Arc and New Special Needs Services Committee Created in the House
Committee assignments are being made public in the House of Representatives
and a new Special Needs Services has been created. The House Special Needs
Services Committee will be chaired by our friend Rep Michelle Mussman. I
suspect that many of our bills will be heard in this new committee.
These three committees in the House will play a major role in the Disability
Service System. You need to be in contact with any of these members if they are
your State Representative.
Today at noon, Governor Rauner will give his first, “State of the State Address”
see story below from the State Journal Register in Springfield for a preview.
Rauner expected to propose limits on union bargaining
By Doug Finke
State Capitol Bureau
February 03. 2015 6:26PM
Gov. Bruce Rauner will formally outline his vision for the state’s future on
Wednesday, after taking a final jab at state worker salaries and public employee
unions in the lead-up to his first state of the state speech.
Rauner will deliver the speech beginning at noon, and previously said it will
include some of the slides he’s been using while traveling the state the last two
weeks offering previews.
The last two slides in the series were released Monday along with a letter to state
lawmakers asking them to review the information.
One of the slides outlines the federal service labor-management relations statute
of 1978 that places limits on what federal employees are allowed to negotiate.
Among the things they are not allowed to collectively bargain over are wages,
benefits, pensions and personnel decisions.
The other slide repeats Rauner’s belief that state workers are overpaid in
comparison to similar jobs in the private sector.
“I think that every working person deserves a livable wage,” said Anders
Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees, which represents the most state workers. “Driving down wages
won’t make Illinois more prosperous or a better place.”
“I would say the comments the governor has made so far regarding working
people betray a very unsophisticated understanding of labor,” added Dan
Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which represents a
small number of state workers. “We’re still looking at this governor, going, ‘Where
is your vision for improving the economy of Illinois?’”
In a letter to lawmakers sent Monday, Rauner noted that the federal rules were
codified while Democrat Jimmy Carter was president and Congress was under
the control of Democrats.
“We too can achieve common-sense bipartisan reforms to our employment rules
that are fair to both state workers and taxpayers,” Rauner wrote.
Maybe. Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, is chairman of the House Labor and
Commerce Committee. While he said he wants to hear what Rauner says in his
speech, Hoffman also said he expected a “vast majority of our caucus” would oppose
the idea of restricting bargaining rights over wages, benefits and other issues.
“Many of the things he is addressing should be raised in contract negotiations,”
Hoffman said. “Worker rights have evolved over the last 100 years and won
successfully as a result of some problems with workplace safety, inadequate
compensation or other issues.”
Even Wisconsin, whose governor Rauner said he admires, still allows public unions to
negotiate wage increases, although they are limited. The changes implemented in
Wisconsin also say workers do not have to contribute dues to unions and require
unions to take annual votes to continue representing workers. Public worker union
membership has plummeted since the changes were enacted.
Rauner’s salary slide compares salary levels in some state jobs – like switchboard
operator and barber – to the private sector.
“These levels are unsustainable and unfair to working families, small businesses, and
other taxpayers in Illinois,” Rauner said in his letter.
He said he would not cut salaries, but added, “It is critical that we make structural
reforms that prevent any future imbalances and unfair practices.”
Rauner said the sources of his numbers were the state comptroller’s website and the
federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the BLS cautions not to draw comparisons
between its salary statistics for the private sector and public workers because of
differences in educational levels and demographics.
Barbers on the state payroll work in state prisons cutting inmates’ hair. The
comptroller’s website lists 45 people with the job title of “switchboard operator,”
most of them with the Department of Human Services. DHS said those workers
answer phones in DHS facilities, local and regional offices and perform some clerical
Lindall said Illinois has one of the smallest state workforces per capita in the nation,
which drives up overtime costs in state prisons and other facilities, skewing those
“To focus on a tiny handful of workers is an irrelevant distraction from the real issues
and challenges that need to be addressed,” Lindall said.