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Quinn press conference notes and video

Sunday, May 31, 2009

[I’ve moved the Quinn press conference stuff to this post and cleaned them up a bit since I was posting on my iPhone. We’ll be posting several videos as soon as they can be edited and processed. ]

* 7:43 pm - Gov. Quinn: The state can’t issue bonds for capital without a balanced operating budget. Bond agencies wouldn’t allow it. Translation: He’s not signing the capital bill.

Quinn: No need for a special session to deal with the budget. Leaders meetings instead. First meeting tomorrow.

* Quinn said he will stick with the House tax plan, calling it viable. Sen Meeks is here and he doesn’t look pleased at all.

* Meeks: “We’ll never pass the House plan”

* 8:15 pm - The House has approved the 50 percent funding for human services programs approp bill which some members blocked yesterday. The governor would not specifically say whether or not he would veto bills like that.

* 8:27 pm - Governor Quinn on signing the capital bill…


* 9:37 pm - Governor Quinn will not sign a partial budget and he made it abundantly clear that the GA will have to work until a full, balanced budget is passed…


* 10:10 pm - Governor Quinn said that an income tax is the best way to raise the revenue needed for a balanced budget. He views his income plan is as the best solution and is confident it will pass, even after it failed miserably in the House today. He explains why his income tax proposal will prevail the second time around. Watch…


* 10:25 pm - Governor Quinn briefly addressed IL’s progress on ethics reform and his devotion to the issue…


* 10:45 pm - Quinn views argument that budget problem is a Democratic ‘train wreck’ as playing politics…


* 10:56 pm - Finally, Quinn side-stepped a question regarding his view on Speaker Madigan’s efforts to gin up House support for a tax increase…


- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Evening updates - Reform bill passes House

Sunday, May 31, 2009

* 7:00 pm - The Senate is basically just spinning its wheels while the House moves bills. “We’re waiting for those dummies in the House,” explained one state Senator.

Fittingly, House debate on the campaign reform bill has stalled at the moment because of a problem with the microphone system.

* 7:04 pm - The House mics are working again.

Over in the Senate, Sen. Rickey Hendon spent several minutes lambasting fellow Democratic Sen. Susan Garret during debate on a Garrett bill. Hendon’s comments were in retaliation for Garrett’s vote on the tax hike last night. Garrett is a member of leadership.

* 7:10 pm - The Daily Herald makes a good point about the Senate-approved gaming bill. It can’t be voted on by midnight….

Saturday was the first time this specific legislation had been taken up by the Senate. Upon approval it was sent over to the House. But the Illinois Constitution requires that each proposal be considered over three days in both the House and Senate. Sunday was day one for the gambling plan in the House. As a result, it can’t be voted on before the midnight deadline.

To get around this, lawmakers often pass so-called “shell bills” that don’t contain any details but are available at the last minute in the process should a deal be struck. But Waukegan Democratic state Sen. Terry Link didn’t go that route with his plan.

* Don’t forget, I’m posting on Twitter as well.

* 7:20 pm - Gov. Quinn will have a press conference in 10 minutes. We’ll have a report and some video in due time.

* 7:35 pm - 64-46-8 on campaign finance reform bill, but there’s been a request for a verification.

[Quinn press conference items have been moved to this post.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Late afternoon, early evening updates - 42-74-2. Quinn tax hike fails

Sunday, May 31, 2009

* 5:14 pm - The House is taking up the “Quinncome tax” plan. The plan brings in $4.5 billion in new income taxes. Listen or watch here.

* 5:22 pm - Rep. John Fritchey just said he won’t vote for this tax hike bill because it’s inadequate. He apparently prefers the Senate’s bill.

* 5:23 pm-Democratic Rep. Julie Hamos, who has become more vocal about her disatisfaction with Speaker Madigan’s leadership, was asked about Madigan’s leadership on the income tax issue. Watch…


* 5:24 pm - Once again Patterson is live-blogging a tax hike floor debate.

* 6:15 - 42-74-2. The 2 present votes were Will Davis and David Miller - the two top proponents of the Senate plan.

Rep Karen May seemed to speak in favor of the bill. “We need bridges and roads but we’re leaving people in the ditch” or something close to that. She voted “No.”

* 6:30 pm - The campaign finance reform bill is now up.

* 6:39 pm - Leader Currie said she will call the human services 50% cut appropriations bill…


- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Afternoon updates - 35 HDem votes for Senate tax plan - Will call Quinn plan instead

Sunday, May 31, 2009

* 3:50 pm - Democratic Rep. Jack Franks just emerged from an ongoing House caucus meeting and said he’d be surprised that the Senate-approved income/sales tax increase would have 30 votes among House Democrats.

Franks also said he didn’t believe the tax proposal would even be called for a vote. That’s just one person’s view, mind you, but there you go.

* 3:56 pm - Here is Rep. Franks on taxes and the budget…


* 4:11 pm - Aother HDem just confirmed most of Rep Franks’ assessment of the fate if the tax bill.

* Another HDem emerge to confirm. She derided the service tax idea. “They want to tax diapers?”. Diaper services would be hit with the tax.

* 4:30 pm - 3 more HDems emerge to chronicle the disaster. One more reference to the “diaper tax.”.

* 4:41 pm - HDem caucus vote: 35 for Senate plan.

* 4:40 - Majority Leader Currie just told reporters that the Quinn tax hike plan will be called instead. That plan is unpopular in the Senate. Whiplash time.

* 4:57 pm - Leader Currie told me that it was still “possible” that the Senate plan could be called in the House today. But she didn’t define the parameters.

* 5:09 pm - Rep. Miller on what happened and what’s next…


* 5:11 pm - The Tribune has posted an online editorial blasting plans for “An irresponsible tax hike”…

It looks like members of the Illinois House are going to vote late this afternoon or tonight on a big increase in the Illinois income tax. They could be asked to vote twice: if a 67 percent increase in the tax fails, leaders may call a vote on a mere 50 percent increase.

Democratic leaders are pushing tax hikes in the midst of an economic recession, even though they’ve made no substantive progress on curbing the runaway costs — particularly in pensions and health care — that have put the state in this terrible position.

That’s irresponsible.

It would be nice if they’d at least concede the fact that normal state revenues have dropped about $3 billion in this fiscal year alone.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Note to subscribers, readers, etc.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

* I will be posting at the blog and on my Twitter page throughout the day and into the night. So, please check both sites. I’d put a Twitter feed in this post, but the RSS timelag is so long that I don’t think it’s worth it.

Also, if you have an iPhone, Twitterfon is a great app. Highly recommended. Download it here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - The plot thickens

Sunday, May 31, 2009

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Noontime update *** UPDATED xSeveral ***

Sunday, May 31, 2009

[Updated with video and bumped up for visibility.]

* 12:29 pm - The House Education Committee is now debating the Senate’s tax hike plan. Gov. Quinn is at the hearing and took a question about the budget. The Senate’s plan requires $2 billion in spending cuts. Quinn said he’d have to do some belt tightening, but that the cuts were doable.

They’re meeting in room 114, so you can listen or watch by clicking here, unless your Mac is like mine and the feed doesn’t work.

* 1:21 pm - The Senate’s tax hike bill passed the committee 11-6-2.

* 1:29 pm -
One House member absent from the chamber today: Democratic Rep. Lisa Hernandez.

* 1:36 pm - Gov. Quinn talked to reporters after the House committee hearing…


* 1:52 pm - The AP has a brief story up about the committee vote. Nothing new in it.

* 2:04 pm - The Tribune’s web story breezes past a very important point…

The tax measure was approved by the House Education Committee on an 11-6 party line vote, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposed. Two Republicans voted present.

Those two GOP “Present” votes are hugely significant, because House GOP Leader Tom Cross has said that his entire caucus is a “No” on any tax hike plan. There’s more to it, but you gotta subscribe.

It ain’t there yet, but the plot has thickened.

* 2:19 pm - A couple more videos from the committee hearing. Gov. Quinn says property taxes are the most onerous tax in Illinois…


The governor’s closing statement to the committee…


* 2:28 pm - From Rep. Fritchey’s Twitter page

Dems are going to caucus in a bit to talk about taxes. This situation is still very much up in the air.

Yep.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - STAR; Statehouse Roundup (use all caps in password)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

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Reform roundup

Sunday, May 31, 2009

* The SJ-R slams the Senate-passed campaign finance reform bill which dings the special interests hard

It also seeks to suffocate independent group’s political action committees by limiting the amount they can collect from their members to $10,000, an extraordinary restriction. It also appears to bar such groups from making independent expenditures.

The message is clear: In Illinois, only the two political parties are going to play a role in elections going forward.

I fully understand their argument and even agree with it. But I think this is one of the first times I’ve ever seen an Illinois editorial page stand up for the rights of Statehouse interest groups to raise unlimited campaign cash.

* Kent Redfield, one of my all-time personal favorite reformers, talks about another big problem with the bill: Annual contribution caps instead of caps tied to election cycles…

“If I’m a governor and I get elected, I’ve got four years to raise money,” Redfield says. “The person that runs against me is probably only going to be out in the field for two years. … If I’m a challenger (for executive or legislative office) and I don’t get my act together before January 1 of the election year, I only get one contribution.”

* And then there are those constituent services committees

People like State Rep. Jack Franks regularly spend more money on their district office operations than provided by their office allowances. Campaign fund money pays for the rest.

Skip Saviano once told me his whole district office operation was financed with campaign money.

By using campaign money, legislators can operate overtly politically. After all, campaign money is for running campaigns. […]

The process is ripe for abuses. “Sorry, Man, we can’t help you if you don’t contribute to our constituent services committee.”

* The fine print on the recall proposal isn’t so fine

Though Quinn has characterized recall as a citizen’s initiative, it would require lawmakers to initiate the process. At least 20 House members and 10 senators–equally balanced from each party in each chamber—would have to file a notice of intent to recall a governor. Then supporters would have 150 days to gather signatures equal to 15 percent of the people who voted in the previous election for governor.

More

“If you read this carefully, it would appear to me that either caucus, any of the four caucuses, could stop a recall in its tracks by not having its members sign the necessary petition,” said Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville.

More

If enough lawmakers’ signatures were collected, the next step in a recall would involve collecting voters’ signatures on petitions, with a minimum threshold of 15 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election. Based on the 2006 election, that would be about 750,000 signatures, Franks said.

They’d have to do that in 150 days. And then there’s this

There must be at least 25 different counties with 100 signatures each.

* Related…

* Quinn makes clear he’s no reformer

* Campaign reform a sad script, missed opportunity

* Campaign caps would not kick in immediately

* FOIA changes move Illinois from ‘Stone Age to modern era’

* FOIA benefits the people

* District 230 president: FOIA changes costly

* Legislators plan tour to discuss redistricting proposals

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Down to the wire

Sunday, May 31, 2009

* The truth is, nobody knows what will happen today after the Senate’s game-changing vote to pass a 2 point income tax hike and expand the sales tax base…

The 31-27 vote shifted Statehouse dynamics after Democrats spent much of the day struggling to find support for a tax increase. With lawmakers on the brink of blowing their deadline, the focus now turns to the House, where Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago repeatedly has insisted he lacks the votes among his Democratic majority to approve a tax hike.The uncertainty for the major Senate tax plan also was illustrated by Democratic Senate President John Cullerton’s acknowledgment that Republican votes are needed to get the plan through the House. But House Republicans have said they won’t support a higher income tax.

Beyond that, House Democrats have been reluctant to vote for a temporary 50 percent income tax rate increase for two years. The Senate plan they are being asked to approve is a 67 percent increase that would be permanent. And it’s one that would tax individuals at the same rate as corporations.

Rep. Art Turner (D-Chicago) said the votes are not available to pass either tax increase bill. “That’s reality,” Turner said.

But

Cullerton said that passing the bill in the Senate may help House Democrats feel safer about changing their minds. However, he said that the bill would need Republican support to pass. “When one chamber starts and passes a bill, they see that we’re still walking around — we’ve got a different version of what the governor has — that there’s a way to do this. So I think it’s a good start.”

* This change was hugely important

In order to attract suburban Democrats and try to draw Republican votes, the plan was altered at the last minute to take out a large increase in business income taxes. That increase is to 5 percent from 4.8 percent but had initially been set to go to 7.2 percent.

It worked for area Democrats. “I was a ‘no’ vote on this until, as somebody who had been a small-business owner, the corporate income tax rate they wanted to raise to 7.2 was knocked down to 5 percent,” said state Sen. Linda Holmes, an Aurora Democrat.

* $750 million is nothing to sneeze at

[Republicans] said the Senate bill offers only meager property tax relief. The property tax credits amount to only about $750 million. “The property tax relief in here is a joke,” said Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.

* Gov. Quinn initially told reporters that he would stick with the House’s tax hike plan…

Before Saturday night’s vote, Quinn continued pushing for a smaller income tax package — one that would raise the individual rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent and that would sunset in two years — that advanced out of a House committee Saturday. Quinn identified that plan as his top revenue choice.

“I think the plan we have here in the House is probably the one we’ll have to go with,” the governor said. “The whole idea is to at least at this time get enough revenue to hold off dire catastrophe.”

He has since changed his mind

But following the Senate’s action, a Quinn aide said the vote is “a meaningful first step and the House should consider it promptly.”

* And there’s internal pressure among House Dems to call the Senate’s proposal…

Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie tried early in the day to advance a temporary income tax increase. That wasn’t gaining enough votes. So late Saturday night, Currie tried to at least approve the “insurance budget” to keep the lights on, so to speak. Without it, agencies would be funded at 32 percent of Quinn’s proposed budget.

But after word spread that senators approved an income tax increase across the rotunda, several House Democrats started to peal off support for a bare bones budget. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat and vocal advocate of human services, urged fellow lawmakers to hold off on a bare bones budget to “continue to fight for more solutions.”

* And the governor has a big stick he could use

Gov. Pat Quinn wouldn’t say whether he will veto a budget that doesn’t include enough money to operate for the full year. “I don’t really want to be thinking about vetoes. I’d rather think about everybody coming together in the next 24 hours and passing a budget,” said Quinn, a Chicago Democrat. “It’s hard to do, but it’s for the best interests of the people.”

* The pressure is also building on some “moderate” Downstate House Republicans. I told subscribers about this development yesterday afternoon…

Governor Quinn also dropped in, claiming progress getting votes from the other side with help from former Republican governors Edgar and Thompson.

“Governor Thompson said he was in favor of our proposal. He suggested that we make it a temporary income tax and scale it down a little bit, and we have done that,” Gov. Pat Quinn said.

* And even if a tax hike passes there are still some very tough votes ahead

Supporters of a tax increase say it would not take the place of budget cuts.

They estimate that after spending cuts that have already been approved and the arrival of federal stimulus money, Illinois government still faces a gap of about $7 billion between revenue and expenses. The Senate tax plan would generate about $5.2 billion and a House version approved in committee Saturday would generate about $4.5 billion, so neither one would close that budget gap.

* Making things even more difficult, the governor’s proposed pension skim can no longer be justified with “reform” efforts

The state’s pension systems will not be split into two levels of benefits, the plan’s sponsor said Saturday. “At this point I believe the case has not been made to advance,” said state Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat. Harmon sponsored Gov. Pat Quinn’s idea of putting all new state, university and public school hires in a new, reduced benefit system.

* But this might help balance the budget, even though the House Speaker said he wouldn’t call it for a vote

One possible fix would be gambling expansion that also cleared the Senate late Saturday. On a vote of 30-28, senators approved new casinos for Chicago, Park City, Rockford and Danville. It also allows slot machines at Arlington Park and other tracks and lets existing floating casinos to expand and move off the water.

Sponsor Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, has said the millions in gambling taxes could be used to balance the budget. That plan also now moves to the House.

* Related…

* Online horse betting bill heads to Quinn

* House Dems paint picture without tax hike

* KOTOWSKI: I look at those programs that are in there. Programs for kids with autism, programs for seniors, programs for veterans, programs for abused and neglected kids. And these are serious programs that provide, uh, provide a safety net for folks that are struggling and don’t have a voice.

* Live blogging the Senate’s tax hike debate

* Senate’s tax hike bill

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Morning shorts

Sunday, May 31, 2009

* Throw out U. of I.’s clout admission list

* U. of I. admissions: How politicians pressured university to admit students

* Dispute over broadcast contracts slows Cubs sale

* Gray area: Aging prison population has state looking at alternatives

* The Barnich tragedy . . .

* Breath tests refused: ‘It’s becoming more common to deny Breathalyzer’

* FAO Schwarz pulling out of Macy’s

* State pediatricians meet to confront growing childhood diabetes epidemic

* Aldermen are wondering if they’re on tape

* Federal prosecutors probe pension fund investments

* School records found in Chicago alley

Authorities say a resident of Chicago’s North Side found boxes full of confidential records from special education students at Chicago’s Lake View High School in an alley behind his home.

The resident who found the records in a trash bin Saturday says they included health records, parents’ information, pictures and even Social Security numbers.

* Attorney general looking into Chicago parking meter debacle

* You can still quit, Roland

* Halvorson: You have to be careful with carbon emissions legislation

- Posted by Mike Murray   3 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax

Sunday, May 31, 2009

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Senate approves tax hike

Saturday, May 30, 2009

* 9:45 pm - The Senate passed the Meeks/Cullerton income tax increase (2 percentage points for individuals, 0.2 for corporations, expanded sales tax to services) by a vote of 31-27-1. Some good quotes from the debate are here.

The bill moves to the House, which has its own tax hike bill preferred by the governor.

* 9:51 pm - The Senate is now moving the House-approved appropriations bills from last week that captures federal stimulus money and funds employee union contracts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Mid-evening update

Saturday, May 30, 2009

* Twitter was down for a while but it’s back up now.

…Also… I didn’t notice it until now, but Patterson live-blogged the debate.

8:15 pm- The Senate is currently considering a tax increase bill. And House GOP Leader Tom Cross is shocked that the Senate is considering raising the income tax to 5%…


* 8:25 pm - Cross cracks wise about reports that former GOP governors Thompson and Edgar have been calling House Republican members about the tax hike vote…


- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Early evening update

Saturday, May 30, 2009

* 6:35 pm - I’ve been posting a bit at Twitter today, so you might want to check my page every now and then.

The four legislative leaders and the governor are meeting at this moment. We should have a report and video soon after the meeting ends.

We’ll also post a video here of Gov. Quinn talking about the budget in a few minutes. Check back then.

* Patterson headlined this one: “Jim Edgar makes House calls.” Cute …

Gov. Pat Quinn called Edgar to ask if Edgar would call Republican lawmakers to get a real pulse on whether any of them could vote for an income tax increase.

Edgar said he would but told Quinn that Quinn needed to cut more from the budget before asking for one. Edgar talked to one Republican who said the same thing.

That pretty much matches what Edgar told me earlier this year when I called him up to get his take on the budget mess Quinn was inheriting. Edgar said there was likely no way out without a tax increase but that it had to be paired with unpopular budget cuts.

* The Senate has advanced another tax hike bill. A couple of good points from McDermott…

- The latest proposal would raise more money for the state than Quinn’s plan (by about $1.5 billion), thus giving lawmakers more of a reason to go out on the limb of supporting a tax hike. […]

- No one actually expects this new proposal to go anywhere; they just want to vote on something that will allow them to go home to their constituents and claim they fought the good fight on behalf of education, without actually having to institute a politically dangerous tax hike.

Sen. James Meeks on the Senate’s tax hike bill. He claims he’s close to passage…


Meeks also believes his bill is superior to the governor’s tax hike plan…


* The House has also advanced a tax hike…

House Democrats today advanced a 50 percent increase in the state income tax for two years, but final approval remains very much in doubt as the General Assembly nears its Sunday night adjournment deadline.

Democrats have been unable to find enough votes in the House to raise the income tax to help plug a major budget hole and Republicans have said they aren’t ready to vote for a tax hike yet. House Democrats met for a couple hours behind closed doors on Friday but abruptly left the Capitol without taking a vote.

The proposal, approved with all Democratic votes at a House committee, would generate $4.5 billion a year to help stave off massive cuts in state services, according to House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago).

* The House has passed a recall proposal…

The Illinois House today sent state senators a plan prompted by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s ouster that could lead to voters getting the chance to recall future governors from office.

Gov. Pat Quinn watched as the House voted 109-6 on one of his top reform priorities, a proposal to add the recall of governors to the Illinois Constitution. The state Senate still has to act to put the proposal on next year’s November ballot. Then voters would have to ratify the amendment.

Because of a timing issue, the earliest the Senate could give its approval would be Monday. That would mean the spring legislative session went into overtime past the midnight Sunday adjournment deadline.

* Dick Durbin was in town today…

Springfield’s own U.S. senator was back at the state Capitol today but not about to get involved in the mess facing state lawmakers.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, shook hands and talked with officials and onlookers at the Capitol today, as lawmakers aim to wrap up their spring legislative session tomorrow night.

* The gaming bill has more trouble in the Senate. Unless the Republicans jump on, opposition from elements of the Black Caucus could sink it. This story was posted earlier today…

With tax hikes stalled at the Capitol, one suburban lawmaker said gambling expansion should be reconsidered as a possible state budget fix.

“I think it should be very strongly considered because we need some kind of revenue to get out of here,” said state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat and gambling expansion advocate.

* 6:52 pm - Governor Quinn spoke with the media shortly after the recall amendment proposal passed the House. The lack of House support for a tax increase and the budget were the dominant topics. Edgar’s decision to lobby Republican lawmakers on Quinn’s behalf was also a popular topic of discussion.


- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Afternoon updates

Saturday, May 30, 2009

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Charter schools; Colvin; Turner; Statehouse Roundup (use all caps in password)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

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Passing a bill is only a step, not the solution

Saturday, May 30, 2009

* Another reformer who believes passing a bill will solve all our problems

[John Jackson, visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale] said the stream of state officials accused of corruption, such as Thursday’s indictment of Chicago alderman Isaac Carothers on bribery charges, would keep post-Blagojevich reform fresh in the public mind.

“Are these guys paying attention to what’s going on?” Jackson said of Carothers. “What does it take?”

The City of Chicago has a campaign contribution cap on vendors. Carothers allegedly got around that when a developer funneled a contribution through somebody else

It was further part of the scheme that in order to disguise and conceal the extent of Grand Central Center’s campaign contributions to defendant CAROTHERS, defendant BOENDER directed an employee of Grand Central Center to make a $1,500 donation to the New 29th Ward Democratic Organization and reimbursed that employee for that contribution.

And then there was the alleged violation of the much-lauded (by Illinois reformers) federal campaign contribution cap

It was further part of the scheme that when defendant CAROTHERS asked defendant BOENDER for his financial support of Candidate A’s campaign, BOENDER, in order to curry favor with defendant CAROTHERS, made campaign contributions to Candidate A in excess of the maximum allowed under federal election law. In order to disguise and conceal the fact that he was making campaign contributions to Candidate A in excess of the maximum allowed under federal election allow, BOENDER directed at least two individuals to make $2,000 donations to Candidate A and reimbursed those individuals for those donations.

* Some House Democrats are not pleased

Meanwhile, the House did not send along to Quinn contribution-cap legislation that passed the Senate on Thursday over strong objections from government watchdogs and former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins, head of a Quinn-appointed panel charged with cleaning up state government.

More than a dozen House Democrats withheld support in a rare act of rebellion against Speaker Michael Madigan, who negotiated the package with Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton.

“We’re expected to follow along like lemmings and take a loyalty test over and over. This question isn’t a loyalty test,” said Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), who was among 15 Democrats and 46 Republicans to press Madigan to discharge a tougher plan from his tightly controlled Rules Committee.

The protest didn’t work, and a spokesman for the speaker indicated Madigan intends to push forward with the package he, Quinn and Cullerton negotiated to cap individual contributions at $5,000 and corporation and labor union contributions at $10,000.

The list of HDem revolters…

Boland, Burns, Chapa LaVia (Didn’t vote), Colvin (Present), Franks, Fritchey (Didn’t vote), Hamos, Jakobsson, Joyce, May, Mell, Mendoza, Nekritz, Osterman, Riley, Ryg

* Good point Number One in the Tribune today…

At times, reform efforts were stalled by battles of ego and arrogance on both sides. Legislators dismissed outsider ethics advocates as trying to paint them all as corrupt. But some self-described good-government advocates portrayed their agenda as a “my way or the highway” approach and attacked those who opposed any of their reform proposals as supporting the status quo.

Good point Number Two…

In many ways though, the reform push was treated to the same political gamesmanship and horse-trading that typifies any major issues at the statehouse. Most Democrats, who control the House and Senate, hailed their efforts to change the ethical climate in Illinois

Number three…

“Reform never starts from the top and dribbles down,” said Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville). “Those at the top have a vested interest in what got them to the top and what keeps them at the top. If you really want reform, it has to start at the bottom and work its way up.”

As in “voters.”

* The Daily Herald looks at the meat of the reform bill that passed the Senate…

Unions, businesses and other special interests would be banned from spending money on behalf of candidates under a campaign finance law advancing toward the governor’s desk, a move that substantially restricts outside influence on politics but not without consequences.

Every campaign season, scores of business and labor workers get paid to staff Republican and Democratic campaigns across the state, a practice that would be prohibited effective Jan. 1, 2011 under the reforms.

But the practical impact could be that campaigns become more reliant on the political leaders in each party to provide the paid foot soldiers and staffers that once came from elsewhere. Neither the Republican nor Democratic party organizations would face similar prohibitions.

* Related…

* Gov’s Wrong. We Can Do Better

* Proposed campaign limits won’t take effect until after 2010 election

* As good as it gets?

* Compromises Water Down IllinoisAnticorruption Bills

* Campaign finance limits one step closer

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Off the rails?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

* Trouble ahead

Despite intensive lobbying by Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois lawmakers remained unwilling Friday to a 50 percent state income tax increase.

The Illinois House abruptly ended its work day Friday afternoon without voting on the income tax hike, as Quinn had expected earlier in the day.

“There’s not widespread support, there has not been widespread support and there continues not to be widespread support for a tax increase,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. “He’s (Quinn) asked to defer that for the past several days, and that continues.”

A House committee is scheduled to consider a tax hike bill this morning, although there is no indication when, or if, the bill will get a vote in the full House.

* Trouble behind

House members said it was increasingly possible that lawmakers would approve what money is available and then adjourn, leaving state agencies to limp along without a complete budget.

“We’ll run out of money. That’s the truth,” warned Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia, an Aurora Democrat who chairs one of the House’s appropriations committees. “We’re going to hit a day of reckoning where there’s not going to be any more money to pay the employees of the state.”

* And you know that notion just crossed my mind

Earlier Friday, Quinn had predicted a House vote on a two-year hike in the income tax, increasing the rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent. But Republicans opposed the plan, a cornerstone of Quinn’s 2009-’10 budget.

And only 39 House Democrats expressed support for the temporary tax plan in a closed-door caucus, leaving it 21 votes shy of the 60-vote threshold it needs.

“We are hopefully optimistic we will turn the corner,” Quinn spokesman Bob Reed said late Friday.

* Trouble with you is the trouble with me…

Rep. Art Turner (D-Chicago), a top Madigan lieutenant, summed it up: “We’re looking for courage. We’re close. We’ve got it spelled C-O-U-R, but we’re looking for the rest of it.”

* Got two good eyes but you still don’t see..

Senate Democrats have predicted a tax increase would have an easier time in their chamber and on Friday an even bigger tax plan emerged, courtesy of Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago).

The proposal — which could raise upward of $6 billion — would increase the income tax by 67 percent and expand the sales tax on services such as dry cleaning, video rental, dating services and carpet cleaning. The theory is that a larger tax bite would mean fewer cuts.

A spokesman for Quinn would not comment on Meeks’ proposal. Earlier in the day, Quinn signaled his willingness to support a temporary version of his own tax-increase proposal, calling Friday “D-Day” for approving a budget.

* Come ’round the bend, you know it’s the end

Carol Stream Republican state Rep. Randy Ramey said Republicans are prepared to wait for a seat at the bargaining table and he’d be fine with a government shutdown when the current budget runs out at the end of June.

“Kentucky shut it down for one day, got it solved. Pennsylvania shut it down for one day, got it solved,” Ramey said. “So I think there’s enough pressure out there that we can then sit down and negotiate and get things accomplished.”

* The fireman screams and the engine just gleams

Developments are happening quickly. What appears to be the end game now could be vastly different from what actually happens when it’s all said and done.

* Related…

* Cigarette tax hike lacks support in House: Tax and fee increases already approved by Illinois lawmakers may thwart a push to raise the tax on cigarettes. State Rep. Karen Yarbrough, who is sponsoring the legislation in the House, said there is not enough support yet to approve the tax increase. But she added legislators may change their mind by Sunday, the last scheduled day of the spring legislative session.

* Teachers unions monitoring “two-tier” pension discussion

* Homewood resident takes part in strike at state Capitol to protest Quinn’s budget

* Ill. hunger strike sends one to hospital

* Video poker slammed as worst of all possible options

* Illinois may bet on poker

* Too many moving parts: Across the rotunda, Sen. John Sullivan, a downstate Democrat, said as the day progressed, it appeared more likely that the legislature would resort to a budget based solely on revenues available. But he wasn’t happy about it. “If we go past the 31st without a full budget being passed, all we’ve done is put off the inevitable,” he said. “We’re going to have to come back at some time and face reality.”

* Congressman to Ask Feds for Extra Stimulus Oversight

* Unfiltered: Congressman Mark Kirk Blasts State’s Ability to Monitor Federal Funds

* State Audit Raises Questions About IL’s Ability to Monitor Funds

* Unfiltered: DCEO Says It’s Prepared for Additional Responsibility

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


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Morning Shorts

Saturday, May 30, 2009

* City unemployment jumps to 10.6%; area rate at 25-yr peak

The jobless rate in the metropolitan Chicago rose to 9.9% in April, a level that hasn’t been seen since January 1984.

The seasonally unadjusted April rate, released Friday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, was 4.5 percentage points higher than last April, when the unemployment rate came in at 5.4%. It was 0.6 percentage points higher than March, a sign that layoffs were continuing to pummel the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet statistical area.

IDES estimated that there were 171,300 fewer people employed in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metro area in April, compared with the year-earlier month.

The unemployment rate for just the city of Chicago was 10.6%, up from 6% last April, according to IDES figures.

* Jobless rates hit double digits

Kane and Kendall counties have each hit the double-digit unemployment rate of 10.4 percent, higher than the rate of Cook County, the state and the nation.

Not only did Kane and Kendall’s jobless rates nearly double from April 2008, but Kane and Kendall also lead neighboring counties on the rate of unemployed.

Will County’s rate is at 10.2 percent, and DuPage County is at 8.2 percent, according to unemployment data released Friday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

* Grant funding, private gifts to ISU steady despite economic crisis

Illinois State University was awarded a record $22.3 million in grant funding last year, and its fund-raising efforts for private gifts also fared well.

* College grads in for a rough awakening

* Caterpillar continues to prosper

* Illinois American Water Files for Rate Hike

* Wells Fargo rejects offer for Hartmarx as ill-suited

* Bankruptcy looms for GM; Chrysler awaits fate

* School’s out … forever

* Mistake means slightly higher tax bills in North Aurora

* CPS reviewing its grade security

* Chicago schools settle discrimination lawsuit

* Aldermen are wondering if they’re on tape

* Chicago alderman who apparently wore wire vows to fight federal charges

Despite word that he wore a wire for federal investigators, Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) said Friday that he would fight the charges against him and had no plans to resign his seat.

“I’ll be at work Monday morning,” he said a day after federal prosecutors indicted him on fraud, bribery and tax charges.

Carothers, a longtime ally of Mayor Richard Daley, declined to discuss the charges, but he defended the Galewood Yards real estate project at the center of the alleged bribery as well as his work as a public servant.

“These allegations are based on things from 2004,” he said. “I’ve been alderman for five years after that. I think we’ve been effective.”

* Indicted Alderman Carothers: ‘You got to deal with it’

* Feds probe city pension deals with Daley’s nephew

City pension officials have been hit with subpoenas from a federal grand jury trying to determine how a start-up company co-owned by Mayor Daley’s nephew won $68 million in pension investments.

The grand jury issued the subpoenas Wednesday, nearly two months after city pension officials refused to comply with similar subpoenas issued by the City of Chicago’s inspector general, David Hoffman.

Hoffman said Friday that he and federal investigators are now jointly investigating the pension fund investments with DV Urban Realty Partners, a minority certified business co-owned by one of the mayor’s top African-American allies, Allison S. Davis, and Daley’s nephew Robert Vanecko.

City pension officials refused to comply with Hoffman’s subpoenas, arguing he had no authority to demand records from them. The federal grand jury stepped in, demanding records from the pension plans for Chicago municipal employees, laborers, police officers and firefighters, even though the firefighters pension fund refused to invest any money with Davis and Vanecko.

* Federal prosecutors probe pension fund investments

* Lisa Madigan jumps into parking meter fray

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation into the implementation of Chicago’s parking meter privatization deal.

“Our goal is to determine if consumers have been defrauded,” said Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler, who stressed that the office is not investigating the City of Chicago.

Subpoenas were sent May 19 to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, the winning bidder for the city’s parking meter franchise; Chicago Parking Meters LLC, a consortium led by the infrastructure group, and LAZ Parking, which is operating the franchise for CPM.

* Chicago parking meters: Lisa Madigan launches state investigation

In response to questions, a spokeswoman for Chicago Parking Meters issued a brief statement Friday saying the company, Morgan Stanley and LAZ Parking would give their “full cooperation” to Madigan’s investigation.

* New York Times Weighs In On Chicago Parking Debacle

* U of I explains secret clout list

* Throw out U. of I.’s clout admission list

* U of I President Defends Admission Process

* U of I backtracks on ‘clout list’

* ‘Clout list’ fallout: U of I president doesn’t want trustees pressured

* Local politicians made UI admissions inquiries too

* Senate confirms Quinn’s picks for Natural Resources, Veterans Affairs

* Poll: Majority supports state buying land

* Rep. Gutierrez Profited Through Indicted Developer

* Lake County Republican Federation Dinner Features South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

* Interstates remain focus of anti-drug efforts

Last year, for instance, Illinois State Police troopers seized more than four tons of drugs – 8,320 pounds worth — on Interstate 55.

“Narcotics go in one direction, and cash goes in the other direction,” said Capt. Scott Compton, spokesman for Illinois State Police. “Interstates are certainly the fastest way to get somewhere, and there’s lots of traffic, so you can blend in pretty easily.”

* New deadline for Illinois State Fair recipes

- Posted by Mike Murray   2 Comments      


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