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Doug Finke

Quinn zeroes in on Rauner

Governor says his foe can't add

Governor says his foe can't add

Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t exactly hold back on opponent Bruce Rauner when he met with The State Journal-Register editorial board last week.

“We did not demonize our public employees,” Quinn said at one point, a reference to some of Rauner’s harsher comments about union leaders running the joint.

He hit his stride, though, defending his call to continue the temporary income tax hike to avoid “savage” cuts to education. Saying you can’t let the tax increase expire and still spare education, Quinn said even second-graders he spoke to grasped the concept.

"I don’t think we want a governor who can’t add,” Quinn said.


No term limits for Madigan

A Senate subcommittee last week killed off several proposed amendments to the state Constitution sponsored by Republicans.

One of the amendments would have put term limits on the four people who lead their parties in the House and Senate. It said no one could serve longer than 10 years in one position and 14 in total.

That last part was a nod to the possibility of changing political fortunes in the Capitol. A person could serve, say, 10 years as a minority leader, and if the party suddenly won a majority, the person could serve as House speaker or Senate president for a while longer.

The amendment was sponsored by state Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine. Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, asked Murphy whether he knew how many leaders, past or present, the amendment would have applied to.

Of course, as an attorney, Harmon already knew the answer to his question when he asked it. That answer was only two: House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and former Senate President Phil Rock, D-Oak Park.

Murphy said he started toying with the term-limit idea after his first year in the Senate. That would have been 2007, a year that good ol’ Rod Blagojevich went particularly amok. He kept the Legislature in session all summer before Madigan essentially told the House to go home and stay there until he called them back.

“It was my first experience with the concept of the consolidation of power in Springfield in just a few hands,” Murphy said.

Harmon had a different take.

“Without strong legislative leaders, can you imagine how awful that summer would have been that you experienced with a rogue governor and no one in the Legislature to stand up and say no?” Harmon asked.

Raked over the coal

The House last week debated a bill about ending the mandate to teach about Illinois coal in the state’s schools.

Opponents viewed the bill as an attack on Illinois coal. Person after person stood up to defend Illinois coal and bemoan the decline of the state’s coal industry. The undercurrent was the bill was some kind of plot by environmentalists to further undermine Illinois coal.

The sponsor, state Rep. Deborah Conroy, D-Elmhurst, denied all of that. She said there should be comprehensive education about energy in general. Still, the debate continued.

At one point, Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, asked Conroy whether she had ever visited a coal mine.

Conroy said, Yes, she has visited a mine.

Kay pressed on. Which of the state’s coal mines had she visited?

The one at the museum, Conroy said.

Um, that would be the “mine” at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Anyone who’s been through it knows it’s a lot of fun. As to whether it qualifies as a real mine, not so much.

By the way, the bill came up six votes shy of passing. Conroy positioned it to try again in the future.

Quotable quote

“God grows this drug. It grows from a seed, like corn.”

– Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, speaking in favor of a bill allowing the use of medical marijuana to treat epilepsy in children.