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Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* Another appropriate song, considering

I’d roll on, but I know you’ll need me some day

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


This just in…

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* From a press release…

Administration Initiates Additional Management Steps to Prepare for Madigan-Cullerton Budget
Steps to Save Additional $420 Million
Cancel Funding for Legislative Earmarks
Freeze Non-Transportation Capital Projects

House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their caucuses two weeks ago finished passing a budget with a $4 billion hole.

Since that time, Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton have refused to pass real, compromise reforms that will grow the economy, pay down the debt and end the era of wasteful spending and broken budgets while implementing parliamentary maneuvers to keep the governor from acting on the budget bills.

In preparation for the possibility of having no budget on July 1, or a budget with a $4 billion hole, the Administration is initiating its second round of steps to responsibly manage the state’s finances. However, the options available to the Administration remain limited because the Madigan-Cullerton budget includes no reforms.

“Governor Rauner has compromised repeatedly, but Speaker Madigan and the politicians he controls continue to block any real reform,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said. “It’s deeply troubling to see that Speaker Madigan remains committed to sacrificing the middle class in order to protect the political class.”

More steps will be announced as they are finalized.

Statewide

Action Initiated

    · Notify all State of Illinois vendors to prepare for the potential of a longer delay in receiving payments for goods and services provided to the State.

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Suspend capital projects, including construction at state facilities, schools and colleges.
    · Suspend all capital grants for legislators’ earmarks and non-bonded or “pay as you go” capital projects.
    · This freeze does not include road and other Department of Transportation projects.
    · Significantly reduce use of outside legal counsel by eliminating and/or reducing legal contracts.

Department of Healthcare and Family Services

Action Initiated

    · Reinstate timely re-determinations of Medicaid eligibility.

    · Roll back rates for ambulance services and renal care services to SMART-Act levels.

    · Reduce managed care capitation rates.

    · Discontinue special Medicaid payments to some hospitals.

    · Increase eligibility threshold (Determination of Need Score) to a level more consistent with national eligibility levels.

    · Achieve cost savings using new procurement strategy for purchasing durable medical equipment.

Department of Natural Resources

Effective September 1, 2015

    · Suspend operations at the World Shooting Recreational Complex (WSRC) near Sparta. The site will become closed to the public and not available for events.

    o All events scheduled through August 2015, including the Grand American, will not be impacted by this action.

Department of Agriculture

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Suspend funding to county fairs for premiums and fairground rehabilitation projects.

    · Suspend funding for agricultural extension and 4-H clubs for premiums at agricultural shows.

    · Suspend funding for premiums for Agricultural Education Fairs.

    · Suspend funding for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

    · Suspend funding to the Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Suspend funding to Choose Chicago for tourism promotion.

Department of State Police

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Suspend FY16 initiative to purchase new forensic equipment.

Office of State Fire Marshal

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Suspend funding for the Chicago Fire Department training program.

    · Suspend reimbursements for fire department training to other local governments.

    · Suspend funding for small fire-fighting and ambulance equipment grants.

Criminal Justice Information Authority

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Suspend the following legislative earmarks:

    o YouthBuild grants;

    o Bullying Prevention grants;
    o Franklin County Methamphetamine Pilot Program; and
    o South Suburban Major Crimes Taskforce.
    · Suspend statewide funding for Operation CeaseFire.
    · Suspend funding for Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention grants.

Department of Human Services

Effective July 1, 2015

    Suspend funding for Community Services for juvenile delinquency program serving youth and young adults administered by the Chicago Area Project.
    Suspend funding for Immigrant Integration Services. Access to the Department’s programs will continue through local offices.
    Suspend funding for Welcoming Centers. Access to the Department’s programs will continue through local offices.
    Suspend funding for the Youth Employment legislative earmark.

Department of Public Health

Effective July 1, 2015

    Suspend funding for Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV.
    Suspend funding to the Tobacco Quitline.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Effective July 1, 2015

    Reduce funding for state-funded job training programs and suspend funding to legislative earmarks for job training. This does not impact the Department’s federal job training funds.
    Suspend funding for all coal programs at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, including discontinuing subsidies to coal companies.
    Suspend funding for the Renewable Energy Program. This does not impact the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards program.
    Suspend funding for the Energy Efficiency Program.

Department of Transportation

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Reduce funding for Amtrak.
    · Suspend state add-on payment to PACE.
    · Suspend state subsidy for Regional Transportation Authority Reduced Fares grant.

Department of Revenue

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Reduce funding for the following housing programs administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority:
    o Multifamily Finance Program;
    o Reduce Homebuyer Acquisition Rehabilitation Program; and
    o Reduce Homeowner Emergency Repair Program.

Department of Veteran’s Affairs

Effective July 1, 2015

    · Delay opening of Chicago Veterans’ Home.

…Adding… That vendor notification mentioned above…

June 12, 2015

Please be advised that for the new state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015, payment of bills by the State of Illinois may be delayed beyond current timeframes as a result of the budget bills passed by the General Assembly, which are $4 billion out of balance, in violation of the State’s Constitutional requirement for a balanced budget. Furthermore, these budget bills have not been sent by the General Assembly to the Governor for him to act upon.

Due to the General Assembly’s irresponsible actions, it is also possible state government will start the new fiscal year on July 1, 2015 without a budget in place, which would also lead to increased payment delays. As a result of these current scenarios and without the enactment of a balanced budget, vendors providing goods and services to Illinois should expect longer payment delays.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


Weekend shopping plans?

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* Judy Baar Topinka’s estate sale began yesterday and will run through Saturday afternoon

Anyone who knew the late Judy Baar Topinka knows that she was an inveterate estate sale and garage sale freak. When you heard stories about Topinka’s habit of haunting such sales through the years, you may have wondered just what she picked up and brought home.

Well, wonder no longer. Beginning today (actually it began at 10 a.m. on Thursday) there’s an estate sale at the former Illinois comptroller’s Riverside home at 380 Herrick Road. The announcement we found online describes it as “massive.”

* From the announcement

SALE DESCRIPTION: many area rugs -runners-mats-machine made and one hand made oriental, collection of artwork - over 60 pieces- oil paintings - etchings - posters and many more, collection of outdoor banners - Northwester - Marines - Army - Illinois - Village of Riverside and more, collection of over 1000 pieces of clothing-many new with tags-excellent condition-Small-medium-large - EVENING GOWNS, dozens of scarves & purses-evening bags and also lots of ladies hats, shoes & boots-many new in box-size 9-10 W-casual-heels-sandals-winter boots and LOTS of CROCS-KEDS-ENZO ANGIOLINI-NATURALIZER-CARESSA-HIGHLIGHTS-many new in box, sweaters, sweatshirts, tee-shirts, dresses, belts, blouses, designer clothing by; St. Johns -Ralph Lauren, Ann Klein, Mita, Dana Buchman Alfred Dunner, Louis Ferand, Damask, Lauren Lein, J.S.S., Vicki Wayne, Karen Scott and many more designer names, 3 pieces set-1940’s mahogany leather end tables & matching coffee table, porcelain German - Austrian plates, set of china, CANDLES,collection of music & trinket boxes, cups & saucers, lots of kitchen items - mixers - blenders - toasters - coffee pots - makers - utensils - warmers - baking/roasting items - cast iron frying pans - pots - pans - LOTS & LOTS of KITCHEN STUFF, lots of wall shelves, decorative platters, busts of different historical figures, mirrors, lots of frames, collection of animals - pigs, Scotty dogs - Lions - elephant - giraffes - dogs and many more, collection of German beer steins, collection of small figurines - - serving pieces and more, collection of crystal - vases - serving pieces - candlesticks and more, LOTS & LOTS (hundreds) of small collectibles, bedding - blankets - comforters - quilts - pillow cases - some new all others dry cleaned and more, toiletries, 100’s of VHS tapes, CD’S, DVD’S, AND SO MUCH MORE.

THERE IS SO MUCH IN THIS HOUSE, THE GARAGE AND THE BASEMENT. IT IS STUFFED AND THEN SOME!

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


What the what???

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* Steve Daniels

Here’s how loopy Illinois’ energy markets have become.

On average, downstate Illinoisans will pay at least $130 more for electricity over the next year, and the extra cash they’re shelling out in their utility bills will go in part to reduce rates in neighboring Missouri. […]

“It clearly shows there is something deeply wrong with the structure MISO is using for the auction,” said David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, a Chicago-based consumer watchdog. “You have the direct transfer of wealth from Illinois consumers to Missouri consumers in the same utility family.”

Asked whether MISO (pronounced MY-SOH, short for Midcontinent Independent System Operator) thought it appropriate for downstate Illinoisans to be charged more only to have their higher payments used to reduce Missouri rates, a spokesman for the grid operator said that question should be put to Ameren. “Each utility has its own rules to determine how credits are distributed to customers, and MISO does not play a role in that utility-customer relationship,” spokesman Jay Hermacinski wrote in an email.

MISO’s reticence was odd in light of Ameren’s statement that it had no choice but to bid capacity from its Illinois plants into MISO’s zonal auction for downstate Illinois—a fact MISO confirmed.

Go read the rest for the technical details.

Ugh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* SJ-R

Hollywood actress Olivia Munn is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto a bill that would create a bobcat hunting season in Illinois.

The legislation passed the Illinois House on May 31 and headed to the governor’s desk, where it awaits action from Rauner. A similar measure passed in 2014 but, Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, vetoed it on his last day in office.

The Humane Society released a statement from Munn, a noted animal rights activist who has worked with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in which she called on the Republican governor to veto the bill.

Her letter is here.

* The Question: Be honest, and no Googling allowed. Do you know who Olivia Munn is? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


panel management

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      


LaHood hit on craft beer vote

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* From Liz Mair, who is repping congressional candidate Mike Flynn (yes, that Liz Mair)…

Good evening:

I wanted to flag this for you… it appears that Darin LaHood was one of just two senators to give a thumbs-up to bigger, more intrusive government in this little-noticed recent vote.

Please consider this response from Mike Flynn, LaHood’s primary opponent:

“‎It’s votes like this where a legislator shows his true colors: Is he for more big, intrusive government or freeing innovative, early-stage and smaller businesses from stifling regulation that prevents them from hiring more Illinoisans and growing our economy? LaHood has shown his big government stripes with this vote, and voters in the 18th district should beware putting another big government-happy Republican into the House of Representatives.”

Thanks

Liz

* The linked article

Legislation approved by the House this week would allow breweries to operate up to three brew pubs and tap houses while producing much more beer than is currently legally allowed. The proposal is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Currently, a brewery that also runs a brew pub or tap room can produce up to 30,000 barrels of beer annually. This new legislation would bump that number up to 120,000 barrels. […]

The legislation passed the Illinois Senate two weeks ago 46-2, with state Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, casting one of those unfavorable votes.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone whacked over a craft beer vote before.

Also, I saw Liz on TV not long ago and thought she did a pretty darned good job.

* And speaking of Flynn…

Paul Caprio, Director of Family-Pac Federal, Illinois’ leading pro-family political action committee, issued the following statement regarding the positions of Michael Flynn, GOP candidate for Congress in the 18th District. Flynn is a candidate in the July 7th GOP Primary Election to fill the seat of recently resigned Republican Aaron Schock.

Said Caprio, “We react today to troubling and reckless statements made by Mr. Flynn regarding marriage, the most fundamental and important institution in our society.”

On September 2, 2008 in a Reason.com article, Flynn criticized key social planks in the GOP national platform. Flynn stated:

    “A lot to dislike (in the platform) e.g., protecting traditional marriage…”

In July 2012, in a Breitbart article, Mr. Flynn says the following:

    “I’m rabidly agnostic on the issue of gay marriage. Marriage is just something I don’t think the government has much business mucking around in.”

Caprio continued, “Mr. Flynn’s position on gay marriage puts him far out of the mainstream of Illinois Republican voters.

“More fundamentally, however, Mr. Flynn’s radical libertarian position that government has no business “mucking” around in marriage is both reckless and ignorant.

“A fundamental purpose of marriage is to legally attach children to parents for the purpose of support and nurturing. If this duty is not clearly established by the State of Illinois, we would see more and more children without the benefit of parental upbringing and more and more need for the state and private charities to provide support and funding to protect these children. Conservatives want children raised by their parents, not raised by taxpayer supported big government programs.

“Mr. Flynn’s reckless comments reveal his ignorance of conservative family values and his unfitness to serve as a member of the U.S. Congress.”

Family-Pac Federal, along with every other statewide pro-life and traditional pro-family organization, has endorsed pro-life State Senator Darin LaHood in the July 7th GOP Primary Election.

* And from LaHood…

State Senator Darin LaHood announced that he has returned over $100,000 of his Senate Office’s allotted budget to the state during his time in office.

“I made it a priority to spend tax dollars responsibly during my time in Springfield,” said LaHood. “We all know that Washington has a spending problem, so I will lead by example and continue to abide by the same standards as I have in the past. As elected officials, it is our responsibility to ensure that the tax dollars sent to Washington by the families of Central and Western Illinois are being spent wisely to better serve them and meet their needs.”

Since assuming office in March of 2011, LaHood has returned on average of $21,995 or 26.5% of his Senate Office’s yearly allotted budget. LaHood consistently ranks among the top Senators on his office budget returns.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


The civil justice system gives everyone a fair chance

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

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This is more important now than ever because the drug and oil industries, big insurance companies and other large corporations dominate our political process— and thus, people cannot depend on the political system to hold corporations accountable.

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Kirk react

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* Lynn Sweet

Compounding the political problem triggered by the tasteless remark: All of Kirk’s major potential Democratic rivals are women. Former Chicago Urban League Chief Andrea Zopp is running, along with Rep. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., is mulling a bid.

Zopp told me, “He may think it’s ‘just a joke among the boys,’ but Mark Kirk’s remark about Lindsey Graham having ‘no ho’ is just one more reason why Illinois needs new leadership in the U.S. Senate.

“No woman, let alone a woman like me, an African-American and mother of two daughters, who has prosecuted rapists and wife abusers and who has spent much of her career overcoming sexist and racist stereotypes would think his remark either appropriate or funny. Clueless or Reckless? Either way it’s time for a change — which is why I’m running to replace him,” Zopp said.

Kaitlin Fahey, who is Duckworth’s campaign manager said, “Illinois women already know Mark Kirk isn’t on their side by his votes against equal pay and affordable child care for working families. Now we also know he’s humor-challenged. Senator Kirk’s ‘joke’ is as offensive as it is unfunny, and he should apologize, personally and immediately.”

By early evening, Duckworth was using Kirk’s bro/ho comment in an e-mail fundraising appeal in which Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., wrote, “this kind of sexist language has no place in the U.S. Senate. Contribute to Tammy Duckworth’s campaign now to replace Mark Kirk with a senator who will champion women. “

The Tribune plastered its story all over the front page.

* Kass believes Kirk will tank the entire GOP ticket unless he resigns

He hasn’t had much of a filter on what he says in recent years. Whether that has anything to do with the stroke he suffered in 2012, I don’t know. It seems he was once more cautious. Now words just pop out of there. […]

And now he’s hip-deep in Ho-Gate, with no way out except one:

Discreetly step down and let Illinois Republican bosses pick a replacement candidate to run for election in 2016.

“But who’s going to tell him?” said a GOP insider. “I don’t want to do it.”

Kirk and Kass are on opposite sides of the GOP, so I’m not so sure I trust that analysis.

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      


I suppose it could be worse

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* Eight years ago today: June 12, 2007, 1:18 pm

[Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson]: “I just don’t know for sure whether the governor really truly wants to get out of here… If he did, we’d be focusing on the budget, we’d be talking about the issues of revenue and spending.”

Watson: [The governor is not] getting message that GRT is dead. He talked about it “several times” today.

Substitute “GRT” with “anti-union stuff” and it could be June 12, 2015.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


Unclear on the concept

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* From the BN-D

On another level, the carefully organized protest last week [against Gov. Rauner], complete with its slick, professional signs, was actually a good sign for Illinois. It means that Madigan and Cullterton are running scared that Rauner is going to disrupt their status quo. The politicians understand that Rauner has the momentum, and that the balance of power in Illinois may be on the verge of shifting from the special interests to the overall public good.

I don’t mean to single out the BN-D because I talk to a whole lot of people every day and I often hear this same sort of thing from both sides.

People are seeing exactly what they want to see. They’ve made their enemies into one-dimensional cartoon characters and placed their heroes on white horses. No way can they lose. Victory is assured. Can’t you see the signs? It’s in the bag!

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      


More workers’ comp thoughts

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* Louis Atsaves in comments

I have practiced in the field of Workers’ Compensation in Illinois for 35 years both as a defense (respondent) and plaintiff (petitioner) attorney.

A day or so ago someone claimed the cost for carpal tunnel syndrome surgery was $2,000.00. I threw out a bunch or real numbers. No one seemed to want to talk about them.

Some issued raised in this posting need more clarification:

Causation: Exists under the Act, in spite of some opinions to the contrary. The same causation standard exists in Illinois as in Indiana. A Petitioner who fails to prove causation at the Commission loses his case and gets nothing. A Respondent who fails to rebut a causation opinion loses their case and pays off an award.

Demanding primary cause or principle cause for compensation purposes will probably create a cottage industry of physicians who would be willing to testify to their “opinion” mirroring the new statutory requirements. Respondents still have a industry of physicians who hardly ever find causation or pretend temporary causation for a few weeks based on a 15 minute examination. I predict an increase in litigation as a result. Since reasonable doctors can differ in their opinions and diagnosis, the odds of a fraud prosecution here would be extremely rate. For a system at the Commission that relies upon a nearly 90% settlement rate, it would cost business more money to add additional Arbitrators and Court Reporters. Why? Because business through a portion of their premiums pay for the lions share of costs of running the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system.

Apportioning fault in repetitive trauma cases is an interesting concept, but I don’t see too many cases like that happening that actually could apportion fault within a three year statute of limitations. Current statute of limitations on repetitive trauma cases (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) start the clock when a reasonable person would understand they are suffering from this problem and seek a diagnosis, or upon diagnosis. Other than filling Arbitration hearing rooms with lawyers, little will be accomplished by these provisions as I have seen them in legislative form.

The traveling employee hysterics are similar to those approximately 15 years ago when a handful of employees were injured at company picnics/outings and sought compensation. The proposal then was to use a sledgehammer towards a tiny handful of cases while allowing major problems to continue to fester. This diversion tactic seems to be in full bloom with traveling employees this year. Savings? Practically non-existent.

Comparing total payouts for 100% loss of arms on a state by state basis using maximum rates for injured workers making high wages is not a true comparison. Use what a nurse’s aid makes and the numbers tighten up considerably. A small percentage of workers in Illinois seeking Workers Compensation receive maximum rates. Using extreme situations will not solve any problems.

The insurance premium savings is an issue worthy of additional study. The NCCI benchmarks are a start, but the strange math used to claim a billion dollars in savings is being pocketed was displayed in front of Rep. Hoffman when he chaired the Committee as a Whole of the House recently.

Want to save money in this field without hurting the injured workers right to compensation?

Return to 2005 PPD standards by repealing the 7.5% increase passed by the House and Senate and signed by Blagojevich. We went from 23rd in costs among all the states to 2nd within 2 years after that stunt.

Under Section 8(e) specific loss cases, employers receive credit towards older cases a petitioner is compensated for under the Act. Under Section 8(d)2 where most back injuries and now shoulder injuries receive compensation, no credits for prior injuries occur.

Create new categories under Section 8(e) for lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine injuries, add hips and shoulders, and allow credits for prior injuries. Now an employee can sprain/strain his back 10 times over 20 years, receive awards for 2% man as a whole (10 weeks at his PPD rate) for each. For knee cases, if the employee under Section 8(e) receives 2% leg, and later reinjures that knee, if it becomes a 3% case, he gets paid 1% and the employer gets credit for 2%.

Fix the medical fee schedule. Some medical providers receive 85-90% of their bills in comp, others barely 55-60%. Other states make it more uniform using Medicare rates as a baseline and adding a surcharge that is the same across the board.

Fix Section 10 of the Act, which concerns calculation of the average weekly wage. The current form is convoluted and at times creates a windfall for an injured worker, and other times screws him. The average weekly wage is used to calculate lost time and permanency benefits, and is important. Other states have more fairer, streamlined calculations.

Remove all the hotheads who “testify” before uninformed legislators who have no idea what is going on in Workers’ Comp. in Illinois. Every time they use “fair” in their testimony, I cringe. Both sides have redefined “fair.” Bring in some individuals with technical expertise who can figure out how to reduce costs while maintaining benefits.

The system was originally designed to be “simple and summary in nature” as a tradeoff against going to circuit court and getting bogged down in rules. Over the years, the Act has become bulkier and less simple and summary. And the complaints about the system and Act as a result are getting louder.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Rauner promises to keep state services afloat

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* From yesterday near the Quad Cities

“The critical thing is we get a balanced budget not a phony budget and what I do not support is a month-to-month unbalanced phony budget, so all we’re doing is breaking a phony budget up into 12 one-month pieces and going month-to-month,” [Gov. Rauner] said. “That’s not the right way to go.”

Rauner also said they have plans to keep state services afloat if the budget doesn’t pass before July 1st.

If he’s gonna make promises like that, he’d better be prepared to keep ‘em.

* The question now is what can he do to make that happen? If he vetoes everything outright, there will be no spending authority for most programs

Absent an agreement on a budget by July 1, payments from the state to most groups — social service agencies, the needy, Medicaid providers — will grind to an abrupt halt, state Comptroller Leslie Munger warned Thursday.

“There will be very real consequences for taxpayers and organizations in every part of our state, and sadly the situation will be hardest on those who are most vulnerable in our state, those who can least afford to go without help from the state,” she said during a visit to Peoria’s City Hall to urge legislative leaders to reach an agreement with Gov. Bruce Rauner on a spending plan.

The new fiscal year is supposed to begin July 1. But without legal authority under a budget to spend money, Munger’s hands are effectively tied.

In addition to holding off on funds for not-for-profits, the impoverished and others, expedited payments to service providers will be halted. Once July 15 rolls around, state employees will miss payroll but still be expected to show up to work.

* But he could use his veto pen selectively

The Governor may reduce or veto any item of appropriations in a bill presented to him. Portions of a bill not reduced or vetoed shall become law.

So, he could reduce or line item veto some specific appropriations in all the bills. That would allow him to spend all the other un-vetoed lines in the bills and spend the reduced lines up to his veto point.

But he keeps saying he won’t tolerate a “phony” unbalanced budget, meaning he’ll have to find as much as $4 billion in cuts to make his rhetoric match his action.

* There are several things that can’t be touched, like pension, bond and local government payments, which all have continuing resolutions. They are also very big-ticket items.

Rauner has pledged to never cut K-12 education spending, which is one of the biggest tickets of the big tickets. The feds aren’t going to let the state get away with massive Medicaid cuts, which is another huge spending driver. There are judicial consent decrees about programs at DCFS and other court cases involving the Department of Corrections, two more expensive state tasks.

So, what’s left? Social service grants take up a big chunk, but many are extremely important. He’ll have no choice but to cut them, even though, in my opinion, they fall under the purview of “state services” that he promised yesterday to keep “afloat.”

State parks, universities, community colleges, state police, environmental protection, the myriad number of agriculture programs, and on and on and on and on would have to be on the chopping block. But those are all state services, right?

* So, maybe he does a 20-30 percent across the board cut or something. But there’s only so much of that you can do without having to shut down lots and lots of services.

All I gotta say is, I wouldn’t want to be Tim Nuding right now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Good morning!

Friday, Jun 12, 2015

* Soundgarden

I stole a thousand beggars’ change
And gave it to the rich

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Today’s quotable

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* HuffPo..

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is a “bro with no ho,” according to his colleague, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

The assessment of Graham’s love life was made during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup on Thursday and caught on a live microphone. […]

“I’ve been joking with Lindsey,” Kirk can be heard saying. “Did you see that? He’s going to have a rotating first lady. He’s a bro with no ho.”

Sigh.

* Follow up

In the interview after a long meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the usually outspoken Kirk was mostly mum about what he’d said about Graham, a longtime bachelor with White House ambitions.

“No. No, comment,” Kirk said. Asked if he regretted the comment, Kirk responded: “I do.”

The Illinois senator said he had not spoken to Graham since the incident. An aide called the quip a “joke between friends.”

Democrats have been making hay of the offhand remark, circulating it instantly to the media after it was made.

That last line is true.

*** UPDATE 1 *** The Tribune includes what Kirk said immediately after the “bro with no ho” remark

“That’s what we’d say on the South Side.”

Uh-oh.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Sen. Kirk’s office…

Senator Kirk was joking with his colleague and immediately apologized to anyone offended by his remark.

- Posted by Rich Miller   135 Comments      


Workers injured on the job deserve the right to reasonable compensation

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In 2011, at the strong request of business interests the Workers’ Compensation “Reform” package was signed into law, aimed at lowering costs for employers in Illinois. These changes have had a negative effect on injured workers in Illinois and their ability to receive fair and reasonable compensation when they are injured on the job.

According to a study done by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Illinois had a 17 percent reduction in workers’ compensation rates in the past two years – the steepest drop in the nation. However, Illinois employers should have realized a total premium reduction of $1 billion since 2011. Unfortunately, insurance companies have refused to reduce their premiums in accordance with their own industry’s recommendations.

Demands for additional so-called “reforms” will likely take away more rights from injured workers and further increase the insurance industry’s profits. Any future changes in laws should instead look to promote insurance premium transparency, oversight and competition – not further sacrifices by the injured worker.

For more information about workers’ compensation in Illinois, click here.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* Press release…

Southern country-rock legend Charlie Daniels and the Charlie Daniels Band will return to the DuQuoin State Fair for a blockbuster concert at the Grandstand on Wednesday, September 2nd.

Few artists have left a more lasting mark on America’s musical landscape than Charlie Daniels. An outspoken patriot and road warrior at the age of 78, Charlie Daniels has transformed his passion for music into a multi-platinum career and a platform to support the military, underprivileged children and others in need.

Daniels is best known for songs such as, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “In America,” “Uneasy Rider,” “The South’s Gonna Do It,” and “Long Haired Country Boy.”

As always the DuQuoin State Fair loves to show off Illinois talent and the fair continues with that tradition with the Charlie Daniels Band. The group’s lead guitarist, Bruce Brown, is from West Frankfort, and fellow group guitarist, Chris Wormer, is a Peoria native.

Opening for the Charlie Daniels Band is Lee Roy Parnell. The guitarist and singer/songwriter is known for songs such as, “What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am” and “Tender Moment.”

If no revenue increase is approved, we’re looking at a $4 billion possible hole next fiscal year. So…

* The Question: If the budget stalemate continues, should the Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair be canceled? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey services

- Posted by Rich Miller   114 Comments      


Today’s number: 3,081

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* From the Journal-Courier

Since 1950, the Land of Lincoln is sixth in the highest number of sightings of unidentified flying objects, the most of any Midwestern state.

With 3,081 reported sightings, Illinois trails only California, Florida, Washington, Texas and New York. […]

Illinois’ high ranking may be attributed to several factors, including relative population. Of the leading 10 states for UFO reports, eight are in the top 10 in population. California, for instance, leads the nation in population with 38.3 million residents, and its 11,092 UFO reports are more than twice the number of the next-highest state.

Water also may be a factor. UFO reports tend to be clustered around large bodies of water, a trait shared by nine of the top 10 states for sightings. With Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, Illinois has plenty to attract cosmic visitors looking for a scenic vista or a cool drink.

Still, the Illinois county with the highest number of relative sightings is Schuyler County, with 67 sightings per 100,000 population. Perhaps earthlings are not the only ones interested in land prices and crop yields. Or, maybe the extraterrestrials want to check out the fishing at Schuy-Rush Lake.

Winnebago County, in the landlocked Rockford area, is second with 40 per 100,000.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Credit Unions – Paying it Forward in their Communities

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Credit unions have a well-recognized reputation for providing exemplary service in meeting their members’ daily financial needs. A “People Helping People” philosophy also motivates credit unions to support countless community charitable activities on a continual basis.

Financial Plus Credit Union in Ottawa is no exception, having raised and donated tens of thousands of dollars for many worthwhile causes throughout north central Illinois. This includes serving as the main sponsor and co-host of the local Easter Seals telethon, conducting food drives for local food pantries, collecting supplies during times of disaster, and much more. Donation canisters in the credit union’s lobbies also facilitate collections for a different local organization each quarter. In addition, Financial Plus staff members themselves have come to the aid of the community via donating individual funds to help families facing significant medical crises, and purchasing holiday gifts on a private basis for foster children.

Credit unions are able to wholly serve their communities because of their not-for-profit cooperative structure and leadership of a volunteer board elected by and from the local membership. Credit unions– locally owned, voluntarily led, and Paying it Forward in your community.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


You be the judge

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* Why not just say what the comments were?

Concerns have been raised over potentially racist comments made by a bystander immediately after Gov. Bruce Rauner’s visit to Decatur on Wednesday afternoon.

As the governor finished his talk and walked away, a loud argument broke out in the crowd between several protesters and other attendees at the event.

The protesters and others later raised concerns about the argument, which revolved around potential cuts to the child care assistance program and perceived racist comments about those who receive public aid, and that Rauner did not acknowledge or react to those comments.

A spokeswoman for Rauner, when asked about the incident later, said the governor did not hear the comments and does not condone racist behavior.

According to other reporters who were there, the man in question is a well-known local tea partier who was wearing a blue Rauner t-shirt and one of those “patriot hats.” He was confronting Annie Yarbary, whom we discussed earlier today.

* Thanks to Hannah Meisel at WILL, we have audio of the full exchange. It gets a tad graphic at the end, so beware if you’re in an office where that sort of thing is frowned upon…

It’s kinda difficult to hear, but it’s your standard tea party stuff about how parents should be taking care of children instead of the government, and something about having 100 kids.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Budget impasse delays transportation projects

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* From a member e-mail sent by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois…

To: ACEC-IL Members at Transportation Firms

Good morning.

This morning, I was notified by IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn that the bonded projects scheduled for tomorrow’s letting will be removed.

The Secretary indicated that given the lack of a budget agreement for FY 16 he would not start any new projects that could not be finished due to budget constraints.

This will impact about $100 million from this letting. There will be no impact on design work for now, but possibly some phase 3 work associated with these projects.

The Secretary will be speaking today at our North East regional luncheon where he will provide a more information.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Workers’ comp thoughts

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* Workers’ comp is essentially a no-fault system, designed to keep most disputes out of the courts. The judicial branch has added some exceptions over the years, but the business lobby has pushed for decades to add many more. Here’s Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers Association

“Should the employer be on the hook to pay 100 percent of medical costs and wage payments to an injured worker if they’re not responsible for the majority of the accident? It really comes down to a matter of fairness. The business community, the IMA, we’re not looking to cut any benefits. We’re simply looking for fairness and reduce costs while still protecting injured workers.

* Jay Shattuck of the Illinois Chamber

“Which means that the workplace must be at least 50 percent or more of the cause of the injury for it to be a workers’ compensation claim. That is what we would support.”

* Speaker Madigan has said that entirely giving in to the business groups would mean injured workers would wind up in costly emergency rooms and be pushed out of the middle class. Finding that 50 percent line could also mean more court cases.

* One reason why our national ranking may be so bad is that other states have been slashing benefits to the bone during the past few years. NPR

The cutbacks have been so drastic in some places that they virtually guarantee injured workers will plummet into poverty. Workers often battle insurance companies for years to get the surgeries, prescriptions and basic help their doctors recommend. […]

The changes, often passed under the banner of “reform,” have been pushed by big businesses and insurance companies on the false premise that costs are out of control.

In fact, employers are paying the lowest rates for workers’ comp insurance since the 1970s.

* Benefits are also pretty high here because wages are high. Unions and their allies don’t want to see Illinois in a race to the bottom

Workers are awarded a portion of their wages up to the state maximum for the specified number of weeks assigned to each body part. But depending on those numbers, the final amounts can vary widely.

The loss of an arm, for example, is worth up to $48,840 in Alabama, $193,950 in Ohio and $439,858 in Illinois. The big toe ranges from $6,090 in California to $90,401.88 in Oregon. […]

The amount of lost wages covered — capped at $220 a week — was set by the [Alabama] Legislature in 1985. But unlike other parts of Alabama’s workers’ comp law, it was never tied to inflation.

The amount is now the lowest in the country. Providing just $11,440 a year, it is below the poverty line for a single person and not even half the poverty line for a family of four. And benefits for arm amputations, for example, end after four years.

So, since business groups here aren’t pushing to reduce benefits, they have to find another way to save money: Causation.

* Another reason for our high costs often pointed to by Illinois Democrats is that insurance companies are not passing along savings (including significantly reduced fees for medical providers) which should’ve been produced by the state’s 2011 reforms

And in 2013, insurers had their most profitable year in over a decade, bringing in a hefty 18 percent return.

* Rep. Jay Hoffman recently sent me an e-mail about his workers’ comp bill, defending the limited causation that is in the legislation and adding this…

The real meat of the bill is related to insurance reform. NCCI, which is funded by the insurance companies and issues advisory rates, has indicated that the 2011 reform should have resulted in an 18.1% decrease in rates. They also indicated that this year would see additional reason for reduction because this will be the first year that the 2011 reforms have been fully implemented. Business has testified they haven’t seen these reductions.

Our bill would follow 26 other states in providing pre-approval of rates to determine if they are appropriate. It would also provide premium relief if you have a certified safety program. In addition, it would require self insured companies to disclose the same info as fully insured so the department can adequately assess the industry.

The bottom line is, assuming NCCI is correct, this should result in decreased costs to employers without reducing benefits to legitimately injured workers. If they are worried about individuals wrongly receiving compensation, they should fund the fraud unit at the department of insurance which we passed in 2005 and investigate fraudulent claims. Apparently IDOT has begun doing this successfully in their department.

Your take?

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner react *** IHA wants temporary budget extension if gridlock continues

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* From the Illinois Hospital Association…

On behalf of the patients and communities they serve, Illinois hospitals are deeply concerned that payments from the State for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries and State employees may stop if the State budget impasse is not resolved by July 1. Many hospitals – especially safety net, rural and critical access hospitals that serve vulnerable communities in all parts of the state – depend on State revenue to fulfill their mission of providing quality health care to their communities. A lengthy State shutdown could jeopardize access to health care for the children, seniors and families in these communities. A significant delay in payments from the State could jeopardize hospitals’ ability to meet their obligations – pay employees, vendors, and suppliers – and meet their operating expenses.

If a budget resolution does not appear likely by the end of the month, the adoption of a temporary one-month budget should be considered to preserve access to essential health services until a final budget agreement is reached.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…

An unbalanced short-term budget with no real reforms is still a phony budget and unacceptable to the people of Illinois. If Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls have any interest in real reform and compromise to grow the economy and end the era of wasteful spending and broken budgets, then there is no reason a deal can’t be reached prior to July 1.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 *** Rauner verbally jousts with critic

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* From Decatur

As several in the crowd began to jeer the governor for potential cuts to state services, the governor noted his office has tried to make concessions to Democrats in the House but said he’s focused on the passage of five pieces of reform in return for the passage of a budget before it ends June 30.

Those included items he has spent months discussing, from the need to lower property taxes, scale back workers’ compensation expenses, institute tort reform and have term limits for lawmakers.

“They’re stonewalling us,” Rauner said about Democrats in Springfield. “They’re pretending that they’re negotiating, and they’re not.”

That’s helpful.

* Tribune

Not everybody sweating it out at the midday event was buying Rauner’s argument. Renee McAfee and Annie Yarbary, child care workers whose clients rely on state subsidies, waved signs opposing Rauner’s agenda and shouted out as he delivered his speech and took questions from reporters.

“We need this budget passed. We need for you, Madigan, Cullerton, whoever, to get it together,” Yarbary told Rauner during a chat after the event. “Quit fighting over there like 2-year-olds and stand up for the people of Illinois.”

“Well said, I agree,” Rauner replied.

* The governor said they should contact their legislators

Rauner: I agree with you. And you’ll help, help me, just these are–

Yarbary: What do you want me to help you with?

Rauner: Ask your senator and ask your representative–

Yarbary: I already have, I’ve talked to Senator Manar and I’ve talked to Sue Scherer–

Rauner: What did they say?

Yarbary: They’re saying that we need to find revenue.

The governor soundlessly chuckled.

Rauner: All they want to do is force a tax hike, then we’re all going to lose in the long run.

* Many thanks to my pal Hannah Meisel at WILL for the raw audio of the complete exchange…

*** UPDATE 1 *** The governor travels to districts represented by Democratic Sen. John Sullivan and HDem Mike Smiddy today…

Daily Public Schedule: Thursday, June 11, 2015

What: Governor Discusses the Turnaround Agenda’s Impact on Adams County

Where: Peter’s Heating and Air Conditioning

4520 Broadway St., Quincy

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2015

Time: 11:30 a.m.

What: Governor Discusses the Turnaround Agenda’s Impact on the Quad Cities

Where: Tennant Truck Lines, Inc.

20812 E. 550 St., Colona

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2015

Time: 3:15 p.m.

*** UPDATE 2 *** A familiar pattern is developing. From the IL GOP…

A Time for Choosing
It’s time for Sen. John Sullivan to stand up for taxpayers instead of President Cullerton and Speaker Madigan

Last week, Democrats in Springfield passed a budget with a $4 billion hole. Last year, they passed a budget that was unbalanced by $1.6 billion. The Democrats controlled by House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton reject reform and pass unbalanced budgets.

After more than 80 years in power, Mike Madigan and John Cullerton wield unmatched power over legislators. Sen. John Sullivan claims to represent Western Illinois, but he is controlled by the heavy hand of John Cullerton and Mike Madigan. They have given Sen. Sullivan more than $1,000,000 to reward his blind loyalty.

It’s time for Sullivan to stand up for Western Illinois taxpayers instead of his Chicago bosses Madigan & Cullerton.

John Sullivan

    Sullivan has taken $1,037,820 from Madigan, Cullerton and committees they control. (Illinois Board of Elections, Accessed 6/10/2015)

    The budget constructed by Madigan and Cullerton for FY2015 was unbalanced by $1.6 billion. “Illinois lawmakers moved Monday to plug a gaping $1.6 billion hole in this year’s state budget after weeks of tense negotiations between a Republican governor and Democratic-led Legislature over authority to transfer funds as money runs out for social programs such as subsidized day care. (”Illinois House Passes Plan To Fill State’s $1.6 Billion Budget Hole,” The Associated Press, 3/24/2015)

    Sullivan voted to pass Madigan and Cullerton’s unbalanced FY2015 budget. (Illinois General Assembly Records, Accessed 6/10/2015)

    The budget constructed by Madigan and Cullerton for FY2016 is unbalanced by more than $3 billion. “House Democrats worked into the evening Tuesday to push through major parts of a new budget they acknowledge is at least $3 billion short in an effort to force new Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to eventually go along with a tax increase to fill the deficit.” (Monique Garcia and Kim Geiger, “Illinois Democrats Push Ahead With Budget That’s $3 Billion Short,” Chicago Tribune, 5/26/2015)

    Sullivan voted to pass Madigan and Cullerton’s unbalanced FY2016 budget bills. (Illinois General Assembly Records, Accessed 6/10/2015)

*** UPDATE 3 *** Another one…

A Time for Choosing
It’s time for Rep. Mike Smiddy to stand up for taxpayers instead of
Speaker Madigan

Last week, Democrats in Springfield passed a budget with a $4 billion hole. Last year, they passed a budget that was unbalanced by $1.6 billion. The Democrats controlled by House Speaker Mike Madigan reject reform and pass unbalanced budgets.

After more than 80 years in power, Mike Madigan wields unmatched power over his House members. Rep. Mike Smiddy may claim to represent ordinary Illinoisans, but he is actually controlled by the heavy hand of Mike Madigan. Speaker Madigan has given Smiddy over $250,000 to reward his blind loyalty.

It’s time for Smiddy to stand up for Illinois taxpayers instead of his Chicago boss Mike Madigan.

Mike Smiddy
Smiddy has taken $257,549 from Madigan and committees he controls. (Illinois Board of Elections, Accessed 6/10/2015)

The budget constructed by Madigan for FY2015 was unbalanced by $1.6 billion. “Illinois lawmakers moved Monday to plug a gaping $1.6 billion hole in this year’s state budget after weeks of tense negotiations between a Republican governor and Democratic-led Legislature over authority to transfer funds as money runs out for social programs such as subsidized day care. (”Illinois House Passes Plan To Fill State’s $1.6 Billion Budget Hole,” The Associated Press, 3/24/2015)
Smiddy voted to pass Madigan’s unbalanced FY2015 budget. (Illinois General Assembly Records, Accessed 6/10/2015)
The budget constructed by Madigan for FY2016 is unbalanced by more than $3 billion. “House Democrats worked into the evening Tuesday to push through major parts of a new budget they acknowledge is at least $3 billion short in an effort to force new Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to eventually go along with a tax increase to fill the deficit.” (Monique Garcia and Kim Geiger, “Illinois Democrats Push Ahead With Budget That’s $3 Billion Short,” Chicago Tribune, 5/26/2015)
Smiddy voted to pass Madigan’s unbalanced FY2016 budget bills. (Illinois General Assembly Records, Accessed 6/10/2015)

- Posted by Rich Miller   140 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - “Fraud” alleged *** Log Cabin Republicans back Flynn

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

*** UPDATE *** Hmmm…

Rich:

It has been brought to my attention that you have run a story about an endorsement of Mike Flynn by our organization. This is false. The press release is fraudulent. There is no formally recognized Chapter of “Log Cabin Republicans of Central Illinois,” and the gentleman who issued the press release is not even a member of our organization. Additionally, per our by-laws, local LCR Chapter Leaders cannot issue endorsements in federal races.

Log Cabin Republicans National has not had formal contact with the Flynn campaign as of the writing of this email. We would welcome it, though. In the meantime, please remove the story from your website.

If you could also provide contact information for Mr. Allcuzzi, I would appreciate it.

Happy to chat more by phone if you’d like additional comment.

Gregory T. Angelo
Executive Director
Log Cabin Republicans

…Adding… After sending Angelo the e-mail address (b.allcuzzi@yahoo.com), he sent me this…

Thanks. That email isn’t even in our database, let alone that name. There is no formally recognized Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans of Central Illinois. If ever there was, their formal recognition has long since lapsed. Local Chapters are also prohibited from endorsing in federal races.

It’s looking more like a dirty trick.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* A somewhat unexpected turn of events. A tea partying former Breitbart editor endorsed by Richard Viguerie and Citizens United also gets the backing of a gay rights group. From a press release…

Today, founder and president of the Central Illinois Log Cabin Republicans announced his group’s endorsement of Mike Flynn for the United States Congress for the 18th District in Illinois.

“Illinois and the United States are facing huge problems and it is clear that we need fresh leadership to tackle the massive fiscal problems our nation faces. Mike Flynn is that independent voice we so desperately need who will tackle fiscal issues and not get distracted by divisive social issues,” said Mr. Allcuzzi. “Fiscal conservatism and social moderate politics is the key to reaching out to independent voters we will need to win elections. Darin LaHood’s strong social conservative record, quite frankly, is very alienating.”

The Central Illinois Log Cabin Republicans is an advocacy group to support conservative fiscal issues while advocating for the rights of LGBT persons. “Mr. Flynn has voiced on multiple occasions that the government should butt out of the gay marriage debate. He also opposes other divisive social policies like punitive measures to keep undocumented immigrants from working productive jobs. This is the new voice of Republican politics that shows the way forward in the 21st century,” continued Allcuzzi. “Mike Flynn will be a Congressman that will keep his hands out of our wallets and out of our pants.”

The endorsement of Mike Flynn was unanimous among the membership of the Central Illinois Log Cabin Republicans. The primary election will be held on July 7th and volunteers for the group will be actively working for Flynn.

* Meanwhile, this is completely expected

Flynn tells WMBD’s Greg and Dan Show that he’s challenged LaHood to several debates, but LaHood has not responded.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Back to the future

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* Gov. Bruce Rauner speaking yesterday in Decatur

“Let’s be clear what’s going on here. Madigan and Cullerton work for the Chicago machine, just like Blagojevich did. They’re all part of that Chicago machine. That’s where they come from. That’s where they make their money. They’re not really working for you. They’re working for the Chicago machine.”

* Also from yesterday, the man once called a “wallflower” by a certain former governor

The governor’s accusation this week that regional legislators are working in the interest of their Democratic leaders is not the first time State Rep. John Bradley has heard that.

“I went through that with (former-Gov. Rod) Blagojevich,” Bradley said Wednesday, two days after Gov. Bruce Rauner came to Marion and Belleville on a finger-pointing tirade against General Assembly leaders that blamed them for the state’s fiscal crisis.

- Posted by Rich Miller   88 Comments      


Good morning!

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* Galactic

Than to sit back and watch it burn

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Your (now quite rare) “right to work” roundup

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* Nothing from the governor’s office in a very long time. But quite a few Republicans are on this board

The La Salle County Board overwhelmingly expressed its opposition to “right to work” laws by passing a resolution with a 23 to 2 vote.

Before the meeting, a crowd gathered outside of the Ottawa Knights of Columbus in support of the resolution. The meeting started about 15 minutes late as supporters of the resolution were filing through security after holding signs outside the meeting. […]

The lone “no” votes were from board members David Zielke and Charles Borschenius.

Before the resolution passed, Zielke argued it was a waste of taxpayer money to rent the Ottawa Knights of Columbus Hall to hold public supporters of a resolution that will ultimately have no impact on state legislators or Gov. Bruce Rauner.

* The Illinois AFL-CIO claims 250 people were in attendance. A pic…

* Meanwhile a group called Truth In Employment is running radio ads in Springfield. It appears to be backed by International Union of Operating Engineers Local 965.

*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…

Hi, Rich –

So nice to finally meet you yesterday!

Few updates… Stark County passed the resolution. In addition, both Woodstock, IL and Oak Brook Village, IL rejected Illinois Prevailing Wage rates. Oak Brook Village also passed a resolution in favor of repealing prevailing wage.

Take care,
ck

Interesting that they’re now turning to prevailing wage rates.

And it was, indeed, nice to finally meet “ck” in person yesterday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* From RNUG in comments

Everything Rauner has proposed has an anti-union poison pill buried in it somewhere. Once the poison pill is removed, he no longer cares about his proposal; the proposal was just there to leverage public acceptance of the poison pill.

* The Question: Mostly agree or mostly disagree? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


online polls

- Posted by Rich Miller   125 Comments      


Today’s number: 27

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* Tom Kacich

Three more Republican lawmakers from East Central Illinois have cashed checks from Citizens for Rauner Inc., the political action committee of Gov. Bruce Rauner, which at last count had more than $20 million on hand.

Reps. Adam Brown of Champaign and Tom Bennett of Gibson City, plus Sen. Dale Righter of Mattoon, each reported $8,000 contributions from Rauner. Brown, Bennett and Sens. Bill Brady and Righter have reported taking the campaign contribution from the governor, who last month said he had given $400,000 to Republican lawmakers.

If any other Republicans are going to cash in the Rauner campaign donations, they haven’t done it yet.

By my count, 27 out of 67 House and Senate Republicans have cashed the governor’s checks, or about 40 percent.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has not yet reported cashing his check, but Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno did a while ago.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      


Munger warns of fiscal consequences, claims GA has “failed”

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* From a press release…

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Wednesday announced that the Illinois General Assembly’s failure to reach a budget agreement with Governor Rauner by July 1 will reap severe consequences for residents and organizations throughout the state.

“I am here as the state’s Chief Fiscal Officer to urge the General Assembly to avoid causing this unnecessary hardship and work with the Governor to pass a balanced budget,” Munger said at a Chicago news conference. “I am here to remind all involved that this isn’t a game to be won or lost - their rhetoric, posturing and decisions have grave implications on people and communities across the state.”

Regardless of budget negotiations, the Comptroller will be able to continue making payments authorized under the current fiscal year, FY15, budget - including the state’s existing $5 billion backlog.

However, when the FY15 bills are paid, she will not have appropriation authority to make new payments that fall under the new fiscal year, FY16, which begins July 1. Ramifications include:

    New Medicaid provider payments will stop
    Nonprofits and small employers will be unable to receive expedited payments
    State employees will start missing paychecks July 15
    General State Aid payments to schools will not be delivered as scheduled on August 10
    New payments to state vendors will stop

Munger noted that continuing appropriations and other legal provisions will allow her to meet some FY16 obligations, including the following payments: debt, pension, retiree benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Assistance for the Aged, Blind and Disabled, and most local government payments.

On the budget impasse, the Comptroller urged the General Assembly to reach an agreement with the Governor that includes reforms to make Illinois more competitive and grow its tax base. She noted that the budget passed by legislators last month has a $4 billion shortfall, which is “what put us in this mess in the first place.”

“I come from the private sector, and I have been extremely disappointed by the inactivity and needless theater in Springfield,” Munger said. “So far, lawmakers have failed to do their jobs. And their failure prevents me from doing mine. It’s time for all parties to find common ground before the situation grows dire.”

* Raw audio of her press conference…

* Comptroller Munger was asked in the presser what would happen if the unions took her to court to force her to issue paychecks. This happened during a Rod Blagojevich shutdown. Comptroller Dan Hynes worked with the unions and, if I remember correctly, Blagojevich did not contest the motion. Employees were paid.

Munger said she’d deal with that if it happens. A Munger aide told me no decision has yet been made about what she would do either way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


“Beleaguered. Humiliated. Frightened. Ashamed.”

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* He may yet beat these federal charges, or get them reduced. But Denny Hastert had better get used to feeling what this portrait shows because he’s now a pariah everywhere he goes and, barring a miraculously effective alibi, will forever remain so

* Mark Brown

A seething mass of news people swarmed the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on his way in and out of the Dirksen Federal Building like piranha drawn to a crippled calf.

Gawkers and protesters vied on the sidewalk for a mere peek at his hunched frame as he made his first court appearance since being charged in a federal indictment.

Inside the courthouse, Hastert found no respite either. Although the news media was kept at a more respectful distance, the eyes of an entire courtroom seemed to sear into his flesh as he squirmed self-consciously under the attention.

How would I describe Hastert?

Beleaguered. Humiliated. Frightened. Ashamed.

He should be all of that and more.

* Tribune

Hunched and tight-lipped, he was ushered into the elevator, ignoring shouted questions. There will be a lot of that in the months ahead, if the plan is to go to trial. But Hastert already looks like he’s doing time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      


Democrats respond to Rauner

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* Considering the attacks yesterday, Speaker Madigan did his level best to remain calm and answer the governor’s accusations point by point during a press conference yesterday. It’s a must-watch, via our good friends at BlueRoomStream.com

* AP

House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Chicago Democrat whom Rauner again Tuesday labeled an insider profiting through private legal work from government, reiterated his response to the Rauner agenda: “The solution to that lies in moderation.”

“Both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature view these issues as reducing the wage levels of workers in the state and reducing the standard of living for people in the state,” Madigan said.

In response to the governor, Madigan said his law firm works on correcting errors in property-value assessments and that he enforces strict ethical conduct.

* Sun-Times

Madigan added that his law practice has to do with contesting errors in assessments. He encouraged Rauner to maintain a level of professionalism and repeatedly said he vowed to do the same.

“I imposed strict requirements on my law firm and myself to ensure ethical conduct. I go to great lengths to make certain there is a clear division between my practice and my actions as a public official. Any potential client seeking a state benefit is rejected. If a client requests an intercession with a state agency I refuse. . . . Those policies have been in place for 20, 25, 30 years and I have religiously followed those policies,” Madigan told reporters. “I’ve been through these things before. I know that name-calling and leveling of accusations doesn’t do any good for the legislative process.”

* WICS

And while some Democrats supported the idea of a property tax freeze, they don’t support eliminating prevailing wage at the local level or changing collective bargaining agreements.

House Speaker Michael Madigan calls that part of the proposal an “extreme.”

“I feel that both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature will view these issues as reducing the wage levels of workers in the state and reducing the standard of living of people in the state,” said Speaker Madigan.

* Reuters

“The charges are baseless,” said Steve Brown, a Madigan spokesman. “The Madigan law firm does not benefit at all from higher taxes.” […]

A spokeswoman for Cullerton said he had met with the governor to discuss how to pursue property-tax freezes while addressing school funding needs. “Instead of demonstrating a willingness to compromise, the governor defaulted to campaign style mudslinging and personal attacks,” said Rikeesha Phelon.

* Tribune

“(Rauner’s) comments are unfortunate,” Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said. “If he would rather go on the personal attacks rather than talk about reasonable compromises for a property tax freeze, I’d say we have a long way to go.” […]

Madigan defended the process, saying the situation was of Rauner’s making and Democrats were giving Republicans “the opportunity to vote for what their governor has requested.”

“We don’t agree with the governor on the advocacy of his nonbudget issues, but taking up those issues for consideration is an accommodation to the governor,” Madigan said. “We’re here, we’re available, we’re interested in ideas, we’re interested in new ideas. We want to get the job done.”

* WCIA

Madigan criticized Rauner’s unwillingness to compromise on his five points. He said Republicans had a chance to pass a bipartisan bill granting a property tax freeze without local control.

“It’s very interesting that there are over 40 Democrats voting for a freeze on property taxes,” he said. “All we need is 31 Republicans, and the bill would be in the Senate. It would be half way home.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      


Rauner goes off on Madigan, Cullerton

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* We’ll look at the responses to the governor’s press conference yesterday in a separate post. Let’s start with Reuters

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois accused Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of personally profiting from the “status quo” as the two leaders fought over the state’s budget crisis.

“Mike Madigan is making millions — millions — from his law firm, from high property taxes,” Rauner said. “Right now, the insiders, the political class, is winning and hard-working families, taxpayers, small-business owners and homeowners, they’re losing and they’re leaving.”

* Erickson

Rauner amped up his criticism of the Democratic leaders, who said both of the lawyers make money off their tax law practices which is a “conflict of interest.” He said the speaker makes “millions” of dollars off of high property taxes and Cullerton makes his “wealth” off of “government inside deals.”

* Finke

However, Rauner said later that the defeated [property tax freeze] legislation lacked “the single most important reform” in the property tax issue — allowing local governments to ignore the state’s prevailing wage requirement on public works projects and also allowing them to restrict the issues that are subject to collective bargaining with public employee unions such as insurance benefits and privatizing some work.

“My concern is there is not a real sincere focus on controlling costs in local government and getting control in the long term,” Rauner said at a news conference at the Executive Mansion. “Here’s the critical thing we are proposing: We want local voters to control what gets bargained. It empowers local voters.” […]

Rauner said a bill that had a property tax freeze without the collective bargaining and prevailing wage proposals wasn’t real reform.

“Having no real reform and then declaring victory is the way we’ve gotten into the mess we’re in,” Rauner said.

* Sun-Times

[Gov. Rauner] called debate on the issue in the Legislature a “general, vague discussion and more commentary.”

“Our property taxes — it’s not debatable — that they are punishing our homeowners, punishing our small business owners, punishing Illinois’ competitiveness, causing us to lose jobs, causing family incomes in Illinois to be lower than they should be,” Rauner said. “It’s our biggest tax problem. That’s not debatable and for the Senate to spend time today debating or wondering how important property taxes are or how big a problem they are, that’s a waste of time.”

* Tribune

Following a pattern that has consumed much of the session since early May, Democrats publicly took apart a Rauner proposal to freeze property taxes while setting themselves up to argue in the coming weeks that they had extended an olive branch of compromise.

Rauner, meanwhile, dismissed the activity as a “waste of time,” saying Democrats were not serious about negotiating a deal because their two legislative leaders work at law firms that make money contesting property tax bills. […]

“The ideas on the table didn’t include what really matters, I’ll say that,” Rauner told reporters at a news conference he convened outside the governor’s mansion. The union provisions, which Rauner refers to as “local control of government costs,” are “the single most important thing,” Rauner said. […]

“They [Madigan and Cullerton] have a fundamental conflict of interest with the taxpayers, with homeowners, small business owners in the state,” Rauner said. “We recognize that conflict of interest and we’ve got to talk candidly about the challenges that are in front of us.”

* WCIA

“The cronies, the patronage workers, the bureaucrats, the government insiders. They’re doing well under Speaker Madigan,” he said. “Speaker Madigan is making millions of dollars from the status quo in Illinois.”

* AP

Rauner says he’s compromised too, reducing his “turnaround agenda” to five points, with fair legislative remapping and restrictions on civil-liability lawsuits rounding out the plan.

“They’ve refused to have real negotiations on specific issues in those five bills,” Rauner told reporters outside the Executive Mansion as the House debated the tax measure. […]

Asked why he won’t accept the stand-alone tax freeze, take credit, and continue working on the tangential issues, the governor rejected the idea as an ultimately hurtful victory.

“That’s how we get in the mess we’re in,” Rauner said. “We can’t afford to nibble around the edges with very, very, minor, short-term things that don’t change the long-term trajectory of the state and then declare victory. That would be a failure of the people of Illinois.”

The governor’s full press conference is on BlueRoomStream’s site. Click here to watch.

…Adding… WICS

“The governments belong to the local voters and the taxpayers. They don’t belong to the special interest groups that work for the government or that are inside government. The governments have got to be responsive and owned by local voters and local taxpayers. That’s what our bill does. It empowers local voters,” said Gov. Rauner.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Stop the satellite TV tax

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The cable industry is asking lawmakers to place a NEW 5% tax on satellite TV service. The satellite tax is not about fairness, equity or parity – it’s a tax increase on the 1.3 million Illinois families and businesses who subscribe to satellite TV.

Satellite Tax Will Hurt Illinois Families and Small Businesses

    • Satellite TV subscribers will see their monthly bills go up 5%.
    • This tax will impact every bar, restaurant and hotel that subscribes to satellite TV service, which will translate into higher prices, decreased revenues, and fewer jobs.
    • Rural Illinois has no choice: In many parts of Illinois, cable refuses to provide TV service to rural communities. Satellite TV is their only option.

Satellite Tax Is Not About Parity or Fairness

    • Cable’s claim that this discriminatory tax is justified because satellite TV doesn’t pay local franchise fees could not be further from the truth. Cable pays those fees to local towns and cities in exchange for the right to bury cables in the public rights of way—a right that cable companies value in the tens of billions of dollars in their SEC filings.
    • Satellite companies don’t pay franchise fees for one simple reason: We use satellites—unlike cable, we don’t need to dig up streets and sidewalks to deliver our TV service.
    • Making satellite subscribers pay franchise fees—or, in this case, an equivalent amount in taxes—would be like taxing the air. It’s no different than making airline passengers pay a fee for laying railroad tracks. They don’t use; they shouldn’t have to pay for it.

Tell Your Lawmakers to Stop The Satellite TV Tax

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


AFSCME members to rally today

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* From AFSCME Council 31…

State employees to rally in support of public services, call on Gov. Rauner to settle fair contract

After six months of negotiations over a new union contract for state of Illinois employees and with less than a month until the current agreement is set to expire on June 30, the Rauner Administration continues to make extreme demands, leaving the two sides very far from a settlement.

It’s against this backdrop that thousands of public service workers employed by state government agencies are participating in more than 100 planned public events throughout Illinois this week. The events—including rallies, marches, leafleting, food drives and more—are raising awareness of the vital public services provided by state employees in every Illinois community, and urging support for settling a fair contract without disrupting those services.

Selected events taking place TODAY—Wednesday, June 10—include:

    ALTON Alton Mental Health Center, 4500 College Ave., 3:15 p.m.

    ANNA Choate Mental Health Center, 1000 N Main, 11:45 a.m.

    AURORA Employment Security office, 260 E Indian Trail Rd., 12:30 p.m.

    BLOOMINGTON Human Services office, 501 W Washington, 12:15 p.m.

    CHAMPAIGN regional office building, 2125 S First St., 12:15 p.m.

    CHARLESTON Human Services office, 1550 Douglas St., 12:15 p.m.

    CHICAGO (LOOP) Human Services office, 33 S State, 12:30 p.m.
    (SOUTH LOOP) Human Services office, 1112 S Wabash, 12:15 p.m.
    (SOUTH SIDE) – Human Services office, 8001 S Cottage Grove Ave., 12:15 p.m.

    DANVILLE Human Services office, 220 S Bowman Ave., 12:15 p.m.

    GALESBURG Children and Family Services office, 467 E Main St., 12:15 p.m.

    JOLIET Human Services employees, corner of Chicago and Webster, 12:15 p.m.

    KANKAKEE Shapiro Mental Health Center, 100 E Jeffrey, 11:30 a.m.

    PONTIAC Pontiac Correctional Center, corner of Lincoln and Vermilion, 2:00 p.m.

    ROCK ISLAND Human Services office, 500 42nd St., 12:15 p.m.

Events happening throughout the state tomorrow will be advised later.

In related efforts, more than 20,000 yard signs saying, “We Support State Workers” have been distributed across Illinois in recent weeks, and hundreds of local businesses have posted window signs reading, “State Employees Serve Our Community.”

Public service workers in state government protect public safety, prevent child abuse, care for veterans and people with disabilities, fight crime, respond to emergencies, help struggling families, protect public health, ensure clean air and clean water, maintain state parks and much more.

State employees have never been locked out or forced to strike in some 40 years of collective bargaining in Illinois. But as a candidate, Gov. Rauner repeatedly vowed to “shut down state government” in order to weaken the rights and drive down the wages of public service workers. Since taking office, he has pushed for budget cuts that are harmful to children, seniors and middle-class families, and has spent months giving speeches that attack working people instead of compromising to solve real problems.

- Posted by Rich Miller   87 Comments      


Bradley: “Republicans don’t want compromise”

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

* From a press release…

Good morning. Please find below a news release on the Illinois House of Representatives’ repeated attempts Tuesday to pass property tax relief for Illinois homeowners. For more information, please contact Rep. John Bradley at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Rauner Property Tax Relief Proposal Debated in Illinois House, Rejected by House Republicans

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – For the third time in less than a month, Illinois House Republicans refused to support legislation to freeze property taxes statewide. This time, one of the measures included the exact property tax language Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed.

“I’m disappointed that House Republicans would again turn their backs on middle-class families and homeowners who struggle to pay their property taxes,” said state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, who sponsored one of the tax relief measures. “The record is clear: House Republicans have rejected freezing property taxes not once, not twice, but three times in less than one month’s time.”

On Tuesday, the House debated two measures to freeze property taxes statewide, including House Bill 691 proposed by Bradley. Even though Bradley’s proposal was identical to property tax relief language proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, the failure of House Republicans to support the measure led to its defeat.

“House Republicans don’t want compromise, they don’t want to help struggling homeowners and they don’t want to strengthen Illinois’ middle class,” Bradley said. “Three times within a month the House voted to freeze property taxes, and all three attempts were overwhelmingly opposed by House Republicans, including a bill that included Governor Rauner’s own proposal.”

Bradley said he expects the House to continue debating property tax relief for Illinois homeowners, hoping at some point House Republicans will find a proposal they can support.

“The simple question to House Republicans is: are you loyal to your political party, or are you going to vote for taxpayers and homeowners?,” Bradley said.

Rep. Bradley is expected to be a Tier One target next year, so that explains much of this.

But, as we’ll get into more today, the Statehouse atmosphere took a turn for the worse yesterday and this just continues it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


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

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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