Illinois Republicans had a theme when they met in Tampa for the Republican National Convention: Fire Madigan.
It’s more than a slogan for the state GOP. It’s an all-out marketing campaign against the Illinois House speaker. It includes t-shirts, buttons and even a baby bib that read “Fire Madigan.”
The GOP blames Michael Madigan for allowing the state to slide into a fiscal mess. But Madigan said it’s Republicans who are unwilling to do what he called the "heavy lifting."
"The Illinois Republicans in the legislature have a choice. They can stand as they do on the sidelines and carp about this, or they can come on the playing field," Madigan said.
Madigan said this is especially true when it comes to doing something about the state’s underfunded pensions. Republicans oppose plans that would have schools -- instead of the state -- pick up the tab for their employees’ retirement benefits. The GOP believes that would result in higher property taxes.
"I think the Republicans ought to be engaged. They may choose not to be engaged, which would leave me no option to try and work to pass a bill without the Republicans," Madigan said.
There are enough Democrats in the General Assembly to pass a pension overhaul without any Republican support. But Madigan stressed it’s a difficult, contentious issue so it won't be easy to get the votes needed to reduce teachers’ and state workers’ pensions.
Thanks to Illinois Public Radio