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Budget address live blog

Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller

* You can listen to the address live here or here. I’ll also be on Public Television just before and after the address if you’re interested in that. Please help live-blog in coverage. I’ll post live and recorded videos and commentary as the day goes along, so check back often.

We’re going to try a new software today called “Scribble Live.” Reuters used it during the Egyptian protests and I thought it was wonderful…

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  1. - dupage progressive - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 11:59 am:

    hey rich, what channel to watch on springfield comcast to catch the budget briefing (and you of course!)??

  2. - dupage progressive - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:03 pm:

    found you - ch. 8.
    nice haircut!! :)

  3. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:05 pm:

    I see the Gov is wearing his black history month sash. I wonder if that’s a first?

  4. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:09 pm:

    Where’s Jesse White today?

  5. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:21 pm:

    * It’s appropriate to recognize state workers for their efforts during the blizzard, since they’ve become the whipping boy for the state’s financial woes.
    * He advocates specific budget reductions. How many Republicans will praise the Gov. for those real cuts before lambasting him for purportedly not going far enough?
    * We’ll see how many downstate Repubs embrace consolidation of their tiny school districts.
    * I can’t wait to hear the GOP alternatives to debt restructuing.

  6. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:36 pm:

    “Boos to Quinn’s call to abolish legislative scholarships.”

    I wish people would get it through their heads that those are NOT scholarships — they are tuition waivers that simply force the school to eat the cost of the recipient’s education.

  7. - Both Sides Now - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:41 pm:

    The Legislators are unhappy about eliminating one of their perks - the ability to pass out tuition waivers to (very possibly) the child of a supporter and get their picture in the paper. As usual - “not in my backyard!” They want to look ethical and be reformers? Willingly eliminate this program!

  8. - reformer - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:43 pm:

    When it comes to legislative scholarships, we’ve been thru this game before where the House votes to eliminate them, the Senate doesn’t, and most House members continue to give them out. So they get to have their cake and eat it too — voting against the evil scholarships while still doling them out.

  9. - Holdingontomywallet - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:43 pm:

    Wow, that informative.

  10. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:44 pm:

    ILsenateGOP sounded like a petulant whiner, but I’d like to independently confirm GOP claims that Quinn wants to use the proposed debt restructuring to cover this year’s deficit and not just currently outstanding debts.

  11. - Obamarama - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 12:44 pm:

    What was the tally on how many blue ribbon commissions he created in a half hour?

  12. - Bobby Hill - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 1:01 pm:

    ==What was the tally on how many blue ribbon commissions he created in a half hour?==

    I lost count but it would have made a terrific drinking game.

  13. - cassandra - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 1:05 pm:

    Well, it has a certain chutzpah.

    Claim to be making “cuts” when spending is going up and you are planning to hire hundreds more employees-for-life.

    Claim a budget that includes a big income tax increase and massive proposed borrowing (and not just for those overdue vendor bills) is “frugal.”

    Speak of a brave new world with fewer school administrative districts, no legislative scholarships and a progressive income tax–as if it were around the corner. A fairytale.

    Or maybe it’s not chutzpah but a realistic assessment of Illinois citizens. We’ll believe anything.

  14. - sporty41 - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 1:25 pm:

    Thumbs up on the new software

    Any idea where a playback on the Governor’s speech may be located?

  15. - Leroy - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 1:46 pm:

    FANTASTIC - he signs the bill (HB 5424) that would’ve required him to deliver a budget based on existing revenues AFTER he delivers the budget address based on revenues that have yet to be approved.

    Absolutely no reason for cynicism anymore.

  16. - Reality is - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:01 pm:

    I find odd to cut money for school transportation while at the same time calling for district consolodation.

  17. - Jaded - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:06 pm:

    Madigan quote of the day “…by the Governors standards I thought it was a good speech, a very good speech.”

    Way to set that bar low PQ.

  18. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:16 pm:

    I find odd to cut money for school transportation while at the same time calling for district consolidation.

    Maybe they can go back to the days of walking 10 miles to school in a snowstorm - going uphill both ways - and LIKING IT!

  19. - pipersls - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:27 pm:

    So what was Madigan saying about retiree
    health insurance? I couldn’t get the
    audio track to work.

  20. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:33 pm:

    How can the governor force districts to consolidate? Can he just threaten to withhold funds from schools unless they merge with others? Or is this an empty threat?

    And I agree with “reality is” that it’s pretty unjust to expect schools that the state is already behind on funding to pony up more cash for bus transportation at the same time you are eliminating more community schools and forcing them to spend more on busing by making the kids travel further distances to school.

    I definitely worry for my hometown school, one of the smaller ones remaining in the state but also one of the highest achieving schools in the state. All the nearby towns have consolidated already so there’s no one left to consolidate with that would ensure a school stayed in the community and I doubt kids in that town would get any improvement in educational opportunities by merging with the nearby lower-quality districts.

    Also sad to hear that Wildlife Prairie Park is again on the chopping block even though I know the state does need to make some cuts. I hope Caterpillar or some private business/foundation can step up to keep that going in some respect.

  21. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:39 pm:

    In some of the more rural areas, kids spend over an hour on the bus each way. So lets force schools to consolidate making the kids be on the bus even longer. Oh I get it now. That won’t happen because bus service will be eliminated. How perfect.

  22. - amalia - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:43 pm:

    @sporty41, agree….was watching the televised court arguments in the Drew Peterson case so could not listen to the Gov. too. link to speech, written or video/audio appreciated.

  23. - Mack - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:53 pm:

    Governor is budget increasing spending by $1.7 Billion over last year!!! Wow!! I am confused. I thought the State was broke and owes vendors over $8 Billion. Is this a new government math?

  24. - wishbone - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:59 pm:

    Let’s see, the airlines don’t have enough business to justify an O’Hare expansion, but Governor Sunshine wants to spend billions we don’t have on a airport in the south suburbs. This is NOT a serious person and we really need a serious person.

  25. - Little Lewbowski - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:00 pm:

    ‘ Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 2:39 pm:

    In some of the more rural areas, kids spend over an hour on the bus each way. So lets force schools to consolidate making the kids be on the bus even longer. Oh I get it now. That won’t happen because bus service will be eliminated. How perfect.’

    Fewer school districts doesnt mean fewer schools. Do kids get bused get to the School District office? Huh?

  26. - anonie - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:02 pm:

    I didn’t see the speech but the argument for consolidation is not to close schools but to cut the number of high-salaried administrators. I do not know the number off the top of my head, but the number of single-school school districts in this state is astounding. Countywide districts may be the way to go outside of Cook Co.

  27. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:17 pm:

    Hisgirlfriday - I don’t want to pick on you, other than to make a point. I will hazard a guess that you are not on Medicaid, you are not living in a home for the developmentally disabled, you are not unemployed and you don’t otherwise rely on the safety net. So, living in your cocoon, “sacrifice” for everyone else to balance the budget is a good thing. But the one thing in the speech that might intrude on your comfortable cocoon and force you to have to care about the quality of schools outside your hometown’s tiny school district is a bridge too far.

    That kind of thinking is why we’re in this mess. Everything that helps me is “worthy” - everything that helps you is “waste.”

  28. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:18 pm:

    Little Boobski - “Fewer school districts doesnt mean fewer schools. Do kids get bused get to the School District office? Huh?”

    Your statement doesn’t even make sense. Yes it usually does mean fewer schools. That is how savings occurs -less buildings to heat/maintain. Fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

    No clue as to what ” Do kids get bused get to the School District office?” translates to.

  29. - Northsider - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:20 pm:

    anonie @ 3:02,

    Have you spent time in, or driven through counties outside of Cook? I used to live in a couple — Warren, then Knox. Neither could be a single school district.

    Consolidating districts is worth a long, hard look, but don’t kid yourselves that you can solve anything by simply matching county and school district boundaries.

  30. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:28 pm:

    There are still a surprising number of downstate communities in which there are multiple grade school districts feeding into one or more high school districts. I’m sure that some of these could be converted to K-12 unit districts, with the same number of school buildings and teachers in exactly the same locations — but only one school board, superintendent and district office instead of several.

  31. - JN - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:33 pm:

    Lots of potential in Illinois to consolidate school districts. However, it would take a dictator to do it.

  32. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:33 pm:


    I believe you missed the point of LL. The proposed savings occur when you consolidate school districts, not schools. So, instead of having 3 downstate school districts with a total of 10 schools, you have 1 school district with 10 schools. See, same number of schools but with 1/3 the administrative costs. 1 superintendent (let’s say @ 150K per) instead of 3. That’s an immediate savings of 300K. Add to that a reduction in the need for support staff and district headquarters and you can start talking about saving alot of moola.

    Since you have the same number of schools you are not busing the students greater distances.

    I am not sure, however, how you can reduce busing in these rural areas without having a major impact on learning when you have some students on the bus 2-3 hours a day.

    So, Anonymous, do you get now what the whole busing to the district office meant?

  33. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:35 pm:

    I agree w/JN - it would take a dictator to consolidate school districts. And PQ ain’t a dictator.

  34. - jimF - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:36 pm:

    Consolodating school districts does not mean closing schools. They COULD close some but that would be a local decision. It would mean ending the waste of districts with one or two schools that have a full district administrative team.
    It could even result in shorter commutes for some children. There are people in the chicago are who can see a school across the street but due to district boundaries travle to one some distance away.

  35. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:39 pm:

    Many folks believe there would also be educational (in addition to cost) advantages in the Chicago suburbs to consolidating K-8 and HS districts.

  36. - JN - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:45 pm:

    TBH, it would be much cheaper to bus students ~30 minutes to a school in a large consolidated building than to operate 8+ low-attendance school buildings. It would release budget items for both savings and curriculum improvements.

    But that debate, and the debate about consolidated school districts, are two separate discussions. The important part is that implementing that latter makes the former debate possible.

  37. - soccermom - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:56 pm:

    By consolidating districts — not schools — you cut down on the number of highly paid administrators for each district. For example, if a district has two elementary schools and a middle school, it can still have the full roster of superintendent, deputy superintendent, etc. etc. Wouldn’t it make sense to consolidate those three schools into a neighboring district and lose the expense of those redundant administrators?

  38. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:57 pm:

    When gas goes up to $4 a gallon this year and no help from the state, it will be interesting to see what schools are going to do about bussing. Bill the parents? Put advertising on the busses? Tell parents to drive the kids in - something that is always compatable with work schedules. I hope employers are flexible so their employees can car pool their kids to school.

    Maybe we need to let kids sit in front of their computers and telecommute to school? Since both parents need to work to support a family, these days, that’ll make it interesting.

  39. - jeff - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 3:57 pm:

    @ dupage dan. If we could limit the superintent salary to $150k per annum we would save a lot of money with the same personnel. The Super in Dixmor makes $345k.

  40. - accounting - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 4:09 pm:

    how does a 1.7 billion dollar increase fall under the category of cutting the budget?

  41. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 4:24 pm:

    Anon @ 3:17 - More than the financial aspect actually, I’m concerned with the issue of the state on one hand refusing to live up to its constitutional duties to provide the bulk of funding for education but on the other hand trying to assert control over local school bodies and dictating to them how they should organize themselves. And if Quinn steps in and orders my hometown school to consolidate then he will rip out the heart and soul and pride and joy of my small rural community (and presumably others like it), period.

    Now if it’s just a matter of eliminating regional offices of superintendent or having school districts share superintendents, that is less of a concern of mine because I am as appalled by most folks at superintendents who get paid too much for doing too little but that still runs up against the issue of local control vs. state dictating education policy from on high and I think when the further removed folks are the ones dictating education policy the quality of education suffers.

    Furthermore, just because I posted a concern about what would happen to my hometown school or the closure of a state park in this year’s budget doesn’t mean I don’t care about Medicaid recipients, group homes for the mentally ill or disabled or the unemployed. Not that anyone pays attention to my sometimes infrequent posts, but I’ve actually advocated an income tax increase consistently as long as I’ve posted on this blog because I don’t want to see vital state services cut and am willing to pay more out my paycheck (despite all the corruption and mismanagement that exists in the government administering these things) if that is what it takes to fund them. No, I’m not on Medicaid or collecting unemployment, but that doesn’t mean I live in a “cocoon.”

  42. - sal-says - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 4:26 pm:

    Fascinating to see all the twits, er…tweets, solving ALL of IL financial problems without any pain, tax increases, etc., etc.

    Would it be all that easy……it ain’t.

  43. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 4:28 pm:

    Every Illinois politician in the last 30 years who’s suggested school consolidation has got their head beat in downstate.

    Big Jim and Adlai II proposed it at the same time when they were running against each other, then fell over themselves running backwards after the reaction.

    Don’t listen to the folks who tell you it’s about “the kids.” It’s about real estate. You lose your schools, your real estate investments take a pounding.

    Seriously, we’re all wired to the hilt with media, yet we can’t figure out how to have online learning in rural areas? You think the kids couldn’t handle, or benefit from it?

    Let some whiz kids in Flora or Stockton sit in on a New Trier chemistry class, online. I’m guessing they’ll be able to handle it.

  44. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 4:42 pm:


    I know the supe’s salaries. I needed to simplify the math - make it easier to figure Xs 2.


    You are correct about online learning programs. Lot’s of homeschoolers use them. ;)

  45. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 4:55 pm:

    Forcing school districts to take the full burden of student transportation will not only take money away from the classrooms, it will probably force property tax increases.

    Hey, wasn’t that why we were not supposed to vote for Brady? Because he would cut money to the school districts forcing property tax increases?

    Further Quinn hypocrisy.

  46. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 4:57 pm:

    “how does a 1.7 billion dollar increase fall under the category of cutting the budget?”

    I think you will find that the increase is due to contract language mandates and fed regulations that mandate some increases. From what I’ve seen so far, there are no new programs in this budget which is change from the last few years.

  47. - Both Sides Now - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 5:15 pm:

    A few facts that weigh in on school consolidation:

    1) School Board Members do not get paid so there is no savings in “fewer school board members” due to a consolidation. The only thing it does is mean the town/area will probably lose representation on decisions that affect their children. Before we can effectively consolidte schools we need to make sure representation is not lost.

    2)All schools will still need a principal. This is required by law. Have you looked at the “going rate” for a principal in Illinois? According to the Illinois Assoc. of School Boards a Elementary School Principal salary ranges from $91,283 to $132,103. The average superintendent salary is $110,135. Theoretically, you could save $110K for each superintendent you boot/consolidate BUT many small school districts have a combination principal/superintendent so your savings? ZERO!

    3) I live in one of those communities with multiple school districts feeding in to one high school (another school district)and they have looked at consolidating before. Someone said earlier “real estate” was a contributing factor in this issue because values go down if not near a school. This is true. But more important SCHOOLS ARE FUNDED WITH PROPERTY TAXES. So in my area, the school district near the growth/interstate has plenty of money and no red ink. The school district in the city proper built 2 new schools thanks to the Illinois Capital Development Board that were so poorly planned they didn’t meet the needs of the students when they moved in and have left them with a load of debt due to cost overuns. The school district on the other side of the county is primarily rural funded by taxes on farmland at a lower rate. They are struggling. And then we have the high school district which is more concerned about their basketball score than whether or not the kids get a proper education. The reason we don’t consolidate? Because property taxes on the folks in the growth area district would INCREASE to cover the budget deficits of the other 3 school districts! Massive school consolidation cannot take place without a massive overhaul of how we fund our schools to begin with.

    4) Finally, consolidation of schools is not just an educational issue, it is a quality of life issue. Lose your school and the community loses “it’s center”. Like fighting for our post offices, we fight for what helps to define our “home”. The issue of school consolidation is difficult, and complicated by the costs of unfunded mandates, teacher tenure, no-child-left-behind, required services for special needs children, and numerous other rules. For instance, did you know that a public school is required to bus a child to a private/parochial school if they live in the district (and request the service)? HUH? WHY! Don’t you think if mommy & daddy can afford private school they should be able to afford the gas to get them there?

    Bottom line. School consolidation: laudible idea and we definitely need to look at our education system. But it won’t be easy - just ask (or better yet volunteer to be) one of those high-paying school board members!

  48. - Statewide - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 5:24 pm:

    Q. How long does it take for the Senate GOP to offer a viable alternative budget to a years-old budget problem, when they are dead-set certain Gov. Quinn did it all wrong?

    A. Sen. Murphy says: “I look forward to offering some difficult, but necessary, spending cut ideas in the coming weeks.”

    Cue the Jeopardy music and set it on “loop” mode. Tick-tock, tick-tock…

  49. - Palatine - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 7:02 pm:

    Consolidations of school districts is worhty of a look. If we do this then we should also look at multiple layers of goverment.

  50. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 7:45 pm:

    There have been supreme court cases that determined the state is not violating the school funding provision of the constitution. And think about it for a moment. Just about every rural district gets the bulk of its funding from the state. It’s the wealthy suburban schools that don’t. Do you really think state taxpayers should pony up the bulk of the funding for Lake Forest schools? There are suburban schools that get less than 5 percent of their funding from the state but are among the biggest education spenders in the state. The 50 percent funding argument is a myth. On one hand people point to the rich suburbs and say, look, we deserve as much as them, darn those lawmakers. But if you look at those schools you’ll find its the local property taxpayers who foot the bill, not the state.

  51. - Ray del Camino - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 8:02 pm:

    Where I live, our K-8 districts feed into one high school district. Each has its own board and superintendent, with attendant support staffs, etc. There is no reason in the world they shouldn’t all be consolidated in one K-12 district, with one superintendent, one board, and one central office. A no-brainer. No one’s school need ever close under that scenario.

  52. - Bigtwich - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 9:08 pm:

    ==very Illinois politician in the last 30 years who’s suggested school consolidation has got their head beat in downstate. ==

    Well, Quinn has already had his head beat in downstate.

  53. - Fed up - Wednesday, Feb 16, 11 @ 9:19 pm:

    Quinn is Increasing spending and spending more than the state brings in. This is a travesty. We will never even get back to even if Quinn doesn’t realize you can’t spend more money than you make. An absolute joke.

  54. - IIS Radio - Thursday, Feb 17, 11 @ 8:59 am:

    @sporty41: You can hear the Governor’s speech here:, or on the State of Illinois homepage.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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