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Apparently, it wasn’t much of a catastrophe

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Despite all the media hype, today’s bond sale was way oversubscribed and Illinois got a fairly decent rate, considering the state’s miserable credit rating and a muni panic which appeared to abate only yesterday. From a Gov. Quinn press release…

The state received more than $9 billion in bids Wednesday from 145 investors for $1.3 billion in General Obligation bonds. The average interest rate on the bonds was 5.042 percent.

* Bloomberg

The revised yield is about 1.5 percentage points more than benchmark munis. In April, the state sold 10-year securities yielding 3.3 percent, or 1.29 percentage points above AAAs.

The state was still able to lower borrowing costs from preliminary levels as investors said the biggest losses since 2008 in municipal bonds signal a buying opportunity. The $3.7 trillion municipal market has lost about 5 percent this month as of June 25, Bank of America Merrill Lynch data show.

Yields on 10-year debt have risen to the highest since April 2011, leading issuers such as Georgia to cancel sales this week. Individuals have pulled $5.3 billion from muni mutual funds in the past three weeks, the most since February 2011, Lipper US Fund Flows data show.

* There is a price for legislative inaction, however. Back to the guv’s press release…

Without the downgrades the state has suffered as a result of inaction on its pension shortfall, the rate would have been lower, based on the prices other units of governments that did not suffer similar downgrades earned Wednesday. That difference works out to about $130 million over the 25-year life of the bonds.

That’s an average of about $5 million a year.

* Related…

* Committee likely to mine old ground for pension compromise: “I think the healthy way to do this is to walk into the room and say, ‘We’ve got a lot of different things that have been Frankensteined together, and let us now examine all of them and see what we can assemble that can get 30 votes in the Senate, 60 votes in the House and achieve adequate savings to put the state on a manageable fiscal course,’” said Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat.

* Lawmaker Says Pension Deal Could Happen Soon: Tracy, like the majority on the committee, supported a plan that would unilaterally cut benefits to teachers, state employees and university workers. But she says that was the only plan that came before the House. She says she is open to alternatives.

* Dan Montgomery: Rhetoric vs. reality on pensions: Last Thursday, a column by R. Eden Martin relied more on rhetoric than reality. In it, Mr. Martin argued that the unions protect the status quo while everyone else fights for “major reform.” While Mr. Martin is entitled to his opinion, his assertions are patently false.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* The setup

Former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles has started a new lobbying firm called Next Generation Public Affairs Inc.

He’s teaming up with former Iowa Republican Chairman Matt Strawn and Chicago business adviser Bob Fitzsimmons.

“NGPA is a full-service public affairs firm providing clients with comprehensive and technologically sophisticated government affairs, issue advocacy and media relations strategies,” Brady said in a statement.

* The Question: Likely clients…?

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


The little things in life

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Um, OK

The top Illinois House Republican is urging creation of a new coin to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death in 2015.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego has introduced a resolution urging the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to study the issue and make a recommendation to the U.S. Treasury.

Cross’ resolution asks that the coin be minted in time for circulation during April and May of 2015. Those months mark the 150th anniversary of the journey of Lincoln’s funeral train from Washington, D.C., to Springfield.

Well, I guess that is more important than a recently introduced Speaker Madigan resolution

Congratulates Rob Dwyer on the occasion of his retirement as executive director of the Quincy Society of Fine Arts.

Somehow, I sense the deft hand of our Golden Horseshoe Insider award winner there.

* Illinois and Missouri disagreed over what to name a new Mississippi River bridge, so Congress stepped in and took charge. Yeah, hard to believe Congress could take charge of anything, but it did

The U.S. House approved a compromise Tuesday that would name the span the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Missouri lawmakers had sought to name it after Musial, the late Cardinals baseball great. Their Illinois counterparts had wanted to name it after military veterans.

The resolution now heads to the U.S. Senate.

* Back to the Illinois General Assembly

Illinois legislators recently passed a bill that will affect food service manager training and examinations.

If you are a food service sanitation manager or a trainer in Illinois, here is how this will affect you:

    - The number of training hours required by the Department of Public Health will be reduced from 15 to 8
    - Illinois will cease using its own state food safety exam and will recognize exams accredited under standards established by the Conference for Food Protection

* And, finally, I never would’ve expected this

Former 56th District state Rep. Paul Froehlich and his wife Marilyn — herself a former Schaumburg Township District Library trustee — have sold their Schaumburg home and retired to Panama.

The couple have temporarily moved into a condominium while awaiting completion of their new home in a small development catering to American and Canadian expatriates, according to friend and former Schaumburg trustee Pat Riley.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Springfield Bishop: Supreme Court ruling “absolutely devoid of moral authority”

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki has issued a statement on the DOMA ruling….

As in the case of Roe v. Wade striking down abortion laws 40 years ago, the United States Supreme Court has again usurped its legitimate prerogative through a raw exercise of judicial power by giving legal protection to an intrinsic evil, this time by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in the case of U.S. v. Windsor and in refusing to take up the defense of Proposition 8 in California in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry.

These hollow decisions are absolutely devoid of moral authority. It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls “marriage” has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony. People of faith are called to reject the redefinition of marriage and bear witness to the truth of Holy Matrimony as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between one man and one woman.

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

Via WUIS.

Despite the rhetoric, the Bishop may have actually stumbled onto a revelation: “It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls ‘marriage’ has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony.”

Well, yeah. That’s the point here. And that’s why folks like Sen. Mark Kirk have taken to referring to it as “civil marriage.” Holy Matrimony is blessed by the church, not the state - never the state. So the concept of Holy Matrimony is untouched by a gay marriage bill.

*** UPDATE *** The Catholic Conference of Illinois was far more reserved

“The Catholic Conference of Illinois regrets the U.S. Supreme Court’s wrong decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act. Marriage comes to us through God’s nature as the union of one man and one woman,” the group said in a prepared statement.

“The ruling, however, does not mandate a redefinition of marriage across the nation, so the citizens of Illinois can still preserve marriage by telling their state lawmakers to honor the natural truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the group said. “The Catholic Church in Illinois and across the world will continue to promote this truth.”

A “natural truth” does not necessarily translate into a “legal truth.” This whole debate has been one side talking past the other.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the Illinois Family Institute…

And the reason the state is involved in marriage is to protect the needs and rights of any children that may result from the particular type of sexual union that is marriage.

Well, if it’s all about protecting needs and rights of children, then what’s the big deal here?

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* And here’s the Heritage Foundation’s response to the DOMA decision

In its ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Court struck down Section 3, declaring that the federal government cannot define marriage for its own federal policies and federal laws but must accept whatever the states decide about marriage. The Court’s ruling, however, does not affect Section 2, which provides that no state is required to give effect to another state’s recognition of same-sex marriages.

Here, the Court got it wrong. The Court ignored the votes of a large bipartisan majority of Members of Congress. It is absurd for the Court to suggest that Congress does not have the power to define the meaning of words in statutes that Congress itself has enacted. Just as the states have constitutional authority to make state policy about marriage, so too Congress has constitutional authority to pass a federal statute defining a term for federal programs created by federal law.

DOMA imposes no uniform definition of marriage upon the individual states, and the states should not be able to impose varying definitions of marriage upon the federal government. This is a serious loss for federalism and democratic self-government. We must work to reverse it and to defend the rights of all Americans to make marriage policy. And we should promote the truth about marriage between a man and a woman and why it matters for children, civil society, and limited government.

Nothing in the text, history, logic, or structure of the U.S. Constitution requires redefining marriage. Indeed, in a Heritage Legal Memorandum, John Eastman explains why marriage laws are constitutional:

    Nothing in the Court’s jurisprudence suggests that the right of same-sex couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages is so fundamental as to be protected by the Constitution’s Due Process Clause. Nor does the Equal Protection Clause require that result, given the societal purpose and value of marriage as furthering procreation and child-rearing. Because the Constitution does not speak to this question, it is one that is left to ordinary political processes, not to judicial fiat.

Marriage policy should be worked out through the democratic process, not dictated by unelected judges. The American people and their elected representatives have constitutional authority to make marriage policy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Check out the excuses on that guy

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* If this is Mayor Emanuel’s idea of getting “very involved” in the gay marriage debate, then maybe he’s unclear on the concept

After the November election, Emanuel ranked legalizing gay marriage as his No. 3 legislative priority in Springfield–behind pension reform and a Chicago casino—and said he planned to get “very involved” in passing a gay marriage bill.

The mayor followed through on that promise, by turning up the heat on state lawmakers in a failed attempt to put the bill over the top in the Il. House.

In an e-mail to the vast network of supporters he created during the mayoral campaign, Emanuel created a vehicle for gay marriage proponents to pressure their state representatives with the click of a mouse.

“The clock is ticking,” Emanuel wrote then.

You’re kidding me, right? This is how he followed through on his promise? A blast e-mail? Really?

* And what about pension reform?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday blamed the Legislature’s failure to grant pension relief to the Chicago Public Schools and resolve the pension crisis for devastating school budget cuts that threaten the enrichment programs he touted as cornerstones of his longer school day.

“Your own paper and you have written about the fact that we have deferred choices for years and that this day of reckoning would come to our classrooms, which is why I pushed so hard for pension reform,” said Emanuel, who was in Israel when 48 schools closed and surviving schools got wind of their bottom lines. […]

“I went to Springfield [in May, 2012] and I said, `If we don’t reform our pension, there are gonna be some very difficult choices to be made. I warned everybody….I said, `This is a critical decision.’ …[Lawmakers said], `Not now. We won’t deal with this.’ Small problems became big problems. When we all debate the choices around pensions, that’s exactly what’s happening.”

The mayor noted that nearly 45 percent of the $1 billion shortfall at the Chicago Public Schools is tied to pension payments.

He “pushed so hard for pension reform” by making one visit to Springfield, last year? So impressive.

I can’t wait to see how hard he worked to put a gaming bill on the governor’s desk.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Raoul reacts to Voting Rights Act decision

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* I didn’t post anything yesterday on the US Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act ruling because I didn’t have much of an Illinois angle. This press release provides it. Try to stay Illinois-centric in comments, please…

State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder to invalidate the formula that determines which jurisdictions were required under the federal Voting Rights Act to obtain preclearance of proposed changes to voting procedures:

Yesterday’s decision, with which I am extremely disappointed, highlights the ongoing need for strong, state-level voting protections such as those found in Illinois law. I’m proud to live in a progressive state that values full participation by all citizens in the democratic process. Historically, African-Americans in many parts of the country faced discrimination and outright intimidation when they tried to make their voices heard at the polls; today, voting is made more difficult not only for racial minorities but also for senior citizens, students and low-income individuals when procedural hurdles such as ID requirements are put in their path.

Prior to the latest round of legislative and congressional redistricting, I introduced the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect language and racial minorities from having their electoral influence diluted in the redistricting process. I also worked this year to make voting more accessible through online voter registration, early voting on college campuses, later in-person early voting hours on Sundays and protections for provisional voters.

Congress should take action to restore a strong federal Voting Rights Act that addresses the barriers to minority electoral participation still in existence today. Meanwhile, I believe Illinoisans can be proud of this state’s voting laws. I pledge to continue working to make them stronger and fairer.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - Videos posted *** Bill Brady’s campaign kick-off

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* Sen. Bill Brady is scheduled to kick off his 2014 gubernatorial campaign this morning at 10 o’clock. Our good friends at BlueRoomStream.com are providing a live video feed. No embed is available, but click here to watch and help us live-blog it in comments. Thanks.

*** UPDATE *** BlueRoomStream.com reports “network problems at the hotel” and therefore can’t provide a live feed. Brady was already getting buried by the DOMA decision and now this.

We’ll have archived footage later today.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Sun-Times coverage from yesterday

In a clear shot at millionaire venture capitalist Bruce Rauner who is already hit the airwaves in anticipation of the March 2014 primary, Brady said his best asset is his history in the Illinois Senate state, where voters can review his record.

“In a big state like Illinois, running ads doesn’t make people comfortable with you,” Brady told the Sun-Times. “History and time makes people comfortable with you.”

Brady said Tuesday he would formally launch his campaign in a series of news conferences Wednesday, starting in Chicago and moving Downstate.

Brady didn’t flinch when asked about Rauner, who is already miles ahead in fund-raising. (Brady had about $200,000 in his campaign fund at the close of the last reporting period while Rauner had $1.3 million).

“I think (Illinois) primaries have proven that millionaires don’t win it by being millionaires. You’ve got to lay the groundwork. The voters know me, they’ve shown that they can trust me,” Brady told the Sun-Times on Tuesday.
“We won the last primary, we spent a little over $1 million, it’s no question that Mr. Rauner’s personal wealth can outspend anybody. We will raise the resources necessary to get our message out.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Here are the vids. First up, the announcement itself…

Click to view

* And here’s the Q&A…

Click to view

I haven’t had time to watch the announcement video yet, but he did dodge questions on today’s Supreme Court decision, saying he was focused on economic issues.

“Social issues are just that, there are people who are on one side or the other side of an issue,” Brady said, adding that he would “honor what the Supreme Court of the land as an abider of the Constitution decrees.” He said he believed the gay marriage bill is “flawed” and would violate the rights of churches.

* Tribune

Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, who lost to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2010, formally kicked off his third attempt for the office today.

“It’s time to finish the job we started four years ago,” said Brady who noted he expects to do better in the four of the state’s 102 counties he did not win last time, including Cook County.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


LaHood claims he’s only spoken once with Quinn about third airport

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* For years, politicians in both parties have promised the south suburbs that a third Chicago-area airport was a top priority, and then nothing ever happened. This spring, Gov. Pat Quinn pushed through a proposal giving the state more control over development of the airport, which the governor has said makes it more likely that local squabbling can be overcome and the airport can then be built.

But departing US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood isn’t so sure that the project is a real priority for Quinn. Jon Hilkevitch of the Tribune interviewed LaHood on his way out the door and here’s what he had to say about the Peotone project

Q: One local issue I can’t recall you ever addressing is the proposed south suburban airport near Peotone. Why?

A: You know why I haven’t talked about it? I talk about things that either the elected officials or the stakeholders have as their priorities. In the last 41/2 years, I’ve never had, except for maybe Jesse (Jackson) Jr. and Gov. Pat Quinn on one occasion, talk to me about the south suburban airport. I don’t know that it has been high up on a list of priorities for Illinois.

I’ve asked the governor’s office for a response and will post it when I get it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Supremes strike down “Defense of Marriage Act”

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

* From the US Supreme Court opinion

DOMA’s principal effect is to identify and make unequal a subset of state-sanctioned marriages. It contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not others, of both rights and responsibilities, creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State. It also forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect.

Make sure to check the SCOTUS Blog for live updates.

I don’t usually post about national issues, but this is pretty relevant to Illinois’ debate over gay marriage, so I decided to go ahead with it. Please, do your best to avoid national political talking points here. Thanks.

…Adding… From Equality Illinois…

“The Supreme Court today affirmed America’s promise of equality by ruling that the federal government cannot ignore constitutional principles when it comes to gay and lesbian couples and their marriages, and it is a moment to celebrate. But today’s historic victory overturning the Defense of Marriage Act is bittersweet in the states like Illinois where couples are still denied the right and recognition of marriage. For anyone who doubts that civil unions in Illinois created an unacceptable second-class status, the court’s ruling is a powerful message that the state House urgently needs to join the Senate and pass the freedom to marry. It is crystal clear now that by failing to act the House denied gay and lesbian couples equal access to the federal protections that married couples in other states will now enjoy.”

* In his rather harsh dissent, Justice Scalia claims that the decision will be used to overturn state laws banning gay marriages, even though the opinion makes clear this the decision applies only to the federal law

By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition. Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is “no legitimate purpose” served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition has “the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure” the “personhood and dignity” of same-sex couples, see ante, at 25, 26. The majority’s limiting assurance will be meaningless in the face of language like that, as the majority well knows. That is why the language is there. The result will be a judicial distortion of our society’s debate over marriage—a debate thatcan seem in need of our clumsy “help” only to a member of this institution.

* From Gov. Pat Quinn…

“Today the Supreme Court took a historic step by providing equal access to more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits for same-sex couples.

“Members of the Illinois House now have more than 1,100 new reasons to make marriage equality the law in Illinois.

“This is a monumental day for freedom in the history of our nation. The opportunity to guarantee equal rights and benefits to all citizens - under both state and federal law - is one we must seize here in the Land of Lincoln without delay.

“Now is the time for all to put differences aside, band together and redouble our efforts to make it happen.

“I will continue working with members of the Illinois House and all of our tireless community advocates to bring marriage equality to Illinois as soon as possible.”

* The Tribune answers some questions that have popped up in comments

Because Illinois only allows civil unions and doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal in Chicago, said most gay and lesbian couples in the state are unlikely to see their status in the eyes of the federal government changed by today’s decision.

“In the vast majority of circumstances, Illinois couples in civil unions are uncertain, if not unlikely, to get any of these benefits,” she said.

Taylor said the Obama administration will have to provide guidance on how the government will treat same-sex couples who were legally married in another state and now live in Illinois. It’s possible, she said, that those couples will now have federal recognition.

“We should expect some federal guidance from the IRS, for example, on how same-sex couples will be treated in states like Illinois if they got married in a state like Iowa, where they can legally marry,” Taylor said.

* Journal Star

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Wednesday giving married same-sex couples access to federal benefits will have little impact in Illinois unless the state legalizes same-sex marriage, a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois said.

The court’s decision to strike down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples applies to couples in the 12 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It also means couples in civil unions in Illinois don’t have access to those benefit because they are not married,” said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “Frankly, the House ought to convene and pass the marriage bill.”

* These stories have lots of react…

* Sun-Times: Supporters hope DOMA ruling pushes Illinois House on gay marriage

* NBC5: Illinois Reacts To Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


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Allen apologizes, but for what?

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* The Champaign News-Gazette reports that former Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Jim Allen apologized via text message to Republican congressional candidate Erika Harold for his hateful diatribe. Harold looked on the bright side

The story broke as the former Miss America and Harvard Law School graduate was preparing for a meeting in Washington of the board of Prison Ministries Fellowship, she said.

Harold thinks the furor will end up benefiting her campaign.

“I view the episode as being one in which a lot of Republicans stopped to think about what are the values of our party and reflected that back to me in their messages of support,” she said. “It was very encouraging to feel that support from people who had never met me, but once they read the email, they went on to our website and learned a little bit more about me and now want to stay engaged in the campaign in some capacity.”

* Indeed, what are the values of the GOP, particularly the ultra-conservative, Downstate wing? Let’s look at Allen’s slightly redacted rant again

Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Sh*tcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.

The truth is Nancy Pelosi and the DEMOCRAT party want this seat. So they called RINO Timmy Johnson to be their pack mule and get little queen to run.

Ann Callis gets a free ride through a primary and Rodney Davis has a battle.

The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,,boohoo..kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on..Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it..

Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them..

* I know it’s impossible to just set aside Allen’s stupendously harsh and disgusting language, but let’s try to look at the meat of his argument, such as it is.

47th Ward’s comment on the original story maintained that this is pretty standard base GOP messaging

Let’s see: Nancy Pelosi is out to get them. Check. Affirmative action gives benefits to “others” that “we” pay for. Check. There is a conspiracy of RINOs and Democrats that is hellbent on destroying conservatism in Illinois. Check.

47th missed a couple of things: The use of Chicago hatred to discredit an opponent and the far Right’s opposition to anti-bullying legislation.

Fair or not?

…Adding… I also meant to point out that the same week Allen derisively called Harold a “little queen,” John Kass referred to Attorney General Lisa Madigan as a “princess“…

All was right with the world. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the peasants were shrieking their piteous cries of woe. The princess climbed down for breakfast with her father.

And just before a servant brought her a silver bowl of Lucky Charms, she asked Mike of Madiganistan a question:

“Daddy,” she asked, “can I be governor now?”

Again, pretty mainstream conservative messaging

“Dear Daddy…I mean Mr. Speaker. You got me this cool Attorney General job, and that was after you got me that neat state senate seat…Thanks for having all your union friends be real nice to me, they send me tons of campaign money at Christmas time, they must be rich!”

That was written by former state party chairman Pat Brady.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Another one-sided hit piece

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* From an AP story that is absolutely drenched in bias

‘‘There are investors who won’t buy Illinois or bonds with Illinois labels at any price. They just see it as toxic,’’ said Brian Battle, director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, a Chicago-based investment firm.

I’m sure there are some who won’t buy, but every Illinois bond issue has been over-subscribed by a lot. Why? Because the state’s low bond ratings give investors a premium return.

* More

Take the $1.3 billion in bonds Illinois is expected to sell this week to improve highways, rebuild a 40-year-old elevated train line in Chicago and buy land for an airport. Battle estimates the state will pay more than $18 million in extra interest each year than states such as Virginia or Maryland, which have high credit ratings.

That’s an additional $450 million over the 25-year life of a bond issue. In personal terms, it’s $36 taken directly from the pockets of each of Illinois’ nearly 13 million residents. And that’s for just one bond sale.

Virginia and Maryland both have AAA credit ratings. Illinois hasn’t had a AAA rating since 1983, so the comparison is not exactly fair. And after peaking in 2010, interest rates on comparitive Illinois bond premiums have actually come down.

* More

In the past 50 years, just three states — California, Louisiana and Massachusetts — have had investment ratings as low as Illinois, but all have taken steps to correct it.

California’s pension reform was almost solely focused on new hires. Illinois did that in 2010. There’s no doubt that California is far better managed than Illinois, but the media constantly ignores the fact that Illinois beat Cali to the punch on prospective pension reform.

Massachusetts’ pension system wasn’t nearly as generous as ours. For instance, the state’s 2011 pension reform plan actually increased some benefits, including

Increases the base benefit on which a Cost of Living Adjustment is calculated from $12,000 to $13,000.

The state also reformed its health insurance plan for retirees, something Illinois has already done.

Louisiana’s reforms are here. There was a “cash balance plan” for new hires as well.

* The bottom line is Illinois has a severe problem, both in its pension systems and the way they are perceived. That perception problem isn’t helped by goofy stories like the AP’s.

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


New laws

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* The House Republicans point out that five new laws will take effect as of July 1st

1.  “Julie’s Law” prohibiting court supervision from being granted to people caught driving more than 31 miles per hour above the posted speed limit.

2. Creation of the Sex Offender Evaluation and Treatment Disciplinary Board established under  SB 3638 to assist the Department of Professional Regulation in the licensing of sex offender evaluators and treatment providers.

3. SB 3764 providing greater guidance as to the name of a debtor to be provided on financing statements.

4. Banning zinc air button batteries from being sold in Illinois under the state’s Mercury-added Product Prohibition Act.

5. Continued funding of the Illinois Community Care Program for seniors as part of House Bill 206 which grants a $142 million supplemental appropriation to the program, as well as additional funds for group health insurance and old bills at the Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse and Developmental Disability Community Services.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* Zorn writes today about how young people aren’t using e-mail, but links to several stories that seem to debunk the theory that e-mail is dead. So…

* The Question: How often do you check your e-mail account(s)? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


survey services

* Supplemental Question: How do you typically check your e-mail? Take the poll and explain…


polls

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Quinn: No more study, pass reform by final deadline

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s op-ed

Dear Illinois taxpayers,

I’ve always been honest with you.

As I write to you today, it’s been nearly two years since I made pension reform the top priority for Illinois. I’ve been fighting for it ever since.

I convened a pension working group in January 2012 and proposed a comprehensive pension reform plan three months later. I’ve worked across the aisle, called special sessions, set numerous deadlines and released several studies on the consequences of inaction on education and the economy.

Time and time again, I’ve met at length with legislators and leaders, and pressed them to vote for comprehensive pension reform.

Yet here we are today.

If I could resolve this by executive order, I would have done it long ago. But I cannot act alone.

The General Assembly must do its part and send me a bill that defuses the pension crisis.

Despite my best efforts, the speaker of the House and the Senate president failed to work together to put a bill on my desk. So last week I proposed a conference committee, a mechanism that historically has been used to break gridlock between the House and the Senate on contentious issues.

The good news is they agreed on this means to the end. But now, it’s time for the heavy lifting.

I have set July 9 as the final deadline to come up with a comprehensive pension reform bill that both chambers can support. My staff will continue working around the clock to provide the research and fiscal analysis necessary for members of the committee to get this job done.

Let me be clear: I will veto any legislation that does not erase the pension debt and provide 100 percent funding for the systems. From day one, this fundamental principle has been at the core of every pension reform bill I have backed.

Illinois currently has the worst-funded pension systems in the nation. Any solution that does not turn that statistic around is simply not good enough.

You sent us to Springfield to solve problems — not to dilly-dally with partial solutions. Now, some in the General Assembly already are suggesting new excuses as to why they may not be able to make the July 9 deadline:

“We need more time to get the numbers right …”
“We need extra days to negotiate …”
“The problem took decades to create and cannot be solved overnight …”

Enough with the alibis. We’ve discussed, debated and negotiated pension reform to death. The numbers have been crunched and crunched again. And taxpayers have been bearing the cost for these excuses, delays and blown deadlines.

In fact, every time legislators have missed deadlines for pension reform, you have paid the price.

Following the General Assembly’s failure to send me a bill by May 31, our credit rating was downgraded twice in one week — by both Moody’s and Fitch — to its lowest point in Illinois’ 195-year history.

The pension squeeze already has forced $2 billion in education cuts and $3 billion in social service cuts. The state of Illinois is currently on track to be spending more on public pensions than on schools, which denies our children their right to a quality education. Not to mention, Illinois’ economic recovery is being held hostage by longstanding legislative inertia.

Fortunately, members of the conference committee are experienced and capable legislators. I expect them and the rest of the General Assembly to get their jobs done by July 9. The people of Illinois are counting on it.

And one more thing: I will continue to be relentless — pushing, prodding and forcing this issue until the General Assembly sends me a bill.

I also ask you to do your part. Contact your state legislators today. Call them, email them, tweet them now. Visit http://mylegislators.illinois.gov to find your legislators’ names and contact information. Tell them to support a comprehensive bill that erases the pension debt and provides 100 percent funding for the pension systems. Tell them to get their job done by July 9.

I will continue fighting for you.

Sincerely,
Gov. Pat Quinn

Lots of rear covering and finger-pointing there.

Also, his demand that a bill be passed without an actuarial report is a bit on the weird side. I mean, you don’t want to know if the new plan will work? Maybe he just wants them to pass a current bill, Madigan’s SB1 for instance. That bill would satisfy his demand that the unfunded liability be erased entirely. If that’s the case, he’s dreaming.

Also, too, Quinn proposed $400 million in education cuts this year due to the pension crisis. The GA restored those cuts, which undercuts his logic here.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      


Blackhawks open thread

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* Congrats to the Blackhawks and all their fans. Have at it in comments.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Lisa Madigan fundraising e-mail raises eyebrows

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* This fundraising e-mail from Attorney General Lisa Madigan is prompting even more speculation, if that’s possible, about what she’s up to…

Dear [redacted],

Our state is facing challenging times. Turning around the state of our state will take smart, tough, and effective leadership.

As your attorney general, I have been able to successfully advance and impact change on a host of issues including the national foreclosure crisis, utility rates in Illinois, and protecting our children from sexual predators, internet dangers and unsafe products.

Under my management, the Office of Attorney General has been an engine for revenue. Last year alone, my office generated more than $1.1 billion in revenue using less than $31 million in general revenue funds. That’s a return on taxpayer investment of more than 36 to 1. Since taking office in 2003, I’ve been able to recover more than $9 billion in badly needed funds for our state through litigation and collection efforts, with billions more brought back directly to consumers, including $1.8 billion in relief for Illinois homeowners from the national robo-signing settlement.

I’ve built strong relationships and reached consensus with members of the Illinois legislature – key leadership skills for a state that has a lot of work to do. Resolving issues in this state requires a willingness to sit down, negotiate and compromise with the General Assembly. Over the past ten years, my office has worked with legislators to pass nearly 100 bills on issues such as debtors’ rights, greater protections for elderly residents and victims of crime, and securing healthcare for the uninsured.

Government work is challenging, but it’s not rocket science either. It just takes someone willing to roll up her sleeves to get the job done; someone who can identify our problems, prioritize them, put together a plan to fix them, and then execute that plan. I’ve spent the last 10 years as attorney general doing just that.

With that in mind, I’ve been evaluating how best I can serve the people of Illinois. The impetus for my running for elected office has always been public service. I strongly believe that government has the power to do good when the right people come together for the right reasons. I am confident that I can continue to produce results on behalf of the people of Illinois, but I need your help to ensure I have the financial resources to do so.

Please consider making a contribution of $250, $100, $50 or even $25 by our finance deadline, this Friday, June 28th, to ensure that I have the necessary resources to continue to serve our state effectively.

You make the difference: I need your help to continue to fight the good fight. Please consider making a contribution today. With your support, I can keep pushing for progress.

In the weeks and months to come I look forward to pressing on – with your support – and keeping you posted on the results of my work and decision regarding my next steps.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Lisa Madigan

P.S. To make a contribution today of $250, $100, $50 or $25, click here. Your contribution will have the most impact if received by the end of this week, Friday, June 28th.

* Meanwhile, it must be a slow news week. Sun-Times

It’s not scientific and it may not even be accurate, but an online poll gauging Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s potential 2014 ambitions represented one of the most interesting nuggets of political news during a quiet day Monday at the state Capitol.

Rich Miller, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and publisher of the Capitol Fax political newsletter, asked readers of his online blog to weigh in on whether the three-term attorney general would run in a Democratic gubernatorial primary against Gov. Pat Quinn and former White House Chief of Staff William Daley.

By mid-afternoon, a pretty one-sided answer prevailed: No.

Over 100 commenters weighed in, and almost 1500 people wound up voting 60-40 that she wouldn’t run for governor. I’m not so sure that I agree with the vote. We’ll see.

I was also asked to appear on a CLTV show last night to discuss our online poll. I declined. Oscar had his first intermediate puppy lesson at the same time as the show.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Brady to toss hat into the ring again

Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013

* Tomrrow is Brady’s day

Illinois state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, will formally launch another run at the office during a statewide tour Wednesday, he announced today.

The announcement, which has been expected, brings to five the number of formal candidacies for next year’s race, with possibly two more in the wings — including incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who hasn’t formally announced a re-election bid but is expected to. […]

Brady is the fourth announced Republican candidate, joining state Sen. Kirk Dillard, Chicago businessman Bruce Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa.

On the Democratic side, Bill Daley, former chief of staff to President Barack Obama and son and brother of Chicago’s two former Daley mayors, is running. Democratic state Attorney General Lisa Madigan hasn’t announced a campaign, but there is speculation she might.

* His announcement schedule…

State Senator Bill Brady, a Republican from Bloomington, will announce his candidacy for Governor in 2014 in Chicago, Springfield, Marion and Bloomington on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

Following is the schedule:

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26

10 a.m. Chicago
The Wit Hotel, Wilde I Room
201 N. State Street

12:30 p.m. Springfield
Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport
Knotts Conference Room (main terminal, second floor)
1200 Capital Airport Drive

3 p.m. Marion
Williamson County Airport
Main Terminal
10400 Terminal Drive

6 p.m. Bloomington
CJ’s Restaurant
2901 E. Empire Street

* More

“Illinois is facing serious challenges. We see them everyday… on the front page, at boarded-up businesses and around the kitchen table as families struggle with their household budgets. With the right leadership, Illinois can grow and prosper again. Nancy and I believe in Illinois, and we’re not giving up on Illinois. And I’m going to be right there, sleeves rolled up, working for sounder communities, vibrant job growth and a stronger Illinois,” Brady said in a statement emailed to supporters and the media.

* Except for now opposing mass puppy euthanasia, I wouldn’t expect this

Whether Brady intends to moderate his message this time around is sure to be among the questions he’ll face as he kicks off his campaign Wednesday at events in Chicago, Springfield, Marion and Bloomington.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


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