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Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x3 - IEA contradicts Cross - Quinn contradicts Cross *** Afternoon videos: Cross says governor wants to trade CME bill for borrowing plan, predicts pension reform vote in November

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* House Republican Leader Tom Cross claimed today that Gov. Pat Quinn offered to support the CME Group tax cut proposal if the General Assembly agreed to borrow $4.5 billion over 7 years to pay off old bills. Cross said he didn’t favor the borrowing idea. Here’s part 1 of his press conference

*** UPDATE 1 *** A spokesperson for Gov. Quinn denied that her boss specifically offered to straight up trade his support for the CME tax cut in exchange for a borrowing plan.

“Republicans made it very clear that they wouldn’t support the CME proposal as it is without a larger package of tax cuts,” the spokesperson said.

“In response to that, the governor is open to negotiating a larger package for jobs. There were a lot of things discussed in that context.”

The spokesperson said the governor is reviewing the CME proposal, which could cost upwards of $100 million.

“He’s looking at options to mitigate the loss in revenue, like closing corporate tax loopholes,” she said, saying the proposal would result in a “pretty hefty loss” for the state budget.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Part 2 included more discussion about the CME bill. Cross claimed that the governor “wasn’t going to support CME” without borrowing, and said he mentioned some off-shore tax provisions as well. Cross also claimed that the governor “didn’t seem all that excited” about a pension reform bill Cross wants to bring to a vote in the second week of veto session, saying Quinn had some constitutional questions about the proposal.

Cross also said his “theory” is that the governor targeted Downstate facilities for closure had a lot to do with Quinn’s push for a borrowing plan for old bills. Watch

* Senate President John Cullerton told reporters he’ll meet with Gov. Quinn next week to talk about gaming expansion. Cullerton said that means, as of now, the issue is on hold.

Cullerton also disagreed with characterizations made by Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno and Leader Cross that Gov. Quinn signaled opposition to the CME Group tax cut bill. Cullerton claimed the governor said he’d look at the proposal. Watch

*

* Cullerton’s Tenaska bill failed in the Senate today and was placed on Postponed Consideration. His closing remarks


* Rep. La Shawn Ford asked for a moment of silence today for the Occupy Chicago protesters. Listen


*** UPDATE 2 *** The governor’s plan to pay Regional Superintendent of Schools salaries out of the personal property replacement tax (which goes to local governments) fell way short today in the House. The bill received 59 votes. It needed 71 to pass. Here’s audio of the floor debate. Rep. Roger Eddy goes off on Quinn at about the 12-minute mark


* More…

* Cross: Deal made for pension bill: Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said he will be ready to call a bill to set up a three-tiered pension system for state workers during the second week of the legislature’s veto session, which starts Nov. 8… Cross said the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a group of the city’s top CEOs, has brokered a deal in which House Republicans would provide 30 votes for the pension bill, Senate Bill 512, and House Democrats would provide another 30. Sixty votes are needed for legislation to pass the House… The bill would offer current teachers, university employees and state workers three pension options: Stay in the current system but pay significantly more, go into a second tier for workers hired after Jan. 1 that has reduced benefits or choose a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

*** UPDATE 3 *** IEA: Statehouse sources say today’s report that a deal’s been set to pass pension-cutting SB512 was erroneous. Still not enough votes.

* VIDEO: Treasurer Rutherford Opens Vault for Public Tours

* VIDEO: IEA Legislative update - October, 2011

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* Tribune

Proposed tax breaks for Chicago’s financial exchanges, which could cut state tax revenue by about $70 million year or more, won endorsement from a key Illinois Senate committee Thursday morning.

But the measure continues to encounter resistance from Republicans, who are pushing for broader tax relief for business as part of any package.

And legislative leaders say Gov. Pat Quinn indicated in a meeting Thursday morning that he is not on board.

“I don’t want to be part of a perception that we are cherry-picking who we help,” said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) one of four members of the Senate Executive Committee to vote present. The vote was 10 yes, four present, to recommend Senate passage.

The bill, which would reportedly cut CME Group’s state income tax burden in half, is expected to come up for a vote in the second week of veto session. CME and CBOE have repeatedly threatened to pull up stakes and move out of Illinois if they didn’t get some relief. CME claims to be the largest single corporate taxpayer in Illinois, and claims that its annual income tax burden rose by $50 million after the tax was raised in January.

*** UPDATE *** Crain’s

(T)he price tag has risen on the bill to help CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc., hitting the $120-million-plus mark. […]

Mr. Cullerton’s office conceded that the cost of the CME-CBOE bill to the treasury has increased.

The latest estimate is that the bill would reduce state revenues $75 million a year from the CME, and $7 million from the CBOE, Mr. Cullerton’s spokesman said, with the city of Chicago losing $5 million a year. In addition, restoring the research and development credit would cost the state $25 million to $30 million a year.

Senate Republican place the cost somewhat higher: $100 million to the state each year just from the CME.


* The Question
: Do you support this income tax relief package for CME Group and CBOE to keep them from leaving Illinois? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.


- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


SB1652 – You Will Hear from Your Constituents

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

We know what ComEd and Ameren said about SB1652, but what did your constituents say on the issue?

On October 11th a statewide survey was conducted with 800 registered voters in Illinois on SB1652. Check out the results:

    • 70% responded that their electric service was reliable.

    • 69% responded that they would be against an annual increase in their electric bill to improve reliability and prevent power outages.

    • 50% responded that they consider their electric bill too high.

    • 47% responded that SB1652 should be “amended to protect consumers” AND, without being prompted, 26% said “don’t pass anything”.

    • 52% responded that they would be “not likely at all” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually – and 21% would be “somewhat less likely” to vote for a candidate who allows electric utilities to raise rates annually

    • 10% responded “State Legislature” when asked, between the State Legislature and the ICC, which group best represents their interests in regulating electric utilities.

AARP will be informing our members of YOUR vote on the override of SB1652.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


AARP explodes in anger over utility victory

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* After yesterday’s votes to override the governor’s veto of the “Smart Grid” bill and pass the companion legislation, AARP Illinois issued the angriest press release I’ve ever seen from that group

“The General Assembly just sent a clear message to their constituents: Corporate interests and campaign cash trump the needs of Illinois consumers.

“Today, lawmakers voted to override the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1652 – guaranteeing higher electric rates for consumers and higher profits for ComEd and Ameren.

“At a time when consumers are struggling to make ends meet, with prices on the rise for everything from gas to groceries, taxes increasing, and home values declining, it is appalling that Illinois lawmakers would chose to further burden consumers with a law that amounts to nothing more than corporate greed.

“Under the guise of improved infrastructure, ComEd and Ameren successfully convinced the General Assembly to gut Illinois’ utility ratemaking process – a process that exists to balance the interests of consumers with that of the utility companies. This veto override has effectively silenced the voice of the consumer and tied the hands of the Illinois Commerce Commission – all while guaranteeing higher profits for two of the state’s largest monopolies.”

* Fine print

ComEd has said the bill will raise average household electric bills by about $3 per month to finance installation of “smart meters” throughout Northern Illinois and make $1.3 billion in improvements to traditional grid equipment.

But the bill’s actual cost to ratepayers may well be higher because the guaranteed return on equity ComEd will reap rises with Treasury bond yields, which currently are at historic lows.

* Tidbit

Forty-four states already have some kind of smart grid system in place.

* The governor is in a pickle here

State legislators essentially have boxed Quinn into a corner. After the governor vetoed the original smart grid bill, a so-called trailer bill was introduced this week that called for ComEd to make concessions. By passing that bill, legislators knew that if the governor vetoed it or signed it with suggested changes, the legislature could ignore his advice or nix the trailer bill altogether, leaving him again with the original bill, which is now veto-proof.

* The votes were close in the Senate, but the veto override and the trailer bill flew through the House

The House voted 74-42 to override, with no debate.

House override motion and vote..

Thanks to BlueRoomStream.com for the video.

* More criticism

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, rejected the idea that this is a jobs bill. He said it adds a new burden in a state that already hits businesses with high taxes, fees and workers’ compensation costs. “One of the last good things we’ve got going in this state for businesses is affordable power,” he said.

* Not everybody was upset, of course. Earlier this week, several mayors penned an op-ed opposing the ComEd “Smart Grid” bill

Our communities, working through the Northwest Municipal Conference, have proposed legislative recommendations to address ComEd’s communication and transparency issues. These recommendations would help ComEd better partner with our communities during storm and non-storm related outages and must be adopted as a condition of any legislation to upgrade the electric grid.

Therefore, we as mayors have no option but to urge the members of the General Assembly to uphold the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1652 unless the bill is amended, via additional legislation, to directly address these shortfalls by including the language proposed by local governments. Until ComEd is held accountable for providing reliable power and effective communications on good days and bad, they don’t deserve the automatic rate increases and guaranteed profits in Senate Bill 1652. Unless this critical amendment is adopted, legislators should scrap Senate Bill 1652 and rewrite the bill so that smart grid technological advances don’t come at the expense of consumer safety and well-being.

* But things have a way of changing when a big company is determined to pass a bill

Now, after a series of meetings, those suburbs say they’ve struck a deal with ComEd to develop enforceable protocols to address storm outages in the entire territory. The details will be filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission within 45 days if the smart grid legislation becomes law, according to ComEd.

The Tribune recently reported that while a law exists to reimburse consumers affected by extreme outages, the utility has never paid under the law.

Separately, ComEd previously announced that it has established a Storm Response Process Improvement Task Force to develop and implement improvements in its storm restoration process and reliability performance.

The announcement is here.

* And one legislator who voted against the utilities was upbeat

And even critics, like Senator Dave Syverson, who voted against the bill twice, see a positive side to the upgrade.

“Its going to be a better system a more modern system to eliminate many of the outages and under the new system ComEd will know the power outages occur rather than someone having to call them and let them know electricity is out” says Syverson.

* Roundup…

* Legislators override Quinn’s veto on smart-grid bill

* Chuck Sweeny: Electric rates going up, thanks to Illinois Legislature

* Illinois Senate overrides Gov. Quinn’s veto of ComEd rate-hike bill

* Legislators Overturn Quinn’s “Smart Grid” Veto

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      


Hopefully, they’ll talk and not bicker

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* After yesterday’s somewhat bizarre back and forth between the two staffs, this is somewhat encouraging news

The state Senate has delayed action on a major gambling expansion, but behind-the-scenes efforts are under way.

Senate President John Cullerton’s office says he’ll be at a meeting with Gov. Pat Quinn this morning.

A Senate committee on Wednesday discussed a measure based on Quinn’s requirements for more gambling. He wants five new casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, but not slot machines at race tracks.

* Murph ain’t wrong

Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, questioned [Sen. Terry Link] at the earlier hearing, saying Quinn’s suggestions could kill the gambling expansion effort and leave the cash-strapped state without additional revenue more gambling can bring.

He called it a “failure of leadership.”

“That is going to sit right at the foot of the governor,” Murphy said.

More Murph

The original plan was expected to generate $1.5 billion in upfront fees and another $1 billion annually.

Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said he found it curious that “the governor who has lamented the lack of revenue would so flippantly turn his back on this revenue.”

* Related…

* Gaming bill held for more work

* Quinn objects to new Senate gambling proposal

* Quinn, Lawmakers in Casino Standoff

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Juror glitch on first day of Cellini deliberations

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* A slight delay

The federal jury weighing the fate of Springfield power broker William Cellini was sent home early today so lawyers could try to resolve one of the first written questions submitted by the panel on its initial day of deliberations.

Jurors asked that they be given every slide shown during the 3 ½-week trial. The slides are demonstrative exhibits that had not been admitted into evidence, raising an issue for the lawyers to decide in consultation with U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

The judge asked lawyers to reconvene in his courtroom at 8:45 a.m. Thursday to decide what to do.

* The jurors had another, more personal, request

Just hours after they began deliberating William Cellini’s fate, federal jurors had a burning question for the judge:

Can we take smoke breaks?

The answer was yes. And four or five people on the 12-member panel were seen being escorted outside the building where they could light up.

* And here’s a Cellini story I missed earlier this week

In their final push to take down a well-connected Illinois millionaire, prosecutors focused on one sound Tuesday - a laugh - as they tried to convince jurors he was in on a scheme to extort campaign cash from a Hollywood producer for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

It was part of prosecutors’ closing argument against William Cellini, who denies that he tried to shakedown the Oscar-winning producer of “Million Dollar Baby” for $1.5 million in 2004. Cellini, whose influence among Illinois politicians once earned him the nickname The King of Clout, is the last to go on trial in the federal investigation of the ousted Democratic governor.

On secret FBI recordings that prosecutors played over courtroom speakers Tuesday, Cellini seems to chuckle as he talks on the phone about the extortion with another man accused in the alleged crime.

“And the defendant is laughing: That is what corruption sounds like,” government attorney Julie Porter told jurors, her voice rising.

* I’m not sure if there will be much Tweeting, but here’s a ScribbleLive thingy just in case something big happens

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


It wasn’t all about reform concerns

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* There was a lot of talk from Chicago Democrats in the Senate yesterday about how killing a properly negotiated state contracts was setting a very bad precedent

An effort to overturn this year’s new health-insurance contracts for state employees and extend Health Alliance’s contract for two years failed Wednesday in the Illinois Senate.

On a 28-28 vote, the Senate failed to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a bill that would have extended for two years contracts that expired June 30. The measure also would have given a legislative panel explicit authority to throw out contracts awarded by state agencies. […]

But on Wednesday, 13 senators — almost all of them Democrats and most from the Chicago area — voted against the override after originally voting for the bill or not voting. One Democratic senator who previously voted “yes” didn’t vote Wednesday, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, changed his previous “yes” vote to “present.”

They’re right that this is a very bad precedent. The separation of powers questions are a big problem with this idea. But what’s missing here is that Blue Cross won the bid to supply the coverage. Blue Cross employs a whole lot of people in Chicago. Ergo, hometown pressure. Don’t discount that.

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s office also worked this bill hard, which definitely helped kill the veto override. Unlike the “Smart Grid” bill and the gaming bill, the governor didn’t demagogue this issue. It worked. Perhaps a lesson could be learned?

* More

State Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, said the failure of the override was an unwelcome surprise.

“It’s the old story that Chicago is dictating policy. This is a slap in the face to downstate,” said Cultra, who represents scores of Central Illinois constituents affected by the switch.

Opponents said the legislature should not intervene in an area that is the responsibility of the executive branch.

“Where does it stop?” said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.

There’s fear by some Downstaters that if Health Alliance goes under because it lost its longtime contract, then Blue Cross might be able to raise its rates when the next contract negotiation comes along.

* Related…

* Reinsdorf’s sweet deal at U.S. Cellular Field gets even sweeter

* Top 1% getting richer while poor, middle class lag

* City airport leader opposed to wage requirement measure

* Children’s Museum out of new plan for renovating Grant Park’s northeast corner; leader of park advisory group says controversial project is dead

* Kraft mulls moving back to Chicago

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


*** VETO SESSION LIVE BLOG ***

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* Blackberry users click here. iPad and iPhone users remember to use two fingers when scrolling. The governor and the four legislative leaders are meeting this morning, and that could be the biggest highlight of the day…

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Morning videos

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

* AFSCME Council 31 President Henry Bayer compares House Speaker Michael Madigan to Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker

* There was a pretty big union rally at the Statehouse yesterday. The IEA has a brief video

* The Illinois College Republicans have a new video

The Illinois College Republicans are launching a new grassroots initiative this week in response to OWS. The initiative is called “Liberate Main Street”. New CR state president Mick Paskiewicz told Illinois Review, “We’re kicking it off by releasing this video today, and from here we’re encouraging our chapters to host Liberate Main St. events on their campuses to recruit college students.”

Watch

* From the Daily Herald

Supporters of Joe Walsh’s campaign for the 14th District GOP primary have unleashed a brutal Facebook page that cuts at just about everything opponent (and current 14th District Congressman) Randy Hultgren stands for. […]

Writing as if it’s Hultgren himself who’s posting on the page, it mocks an “allegiance” to “GOP establishment masters” Peter Roskam and John Boehner, Hultgren’s recent hire of campaign “hit man” Joe Calomino, and his promise not to mudsling.

“Here’s screen shot number 14 of my personal attack (that I promised I wouldn’t do) of my opponent Joe Walsh on my Facebook page….that I recently deleted and some pesky Tea Partier took screen shots of. DING DANG IT!” is one recent post.

The Facebook page is here. And here’s a video from that page

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Thursday, Oct 27, 2011

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Open thread and another LSSI reminder
* In defense of Mary Todd Lincoln on her 200th birthday
* Caption contest!
* Rauner says he'll file end of term report, clear clemency backlog
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Pritzker roundup
* Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: "Abject moral and human rights failure"
* Mendoza signature clearance rate is high during first round
* Your holiday season moment of Zen
* Pritzker criticized over lack of Active Transportation Alliance members on his transition committee
* Color me skeptical
* Pritzker heading to White House today
* Sen. Schimpf wants Satanic sculpture removed from rotunda as Rep. Bryant introduces condemnation resolution
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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