet we still get things done.
But what people critique are the non-mandated deans, associate deans, assistant deans, executive vice chancellorships, associate vice chancellorships, assistant vice chancellorships or their equivalents in other systems. These are the real administrative positions that pay very well and have increased over the years.
These positions are up for debate with regard to number and salaries.
Here are the main points to consider. 1. Higher education budgets in illinois have drastically shrunk over the years. Illinois in comparison to other major state systems is not at the top of the spending list. 2. Universities are like small cities. They have become more complex, and they cannot be run by a skeletal staff like a mom and pop store despite the fact that some offices are bare bones. 3. Much of institutional growth is in areas that make colleges major resources and economic engines.
While folks are upset that they have not seen tenured faculty positions grow, teaching is often done by adjuncts and this is partly due to pressures to cut budgets.
Continuing to bleed educational budgets will not lower your taxes. Any money saved will only go to supplement neoliberal strategies whose goal is economic concentration. It is also counterproductive since it can affect the economic contributions of education.
Debate all you want HOW educational dollars should be spent. That, I believe, is fair game.
The trade off for a lower salary by working in the PUBLIC sector is job security. You are working for the public good. That is the social contract. As soon as public sector unions became a reality, the social contract was broken. The public sector unions lobby the legislature for increased benefits with the threat of a non-working government if the benefits are not given. The legislature gives the benefits, the public sector union members vote for the legislators,and it is a never ending cycle of self-interested corruption.
Cram down the pensions. Stop the automatic 3% increases. Don't allow a pension amount to be more than the last salary. Stop the pension stacking. Increase employee contributions to their own pension funds. Increase employee contributions to their healthcare costs. The corrupt Illinois Supreme Court, with their own self interest in one of many state pension funds, has ruled pension form must come in the form of constitutional reform. Mike Madigan and the Democrats have blocked that reform.
Yes, Rauner should have presented a balanced budget. But it is absurd to blame a less than one term governor for our problems. The fact is Mike Madigan controls this state and does so through his positions as House Speaker and head of the Democratic Party has done so close to 40 years. UNTIL YOU STOP VOTING FOR PEOPLE WITH "Ds" AFTER THEIR NAMES, THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY REFORM IN THIS STATE!
Gabriel, you write: "2. Universities are like small cities. They have become more complex, and they cannot be run by a skeletal staff like a mom and pop store despite the fact that some offices are bare bones. "
I reject this analogy completely. How are they like small cities? They EXIST in cities. How have they become more complex? Who ever said they could be run like a Mom and Pop store?
Quit with the straw men.
You say you've worked in higher education, well I provide sources for my statements. The sources demonstrate that Admin positions have grown 31 percent in a decade. How many orders of magnitude of increased complexity can account for that, while faculty growth is less than 2 percent and enrollments actually declined?
Yakov - Rauner is entering his 3rd year as Governor. He has yet to sign a single budget. He's the one said he was bringing in a roster of business superstars. So stop covering for his failure. The fact that previous Governors also failed is no excuse for his failures, which include several credit downgrades due to his inaction.
The IL Supreme Court has already ruled that IL cannot renege on contracted obligations regarding pensions. The "cramming" you'd like to do can only be done with new hires.
I am well aware of the SC's rulling, hence the need for constitutional reform, which Mike Madigan and the Democrats have blocked. They have the power to inact reform, yet choose not to do so.
The one consistent factor in Illinois fiscal collapse has been Mike Madigan and his Democratic legislators. Why have Mike Madigan and his Democratic legislators allowed this state to slip into financial ruin? They want to keep their own pensions? They like the power and prestige that comes with public office?
Blaming Rauner is like blaming the bandaid for not allowing the knife wound to heal. It is short sighted and myopic- much like Madigan's and the Democrats' financial planning for the last 30 years. For three years Rauner has talked about the need for structural reform, including constitutional change. Again, it has been Madigan and the Democratics who have fought for the status quo.
The anti-union rant notwithstanding, yes the politicians can be blamed for giving the financial and corporate elite what they wanted, 30 odd years of tax gifts. Now you want to punish the pensioners but want to continue to provide giveaways to the fat cats at the expense of those who did the favor. If you want to give corporate gifts, you should be glad to raise your own taxes.
Yakov -- I've heard all this "Constitutional change" business before. The process to amend the IL constitution is not an easy one. It has been tried 6 times and only successfully once. So, blame the IL founders who wrote it.
Now, has Rauner taken a single step towards a constitutional convention? No. It remains a distant fantasy. Something that is talked about but never acted upon.
He has already tried to "cram" his policies through by tying them to the budget and holding the entire State hostage unless he got his way. He failed in this childish tactic and IL experienced 8 credit downgrades because of it.
How about Rauner actually govern? Where is the leadership he promised? Hostage-taking is not leadership. Even Republicans turned and overode him when it became clear he was taking the state on a path to ruin.
Instead of assigning blame, why not ask Rauner this: What are your solutions to the current problems of the State that are legally and constitutionally valid?
Anne Burke and her merry band of Democratic pensioners have blocked one form of attempted constitutional reform. Mike Madigan and his loyal foot soldiers have blocked the other. See the pattern? The Democratic Party in Illinois don't want constitutional reform, i.e., the only manner in which public pensions can be altered, because it effects their power base. The cost of a Con-Con shouldn't matter when those living off of the taxpayer's dime will cost us 10x more. Denying the need for constitutional reform is being complacent with the status quo. We can complain about "corporate welfare" all we want, but don't forget, it is corporations and businesses that provide the jobs and the tax base for those not fortunate enough to be on the public dole. You raise taxes to stop people from smoking or using plastic bags, it works the same way with jobs. Raise taxes and jobs go away. It is simple economics. People and jobs are leaving Illinois and a record setting pace because Mike Madigan's policies and leadership for the past 30 years Blaming Rauner and "businesses" for our financial dire straits simple can't be more short sighted.
Regarding the GOP voting against Rauner in the latest budget fiasco: Madigan gave them no choice. Madigan successfully shifted the blame to them because he is a master manipulator of the political system. If you think this latest budget is anything but a band-aid for a bullet wound, you are incredibly naive. The GOP members even said as much: they had no choice because the Democrats are not interested in reform, only the status quo. Many members expressed their dismay and stated they will not run for re-election because Madigan's politics makes it impossible to get anything done. Madigan had a super majority for many years and did nothing. He will probably have a super majority again after this next election cycle. The blame lays with him and those that support him.
The Republicans in the Assembly who voted against Rauner did so because the only alternative was a 50% across-the-board cut in ALL state spending. Rauner was willing to play chicken with that apocalyptic scenario; but they were not. They were not "forced by Madigan" into voting against Rauner. They were just willing to sacrifice their own political futures for the survival of the state of Illinois.
No amount of "structural reform" could have solved the problem of an immediate budget debt of $15 billion. In the face of Rauner's inaction (he's actually the one who's supposed to propose a budget, and he never has), the Assembly managed to pay the bill with a combination of significant spending cuts (5% cut to all spending) and an increase in the state income tax rate to around the level it was a few years ago--and which is also the same rate as Utah and numerous other states.
Rauner has consistently turned down good opportunities to make structural reforms in Illinois, because he refuses to let them happen without tying his own (relatively insignificant) pet proposals to them.
Rauner has consistently turned down opportunities to effect reform? What the heck has a Democratic controlled legislature been doing for the past 30 years? Blaming a less than 1 term governor for the lack of reform is partisanship at its worse.
It doesn't make sense to obsess over the mistakes "of the last 30 years." Focus on the politicians who are in power right now and what they can, can't, aren't or should be doing: Madigan and Rauner.
Sure, the last 30 years was a period during which Democrats in the Assembly made a lot of stupid moves--but more than one Republican governor did as well. In fact, it was Republican Gov. James Thompson who made the first fatal decision leading to the current pension crisis (1989) and then Republican Gov. James Edgar was the one who cast the second fatal blow (in 1994) and then piled on with a series of horrible blunders. In both cases, these governors were working with the Assembly, but they were the governors responsible for the decisions that were made and they were proposing them.
In fact, the entire pension crisis has unfolded exclusively from political decisions that were made under the two Republican governors in question. The state was set during the 1990s. (There's a good argument to be made that worse things tend to happen when the governor and the Assembly in IL are controlled by different parties.)