Tough minimum wage & budget fights expected in Iowa & Illinois in upcoming legislative sessions

Iowa Republicans can get their way while Illinois stalemate could linger

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Rock Island County's budget problems aren't close to being solved with more tough decisions looming, Iowa state lawmakers are headed for a fight over the minimum wage and Republicans have to walk a tight rope with their plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

All of these topics were discussed with former Scott County Democratic Party Chair Karl Rhomberg and current Rock Island County Republican Party Chair Bill Bloom during an appearance on 4 the Record.

Both Rhomberg and Bloom addressed what could be sensible options for Rock Island County to get its finances under control.

Bloom credits the steps County Administrator Dave Ross is taking. However, he doesn't think any new taxes are the answer.

Both the Iowa and Illinois legislative sessions begin this week. Illinois' budget remains its own fiasco.

Governor Bruce Rauner made another call for his Turnaround Agenda last week as a prerequisite for a budget deal. Democrats and Republicans promised things would be different after the election.

Rhomberg says there are no easy answers and sees no end in sight with neither party showing any willingness to give .

Bloom stands with Rauner and says nothing will get done unless Michael Madigan is removed as speaker of the house.

Iowa state lawmakers are essentially forced to do something about the state's current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That's after a few counties in the state took it on themselves to raise their local minimum wage: Johnson County, Linn County and Polk County are among them.

Each set different levels.

Governor Terry Branstad isn't happy about them acting on their own and has indicated lawmakers will have to address it and he wants to prevent local governments from being able to do it.

Nineteen states raised their minimum wage to start the new year. Illinois and Iowa weren't among them.

Rhomberg says both states should raise their minimum wage to at least $10 an hour and perhaps as high as $15.

Bloom disagrees and says small businesses couldn't afford paying more.

However, several economic studies have shown that periods after minimum wage increases have lead to economic growth and more jobs rather than job cuts as republicans often warn.

Congress is now back in session.

Democrats and Republicans are digging in their heels for a knockdown drag out fight over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Twenty-million people could lose their coverage if this happens without an adequate replacement. On top of that, the Congressional Budget Office estimated repealing it would increase the federal deficit by $353 billion over ten years.

Republicans have promised to do both repeal and replace. So far, they only hand they're showing is to repeal the law.

Bloom says Republicans will come up with a detailed plan and maintains they have during the Obama Administration.

Democrats argue that Republicans have only come up with talking points and no comprehensive plan.

Rhomberg says Republicans will own this issue if they repeal and says it could be devastating.

This coming week should be an interesting one on Capitol Hill.

Senate Republicans scheduled six confirmation hearings simultaneously for President-elect Donald Trump cabinet appointments.

Coincidentally, Trump himself will hold his first news conference in seven months. Critics say it goes against the tenets of transparency and open government.

Rhomberg says it shouldn't happen and that it doesn't give the public a chance to get to know the qualifications of the appointments and any potential conflicts of interest

Bloom says he doesn't expect any problems with the confirmation process.


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