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Political Rewind: Walker Visits Illinois Ahead of Recall; Scholarship Program Stalled in Senate

It's always good to be caught up on state politics. Here's an easy guide to what happened this week.

Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Statehouse News that were written by various Illinois Statehouse News reporters.

Walker Talks Unions, Budgets in Illinois Visit Ahead of Recall

SPRINGFIELD — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday visited a state he has used as a political punching bag to campaign ahead of a historic recall election in the Badger State.

Walker spoke to a crowd of about 300 lobbyists, lawmakers and members of the business community at thePresident Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center.Walker’s speech was part of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business lobby day here.

Walker’s visit comes less than two months before the embattled governor faces a recall election, spurred mostly by Act 10, a law passed during his administration that largely removes the ability of unions to use collective bargaining.

Walker said payment for his visit came from his political war chest.

Walker used the half-hour speech to highlight his fight against “a handful of big union bosses” and budgeting that allowed Wisconsin to dig itself out of a $3.6 billion deficit without increasing taxes.

Walker blamed the recall on “a handful of big union bosses (who) … think that I’m standing in the way of their power and their money.”

The Republican governor criticized Illinois’ Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly for passing a 67 percent income tax increase on individuals, and a 47 percent income tax increase on corporations in 2011.

The temporary tax increases eliminated the state’s structural deficit, but they failed to address the state’s $8.5 billion backlog of overdue bills.

“There’s always been this false choice, between either raising taxes or cutting core services,” Walker said. “Who amongst you in business would say, ‘You know what, times are tough so I’m going to double the price of my product?’”

Quinn’s office had no official response to Walker’s visit, although the Illinois governor addressed the issue in a news conference Friday.

“I don’t know what he’s doing coming to Illinois. He has enough challenges in his own state. I don’t plan to go to Wisconsin anytime soon,” Quinn said.

Quinn used the opportunity Tuesday to raise money. His campaign sent an email asking for donations shortly after Walker visited.

“If you want a governor with a proven record of job creation, rather than just rhetoric, show your support for Governor Pat Quinn,” the email said.

Quinn and Walker have traded jabs since about the time Walker took office.

John McAdams a political science professor from Marquette University in Milwaukee, said Walker’s trip to Illinois offered a way to garner media coverage ahead of the June 5 recall election.

“Everything Scott Walker does is part of his re-election campaign, just like, let’s be honest about this, everything (President) Barack Obama does is part of his re-election campaign,” McAdams said.

McAdams said Walker used his speech in Illinois in much the same way an environmental crusader would use a polluted river as backdrop for a news conference.

“This is the message that Walker’s people want Wisconsinites in general to get. Illinois is sort of a paradigm of what happens when you have a liberal governor that raises taxes to deal with a budget crisis,” McAdams said.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Doug Whitley said Walker was invited to the event because of his ability to cut Wisconsin’s deficit.

“Let’s hear some fresh thoughts and fresh ideas,” Whitley said.

Walker’s visit to Illinois fell on the same day a pension-reform working group was to release recommendations for fixing the state’s public pension funds. The state’s pension system faces an $85 billion unfunded liability, and pension payments are eating up more and more state spending.

Recommendations, which could range from eliminating cost-of-living increases for retirees to asking current workers to pay more, now are expected to be released later this week, Quinn said in a news release.Whitley said Walker’s visit wasn’t intended to be seen as an endorsement for eliminating collective bargaining for Illinois’ public unions.

“We brought him here strictly to talk about fiscal issues,” Whitley said.

The approximately 3,500 union protesters outside thought differently.

Protesters chanted, “Tell me what Democracy looks like? This is what Democracy looks like” while marching around carrying signs what read “Go Home Gov. Walker.”

“We sent a strong message to Illinois politicians that we won’t tolerate Walker-style attacks on the middle class, including the push to slash the modest pensions of teachers, police and other public employees,” said Anders Lindall, spokesman for the public union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.

McAdams said Walker and his Democratic opponents are not talking about collective bargaining in the run-up to the special election.

“Clearly, Walker wants to run on his fiscal successes,” McAdams said. “Democrats, on the other hand, are pointing to things like reductions in state aid to education” made during Walker’s term.

— Andrew Thomason

Heated Scholarship Program Stalled in Illinois Senate

SPRINGFIELD — Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno on Wednesday questioned why three proposals to eliminate Illinois' controversial legislative scholarship program are bottled up in a Senate subcommittee.

"I’m completely cynical about whether or not they are going to try and pass this,” said Radogno, R-.

In all, the Senate is considering three bills that would eliminate the program. House Bill 3810 joined two other bills in a subcommittee Wednesday, with apparently little hope of making it to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The House approved ending the program in March.

“I think it’s clear that the Senate Democrats are attempting to block this bill or, more specifically, a small group of Senate Democrats,” Radogno said, noting it has 38 co-sponsors in the Senate alone. Illinois has 59 senators.

“It’s crystal clear that there is widespread support for this bill, and these are parliamentary maneuvers to keep it from coming up for a vote."

The legislative scholarship program enables each Illinois lawmaker to give college scholarships to students attending in-state public universities, as long as the recipients live in the lawmaker's district. The scholarships, which can be awarded for one, two or four years, cover the entire cost of attending the universities.

Lawmakers cannot award scholarships to family members, but some have given them to children of campaign donors and residents living outside their districts.

Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats, said it's unclear when, or if, the subcommittee might vote on the bill.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has said he supports reforming, not abolishing, the legislative scholarship program.Radogno said reform is no longer an option for the program.“There is no way to reform this program or there shouldn’t be any more attempts to try and do that,” Radogno said. “It’s just been constantly rife with abuse and misuse.”

— Stephanie Fryer

Illinois Drivers May Leave Scene of Certain Accidents

SPRINGFIELD — A proposal that would allow Illinois drivers to leave the scene of a minor wreck to go to a safer location cleared a House committee Wednesday. 

Senate Bill 3409 lets drivers move off the highway to an exit ramp, gas station or other safe place.

Currently, anyone involved in a wreck, no matter how minor, must remain at the site of the crash or return to it immediately if unable to stop.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Sidney Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove, said getting cars out of the way after wrecks will help prevent traffic jams and ensure the safety of motorists.

“A small fender bender can tie up traffic on a road, and people are reluctant to move their cars, because they know there’s a law if you leave the scene,” he said.

The legislation only applies to crashes resulting in property damage. Drivers must remain at the scene of the crash if someone is hurt.

The Senate passed the bill in March.

— Stephanie Fryer

John Moreli April 23, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I agree with some comments about unions! Teamsters are the worst of unions! My brother dropped out if it! But please leave Police and Fire Unions alone they are good unions and do well!
Kristie April 23, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Your problem was probably that the non-union service advisor over-booked the shop for the day instead of an auto tech taking a break. After all, it was simple and quick and wouldn't have required 7 1/2 hours to fix.
Luke April 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM
My problem is not the average union member. They are people working to provide for their families. The problem is the union heads who drive companies and especially state and local governments to bankruptcy with absolutly no consideration or respect for the people paying for there salaries and ridiculas benifit packages. The taxpayer. While we sit home unemployed they push for contracts that will raise our taxes and hurt our families.
Maynard R. Jerome April 23, 2012 at 03:10 PM
John's right. There wouldn't be a "middle class" in this country if it weren't for Unions. If you track the decline of the number of people in the middle class, you'll note that it coincides with the decline in Union membership in the country. Capitalism is the best economic system we've come up with, but it absolutely needs organized labor as a check to the inherent power of companies & corporations. While it may be no great task to point to cases where organized labor went further than they should have, the big picture shows the real value overall of labor having a strong voice. Corporate America has spoon-fed the right-wingers in this country the fallacy that organized labor is a bad thing, and they've gorged themselves on this fallacy. If you like an America with a middle class, where ordinary working people can afford to live in their own homes, drive their own cars, periodically take a vacation and are able to send their kids to college, you'd better think in terms of strengthening organized labor rather than eliminating it.
Brad Drake April 23, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Labor unions are the check and balace of corporate greed. One would like to think, in a perfect world, that true capitalism would function as follows: corporation makes money, corporation hires more workers, corporation opens up more "plants", etc. Everyone would benefit from the corporation thriving. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. The corporation is greedy and will use and abuse their employees and push them as far as they can and do whatever it takes to pay their people the least and maximize profit. How do you think complete free trade to China, NAFTA, and all of our other free trade agreements came about? It wasn't because our corporations weren't making money, they just had the opportunity to make even more money by eliminating American workers. In that sense, free trade has worked because corporations have made more money. In another sense, the corporate greed of these companies has destroyed the middle class. There is now rich and there is no poor. Everyone has bad examples of private sector and public sector labor unions. Just like everyone has bad examples of corporations. The truth is you need labor unions because without them we will just expand the hour glass that is the rich and the poor in this country. (P. S. - I'm all for free trade, all for the open market, but I don't think our economic problems are because of labor unions, I think it's because of pure evil corporate greed.)
Rick Winninger April 23, 2012 at 05:00 PM
You are right Labor unions are the check and balace of corporate greed but the problem with unions is the greed of those union officals living large off the sweat of the union workers
Brad Drake April 23, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Sort of like a CEO getting a $9M bonus while his company asks for a bailout by the government? Or sort of like our politicians who are taking foreign trips and costing tax payers $4M in expenses? I still don't see how a Union President making $200k a year does remotely the damage of our politicians or our wonderful CEOs out there.
Tom Koz April 24, 2012 at 03:14 AM
CEO should be able to make whatever the Board of Directors and shareholders allow. NO companies should be getting government (taxpayer) bailouts. None. Politicians need to be held accountable. How is it that career politicians like little Dick Durbin can be so wealthy?? Oh, and that union boss, his "salary" is only what you see. Just like little Dick Durbin, I'll guess their is much more you don't see. They are more interested in the POWER than the salaries.
Brad Drake April 24, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I'm telling you, the problem in this country is not labor unions. The problem is corporate greed. And you hit the nail on the head: politicians that are filthy rich from it. Neither party has the best intentions of the public in mind anymore, they have the best intentions of what corporation is going to finance their campaign and line their pockets.
John Moreli April 24, 2012 at 01:50 PM
That's why it's time to vote Odumba out of Office! For all the bailouts on our money!
Tom Koz April 24, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Brad, I'm telling you - and everyone else for that matter, it is NOT corporate greed! Companies, business owners, and shareholders have a right to make as much of a profit as they can. The propnlem IS unions and politicians. Granted both the Republican and Democratic parties are corrupt. Neither seems interested in following the Constitution any more. That's a major problem. They arre all for the most part, except strict Tea Party Constitutionalist, just interested in lining their pockets, getting re-elected, and staying in power. Continued below...
Tom Koz April 24, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Problem is Democrats seem to be like that mores than Republicans, and unions always do whatever they can to back (and maintain control) of the Democrats. Any Republican and/or Tea Party person that belongs to a union has got to be nuts and/or ticked off. Their hard earned money, through union dues, going to keep Democrats in office and ultimately destroy this once great nation!!
Tom Koz April 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM
How will they ultimately destroy this nation? Take a look at Greece. They continue their corrupt non-Constitutional ways. Promising and giving more and more to people. Giving outside of the authority if the Constitution. Giving to people/companies that are undeserving and irresponsible. Spending and taxing. Spending and taxing. Spending and taxing. Does not anyone realize that the government, and unions for that matter, CANNOT give anything to one person WITHOUT taking it from another??? Yea, now their war cry is to tax the rich. At some not too distant point they WILL be taking more and more from YOU!!
Brad Drake April 24, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I was, at one point, a registered Republican and was a union member at the same time. And my union dues, contrary to your belief, made up 13% of my quarterly income and went to my union's training center. At the training center apprentices received a free education and journeymen continued to use the facility for free training. I'd say that 13% was WELL spent. And to believe that there is actually a difference between Democrats and Republicans now-a-days is just plain silly. Sure the union had a political action committee that donated money to politicians, but do we need to bust out the laundry list of businesses? Socialism doesn't work, taking from one to give to another doesn't work. Unions do work, however, because you are contributing to something that you directly receive benefits of. You are absolutely right that corporations have the right to make as much money as they can...but to what end? Do you think what companies like Wal-Mart do is right? It's legal, but do you think it's morally right? The post billions in profits every year and then hold a town like Darien hostage.
Edward Andrysiak April 25, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Unions are a thing of the past! We don't need them anymore. I'll give you an example of my union experience. In one position as a manager of about 400 draftsman and designers WHO WERE UNION...I had one hell of a time paying those who deserved more money faster or higher than the negotiated union scale would allow. The dam union hurt a lot of my people! At another employer with 125 designers and draftsman, WITH NO UNION...I was free to promote and pay people in extraordinary ways based on their skills and contribution to the company. The unions, these days are self serving organized MOBS. As an aside...Obama didn't save the car industry...he saved the unions to get their support come voting time. I'll buy FORD...they didn't take the dirty money.
Brad Drake April 25, 2012 at 07:49 PM
To say that a company is going to pay people more that are not union is foolish. A company is going to pay people as little as possible to maximize profit. Hence where the term "salaried employee" came from. That really translates to: "I'm going to pay you this no matter how much you work to use and abuse you." There may have been a time and place when a great economy forced the non-union sector to pay employees more than an organized wage...but those days are long gone. I don't see non-union plumbers making more money than union plumbers even though their contractors are undercutting open bids by only a few hundred dollars. The corporate machine will always do everything it can to drive labor costs as low as possible, that's capitalism. Organized labor is the only check and balance to keep things fair for the common man.
Brad Drake April 25, 2012 at 07:53 PM
And on a side note to that...if unions were to ever disappear we would all be working for minimum wage with no health benefits and you could say goodbye to weekends and holidays. It was like that before in our country in the early 20th century and it'll happen again if we don't watch ourselves. Once again, the corporation has the right to make as much money as they can...but where do we draw the line with the way they treat employees and treat the communities they serve? For the second time, same example, look at what Wal-Mart has just done to the City of Darien.
Tom Koz April 25, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Less than what 14% of the private sector is union labor. So your argument of doom & gloom without unions is false. 2nd that union plumber is probably sitting in the union hall 2-3 days a week - the non-union plumber will be working full time and doing a better job!!
Brad Drake April 26, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Your miseducation on union and non union labor disappoints me and shows your ignorance of the subject. Did you know that a member of the United Association must complete a 5 year apprenticeship? Did you know that member must be, minimum, OSHA 10 certified? Did you know that member is subject to random union drug and alcohol tests? Did you know that member must pass jobsite certifications in order to work on the job? Did you know that member is required to complete continuing education courses? Here is an example for you Tom. Who do you want to install the medical gas in your hospital? Would you like a union pipefitter who had to complete a 2 month certification course and also the above listed requirements or would you like someone who has not done any of that pipe the oxygen going to your room to support that mask? Do you know what happens as a union worker when you don't do a good job? You don't work and your reputation is tarnished. Chances are you will find yourself out of the union. With your 14% statistic...isn't it pretty sad that the average American now makes $14/hr? Did you know if you look at the U. S. Labor Statistics of 1972 and their appropriately adjusted wages in today's dollars that the average American worker was making $22/hr? So please explain to me how the breaking of organized labor has benefited anyone? Less money in pocket, less money to spend on goods.
Tom Koz April 26, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Brad, Brad, Brad ... You list all of the training and education that your union boys and girls must go though. Sounds impressive. HOWEVER, it is NOT because of the unions. The market must demand it. Think for a second, doctors, dentist, hair stylist, nail techs, even damn Real Estate agents have to go through loads of school, training, and continuing education - and guess what they are NOT unionized!!!! Your argument fails again. Regarding earnings. Again, has nothing to do with unions. It's the market. The market continually changes. Now, how breaking of organized labor benefits. Well, for public sector specifically, the corrupt union bosses join forces with the corrupt politicians - and by the unions promising to keep the politicians in power, they convince the politicians to continually raise pay and benefits for less output. Continued below...
Tom Koz April 26, 2012 at 02:18 AM
They do things like make deals to promote and give pay raise to union boys and girls their last year of two if employment so that their pensions are jacked up and bloated - all at the TAX payer expense. Governments go in debt, Feds print more money, value of the dollar decrease ... EVERYBODY is screwed. Your kids, grand kids, and great grand kids will all pay the price. Private sector unions ... Demand higher wages, more benefits for less results. What does that do???? Hmmmmm. Require companies to A) become less competitive B) cause companies to make less money and therefore unable to expand or grow, or C) raise prices on the products / services they provide. HOW about all three!!! Try and think real hard here Brad, raising prices eventually will lead to ALL companies raising prices. EVERYBODY is eventually effected. Lower value if dollar again. Think about this ... Why don't we just raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour? How about $25 and hour? He'll, let's just make it $100 and hour, I mean we all deserve a living wage right??? Get the point?? Continued below...
Tom Koz April 26, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Brad, and all you union boys and girls. Face it. If their were not so many laws put into place protecting unions by the corrupt politicians the union bosses are in bed with (most government projects REQUIRE union involvement) the unions would be GONE in no time. THAT is why they (unions and corrupt politicians) are so afraid of Right - To - Work laws. Boeing wants to Expand and build a new plant that will employ Thousands of employees - Who put a stop to it ??? Unions and corrupt politicians. Brad, consider yourself Schooled!!
Tom Koz April 26, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Jim, that WAS then, this IS now.
Tom Koz April 26, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Jim, if horse buggy manufactures were unionized, and we had the same corrupt politicians and union bosses, we would all still be droning horse buggys. It is only recently that some skyscrapers had been allowed to get rid of their unionized elevator operators! Unions made the buildings keep the "elevator operator" at how much per hour, event though technology made elevators fully automatic. Get the point??
Edward Andrysiak April 26, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Let me share another UNION story with you. A service organization I was close too set up a shop system where jobs were estimated and assigned a number of hours to complete based on the average skills of technicians. So, a very skilled, organized well planned tech could maximize his day by booking fourteen or more hours in an eight hour day. He got paid for the fourteen! There were some big paychecks and soon the slackers started to resent making less and decided to unionize the shop so everybody made the same amount. Sound like class warefare? One of the lead organizers it turn out was an owners son. He fired him! Good workers do not need a union to protect them. Employees are partners and any owner of a sucessful company knows that. Wage and salary programs are a result of studies of the labor market to determine what the market for labor is for a particular task in a particular area. Wages are set accordingly and it is a competative situation.
Brad Drake April 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
(1) I would like you to show me one sourced-cited example where a worker who was once union and then went non-union made a higher wage with a better benefit package doing the exact same work. (2) I would also like you to show me one example where a company that has turned non-union and increased their profits has given that gain in profits directly to their employees. Please, gentlemen, give me a sourced and cited example of both. I am also curious to know if either of you have actually worked a manual labor job for a living before? I'm willing to bet you haven't. You went to college, got a degree, and then got a job where you didn't have to physically work. Good for you for doing that, but it's not for everyone. People who choose a life in the skilled trades and become very good at what they do are just as valuable as a person with a degree and deserve a fair wage and the right to negotiate for a fair wage. Once again, the check and balance of a system.
Edward Andrysiak April 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Brad...you need to catch up with the times. Years ago big companies were generally owned by an individual...we look back on them and call them tycoons. In that era there was a need for unions. Owners were greedy and there was little regard for their employees. Today, most corporations are public companies. Employees and retirees are the OWNERS via their stock and share in the profits. As for Wally in Darien...the neighborhood stores gave way to the shopping malls. The malls gave way to the mega box stores like Cosco and Sams. You the shopper got the better pricing and one stop shopping...and, the computer will give you on line shopping from home. Wally gives seniors jobs they need and generates a lot of sales taxes for your community. There are starter jobs for our young people and promotions for a few into management. If Wally was union would they be as sucessful? I think not. Remember you have a choice...you don't have to shop or work there if you don't like the way they do business. Their sucess tells me the majority of folks do.
Tom Koz April 26, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Brad, I was a union electrician for a couple of years in my early 20's. Later went into property management and had to deal with unions and inept union members. I'm now in my late 40's, own my own (unrelated) business. So, I have been on both ends of the spectrum. What makese different than you is that my eyes are open and I see the big picture. Regarding the speficics you asked for, I don't have time now, I have a business to run so that my employees can earn a paycheck and support their families. However, feel free to search the Internet for the specifics you seek, I'm SURE there are plenty. Regards.
tom April 26, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Here's another union story. This time in the auto repair business. The non-union shop techs are paid for the hours that they work. Work 8, get paid for 8.The union shop journeymen techs are paid "book hours". Those that are skilled could maximize their pay by booking more hours in the 8 hours that they work. The skilled techs at the non-union shop have no incentive to do this because no matter how many hours they book for the shop, they are only paid for the 8 hours that they're punched in.
Bronson May 02, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Workin' full time for half the money! Yeehaw! Most scab plumbers are unlicensed, and have no idea how to do the job. I've seen stuff done by bargain basement buffoons that slopes UPHILL...what a deal they gave though!!! Work done by an unlicensed plumber can be red tagged and removed. Something to look in to.

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