Saturday, May 21, 2016

State GOP rejects gay marriage

Not a university issue per se, but still striking: Delegates at the state GOP convention have overwhelmingly defeated a compromise plank that would remove language in favor of a US constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. They are thus still in favor of a constitutional amendment which would overturn the 2015 Supreme Court decision making gay marriage legal in all 50 states, not to mention the 2013 law that made gay marriage legal in Illinois. Even the compromise proposal they rejected would have retained "religious freedom" language of the sort used to justify businesses in denying service to gay couples.

Capitol Fax notes that Terri Bryant (as tweeted by WBEZ reporter Tony Arnold) spoke in opposition to a move to change the platform: "How will I win reelection if there is no difference between the Democrats and me?" Congressman Mike Bost also spoke out against the compromise proposal, which had been favored by some in the party leadership. All told, 782 of the 978 GOP delegates rejected the compromise proposal. The Illinois Review has a detailed story on the vote (from its conservative perspective).

If Terri Bryant thinks that gay marriage is the only difference between the state GOP and Democrats, she hasn't been paying attention. There was a time when I think we could have considered the Illinois Republicans Party moderate, by and large. That time has passed, if ever it was.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

MAP grants bill to Rauner; plights of EIU, CSU

The State Senate had joined the House in approving additional MAP grant funding. Alas, this bill is probably going nowhere as Republicans have been condemning it for failing to identify a funding source. Creative use of unspent money in a "special account" allowed everyone to get on board with the prior stopgap funding bill, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards this time around. So Rauner will likely veto the bill (after letting it languish on his desk for 60 days as he did with the AFSCME arbitration bill).

A rather pointed letter from EIU President David Glassman has been getting some play in state media. Glassman notes than in his 10 months on the job he's already reduced staffing at EIU by 22.6%. The stopgap funding bill will not avert further layoffs, he warns, which will come as soon as late July unless his school gets more funding. And as you might imagine, with over 20% of the staff laid off, remaining staffers are trying to do the work once done by others. Long-term results from this sort of sudden slashing in employee numbers are likely to be dismal.

Two funnies

[Aristotle] On trolling. (Rather more funny if you've read Aristotle. This morning I am filled with self-loathing after getting into a little troll fight with the person who posted this on FB in a comment stream that followed the posting. What self-awareness!).

Academic title generator.   Sorry, administrative titles only.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

8000 union activists march in Springfield

The SJR estimates that some 8000 folks marched in Springfield today to protest Governor Rauner's anti-union policies.

A highlight of the day was normally taciturn House Speaker Mike Madigan leading the crowd in some call & response questions. After the break, Madigan's speech as transcribed by Capitol Fax. I support the union cause; I also worry that this show of strength will encourage Madigan to resist any appearance of compromise with Rauner, and leave us all in limbo until November at the earliest. 

State inaction and local effects

Lot's of "news" coming out of Springfield, but very little action, and the mood seems to be turning less optimistic.

On Monday Governor Rauner, as expected, vetoed a bill that would have mandated arbitration in the event negotiations between AFSCME and the State (i.e., Rauner) break down. He provides his reasons in a letter to state employees--one sent via the media. Rauner would rather impose terms himself, as he's arguing that negotiations have in fact reached an impasse, something AFSCME denies. If the ILRB (Illinois Labor Review Board) rules in Rauner's favor, he'll be able to impose terms on AFSCME, which will give SIU employees a choice between reduced health benefits or a doubling of insurance premiums.

A meeting on Tuesday between Rauner and the four legislative leaders appeared to produce some movement, with House Speaker Madigan agreeing to at least appoint folks to serve on a committee discussing Rauner's reform agenda. Rauner has consistently said that he will support a budget compromise with new revenues (which all seem to agree is the only way to balance the budget) only if some such reforms are passed. But subsequent statements by Madigan show little wiggle room. Madigan for his part got the House to pass funding for MAP grants, but Republicans reject the measure because it does not identify a funding source.