It is time we have an Illinois governor stand up for public education, students, teachers, employee unions, and collective bargaining rights. If not, we are likely to fall victim like our colleagues did recently in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio.
The 2014 gubernatorial race is looking bleak, to say the least. I don't understand why the IEA or the We Are One Coalition, the organization representing teachers' unions and state employee unions, could not find and support a candidate for the 2014 gubernatorial race.
With the current candidates, and being a public school teacher, I would say this qualifies as a political emergency. I believe this year would have been a great opportunity and strategic move for the unions to select and support a candidate. Why?
Quinn is the ONLY Democrat, and nobody likes Quinn, especially since he recently chose Paul Vallas as a running mate. Vallas, Chicago Public School's first CEO in the mid-90s, has earned a reputation in Connecticut for being pro-privatization and pro-charters.
Could Quinn work any harder to not get a single vote from an Illinois teacher? Some newspapers are calling Quinn's move to select Paul Vallas political suicide... People want to vote for a Democrat, but they want an alternative to Quinn.
Well, teachers don't like Quinn since his relentless attacks on pensions. No loss there. But who is left? Four Republicans: Kirk Dillard, Bill Brady, Bruce Rauner, and Dan Rutherford? All four candidates are in support of major "pension reform."
In addition, Rauner and Brady are anti-teacher and anti-union, and they intend to crush our collective bargaining rights. Rauner cries in this video that none of the pension reform bills to date go far enough. He also attacks unions. It is clear from his rants in the media that one of his first priorities is to go after teachers and their unions, just like Scott Walker did in Wisconsin.
I have sent IEA President Cinda Klickna and the IEA executive team nine emails since the beginning of September regarding the urgency for the unions to select and support a real Democrat who will rally behind our state's students, teachers, and public employees.
You may remember, I sent out an email about the candidates for the 2014 race back on Sept. 5th. No other candidates were coming forward, with or without union-backing. Out of frustration, on September 16th, I contacted Ralph Martire, the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, and I asked him if he would run for Governor.
He said he would. He'd be excited to run, but he also said he would need financial and tactical help from the unions. Martire is the Illinois budget expert who insists that changing pension benefits is not going to solve the state’s pension debt and revenue problems. The benefits themselves, he says, are not the problem, contrary to what every current gubernatorial candidate believes. It is the state's lack of contributions over the years and the state's lack of ambition to seek revenue solutions right now that are the problems. (Check out his article in the State Journal Register titled: "Cutting Benefits Won't Fix the State's Pension Issue").
I don't know everything about Martire, but I do know two things about him:
1.) He is on our side regarding our pensions. He believes they are constitutionally-protected. More importantly, he believes that changing benefits is not going to eliminate the $100 billion unfunded liability. That, he argues, needs to be addressed with revenue solutions. 2.) He believes in changing Illinois' income tax to a progressive tax, thereby addressing the state's revenue problems...
At the same time I contacted Martire, I also contacted IEA President Cinda Klickna and the IEA executive team. (Ralph, of course, would need support from the unions).
On September 8th, I wrote:
What about Ralph Martire? Could all the unions band together and support Ralph? We know he would be on our side, at least regarding the issue of pension reform. He is a smart person and knows how to get this state back on the right fiscal track without cutting constitutionally-protected benefits. I think he would have many of us on his side--democrats, state workers, teachers, and the public.
On Oct. 5th, I received the following email from Martire (shortened for this email):
Twelve days away from the petition deadline. No candidate to support.