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Sunday leaders meeting notes: Madigan counts the minutes, Republicans claim “new level of stalling”

Sunday, Dec 4, 2016

* Speaker Madigan literally counted the minutes that the four leaders and the governor spent talking about the budget today: 14.

“Today we talked about the budget for 14 minutes,” Madigan said, and then actually provided the tick-tock. “From 10:16 to 10:20 and from 11:15 to 11:25 we talked about the budget.” The meeting ended at about 11:38 or so.

So, apparently, he was checking his watch a lot.

“The remainder of the meeting was concerned with local government consolidation and mandates on local governments,” Madigan said.

What did those budget talks consist of? “Obviously, not too much,” Madigan cracked.

The good news as far as Madigan is concerned: “There’s an agreement we’re going to talk about the budget on Tuesday,” the Speaker told reporters. The meeting will be held at 2 o’clock. The Republicans leaders, however, didn’t confirm that particular topic.

On workers’ comp and other reforms, Madigan said, “I’m available for those discussions,” but then went back to his repeated rhetoric on how the leaders have worked out a budget “7 times” in the last two years and they should stick to that format.

* Raw audio, including Rep. Greg Harris’ comments about the budget process and how they need to wait and see how things like Donald Trump’s proposals play out before they could formulate a new budget plan…

* House GOP Leader Jim Durkin emerged from the meeting to say he remains “alarmed” by the lack of urgency to get a budget. “We have a divided government,” he said, and Republicans are willing to work with Democrats on their priorities, but want the Democrats to work with them on GOP priorities.

“We did a pretty deep dive today” into local government consolidation, said Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno. But, she said, there was a “lack of engagement” on the topic from the Democrats.

Leader Radogno said the leaders were meeting based totally on Speaker Madigan’s availability.

Radogno said the Republicans asked Madigan what his budget plans were. He didn’t have a plan, she said, partly because the Democrats said they needed to wait and see the impacts of Donald Trump’s agenda. “If we are waiting on that, we are certainly not going to see it by December 31st,” Radogno said, referencing the end of the current stopgap budget.

Leader Durkin said it was clear to him that this was all about the 2018 governor’s race. The idea, he said, was to stall in order to not give Gov. Rauner any victories at all and then defeat him in two years.

“There was a new level of stalling today,” Radogno claimed, particularly since the Democrats weren’t prepared to discuss their actual budget plans.

* Raw audio…

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 *** *** LIVE *** Leaders meeting coverage

Saturday, Dec 3, 2016

*** UPDATE ***  Raw audio of Madigan talking to the media…

* Raw audio of Radogno and Durkin talking to the gathered press…

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* As I write this at about 11:45 this morning, the four leaders are still meeting. Here are a few news stories to get you up to speed…

* Rauner says ‘stay calm’, Madigan releases demands

* Rauner, Madigan huddle this weekend in search of elusive deal, big or small

* Mark Brown: Springfield stalemate is ‘Groundhog Day’ come to life

* Mayor Emanuel: Gov. Rauner ‘bailed out’ power companies, bailed on CPS kids with pension veto

* I’ll be watching a live (password-protected) video feed of any post-meeting talk and commenting on our ScribbleLive post

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Dec 2, 2016

* Yep

He’ll never do what you want him to

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Moody’s says Rauner veto is just one of many problems facing CPS

Friday, Dec 2, 2016

* From Rachel Cortez, Vice President & Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s Investors Service…

“Yesterday, the Governor of Illinois vetoed a $215 million payment to help cover the pension costs for Chicago Public Schools (rated B3/negative outlook). If the veto holds, CPS’ deficit net cash position could stand at over $1 billion when its fiscal year ends in June 2017. While the funds from a possible veto override would be positive for CPS, there would still be insufficient funding to alleviate the school district’s severe liquidity issues.

“CPS remains dependent on cash flow borrowing and state assistance to sustain its operations, and its reserves are nearly depleted. While CPS can still take steps to address its fiscal situation, its financial position remains weak and could further deteriorate.”

* Meanwhile…

Hilarious. Dude vetoes $215 million over a few words at a press conference without so much as a phone call to verify intent and he asks people to tone down the rhetoric.

*** UPDATE ***  Gov. Rauner’s full remarks…

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

*** UPDATED x4 - Mendoza responds - Munger calls suit “cowardly” *** Lawsuit filed over legislator pay

Friday, Dec 2, 2016

* This has been expected all week

A group of state representatives filed a lawsuit over legislator pay against Illinois state Comptroller Leslie Munger on Friday — Munger’s last day in office.

The suit was filed by Reps. Emmanuel Chris Welch, Kate Cloonen, Mary Flowers, Sonya Harper, Lisa Hernandez and Silvana Tabares.

Legislators haven’t been paid since June. Several legislators have been vocal about their disdain over not getting paid amid the state’s budget impasse — on the Senate and House floors and in private.

More as it comes in.

* Press release…

State Reps. Emanuel Chris Welch, Kate Cloonen, Mary Flowers, Sonya Harper, Lisa Hernandez and Silvana Tabares released the following statement Friday regarding their lawsuit to restore legislators’ pay and end unwarranted political pressure being brought by Gov. Bruce Rauner and Comptroller Leslie Munger:

“The decision by multimillionaire Comptroller Leslie Munger and billionaire Gov. Bruce Rauner was a thinly veiled attempt to force their political opponents into taking positions in support of the governor’s positions and against the beliefs of their constituents,” Welch said. “Many lawmakers don’t have the multimillion dollar side incomes the governor and comptroller enjoy.”

“Our lawsuit is a principled stand for an independent Legislature that cannot be bullied by any governor, Republican or Democratic,” Cloonen said. “The 177 members of the General Assembly are elected to serve the people of our districts, but the comptroller’s and the governor’s actions show they believe we are elected to serve them, and that they can use illegal means to force us to bow to their extreme agenda.”

“Just like when Pat Quinn tried to eliminate lawmakers’ salaries in an attempt to get his way, the governor and comptroller would set a dangerous precedent under which any future governor or comptroller could unilaterally coerce duly elected legislators by tying their salaries to any number of demands that could hurt local residents and their families,” Tabares said. “We urge the courts to recognize the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government, not a subsidiary of a billionaire governor.”

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Cook County.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  The complaint is here.

From the complaint

The Illinois Constitution of 1970 provides that each legislator “shall” receive a salary as provided by law. ILL. CONST. 1970, art. IV, § 11. The Constitution further prohibits any “changes” to the salaries of legislators during their terms of office. Id. The General Assembly Compensation Act mandates that legislators’ salaries be paid in “12 equally monthly installments.” 25 ILCS 115/1. By intentionally withholding salary payments from legislators, the Comptroller has violated both Article IV, Section 11 of the Constitution and Section 115/1 of the General Assembly Compensation Act. The Comptroller’s actions are a direct threat to the independence of the General Assembly.

In 2004, the Illinois Supreme Court invalidated Governor Blagojevich’s attempt to threaten the independence and integrity of the Judiciary by eliminating judicial salary increases. In doing so, the Court stated as follows: “For checks and balances to work properly in protecting individual liberty, each of the three branches of government must be kept free from the control or coercive influence of the other branches.” Jorgensen v. Blagojevich, 211 Ill. 2d 286, 299 (2004). Protecting the Judicial or Legislative Branches of government from unwarranted intrusion by any executive branch officer is vital to preserving the separation of powers. As the Supreme Court stated, “Avoiding the concentration of governmental powers in the same person or political body was seen by the founding fathers as essential to freedom and liberty.”

In 2011, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Hon. Judge Neil Cohen presiding, invalidated Governor Quinn’s attempt to eliminate legislators’ annual salaries through a line item veto. Judge Cohen held that “the Governor’s line item veto of SB 214 was constitutionally void and of no effect.”

The Comptroller’s refusal to make monthly payments to legislators constitutes an unconstitutional change in salary and a violation of the General Assembly Compensation Act. As in Jorgensen, and Cullerton & Madigan, this Court should invalidate the Comptroller’s attempts to hold hostage the salaries for members of the General Assembly.

The Comptroller lacks legal authority to deny the members of the General Assembly their salary for a simple reason: the members of the General Assembly are elected by their constituents to represent their interests. By denying the members of the General Assembly their salary, the Comptroller is attempting to force the General Assembly to forgo representing the interests of their constituents and accede to the policy preferences of an executive office that has no formal role in the legislative process.

If the Comptroller is permitted to unilaterally decide when and how often General Assembly members receive their salary, the independence of each member of the General Assembly is threatened. For some legislators their legislative salaries constitute their principal or only source of income. Accordingly, if the Comptroller were permitted to withhold salaries of members of the General Assembly, unless and until they acceded to her legislative preferences, he or she would use that power to unconstitutionally influence the will of the Legislative Branch.

In this particular instance, the Comptroller has stated that her dispute with the General Assembly concerns the appropriation process. If the Comptroller’s actions are sustained, there will be no limit to the power the Comptroller could assert over members of the Legislative Branch. Future Comptrollers could refuse payment until any policy demands are met to the Comptroller’s satisfaction. Allowing such power to be vested in the Comptroller would irrevocably alter the separation of powers so carefully crafted by the framers of the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

By this action, Plaintiffs, elected members of the Illinois General Assembly, respectfully request this Court declare that the Comptroller is required by the Illinois Constitution and Illinois law to pay their salaries and the salaries of all other members of the General Assembly in the full amounts required by law, and in a timely manner. As the Comptroller lacks discretion to withhold the members’ salaries, Plaintiffs further request this Court issue a writ of mandamus ordering the Comptroller to pay legislative salaries forthwith to remedy that constitutional and statutory violation.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Says the guy who made $180 million last year…

*** UPDATE 3 ***  Munger press conference…

*** UPDATE 4 *** From Comptroller-elect Mendoza…

“I was very clear on the issue of withholding legislators’ pay during my campaign: Everyone needs to
share in the sacrifice. My policy will be to prioritize the most vulnerable people in our State and continue the delay in legislators’ pay, unless a court instructs me to do otherwise.”

Sorry about the original post of that statement. I cut it off accidentally.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Rauner goes into the lion’s den

Friday, Dec 2, 2016

* Gov. Rauner’s statement issued last night after the passage of the Exelon bill…

“For months our administration has been very clear that any energy legislation should follow the guiding principles of protecting jobs, ratepayers and taxpayers. After dozens of hours of good faith negotiations, we have reached an agreement that aligns with those principles. This legislation will save thousands of jobs. It protects ratepayers, through guaranteed caps, from large rate increases in years to come. It also ensures taxpayers are not on the hook to keep the power plants open and online. We thank the rank-and-file legislators and stakeholders for their perseverance and commitment to seeing this through. This process shows that when all parties are willing to negotiate in good faith, we can find agreement and move our state forward.”

The Illinois Manufacturers Association has been one of the harshest critics of the Exelon bill, testifying against it this week and taking an official stance in opposition. The IMA’s staff has been inundated with calls from members outraged at the prospect of their electric bills increasing, which they say would make the state’s business climate even worse.

* So, this ought to be interesting…

Daily Public Schedule: Friday, December 2, 2016

What: Governor Rauner Discusses Reforms to Create Jobs, Lower Property Taxes, Improve Schools and Enact Good Government Initiatives like Term Limits at the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association
Where: J.W. Marriott (Grand Ballroom)
151 W. Adams St., Chicago
Date: Friday, December 2, 2016
Time: 11:45 a.m.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  From a pal at the event…

Rauner got a pretty decent round of applause when he was introduced. Greg [Baise] joked about not always agreeing. Gov said he’s personally opposed to “special deals” but “we have to play the cards we are dealt”. “I’ve never seen an issue where the experts were more divided” “I’m proud of the outcome, even though I don’t love it.”

*** UPDATE 2 ***  Raw audio…

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      

* Sunday leaders meeting notes: Madigan counts the minutes, Republicans claim "new level of stalling"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** *** LIVE *** Leaders meeting coverage
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Mendoza transition team responds to the Sun-Times' Madigan conspiracy theory
* *** UPDATED x1 - Durkin responds *** Back to the future: Madigan demands "memorandums of understanding"
* Question of the day
* Shimkus loses out on plum post
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Moody's says Rauner veto is just one of many problems facing CPS
* *** UPDATED x4 - Mendoza responds - Munger calls suit "cowardly" *** Lawsuit filed over legislator pay
* The "green energy" side of the Exelon bill
* Caption contest!
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* Positioning, practicalities and politics weigh heavily against a House override
* Report: A decade to reach solvency, if leaders cooperate on tough plan
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Rauner goes into the lion's den
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