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Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x3 - IEA contradicts Cross - Quinn contradicts Cross *** Afternoon videos: Cross says governor wants to trade CME bill for borrowing plan, predicts pension reform vote in November

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* House Republican Leader Tom Cross claimed today that Gov. Pat Quinn offered to support the CME Group tax cut proposal if the General Assembly agreed to borrow $4.5 billion over 7 years to pay off old bills. Cross said he didn’t favor the borrowing idea. Here’s part 1 of his press conference

*** UPDATE 1 *** A spokesperson for Gov. Quinn denied that her boss specifically offered to straight up trade his support for the CME tax cut in exchange for a borrowing plan.

“Republicans made it very clear that they wouldn’t support the CME proposal as it is without a larger package of tax cuts,” the spokesperson said.

“In response to that, the governor is open to negotiating a larger package for jobs. There were a lot of things discussed in that context.”

The spokesperson said the governor is reviewing the CME proposal, which could cost upwards of $100 million.

“He’s looking at options to mitigate the loss in revenue, like closing corporate tax loopholes,” she said, saying the proposal would result in a “pretty hefty loss” for the state budget.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Part 2 included more discussion about the CME bill. Cross claimed that the governor “wasn’t going to support CME” without borrowing, and said he mentioned some off-shore tax provisions as well. Cross also claimed that the governor “didn’t seem all that excited” about a pension reform bill Cross wants to bring to a vote in the second week of veto session, saying Quinn had some constitutional questions about the proposal.

Cross also said his “theory” is that the governor targeted Downstate facilities for closure had a lot to do with Quinn’s push for a borrowing plan for old bills. Watch

* Senate President John Cullerton told reporters he’ll meet with Gov. Quinn next week to talk about gaming expansion. Cullerton said that means, as of now, the issue is on hold.

Cullerton also disagreed with characterizations made by Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno and Leader Cross that Gov. Quinn signaled opposition to the CME Group tax cut bill. Cullerton claimed the governor said he’d look at the proposal. Watch

*

* Cullerton’s Tenaska bill failed in the Senate today and was placed on Postponed Consideration. His closing remarks


* Rep. La Shawn Ford asked for a moment of silence today for the Occupy Chicago protesters. Listen


*** UPDATE 2 *** The governor’s plan to pay Regional Superintendent of Schools salaries out of the personal property replacement tax (which goes to local governments) fell way short today in the House. The bill received 59 votes. It needed 71 to pass. Here’s audio of the floor debate. Rep. Roger Eddy goes off on Quinn at about the 12-minute mark


* More…

* Cross: Deal made for pension bill: Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said he will be ready to call a bill to set up a three-tiered pension system for state workers during the second week of the legislature’s veto session, which starts Nov. 8… Cross said the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a group of the city’s top CEOs, has brokered a deal in which House Republicans would provide 30 votes for the pension bill, Senate Bill 512, and House Democrats would provide another 30. Sixty votes are needed for legislation to pass the House… The bill would offer current teachers, university employees and state workers three pension options: Stay in the current system but pay significantly more, go into a second tier for workers hired after Jan. 1 that has reduced benefits or choose a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

*** UPDATE 3 *** IEA: Statehouse sources say today’s report that a deal’s been set to pass pension-cutting SB512 was erroneous. Still not enough votes.

* VIDEO: Treasurer Rutherford Opens Vault for Public Tours

* VIDEO: IEA Legislative update - October, 2011

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* Tribune

Proposed tax breaks for Chicago’s financial exchanges, which could cut state tax revenue by about $70 million year or more, won endorsement from a key Illinois Senate committee Thursday morning.

But the measure continues to encounter resistance from Republicans, who are pushing for broader tax relief for business as part of any package.

And legislative leaders say Gov. Pat Quinn indicated in a meeting Thursday morning that he is not on board.

“I don’t want to be part of a perception that we are cherry-picking who we help,” said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) one of four members of the Senate Executive Committee to vote present. The vote was 10 yes, four present, to recommend Senate passage.

The bill, which would reportedly cut CME Group’s state income tax burden in half, is expected to come up for a vote in the second week of veto session. CME and CBOE have repeatedly threatened to pull up stakes and move out of Illinois if they didn’t get some relief. CME claims to be the largest single corporate taxpayer in Illinois, and claims that its annual income tax burden rose by $50 million after the tax was raised in January.

*** UPDATE *** Crain’s

(T)he price tag has risen on the bill to help CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc., hitting the $120-million-plus mark. […]

Mr. Cullerton’s office conceded that the cost of the CME-CBOE bill to the treasury has increased.

The latest estimate is that the bill would reduce state revenues $75 million a year from the CME, and $7 million from the CBOE, Mr. Cullerton’s spokesman said, with the city of Chicago losing $5 million a year. In addition, restoring the research and development credit would cost the state $25 million to $30 million a year.

Senate Republican place the cost somewhat higher: $100 million to the state each year just from the CME.


* The Question
: Do you support this income tax relief package for CME Group and CBOE to keep them from leaving Illinois? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.


- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


SB1652 – You Will Hear from Your Constituents

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

We know what ComEd and Ameren said about SB1652, but what did your constituents say on the issue?

On October 11th a statewide survey was conducted with 800 registered voters in Illinois on SB1652. Check out the results:

    • 70% responded that their electric service was reliable.

    • 69% responded that they would be against an annual increase in their electric bill to improve reliability and prevent power outages.

    • 50% responded that they consider their electric bill too high.

    • 47% responded that SB1652 should be “amended to protect consumers” AND, without being prompted, 26% said “don’t pass anything”.

    • 52% responded that they would be “not likely at all” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually – and 21% would be “somewhat less likely” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually

    • 10% responded “State Legislature” when asked, between the State Legislature and the ICC, which group best represents their interests in regulating electric utilities.

AARP will be informing our members of YOUR vote on the override of SB1652.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


AARP explodes in anger over utility victory

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* After yesterday’s votes to override the governor’s veto of the “Smart Grid” bill and pass the companion legislation, AARP Illinois issued the angriest press release I’ve ever seen from that group

“The General Assembly just sent a clear message to their constituents: Corporate interests and campaign cash trump the needs of Illinois consumers.

“Today, lawmakers voted to override the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1652 – guaranteeing higher electric rates for consumers and higher profits for ComEd and Ameren.

“At a time when consumers are struggling to make ends meet, with prices on the rise for everything from gas to groceries, taxes increasing, and home values declining, it is appalling that Illinois lawmakers would chose to further burden consumers with a law that amounts to nothing more than corporate greed.

“Under the guise of improved infrastructure, ComEd and Ameren successfully convinced the General Assembly to gut Illinois’ utility ratemaking process – a process that exists to balance the interests of consumers with that of the utility companies. This veto override has effectively silenced the voice of the consumer and tied the hands of the Illinois Commerce Commission – all while guaranteeing higher profits for two of the state’s largest monopolies.”

* Fine print

ComEd has said the bill will raise average household electric bills by about $3 per month to finance installation of “smart meters” throughout Northern Illinois and make $1.3 billion in improvements to traditional grid equipment.

But the bill’s actual cost to ratepayers may well be higher because the guaranteed return on equity ComEd will reap rises with Treasury bond yields, which currently are at historic lows.

* Tidbit

Forty-four states already have some kind of smart grid system in place.

* The governor is in a pickle here

State legislators essentially have boxed Quinn into a corner. After the governor vetoed the original smart grid bill, a so-called trailer bill was introduced this week that called for ComEd to make concessions. By passing that bill, legislators knew that if the governor vetoed it or signed it with suggested changes, the legislature could ignore his advice or nix the trailer bill altogether, leaving him again with the original bill, which is now veto-proof.

* The votes were close in the Senate, but the veto override and the trailer bill flew through the House

The House voted 74-42 to override, with no debate.

House override motion and vote..

Thanks to BlueRoomStream.com for the video.

* More criticism

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, rejected the idea that this is a jobs bill. He said it adds a new burden in a state that already hits businesses with high taxes, fees and workers’ compensation costs. “One of the last good things we’ve got going in this state for businesses is affordable power,” he said.

* Not everybody was upset, of course. Earlier this week, several mayors penned an op-ed opposing the ComEd “Smart Grid” bill

Our communities, working through the Northwest Municipal Conference, have proposed legislative recommendations to address ComEd’s communication and transparency issues. These recommendations would help ComEd better partner with our communities during storm and non-storm related outages and must be adopted as a condition of any legislation to upgrade the electric grid.

Therefore, we as mayors have no option but to urge the members of the General Assembly to uphold the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1652 unless the bill is amended, via additional legislation, to directly address these shortfalls by including the language proposed by local governments. Until ComEd is held accountable for providing reliable power and effective communications on good days and bad, they don’t deserve the automatic rate increases and guaranteed profits in Senate Bill 1652. Unless this critical amendment is adopted, legislators should scrap Senate Bill 1652 and rewrite the bill so that smart grid technological advances don’t come at the expense of consumer safety and well-being.

* But things have a way of changing when a big company is determined to pass a bill

Now, after a series of meetings, those suburbs say they’ve struck a deal with ComEd to develop enforceable protocols to address storm outages in the entire territory. The details will be filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission within 45 days if the smart grid legislation becomes law, according to ComEd.

The Tribune recently reported that while a law exists to reimburse consumers affected by extreme outages, the utility has never paid under the law.

Separately, ComEd previously announced that it has established a Storm Response Process Improvement Task Force to develop and implement improvements in its storm restoration process and reliability performance.

The announcement is here.

* And one legislator who voted against the utilities was upbeat

And even critics, like Senator Dave Syverson, who voted against the bill twice, see a positive side to the upgrade.

“Its going to be a better system a more modern system to eliminate many of the outages and under the new system ComEd will know the power outages occur rather than someone having to call them and let them know electricity is out” says Syverson.

* Roundup…

* Legislators override Quinn’s veto on smart-grid bill

* Chuck Sweeny: Electric rates going up, thanks to Illinois Legislature

* Illinois Senate overrides Gov. Quinn’s veto of ComEd rate-hike bill

* Legislators Overturn Quinn’s “Smart Grid” Veto

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      


Hopefully, they’ll talk and not bicker

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* After yesterday’s somewhat bizarre back and forth between the two staffs, this is somewhat encouraging news

The state Senate has delayed action on a major gambling expansion, but behind-the-scenes efforts are under way.

Senate President John Cullerton’s office says he’ll be at a meeting with Gov. Pat Quinn this morning.

A Senate committee on Wednesday discussed a measure based on Quinn’s requirements for more gambling. He wants five new casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, but not slot machines at race tracks.

* Murph ain’t wrong

Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, questioned [Sen. Terry Link] at the earlier hearing, saying Quinn’s suggestions could kill the gambling expansion effort and leave the cash-strapped state without additional revenue more gambling can bring.

He called it a “failure of leadership.”

“That is going to sit right at the foot of the governor,” Murphy said.

More Murph

The original plan was expected to generate $1.5 billion in upfront fees and another $1 billion annually.

Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said he found it curious that “the governor who has lamented the lack of revenue would so flippantly turn his back on this revenue.”

* Related…

* Gaming bill held for more work

* Quinn objects to new Senate gambling proposal

* Quinn, Lawmakers in Casino Standoff

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Juror glitch on first day of Cellini deliberations

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* A slight delay

The federal jury weighing the fate of Springfield power broker William Cellini was sent home early today so lawyers could try to resolve one of the first written questions submitted by the panel on its initial day of deliberations.

Jurors asked that they be given every slide shown during the 3 ½-week trial. The slides are demonstrative exhibits that had not been admitted into evidence, raising an issue for the lawyers to decide in consultation with U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

The judge asked lawyers to reconvene in his courtroom at 8:45 a.m. Thursday to decide what to do.

* The jurors had another, more personal, request

Just hours after they began deliberating William Cellini’s fate, federal jurors had a burning question for the judge:

Can we take smoke breaks?

The answer was yes. And four or five people on the 12-member panel were seen being escorted outside the building where they could light up.

* And here’s a Cellini story I missed earlier this week

In their final push to take down a well-connected Illinois millionaire, prosecutors focused on one sound Tuesday - a laugh - as they tried to convince jurors he was in on a scheme to extort campaign cash from a Hollywood producer for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

It was part of prosecutors’ closing argument against William Cellini, who denies that he tried to shakedown the Oscar-winning producer of “Million Dollar Baby” for $1.5 million in 2004. Cellini, whose influence among Illinois politicians once earned him the nickname The King of Clout, is the last to go on trial in the federal investigation of the ousted Democratic governor.

On secret FBI recordings that prosecutors played over courtroom speakers Tuesday, Cellini seems to chuckle as he talks on the phone about the extortion with another man accused in the alleged crime.

“And the defendant is laughing: That is what corruption sounds like,” government attorney Julie Porter told jurors, her voice rising.

* I’m not sure if there will be much Tweeting, but here’s a ScribbleLive thingy just in case something big happens

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


It wasn’t all about reform concerns

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* There was a lot of talk from Chicago Democrats in the Senate yesterday about how killing a properly negotiated state contracts was setting a very bad precedent

An effort to overturn this year’s new health-insurance contracts for state employees and extend Health Alliance’s contract for two years failed Wednesday in the Illinois Senate.

On a 28-28 vote, the Senate failed to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a bill that would have extended for two years contracts that expired June 30. The measure also would have given a legislative panel explicit authority to throw out contracts awarded by state agencies. […]

But on Wednesday, 13 senators — almost all of them Democrats and most from the Chicago area — voted against the override after originally voting for the bill or not voting. One Democratic senator who previously voted “yes” didn’t vote Wednesday, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, changed his previous “yes” vote to “present.”

They’re right that this is a very bad precedent. The separation of powers questions are a big problem with this idea. But what’s missing here is that Blue Cross won the bid to supply the coverage. Blue Cross employs a whole lot of people in Chicago. Ergo, hometown pressure. Don’t discount that.

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s office also worked this bill hard, which definitely helped kill the veto override. Unlike the “Smart Grid” bill and the gaming bill, the governor didn’t demagogue this issue. It worked. Perhaps a lesson could be learned?

* More

State Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, said the failure of the override was an unwelcome surprise.

“It’s the old story that Chicago is dictating policy. This is a slap in the face to downstate,” said Cultra, who represents scores of Central Illinois constituents affected by the switch.

Opponents said the legislature should not intervene in an area that is the responsibility of the executive branch.

“Where does it stop?” said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.

There’s fear by some Downstaters that if Health Alliance goes under because it lost its longtime contract, then Blue Cross might be able to raise its rates when the next contract negotiation comes along.

* Related…

* Reinsdorf’s sweet deal at U.S. Cellular Field gets even sweeter

* Top 1% getting richer while poor, middle class lag

* City airport leader opposed to wage requirement measure

* Children’s Museum out of new plan for renovating Grant Park’s northeast corner; leader of park advisory group says controversial project is dead

* Kraft mulls moving back to Chicago

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


*** VETO SESSION LIVE BLOG ***

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* Blackberry users click here. iPad and iPhone users remember to use two fingers when scrolling. The governor and the four legislative leaders are meeting this morning, and that could be the biggest highlight of the day…

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Morning videos

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* AFSCME Council 31 President Henry Bayer compares House Speaker Michael Madigan to Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker

* There was a pretty big union rally at the Statehouse yesterday. The IEA has a brief video

* The Illinois College Republicans have a new video

The Illinois College Republicans are launching a new grassroots initiative this week in response to OWS. The initiative is called “Liberate Main Street”. New CR state president Mick Paskiewicz told Illinois Review, “We’re kicking it off by releasing this video today, and from here we’re encouraging our chapters to host Liberate Main St. events on their campuses to recruit college students.”

Watch

* From the Daily Herald

Supporters of Joe Walsh’s campaign for the 14th District GOP primary have unleashed a brutal Facebook page that cuts at just about everything opponent (and current 14th District Congressman) Randy Hultgren stands for. […]

Writing as if it’s Hultgren himself who’s posting on the page, it mocks an “allegiance” to “GOP establishment masters” Peter Roskam and John Boehner, Hultgren’s recent hire of campaign “hit man” Joe Calomino, and his promise not to mudsling.

“Here’s screen shot number 14 of my personal attack (that I promised I wouldn’t do) of my opponent Joe Walsh on my Facebook page….that I recently deleted and some pesky Tea Partier took screen shots of. DING DANG IT!” is one recent post.

The Facebook page is here. And here’s a video from that page

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


This just in… Supremes strip Blagojevich’s law license

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* 2:41 pm - The Illinois Supreme Court has just indefinitely suspended Rod Blagojevich’s law license

The rule to show cause that issued to respondent Rod R. Blagojevich on September 6, 2011. pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 77 4 is enforced, and respondent is suspended from the practice of law effective immediately and until further order of Court.

Order entered by the Court.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Notice to readers

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* I’m going to be pretty busy for the rest of the day, so most veto session updates will be in the live blog from now (noonish) on. So, click here to keep track of stuff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x3 *** Question of the day

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* Earlier this week, Sen. Terry Link said the Senate Democratic staff was working with the governor’s office to devise legislation that reflected Gov. Pat Quinn’s wishes on the gaming expansion bill

“Our staff has been working with (Quinn’s) staff to put together his ideas into real form. And all of his concepts will be put exactly into a bill form, exactly the way he wants it so it will be his bill that I will be presenting,” Link said.

That bill surfaced earlier today. Click here to read it.

* Despite Link’s claims, Gov. Quinn derided any effort to bring his ideas to the floor for a vote

“We don’t need any charades. What we need is the Senate, which passed the bill on the 31st of May, to send the bill to the governor. Stop the game-playing, stop the delays or whatever else they’re doing over there.

“They passed their masterpiece on May 31. Bring it on. Make my day. And I’ll be happy to examine that bill and use the power of the governor’s office and the executive branch to send them how I feel about their bill.”

Video

*** UPDATE 1 *** From the governor’s press office…

Hi Rich,

The bill that was introduced today is not a serious effort to address the Governor’s concerns about Senate Bill 744.

This is not “the Governor’s bill.” Instead of improving their current bill and having good faith discussions within the Governor’s framework amongst the House, the City of Chicago, the racing industry, the Gaming Board, and the Governor’s Office, some have chosen to put on a charade.

The Governor announced a framework – not a bill- for any gambling expansion last week. He will support a smaller, more moderate gambling expansion that prevents corruption and provides adequate revenue for education.

Governor Quinn looks forward to moving past the political games and towards sincere negotiations to reach a legitimate proposal that meets the framework he laid out to protect the interests of the people of Illinois.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Senate President Cullerton’s spokesperson…

What part of 747 inaccurately reflects the Governor’s framework? Staff took care to consult with the Governors staff to ensure that the draft was an accurate interpretation of the Governor’s press packet.

The failure of the Governor to appropriately engage the legislature by submitting an actual bill for consideration brings us to the point we are today.

Oof.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Sen. Terry Link responds

“The governor was making phone calls trying to get people supporting this before we even had a bill written, so he was already making phone calls and I think he already felt that there was a lot of people out there who didn’t have the willingness to vote for his concept,” Link said. “The governor probably knows the roll call already, and that’s why he’s denouncing it and saying ‘this is not my bill.’ Well, governor, if you really want something, sit down with us and work on it.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* The Question: As long as the Senate bill accurately reflects the governor’s wishes, do you think it’s proper to bring this gaming legislation to the floor for a vote? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.


- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - Houses passes trailer bill *** Senate finds the votes for ComEd bill despite Quinn threats

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

*** UPDATE 1 *** HB3036, the “Smart Grid” trailer bill just passed the House 91-24 without debate. The bill now goes to the governor.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Apparently, some House members didn’t realize what they were voting on because several have risen in the past few minutes to ask that the journal be changed to reflect a “No” vote.

Sheesh.

*** UPDATE 3 *** From Nicole Wilson

Senator Jacobs holds off on calling Smart Grid Bill for override despite the fact that he says he has the votes to restore.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* The Sun-Times editorialized against the “Smart Grid” trailer bill today

Quinn, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Citizens Utility Board, AARP and other critics say the bill would set ComEd profits at about 10 percent and could go higher.

But there is no comparable guarantee for ratepayers. A provision that their total bills won’t go up more than 2.5 percent lasts only two years.

ComEd and its Downstate counterpart, Ameren, have been fighting hard for this bill. ComEd argues that the new system outlined in the legislation would encourage the utility to invest in a better electrical system instead of just trying to keep its existing system running. And ComEd officials emphasize that they will be required to meet performance measures to get their full profits, though critics say the measures will be so easy to meet they are virtually worthless.

* The Tribune editorialized for it

We viewed this legislation with skepticism, and only now embrace it. We thought the formula for return on equity was too rich in favor of the utilities. With Tuesday’s trailer bill, it’s whittled down to a more reasonable level. We thought the requirements for hardening the grid against future storm outages were inadequate. The trailer bill addresses that too. ComEd even revived a good idea for a fund to cushion the impact of higher rates on the elderly and poor. As the legislation underwent a rigorous review, it got better. That’s how the legislative process is supposed to work.

If ComEd and Ameren do manage to pass this legislation, they take on a very significant commitment. The bill requires them to bring the state’s power system into the 21st century. But like all bills, it provides only a framework. The success or failure of the new law will come down to how the utilities implement it. They need to maximize the benefit to their customers. They need to deliver on the many important promises they’ve made. All of us will need to hold them accountable.

* My own opinion is the governor should’ve been far more involved in the process and tried to cut the best deal possible for consumers, without all the demagoguery

The Illinois Senate torpedoed what had been the governor’s No. 1 priority in the fall veto session, voting 37-10 to approve legislation sought by Commonwealth Edison that was part of a $2.6 billion rate-increase package.

The margin signals that senators have the votes to override Quinn’s veto of the main package.Shortly before Tuesday’s vote, the governor appeared before reporters, churning out sound bite after sound bite in a furious tirade against the utility company and rank-and-file legislators who pocketed its campaign contributions.

“There’s no way to put perfume on this skunk, and that’s what it is,” the governor said, referring to the legislation sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) that won Senate backing a short time later.

The governor derided ComEd’s so-called “smart-grid” legislation as a “smart-greed” bill and condemned “legislators with three loaves of bread under each arm, all the campaign donations they’ve gotten from the utility companies.”

“It’s harmful to the public and the public interest,” the governor said.

* More

The governor said Illinois utility companies including ComEd are trying to ram the so-called Smart Grid Bill down the throats of rate payers. He accused the companies of using lobbyists and money to convince a majority of state lawmakers to vote yes.

“We have some legislators who have three loaves of bread under each arm, all the campaign donations they’ve got the public interest,” Gov. Quinn said.

* The House sponsor of the original ComEd bill was not amused

State Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Orlando Park, who is shepherding SmartGrid through the House, said Quinn is coming close to insulting lawmakers with his talk of loaves and campaign donations.

“Trying to imply that because a person got a contribution that that’s going to stop and make them (change their vote), that shouldn’t be in the discourse,” said McCarthy.

* Neither was the trailer bill’s Senate sponsor

“There is nothing in this trailer bill that is controversial or bad for consumers,” countered Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who sponsored the measure.

* Gov. Quinn’s presser

* Related…

* VIDEO: AARP rally

* VIDEO: AFL-CIO to lawmakers: Grid Modernization all about jobs

* Lawmakers look for ways around Quinn’s opposition

* Marin: ‘99 percent’ out of luck in Springfield

* Illinois State Senate Approves New Smart Grid Bill

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Speed cam bill has some stunning consequences

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* Wow

Nearly half the city would fall into so-called safety zones where speed cameras sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel could flag fast drivers for $100 tickets, according to a Tribune analysis of camera legislation in Springfield. […]

The measures, one sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and the other by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, would render about 47 percent of the city eligible for speed camera surveillance, the analysis found. As originally introduced last week, Madigan’s bill would have covered about 75 percent of the city, but he promised Tuesday to scale it back.

* But the Sun-Times says the original proposal would cover 99 percent of the city

* As mentioned above, Madigan wants it scaled back

But Madigan, saying he was responding to complaints aired by Republicans on that Senate panel, said he would revise his bill to restrict camera use to between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. around schools. Near parks, speed cameras could be flicked on one hour before the park opens and stay on until one hour after it closes, Madigan said.

* Rationale

Last spring, the Chicago Department of Transportation collected speed information at seven existing red-light camera intersections within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks and found that 25.7 percent of the 1.5 million vehicles — 360,000 drivers — were traveling above the 30 mph speed limit, officials said.

“This is about deterrence. I want our kids to get to school and be in schools safely,” the mayor said.

“I have a set of policies already put in place on the curfew, more cameras in schools, raising the fines for those who have guns near schools. And I want to make sure that people driving near a school or a park have a deterrence.”

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said that pedestrian deaths in Chicago are 68 percent higher than in New York City, with the overwhelming cause being a failure to yield.

* Gov. Pat Quinn was asked about the legislation yesterday and said he wanted to make sure the proposal wasn’t being used merely as a revenue generator

* And, of course

State records show Redflex has hired the influential lobbying firm of Fletcher, O’Brien, Kasper and Nottage, P.C., to push its interests in Springfield. One of the firm’s named members, attorney Michael Kasper, is the general counsel and treasurer of the state Democratic Party that Madigan runs. Kasper was also hired by Emanuel to beat back several residency challenges that threatened his mayoral run.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Madigan takes jabs at Quinn, AFSCME

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* House Speaker Michael Madigan unveiled a joint resolution yesterday which attempts to inject the General Assembly into upcoming state labor negotiations

Madigan introduced a resolution that would empower the Legislature to have input into raises that may be part of upcoming collective-bargaining talks between Quinn’s administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In a jab at Quinn, Madigan’s measure also states that no-layoff pledges, like the governor’s “side agreement with AFSCME,” can’t be part of collective-bargaining discussions.

“Gov. Quinn gave that away. I don’t think he should do that, and that’s why we recite in this resolution that should not be done,” said Madigan, chairman of the state Democratic Party.

* The Speaker’s rationale

Madigan said the state faces tough budgets for years to come, and much of the spending in those budgets will be employee salaries. The resolution states that payroll for AFSCME members alone in the current budget year would have been more than $2.76 billion had lawmakers not cut personnel expenses.

The resolution also states that cost of living increases for AFSCME members have averaged 4.25 percent a year over the past five years. From 2007 to 2010, the resolution says, the consumer price index has increased an average of 1.95 percent a year.

“We have a choice. We can stand on the sidelines and let those people go off and do what they do and send us a bill,” Madigan said. “Or, we can interject ourselves now and be present through the negotiations.”

AFSCME’s contract expires June 30.

* With many thanks to our friends at BlueRoomStream.com, here’s raw video of Madigan’s remarks on the House floor

* From Madigan’s resolution

[Resolved…] the State shall appropriate for no more than an X% increase for wage increases associated with any and all collectively bargained contracts throughout State government; and be it further

RESOLVED, That it shall be the policy of the State of Illinois that the size of, or a reduction in, the State employee workforce shall not be a topic of collective bargaining.

* More

Madigan implied Quinn and his aides — or “those people” — can’t be trusted to negotiate financially realistic contracts. Instead, lawmakers should play a role so that they don’t get any nasty surprises.

“We can stand on the sidelines, let those people go off and do what they do and send us a bill, or we can interject ourselves now and be present through the negotiations so that our position is known and understood as those people are bargaining,” Madigan said told fellow lawmakers.

Madigan said a House committee will determine an acceptable percentage for union raises in the next contract and then vote on the resolution before the Legislature adjourns its fall session next month. Senate President John Cullerton, D- Chicago, said he wants the two chambers to work together on the issue and he would review Madigan’s plan.

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson called Madigan’s resolution “an interesting suggestion.”

* AFSCME’s response

“Instead of stirring resentment toward working people and weakening their rights to bargain collectively, Illinois politicians should focus on fixing a tax structure that has never made rich people and big corporations pay their fair share,” said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall. “It’s wrong to shift blame from the tax-ducking 1% and the recession they caused to the middle class wages of average working people who care for veterans and the disabled, protect children and keep prisons safe.”

* Coincidentally, organized labor is holding a major Statehouse rally today.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


SB1652 – Your Constituents Speak Out

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

We know what ComEd and Ameren have been saying about SB1652, but what have your constituents been saying on the issue?

On October 11th a statewide survey was conducted with 800 registered voters in Illinois on SB1652. Check out the results:

    · 70% responded that their electric service was reliable.

    · 69% responded that they would be against an annual increase in their electric bill to improve reliability and prevent power outages.

    · 50% responded that they consider their electric bill too high.

    · 47% responded that SB1652 should be “amended to protect consumers” AND, without being prompted, 26% said “don’t pass anything”.

    · 52% responded that they would be “not likely at all” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually – and 21% would be “somewhat less likely” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually

    · 10% responded “State Legislature” when asked, between the State Legislature and the ICC, which group best represents their interests in regulating electric utilities.

AARP urges you to listen to your constituents and uphold the Governor’s veto of SB1652.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** VETO SESSION LIVE BLOG ***

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* The Senate’s is scheduled to convene at 9 o’clock. Video/Audio here. The House convenes at 10. Floor and committee Video/Audio is here.

As always, BlackBerry users should click here. Everyone else can kick back and watch. Also, if you’re using an iPad or iPhone, you need to use two fingers to manually scroll down. Click here for a quick demonstration video.

I’ll start things off with a few amusing Tweets from late yesterday and last night then move on to the current stuff…

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Yes to the smart-grid bill

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

A big step forward for an antiquated power system
Chicago Tribune Editorial – October, 26, 2011

“…a plus for Illinois businesses and citizens. We support it.”

“…This measure coupled with the changes offered in the trailer bill offers the best way available to secure the power system that Illinois needs for the future.”

“Right now, Illinois relies on century-old electro-mechanical controls that are inexcusably dumb. Upgrading to interactive, digital technology would enable customers of all sizes to buy and use electricity more efficiently.”

“…a good idea for a fund to cushion the impact of higher rates on the elderly and poor.”

“As the legislation underwent a rigorous review, it got better. That’s how the legislative process is supposed to work.”

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x1 *** At least make ‘em pay something while they hold a gun to our heads

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* Emil Jones is a Cub fan, but for once in somebody’s life that may be a good thing

Emil Jones Jr., the head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, told Crain’s Chicago Business this week that the agency is considering upping the amount the Sox pay in rent — currently $1.5 million annually.

“If you compare (lease terms) to other sports stadiums around the country, the Sox pay the lowest rent of all the facilities,” Jones told Crain’s. “It’s something we’ll be looking at.” […]

Questions about the lease payments come as the Sox prepare to open a new team store, and just a few months after the organization opened up the Bacardi at the Park restaurant — both built on state-owned land, Crain’s reported.

I’m a Sox fan, but I have no problem upping the team’s rent. That Bacardi at the Park restaurant did gangbuster business this year. It sits on taxpayer property, so the Sox ought to pay.

* And while this is being portrayed as sleazy, it’s pretty standard procedure for the opposition (ComEd/Exelon), and at least somebody is doing something for the state, unlike CME Group, which wants a huge tax break without offering up anything in return

Tenaska Inc., the Omaha, Neb.-based company trying to win enough votes in the Legislature for its planned “clean coal” power plant in Downstate Taylorville, has agreed to set up a $30-million foundation providing scholarships to disadvantaged minority students if the bill passes.

It’s actually a million dollars a year, not $30 mil all at once, and the foundation won’t be set up until after the plant is online, not when the bill passes.

The obvious danger is that legislators will try to use this to supplement the much-maligned legislative scholarship program. And unlike that state program, the Tenaska scholarships could be hidden from the public.

* Speaking of the CME Group, some opposition from traders is developing to its big tax break

After months of negotiations with Governor Pat Quinn and state legislators, the exchanges appear to have clinched a tax cut for electronic trades, which account for the bulk of their trading. […]

Just 11 percent of CME trading takes place on its two trading floors, one in Chicago and the other in New York. […]

Floor traders queried on Tuesday said the way the tax break is structured makes them nervous, because trading is already migrating away from open outcry and to the computer screen. If electronic trades get a tax break, they said, exchanges will have even less of a reason to promote face-to-face trading.

“It’s just another nail in the coffin for the floor,” said Chess Obermeier, a veteran corn options broker and trader at the Chicago Board of Trade. While nearly all CME futures are traded electronically, about 70 percent of options are still bought and sold on the trading floor. […]

“It’s not going to have a big impact on us but it keeps pushing the momentum away from the pit.” [Obermeier] said.

* Senate Republicans aren’t on board yet, either

“We want to keep CME in Illinois, but we also want to keep small and medium-size business that are also suffering,” said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno.

Radogno is scheduled to meet with legislative leaders and Illinois’s Democratic Governor Pat Quinn later this week, “so that we can collectively fix the problems,” said Schuh.

It’s unclear what Cullerton will do next to push the bill through the General Assembly. The exchanges threatened to move key operations and perhaps thousands of jobs to a more tax-friendly state after the Illinois legislature in January raised the corporate income tax to 7%, from 4.8%.

Cullerton had expected executive committee approval on Tuesday and consideration by the full Senate on Wednesday.

And

The bill also includes an extension of the state’s research and development tax credit for businesses, which is expiring. That addition will cost the state another $25 million to $30 million a year in tax revenue, bringing the bill’s total annual cost to the $90 million range.

The Republicans object to the way that provision was drafted as well, Schuh said.

* The dealio

Mr. Cullerton’s office says the break would save CME $60 million and CBOE around $6 million. In addition, to lure Downstate votes, the measure also contains a clause that would revive the recently expired corporate tax break for research and development, costing another $25 million to $30 million or so.

And those figures could be low.

As I told you yesterday, the governor’s office says the figure is upwards of $100 million. Cullerton claims the governor’s office is wrong.

*** UPDATE *** Oops. I forgot to post this video of Gov. Quinn responding to a question about the CME proposal. He was noncommittal

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* And now, on to Sears

The battle over the proposed 15-year extension of tax breaks to Sears Holdings Corp. continued to rage Tuesday, with School District 300 unveiling a proposal that would allow it to receive a bigger share of property tax revenue from the corporate development than currently under consideration.

The district now receives close to $3 million a year from the development, which it says is far short of the $14 million it would receive annually if the tax break expires and Sears stays put. The district is proposing a structure in which it would get about $12 million a year.

Under a plan being developed by Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, it likely would get less, more in the neighborhood of $6 million.

More

[Sen. Kotowski’s] three-pronged plan would charge Sears a penalty if it left the state and require the company to keep more than 4,000 jobs in the area (the current EDA agreement calls for 2,500, and the amendment to Senate Bill 540, 4,000). It also would make sure the school district would “at least get double the amount of money they are receiving” from the EDA, he said.

We’ll save the ComEd/Ameren bill for a separate post.

* Related…

* Tenaska plant to get another look from legislators

* Hoffman Estates confident in Sears fight despite D300’s Springfield visit

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


STOP: The Misinformation Campaign

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

When the biggest utility in Illinois opposes competition and wants to protect billions in extra profits, they’ll gladly trample the truth if it gets in their way.

They support a so-called coalition that will stop at nothing and say anything, even if it’s not true.

STOP Claim: “Taylorville Energy Center electricity will cost SEVEN times market price.”

The Truth: In a cynical attempt to manipulate lawmakers, STOP wants to compare a price that includes 30 YEARS OF INFLATION with today’s historically low market prices. It’s like comparing the price of gas at the pump today with what we’ll pay on average between now and 2041.

STOP Claim: “Tenaska wants Illinois consumers to pay even if their plant produces no power.”

The Truth: The legislation was changed six months ago at the request of ComEd so this remote possibility could never happen. Which part do STOP and ComEd not understand?

STOP Claim: “We don’t need any new baseload. The speculation on the closure of baseload plants is just that, it’s speculation.”

The Truth: 239 coal plants (40 GIGAWATTS) have already announced they will close because of the new EPA rules. Industry analysts expect Illinois to lose up to HALF of its coal plants, which currently provide 45% of Illinois electricity.

AG Madigan, Senator Durbin, CUB and a diverse coalition from around the state know the truth which is why they’re supporting the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Investment Act, SB 678.

Vote Yes!

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and a campaign roundup

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Indiana Plant Shows Why Illinois Should Reject the Taylorville Energy Center

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The Illinois legislature is expected to consider SB 678 that would force Illinois families, businesses and government agencies to pay up to seven times today’s market price for electricity to build Tenaska’s Taylorville Energy Center (TEC).

Illinois should learn from Indiana’s disastrous experience with a coal-gasification plant in Edwardsport, Indiana – similar to what Tenaska wants to build – and reject the TEC.

The Indiana plant has been in construction since 2008 and is still not complete. Its owners originally estimated the cost to be $1.98 billion, but the project has suffered numerous construction and engineering setbacks resulting in huge cost overruns. The project’s scope and complexity have driven costs up to a currently estimated $2.98 billion – a full $1 billion over budget! This includes a filing last week that upped the costs an additional $220 million.

Predictably, the plant’s owners are passing most of the costs onto consumers. The company has won approval to pass along at least $2.35 billion of its costs to customers. Click here to read a recent Indianapolis Star-Tribune article about this enormous mess.

Even if Tenaska’s TEC were built on schedule and on budget, it would still cost Illinois families, businesses, and government agencies up to seven times today’s market price for electricity for the next 30 years. And as Indiana’s experience shows, it could be far worse!

But it’s not too late for Illinois to reject the TEC. Please take a moment to let your legislator know that you oppose the Taylorville Energy Center. Visit www.STOPCoalition.com to learn more.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Caption contest!

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011

* This is just too good to pass up…

Have fun, but let’s not allow this to devolve into some silly DC talking points flame war, please. Thanks.

Also, as always, keep it clean, people.

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Rauner lambasted, even called "traitor" for siding with Democrats on abortion bill
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* Today's number: 32 percent
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