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Budget speech react: Republicans

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* Treasurer Dan Rutherford praised Gov. Pat Quinn’s speech yesterday. From a press release…

“Let me be clear: I commend Governor Quinn’s proposal to fully fund next year’s pension obligation. I heard a commitment from the governor today to make meaningful, fair reforms to both the public pension system and Medicaid. If these reforms are accomplished, it will be a very productive session for the Illinois General Assembly. I stand ready to work with the governor. We must act now.”

* Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has to deal with the state’s mountainous backlog of overdue bills 24/7, so her negative reaction was completely understandable

The budget is “a hodgepodge of ideas that are not thought through, and that will do little to address the state’s mountain of unpaid bills,” Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said in a statement yesterday.

* Sen. Bill Brady devised a novel way of opposing facility closures without overtly coming off as a hypocrite

Republican Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, who ran against Quinn in 2010 and is a member of the legislative group examining pensions, said he’s concerned that the governor’s proposed facility closings would harm pension negotiations that already have begun.

“It’s going to take employee participation to solve these problems in the area of pensions, and to throw this out at this point in time, I’m just concerned about how those representing employees are going to react,” Brady said.

It’s an interesting point, but I’m not sure it’ll have as much impact as Brady believes. Time will tell.

* Pat Brady was his usual hyperpartisan self

“Governor Quinn’s matinee performance today was just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party.

* After bitterly complaining early in the week about possible facility closures, Sen. Cultra had this to say…

“I’ve been to 10 budget addresses now, and this is the first one that had no applause,” said Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga. “He was talking Republican ideas. I don’t think it played too well to his base.”

Two things, Senator: 1) Those last ten budgets didn’t solve the problems, so applause is meaningless. 2) Why are you opposed to “Republican ideas”? Just sayin…

* Rep. Rose was optimistic about the future

“Finally there is some recognition from Chicago that there’s a problem,” Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said. “I am willing to work with them. I think on both of those issues (Medicaid and pensions) we’ll have substantial progress this spring.”

* And the Republican leaders, who will be crucial to any final deal, were less than enthusiastic, at least in public

“We need to know what direction he’s headed. That’s the role of the governor – to provide some leadership – and that’s what’s been lacking,” said the top Republican in the Senate, Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont. “He’s relying entirely on these pension and Medicaid working groups.”

“Be the governor and introduce some legislation, and we’ll work off it,” added her House counterpart, Minority Leader Tom Cross of Oswego.

Legislators introduce legislation, but whatever. Also, I’m still waiting for last year’s GOP budget proposal to be put into actual bill form. Still, I’m pretty sure those two will come around.

* Sen. Dale Righter said he was willing to work hard to solve the problem

Righter said he “is more than willing to help” Quinn try to fix the Medicaid program which the governor said “is on the brink of collapse.”

But the veteran lawmaker said he still was skeptical that Quinn would be willing to go along with slashing $2.7 billion from the $14 billion program.

“He needs to remember that any bill that gets to his desk, he’s got to sign it. And if it’s not $2.7 billion then he needs to say this isn’t enough. Now I’m ready to do that,” Righter said. “The question is whether or not he’s willing to do it and whether the (Democratic) party that has doubled the size of the Medicaid program in 10 years, whether or not they’re ready to do that. You’re talking about some incredibly difficult choices here.”

In order to reach $2.7 billion in savings, Righter said, “you’re talking about eliminating every optional service, almost all of the populations the federal government does not require us to cover and cutting rates. I’m not sure how many legislators understand what that means, particularly in the majority party, and once they understand that, are they going to be willing to do what’s right to save the whole program?”

If you focus only on eliminating optional services, then, yes, Righter is correct. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, however.

* And there was the usual parochial stuff which directly collided with accepted GOP orthodoxy

“He talked about rolling back spending to 2008 levels, but it’s actually $3.4 billion higher. Our spending is up, he’s proposing new spending, new programs, and he still doesn’t have a plan to pay the bills,” [state Sen. Christine Johnson, R-Shabbona] said.

“I’m particularly unhappy to hear him talk about closing Singer Mental Health Center. He’s targeting our most vulnerable citizens. Some of these people aren’t really able to be put into community settings.”

* Kinda unclear on the concept

“He talked a lot about Medicaid but didn’t give us a whole lot of specifics about how to we’re going to get from point A to point B, except he’s going to keep us around all summer if we don’t do what he says,” state Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, said.

He doesn’t want you to do what he says, Rich. He wants you to work cooperatively to solve the problem this spring or you’ll be here all summer.

posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 10:36 am


  1. –“Governor Quinn’s matinee performance today was just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party.–

    This guys’s a laugh riot, like all hysterical partisans.

    I’ve never understood why party leaders feel that their roles are to constantly feed the most rabidly negative of their bases. Their real jobs are to add to their bases to win elections, and to do that, you generally need a positive message, somewhere.

    Seriously, has Pat Brady ever been quoted saying anything positive about Illinois, or offered any positive approach to a problem?

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 10:52 am

  2. “Be the governor and introduce some legislation, and we’ll work off it.”

    If I lived in Oswego, that sentence would be enough justification to challenge Cross in the primary. Go do your job dude.

    Comment by JN Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 11:11 am

  3. Hollow threat. The legislature will not fix Medicaid this spring, and they will not be in session all summer.

    Comment by Jaded Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 11:19 am

  4. Another year of kicking the can. Each side saying the other should come up with specifics. No one taking the initiative.

    Comment by Irish Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 11:29 am

  5. Republican talking point: This is the Grecian State of Illinois. We’re doomed I tell you! Doomed!

    Democratic response: Opah!

    Democratic talking point: We need to work together to get this done.

    Republican response: This is the Grecian State of Illinois. We’re doomed I tell you! Doomed!

    Comment by PublicServant Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 11:33 am

  6. Parthenon is the best greek restaurant in the state by the way. Their Saganaki can’t be beat and the blowback from the flames will knock you out of your seat. Opah!

    Comment by PublicServant Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 11:35 am

  7. In reflection, the Governor said what a lot of us have been saying, that being pension payments over the past couple decades have been missed, shorted by both parties. The constant was sitting behind him when he said it though was Mr. Madigan who was both Speaker and Minority Leader during that tenure. I wonder if it was just a statement…or purposely inserted not just for Mr. Madigan, but for all those in office who’d been part of the previous schemes or flat out negligence of public service?

    Comment by Captain Illini Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 12:03 pm

  8. On the last point - I think it’s time for some rank-and-file Republican to sit down and come up with his or her own plan to deal with the Medicaid problem (i.e. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan). It likely won’t go anywhere, but Tom Cross and Christine Radongo could then fly around the state to editorial boards and fundraisers and proclaim that a member of the caucus has a plan - and not just bullet points. That rank-and-file official could then parlay such a plan into something higher. We’re always looking for people to help fill our farm system and find people who can run for higher office. This would be a good start. And someone - anyone - has to have the chops to at least try and come up with a comprehensive plan. It can’t always just be a staffer or attorney or lobbyist for a healthcare group. There are too many talented elected officials who could do this on his or her own. Heck - it could even be someone who comes from a safe district. Tom and Christine: I just gave you a task.

    Comment by Team Sleep Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 12:04 pm

  9. Seriously, has Pat Brady ever publicly told the simple truth about anything?

    I trust that Radogno and Cross, and many others, will actually get to work and propose solutions. That will leave the mighty Murphy to travel around giving speeches and conning editorial boards, without actually doing anything positive.

    Comment by mark walker Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 12:37 pm

  10. Though I’m fairly conservative, Brady’s rhetoric is just nonsense.

    Quinn calls for $2.7 billion in cuts, and oh he’s just moving deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Comment by Regular Reader Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 12:56 pm

  11. The minority party constitute one half of the committees proposing crucial reforms. They ought to welcome the opportunity to shape solutions, instead of carping about a Democrat governor who doesn’t tell them how to do it.

    Comment by reformer Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 2:44 pm

  12. I saw Sen. McCarter is complaining that Quinn should have cut $6.7 billion more from the budget. Does that mean McCarter is advocating that the state terminate its Medicaid program entirely? Or is he instead suggesting that K-12 education be turned over completely to local property taxpayers?

    Comment by cover Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 3:32 pm

  13. @ cover

    Maybe he wants to skip a pension payment or lay off the entire state workforce.

    Comment by TCB Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 3:35 pm

  14. ===or lay off the entire state workforce. ===

    Payroll isn’t even half of $6.7 billion.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 3:37 pm

  15. I understand Topinka’s beef, but she isn’t really working on a solution to the unpaid bills. Our only two options are to chip away are the payments that are due to the vendors or to restructure the debt and chip away at bond payments. Best case scenario is going to take at least 7 years to get back to a 30 - 45 day payment cycle. We can keep our creditors the same or change our creditor, that’s the only real option I’ve heard.

    Also, for someone who is constantly bashing Rutherford, I’m going to give him a lot credit for his response. He acted like an adult unlike a lot of the Republican’s response.

    Comment by Ahoy Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 3:46 pm

  16. Ahoy @ 3:46pm, I agree with your compliment of Treasurer Rutherford’s grown-up response.

    TCB @ 3:35pm, maybe you should have said “and” instead of “or”!

    Comment by cover Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 4:03 pm

  17. There was a time when a budget address really meant something–those days are gone.

    TS–in terms of medicaid, Patti Bellock did just that. she developed a comprehensive medicaid reform package. the problem? Quinn and Hamos haven’t been forceful with the feds to get the waivers needed. the GOP did do the job on Medicaid, but being in the minority doesn’t get it across the finish line.

    Comment by Easy Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 4:11 pm

  18. Ahoy, I’m with you, I was surprised by Rutherford’s reasonable comments.

    I remember when the world was dumping on Illinois because of Blago, Rutherford went on Fox and wouldn’t take the bait to pile on. Splendid behavior.

    Later, he was a lunatic saying crazy stuff about calling Wall Street to tell them the state was bankrupt and don’t lend them any money.

    Now a reasonable response to Quinn. Who is this guy?

    As far as JBT goes, blah, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzz. She’s been down there more than 30 years, in the GA and executive positions. You can’t complain about problems anymore, bring solutions, based on your experience and wisdom. Otherwise, just cash the check.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 5:42 pm

  19. What do you mean and when was that?

    “The Corleone Family, they used to be like the Roman Empire….”

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 5:44 pm

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