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Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* It just seems to get crazier and crazier and crazier every day in this state with no real end in sight. So, this tune seems more than appropriate. Turn it all the way up

There’s meltdown in the sky

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Senate announces another “Committee of the Whole”

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From the Senate President’s office…

Committee of the Whole on Workers’ Compensation in Illinois Announced

What: Testimony on Workers’ Compensation in Illinois and the Effects of the 2011 Workers’ Compensation Reforms

Where: Senate Floor, Springfield

When: Tuesday, June 30th at Noon

The Illinois Senate will convene for session on June 30 and July 1, 2015

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - The Cullerton plan

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Somewhat unclear on the concept

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From the Belleville News Democrat

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, a Republican from Murphysboro, issued a statement that he was “disappointed” in the ruling.

“If that (marriage) definition were to change in the eyes of the law, it should be our citizens making the decision at the state level, not nine unelected justices in Washington, D.C.,” Bost said.

Um, Mike, our citizens here in Illinois did make that decision on the state level. Do you really want to deny your own constituents the same rights they get here when they work in, travel to or move to another state?

…Adding… Wordslinger in comments

I’m sure Bost was outraged by the Heller and McDonald decisions, too, those nine unelected elitist robes forcing the good people of Illinois to change their long-established law passed by their elected representatives.

There’s nothing more dreary than a politician phoning it in.


* Also, from a recent Facebook post…

…Adding More… He also met with the winner…

I wonder if he would tell Ms. Fletcher his views on today’s ruling to her face?

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Mayor changes course on Rauner’s CPS proposal

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

*** UPDATE *** He’s not gonna get triangulated…

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* More from the Sun-Times about that proposal Gov. Bruce Rauner floated yesterday about Chicago Public Schools’ state funding

Rauner’s proposal would give CPS $200 million more a year from the state for two years [for normal pension costs]. After that, a new funding formula would have to be created that would eliminate the need for special block grants. […]

Rauner’s plan would also increase the lump sum of funding for high poverty school districts from $85 million to $159 million.

* Greg Hinz obtained a briefing paper

As described in the paper, the pension pickup would begin immediately. But the block grant would not disappear for two years, and only after a new state commission approves a plan to revamp the state’s school-aid formula.

Bottom line: CPS over the next two years would be ahead $400 million.

Much of this is actually Senate President John Cullerton’s idea that he proposed to Rauner on that fateful recent Tuesday when Rauner walked in front of the cameras a couple hours later and all but called Cullerton a crook.

* It’s now seemingly back on track, after the city initially turned thumbs down

According to the briefing papers, the CPS pension money would be tied to passage of larger pension reforms and to adoption of a new statewide school funding formula. A new formula would be developed and proposed by a majority-Republican panel but, according to my source, would have to be approved by the General Assembly, which now and for the foreseeable future is majority Democratic. […]

And, now says a senior city official, the Rauner proposal “is a good start”—but an eventual good ending depends on details of that change in the funding formula.

Those changes won’t come for a while, however.

And I was given a much more optimistic review of the proposal today, but whatevs. The point is, there is no longer a total thumbs down from the 5th Floor.

* There are other demands

There is another CPS requirement—that is, an end to the system of the CPS picking up part of the teacher payment toward their pensions, amounting to 7 percent of pay. […]

Under the proposal as outlined in that fact sheet—a variation of the “consideration model” pushed by Senate President John Cullerton—workers would have to chose between reduced regular benefits and shrunken pension benefits.

For instance, vacation for state workers by law would be limited to two weeks a year for the first 15 years of employment, and overtime to work over 40 hours week, up from 37.5 hours now. Workers could get those benefits back, and a salary bonus of up to $3,000—if they agreed to accept lesser inflation adjustments in their pension.

* From the fact sheet, we have “Changes Based on the Consideration Framework” for SERS

After removing certain subjects from collective bargaining, create a baseline independent of pension benefits:

    Wages guaranteed not to decline for five years;

    Vacation reset to two weeks (under 15 years of service) and three weeks (15+ years of service);

    Adjusted vacancy/overtime rights; and

    Overtime pay normalized to match federal law, kicking in at 40 hours, not 37.5

Create several optional packages to incentivize different groups of employees to transition into Tier 2 pension formula prospectively:

    Salary package: $2000 transition bonus; one-time $3000 salary increase; OT at 37.5 hours; no additional vacation

    Vacation package: $2000 transition bonus; one-time $2000 salary increase; OT at 37.5 hours; 2 additional weeks of vacation

    Overtime/vacancy package: $2000 transition bonus; no salary increase; OT at 37.5 hours; 2 additional weeks of vacation; priority rights in work schedule, vacation, overtime, and “bumping”

Go read the fact sheet. Again, not all of this is Cullerton’s idea. But at least some of it could be accomplished.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Rate Mike Flynn’s new YouTube ad

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From the indefatigable Liz Mair…

Rich, can I beg you into posting this tomorrow AM? New ad from Flynn. And it’s FUNNY!!!!!

How can I refuse a request like that?

* But just so you know this is not a broadcast or cable ad

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

AFSCME: “We must be ready to stand up and resist”

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* From an e-mail to members from AFSCME Council 31 executive dirctor Roberta Lynch…

The negotiations currently underway for a new AFSCME state contract are the worst we’ve ever seen. The Rauner Administration is demanding dozens of changes to the current contract language—changes that would wipe out vitally important workplace rights, jeopardize employee health and safety, compromise the quality of services we provide to the public, undermine the union’s ability to advocate for employees, reduce promotional opportunities, and drive down take-home pay.

And after months at the bargaining table, the Administration has barely budged from any of these extreme and harmful demands, even as the June 30 contract expiration date fast approaches.

Some weeks ago, AFSCME proposed an agreement to extend the current union contract for as long as necessary to reach a new contract. The Administration rejected that proposal, but subsequently proposed an alternative “tolling agreement” which preserves all rights under the AFSCME contract for another month while negotiations continue and bars any strike, work stoppage or lockout during that time. Yesterday, AFSCME and the Rauner Administration signed that agreement.

This tolling agreement means that all current contractual rights of union members remain in place until July 31—with one exception: Over AFSCME’s objections, the Administration is freezing all step increases and semi-automatic promotions as of July 1. It is the union’s position that even without the tolling agreement, the employer would be required to maintain step and semi-automatic movement. So AFSCME intends to immediately file grievances seeking to undo this freeze.

While the one-month tolling agreement is clearly a positive step in the ongoing efforts to reach a contract settlement for state workers, it is by no means an indication that the Rauner Administration has shifted from its core goal of eliminating unions in our state, and particularly in state government.

There is every reason to believe that the governor remains determined to try to impose his extreme and harmful demands—possibly by forcing a strike or lockout—once that agreement ends. That’s why AFSCME is continuing to build support for enactment of Senate Bill 1229.

This legislation would allow unions representing employees in state government to invoke arbitration procedures if a contract settlement can’t be reached at the bargaining table, preventing the disruption of vital state services. Under the procedures set forth in the bill, an independent arbitrator, mutually chosen by the parties, would have the authority to resolve all outstanding issues.

SB 1229 passed both houses of the legislature and is now on the governor’s desk. Unfortunately, he has already sent strong signals that he intends to veto this legislation, calling it “horrible legislation” that would take away his power. It will be essential to have the legislative votes needed to override that veto.

Call your state representative and senator TODAY at 888-912-5959 or via Click-to-Call.

Tell them: “I support Senate Bill 1229 to help protect public services and ensure fairness for state employees. If the governor vetoes this legislation, please vote to override his veto.”

For a fact sheet on SB 1229, click here.

At the same time that we push to enact SB 1229, we have to be prepared for the conflict the governor seems determined to cause if it does not become law. AFSCME members want to settle our contract without any disruption to the vital services that we provide to the citizens of this state. But we cannot and will not accept a contract that guts our rights and jeopardizes our economic security. If the governor tries to force that kind of contract on us, we must be ready to stand up and resist.

In the coming weeks your local union will be providing you with information on how to best prepare for the possibility of such a struggle. Your AFSCME Bargaining Committee will be back at the negotiating table next week, once again making every effort to reach a fair contract settlement. Show them you back them up 100% by wearing your union buttons, displaying your window or yard signs, and—most importantly—by making clear your readiness to do whatever is necessary to protect the hard-won rights and economic progress that your union contract embodies.
In Unity,

Roberta Lynch
Executive Director

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

Caption contest!

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* The governor’s spokesperson Catherine Kelly is better known on this blog as “ck.” For example, from May 13th

Hi, Rich!

Hope you’re doing well today.

Just wanted to let you know Piatt County passed the resolution this morning.


* Like most of Rauner’s people, ck is an entirely pleasant person in “real life.” Yes, that even applies to Lance Trover. I know you’ll find that hard to believe because sometimes, maybe even more than that, their public statements can get outta hand. But ck is truly a good egg.

And today I have the pleasure of telling you that ck is getting married this weekend.

* So, to celebrate, how about we give her a caption contest? From left: Mike Schrimpf, Mike Z, Gov. Rauner and our very own “ck”…

- Posted by Rich Miller   109 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* University of Illinois-Springfield political science professor Ron Michaelson

He said Rauner is a unique governor because he has publicly declared he’s not worried about re-election.

“In many respects, this is an entirely new and different ball game than we’ve ever seen occur before,” Michaelson said.

A commonly held perception. And it could very well be true.

* Now, keeping in mind that about the last third of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s TV ad blasting Speaker Madigan is spent buttressing the governor’s own image

(T)he Rauner ad campaign is also aimed at rebuilding the governor’s public support. Otherwise, Rauner-funded legislative candidates in 2016 face the same dilemma that Democrats faced under the unpopular Quinn - being associated with a deeply unpopular governor.

There may lie the reason that Madigan has taken to referring to GOP lawmakers as “Rauner Republicans.”

In other words, drag Rauner down with him.

* The Question: How much do you think Gov. Rauner really cares about his own public popularity right now? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

customer survey

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      

Protected: *** UPDATED x3 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Rauner, Rahm and CPS

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Poll indicates Rauner trouble

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* This is just one poll, the pollster has had some luck in the past but not always (which is pretty much par for the course with every pollster these days), so don’t jump to too many conclusions. We need more data

The June 20 survey conducted by Chicago-based Ogden & Fry, the only polling firm which correctly predicted Rauner’s five-point victory margin over Quinn, shows that just 35.7% of voters approve of the way the governor is handling his job while 46.7% disapprove or net approval of minus 11 points.

“Nearly half of respondents disapproved of the Governor’s job performance,” Ogden & Fry pollster Tom Swiss wrote in his polling memo.


The poll, which had a +/- 3.75% margin of error, identified 17.6% were undecided.

The robopoll was of 711 likely 2016 voters.

*** UPDATE *** A subsequent Ogden & Fry poll had Sen. Mark Kirk’s approval rating at a mere 16.9 percent. That seems pretty highly unlikely, but who knows.

Again, take these numbers with large grains of salt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Fisking the governor’s words and actions

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* Without a doubt, the Chicago Tribune has the best coverage today of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget veto. Go read the whole thing

Rauner told lawmakers in his veto message that the financial plan sent to him by Democrats was “an unbalanced and therefore unconstitutional budget.” But he has not offered an alternative beyond his initial budget proposal in February, which also would spend billions of dollars more than available revenue.


* Let’s go back to Wednesday, when the governor signed the K-12 appropriations bill

“I refuse to allow Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls to hold our schools hostage as part of their plan to protect the political class and force a tax hike on the middle class without real reform.”

* Today’s Tribune

A day earlier, Rauner approved one bill that would free up money so elementary and high schools can open in the fall, though everything else — from paychecks for prison guards to home care for the elderly — is at risk.

Exactly. The Responsible Budget Coalition also chimed in on that particular topic last night…

Governor Rauner approved spending for schools and early childhood programs yesterday, but vetoed all other state spending on the grounds there is inadequate revenue. The Responsible Budget Coalition is pleased the Governor declined to hold school children “hostage” to the budget standoff. However, what the Governor has done by failing to work with the legislature to adopt adequate revenue to fund the entire state budget is to hold hostage a long list of others: seniors, people with disabilities, people living with mental illnesses, parents needing child care to continue working, college kids, local governments, and the list goes on. Many of those hostages are families whose children will suffer even if their local schools open their doors on time. Schools are just one part of a much larger state budget. The Responsible Budget Coalition urges the Governor and legislators to work together to find the revenue to fund the entire state budget on time to avoid disruption of vital public services.

* Remember this from yesterday’s Rauner op-ed?

Now, in the spirit of compromise, we are willing to shorten the [property tax] freeze portion of our proposal to two years

* Tribune

But a document distributed by the Rauner administration in April contradicts that claim. At the time, Rauner was seeking legislation that “freezes property taxes for two years,” according to the document

No new movement there.

* Rauner op-ed

As part of the compromise, we would allow the state to pay normal costs for Chicago teacher pensions, as it does for all other Illinois school districts, in exchange for sunsetting Chicago’s special block grants.

* Tribune

Emanuel administration officials said that the mayor was blindsided by Rauner’s school pension proposal, adding that the Republican governor’s solution would hurt CPS. […]

Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for Emanuel, said CPS currently receives $600 million in state block grants aimed at helping pay for programs that address the district’s high percentage of children who have special needs or live in poverty. The district’s current “normal” pension costs are $200 million.

The total annual CPS pension bill includes almost another $500 million to repay unfunded pension liabilities. The state picks up these costs for all other school districts in Illinois.

*** UPDATE *** The CPS spokesperson may have spoken too soon. The mayor might wanna pick up the phone because, as I just now told subscribers, there might be a decent offer on the table.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

Again, go read the whole thing.

…Adding… The Tribune’s editorial board either doesn’t read the Tribune or doesn’t trust the paper’s reporters. Check out their lovely piece of propaganda today about all the new “lifelines” the governor is throwing at Democrats. Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

Illinois’ same-sex marriages now recognized nationwide

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

* Equality Illinois…

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing the freedom to marry for all loving couples will be celebrated by every American who believes in our nation’s founding promise of equality.

The court’s historic ruling–beyond its legal meaning–sends a powerful message that LGBT Americans and our families should be treated equally and justly in all facets of life and empowers us to pursue true, lived equality in our communities, at school and work, wherever we build our families, travel or retire.

For the more than 10,000 same-sex couples married in Illinois, our marriages must now be recognized by every jurisdiction in the U.S. and accorded the same legal rights and protections.

Despite this milestone Supreme Court decision, many of the freedoms we enjoy in Illinois, including protections against discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations and recognition of parenting rights, are lost when we cross state lines, and these inequities must still be remedied in each state, in the courts or by action by Congress.

An Illinoisan who works across the border in Indiana to make a living for the family can still be fired if that worker is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. An Illinois couple that might want to get married in the resort communities on the Outer Banks of North Carolina can be refused that right by a magistrate. In some jurisdictions outside Illinois, same-sex married couples traveling with their children could find their parenting status challenged and one spouse might not be able to deal with an emergency on behalf of the entire family.

As we know from our national history, equal laws are just the foundation for securing equal treatment. As we have seen in recent weeks, angry opponents of LGBT equality are determined to exploit and create legal loopholes to continue their attempts to marginalize LGBT individuals and deny us a chance to live equal lives.

And so our fight for a full equality continues in this state and across the nation. As we pause to celebrate today, we know our work to live equal resumes tomorrow.

The ruling is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      

Mel Reynolds indicted for failing to file tax returns

Friday, Jun 26, 2015

^ From the US Attorney’s office…

Melvin Reynolds, 63, a former member of the United States House of Representatives, was indicted yesterday on federal charges alleging that he failed to file income tax returns for the years 2009 through 2012.

Reynolds will appear for his arraignment at a date yet to be determined by the U.S. District Court.

According to the indictment, Reynolds received gross income in each year in excess of the minimum amount required to file a tax return. As a result, he was required by law, by April 15 of the following year, to file an income tax return (Form 1040 and accompanying attachments). Reynolds willfully failed to file income tax returns for four consecutive years – 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Each count of failing to file a federal income tax return carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced the indictment with Stephen Boyd, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative Division Chicago.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and William E. Ridgway.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains merely charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Rauner, unions extend contract one month

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* From the governor’s office…

Joint Statement from Jason Barclay, General Counsel to the Governor, and from Mike Newman, Deputy Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (“AFSCME Council 31”):

“Today AFSCME Council 31 and the Governor’s Office reached an agreement that precludes the possibility of a strike or lockout for a one-month period after the state’s collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Council 31 expires on June 30. This agreement preserves all legal and contractual rights of the parties as of the contract expiration date. More importantly, it allows both sides to continue to negotiate during the month of July without the threat of disruption to important public services.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Emanuel responds *** CTU: Talks are broken off

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* As if things aren’t already crazy enough right now

With their contract expiring Tuesday, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is saying talks have now broken off with Chicago Public Schools and that CPS’ “bargaining rhetoric is as empty as their bank accounts.”

Lewis said at a news conference Thursday that CPS is threatening to slash 3,000 jobs as part of $200 million in cuts.

“CPS refuses to budge on our contract proposals that will have no cost impact on the district,” Lewis said.

Lewis said teachers didn’t ask for a raise but couldn’t give on non-economic issues, including how teachers are evaluated.

*** UPDATE *** From Mayor Emanuel…

“We are encouraged that both sides finally acknowledge that CPS is in a fiscal crisis and lacks the resources to provide additional compensation, and that is a step in the right direction. We urge CTU leadership to come back to the bargaining table. After years of our academic gains, now is not the time to shortchange our children by eliminating evaluations for tens of thousands of employees or lowering teachers’ performance standards.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

*** UPDATED *** Cullerton react - Madigan react - Ounce react

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* I’m expecting a lot of react, so we’ll put them all on this new thread. First to hit my in-box is Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesperson, Rikeesha Phelon…

“It appears that the Governor would rather move the state toward a shutdown rather than reasonable compromises that protect the middle class with a balanced approach to budgeting. The Senate President will take some time to discuss all options and next steps with his caucus.”

Interesting, particularly since Rauner went out of his way to repeatedly reference his work with Cullerton in his op-ed announcement.

…Adding… OK, we now have our second react, from SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher…

“In vetoing this budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner has turned his back on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Illinoisans who, while they played no role in creating the budget deficits now facing our state, are nevertheless the ones being asked to now sacrifice the most.

“The real immediate needs of seniors, people with disabilities, retired veterans, low-income children and working parents are about to go unmet but instead Gov. Rauner is blaming others for the present crisis of his creation.

“What Gov. Rauner did today was NOT the act of leadership which he proclaims but an irresponsible blow that will most harm the least fortunate among us.”

*** UPDATE *** From the House Speaker’s office…

“It is good the House set the wheels in motion on Wednesday for a Committee of the Whole hearing on agency preparations for the government shutdown.

It seems the Governor missed an opportunity to avoid disrupting the lives of many, many middle class families for the sake of non budget issues.

These non budget issues that have been thoroughly debated. Some were adopted by the House. Others were rejected when there was no persuasive case made,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan.

* Sun-Times

It’s clear that if a shutdown occurs, Democrats are pushing to lay the blame on Rauner. But some Republicans believed talk of a shutdown was premature.

“There are still six days in the fiscal year and in Springfield that’s an eternity,” said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman to Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. “There is still some time to enact some things and to move the ball forward.”

Schuh scoffed at Democrats’ contention that Rauner would shoulder the blame for a shutdown.

“Oh please….Lest the Democratic majority forget, they have controlled state government for the last 12 years and current state revenue cannot sustain their spending level,” she said. “They passed a budget that is $4 billion out of balance, that’s not responsible government.”

* From Elliot Regenstein at Mrs. Rauner’s Ounce of Prevention…

Without a state budget, many programs and supports that children and families depend on—such as child care, home visiting, Early Intervention and mental health—aren’t going to be available.

Already, nonprofits throughout the state are announcing layoffs and programs closures; if this goes on long enough, many providers will be put out of business permanently, meaning that even when there is a budget those children and families they served still won’t have support.

Until a budget is passed that adequately funds the programs children and families need—with the revenue to pay for it—the state of Illinois will be failing its basic obligations to its most vulnerable citizens.

The governor and General Assembly are collectively responsible for passing that budget, and we won’t be the only ones ratcheting up the pressure on them to get it done right and get it done quickly. [Emphasis added.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   103 Comments      

Rauner announces budget veto, pension help for CPS in Tribune op-ed

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* An appropriate venue

The people of Illinois sent me to Springfield to end the era of unbalanced budgets and runaway debt. The road back to fiscal sanity starts today with my veto of a budget that is nearly $4 billion out of balance and includes no reform. We cannot accept the status quo of throwing more taxpayer money into a broke and broken system.

Rather than repeating the mistakes of the past — just kicking the can and raising taxes without real reform — now is our chance to transform Illinois to make it more competitive and compassionate.

The Rauner administration is proposing reforms that are reasonable and balanced, where many of the elements have been adopted by other states as well as the federal government. If Republicans and Democrats commit to working together, we can reach a bipartisan, common-sense agreement to reverse economic Illinois’ decline and set the stage for a bright future. In fact, we have the opportunity now not only to turn around Illinois but also put Chicago and its school system on a sustainable path. […]

At the request of Senate President John Cullerton, we are prepared to reform Illinois’ school funding formula as part of our tax freeze package. A commission charged with rewriting the formula would report back by the end of 2016, with the current funding formula expiring six months later. As part of the compromise, we would allow the state to pay normal costs for Chicago teacher pensions, as it does for all other Illinois school districts, in exchange for sun-setting Chicago’s special block grants. [Emphasis added.]

Go read the whole thing. This’ll get buried under today’s Obamacare news, so it may be even better than a Friday dump.

…Adding… I skipped over this in my initial reading

We can deliver comprehensive pension reform by taking elements of Senate President Cullerton’s model, along with revised portions of my administration’s plan, to encourage more government employees to move into tier 2 or tier 3 programs. In the compromise, we are willing to support Cook County’s pension reform plan and allow Chicago and downstate communities to implement longer, slower pension payment schedules.

Pension reform is not a prerequisite to signing the budget, but it should be completed this year. I’m committed to it, and I ask for the legislative leaders to be equally committed.

…Adding… The veto message language…

Today I veto House Bill 4146 from the 99th General Assembly in order to protect Illinois taxpayers from an unbalanced and therefore unconstitutional budget.

The Speaker of the House and President of the Senate have admitted that the General Assembly’s budget is unbalanced. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget concurs, calculating that this budget is nearly $4 billion out of balance.

For too long, the State of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors.

This has generated significant backlogs of unpaid bills and a crushing debt burden of well over $100 billion. Because of past fiscal mismanagement, Illinois is experiencing the worst fiscal crisis in America, highlighted by Illinois being assigned the worst credit rating of any state.

The State of Illinois will be forced to pay more than $6 billion in debt payments in Fiscal Year 2016 due to years of fiscal neglect and overspending. A balanced budget is the only way to responsibly protect taxpayers and put the State on a path to once again using its resources for important public services rather than interest and debt service.

A balanced budget is not just good practice, it is a constitutional requirement: “Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.” Ill. Const. art. VIII, sec. 2(b). Although the General Assembly has chosen to disregard its constitutional obligation, as Governor I cannot approve a budget that violates this fundamental principle.

We must be partners in enacting a balanced budget that meets critical public needs within the resources available. The surest way to do that is by enacting structural reforms inside government and economic reforms that stimulate our economy and bring new jobs to Illinois.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return House Bill 4146, entitled “AN ACT making appropriations”, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.

- Posted by Rich Miller   157 Comments      

Mrs. Rauner’s group calls for “sustainable revenue”

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* From Elliot Regenstein, Senior Vice President, Advocacy & Policy, Ounce of Prevention Fund…

We are pleased to see the partial restoration of cuts previously made to the State Board of Education’s early childhood education funding in [yesterday’s] FY16 HB3763 spending bill. [Yesterday]’s action is a step forward, but there are still significant challenges that must be addressed urgently.

First, these critical education programs are only one of the supports young children and families need. For children to be ready for school, they need stable housing, nutrition and healthcare, as do their parents. For that reason, we strongly oppose any cuts in health, social service and education programs that would directly impact vulnerable children and families and their communities. In particular, we are concerned about threatened changes to the child care program, which is a key component of the early learning system and faces cuts that would be devastating to parents and providers. Many of these essential services and programs are already running at lower-than-needed levels, having seen cuts over the past several years.

Uncertainty about the budget is a serious threat to providers, and many will be forced to scale back or close their doors if a budget is not passed soon – and if that happens it may take months or years to build back resources that are lost in the next few weeks.

Second, the state still does not have a complete budget agreement that includes sustainable revenue, and until it does we cannot be sure that vulnerable children and families will have the supports they need.

Even in this time of budget uncertainty, early childhood investments are one of the strongest our state can make. Research has proven repeatedly that early childhood education can narrow the achievement gap and reduce future spending on crime, child welfare and remedial education services.

To prevent crippling delays or losses of vital services, we urge Governor Rauner and the General Assembly to work together to enact a budget that truly supports our youngest children and their families by July 1.


- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - CPS update

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

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Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* SJ-R

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti’s task force on government consolidation and unfunded mandates voted Wednesday to recommend allowing local governments to opt out of publishing public notices in newspapers.

The nonbinding recommendation would allow governments to post notices on their websites instead. Local governments without websites would still be required to publish them in local papers.

It passed 20-0. The task force’s report is due by the end of the year.

The idea would probably save governments a bunch of money, but some small town papers really depend on that cash.

* React

“The task force approval of the proposal today is unfortunate,” [Josh Sharp, director of government relations for the Illinois Press Association] said. “Groups that have thoroughly studied this topic have demonstrated that local governments already disobey existing law when it comes to posting information online.”

There are about 7,000 units of local government in the state. Each one is required to print notices of public hearings in the local newspaper. State law requires other notices as well, such as with land development.

* From that study

The Citizen Advocacy Center partnered with the Illinois Press Association to survey public bodies’ compliance with website notice requirements in the Illinois Open Meetings Act. The Illinois Open Meetings Act requires all public bodies that have a full time staff member to post and maintain three key pieces of information on their websites: 1 ) Notice of upcoming meetings, 2 ) Notice of proposed agendas and, 3 ) Approved meeting minutes. A random sampling of 20% of school districts, municipalities, counties, and townships for compliance found that local government websites continue to fail at meeting the posting requirements of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

The results of the random sampling show that of the aggregate 756 public bodies that were surveyed, 385 have websites (51%). Of those 385 public bodies, 73% complied with posting notice, 57% complied with posting an agenda, and 48% complied with posting approved meeting minutes within the time constraints of the Act. Further, compliance with the Act’s website posting provisions for those with at least one known full-time staff member had a 77% compliance rate with posting notice, 64% with posting agendas, and 54% with posting approved meeting minutes

* The Question: Should Illinois’ 7,000 or so local governments be allowed to post official notices on their own websites, or should they continue paying to place those notices in newspapers? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

customer surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   101 Comments      

Credit Unions – Providing “peace of mind” to their members

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

During some extremely challenging financial times facing consumers, one bright spot in the financial services arena has been credit unions.

Credit Union 1 is a shining example of how one credit union serves its membership through good times and bad. In 1995, Credit Union 1 introduced an “Employee Loan Assistance” program designed to provide payroll gap assistance for its members facing the threat of a missed or delayed paycheck. In June 2007, this program was utilized for the first time to assist state employees that incurred a delayed paycheck due to the Illinois budget crisis that occurred.

Most recently, Credit Union 1 offered the program to their members of the Illinois General Assembly and staff to assist during an interruption in the legislative payroll cycle. While fortunately this program has only been needed on a limited basis since its inception, Credit Union 1 members are afforded great comfort and security in knowing that their credit union is there for them whenever the need arises.

Credit unions are “People Helping People” — dedicated to serving the needs of their membership as well as providing “peace of mind” that the credit union is always there. And that’s the credit union difference.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

What would health care be like without the civil justice system?

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The civil justice system give families of patients who have died or been injured by medical negligence an avenue to seek accountability. It also drives the development of patient safety systems that help prevent injuries before they occur. Hospitals, health systems, and even entire medical fields have reformed dangerous practices because of the civil justice system.

The civil justice system not only provides injured patients the ability to hold those responsible for their injuries accountable, but also encourages the adoption of patient safety systems that help prevent injuries before they happen. Specialties like anesthesiology have drastically improved patient outcomes by identifying system failures and implementing comprehensive practice changes. Individual hospital systems have also reduced errors after undergoing comprehensive safety studies. The civil justice system has served as a valuable deterrent to malpractice and a powerful motivator for patient safety.

Better patient safety is the key to lower health care costs. For more information, click here.

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Closing the museum won’t be easy

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* As you already know, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to close the Illinois State Museum. A Facebook group has popped up with the object of saving it. They have made a pretty good case through this thread that closing the museum will be a whole lot more difficult than people might think


* A couple more notable things from the page

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      

Up against the wall

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* Fran Spielman interviews a couple of Mayor Emanuel’s folks about the stalled 40-day CPS pension payment delay

Another Emanuel confidant argued that the House roll call was somewhat misleading and that victory is “not as far away as it may appear.” That’s because, when lawmakers know a bill is going down, they pull back.

That’s very true.

It’s also true that legislators historically don’t tend to do anything controversial until their backs are up against a wall. Next Tuesday’s session is June 30th - the very same day the city’s school system has to make that $634 million payment. It’ll be much easier to convince legislators to go along because the crisis will be fully upon them.

Plus, the City has several days to inform, cajole and threaten to burn down legislators’ houses.

* Now, check this out

If Emanuel is losing patience with anyone, it’s Rauner — not Madigan, a mayoral aide said.

“The mayor is the one who talks to everybody. He’s the one most impacted by this [stalemate]. He’s encouraged everybody to work with everybody. He’s frustrated with the governor’s approach. His [anti-Madigan] ads. His rhetoric,” one of the Emanuel aides said.

“Everyone knows you can’t squeeze Madigan. That’s not gonna happen. It’s naïve.”

Apparently, hizzoner got the Speaker’s message.

* Also, strangely enough, the Tribune editorial board has not yet issued any thundering denunciations of this proposal to kick the can down the road a few days. But, hey, the governor is on board. Instead, they’ll just taunt the unions…

The idea here is to buy a little time to find a negotiated solution over the summer. If that happens, a few days’ delay won’t make a whole lot of difference.

…Adding… Oops. I also meant to note here that the CPS board voted yesterday to approve a cash-flow loan of over a billion dollars

The borrowing — $200 million in short-term credit plus an additional $935 million — was arranged because the district is supposed to make a $634 million pension payment by June 30, but it says it cannot afford that payment as well as payroll. […]

The state kicks in just $62 million for Chicago’s retired teachers in fiscal year 2015, but $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2015 to the retirement system for teachers in every other district. If the state paid for CPS’ pensions as it does for every other district, Ruiz said, CPS could spend its $634 million pension payment in classrooms — or $1,600 more per student.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Illinois’ Obamacare plan can continue

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* This ruling means Illinois doesn’t have to change any laws, which, among other things, gets our GOP governor out of a potential jam

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion in the 6-to-3 decision. The court’s three most conservative members — Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented.

The case concerned a central part of the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The law created marketplaces, known as exchanges, to allow people who lack insurance to shop for individual health plans.

Some states set up their own exchanges, but about three dozen allowed the federal government to step in to run them. Across the nation, about 85 percent of customers using the exchanges qualify for subsidies to help pay for coverage, based on their income.

The opinion is here.

…Adding… The IHA explains…

The Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) applauds today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the legality of subsidies for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans and millions of Americans that have enabled them to obtain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Because of these subsidies, more than 230,000 low- and moderate-income Illinoisans are able to afford health insurance, ensuring that they have access to the health care they need when they need it. These Illinoisans now receive more than $49 million a month in subsidies (nearly $600 million on an annualized basis).

The subsidies also help stabilize the overall cost of health insurance premiums in the state so that even those who do not currently receive subsidies have affordable premiums in the individual health insurance market. With health insurance, patients are able to seek care for serious health conditions at the right time in the right setting, leading to better health outcomes and lower costs for the health care system.

IHA and the Illinois hospital community have been long-time supporters of health insurance coverage. We are strongly committed to working every day to continue transforming the health care delivery system to ensure and maintain access to quality health care for all Illinoisans.

* Illinois State Medical Society…

In reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, the Illinois State Medical Society is primarily concerned with the interests of our patients and their ability to access care. The Court’s decision validating subsidies for low-income patients who buy insurance through the federal marketplace provides important peace of mind for thousands of Illinois patients insured under Affordable Care Act plans. This decision does not represent the final word on accessing health care in Illinois. ISMS remains committed to addressing other crucial challenges, such as advocating for adequate financial resources for our Medicaid program and promoting a robust physician workforce to treat Illinoisans.

* Sheriff Tom Dart…

Today’s ruling allows people in Illinois to continue receiving both physical and mental health care.

Since Illinois’ Medicaid expansion went into effect, we have enrolled more than 11,000 detainees who came through the Cook County Jail. These detainees, with their new insurance cards, are now being treated for their physical and mental health problems and are less likely to be coming back to the jail as guests of Cook County taxpayers.

Too often in recent years we have seen detainees with mental health challenges re-offend soon after being released because they tell us the Cook County Jail is the only place they can get help. That is wrong on many levels and the new health care plan – combined with our own ground-breaking efforts to arrange mental health after-care for our detainees who are released – should help change that dynamic in the long run.

Now that these 11,000 people can rest assured that their insurance will not be abruptly taken from them, state and local legislators should focus their energies on appropriately funding mental health services and providing forums where these individuals can apply that insurance for the treatment they badly need. Until government gets it right on this issue, the shameful criminalization of mental illness will persist within our community.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

What’s in the education approp bill?

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* Finke

Rauner signed House Bill 3763, which provides state spending authority for general state aid to public school districts, the backbone of state financial support for public schools.

The bill also contains funding for early childhood education programs, bilingual education and required payments to the downstate teacher pension system.

* Sun-Times

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the bill Rauner signed may have some contradictions.

“There appears to be elements to what he’s approved that are contradictory to his introduced budget as it relates to pension and health care funding that are part of the bill,” Brown said. “We’ll just take a review. That might offer some clues as to what their overall plan is.”

I think what he’s talking about there is the bill’s fully funded teachers healthcare program and pension payments. You’ll recall that Rauner wanted to short both.

* Tribune

Now, [Tony Sanders, CEO of Elgin School District U46, the second-largest district in the state] said, attention will shift to the Illinois State Board of Education, which decides how the money gets doled out. Both the spending plan Rauner signed and the amount he requested in his budget proposal were short of the amount that the state is supposed to contribute to schools, Sanders said.

In past years, the education board has handled the situation by making across-the-board reductions in the state’s payments to school districts. That disproportionately affects less-affluent districts, Sanders said.

* More on that from my old pal Dusty Rhodes

It’s been years since Illinois funded schools at the proper level. This new budget is a mere 8 percent short of what the state actually owes school districts. That makes it slightly higher than last year’s level, but still lower than 2007, which takes some of the confetti out of the party. This legislation does, however, do more than just authorize funding. It actually changes the way the state distributes the money — setting aside $85 million to go to the neediest districts first, while the wealthiest wait till last.

This concept is known as “fill from the bottom.” It was pushed by a coalition of school officials and community activists called Funding Illinois’ Future. […]

Illinois relies on local property taxes to support schools. In districts that don’t have enough property wealth to reach a minimum funding level — currently $6,119 per student per year — the state is supposed to kick in the difference. But for the past few years, Illinois has shortchanged each district by 11 to 13 percent. That across-the-board reduction has meant that the neediest districts suffer the greatest loss.

“You’ll see some districts who over the past few years have lost $30 per student, and other districts that have lost $1,100 per student and everything in between,” [FIF’s Teresa Ramos] said. “And what you’ll find is districts that have higher percentages of low-income students, students who are English language learners, African American and Latino students, you’ll find that those districts have been losing more.” […]

The education spending legislation Rauner signed effectively caps each district’s loss at $232 per student.

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      

Madigan schedules hearing on “Rauner shutdown”

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* From a press release…

Administration Officials, Service Providers Called to House Hearing with Rauner Shutdown Looming

CHICAGO – The impacts of a potential state government shutdown will be discussed at a Committee of the Whole in the Illinois House on Tuesday, Speaker Michael J. Madigan announced.

“The House acted in May to avoid any disruption of a wide range of core programs and services important to middle-class and struggling families. Those are the people who will be harmed by a shutdown,” Madigan said. “Every House member is entitled to hear how the administration will determine which services will continue, allowing advocates to assess the impact of the governor’s shutdown and his agencies’ shutdown decisions and determine appropriate alternatives to his approach.”

The Committee of the Whole will hear from advocates of the elderly in need of medical care, the developmentally disabled, and others who will be negatively affected if Gov. Bruce Rauner decides to shut down state government.

“In May, the House passed a spending plan that included close to $300 million in cuts to state agencies. Each day that passes without action by the governor creates unnecessary disruption and anxiety in every region of the state,” Madigan added.

“We urge a balanced approach, one that includes spending reductions but avoids devastating critical services for middle-class families,” Madigan said. “Compromise is possible if everyone is reasonable and willing to work together, but we cannot sacrifice medical care services for the elderly, disabled and struggling families, victims of child abuse and emergency shelters that serve children and families.”

State agency directors will be invited to testify before the full House on their plans should a budget agreement not be reached by July 1, including how their agencies plan to handle casework, phone calls and other requests for assistance from those in need.

- Posted by Rich Miller   90 Comments      

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Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Good morning!

Thursday, Jun 25, 2015

* Three questions for Oscar

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

* Pritzker implores protesters to "not force a difficult second rebuilding on our small businesses in the course of expressing your very justified pain"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Pritzker thanks Dr. Ezike, extends financial protections, points to progress, says no more daily COVID-19 briefings - Calls Trump tweets "reprehensible" - "I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd, and also to every African American in this country" - Defends budget decisions - Credits Illinoisans for progress against virus - No bill signing ceremonies - Hopes testing progress continues - "It seems as if President Trump is withdrawing us from the rest of the world" - No out of state travel plans - Talks contact tracing - Asks Illinoisans to be careful during reopening - Will sign Medicare for undocumented seniors bill - Refuses to criticize Lightfoot for Trump comments - Talks about difficulties in securing testing locations - Dr. Ezike and Pritzker respond to question about what they've learned about themselves and leadership - "We're no longer in a stay at home order"
* 1,622 new cases, 86 additional deaths
* *** UPDATED x1 *** What in the heck is going on in Rockford?
* COVID-19 roundup
* All metro areas reporting record high unemployment rates
* School seclusion and restraint bill derailed after opposition
* Attorney DeVore asks appellate court to dissolve another TRO
* Question of the day
* Madigan issues new guidance to members, staff
* Architects abandon alternative reopening plan
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* House of worship attendance limit expected to be removed from stay at home order
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Sheriffs file suit against state for refusing to accept jail transfers
* Yesterday's stories

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