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Budget speech react: Democrats

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Perhaps the most surprising Democratic press release I received yesterday was from Mayor Rahm Emanuel praising Gov. Quinn’s budget address…

I applaud the Governor’s decision to be honest with the taxpayers about the state’s pension obligations. The hardworking families who rely on public pensions deserve honest answers, as do the taxpayers who have to honor those pension obligations. The time has come to deal with the state’s pension obligations and I commend the Governor for being forthright today. In addition, I strongly support the Governor’s commitment to maintain funding for education so that our children have the resources they need to learn, thrive, and succeed in the future.

Those two guys have had their problems, but the mayor seems to be working lately to repair things in public, at least.

* Whatever the mayor’s reaction was, House Speaker Michael Madigan’s take is always the most watched

“I think he did a very good job of setting out what the problems of the state budget are. He delivered a very strong message,” House Speaker Michael Madigan told Illinois Lawmakers after Quinn’s speech. “He topped it all off by saying to them, ‘Don’t expect to go home until we get our job done,’ which was a legitimate request from a governor to the legislature.” […]

The House led the budgeting process last year, but Madigan said he wants Quinn to be involved this year. “The governor must sign that bill in order for it to be effective, and so the sooner that he joins the group, the better.”

Madigan also said he’d talked to House GOP Leader Tom Cross and had been assured they’d work together again on the budget.

* And when he was asked about Gov. Quinn’s threat to keep legislators in town through the summer if they didn’t fix the Medicaid problem, Madigan said…

“I’m prepared to spend the summer in Springfield. Springfield’s a nice town in July and August.”


* Video

* Senate President John Cullerton

“The first step is to educate the public on how tough these decisions are. And I think he did that today. That makes it easier for the legislators to end up voting for some of these tough issues,” Senate President John Cullerton told Illinois Lawmakers.

Cullerton said that Quinn is letting the working groups negotiate behind the scenes. “The governor can’t propose a solution yet because we’ve got to wait and see what everybody wants to do collaboratively,” he said.

* More

Senate President John Cullerton said he would work with Quinn on a pension reform proposal that preserved the “constitutional rights of current employees and retirees. Unlike Indiana and Wisconsin, we intend to work with unions to accomplish this goal.”

* Video

* Meanwhile, news of Quinn’s proposed 9 percent cuts for statewide officers wasn’t exactly met with a joyous response

Dave Druker, a spokesman for White, said that office has not submitted its budget yet.

“We will outline a budget that will contain cuts,” he said. “We fully respect the difficult situation the state is in.”

However, he stopped short of saying White will match the 9 percent cut requested by Quinn.

“We want to be as cooperative as possible, but we don’t want to go back to the old days of long lines at the facilities,” Druker said.

Natalie Bauer, spokeswoman for Madigan, says that office’s budget hearing is in late March.

“We are crunching the numbers right now,” she said.

* Apparently, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle wasn’t briefed on the budget address. From a press release…

“Today the Governor took great steps to lay out the budgetary problems that Illinois is facing in an honest and forthright manner. He laid out a strong framework for pension reform that I hope will prove a successful roadmap for the General Assembly.

“While the Governor’s candor struck the right tone, absent from his address were clear recommendations on Medicaid and human services funding. Protecting our public health institutions and the Cook County residents who rely on them for care is among my most urgent priorities as President of the Cook County Board. Cook County and the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, as the result of various financial agreements, provide hundreds of millions of dollars to the State of Illinois every year for human services funding for residents throughout the state of Illinois. It is currently unclear if that is accurately recognized in the Governor’s proposed budget.

“The state of Illinois remains under enormous financial pressure, as do Governments at every level. I am confident that the Members of the Illinois General Assembly will fashion a responsible budget that will strengthen our state’s future.”

* Some Democrats were more blunt

Almost all of the facilities the governor wants to close are in downstate Illinois. … I’m mad as hell. Illinois is one state, not Chicago and everybody else.” —State Senator Gary Forby, Democrat from Benton.

Actually, that’s not true.

* And

State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, also represents a district that includes Tamms and many of its nearly 300 employees.

“Alexander County already has a high unemployment rate. This would devastate those people,” Phelps said. “I am very, very upset by this and hopefully its not going to go anywhere.”

* And

State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, said he is concerned the governor’s plan to close facilities could divert attention away from the need to deal with Medicaid and pension costs.

“It seems like he’s actually creating more problems,” Verschoore said.

* It ain’t just Republicans, Jeff

When it comes to closing facilities, you just can’t win.

And Sen. Jeff Schoenberg says that attitude is a significant problem. The Evanston Democrat is co-chair of the legislative committee that reviews proposals to close state facilities.

He says he’s been willing to make tough votes on closing state facilities. But his colleagues?

“Downstate Republicans are not willing to make the difficult choices,” Schoenberg says. “They talk a good game about being fiscally conservative, but when it comes to closing a public facility that’s under-utilized or not cost-efficient, they’re like New Deal Democrats, and that tune’s got to change.”

* Related…

* ISN puts IL proposed budget through math check

* Quinn dons the budget-cutting mantle — is he believable?

* Video: John Sullivan on Quinn budget

* Potential prison shutdown worries local leaders


  1. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 1:09 pm:

    This a case of “Let’s balance the budget everywhere but here!”

  2. - mokenavince - Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 1:17 pm:

    Like it or not Gov. Quinn got it pretty right much on his budget address speech.Now we can only
    hope he follows thru.If every thing is on the table as stated I’m also looking for a revamp of workers comp. I’d say he got a A on it.

  3. - vole - Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 1:52 pm:

    No Roland Burris comment on Centralia’s double hit (Ag lab and Murray Center)?

    Anyone who has driven through Centralia lately will know that all ain’t gonna come through this gauntlet evenly when all ain’t starting through it evenly. Kinda gives shame to some of the economic development shams going on in Egypt.

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 2:33 pm:

    You can’t be a conservative, GOP or Democratic, and think there is some permanent entitlement to jobs through state facilities. Those prisons aren’t The Pyramids.

    I’m an old farm boy and very sympathetic to the decades-old, national problem of how you going to keep them down on the farm. But in all honesty, if my community’s economic well-being was based on a prison, I’d tell my kids to get out as soon as possible. It’s unrealistic to put your eggs in one basket.

    As far as Forby and Phelps go, it’s remarkable that Little Egypt has kept such a strong Democratic presence for so long. They’re more linked to old Dixie, and those guys started flipping to the GOP with Civil Rights legislation and Nixon’s Southern Strategy. The dam broke with Reagan. That was a long time ago. Now, Dixie is the GOP base.

  5. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 3:32 pm:

    ==it’s remarkable that Little Egypt has kept such a strong Democratic presence for so long==

    Still a lot of New Deal Democrats there.

  6. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 8:52 pm:

    Am I the only cynical one expecting the Tamms facility to be spared from the chopping block in a final cuts scenario where Quinn, Madigan and Cullerton get to look tough on the budget while Forby/Phelps/Bradley/Simon get to play hero to their constituents in Little Egypt and campaign as the only thing stopping Chicago from decimating Southern Illinois and argue that if a Republican was in office that Tamms would be shut down?

    In any event, I can’t help but tie the shenanigans going on in the House Agriculture committee with all the culture bills and the sorry state of economic prospects for people in rural Illinois that the only “good jobs” are working in a prison.

    I can’t help but think the folks in farm country would be a lot better off if only our Downstate legislators spent as much time and creativity coming up with new ways to increase job growth by attracting investors and supporting small businesses in rural Downstate as the time and creativity they exhaust coming up with new ways to brag to voters how much they’ve shown their love of guns and hate for abortions.

  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 23, 12 @ 9:19 pm:

    –I can’t help but think the folks in farm country would be a lot better off if only our Downstate legislators spent as much time and creativity coming up with new ways to increase job growth by attracting investors and supporting small businesses in rural Downstate as the time and creativity they exhaust coming up with new ways to brag to voters how much they’ve shown their love of guns and hate for abortions.–

    You’ve got that right. Sign me up.

  8. - Flandall - Friday, Feb 24, 12 @ 7:25 am:

    -I can’t help but think the folks in farm country would be a lot better off if only our Downstate legislators spent as much time and creativity coming up with new ways to increase job growth by attracting investors and supporting small businesses in rural Downstate as the time and creativity they exhaust coming up with new ways to brag to voters how much they’ve shown their love of guns and hate for abortions.

    Come down to Southern Illinois and learn a few things. Try not to be quite so ignorant. Of course, we didn’t elect all the corrupt governors over the last 30 years…throwing grenades downstate usually just ends up with grenades being thrown back. Thanks upstate for Blago and Ryan and so many others.

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