Even as voters in surrounding states such as Wisconsin and Indiana reward politicians for valuing economic progress over union cronyism, Illinois is headed in the opposite direction. Illinois Democrats are once again placing their need for campaign workers ahead of the needs of Illinois taxpayers.
In order to keep union bosses employed and happy, Democrats want to force local governments to use union labor — thus ensuring a ready supply of union dues for Democrat campaign contributions, and a willing “volunteer” labor force for the get out the vote operation in November.
According to Brian Milleville, the bill is:
HB5657 – which would mandate that any municipality, county or township that refuses PLAs by rule, initiative or ordinance will not receive state funding/aid for projects.
The bill, sponsored by Rep John Bradley (D-Marion), passed out of committee on May 2, and is scheduled for full debate in the Illinois House before the end of the legislative session.
Rep. Bradley has received over $8000 in campaign contributions from unions and union PACs in 2012 alone, according to data available at the Illinois State Board of Elections.
As Milleville says:
As a city official, I cannot explain to you enough how difficult it is to recruit new business our city with Illinois being as anti-business as it is. The tax increase on personal income and on businesses was a punch in the gut. One advantage we used to have was our economic development zones, but Gov. Quinn and his allies pulled that rug out from underneath us. Now, if HB 5657 ever finds Gov. Quinn’s desk, he and his lock-step followers in the IL GA will be essentially kicking us while we are down.
The reason for this move seems clear. After decades of running state government as a political cash register, Illinois is facing bankruptcy and will have to adjust its union contracts. To keep big labor happy — and getting out the vote for Democrats — they’re going to force towns and cities to use union labor.
Many states, particularly those led by Republicans, have taken drastic steps to fix their budgets, including cutting spending and requiring public employees to contribute more to their benefits. In some cases, the cutbacks triggered huge protests last year at state capitols by public employees and advocates for the poor.
But Illinois, where Democrats control the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature, flinched, taking only limited steps. Now, with the state staggering under a backlog of $9 billion in unpaid bills, leaders again face the awkward task of inflicting pain on their friends.
Quinn wants to drop Medicaid back from brainlessly extravagant to merely magnanimous. To help fix state worker pensions, he wants public employees to take a 3 percent pay cut and extend their careers before getting full benefits.
House Speaker Michael Madigan is making agreeable noises with a report (pdf) from the Illinois Policy Institute recommending an end free health insurance for government retirees.
The unions have not been happy, and in an election year Democrats need their help to get out the vote.
Union leaders reacted angrily. Michael Carrigan, head of the Illinois AFL-CIO, called Quinn’s proposals “insensitive and irresponsible.” He said it would hurt hundreds of thousands of state residents and violate the Illinois Constitution’s ban on reducing pension benefits.
Carrigan is incorrect, however. The Illinois Constitution does say that the state cannot reduce and employee’s pension, but it is silent on benefits such as health insurance.