Looking Ahead With Legislators

Illinois legislators talk about the upcoming Fall Veto Session and look ahead to working with Bruce Rauner's administration. Joining us are State Sen. Matt Murphy (R), State Sen. Heather Steans (D), State Rep. Patricia Bellock (R) and State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D). 

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Read an interview with media and political analyst Thom Serafin of Serafin & Associates about Rauner and the upcoming legislative session in Springfield.

Governor-elect Bruce RaunerQ: What are the expectations for governor-elect Bruce Rauner working with legislators over the next four years?

I was a reporter for several years in Springfield; if the governor was Republican, [he] accomplished a great deal more than if he was a Democrat with a Democratic [Chicago] mayor, such as Gov. George Ryan and Mayor Daley. The opposition party is good for getting things done, historically. That doesn’t mean that’s how it’s going to be. Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Mike Madigan, and Rauner, are all accomplished individuals and know how to work with large numbers. They should all get along from a business point of view. The extension of the income tax increase is due to expire. It’s the number one issue on the table. [Cullerton and Madigan] are going to make sure Rauner asks for that.

Q:  So you don’t think Gov. Pat Quinn will call for an extension of the income tax that is set to expire?

For Gov. Quinn, his rationale is, ‘I lost; people voted for Rauner who says he wants to do away with that and phase it out over three to four years.’ From the governor’s point of view, he doesn’t need to deal with it. From a legislative point of view, we need $5 billion to pay our bills. Leadership is going to wait for Rauner to say what he needs or wants before then. He said he reached out to both leaders; it’s come out since then they haven’t really talked, but I expect them to talk really soon. 

Q: What are some of the roadblocks or obstacles Rauner will have to overcome? 

Social spending, health care is a huge issue. The biggest overall piece of action: who are some of the winners and losers? Unions spent so much money; they knew they didn’t’ have a friend in Rauner based on the language he used in his campaign. AFSCME has to negotiate a new deal by July 1 that might permeate the next legislative session…. Their union negotiations are on the table, [Mayor] Rahm [Emanuel] needs help with the budget up here [in Chicago], [and] the deficit is looming large down the road. First, take care of the union and negotiations on the table, and tax increases, and then if you cut, where do you cut? 

Q: Will Rauner push for pension reform?

There’s a sense in the legislature and leadership if they don’t start working on it now, they don’t want to be caught flat-footed when the Supreme Court ruling does come down, which may not come down the way they are hoping. From Rauner’s point of view entering Springfield, the top three to four issues we discussed should be on the table because leadership is interested in solving problems as well. He’s got House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin. They all need to sit down and talk about all the big issues and appropriate them. Start the beginning work, take the big problems and make them smaller problems. [Rauner’s] not going to do everything in his first year he professed he wanted to do because he’s not in control, but he can do a great deal in a short time if he compromises on some issues. He needs to gain respect of the leadership, then continue to work with them, and Rauner could go down as a governor that made things happen. 

 Q: What, if anything do you think will happen in the fall veto session? Will there be a push to raise the minimum wage? 

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know people are talking about shell bills to raise the minimum wage. There’s talk of a gaming bill. It depends on the relationship between Speaker Mike Madigan, John Cullerton and the governor…If there are dark clouds, it might suggest the relationship with the new governor and leaders of the General Assembly is not working well, [we] could have an active veto session. There’s no reason [they’d] want to go into a General Assembly in 2015 knowing the governor is going to veto everything you’re throwing at him. If it’s sunny out, it might suggest the relationship between the three leaders is getting along and they can trust [each other] and have success in 2015. Lots of things need to be done now and by the end of November. Relationships need to be built and staff needs to be organized and a legislative plan needs to be put together for the governor, Madigan and Cullerton.

Interview has been condensed and edited.

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