The phrase “Déjà Vu all over again” is attributed to Hall of Fame baseball catcher Yogi Berra who is well known for other numerous linguistic contortions (“It ain’t over till it’s over”; “When you get to a fork in the road, take it”; “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”).
But “Déjà Vu all over again” is the proper way to describe the ongoing Governor Rauner/Speaker Madigan standoff. Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” which includes changes to the workers compensation law, is his precondition to resolving Illinois’ ongoing budget problems while Speaker Madigan and other Democrats believe that the budget issue should be resolved independently. Illinois’ budget problems are long-standing and have resulted in extremely poor ratings from the bond agencies.
Governor Rauner, in the recent legislative elections, spent at least $41 million in trying to replace Democratic House members with the Republicans loyal to him. He was successful in winning four additional House seats, but a Madigan ally ousted the Rauner appointed Comptroller. Madigan and the Democrats still enjoy a seven vote majority in the House. Moreover, the recent election has made the Rauner/Madigan standoff even more “personal.” Most of the Rauner paid for political ads plastered Madigan’s face on the TV screen as “the face of incarnate evil” (Greg Hinz in Crain’s Chicago Business, November 10, 2016). Madigan remains in control and apparently now even more committed to defeating Rauner.
Madigan’s position has been fortified by the recent announcement that Illinois’ workers’ compensation premium rates are being reduced 12.9% in 2017. (www.workcompcentral.com, July 29, 2016) This announcement underscores the argument of Democratic legislators that changes made to the workers’ compensation law in 2011 are resulting in favorable changes in the rates charged to Illinois businesses.
So the just completed lame duck “veto session” resulted in a continuing standoff between Rauner and the Democrats. A Republican sponsored bill to reform the workers compensation “causation” standard was given short shrift in a House Committee hearing when the Republican sponsor did not appear as he maintained that a hearing was “premature” until Leadership finishing discussing the issue
It seems safe to predict that the new legislature, convening in early 2017, may be “Déjà Vu All Over Again”.