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Budget cut backlash

Thursday, Aug 30, 2007

* Sun-Times Editorial: Gov’s cuts just don’t add up

The governor says he is pushing forward with his plans — without legislative approval — because he is trying to improve the lives of Illinois citizens. But his methods shouldn’t include using taxpayer money to reward friends and punish enemies. And they shouldn’t include taking money from one good cause to fund another.

* Governor cuts HIV funds

Among the “pork” that was cut: $70,000 for Better Existence with HIV ( BEHIV ) ; $50,000 for Vital Bridges; $100,000 for Howard Brown towards HIV prevention; $70,000 for Chicago House towards housing and job training; and more than $154,000 for Bonaventure House. Meanwhile, Blagojevich made sure to push through 3.5 percent salary increases for statewide elected officers, just one week after approving a 9.6 percent salary increase.

BEHIV’s executive director Eric Nelson told Windy City Times that what he finds most “frustrating and unbelievable” is the way the governor chose what he would eliminate. Nelson felt that the Democrats’ “pet projects” were eliminated, while Republicans’ were left alone in order to curry favor.

“There is always so much more to the story than he lets on,” Nelson said, pointing out that a $500,000 bike trail project for Romeoville that was approved could have covered all the HIV prevention and education “pork” that was sliced.

* Governor’s budget cuts hit public radio, TV

The reductions mean public broadcasting will receive as much as 30 percent less this year from state government than last year, said Chet Tomczyk, president and CEO of WTVP-TV in Peoria, and a board member of the national Association of Public Television Stations and the Illinois Public Broadcasting Council.

“For stations, it’s going to be a fairly significant cut,” Tomczyk said today.

“We had to make some difficult decisions about what the state can really afford and what our most critical spending priorities should be,” said Justin DeJong, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. “We think we ended up with a budget that better reflects the needs and values of the people of our state.”

* Is CeaseFire worth your $13 million?

A state audit questioned CeaseFire’s effectiveness and why nearly $264,000 in expenditures couldn’t be accounted for. The findings come a week after Gov. Blagojevich vetoed $6.25 million in funding for the group, which uses ex-gang members to resolve conflicts.

A state audit questioned CeaseFire’s effectiveness and why nearly $264,000 in expenditures couldn’t be accounted for. The findings come a week after Gov. Blagojevich vetoed $6.25 million in funding for the group, which uses ex-gang members to resolve conflicts.

Auditor General William Holland said no state standards are in place to measure CeaseFire’s work. Holland did his own analysis.

* CeaseFire criticized over bookkeeping

* Daley rips gov for cutting gang negotiation funds

* Press Release: IL Assoc. of Rehab Facilities asks for veto override of Gov cuts

* Press Release: Aids foundation of Chicago blasts Gov’s cuts

* Daley assaults Blago over choice of cuts

- Posted by Paul Richardson   Comments Off      


Democratic Party disUnity

Thursday, Aug 30, 2007

* Eric Zorn: Governor can pull rank, but he shouldn’t

Otherwise, Quinlan said, House or Senate leaders could simply schedule the session for the year 2025, rendering the power meaningless.

It’s a fair point, and one Quinlan is making (speaking of 10 years in the future) in a suit filed on Blagojevich’s behalf last week against House Speaker Michael Madigan…

o I played the “3 a.m. Christmas morning” card on top of Quinlan’s “2025″ card.

If, I asked him in a message, the governor’s power to yank the leashes of the legislators and drag them into their respective chambers is truly unlimited under Illinois law, as his suit argues, then does anything stop him from dragging them from their beds at 3 a.m. seven days a week right through all the holidays until they made his priorities their own?

Quinlan didn’t get back to me Wednesday, but Blagojevich’s press office told me no, nothing limits a governor’s power to call special sessions.

* Democrats still at odds over mass transit legislation

If the measure were to find its way to the governor’s desk, however, Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he will veto the proposal because it violates his campaign pledge to not raise taxes.

On Wednesday, in a written statement, the governor reiterated his opposition and again called on lawmakers to support his plan to raise taxes on businesses, which was rejected unanimously in the House last spring.

”I do not support the plan to require people to pay a higher sales tax and real estate transfer tax,” he wrote. “That just ends up hurting the very people who rely on mass transit. We shouldn’t take more money from working people when there are major corporations doing business in Illinois who benefit from a strong mass transit system, but aren’t paying their fair share to help maintain it.”

* House panel OKs plan for CTA

Combined with matching money from the state and funds already in the budget, the new taxes would make the entire package worth about $525 million, said Democratic state Rep. Julie Hamos, chairwoman of the House Mass Transit Committee.

Hamos’ committee approved the bill Wednesday with a bipartisan 15-4 vote. She said the full House will consider it when it meets next Tuesday in Springfield.

* Kadner: Durbin says leaders put us in an ‘awful’ state

When U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) stopped by the Daily Southtown offices for a chat with the editorial board Wednesday. I asked him what he thought of his Democratic colleagues, who control the governor’s mansion, state Senate and state House.

“The situation has deteriorated so badly,” the state’s senior U.S. senator said. “It’s gotten entirely too personal among the leaders. There’s been little effort at compromise or cooperation.

“It’s awful.”

Darn right.

* Let courts decide Madigan-Blago suit, says Lt. Gov. Quinn

* Joe Calomino: State budget process needs reform and transparency

- Posted by Paul Richardson   Comments Off      


Morning Shorts

Thursday, Aug 30, 2007

* Bernie Schoenburg: Governor changes flight habits after bad publicity

The way he’s been acting lately – slashing health care funding along with what he calls “pork” from the state budget, and suing a leader of his own party — it almost seems as if Gov. Rod Blagojevich likes bad publicity. But it does appear that he’s changed his flying habits a bit in response to bad press.

* Jake Parrillo blog: ‘IL 2010 for Gov’ web operation playbook (H/T: IlliniPundit)

* Sneed: Blago, Lauzen

* Jennifer Hunter: Despite union declines, Dems still court labor votes

“The political reach and institutional capability of the labor movement far outreaches its membership numbers,” she says. And unions put a lot of their resources into political efforts, both on the local and national level.

Labor is one of the few organized groups that can walk precincts and mobilize workers. “Their resources remain considerable,” Milkman said.

And, most important for Democrats, union membership is highest in states politically crucial to the party during a general election.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of the 15.4 million union members live in six states: California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

And those who study labor, such as Cornfield, believe the movement will only get stronger because of the vast immigration to the United States — a replay of the trend in the early 20th century that led immigrants to form the modern labor movement. If experts like Cornfield are right, it is a fortuitous development for the Democrats, one that should allow them to really celebrate this Labor Day.

* New law prevents sex offenders from voting at schools

* Governor partially veto’s bill requiring eye exams

* Blagojevich appealing dismissal of fighter-wing lawsuit

* Daley: Hike gas tax 5 cents

* Russ Stewart: Gene Moore rejects ‘Michael Vick’ Syndrome

- Posted by Paul Richardson   Comments Off      


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