WBEZ | House Speaker Michael Madigan http://www.wbez.org/tags/house-speaker-michael-madigan Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois leaders hold another pension meeting, still no clear deal http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-leaders-hold-another-pension-meeting-still-no-clear-deal-107714 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/madigan_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Illinois&rsquo; top public officials met behind closed doors Friday to discuss the state&rsquo;s $100 billion pension debt. And still, there is no clear compromise on pension reform.</p><p dir="ltr">The meeting, and pensions stalemate, comes as Gov. Pat Quinn called lawmakers back to Springfield for a special session next week to address pension reform.</p><p dir="ltr">Without a compromise from legislative leaders, lawmakers have been left wondering why the special session is necessary.</p><p dir="ltr">Quinn said Friday he wants state senators to re-vote on a bill they soundly rejected two weeks ago, but was approved in the House.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to make a Herculean effort to get &lsquo;yes&rsquo; votes on that bill,&rdquo; Quinn told reporters.</p><p dir="ltr">But Senate President John Cullerton says getting 20 senators to flip their votes will be tough.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So, uh, I&rsquo;m not very optimistic,&rdquo; Cullerton said.</p><p dir="ltr">Meantime, Republican Senate leader Christine Radogno says she was uncomfortable at Friday&rsquo;s meeting watching Democratic leaders disagree.</p><p dir="ltr">Democrats hold supermajorities in the House and Senate in Springfield and the leaders in those two chambers have yet to see eye-to-eye on the best way to reduce retirement benefits of state employees.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I kind of felt like I was witness an awkward family fight,&rdquo; Radogno said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s clear that there&rsquo;s not agreement, even close to agreement between the Democrats.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Quinn also requested that lawmakers form a rare, special panel of lawmakers, called a conference committee, to come up with an agreed-upon pension plan. But that, too, was rejected by House Speaker Michael Madigan.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m concerned on the conference committee that it&rsquo;s an effort by the governor to distance himself from the process,&rdquo; Madigan said.</p><p dir="ltr">But Quinn defended that plan, saying conference committees are designed to break a legislative stalemate when no other solutions are present.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-leaders-hold-another-pension-meeting-still-no-clear-deal-107714 Madigan, Quinn finally connect on pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/madigan-quinn-finally-connect-pensions-107586 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/quinnPension.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn says he finally got in touch with House Speaker Michael Madigan. The governor said he&rsquo;s called a meeting to address pension reform.</p><p>After last week&rsquo;s disappointing end to the legislative session, Quinn tried to meet with legislative leaders to address what he calls the top issue facing the state - pension reform.</p><p>But Quinn said Speaker Michael Madigan doesn&rsquo;t have a cell phone and couldn&rsquo;t be reached.</p><p>On Friday, Quinn said he had a &ldquo;pleasant&rdquo; conversation with Madigan earlier that day and there will be a meeting on Monday.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m telling our legislators, &lsquo;Stop meandering. Forge an agreement that I can sign into law so we can resolve this problem,&rsquo;&rdquo; Quinn told reporters Friday at an unrelated news conference announcing an honorary street name for Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick.</p><p>Quinn has called lawmakers back to Springfield for a one-day special session on June 19th. But it&rsquo;s not yet clear how negotiations over pension reform will have changed by that time or what legislators will be voting on.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 09:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/madigan-quinn-finally-connect-pensions-107586 Want to get back at the politicans who denied marriage equality? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-06/want-get-back-politicans-who-denied-marriage-equality-107564 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5276_IMG_2395-scr.JPG" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="File: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />The failure of the Illinois state legislature to pass the marriage equality bill has certain folks suggesting payback for those elected officials at, of all misguided and silly things, the annual Pride Parade coming up June 30. There&rsquo;s even <a href="http://www.change.org/petitions/deny-entry-of-illinois-politicians-in-44th-annual-chicago-pride-parade" target="_blank">a petition</a> over at Change.org asking that politicians be denied entry into the parade. It&rsquo;s already garnered more than 1,800 signatures.<br /><br />But as Tracey Baim very reasonably explains in a current editorial in <em>Windy City Times</em>, it&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Editorial-Politicians-and-Pride/43080.html" target="_blank">questionable tactic</a>.&nbsp; For starters, the only two state reps who are registered to participate are Greg Harris and Sarah Feigenholtz. Denying them would actually be denying ourselves.<br /><br />And, anyway, it&rsquo;s too late: the Parade is set, whomever was going to come and party with us decided to do so before the vote on marriage equality. Want to make a political calculation out of the parade? Count the absences, then cross reference them with the promises we&rsquo;ve been hearing this last year.<br /><br />Over at the <em>Reader</em>, Ben Joravsky makes some <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/06/05/gay-marriage-breakdown-the-republican-state-of-chicagos-democratic-politics" target="_blank">salient observations</a>&nbsp;about the vote: It boils down to House Speaker Michael Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel suckering the LGBTQ community for bucks and votes in exchange for their &ldquo;concern&rdquo; and &ldquo;support.&rdquo;<br /><br />As Joravsky explains, there&rsquo;s a Democratic majority, with a sitting governor who&rsquo;s promised to sign the marriage equality bill, and a speaker whose better known as the Great and Powerful Oz. The math doesn&rsquo;t add up, especially when you factor in the passing of Emanuel&rsquo;s pet project, the $300 million <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/20113457-419/with-rahms-depaul-plan-weve-entered-a-new-arena-of-stupidity.html" target="_blank">giveaway to the Catholic Church</a> at McCormick Place. I&rsquo;m referring to the new DePaul stadium, a project announced and passed in less than a month&rsquo;s time, with barely a breath for citizens to respond.<br /><br />Think about that and the years it&rsquo;s taken to bring marriage equality up for consideration. Think about the kind of power that can put that kind of deal together in such a blink of the eye but then chooses to sit on its hands for marriage equality.<br /><br />Michael Madigan and Rahm Emanuel both claim to be strong LGBTQ supporters.<br /><br />So what happened?<br /><br />Joravsky suggests that keeping the LGBTQ community on the precipice of equality means we keep giving to make it happen. A personal ATM, that&rsquo;s what he says we are to Madigan and Emanuel.<br /><br />And I don&rsquo;t think he&rsquo;s wrong.<br /><br />But I also think there&rsquo;s a different deal going down, and it&rsquo;s less about us and more about Madigan. By denying Gov. Pat Quinn important legislative victories&mdash;same-sex marriage, pension reform&mdash;he&rsquo;s setting the stage to run daughter Lisa against him.<br /><br />Some activists recently called for <a href="http://progressillinois.com/posts/content/2013/06/03/marriage-equality-advocates-disappointed-we-were-promised-vote-video">holding Lisa Madigan responsible</a> based precisely on this reasoning.&nbsp; That too would be disappointing: We don&rsquo;t visit the sins of the fathers on their children in this country, and Lisa Madigan has been an unwavering&mdash;and real&mdash;supporter.<br /><br />And some even called for Harris&mdash;the gay Representative who led the pro-marriage charge&mdash;to pay a price for backing away from calling a vote. Madness, if you ask me. Has anyone been more dedicated?<br /><br />Want to get back at those state legislators who actually screwed us? Don&rsquo;t vote for them. Don&rsquo;t vote for their acolytes. Don&rsquo;t vote for Emanuel, no matter how chiseled and flirty he is at the next big gay event. Keep your hands in your pockets and don&rsquo;t give a dime to any of them.<br /><br />Want to get some respect? Stop playing the spurned lover.</p></p> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 09:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-06/want-get-back-politicans-who-denied-marriage-equality-107564 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 As Illinois House committee approves pensions plan, attention turns to Senate http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-committee-approves-pensions-plan-attention-turns-senate-106936 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS2798_AP080109029993-madigan-scr_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois House committee <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/house-committee-oks-madigan-pension-plan-106926" target="_blank">approved a measure</a> Wednesday that would change how the state pays for its severely underfunded pension systems. The committee voted 9-1.</p><p>The bill still needs a majority vote in the full House of Representatives. But House Speaker Michael Madigan said his plan takes concepts that have already been debated and approved, and combines them into one package. It proposes things like raising the retirement age for younger state employees and reducing pay increases for retirees.</p><p>Still, the bill could face a harder vote in the state Senate.</p><p>A similar measure fell seven votes short. State Sen. Dan Biss, who first proposed some of the same concepts Madigan is now backing, said he thinks he can flip seven senators to support this latest pension proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s lots of discussions,&rdquo; Biss said. &ldquo;This is a complicated issue and a very emotional issue and people have lots and lots of questions. And I think if this bill does come over from the House, we&rsquo;re just going to have to spend a lot of time talking through those questions and concerns.&rdquo;</p><p>Senate President John Cullerton has been critical of Madigan and Biss&rsquo;s proposal over legal concerns. He 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, but the rival plan does not.</p><p>Labor unions have said they plan to sue if the legislature passes either plan. A coalition of labor groups say legislators should look at changing the tax structure, arguing cutting pension benefits is unconstitutional.</p><p>In a statement, a Cullerton spokesman said the Senate President is continuing to work on pensions and, &ldquo;ideally that bill will be constitutional.&rdquo;</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn, meantime, has voiced his support for Cullerton&rsquo;s plan. But in a statement released Wednesday, Quinn said, &ldquo;I commend the nine members of the House Committee who today voted to address the biggest challenge facing our state.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois has the worst-funded pensions systems in the country. It also owes about $96 billion in pension debt.</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> Wed, 01 May 2013 14:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-committee-approves-pensions-plan-attention-turns-senate-106936 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 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 Madigan shows lighter side, still guarded http://www.wbez.org/story/madigan-shows-lighter-side-still-guarded-95871 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-02/RS2798_AP080109029993-madigan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In a crowded college dining hall brightened by white linen tablecloths, a Chamber of Commerce official delivered remarks into a bouquet of microphones on the lectern before him.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-27/Rahm%20%26%20Mike%20Madigan_AP_Spencer%20Green.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 291px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Democrat Michael Madigan, shown here with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is speaker of the Illinois House. (AP/File)">But the microphones, from Chicago television and radio stations, were turned off. Members of the media were eagerly awaiting the next speaker, whose words carry more weight than those of virtually any other official in state government.</p><p>That speaker, Michael Madigan, chairman of the Democratic Party and speaker of the Illinois House for 27 of the last 29 years, stood quietly, waiting for his cue to take the stage and address more than 300 invited guests at Elmhurst College.</p><p>It was a rare public appearance for Madigan, made even more unusual by the locale&nbsp; — one of the state’s most Republican-leaning counties&nbsp; — and the fact that Madigan was at the college’s governmental forum as a favor to a former Republican adversary, Lee Daniels, now an adjunct faculty member and special adviser to the college president.</p><p>Daniels shook hands with Madigan and the two exchanged compliments, a sharp contrast to 1995 when Daniels wrested control of the House for one term and Madigan refused to move his belongings out of the speaker’s office until the last minute.</p><p>In his remarks, Madigan acknowledged the state’s budget crisis, glancing at a folded piece of paper and occasionally bumping the cluster of microphones as he gestured with his hands.</p><p>If those in attendance were hoping for a glimpse into his strategic mind, they may have left disappointed, although he did entertain them with behind-the-scenes stories of former governors. He said George Ryan once pulled the then-Senate President, Pate Philip, into a separate room to berate him for resisting Ryan’s bricks-and-mortar spending program.</p><p>“There was a lot of screaming and shouting and they both came back and sat down and Pate said, ‘Well, governor, there will be enough votes to pass your bill,’” Madigan said. “That was George’s method.”</p><p>Madigan blamed both Democrats and Republicans for spending Illinois into its current fiscal crisis, but said the budget that was passed last year with bipartisan support in the House was a good start in restoring the state’s economic health.</p><p>“Bear with us,” he said when asked about the state’s inability to pay its bills to social service agencies.</p><p>The state has &nbsp;more than $4 billion in unpaid bills, according to the Illinois comptroller’s office, and a pension liability of about $85 billion, and more cuts are expected when Gov. Pat Quinn presents his budget next month.</p><p>“We’ve got huge budget problems in this state,” Madigan said. “Why? Well, there was overspending in the past, and many people engaged in the overspending. It wasn’t just one or two people.”</p><p>Even though Madigan blamed the shortfalls in part on Republicans, Democrats have held majorities in the House and Senate and controlled the governor’s mansion since 2003. Most budgets, including those that delayed or skipped pension payments, have been passed primarily with Democrats’ &nbsp;votes.</p><p>Asked whether he should bear greater blame for the state’s financial ills, having served in Illinois government in an influential position for nearly 30 years, Madigan said it took more than one person to drive Illinois into a pattern of spending beyond its means.</p><p>In flusher times, party leaders and the governor cut pork-heavy budget deals behind closed doors. To bring lawmakers on board — often at midnight on the final day of &nbsp;a legislative session — the budget included hundreds of their demands, from road improvements to new fire engines and playgrounds. Madigan said spending from both sides of the aisle helped put the state in the red.</p><p>He lauded last year’s legislative session, when House members from both parties helped pass a budget that allocated $2 billion less than Quinn had requested.</p><p>“The next good step would be to do that again under even more difficult circumstances,” Madigan said. If we can convince the budget-makers to live within our means, we would be taking some significant steps to fiscal solvency, but it’s not going to be done overnight.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 27 Jan 2012 12:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/madigan-shows-lighter-side-still-guarded-95871 Speaker Madigan spreads blame for state budget http://www.wbez.org/story/speaker-madigan-spreads-blame-state-budget-95790 <p><p>Pension costs that are draining Illinois’ budget could be shared by local school districts.</p><p>The idea seems to be gaining steam among top Democrats, including Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who gave a rare, hour-long speech at Elmhurst College Tuesday morning to talk about the challenges facing Illinois. &nbsp;</p><p>"We’ve got huge budget problems in this state. Why? Well, number one, there was overspending in the past and many people engaged in the overspending. It wasn’t just one or two people," he said.</p><p>Madigan blamed Democrats and Republicans and said pension costs are consuming the budget. He suggested local schools share more of the burden.</p><p>"I never found anybody who could tell me why the state of Illinois stepped up one day and said, 'OK, school districts, we’ll just pick up all your pension costs,'" he said.</p><p>If the state made schools pay for their retired teachers, it would likely shift the cost to property taxes. It’s an idea that Senate President John Cullerton and Governor Pat Quinn have talked about, too, which means it could become part of legislation this spring.</p></p> Tue, 24 Jan 2012 23:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/speaker-madigan-spreads-blame-state-budget-95790 Illinois House to return for CME, Sears tax breaks http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-house-return-cme-sears-tax-breaks-94667 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100528_newsintern_658358_Lawm_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois lawmakers will be returning to the state Capitol for another try at passing tax relief for businesses, including some big corporations threatening to leave the state.</p><p>Speaker Michael Madigan announced the House will hold a special session on Monday in another effort to move the bill forward. The bill sailed through the Senate in November.</p><p>But last week the House overwhelmingly rejected the tax break bill that would, in theory, help keep big companies like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Sears in the state. CME has been threatening to re-locate if a deal isn't brokered soon. Adding pressure are other states trying to woo Sears with big incentives.</p><p>The $250 million tax package also includes breaks for small businesses and low-income families. But lawmakers are now talking about splitting up the bill into several pieces and holding multiple votes.</p><p>An aide to House Republican leader Tom Cross said yesterday no decision has been made, and negotiations will continue.</p></p> Wed, 07 Dec 2011 12:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-house-return-cme-sears-tax-breaks-94667