Thursday, May 24, 2007

Senators Rutherford and Watson, the wrong match ups for Romney and McCain, respectively?

Yesterday, Senator Dan Rutherford [R-Pontiac] was named to Chair the Mitt Romney for President campaign in Illinois. The press notice from the Romney campaign said that Mitt Romney was “looking forward to working with [Rutherford] to end the status quo and bring conservative principles back to the federal government." [See here].

But, two days ago, Rutherford and his “conservative principles,” became separated, at least on one piece of legislation. The good Senator was one of four Republican state senators to vote for legislation [HB1347] designed to protect above market-wage union contracts with schools, i.e., to block a school’s efforts to lower costs by outsourcing jobs that range from security and transportation to food service and maintenance work. See here and here.

Under the legislation, which has now passed the House and Senate, firms would have to offer the same pay, health and retirement options as the school districts that hire them. Opponents say if outside vendors have to pay more, they would pass on the costs to the school districts, ending the financially beneficial deals that school districts make when privatizing or outsourcing these services. Further, the legislation requires contractors to offer work to any school district employees who lose their jobs because of outsourcing. See here.

The proponents of this legislation might have been more honest about their intentions if they had stated, simply, that they sought to prohibit all outsourcing by public schools. Yet, this is the bill for which Romney’s chief honcho in Illinois, Sen. Rutherford, voted.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has expressed support for means-tested vouchers – through which households below a particular threshold receive vouchers of equal value – that would fund student attendance at public or private schools, including religious schools. [See here].

Doesn’t sound like Mitt would be a fan of banning outsourcing in public schools. Mitt Romney, meet your Illinois Chairman, Sen. Rutherford.

Further, one of three other Republican State Senators who supported HB 1347 was Senate Republican minority leader Frank Watson [R-Greenville], who along with Rep. Jim Durkin, is co-chairing the McCain for President campaign in Illinois. Senator John McCain, on the other hand, supports school vouchers that would allow students to attend public or private schools, including religious schools.[See here].

Who knows, maybe Senators Rutherford and Watson support vouchers, too? Maybe they just don’t like outsourcing? Maybe. I wouldn’t bet on it, but it could be. In an effort to be fairandbalanced, calls were made to the offices of Senators Watson and Rutherford to get their comments and response to the above. Neither was available and neither returned this reporter's calls.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at