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Friday, Aug 24, 2007

I’m leaving for vacation. Paul may blog if he wants, but if he doesn’t then don’t expect anything until after Labor Day.

Unless Paul blogs, Illinoize is in charge…

Also, some of you know that I’ve been singing this song for two months. Thank goodness her trip is over because I’ve played this thing to death…

Train of love is a-comin’
Big black wheels a-hummin’
People waitin’ at the station
Happy hearts are drummin’
Trainman tell me maybe
Ain’t you got my baby
Every so often everybody’s baby gets the urge to roam
But everybody’s baby but mine’s comin’ home

And here’s a little Labor Day music for you….

One more. This one’s for Tedd…

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


This just in… Governor’s veto of court funds “inadvertent”

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

* 2:37 pm - The House Republicans met via conference call today and, I’m told, there was “overhwelming” sentiment in the caucus to vote to override the governor’s budget vetoes, even though Blagojevich included almost all of their pork projects in that budget.

Apparently, somebody in the guv’s office [(cough!)Harris(cough!)] was telling people that the governor had locked up the House Republican vote against the override, which would have prevented the motion from reaching the Senate, therefore taking the heat off Senate President Jones.

Not gonna happen. At least, not now.

You can bet the HRepubs will be threatened with losing their pork money if they vote to override the vetoes. The projects might be in the budget, but that doesn’t mean the governor has to release the money.

* 3:12 pm - The governor flew over some flooded areas today before holding a press conference to announce that he had declared four counties a disaster area. It wasn’t all smiles

Blagojevich’s suburban tour and disaster declaration come just a day after he cut thousands of dollars worth of flood control projects for the area, calling them unessential “pork.”

The sudden turnabout angered the Cook County lawmakers who pushed for $100,000 for Des Plaines River flood control efforts in Prospect Heights and $80,000 to shore up Buffalo Creek only to have the governor eliminate the funding.

“I think that it’s really wrong to go to one area of flooding and say, ‘I’m going to do everything I can,’ and the day before having cut $100,000 for flood relief out of the budget,” said state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat.

Those vetoes are gonna continue biting him in the posterior.

* 3:18 pm - More on the vetoes from this brief AP story…

In two cases, he approved half the money for a bridge to be repaired but vetoed the other half.

* 3:39 pm - Oh, this is rich. From the Daily Law Bulletin we have a story about the governor’s vetoes of budget items for the Supreme Court…

By early Friday afternoon, an administration official reached out to the chief justice and the director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts to say the cuts affecting the judicial branch were inadvertent, and that the governor would work with the courts to restore funding. […]

In a telephone interview early Friday afternoon, Administrative Office Director Cynthia Y. Cobbs initially said she was “concerned” about the cuts. But she called back minutes later to say she had just been contacted by the governor’s general counsel, William J. Quinlan Jr.

According to Cobbs, Quinlan contacted her and Chief Justice Robert R. Thomas to say the vetoes of court funds were “inadvertent.”

“He gave assurances that those vetoes were in error and that they intend to work closely with us to rectify the situation,” Cobbs said.

[Empasis added.]

Once you veto the money, it’s gone. The courts will have to wait for a supplemental appropriation bill. And considering the climate, who knows when that might be.

The competence continues.

… Adding… So, let’s see…

The governor whacked Dan Hynes’ budget good, including almost $2 million for court reporters. Their vengeance apparently got out of hand.

They also reduced probation services by over $2 million, sliced $200,000 out of court administration, with acompanying reductions in pension and Social Security contributions, took over a hundred large out of electronic data processing and slashed more than $400,000 from contractural services.

Inadvertent. Right.

* 4:06 pm - More from the AP on those goofy vetoes, with some slight editing changes to make it more understandable…

* CUT: $65,000 for West Deerfield Township for a handicapped-accessible van.

* SPARED: $45,000 for the Snyder Village Senior Center for a handicapped-accessible van.

* CUT: $20,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois for youth mentoring programs.

* SPARED: $50,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Illinois for a youth mentoring program.

* CUT: $50,000 for the Village of Hanover Park for a bike path.

* SPARED: $500,000 for the Village of Romeoville to create a bike trail.

And the list goes on and on and on…

* 5:00 pm - Governors budget cuts hit CPS - Money for after-school programs and capital improvements ends up on the chopping block… Sidebar: What the governor cut, what he spared

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

Let’s do another caption contest instead…

[Hat tip: OneMan]

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      


Coach Versace might run for Congress

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

* This might be fun to watch…

Former Bradley and NBA basketball coach Dick Versace is considering a run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria.

“This is an exploratory thing,” said Versace, a Democrat who is 67 and has a home in Peoria and another outside Canton. He said he is gauging support for his candidacy before making a final decision. […]

Versace said this is an opportune time for a Democrat to win the seat held by LaHood, who will retire in January 2009. […]

Among other Democrats considering candidacies in the district are 4th District Appellate Court Judge Sue Myerscough of Springfield, former state Rep. Bill Edley of Peoria and Springfield, and Peoria civil rights attorney Patricia Benassi.

* Meanwhile, a sacrificial lamb has emerged in another district…

A Naperville native is moving from the ivory tower to the rough and tumble world of politics.

Democrat Scott Harper, a doctoral student at Oxford University, is postponing his thesis to take on Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert in the 2008 election.

Harper, 46, attended Naperville Central High School and later Wheaton College. After obtaining an MBA from the University of Chicago, he worked in auto manufacturing and technology before starting up a marketing and Web site development firm, which he later sold to investors.

“I’ve always had an interest in politics,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I sold my interest in the business.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


More on George Ryan

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

* My latest Sun-Times column is about George Ryan, but begins with a personal anecdote

Years ago an uncle of mine, not blood-related, went to prison on a trumped-up charge.

My uncle and several others were busted unloading a plane on a secret runway. They thought the plane was loaded with sacks of cocaine. Turns out, the plane was owned by the federal government and the cocaine was really dry wall paste. The uncle got 10 years in the federal pen for conspiracy.

At the time, I thought his sentence was ludicrous and figured his alleged membership in a notorious motorcycle gang probably didn’t help him much with the jury.

I had known this man most of my life, and while he was always a bit on the odd side, he was always very nice to me and my four brothers. His own kids obviously adored him. My entire extended family loved the man. Few of us knew about the motorcycle gang stuff, so we were shocked to hear of his arrest and heartbroken after he was sentenced.

If you had read about his trial and conviction, you probably wouldn’t have had any sympathy for the guy. Screaming headlines prevailed throughout.

Few people take much time to learn about anyone on trial, particularly motorcycle gang members busted cold by the feds in the middle of the night unloading an airplane. Bad people doing bad things get hard time. End of story. The criminal’s humanity means nothing. I’d have probably felt the same way if I didn’t know the guy.

And so it goes with George Ryan.

* Why is George Ryan still not in prison? The Daily Herald attempts an explanation…

“Look, if he were Joe Shmoe, he’d be gone,” Roosevelt University political scientist Paul Green said Wednesday. “But then, if he were Joe Shmoe, he wouldn’t have been governor.”

Loyola University law school Dean David Yellen didn’t see it that way.

“I would be surprised if it were clout,” Yellen said. “It’s not as if he were the only criminal defendant who had his bond extended.” […]

Professor Kent Redfield, a University of Illinois-Springfield political scientist, said a combination of factors probably went into the decision to allow Ryan to remain free this long.

“Obviously, you’ve got very high-priced legal representation, and I think you do get deference, but it has also been clear in terms of granting the bond initially that there certainly is a difference of opinion,” he said.

* And the DH’s editorial page asks this…

But we wonder how many defendants convicted of serious crimes on allegedly shaky cases had to sit for years in their jail waiting rooms until irregularities in their cases were sorted out.

It’s not clear from reading the editorial, however, if the paper is in favor of allowing all defendants with “shaky cases” to stay out of jail or not.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Cuts announced as transit doomsdays approach

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

* The cuts are coming

Regional Transportation Authority chairman Jim Reilly said Thursday the wave of service cuts and fare increases that will start hitting mass transit users next week will not be the last.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” he warned.

The RTA board Thursday approved revised 2007 budgets for its agencies — the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace and Metra. The move patched a $220 million deficit but did so on the backs of riders by charging higher fares and pulling buses off the streets. […]

It will not get any better if the General Assembly fails to provide the CTA, Metra and Pace with more money, RTA officials said. The three agencies will be back before the RTA board in another month to start preparing for even deeper cuts and fare increases to balance their 2008 budgets.

* More

As they have for months, Reilly and other transit leaders held out hope that the legislature would pass comprehensive transit funding. But Thursday was the deadline for the RTA to formally approve the service boards’ budgets, which included fare increases and service cuts.

Reilly blamed the inaction on legislative leaders and the governor, who “have a problem agreeing on many things.”

A Sept. 4 hearing is scheduled on the transit legislation, which calls for increasing local sales taxes and Chicago real estate transfer fees.

* Dire warning

CTA Chairman Carole Brown said that without additional funding, the agency would be hard pressed to stay in business, let alone ferry Olympic athletes around the city.

* Some of the CTA cuts

Under the new fare schedule, El riders using cash and transit cards will be charged $3 during new peak hours. Chicago Card holders will pay $2.50. Monthly passes are set to increase to $84.

Riders can also look forward to longer commutes and the elimination of 39 regular bus routes, as the RTA approved layoffs for 600 Chicago Transit workers.

At the meeting, CTA officials said the moves were likely to force tens of thousands of riders to find other ways to get to work and school every day.

* Pace cuts…

Pace, the bus agency serving suburban Chicago, said the first round of fare increases is scheduled to take effect in mid-September, with rates going from $1.25 to $1.50; bus routes will be axed beginning about Oct. 1. Rates could increase to $2 after the first of the year.

* More

On Sept. 16:

•Pace local and Metra feeder fares rise to $1.50, ADA service fares increase to $3, vanpool fares jump 10 percent

• Metra reduces repairs and expansions by $60 million

• CTA lays off 600, raises fares to $3 on rush hour trains, cuts 39 bus routes

On Sept. 29:

• Pace stops 29 main routes

On Oct. 1

• ADA service slashed to within three-quarters of a mile of regular routes

• CTA passes no longer accepted by Pace

Dec. 3:

• Pace cuts all Metra feeder routes (about 80 in all)

* Some suburban legislators want action…

With just two weeks before PACE implements dramatic fare increases and service cuts, several legislators joined together in calling for an opportunity to vote on Senate Bill 572, legislation that would adequately fund the Regional Transportation Authority and streamline operations at the three transit boards.

“Our work in Springfield isn’t done until the looming transit crisis is addressed,” said State Representative Ryg, Democrat from Vernon Hills. “We are working together, for the sake of commuters, especially seniors and persons with disabilities, who rely on transit across the region, to ensure we have an opportunity to vote on legislation that will prevent devastating service cuts.”

“With the second worst traffic congestion in the country, we need transit options,” said State Representative Mathias, Republican from Buffalo Grove. “If PACE implements service cuts in September, it will mean even more cars on overloaded roads already buckling with congestion.”

* And a rally is planned…

Representative Julie Hamos has announced a transit funding rally for Tuesday, August 28, at 11:30 a.m. at the Thompson Center Plaza. Mayor Daley, DuPage County Board Chair Robert Schillerstrom, Representative Hamos and Representative Sid Mathias (House Mass Transit Committee Minority Spokesperson) are the featured rally rousers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Message to subscribers and blog readers

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

I’m having trouble with my e-mail, so if you’re an e-mail subscriber, it may be a bit before you get your copy of today’s Capitol Fax.

Also, while I’m fixing this trouble the rest of today’s blog posts could be delayed. Priorities are priorities.

…Well, AOL says it’ll be awhile, so blogging will resume shortly.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Veto roundup *** Updated x1 ***

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

* You can find yesterday’s “live” blogging of the governor’s vetoes here, here, here, here and here.

* Best lede goes to the Sun-Times

Gov. Blagojevich made $463 million in budget cuts in the name of health care Thursday — but slashed grants to help prevent autism, HIV, Alzheimer’s disease and potential pandemic flu.

Also hit by the governor’s budgetary cleaver were the developmentally disabled, elderly veterans, fire and police departments and the panel set up to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday in 2009.

“These changes improve the budget that lawmakers sent me,” Blagojevich said.

* The Tribune picked up on this…

House Republicans led by Tom Cross of Oswego kept most of the $50 million in initiatives for their districts. The gambit underscored Blagojevich’s desire to try to sway Republicans into blocking attempts at overriding his vetoes in the House.

* The Southern picked up on another…

After reviewing the budget, Luechtefeld said none of Jones’ requested initiative funding was removed. The 12 members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules also kept all their requested money, he said. The JCAR members will decide on the health care proposal Blagojevich hopes to start.

“It doesn’t take much to recognize what he’s trying to do; he’s trying to buy their votes,” Luechtefeld said. The senator also questions the legality of Blagojevich’s health care plan.

* The AP questioned the logic of the moves when no logic other than politics is necessary…

In some cases, similar projects were treated differently _ for instance, one grant for a handicapped-accessible van was approved while another was vetoed. And while planning to expand some health services, Blagojevich cut $40 million in Medicaid funds from hospitals and $50 million from nursing homes.

He also slashed funding for pandemic flu preparedness, home services to the disabled and 80 new beds at the LaSalle veterans retirement home. […]

Blagojevich said he cut $141 million in legislative “add-ons,” $306 million from state agencies and nearly $16 million from constitutional offices. He gave no indication of how he chose each particular cut, but did say some of the legislative projects “had little to do with the core mission of state government.”

* Daily Herald

In some cases, money requested by Senate Republicans was cut while House Republican funding was approved, even though it was for the same project.

For instance, Blagojevich cut $200,000 destined for the Wayne Township Road District to help pay for replacing a bridge on St. Charles Road. But at the same time he OK’d an identical $200,000 grant for the same project.

The grants were not duplicates. Rather it was an effort on behalf of two area lawmakers to try to get the $400,000 needed for the project. The exact same situation occurred with funding for work on a Schick Road bridge. One $200,000 grant was approved, the other vetoed.

* GateHouse went for understatement

The patterns of the cuts prompted several observers to wonder whether at least some were driven by politics.

* The Pantagraph offers up these choice quotes…

Even Republicans and Democrats in the Senate whose projects weren’t cut from the budget questioned the governor’s move. […]

State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, agreed that people represented by House Democrats shouldn’t be shortchanged.

“Their people are taxpayers, too,” he said. […]

State Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville, said he was “elated” that his projects survived and is now hoping Blagojevich won’t later withhold the money in a political move.

“Let’s hope that we’re not just being used as a message to the speaker,” he said.

* IL Issues

DeJong [of the budget office] had this to say: “While CeaseFire and other initiatives may serve a purpose for a particular community or organization, we can’t afford to spend taxpayer dollars on them right now. With the changes the governor made, the budget better reflects the needs of the state.”

Flider also said projects in his district, including money for a food pantry and a homeless shelter, are among the $141 million cut of so-called pork projects, or legislative initiatives slipped into the budget so members can “bring home the bacon” to their constituents. Most of the pork projects cut by Blagojevich are in Democratic districts. Flider said those services are hit in political crossfire. “The governor has declared war on House Democrats, but it’s the people in my district who suffer,” he said. Why would the governor target projects in his district? Flider said that’s because he’s responding to what the majority of his constituents want: a priority of making timely payments to current Medicaid providers before expanding or creating new health care programs. “The governor wants his health care plan, and he’ll do anything to get it,” Flider said.

* More budget stuff, compiled by Paul…

* Blagojevich approves most of state’s new budget

* Southern legislators question governor’s budget action

* $460 million is excised by Blagojevich

* Gov signs budget, cuts out “pork”

* Blagojevich’s grant vetoes worry non-profits

* Martikean: Illinois not short on Governor troubles

* Governor amends budget, many projects won’t get funding

*** UPDATE *** I’m positive that we’ll see more press releases like this in the coming days…

The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) criticized Governor Blagojevich today for vetoing millions for Chicago public schools, including $3.5 million in grants for 35 charter public school campuses in Illinois. The cuts impact a grant program that is mandated by state law and that was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers.

The charter public school start-up grants vetoed by Governor Blagojevich would have provided $250 per pupil to 34 new and recently opened charter public school campuses in the Chicago public school system and an additional school in Kane County. Those schools serve a combined 14,000 public school students. […]

Blagojevich’s cuts disproportionately impact Chicago’s African American and Latino neighborhoods, hitting 34 schools in… Chicago neighborhoods […]

Responding to news of the cuts, Elizabeth Evans, Executive Director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools said:

“The Governor’s veto of the charter start-up grants and his failure over the last five years to provide leadership on broader education funding reform issues have created a double-whammy for public school children, particularly in the African American and Latino community. While the Governor’s goal to expand the health care safety net in Illinois is laudable, it shouldn’t come at the expense of public school kids’ education and their future.

Senate President Jones has built his career and his reputation on his commitment to public education, and we can only assume that when he pledged not to override the Governor’s veto, the Governor didn’t tell him it would mean millions in cuts to public education, especially in Chicago, and especially for low-income, African American, and Latino children. We hope that when President Jones sees where these cuts are happening, he’ll reconsider his pledge and allow the Illinois Senate to vote on a measure to override these draconian cuts.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


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Friday, Aug 24, 2007

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Morning Shorts (8-24-07)

Friday, Aug 24, 2007

* BP backs off plan for more Lake Michigan pollution

* Editorial: BP reversal a win for public opinion

* BP says it won’t increase pollution

* BP dumps pollution plans

* Sun-Times Editorial: BP’s promise isn’t enough to assure lake’s safety

* State Fair concert attendance rises

* 11th Hour: Bloggers against dialing and driving

* Clout Street: Birkett weighs in

* Kadner: Cable customers want a la carte TV menu

* Editorial: Chicago’s budget needs serious cuts, not ‘gestures’

* Chicago panel aims to help city accomplish more with less; more here

* Juniors’ scores on state tests fall 2nd year in a row; more here

* City will put red light camera proof on the web

* Official: Fewer homeless in the city

* Gibson City hasn’t retired its “Honor the Chief” day

Gibson City officials started an “Honor the Chief” day in 2005, when controversy over the University of Illinois athletic teams’ mascot was at a peak. And now that the Chief has officially been retired, this town and its leaders still want to celebrate the Chief and what they believe he represented.

Gibson City Mayor Dan Dickey, while not a UI alumnus, joins many of the town’s 3,374 residents in being passionate about Chief Illiniwek.

* Magazine spotlights photo of Northbrook Mayor

* ArchPundit turns 5 years old

* Friday Beer Blogging: Old Time Cheap Edition

- Posted by Paul Richardson   7 Comments      


AFSCME: Vetoes “wrong course for Illinois”

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

* AFSCME press release. Statement by Council 31 Exec Director Henry Bayer…

“Past budget cuts have badly hurt the ability of state employees to provide the vital services Illinois residents depend on each day. With a severe staff shortage in nearly every department of state government, services have deteriorated even as employees are working harder to keep pace.

“These past cuts have diminished the quality of care for aged veterans and those with severe mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. They have made public safety less effective and our prisons less safe. They have caused long waits, huge backlogs and overwhelming caseloads throughout state government. And they have made huge, wasteful spending on overtime a fact of life for agencies that are stretched far too thin to function effectively.

“The budget approved two weeks ago took steps to reverse those past cuts, restoring some 1,200 positions to badly understaffed state agencies.

“The governor’s vetoes would turn back that progress. While he technically did not veto funding for the newly restored positions, he did reduce funding for existing positions throughout state government. As a result, if these vetoes are allowed to stand, some short-staffed agencies that expected to make progress this year would instead stay stuck in place. Others would actually suffer even more cuts.

“The budget also included a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase for the very-low-wage workers who care for the developmentally disabled at not-for-profit community agencies that receive state funds. This would be their first pay increase in three years.

“But the governor acted to reduce the COLA for these very-low-wage workers to a meager 1.6 percent.

“This is the wrong course for Illinois. The governor’s vetoes should not stand. AFSCME urges senators and representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, to come together and override these cuts to the essential services all Illinois residents rely on.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Complete vetoes

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

Up until now, we’ve just looked at reduction vetoes, but there were lots of line items as well. Here are some…

* For Charter Schools – Start-Up Grants…… 3,500,000

* For Healthy Kids/Healthy Minds/ Expanded Vision……… 3,000,000

* For Severely Overcrowded Schools as per Senate Bill 198… 5,000,000

* For Arts and Foreign Language Education… 5,500,000

* Community college Student Success Grants….. 3,000,000

* $863,336… reappropriated… for Arts Education

* $500,000… to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for scholarships and living expenses grants to increase the number of forensic science students who are pursuing a program to become qualified to perform DNA testing at Illinois State Police forensic science facilities.

* State Board of Elections… For completion of Phase II of the Census 2010 Redistricting Program…. 350,000

* $1,659,400… to the Department of Agriculture for deposit into the State Cooperative Extension Service Trust Fund.

* $1,000,000… to the Illinois Arts Council for a grant to the Illinois Channel.

* For payment of attorneys’ fees and costs as ordered by the court in National Foreign Trade Council, Inc., et al. v. Alexi Giannoulias, et al… 400,000

* a grant associated with the United Business Association of Midway…. 125,000

* Another big OOF… They zeroed out Mike Madigan’s pet project… the Illinois Global Partnership Act:
From General Revenue Fund…………………….2,500,000
From Agricultural Premium Fund………………..1,006,200
From International Tourism Fund……………….2,500,000

* $170,000… to the Illinois Commerce Commission for railroad safety and inspection.

* Yikes - Historic Preservation Agency: For the Main Street Program…. 204,000

* $3,000,000… to the Department of Natural Resources for contributions of funds to park districts and other entities as provided by the “Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975″ and to public museums and aquariums located in park districts, as provided by “An Act concerning aquariums and museums in public parks” and the “Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975″

* For Grants to the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center…… 500,000

* $8,000,000… to the Department of Human Services… For all costs associated with funding a “safety net” for mental health community based providers experiencing a financial hardship as a result of the transition to fee-for-service (2,500,000)… grant award of 0.5% of each provider’s contract for specific allowable fee-for-service conversion expenses, such as information technology and staff development (2,500,000)… For all costs associated with paying community mental health providers for Medicaid services above their total contract amount (3,000,000)

* $6,620,000… to the Department of Human Services, for all costs associated with a 3% cost of doing business adjustment for community based addiction treatment providers.

* For grants for School Based Health Center expansions… 3,000,000 (This was strongly supported in both chambers.)

* For expenses associated with development and coordination of birth related
data systems…. 500,000 (This, I’m told, is to track birth defects.)

* for the Rural Medical Education (RMED) program at the University of Illinois-Rockford………….700,000

* For Operational Expenses of Legacy Public Health Programs…. 335,700

* For expenses associated with newborn hearing programs…. 150,000

* For Expenses associated with Pandemic Flu Preparedness…. 1,183,000

* For a grant to the Have a Heart for Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation… 400,000

* ILLINOIS VETERANS’ HOME AT LASALLE… For the addition of 80 beds…. 2,225,600

* $6,250,000… for a grant to Operation Ceasefire (zeroed out)

* The sum of $2,000,000… for a Lincoln’s Challenge satellite campus which must be no closer than a 100 mile radius from the existing program.

* $250,000… for costs and expenses related to a capital punishment reform study committee [and]… $240,000… to the Downstate Innocence Project.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Health and Human Services cuts

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

The governor has made a big deal out of saying he is cutting pork and waste so that he can fund some new health care initiatives, but he also made some health and human services cuts that might not go over so well in some sectors.

Again, the amount appropriated by the General Assembly is listed first, followed by the governor’s reduced amount, which is in bold type

* FOR MEDICAL ASSISTANCE UNDER THE ILLINOIS PUBLIC AID CODE, THE CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM ACT, AND THE COVERING ALL KIDS HEALTH INSURANCE ACT… For Hospital In-Patient, Disproportionate Share and Ambulatory Care….. 2,705,811,200 2,665,811,200 (That’s a $40 mil cut for hospitals)

For all other Skilled, Intermediate, and Other Related Long Term Care Services….. 743,513,8 693,513,800 ($50 million cut for nursing homes)

* For Grants to Oak Forest Hospital of Cook County………. 12,000,000 2,000,000

* appropriated to the Department of Human Services For State Transitional Assistance…… 11,500,000 11,000,000

* The sum of $29,300,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Human Services, for all costs associated with a 2.5% cost of living adjustment for community based developmental disability providers. 18,300,000 ($11 mil cut from COLA for DD providers)

* Home Based Support Services Program, and for costs associated with services
for individuals with Developmental Disabilities to enable them to reside in their homes….. 28,839,500 27,839,500

* For Purchase of Services of the Home Services Program…. 440,873,700 430,873,700 ($10 mil cut for this program)

* For a grant to the Autism Program for an Autism Diagnosis Education Program For Young Children… 10,000,000 5,000,000

* For Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded and Alternative Community Programs including prior year costs…. 356,856,200 351,856,200 ($5 mil)

* For Expenses of AIDS/HIV Education, Drugs, Services, Counseling, Testing, Referral and Partner Notification (CTRPN), and Patient and Worker Notification ……… 18,001,200 17,501,200

* The sum of $400,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Public Health for a grant to HRDI for the purposes of AIDS Prevention. 200,000

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Fresh veto thread

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

It’s time to open a new thread. I’m cutting and pasting as I go through the budget. I wasn’t able to do so earlier because I was working on my Sun-Times column and was having big trouble writing it.

The key to understanding the following is the first number listed is the amount appropriated by the General Assembly. The second number, which is in bold, is the reduced amount approved by the governor. Add your own in comments. I’ll be adding to this as I go along, so refresh your page every now and then…

* TEACHING AND LEARNING SERVICES FOR ALL CHILDREN - For Personal Services - 5,241,200 5,035,500

* Supplemental Payments to School Districts, For Fast Growth Schools as per 18-8.10 of the School Code……… 15,000,000 7,500,000

* For Parental Guardian Programs/ Transportation Reimbursement……… 29,454,700 11,954,700

* For the School Safety and Educational Improvement Block Grant…….. 84,941,000 74,841,000

* Section 62. The sum of $4,000,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois State Board of Education for costs associated with the Re-Enrollment Student Program of the Alternative Schools Network. 1,000,000

* Section 55. The sum of $1,500,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Board of Higher Education for competitive grants for nursing schools to increase the number of graduating
nurses. 1,000,000

* Section 95. The sum of $500,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Board of Higher Education for grants to the Illinois Education Foundation. 250,000

* from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Community College Board for distribution to qualifying public community colleges for the purposes specified: Base Operating Grants…………. 204,818,000 197,818,000

* For college savings bond grants to students who are eligible to receive such awards… 650,000 325,000

* ordinary and contingent expenses of the Legislative Information System: For Personal Services……….2,504,800 2,289,000

* ordinary and contingent expenses of the Legislative Research Unit: For Contractual Services…. 689,900 626,500 Legislative Staff Intern program, including stipends, tuition, and administration for 20 persons…… 581,400 564,500

* ordinary and contingent expenses of the Legislative Reference Bureau: For Personal Services…… 1,845,900 1,772,400

* ordinary and contingent expenses of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol: For Contractual Services……….. 1,101,600 1,010,900

* ordinary andcontingent expenses of the Office of the Auditor General: For Personal Services: For Regular Positions…5,000,000 4,500,000 For Contractual Services… 1,064,200 736,200 For Electronic Data Processing…. 120,000 90,000

* The sum of $5,000,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Office of the Attorney General for disbursement to the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation in accordance with the terms of Section 25 of the Illinois Equal Justice Act 3,500,000

* For Personal Services: Official Court Reporting…………………..38,017,200 36,217,900

* State Board of Elections for its ordinary and contingent expenses as follows: ElectionsFor Personal Services……1,542,400 1,422,300 Campaign Disclosure For Personal Services……….. 713,700 692,400 Information Technology For Personal Services………553,300 411,900

* for ordinary and contingent expenses of the Circuit Court: For Probation Reimbursements…. 62,454,600 60,052,500 Judicial Conference and Supreme Court Committees…… 1,158,700 729,500

* OOF… Illinois Arts Council For Grants and Financial Assistance for Arts Organizations…. 8,041,000 4,705,900 For Grants and Financial Assistance for Special Constituencies….2,868,200 1,813,500 For Grants and Financial Assistance for International Grant Awards……1,000,000 719,000 For Grants and Financial Assistance for Arts Education…… 1,711,400 1,116,900

The sum of $992,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Arts Council for the purpose of funding administrative and grant expenses associated with humanities programs and related activities. 713,200

The amount of $377,100, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Arts Council for grants to certain public radio and television stations for operating costs. 271,100

he amount of $4,860,600, or so much thereof as may be necessary is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Arts Council for grants to certain public radio and television stations and related administrative expenses, pursuant to the Public Radio and Television Grant Act. 3,494,800

* Department of CentralManagement Services: BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM For Personal Services…… 740,100 540,780 For Contractual Services……… 301,000 54,200

* Central Management Services: BUREAU OF PROPERTY MANAGEMENT For Contractual Services……. 17,439,200 13,439,200

* For Grants, Contracts and Administrative Expenses of the Employer Training Investment Program……..17,492,600 12,492,600

* For grants, contracts, and administrative expenses associated with the Bureau of Homeland Security Market Development………3,581,500 1,581,500

* For a grant associated with the Brainerd Development Corp.. 460,000 200,000

* WOW… The sum of $3,000,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Historic Preservation Agency for a grant to the llinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission for expenses and activities related to promoting knowledge and understanding of the life and times of Abraham Lincoln and observances commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 2009. 500,000

* The sum of $3,124,300, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Natural Resources for costs and 3
expenses related to or in support of an environment and economic development shared services center. 2,968,100

* Department of Natural Resources: OFFICE OF RESOURCE CONSERVATION For Contractual Services: Payable from General Revenue Fund… 600,500 400,500 OFFICE OF LAND MANAGEMENT AND EDUCATION For Personal Services: …………15,249,100 14,524,100

* For Multiple Use Facilities and Programs for conservation purposes provided by the Department of Natural Resources, including construction and development, all costs for supplies, material labor, land acquisition, services, studies and all other expenses required to comply with the intent of this appropriation…. 805,200 0

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


This just in… Governor files veto message *** Message now online *** HGOPs spared the ax ***

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

* 11:39 am - The governor has finally filed his veto message on the budget. The line item and reduction veto message is 79 pages long and not posted online yet. Stay tuned.

* 11:54 am - LIS has updated the bill status to reflect the vetoes, but the veto message is not yet available.

* 11:59 am - Press release from the guv’s office. Without seeing the message itself, it looks like he didn’t touch the Senate Democrats’ pork…

In the budget the Governor signed today, he cut a total of $463 million in spending:

$15.8 million reduced from constitutional office budgets for personnel and other grants;

$141.3 million reduced from legislative add-ons; and
$306 million reduced in other agency spending.

Many of the legislative add-ons that were eliminated had little to do with the core mission of state government, such as funding for:

o outdoor volleyball court improvements
o an international dance exhibition
o a foreign delegation for a sister city program
o a drill team
o an elevator for event catering at a private cultural center
o parking lot and gymnasium improvements for private schools
o beautification project for a national railroad company
o planning funds for an Arboretum

Last week Gov. Blagojevich announced his plan to use his executive rule-making authority to bolster state healthcare programs and give 500,000 more Illinoisans access to affordable health coverage and services, including;

o Every uninsured woman in Illinois will be eligible to get screened and treated for breast and cervical cancer, greatly improving cancer outcomes and saving lives.

o Poor adults who are not eligible for Medicaid will have the chance to see a doctor regularly and get the prescription medications they need.

o More working and middle-class uninsured parents will receive access to health coverage at affordable rates through the Family Care program.

o Children in the All Kids program who have pre-existing conditions will continue to have access to affordable health insurance up to age 21.

o Families struggling with the high cost of health insurance premiums will be able to apply for yearly subsidies worth 20% of their annual premiums, up to $1,000.

* 12:03 pm - The full press release is here.

*** 12:53 pm *** You can download the budget message here. There are no descriptions in the line and reduction vetoes, so they’ll all have to be matched up to the budget bill one by one. Fun.

* 1:16 pm - From the AP

Without an override in both chambers, the governor’s cuts would become law. The changes he seeks to make in health-care programs will come under heavy scrutiny to determine if they need to clear legislative oversight panels, which could challenge or block some of his moves.

The parts of the budget the governor did not veto become law.

*** 1:16 pm *** It appears that most, if not all, of the House Republican “pork” was left intact. Bizarre, eh?

- Posted by Rich Miller   120 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

Complete this sentence…

“Rod Blagojevich is to Michael Madigan as ____ is to ____.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   129 Comments      


Oy, Part 96,327, 96,328 and 96,329

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

* Apparently, the war of words between the House Democrats and the governor’s office hasn’t died down. From a story about the governor’s failure to file his line-item/reduction vetoes of the state’s operating budget within the time frame he promised

“Under the motto ‘We don’t know and we don’t care,’ these people haven’t paid any attention in five years, so it’s going to take them a long time to figure it out now,” Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff denied the delay indicates trouble finding places to cut. She said it simply takes time to put together and review such a long veto.

* And the buck-passing never ends. This is from a story about how East St. Louis’ school district is losing out on $29 million in school construction funds because the governor waited until mid August to sign the supplemental approp bill…

The Blagojevich administration says that before it can hand out the money, schools must sign formal agreements spelling out the details of their projects. Those agreements had to be in place before the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

Blagojevich didn’t sign the measure into law until Aug. 13. His office says lawmakers sent him the legislation so late just two weeks before the deadline that there wasn’t time to finish the agreements even if he had signed it immediately.

“We share the frustration of these school districts. Lawmakers shouldn’t have gotten their hopes up if they weren’t going to deliver,” said Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the governor’s budget office.

“It’s just not possible to do in two weeks what takes two months under normal circumstances.”

Lawmakers? Huh?

Here’s a simple fact that is being ignored: The governor’s office strung out those school districts for months, never giving them a straight answer. And, now they want to blame someone else. They could’ve just told the districts in June that they couldn’t process the paperwork, but nobody was able to get a straight answer out of them about their grants until after the guv signed the supplemental.

* Sen. Garrett made a good point as well…

Sen. Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest, called the latest twist on school construction grants “a bureaucratic nightmare.”

School officials “felt that we had crossed the finish line and we were ready to go until it became apparent that paperwork, (in quotation marks) needed to be found, filled out, whatever,” Garrett added. “I mean, it’s one thing to say you didn’t fill out the form, but when there’s no form to fill out, it’s an impossible task.”

* Meanwhile, we now have another phony issue to deal with…

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s leading ally in the House maintained that the budget proposal sent to the governor failed to renew spending for about $500 million in projects approved in previous years, stifling funding for some projects already under way.

“The budget that passed the House and the Senate essentially pulls the rug out from under these communities that have begun purchasing and building needed public-works projects on the full faith and credit of the state,” said Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville).

But a top aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) said the issue can be resolved within months. […]

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown played down the matter, saying money for older projects could be reappropriated in January, when Democratic votes are all that are needed to pass such legislation.

The Repubs opposed the reapprops in the budget. Hoffman knows that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Daley wants tax hike, guv has no real plan

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

* Mayor Daley came out strongly in favor of the regional sales tax for public transit yesterday…

With fare increases and service cuts just days away for Chicago Transit Authority and Pace riders, Mayor Richard Daley on Wednesday renewed his call for Springfield to head off the pain by approving a sales-tax increase for the Chicago area.

“I think the General Assembly has to understand — what is the alternative?” Daley said of proposed legislation that would raise the sales tax in Cook County and the collar counties to bail out the region’s public-transit system. “There is no alternative in regards to mass transportation.”

Daley said there would be no political repercussions if a House bill called for the 0.25 percent increase, along with a raise in the city’s real estate transfer tax, to generate more money for the CTA, Pace and Metra and also provide funding for suburban road-improvement projects. […]

“The deal is there, and no one is going to blame anyone for increasing the sales tax,” he said. “We are not going to blame the governor. We are not going to blame the General Assembly. … This is good for the metropolitan area. It is good for the collar counties, the suburban area. It’s good for the city. It’s good for employers and employees.”

* And

“If you really believe in the future of mass transit, vitally important for the economic future not only of Chicago, but the region,” Daley said. “That is the key — you can’t put more cars on the highway, it’s just going to eventually break down.”

* But Justin DeJong, of the governor’s budget office, told Chicago Public Radio that businesses ought to be taxed, instead

“This comes back to the fact that there are many corporations in Illinois that pay little or no taxes to the state. Businesses clearly benefit from having a strong public transit system, and it’s only right that they help support this system.”

Listen below…

Notice, though, that no specific business tax was offered up. The truth is, they don’t have a plan.

* Meanwhile

The CTA will have the most expensive fares of the nation’s largest transit agencies if regional transportation officials approve a fare increase at their meeting [today].

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Hastert to resign in November? *** Updated x1 - Schock has new poll ***

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

[Updated and bumped up for higher visibility.]

This is from Bob Novak’s subscriber-only publication and appears to be true…

An Illinois Republican source tells us former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) plans to resign November 6 this year instead of finishing out his term. This would create a vacancy and trigger a special election in the 14th District.

Under Illinois statute, the governor, Rod Blagojevich (D), would get to pick the date of both of the special general election and the special primary election (with separate ballots for each party). The general election would have to be within 120 days of the vacancy (meaning by early March, if the November 6 resignation date holds). February 5 is the date for Illinois’s presidential and congressional primaries, and slating the special election — either the primaries or the general — on that date would save state money.

The effect of the placing either the special primary or the special general on the same day as the presidential primary is impossible to determine at this point. If one party is seeing a more competitive presidential primary by that date, it could benefit from boosted turnout. The presence of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on the primary ballot could help Democrats.

In any event, a special election would entail a much briefer campaign, which would favor the more well-funded candidates. That would be businessmen Jim Oberweis (R) and Bill Foster (D).

On net, Hastert’s early resignation, by stirring the pot, gives Democrats a slightly better chance in this Republican district.

*** UPDATE *** State Rep. Aaron Schock seems to be wasting no time in his congressional bid. Billy Dennis posted a press release from Schock at his blog yesterday…

For voters interested in the Republican nomination for Congress to succeed retiring Congressman Ray LaHood (IL-18), the Aaron Schock campaign is publicly sharing recent polling results showing Schock in a commanding position to win the Republican nomination and to go on to trounce his Democrat opponent in the general election as well.

Schock now leads his nearest possible competitor Darin LaHood by a two-to-one margin. Two other candidates, Peoria ex-city councilman John Morris and Heartland Partnership official Jim McConoughey trail far behind Schock and LaHood with only 3% each. […]

The poll showed Schock overwhelming Grawey by 33% of the vote. While Morris beat Grawey by only 8 points; McConoughey beat Grawey by only 7 points, and Darin LaHood beat Grawey by 18 points. With Schock beating the Democrat by almost twice as high a plurality than Darin LaHood and four times as much as the other two Republicans, it proves Schock is by far the strongest candidate Republicans can put forward in the Fall of 2008, which might be yet another difficult year for Republicans, especially in Illinois.

Shearer said he wouldn’t trade Aaron Schock’s position with any other potential candidate—Republican or Democrat.

You can download some of the poll results by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Morning shorts

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

* Medicaid directors object to SCHIP rules

* Chicago teachers vote to continue contract negotiations

* Is clout keeping Ryan out of prison? - Experts say it helps to have his lawyers

* Ex-governor defends governors

* Ryan To Remain Free On Bond Pending New Appeal

* Durbin drops in

* Pollution Fight Pits Illinois vs. BP, Indiana - Upgrade of Oil Refinery Would Discharge More Pollutants Into Lake Michigan

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (Use all caps in password)

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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* Another anti-Dunkin mailer hits, but criticized as "political lynching"
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* IDJJ: Kewanee facility slated for closure; and .....
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