WBEZ | Jim Durkin http://www.wbez.org/tags/jim-durkin Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Republicans Want State Budget before Redo of School Funding Formula http://www.wbez.org/news/republicans-want-state-budget-redo-school-funding-formula-114125 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_537337056734.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs is shown at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)" /></div><p>Republican legislative leaders in Springfield have supported Gov. Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s calls for changes to the state&rsquo;s worker&rsquo;s compensation and limits to collective bargaining before approving a full state budget. But there&rsquo;s one issue they say should wait until later: changes to the state&rsquo;s school funding formula.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a problem for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton. For him, passing a budget is a priority, but he also says the state desperately needs to change the state&rsquo;s school funding formula.</p><p>After a meeting of Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state&rsquo;s top legislative leaders this week, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said, &ldquo;All of us did agree that the school aid formula is something that needs to be changed. It needs to be addressed. We&rsquo;re not gonna handle it until after we resolve this budget impasse.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure that&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;ll be on the agenda this year because of the complexity of it,&rdquo; Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said.</p><p>Cullerton&rsquo;s office responded. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like them to go to any public school auditorium or gymnasium and stand in front of the teachers and the students and tell them that their issues are too complex and too hard for state leaders to lean into,&rdquo; said Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon.</p><p>Phelon said Cullerton is recommending education advocates with <a href="http://www.advanceillinois.org/">Advance Illinois</a> and Rauner&rsquo;s administration, like Secretary of Education Beth Purvis and state Superintendent Tony Smith, attend future meetings between legislative leaders and the governor. Legislative leaders have said they hope to have another meeting next week.</p><p>So why is the funding formula so important to Cullerton? He says it controls how the state of Illinois funds local school districts and he says it&rsquo;s fundamentally unfair because it doesn&rsquo;t include areas with a high concentration of poverty into the equation. He says that means districts with many people living in poverty aren&rsquo;t getting the state support they should.</p><p>Phelon says, while Cullerton believes changes to the school funding formula ought to be a priority for the state, he&rsquo;s not going to make his support for a state budget deal contingent on an agreement on the funding formula.</p><p><br /><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 11:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/republicans-want-state-budget-redo-school-funding-formula-114125 Governor Rauner, Legislative Leaders Meet for Budget Summit http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-rauner-legislative-leaders-meet-budget-summit-114016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_465809716400.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) &mdash; The latest on Tuesday afternoon&#39;s state budget meeting between Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and leaders of the Illinois General Assembly (all times local):</p><p><strong>3:20 p.m.</strong></p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner closed the public portion of Tuesday&#39;s budget summit with a forceful plea to take on what he says are the root causes of Illinois&#39; financial woes.</p><p>The Republican governor capped statements to open the budget negotiation with a familiar speech about the business and political climates in the state and the need to change them. He disagreed with statements made by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of&nbsp;Chicago. Madigan has argued since summer that the changes Rauner wants to make are not related to the budget and should be discussed separately.</p><p>The businessman first-year governor wants to restrict workers&#39; compensation and liability lawsuit payouts and restrict union power as a way to make business grow and produce more revenue.</p><p>He says &quot;we&#39;ll still chase our tails&quot; if the state just raises taxes &mdash; as Democrats desire &mdash; without &quot;structural reforms.&quot;</p><p>Rauner and the leaders are now talking in private.</p><p><strong>2:55 p.m.</strong></p><p>House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says there will never be enough revenue to feed Illinois&#39; spending appetite without reforms of the type proposed by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner.</p><p>The Western Springs Republican says the budget deficit problem didn&#39;t begin with Rauner&#39;s inauguration in January. He criticized Democrats who held the governor&#39;s office and the Legislature for the past 12 years.</p><p>Durkin made the statements in opening remarks to the partially public budget summit in the governor&#39;s office. Democratic Senate President John Cullerton ofChicago&nbsp;followed and criticized Durkin for the comments.</p><p>Cullerton says Democrats and Republicans cooperated on issues such as a massive capital construction bill during the 12 years of Democratic rule. And he says the GOP also voted for a temporary income tax increase because it was necessary.</p><p><strong>2:45 p.m.</strong></p><p>House Speaker Michael Madigan has opened the budget summit with Gov. Bruce Rauner by arguing for a tax increase and spending cuts to balance the budget.</p><p>The&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Democrat-led off the partially public meeting by pledging to work cooperatively with the Republican governor but criticizing his desire to make changes to the business and political climates before working on a state budget.</p><p>Madigan says that state officials cannot &quot;simply cut our way out of the budget deficit problem.&quot;</p><p><strong>2:30 p.m.</strong></p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner has opened the much-anticipated budget summit by welcoming legislative leaders &mdash; including the Democrats he&#39;s feuded with for months.</p><p>The first part of the meeting is being televised online for the public. Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan suggested the whole conference be public, but Republican Rauner took over planning and is allowing just opening remarks to be televised by a pool camera belonging to the state&#39;s public communications agency.</p><p>The governor anticipates opening remarks will take about an hour. Then the leaders will negotiate behind closed doors.</p><p>Rauner and the Legislature&#39;s majority Democrats have been unable to agree on a spending plan now six months into the state&#39;s fiscal year.</p><p><strong>11:30 a.m.</strong></p><p>Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly are trying to appear optimistic about Tuesday afternoon&#39;s rare budget summit with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.</p><p>Rauner and the four legislative leaders &mdash; including Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton &mdash; haven&#39;t been in the same room together since May. Tuesday marks the start of the sixth month of the fiscal year with no budget.</p><p>Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the meeting is &quot;another step&quot; in trying to reach an agreement. Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton hopes there will be &quot;productive negotiations.&quot;</p><p>But Madigan and Cullerton have objected to Rauner&#39;s insistence on making changes to the business and political climates before talking spending. And Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says the governor still plans to discuss his proposals for &quot;structural reforms.&quot;</p><p><strong>3:01 a.m.</strong></p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday in a highly publicized and partially public budget summit.</p><p>The Republican executive and Democrats who control the General Assembly have been unable to agree on a state spending plan for the year that began July 1.</p><p>They&#39;ve not all met in the same room since May.</p><p>Rauner will host House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton &mdash; both&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Democrats &mdash; and Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Christine Radogno (ruh-DOHN&#39;-yoh) in his Capitol office for the mid-afternoon conference.</p><p>The public may watch the first hour or so &mdash; when lawmakers and Rauner make opening statements. Then officials will close the door to negotiate.</p><p>Expectations are low for the meeting first suggested by good government groups</p></p> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-rauner-legislative-leaders-meet-budget-summit-114016 The politics behind the pension vote http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/dan montgomery.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers have approved a long-awaited plan to restructure retirement benefits for state employees and Gov. Pat Quinn says he&rsquo;ll sign the bill into law.</p><p>But labor groups are vowing to sue, saying the measure unlawfully cuts the pensions of their members.</p><p>And even though the dialogue around changing the pension benefits of state employees started years ago, the proposal sets up a big fight for next year&rsquo;s election.</p><p>Legislative leaders gave themselves a week - a holiday week, at that - to sell the bill to their own members. Senate President John Cullerton spent Tuesday morning meeting privately with his senators to get them on board.</p><p>Republican House Leader Jim Durkin says the short timeframe made for a busy home stretch.</p><p>&ldquo;I had people running in and running out over the last 24 hours,&rdquo; he said in an interview after Tuesday&rsquo;s vote. &ldquo;Talking to every member, every question.&rdquo;</p><p>Except, Durkin said, there may have been an ulterior motive behind some of the questions he was getting from his own fellow Republicans.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll say some questions weren&rsquo;t exactly sincere. So that&rsquo;s politics. That&rsquo;s what we live in,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But there was a lot of - to say that it got a little tense is an understatement.&rdquo;</p><p>Durkin said some Republicans had legitimate concerns. For instance, he says some downstate GOP representatives have a lot of state employees in their districts, especially those with prisons. Meantime, others want to move state pension funds into 401K style plans -- and nothing else would do.</p><p>&ldquo;Some people I will just say that their reasoning is not reasonable and I question it because of the dynamics of what&rsquo;s going on in the State of Illinois over this next year,&rdquo; Durkin said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a political season and some people believe that we shouldn&rsquo;t deliver a win to the Democrats.&rdquo;</p><p>The logic goes: If Republicans blocked yesterday&rsquo;s pensions vote, Democrats - and Governor Pat Quinn - would look bad for not getting the job done come Election Day. That&rsquo;s a claim reiterated by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, who&rsquo;s also chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.</p><p>&ldquo;I find Bruce Rauner to be particularly disingenuous with his approach to this,&rdquo; Madigan said.</p><p>Rauner is a venture capitalist running for governor who opposes the pension deal.</p><p>&ldquo;My view is that (Rauner) would like to blow it up so that he would maintain a campaign issue,&rdquo; Madigan said. &ldquo;So with the passage of the bill and the anticipated signature by the governor, why, Rauner has lost one of his campaign issues.&rdquo;</p><p>In response to Madigan&rsquo;s claim, a Rauner spokesman said the Republican thinks the plan is a bad one. After the vote, Rauner released a statement saying the pension bill doesn&rsquo;t go far enough.</p><p>When asked if Rauner and his allies made the pension vote more complicated for Republican senators, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said, &ldquo;Absolutely it made it more complicated.&rdquo;</p><p>She said if the vote had taken place at another time - and not three months before the primary - the votes might have been different. When asked why Rauner, who&rsquo;s never held political office, could influence lawmakers so much, Radogno said it&rsquo;s not just about Rauner&rsquo;s political influence, but also his money.</p><p>And Rauner has a lot of it.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean, people think about campaign funding. They think about what support they&rsquo;ll get when they&rsquo;re running. They think about their own political futures. They think about the people that are around Bruce Rauner and how they relate to them and their campaigns,&rdquo; Radogno said.</p><p>There are three other Republicans in the primary for governor.</p><p>State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, was the only candidate to support the pension bill.</p><p>Twenty percent of the current budget&rsquo;s revenue goes toward pensions. Brady says that number will only get worse - and the remaining money isn&rsquo;t enough to pay for education and other government services.</p><p>State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Westmont, wanted more time to review the legislation - and voted no. But his pick for Lieutenant Governor in next year&rsquo;s campaign, State Representative Jil Tracy of Quincy, voted yes.</p><p>Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he thinks it&rsquo;s unconstitutional.</p><p>On the Democratic side, incumbent Pat Quinn, who&rsquo;s running for re-election, could face some opposition from a group who previously supported him: labor unions.</p><p>&ldquo;I do think, as I said, this is the triumph of politics over the rule of law in this state, so I would imagine there are political consequences all around,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, the head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.</p><p>When asked what those consequences will be, Montgomery replied, &ldquo;Well, that&rsquo;s yet to be seen.&rdquo;</p><p>But with a lawsuit from the unions imminent, the issue isn&rsquo;t likely to disappear before next year&rsquo;s election.</p><p>Already, Chicago and Cook County officials are wondering how the vote will affect their own pension systems.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement shortly after the legislature approved the pension bill.</p><p>&ldquo;The pension crisis is not truly solved until relief is brought to Chicago and all of the other local governments across our state that are standing on the brink of a fiscal cliff because of our pension liabilities,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>State lawmakers agree.</p><p>State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Buffalo Grove, said that while some of the state&rsquo;s pension systems are poorly funded, Chicago&rsquo;s teachers&rsquo; retirement plans are perhaps even worse.</p><p>&ldquo;Our work on pensions is by no means done, but this will let a lot of air back in the room to start addressing the other systems,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said county employees&rsquo; retirement system&rsquo;s unfunded liability grew by $1 billion last year, and also needs state intervention.</p><p>Meantime, House Republican Leader Durkin said he&rsquo;ll work with Mayor Emanuel, even though he&rsquo;s with the opposing political party.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</em><em>Illinois Public Radio&rsquo;s Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/AmandaVinicky">@amandavinicky</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301