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Blagojevich spares himself, slashes other statewides

Friday, Jul 11, 2008

* Did you expect anything else?

Gov. Blagojevich spared his own office from deep cuts but aggressively wielded his budget-cutting cleaver against fellow statewide officeholders, who rank among his loudest critics and are considered potential rivals to him in the 2010 election.

As part of $2.1 billion in trims to the 2008-’09 budget, the governor lopped as much as 25 percent from the office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan while cutting only 3 percent from his own bottom line.

* Zorn has some details on the cuts to AG Madigan’s budget. It’s not really a 25 percent cut because that figure includes a proposed increase for this fiscal year. It is, however, a 17 percent cut from last fiscal year, and that’s huge. The cut also brings Madigan’s appropriations back to FY 2003 levels…

FY 2003 — $40,710,000
FY 2004 — $39,638,700
FY 2005 — $41,222,400
FY 2006 — $42,505,300
FY 2007 — $48,142,400
FY 2008– $48,633,000
FY 2009 — $52,637,500 (in the budget as passed by the General Assembly); reduced this week to $40,000,000

* The other statewides also took serious hits

“I don’t think there’s any question it was done in a petty and vindictive manner,” said Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who lost 17 percent from his budget after leading efforts to give voters the chance to recall Blagojevich. “I think every press conference I had on recall cost me another percentage point.” […]

Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, another potential 2010 rival to Blagojevich, saw his office budget cut by 13 percent after condemning Blagojevich’s acceptance of campaign contributions from state contractors and opposing his failed gross-receipts tax on businesses last year.

“It’s no secret that the treasurer has been critical of the governor’s policies, and the cuts made to our budget suggest that there’s a price to pay for that,” Giannoulias spokesman Scott Burnham said.

Comptroller Dan Hynes, another gubernatorial critic, had 11 percent cut from his budget. Secretary of State Jesse White had 14 percent cut from his office, a Senate Republican budget analysis showed.

Keep in mind, those totals are reductions from the proposed increases. But, they still represent real cuts in the end.

Also, the governor’s spokesperson claimed that the guv’s office budget has been cut over the years. What he didn’t mention was that the governor mostly just moves things off-budget by forcing state agencies to pick up the tab.

* Meanwhile, remember how the governor made a big deal of giving seniors free transit rides this year? Remember how this was such a high priority? Times change

Wednesday, Blagojevich pulled the plug on $37 million that had been allocated to the Regional Transportation Authority to partially reimburse the agencies for offering reduced-fare rides to seniors, students and people with disabilities.

* Related…

* Gambling expansion likely dead in Illinois

* Speaker: Gaming is dead

* House defeats gambling expansion plan

* Speaker Madigan leaves door open to tax hike next year

* Governor accused Madigan of playing games

* House Fails To Find Ways To Pay For Service Cuts

* Winfield super responds to governor’s budget cuts

- Posted by Rich Miller        

38 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:16 am:

    You’d think Blago could have handled the PR on the cuts better. The RTA cut kind of sums it all up.


  2. - Ghost - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:19 am:

    Word, but the Gov is playing chess remember. Apparently he is planing so many moves ahaed that he can no longer see what he is actually doing on the board.

    These budget cuts seem like a good idea, if he wants to help garner even greater support for impeachment in the house.


  3. - Siyotanka - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:20 am:

    At what point does the call get made? For impeachment…


  4. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:23 am:

    Now, this should have been easy. He called the shots, so he should have prevented this blowback. All he had to do is lead by example. How could he have screwed this up too?

    Instead he turned it into an obvious retaliatory act. Now the stories are being written on how he is a jerk as well as a gubernatorial failure.

    You just get to a point where you don’t feel sorry for Blagojevich. You just are disgusted that someone so poorly suited to being governor is wasting our time playing political games instead of governing. Of all the times in Illinois history to have Blagojevich governor, he is governor now! Lord, if we had to endure this fool, why couldn’t have been when we had the economy and the ability to have a screw-up for governor?

    Blagojevich as governor from 2002-2010 is Illinois’ Perfect Storm of Gubernatorial Destruction.


  5. - Wumpus - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:24 am:

    I commend Blago for making cuts to make government smaller and hopefully more efficient. I am sure the numbers will dictate whether he is lying or not about the fact that his budget was lower already compared to previous years.


  6. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:25 am:

    It’s like Blago acts without thinking of the PR consequences. Unbelievable.


  7. - South Side Mike - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:27 am:

    What did Jesse White do that caused his budget cut? Did White refuse a demand from Rod to put his face on the organ donation campaign?

    I’m ambivalent on Jesse White overall (don’t really love him, but he’s done okay with a tough assignment in the DMV offices), but it’s seemed that he has stayed out of the Springfield landmine. So why is he getting squashed?

    (I know, with this governor, there’s neither rhyme nor reason to any action, but still, Rod rarely bungles revenge.)


  8. - Ghost - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:28 am:

    Stroger has one thing to comfort him at night, at least he is not Blagovich.


  9. - Team Sleep - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:33 am:

    Governor Blagojevich has now officially reverted back to being a child. Moving state jobs for no REAL reason, cutting his “rivals” operating budgets and trying to move hefty and potentially explosive funding through when his approval rating is 13% has taken away the rest of whatever credibility this guy has.


  10. - Dan S, a voter and Cubs Fan - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:34 am:

    Everyone dealing with Blagoof seems to be in a battle of wit with an unarmed man, please someone just end this insanity.


  11. - Rod sez I'm pork - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:39 am:

    Cutting the RTA subsidy for senior rides? Why do I suddenly have the image of an elderly woman splayed on top of the G-Rod’s plane (ala Rostenkowski)?


  12. - Bluefish - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:39 am:

    Is there anyone left who Gov. 13% hasn’t ticked off yet? MJM has the House back for three days next week. Isn’t that enough time to get the impeachment resolution rolling? As good old Bill used to say…Bring it on!


  13. - John Bambenek - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:44 am:

    I thought all the vetoes totalled $1.4B… how is the Sun Times coming up with $2.1B?


  14. - Steve - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:51 am:

    Very interesting.Blago is doing real cuts.Few politicians would have the courage to do that.I can’t imagine Democrats or Republicans going for real cuts.This is Blago’s last term with or without getting indicted.When politicians can’t get more money every year they will not tolerate someone like Blago.


  15. - ironman - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 9:55 am:

    I think the Gov. could cut some pork from DHS. The slipped in a contract for ID scanners from a company called ITECH automations for 590,000.00. the ceo is dan cantwell from the chicago area..these scanners are worthless..Another way to microman….Another waste was at chester mental health, they had to use up 10,000.00 they found and pored concrete they didn’t need…not to say all of the new hires!!!!!!!!


  16. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    ==Did you expect anything else?==

    Yes I did. I believed that no one, not even someone like this governor, could possibly do this to us, to himself, and to this state.

    Yes, I did expect something else. How low can he go?


  17. - Judgment Day Is On The Way... - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:07 am:

    The Mission - The men and women in your command - then Yourself.

    That’s the order, Rod.

    If the above isn’t simple enough for you to follow, here’s another one:

    “The officers don’t eat until the men get fed”.


  18. - fedup dem - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:19 am:

    Bluefish, while it won’t take more than three days for the House to impeach Gov. sleazy, Speaker Madigan needs to take some time to build up a case against Blago that is so overwhelming that not even the Governor’s lackeys in the Senate (particularly Emil Jones and Rickey Hendon) will be able to save him.


  19. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    I rarely agree with this Governor but if my legislature sent me that budget and my political enemies were daring me to cut, I wouldn’t stop at 2 billion. I would be going through that thing, line by line and job by job till they said uncle.


  20. - Anon - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:32 am:

    –I would be going through that thing, line by line and job by job till they said uncle. –

    But you’re not this Governor. Even with his poor aim, he can only shoot himself in the foot so many times before he’s out of toes.


  21. - Skirmisher - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:35 am:

    Blago spared his office from deep cuts??? We are hearing horror stories this morning from agencies under his control that their personnel services budgets may face as great as 50% cuts. These do not necessarily include those agencies that provide goodies to his and Emil’s core constituencies in Chicago.


  22. - Mr. Wizard - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    Go read the comments at the end of the Zorn article - aside from the swipes at politicians, there seems to be wide support for cutting the budget. I wonder what the Reps are hearing back in the district….


  23. - Ralph Kramden - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:38 am:

    The biggest positive he could come up with all term was the seniors ride free gag, and then he cuts the money for it after it’s underway, knowing the RTA doesn’t have the stones to pull the plug on it. THAT’s cold. If RTA “suspended” the free senior rides “just until they work things out in Springfield”, you’d see Rod’s thirteen percent dwindle down to about, oh, seven.

    My theory as to why Rod hit Jesse so hard is not because Jesse did anything wrong, he fears that office, because traditionally, with all the influence and reach that office has, and the large worker pool it commands, it has been a power base for aspirants to the job of Governor.


  24. - Capitol View - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:52 am:

    I see the special funds sweeps bill eventually emerging with some of the dollars directed towards veto cut areas, including the other state officers. This will help unify the rest of state government against the petty dictator on the second floor. There were cuts to Chicago State University and other pet project areas of Emil Jones - come on Emil, join the parade.


  25. - Bluefish - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 10:59 am:

    fedup - at 13% (and falling), would Jones and Hendon be willing to put their own necks on the line? I’d have to imagine that every senator would be getting pressure at home to do something about this guy.


  26. - Little Egypt - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 11:15 am:

    Why is anyone surprised that GoverNOT Speechify made it clear that he wanted free rides for seniors and then cuts the money from the budget? Blago has nothing to fear with Jesse White. The only thing Blago has to fear is the truth…….remember?


  27. - Team Sleep - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    Whoop, I would agree with your assessment but there was no reason for Blago to cut his enemies’ budgets - especially when Lisa, Alexi and Dan have all shown great fiscal restraint already.

    One thing I worry about is Rod’s jobs movement and restructuring. It’s not the movement I’m worried about; it’s where he will move them. If he relocates 1,500 jobs and they all go to Dem areas represented by Blago-friendly officials, the moves will be nothing more than a play than a way to create jobs.


  28. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 11:51 am:

    But, Ralph, how much of a threat can Jesse White be when he’s well into his 70s, has already announced he’ll run for SOS again, and swears he has no interest in any other office?


  29. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 12:22 pm:

    I guess it makes sense to slash the Attorney General’s budget since the Governor feels the need to spend millions of dollars on expensive Chicago law firms instead of using the Attorney General’s office. Why use the office of the person elected by the people as the top attorney for the State when instead you can give millions of dollars in State no-bid contracts to law firms that just happen to also represent the man’s political fund? Much better idea to force the attorney general to fire state lawyers (that make about $20 an hour) and hire firms that charge $500 an hour. Totally makes sense.


  30. - ilrino - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 2:49 pm:

    Apparently, one of the cuts virtually eliminates the drug treatment system. Not that he cut an increase, but slashing and burning and losing federal matching money to boot. That’s no little issue. Anybody know the deal on that?


  31. - Crapped Out - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 3:28 pm:

    Gaming certainly is dead! For those that have any doubts as to whether or not this is a stable funding source for a Capital Plan, need look no further than this:

    http://www.igb.state.il.us/revreports/june2008statreport.pdf

    The month over month; year to date, and year over year comparatives are staggeringly painful, from the standpoint of how much we have relied on this resource simply to fund the annual general revenue fund and operating budget. You have to question where they are going to get the money to replace what has already been lost for the past and current fiscal year.

    If they had commenced this Capital Plan two years ago; or even a year ago, with expanded gaming as a funding source they likely would have defualted on the bonds by now. Alternatively we would be raising taxes both to stabilize the existing budget AND to pay the debt service on the bonds for the capital projects, which probably would have been grounded to a halt.


  32. - Crapped Out - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 3:42 pm:

    It will also be interesting to see how the bidding process and final results go for the “10th License” given the current gaming environment in Illinois and around the country. Somehow I would suspect that the valuation projections will become a bit more tempered than the feeding frenzy that occurred the last time they tried this. This is especially true given the fact that no purchaser may reasonably count on the “10th license” actually being the “last license” in Illinois.

    Given the past legislative efforts, any bidder would have to include a condition; or a contingency for a devaluation of their investment for dillution at some point in the future. This is especially true considering that while this could be the last “privately held license”, future competitors may be the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois under the Communist Manifesto that has become the last several “Gaming Bills”.


  33. - ZC - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 3:48 pm:

    Blagojevich is the fifth Cylon.

    That Earth the Battlestar crew returned to? An alternate reality, one where Blago became President.


  34. - Oberon - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 3:52 pm:

    Remember that after JCAR suspended the rules for the health care expansion, Jesse White refused to publish the final rules, as the Governor demanded. Don’t forget the Governor sued Jesse claiming his refusal to publish the rules was unconstitutional. I believe that suit is still pending. I don’t think he’s afraid of Jesse; it’s just simply payback. Yes, these are real and deep cuts for many agencies. If the vetoes stand, look for the unemployment figures in Sangamon and surrounding counties to go up a point or two.


  35. - Truth - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 3:53 pm:

    When will the nightmare in our state capital end? It is going to take years to repair the damage. Years.


  36. - Ralph Kramden - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 4:58 pm:

    Jesse respects/fears Madigan much more than he does Blago, obviously.


  37. - Cassandra - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 5:38 pm:

    Clunky ID scanners notwithstanding, I would guess that DHS and DCFS will see few if any cuts in their budgets. They are major Blago/Emil pork farms for
    the less employable (in a competitive sense) members of the Blago/Emil family.


  38. - Disgusted - Friday, Jul 11, 08 @ 7:48 pm:

    They all suck!


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