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Miller: Governor could blame proposed budget cuts on Madigan

Monday, Jun 30, 2008

[Posted by Kevin Fanning]

* Rich’s syndicated column for the Southtown Star takes a look at the budget, and some possible answers to the Governor’s reduction threats:

There are several important things to keep in mind when discussing the governor’s proposed budget cuts. The governor has threatened to slash $1.5 billion out of the state budget unless the House comes back to Springfield and passes some revenue-generating bills and approves a capital construction budget, all of which were approved by the Senate in May and blocked by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

We don’t really know what the governor actually is planning to do. Last week’s threat was just a media event to instill fear and loathing among the press and the various constituencies that would be impacted by his possible cuts. But there were no real details, just a broad brush.

Why would I ever doubt Blagojevich’s intentions? Well, the governor threatened deep cuts during the spring session to balance the supposedly out-of-whack budget and never followed through. Remember those draconian cuts to 4-H and other agricultural programs he threatened in April? The governor eventually released the money.

There is no doubt a budget hole exists, and cuts are inevitable. Let’s be very clear: There will be pain. We just don’t yet know what the governor will do when the budget bills are finally on his desk and he holds that reduction and line item veto pen in his hand.

The Senate Democrats insist the governor vastly inflated the size of fiscal year 2008’s deficit. So while everyone has focused on the governor’s claim of a $2 billion deficit for fiscal year 2009, which begins July 1, that figure could be inflated as well.

Quite a few of the announced cuts are not really “cuts” but reductions in proposed increases. Many may look horrible on paper, but they’re just expansions that won’t happen.

Education spending will actually increase by about $400 million in fiscal year 2009. The governor had little choice but to leave that increase intact because of threats of a revolt by the Senate Democrats, his only remaining allies.

If he loses them, he loses the war with Madigan. But giving education a relatively generous increase while threatening to cut back on some key social programs likely will create controversy before too long.

Quite a few of the cuts seemed designed specifically to generate media attention and threaten hardship. The entire $28 million state subsidy to Amtrak would apparently be eliminated, for instance, potentially killing off three of the five trains that run daily from Chicago to St. Louis. Two of the three trains between Chicago and Carbondale also would have to be eliminated.

The governor’s obvious intent was to shift the blame for these and other impending cuts to Madigan, which Madigan doesn’t appear too concerned about. It’s unlikely they’ll be coming back to Springfield to take any action, Madigan’s lieutenants told the media.

The House Republicans claimed they’d be willing to work out a deal but offered no solutions of their own. Their members oppose the two revenue-generating bills passed by the Senate Democrats and demanded by the governor (a huge pension obligation bond and some special fund sweeps), and now that May is over and legislative solutions require a three-fifths vote, the ball likely will be in their court to come up with an alternative if Madigan refuses to propose any of his own.

The Chicago Tribune demanded in an editorial last week that the governor veto the entire budget and bring back the General Assembly for a special session. That won’t happen because the all-important Senate Democrats oppose it. A Chicago Sun-Times editorial suggested a deal could be cut on the special funds sweeps, but there aren’t nearly enough House votes to pass it.

You’ll undoubtedly hear more “simple solutions” in the coming days, but the harsh political realities of Springfield make even the easiest solution close to impossible.

If the governor goes through with these draconian cuts, he certainly can make the case that Madigan is to blame. But in the end, the governor - any governor - always wears the jacket. It will be his veto pen doing the slashing. It is his administration.

Still, there’s no doubt the speaker has hurt the Madigan “name brand” with this horrific war. That could make any gubernatorial bid by his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, all the more difficult. Madigan doesn’t really care about what Blagojevich and the media does to him, but this mud will splash on his daughter.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning        

  1. - Speaking At Will - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 9:28 am:

    I was in Austin Texas this weekend.

    Read several local papers, and checked out their capitol building. It puts in perspective the disfunction and pathetic nature of Illinois government when you come back from a state whose headlines are not dominated by budget cuts, personal politics, inept governors and the like.

    Sorry to say it, but I wish I was still in Texas.

  2. - Dan S, a voter and Cubs Fan - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 9:45 am:

    Well, since Blagoof now thinks he is King Soloman he should be able to fix everything.

  3. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 9:47 am:


    The Morning Shorts post doesn’t seem to be taking comments — is that a bug or a feature?

    – SCAM
    so-called “Austin Mayor”

  4. - Kevin Fanning - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 9:50 am:

    It was a bug, should be fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out.

  5. - Ghost - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 9:52 am:

    You mean this Texas? Chaos In Texas House Over Speaker Fight ( the one with the republicans fightin amongst themselves? Not sure I would say it is free from personal politics etc.

    But then again, texas deals with the mentally disabled by executing them. Not sure that is a Government I would hold out as a shining example.

    The republicasn are being handled a golden opportunity here to rebuild. BUT they need leadership. The republicans need to some up with some solutions and then sell them. SO far they have been content to side with the Gov or complain about madigan, but offer no alternatives. The republicans need to stop fiddling whilerome burns if they hope to rebuild their party.

  6. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 9:53 am:

    I guess Lisa would always have the option of going to an hyphenated name if the Madigan brand got to soiled…

  7. - Cassandra - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 10:00 am:

    Yep, we’re already in the 2010 primaries…Lisa vs. Blago. Or maybe our Blago is hoping that by making things difficult for a Madigan now, more hopefuls will be inspired to enter the Dem primary (where, remember, our next guv will be chosen) thus making things easier for an incumbent we have already elected…twice!.. to win another term.

    At least, with all the politicking, maybe they’ll forget to raise our taxes.

  8. - The Doc - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    Another example of why the state, and more specifically Cook County and Chicago, need fresh blood, and perhaps fresh Republican blood. The likes of Blagojevich, Stroger, and Daley continue to mortgage our future in an effort to artificially and unnecessarily eke by in the here and now.

    A toxic stew of increasingly common nanny-state laws, sky high taxes, rampant corruption and waste, and minimal accountability have left us in shambles. Ugh.

  9. - Wumpus - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 10:09 am:

    Well Doc, good luck with that. GOP blodd would be nice, but anyone who will be ethical would be a welcome change. The problem is that the unethical types control the jobs which motivate people to knock on doors and gotv.

  10. - DumberThanUThink - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 10:27 am:

    Yeah hurt the Attorney General by not rolling over to the gamblers or using money that takes 30 to 65 years to pay for next year’s operation.

    Funny that was the line the BoyToys were pushing last week too.

    Yup Rich hit the nail on the head that brand is heavily damaged —- just like applying some clear thinking to electric rate auction and getting $1 billion back (rather than the Blagoof plan of doing nothing) or the regional tax and reforms at the RTA( rather than Blagoof’s statewide gambling)

    We love Capt Fax so it is o.k. if he gets into the Blagoof tank now and then. It’s summer!

  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 10:30 am:

    Amtrak is experiencing a boom due to gas prices. Maybe they won’t need the whole nut.

    The Madigan brand question is interesting. We won’t really know the damage until Lisa runs again. I suspect she’s got some brand equity separate from her father.

  12. - fed up - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 10:43 am:

    blagos got no end game the indicments are coming soon.

  13. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 11:00 am:

    First off - Don’t mess with Texas!
    It has completely flew by Illinois a couple of generations ago and have sent a few men to the White House. It’s economy is exploding, while our is imploding. It has a bright future, while we had a bright yesterday - so drop the insults.

    Back to our problem…
    We needed a governor back in 2002 who had to make tough choices while using any fiscal wriggle room to pay off our debts. Instead we got Blagojevich and he used what little fiscal wriggle room we had to expand on social spending. Understandable, given that the Democrats had been out of office for about three decades and had pent-up needs.

    But we are now out of wriggle room, yet no one is willing to make those tough calls. What I think we are seeing is a blame game over the gamble Blagojevich took four years ago. You see, we were supposed to get an economic kick, just like we saw in most other US states, which would have allowed us to pay back the gamble Blagojevich took.

    But that didn’t happen. Speaking of Texas, Illinois saw no Bush economic boom, while they and most western and souther US states did. Texas is now where Illinois could have been if Blagojevich’s gamble worked. So now Texas and Illinois need to make cuts. But Texas is taking cuts after experiencing a nice growth spurt since 2000, while we are taking cuts after experiencing no growth spurt, on top of the debt we couldn’t pay off.

    Why did this happen?
    This is the bigger question. While we can fingerpoint at leaders, we still are facing an ugly situation where Illinois didn’t grow when it should have. Regardless of political party or occupants in elected positions, we need to solve the problem of Illinois, not being Illinois and falling farther behind other US states. Are we the midwestern version of Pennsylvania? Or Michigan? Are we a new “has-been” state?

    There will be no social programs without taxpayers, and there will be fewer taxpayers if Illinois continues underperforming economically. Call Texan, Georgians, Floridians, Arizonans, and Nevadans red-state ignorami, but they are eating our lunch now, and in the forseeable future.

    Blagojevich gambled and lost. Now we need to pay the piper and start reforming Illinois so that it can globally compete. Or we will be here in the following years arguing over more budget cuts due to our shrinking economic pie.

  14. - Ghost - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 11:13 am:

    Texas economic boom is an example of pay to play politics, nothing else.

    lets see Hunt Oil, Enron and several other texas bvased companies all profited from the Bush baclked war and no bid contracts in Iraq. its a BOOMing economy all right, nothing like no bid war contracts to help out a state. Then when texas was trying to land a billion for its alternative enrgy plant the Feds pulled the FUnding when Il prevailed.

    I would say before we look at Texas as a shining star of an economy we should look first at the money grafted into the state by its political connections before we tout its local politics as a source of its growth.

  15. - 4_nubbs - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 11:14 am:

    I do not agree that it has hurt the ‘Madigan’ name or their chances for a future bid for the gubernatorial. In fact I feel that it enhances her chances. With all the political corruption that Blagojevich has been tied, linked, or claimed to be involved in, they have done well to have distanced themselves from him and his camp. By doing so the Republicans would have a hard time tieing or connecting the Madigans to the fraud, waste, and abuse of the Blagojevich Adminsitration as Blagojevich and the Democrats did to Jim Ryan and Judy B. Tompika concerning George Ryan.
    Also by doing so, the Madigans save the Democrat party in Illinois the Same fate as the Republicans by taking away their role as the opposition party!
    I think the Madigans will come out faring quite well from this war with Blagojevich, and I think that the Democrats will start distancing themselves from Blagojevich and alligning themselves behind the Madigans!

  16. - MouthofBabes.. - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 12:13 pm:

    Blago can blame anyone he wants, but in the end — Blago makes the cuts.

  17. - Mutual friend - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 12:19 pm:

    kevin -

    any ideas why some of the budget bills have passed their 30 day deadline and still havent been sent to the guv? All are senate bills.

  18. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 12:22 pm:

    Wordslinger 10:30

    The IL subsidies allow Amtrak to run those well patronized trains at about half the fare they’d need to charge with no subsidy.

  19. - Kevin Fanning - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 12:57 pm:

    ===any ideas why some of the budget bills have passed their 30 day deadline and still havent been sent to the guv? All are senate bills.===

    I’m not really sure. Someone had posted last Friday that they were finally sent, but I haven’t gotten any confirmation. If they haven’t yet, than the only thing that I could say is that President Jones doesn’t want to come back here. My guess is he wanted to pressure the Gov not to call a special session.

  20. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 1:05 pm:

    What happened to the House’s “no growth” budget bills? They could be signed with few (if any) cuts. All the Gov’s ranting is about the “wish list” budget bills.

  21. - Exceeding 30 Day Limit - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    As of late this morning, June 30, two of the budget bills (SB 1115 and SB 1129) still had not been sent by the Senate to the Governor, even though they passed both Houses on May 29. This violates Article IV, Section 9(a) of the Illinois Constitution, which provides that: “Every bill passed by the General Assembly shall be presented to the Governor within 30 calendar days after its passage. The foregoing requirement shall be judicially enforceable. If the Governor approves the bill, he shall sign it and it shall become law.”

  22. - Captain America - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 2:35 pm:

    Lisa Madigan was marching in yesterday’s Gay Pride parade in Chicago. Dan Hynes, Jesse White, Alex G were also there, as were most other significant Cook County And Chicago elected officials ,whose jusisdiction includes the north side of Chicago.

    As far as I know, Governor Blago was nowhere to be seen. For those that don’t know, this parade is a really big deal locally. I’d say that this invisibility is directly related to the Governor’s abysmal public approval ratings, his legal problems, and his dismal political future.

  23. - anon - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 3:35 pm:

    Speakimng of budget cuts, SB1874 was not acted upon by the Governor. It was sent to him on May 1. By my count, the 60-day action period was up yesterday, June 29. So that appropriations bill should now be law.

  24. - anon - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 3:35 pm:

    Speaking of budget cuts, SB1874 was not acted upon by the Governor. It was sent to him on May 1. By my count, the 60-day action period was up yesterday, June 29. So that appropriations bill should now be law.

  25. - Anon - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 3:36 pm:

    According to the General Assembly’s web site, SB 773 was sent to the Governor today.

  26. - zatoichi - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 3:51 pm:

    ‘Quite a few of the announced cuts are not really “cuts” but reductions in proposed increases. Many may look horrible on paper, but they’re just expansions that won’t happen.’

    Is that “expansions” as in ‘lets start new programs or serve more people who were not funded before’ or is that “expansions” as in ‘it used to cost $10.00 and it now costs $10.75′? Those pesky CODB, inflation, and structural deficit concepts seem to get lost in translation until Jones starts asking/joking about needing food stamps. So gas going from $3.50 to $4.09 is just an expansion that is nothing to worry about? What activity gets cut to cover those ‘just expansion’ costs?

  27. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 3:53 pm:

    Senate Bills 1102, 1115 and 1129 were also sent to the Governor today.

  28. - Anon - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 4:58 pm:

    Speaking of another state representative joining Tom Cross in ending any hope of a successful bid for statewide office ….this just in from the AP:

    “State Representative Julie Hamos appeared with governor. She says she supported the capital program but that House leaders should have had these discussions earlier in the year.”

  29. - Leatherneck - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 7:11 pm:

    To Kevin, I think the main reason why Emil doesn’t want a special session is because Impeachment will probably be proposed (and/or even come up for a vote) during the session.

    In addition, I would not be surprised even if the House does actually (which is unlikely IMO) go along with Blago’s proposed $1.5 billion in cuts to balance the budget, if Blago still makes those cuts anyway (and perhaps more) EVEN after any revenue streams were passed.

  30. - DzNts - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 9:43 pm:


    Just curious why my earlier comment from this afternoon was not posted. It was not excessively rabid, provided no gratutitous insults and wasn’t full of rumors. I just provided an analysis that comparisons to Texas was not relevant whereas a comparison of incomptence to Maryland was more in line. Didn’t mean to offend anyone or risk permanent banishment — just curious as to what line was crossed so I know to avoid it in the future.

  31. - emmejo - Monday, Jun 30, 08 @ 11:00 pm:

    4 nubbs…I could not agree more. How going after Blagojevch is going to soil the Madigan name I don’t think so. The Chairman of the Democratic Party is no crook and that will prevail.

  32. - Kevin Fanning - Tuesday, Jul 1, 08 @ 7:31 am:

    ===Just curious why my earlier comment from this afternoon was not posted.===

    Because of the name you posted under. I had to edit it so you could see my response. Pick a new name.

  33. Pingback ArchPundit | Inane Editorial of the Day - Thursday, Jul 31, 08 @ 12:02 pm:

    […] this […]

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