* 11:44 am - Well, this ought to get tongues a-waggin’. House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled a meeting of the Committee of the Whole for next Wednesday August 8th. Subject matter: Education.
The hearing was scheduled last Thursday at 1:30 pm, which was before the first meeting with Senate President Emil ones and the other tops on the state budget. Jones’ Majority Leader, Debbie Halvorson and other members of Jones’ leadership team have since said they hope the budget can be done by this weekend. Anyway, this will be treated as a developing item unless I find out something otherwise.
* 12:24 pm - Freshman Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Gifford) on the negotiations: “I think the four legislative leaders can agree on capital, I think they can reach agreement on revenue… (and) on eduation. But the governor’s health care plan, I think it’s going to be very, very, very difficult if not impossible to reach agreement there.” [Hat tip: IlliniPundit]
* 12:25 pm - Aaron Chambers has a good column on the exceedingly nasty Operating Engineers’ Local 150 president’s race.
* 1:22 PM - Ruh-roh…
Mayor Daley has a whopping $217.7 million hole in his 2008 budget that can only be filled through tax increases, employee layoffs, non-personnel spending cuts or a painful combination of the three, aldermen were told today.
The shortfall is the second-largest in 10 years in the city’s corporate fund alone and is coupled with smaller but still sizeable gaps in the city’s water and sewer funds.
It comes just five months after Daley breezed to re-election on a budget that froze the city’s property tax levy for a third straight year, held the line on all other taxes and fees, and used $94 million of the $1.83 billion Chicago Skyway privatization windfall to finance an array of neighborhood and social programs.
Union leaders accused the city of exaggerating the financial crunch tied to the housing slump to stifle their contract demands. Aldermen claimed just the opposite. They argued that former city Budget Director-turned-Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe kept the lid on the crisis until after the election. […]
Volpe was in Springfield lobbying for an increase in the telephone surcharge that helped fund Chicago’s 911 emergency center in hopes of shaving the deficit by $50 million. He could not be reached for comment.