Rahm’s pension plan stalls in House after Madigan predicted vote | Early & Often

3 Apr

In a development laced with political intrigue, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to reel in city pensions stalled in the Illinois House Wednesday despite Speaker Michael Madigan’s prediction of a floor vote after it had cleared a House committee earlier in the day.

While not dead, the package affecting the city Municipal Employees and Laborers funds hit several unexpected snags, starting with Republicans.

The GOP, supporters of past pension deals in Springfield, positioned itself against this one, touting Emanuel’s plan as a de facto $750 million property tax hike even though the city had advertised a property-tax hit of just one third of that amount.

Madigan, D-Chicago, steered the legislation through the House Personnel and Pensions committee Wednesday morning and told reporters after the panel’s 6-4 vote that he intended to seek a vote of the full House later in the day. In a closed-door caucus meeting immediately after the committee vote, the speaker told his members the same thing, sources said.

Early Wednesday evening, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown shed little light on the reasoning behind the abrupt change of plans but declined to pronounce the legislation dead. He offered no sense of when the measure might surface on the House floor for a vote.

“They continue to work on a roll call. When there’s a good confident feel the votes are there to pass the bill, they’ll call the bill,” Brown told Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times political portal.

Asked why the speaker had predicted a vote and then backed away, Brown said, “He was hopeful there would be a vote. That was his intention, and the conversations he’d had with the city staff people who were here. But obviously, it didn’t quite work out that way.

“I’m not sure I fully understand all that’s transpired,” Brown continued. “You had a variety of different positions by Republicans from ‘We’re all for this’ to ‘We have no votes’ to ‘Maybe we have a few votes.’ Obviously, it would be good to have a good, bipartisan roll call.”

When it became clear the big lift to pass the bill wouldn’t be shared with Republicans, rank-and-file city Democrats appeared to get cold feet with the property-tax component. Others privately expressed worry about opposition to the bill from the Chicago Teachers Union, which last month nearly unseated state Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, in a bitter primary in which his December support for a state pension package became a central issue.

And Emanuel, who spent part of his day with President Barack Obama in Chicago, didn’t appear to be aggressively working the bill Wednesday, even though he dispatched a delegation to Springfield that included his deputy mayor, Steve Koch, corporation counsel Steve Patton and others to testify to House and Senate committees about the bill.

One House Democrat from the city told Early & Often that no one had formally reached out from the mayor’s staff to make a personal pitch for the bill, an oddity given the magnitude of what Emanuel is asking state lawmakers to do on his behalf in Springfield, particularly if Republicans are MIA on the bill.

via Rahm’s pension plan stalls in House after Madigan predicted vote | Early & Often.

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