* Best lede of the day…
In a move aimed at insulating themselves from pre-election charges of being a do-nothing legislature, members of the Illinois House Wednesday took steps toward putting a statewide construction program on the books
* Rather than focus all that much on the details of the Lottery lease, the big debate yesterday was over why the House Democrats had provided a revenue stream for the capital projects package, but no actual capital projects…
But the House bill under consideration did not specify which capital projects the lottery lease money would fund.
“When are you going to pass the jobs bill? When are you going to invest in building schools and hospitals and fixing our roads and our bridges and investing in the public transportation needs of our state?” said Governor Blagojevich.
But Flynn-Currie says the House bill could not be specific about spending because no state has ever leased its lottery.
“We don’t know at this moment whether the idea of leasing the lottery will hold water. We probably won’t know for six or eight months whether we have a done deal,” said Flynn-Currie.
That’s true, but the story behind the story which you probably won’t see in the newspapers is that the House Democrats don’t want to give the House Republicans any juicy projects before the November elections. They also would rather deal with a new Senate President, rather than sit down with Emil Jones before he retires.
* And this is the usual Statehouse stuff…
But the House didn’t pass a spending plan for construction projects. Many House members complained they were only doing half the job.
“The audacity of anyone calling this a capital bill is insulting,” said House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego.
Cross urged leaders to sit down and work out a spending plan by October or this would be the “biggest political hoax we’ve seen so far this year.” He then voted for the lease idea. [emphasis added]
That tidbit about somebody railing against a bill and then voting for it is often left out of these types of stories, so kudos to Finke.
* This is also the usual stuff…
“At least it’s a starting point,” said state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, a regular critic of the lottery lease who voted for the lease to move the construction program forward. “We just need a capital bill and it looks like it’s the only way we’re going to get one.”
“Madigan wants it,” is a good enough reason for most House Dems.
* More on yesterday’s action…
State legislators Wednesday agreed to tap into $221 million in special funds to save the jobs of state workers facing layoffs and to keep open state parks slated for closure.
The move by House members brings cuts Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced last month one step closer to be being undone. Funding would be restored for Department of Children and Family Services workers, alcohol and substance abuse counselors and for state historic sites and parks.
* I’m kind of surprised that this didn’t get more play today…
A separate measure approved by the House, although by fewer members, would ensure that Medicaid providers would receive more timely reimbursements from the state, but the $371 million to do so would not be covered by the fund sweeps. Hannig said the House wants to work with the governor to find another funding source for the Medicaid payments. Most of the state dollars would capture federal matching funds.
* And now comes the Senate’s move…
The Senate is not slated to return back to Springfield until November, though some lawmakers, like state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, think the cash-strapped agencies will pressure for a special Senate session before then.
Even if the Senate OKs the plan, it still needs the governor’s approval.
“We have several concerns with the proposed legislation,” said gubernatorial spokeswoman Kelley Quinn, who said the funds might not have enough money to support the sweeps.
* The Senate will also have to deal with this…
The Illinois House on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to rewrite ethics legislation aimed at preventing him from giving state contracts to campaign donors.
The high-profile smackdown in Springfield came hours after the embattled governor argued in Chicago that lawmakers should embrace amendments he inserted into the bill to improve and toughen it.
House lawmakers instead voted 110-3 to override Blagojevich’s proposed changes, accusing him of trying to kill the ban on pay-to-pay politics rather than enhance it.
The bill’s fate is still uncertain. If the state Senate does not also reject the governor’s changes, the legislation dies.
* More on that topic…
If the measure isn’t voted on in the Senate within 15 days, the entire bill and the changes die. Senate Democrats have said until they see what the House does, they don’t have plans to return to work until November.
[Rep. John Fritchey] said Senate leaders have repeatedly promised to call an override for a vote in that chamber and hopes they live up to that commitment.
* The ethics bill wasn’t the only veto override yesterday. If and/or when the Senate returns, they’ll have to deal with bill like these…
Insurance coverage of sexual assault services
Originally passed 94-20-0 in the House and 56-0 in the Senate
The House overrode the changes, 77-36, on September 10, 2008
Original intent: It would require insurance companies to pay for treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in addition to other mental health services they already cover.
Governor’s changes: The governor would add treatment and services for sexual abuse victims, as well as for their parents, children, spouses, siblings, domestic or same-sex partners if they die or commit suicide from the abuse.
Insurance coverage of autism services
Originally passed the House 100-7-0 and the Senate 48-4-3
The House overrode the changes, 84-29, September 10, 2008
Original intent: It would expand mandatory insurance coverage of mental health services to also cover marriage counseling or therapy.
Governor’s changes: It would require insurance companies to reimburse families for diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders for children younger than 21. The benefit would max out at $36,000 a year but would be annually adjusted for inflation. Families still would have to pay a co-payment and deductible as usual for their policies, but they could not be dropped from their policies simply because their children were diagnosed with a form of autism.
* Blagojevich/ Madigan cartoon
* Illinois House approves lottery lease for construction program
* State lawmakers move forward with lottery lease
* House votes to lease Illinois lottery to finance construction
* ll. House OKs Privatizing State Lottery
* Legislator introduces bill to keep Wright’s Dana-Thomas House and other historic sites open
* Blagojevich says lawmakers may weaken ethics