State Rep. Phillips claims Madigan will 'bite his own people to keep them in line'
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is more concerned with having power than he is about the plight of the state, Rep. Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston) believes.
The Democratic leader and members of his party left House Republicans stunned last month when they approved Madigan’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which called for the state to spend $7.1 billion more than it rakes in, and appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars for Chicago's public schools.
“For (Madigan), this is about power,” Phillips told the East Central Reporter. “(Last month) some of his state representatives on his side were trying to figure out a way to get to him and say, 'Listen, we need to work on a way to get this budget put together. We need to relax some of the things we are saying.'”
Madigan is the longest-serving speaker in Illinois history. He has held the position since 1983, with the exception of two years when Republicans gained control of the House. Madigan has been a member of the House, representing District 22, since 1971.
When the AFSMCE union bill (House Bill 580), which sought to allow a panel of arbitrators to negotiate contract offers between unions and the state, made its way to the Senate earlier this year, Phillips said Madigan made sure to “keep (Democrats) in line.”
“He turned around and made a list of all of these who came into his office and sent it to the unions in hopes that they would pressure them and say, ‘Don’t back down, we are here. We’ve got your back; you better have our back,’” Phillips said. “And that is the kind of person we are dealing with here. He’ll bite his own people to keep them in line.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed HB 580, and Madigan lacked three votes to override the governor’s veto.
“I don’t think Chicago politicians are trying to squeeze downstate," Phillips said. "I think it is simply Madigan playing his political games so that he can gain (control). Right now he doesn’t have a supermajority even though he does. He’s got three that don’t vote with him. He got rid of one: (Rep. Ken) Dunkin is gone, so he’s got two still to go. (State Rep.) Jack Franks isn’t coming back, and he is pretty sure that Franks’ district is going to turn Republican. So now he is still two short.”
What the General Assembly needs to do right now is to work “our tails off” to create a better future for the state, Phillips said.
“Property taxes are going to go through the roof if we don’t get some reform, and get some businesses and jobs,” he said. “We are at the highest you can be now. We are paying 4 percent. You can go to Tennessee and other places, and they are only paying a half of 1 percent. In Florida, there is no state tax; we are 3.25 percent. There is talk of bringing that to 5.5 percent. If that happens and corporate tax happens, it is over.”
As a businessman, Phillips has had to entertain the possibility of growing his company in other states instead of Illinois because the state isn’t conducive to successful businesses.
“This is my state," Phillips said. "I was born and raised here, but these people are choking the life out of the businessman who is the person that creates the jobs for the middle class. So, who is the savior of the middle class? It isn’t the Democratic Party -- that is a lie; but they are messaging it so well. (Madigan) is so wrong, but he is a professional.”
Phillips has told Republicans that their caucus needs to be the savior of the middle class
“It is so simple but so difficult," he said. "I tried to get my message across to all of those, my colleagues: ‘Listen, everything we do here affects every business in the state of Illinois. It may not affect you personally because you are a state representative, but come Friday -- or whatever day it is you get your check -- even though it is slow right now, you are going to get paid.’ A lot of business people who own a business, if they don’t make money, they don’t get a paycheck.”