For more than a year, his requirements often have been presented vaguely as some combination of the items in his turnaround agenda, which includes new limits on workers’ compensation benefits, new rules for civil lawsuits, a property tax freeze coupled with provisions that allow local governments to decide what gets collectively bargained, term limits on elected officials and new rules for drawing political maps. Along the way, the governor has added to the mix a proposal to help fix the state’s pension problem.
Rauner visited Tribune Tower on Monday and offered a clearer picture of what he would accept.
Changes to the rules on civil lawsuits, commonly referred to as “tort reform” is “off the table, for now,” Rauner said.
“The biggies,” Rauner said, are changes to workers’ compensation, the property tax freeze with collective bargaining provisions and legislation to alleviate the pension problem. Asked if that would be enough for him to strike a deal with Democrats, Rauner said: “Yeah, sure.”
That Rauner has set his sights on those items is no secret. There are working groups of lawmakers debating those topics now, and he’s focused much of his public comments on the three items in recent weeks. Still, it was the first time we’ve heard Rauner say specifically what would satisfy his general call for “reforms” alongside a budget deal that includes spending cuts and tax hikes.
Rauner’s answer might provide more clarity to casual observers of the budget impasse, but it’s unlikely to motivate Democratic lawmakers, who say they’ve lost trust in the governor because of his shifting rhetoric over the past year. Also, many Democrats are opposed to the workers’ compensation and collective bargaining proposals, which they contend would hurt the middle class. (Kim Geiger)