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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      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

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      

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