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Is a new era finally dawning in Illinois?

Friday, Mar 27, 2015

* For years, Republican legislators have been content to sit back and throw partisan bombs at the Democrats over just about every issue, but particularly the budget. The shoe was on the other foot yesterday when the Senate Republicans unanimously voted for the FY 15 budget patch

Just two years ago state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said an audit that he had requested showed that Democrats were “stealing” from the road fund.

On Tuesday, however, he voted in favor of diverting cash from the fund.

“It wasn’t an easy thing to do,” Brady said. “This may not have been perfect, but I applaud Democrats for working with Republicans and the governor to get this job done.”

State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said Republicans still believe the road fund is important.

But, he said, “Sweeps in previous years were just fueling additional spending.”

* And after years of going it alone (whether intentionally or not), the Democrats were given an opportunity to do a bit of stone throwing themselves yesterday

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said he couldn’t support it because it cuts education, even though the $150 million reduction would be offset by the $97 million available to help distressed schools.

“We’re removing significant amounts of money from a program that is needs-based, and we’re creating a new program with no rules attached to it,” Manar said. “My opposition is strictly on this continuation of what I would call an addiction in state government that you balance the budget by reducing education spending.”

Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, voted against the bill because it takes $350 million from various funds used for road construction and repair.

“That’s less money that we are going to have to build and maintain roads,” Sullivan said. “There’s been discussions there was surplus money in the road fund. Nothing could be further from the truth. This time of year, there’s always a pretty sizable amount in the road fund because we’re just getting ready to start construction season.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation submitted a letter to the General Assembly saying that using the money would not jeopardize any projects. Sullivan said he believes the letter was just intended to give cover to lawmakers to support the plan.

* But bipartisanship was the order of the day

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, acknowledged that the crisis was of the Democrats’ making when she urged her caucus to support the measure.

“We knew it was an incomplete budget,” Steans said. “This takes care of that without adding any debt and without any new tax revenue.”

Rauner issued a statement thanking the Republican and Democratic legislative leaders “for their leadership in fixing this year’s fiscal crisis.”

“With their help, a bipartisan group of legislators sent a strong message that the culture in Springfield is changing for the better,” Rauner said.

* And this is what happens when the leaders put together a structured roll call

Overall debate on the two bills took only 10 minutes or so

That would’ve been impossible in previous years.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

48 Comments
  1. - Soccermom - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:34 am:

    I don’t love this fix, but I respect President Cullerton for putting this together and keeping the wheels on while we brace for next year’s horrific budget.


  2. - Been There - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:36 am:

    ===This takes care of that without adding any debt and without any new tax revenue.”====
    Good luck with next year. At least they had a half year of higher taxes to spend. That to me will be the real test for both sides. What kind of revenues will the repubs actually push the green button for? And/Or how much more pain from cuts can the dems stomach?
    But at least they showed they can cut a deal which is promising.


  3. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    New era, yes. But the indications so far are that it’s likely to be the dark ages.


  4. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    It was impressive. So maybe this won’t be a perpetual session stretching into August??? Maybe??


  5. - walker - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:46 am:

    ==New era==?

    Wide-eyed optimism.

    From your mouth to God’s ear.


  6. - Cassiopeia - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:47 am:

    The Republican solidarity was remarkable, but the grandstanding by some Democrats in voting no was typical and more of the same.


  7. - Shell Answer Man - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:47 am:

    “We knew it was an incomplete budget,” Steans said. “This takes care of that without adding any debt and without any new tax revenue.”

    The Dems have now cleaned up the mess they made a year ago.

    Going forward, 2016 belongs to Rauner.


  8. - DuPage - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    Without revenue, all they did was re-arrange the deck chairs.


  9. - Muscular - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:51 am:

    The complaining democrats could do more with the remaining money in the road fund if they eliminated prevailing wage requirements. Apparently they would rather blame a republican governor. Senator Brady could have insisted on keeping the money in the road fund and voted against the proposal. Instead, he could have identified and advocated for cuts elsewhere in the budget, presuming the road fund is that precious. Doing so would show positional consistency. It seems he prefers party unity than continuing the fight against Bruce Rauner that he lost in last year’s campaign.


  10. - Team Sleep - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 10:57 am:

    I think this at least gives us a template for the FY2016 budget picture. It will not be perfect and the process will look like a car wreck most of the time, but it appears as though Governor Rauner and his top staff will work with all four leaders and will ensure the meetings stay on point.


  11. - A guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:16 am:

    24 of them helped fix the problem they admittedly created. Courageous, or practical, who cares? It was an example of good government that lays out a template to get it done. All of the leaders (even the reluctant one) and the Governor and his staff deserve credit.

    Let’s do it again after the break. Jeesh, we’re so used to bad government here, some of us have Stockholm syndrome. Let’s call it what it was: A victory for the State. They’ll be poring more asphalt this summer and every summer in the future.


  12. - Mister Whipple - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:20 am:

    Now that corruption, graft and government inefficiencies have all been eliminated by Gov. Rauner, we have plenty of money to spend on all the services the state is supposed to provide its citizens. Just like he promised.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:20 am:

    What I saw was two very structured roll calls, allowing government to function, while allowing the Governor to concede “what needed” to be conceded, because 66 of 66 GOP GA members went “green” and…

    Both chambers went between the extremes;

    The HDems didn’t go 14, nor did they split the difference and go 30. They’re “green” was in the middle.

    The SDems didn’t go 10, not did they split the difference and go 15. They’re “green” we’re 12, and even had a Present.

    Neither Democratic Caucus exposed their Tier 1 targets to either vote, protecting them. Why? It’s smart to allow government it’s needed function, but it’s goid politics to stay away from the blowback of what’s to come.

    I am, however, extremely pleased in the governing. Outstanding work by Leaders Durkin and Radogno, and good on every “green” by the 66. Gridkock isn’t governing.

    The political fallout, the naked exposure of the GOP GA, on votes after that follow these rigid structured roll calls is another matter for the Caucuses’ Political arms. Going 100%, Whike critical in the governing, it appears, could be damaging come November 2016, with petitions due December 2015.

    I hope that’s not the case. But, now it’s up to 66, 67 GOP GA members to literally carry the Rauner compromises, at what cost, we won’t know now.

    The FY2016 budget, Rauner’s “specials”, the required compliance votes, at what point will one vote just be too much? That’s where we’ll see if this governing continues, or if there’s a “$&@#% problem”

    The GA Dems have no problem. Help pass an agenda, that Tier 1s can seek relief, and run against in the Districts, and “Sonny Mode” will appear time to time…it’s all good for the GA Dems too.

    Governmentally, I’m reall hopeful, ’cause when Gov. Rauner listens to his Crew, and stays focused, it’s all good in the governing.

    When “Sonny Mode” hits, marry that to the possible vote(s) damage, then the politics can get dicey, at best.

    Like Leader Durkin, I hope.


  14. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    ===They’ll be poring more asphalt this summer and every summer in the future.===

    Umm, this was a raid on the Road Fund so unless you were referring to the Tollway, it looks like they’ll be pouring $300 million less in asphalt this summer.


  15. - A guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:26 am:

    47, be still my heart. I’ll bet you a box a donuts that IDOT will be poring asphalt too. Maybe not as much, but that hot black gold replete with Orange travel inhibitors will still flow.

    The road construction schedule is controlled in great part by road constructors. They parcel the work out to ensure work over years.


  16. - foster brooks - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:30 am:

    anyone who thinks robbing the road fund wont hurt idot projects is dillusional


  17. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:31 am:

    ===Maybe not as much,===

    Zactly. That’s what this vote was about. Rationing state services, with a big chunk of the money coming from the Road Fund and the Motor Fuel tax. Now that the stupid Democratic-owned FY15 budget is fixed, your guy has to figure out how to keep the lights on for 12 months with only about 9 or 10 months of revenue.

    Don’t get ahead of yourself A Guy. It’s a little early to spike the football.


  18. - Arsenal - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:35 am:

    “The complaining democrats could do more with the remaining money in the road fund if they eliminated prevailing wage requirements.”

    Yeah, why won’t Democrats vote against their stated position, piss off their most important allies, and lead Illinois in a stampede to the bottom?

    While we’re at it, Republicans could get a lot more done if they just became the pro-tax party.


  19. - cdog - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:38 am:

    What is in store for Illinois in the New Era is the Republican proposed budgets using the state level “magic asterisks,” only in billions, not trillions. ugh.

    Krugman nailed it last week in the NYT.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/opinion/paul-krugman-trillion-dollar-fraudsters.html?_r=0


  20. - facts are stubborn things - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:38 am:

    Both parties have skin in the game now.


  21. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:40 am:

    Well said 47!


  22. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:46 am:

    ===…has to figure out how to keep the lights on for 12 months with only about 9 or 10 months of revenue.===

    That’s going to be the pain for the 67…


  23. - Marshon - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:52 am:

    Hello, other foot. This is shoe. I’m on.


  24. - Anon221 - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 11:58 am:

    There were other funds raided as well-

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150325/NEWS11/150329881/illinois-seizing-clean-energy-funds-to-balance-budget


  25. - A guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:05 pm:

    ===Don’t get ahead of yourself A Guy. It’s a little early to spike the football.====

    Good Heaven’s 47. I’m not spiking the football by any means. Our state is still chock full of problems that will take more years and more governors to fix. I’m hopeful. Can we afford to be anything else?


  26. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:14 pm:

    A guy your are foolish. The road fund money represents a mere 25% of what actually comes into the state. Its match money! Dumb idea that will undoubtedly hurt businesses whome rely on state contracts! High paying jobs will be cut.


  27. - Wordslinger - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:17 pm:

    This one was easy. The next one, not so much.


  28. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:19 pm:

    A guy, I’m responding to your earlier comment where you declared victory. That’s what we commenters do here at Cap Fax. Maybe you don’t read your own comments, but sometimes you say things that provoke a response. We all know you’re a Rauner apologist, so you’ve painted a target on your back. Deal with it.

    Of course, it isn’t mandatory that you leave a comment on every thread. If you’re not comfortable defending your comments, perhaps you should choose your words more carefully and pick your spots better.

    There’s no crying in politics.


  29. - A guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:33 pm:

    47, here’s the entry I believe you’re referring to:

    24 of them helped fix the problem they admittedly created. Courageous, or practical, who cares? It was an example of good government that lays out a template to get it done. All of the leaders (even the reluctant one) and the Governor and his staff deserve credit.

    I believe I was offering credit to everyone for getting past the first major hurdle.

    Calling me an apologist is completely misreading me. I’m not apologizing for anything that he’s doing. Defending; sometimes. Promoting; sometimes. Agreeing or having some reservation; sometimes.

    It’s a blog. Isn’t it better to have some divergent views. If I’ve provoked a response, it’s because we have a different view. If you’re better off not hearing it, skip over me. I’m not crying dude. Not by a long shot.

    If I’m a target, so be it. I like that things get discussed here. Some days there’s a lot of piling on and very few different views expressed. I’ll often skip those. Most days you’re a guy who expresses very good thoughts to consider. Today, you’re not as open to a few things. No harm, no foul. I’ll pick my spots as I see fit friend, and would encourage you to do the same. You feel the need to rip me, have at it. I won’t cry. Promise.


  30. - Jake From Elwood - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:33 pm:

    Based on the news stories and comments on this thread, it seems like this was indeed a good compromise since everyone is a little ticked off.
    Compromise equals shared pain.


  31. - james the intolerant - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:34 pm:

    Is the 2.25% cut counting that percentage of the entire years budget of just the 3 months remaining. I would think it would be hard to cut 2.25% of a departments entire annual budget in 3 months.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:40 pm:

    ===Calling me an apologist is completely misreading me.===

    C’mon, that’s like when you said Rauner wasn’t “your guy”, and I went back when you said, “Rauner is your guy.”

    I appreciate a back and forth, but you staked out Rauner apologist a few mile markers back…


  33. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:41 pm:

    Sorry Rich, I know this horse is tired of the beating, but…

    A Guy, this is what provoked my response:

    “Let’s call it what it was: A victory for the State. They’ll be poring more asphalt this summer and every summer in the future.”

    In your very next comment you agreed with me that “maybe there’d be less asphalt,” so let it go man. I know you always feel the need to get the last word it, so you can have it. Good day sir.


  34. - A guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:43 pm:

    47, I’ll let that be the last word on it. (the acknowledgement of it is a mere formality)


  35. - A guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:46 pm:

    Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:40 pm:

    OW, I evolved to Rauner as our candidates continued campaigning. I didn’t go back and forth. Once I was there, I acknowledged it to you. No apologies for him or me. I’m there now and have been since whenever you bookmarked it during the campaign.


  36. - Wordslinger - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 12:49 pm:

    47, in some minds, “more” and “less” mean the same thing, more or less.


  37. - Rod - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 1:48 pm:

    I have to say that the devil is in the details and HB 317 cuts more from education than will be covered by the $97 million fund create to help distressed school districts impacted by the cuts. Probably the most disturbing cut was to the Philip J Rock Center in Glen Ellyn which educates students who are both deaf and blind. (It was previously known as the Illinois Deaf-Blind Service Center and School.)

    The original FY 15 appropriation for the Rock Center was $3,577,800 and it was cut by HB 317 to $3,497,300 or $80,500. It would seem that the leaders who put together the bill could have completely protected these deaf and blind students. I think we have lost our humanity.


  38. - Frank B. - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 2:01 pm:

    I hope this deal opens the door to a re-examination of all the “special funds” the state has. Illinois walls off nearly half of it’s operational dollars outside of the general revenue fund in these special accounts — no other states does this to the extent we do. I’m not saying eliminate them all, but it would make for smarter and more honest budgeting to include a lot of these dollars in the GRF on the front end. Just watch when departments that get their appropriations from “Other State Funds” appear at budget hearings. They get almost no questions or scrutiny from GA members.

    The Senate Dem bugeteers have complained about this for years.


  39. - Original Rambler - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 2:51 pm:

    Rod, I’m sorry the school got the $80,000 haircut (which is the same 2.25% every agency got cut) but doesn’t the school have a chief administrator? Since the election ended, if he or she was worth their salt, they should have been preparing for this moment. If they did not and you’re a stakeholder, you may want to ask why not. There are no sacred ccows with across the board cuts, no matter how worthy the program is.


  40. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 2:57 pm:

    The growth of special funds goes to the proverbial problem we have in State government. The General Assembly’s passage of mandates without the funding to implement them. There are two tools that agencies could try to address this problem. One was to convince the sponsor to add an proviso predicating implementation of the mandate on the availability of an appropriation. The other was to create a special fund.

    I have no problem with a review of special funds, but that review needs to include the appropriateness of the mandates that fostered them in the first part.


  41. - Rapscallion - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:14 pm:

    Rod, I don’t mean to diminish the value of the Rock center, but from Googling a bit it appears that there are only 8-10 students at the center. They do have residential capability, but I couldn’t find out how many students actually live on campus. Apparently the center does get involved in “mainstreaming” deaf-blind students into public schools, but it was not clear exactly what, or how much, services they provide in that role. They also provide resources to those seeking to learn about deaf blind needs and education.

    I think it’s pretty clear that those 8-10 students don’t need to be harmed when you’ve got a $3.5 million budget ($350K per year each?). Perhaps a few folks in the administrative end might be axed or on reduced hours, but many staffers in many places will have to scale back to affordable levels, and staff at Rock certainly are no more deserving than them.

    Rock may well provide $3.5 million worth of value, but this is the kind of spending that has to be justified before spending that much on so few.


  42. - nona - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 3:19 pm:

    === the grandstanding by some Democrats in voting no was typical and more of the same.===

    There was less than 10 minutes of debate. That’s nothing compared to the grandstanding the GOP used to do on budgets when every one of them voted no.


  43. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:07 pm:

    - A Guy -,

    Just understand why you are perceived as you are with Rauner. That’s all. No need to go any further. It just is what it is.

    ==Calling me an apologist is completely misreading me===

    Commenting like that won’t help.

    Have a good weekend.


  44. - A guy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    OW, supporting a guy is much different than being an apologist for a guy.

    Guilty of the former, not guilty of the latter.

    A pleasant weekend to you.


  45. - The Equalizer - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    Good for those GOPers, actually having to govern and actually doing their part. Now if they could teach that to about half the House of Representatives. But still, good for them.


  46. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 5:07 pm:

    A guy, i’ll assume you don’t have a dictionary handy. Merriam-Webster defines “apologist” as a person who defends or supports something that is being criticized by other people.

    So in this case, supporting Rauner is the very definition of being an apologist. Own it.


  47. - Rod - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 5:37 pm:

    Rapscallion prior to the creation of this program Illinois sent these deaf blind students out of state, most to New York as I recall. The children were flown back and forth to Illinois several times a year with a specialized escort.

    Creating the center here in Illinois believe it or not was cost effective and humane, the time involved in providing instruction and personal care for a deaf blind student is immense.

    This cost savings and the creation of the school in our state was in fact supported by both Republicans and Democrats of the Illinois General Assembly.


  48. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 27, 15 @ 5:42 pm:

    Generally, if you own your words, no matter what they are, why would it matter if you are or aren’t an apologist?

    “I’ll defend (blank) but I’m not an apologist” kinda defeats the dictionary defitinition, so…

    …why not just own it and move on?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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