Recycled rhetoric and no progress as Rauner, Madigan meet

by Monique Garcia and Kim Geiger | Chicago Tribune

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders sat down together Tuesday for the first time since May, only to discover little has changed since then to resolve a budget impasse that’s entered month six.

Even the talking points on both sides were recycled. Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan again labeled Rauner’s political agenda “extreme,” blaming the governor for a state “awash in debt” as various court orders and laws mean spending carries on even though fewer tax dollars are flowing into state coffers.

Rauner quickly shot back, saying Illinois must take on the “structural causes” of the state’s financial problems. Lawmakers, he said, can’t just raise taxes and make “modest cuts,” otherwise “we’ll still just chase our tail.”

“I respectfully disagree that any of our ideas are extreme,” Rauner said.

The back-and-forth played out before cameras that broadcast the opening remarks online. The gathering then continued behind closed doors for about another hour. While a major breakthrough was hardly expected, the politicians emerged with little more to celebrate than an agreement to meet again next week. Continue reading

Kane and McHenry Among Illinois Counties Subsidizing Union Organizing

Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen agreed it is a bad practice…

“This is something (release time) that predates me and I’ve been here since 1984,” he said. “If they are doing taxpayer work, the taxpayers should pay the tab,” he said. “But if they are doing union work, the union should pay the tab.”


by Scott Reeder | Illinois News Network

County workers are doing union business on the taxpayer’s dime in at least 40 Illinois counties but almost no one has bothered to keep track of how much this is costing local governments.

The practice known as “release time” allows government workers to continue to participate in union business, such as collective bargaining and disciplinary hearings, while being paid by the taxpayers rather than the union.
This year, the practice was found to be unconstitutional in Arizona, which has a provision in the state constitution prohibiting gifts to private organizations or individuals.

Illinois has a similar provision in its constitution that has yet to be litigated.

Just how prevalent the practice is in Illinois remains a bit of an open question.

Illinois News Network filed Freedom of Information Act requests with all Illinois’ 102 counties to try to discern how pervasive the practice is.

Forty of the responding counties said they allow for release time but of these only one, Peoria, attempts to track it. And 34 of the responding counties say they do not allow for release time. The remaining 28 counties did not comply with Illinois law and provide the requested information to INN despite being contacted multiple times.

“This concerns me. These are taxpayer dollars that there is no accountability to the public for,” said Jon Riches, the Arizona lawyer who argued the release time lawsuit. “Employers have very little control – or idea – how these hours are being spent.“

Rauner, handful of unions reach tentative pacts

by Mark Fitton | Illinois News Netowrk | 10/22/2015

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration said Thursday it has reached tentative agreements with unions representing roughly 300 engineers and operators, plumbers, steamfitters and machinists.

After several months of negotiations, the administration said, it has reached tentative, four-year contracts with International Union of Operating Engineers, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, and the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers.

How Illinois Democrats hoodwinked the middle class

by Kristen McQueary | Chicago Tribune | 10/22/2015

In 2011, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan attended a private fundraiser for Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. Madigan was a guest of the host, Terrence Duffy, chairman of CME Group, the parent company of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

Four months later, Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton gathered lawmakers in Springfield for a rare special session to approve tax-break legislation that included CME Group, cutting the company’s annual state income taxes nearly in half.

At the time, Illinois was facing the possible shutdown of seven facilities, including mental health institutions and a home for the developmentally disabled. For weeks, parents with adult disabled children were visiting the Capitol trying to save the facility slated for closure. They pushed their loved ones around in wheelchairs or sat outside the House chamber carrying framed pictures of their kids.

Their efforts didn’t work. Jacksonville Developmental Center was eventually closed. But CME Group got its tax break.

CME Group is one of many big-donor firms to benefit from a form of corporate welfare from a Democrat-led state government. From 2010 to 2014, the state handed out tax breaks worth roughly $4.6 billion to Sears and Mitsubishi, Motorola and others, according to a subsidy tracker website.

Remember that the next time you hear Madigan or Cullerton or any Illinois Democrat boast that their party is the one putting the interests of the middle class ahead of big business.

It’s a theme you’ll hear repeatedly as the election cycle takes off.

State Mandated Prevailing Wage Is A Bum Deal For The Collar Counties

Published by Illinois Review April 30, 2015
by Allen Skillicorn

The so-called “prevailing wage” sets a minimum hourly wage for skilled labor based on the cost of living for each of Illinois’ 102 counties. We would all agree the cost of living is lower in rural versus urban areas. The average family can buy a much larger home for the same amount of money in McHenry, Kane, Grundy, and Kendall Counties versus Cook County.

As it turns out, Illinois’ Prevailing Wage Law is a bum deal for these collar and ex-urban counties like McHenry, Kane, Grundy, and Kendall because residents still have to pay Cook County wages for all public projects.

Cook county prevailing wages.

Cook County prevailing wages.

Every year local municipalities are required to pass a prevailing wage ordinance. As you can see, in the charts below these wages are based on or directly tied to Cook County wages. Since taxpayers in McHenry, Kane, Kendall, and other counties are paying higher wages, their tax rates must go up even higher.

Kane County prevailing wages.

Kane County prevailing wages.

McHenry County prevailing wages.

McHenry County prevailing wages.

Kendall County prevailing wages.

Kendall County prevailing wages.

According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, Illinois has 17 counties that rank in the top 100 nationally for the highest median effective property tax rates. *Notice that Cook County pays lower rates than these suburban and ex-urban counties.*

Illinois Prevailing Wage Costs Taxpayers More Money

by Zach Oltmanns | Illinois Conservatives

Illinois first passed its prevailing wage law back in 1941. It was passed to help protect employee salaries being reduced during bidding for a public project. It was also used as a mechanism to ensure that a labor dispute did not stop work on a public project. Unions once had a majority of construction employees as members. This has drastically plummeted with it down to 14% as of 2013. So it begs the question, in the year 2015 do we still need a prevailing wage law in the State of Illinois?

Have the prevailing wage laws changed over this same time period to reflect the new membership realities? The answer is no. Wages continue to be set at a union rate while 86% of the work force is not part of the union. There are many studies that show prevailing wage laws raise the cost of a project by 30-40 percent. Matt Crumb from Maclver Institute stated “As it turns out, prevailing wages can be up to 40 percent higher than competitive market wages, meaning taxpayers are hit with an extra cost burden on many government projects.” Read the full story at Wisconsin Prevailing Wage:

Prevailing wage is a backward policy designed to ensure government contract workers are paid wage rates and receive benefits that are “prevailing” in a given industry or region. As it turns out, prevailing wages can be up to 40 percent higher than competitive market wages, meaning taxpayers are hit with an extra cost burden on many government projects.

Illinois is only one of nine states that require prevailing wage to be applied for every public project. The additional costs to county, towns, and villages are significant with this requirement. These same governmental bodies are all likely to have a reduction in state funding under Governor Rauner’s budget so eliminating the requirement of prevailing wage could be a key way for these types of governmental bodies to save money. It would also encourage governments to continue with long anticipated building projects.

Illinois Union Boss Collects $158,000 Per Year Government Pension for One Day’s Work

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If you need evidence on how corrupt self-serving unions and union officials can be, then please consider Ex-labor chief’s 1-day rehire nets $158,000 city pension

A retired Chicago labor leader secured a $158,000 public pension — roughly five times greater than what a typical retired public-service worker in the Windy City receives — after being rehired for just one day of active duty on the city payroll, local news reports said.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Dennis Gannon stands to collect approximately $5 million in city pension funds during his lifetime. He now draws the pension while working for a hedge fund, the Tribune reported.

Gannon, former president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, was able to take a long leave from a city job to work for a union and then receive a city pension based on a high union salary. That arrangement is allowed under a state law signed by Gov. Jim Thompson on his last day in office in 1991, according to an investigation by the Tribune and WGN-TV.

The change has enabled a couple dozen labor leaders to become potential millionaires.

What is different in Gannon’s case is that he became eligible for the especially lucrative pension deal only because the city rehired the former Streets and Sanitation Department worker for one day in 1994, before granting him an indefinite leave of absence, according to the investigation. He retired from the city job in 2004 at age 50.

Gannon’s pension is so high that it exceeds federal limits and required Chicago’s pension fund to file special paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service to give it to him, the Tribune reported.

Union Boss Salaries

-by Fred Wszolek | Buzzfeed

Union membership is down but Big Labor bosses’ profits are up. More than 400 labor chiefs pocketed at least $250,000 each last year, even as their collective ranks fell by 400,000 members. They say they are fighting for the working class. Not quite. We did the math…