Even though Illinois’s public sector unions have won the first round in the battle over the state’s Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s executive order liberating public employees from compulsory union dues, two dynamics are not likely to change: 1) Unless radical pension and union reform are enacted, Illinois, considered the worst run state in the Union, will likely face bankruptcy and permanent decline, and 2), the state’s GOP governor is likely not going to give up the fight to reform Illinois government anytime soon.
Bruce Rauner, former businessman and venture capitalist, is not a career politician, but he has defeated a few of them to get where he is now. In the IL Republican primary for governor, Rauner bested two state senators, Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, and the state’s treasurer Dan Rutherford. In the 2014 general election, which was a wave election for the GOP at all levels of government, Rauner beat out incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn, who assumed the office after the resignation of Rod Blagojevich, by a slim majority of 50.2 percent.
Rauner was joined by several other conservative candidates being elected governor in deep blue states with runaway pension problems and spend-thrift governments. Larry Hogan in Maryland won an upset victory over the state’s Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, a chief protege of the state’s very liberal previous Governor Martin O’Malley. Massachusetts as well saw the conservative reformer Charlie Baker defeat the Bay State’s attorney general and perpetual (losing) candidate Martha Coakley.
While those states are in precarious situations, Illinois is the worst off by far. Current estimates put each citizen’s debt liability at around $5,000, the worst in the nation.
But even though the courts have thrown out the governor’s executive order on union opt-outs, Rauner recently launched a second lawsuit, now joined by three state employees, challenging the compulsory dues provisions as an unconstitutional burden on First Amendment rights.
If the case makes it to the Supreme Court, there is a very good chance the justices could rule in favor of the plaintiffs and make right-to-work the law of the land in all 50 states.
So what could be a mere local dispute between a state and it’s union could bring worker freedom to every American.