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Stumbling towards overtime

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nobody reported anything about the Senate Democratic caucus yesterday, where the spending and revenue-generating plans (including the casino expansion proposal) put forward by Senate President Emil Jones and Gov. Rod Blagojevich went down in flames. For details on that, you’ll have to be a Capitol Fax subscriber. For the rest of you, here’s the public roundup of yesterday’s events…

* Tribune

House Democrats on Wednesday advanced Speaker Michael Madigan’s limited-growth state budget plan that would pump $400 million in new money into education but omit the expansive health-care program that Gov. Rod Blagojevich has made the centerpiece of his second term.

With lawmakers staring at a midnight Thursday adjournment deadline, Madigan’s decision to move forward with a plan far less expansive than what Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones wanted symbolized the fractured state of Illinois’ top Democratic leadership. It was questionable whether Blagojevich and Jones would accept Madigan’s plan, setting up the potential for an overtime legislative session that would empower Republicans in crafting any final budget.

* Gatehouse

Some Democrats view what passed Wednesday night as House Speaker Michael Madigan’s starting point for further negotiations. Others see it as a stop-gap measure to keep state government going if the General Assembly runs into a lengthy overtime session. There is widespread belief among lawmakers that Blagojevich will call them back into special session beginning June 1 if they do not approve his plan to provide health insurance to all Illinoisans.

“I think putting it in the hands of the Senate Democrats, if we need to have a continuing appropriation so things don’t shut down, I think it’s a decent start,” said Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley.

* Daily Herald

The budget includes provisions but no money for things like pay raises for members of the state employees’ union. Supporters said the governor’s free to come up with the money from elsewhere or reduce the workforce to come up with the cash for the raises.

Similarly, the budget includes a more than $500 million increase in the state’s contribution to the state pension system. But the actual funding portion doesn’t include money to cover it. Again, the answer was the governor could probably find the money somewhere in the budget.

What that means is the pension funds will get their money (no matter what the Republicans claim) because it will come right off the top. Funding for the rest of state government will be shortchanged as a result.

* Sun-Times

The Madigan budget plan would increase state spending by $800 million. Of that, $500 million would come from growth in the state’s tax base, while the balance would come from ending several corporate tax breaks.

The proposal would boost education spending by about $400 million, a far cry from the $1.5 billion boost Blagojevich originally envisioned for schools.

No new funds exist for the cash-strapped Chicago Transit Agency, but Cook County Hospital would get a $100 million grant under the Madigan plan.

* Daily Herald

“That’s a heck of a lot of money,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, casting off critics’ contention this is a “no-growth budget.” […]

But even before it emerged, the plan was assailed as woefully lacking by interest groups and those backing Blagojevich’s nearly $60 billion budget proposal that would sell off the lottery and impose various new business taxes to pay for health coverage for all Illinoisans and ultimately provide billions more for schools. […]

“It addresses needs rather than wishes,” said state Rep. John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat.

* Post-Dispatch

Although the Senate is under the same constitutional deadline as the House, powerless Senate Republicans will remain that way after today, regardless. The Senate’s Democratic majority is so overwhelming that even under the “three-fifths'’ rule, Democrats still will be able to pass a budget bill there without any Republican votes.

Nonetheless, Cross said, if he gets a seat at the table, he’s bringing Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson of Greenville with him — whether Blagojevich, Madigan and Jones want him there or not. “Frank’s going to be there,'’ Cross said. “He’ll go with me.'’

* Meanwhile, the governor seems to be preparing for the summer session and may bring his family to town. I broke this yesterday, and Bernie leads his column off with the item today

Illinois’ first family seems to be contemplating a significant stay in the Executive Mansion this summer.

“In the event we are in overtime session this summer, Mrs. (PATTI) BLAGOJEVICH called the Springfield Park District to ask about swim lessons for ANNIE and ice skating opportunities for AMY,” said REBECCA RAUSCH, spokeswoman for Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH. […]

This, of course, is good news for those who have long thought the governor and his family, who live in Chicago, should get to know Springfield a little better. It’s not such good news for lawmakers, who just may think they have personally spent enough time in the capital city this spring.

* More budget stuff, compiled by Paul…

* Illinoize: What’s left before adjournment?

* House Dems approve limited growth budget

* House approves budget proposal

* Democrats need deal today or it’s overtime

* State House approves budget with new business tax

* Dan Miller: Here’s one vote for budget sanity

* Editorial: Hold off on health care expansion

- Posted by Rich Miller        


17 Comments
  1. - hmmmm - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 9:25 am:

    Every single dollar put into the pension system right now is a wasted dollar - none of it actually goes toward pensions.

    With a debt of 42 billion dollars, and interest at 8.5 percent, the interest payment ALONE is 3.5 billion dollars a year.

    This year’s payment in the house budget is, what, half that?!

    This is just money going down the drain and, according to Rich, other programs will have to be cut.

    How idiotic is that? Cutting healthcare or education or business credits to pay partial interest.

    You need to pay down the principle if any pension money will be meaningful. Lease the lottery, lease the tollway, lease the Thompson Center, lease the Governor’s mansion.

    Do something, otherwise that money the taxpayers put in is just wasted.


  2. - Pat Collins - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 9:31 am:

    Senate’s Democratic majority is so overwhelming

    Well, 59 * .6 = 35.4, so I guess that means it takes 36 votes. So there can be one Dem defection. Maybe Sen. Meeks can take someone with him if he gets mad enough?


  3. - Bomber91 - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 10:24 am:

    I now question how much control Emil has over the “super-majority” after they told him where to put his budget plan. It takes a couple of senators to ruin all of Emil’s best laid plans.

    If Cross was smart (and sometimes I question that), he’d leave Frank sitting in his office twiddling his thumbs. It’s Watson’s fault that he has no dog in the fight.


  4. - grand old partisan - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:14 am:

    Wow…

    First they’re used as shields at the State Fair, now they’re part of the Guv’s scare tactics in his game of chicken with the GA.

    Father of the Year material if you ask me


  5. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:18 am:

    Lease everything? As with any newish idea there are those pesky unexpected concequence.

    As an example, no one expected a problem when Indiana leased their toll system. Wel, l now while the Indiana resdents use our toll system with IPass they get a break on the tolls, but Illinois citizens do not have the reciprocal treatment. This is being prevented by…. the lease agreement!

    Leasing public resources and revenue streams is bad public policy becuase less revenue will be available to the citizen’s benefit in the long run. Something like a toll road may work, because it is not supposed to throw off a profit to the General Fund, but still has its concequences.

    The Lottery is supposed to be a long term revenue stream to the GF (education). What happens when you assign the ‘profits’ from the next ten years to solving this year’s problems? The next nine years become more difficult.

    The revenues the state enjoys are up at least 5% over the past few successive years. They should be able to make things work. Of coures there are those well intentioned ideas which balloon the budget and make the legislators look good.

    Remember there are highway projects that have been needed for 20 years which are delayed indefinately while boondogles such as the Peoria Airport continue to drain resources from capital projects.

    Sleight of hand! Keep your seatbelts fastened to see what gets rocketed out of the legislature.


  6. - Frank Booth - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:24 am:

    Schools’ letting out in Springfield. Swimming classes are filling up fast. The governor had better hurry up and get his application in. Surely he wouldn’t use his clout to try to get his kids in already closed swimming classes. Remember, he changed business as usual in Springfield.
    Maybe he could revisit Gov. Ryan’s abandoned plans to have a pool installed at the mansion.


  7. - To Funny - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:27 am:

    As soon as Rod and family relocate to Springfield for the summer session, wouldn’t it be ironic if he was indicted then. He’d be flying back to Chicago every day while his family remained in Central Illinois.


  8. - Mr. Pepsi - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:30 am:

    Rich, where is your overtime clock? I half expected to see an overtime count down clock on the website today. Maybe next year?


  9. - Crimefighter - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:36 am:

    If the governor actually gotten to know Springfield at all he’d know his kids can get the swimming and skating lessons from the NELSON CENTER.


  10. - kid stuff - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:44 am:

    Rich, think maybe Patti was told to call and ask about the lessons for the kids so you would write about it? The Gov. jets home every night. Patti hates it here. Do you really believe they’d spend the summer here?


  11. - Opie - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 11:48 am:

    “Blagojevich’s Summer in Springfield”
    More spin from premier spin machine.


  12. - Yoing man there's a place you can go - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 12:59 pm:

    The YMCA is like a one-block walk from the mansion, and has two indoor pools that we “normal citizens” use. Sorry it’s not the East Bank Club, Guv, but it’s plenty good enough for your kids. This was the reason most people thought it was excessive for George to wanna put a pool in the mansion grounds for the grandkids. He’ll still probably have a six-Bronco motorcade transfer the family to those swimming lessons every day, even so.

    But really, threatening to move into the mansion as our punishment? Oh PLEASE let’s throw him in that briar patch! While he’s in town for the summer maybe he can attend some continuing ed classes on government at UIS, I hear the program is pretty good.

    This guv gets sillier and sillier as he tries to ad-lib his life like he does his governing. I can’t believe Sheila and Rebecca are getting paid enough to cover and stonewall for this clown. I seriously think he’s approaching a nervous breakdown. His insular behavior, inability to keep his word, and inability to engage with the reality around him sounds like a chapter or two from the DSM-IV.


  13. - Bill - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 1:57 pm:

    I just can’t believe that Rod is going to move his wife and kids into that dump the locals call a mansion. That is taking pr a little too far. I hope that they remember to bring the rat traps.


  14. - Name/Nickname/Anon - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 2:14 pm:

    Bill -

    One could make the claim it only becomes a dump when the current governor moves in.


  15. - In the Sticks - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 6:14 pm:

    The mansion used to be a very nice place - unfortunately the current non-tenant has refused to do any maintenance for 5 - 6 years. How would your house be if it was 100 years old and the only thing you had done in the last 6 years was replace the heated driveway?


  16. - Bill - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 6:46 pm:

    If I were Rod I would be staying at the Statehouse Inn on those few occasions when I had to spend the night.


  17. - Name/Nickname/Anon - Thursday, May 31, 07 @ 7:21 pm:

    Bill -

    Blago need not book those rooms…there is no reason for him to stay the night. He is adding nothing to the current process and is being rendered irrelevant by Madigan. As long as he has his PR machine to spew populist garbage he can pretty much ‘work’ from anywhere.


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