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End of session updates *** UPDATED x15 *** Tornado forces evacuation *** House Cancels Session ***Senate Cancels Floor Activity***

Friday, May 30, 2008

* Here’s the outline

Schools would get about $515 million more, though $148 million of that boost would be used for long overdue school construction payments, negotiators said. Classroom spending would be lower than last year’s extraordinary boost of about $550 million.

Chicago Public Schools would get about 20 percent of that total, or slightly more than $100 million, under the proposal, said Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the lead Senate Democratic negotiator. Mayor Richard Daley had asked for $180 million more, but school officials acknowledged earlier this week they could live with an extra $130 million.

Trotter said spending overall would go up $2.1 billion in the proposal, but questions still exist over how to pay for the sizable increase. Despite a dismal economy putting a damper on tax revenues, lawmakers hope to collect as much as $1 billion more in the next fiscal year.

The new spending would be supported in part by an auction of the state’s long-dormant 10th riverboat casino license, from which they hope to reap as much as $575 million. But support for some pending measures to help avoid budget shortfalls is in doubt.

* And

But the big question that remains is whether it’s in balance. […]

Trotter says if those revenue measures don’t pass, an out-of-whack budget could be sent to Governor Rod Blagojevich for possible big cuts.

* Also

llinois House committees Friday approved major parts of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s public works construction program, including a massive expansion of gambling and leasing the Illinois lottery.

However, the fate of the plan is still uncertain as lawmakers drive to pass a budget and adjourn by Saturday. Time may run out before the capital plan can be approved. And one key lawmaker said Blagojevich must still convince legislators that he can be trusted to ok construction projects in their districts before the capital plan will be approved.

“I think the governor has a lot of work to do convincing people he can be trusted,” said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who is sponsoring the gambling expansion bill. […]

Some committee members said they voted for the bill only to get it to the House floor where all representatives would have a chance to vote on it.

*** UPDATE 1 *** There’s a leaders meeting at 5:30 to discuss the capital plan. The caucuses were given te final capital language at noon today and they’ll discuss any changes they want. The bill is huge and complicated, so some House Dem members are saying that passing that gigantic thing at this late date probably wouldn’t be prudent. Others say the issue is too important to put off until November. It’s highly doubtful that the plan will pass by tomorrow, but there will likely be some fireworks.

*** UPDATE 2 *** This is pretty basic stuff, but here’s more on what the governor faces with the budget deal…

But the deal could force Blagojevich to be the bad guy.

Legislators haven’t come up with a way to pay for the proposed new spending. If they pass an unbalanced budget, Blagojevich either would have to veto the whole thing - potentially triggering months of gridlock - or pick and choose which programs to cut.

He might have to slash programs for important constituencies, close prisons or scrap health care expansions. […]

“Will the governor have to make some reductions? More than likely he will,” Trotter said.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Clean Car bill update

Supporters of a bill to impose California’s stringent emission standards on cars sold in Illinois are hoping for a showdown vote before the Illinois General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment Saturday.

Although Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, it’s unclear whether a vote will happen during the end-of-session rush. “I don’t do predictions,” said a spokesman for the speaker. “It’s on the calendar, but it’s obviously controversial.” […]

The auto industry and its allies are fighting hard to keep the bill bottled up as legislators rush to finish bigger issues, such as next year’s state budget and long-term funding for infrastructure improvements. […]

Environmental groups claim to have 45 solid votes for the bill, including 37 co-sponsors, and they count about 40 likely votes against it. That leaves about 33 undecided or uncommitted, with 60 votes needed for a majority. The auto industry spokesman declined to comment on that assessment of the bill’s support.

The process would start all over in the Senate, however. It’s taken since February of 2007 to get this point, which isn’t very far.

*** UPDATE 4 *** Capital bill grows by almost $3 billion..

State lawmakers are now trying to push through a construction-spending spree that’s swelled to nearly $34 billion in the final hours of their legislative session. […]

A breakdown provided by the governor’s office shows the state would come up with $21 billion, the federal government would provide nearly $10 billion and local governments would contributed $3 billion for an unofficial total of $33.7 billion in spending over at least the next five years.

The preliminary breakdown shows $2 billion for school construction and another $165 million to provide $50,000 maintenance grants to every school district in the state. Public universities would get $1 billion, community colleges and private universities would get $300 million apiece.

Check out what’s at the bottom of the story…

But billions more in spending remains unspecified, at least to the public, at this point. For instance, there’s $1 billion set aside only for “revitalization” to be distributed by the Illinois Finance Authority.

*** UPDATE 5 *** The Statehouse has been evacuated because of the tornado warning. Members are in the basement.

*** UPDATE 6 *** The leaders meeting wasn’t started when the tornado evacuation order was issued. Most are in the tunnels under the capitol complex. No idea yet whether the meeting will go on as planned, or whether the General Assembly will reconvene tonight.

Hail has been reported, but no touchdowns or even sitings of tornadoes have been confirmed.

*** UPDATE 7 *** The SJ-R is live-blogging the storm. You can also listen online or on your radio to Jim Leach do the play-by play on WMAY.

*** UPDATE 8 *** The alarms have been turned off at the Statehouse, but people are still being advised to stay sheltered. The first storm is passed, but another big one is on the way. It’s not expected to produce a tornado, but high winds are likely.

*** UPDATE 9 *** A third storm has been spotted in Morgan County, and there are signs of rotation.

*** UPDATE 10 *** The House has canceled session for the rest of the evening. As of now the Senate is still waiting it out.

*** UPDATE 11 *** The leaders meeting will convene at around 7:45 tonight.

*** UPDATE 12 *** The Senate is in recess for committees. It is uncertain whether or not they will reconvene tonight.

*** UPDATE 13 *** The Senate has canceled any more floor activity for the night. However they are still in committee.

*** UPDATE 14 *** The leaders meeting has ended.

Officially they are expressing optimism. However, the House Democrats are saying that they have not had adequate time to review the Capital Plan. They are not promising or even speculating yet as to a vote.

Also, it appears that a 12th river boat license may be on the table.

*** UPDATE 15 *** 9:10 P.M. Senate President Jones, Senate Minority Leader Watson, and Governor Blagojevich are still currently meeting.

They are trying to hash out significant differences between Jones and Watson on the bill.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

56 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 3:40 pm:

    For those who have an interest in seeing something, anything, done before the end of Saturday, the leisurely pace of the Rezko jury strikes me as quite a blessing.


  2. - Napoleon has left the building - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:20 pm:

    Rich

    I know it’s hard to get any info sometimes and you save the best details for subscribers, as you should and as I have said you should in the past, but it seems like your updates on the budget negotiations and the end of session issues are considerably less frequent than they were last year.

    I keep checking the blog and there’s nothing new on there. We know that something is happening, somewhere.

    I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

    Napoleon


  3. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:31 pm:

    You have a point, Napoleon, but right now the only thing that’s going on is a budget deal that was pretty much wrapped up late last night. There really isn’t much “happening” at the moment. Leaders meeting at 5:30, so we’ll see then.


  4. - Anonymous - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:32 pm:

    Bill numbers, anyone? Have they changed?


  5. - Beerman - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:32 pm:

    Napoleon

    If you hadn’t left the building and stayed at the Capitol with the rest of us you would know what’s going on. :)

    If I know Miller he is running around with his head cut off trying to get the latest scoop. Either that or he’s in Boone’s drinking.


  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:39 pm:

    ===If I know Miller he is running around with his head cut off trying to get the latest scoop===

    Actually, I’ve been working on three stories unrelated to the end of session. The real budget stuff all gets done at night.


  7. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:40 pm:

    Anon 4:32, bill numbers for what?


  8. - jj - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:44 pm:

    Check out the House floor - Madigan is working it to tell members to vote against any capital bill that comes over from the Senate.

    Why is he so stressed out? Maybe he knows the house Rs are ready to play ball and get a compromise bill done, and he is scared.


  9. - GA Watcher - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:45 pm:

    Rich:
    Have you checked out Tom Roeser’s column in today’s Chicago Daily Observer (”The Agnew Solution to Rod Blagojevich”)? It’s posted under Icerocket. I know Roeser is an extremist, but wow!


  10. - jj - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:46 pm:

    why censor me? I don’t say anything inappropriate or inaccurate…


  11. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:46 pm:

    GA Watcher, that scenario is logical and is often discussed at the Statehouse, but it’s not a sure bet.


  12. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:48 pm:

    jj, you weren’t censored. Plus, I don’t censor. Governments censor. I moderate.


  13. - jj - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 4:49 pm:

    OK, sorry for the accusation, then.


  14. - Easy - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:04 pm:

    I’ll tell you what’s going–the Cubs just came back from a 9-1 deficit to win 10-9. TBTIB.
    In addition, it looks like MJM is feeling significant heat from currie’s comments earlier in the week that the chances for capital are nil.


  15. - jj - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:09 pm:

    Leaders meeting in 21 minutes!

    Go Cross Go!


  16. - some former legislative intern - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:20 pm:

    jj, it wouldn’t matter one bit if the R’s were “ready to play ball and get a compromise bill done.” What would MJM be scared of? If he doesn’t like the bill, he won’t call it. Duh. Seeing as a committee just approved it to send it to the floor (something that would not have happened if he hadn’t given the thumbs up) it looks like he is going to give it a shot.

    Like the rest of the Governor’s defenders here, jj, you either have no experience in Illinois politics or are too committed to parroting the Governor’s official line to have any real sense of what is taking place.


  17. - Beerman - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:30 pm:

    Personally I think MJM is doing a roll call on whether its pizza or chicken. :)


  18. - jj - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:38 pm:

    you are quite the comedian … but apparently you learned nothing in your internship.

    If Madigan doesn’t call the bill, he is the one to blame for killing it.

    He doesn’t want to be to blame, he wants to blame everyone else for his own stubborness - The Governor, House Republicans, etc. House Dems even.

    Stop your spin that Madigan actually wants a capital bill.

    You would have understood his games if you were a House R intern.


  19. - Leigh - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:38 pm:

    I thought Roeser’s column made a lot of sense. More than the end of this session which I believe will be Much Ado About Nothing, once again.


  20. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    OK, everybody chill out. Last warning.


  21. - steve schnorf - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    I’ll take a chance here and make a prediction: the capital bill ain’t going nowhere.


  22. - Truth in Accounting - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:45 pm:

    How can the legislature vote on legislation that will cost the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars by the end of tomorrow? I would think that they would want to spend time carefully reviewing the budget, before voting. Are they all speed-readers?


  23. - OneManBlog - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 5:45 pm:

    == community colleges and private universities would get $300 million apiece. ==

    Why not give 600 million to the CCs and not a dime to private Universities.

    As of August 31, 2006, Northwestern’s endowment and other trust funds totaled approximately $5.9 billion.
    Seems like they don’t need any money from me.


  24. - IDOT Lifer - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:11 pm:

    Rich - Did the IDOT supplemental evr get approved? According to the GA website it is just floating around.


  25. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:24 pm:

    I bet there’s more wind blowing around in the basement of the Statehouse than there is outside.


  26. - Agent 99 - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:26 pm:

    My guess is MJM will call the capital bill. Roll calls are useful.


  27. - the ole precinct captain - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:28 pm:

    If they ars all in the basement does the open meetings act apply?


  28. - Bill - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:28 pm:

    Good question, OneMan! Can they vote in the basement?


  29. - some former legislative intern - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:30 pm:

    OK, jj, I could come back, but Rich has issued a warning so I will stick to policy points only.

    If you look at my comments, I never suggested that MJM wanted a capital bill. I only said that 1) he has nothing to fear from Republicans “cutting a deal”. If he doesn’t want it, he wont call it. Or he’d amend it in such a way as to insure the Governor and Emil would never accept it. However, 2) clearly he is willing to let the House work his will because he allowed it to come out of committee.

    I have constantly argued that the capital bill, in its current format, is bad public policy. It is Rod and Emil’s Las Vegas “Pawn shopping” of Illinois. It relies on 1) a large expansion of gambling, the majority of the legislature not being a proponent of; and 2)the selling of a productive state asset, the lottery, where if passed only 20 cents of every future lottery dollar will be realized by the state and 80 cents will go to bondholders (with significant financial advisor fees going to friends of Rod).

    That is bad government fiscal policy.


  30. - sparky - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:31 pm:

    i think the speaker can call a quorum anywhere he wants, right Rich?


  31. - Bill - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:42 pm:

    Steve,
    You are probably right but what do you think of the proposed bill? I am not too fond of gambling expansion and I think the revenue projections are probably inflated but remember the feds are picking up almost 1/3 of the frieght.
    As for the lottery, I forecast declining revenue for the lottery if it continues as is. A private will probably increase profits by various ways. Leasing it might just be a good move, fiscally.


  32. - weather - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:45 pm:

    tornado sighting from a trained spotter at 5th and cedar…. another front on its way from the west


  33. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:47 pm:

    weather, WMAY says no touchdown at that intersection based on iton-site reporting.


  34. - some former legislative intern - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:48 pm:

    Yes, I would be interested to hear Schnorf’s evaluation of the capital bill myself. I think he was Edgar’s Budget chief when I was an intern in 1994-95?


  35. - Bookworm - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:51 pm:

    Another storm to west near Jacksonville still has a tornado warning so be ready to head to the basement again if it holds together.


  36. - nick - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:52 pm:

    mr schnorf was budget chief thru ryan. he hired me and i was one of few to stick around under blago for a couple years.


  37. - anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:54 pm:

    So do you think they will recovene tonight?


  38. - Champaign Mike - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 6:59 pm:

    I’ll take a chance here and make a prediction: the capital bill ain’t going nowhere.

    Steve, Why do you think so?


  39. - weather - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 7:17 pm:

    it appears the house is in session and has not canceled for the evening???


  40. - some former legislative intern - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 7:52 pm:

    I feel for you, Nick. Not the fact you worked under Edgar and Ryan, but the fact you stuck it out under Blago. And I am a Democrat.

    As a former Budget staffer, what is your opinion of the capital bill? Any speculation on Madigan’s preferences? Do you agree with jj’s views?


  41. - Michael J. Almighty - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 7:52 pm:

    Rich, do you think they got my opinion on the Lottery Lease clearly enough?


  42. - some former legislative intern - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:00 pm:

    Stay safe, Rich. I know you are used to a lot of windy politicians, but this is something else entirely. What would I do without capital fax blog to avoid whatever it is I should be doing?


  43. - Speaking at Will - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:10 pm:

    Auntie Emil! Auntie Emil!


  44. - A Citizen - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:20 pm:

    Helloooooo Kansas !! Save Todo !


  45. - Muskrat - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:27 pm:

    So what will the governor, the speaker, and the senate president ask the wizard for once they get to Oz?


  46. - A Citizen - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:36 pm:

    A brain a heart and a check for $25,000 in food stamps.


  47. - nick - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 8:42 pm:

    former intern, i was only under ryan during the last few months and then blago for two years. actually i dont really consider myself a R or D…i just considered it a job. i enjoyed the work and just did what i was asked. i have not even looked at the current capital bill as i had enough of that stuff while i was there nor i have had the time.


  48. - Big Mama T - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:09 pm:

    This tornado is definitely a warning to not pass a capital bill. See, everybody knows you can’t give Rod access to money without bad things occurring.


  49. - Bookworm - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:14 pm:

    Bad karma perhaps? Also, any guesses where Blago’s “secure location” was during the tornado.


  50. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:49 pm:

    Rich, kidding aside, World HQ ok? Just emerged from the Panic Room and the Westside of the ‘patch is intact.

    To the post:

    The capital bill is built on shaky foundations.

    -There has not been a thoughtful examination of the long-term (as in to pay off bonds with) revenue stream from gaming in Illinois.

    -The Lottery lease economic studies have never been released outside the GOMB. As Capt. Fax so directly observed yesterday, is this the group the taxpayers want to have the only look-see on a $10 billion deal?

    -The State may inadvertently be doubling down on its own deal. Potential “lessors” of the Lotto include groups (sometimes called syndicates, or clubs, but AA doesn’t like those terms of “Art”)
    of investment banks or private equity firms. Hmmm, who invests a lot of cash with private equity firms? Right. The State pension funds!

    -The $10 billion number is another cause for concern, particularly in light of the secrecy of the financial documents. Last year, the sale or lease of 100% of the Lotto was projected to net $10 billion; a year later, lease of only 80% still gets the same $10 billion. Most people would agree that the deal didn’t get 25% better in a year, so what gives?

    -The use of borrowed public funds to pay for capital work at wealthy Northwestern is wrong. The use of the same for private, religious-affilated colleges is a lawsuit in the making, not that it hasn’t happened before, but not $300 million a pop.

    -An old (Cecil Partee kinda old) Senate Dem budget analyst used to say, “community colleges are like a**h****. Everybody has one.” Perhaps that’s why “everybody got their $300 million, but it’s hard to see that the capital needs of brand-spankin’ new Heartland CC in Bloom/Normal and Lincoln Land or a few of the older less pristine campuses are the same.

    -Perhaps it’s a multi-year program, but at %50k apiece, the school maintenance grant is roughly 3x too much for the number of school districts in Illinois.

    Call AA old-fashioned, but that’s how I see it.


  51. - Viva, Viva, Las Vegas - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 9:54 pm:

    What are the odds that Tony Rezko would stiff the Vegas Casinos for a few $100K, leading up to this 11th hour vote. Any chance he will be sitting in the Clark County Jail in NV, when the jury comes back here in Chicago?

    The federal judge can control his voluntary out of state travel, but what happens if the Clark County Sherriff shows up here and gathers him up on the outstanding warrant?


  52. - Speaking at Will - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:11 pm:

    good work tonight rich!


  53. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:13 pm:

    To solve the capital bill problem, every citizen over 18 should commit to buying 7000 lotto tickets tomorrow. Problem solved.

    If everyone then buys about 400 more, we close the gap in the operating budget.

    (I’m figuring 50 cents on each lotto dollar.)

    Happy to help, now everyone can go home.


  54. - Anon - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:47 pm:

    Prediction: No capital bill, no gaming expansion, no lottery lease, on fund sweep. Just passage of a way-too-big spending bill, with Rod likely being forced to pare down the budget to meet revenues via vetoes (Madigan’s plan all along). Rod could end up signing the beast (no evidence he cares about actually governing), forcing a monster tax increase in the fall.


  55. - steve schnorf - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:54 pm:

    I’ve always thought that gaming should be an easy place to go for money. We already have it, so that argument against it is gone. People already gamble at race tracks, so adding slots isn’t adding gambling anywhere it doesn’t already exist. Once we have boats, what difference is there if we have 9 or 10 or 22?

    Once there’s a boat with 20 table games and 500 slots why do we care if there are a thousand slots? Whether you agree or not, you see my line of thought.

    It isn’t the gaming opponents that kill gaming expansion, it’s the gaming industry people: they get greedy, and the bill keeps growing and growing until it collapses under its own weight.

    Anyway, that’s my thoughts on gaming as a funding source for a capital program (or any of the state’s other needs).


  56. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, May 30, 08 @ 10:56 pm:

    Who has a complete list of capital projects covered by today’s version of HB4723 (the Capital Bill?)

    I’ve seen some partial lists like this article:

    http://www.pantagraph.com/articles/2008/05/30/news/doc48408685830bf261049197.txt

    And the Elgin OHare project:

    http://www.pioneerlocal.com/riverforest/news/979918,eg-ring-053008-s1.article


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* The nutty Trump trolls, the Korea agreement and Democrat cold-warriors.
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* Tronc to change name back to Tribune Publishing after years of ridicule
* YouTube Music and YouTube Premium are officially launching today, includes more countries
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* White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: Week 11
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