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*** UPDATED x1 *** Fun with numbers

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* From a press release…

Thousands in Illinois Urge State Reps To Oppose SB 1715 on Statewide Day of Action Against Fracking

MoveOn Members in Illinois Launch Campaigns Urging State Legislators and Governor Pat Quinn to Support A Ban on Fracking

ILLINOIS - On Thursday, May 30th, MoveOn members from Illinois will be mobilizing as part of a statewide day of action against hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. Activists are urging their state legislators and Gov. Quinn to oppose SB 1715, unless a one-year moratorium and the creation of a task force to study the effects of fracking in the Illinois are added into the bill.

As of this writing, the statewide petition has a mere 1,436 signatures. The other online petitions listed in the full press release have a total of 485 signatures. So, they’ll probably break 2,000 by tomorrow. “Thousands” will be accurate, I suppose, but not truly descriptive.

*** UPDATE *** From MoveOn.org…

Hi Rich —

I just saw your piece referring to all the MoveOn members in Illinois who are starting and signing petitions on fracking.

Thanks for covering their activism. Just wanted to clarify one thing — there are currently 46 different petitions on the subject of fracking started by MoveOn members in Illinois, for a total number of 10,955 unique signatures on all of those petitions. As we noted in the advisory, 32 distinct House districts are targeted by these petitions.

You can view them here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Agci06EJTLGmdGtOMjlJV2hVLWJ2Mk5BNWktOUJNenc&usp=sharing

Please let me know if you have questions.

Thanks.
Stefanie


Stefanie Faucher
MoveOn.org
SignOn.org

OK, I stand corrected.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Meanwhile, large-scale fracking has apparently begun in southern Illinois before the regulations have kicked in

(AP) — State records indicate that high-volume oil drilling already has begun in Illinois, where lawmakers and others are scrambling to pass a bill to establish regulations for a practice that has generated intense national debate as energy companies push into new territory.

Carmi-based Campbell Energy LLC submitted a well-completion report last year to the Department of Natural Resources voluntarily disclosing that it used 640,000 gallons of water during hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” of a well in White County. A regulatory bill awaiting a vote by state lawmakers — but not yet written at the time the well was drilled — defines “high-volume” as the use of 300,000 gallons or more of fluid during all stages of fracking. […]

Brad Richards, vice president of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association, said he wasn’t surprised to learn of the Campbell well but stressed that the company did nothing wrong. And although the volume of fluid it used was a lot compared with what has traditionally been used in Illinois — the typical “frack” has been 100,000 gallons or less — it pales in comparison to states like North Dakota and Pennsylvania, where it’s not unusual for drillers to use 2 million to 8 million gallons of fluid in a well, he said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* Should all current and future home rule ordinances regarding guns be abolished? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   185 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - The rest of the story and a Statehouse roundup

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

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*** UPDATED x1 - Video *** Jaffe: Put Chicago casino in separate bill

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe is a former state legislator. He surely knows from his experience that the best way to pass a bill which benefits Chicago is to also insert stuff for Downstate and suburban areas, and vice versa.

So, by arguing that the Chicago component ought to be stripped out of the gaming bill, he’s essentially undermining the likelihood of any gaming expansion approval

While it was unlikely that Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe’s idea would take shape before Friday’s end-of-session deadline, similar ethical concerns have been echoed in the governor’s office and came as final negotiations were in the works. The bill calls for casinos in Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Chicago’s south suburbs and Lake County, as well as numerous slot machines. It also sets aside revenues for certain groups.

Jaffe has publicly blasted the proposal - which remained in a House committee Tuesday - because it establishes a separate board to oversee a Chicago casino. He said giving that control to a board of mayoral appointees leaves the door open for corruption. He told The Associated Press that the bill is trying to do too much.

“It’s a Christmas tree bill,” Jaffe told the AP. “You have one political party that is in the governor’s mansion, controlling the Senate, controlling the House. You’re telling me they can’t pass one bill that will give the city of Chicago a casino? That blows my mind.”

* Rep. Bob Rita, the sponsor of the House gaming bill, held a press conference this morning to say basically the same thing I did at the top of this post. From BlueRoomStream.com’s Twitter feed…


* I’m also told that one of the things Gov. Quinn and Chairman Jaffe are fighting for behind the scenes is giving the board approval power in case Chicago decides to sell its license. Right now, that approval power rests with the General Assembly.

* And this is from Rep. Rita’s spokesperson…

There is a dispute between the City of Chicago and the Cook County Board over whether some revenues from a Chicago casino should go to Cook County, or whether county revenues should only come from a south suburban casino. Rep. Rita wants that issue worked out in a compromise.

I should have audio from Rita’s presser in a bit.

*** UPDATE *** Video from the Rita presser

Thanks to my new intern Andrew Niebur for the video.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Budget roundup

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

*** UPDATE 1 *** Cassiopeia’s comment was so good that I felt the need to front page it

This budget negates a significant part [of] the fiscal crisis argument that Madigan puts forth in SB1.

True dat.

From Madigan’s “statements and findings” passage

Notwithstanding these and many other steps and their major fiscal, economic, and human impact, the fiscal situation in Illinois continues to deteriorate. […]

The General Assembly finds that the fiscal crisis in the State of Illinois jeopardizes the health, safety, and welfare of the people and compromises the ability to maintain a representative and orderly government.

It’s difficult to see evidence of that in this particular budget.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* As usual, Illinois Issues has a great budget rundown

Both higher education and K-12 will be funded at essentially flat levels, compared to the current fiscal year. Human services would see cuts under the plan, but the outlook is not nearly as gloomy as it seemed just a few weeks ago. Sponsors of the various budget bills say that the situation would have been much bleaker if a windfall of $1.5 billion in unexpected revenues had not come in. “In April, there was a large surge because people sold a bunch of assets at the end of [Fiscal Year] ‘12 in anticipation of capital gains rate changes,” said Rep. Greg Harris, who sponsored the human services budget bill. […]

While Republicans blasted the spending in the proposal, Harris, who took over the human services budgeting committee this year, said this is the first budget in recent years that will fully fund human services. “We’ve made cuts across the board but we’ve retained funding in core community services such as mental health, substance abuse, homelessness programs,” he said. This year and several other times in recent history, human services agencies have had to come back to the General Assembly midway through the fiscal year and ask for more money to avoid the shutdown of programs. “In other years, they’ve not appropriated for a full year, and they’ve always come back for [supplemental spending bills]. … We wanted to pass something that was fully reflective of the realities of each department’s need,” he said. “I would say woe betide the department that comes back to us with a supplemental [request] this year.”

The budget does not explicitly include the raises promised to state union workers in a new contract. But personnel costs are provided in lump sums, and each agency is left to figure out how to work in the raises. “What we accounted for was their FY 14 raises, and they way we did that was to give our departments maximum flexibility.” […]

Some of the unexpected revenue would be used to immediately pay down nearly $600 million in old human services bills. Harris said many of those payments would be eligible for federal matching funds under Medicaid. Some of the additional revenues were incorporated to the revenue estimate for next fiscal year and will be used to defer cuts to education and corrections.

Go read the whole thing.

* Finke is also definitely worth a read…

Quinn’s budget office said it does not believe the spending plan approved by House Democrats will result in layoffs at state agencies. However, several agency directors said they will not be able to fill vacancies. […]

Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, chairman of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee, said larger human services agencies will see about a 2.5 percent reduction in the amount allocated for their operations. Richard Calica, director of the Department of Children and Family Services, said his agency is looking at about a $7 million cut in staffing expenses, which will result in the department not filling vacancies. […]

Harris, though, said the budgets for human services agencies will maintain funding for mental health, substance abuse, community child care and homelessness-prevention services. Money for rape-victim assistance lost because of the federal sequester will be restored. Funding is also provided to the Department of Public Health to implement the medical marijuana program.

The Department of Corrections budget was also given a lump sum that agency officials could use as they see fit. Republicans argued that was giving Quinn and his agency directors too much leeway.

Again, read the whole thing.

* The Republicans said they weren’t happy

Republicans wanted to hold the line on spending and use some of the additional April revenue to help pay down the state’s mountain of old bills. They said Democrats should not count on the one-time April money to build the budget, especially when a temporary income tax is set to expire next year.

“We’re on the brink of financial collapse,” said Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill.

* Tribune

One major issue that appears headed toward resolution between lawmakers and Quinn was the issue of back pay for members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for the current and previous budget years. The $140 million was part of the union’s lengthy and often confrontational bargaining with the Quinn administration over a new contract.

But if union workers are to get contractually mandated raises in the upcoming budget year, state agencies will have to carefully manage the money they get.

In other budget developments, House Democrats approved an $844 million supplemental spending measure, largely to cover bills through the June 30 end of the budget year. Supporters said the measure would fund the payroll of state prison workers and allow the state to capture federal money and pay down past-due bills.

* Hmm

Harris is quick to point out the state will spend a little less of its own money next year, but will spend “hundreds of millions more” in federal dollars.

Bellock’s arithmetic differs. She said Illinois will spend anywhere between $45 million and $85 million more on human services this year. Much of that new spending will go to state workers.

* From Sen. Chapin Rose’s Facebook page this morning, regarding an appropriations hearing

Gov’s guy just said they won’t adhere to all provisions of the newly signed AFSCME contract minted last month if the Dems budget bill passes.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Sen. Rose clarifies

To be clear on the AFSMCE contract issue- Gov’s guy said they will need $140 million over and above the dem’s proposed budget to fund this and that they would have to come back and ask for more $ to pay it before they would.

* Related…

* Quinn promises to sign Medicaid expansion after Senate’s passage

* State lawmakers looking to spare schools’ bus money

* How a retired teacher’s pension adds up to $400,000 - Little-known pension program sparks debate

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Where’s the fire?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* Carol Marin’s column today attempts to convince Bill Daley to run for governor...

If Illinois Democrats are determined to march into a bloody primary war with their own incumbent governor, Pat Quinn, better to do it in Braveheart fashion. Because trying to dump your own guy who topped your own ticket, regardless of his current public unpopularity, will require energy, focus, and, most of all, passion.

Um, that Braveheart guy died at the end of the movie. Daley seems to understand this. Check out his quotes

“The question is, at this stage is it a Don Quixote thing?” Daley asked rhetorically by phone on Friday. […]

But again he asks rhetorically, “How do you, in a practical way, pull it off?”

Especially when more women than men vote in the Democratic primary.

“Two men and a woman, we’ve seen that movie before,” he said.

I think he’s right to be cautious here. The polls aren’t in his favor in a three-way race.

But, Carol is right on one thing. If you want the office, then go for it and stop with the Hamlet act.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the fire in the belly, it’s best not to run. Do those quotes show any real fire? Not seeing it.

* Meanwhile, Crain’s published an op-ed today that purports to show how Illinois Republicans can take the state back. I don’t disagree with the conclusion, but the premise that it’s all about Downstate turnout and little to nothing about ideology is fatally flawed

Had the downstate turnout just matched the collar county average turnout rate of 51.4 percent, Mr. Brady most likely would have defeated Mr. Quinn instead losing to him by a mere 46 percent-46.8 percent.

The trouble with this analysis is that it focuses solely on the importance of generic Downstate turnout and ignores the fact that three moderate Republicans won statewide in 2010: Mark Kirk for US Senate, Judy Baar Topinka for comptroller and Dan Rutherford for treasurer.

* The piece also ignores something that it trumpets

As most Illinois residents know, the Democrats’ stronghold is Cook County, while Republicans populate most of the rest of the state. There is a persistent myth among voters in Illinois that Cook County’s vote determines who wins statewide elections because of its population numbers. But the truth is only 40.5 percent of Illinois’ population resides in Cook County. The collar counties — DuPage, Lake, Kane and Will — make up another 21.5 percent of the state’s population, while the rest of its residents (38 percent) live outside the five counties. So, while the rest of the state (predominantly Republican) almost ties Cook County’s population (predominantly Democrat), it’s the collar counties that usually determine who wins and loses elections in the Prairie State.

You don’t do well in many of the collars by running hard to the right. Suburban women may be more conservative, but they’re not generally that conservative. And they also tend to be independents who are willing to take a Democratic ballot if the Republican alienates them.

* Yes, the Republicans absolutely need a much better turnout game. But they also need better candidates and a non-divisive general election message.

- Posted by Rich Miller   105 Comments      


Rep. Ford sticks his neck out

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* This decision took some guts

State Rep. La Shawn Ford has joined the four other House Black Caucus members who publicly support same-sex marriage legislation, with the measure’s fate uncertain as a Friday deadline looms.

As you know, Ford (D-Chicago) was indicted by the feds for bank fraud. The charges seem a bit iffy and he was accompanied to the federal courts building by a large number of ministers from his district.

Many of those very same ministers oppose gay marriage, so Ford has been in a very tough spot. He could stand with the ministers on gay marriage, or break with them and risk not having that community support as his trial commences next April, after the Democratic primary.

* Rep. Ford obviously believes the gay marriage bill will pass this week or he probably wouldn’t have stuck his neck out

“I think it’ll probably get 63 or 64 [votes],” he said. “Greg Harris is a smart legislator and he understands - he counts the numbers. And he measures twice and cuts once. So, he’s going to be ready.”

I know of several other House members who want to vote for gay marriage but are afraid of a voter backlash. Ford ought to be an example for them.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Only a matter of time?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* Ben Yount has a very good roundup of videos from yesterday’s Senate Executive Committee hearing to show how despite the failure of the House’s bill, concealed carry backers have pretty much won the Springfield debate. For instance

The debate is now about where you will be able to carry a gun, not if you will be able to carry a gun. Sen. President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has been one of the biggest gun controllers in Illinois. Even he is signaling support for a concealed carry law.

Cullerton is now saying he supports state preemption of local concealed carry ordinances - a position that would’ve been unthinkable last year, or even last month, for that matter. Watch

* After saying that going past the June 9th deadline was no big deal, it does seem that Cullerton and his top people want an agreement this week

No one wants to go past the June 9 deadline anymore. State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, acknowledges that Illinois is going to have to meet the federal court deadline on concealed carry.

Video

* More

The two plans still on the table are very similar on concealed carry. Sen. Harmon and state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, say the only difference between the plans is legal language for other gun laws.

They are quite similar. Video

* Back to Ben

But even the plan favored by the Illinois Senate would allow people to legally carry a gun in Illinois, including the city of Chicago.

Video

* And

Concealed carry is no longer an issue that pits farmers against city folk. Guns have always been a regional issue, but suburban GOP Leader Christine Radogno said her district is evolving on the issue.

Video

Ben concludes by saying there is “plenty of time for a compromise to be worked out” by Friday. He’s right.

Have some patience while the sausage is finalized, please.

* Related…

* Zorn: Deadline could backfire on gun-control advocates

* Illinois Senate concealed carry showdown: one up, one down

* Illinois Senate panel advances stricter gun-carry bill

* Senate panel spikes Madigan concealed-carry bill, advances stricter alternative

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Against it before he was for it

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* As I’ve pointed out before, former attorney general Ty Fahner and his Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago have been all over the place on pension reform.

This, for instance, is from a statement Fahner issued back in February…

The Civic Committee opposes Senate Bill 1 (SB1) for a number of reasons, described below.

Sending two alternative pieces of legislation in one bill makes no sense. On appeal, it would confuse the legislative record and intent, invite the Court to take on the Legislature’s role and it would only further delay the implementation of reforms. In addition, the bill as currently drafted presumes that Part A is unconstitutional. It also presumes Part B is constitutional and without flaws of its own.

Part A:

Any serious pension reform proposal should reduce the unfunded pension liability by $30 Billion or more (with additional substantial reductions in the retiree health care liability to be pursued later). Because of changes incorporated in this bill, it is no longer apparent that it meets this standard. [Emphasis added.]

* SB 1, of course, was since amended to include just Speaker Madigan’s pension proposal. The Civic Committee endorsed that plan earlier this month

Tell your legislators to support SB1 as it will generate the cost savings necessary to help move our state forward and on its way to good financial health.

SB1, which generates real and significant savings for Illinois, recently passed the House with bipartisan support. Other proposed bills, like SB2404, simply do not go far enough, leaving Illinois with a substantial pension burden.

* But yesterday, Rep. Elaine Nekrtiz released the actuarial data for Speaker Madigan’s pension reform bill. The totals…

$21 billion off unfunded liability
$187 billion off total payments
$1.9 billion off first-year payment

One wonders if Fahner will oppose the Madigan plan, now that it comes up $9 billion short of Fahner’s demand.

Don’t hold your breath.

* Meanwhile

Downstate school districts could escape increased pension expenses under a proposed cost shift if a House pension reform plan is approved, lawmakers said Tuesday.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, said benefit changes and higher employee contributions contained in the House plan would cover downstate teacher pension costs going forward. It’s those future pension costs that House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, wants to shift away from the state and onto local school districts.

“The employer (ongoing) cost would be zero,” Nekritz said. “I think that will be part of the discussion on cost-shift going forward.”

* Related…

* Ill. Teachers Plans Hedge-Fund Overhaul

* Unes: How and why ’shifting’ became the new ‘taxing’

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Vote Yes on SB 103: Renewables Cut Power Costs $177 Million/Year; Supported by 87% of Illinois Voters

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Renewables Save Hundreds of Millions for Ratepayers

The Illinois Power Agency recently issued its 2013 report on the costs and benefits of renewable energy in Illinois. It found “a savings of $176.85 million” in total payments for electricity generation in both 2011 and 2012.

SB 103 Would Save Ratepayers $281 Million MORE Between 2014-2017

According to an analysis verified by both the ICC and IPA, SB 103’s unified competitive procurement approach would save Illinois ratepayers an additional $281 million between 2014 and 2017.

87% of Illinois Voters Support Renewables

A Clean Energy Trust/Zogby poll of 700 likely voters earlier this month found 86.7% of likely Illinois voters support “policies to bring renewable energy to Illinois.” 77% support SB 103.

Unintended Conflict Has Broken Down the Law

As reported in the Chicago Tribune (“Energy Fund Lacks Power”, May 13, 2013) and Crain’s Chicago Business (“A Mighty Wind Problem”, April 8, 2013), the RPS law has broken down because of an unforeseen conflict with the municipal aggregation tidal wave.

A No-Cost Fix

SB 103 contains a simple solution to resolve this problem that preserves rate caps and increases efficiency.

Fix the RPS - Vote Yes on SB 103

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** LIVE *** SESSION COVERAGE

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

* Blackberry users click here

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

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