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The $165 million LIHEAP skim

Monday, Feb 23, 2015

* Illinois utility ratepayers pay an extra surcharge on their monthly bills to help pay for energy assistance for the poor, like their heating bills. And last week, during one of the coldest weeks of the year, Gov. Rauner proposed taking that utility surcharge money and using it for the General Revenue Fund

Trouble is, Rauner can’t just grab the money. State law requires utilities like Commonwealth Edison, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas, which collect the funds, to use them for the intended purposes or reimburse ratepayers. So Rauner will need a change in those laws to shift the utility-collected funds to the state’s general fund. A spokeswoman confirms he will propose just such a change. […]

Striking in any case is the fact that an Illinois governor has proposed, in effect, to transform utility-bill payments aimed at helping the most disadvantaged into a state tax stream.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is a federally funded pool of money that in Illinois generally is distributed each winter to needy households to keep current on their bills and prevent gas shutoffs when April comes around. The funds generated through the utility surcharges add another 50 percent to the money available when combined with the federal allocation. For Illinoisans in the current fiscal year, the utility surcharges for LIHEAP generated $165 million, according to the governor’s budget document.

The LIHEAP changes Rauner proposes affect only the state’s contribution to that program, not the $330 million that Illinois gets from the federal government for low-income heating help.

“To close a $6 billion budget deficit and address years of fiscal mismanagement, the governor’s budget brings Illinois in line with 20 other states that use only federal dollars to fund the program,” a Rauner spokeswoman says in a statement. “Illinois households that need help paying utility bills will continue receiving subsidies. As in the past, the state will work to make sure that subsidies go to those most in need.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

125 Comments
  1. - D.P.Gumby - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 3:58 pm:

    I’m glad Brucie has no social agenda! Freezing the poor and handicapped in their homes is just bidness. BTW, how is this saving the state any money if the state share is coming from a surcharge to utility bills that we all pay??


  2. - D.P.Gumby - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 3:59 pm:

    Brucie is doing a back-door tax increase by taking the money for the GRF.


  3. - The Captain - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 3:59 pm:

    Here’s a on the one hand, on the other hand comment.

    On the one hand this lends credence to the criticism of Rauner’s budget that it was simplistic and that they don’t yet understand the complexity of the state budget.

    On the other hand we make every new Governor give a budget address too soon after they first get on the job. The state budget is too complex for this timeline.


  4. - PMcP - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:01 pm:

    I know this was said in prior posts but this just adds to the perception that the only people being asked to sacrifice anything in Rauner’s budget are the ones that can least afford it.


  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:04 pm:

    ===we make every new Governor give a budget address too soon===

    Other governors have asked for and been granted delays. He refused to do so.


  6. - How Ironic - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:08 pm:

    I think Bruce Rauner could only top this by raiding the Salvation Army, commandeering food stocks in the pantry, and selling it to the poor that normally receive it for free.

    Then putting that ‘income’ back into GRF as well.

    This guy has no moral compass. None.

    Elections have consequences. We’re going to be paying for this one for a long time.


  7. - archimedes - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    So, he proposes an increase in utility taxes…


  8. - john - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    Donna Arduin is really earning her money. Another rookie mistake.


  9. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:10 pm:

    People with cold hearts don’t have to worry about heat.


  10. - Name Withheld - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:11 pm:

    — brings Illinois in line with 20 other states —

    Or, takes Illinois out of line from the 29 other states besides us that help the needy out during the winter. It’s all how you spin it.


  11. - How Ironic - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:13 pm:

    @Name Withheld,

    Additionally, I wonder if the ‘20 states’ are all below the Mason/Dixon line and don’t typically have brutal winters with surging utility bills.


  12. - I B Strapped - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    Rules is Rules Gov!


  13. - Thunder Fred - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    According to the latest retail numbers; since last November sales of traditional headwear in Springfield are way down while sales of tin foil have give through the roof.


  14. - anon - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    where are those 20 other states? Warm states or states up north with brutally cold winters?


  15. - jerry 101 - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:16 pm:

    Wow, that’s…well…cold.


  16. - Amalia - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:17 pm:

    let them eat cake. no, wait, they won’t have the energy source to bake the cake cause the money won’t be there.


  17. - Enviro - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:17 pm:

    This is another regressive tax that will impact low and middle income citizens more than it would impact those with high incomes. Illinois is already has one of the most regressive state and local tax systems in the USA. We are the fifth most regressive tax state after Washington, Florida, Texas, and South Dakota.

    http://www.itep.org/whopays/full_report.php#Introduction


  18. - Put the Fun in unfunded - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:17 pm:

    Another thing people on minimum wage get that raises their standard of living beyond their nominal income - like SNAP, circuit breaker, EITC, et cetera. But make no mistake this is still a tax increase if the money is swept.


  19. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    This highlights one of the problem with Rauner’s proposed sweeps of special funds. Most were created for special purposes. Sweeping them affects functions that have been paid for by the users or persons regulated. There is a bill to create a group to assess the funds. Given commitments to those who have the burden of paying into the funds, an assessment should be done and changes put forward by legislation before those funds are converted into GRF. Borrowing is one thing, conversion is totally different.


  20. - Numbers - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    I am not so appalled by seeking to divert “dedicated” money from this utility bill fee — money is fungible after all. There is going to be a lot of pain and a lot of good programs helping vulnerable folks are going to be on the block What’s more concerning to me is that this fee, like similar taxes on other utilities (I’m looking at you, Chicago 911 tax) are hugely regressive — much more so than the so called “flat” income tax.


  21. - Federalist - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:20 pm:

    It is my understandin that this is a federal program which the states, like Illinois, have passed legislation to add additional funds through one’s utility bill.

    It would seem that the Governor could propose legislation that would stop the state from doing this. I do not know how often such funding has to be renewed through legislation.

    But in any case, this is one more example of Rauner believing can do anything he wants with the budget. He refused to understand that he is not the CEO of a private company.


  22. - okgo - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:20 pm:

    Headline correction. Should be “Governor Rauner proposed $165 million electric rate hike for poor families.”


  23. - Wordslinger - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    Good Lord. Is that a gag? Not very funny, very poor taste.

    The governor and his peeps might not know it, but many poor people are going to get their gas and electric shut off come April when the law allows it.

    And if they can’t get square before next winter, those utilities will remain off, no matter how cold it gets. People die because of this.

    What other “revenue” ideas do these Bizarro Robin Hoods have? Going out the back door with the church collection plates? Snatching the Jerry’s Kids jars from the Kwik-E-Marts?

    Get real, Mr. Businessman. You wanted the gig, and you pretended for two years that you had a clue.

    Pretend like you’re in Missouri now and show us.


  24. - 47th Ward - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:26 pm:

    Governor CEO is finally running Illinois like a bidness. It’s a very simple concept, as old as business itself, customers who can’t pay get cut off.

    Ruthless efficiency. Lead-pipe cruelty. All in a days work. Etc. Etc.

    I was impressed with his initial outreach to the Black Caucus, but whatever gains he made there have been erased with this dumb move. Total non-starter. Good luck spinning this disaster Raunerbots.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:27 pm:

    Before Scrooge was met by 4 ghosts (Marley and the Ghosts), he told Bob Cratchit he used too much coal a work…

    To the Post,

    Rauner Spokesperson === “Illinois households that need help paying utility bills will continue receiving subsidies. As in the past, the state will work to make sure that subsidies go to those most in need.”====

    Welp. I feel better…


  26. - AnonymousOne - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:27 pm:

    “Rauner can’t just grab the money”

    A very new concept to him. At his age, is he capable of learning something new?


  27. - I B Strapped - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:31 pm:

    —-People die because of this—-

    In Venture Capitalese, “Yeah but think of how much we’ll be saving when they’re gone!”


  28. - How Ironic - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:31 pm:

    Just think, it only took Bruce Rauner spending $70 Million, so that he could propose (with a straight face) stealing $165 million so that the poorest of the poor freeze to death.

    What a country.


  29. - DuPage - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:35 pm:

    Another day, another outrageous budget proposal from Rauner.


  30. - Juvenal - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:43 pm:

    I think this idea deserves a rollcall on the House floor.

    Every day.


  31. - AlabamaShake - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:46 pm:

    **What’s more concerning to me is that this fee, like similar taxes on other utilities (I’m looking at you, Chicago 911 tax) are hugely regressive — much more so than the so called “flat” income tax.**

    Sure… the consumption taxies and other similar levies will also be more regressive than a flat income tax rate. But those consumption taxes are a big reason why you need a progressive income tax structure, so that it counteracts the regressive nature of the other taxes.


  32. - Rasselas - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:46 pm:

    If this money grab/backdoor tax increase was built into the budget, didn’t he violated the budget law, which says that you can’t submit a budget based on law changes to increase revenues?


  33. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:49 pm:

    I don’t think it’s actually a problem that the governor can’t steal that money from the program it’s intended to fund.


  34. - Bemused - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 4:52 pm:

    In his old gig Bruce and his cohorts would acquire weak or undervalued targets. Then they would either suck out the equity and dispose of the husk or shine it up and sell it to some sucker. In some cases variations of the above. If some folks lost their livelihoods it was all for the greater good, that being Bruce and the boys bank accounts. New gig is different in what way?

    Even though folks keep saying Bruce has nothing to gain in all this, I am not sold. What of value can Bruce suck out of this new acquisition? A more prominent position on the national stage? If it causes a bit of discomfort for those with low incomes, sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to get an enjoyable breakfast.


  35. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:00 pm:

    Attention poor people. You don’t need no stinking Medicaid or heating assistance. We can’t afford to help you.

    Asking those millionaires to pay one more dime in taxes? That’s ludicrous. They can’t afford it.


  36. - AC - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:02 pm:

    Or we could…extend the 5% income tax. We funded essential programs, weren’t trying to raid LIHEAP, reduced the backlog of state bills, and even made our pension payments. Another way of putting it, raising taxes worked, and didn’t put people out in the cold, literally, like Rauner’s proposed budget. Plus, the 5% flat tax followed taxing structure conservative types dream about. Taxes don’t kill people, but budgets, if they’re bad enough, can kill people. Apparently, blind adherence to ideology can lead to a delusional belief that laws apply to others but not oneself. Further, issues like this show how Rauner didn’t really take the budget seriously. If he had taken it seriously, he’d have expended the effort necessary to determine what was legal, and what wasn’t.


  37. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:06 pm:

    Don’t worry, these folks just need to wear warm clothes for 7 years until minimum wage hits $10, then they’ll be on easy street.


  38. - Concerned - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:09 pm:

    So of the states that don’t match the federal payments, do those states include on utility bills a charge that is described as funding heating bills for the poor?


  39. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:09 pm:

    The Raunerites think the poor people can just huddle around all the bridges they’re burning.


  40. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:10 pm:

    How much did Bruce gain when the income tax was rolled back? Just wondering.


  41. - Anon - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:10 pm:

    There are unfortunately a large number of technical flaws in the budget document which will dribble out over coming weeks, though sadly many will go largely un-noticed. Some of these mistakes however suggest a political intent that the Budget cuts, while the starting point in a negotiation, are something that the Governor want’s to defend as much as possible– i.e. misleadingly including all funds budgets for State universities including restricted funds and endowment gifts that can not be used for student education to inflate the denominator and reduce the purported % of funding impact; including fund balances and again all funds budgets for local governments (apparently including debt service and other restricted funds) without understanding that the largest amount is driven by school district fund balances– outside of Cook County most school districts receive property taxes on June 1st and are cash flush at FYE on 6/30 and report their financials on a cash basis, so this number is quite misleading and represents a cash high for the year as property taxes represent their largest funding source.

    On this particular program one key question from their statement:

    “To close a $6 billion budget deficit and address years of fiscal mismanagement, the governor’s budget brings Illinois in line with 20 other states that use only federal dollars to fund the program,” a Rauner spokeswoman says in a statement.

    Not just the location/weather status of those 20 states as other have rightly asked, but more critically– how many states in the nation take a utility assessment on ratepayers bills levied for this express purpose and divert to their General Revenue Fund. There we would not be consistent with 20 states, but be a sole outlier of one.


  42. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:10 pm:

    LIHEAP. He’s going after LIHEAP. My hands are shaking.


  43. - How Ironic - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:12 pm:

    So Rauner hides his appointments until Friday at 5. Yet rolls out LIHEAP cuts on Monday.

    And yet he has no social agenda?


  44. - redeft - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:13 pm:

    I have a general question about fund sweeps. We are asked whether we want to donate part of tax refund to various funds. I’ve often donated to the non-game wildlife fund. There are funds for Alzheimer’s research, Veteran’s assistance, etc. Have these funds been swept in the past? Are they subject to being swept? If they are, I will make my charitable contributions elsewhere.


  45. - Anon - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:16 pm:

    We probably need to get a little “across the aisle” cooperation going on the Recall before some good Republicans have to sell their souls to appease Mr. Rauner and his mandatory list of ten things that must be abided by to not suffer the Wrath of Rauner. This dude is scary.


  46. - GA Watcher - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:16 pm:

    The Governor’s proposed budget also sweeps the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS)Program. The funds are generated from rate payers of the electric companies. They are to be used exclusively for projects which help electric customers meet energy efficiency goals set by State law.


  47. - lincoln's beard - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:18 pm:

    I sure hope it’s not the other way around (as it likely is), and the Federal funds don’t depend upon the State match. If they do (and I have a suspicion that they do, at least in part), Rauner would be jeopardizing the federal funding as well.


  48. - MrJM - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:19 pm:

    “Rauner wants to seize utility funds for the poor to help balance budget”

    Once again, congratulations to those of you who voted for this governor.

    – MrJM


  49. - Me - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:23 pm:

    Another day another fund sweep. How many funds are being swept into general revenue currently?


  50. - Juvenal - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:24 pm:

    What do you think the editorial boards will have to say on this one?

    What about ComEd and Ameren?


  51. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:24 pm:

    The silence from the Rauner supporters on this thread is deafening.


  52. - AnonymousOne - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:25 pm:

    Stuff like this creates maximum shock value and outragae from normal people. It is not intended to happen, I believe. It’s intended to point out how many other people could “sacrifice” without having to have people deprived of heat die. The strategy is working. There is plenty of outrage and thinking there has to be another way.


  53. - Langhorne - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:30 pm:

    “Got the bill draft right here. Who wants to sponsor it? First one to step up gets a hundred grand for their campaign. It’s not a tax increase, it’s cutting costs. Savin money.”

    20 other states may use only federal money for the program (minus admin probably), but how many skim money from ratepayers?


  54. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:30 pm:

    It’s easy to sacrifice when it’s someone else that’s doing the sacrificing.


  55. - forwhatitsworth - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:34 pm:

    == “To close a $6 billion budget deficit and address years of fiscal mismanagement, the governor’s budget brings Illinois in line with 20 other states that use only federal dollars to fund the program,” ==

    I thought for a moment that Rauner was going to suggest that he would like to bring Illinois in line with the other 34 states that have a graduated income tax!


  56. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:37 pm:

    === It’s intended to point out how many other people could “sacrifice” without having to have people deprived of heat die. ===

    Yeah, true AO. They may shiver a bit more, but that builds character. Dying? Bah! That’s just democrats exaggerating again.


  57. - How Ironic - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 5:37 pm:

    @AnonymousOne:
    “It is not intended to happen, I believe.”

    You would be mistaken. Rauner ‘never loses’ remember. He is requesting this because he believes that the poorest of the poor do not ‘need’ this unnecessary assistance. Rather than raise taxes, and cross Norquist, Rauner would rather the poor freeze to death.

    “There is plenty of outrage and thinking there has to be another way.”

    Yes, there is outrage. People shouldn’t suggest freezing their fellow man so that the rest of Illinois doesn’t have to pay an extra 1.75% of their income.

    His lack of empathy and moral compass is breathtaking.


  58. - Macbeth - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:03 pm:


    His lack of empathy and moral compass is breathtaking.

    It’s the GOP’s politics of punishment. This is what most folks in Illinois want. They want people hurt, punished.

    Rauner is thrilled to be able to deliver.


  59. - kimocat - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:03 pm:

    Perhaps he could divert our United Way contributions to the general funds too.


  60. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:05 pm:

    The sticky fingers managment style of a CEO governor is starting to pay off.


  61. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:08 pm:

    ===It’s the GOP’s politics of punishment. This is what most folks in Illinois want. They want people hurt, punished.===

    I don’t believe that at all.

    These are Raunerite traits of slashing.

    My Party, under Thompson, Edgar, Ryan…with Topinka…

    People mattered. People do matter.

    They did. They always did. They always do.

    This isn’t My Party, this is on Rauner, and Rauner’s $20 million


  62. - Huh? - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:18 pm:

    I wish someone–anyone–could get every GOP state legislator to give his/her opinion about this proposal on the record.


  63. - Demise - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:18 pm:

    redeft - in 2011 it was reported the charitable donations from refunds were swept. I stopped making donations that way after that.


  64. - bwana63 - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:23 pm:

    Share the pain, lol.

    Fortunately, this will never fly, as there’s no chance the legislature will pass this.

    PR catastrophe, of his own doing.


  65. - Macbeth - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:24 pm:


    These are Raunerite traits of slashing.

    No, you’re wrong. It’s the new sour grapes. If I can’t have it, neither can he or she.

    That’s today’s GOP — and it’s the Illinois GOP at the moment. Rauner’s 20 millions? It just makes the hurt that much sweeter.

    It’s seriously warped — but watch the GOP fall in line.


  66. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:31 pm:

    ===No, you’re wrong. It’s the new sour grapes. If I can’t have it, neither can he or she.

    That’s today’s GOP — and it’s the Illinois GOP at the moment. Rauner’s 20 millions? It just makes the hurt that much sweeter===

    I’m sorry.

    There ARE incredible GOP legislators that AREN’T as you say.

    The Caucuses here in the ILGOP GA are owned by Rauner.

    How do I know I’m right?

    Easy.

    Rauner threatened. Rauner raised $20 million to threaten GOP legislators, not to congratulate them.

    That’s why you’re wrong.

    I’ll have the GOP’s Caucuses “6″, because here is where Raunerites and Republicans part ways. My Party is “occupied”, co-opted, but not transformed to this callous thought process. The threats say I’m right, but I don’t need that to know I’m right. I only need their silence, and it’s pretty quiet now.


  67. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:31 pm:

    Ask not for what your governor can do for you. Be told what you must do for your governor.

    Seriously. Way overplayed. He is making some absolutely outlandish proposals with some hope of meeting in the middle, with what he actually wants to do. Unfortunately, the gov ain’t as smart as he thinks he is. The GA has the power, and they know it.


  68. - Senator Clay Davis - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:32 pm:

    The GOP members of the ILGA should oppose this. Not (only) because it will hurt poor, cold people, but because it sets a terrible precedent for tax increases that aren’t called tax increases.

    If the environmental cost recovery and energy efficiency line-items are permanently repurposed for GRF, it sets the table for raiding other line-items as well. Think about the 911 line-item on your cell phone bill. There are all sorts of specific fees on power, water, gas, phone and internet bills. Tweaking those fees and/or diverting them into GRF is terrible policy, and this LIHEAP move sets the stage for it.


  69. - crazybleedingheart - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:39 pm:

    Looking forward to watching Sandack try to tell us all how we’re a state of haves and soon-to-haves on CT in a few.

    He certainly thinks he’s a soon-to-have lately.


  70. - veritas - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:40 pm:

    When Swift wrote “a modest proposal”, it was intended to be irony.


  71. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:41 pm:

    “My Party is “occupied”, co-opted, but not transformed to this callous thought process. The threats say I’m right, but I don’t need that to know I’m right. I only need their silence, and it’s pretty quiet now.”

    This is sad, and it’s especially sad because Rauner called unions corrupt for spending money in the political process, like every other special interest. Rauner has $20 million that he raised from just a few very wealthy people, with which he’s threatening legislators.


  72. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:42 pm:

    - crazybleedingheart -,

    Rep. Sandack broke my heart.

    He is the Prime Minister of the Parliament of Owls, and all it took was fearing Uihline.


  73. - Anon - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:44 pm:

    He’s making IL a “right-to-warmth” state. He’s championing the rights of the poor to choose whether to pay the full share of their energy bills or not. After all, those energy companies do things with that money that their customers might not like. *snark*


  74. - Macbeth - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:45 pm:


    . My Party is “occupied”, co-opted, but not transformed to this callous thought process.

    if they’re occupied, they’re useless — that’s why (yes, I’ll say it: you’re wrong on this count, OW) — and why, yes, they’ll fall in line.

    A moral compass in this case doesn’t work. The compass is co-opted by Rauner’s millions. The GOP will cave. They’ll weigh this — but in the end they’ll choose what Rauner chooses.

    Occupied? Okay, whatever. But for now — that’s how it is. And that’s how the votes will fall.

    It’s about as morally bankrupt as you can get — and the Illinois GOP will demonstrate this. Mostly because they have no choice. It doesn’t matter what they believe. It matters how they vote.


  75. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:47 pm:

    ===doesn’t matter what they believe. It matters how they vote.===

    Oh, that I agree with. 100%. The 67 GOP votes are just “green lights” now.

    It doesnt make it any less sad…


  76. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:52 pm:

    Any moral compass that easily co-opted isn’t very moral in the first place OW.


  77. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 6:56 pm:

    - PublicServant -,

    It’s still early. The Owls like Sandack are lost, but we will see how all 10 of those votes go.

    I hope, what Leader Durkin says he believes…

    That’s a start.


  78. - PublicServant - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:01 pm:

    I hope you’re right Willy. And the Democrats, trying to get as much political gain out of this as possible while the poor are being used as pawns don’t have much of a moral compass as far as I’m concerned either.


  79. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:04 pm:

    - PublicServant -,

    I hope I’m right too.

    As for this game, Rauner borrowed the rules from the BLAGO Caucus ideal. Says it all.


  80. - MrJM - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:13 pm:

    “Any moral compass that easily co-opted isn’t very moral in the first place”

    Afraid I gotta go with him on this one, OW.

    – MrJM


  81. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:19 pm:

    ===Afraid I gotta go with him on this one, OW.===

    I know. I understand why too.

    All I have is what Durkin said he believed. If Durkin believes it, more than he hopes it, that is MY hope…

    I haveta trust Durkin. It is…all I got.


  82. - Long time listener - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:28 pm:

    I don’t think Rauner will hurt the lowest million people with these ideas, as much as he is going to shove the million just above them down in the same boat. Then what? Mostly nonexistent upward mobility kicks in?


  83. - redeft - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:46 pm:

    Demise, You got me researching the issue of the tax check off donations. Apparently, the state is supposed to repay the amount ti sweeps from these funds. I wonder if it ever has. Here is the sad history through 2011: http://illinoistimes.com/article-8753-state-taps-charity-funds-to-pay-its-bills.html


  84. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:50 pm:

    - I haveta trust Durkin. It is…all I got. -

    C’mon man. I think that you’re sincere about believing your party is capable of decency, but do you really think Durkin thought Rauner would act differently?

    These aren’t simpletons, they knew what Bruce was about, and they cast their lot with him. They may only be minority stakeholders, but they enjoy ownership all the same.


  85. - Bluecollargal - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:51 pm:

    I think the Gov needs to go live for a week with a family living on the current minimum wage. Doubt he’s even looked at a utility bill in a long time.


  86. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 7:57 pm:

    ===… but do you really think Durkin thought Rauner would act differently?===

    I really think… a lot people are confused as to what Rauner is doing now, governing now, acting now… and what’s his Ebd game.

    Which is why when Durkin came out last week and said what he believed, I asked if it was “belief” or “hope”…

    A move like this in this Post, it’s a Rauner move, with Rauner co-opting the Caucuses. It’s more about being co-opted than the ILGOP magically rejecting or accepting things on moral grounds…

    Fair?


  87. - downstate commissioner - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:12 pm:

    OW, I hope you are right, we’ll just have to see how it plays out; hopefully, legislators will realize the the public is more the enemy than the loss of Brucie’s money…


  88. - Anonin' - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:19 pm:

    OK
    Let’s look at this new “honest” BVR budget deal
    1. $2.2 pension savings counted before a bill is drafted
    2. $1.5 billion Medicaid shuffle counted before a bill is drafted, but after legisl tried to hunt down all the waste and fraund
    3. $750+ million from worker health care pushing payments to 2 years late
    4. $165 million from those regular electric users to help make the payroll
    Yup no new taxes, just an honest budget without all the corrupt deals
    5. What will Capt Fax find tomorrow?


  89. - Hottot - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:25 pm:

    No different than what the state’s been doing with the State Retirement Systems for years. It’s despicable what he’s doing, but this very same method is what created the $111 billion deficit in the state pension systems. He wants to take LIHEAP funds and put them in the General Revenue Fund. The state took funds from the State Retirement Systems and put them in the General Revenue Fund. No different.


  90. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:25 pm:

    - downstate commissioner -,

    That’s the rub, isn’t it? Will the ranting at the Caucuses and $20 million win out for these “required green lights”, or will the Caucuses work themselves into making government work?

    I dunno yet. I hope.


  91. - Jorge - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:26 pm:

    Just when you don’t think governing could get any lower. Another despicable move from Rauner and company


  92. - BothanSpy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:31 pm:

    I’m not sure I follow his plan. Is it to use the existing funds that are accumulated and repurpose them to GRF or to treat this as an ongoing revenue stream for years to come? If it is the latter, I’m not sure how they can continue to collect this surcharge on our electric bills going forward if there is no plan for the funds to supplement LIHEAP


  93. - OG - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:41 pm:

    I guess we all knew it was just window dressing, but from the Rauner Transition Report:

    Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective energy strategies … The state should seek to expand successful utility and third party (non-utility) energy efficiency programs … Smart-energy management and efficiency retrofits, especially of state-owned buildings and vehicles, also represent an untapped source of job creation for Illinois.

    So Bruce is taking money from efficient economic investments and giving it to the State, which, by his own definition, is inefficient.

    He’s also leaving jobs on the table.

    Why are Illinois taxpayers paying Arduin $30K/month for this crap? She either hasn’t done her homework or doesn’t understand economics.


  94. - Macbeth - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:46 pm:

    Tomorrow’s story will be the (possible) impact on Illinois of today’s NJ Christie pension ruling.

    Never ends with these guys.


  95. - Stones - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:51 pm:

    If I typed what I am thinking about this move I’d be banished for life.


  96. - Wordslinger - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 8:57 pm:

    Macbeth, respectfully,I think you’re wrong.

    The majority of GOP legislators have never made a tough vote, but I don’t think they’re going to start by cutting off granny’s heat, either.

    They won’t vote for it. There aren’t 30/15 for this sick nonsense in the Illinois GA.

    For crying out loud, did Rauner vet this stuff? Is he personally involved with what’s going out under his name?

    I don’t get it — if you’re making a fool of yourself by proposing billions of magic beans savings, why make an ogre out of yourself on proposed never-gonna-happen cuts to society’s most vulnerable? Makes you a two-time loser.

    Can it be that the half million plus and jobs to IPI wasn’t a payoff to keep the crazies in the tent and directing their business outwards? Does Rauner buy the John Tillman snake oil?

    Seriously, where is the base for any of this stuff?

    Does the governor think IPI


  97. - Jorge - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:11 pm:

    “Why are Illinois taxpayers paying Arduin $30K/month for this crap? She either hasn’t done her homework or doesn’t understand economics.”

    Bruce also thinks she has the best budget mind in America. Sigh.


  98. - walker - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:16 pm:

    This is not an exception, but the rule. Rauner just cut, offloaded, or moved just about everything possible, and more that is impossible. This one is just among the ugliest.

    We’ve reached the first level of Hell. Nothing left to do now but to add back somehow, especially since the budget is still not even close to actually balanced. The most interesting date will be when Rauner begs to be allowed to go back to last year’s tax rate. Did we think this wouldn’t be awful on many levels?


  99. - walker - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:25 pm:

    Interesting, isn’t it, that Republican governors across the country are arguing that they can cut and move their residents to even more dependence on the Federal government?

    How Conservative of them!


  100. - steve schnorf - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:33 pm:

    Hey, folks, we’re all bright. What do we think he should cut instead of the LIHEAP money?


  101. - 47th Ward - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:39 pm:

    Steve, with respect, a lot of us have been saying he can’t cut his way out of the hole. The income tax in Illinois should be 5%. Sorry, but that’s the reality. We need to pay for the government services we demand, including the retirement costs we’ve promised.


  102. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:43 pm:

    Steve, I’ll put a modest down payment on replacing the LIHEAP cut by politely saying there shouldn’t be a new dime put in CMS for anything, let alone more headcount, until the place and all its tentacles like “shared services” have been seriously examined.


  103. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:49 pm:

    - steve schnorf -,

    With great respect.

    The minute Rauner called into districts like President Cullerton to make sure the income tax rate went back to its original percentage, one of the mechanisms to offset cuts like this was taken off the table.

    Stating that revenues aren’t the problem also exacerbates cuts like these.

    It’s not the cutting, or even the choices. It’s the decision that revenue isn’t part of the recipe to solve these problems.

    I’m not asking for levels to go above the lapsed level. Letting the increase lapse as it did left a huge hole. is this the best way to fill it?


  104. - Wordslinger - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 9:53 pm:

    Steve, c’mon man. You know both sides of the ledger better than anyone.

    Do you think shutting off the heat is the way to go? I don’t think that you do. C’mon man.


  105. - Jorge - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 10:21 pm:

    “Hey, folks, we’re all bright. What do we think he should cut instead of the LIHEAP money?”

    How about we start with a CFO that costs $30k a month.


  106. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 10:32 pm:

    A lot of us bright folks understand that new revenue is also required in addition to cutting to right this ship. We’re also bright enough to know that there was a funding stream dedicated for LIHEAP that is now being misdirected to GRF. If you want a suggestion to replace what shouldn’t have been taken, I would suggest diminishing the education increase accordingly. Children need heat to study.

    P.S. I’m with AA on the CMS increase as well.


  107. - Get a Job! - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 10:42 pm:

    Hottot, thanks for adding nothing…..the situation you described never happened, not once.

    Failing to put money into the retirement systems is totally different from raiding them.


  108. - Newsclown - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 10:56 pm:

    In other news, per Bruce Rauner, state-owned powerplants will shift from coal and gas to using week-old kittens for fuel. Asked for clarification, Rauner said” “You got a (deleted) problem with that?”


  109. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Feb 23, 15 @ 11:17 pm:

    ==To close a $6 billion budget deficit and address years of fiscal mismanagement, the governor’s budget brings Illinois in line with 20 other states that use only federal dollars to fund the program==

    Do those states also tax utility bills to fund the program and then divert it for other uses? My guess is that they don’t have the tax.


  110. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 12:25 am:

    Jorge, that’s $120,000 down towards $165 million: still 164.9 to go.

    Why would he talk about new revenue during his budget speech? He can’t count it in his presentation, so the bottom line cuts would remain the same.

    Though I don’t expect him to bring it up out of the gate, I suspect there will be plenty of discussion about revenue over the next several weeks. But even in anyone’s wildest expectations there won’t be 6 1/2 billion in new revenue, so a lot of cuts are going to stay on the table. Over the next few weeks legislators will be thinking about/listening to constituents about what cuts they can live with, even vote for. That’s how we will end up with a budget.


  111. - Jorge - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 12:43 am:

    I know how the budget works Mr. Schnorf. While I was brash and borderline rude, for which I apologize in my retort, I must respectfully disagree. The Gov could have found that money elsewhere rather than target the poor. I’m pretty sure not giving CMS an increase in expenditures would save another $20 million. The budget presented is essentially class warfare and dishonest.


  112. - crazybleedingheart - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 2:26 am:

    Steve! So glad you asked! I have been needing someone to explain this to me!

    Before going after the ventilator kids or the old and cold or the orphans, Gov. Rauner was going to zero out the executive air fleet. But no cuts there. :(

    I feel sure this is all some giant mistake, because 1) he cut MY transportation from Amtrak to Metra to CTA and fair is fair, and
    2) I barely even watch TV, but he spent so much money he still managed to promise me several DOZEN times that he would be cutting the plane and exclusively using that “trashcan van.”

    Buying his own plane, or borrowing one from Griff doesn’t count. I NEED this man to drive all over the state, no matter how inefficient! The Medicaid dental patients can explain to him about shared sacrifice and the need to suffer painful cuts right now that actually cost a great deal in the long run.

    Are there no volkswagens? Are there no conference calls?

    I may sound over the top, but would love a real answer. The fact that it never made a bit of sense doesn’t mean it wasn’t a direct promise to every IL voter. And the executive air fleet is not a nothing line-item in the budget.

    Help! I’m a hot second from calling Sue Scherer to get all over this. :(


  113. - Anon - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 6:08 am:

    @ Get a Job,

    It’s semantics. The state was supposed to make payment(s) and didn’t. If the state can ‘take’ (by not making the required payments) from that fund, how is that *NOT* effectively the same thing? The fact is: There is a sum of money that *should* be in the pension fund that is not.


  114. - Seriously - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 7:06 am:

    Another budget filled with fund raids, gimmicks (counting on revenue from an Unconstitutional pension proposal) and stealing money from local government coffers…….business as usual, ho hum


  115. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 7:34 am:

    I don’t see the LIHEAP story in the Trib this morning. I’m so surprised. I guess it’s not news, after all.


  116. - Carhartt Representative - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 7:47 am:

    Sad news posted on my Facebook timeline this past week by both liberal and conservative friends was the story of a Vietnam veteran who froze to death inside his own home in Michigan. Is that what we want in Illinois?

    http://www.alternet.org/69-year-old-vietnam-vet-throat-cancer-freezes-death-after-company-shuts-his-gas


  117. - facts are stubborn things - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 7:50 am:

    Rauner talks a lot about sacrifice, but the key may be by whom. His wife might be able to get by without a chief of staff for $100,000 plus a year?


  118. - Phenomynous - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 7:54 am:

    Nice to see Schnorf bring the conversation back to reason. It’s like everyone has forgot that the Rauner budget address set up a NEGOTIATION.

    Did everyone already forget about the budget Quinn floated last year (along with his fantasy budget w/ a tax increase)? I’m fairly certain that was the laziest proposal I have ever seen that cut about 13% across the board. Special Ed - cut, education - cut, human services - cut etc…

    For all of the faux outrage and calling people out on “playing the victim”, well, there sure are a lot of commenters (victims) up in arms about some of these proposed cuts.

    As the famous Wordslinger once said, “be thankful for what you got”


  119. - AnonymousOne - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 8:11 am:

    Do you think people are satisfied with some of the stuff the gov is proposing? There are more palatable ways for the bills to be paid and hopefully these unreasonable draconian proposals are being put out there to make folks realize that. Unless you are heartless and barely human.


  120. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 8:14 am:

    - Phenomynous -,

    Maybe as you describe it, it should be “get off my lawn”, not “be happy for what you got.”

    Just “sayin’…”


  121. - Freebird - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 8:36 am:

    Over the past few weeks, several friends of mine have asked how the new governor is doing. These are not as informed as those commenting here, but I consider them to be somewhat knowledgeable. I always turn the question around on them, and I find that they don’t have a clue about what this governor is doing. They think that he is doing some “stuff on pensions.” There is lots of outrage on this blog, but the general populace is clueless. For those on this blog who are elected officials, what is your plan to make these people aware of what this governor is really doing?


  122. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 8:39 am:

    School and Phenom:

    This is not a negotiation, and you are incorrect Schnorf.

    Rauner did mention new revenue in his budget address, including this gem:

    “this huge deficit…is NOT the result of decreasing tax rates.”

    You cannot negotiate with anyone so disconnected from reality.


  123. - Anonin' - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 8:49 am:

    Hey, folks, we’re all bright. What do we think he should cut instead of the LIHEAP money?
    1. Liqour Control Commission — every saloon in city or county so this is unneeded, non biz friendly reg.
    2. The +$1 million that goes to Baiser at the IMA
    3. Much of the Loot collected by 911 commissions not used for emergency calls….it is a small start but a start.


  124. - Huh? - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 8:59 am:

    Huh? - Feb, 23, 15 @ 6:18 pm

    Get your own handle. This one is taken.


  125. - Toure's Latte - Tuesday, Feb 24, 15 @ 9:19 am:

    Rauner’s “reduce number of govt taxing bodies” campaign offers this as an unintended example of one governing taxing body, one pot of money.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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