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Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** More union-related stuff

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015

* Somebody brought up this very same point over drinks last night

Unions contend that Rauner is deliberately choking their resources in an attempt to weaken their position as they head into negotiations for a new employment contract, which is supposed to take effect July 1.

The Illinois AFL-CIO is the lead plaintiff in most of the cases, so they’re handling the money end. But AFSCME is named in the governor’s federal case and it has long had the Chicago firm of Cornfield & Feldman on retainer. They’re probably not cheap.

But an AFSCME spokesman avoided talking about short-term union finances today and focused instead on the long term, saying, in part, “The array of Rauner attacks seems clearly intended to wipe out the labor movement in Illinois, and not just in the public sector… Everybody understands what this is really about.”

* Meanwhile, the Illinois Policy Institute has become an issue in a Chicago aldermanic race. From a press release…

Alderman Mary O’Connor of the 41st Ward called on her opponent Anthony Napolitano to return campaign contributions from a right-wing, “dark money” organization with ties to the Illinois Policy Institute. Today, the Liberty Justice Center, an IPI backed law firm, filed a motion in court to bust unions in Illinois through the denial of collecting “fair share” dues. Napolitano has received thousands of dollars from the IPI’s sister organization, the Illinois Opportunity Project.

“41st ward families are sick and tired of the never-ending assault on unions who give working people a collective voice, and they deserve better than a candidate who takes money from the right-wing organizations pushing that very agenda. Anthony should immediately return the money he received from the extremist groups supporting his campaign, and denounce their union-busting efforts. They have no place in the 41st ward,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor, who was endorsed by the Chicago Federation of Labor, has fought for working people as Alderman the past four years in office through policies such as water and sewer reconstruction, a program that has put numerous union members to work rebuilding Chicago’s aging infrastructure. Her efforts have earned her the support of 9 labor organizations in her campaign for reelection.

Napolitano has taken thousands of dollars from organizations tied to the anti-union efforts of the Illinois Policy Institute and the Rauner administration.

* The totals aren’t much, just $3k from the Policy Institute’s political arm and $1k from the 43rd Ward GOP…

43rd Ward Republican Committeeman Chris Cleveland: “If Bruce Wins This Election, Then We Republicans Will Have a Mandate, A Very Big One, To Take on the Unions.” According to post by Chris Cleveland on, “Bruce Rauner has made standing up to government unions the centerpiece of his campaign. He’ll follow through on it. And that, in my opinion, makes him the right choice for governor. I like Bill Brady, really I do. But now, a week out, neither he nor Dan Rutherford are serious contenders for the nomination. It’s time to make a choice, Rauner or Dillard. It’s an easy one. If Bruce wins this election, then we Republicans will have a mandate, a very big one, to take on the unions. We can go after them on the pension problem they created. We can go after them on failing schools. We can go after them on wild overspending. We can go after them on corruption. Imagine having a mandate, here in Illinois, to do what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. Bruce will have it. The Rauner campaign didn’t write this. I did. And I mean it. Seriously, if you haven’t yet voted, please vote for Bruce Rauner. It’s time.”

* Despite that, Napolitano is getting even bigger bucks from firefighters and police unions.

The New York Times had an interesting story the other day about this very topic

In recent weeks, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois has traveled the state promoting his proposal for more than $2 billion in cuts to pensions for public employees. All public employees, that is, except police officers and firefighters.

“Those who put their lives on the line in service to our state deserve to be treated differently,” Mr. Rauner said in his February budget address to the state legislature.

By announcing the exemption, Mr. Rauner was following the lead of other Republican governors in the Midwest who have imposed unwelcome changes on state and local employees in the name of saving money and improving services.

In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin introduced a bill that would roll back collective bargaining rights for government workers and require them to contribute more toward their own pensions and health coverage. He excluded police officers and firefighters from the legislation, known as Act 10, which he signed the following month.

On the state level, the first responder unions are not falling for the rhetoric. But this Chicago thing is an interesting little twist.

*** UPDATE *** With a hat tip to a commenter

Rauner told WAND’s Doug Wolfe on Monday cities can offset the losses if a series of his reforms are enacted by the Illinois legislature. Among those would be giving municipalities more control over negotiating with police and fire unions. And, giving cities more control over police and fire pensions.

“If local governments can control what gets collectively bargained, who has to join a union or not in the local government, that frees up a significant amount of money as well,” Rauner stated. “They (police & fire) work for the local taxpayers, the local citizens. And there should be more control, local control of those pension issues.”

The commenter notes…

So just like right to work, he isn’t for it, but leave it up to someone else to do the dirty work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

State budgets and personal budgets

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015

* Madeline Doubek

Since Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed slashing spending so that it matches actual annual revenues, it seems all we hear about are the worst-case scenarios that would result as every group in Illinois fights to keep what they’ve been getting. And those worst-case scenarios sound pretty rough. […]

We know it will be painful and there might be some negative consequences from some of the cuts. It scares me, for instance, to think about having to cut help for young adults who’ve aged out of the foster system and who never have been dealt a decent hand in their short lives. But these are the conversations that must be had.

Illinois expects to collect $32 billion in tax revenue. Rauner proposes to cut more than $6 billion to deal with the deficit and spend $31.5 billion. It really would be painful if I had to cut my spending by 20 percent, but there was a time once when I had to find a way to cut 10 percent. Staycations happened rather than vacations. There were far fewer dinners out and drinks with friends after work.

I don’t kid myself. I know there are plenty of us in Illinois who cut all that and much more during the Great Recession. They’ve never recovered from it.

But now it’s up to all of us to figure out what we want to afford. What we’re willing to pay for and what we’re not willing to fund. What can we live without?

* OK, first of all, Gov. Rauner did not match spending with revenues. His budget plan is loaded with billions in phony savings.

And even with those magical mystery savings, he still had to do things like toss kids off ventilators. So, while most people might want to compare their own personal situations to the budget, being forced to take a “staycation” or buying fewer glasses of wine is quite a bit different than telling parentless kids who are wards of the state that DCFS will no longer be their parents and they’ll be completely on their own once they turn 18.

…Adding… From comments

We need to cut, yes, but we need to cut things that would be described as those little luxuries she mentions cutting out of her personal budget. I didn’t see her mention cutting utilities, groceries, medical care out of her personal budget.

That’s exactly right.

* Also, not a word about revenues? Sheesh.

To compare my own family history to state budgeting, when I was a kid and my parents found themselves struggling financially (they had five boys) my dad would go out and get another job. He often worked three jobs when I was young. Did they also take out some loans to get through particularly tough times? Yep. Did my dad buy some cars (and an old tractor), fix them up and sell them for profits? Yep. Why? Because they recognized their need for more revenues. But did they also constantly watch their spending? Heck yes they did. Whew, did they ever.

* From a Senate Democratic press release

Rockford resident and Illinois State University student Lauretta Schaefer testified in the Illinois Senate Appropriations I Committee yesterday about the effects Governor Rauner’s budget would have on the Department of Children and Family Services.

Schaefer receives a scholarship from DCFS that allows her to attend college - something she knew she couldn’t do otherwise.

“When I was 14 my adopted parents showed me the DCFS scholarship, and I knew that was my ticket to higher education. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to attend college. Even with it, I still work two jobs to make ends meet,” said Schaefer.

Under the proposed budget, DCFS’s budget faces a nearly $150 million cut. A majority of the cuts will eliminate services for DCFS youth who are 18 years or older.

Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) who sits on the Appropriations I Committee had concerns about the proposed cuts.

“Many of these children have no parents and no support system to fall back on once they reach the age of 18. As a parent of four, I know my children will still call me for help and advice once they reach 18. These children don’t have that safety net. If we cut these programs, these young adults will have no one to fall back on. We need to keep these programs to help these kids break the cycle of poverty, to grow up and become productive members of our society,” said Stadelman.

It’s truly worth your time to listen to her testimony…

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Protected: *** UPDATED x2 - Transportation for Illinois Coalition responds - Rauner pushes back *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Budgetary blowback begins

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x3 *** Progress reported in FY 15 budget talks, voting expected to start today

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015

* AP

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider a new plan introduced by House Speaker Michael Madigan to end weeks of negotiations over plugging a $1.6 billion hole in this year’s state budget.

The Legislature faces a fast-approaching deadline to act as money runs out for subsidized childcare programs, prisons and court reporters.

The Chicago Democrat introduced the plan late Monday. It would authorize Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to transfer $1.3 billion from other purposes, including parks and conservation. The rest would come from a 2.25 percent across-the-board budget cut. […]

Madigan’s spokesman declined to comment as did the governor’s office. Senate Democrats said they planned to review the “progress” with their caucus.

Subscribers know more, but the amendments are here and here. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was added as a chief co-sponsor yesterday on both measures. Both measures are posted for hearings this morning in the House Executive Committee.

*** UPDATE 1 *** The fast tracking begins…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Subscribers were told about this earlier today…

*** UPDATE 3 *** Finke

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, said the cuts, including about a $150 million cut to education will be painful, but more than 80 percent of the budget hole is being filled by taking money from the special state funds. […]

To ease the impact of the education cuts, Gov. Bruce Rauner will be given discretion to use up to $97 million to aid districts that are facing severe financial problems because of the cuts.

“I think what we are looking at here are very serious problems that could result in the stoppage of education across the board,” Currie said.

Federal funds will not be touched as part of the plan. Also, Illinois hospitals agreed to a plan in which they pay to help leverage federal health care matching funds that are then returned to them.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015

* Last week before spring break is always a big week and this week will be no exception. Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

* Schilling endorses LaHood
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Duckworth to announce on Monday
* Rauner mulls selling Thompson Center
* Question of the day
* It's just a bill...
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Brown: Exploring an exploratory committee is "under review"
* Rauner administration denies union report of progress on fair share suit
* *** UPDATED x2 - Durbin out of the running? *** Illinois Republicans react to potential Durbin elevation
* Is a new era finally dawning in Illinois?
* Meanwhile, in Opposite Land...
* Good morning!
* Yesterday's blog posts

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