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Gonna be a light day here

Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

* I’m speaking at Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s memorial service today. You can watch a live video feed by clicking here. The service begins at 9:30.

After that, I have to zip back downtown for my annual City Club speech. If you’re going to that, please don’t forget to bring a toy for Lutheran Social Service of Illinois’ children programs.

In other words, don’t expect many more posts today.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

No details except for a new hole

Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

* If you thought that Bruce Rauner would use a budget confab to discuss any of his plans, you were silly

| Illinoisans eager to find out how their next governor will attack the state’s budget problems are in for a wait.

Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner said Tuesday he has no plans to provide details about his proposed financial fix until after he is sworn in on Jan. 12.

It could be an even longer wait after that. His first budget address of his four-year-term as chief executive isn’t scheduled until Feb. 18.

That leaves issues like the Jan. 1 rollback of the temporary income tax increase and a need by various state agencies for an additional $760 million in limbo.

“We’re not discussing any recommendations we’re making,” Rauner told reporters after a speaking engagement in the capital city.

* But he did say that he found another hole

He said that state agencies plan to submit at least $760 million in supplemental budget requests just to get them through the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

“Some of the department heads tell us they were told to submit a low budget figure, spend what they wanted and that it would be dealt with after the election,” he said, calling that approach “fundamentally dishonest.”

“I can’t find a really balanced budget as I look back over the years in Illinois,” he said. “If they are spending more than they have budgeted, that will result in more unpaid bills. We’re over $5 billion now and climbing.”

* More

“That means they want to spend a lot more than budget. And what we’ve learned is these department heads were told to submit some low number in the budget, the budget doesn’t really mean anything, put in a low number, spend how you want to spend don’t worry about your budget and then we’ll deal with it after the election. Come on, for 760 million dollars,” said Rauner.

* But this is probably a better explanation

The Winnetka businessman said agencies have been spending faster than they should instead of making their budgets last a full year.

“This is just them saying, ‘We’ve been spending at a much higher rate than what we put in our budget, the original budget, and now we want more money,’” Rauner said.

He said he’ll be willing to take the heat for short-term troubles but didn’t detail whether he’d deny agencies’ requests for more money.

“Real big change always causes anxiety,” Rauner said. “There’s going to be a lot of pushback on it, but that’s OK.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   108 Comments      

Frerichs to Simon: No thanks

Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

* We talked yesterday about Sheila Simon’s suggestion that Treasurer-elect Mike Frerichs be appointed to the vacant comptroller’s job as well. Frerichs isn’t interested

A spokesman for Frerichs said, however, that although the treasurer-elect favors merging the offices he doesn’t favor the “informal consolidation,” and would not accept what he called “a dual appointment.”

“On Wednesday, Illinoisans will come together to celebrate the life of Judy Baar Topinka. We are all united today in mourning the loss of a great leader and friend,” said spokesman Dave Clarkin.

“Serious discussions will begin Thursday on the best path forward to reunite the operations of the two offices. Treasurer-elect Frerichs supports reuniting the offices and hopes to be a part of those discussions at the appropriate time. Although many have made the suggestion, Frerichs is not seeking, nor would he accept, a dual appointment to both constitutional offices.”

For Simon to have penned that op-ed without first consulting with Frerichs was just plain silly. She needlessly put him in an uncomfortable spot and dragged him into a debate where he didn’t belong.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

* IEPA issues "seal order" on Sterigenics plant
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* Rep. Chapa LaVia will head IDVA after previous appointee bows out
* Question of the day
* Mary Morrissey named new executive director of DPI
* Transparency issues
* It's just a bill
* Amazon leads $700 million investment round for Rivian
* Hysterical much?
* Minimum wage roundup
* Poll: Five points separate five mayoral candidates as union money whacks Daley
* Should the state sell the Tollway to boost the pension funds?
* Southern Illinois state's attorney vows not to enforce assault weapons ban if it becomes law
* Daley would keep hope alive for those who want pension benefit cuts
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