January 13, 2014
Why we're watching: It took the Civic Committee, a group of about 100 of the city's leading business executives, about six years of hounding to see reductions in state workers' pension benefits passed through the state legislature. (It released its first report on the topic in 2006.)
And now that the legislative battle over pensions has been won, the group is expected to turn its focus to improving the state's overall "business climate."
"We want to go to business climate issues, which include everything from (workers') compensation (reform) to tort reform to a true, honest to goodness, meaningful tax structure that's fair to everyone," Fahner said. "There's a way of doing that. You get rid of the gimmicks, but it's fair to employers and employees."
Workers' comp reform, tort reform, tax reform ¿ those terms sound like a page from a Republican Party platform. Will the committee get any traction with a Democratic-controlled state legislature? Especially after the committee ran an "Illinois is Broke" media campaign, including an illustration of Abraham Lincoln turning out his empty pockets, during the bruising pension reform battle?
Illinois had the fourth-highest unemployment rate among states in November. So the Civic Committee's concern is understandable.
But the group, chaired by former Allstate CEO Edward Liddy, has garnered praise when it has directed its resources toward building things ¿ 50 years of development and beautification under Daniel Burnham's Plan of Chicago; a third runway at O'Hare International Airport; a new Cook County hospital; and a charter school movement.
Pension reform, workers' comp reform, tort reform, etc. ¿ they all take something away from someone. And that makes consensus far more difficult to achieve.