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*** UPDATED x1 *** An independent mind

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015

* Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) is one of my favorite legislators because, whether you agree with him or not, he has an independent mind and is not afraid to calmly speak it

“In my view, they are at an absolute impasse,” Harris said. “Both sides are kind of right.”

He said Democrats’ criticism of Rauner’s push to tie other non-budget related items to the budget, such as term limits and redistricting reform, is fair, but he disagreed with criticism from Democrats of Rauner’s inclusion of other reform items that could have budget implications. Those items include collective bargaining, workers compensation reform, prevailing wage reform and a proposed two-year property tax freeze.

Again, you may not agree that collective bargaining and whatever should be on the table, but he’s right that they’ll all impact the budget one way or another (maybe negatively in some cases, like a property tax freeze).

* And speaking of Rep. Harris…

Earlier today I submitted a letter to the Comptroller asking her to move my salary from a direct deposit arrangement to a paper check. I understand that this is the procedure that former Gov. Quinn used when he refused to accept his salary during the disagreement with the General Assembly regarding his veto of legislators’ salaries.

By moving to a paper check, I am asking the Comptroller to withhold my paycheck in the event that the current budget disagreement continues through July and that other State employees are not paid when paychecks are due.

Because of PA 98-682, it is my understanding that legislators’ salaries are on a continuing appropriation and thus would be paid notwithstanding the lack of a budget agreement.

I have stated many times that I believe it is inappropriate for legislators to be paid on time if other State employees are not paid on time.

Unlike Quinn, Harris is not a grandstander. I see this more as a leading by example thing.

*** UPDATE *** From a press release…

State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) today sent Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger a letter asking to be removed from the state’s direct deposit payroll until further notice saying he does not want to accept his legislative salary if state employees are not getting paid.

State law allows legislators to receive pay even if a state budget agreement is not in place. However, if a state budget deal is not reached before July 15th, state employees might not be able to receive their pay.

McSweeney said by opting out of the state’s direct deposit system he is following the lead of State Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) who has also sent the Comptroller a letter opting out of his legislative pay.

“I do not think it is right for legislators to receive a paycheck when state employees might not receive the pay they have rightfully earned. We should do our job and quickly adopt a permanent budget without any tax increases.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner uses amendatory veto to strike legislative pay raises from BIMP bill

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015

* Rewrite to do right…

To the Honorable Members of
The Illinois Senate,
99th General Assembly:

Today I return Senate Bill 1354, one of several budget implementation bills, with a specific recommendation for change.

After a decade of mismanagement, the State of Illinois is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. The State is suffering from a debt burden well in excess of $100 billion.

Instead of acknowledging this reality, the General Assembly passed an unbalanced and unconstitutional budget for Fiscal Year 2016. Last week I vetoed 19 of those appropriation bills and have asked the General Assembly to work with me to craft a balanced budget.

A balanced budget requires shared sacrifice. My Administration has reduced State personnel costs among agencies under my jurisdiction by $4 million during the first four full months (February through May) of this year, compared to the same period last year.

Under these circumstances, the State cannot afford to give legislators a raise. Illinois legislators are already among the highest paid in the United States, earning $68,000 to $95,000 per year for part-time service, plus per diem payments and mileage reimbursement. Without the change recommended below, legislators would receive raises ranging from $1,356 to $1,905 for Fiscal Year 2016 and increases in both the per diem amount and mileage reimbursement rate.

I recommend that Senate Bill 1354 be changed to eliminate raises for legislators, elected officers of the Executive Branch, and agency directors and other highly compensated State officials, and to freeze the per diem amount and mileage reimbursement rate. Budget implementation bills must give us the tools to implement a balanced and realistic budget, and this change is an important step in closing our budget deficit. A similar provision has been enacted for each of the past six fiscal years.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(e) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 1354, entitled “AN ACT concerning State government”, with the following specific recommendation for change:

I’ll get a link or a file so you can read the whole thing in a bit.

If the GA refuses to act, as is often the case with these, the whole BIMP goes down.

…Adding… The full veto message is here.

…Adding More… Wasn’t it sweet of the Tribune editorial page to provide a conveniently timed framing of this issue for the governor today?…

Office of the Governor
Bruce Rauner
Wednesday, July 01, 2015

ICYMI: If there’s a shutdown, guess who won’t feel it?

The following is an excerpt of an Op-Ed that was published by the Chicago Tribune:

Remarkably, while workers face layoffs, state legislators won’t feel the pinch, thanks to a bill passed last year. It classifies legislator pay as a continuing appropriation — a budget item that state law mandates be funded even in the event of a government shutdown. The bill puts compensating part-time legislators on par with the state’s big-ticket items such as debt and pension payments and retiree health benefits.

This bill was pushed through the General Assembly on the last day of the 2014 spring session, with full support from Democratic supermajorities in both chambers. Supermajorities who owe their place in the debacle that is Springfield to the millions of dollars they receive to fund their campaigns from state worker unions. The same state workers who are jeopardized by the budget impasse.

But, hey, no skin off Rep. Kate Cloonen’s back. The Kankakee Democrat’s paycheck will arrive right on time, thanks to her vote on the bill. Same with Reps. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park; Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale; Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines; Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg; Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills; and John Bradley, D-Marion. Why run the state and deliver necessary services efficiently when you can win an election? Why protect the lives that people are trying to build when you can make the new Republican governor look like a villain?

Lovely.

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

Under a longstanding resolution, the GA gets an automatic COLA increase unless they vote to stop it. They have done so often, including each of the past six years.

Here are the bills that denied the COLA in recent years: FY10 (P.A. 96-800), FY11 (P.A. 96-958), FY12 (P.A. 97-71), FY13 (P.A. 97-718), FY14 (P.A. 98-30), and FY15 (P.A.98-682)

Some of these are stand alone bills (eg 98-30). Others are BIMPs or coupled with other fiscal changes (eg 98-682).

The GA normally acts before July 1. But there is nothing to stop them from accepting our amendment now, before the first paycheck. If they do, it would difficult for them to assert a constitutional challenge, in particular because it is a change by their own acceptance.

This is different than what Quinn tried to do when he stopped paying them and tried to line item veto their salaries. We are asking only that the GA take the same vote they have repeatedly done.

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      


Um… Huh?

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015

* Erickson

“I am for a temporary budget to make sure essential services are taken care of,” said state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale.

But, Republican lawmakers said they oppose the idea. And, they rejected accusations they were playing a game of political chicken designed to see which side would blink first.

“I hope that’s not the case because these are people’s lives we’re dealing with,” said state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth. “The General Assembly should do what it is supposed to do… and that is pass a balanced budget.”

State Rep. Adam Brown, a Champaign Republican who last week supported a temporary budget, changed his opinion Tuesday after the governor’s staff weighed in on the issue.

“I think listening to the administration today you’re hearing that essential services will continue to be funded and I think that’s extremely important and that’s the right path,” Brown said.

* The synopsis of HB 4235, introduced June 29th by Rep. Bill Mitchell and joined as co-sponsor on Tuesday by Rep. Adam Brown and several other Republicans

Expands current continuing appropriations provisions to cover executive branch operations and all State universities (currently, the provisions cover only judges and the legislative branch).

Defines “executive branch operations” to include all State agencies, the office of any constitutional officer, including any agency or entity reporting to a constitutional officer, and any agency, board, commission, or other entity of the executive branch. Effective immediately.

Signing onto that bill would mean support for spending way more money than the state is projected to bring in next fiscal year.

…Adding… SJ-R

Springfield Republican representatives Raymond Poe and Tim Butler did not rule out supporting the temporary budget.

“This isn’t the answer, but I’m going to take a hard look at it,” Butler said. “I’m someone who wants to see government keep running, but I continue to feel this is just one more kicking the can down the road instead of getting to the table and talking about things.”

Rep. Butler is also listed as a co-sponsor.

…Adding… From Rep. Mitchell in comments…

The bill I filed wouldn’t increase spending. It would pay currently employed state and university employees what they are entitled to. They are reporting to work. They should be paid.

OK, but compare that to the logic used by Gov. Rauner’s budget director earlier today. Under that framing, you could conceivably “extrapolate” higher costs in FY 16.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


When “fundamentally wrong” becomes “greater flexibility”

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015

* From December 12, 2014

On a preliminary trip to Springfield after winning the November election, Governor-elect Bruce Rauner held a press conference to draw attention to some of the gimmicks included in the current State budget, including interfund borrowing.

Mr. Rauner called the plan to use $650 million borrowed from Special State Funds for FY2015 General Funds operations “fundamentally wrong.” The Governor-elect critiqued the practice, known as interfund borrowing, due to the requirement to pay back the funds over the next 18 months and the gap it creates in the FY2016 budget.

* Well, the governor has reversed course

Gov. Bruce Rauner has borrowed $454 million from special state funds to help manage cash flow as Illinois begins a new fiscal year without a budget.

The Republican borrowed the money from more than two dozen funds designated for other purposes. The largest amounts came from an account for school infrastructure and a fund to help low-income people pay utility bills.

Rauner, you will recall, refused to tap into that borrowing authority during the spring, demanding instead that lawmakers permanently sweep special funds.

* An e-mail from Mike Schrimpf…

Gives us greater flexibility to manage cash flow without a budget and helps reduce the specter of prompt payment penalties, which the state has routinely faced.

The School Infrastructure Fund is hit for $179 million, LIHEAP will take a $75 million hit, etc.

This is actually not a bad idea on both the governing and political sides of the equation. It will most definitely help the administration keep its head above water for a while as it struggles to pin the blame for the budget crisis on Democratic intransigence.

…Adding… A commenter asks…

Ok. Pardon my ignorance but if the AG says money can’t be spent without an appropriation how can the gov spend this?

They can use this money to pay FY 15 bills, which will help keep some not for profits, etc. afloat.

…Adding More… A valid complaint registered in comments…

(T)hat’s a nice little $450 million hole we’re starting off with in FY ‘17 without even wrapping up FY ‘16, isn’t it?

The governor loves to use the phrase “kicking the can,” and he did just that today.

Again, this is I believe a prudent move, but it’s not anywhere near consistent with even his recent remarks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Ounce joins budget coalition statement

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015

* This is, of course, Mrs. Rauner’s group, which makes it newsworthy. From a June 30th press release…

The Ounce of Prevention Fund announced that it has joined a coalition of more than 300 nonprofit organizations across Illinois in calling on Governor Rauner and the General Assembly to work together to pass a fair, adequate and fully funded Fiscal Year 2016 budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st. A letter from the nonprofits—representing a cross-section of education, health and human service organizations—was hand delivered today to Governor Rauner, Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Durkin, and Leader Radogno, along with many other legislative and administrative leaders. The letter highlights the devastating impact budgetary inaction has and will continue to have on the nonprofits and the children and adults who rely on their programs and support, as well as those services provided directly by the state.

Nonprofit organizations are the backbone of the delivery of state services to families who rely on childcare assistance; individuals with physical, developmental, and/or intellectual disabilities; senior citizens; children and adults with mental illnesses; individuals with HIV; and many more. In addition to the services nonprofits provide on behalf of the state, community-based organizations are significant contributors to the local economy, employing thousands as well as buying goods and services from other local businesses. With July 1st quickly approaching and no state budget in place, nonprofits across the state have no choice but to contemplate and, in some cases execute, plans to terminate services, lay off staff and close service sites.

“When the state government is in a stalemate, it is our most vulnerable citizens and the organizations who serve them that pay the highest price. But these children and families, and these organizations, are our friends, our families, our neighbors, our communities. When they suffer, we all pay the price in the short- and long-term,” said Elliot Regenstein, senior vice president of advocacy and policy, Ounce of Prevention Fund. “Already we are seeing the consequences of not having a fair, fully-funded budget, with partners like Family Focus and Easter Seals Central Illinois reducing or making plans to reduce staff and services. They are just two organizations of the hundreds being forced to make these difficult, devastating decisions.”

Family Focus offers a wide range of family support programs for children and families, plus outreach, referral and crisis services at 7 direct service centers in low-income communities throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.

“If the state does not have an approved budget on July 1, we will have to immediately suspend services to more than 3,600 people and lay off 50 staff. Working families cannot afford continued cuts—they need these critical supports to effectively contribute to our economy,” said Mariana Osoria, center director of Family Focus - Nuestra Familia.

The impact of the budget impasse will be felt throughout the state. For example, Easter Seals Central Illinois will have to suspend its Child and Family Connections-Early Intervention service coordination if there is no budget in place by July 1. According to Jim Runyon, executive vice president of strategic initiatives, governmental affairs, & grants, the organization will have to furlough 37 staff and 1,600 families and their children will see their Early Intervention support services suspended until a resolution is reached.

To learn more about the urgency to pass a budget that serves all of Illinois, including the sustainable revenue needed to fund the programs families need, and to view the complete letter, please visit theOunce.org.

Discuss.

…Adding… From an e-mail…

Rich,

In addition to my role as Voices’ Policy and Advocacy Director, I also run the Responsible Budget Coalition (along with Dan Lesser at Shriver.)

I want to let you know that the Ounce has been a part of the RBC since its inception. They have been a major player in all of our work, and there has never been a departure from our pro-responsible budget, anti-cut position. The Ounce has always stood strong with the entire RBC in our belief that families and communities do not function in silos, and cannot be bifurcated into line items that can be eliminated or reduced.

That’s why the Ounce, along with Action for Children, Voices and the Latino Policy Forum, officially testified against all of governor’s proposed budgets, including the K-12 budget—taken as a whole, cuts it hurts families and communities.

To see the Ounce’s position on revenue, one only has to look at everything the RBC has said. They are an active member of the group, and their knowledge base is vital to our success.

Just want to make sure that’s clear—this is not a new development.

Thanks.

Emily

Emily Miller
Policy and Advocacy Director, Voices for Illinois Children
Co-Coordinator, Responsible Budget Coalition

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Overtime session coverage

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2015

* View the carnage in real time via ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Unions file suit in St. Clair County
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* AG Madigan files TRO
* In re James Dimas
* Question of the day
* Weirdest. Oppo Dump. Ever.
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* LIVE Comptroller Munger press conference coverage
* Yet another clock starts ticking down
* Hey, Cardinal fans...
* Rauner makes cheery visit to Illinois State Museum
* The Tier 2 difference
* *** UPDATED x4 *** Attorney General goes to court
* Credit Unions – Protecting Financial Futures
* GOP legislator wants "temporary, balanced budget"
* Food for thought
* The blame game
* Meanwhile, in the real world...
* When Indiana invaded Illinois
* Yesterday's blog posts

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