Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » 2007 » May
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      About     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact Rich Miller
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Saturday budget negotiations roundup

Saturday, May 26, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Buried in all of today’s stories about more casinos is a plan put in front of Senate Democrats yesterday to increase taxes. From the Daily Herald

Senate Democrats are also pushing to close nearly $600 million worth of annual corporate tax breaks and want to impose the state’s corporate income tax on certain businesses such as “S corporations” that currently aren’t subject to that tax. That, combined with expanded gambling, could raise $5 billion annually.

* AP

Health insurance tax: Up to $1 billion from a 3% payroll tax on employers who don’t spend enough on health care for their workers.

Business taxes: up to $1.2 billion from applying the state’s corporate income tax to businesses that currently do not pay it; $600 million from a new alternative minimum tax on businesses who owe no state taxes after exemptions.

Ending tax breaks: $650 million from ending various corporate tax breaks.

Sales tax: Up to $40 million from technical changes in the way sales tax is collected and calculated for certain products.

* I had this for subscribers yesterday afternoon, but since others are talking about it now here is the document that was given to Senate Democrats yesterday about revenue generating options. Click for a larger pic…


* OK, now to the casinos. AP

Senate Democrats introduced a massive gambling proposal Friday that could be coupled with new business taxes to generate $5 billion for the state.

The gambling plan, approved along partisan lines by a Senate committee, would allow four new casinos, including one in Chicago. Existing casinos would be allowed to nearly double in size. […]

“If it means health care for everybody, I’m willing to accept the proposal that would provide more gaming,” Blagojevich said after meeting with Jones and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

* Tribune

Actually, Blagojevich’s plan for medical coverage for uninsured adults must be slashed by two-thirds because of lower revenue projections, said Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete). […]

House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego offered his own “no tax increase budget,” which relies on growing state revenues, cutting pork projects and a scaled-down expansion of gambling to fund various construction projects.

Madigan suggested the Cross gambling plan, which would add positions only at existing casinos, would stand a better chance in the House than the broader Senate bill.

* Daily Herald

Blagojevich said he, Jones and Madigan swore to one another that “we were going to act as Democrats in good faith to finish on time before May 31, to finish the business of the people on the date that we’re supposed to, and to keep the Republicans from getting into the game.”

That sworn partisan allegiance was news to Madigan’s spokesman. “I don’t know what the hell that’s all about,” said Steve Brown. Madigan has been meeting with Cross on budget matters.

And Cross’ spokesman blasted Blagojevich’s message given Democrats’ inability to work together so far.

“They control the House and the Senate and the governor’s office, and they’ve done a bang-up job working together this session,” said David Dring, Cross’ spokesman. “If they’re more worried about partisan politics than what’s good for the people, that’s a shame, but that’s definitely their prerogative.”

* Once again, back to the casinos. Sun-Times

Republicans attacked the proposal, in part, because it would divert 2 percent of revenues from the four casinos to Chicago State University, potentially handing the school a $40 million windfall that would double its take from the state.

The university has been a Jones favorite. He has steered state funds to the university when other colleges faced deep cuts, and Chicago State has named a building after Jones and given him an honorary degree.
This week, the university was hammered by Auditor General William Holland for misspending public funds, including on a pair of “leadership seminars” its president attended on cruise ships in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

In committee, Jones initially said Chicago State wasn’t in the legislation. But the GOP pointed out the specific language in the 218-page bill that would assure the university a multimillion-dollar windfall, prompting Jones to quietly tell a dissatisfied and surprised Senate Democratic colleague that the bill could be amended.

* Meanwhile, Dick Durbin and other members of the Illinois delegation urged the General Assembly and the governor to come up with cash for transportation projects. Sun-Times

After simmering for months over Gov. Blagojevich’s inaction, the two Illinois senators and nine of the 19 House members on Friday unloaded on the governor for risking $6.1 billion in federal money for Illinois transportation projects.

At issue is the need for the state to come up with more than $1 billion in order to trigger the release of the $6.1 billion. The money was part of a big transportation bill Congress passed during the last session, when Rep. Dennis Hastert (D-Ill.) was the speaker. […]

“If the State of Illinois does not enact a capital bill and provide the non-federal match this year, as much as $6.1 billion in federal funding could be at risk,” the letter said.

* Herald-Whig

“In the 109th Congress, we worked together in a bipartisan manner to provide Illinois with a 33.4 percent per year increase in federal funding” for highways and transit, Durbin said in a letter to Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the top four legislative leaders.

“We encourage you to enact state legislation to provide the needed state match for the federal transportation funds we secured in 2005. If the state of Illinois does not enact a capital bill and provide the non-federal match this year, as much as $6.1 billion in federal funding could be at risk.”

Durbin notes that the state needs to provide “as much as $1.2 billion to complete all the projects” that require state matching funds.

“We hope we can count on you to enact appropriate legislation that will provide the required state match” and not leave any federal dollars behind, Durbin said.

* And if you think things are crazy in Illinois, go check out the situation in Texas. Bizarre.

  Comments Off      


Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

IMPORTANT NOTE: Subscribers looking for late budget updates should go here and here. In case I update this weekend, the password will remain the same.

Also, Capitol Fax will be published Monday, but it probably won’t arrive until early afternoon.


I feel like death. Sure glad it’s Friday. I may be updating over the weekend with new stuff about the budget talks, but right now I’m going to take a nap.

Barring updates, we’ll resume blog posts and comments early Monday afternoon, shortly before the House and Senate are back in session.

Do yourself a favor and head to Illinoize to check out all the new bloggers. They’re very good. Of course, our “old” bloggers are pretty darned good, too.

  Comments Off      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Leaders meeting reports *** Updated x12 *** (Now with full audio of both media availabilities)

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

  Enter your password to view comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Cross presser; SDems; Corporate loophole survey; Generation tax roundup (Use all caps in password) *** Updated x2 ***

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

  Comments Off      

Question of the day

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

Name one currently legal product or activity which you’d like the state to ban, and name one currently illegal product or activity which you’d like the state to legalize.


More audits, more bad news

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First up, CMS

For a second straight year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration has failed to renew hundreds of leases and keep up with rent and utility payments for private office space used by the state, a new audit showed Thursday.

Auditor General William Holland’s review of the controversial office-management agency, the Department of Central Management Services, found the department’s failure to promptly deal with billings from landlords and utilities resulted in eviction notices and disconnection notices for some state agencies.

* From the same story, Orlando Jones appears once again…

Meanwhile, a separate state audit of the Illinois State Board of Investment showed that Orlando Jones, the godson of former Cook County Board President John Stroger and a well-connected political insider, collected more than $471,000 in marketing fees from William Blair & Co. to promote the investment firm before the board. The state investment board is the oversight panel for state pension systems for lawmakers, judges and state workers.

Jones also has had business ties to Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top fundraiser and adviser to Blagojevich who was indicted last fall on federal corruption charges. Jones was previously a vice president of Rezko’s real estate development firm.

* And then there’s Chicago State University, Senate President Emil Jones’ pet project. Maybe they have too much money there…

Even as Chicago State University faced budget pressures, the university’s president spent public funds to attend two extended “leadership seminars” aboard cruise ships in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, bringing five family members along on one, state officials said Thursday.

* More from the AP

University president Elnora Daniel attended the cruises and on at least one, the room rate was 3,000 for the nine-day affair when $1,499 rooms were available, according to the report by Auditor General William Holland.

Five family members attended one or both cruises at state expense, a perk allowed by Daniel’s contract, which allows for $10,000 in travel for family members.

Thirteen charges to the university’s credit card totaled $3,932 for “various theatrical events,” including “The Lion King” and the Lyric Opera, but included no details or reasons for the spending, the audit found. Employees slept in hotel rooms whose rates exceeded the state limit; stayed past the end of conferences they attended; and were reimbursed for movies, gifts and alcohol.

* And check out the university’s laughable defense

Robyn Wheeler, spokeswoman for the 6,600-student school, refused to answer specific questions about Daniel’s travel, the audit, or the $10,000 in family travel perks.

‘’The substance of the transactions represent valid university business,'’ Wheeler said.

* You can find all the above audits at this link.


Leadership, or lack thereof

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My Sun-Times column this week is mainly about how long Speaker Madigan and Senate President Jones have been in power without producing results on an issue both claim to wholeheartedly support…

llinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was first elected to the House in 1970. I’m 45 now, so I was 8 years old at the time. Senate President Emil Jones was first elected to the House two years later, in 1972. I was in fifth grade. Both men have held legislative leadership positions for pretty much my entire adult life.

Madigan and Jones’ combined 70-plus years of experience can be a good thing. They’ve seen almost everything, so it’s tough for a lobbyist or a governor or anyone else to sneak something past them.

Lately, though, I’ve been getting the urge to change the channel and watch a new program. Over the years they have become little more than self-perpetuating power machines. Plus, the two men have so much history between them, much of it antagonistic, that they too often can’t seem to put aside their differences for the good of the state.

* My Sun-Times editor, Steve Huntley, has a column today about the lack of gubernatorial leadership, among other things…

All this doesn’t add up to the kind of leadership Illinois needs any time, but especially this year with pension, education and transportation funding in dire need of help. Because of a no-tax-pledge made in spite of mounting fiscal problems and in the face of ambitions by the governor and Democratic legislators for new spending, the campaign of 2006 has come back to haunt Springfield. Where all this will end is anybody’s guess, but it tells you a lot that lawmakers are talking about an expansion of gambling.

* The Sun-Times also runs an editorial today entitled “Get leadership failure off legislative agenda”

Maybe a deal can still be reached to address the state’s funding problems, but it will take more flexibility and leadership than our government has so far displayed.

* And Eric Krol looks at why the governor’s tax plan tanked and includes this bit…

Where to from here? Looks like a session that’ll last half the summer, depending on whether Senate President Emil Jones decides to stand firm with ally Blagojevich (and is able to keep his members with him) or cut a scaled-back deal with House Speaker Michael Madigan.

* More tax and spend stories, compiled by our ever-popular intern Paul…

* Dem leaders finally talk budget, get nowhere

* Last minute jockeying in statehouse

* Budget meeting finally happens, leaders appear no closer to a deal

* Gambling emerges as key state budget item

* Blagojevich, Madigan, and Jones meet on budget

* Can Illinois bettors balance budget

* Some ready to bet on gambling

* Casino legislation back on the burner

* Looks like bet is off for Rockford casino

* Tribune Editorial: Illinois, Land of Baccarat?

* Editorial: Madigan speaks, cards are on the table

* AARP lobbies with apples for health bill


Morning Shorts

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Paul Richardson

* Innocent plea to bilking the state

Blagojevich and his staff said Mahajan’s long-standing, no-bid state contract preceded the relationship with the first lady and that there was no connection between the two. Blagojevich called the Tribune inquiry “Neanderthal” and sexist.

* AG Madigan denies Pepmeyer bias

* A look at why IL gas prices are higher than anywhere else

* Senator files measure to exempt casinos from smoking ban

* Illinoize: New boats

* Lawmakers push for casino exemption on smoking ban

* Ryan says he’ll be broke without pension

* Teen driving reforms nearly law

* Tribune Editorial: Limiting the collateral damage from guns

* House panel OKs bill to reimburse service groups

* Tollway gets green light for oasis hotels

Critics said the idea would put existing hotels at tollway interchanges at a disadvantage and could enable politically connected developers to find a new way to cash in on government business.

* State recognizes acts of courage

* Illinois officials optimistic on Mississippi River bridge

But a letter last month — disclosed this week — from Pete Rahn, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, to his Illinois counterpart, Milton Sees, shows that Missouri is willing to back down on its position on tolls.

* Election Board privacy breach: lawsuit claims controversial data can be seen by all

* Michael Sneed: Phil Cline & Horse slaughter

* Illinoize: Illinois doctors wary on Wal-Mart clinics

* Illinoize: An unnamed public official

* Blagojevich OKs horse slaughter ban; more here and here

* Sun-Times Editorial: New York has a good tax idea, lets go green with envy

* CTA giving fare warning

* CTA presents doomsday scenario

* Local leaders decry CTA proposals; more here

* CTA threatens to raise fares

* Ald. sours on Bourbon St’ spirits around Wrigley

* Business owner admits role in Cook Co. fraud

* Editorial: Deteriorating services, twisting priorities are Stroger’s problems

* Surprise inspection finds Stroger Hospital lacking

* HDO member may change plea


* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally abruptly aborts reelection bid without explanation
* Question of the day
* It’s just a bill
* Protect Illinois Hospitality – Vote No On House Bill 5345
* You gotta be kidding me
* Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work
* Moody’s revises Illinois outlook from stable to positive (Updated)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* *** UPDATED x1 - Equality Illinois 'alarmed' over possible Harris appointment *** Personal PAC warns Democratic committeepersons about Sen. Napoleon Harris
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...







Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

April 2024
March 2024
February 2024
January 2024
December 2023
November 2023
October 2023
September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
January 2023
December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller