[Marxism] Fwd: IL Democrats Rob Peter To Pay Paul?; CTA Situation Is "Fixed"
obeynow20001 at yahoo.com
Sun May 29 09:33:51 MDT 2005
Alex Briscoe <obeynow20001 at yahoo.com> wrote:Date: Sun, 29 May 2005 08:31:49 -0700 (PDT)
From: Alex Briscoe <obeynow20001 at yahoo.com>
Subject: IL Democrats Rob Peter To Pay Paul?; CTA Situation Is "Fixed"
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As usual from the corporate press, it's not quite clear how funds are being taken from and replenished into the teachers pension funds. If someone from CBT or CTC or IEA has insight into this, comments would be appreciated.
Midwest Unrest and other left groups are meeting today to discuss organizing around the CTA crisis. Forums around why the big corporations and the rich should be taxed, why NGOs need to support the Illinois Green Party to do this, instead of raiding teachers' pensions funds, would be a good.
obeynow20001 at yahoo.com wrote:
Date: Sat, 28 May 2005 18:03:49 -0700 (PDT)
From: obeynow20001 at yahoo.com
To: illinoisgreenstalk at yahoogroups.com, obeynow20001 at yahoo.com
Subject: Senate fires back at NRA as Democrats race clock
This story was sent to you by: Alex Briscoe
Senate fires back at NRA as Democrats race clock
By Ray Long and Erika Slife
Tribune staff reporters
May 28, 2005
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois senators handed gun-control supporters a victory Friday while Gov. Rod Blagojevich and top Democratic lawmakers worked to forge a budget plan they could pass without Republican votes.
GOP leaders decried the plan to fill a more than $1 billion budget gap by diverting money earmarked for the pensions of teachers and other state employees, calling it a fiscal train wreck.
But the bigger problem for Democratic leaders came from rank-and-file members of their own party, who voiced similar concerns that threatened plans to pass a budget on all-Democratic roll calls. The funding plan would give $300 million more to schools and stave off service cuts and fare increases at the CTA.
In a frenzied day of action, the legislature passed bills that would retool worker's compensation, regulate predatory practices in the payday loan industry and address Blagojevich's family feud with his father-in-law, Chicago Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), over a landfill.
The Senate's vote to close a loophole that allows people to buy weapons at gun shows without a background check came two days after the National Rifle Association and gun-rights proponents pushed through a measure pairing the same loophole provision with one of their top legislative priorities--a requirement that the state destroy its records on background checks for gun purchases.
The Senate's 37-17 vote on closing the loophole without the companion records-destruction provision marked the NRA's biggest setback this legislative session. The measure went to the House, where a committee quickly approved the bill and queued it up for a vote on the floor as soon as this weekend.
"It looks like it's going to be the only victory this year of the people who are advocates of reasonable gun control," said Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago).
In debate, Sen. Ed Petka (R-Plainfield) raised the specter of Adolf Hitler confiscating guns of Europeans who then were "herded like sheep and cattle into concentration camps and death camps, where they met their demise."
Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), citing Jewish friends and family touched by the Holocaust, immediately accused Petka of distorting history.
"With all due respect," Schoenberg said, "I believe that that outrage is misdirected, particularly in suggesting that the state of Illinois is preparing to go down the same path as Hitler's Third Reich."
The Democratic push to pass a state budget before the midnight Tuesday deadline gathered steam as both House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) extended the session into the weekend, blowing their own self-imposed deadline of Friday.
On Wednesday a supermajority would be needed to pass a budget, giving Republicans a voice in the plans because their votes would be necessary for passage.
The far-reaching pension overhaul that Democrats were putting together came under heavy fire as they unveiled the details of the legislation and rammed the bill through the House Executive Committee on a partisan roll call, sending the measure to the full House.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) railed at the legislation, saying it would loot at least $3.5 billion from the pension plans of state employees and teachers outside Chicago over the next four years. The plan would cost possibly tens of billions of dollars more over the next 40 years, said Patrick Evans, Cross' pension analyst.
Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk disputed the Republican figures, saying there would be short-term costs for the pension plan but long-term savings.
"We're making reforms that will save the pension systems over $30 billion and using some of those savings over the next two years to fund education and health," Tusk said.
Cross estimated state spending would increase by about $1 billion under the Democrats' plan and warned that they may be trying to boost the budget by an additional $100 million for their own pet projects.
With final figures still flying, House and Senate Democrats began wondering how much their vote for the budget might be worth and if they may be able to secure a pork-barrel project in return, complicating leaders' efforts to count their votes.
Other lawmakers simply opposed the pension bill on principle, saying more reform is needed.
"I don't think that's good government and I don't think it's the direction we should be heading," said Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston). "We have to think ahead sometimes well beyond the next election and that's what I think this is about."
But Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago), Madigan's point man on pensions, said the changes eventually would help set a course to benefit the state's chronically underfunded pension systems, which are among the worst in the nation. The changes would include ending big end-of-career salary boosts for teachers, but extending an early retirement option for them.
After one of the more extraordinary debates of the day, the House sent the Senate the so-called family feud legislation that Blagojevich initiated over his dispute with Mell, alleging that his father-in-law was trading on the governor's name to promote a landfill owned by a distant relative.
The bill, which passed 77-16 with 23 voting "present," would make it easier for the state to close landfills deemed a threat to the public health or environment.
Yet the conflict-of-interest provisions drew the most attention, particularly the clause requiring any relative of the governor, attorney general or environmental officials to divest themselves of landfill ownership. Mell has denied he has any financial interest in the landfill.
"This is the type of thing that probably requires family counseling instead of putting it on the House floor here," said Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock).
In other action, the House sent the governor the payday-loan industry bill, putting in place regulations for the first time, and the legislation to overhaul worker's compensation, including limits on medical fees for treating on-the-job injuries, increasing worker benefits and creating a unit to investigate fraud. The governor said he would sign both bills.
Rlong at tribune.com
Eslife at tribune.com
Copyright (c) 2005, Chicago Tribune
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