Illinois taxpayers are having a rough go of it lately. While leaders in many states have reshaped their state governments to use public funds more efficiently and provide some relief to taxpayers, Illinois lawmakers have decided to go the other way on this issue.
Illinois lawmakers went after people’s pocketbooks directly in early 2011, enacting one of the most massive tax increases in state history. Democratic leaders claimed that this tax increase was necessary to address the state’s budget deficit, which was somewhere in the neighborhood of $11 – 15 billion, or approximately a third of the total state budget.
Now, to add insult to injury, the General Assembly has decided to pass legislation to codify a Blago/Quinn political handout to Big Labor that will end up costing taxpayers more for public construction projects.
State legislators sent H.B. 2987, The Project Labor Agreements Act, to Gov. Pat Quinn (D) on June 23 and he signed it into law on July 27. This bill enacts the language of Quinn E.O. 3 of 2010 and former disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s E.O. 13 of 2003 into statute. These orders, and the newly enacted H.B. 2987, encourage state agencies to require wasteful and discriminatory project labor agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded construction.
Here at TheTruthAboutPLAs.com, we have a couple quick thoughts on this sad, but remarkably unsurprising, legislative enactment.
This is the type of law that helps produce an $11-15 billion structural deficit. It appears as though the attitude of most Illinois lawmakers is that paying 12-18 percent more for construction services is fine because they can just raise taxes. This doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for sound fiscal policy.
On another note, what is it with Chicago politicians and giving handouts to construction unions? Whether it is President Obama’s Executive Order 13502, the Quinn/Blago executive orders, this newly enacted Project Labor Agreements Act or the way union bosses leveraged their relationships with Chicago pols to pressure Wal-Mart into agreeing to a 19-county PLA, Chicagoland politicians just love the construction unions. It is just too bad that this love comes at the expense of taxpayers’ wallets and the vast majority of the construction workforce that chooses not to join a union.
Finally, the impact of the Project Labor Agreements Act is particularly sad. Prior to the 2010 election, Gov. Quinn issued his executive order encouraging state agencies to require PLAs on public construction projects. In other words, the policy adopted through the passing of legislation was already in place as a result of the executive order. The most practical impact of passing this bill is that it will now require an act by the General Assembly, not just an executive order, to reverse this policy in the future.
The enactment of the Project Labor Agreements Act is a setback for the people of Illinois. It is a sign that despite a massive budget deficit and weak economy, it is business as usual in Springfield and Chicago.