WBEZ | Cullerton http://www.wbez.org/tags/cullerton Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cullerton wants gay marriage vote on Feb. 14 http://www.wbez.org/news/cullerton-wants-gay-marriage-vote-feb-14-105274 <p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he wants to pass same-sex marriage legislation on Valentine&#39;s Day.</p><p>Cullerton tells the <a href="http://bit.ly/Xsjv0R" target="_blank">Chicago Sun-Times</a> that he&#39;d like the state Senate to pass the measure out of committee next week and vote to approve it on Feb. 14.</p><p>Cullerton says he believes the bill has the 30 votes needed to pass and move to the Illinois House.</p><p>Advocates have been pushing for legislation that offers same-sex couples marriage rights currently only available to heterosexual couples. They&#39;d hoped to capitalize on momentum from other states and President Barack Obama&#39;s support.</p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 08:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cullerton-wants-gay-marriage-vote-feb-14-105274 With clock ticking, still no pensions deal after Illinois leaders meet http://www.wbez.org/news/clock-ticking-still-no-pensions-deal-after-illinois-leaders-meet-104728 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP832349151522.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite meeting for two hours on Saturday, legislative leaders and Illinois&rsquo; governor were not able to come up with a compromised deal to address the state&rsquo;s $95 billion unfunded pension obligations.</p><p>The political stalemate appeared to make some progress toward finding a solution on Friday, after House Speaker Michael Madigan said he was taking a controversial proposal off the table in an effort to pass a bill.</p><p>That proposal called for shifting the costs of suburban and downstate teachers onto the backs of local school districts rather than the state. Madigan said Saturday those school districts have been getting a &ldquo;free lunch&rdquo; for years. Many Republican lawmakers say shifting those costs would put a financial burden on schools and could force local property taxes to go up.</p><p>Madigan told reporters Saturday the closed-door meeting was productive, but no deal has been made yet.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m just anxious to pass a bill,&rdquo; Madigan said Saturday. &ldquo;I think that we ought to find a bill that we can all agree upon and pass that bill. Unfortunately there are still differences among the participants and my recommendation is that we move beyond the differences and just find a bill that we can pass so that there will be some action taken on the question of funding for these pension systems.&rdquo;</p><p>Madigan said he still thinks it&rsquo;s possible to pass a deal before Wednesday. The winners of November&rsquo;s election are sworn in on Wednesday, marking the start of a new session. If legislation is not passed by then, lawmakers would have to start the legislative process of passing a pension proposal from scratch.</p><p>Madigan said the main sticking points are not new issues. State Senate President John Cullerton has raised concerns that cutting pay increases in a state employee&rsquo;s retirement is unconstitutional. Earlier in the session, the Senate approved a bill that deals with part of the pension systems, offering state employees a choice between cutting pay increases they would receive in retirement or receiving health care benefits.</p><p>Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno called Saturday&rsquo;s meeting &ldquo;marginally productive.&rdquo;</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn announced Friday that a &ldquo;breakthrough&rdquo; on pension reform discussions had been reached when Madigan said he would take the cost shift to local school districts off the table temporarily. Quinn has said reforming the pensions is the state&rsquo;s top priority and that the costs of pensions are so great that it is forcing cuts to the funding of education and other state programs.</p></p> Sat, 05 Jan 2013 17:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/clock-ticking-still-no-pensions-deal-after-illinois-leaders-meet-104728 Illinois Senate plans vote on tax 'transparency' http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senate-plans-vote-tax-transparency-104041 <p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois Senate President John Cullerton plans a vote this week on a measure that would require some corporations to reveal their income-tax bills.</p><p>Cullerton and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie say two-thirds of corporations in Illinois don&#39;t pay any income tax but state officials don&#39;t know who they are. The Chicago Democrats say the proposal would help lawmakers decide future tax policy and whether corporate tax breaks are working.</p><p>Publicly traded corporations would have to post online the amount of corporate income taxes they paid two years prior to publication.</p><p>Business groups, however, contend tax bills are confidential. They say lawmakers know how much each business tax break they create costs overall and can decide policy based on that.</p></p> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 12:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senate-plans-vote-tax-transparency-104041 Is Illinois next for a budget showdown with unions? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-09/illinois-next-budget-showdown-unions-83453 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Wisconsin Protests.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As state lawmakers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana battle over proposed changes to public employee benefits and bargaining rights, Illinois has remained largely absent from the growing debate.&nbsp;</p><p>Some Democratic lawmakers from Wisconsin and Indiana have sought refuge in Illinois in recent weeks as they protest what they believe are draconian proposals to strip some public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.&nbsp; And while Illinois unions have sent supporters to the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol, Illinois has not been home to a showdown of its own thus far.&nbsp;</p><p>But Illinois's fiscal situation is even more severe than Wisconsin's.&nbsp;&nbsp; Despite its projected $3.6 billion deficit, Wisconsin has been<a href="http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewcenteronthestatesorg/Initiatives/R_and_D/Trillion_Dollar_Gap_factsheets_Wisconsin.pdf"> hailed as a model for managing pension and health care</a> liabilities by the non-partisan Pew Center on the States. By contrast,&nbsp; <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a3f60b4d3-bd1d-475d-9008-8d9f65de6806&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com">Illinois has the largest unfunded pension liability in the nation</a>, according to the Pew Center.&nbsp; That's prompted some Illinois lawmakers to recommend reducing public employee pensions as a way to tackle the problem.&nbsp;</p><p>So could state legislators and public workers in Illinois come to loggerheads?</p><p>That's not likely, according to Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford.&nbsp; The veteran Statehouse reporter points out that Illinois' political climate is different from&nbsp;that found in Wisconsin, Ohio or Indiana.</p><p>&quot;In most of those other states, Republicans control much of the process in state government,&quot; Crawford told <em>Eight Forty-Eight's</em> Alison Cuddy on&nbsp;Wednesday.&nbsp; &quot;Here in Illinois, that's not the case. &nbsp;These are Democrats who control the entire process and in many cases have been rather friendly with unions - including public employee unions - throughout the years.&quot;&nbsp; Crawford also notes that unions have supported many Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly as well. &nbsp;</p><p>Even so, that doesn't mean there couldn't be tensions between state government and public employee unions in Illinois.</p><p>Last year, the Illinois Legislature approved a new two-tiered pension system that gives new state employees fewer benefits and lengthens the years of service required before retirement.&nbsp; The legislation passed quickly and without much time for review - or for unions to mobilize against it.&nbsp; The new measures took effect on January 1st.</p><p>However, some unions withheld support from some key House Democrats running for re-election last fall.&nbsp; Crawford says that angered House Speaker Michael Madigan and he's floated the possibilty of further pension reforms since.</p><p>Even within the Democratic Party, however, differences exist.&nbsp; While Madigan has talked about the possible need to reform public employee pensions, Democratic State Senate President John Cullerton is far less supportive. &nbsp;He believes any move to reduce benefits for current employees would likely be ruled unconstitutional.</p><p>&quot;There is a possibility certainty that benefits could be reduced,&quot;&nbsp;said Crawford.&nbsp; &quot;But I don't think we'll see something as severe as taking collective bargaining away from the unions. Unions are probably pretty safe, but they are certainly on guard.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Mar 2011 14:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-09/illinois-next-budget-showdown-unions-83453 Mayor Daley blames easy gun access for Arizona shooting http://www.wbez.org/story/aldermen/mayor-daley-blames-easy-gun-access-arizona-shooting <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//IMG_6784_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is blaming the mass shooting in Arizona over the weekend on easy access to guns.</p><p>Six people were killed and a U.S. Congresswoman was wounded along with 13 others in a matter of seconds in Tuscon Saturday.</p><p>Daley said he doesn't think the shooting was caused by vicious political rhetoric. He said nobody should have an assault weapon like the one used in the attack.</p><p>&quot;We're focusing on the wrong things,&quot;&nbsp;he said.&nbsp;&quot;All the political [people] are trying to blame somebody. It's the right to carry these guns or have guns in our society like this that kill people. This is what it's supposed to do, kill people. And that's what that individual did. You can have all the guards you want, if someone is five feet from you or ten feet, with a gun like this, no one is going to stop anyone.&quot;</p><p>Daley said it's difficult to screen people for mental illness when they apply to buy a gun. Daley has been a longtime advocate for restricting gun ownership.</p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 13:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/aldermen/mayor-daley-blames-easy-gun-access-arizona-shooting