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Fresh end of session thread. *** Lottery bill dies in House committee *** House kills gaming bill with parliamentary maneuver ***

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* 6:08 pm - Reports from inside that Speaker Madigan would run a different, scaled back capital plan and tell the Senate to take it or leave it were denied by Madigan’s spokesman.

The Senate-passed version has language that requires all the funding and spending bills to pass or nothing takes effect. So some expect Madigan may choose the weakest part of the package, let it die and then declare all of it dead. The weakest link is most likely the gaming bill.

The other option, of course, is to call no capital bills and adjourn.

* 6:32 pm - Sen Hendon just announced that the Rules Committee would meet for the final time and then the Senate would run the bills and adjourn.

* 7:00 pm - . Gov Blagojevich is reportedly coming to the House floor soon to make a last ditch push for the capital plan.

The House GOP and Rep Jay Hoffman are angrily demanding that the capital plan be brought to the floor. The House Rules Comitye is meeting soon so we’ll know more soon.

* 7:11 pm - Blagojevich just arrived on the House floor.

* 7:18 pm - The guv has been on the floor for several minutes but has not yet been officially recognized. Never seen anything like that.

* 7:28 pm - The Senate adjourned a while ago and the guv was finally introduced in the House.

House will hear capital bills in committee soon.

*** 8:10 pm *** The House Revenue Committee just killed the Lottery sale bill. Since all capital bills are tied together it appears the game is probably over except for much shouting.

* 8:37 p.m.- The House Gaming Committee just approved the gaming expansion bill 17-11, not that it really matters. The next likely step will be for Capital Bill proponents to make a motion to discharge the lottery sale bill. If the motion fails, then there will likely be a motion to overrule the chair. That may lead to some interesting parliamentary procedure.

* 9:02 p.m. - There is a motion to table the motion to concur on the Senate’s amendments to the gaming bill. If it prevails this would essentially kill the bill.

* 9:40 p.m. - The motion to table was ruled passed with 59 votes. The motion to concur with the Senate’s gaming expansion amendments is now effectively dead.

14 House Republicans sided with Madigan on the motion to table. All are anti-gambling or are politically vulnerable.

- Posted by Rich Miller   102 Comments      

End of session reports

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* We can’t be everywhere, and we can’t always get to the computer to blog, so follow along at home and help us live-blog the end of session in comments…

* Senate audio and video

* House audio and video

* 2:50 pm - One piece of the capital projects package is approved

The Illinois Senate has approved the lease of the Illinois Lottery to help pay for public works construction projects.

The chamber voted 43-8 to approve the plan in which a private operator would pay the state for the privilege of operating the lottery.

The Senate also passed the gaming expansion bill and is working on the capital projects spending bill now. Listen or watch at this link. Also, the House unanimously sent the ethics bill to the governor.

* 3:22 pm - The capital projects bill just passed the Senate with 51 “Yes” votes and just one “No” vote.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - End of session party details

Saturday, May 31, 2008

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Question of the day

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that everything goes as planned and a new state budget is passed by both chambers today.

Question: Do you think Gov. Blagojevich will veto the entire budget, which would necessitate an overtime session?

Or, do you think he will just reduce and line item various parts of the budget, which wouldn’t have to dealt with until the November veto session?


- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

Durbin slams Blagojevich

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* US Sen. Dick Durbin doesn’t have much good to say about Gov. Rod Blagojevich…

Illinois’ senior Democratic senator said Friday he had a much better working relationship with former Republican Gov. George Ryan than Democratic successor Rod Blagojevich. […]

“You may assume—and it’s natural that you would —that there’s a closer working relationship with the governor and senator than there actually is. There isn’t much,” Durbin said, adding he’s talked privately with Blagojevich only a handful of times since Blagojevich took office in 2003. […]

As for how Ryan compares to Blagojevich, Durbin said he regularly received phone calls from Ryan as late as midnight to discuss public business. That never happens with Blagojevich, he said.

* He also touched on the governor’s legal problems…

Durbin… said he was “troubled” by some of Blagojevich’s early appointments. Some of those appointees, Durbin noted, played prominent roles at the public corruption trial of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former top fundraiser for Blagojevich. […]

Asked whether he should have registered his unease to Blagojevich about appointees like Levine, Durbin said, “When it comes to dealing with the state and all of the decisions involved in it, there’s just so much I can do, to be honest with you.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

Capital bill roundup

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* Funding

To pay for the construction plan, lawmakers were considering Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s multibillion-dollar proposal to expand gambling and lease of the state lottery.

Included in the mix was the possibility of adding three new casinos, including one in Chicago, one in its suburbs and one in a downstate city.

* Opposition from casinos

The Illinois Casino Gaming Association opposed both the House and Senate bills, saying they add too much gambling to an already-shrinking market.

* House Speaker Madigan ain’t happy, either

Madigan reiterated the reason behind lawmakers’ hesitation: “It’s all about trust. It’s all about trust and whether people are prepared to trust Gov. Blagojevich and trust his record of broken promises.”

* Another Lottery shell game?

The state would lease out its rights to upward of 80 percent of the state lottery proceeds for nearly 65 years in exchange for at least $10 billion upfront, with $3 billion set aside for education and $7 billion for construction projects.

So, how much does the lottery bring in annually?

The answer: $600 million. […]

But whoever ends up with the lottery, will likely make at least three times that much over the course of this deal.

80 percent of $600 million is $480 million. Multiply that by the possible length of the lease (65 years) and you get $31.2 billion.

So the state’s giving up $31.2 billion for $10 billion now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Budget roundup

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* First up, Bethany Jaeger’s report

The General Assembly is expected to approve a state budget before the deadline, but the budget also is expected to contain a rather large hole. Madigan said the legislature’s job is to approve the spending authority. The actual spending is up to the governor. “If he feels that some of those numbers should be changed, he has a reduction veto.”

The state Constitution grants the governor the power to strike out portions of the budget or to reduce the amount of money dedicated to specific programs.

* Spending

Under one budget plan being considered, spending on regular state operations would jump $2.1 billion over the current budget. […]

The proposal would give universities a 2.8 percent increase over the current fiscal year and would fund an 80-bed expansion of the LaSalle veterans home.

The plan also would overrule Blagojevich’s earlier bid to close Pontiac Correctional Center by earmarking enough money to keep all of the state’s prisons open.

In addition, the spending proposal would add money to fully open the state’s unused maximum-security prison in Thomson, which was built in 2001, but never opened.

* Schools

It would give schools another $500 million, including nearly $150 million for two dozen schools to pay for long-delayed construction projects.


Hannig said the new budget does not include money to cover any pay raises for state workers who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union and state are negotiating a new contract to replace the one that expires June 30. […]

Any pay raises that are part of the contract would have to be added to the budget later in the year, Hannig said.

* Revenues

Senate Democrats approved issuing pension bonds and sweeping money from restricted state funds to cover about $1 billion of the new spending. But neither proposal has passed the House, and Hannig was noncommittal about whether he thought they will be taken up there.

Senate Republicans also said the Democrats are assuming the state will collect $1 billion more in tax revenue next year, something they said is highly unlikely given the economic slowdown.

* Hole

But the deal could force Blagojevich to be the bad guy. […]

“Will the governor have to make some reductions? More than likely he will,” Trotter said, noting Blagojevich slashed more than $450 million in legislative projects last year. […]

The state constitution bars officials from passing a budget that spends more than they estimate will be available. But “estimate” is the key word. Legislators could use generous guesses at tax revenue coming in next year to say they’ve passed a balanced plan.

* Motivation?…

[Sen. Terry Link] contended there was an Obama factor that also helped move legislators toward a budget plan, knowing that a fracas among Democrats in the legislature where Obama once served would do little to help him.

“Everything we do here is going to be national, under a microscope,” said Link, a close Obama friend.

“That’s why it’s important that [Saturday] night, this gavel is hit and we’re out of here.”

* Prepare for the worst?

Madigan offered no reason for optimism that the legislative loose ends could be tied up by tonight, telling reporters to “plan for the worst” and blaming his nemesis, Blagojevich, for the lack of legislative cohesion.

“He’s now looking at the consequences of a six-year policy of tearing people apart,” Madigan said of the governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Bunker pics and Madigan audio

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* Here are a couple of photos courtesy of Metro Networks‘ Ben Yount from the tunnel under the Capitol Complex during last night’s tornado evacuation

* Bethany Jaeger had this onsite report….

We all had to head to the basement of the Statehouse, where tunnels connect buildings on the Capitol complex. Amanda Vinicky, reporter for WUIS public radio station out of the University of Illinois at Springfield, caught up with House Speaker Michael Madigan in one of the tunnels. We listened to her audio file. She asked the speaker about the status of the budget, the leadership style of the governor and the lack of trust plaguing the democratic process.

Madigan’s advice for others was to consider the past five or six years — and to “prepare for the worst.”

* Bethany’s photo….

* Listen to Amanda’s recording of the impromptu Speaker Madigan interview by clicking here.

* The governor stayed in his office during the evacuation

Blagojevich joked about staying in his office during the tornado warning saying, “Well, with all those lawmakers downstairs, I was a lot safer up here.”

The governor was actually in a safe area when the tornado warning occurred, said his spokeswoman, Rebecca Rausch.

* And some complained

Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, announced that he was glad everyone was safe.

“But if we are to use the tunnels in the future for an evacuation because of severe weather, I would urge those responsible to study what went on tonight. It was extremely hot down there. … There was no water, there was no ventilation,” he said.

“I appreciate the fact that we were safe, but I was concerned about some people being overheated. No water. No automatic external defibrillators. No nurse. No medical attention if it’d come to that, and quite frankly, I’m not even sure who was in charge,” Black added. “I think we can prepare a little better than what we were today.”

* Related…

* Tornado sirens halt lawmakers in Springfield

* State Capitol evacuated due to tornado threat

* Storm sweeps through Ill.; lawmakers run for cover

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Morning shorts

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* Tamms reforms on the way?

* Chicago is choke point in overloaded U.S. rail system

* The reality of oil prices

* Roskam says his district’s No. 1 concern is gas prices

* Foster, Durbin cry foul over gas prices

The lawmakers said they supported stepping up efforts in Congress and by the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether fuel suppliers are “gouging” customers or colluding to fix prices artificially high.

* Con Con Considerations: Presentation

* Seeking office in DuPage may get easier

* Lawmakers approve helping Lake in the Hills with runway land dispute

* Many consumers spend early rebates on soaring cost of living

* UI student’s candidacy validated by electoral board

* Legislators: Act may retain IDOT jobs

* IDOT spent on ice, snow; little left for roadkill

* Lawmaker questions IDOT budget

* Lawmakers push hospital plan to care for poor

“This critical infusion of federal dollars will help hospitals and other health-care providers ensure accessible, affordable and quality health care for services in underfunded communities throughout the state,” Schoenberg said.

* GPS for stalkers bill sent to governor

* Veterans home becomes political battle ground

* Potential softening of review board has prosecutors scared

* Why does Lisa Madigan leave the heavy-lifting to Fitzgerald?

* Why Lisa Madigan isn’t taking the lead in fighting political corruption in Illinois

My short answer is that this is nothing new: The feds traditionally handle big corruption cases in part because they have more resources and in part because the “gotcha!” crimes in political corruption cases — mail fraud, for example — are often violations of federal and not state law.

* Feds raid union boss’ farm

* Rezko’s Rubber Checks Drawn from Giannoulias Family Bank

* Gambling with a crooked governor

* Lawmakers urge EPA to block BP plans

“Increased carbon dioxide emissions at Whiting remain a major concern for us,” said a letter from Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Il.; Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Chicago; Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, and Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Barrington. “We strongly encourage you to revisit those issues and object to the permit” until Indiana and BP “have rectified these problems.”

* Martin Ozinga’s faith pulling him to congressional race

* Hastert Joins Dickstein

* FOX News Documentary Shows Congressmen Sent Millions in Earmarks to Their Own Families

After President Bush flew to Hastert’s district in August 2005 to sign the bill, Hastert and his partners flipped the land for what appeared to be a multi-million dollar profit.

* Clinton expects superdelegates to start deciding

“I think that people will have to ask themselves those questions, who would be the best president in terms of preparation and readiness and effectiveness, and who would be the stronger candidate. And I imagine that process will begin after the end of the last primaries,” Clinton said.

* Friday Beer Blogging: AB (Possible) Buyout Edition

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   2 Comments      

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

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* Happy Thanksgiving!
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* Moody's warns Illinois
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* *** UPDATED x1 - Franks responds *** Uh-oh
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