* This buried little nugget in a Tribune roundup is the most overlooked story of the session so far, but I’m betting that won’t last…
During the last few years, lawmakers each were supposed to take 12 unpaid days a year as a recognition of the state’s rocky financial condition. On Friday, lawmakers decided to keep that money when the new budget year starts July 1, providing a minimum $3,100 boost that would return the base salary for their part-time jobs to $67,836, though most lawmakers get an additional $10,000 or so for committee posts.
Yeah, because they did such a great job.
* And if this next bill is signed into law, those legislative paychecks can never be blocked again…
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton gave a little political payback to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday as the spring session headed toward the finish line […]
(L)ast summer, Quinn vetoed the money for lawmakers’ paychecks after they ended session without sending him a bill to reform the state’s government worker pension systems. On Friday, Madigan and Cullerton passed a measure that would keep lawmaker paychecks flowing.
“You’ll remember the governor vetoed our salaries in the middle of last summer,” said House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, Madigan’s top lieutenant who maintained the paycheck move was not personal but rather an issue of “separation of powers.” “We didn’t like that very much, and a court said the governor couldn’t do it. But in order to make sure our governor doesn’t try it again, this will ensure that our paychecks come as they are supposed to come.”
What they did was create a continuing appropriation. So, if there is ever another veto, paychecks will still be issued.
* The roof problems at the governor’s mansion are also indicative of the bass-ackwards way our government is run…
Over at the Governor’s Mansion, the 44-year-old roof is gasping for life. Water is coming in. Plaster is falling down. Antique furniture has been yanked out of the third-floor Lincoln and Yates bedrooms and stored for safekeeping. Called the “people’s house,” this is the most irresistible metaphor for the neglect and corrosion of our fiscal state. […]
According to Rep. Brauer, there is money in a $3.7 million appropriation to make repairs, though the administration disputes that. Nobody disputes that this is an emergency that has only gotten more expensive by waiting.
Like every other state problem you can think of. […]
While the governor lives in a money-pit fixer-upper, Speaker Mike Madigan operates out of a gilt capitol palace, the renovation of which was downright reverential in its attention to detail. Copper doors, sconces and chandeliers. Nice digs for a Legislature that gets nothing done.
* And speaking of those nice Statehouse digs…
In September, Quinn blocked spending on Capitol renovations after questions were raised about how money was spent, from big chandeliers in lawmakers’ offices to newly installed maidens on the grand staircase to three wooden double doors coated in glistening copper that cost nearly $670,000. On Friday, Madigan and Cullerton passed a bill that would take away Quinn’s ability to block spending on Capitol renovations.
* And speaking of Madigan…
The budget also included language that authorizes $35 million in school construction in Chicago, funds that will be used to pay for a 1,200 student school in Madigan’s political home turf in the 13th Ward near Midway Airport.
“It’s a new school that’s planned,” Madigan said after the House adjourned shortly before 8 p.m. Friday.
Asked if it would be named in his honor, the longtime speaker smiled and said, “It doesn’t have a name. It’s a brand new building…. There’s severe overcrowding on the southwest side of Chicago.”
The big dogs always eat first here…
Renovating the historic Uptown Theatre is the “missing piece” to creating an entertainment district in the North Side neighborhood, proponents say. And that effort just got a $10 million boost.
A House Bill which included the appropriation for the theater — pushed by Senate President John Cullerton (D) — passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature last week. It’s the first major investment in the theater since it was purchased by JAM Productions in 2008.
“We’re happy to help jumpstart that project. Of course we know it’s just upward of $70 million for the theater’s full renovation but he still wanted to jumpstart it,” said Rikeesha Pheon, a spokeswoman for Cullerton. “He thinks it could be the centerpiece of Uptown.”