Hughes: Radogno's poor showing in Grand Bargain should cost her leadership post
The framers of the Grand Bargain budgetary deal that's being slowly hammered out in Springfield, especially the Senate Republican leader, received sharp criticism from the co-founder of a Chicago-based conservative group during a recent talk radio show.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) was too dazzled by negotiating with Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder Pat Hughes said during a recent edition of "Illinois Rising." However, he added, the stall of the Grand Bargain is not entirely a bad thing.
"What it shows is actually a couple of good things," Hughes said. "Number one, it proves my point that I made in 'Two Minute Warning' at upstream-ideas.com that Christine Radogno is not a leader, she's not a Republican. She wanted to sit at the big-boy table with Cullerton and Madigan, see herself in the newspaper, under the guise of bipartisanship. And her caucus, the caucus that she ostensibly leads, is really a strained term when it comes to her. Those folks, there are some good folks in that caucus. And they didn't want to go along with what is basically a Democratic platform that went against what Gov. (Bruce) Rauner, I think, should be trying to accomplish with his turnaround agenda."
Hughes' remarks about the Grand Bargain compromise budget deal, jointly announced last month by Cullerton and Radogno, came shortly after a stalemate last month. When Cullerton’s pension reform proposal came up for a vote, it failed 29-18, with 10 senators voting present.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have been tinkering with tax increases at the center of the Grand Bargain, including a complicated overall sales tax increase. Under that proposal, the overall state sales tax rate would drop to 5.75 percent from 6.25 percent -- but, simultaneously, the new rate would be applied to items such as food, drugs and medical supplies, which are currently taxed at 1 percent.
That proposal has faced pushback because the new tax rate would be applied to those essential items that too many Illinois families already can’t afford.
"If you want this gridlock to end, lawmakers need to hear from you," he said. "Call them, email them, tag them on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s the key point: If not this plan, then what? And if not now, then when?"
On Feb. 15, Rauner -- during his annual budget address -- urged state lawmakers to develop a Grand Bargain deal that would include reforms along with tax increases.
"First and foremost, the final result must be a good deal for taxpayers and job creators, a Grand Bargain that fully balances the budget once and for all, and really moves the needle when it comes to job creation," Rauner said, adding that he would be willing to sign a bargain that includes those details.
All these events have put Radogno's position as Senate Republican leader in jeopardy, something Hughes said he plans to help along.
"With respect to that, in my private life, I'm going to be part of that movement, because she, I think, needs to go," he said. "If she wants to stay, then she needs to be challenged. And if, God forbid, she won re-election, she can't possibly be the leader of that caucus anymore."
Radogno has been Cullerton's pawn throughout the Grand Bargain process, according to Hughes.
"And he's sharp enough to know all of her weaknesses," he said. "The things that she needs, affirmation, a seat at the table, all of the sort of 'I'm in this game,' he used that. He used her."
Proof of that, Hughes said, was Cullerton's failure to alert Radogno about bills he was about to call to the Senate floor.
"He doesn't care about Christine Radogno," Hughes said. "He is using her. And she is either too blind or unwilling to recognize that."