* As I told you earlier, Gov. Quinn is expected to issue an amendatory veto on the McCormick Place reform bill soon. He’s going to use the so-called “departure tax” hike as an excuse, according to an e-mail from his campaign. The reform bill doubles the tax on cab rides leaving O’Hare and Midway airports to fund Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, with 25 percent going to Rosemont’s convention center. Take it away, Quinn campaign…
As we know, Brady voted for the McPier reforms and is urging for it to be signed as is. However, the reform doubles the departure tax. It is raised by 100%.
This from the person who recently signed the “no tax pledge” - and has spent the last few months publicly railing against any taxes - yet he voted for this tax increase.
One of the first chances he had to vote for a hike in taxes, he took it.
And someone should ask him if he knows where the money from the departure tax goes. This tax is already going to McPier and it collects about $8 million annually. This is estimated to collect another $8 million, 75% of the new revenue would go to CCTB to help market McPier. 25% of this would go to also market the Rosemont convention center.
Here is the Brady campaign press release issued after I wrote that Quinn would likely AV the McPier bill…
Bill Brady, Candidate for Governor, released the following statement on McCormick Place Reform today;
Why is Pat Quinn standing against jobs and reform? This is a clear opportunity to be on the side of growth and to make a clean break from insider Illinois politics. Today the bill went to the Governor’s desk; he has no more excuses. He should sign the bill. This is bipartisan and has widespread support for a good reason: It will mean jobs and reform.
Several trade shows have canceled here and others waiting before making future commitments. This could mean the loss of a billion dollars in local spending. As I said last week, Pat Quinn has failed the children of Chicago by opposing the Meeks school voucher bill, and he is failing the people of the Pullman neighborhood.
I hope Governor Quinn, on behalf of the people of Chicago, gets this one right and signs the bill.
* 6:14 pm - The House is now debating a motion to reconsider the pension borrowing bill, which came up one vote short. Rep. David Miller made the motion to reconsider, and he is expected to vote “Yes” when the actual bill comes up for a vote.
But if that happens, and Miller votes “Yes,” GOP Rep. Pritchard just told my intern Barton Lorimor that he is switching from “Yes” to “No.” Pritchard wouldn’t say why he was switching his vote. But Pritchard’s decision comes after an hour-long House Republican caucus meeting.
So, if Miller votes for it and Pritchard votes against it and nobody else changes their mind, then they’re still at 70 - one vote short.
* UPDATE 1 - 6:32 pm - We went back to talk to Pritchard and he’s actually going to vote “Present.” Same dif. Video in a bit.
* UPDATE 2 - 6:34 pm - Rep. David Miller’s motion to reconsider finally was called for a vote after a long delay. Apparently, they were looking for some missing members. The motion passed with 71 votes.
* OK, now a verification. And it passed.
* UPDATE 3 - 6:39 pm - As I mentioned below, Gov. Quinn stormed onto the House floor during House GOP Leader Tom Cross’ speech against the pension borrowing bill. Quinn stopped in the middle of the chamber, turned and glared at Cross. Watch it…
* UPDATE 4 - 6:41 pm - Rep. Pritchard just explained his vote. He said he’s voting “Present” because he wants some bipartisanship. Odd.
* UPDATE 5 - 6:45 pm - Crain’s just fell for an old Rod Blagojevich spin. Blagojevich used to say he was “signing” a bill when he was actually using his amendatory veto powers. An AV isn’t a signature. Period. Subscribers already knew what was going on, but here you go…
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected this week to sign the long-awaited bill to overhaul operations at McCormick Place, though the measure will come with a few changes, according to legislative and convention officials familiar with the situation.
Mr. Quinn could sign his amended version of the bill as soon as Wednesday.
Sources weren’t aware of the specific changes Mr. Quinn will make to the bill, but the governor has raised repeated concerns about numerous issues. Those include a lack of a succession plan for the interim trustee — expected to be Jim Reilly, chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority and liaison to the legislative panel that examines operations at McCormick Place — as well as securing oversight of changes made by the trustee and addressing organized labor’s concerns, to avoid legal challenges.
If Mr. Quinn does present an amended bill, legislators will have the choice of supporting it or overriding it.
Sources said legislators would more than likely overturn his amended bill since the measure in its current form unanimously passed the House and Senate.
* UPDATE 6 - 6:48 pm - Word from the floor is that the Democrats have picked up a Republican vote to replace Rep. Pritchard’s flip-flop. Stay tuned, but this looks like it may pass now. The word is, from several sources, that the new HGOP member is Rep. Bob Biggins.
* UPDATE 7 - 6:55 pm - After ducking reporters for more than an hour and spending time in both House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office and Gov. Quinn’s office, Rep. David Miller is now saying that the pension bond bill will save money. This after he voted “No” the first time around. Video in a bit.
But Miller, who had sought to raise taxes in prior years to help the state’s bleak finances, said he would vote for borrowing “because it’s the right thing to do” now.
“You’ve got to do the mature thing which is to at least get us through this crisis, no matter how bad it is,” Miller told reporters after the vote.
Miller said he’s not sure how his vote will impact his run for comptroller, but said his focus today was not on his future but the people he represents now.
“At some point you have to do some soul searching about why you’re here in the first place.”
He said he was not offered anything in return for his vote by the governor.
* UPDATE 8 - 7:03 pm - The pension borrowing bill passed with 71 votes and 44 voting no. Rep. Bob Biggins did, indeed, vote “Yes” on the bill.
* UPDATE 9 - 7:56 pm - There’s been a strong rumor in the building that Rep. Biggins switched his vote to “Yes” on the pension borrowing bill in exchange for a job. I’ll have more for subscribers tomorrow, but House GOP Leader Tom Cross just said he has heard the same rumors. He also talked about what he said to Rep. Pritchard to get him to change his vote. Video in a bit.
* UPDATE 11 - 8:15 pm - The Emergency Budget Act just passed with 67 votes. The bill gives extraordinary budget powers to the governor, among many other things House GOP Leader Tom Cross said a bit ago that just about everything would pass now that the pension borrowing bill cleared the chamber. Looks like he was right. The budget bill is up now.
* UPDATE 12 - 8:30 pm - And the budget just passed. It all seems so anti climactic.
* UPDATE 13 - 8:43 pm - The BIMP just passed.
* UPDATE 14 - 9:23 pm - And they’re done for the night.
* GOP Rep. Don Moffitt is a moderate Republican who was thought to be maybe leaning towards voting for the pension borrowing plan. My intern Barton Lorimor caught up with Moffitt after the House GOP caucus meeting a while ago and Moffitt said he’s sticking with his fellow HGOPs against the borrowing plan. Watch…
House GOP Leader Tom Cross affirmed that his caucus is united on the pension bond plan…
op executives with the International Home + Housewares Show fired off an email to Gov. Pat Quinn today, saying they could not recommend Chicago as the show’s venue for 2012 and beyond when their board meets later this week unless the governor signs the McCormick Place overhaul legislation.
“The lack of signature to this bill will ultimately send us and other vitally important trade show business elsewhere,” the email stated. It was signed by Phil Brandl, president of the International Housewares Association, and Mia Rampersad, the group’s vice president/trade shows. The association’s show has been a cornerstone of the city’s convention business since 1939.
If the bill is not signed, “the letter is pretty specific as to what will happen,” Mr. Brandl said. If Mr. Quinn signs it, renewing in Chicago “will be a much simpler process.”
The show is prepared to renew for “three to five years” in Chicago if the legislation is signed, Mr. Brandl said. The show attracted nearly 60,000 participants in March and injected an estimated $82 million into Chicago’s economy, he said.
* Quinn’s office has issued a press release announcing the governor’s support of university borrowing…
Governor Pat Quinn today spoke with University of Illinois President Stanley O. Ikenberry and Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard regarding a legislative initiative to allow state universities to borrow money to cover expenses during the current economic crisis.
“After careful consideration, I believe it is in the best interest of Illinois taxpayers to include state university borrowing in the comprehensive borrowing bill now before the Illinois General Assembly.
The university presidents and I agree that this is a more fiscally-responsible way of addressing the state universities’ financial issues while also protecting the interests of Illinois taxpayers. A comprehensive plan will result in a stronger response from the bond market, more manageable and competitive interest rates on state bonds and ultimately lower costs to taxpayers.
Proceeds from a comprehensive borrowing plan will be used to pay for vital state services, including university expenses.”
ontinuing to deflect notions that President Barack Obama isn’t backing him, Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias announced today two White House officials will be coming to Illinois next month to campaign for him.
Secretary of Education and former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan will join Giannoulias on the campaign trail on June 17, followed two days later by Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, the campaign said. Duncan and Giannoulias have been friends for years and both were among a group with then state-senator Obama that regularly played basketball together.
* UPDATE 1 - 2:39 pm - The House Executive Committee voted on several budget-cutting ideas this afternoon. An amendment pushed by Rep. Elaine Nekritz to lower state employee mileage reimbursement failed, 4-0 with seven abstentions. Another amendment making state retirees pay more for their health insurance premiums failed. But a proposal to suspend per diem payments to legislators for one year was approved.
* UPDATE 3 - 2:39 pm - All amendments proposed by the coalition of Democrats pushing for cuts were either killed by the House Appropriations General Services Committee this afternoon or were withdrawn. One such proposal would’ve cut statewide officers’ budgets by 5 percent.
And here’s a press release from the Responsible Budget Coalition…
“Lawmakers have returned to Springfield to work towards a spending plan for the coming fiscal year, but appear no closer to approving a real, responsible budget with adequate new revenue to meet the state’s obligations and prevent devastating cuts to vital services and jobs.
“Instead, too many legislators are proposing to repeat and compound past mistakes by slashing education, health care, human services and jobs, and failing to pay the state’s bills.
“For example, under Senate Bill 3660, legislators—for the second straight year—would abandon their constitutional responsibility to set appropriations for essential public services. Instead, they would cede to the governor vast powers to reduce or eliminate such services. This is not part of a responsible, comprehensive solution that sets Illinois on a path to adequately fund vital programs, pay our bills, and avoid repetition of the problems that have landed us in a $13 billion revenue hole. The Responsible Budget Coalition demands a comprehensive solution to the problem.
* UPDATE 4 - 3:52 pm - After refusing to vote for the pension bond bill a couple of weeks ago, some House Republicans are now complaining that the Democrats are loading up the borrowing bill with amendments designed to entice them to vote for the bill - like specific borrowing proposals that have already been introduced by House Republicans.
So, the House Democrats have now moved to table all the amendments except one. That one would authorize an additional $1.5 billion in borrowing authority for school construction. It passed with 78 votes, including numerous Republicans. [That one was withdrawn as well.]
Welcome to silly season.
* UPDATE 5 - 4:47 pm - The pension borrowing bill fell just one vote short, 70-46-1. Democratic Reps. Jack Franks and David Miller (the Democratic nominee for comptroller) voted “No.” GOP Rep. Beth Coulson voted “Present.”
Republican “Yes” votes were Black, Pritchard. GOP Rep. Jerry Mitchell has an excused absence. Republican Reps. Raymond Poe and Rich Brauer, who have a whole lot of AFSCME members in their districts, voted “No.” The roll call will eventually be posted here.
* Speaker Madigan is on the floor now talking with Rep. Miller. We hope to have his explanation for his “No” vote and Rep. Coulson’s explanation for her “Present” vote soon.
* UPDATE 6 - 5:01 pm - Rep. David Miller has just moved to reconsider the vote.
The Republicans have asked for an immediate caucus. They’ve asked for an hour.
Not exactly the most courageous vote I’ve ever seen in the Illinois General Assembly.
Coulson said she wants to get the budget out of the way before considering the borrowing bill, but she also said she wants to “look at the municipality [pension] reforms” before she’s be ready to vote for the borrowing bill. Doesn’t sound like she’ll be a “Yes,” but that still doesn’t explain her “Present” vote.
House Republican leader Tom Cross was berating Democrats for being irresponsible with state finances when Gov. Pat Quinn suddenly sprinted into the House, stomped down the center aisle and stood, hands on hips, glaring at Cross.
* We had a bit of fun with my refusal to cut my hair or trim my beard yesterday. In response, my old buddy Jak Tichenor sent me a photo from the latest “Illinois Lawmakers” program I did with him. And since we’ve had caption contests on just about everybody else in politics, I thought it was probably only fair to do it to myself. I have a strong feeling that I’m gonna regret this, but whatever…
Gov. Pat Quinn took some oblique shots at political insider Jim Reilly Monday as he explained why he remains undecided on whether to sign the McCormick Place overhaul legislation.
The bill would name Reilly, chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority, as trustee, with broad decision-making power to oversee restructuring the Chicago convention center. Quinn said he wanted to be sure the legislation had adequate checks and balances in place. […]
The governor twice cited the scandal at commuter rail agency Metra, which is among several transit agencies overseen by the RTA. Federal authorities are probing the late Metra chief Phil Pagano’s receipt of $475,000 in unauthorized vacation pay.
In making his case for more oversight provisions in the McPier legislation, Quinn said Metra had been run by someone “who Metra thought, and RTA felt, was doing a good job.'’
Quinn also says he’s worried that one or two unions could file a lawsuit…
Speaking at an unrelated news conference, Quinn said he wants to make certain other terms of the reform don’t bring on a “cloud of litigation.”
Some McCormick Place unions are opposed to the proposal’s far-reaching changes in work rules. The intent is to lower costs for exhibitors.
“Without signing the bill which has passed the House and Senate, I cannot endorse Chicago as the most viable option for the restaurant’s show,” said [Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association convention[.
A video gambling bill strongly opposed by state regulators advanced in a House committee today and now awaits a vote that could send it to the governor.
The state’s top gambling regulator predicted House lawmakers would pass the legislation, which he said would give amnesty to operators who have illegally operated video poker machines in bars for years.
“It’s a disaster,” said Aaron Jaffe, chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board. “I have no idea all the power plays that are going on down there (Springfield) right now, but I can tell you that they are all listening to the wrong people.”
As we’ve already discussed, Jaffe views tavern owners and places like VFWs who have “amusement only” video poker machines and have paid out as dangerous mob-connected criminals. That’s why he thinks this bill is a “disaster.” The bill requires a felony conviction before a tavern owner or facility operator can be denied a license to have the new, regulated video poker machines. “Disaster” is a bit much. More…
The problem for regulators is that in most cases. the owners of bars and even some of those rounded up in video gambling raids are never convicted. Many could plead guilty to lesser crimes that don’t fall under the gambling statutes. And bar owners, in particular, often face only a fine from the state’s liquor control commission.
Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Mark Ostrowski said the changes would make it essentially impossible to deny applications based on past instances of illegal machine use. He said convictions are rare.
But state Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat sponsoring the proposal, said the Gaming Board brought this provision on itself by having vague regulations in this area.
Lang said the board’s stance was new violations would disqualify someone but past violations “may keep” someone from getting a license. He considered that inconsistent.
* As I told subscribers this morning, the House Democrats are advancing a plan to convince the Republicans to support the pension borrowing bill, which requires a super-majority to pass. The Tribune has part of the story…
To entice Republican support to get the 71 votes needed for approval, they would tie pension borrowing to approving new bonds to pay for road and school construction.
Democrats still are not confident that Republicans would support the combined package, but noted that in the past, GOP members voted for additional highway bonding and school construction and might fear criticism for failing to bring jobs and pork projects back to their home districts.
One House Republican, Rep. Bill Black of Danville, said he’s willing to vote to borrow for pensions. “I don’t see how you can leave here and not borrow money,” said Black, a member of House GOP leadership who is not seeking re-election.
This might actually roll. We’ll see. The bill is here.
The emergency plan advanced Monday out of a key House committee would simply tell the governor he doesn’t have to make the pension payment until he has the money to do so.
That plan requires only a simple majority and, in theory, would be easier to pass. But it socks taxpayers with substantially higher interest charges. The borrowing plan would cost nearly $1 billion in interest over eight years. Skipping the pension payment incurs 8.5 percent interest and by the time the state makes up the shortfall, the interest cost is predicted at as much as $37 billion.
Even the Democrat sponsoring the deferred payment plan said it’s not a great option. “But it may turn out by the end of the week to be our only shot,” said Chicago state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie.
She advised colleagues that there will be another vote this week on borrowing. “And I advise you to take me up on that offer.”
It’s unclear if these ideas from rank-and-file Democrats will get approved — or even debated —this week as lawmakers jockey to preserve their unique budget interests with state money tight.
State Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, for example, opposes the having retirees pay for health insurance.
“It’s amazing we could ever agree on anything because we’re so diverse,” said Flider. “But I also feel people are reasonable. My feeling is, give people their shot at whatever proposal they’d like to put forward.”
…Adding… Rep. Feigenholtz’s proposal to cut Medicaid by $200 million just passed out of a House committee 13.2.
* A 5 percent reduction to the operating budgets of state agencies, saving about $300 million, and the General Assembly, saving about $2.5 million.
* $300 million in cuts to K-12 education.
* $100 million in cuts to higher education.
* $200 million in Medicaid cuts.
* Renegotiating contracts and putting some up for new bids, which legislators say could save up to $300 million.
* $4 million in cuts to local subsidies for assessors, supervisors and coroners.
* Cutting the reimbursement rate for car travel from to 50 cents a mile to 39 cents a mile, which legislators say could save $6 million.
* Eliminating salaries for members of part time boards and commissions, which would save an estimated $2.5 million.
* State Retirees would pay health care premiums according to a sliding scale based on their income, saving the state an estimated $100 million in fiscal year 2011.
However, Quinn did seem to approve of $1.2 billion in cuts outlined by some Democratic lawmakers unhappy with how the budget process has played out.
“Just about all of the things they’ve talked about I’ve tried already,” Quinn said. “If there’s a renewed vision by members of the Legislature, both houses, majority vote, that they can get done, that’s fine by me.”
“It’s hard for me to get too specific because I don’t have my people in place. The best information we have is often a two year old audit.
“Clearly the Medicaid system has to be put on managed care. You saw the mismanagement of All Kids, people should be have to be eligible.” The state audit of All Kids, a state health plan for children, said the program spent $70 million, but $55 million of that was spent on children who do not live in Illinois.
He also talked about K-12 public school cuts, saying they should be spread out among more education programs and grants “so that in the end we see a 2 to 3 percent cut.” Gov. Pat Quinn proposes a 17 percent cut in funding at the classroom level, Brady said.
“There’s no area of state government that’s not going to have to play a role” in cutting the budget, said Brady.
* And Sen. Dan Kotowski issued a press release this morning about his own budget idea, which was included with that House Democratic plan above…
Kotowski’s major contribution to the reform package is legislation calling for Results Budgeting (also known as Budgeting for Outcomes). Results Budgeting starts by defining spending priorities (such as job creation, education, human services, transportation, and public safety) and identifying how much revenue is actually available. It then requires the creation of performance-based measurements for these priorities and encourages state agencies to find creative ways to achieve these goals with limited resources. This process also includes built-in accountability and transparency by requiring the Governor to develop a state-wide reporting system comparing actual results with budgeted results. These measurements and results will then be posted on the State Comptroller’s web site for public viewing and evaluation.
* Attorney General Lisa Madigan called this morning and asked me to meet her when she gets to town so she can show me her tax returns.
Madigan’s campaign manager refused on Friday to release the returns after I’d requested them. I asked for them after speaking with Bill Brady’s campaign, which mocked requests for Jason Plummer’s returns because AG Madigan hadn’t disclosed hers. Madigan is now second in line to the governor’s office since the state does not currently have a lt. governor. I was told yesterday that Lisa Madigan was not fully aware that the returns were specifically requested by me, but only knew that Brady was trying to drag her into the debate.
Madigan’s release will likely put even more pressure on Republican lt. governor nominee Jason Plummer to disclose his returns. Plummer has adamantly refused to do so, but now that the Brady campaign has directly tied Madigan’s tax returns to Plummer, it’ll be even more difficult to continue his refusal.
* Late yesterday, the Illinois Republican Party issued a press release demanding that Attorney General Madigan release her tax returns…
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady’s Response to Lisa Madigan’s Refusal to Release Her Tax Returns
CHICAGO - Lisa Madigan’s spokesperson dodged questions as to whether the Attorney General would release her tax returns. At the same time, Governor Quinn made the following statement regarding this very issue: “When these candidates play peek-a-boo, or not at all, with their tax returns, I think there’s legitimate questions to be asked.” Answers to the following simple questions would be a good start:
What is Lisa Madigan hiding?
When will the de-facto Governor, Mike Madigan, release his tax returns?
Will Pat Quinn apply the same standards he touts and ask both Madigans to open their tax returns for public viewing?
“People are fed up with single-party rule and the Democratic Party’s hypocritical stances regarding transparency,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady. “They expect stronger leadership from both Governor Quinn and de facto Governor Mike Madigan. All they are getting is political gamesmanship.”
Again, now that AG Madigan is releasing her returns, that IL GOP statement just puts more pressure on Plummer. Talk about irony. Yesterday’s repeated demand by Mark Kirk that Alexi Giannoulias disclose his own tax returns (as soon as he files them) doesn’t help Plummer’s case, either. I’ll ask about Speaker Madigan’s returns today, along with the other three legislative leaders, including the two Republicans.
…ADDING… Oops. I forgot to mention that Lisa Madigan’s Republican opponent, Steve Kim, has also agreed to disclose his tax returns. Chalk up another loss for Plummer.
Plummer’s position is less defensible than Brady’s early refusal to release his returns. Plummer is a complete unknown. He is 27 years old and does not have an extensive record on which the public can judge him. He has said he will not draw a salary if elected. That’s a nice gesture, but it also invites the inevitable question of what he will live on without a state salary. Let’s not forget that some of the testimony in the George Ryan trial focused on Ryan always having money but not having bank records showing where it came from.
We’ll concede that releasing one’s personal income tax information can be uncomfortable. For someone like Plummer, with extensive business interests and family wealth, it can be quite a hassle. As an electorate, we need to be aware that, taken to its extreme, the discomfort of releasing income tax returns could keep quality candidates from seeking office. Should a state representative candidate be expected to release his or her tax returns? A county treasurer? An alderman?
But if you expect to be a step away from being governor, you ought to be ready for the attendant hassle. Your discomfort is a fair trade for the voters’ trust.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady voted for legislation as an Illinois state senator in 2003 that could have benefited his business interests as a developer, according to a published report. ‘ […]
The following year in November, Brady voted to enact legislation giving local government the authority to take land for sewers near the interchange. That would have helped Brady’s development and property value. […]
His campaign spokeswoman Jaime Elich said Monday that Brady’s actions involving the interchange development were “normal business dealings.”
“Senator Brady has recused himself of voting when in fact he is concerned about a conflict of interest,” she said in an e-mailed statement.
“Normal business dealings” does not mean there is no conflict. Voting on legislation that directly impacts one’s business, and only one’s business, is a conflict of interest, plain and simple.
* Sweep conducted at Jacksonville nursing home: Top officials from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office conducted a sweep at a Jacksonville nursing home Monday to check for violations of state law and regulations.
* Illinois AG unveils new aid to protect seniors from scams
* Attorney general often rules in favor of agencies in FOIA cases: Some redacted information, such as signatures of assistant attorneys general who sign letters that contain rulings on FOIA matters, is kept because of a concern about identity theft, said Cara Smith, who heads the public access counselor’s office. The names of lawyers do appear in print.