Scores of striking Chicago teachers are protesting today outside a Sept. 11 memorial event where Gov. Pat Quinn is speaking. Quinn has been mum on the walkout, except to say “Good luck” to them as he walked through the crowd.
Good luck. Quinn doesn’t lack for gall: the same man who took the unions’ side against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker when Walker wanted to implement collective bargaining reforms, and instituted a 66% income tax hike and a 45% corporate tax hike which helped create $7 billion in revenue that was promptly eaten up by workers’ retirement costs is now posing as a reformer.
In the spring Quinn attempted to get a reform plan into action that would raise the retirement age and reduce cost-of-living increases. If employees opted out they’d then have to forego retirement health benefits. In addition, he wanted downstate school districts to begin paying their own pension bills instead of the state paying them.
Republican lawmakers balked, saying that property taxes would rise unless districts were able to renegotiate contracts and make teachers pay more toward their pensions. But teachers’ unions wouldn’t budge.
Meanwhile, Standard and Poor’s has downgraded the state of Illinois. Quinn is caught in the middle; he was a big-tax guy who was the unions’ boy, but now as a “reformer” he’s got the unions mad at him. He can’t side with the teachers because he won’t look like a reformer. He can’t condemn them or the unions won’t support him.
Not exactly a man of principle.