Of the dozens of reforms contained in Gov. Bruce Rauner's Turnaround Agenda, adjusting the system for compensating workers who are injured on the job generally was considered the easiest to accomplish.
But a rare, day-long hearing before the entire Illinois House on Tuesday provided the best indication yet of the resistance Rauner will face as he tries to make passage of his pro-business agenda the starting point for budget negotiations with the Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly.
The hearing was a rare procedure called a Committee of the Whole, in which an entire legislative chamber gathers to hear witness testimony on an issue. The hearing was scheduled by House Speaker Michael Madigan presumably as a show of force to Rauner as highly contentious budget negotiations get under way in Springfield. Rauner in February issued a budget plan that proposes to close a $6.2 billion gap solely by cutting spending.
The cuts are severe, and Rauner has told his Democratic counterparts that he will negotiate on possible new sources of revenue to avoid some of the cutting only after the General Assembly passes his Turnaround Agenda. Other components of that agenda include controversial measures like creating non-union right-to-work zones, passing a new pension reform plan, placing a term limits constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot and passing another amendment to remove pension protection language from the Illinois constitution.
Amid those ideas, adjusting a system that had undergone an extensive overhaul just four years ago seemed the most politically feasible of the bunch.
At least it seemed that way until Tuesday.
Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.
Some Illinois mayors are worried about Rauner's Turnaround Agenda for Illinois because they worry it could leave their towns with unfunded mandates -- rules they must follow but no state money to ensure compliance. Nancy Mathieson explains at Reboot Illinois why these worries keep some Illinois mayors up at night.