Something Wicked This Way Comes Again: The Convoluted Convolutions of a Political Mind
I talked to former Governor Pat Quinn the other day.
You might remember him as the affable and avuncular Governor of Illinois who signed SB1 (the Pension Reform Bill) into law, got himself harassed off the stage by public sector workers at the Illinois State Fair shortly thereafter, and lost the next election to Bruce Rauner, who spent $22 million of his own and $24 million of his friends to get into office.
The Tribune – which generates weekly billet-doux for the Governor– figured the cost of his campaign to win at $36 per every voter.
Quinn, who you’ll remember from his days as spearhead of the Citizen’s Utility Board, is now back with petitions in hand anew to limit Chicago Mayoral terms. While he promoted his new website access, I had a chance to ask him how he felt about the recent past.
Given what has happened in the last year with Illinois’ new Governor, you might miss at least the stability Pat Quinn.
But then, maybe not.
Question: Welcome back to basic political advocacy, former Governor Quinn.
Pat Quinn: Thank you, John. It’s good to be back.
Question: I have two questions for you, the first being politically personal and the second being one asking for your political experience. Would you mind?
Pat Quinn: Not at all.
Question: Currently we have what seems the very essence of evil incarnate at times in the office of governor in Springfield, a man who paid millions in order to get himself elected into that position. Yet he won that office over you by a bit over 150,000 votes.
Pat Quinn: That’s right.
Question: Was there ever a time after you lost the election that you looked back at your dreadful signing of SB1, the Pension Reform bill that was later found totally unconstitutional on May 8th by the Illinois Supreme Court, that you thought about the over 100,000 teachers and many more public workers who did not and would not vote for you after what you did? People, I must say, like myself – a retired schoolteacher. Did you ever wonder that you had done the wrong thing?
Pat Quinn: No, John, not at all. I believe we did the right thing in developing that bill. We had reached a critical moment in the state’s ability to deal with mounting debt, and we needed to find some way to curtail the expenses we could not meet. There was nothing that told us that our bill would be found unconstitutional, and we needed to find out whether or not this very necessary step would be acceptable.
(Thought: You mean, the many Illinois Supreme Court antedated cases didn’t concern you? You mean, you thought Article XIII, section 5 of the Illinois Constitution was legally vaporous?)
Pat Quinn: So you see, John, we had to find out. And as a governor, I have to tell you I am very proud of my accomplishments while in office to restrain further pension payments. For example, I signed into law a bill that provided savings of billions of dollars in savings for pension liabilities by changing the terms of pension payments for new hires after the year 2011. I’m very proud of that.
(Thought: Are you delusional? You put on the backs of new hires an egregious payment to receive a capped retirement without a compounded COLA at a cost to them that will exceed what the Social Security Administration will consider equivalent to basic Social Security (the Safe Harbor explanation) and Illinois will be on the hook for even more money!)
Pat Quinn: Yes, I think I did my part…
Question: Hello? Hello?
(Thought: Did he just hang up? – By Golly, he did.)
And now, we have a sudden “stopgap budget,” which Rauner contends was hammered out with a reluctant Michael Madigan because it included a promise to once again develop a new and improved “pension reform” by January of 2017.
In his July 6th interview with the Kaergard of the Peoria Star, Rauner looked at his momentary budget deal and added his expectations.
“And the other critical thing that you referenced, we got agreement for the first time on a bipartisan basis that reforms — significant reforms, especially pension reform — are necessary and are on the table, and we’re going to vote on those this January. We had never had that full agreement before, we got that done. That’s a huge step in the right direction. We passed a pension parity bill with bipartisan support, but that will only come to my desk in conjunction with broad-based reforms for pensions and other pro-growth, pro-taxpayer initiatives that are essential for our long-term balanced budgets and prosperity.”
According to the Tribune, Madigan fears he will be caught in some deal he will not want. According to the Tribune, Rauner is working with Cullerton to recreate a deal like the compromise he suggested with the help of chief counsel Eric Madiar before SB1 was signed into law (unconstitutionally). According to the Tribune, Madigan will come to heel once Cullerton and Rauner have developed their plan. According to history, the Tribune – unlike Crain’s, the Civic Federation, and other media – still clings to the aspiration of an Indiana-like Illinois.
On WTTW's Chicago Tonight, the four NO votes for the temporary budget deal – Reps. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), David McSweeney (R-Cary) and Thomas Morrison (R-Palatine) – all described necessary “pension reform” as indispensable to their acceptance of any budget deal at anytime.
As a retired public school teacher, I don’t need tea leaves to realize that another attempt at Pension Reform (THEFT) will once again be upon us by the New Year. It may be another version of “consideration” cut out of a more clever cloth by the re-hired Eric Madiar. It may be another bold relentless attack to crush unionization by the Republican Governor Rauner. It may be some slippery version produced with the craftiness of an aging Speaker.
But it will be back.
What will our unions do?