* I’m not sure this is the type of character you wanna be hanging out with right before an election…
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will attend a rally Friday in Collinsville for Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady.
* Meanwhile, Eric Zorn takes a look at the budget mess…
The annual state budget is about $51 billion. But about half of that isn’t under the direct control of the governor or the General Assembly. […]
The general fund is the pool of money — about $25 billion for the next fiscal year — that we draw on to pay for education, public safety and health and human services, plus a few minor odds and ends. […]
But $25 billion really isn’t the starting point for a governor who wants to cut the budget. About $6 billion of that comes directly from the federal government. And somewhere around $9 billion is money we have to spend on education and Medicare in order to get the full amount of the federal funding. That leaves from $10 billion to $13 billion, according to various estimates, at which lawmakers can swing their axes.
In other words, that’s pretty much the entire deficit. Also, as Zorn reminds his readers, Bill Brady then wants to cut taxes by a billion dollars.
Zorn’s editorial board ought to read his entire piece before writing again about their pie in the sky ideas.
* Meanwhile, Brady repeated his claim that a “business audit” that took two to three months could help him figure out where to cut…
Asked whether the number of layoffs would number in the hundreds or thousands, Brady reiterated that he hopes that trimming the state workforce - which already has the fewest employees per capita in the nation - can be done by not replacing workers who leave or retire.
“We don’t know who’s employed where, what’s necessary, what’s not necessary,” Brady said.
I asked Auditor General Bill Holland if he knew what a “business audit” of state government would actually entail. His reply: “No.”
* Speaking of the budget, Stateline is doing a series on states paying their bills late. Here is yesterday’s installment…
On weekday afternoons when schools let out in Humboldt Park, a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, dozens of children, ages 6 to 16, head to a community center known as the Youth Service Project. When they arrive at the center’s activity rooms, the children must do their homework first. Then they’re allowed to play, read books about sharks, throw balls at each other or just hang out with friends.
It’s a safe place in a neighborhood troubled by gang violence. Two years ago, two participants at the Youth Service Project were killed, and two more were injured, in the fighting. The youth at the center, which runs an arts education program, responded to the deaths by painting an indoor mural of their memories of that summer’s events. It shows a SWAT team van, a church cross against a blue sky and a funeral home — although the center’s staff, fearing that the funeral home would be a distressing image for the kids to see every day, have moved a bookshelf in front of it.
The center plays an important role in the life of Humboldt Park. Indeed, the state of Illinois, which provides 95 percent of the Youth Service Project’s funding, expects the center to provide all of the services under its contract. The catch is that, with all the state’s fiscal troubles lately, no one knows when the state will actually hand over that money.
In the past, the center has had to wait a month or two to get paid. This year, the center went six months without receiving a single check from the state. To get by, the center exhausted its line of credit, cut back on services and laid off seven of its 32 staff members. Only half as many children were able to take advantage of the Youth Service Project’s programs as did two years ago.
Today’s is about higher education…
Disruptive as California’s delinquency has been to higher education, Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills is creating worse problems. Illinois lawmakers this year passed an unbalanced budget that does not bring in enough revenue to cover expenditures. Cash flow is so crimped that as of the end of September, the state of Illinois owed its community colleges and universities close to $600 million. That’s more than one-third of the state’s entire budget for higher ed.
* And Brady calls Speaker Madigan a “dictator” but says he thinks Madigan trusts him…
Bill Brady, the Republican candidate for governor, said Tuesday he was ready to work with Democrats on pension reform and other controversial issues if elected, adding he thinks powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan “is looking for a leader … that he can trust” to lead the state.
“And I think Mike Madigan trusts me,” Brady told The Pantagraph editorial board.
At one point, Brady called Madigan, who has been speaker almost continuously since 1983, a “dictator,” but also said the Chicago Democrat “has a lot of respect for an effective governor.”
“We saw it with Edgar,” said Brady, referring to Jim Edgar, the Republican who served two terms as governor in the 1990s and who has endorsed Brady. “And I’m not a clone of Edgar, but I do think you can learn things from that success.”
If Brady wins and Madigan holds onto the House, this will be a fascinating battle. Madigan’s more liberal members will want an all-out revolt, but he’s never been all that fond of funding bureaucrats, so the Speaker may just give Brady all the rope he wants.