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Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* Yesterday, the Tribbies wrote

Blagojevich also appeared to try to put some pressure back on Mayor Richard M. Daley, saying he’d discussed with Daley the idea of tapping into the city’s cash reserves from selling the Skyway as a way to stave off the Jan. 20 CTA cuts.

* I was out of the office yesterday afternoon when the guv’s office called to ask that I put up a “clarification.” I told them to send it to Paul, and this is what they wrote…

The Governor didn’t say he’d discussed with Daley the idea of tapping into the city’s cash reserves from selling the Skyway as a way to stave off the Jan. 20 CTA cuts. He said downstate lawmakers have been grumbling about how Mayor Daley keeps insisting the state should bail out the CTA and not tie it to funding for downstate infrastructure projects; but meanwhile the city of Chicago - which has millions in the bank from the Skyway deal - hasn’t stepped up to help meet the CTA’s needs.

* But then the Tribbies put this Blagojevich quote up on their website

“Perhaps the mayor and I could do something unilaterally,” the governor said. “The mayor has $500 million in his budget from the Skyway. We’ve looked at some alternatives, if the legislature fails to act.”

* The mayor was not pleased, to say the least

A Daley spokeswoman threw cold water on that idea, saying that spending the Skyway reserves could “jeopardize the city’s financial footing and credit rating.”

Jodi Kawada, Daley’s deputy press secretary, added that the CTA also provides service to 40 suburbs.

“Given the way public transportation is structured in Illinois, only Springfield has the ability to provide the long-term funding solution that is needed. No city or county can do that,” Kawada said.

* Meanwhile, talks continue on the transit/gaming/capital plans

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said there are still talks under way among legislative staffers, but he said there remains no agreement on the massive proposal, which could generate enough cash to bankroll a $20 billion-plus statewide construction program.

Brown described some of the talks as “circular,” meaning some of the same issues that have stymied progress throughout the year remain sticking points.

Among them are details on how money from the gambling expansion would be divvied up by lawmakers for use in local construction projects.

* But January 1 brings a new dynamic

Postponing action until the calendar flips greatly alters the political dynamics of transit funding negotiations. Come the new year, it will take just a simple majority to pass legislation. If action was taken this year during a special session, a super-majority would be needed to approve a bill.

All of which means that Republicans, who had been actively involved in negotiations since June, would effectively lose their seat at the table. Democrats control both legislative chambers and the governor’s mansion, and they could provide all the necessary votes for passage of a bill.

That last line is a hoot. Don’t get too wrapped up in this simple majority stuff. The lowered passage bar means that the Republicans will be under pressure to reach a deal or get cut out. But the Democrats, particularly in the House, will want to put as many GOP votes on the gaming bill as possible, and the Repubs know this.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - GoBearsss - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 9:50 am:

    While I agree that keeping that Skyway money in a bank account helps them saves lots of money through a better rating and interest rates…

    This is just patently false:
    “Given the way public transportation is structured in Illinois, only Springfield has the ability to provide the long-term funding solution that is needed.”

  2. - leigh - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    I think the Republicans are in a great position after January. None of them have to support gaming.

  3. - Gus Frerotte's Clipboard - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 10:38 am:

    The real story of the ongoing transit debacle is that nobody has really made it priority #1. It’s clearly not the #1 priority of the Mayor if he won’t use Skyway money for it. It’s clearly not the #1 priority of the Governor if he won’t support any sort of tax increase to do it. It’s clearly not the #1 priority of the Speaker if he won’t force everybody onto the bill (preserving downstate seats being the higher value, I suspect). It’s obviously not the #1 priority of the Republicans, who are using it as leverage to get to a larger capital bill.

    I’m not saying it should be anybody’s #1 priority necessarily, but what’s happened is that everybody involved (at least among the Democrats) has chastised everybody else involved for not making it their #1 priority, when in fact nobody has themselves made it their #1 priority. The other priorities identified (holding the line on taxes, preserving downstate legislators, preserving Skyway money) are all legitimate priorities, but let’s call it like it is — part of why the CTA has limped along for as long as it has is that it’s always been a second-class stepchild at both the city and state levels, and the rolling set of impending doomsdays hasn’t actually changed that.

  4. - bored now - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 10:40 am:

    yes, but…

    i agree that madigan will want as broad a consensus as possible, because he’s done that for years. but if he gets something out of the house, the end of the super-majority requirement puts more pressure on jones, who can pass the thing with a simple majority. will jones allow a bill to “save the cta” fail less than a month before elections?

  5. - DumberThanYouThink - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 11:33 am:

    By January everyone will have new reasons why Blaggo’s plan sux (see if that gets by) and the national economic slump will see revenue down and not enough cash to pay state bills ….the gamblers will need the cash to prevent lay-offs.

    Happy Holidays or as we say in Mexico Feliz Navidad
    Remember shiny nickels for anyone who sees Blaggo in IL between now and 1-1-08.

  6. - Esteban - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 11:48 am:

    The key word in the phrase “could provide all
    of the votes needed” is COULD. We shouldn’t
    hold our breath waiting for Democratic unity
    to be restored.

  7. - Bill - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 11:50 am:

    Could you get your boss to cough up two Rose Bowl tickets?

  8. - It's Just Me - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 12:56 pm:

    The Skyway money was received after a 75 year lease of the Skyway, meaning that Chicago looses the toll revenue from the Skyway for 75 years so that the city can get a one-time, lump-sum payment. To use a 75-year revenue stream to postpone service cuts and fare increases AGAIN is insane. That money should be used for capital expenses only like roads, parks, and Chicago schools that will still be around in 75 years.

  9. - Ghost - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 12:56 pm:

    ===Democrats control both legislative chambers and the governor’s mansion, and they could provide all the necessary votes for passage of a bill.===

    I think it is touching that David Mendell thinks of Democrats in IL as a single party. The reality is we have Jones Democrats, Madigan Democrats, a few Blago Democcrats, Downstate Democrats, and the group of COok County democrats, that include folks outside of cook county.

    It would be easier to track this stuff if these were identified as seperate parties like they are in many foreign governments, then you would need to form a coalition of theses various parties in order to obtain a majority leadership position.

    But the idea of a single democratic party gives a nice warm fuzzy feeling. The repubs need not quake too much.

  10. - Two peas in a pod - Friday, Dec 21, 07 @ 2:20 pm:

    Mayor Daley and Sam Zell have a lot in common. The Mayor sits on millions from the Skyway sale, but doesn’t want to spend it to fix mass transit. Sam Zell has millions but doesn’t want to spend it to fix Wrigley. Both want to keep their money and have the State of Illinois, which is broke and can’t even pay its bills, to pay to fix Wrigley and mass transit. Kind of like two millionaires having a big lunch and giving the tab to their poor relative. Of course, that is how the rich get richer.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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