WBEZ | Tom Cross http://www.wbez.org/tags/tom-cross Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Is it fair for established filmmakers to use Kickstarter? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-14/morning-shift-it-fair-established-filmmakers-use <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Spike Lee-Flickr- thomas.rome_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Kickstarter originally began as a way to get the average person&#39;s project out of the shadows, but now bigwigs are using it to fund their pet projects. Is this fair? Also, a chat with R&amp;B and blues artist Syleena Johnson.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-43.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-43" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Is it fair for established filmmakers to use Kickstarter?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 08:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-14/morning-shift-it-fair-established-filmmakers-use Top House Republican thinks Democrats purposely haven’t passed pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/top-house-republican-thinks-democrats-purposely-haven%E2%80%99t-passed-pensions-107663 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Cross.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The top Republican in the Illinois House of Representatives says he thinks Democratic leaders are purposely not passing pension reform for their own political gain.</p><p>There are lots of conspiracies for why pension reform hasn&rsquo;t been approved, from the basic stance that it&rsquo;s purely a legal debate over how to interpret the constitution, to another, more complex thought: that the powerful House Speaker and state Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan is stalling because it would somehow help his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, become governor in next year&rsquo;s election.</p><p>Lisa Madigan has only said she&rsquo;s considering a run for governor. Today - House Republican leader Tom Cross was asked if he subscribes to that second theory.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; Cross said.</p><p>Cross repeated his answer of &ldquo;yes&rdquo; seven times to a series of reporters&rsquo; questions that ranged from why Michael Madigan and his fellow Democrat, Senate President John Cullerton, would benefit from it, to how it would help Lisa Madigan&rsquo;s potential campaign.</p><p>Cross eventually expanded on his thoughts, saying Democrats in Illinois are powerful and if the leaders in the Senate and House really wanted pension reform passed, they would&rsquo;ve done it already.</p><p>&ldquo;The two most powerful guys in the State of Illinois can get anything done,&rdquo; Cross said. &ldquo;They pass a tax increase in the middle of the night, highest tax increase in the history of the state. Two guys that passed a pension holiday in the mid-2000s without blinking an eye can&rsquo;t get this done? Seriously? I mean, seriously?&rdquo;</p><p>For his part, House Speaker Michael Madigan said earlier this week that if he didn&rsquo;t want pension reform done, he wouldn&rsquo;t have worked to pass a bill that ultimately failed in the state Senate.</p><p>At that same media availability, Cullerton credited Madigan&rsquo;s passage of the bill in the House with helping get labor groups to the negotiating table and endorse a rival pension bill.</p><p>Cross&rsquo;s comments on Wednesday came on the same day Speaker Madigan filed an amendment on a pension reform bill passed by the State Senate. Madigan&rsquo;s amendment includes the language that the House had approved earlier in the legislative session, but rivals the Senate plan. A hearing on the amendment is scheduled for next week.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers statehouse politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a></em></p></p> Wed, 12 Jun 2013 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/top-house-republican-thinks-democrats-purposely-haven%E2%80%99t-passed-pensions-107663 Illinois House takes first major vote on pension reform http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-takes-first-major-vote-pension-reform-106963 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS2798_AP080109029993-madigan-scr_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois House of Representatives took a major vote Thursday afternoon on pension reform. Many lawmakers said the plan is critical to the future of state government.</p><p>Shortly before House members passed the latest pension plan by a vote of 62-51, Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22) spoke about the proposal&rsquo;s importance to the basic functions of government.</p><p>&ldquo;In my judgment, this is a critical action that must be taken now,&rdquo; Madigan said. &ldquo;Must be taken for future budget-making. Must be taken for the fiscal well-being and reputation of the State of Illinois.&rdquo;</p><p>State Representatives Esther Golar (D-6) and Camille Lilly (D-78) voted present.</p><p>Illinois has the worst-funded pensions of any state in the country. It has nearly $100 billion in pension debt.</p><p>The bill, which passed with two votes to spare, includes measures like raising the retirement age and capping pay increases state employees get in retirement. One of the most controversial aspects of pension negotiations, a proposal that would shift the cost of downstate and suburban teachers&rsquo; pensions from the state onto local school districts, was not included in the House-approved bill. Madigan said he wants to address that issue in a separate bill.</p><p>Labor groups vehemently oppose the plan and say it goes against Illinois&rsquo; constitution. Because they have vowed to sue, Madigan said he left judges&rsquo; pensions out of this bill so that there would not be a conflict of interest when the measure is debated in Illinois courts.</p><p>Instead, the measure approved by the House would affect teachers, university workers, lawmakers and other state employees.</p><p>The potential lawsuit and constitutionality of the bill were also on the mind of House members as they debated the plan.</p><p>&ldquo;We have no choice,&rdquo; said House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-97). &ldquo;If I&rsquo;m a state worker or if I&rsquo;m a teacher, a university worker, I have every right to be mad as hell.&rdquo;</p><p>This is the first major bill the full House of Representatives has approved on pension reform, but its future is uncertain in the Senate.</p><p>Senate President John Cullerton (D-6th) supports a different plan that would give retirees the option of getting state-funded health care coverage in retirement, or getting pay increases. Cullerton has argued that option meets the standards set by the state constitution. On Wednesday, Cullerton&rsquo;s office released a statement saying labor leaders have, &ldquo;offered a credible and constitutional plan for consideration.&rdquo; But no details of that plan have been made public. Before Wednesday, labor groups had asked lawmakers to change how the state taxes different industries as a way to pay for pensions, but that idea has garnered little attention from legislative leaders and the governor.</p><p>For his part, Gov. Pat Quinn has praised both Cullerton&rsquo;s pension plan and the bill the House approved Thursday. He has said pension reform is his top priority, but some lawmakers from both parties have been critical of the governor for not doing more to pick a side in the debate. In a statement after Thursday&rsquo;s House vote, Quinn said, &ldquo;Today&rsquo;s action sends a strong message to the people and businesses of our state: Illinois is ready for reform and we understand that this reform is critical to building a brighter future for all.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers state politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 02 May 2013 17:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-takes-first-major-vote-pension-reform-106963 Illinois State GOP accuses Democrats of sending misleading mailers http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-state-gop-accuses-democrats-sending-misleading-mailers-103223 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/photo_33.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The top Republican in the Illinois State House of Representatives is accusing Democrats of using harsh lies in their campaign literature around some competitive races in Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs.</p><p>Republican House leader Tom Cross said at a news conference Wednesday that the mailers made it seem GOP candidates for the state legislature are opposed to government programs controlled by the federal government and would not come up at the Statehouse in Springfield.</p><p>&ldquo;This is beyond the norm in politics of just playing games and fudging the facts,&rdquo; Cross told reporters. &ldquo;These are just outright bold lies.&rdquo;</p><p>Cross pointed to a few mailers in particular, including one that reads, &ldquo;Warning: Bob Kalnicky may cause sudden loss of Social Security and Medicare.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Explain to me how Bob Kalnicky, a candidate for state rep who gets elected, can cause a sudden loss of Social Security and Medicare,&rdquo; Cross said. &ldquo;He can&rsquo;t do it!&rdquo;</p><p>Kalnicky is the Republican candidate in Illinois&rsquo; 98<sup>th</sup> House District, which covers some of Chicago&rsquo;s southwest suburbs. He faces Democrat Natalie Manley.</p><p>Cross pointed to similar mailers that have also been sent out in other competitive state House races, including against Susan Sweeney in Chicago&rsquo;s northwest suburbs and Pat Fee in the western suburbs in Naperville. Sweeney is running against Democrat Marty Moylan, while Fee faces Democrat Stephanie Kifowit.</p><p>Illinois Republicans have said they believe they can gain the majority in the state House of Representatives. The GOP would need to win at least six House seats that are currently controlled by Democrats to hold that majority. But that&rsquo;s an uphill climb this year, considering that the GOP has openly complained about new legislative boundaries; boundaries which were drawn by the Democrats, since they&rsquo;re in the majority.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say in my time as the leader, we have never done a press conference like this,&rdquo; Cross said, referring to the tone of the mailers.</p><p>But Steve Brown, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Illinois, which funded the mailers, said the issues presented in their literature are relevant to the races.</p><p>&ldquo;These people are supporting candidates who are going to devastate (Social Security and Medicare),&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;When those programs are devastated, the seniors in Illinois aren&rsquo;t going to vaporize. They&rsquo;re going to come to the state and ask for help and in huge numbers, for huge amounts of money. We&rsquo;ve already have enough budget issues to deal with.&rdquo;</p><p>As for the tone of the mailers, Brown said Cross and the Republicans have run their own nasty campaigns in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;He ought to go look in a mirror when he talks about some literature that&rsquo;s off base,&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;At least ours is right on target.&rdquo;</p><p>Brown pointed to billboards that were put up around Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs two years ago with an image of a bright-eyed baby next to lettering that read, &ldquo;Mom&rsquo;s Eyes &ndash; Dad&rsquo;s Nose. Speaker Mike Madigan&rsquo;s Debt.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 17:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-state-gop-accuses-democrats-sending-misleading-mailers-103223 Do you promise to run a fair campaign? http://www.wbez.org/story/do-you-promise-run-fair-campaign-95741 <p><p>A relatively small number of political candidates in Illinois have signed a pledge to run an honest and fair campaign in 2012. Candidates who sign the Code of Fair Campaign Practices promise not to slander their opponents, and to limit attacks to legitimate challenges to their records.</p><p>WBEZ's Sam Hudzik joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>'s Tony Sarabia to discuss this pledge.&nbsp; Listen to their conversation here:<br> <audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483862-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-january/2012-01-23/1-23-loyalty-oath.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p><strong>CODE: </strong>Read it (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/extras/2012-January/2012-01-23/FCP%20form_0.pdf">PDF</a>)<br> <strong>WHO SIGNED IT?</strong> List from state election board (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/extras/2012-January/2012-01-23/FCP%202012%20ELECTIONS.pdf">PDF</a>)</p><p>This election cycle, a couple hundred candidates from across the state filed the code with the Illinois State Election Board.</p><p>Making up an outsized portion of that total given its population is Vermillion County in east-central Illinois. The county clerk, Lynn Foster, said her staff makes sure people know about the code.</p><p>"I won't say that we encourage them to do it. But we let them know that it's available and an option to them. And many of our candidates are very interested in it," Foster said. "I'm not saying our candidates are better or nicer or more wonderful than anyone else. But clean elections and fair campaign practices in general are of concern to people in our communities."</p><p>The code got its start in 1990, when then-state Sen. Dawn Clark Netsch led the effort to get it on the books. There's no enforcement bite to the code, and it's entirely optional.</p><p>"By First Amendment principles, I couldn't make it a mandatory code with prison sentences or whatever criminal violations," Netsch said in a 2009 interview. "We thought about that a good deal, and [were] quite convinced that would have been tossed out."</p><p>Just one of Illinois' four legislative leaders, House Republican leader Tom Cross, has filed the fair campaign code this election season.</p><p>The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform sends a copy of the code to state and local candidates each election season asking them to sign it, according to David Morrison, the group's deputy director.</p></p> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 14:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/do-you-promise-run-fair-campaign-95741 Illinois pols swear they aren't communists http://www.wbez.org/story/loyaltyoath <p><p>Three quarters of the candidates in Illinois for the U.S. House have signed a loyalty oath to the United States. The optional form, submitted along with ballot paperwork, asks candidates to swear they're not communists.</p><p><strong>LOYALTY OATH:</strong> Read it (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/extras/2012-January/2012-01-23/loyalty.pdf">PDF</a>)</p><p>You can rest assured that candidates signing the oath don't plan to teach or advocate for the overthrow of the government, and that they're not affiliated with any communist groups or communist-front groups.</p><p>The oath used to be mandatory, but a federal court decision four decades ago made it optional. And while communism isn't much of a campaign topic these days, the loyalty oath is still popular.</p><p>The signees, according to the state election board, include 56 current candidates for Congress in Illinois, including all incumbents except for Bobby Rush and Jan Schakowsky.</p><p>"As a loyal American I did not submit a loyalty oath because it is an unconstitutional vestige of McCarthyism and a direct violation of the fundamental values that make America great," Schakowsky explained in a statement.</p><p>Three of Illinois' four state legislative leaders signed the loyalty oath, with Senate President John Cullerton the only exception.</p><p>A signed oath was included among the paperwork by two presidential candidates on the ballot in Illinois: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. The others who filed - President Barack Obama, Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Louisiana Gov. Charles "Buddy" Roemer - did not turn in the loyalty oath.</p><p><strong>WHO SIGNED IT?</strong> Full list from election board (<a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/extras/2012-January/2012-01-23/Loyalty%20Oath%20signees.pdf">PDF</a>)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}</style> </p><table class="tableizer-table"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>Illinois U.S. House District</th><th>Candidate</th><th>Loyalty Oath</th></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>* Bobby L. Rush (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Clifford M. Russell, Jr. (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Jordam Sims (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Fred Smith (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Raymond M. Lodato (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Harold L. Bailey (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Frederick Collins (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Donald E. Peloquin (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>1</td><td>Jimmy Lee Tillman II (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>2</td><td>* Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>2</td><td>Deborah "Debbie" Halvorson (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>2</td><td>James H. Taylor, Sr. (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>2</td><td>Brian Woodworth (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>3</td><td>* Daniel William Lipinski (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>3</td><td>Farah Baqai (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>3</td><td>Arthur J. Jones (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>3</td><td>Richard L. Grabowski (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>3</td><td>Jim Falvey (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>4</td><td>* Luis V. Gutierrez (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>5</td><td>* Mike Quigley (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>5</td><td>Dan Schmitt (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>6</td><td>Leslie Coolidge (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>6</td><td>Geoffrey Petzel (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>6</td><td>Tim Ritter (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>6</td><td>Maureen E. Yates (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>6</td><td>* Peter J. Roskam (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>7</td><td>Jacques A. Conway (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>7</td><td>* Danny K. Davis (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>8</td><td>Raja Krishnamoorthi (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>8</td><td>Tammy Duckworth (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>8</td><td>Robert Gregory Canfield (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>8</td><td>Richard Evans (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>8</td><td>* Joe Walsh (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>9</td><td>* Janice D. Schakowsky (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>9</td><td>Simon Ribeiro (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>9</td><td>Timothy C. Wolfe (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>9</td><td>Susanne Atanus (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>10</td><td>Vivek Bavda (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>10</td><td>Brad Schneider (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>10</td><td>Ilya Sheyman (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>10</td><td>John Tree (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>10</td><td>Aloys Rutagwibira (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>10</td><td>* Robert Dold (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>11</td><td>Bill Foster (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>11</td><td>Jim Hickey (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>11</td><td>Juan Thomas (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>11</td><td>* Judy Biggert (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>11</td><td>John A. "Jack" Cunningham (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>11</td><td>Diane M. Harris (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>Brad Harriman (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>Christopher Miller (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>Kenneth Charles Weizer (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>Rodger Cook (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>Jason Plummer (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>Theresa Kormos (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>12</td><td>Teri Newman (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>13</td><td>David M. Gill (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>13</td><td>Matthew J. Goetten (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>13</td><td>Michael Firsching (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>13</td><td>* Tim Johnson (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>13</td><td>Frank L. Metzger (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>14</td><td>Dennis Anderson (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>14</td><td>Jonathan Farnick (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>14</td><td>* Randy M. Hultgren (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>15</td><td>Angela Michael (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>15</td><td>* John M. Shumkus (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>16</td><td>* Adam Kinzinger (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>16</td><td>* Donald A. Manzullo (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>17</td><td>Greg Aguilar (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>17</td><td>Cheri Bustos (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>17</td><td>George Gaulrapp (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>17</td><td>* Bobby Schilling (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>18</td><td>Steve Waterworth (D)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr><tr><td>18</td><td>Matthew A. Woodmancy (D)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>18</td><td>* Aaron Schock (R)</td><td>Filed</td></tr><tr><td>18</td><td>Darrel Miller (R)</td><td>Not filed</td></tr></tbody></table><p>(* indicates incumbent member of Congress)</p></p> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 02:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/loyaltyoath Pension overhaul inches forward http://www.wbez.org/story/pension-overhaul-inches-forward-93880 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS2943_Capitol_Building_Full_View-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The 5-4 vote approving a controversial pension bill in an Illinois House committee Tuesday night didn’t seem to surprise the standing room-only crowd.</p><p>But the debate gave labor leaders and lawmakers their first chance in months to toss verbal jabs.</p><p>The bill would require current state workers, teachers, university personnel, General Assembly members and judges to pay more for their retirement benefits going forward, move into a 401K-type system or work longer to receive higher retirement pay.</p><p>The bill didn’t change much from May when it was first introduced. Sponsors tweaked parts of the three-tiered pension formulas but kept the bill’s framework intact through an amendment that now moves to the House floor. &nbsp;</p><p>Unions representing affected workers privately have clashed with the bill’s supporters, namely the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago—a business group—and bill sponsor Rep. Tom Cross, Republican House leader from Oswego. During the summer, a dozen meetings behind-the-scenes meetings between all sides yielded little consensus.</p><p>So two hours of testimony in a Springfield hearing room gave supporters and opponents a chance to air their complaints. And they did.</p><p>Union leaders emphasized the state’s notorious failure to match its contributions to the pension system for decades, leading to a nationally infamous unfunded pension liability of $85 billion. The state will owe about $7 billion in pension payments next year, gobbling up a significant portion of the state’s discretionary budget.&nbsp;</p><p>Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the bill doesn’t force the state going forward to make its share of pension payments, which would perpetuate the problem. There are no penalties if state lawmakers skip payments or make reduced ones, which is what caused the unfunded liability in the first place.</p><p>“This bill is a bill that masquerades as pension reform and should have been introduced on Halloween,” Bayer said. &nbsp;</p><p>Cross said several times he agreed with Bayer. He said he waited for a proposal from the union for months to find a way to make the state more accountable. But the opportunity for organized labor to negotiate dwindled with each week that passed without sincere suggestions, Cross said.</p><p>“It started in January of this year, Henry,” Cross said. “We’ve had 11 months, and no one’s offered one thing to me.”</p><p>Bayer interrupted: “People said, ‘Why weren’t you at the negotiating table?’ I said, ‘Where’s the table?’”</p><p>“You were in my office a month ago,” Cross replied.</p><p>Cross and his bill co-sponsor, House Speaker Michael Madigan, sat together as proponents of the bill before the House personnel and pensions committee, which sent the bill to the full House floor.</p><p>Whether the bill gets called for a floor vote, however, remains to be seen. Cross and Madigan need a minimum of 60 votes to get it out of the House. And while Cross said he has 30 votes from his Republican members, Madigan has not committed to finding votes among his Democratic caucus, according to Cross. Madigan made one comment during Tuesday night’s two-hour hearing and left before it ended, slipping out a back door.</p><p>The bill is so touchy, lawmakers are receiving hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from union workers—particularly well-organized teachers—who oppose it.</p><p>State Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) voted for the bill during the committee roll call, but changed her vote to “no” after at the end of the roll call, realizing the bill had enough votes for passage. Voting in favor of the bill could mean the wrath of labor unions during next year’s elections.</p><p>Committee chairman Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), along with state Reps. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines), Thomas Morrison (R-Palatine), Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) and David Winters (R-Rockford) voted “yes” on the bill.</p><p>State Reps. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield), who has a large share of state workers in his district, along with Daniel Biss (D-Skokie), Dan Burke (D-Chicago) and May—on second thought—voted against the bill.</p><p>Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn from the fall session Thursday.</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 13:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/pension-overhaul-inches-forward-93880 Quinn threatens to lay off 1,900 state employees, close 7 facilities http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-threatens-lay-1900-state-employees-close-7-facilities-91707 <p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Thursday threatened to fire almost two thousand state workers. He also moved to close a handful of prisons and facilities for people with disabilities, setting up a game of chicken with the legislature.</p><p>One-thousand-nine-hundred and thirty-eight workers would be laid off, and seven facilities closed, including a central Illinois prison, and a mental health hospital in Tinley Park. Quinn insisted he is bound by the budget the legislature sent him, which he said includes "draconian" cuts.</p><p>"And so any member of the General Assembly who doesn't like what I said today, in terms of closures and layoffs, they have to realize that they voted for this," Quinn said at a Chicago press conference. "That's what they voted for in the spring. I'm carrying it out - responsibly - but we have to do it."</p><p>The governor signed that budget earlier this summer, but is asking the legislature to reallocate more than $300 million in spending. He said if lawmakers take that action when they meet next month, the cuts he announced Thursday may be avoided.</p><p>The closures and layoffs wouldn't take effect for several months. A legislative committee will examine Quinn's proposal, but does not have the power to block it.</p><p>Meantime, the major public employees union in Illinois, AFSCME, said it will fight Quinn's plan.</p><p>"These cuts would throw those thousands - up to 2,000 working men and women out of a job, people who get up to work every day and do often thankless, frequently difficult and - in the prisons and elsewhere - very dangerous work, the real work of state government," said Anders Lindall, an AFSCME spokesman.</p><p>Lindall says Quinn's proposal would effectively break a contract agreement prohibiting faciltiy closures or layoffs through mid-2012. He said the union would fight the moves, either by appealing to a contract arbitrator, or by going to the courts.</p><p>Such a battle could be avoided, the union said, if the legislature appropriates more money. But the governor should not count on support from Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine.</p><p>Quinn "has come here to lecture the General Assembly to spend even more," Murphy said in a press conference immediately following the governor's. "That tax increase that was sold as temporary - how temporary does it look right now when it doesn't even pay the bills we have today?"</p><p>House Republican Leader Tom Cross questioned the facilities Quinn picked for closure, accusing Quinn of&nbsp;targeting "Republican facilities and Republican jobs."</p><p>"This appears to be a quid pro quo by the governor to get votes for more spending that he wants," Cross said in a statement. "If we are going to cut – we need to let the cuts stand.”</p><p>But Senate President John Cullerton, whose Democrats control the state Senate, has "already stated his intent to revisit the shortcomings of the budget that was passed this spring," according to his spokeswoman.</p></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 20:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-threatens-lay-1900-state-employees-close-7-facilities-91707 Quinn focused on 'fair' Illinois redistricting map http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-focused-fair-illinois-redistricting-map-86839 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100430_shudzik_714110_Comp_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn says he's focused on making sure&nbsp;Illinois gets political redistricting maps that are "fair and&nbsp;square."</p><p>The Chicago Democrat made his comments Friday as lawmakers&nbsp;awaited details on new maps for Illinois House and congressional&nbsp;districts. Senate Democrats have already proposed new districts&nbsp;that throw some incumbent Republicans into the same territory and&nbsp;will cost them their seats.</p><p>In response to questions about criticism raised by Republicans, Quinn said, "Americans believe in competition, we believe in competition between businesses because that's the best way to get the best price. We believe in political competition - that's what democracy is all about. So having a fair mapping of the districts of Illinois is as American as apple pie."</p><p>Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross said Friday that hard&nbsp;feelings over Democrat-led redistricting will complicate the final&nbsp;days of the legislative session where lawmakers still have a lot of&nbsp;work to do.</p><p>Democrats are in control because they control the Illinois&nbsp;House, Senate and governorship. Democrats are rushing to approve&nbsp;the maps by May 31. Hearings on the proposed maps will be held over&nbsp;the weekend in Chicago and next week in Springfield. Chicago hearings will be held at the Michael A. Bilandic building at noon on Saturday for the Senate and at 2pm on Sunday for the House. Those interested in testifying are expected to send early notice.</p><p>Quinn urges all those with an opinion on the subject to attend.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 20 May 2011 19:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-focused-fair-illinois-redistricting-map-86839 Best Game in Town #20: Talking taxes http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/best-game-town-20-talking-taxes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//income tax.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 422px; height: 358px;" alt="" title="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-14/income tax.jpg" /></p><p>On this week's episode of the WBEZ&nbsp;political podcast The Best Game in town, we talk taxes, from Springfield to the race for Chicago mayor. First, Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky takes us behind the scenes as the deal went down to raise taxes in Illinois. Then University of Illinois at Chicago professor David Merriman gives us the breakdown of what this income really means for the state. We wrap it all up with the <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/"><em>Chicago Reporter</em></a>'s Kimbriell Kelly and blogger/strategist <a href="http://www.sivesiftingsrebeccasivetalksback.com/">Rebecca Sive</a> on Carol Moseley Braun's tax troubles in the mayor's race.</p></p> Fri, 14 Jan 2011 21:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/best-game-town-20-talking-taxes