Michael Madigan
(Seth Perlman/AP)
May 16, 2014

House Panel Advances Illinois Minimum Wage Ballot Question

An Illinois House panel has approved House Speaker Michael Madigan's plan to ask voters whether the state should increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

The plan to put a nonbinding question on the November ballot passed the House Revenue Committee by a 12-7 party line vote Friday. It comes after Illinois Democrats have struggled to find enough votes to increase the state's minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.65 per hour.
 
Some Democrats in swing districts joined Republicans in resisting the effort, amid fears that companies might lay off workers or hire fewer new ones.
 
Madigan noted "differences of opinion'' among members Friday when he presented the proposal. 
 
He said it's "clear the state needs to be doing more to reduce economic inequality.''


August 26, 2013

Madigan Pension Fix Would Save Less Than Estimated

The estimated savings on a pension proposal backed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan earlier this year is nearly $25 billion less than originally thought.

That's because the Teachers Retirement System - one of Illinois' five pension systems - says it made a mistake in its calculations. The change was outlined in a Monday letter to a bipartisan panel tasked with coming up with an approach to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

Madigan's plan involves across-the-board cuts in benefits. It was originally touted to save Illinois about $187 billion over 30 years. However, the new estimate is about $163 billion in the same time period.

Another plan from Senate President John Cullerton, which had union support, was estimated to save roughly $47 billion over the same timeframe.


July 17, 2013

Ousted Metra CEO Describes Rough Illinois Politics

A former California transit executive tapped to clean up Chicago's scandal-tarnished Metra commuter rail agency says he was pushed out for doing exactly that and resisting pressure from Illinois politicians.

Alex Clifford was allowed to speak publicly for the first time Wednesday about his lucrative buyout agreement, which critics have called hush money and a waste of taxpayer funds.

Inquiries into the deal have led to revelations that House Speaker Michael Madigan asked Clifford's staffers to give a pay raise to a Metra employee who was a contributor to political campaigns benefiting Madigan.

Clifford told the Regional Transportation Authority Wednesday he believed Madigan's actions betrayed a "moral and ethical flaw."

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the speaker was merely supporting a recommendation by the employee's supervisor and did nothing improper.


Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Governor Pat Quinn, center, and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.
(Seth Perlman/AP)
June 07, 2013

Madigan, Quinn Finally Connect on Pensions

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he finally got in touch with House Speaker Michael Madigan. The governor said he’s called a meeting to address pension reform.

After last week’s disappointing end to the legislative session, Quinn tried to meet with legislative leaders to address what he calls the top issue facing the state - pension reform.

But Quinn said Speaker Michael Madigan doesn’t have a cell phone and couldn’t be reached.

On Friday, Quinn said he had a “pleasant” conversation with Madigan earlier that day and there will be a meeting on Monday.

“I’m telling our legislators, ‘Stop meandering. Forge an agreement that I can sign into law so we can resolve this problem,’” Quinn told reporters Friday at an unrelated news conference announcing an honorary street name for Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick.

Quinn has called lawmakers back to Springfield for a one-day special session on June 19th. But it’s not yet clear how negotiations over pension reform will have changed by that time or what legislators will be voting on.


May 22, 2013

Cullerton Urges House Vote on Pension Plan

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is urging a House vote on his pension-reform plan even though Speaker Michael Madigan has his own proposal.

Cullerton told The Associated Press Wednesday he believes House members want to vote on his measure to close a $97 billion debt in the pension systems.

 House members say the Cullerton legislation doesn't save enough money. Cullerton says it can survive a court challenge.

Madigan moved his plan to the Senate. Cullerton says there isn't enough support to pass it there.

Cullerton points out his legislation got 40 votes in the Senate - an extraordinary majority - while Madigan's plan got just two more than the 60 votes needed to pass the House.


March 13, 2013

House Speaker Madigan Backs Moratorium on Fracking

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he supports a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing over legislation calling for regulations on the practice.

The Chicago Democrat spoke to reporters in Springfield Wednesday, a day after environmental groups rallied at the State Capitol, saying fracking is unsafe and needs more study.

Madigan didn't explain his position except to say, "Read about what happened in Pennsylvania.''

The issue there has become controversial, including questions over water quality near drilling sites.

Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to break rock formations that then release oil and natural gas.

Lawmakers have proposed legislation - written with the industry's help -  that outlines some of the strictest regulations nationwide.

Gov. Pat Quinn has praised the legislation as a jobs bill.


March 07, 2013

Illinois Lawmakers OK Cap on Salary Amount for Pensions

Lawmakers have found at least one fix for the state's multibillion-dollar pension problem that could pass the Illinois House.

Two Republicans joined Democrats Thursday in voting 65-7 to cap the salary that pension benefits are based on at the Social Security Index. Currently that's $113,000 per year.

Supporters estimate it could save Illinois $1 billion annually.

The vote was part of a process Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan is using to gauge where legislators stand on possible reforms. It's the first amendment in two days of debate to get enough votes to pass.

Republicans have criticized the process and have refused to participate in most of the votes.

Legislators rejected a 10-year freeze on cost-of-living adjustments and a measure to require employees to contribute 4 percent more to their retirement.


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