Sections:

Article

Fierce and angry responses to Rauner's budget speech as Illinois's billionaire gov'nor practices droppin' his final 'g's' while tryin' to sound like just another guy...

Anyone who listened to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's budget speech, as it was delivered (as I did) had to want to scream at the invocation of the memory of Abraham Lincoln, and Rauner's obscene attempt to compare his reactionary attacks on the poor and working people with Lincoln's decisions to fight against the Confederacy and free the slaves.

Bruce Rauner, now Governor of Illinois, began positioning himself in Abraham Lincoln poses, even before his State of the Union and budget speeches in February 2015. Despite the brutal hypocrisy with which Rauner outlined his budget plans, there was also a Second City (or Saturday Night Live) aspect to the billionaire's speech that makes it worth listening to in its original carefully scripted glory. Rauner, trying to don his "common man" cloths, dropped almost every final "g" during his speech. He was "thinkin'" about "doin'" something important about "budgetin'" -- (the last not in Rauner's speaking, but just about every other word ending in a final "g" was butchered in this common guy affectation...

So, with the declaration of war on history, responses from Rauner's critics, followed by corporate media responses, followed by the speech (as written, not as delivered)...

I. CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION RESPONSE ISSUED ON THE EVENING OF FEBRUARY 19, 2015...

"Budgets are statements of priorities and morals, and it is clear where the governor fails on both."

Newly elected governor Bruce Rauner has made it clear that he will be an enemy to Illinois' working class families. Coming on the heels of last week's executive order attempting to end non-unionized state workers "fair share" union dues, today's budget address is a continued attack on public services that has elicited a litany of negative responses from both teachers' and public sector unions. Click the button below to read the Chicago Teachers Union response, and prepare to engage in some statewide advocacy as we organize, educate and motivate.

On the city front, the march continues toward City Hall and the Chicago City Council for Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and five of our Chicago Teachers Union sisters and brothers who are stepping up to the plate and challenging rubber-stamp aldermen in the February 24 election. Be sure to take advantage ofearly voting from now through Saturday, Feb. 21, for these candidates, as well our allies in the City Council Progressive Caucus and a dozen other wards. Please also support the Elected Representative School Board referendum, which is on the ballot in 37 wards.

CTU RESPONSE. Response to Bruce Rauner’s Budget Address. BY CTU COMMUNICATIONS | 02/18/2015

CHICAGO—In response to today’s budget address by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, the Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement:

Gov. Bruce Rauner famously said that he’s “been successful at everything [he’s] ever done.” Today’s budget address is no different. Gov. Rauner wants to be successful in destroying vitally necessary public services, including the state’s university system, drug treatment and breast cancer services, public transit and the Department of Children and Family Services. Evidently, Gov. Rauner wants to be successful at destroying Illinois’ economy, too. The lessons from Greece, Ireland, Italy and Kansas all show that public government austerity budgets don’t work to fix the economy, and unnecessarily and dramatically exacerbate human suffering.

The experiences in California and Minnesota show the clearest alternative forward: Raise revenue from those most able to pay and the state’s economy can grow and prosper. This contrast points to the real issue: Gov. Rauner most wants to be successful at shoveling money to himself and his wealthy supporters. The tax cuts Bruce Rauner wholeheartedly supports overwhelmingly benefit the privileged few at the top of Illinois’ economy; the vast majority gains practically nothing and loses dramatically. Rauner’s thoroughly disproven voodoo economics is an unacceptable attack on the working families of Illinois, and in his zero-sum world, “success” means failure for everyone else.

Budgets are statements of priorities and morals, and it is clear where the governor fails on both.

The Republican lawmaker claimed that this is an honest budget and that it’s make or break time. But that’s a deeply dishonest statement and his solution is evidently to break the state. He was crystal clear: Any consideration of revenue will only be tied to draconian reforms that harm working people. Like his good friend Rahm Emanuel, the governor is attempting to capitalize on a manufactured crisis rooted in his unwillingness to raise revenue from those who are most able to pay.

There are two clear realities of this budget proposal. The first is that budget cuts will hit every segment of government operations, even those that get an “increase” in funding. The education funding “hike” comes at the expense of other public services on which students depend. Research is clear that out-of-school factors have huge impacts on students’ ability to learn and grow during school. Thousands of students across the city have transportation challenges, so cuts to public transportation mean that more students will miss days of attendance, negatively impacting their achievement.

Rauner’s cuts to mental health only exacerbate the effects of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s cuts to mental health clinics. Students suffer as a result, as their traumas go untreated, as workloads increase for already over-taxed school counselors, and as family members are sent to jail rather than to treatment. The governor’s cuts to Medicaid ensure that students’ loved ones, often the family’s primary caregiver and source of support, will lose access to healthcare; consequently these students’ ability to be in school and concentrate when there declines. In a Rauner budget, students will be clearly harmed.

The second reality is that this budget proposal is primarily an attack on women and people of color. In Chicago, where 85% of public school students are low-income and 90% of those learners are students of color, Rauner’s budget is a clear attack on already-decimated communities on the South and West sides of the city. In what can only be deemed a “surprise,” the governor did the same thing to women that he blamed Pat Quinn for: slashing public services and decimating good jobs.

Mr. Rauner’s proposal to slash the retirement security of active teachers is a direct attack on women and people of color. Women make up 75% of Chicago Teachers Pension Fund members and 60% of Chicago Municipal Fund members. Furthermore, the proposed pension cuts come on top of school budget and job cuts that have decimated the percentage of Black teachers in the Chicago Public Schools. These combined measures most directly impact neighborhoods like Roseland, Mt. Greenwood, Morgan Park, Chatham, South Shore, Auburn-Gresham, and South Chicago. Public sector jobs undergird the economies in these neighborhoods, and as a result of his budget, these neighborhoods, already devastated by unemployment, foreclosures and the associated dramatic loss of wealth, are further sacrificed to ideology.

There is only one equitable solution to Illinois’ budget: Generate revenue from those most able to pay. A report issued this week from the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability pointed to the real impact of the reduction of the state’s income tax level – a massive transfer of wealth to the richest Illinoisans. Illinois is “broke” because the governor and his biggest supporters do not pay their fair share. The solutions continue to be clear. Rauner should advocate for a surcharge on millionaires. He should support a graduated income tax. He should propose eliminating tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid hundreds of millions in Illinois taxes. He should assist municipalities’ finances by pledging to withhold state business from any bank that refuses to renegotiate toxic interest swaps. The governor provided practically no detail and proposed none of these revenue proposals.

Illinois’ success depends on the collective support of public services to fuel the entire state economy.

Taken collectively, Gov. Rauner’s proposal only worsens Illinois’ economic challenges and unnecessarily harms working people across the state. Evidently, successfully shaking up Springfield means more of the same discredited 1980s economic theory to benefit the wealthy. Way to go, ‘overnor.

II. RESPONSE OF THE CHICAGO TEACHERS PENSION FUND...

CTPF reported: Here’s what Capitol Fax says about pensions:

*** Pension Reform ****

The governor’s budget relies extensively on a supposed $2.2 billion savings from pension reforms. Those reforms ain’t gonna be popular, and probably aren’t constitutional. Rauner will propose enrolling every state employee and teacher into the state’s “Tier 2? pension plan as of July 1st of this year. Already earned benefits will be frozen on that date, except for public safety employees like state police. Employees will be given the option to take a lump sum pension buyout for those who want to convert to a 401(k) plan with employer matching.

The governor’s office claims that the pension changes will result in a reduction to the state’s unfunded liability of $25 billion in the first day of this plan. The governor claims that actuaries estimate a $3.2 billion savings for Fiscal Year 2016, but Rauner’s staff is using a “more conservative” estimate of $2.2 billion for next fiscal year.

In addition, no further state funding will be provided for the Chicago Public Schools’ pension funds, or the TRIP program, which currently provides a state match to teacher contributions to retirement health insurance costs. State funding for the College Insurance Program will also be eliminated.

“Wow,” said a teachers’ union lobbyist last night. “I don’t even know what to say.”

Indeed.

The governor also wants to reduce the state employee group health insurance approx by $400 million, which is a $600-700 million reduction from expected costs for next fiscal year. Rauner wants to increase the universities’ share of group health costs (fixed at $45 million since the 1990s) and Increase employee “cost sharing,” by negotiating in upcoming contract negotiations an additional charge for employees with more than two dependents and by negotiating other reductions with the unions.

RAUNER'S WIFE CRITICIZES RAUNER'S BUDGER PLANS... From Crain's Chicago Business...

ov. Bruce Rauner is taking heat from all over for his budget proposal—including from his wife.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund, an early-childhood nonprofit headed by first lady of Illinois Diana Rauner, issued statements to the media and supporters this week criticizing cuts proposed by the governor that target the state's Child Care Assistance Program and Early Intervention programs.

A statement to the media reads, “We are opposed to the many proposed cuts in health, social service and education programs that would directly impact vulnerable children and families and their communities. We will oppose any changes to the Child Care Assistance Program that would adversely affect low-income families.”

Maybe to keep the peace at home, the letter also offers a warm fuzzy, saying, "We were pleased to hear the governor and General Assembly are close to resolving the FY2015 budget deficit for the Child Care Assistance Program." And it reiterates, "Care for children will be severely compromised without immediate action."

'STRENUOUS OPPOSITION'

The statement was written by Elliot Regenstein, a senior vice president at the Ounce, and I'm told it was reviewed and approved by Diana Rauner, who has been president of the organization since 2010. She has stayed in that position even as her husband is leading the state, which has given $123 million to the Ounce over the past nearly 12 years.

The tone and some of the wording in the statement were repeated in an “Action Alert” sent to supporters, laying out the Ounce's “strenuous opposition” to the cuts.

A spokeswoman for the Ounce says Diana Rauner approved the statement and though she didn't see the Action Alert, “everything in it reflects the position of the Ounce organization, including our president Diana Rauner.”

The governor's office declined to talk about any discussion he had with his wife about the budget-cutting plans, saying only in a statement that he is “committed to turning around Illinois and that starts with getting our fiscal house in order after years of neglect. The budget reduces spending while funding essential government services, including increasing education funding and improving public safety. It restructures the core costs of state government and puts Illinois back on a fiscally-sustainable path.”

The first lady's criticism of the proposed budget—which is outlined here by Crain's political columnist Greg Hinz—comes on the heels of the governor's friend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, also slamming the budget plan for trying to "balance the state's budget on the backs of children."



Comments:

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at substancenews.net. We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 5 =