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Oh, bloody hell *** Updated x2 ***

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

House Speaker Michael Madigan walked out of the leaders meeting after about an hour and fifteen minutes this afternoon.

Madigan said he was able to ask some questions but didn’t necessarily get any answers.

But here’s the kicker. Madigan said his caucus would meet about today’s events tomorrow sometime.

Tomorrow would be Wednesday, the day before scheduled adjournment. Oy. Long summer ahead.

Meanwhile, the smoking exemption for casinos zoomed out of Senate Exec today.

More in tomorrow’s Capitol Fax

UPDATE: At 4:45 pm, the governor walked into Madigan’s office. The guv wouldn’t say why, but presumably it was to jump start the budget talks.

UPDATE 2: The guv left after about a half an hour. He didn’t report any progress but said it was a good meeting.

He all but sprinted to the elevators near Sen. Jones’ office, avoiding questions from the press. Paul and I snagged him for a couple of minutes, though and we’ll have some audio tomorrow.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Perpetually blundering

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Way to go, Republicans! There’s nothing quite like keeping the bipartisan “combine” story alive during an election year. From Lynn Sweet’s blog

Bob Kjellander, the sometimes controversal Illinois Republican, will be the vice chairman of the 2008 Republican National Convention, to be held in Minneapolis/Saint Paul.

So, I guess this means that Kj isn’t fading away any time soon?

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - HB 750 moving?; Complete loophole list; IRMA response; HDem caucus doc on gaming; Full Blagojevich audio; Clips of HDem members after caucus; Roundup; Sieben; “Top 20 Reasons You Might have a Bad Bill” (Use all caps in password)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It’s possible that a serious Statehouse showdown is on the horizon. The governor has claimed that he isn’t afraid to call legislators back into special session if they don’t approve a budget that he can live with, and as I’ve already told you, no agreement is in sight at the moment.

The governor has the power to use the state police at his discretion to require attendance at such special sessions, and one of the big jokes around the taverns is where legislators might flee outside the state police’s jurisdiction in case they don’t want to show up.

I’m partial to either St. Louis or Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Both would provide plenty of entertainment opportunities and I could also tow my new boat to either locale and host receptions during any potential exile.

Today’s question: Where should legislators go to avoid the state coppers? You don’t have to choose either one of my preferences. Explain the benefits and potential drawbacks (if any) of your choice.

Of course, this entire post is (mostly) tongue in cheek. But let’s have a little fun anyway.

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      


Yet another poll shows backing for tax hike

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I posted my syndicated column on Saturday, but comments were disabled. So, let’s do it again, shall we?

As you probably know, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has flatly ruled out an income- or sales-tax hike in exchange for a property-tax cut and more money for education. House Speaker Michael Madigan has said there isn’t sufficient support in his Democratic caucus to pass an income- or sales-tax hike.

But there’s a recent poll out that shows the public disagrees with both politicians. The poll showing majority support for a tax-swap plan also seems to be right in line with previous surveys. In addition, the poll found strong opposition to the governor’s super-controversial gross-receipts-tax plan.

The survey, conducted independently by the Glengariff Group, found that about 57 percent of Illinois voters support a so-called “tax swap,” while just less than 28 percent oppose it.

The question was put to respondents in a very neutral manner and is one of the better polling questions on this subject that I’ve ever seen […]

The poll showed 36.7 percent “strongly support” the tax hike, with 20.5 percent “somewhat” supporting it, 14 percent “somewhat” opposed and 11 percent are “strongly” opposed. Seventeen percent are undecided, according to the survey. […]

The poll found that even a majority of Republican voters supported the tax-swap proposal (52.6 percent, with 31.9 percent saying they “strongly” support it and just 20 percent saying they “strongly” opposed it). A whopping 65 percent of African-American voters say they back the plan, while 53.6 percent of whites say they support it. Females backed it 61.3 to 24, while men supported it 53 to 31.6.

Suburban collar county voters backed the proposal 56.8 to 31. Majorities of downstate voters supported the swap idea except in southern Illinois, where the backing was more tepid. In western and northwestern Illinois, 67.3 percent of voters supported the plan, while 51.8 percent of central Illinoisans backed it and 44.3 percent of southerners endorsed it (with 27.9 percent against and the rest undecided). However, the margins of error are quite high on those numbers since they are such small subsets — so they may be right, but beware.

Several polls in recent months have shown broad support for the tax swap idea. Read the whole thing for those results and discuss below.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Long summer ahead?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

* The final budget deal is a mess. There is no deal. It’s not even near final. They aren’t even close.

“I think the lines in the sand have been drawn so deep, it’s been very difficult to come to some type of agreement,” said State Rep. Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago.

* And stuff like this, tucked into the gaming bill, just makes it more difficult to get anything done…

Nearly two dozen female and minority investors in the failed Emerald Casino could get bailed out of their multimillion-dollar, bad investment under a massive gambling expansion backed by Gov. Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones.

Tucked within the 218-page gambling bill is a controversial provision that could allow the clout-heavy group to recoup $32.8 million lost on the Emerald deal and have an ownership stake in one of four new casinos proposed for Chicago and the suburbs.

Lawmakers from both parties and a top government watchdog condemned the plan, questioning why taxpayers should be expected to swallow the losses of the politically influential group or to wade anywhere near the legal morass involving Emerald.

* As I told subscribers this morning, there are a whole lot of other problems with this gaming bill. Here are just a couple more, but the list is long, including, but not limited to, the $40 million annual Chicago State subsidy…

But the fine print of the current plan is raising both eyebrows and opposition at the Capitol.

As proposed, the state would legalize and license bookies to take horse racing bets over the phone or Internet. Horse tracks would be able to create electronic poker networks that could allow people to gamble online from their homes.

* The fact that the governor’s former chief of staff is lobbying for the tracks is not helping the bill’s credibility much…

As talk of gambling has surfaced in recent days as a way to help plug holes in the state’s budget, Monk signed on May 22 to represent the Racing Associations of Illinois, which is based at Balmoral Park Racetrack in Crete, according to state records. Horse-racing interests want legalized slot machines at the tracks as part of any gambling deal.

* The rancor has put the legislative leaders on a dangerous collision course, and yesterday’s meeting between Gov. Blagojevich and the entire House Democratic caucus didn’t move the ball forward at all

Gov. Blagojevich went before House Democrats for more than two hours Monday to try to broker a budget deal but left with some members predicting an agreement is more remote than ever.

The governor appealed to House Democrats to back him on a budget or risk letting Republicans dictate terms of a deal if the General Assembly spills into overtime Thursday. But lawmakers said the governor seemed unwilling to compromise.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think it looks very good for an adjournment date for this Thursday unless he’s playing a great game of chicken,” said Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago), chairman of the Illinois House Legislative Black Caucus.

* The basic disagreement is over the scope of the governor’s proposals…

Several Democrats emerged from the meeting saying there remains a huge gap between what the governor wants to spend and what House members think is a realistic spending increase. Blagojevich remained adamant that he wants lawmakers to approve his universal health-care plan, even though lawmakers have made it clear they won’t approve the tax hikes needed to pay for it.

* More on that topic

Many lawmakers consider the plan too big, especially after other recent expansions of health care programs. It would cost at least two billion dollars a year and cover people making up to four times the federal poverty level.

Senator William Delgado compares the ambitious plan to trying to eat a large pizza all at once — “It’s not going to happen.”

* Afterwards, the governor attempted to blame the House Democrats and Speaker Madigan for the impasse, which just threw fuel on the fire…

The Democratic governor emerged from the meeting and lashed out at House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago and his Democratic members, suggesting that it will be their fault if an agreement cannot be worked out before the General Assembly’s scheduled May 31 adjournment deadline.

* More tax and spend and end-of-session stories, compiled by Paul…

* Democrats skeptical of Governor’s call

* Illinoize: Gov: it’s your turn, House Dems

* Illinois would OK more casinos to fund health plan

* Governor battling lawmakers’ lack of enthusiasm for health care

* Seven steps to a state budget

* Highlights of governor’s health care plan

* Sweeney: Governor’s health plan pushed in casinos

* Morrissey to back push for Rockford casino

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Obamarama - Putting the GOPs in play here

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This is exactly right

The unintended byproduct of Illinois moving up its primary to boost White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is putting the state in major play for the GOP presidential candidates.

“It really is wide open on the Republican side,” said Illinois Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna. “It’s ironic,” he said. “A move to help Obama helps the Republican Party.'’

When Gov. Blagojevich signs the legislation setting Feb. 5 as the primary date, switching from March, Illinois joins more than 20 other states holding elections that day, creating a new national primary. While Obama has a near lock on Illinois, the three top Republican contenders — former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — see Illinois as fertile territory and are establishing statewide campaigns.

In order to draw attention to Illinois, McKenna said the party is considering organizing a straw poll on Aug. 16, five days after the influential Aug. 11 Iowa Republican party straw poll.

Illinois may also steal some serious thunder from Iowa and New Hampshire’s Republican contests because early voting will begin here just after New Year’s Day - before anyone in those two goofy states cast a ballot. Hillary Clinton is most likely taking a pass on Illinois, of course, but her campaign is gearing up to focus on early voting opportunities in other big states, so there is a belief that the Republicans will do the same with Illinois…

Tucked away in a Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign memorandum that leaked out this week was a brief note about a quirk in next year’s primary election calendar that could have a profound effect on the strategies and spending of all the candidates.

The memorandum, by Mike Henry, the deputy campaign manager for Mrs. Clinton, made a case for ignoring Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses next Jan. 14 and devoting the candidate’s limited time and resources to contests in much bigger states in the following three weeks, including Florida, Arizona, California, New Jersey, Georgia and Texas.

Mr. Henry noted that all of those states, and several others whose primaries are set for early February, will be mailing out millions of absentee ballots in the weeks before Iowans gather for their caucuses, potentially diminishing Iowa’s importance. Iowa, along with New Hampshire, which holds its primary a week after the Iowa caucuses, have jealously guarded their status as early arbiters of who’s hot and who’s not.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

* Editorial: Elected officials get insurance perk that others don’t

* Editorial: No election to fuel gas price talk; outcome the same

* Tribune Editorial: Strong hearts and steel backs

* Sun-Times Editorial: $139 bar bill? University owes public, auditors answers

* Editorial: Clipped wings saves lives

* Bill gives state health site board new life

* Legislature honors Illinois fallen

* Senate passes bill to honor military

* Lawmakers approve more than a dozen new license styles

* Illinois lawmakers pass ban on ‘remote’ hunting

The issue emerged in early 2005, when Texas entrepreneur John Lockwood set up a Web site that allowed subscribing hunters with a high-speed Web connection to shoot antelope, wild pigs and other game on his 220-acre San Antonio spread via remote control – from anywhere.

* State OKs permit for airport in Will Co.

* Sun-Times Editorial: Stroger can blame his own mismanagement

* Rep. Fritchey: Stop playing politics with property tax law

* Stroger opens door to property tax increase

* Naperville tax gets first OK

- Posted by Paul Richardson   3 Comments      


Monday, May 28, 2007

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Holiday shorts

Monday, May 28, 2007

This will be the extent of the blogging today unless something major happens. The list, as always, was compiled by Paul Richardson. We’ll reopen comments on Tuesday…

* Rich Miller: Poll shows most Illinoisans support tax swap for schools…

As you probably know, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has flatly ruled out an income- or sales-tax hike in exchange for a property-tax cut and more money for education. House Speaker Michael Madigan has said there isn’t sufficient support in his Democratic caucus to pass an income- or sales-tax hike.

But there’s a recent poll out that shows the public disagrees with both politicians. The poll showing majority support for a tax-swap plan also seems to be right in line with previous surveys. In addition, the poll found strong opposition to the governor’s super-controversial gross-receipts-tax plan.

The survey, conducted independently by the Glengariff Group, found that about 57 percent of Illinois voters support a so-called “tax swap,” while just less than 28 percent oppose it.

* Foreclosures still raging in Chicago area - Defaults could nearly double in ‘07 as pain spreads across region

* Debating the governor’s Illinois covered plan: Pro vs. Con

* Lawmakers ponder long-term moves on electricity market

* State’s internal investigator’s balk at ethics proposals

* Tribune Editorial

A pension for George Ryan?: Nothing? State records indicate that in January, the pension system returned to Ryan the $235, 508.58 that he had contributed to his retirement account. His lawyer must have forgotten that windfall. It didn’t come up Wednesday.

* Retiree knew his bills were too high, but ComEd said ‘everything was fine’

ComEd spokesman Luis Diaz-Perez said the utility’s records only go back two years. “If he can show bills going back further than that, we’ll adjust his account,” Diaz-Perez said. “Mr. Krystyniak’s suspicions were correct. We had a situation known as ‘reverse meter condition,’ and I don’t know why previous technicians didn’t realize the problem. I wish I could tell you why it wasn’t detected.”

* Tribune Editorial: Behind the wheel, safely

* Agencies, cities get money for paratransit

* Parks want a share of grant money

* Illinois-Indiana working on toll road proposal

* State receives names of sex offenders using MySpace; more here

* House to decide hotel tollway leasing

“We’re not going into the hotel business,” said Sen. James DeLeo, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the measure. “This does not allow the authority to enter into the hotel business. It’s allowing them to lease for hotels.”

* Student loan agency may aid bankruptcy borrowers

* Brent Manning: Former DNR chief making his way back to Springfield

* Congressman Hare is a freshman but no rookie

* Lynn Sweet: Duckworth eyes second House bid

* Carol Marin: As a leader, Stroger can’t hack it

* Sun-Times Editorial: Let pets do lunch at outdoor cafes

* What if you don’t pay up on parking tickets

Revenue from parking has increased since at least 1999 — $77 million that year, compared with $160.3 million in 2006 — even as the number of tickets written has decreased, according to the city Revenue Department.

* Rockford youth home is under fire

* Lawmakers keep Rockford on state’s radar

* Statehouse Insider: New revenue plan a gamble

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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