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Tricky politics *** Updated x4 ***

Wednesday, Nov 28, 2007

* While others may have slobbered over Mayor Daley’s endorsement yesterday of the Blagojevich/Cross mass transit bailout plan, Kurt Erickson kept his head and asked questions

As the General Assembly returns to action Wednesday to deal with a financial bailout of Chicago-area public transit systems, observers say the lack of agreement on other top issues makes it a virtual certainty that the already record-setting overtime session will drag into December, and perhaps beyond.

Along with the mass transit funding, lawmakers are pressing for passage of a statewide construction program. But, there remains no consensus on how to pay for either of those proposals. […]

But, its prospects in the Senate remain dim, with a bloc of downstate lawmakers pledging to reject the bailout if a separate statewide construction program isn’t put on the table.

“I refuse to support one without the other. We need jobs. We need to fix our crumbling schools and bridges,” said Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete, who is running for a seat in Congress.

* But when Daley talks, the Chicago media always plays it up. Don’t get me wrong. Daley is very important. But the actual roll call is much more important, and it’s not there yet…

Mayor Richard Daley Tuesday came out in favor of a measure in Springfield that aims to provide enough money to keep the Chicago Transit Authority running , insisting he’s optimistic about its passage despite questions surrounding its feasibility.

* More

Now that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has folded his hand in the legislative poker game that has stalled long-term funding for mass transit, so has Mayor Daley.

Following Madigan’s lead, Daley today endorsed a plan by Gov. Blagojevich and Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) to redirect at least $385 million a year in state sales taxes on fuel to mass transit. The mayor said he’s optimistic the plan will pass both legislative houses at Wednesday’s special session.

* Listen to all of Daley’s press conference at Chicago Public Radio, or just hit the button below…

* To get a small idea of how politically volatile the new bailout proposal is, read this commentary by former state Rep. Cal Skinner…

Say you are from Downstate, also known as anything outside of the six-county Chicago metropolitan area served by the Regional Transportation Authority.

$385 million [GRF transit bailout] divided by the state’s population of 12,831,970 (Commerce Department figure) is what?

$30.

So, an opponent could send a mailing to a Downstate legislator’s district saying anyone who voted for this deal voted to force a family of four to send $120 to Chicago.

Or robo calls could be made. Even cheaper.

Whatever you may think of Cal, he’s right.

* More transit and session stuff, compiled by Paul…

* Blagojevich’s CTA ‘rescue’ took from other programs

* Editorial: Capitol…your tax dollars at work or maybe not

* Lawmakers could talk road improvements

*** UPDATE 1 *** Metro Networks‘ Springfield bureau chief Ben Yount has an excellent analysis that you can listen to at the Illinois Farm Bureau site or below…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Fox Chicago’s Senior Political Editor Jack Conaty scored an exclusive interview with Speaker Madigan yesterday that I just noticed thanks to a commenter here.

Madigan told Conaty that it was “very, very sad for Illinois government” that some leaders demand a “linkage” between a mass transit bailout and a capital casino plan. Madigan also patted himself on the back for making “a major concession” on the transit issue.

Conaty asked Madigan if we are now “at the end of that unfortunate legislative drama or is this simply one more act?” Madigan’s reply…

“This is simply one more act because of the politics of Rod Blagojevich. The politics of Rod Blagojevich is not a politics of conciliation. It’s a politics of confrontation, conflict.”

“Despite the optimism in Chicago,” Conaty says, “the funding crisis at the CTA is likely to continue.”

Click the pic for Conaty’s full story…

…Adding… Many thanks to Fox Chicago for their prominent placement of my blog on their political news page.

*** UPDATE 3 *** The Tribune editorialized on gaming expansion again today. Take a look.

*** UPDATE 4 *** Cogent analysis from the SJ-R’s editorial board…

For some reason, and we suspect it is about as straightforward as a long Russian novel, Madigan now has decided to abandon the Hamos plan and sign onto a measure being pushed by Blagojevich and House Republican Leader Tom Cross. That plan would rely on about $385 million in existing sales tax money from gasoline receipts in the Chicago area to bail out Chicago transit. But that money is already in the state budget, which means it would either need to be replaced or blow a big old hole in that budget. No one seems to have a plan for replacing the money. The plan is opposed by many for that reason and by others because it does not deal with a capital plan.

We suspect Madigan knows he signed onto a poison pill of a bill. It’s almost sure to die. And, so, if you were hoping for a resolution of this mess as a Christmas present, you better go to the second item on your list. We’re asking Santa to give the feds extra patience in dealing with our screwed-up state so they don’t yank that $6 billion from our stocking.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

35 Comments
  1. - reflector - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:09 am:

    Let’s just make it $60.00 then we will both be Happy.


  2. - Go CTA - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:11 am:

    This City of Chicago is by far the biggest beneficiary of the CTA. Because of the CTA, property values are high, so taxes collected are high.

    Yet the city only gives a paltry $3 million a year cash funding to the CTA each year.

    Does it seem fair Mayor Daley should expect others to pay for what he benefits from?


  3. - Ghost - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:14 am:

    This is going to be interesting to watch. The downstate house dems lookm to be pretty upset about the Chicago only benefit with this deal since it has no other capital porgrams. The ultimate querstion, who catches the heat when(if) this fails to pass.


  4. - Kuz - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:17 am:

    This is not progress, although it may get Daley and Madigan off the hook for a while. The search for free money continues, and it looks like it will once again come down to closing these mysterious “corporate loopholes.”

    I understand that the governor doesn’t want to appear to raise taxes, but if he’s counting on the Republicans, Chamber of Commerce and business groups to go along with closing these “corporate loopholes” without a fight, he’s dreaming. We saw how GRT ended up.


  5. - Ghost - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:23 am:

    Kuz we could just put little cans in all the mini-marts/gas stations throughout the State asking people to donate their spare change.


  6. - DumberThanYouThink - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:26 am:

    Hey check this out. That Madigan is picking on us
    http://www.myfoxchicago.com/myfox/


  7. - fed up - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:39 am:

    Hey Debbie this state needs some ethics too. But you wont let an ethics bill out of committee? Why not? How many family members of yours are getting fat at the taxpayers expense. How many contracts and subcontracts is the Halvorson family in on. Or are you just E. Jones servant. Halvorson part of the problem in Springfield not part of the solution in Washington.


  8. Pingback Built Chicago » Blog Archive » Near a CTA Funding Fix? - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:57 am:

    […] November 28th, 2007 by Dale Not so fast. Despite reports that House Speaker Mike Madigan would support a plan to shift Chicago area gas taxes to fund CTA, much grumbling from downstate legislators indicates it is by no means a done deal. From the Sun-Times: Now that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has folded his hand in the legislative poker game that’s stalled long-term funding for mass transit, so has Mayor Daley. Following Madigan’s lead, Daley on Tuesday endorsed a plan by Gov. Blagojevich and Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross to redirect at least $385 million a year in state sales taxes on fuel to mass transit. The mayor said he’s optimistic the plan will pass both legislative houses today. Rich Miller, not so sure: * While others may have slobbered over Mayor Daley’s endorsement yesterday of the Blagojevich/Cross mass transit bailout plan, Kurt Erickson kept his head and asked questions… “As the General Assembly returns to action Wednesday to deal with a financial bailout of Chicago-area public transit systems, observers say the lack of agreement on other top issues makes it a virtual certainty that the already record-setting overtime session will drag into December, and perhaps beyond. Along with the mass transit funding, lawmakers are pressing for passage of a statewide construction program. But, there remains no consensus on how to pay for either of those proposals. […] But, its prospects in the Senate remain dim, with a bloc of downstate lawmakers pledging to reject the bailout if a separate statewide construction program isn’t put on the table. “I refuse to support one without the other. We need jobs. We need to fix our crumbling schools and bridges,” said Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete, who is running for a seat in Congress.” Audio report from WBEZ. And then there is the strike threat. […]


  9. - Judgment Day Is On The Way... - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 10:58 am:

    So, the State’s portion of the state sales taxes on fuel to mass transit will be re-directed to RTA.

    But isn’t there also a local government portion (lesser amount) of the state sales tax also collected at the same time?

    That portion of the sales tax revenue would be distributed between the different municipalities where the sale occurred, or to a County government if located in an unincorporated area.

    Is that money also being re-directed? Or has that even been considered?

    Or is the state sales tax on fuel a “State Only” sales tax?


  10. - Bill - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    Mr. Speaker,
    Isn’t constantly mouthing off about the “politics of Rod Blagojevich” in itself the “politics of confrontation” and not the “politics of conciliation”? Its time for all of you to keep your mouths shut and get the job done. Put enough votes on the Madigan-Cross plan to pass it and then let the Senate go to work.


  11. - Ghost - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    Bill, so then does Blago officialy support this bill and is he putting pressure on the house dems to vote for it as well?


  12. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:06 am:

    Rich, it wasn’t just Madigan who signed onto that letter.

    It was Rep. Hamos, too.

    Madigan signing on to a poison pill is one thing. Hamos saying she has abandoned the sales tax increase is another thing.


  13. - Angry Chicagoan - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:08 am:

    The downstate and Chicago-southside-machine Dems and the governor need to understand that a capital bill has to be equitable and balanced like Illinois FIRST was. Equal funding for road capital, transit capital and school capital. It can’t just be about gambling and roads while letting transit and schools crumble. Oh — and we’ve been operating without a capital bill for several years now with the result that highway contractors have been going out of business and project costs on the projects we do have are going up way faster than typical for the industry nationally. So we can’t wait the two or three years that casinos would take to get going. A majority of these gutless wonders in Springfield have to accept a tax increase, even if only a temporary one.

    I think the results of Illinois FIRST ought to have vindicated the equal approach by now — there’s no question that this state’s infrastructure made broad and massive progress during that period, benefiting almost everyone and delivering far more for the economy and our quality of life than a roads-only scheme would have. Pity that thanks to the current regime not keeping up we now have just as big a capital backlog as we did in 1998.


  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:09 am:

    “GoBearsss,” nothing has been abandoned.


  15. - Bill - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:12 am:

    Ghost
    I don’t speak for the governor but he is on the public record as supporting the Madigan-Cross plan. As far as pressuring House members, I thought it was the Speaker’s job to keep his caucus on track.


  16. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:13 am:

    I know it actually hasn’t been abandoned. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough.

    What I was trying to say is that it is a lot bigger deal for Rep. Hamos to say she abandoned the sales tax hike in order to play a political game. We know Madigan does this kind of thing all the time, but Rep. Hamos seems to have more integrity in these sorts of things.

    Just saying I was surprised she signed the letter if this truly is the poison pill everyone is anticipating.


  17. - Numbers guy - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:22 am:

    Go CTA, you’re forgetting about the hundreds of millions of state-imposed sales tax paid in Chicago for CTA. The Auditor General’s report (p. 275) showed that Chicago and Cook County actually subsidize the collar counties’ transit.


  18. - MOON - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:29 am:

    Tribune Editorial

    It would seem to me that the Trib. is endorsing many of the suggestions made by the Speaker with regards to gambling reforms.

    My concern is whether or not Blago and Jones also want reform. Or, are they still interested in helping certain individuals to get these gambling licenses. Jones and Blago have friends in Country Club Hills who want a license ( Gattlings), and Tony Bass is fronting for them.


  19. - Ghost - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:34 am:

    Bill, the Governor is not much of a leader if he does not also apply pressure for support of the bill.


  20. - Bill - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:37 am:

    Moon,
    Really!!!This is not the first time that you have tried to tie the governor and president to Country Club Hills. It is not true, you probably know that, and yet you continue to spread the disinformation and now you bring up Tony. Are you the one smelling some easy cash? By the way, most of the property you constantly refer to is in Tinley Park.They’re not interested.


  21. - DumberThanYouThink - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:41 am:

    Bill:
    take a few deep breaths, we have Jay Magoo all primed to vote for the bill. And I am sure we will get some more — at least those within the 217 area code. Plus Doug needs a big win to get the contract renewed for ‘08


  22. - MOON - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:51 am:

    BILL

    Gattlings property is in Country Club Hills. Get out a map and familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. It sounds as though you know of Tony Bass…………one can only assume that you know of his role in this matter and his relationship with Jones.

    I smell the money alright……..its for Blago, Jones and Bass’s friends.


  23. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:54 am:

    Another Day, another post by DumberThanYouThink/Mr.W.T.Rush pretending like he knows what is going on.


  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 11:57 am:

    I’m pretty sure he does, GB.


  25. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 12:00 pm:

    I am sure he knows one side… That’s usually how it works.

    But, hey, he’s your friend. You know him best, right?


  26. - Traveler - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 12:17 pm:

    Kurt Erickson has it backwards … Madigan hasn’t folded his hand in the game over mass transit, but rather he has gone ‘all in’ … raising the bet to force the other players at the table not holding big enough cards to win, to fold and give him the winning pot - mass transit fix (regional sales tax increase)without gaming expansion or a capital program.


  27. - Garp - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 12:18 pm:

    This whiole agreement has to go up in flames with Madigan walking away saying he tried and Blogo dropping 2 more points in the poles. It’s part of Madigan’s master plan-right?


  28. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 12:20 pm:

    Traveler, try to keep the stories straight, even though there are a lot of them on this post. Erickson didn’t say that Madigan had folded his hand. That was the CS-T.


  29. - Traveler - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 12:27 pm:

    My mistake … the the CS-T has it backwards. My apologies to Erickson.


  30. - Johnny USA - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 1:05 pm:

    Numbers guy - you have stumbled upon the first law of transit debate in Chicago:

    “For every report touting the cost/benefits of spending on public transportation in Chicago and the collar counties, there is an equal and opposite report touting the inefficiencies of public transportation in Chicago and the collar counties”

    i.e. for every report that gets waived around promoting public transportation, there exists a report that contradicts those findings. So you really can’t tell which arguments are valid, and which aren’t.

    It comes down to who screams the loudest, and the pro-transit forces have a lock on that.


  31. - Levois - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 1:10 pm:

    Speaker Madigan scored it correctly. It’s unfortunate what’s going on in Springfield right now. Critical issues aren’t being addressed because of infighting.


  32. - Captain America - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 1:27 pm:

    Although I don’t have any objection to diverting the regional gas sales tax to RTA/PACE/CTA, in lieu of the Hamos sales tax/real estate transfer tax, there are two other problems: there is no agreement among the parties how ot plug the $365 million hole in the state budget created by this diversion; downstaters in seem determined to block the mass transit deal without a capital bill, which apparently requires a casino bill. SJR’s analysis seems acurate to me.

    It seems that the casino/capital bill consensus is unlikely emerge in the next two days because of the complexities,politics,and personalities involved. Jones wants to rig the game by steering the casino to favorites - Madigan doesn’t.

    I’m in agreement with the Tribune that casino contracts should not be skewered to favor particular parties. But I would be completely open to statutory mandatory minority participation.

    My prediction is that the Blaogjevich-Cross plan passes in the House, but fails in the Senate. If Cross fails to support his own plan with enough Republican votes to get it passed, he will be completely discredited. My guess is that Blago- Jones will not be able to pass the Cross-Blago plan in the Senate because of the the political extortion of requiring a capital/casino bill before passing a transit bill.

    Speaker Madigan had given Cross-Blago-Jones an opportunity to pass the Blago-Cross plan. If they are unable to do so, their bluff has been called.

    In January, Madigan pases the Hamos plan with a simple majority - Republicans will be largely irrelevant to achieving a simple majority Jones is forced to call the Hamso plan, and it passes with a simple majority, not a veto-proof majority. Blago either signe the bill or self-destructs by vetoing the bill. Unlike many of us, Blago still thinks he has a political career to save. He is trying to avoid being confronted with the the Hobson’s choice of signing/vetoing the Hamos bill.

    My best guess is that Blago blinks and signs the Hamos bill to avoid the political fall-out from a veto.

    If not, Doomsday cometh. But the public will blame the Governor for his veto, not Speaker Madigan.


  33. - GoBearsss - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 1:34 pm:

    “Jones wants to rig the game by steering the casino to favorites - Madigan doesn’t.”

    I think that is a complete mischaracterization of what that actual differences are on the Capital/gaming bill.

    I haven’t heard anyone come out against Madigan’s reforms, except to say that the House should be included in the ex parte communications prohibition. And that would obviously be part of any final package - Madigan just put that in to tweak Emil and Blago.


  34. - Bill - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 2:30 pm:

    The governor doesn’t have to sign or veto the bill. He can just give them a little more fed money to hold them over and wait 60 days. It’s not like he hasn’t done this before.


  35. - Captain America - Wednesday, Nov 28, 07 @ 2:35 pm:

    I’ll take your word for it.

    Blago and Jones deserve the tweaking!


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