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HFS to reimburse all Medicaid providers that treat children

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* A federal judge has already ruled that Cook County hospitals and other providers that treat should receive all their Medicaid reimbursements, so this was expected…

Providers offering Medicaid services to children throughout Illinois will continue to receive funding during the budget impasse, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) announced today.

HFS will be making payments to its providers to ensure children in Illinois have access to necessary healthcare services. The department intends to continue this funding until a new state budget is approved. Details of the decision will be developed and announced soon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* See you Monday. Nicki Bluhm will play us out

No can do

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Nailed it

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* Steve Schnorf in comments today

It seems to me that much of what we are seeing is rational behavior (although whether it is responsible is a different question). Both sides prefer to avoid, if possible, owning the tax increase that’s coming. Both sides prefer, if possible, to avoid owning the program cuts that are coming. Certainly the Ds want to avoid owning even the small things that are probably coming that will impair working people. Surely the admin prefers not owning the less moderate of the proposals it has made, at least in the minds of the people (and their supporters) most negatively impacted by them. The governor appears completely sincere in his belief that significant changes need to be made in Illinois’ business environment if economic growth and employment is going to even get back to it’s previous normal levels. And it’s hard to doubt the Ds sincerity in their defense of the pink/blue collar workers of the state (although the benefit to some of their traditional non working class funders is also a given).

If I’m even close to right, then it’s going to be very hard to get people to abandon what they believe to be rational behavior and engage in behavior that seems antithetical to their goals. But that is what a compromise is going to require. Very hard.

* And then an hour and a half later, another Schnorf comment

Let me suggest another thought. Although we have a few hard left and right wingers posting on here, most of us are pretty moderate. Setting aside whether the governor’s specific proposals are the right ones or not, I suspect that most of us agree with the proposition that it’s pretty important to do some things to improve Illinois economic and employment climate. I believe that our moderate mindset is a part of what makes many on here wince at some of the governor’s proposals.

That’s not how we would do it at all, me included. Build consensus as you go, chip away at the problem as solutions are agreed to, use the agreed bill process, that’s how most of us grew up politically/governmentally, and we still believe in that approach.

I’m not trying to channel the governor here, I’m just trying to kind of intuit what he might be thinking. First, I think he believes the state’s situation is quite serious, more serious than most of us think, and I think that he believes a time consuming solution is inadequate. It would be pretty hard to argue that we’ve made a heck of a lot of progress in the past 10 or 15 years. Two recessions and our state government’s actions and inactions have left us with a lot of unpaid old bills, seriously degraded reputation in the credit markets, too much underemployment. too many people simply giving up and dropping out of the workforce, too much immigration out and too few people moving in, too few state employees in many program areas to do their jobs properly, you name it.

I suspect the Governor came to the conclusion that the gradual moderate approach wouldn’t adequately address our problem; essentially, we lose too much ground and time each year so that gradual solutions are a problem compounder, not a solution. Something pretty significant needs to be done as quickly as possible.

If you believe that, and also believe more drastic solutions are needed than can be accomplished thru the old tried and true approach (an agreed bill process is never going to lead to a dramatic change in one fell swoop) it is probably reasonable to say let’s do it all at once, not drag the pain out over two or three sessions with a lot of hard votes each year: rip the bandage off and fix the problems now.

Again, if I’m even close it’s easier to understand why we are where we are. But I don’t have a clue how we get out of it.

This shows, again, why I believe Steve Schnorf is one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever known.

And if even he can’t figure out how to get out of this mess, we’re in deep trouble, campers.

Deep.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Cullerton: “Nope” *** “Sincerely, Bruce”

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

*** UPDATE *** I just asked Senate President Cullerton’s spokesperson about this passage in the governor’s letter…

President Cullerton publicly expressed this week that he is open to changes in the prevailing wage law.

She said he made those remarks at the Tribune editorial board meeting. “He indicated that he could be open to looking at modest proposals but would rather look at other ways to maximize savings for local communities and school districts,” she said.

OK. So I asked if those “modest proposals” include allowing local governments to eliminate the prevailing wage.

“Nope,” she said.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* The governor just sent a memo to legislators…

To: Members of the General Assembly
From: Bruce Rauner, Governor
Re: Turnaround Agenda – Property Tax Freeze and Local Control Legislation
Date: July 31, 2015

As both legislative chambers prepare to reconvene next week, I want to begin directly communicating with you on our Turnaround Agenda and the state budget.

I know this extra session is frustrating for many of you – it is for me as well. It has already gone on far longer than necessary. As soon as all parties are interested in beginning real negotiations, there is no reason we can’t quickly reach an agreement that will make Illinois more competitive and free up resources inside state government so we can afford to be more compassionate. I am eager to reach an agreement soon on reasonable reforms to turn around the state we all love.

I also know that many of you may be having difficulty receiving full and accurate information about our proposals. I suspect that much of what you have read or heard about our compromise proposals is likely incomplete or lacking critical context. This memo is the first in a series that are meant to clarify our positions and explain directly why our reforms are both reasonable and necessary.

Before addressing the first policy area, I want to reiterate the motivation behind our Turnaround Agenda. I simply want Illinois to be the most competitive and the most compassionate state in the nation. It is not an ideological agenda – I have shown a willingness to embrace policies that run contrary to Republican orthodoxy. Our reforms are aimed at growing our economy so that over the long term we have more money to invest in our schools and social services, and our reforms are meant to free up money inside state government so that we can give the most vulnerable among us a hand up. I know it sounds trite, but I love Illinois and her people. They are the motivation behind our agenda.

One issue where the people of Illinois demand reform is on property taxes. As you know, we have the second highest property taxes in the nation, and those high taxes hurt middle class families as well as our economic competitiveness. We need to deliver property tax relief.
A short-term property tax freeze alone, while politically popular, is only a small step and will not be truly effective at helping our homeowners and small business owners unless we also give local units of government and school districts the ability to control costs. Absent those tools, property taxes will increase again as soon as the freeze expires. Our proposed legislation offers reasonable reforms that allow – but do not require – local units of government to use tools to control costs.

More detailed information on these tools is below:

    Collective Bargaining Reform

    Current Law

    Years of court rulings and negotiations have gradually eroded management flexibility in collective bargaining agreements for schools, cities, counties, community colleges and other units of government. Once a topic is negotiated by an employer, the government is effectively obligated to continue negotiating over that topic for future collective bargaining agreements. This creates a “one-way ratchet” in which decisions made decades ago by other leaders effectively cannot be altered.

    Proposed Changes

    Local units of government and school districts should be allowed to “reset” this framework. The compromise Turnaround legislation gives local governments and voters the ability to determine what issues must be negotiated. If they do not want to change existing collective bargaining topics, they can keep the status quo. Local voters and elected officials would be given a choice to craft the best option for their communities, allowing them to free up resources, if necessary, for other critical government services.

    Context

    Chicago Public Schools is facing the very challenge this legislation seeks to address.

    In 1981 CPS agreed to “pick up” most of the teachers’ share of their pension contributions. That means that on top of the employer share of pension contributions, CPS also picks up 77 percent of the employee’s share. This deal, created more than 30 years ago, has resulted in CPS in FY15 alone paying approximately $127 million towards the employee contribution for teachers.

    Chicago leaders have requested that the state remove the “pension pick up” from collective bargaining and require teachers to pay their own share. In recent years, the state has given Chicago other requested collective bargaining changes. For example, CPS was given the ability to decline to negotiate over particular subjects, including the length of the school year and duration of instructional time, at the Mayor’s request in 2011. We should end the piecemeal-type approach to collective bargaining reform and give all our local leaders the tools and flexibility they need.

    Prevailing Wage Reform

    Current Law

    Illinois law requires wages on state and local construction projects that do not reflect true market rates. This drives up taxpayer costs by up to 20 percent and diverts money that can otherwise go to fund our schools and social services. Illinois’ is an outlier in this regard. Nearly 20 states do not have any prevailing wage requirements, and more than 20 additional states limit prevailing wages to a monetary threshold.

    Proposed Changes
    The compromise Turnaround legislation allows true competitive bidding in local taxpayer- funded construction projects.. Local units of government and school districts would be allowed to opt out of or remain in the state prevailing wage law. They would be able to set their own local prevailing wage requirements that are better tailored to their community. Existing prevailing wage requirements would remain for all state projects

    Context

    Any prevailing wage changes would occur only if a local community decided to adopt changes. Additionally, local units of government could adopt local contractor preferences, similar to what the City of Chicago has already enacted, to encourage Illinois-based workforces. Reforming the law would also open up more economic opportunity for a broader range of small businesses and minority-owned firms.

President Cullerton publicly expressed this week that he is open to changes in the prevailing wage law. That is encouraging and a starting point for more serious discussions about ways to control costs for local units of government. Given the financial plight of the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and many communities and school districts throughout the state, it is common sense to also include collective bargaining reforms to the list of what we should be discussing. There is no reason the state should be tying the hands of our local leaders as they try to rescue our communities from years of bad financial decisions. Instead of binding our local leaders to short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible decisions made in the past by others, let’s give our current leaders the tools necessary to fix the future.

President Cullerton has also appropriately noted that school funding is a major component of our property tax system and a discussion of school funding formula should be included in any discussion of property taxes. I agree. While some details need to be worked out, I am very willing to include school funding reform as part of a compromise property tax and local control package.

We still must find a way to give local units of government tools to controls costs, but little else should be standing in the way of an agreement on this critical topic.

I hope you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact me or our staff if you have additional questions or ideas.

Sincerely,
Bruce

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   94 Comments      


The “puppetmaster”

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* I told subscribers about this and two different mailers today

The other day, the pro-Rauner Turnaround Illinois political action committee sent a mailer to many of Rep. Frank Mautino’s constituents.

On both sides of the mailer, there is a giant, black-and-white photo of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is labeled as “Chicago’s political puppetmaster Mike Madigan.” In front of the frowning speaker is a smiling Mautino connected to a puppeteer’s strings. Madigan, the mailer says, is “trying to control your representative.”

Constituents are asked to call Mautino’s office to urge the local representative to “cut the strings.”

Think this attack is unique to Mautino. Think again.

Others are targeted as well. For instance, the very similar mailer was sent to constituents of Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake. The only difference is that Yingling’s smiling face was Photoshopped above the same dark suit with red tie.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* A photo from election night, 2014…


* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


A few bits of common sense

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* I’m not a fan of many small biz regulations, but this seems reasonable, considering where some of the items may come from

Beginning next year if you’re looking to find a pawn shot to take that item with the serial number removed, you’re out of luck. Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1820 that prohibits pawnbrokers from accepting items that have the manufacturer’s serial number, make, model, PIN, or other identifying marks removed or altered. The law also says no personal property purchased by a pawnbroker can be sold or removed from the shop or even transferred to another store within a period of 10 days. The law takes effect the first of the year.

* As someone who drives a gas/plug-in hybrid, I like this idea because I’ve been blocked from outlets in the past by gas-powered vehicle owners

Beginning next year if you park your non-electric vehicle in a spot meant to charge electric vehicles, or EVs, you can expect a minimum fine of $75. The law, which takes effect the first of the year also allows parking lot authorities to remove any non-EVs parked in EV designated spots. The Governor signed House Bill 198 earlier this week that, aside from allowing for the fine and tow, requires municipalities to post signs for the EV charging station parking spots.

* Signed yesterday

Provides that all severance agreements entered into by or on behalf of a public body are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public, subject to redaction as allowed by the Act.

* Seems like these teams should’ve been able to do this already

Exempts certain health care professionals licensed to practice in another state or country from State licensure requirements if the professional is practicing in the State while under contract to provide services to an athletic team.

Other bills signed into law yesterday are here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


This Just In: Exelon Profits Up 22.2 Percent in 2nd Quarter

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

While our state budget crisis becomes increasingly dire, Exelon still demands a corporate bailout despite making more than $1.3 BILLION in profit in the first six months of the year. This is exactly the wrong thing for Illinois’ citizens and businesses.

EXELON JUST ANNOUNCED SECOND QUARTER 2015 PROFITS: $638 MILLION

SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS A DAY or $292,125 AN HOUR

That’s up 22.2% from 2014! Sounds like Exelon had a pretty good second quarter. And yet this wildly profitable company still seeks a bailout from struggling Illinois ratepayers and threatens to throw thousands of people out of work because they’re supposedly not making enough money.

EDITORIAL BOARDS FROM CHICAGO TO BELLEVILLE AGREE…JUST SAY NO TO THE EXELON BAILOUT.

Belleville said it best:

    “Good old Exelon. The company has come up with legislation to subsidize its nuclear reactors, get electric users throughout the state to pay for it and claim it’s in the interest of clean energy.”

    “State lawmakers need to see this bill for the dirty trick it is and kill it.”

- Belleville News Democrat: “DON’T FALL FOR EXELON BAILOUT”

Struggling Illinois Ratepayers have had enough.

Just say no to the Exelon bailout. Vote no on SB1585/HB3293.

BEST Coalition is a 501C4 nonprofit group of dozens of business, consumer and government groups, as well as large and small businesses. Visit www.noexelonbailout.com.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Casino company acquires video gaming operator

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* Consolidation across platforms appears to be the new thing in the gaming industry. Not long ago, an Illinois casino proposed buying a Metro East horse racing track. Now this. From a press release…

Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PENN: Nasdaq) (the “Company,” or “Penn National”) announced today that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Illinois video gaming terminal (“VGT”) operator Prairie State Gaming (“PSG”) in an all cash transaction. One of the largest VGT route operators in Illinois, PSG’s operations include more than 1,100 terminals across a network of 270 bar and retail gaming establishments throughout the State. For the twelve-months ended June 30, 2015, PSG generated nearly $10 million in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). The transaction, which is expected to be immediately accretive to Penn National upon closing later this quarter, is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals and conditions.

Jay Snowden, Chief Operating Officer of Penn National Gaming, commented, “The planned acquisition of PSG is consistent with our proven long-term strategy for growth through accretive acquisitions. PSG is one of Illinois’ most respected VGT operators, with a strong track record of regulatory compliance and a reputation for reliable around the clock service backed by one of the industry’s most experienced teams. With its strong financial position, PSG has also distinguished itself in the Illinois VGT industry for its ability to quickly roll out new games to customers.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Yes, there are plenty of people to replace Kirk

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* John Fund writes in the National Review that the Illinois Republicans could easily find somebody to replace US Sen. Mark Kirk if he stepped aside

The Illinois Republican bench includes Congressman Adam Kinzinger, an Iraq War veteran in Kirk’s moderate mold, Republican National Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte, former Representative Joe Walsh, and Jason Plummer, a 2010 candidate for lieutenant governor.

I like Kinzinger, but he is pro-gun, pro-life and anti-gay rights. He may be a “moderate” in DC, but not statewide here.

* Illinois Review recently profiled Demetra DeMonte,…

Speaking at Tuesday night’s meeting of the LaSalle County Tea Party Republican National Committeewoman, and former RNC Secretary Demetra DeMonte took a question from the audience about the conservative base of the Republican Party. The questioner expressed anger with GOP leadership who continually lie to get elected and make big promises only to do nothing once they get to Washington, and worse.

DeMonte said that she shares those concerns and wants to see the Republican Party embrace conservatives more.

“I know your frustration,” DeMonte said.

As one of Illinois members to the Republican National Committee, DeMonte has helped get the RNC to take policy stand to help fight against Common Core, earmarks, and defend religious liberties.

DeMonte understands why people are attracted to the message Donald Trump has been offering as a Presidential candidate. Note: DeMonte is not endorsing any candidate at this point in time.

She also is a fan of Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.

Joe Walsh? Yeah, that’ll work.

And I mainly just posted this excerpt to see your reaction to the Jason Plummer idea. We haven’t had him in the barrel in quite a while.

Have at it…

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      


Mansion roof to be fixed

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* From a press release…

The Illinois Executive Mansion Association has sent a letter of intent to local contractor Henson Robinson Company to restore the building’s ailing roof. The winning bid came in at an economical $492,934 for the project. To support the growing campaign to restore the People’s House, Henson Robinson Company is also including a generous in-kind donation in their proposal.

“It is crucial that we begin this work soon to stop further decay to the mansion that is caused by the damaged roof. We are very excited to be working with the Henson Robinson Company, as they have been serving Springfield for over 150 years through six generations,” said Jeff Evans, owner of a Springfield architectural and construction management firm who is volunteering his time and services to the project. “They have worked on some of the most important and historical buildings in Illinois and we appreciate their dedication to restoring the People’s House at a cost-effective rate.”

The Henson Robinson Company was first founded Springfield in 1861 and provided Civil War soldiers with various appliances and tools. Since then, the company transformed into an employee-owned contractor specializing in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, roofing, plumbing and other systems. Their top historical and landmark projects include the restoration of the Illinois Capitol building’s dome in the 1960s, repair work to Lincoln’s Tomb and the 2014 installation of air conditioning in Abraham Lincoln’s Illinois home.

“We are all honored by the opportunity to participate in another historical Illinois landmark. This project, like so many before it, continues our legacy of providing quality construction services on so many of Springfield’s most recognizable buildings,” said Dan Hoselton, President, Henson Robinson Company. “Our team of construction professionals is already at work perfecting our plan to execute the work safely, on time and in budget.”

The Illinois Executive Mansion is the third-oldest state governor’s residence in the United States and the oldest gubernatorial residence in the Midwest. Since the 1971-1972 renovation, only emergency repairs and maintenance work has been performed on the building and mechanical systems.

The repairs will be supported solely through private funds raised by the Illinois Executive Mansion Association.

According to the association, prevailing wages will be paid on this project.

And, by the way, good on Henson Robinson Company for donating some of the costs. That shows real local pride.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


The trend is not our friend

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* Crain’s takes a look at the big picture

Between 1979 and 2011, carmakers and their suppliers closed 267 plants across the U.S., according to a Center for Automotive Research study. Almost two-thirds of them were in the Midwest, and 42 percent of the closures occurred between 2004 and 2010, when the Great Recession bankrupted General Motors and Chrysler.

While Wisconsin no longer has a single car factory and Missouri is down to two, Illinois had managed to avoid the industry’s retrenchment. But the geography of production continues to evolve. Even as they’ve cut labor costs, the traditional domestic producers are losing market share in North America to rivals based overseas, driving them, in some cases, to move jobs and increase investments in Mexico, a rising auto-industry powerhouse. […]

Ford’s Torrence Avenue assembly plant, however, is humming along thanks to the popularity of the Explorer. In 2014, the factory produced 284,993 of the sport-utility vehicles, boosting total production at the facility 4.3 percent to 366,672 vehicles, according to the Automotive News data. The factory also produces Taurus cars and police Interceptors but is losing the Lincoln MKS. […]

In Belvidere, nearly 4,500 Fiat Chrysler employees made 348,552 vehicles last year, an increase of 7.2 percent from 2013 and a number that surpassed the previous peak eight years ago. The London-based company’s Jeep Compass and Patriot brands accounted for about three-quarters of the activity, with the Dodge Dart making up the remainder. […]

Though Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford has shifted some jobs back to the U.S., more recently the company said it will take production of its Focus compact car from Michigan and invest $2.5 billion to build engine and transmission factories in Mexico.

As long as automakers and other manufacturers prize squeezing workers over everything else, we’re always gonna be faced with a big problem here. And so is every other state.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - “Willful misreading” *** Duckworth: “I screwed up”

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* From the Illinois Republican Party…

In an email to her former colleagues, Rep. Tammy Duckworth admitted to wrongfully terminating a whistleblower. As Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs under Governor Rob Blagojevich, Duckworth fired a whistleblower and then admitted that she “screwed up” in firing her. In the same email, Duckworth asked her subordinates for help in justifying the wrongful termination.

“Rep. Duckworth fired a whistleblower and then admitted her wrongdoing to her co-workers. Instead of correcting her mistake, Duckworth doubled down on her poor decision and asked her subordinates to justify her misconduct,” said Nick Klitzing, Executive Director of the Illinois Republican Party. “Illinois needs leaders who stand accountable for their actions and who right wrongs, not compound them.”

* The e-mail…

*** UPDATE *** From Matt McGrath at the Democratic Party of Illinois…

“In a week when Mark Kirk was encouraged to drop out of the race by Gov. Rauner’s finance chair and called the Republican Senate majority’s ‘weak link,’ it’s understandable that he and his political allies are desperately trying to change the subject. In this instance they’re pinning their hopes on a willful misreading of a single element of a years-old lawsuit that already has been dismissed in full or in part three separate times. Illinois voters will see this for what it is: the politics of desperation from a badly struggling campaign.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


Rate IllinoisGO’s new online ad

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* From the self-described “Democratic centrist” group with strong ties to Gov. Bruce Rauner…

Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity (IllinoisGO) today announced the launch of a web ad focused on the need for Democrats to come together to support a balanced budget plan that seriously addresses our state and its cities’ financial challenges. IllinoisGO’s video, part of a larger digital organizing campaign, is airing on multiple digital platforms in Democratic districts statewide to educate and encourage Democratic voters to get involved to help change the dynamic in Springfield.

Illinois and its cities are facing major financial crises, thanks to the reckless leadership in the General Assembly and Governor’s office over the last decade. Democratic lawmakers have been accountable only to the narrow special interests and not to the people they represent. Their failure to pursue responsible budgeting has led to massive cuts to the state’s most critical responsibilities - educating our kids and providing for the most vulnerable among us – and a sluggish economy.

But Springfield can and must make the responsible, hard choices to get us back on track and pass a balanced budget that supports services for those in need, makes the tax code more fair, and protects the key investments necessary to grow our economy.

“Illinois’ dire financial state is a result of the majority party’s failed leadership and we need to come together to protect progressive values and save our state,” said IllinoisGO Chairman Anthony Anderson. “We will continue to urge Democrats in Springfield to change course and support the tough, but responsible, decisions to correct our state’s financial course, better serve our most vulnerable residents, and grow our economy.”

* Rate it

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Because… Madigan

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* Senate President John Cullerton visited the Tribune editorial board yesterday

Rauner wants to give local governments more flexibility on what matters are subject to collective bargaining — Cullerton suggested that’s a non-starter. Rauner wants to curb venue shopping for friendly courts in the civil justice system — no dice with Cullerton.

If there’s room to deal, he suggested, it might come in modest changes to the workers’ compensation system and prevailing wage laws.

The changes Rauner seeks — we’d argue they’re business-friendly, taxpayer-friendly, citizen-friendly — are geared toward shaking a moribund status quo here that has consigned Illinois to be an economic also-ran. […]

[Cullerton] does seem to want to create some distance, at least in style, between himself and Madigan, who is locked in a glare-off with the governor. Madigan’s chief contribution to all this has been his weekly clenched-fist news conference. (Home of the famous quote: “I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that question.”)

* Wow. “More flexibility” on collective bargaining. From the governor’s actual bill

Prohibited subjects of bargaining. 


(a) A public employer and a labor organization may not bargain over, and no collective bargaining agreement entered into, renewed, or extended on or after the effective date of 
this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly may include, 
provisions related to the following prohibited subjects of collective bargaining: 


(1) Employee pensions, including the impact or 
implementation of changes to employee pensions, including 
 the Employee Consideration Pension Transition Program as 
set forth in Section 30 of the Personnel Code. 


(2) Wages, including any form of compensation including salaries, overtime compensation, vacations, 
holidays, and any fringe benefits, including the impact or 
implementation of changes to the same; except nothing in 
this Section 7.6 will prohibit the employer from electing 
to bargain collectively over employer-provided health insurance. 


(3) Hours of work, including work schedules, shift 
schedules, overtime hours, compensatory time, and lunch periods, including the impact or implementation of changes 
to the same. 


(4) Matters of employee tenure, including the impact of 
employee tenure or time in service on the employer’s 
exercise of authority including, but not limited to, any 
consideration the employer must give to the tenure of 
employees adversely affected by the employer’s exercise of management’s right to conduct a layoff.

Also, no mention at all of getting rid of the prevailing wage. No substance about any of the governor’s proposals or why Madigan is opposing them. Just happy talk about the hero and bashing of the villain.

Why are the governor’s supporters so darned reluctant to defend their guy’s anti-union proposals in the mass media?

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Today’s number: 76 percent

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* Flight noise has become a significant media/political issue in Chicago, so we’re seeing legislation

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed legislation that will increase the number of runways allowed at O’Hare International Airport to 10 from eight, an effort designed to expand flight paths and reduce jet noise affecting some Chicago neighborhoods and western suburbs since 2013.

The Chicago Department of Aviation previously had cited the eight-runway limit as the reason for the planned Aug. 20 closure of one of four diagonal runways that runs northwest to southeast. A second closure of a diagonal runway with the same alignment was planned for November 2019.

It’s unclear whether the change will result in Chicago officials calling off the August closure and working with the Federal Aviation Administration to disperse the more than 2,400 daily flights at O’Hare across a wider number of runways pointing in a variety of directions. […]

Colleen Mulcrone, a member of Fair Allocation in Runways, said she hoped it would provide “the breathing room everyone has asked for to give the continued use of the diagonal runways full and thorough consideration.”

* More

State Sen. John Mulroe sponsored the legislation. He said it will allow the four existing diagonal runways to be preserved and, he hopes, used. That would disperse airport traffic over a larger area.

The legislation also would give the owners of more homes around the airport access a fund to pay for noise mitigation.

* And it’s not just O’Hare, either. Flight patterns have changed for Midway, and that’s stirring up some ire on the South Side

Midway noise complaints from April through June totaled 4,844, more than double the number of complaints filed in the first three months of the year, according to a report by the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Complaints from South and Southwest side residents and suburbanites have ballooned since the Federal Aviation Administration implemented a change in flight paths in February 2014 that directs planes from over Lake Michigan to a track above the Stevenson Expressway and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to land on Midway’s runway 22 Left, which runs northeast to southwest.

City officials said the big jump should be viewed from the perspective that 76 percent of the complaints about Midway jets in the second quarter came from only six addresses.

They say a similar pattern of “serial complainants'’ occurs around O’Hare International Airport, which has received 1.3 million noise complaints in the first five months of 2015. Complaints started to skyrocket after air-traffic patterns were changed at O’Hare in late 2013 when a new parallel runway came on line.

However, anti-noise activists say thousands of people who suffer from chronic jet noise over their homes simply don’t complain because they are resigned that nothing would change. [Emphasis added.]

It’s very possible that people don’t officially complain even though they are suffering. But 76 percent of the complaints came from just six addresses? Bizarre. That’s 614 per address, or about 7 calls per day per address during the second quarter.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Friday, Jul 31, 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, Jul 31, 2015

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Good morning!

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* Wakey wakey

Got me burnin’, burnin’, burnin’

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* The pic…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   83 Comments      


Today’s number: $500 million

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* From the CTBA…

Today, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) released a new report, It Is All About the Revenue: Why Both Current FY2016 General Fund Budget Proposals Fall Short, which provides a detailed analysis of both Governor Bruce Rauner’s and the General Assembly’s two very different proposals for the FY2016 General Fund budget. Both budget proposals would cut services and increase the state’s deficit due to the phase down of the temporary tax increases in the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates that became effective on January 1, 2015. Collectively, those income tax rate cuts will cause Illinois’ General Fund to lose $4.6 billion in recurring revenue over the course of the full fiscal year.

While Governor Rauner’s budget proposal would cut spending by $5 billion, CTBA’s analysis found that $3.2 billion of his proposed spending cuts will likely not be realized in FY2016 for legal, constitutional, and related reasons, and therefore, would increase the state’s General Fund deficit to $9.5 billion. Meanwhile, the General Assembly’s proposed FY2016 budget would cut spending by $590 million, but, without the sufficient revenue needed to cover the higher level of spending it authorizes, it would increase the projected accumulated General Fund deficit to nearly $10 billion.

Emphasis added. The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Because… Madigan

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute essentially says everyone who sides with union workers are tools for and dupes of Speaker Madigan

Which brings us back to today, and why this fight represents a turning point for Illinois. This budget impasse is different because Madigan does not have a Republican partner; Rauner is a disrupter. Rauner has his hands on the game board and is trying to take it away and replace it with one in which the people come first. Madigan, and his allies in the media and elsewhere, are fighting this with all their collective might.

For Madigan, it is all about keeping his power; for Rauner, it is all about empowering people instead of government.

When you see the news coverage, remember that those who support Madigan are the same ones who benefit from the status quo.

The question for Illinois taxpayers is this: Will you choose Madigan’s status quo of failure, or will you choose a path in which Illinois and its people come first? Choose wisely, and together we can see Illinois rise once again.

People like John can say this until they’re blue in the face. But the plain reality is that as long as this governor insists upon destroying the rights of unionized workers, there ain’t gonna be a deal.

Period.

- Posted by Rich Miller   93 Comments      


Illinois Credit Unions – Stepping Up from all Corners of the State

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions hold a strong belief in providing outstanding service to meet their members’ daily financial needs. This is especially true during uncertain times, such as the State of Illinois budget impasse, which is leaving state employees faced with the prospect of potential interruptions in their payroll.

Credit unions from all across Illinois have been marshalling resources to deliver a concerted response and provide members and consumers peace of mind. To date, nearly 30 credit unions from across the state have stepped up to offer assistance programs. That list grows every day.

This includes 1st MidAmerica Credit Union in Bethalto, which has developed a 0% loan program to keep their members in a positive financial position. 1st MidAmerica is also encouraging members that currently have loans to contact them and review payment options. Being available in this manner is just one more example of why credit unions are consistently recognized for providing exemplary service.

To find out which credit unions are specifically reaching out to Illinois families, please go to www.icul.com and contact a credit union near you. During these uncertain times, Illinois credit unions will be there.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Primaries can be good things

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* This could be a good thing for Sen. Kirk, although I have my doubts whether Walsh will pull the trigger

Conservative radio host and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh says he’s still considering whether to make a primary bid for Senate against Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

Walsh told us this week he’d make the decision “very quickly.”

When reminded that he said in February he’d decide “in the next month or two,” Walsh set a deadline.

“A decision most definitely will be made before Labor Day,” he said.

Walsh would constantly attack Kirk from the far right, which would probably help Kirk re-establish his moderate bona fides.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Cullerton will call pay raise rollback bill

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Subscribers were already informed of this development

Senate President John Cullerton will support a bill to halt legislative pay raises during the Senate session next week, despite calling the measure “blatantly unconstitutional.” […]

House Speaker Michael Madigan on Tuesday pushed through a bill to block the cost-of-living increases, calling it another effort to meet Rauner “half way” as the budget impasse drags on.

On Wednesday, Cullerton told the Sun-Times Editorial Board that he’ll call the bill next week.

“We’re going to call that next week, and I’m going to support it,” Cullerton said, adding that “it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” but “nobody’s gonna sue.”

If it gets to the floor, it passes.

* Mark Brown writes about the Cullerton statements

Pardon me if I don’t salute this as a great victory for democracy.

The legislative pay hike, as Madigan observed last week, is a “diversion” from the serious business in which Rauner and the General Assembly need to be engaged of passing a balanced budget.

Eliminating the pay raise itself amounts to less than $250,000 in savings on a budget with a multibillion-dollar hole, although Democrats claimed they had increased the savings to about $500,000 by also getting rid of planned increases in per diem and mileage reimbursements paid to legislators. […]

Just the same, Democrats should have been smart enough to forgo the pay raises on their own without any prompting from Rauner, not because it was the right thing to do, but because they should have anticipated the governor would exploit it to make it more difficult for them to prevail on the important stuff.

I’m particularly surprised that Madigan, normally a master of such diversions, didn’t act sooner.

I’m surprised, too, but Madigan is not ever known for moving fast until he’s ready.

The bigger surprise is that he didn’t make a huge show out of halting the pay hikes when he knew the GA was headed for overtime.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Trained cops willing to be patient

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Go read it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


AFSCME denounces Rauner veto

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Roberta Lynch…

“Governor Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229 sends a disturbing message about his commitment to reaching fair contract terms with the unions representing public service workers in state government. His veto also denies the people of Illinois the assurance that the public services they rely on will continue without disruption.

“The bill does no more than offer state workers the option of the same fair arbitration procedures available for more than 30 years to police officers, fire fighters and prison security employees in Illinois. Contrary to the Governor’s claim, it does not mandate arbitration but offers it as a last recourse if no agreement can be reached through the negotiating process.

“Governor Rauner’s failure to sign Senate Bill 1229 is especially disturbing given reports that his administration is soliciting retirees to do the work of state employees in the event of a work stoppage, and even that the administration has considered calling out the National Guard. AFSCME continues to advocate for Senate Bill 1229 because of these and other indications that the Governor remains all too willing to engage in conflict and disruption—something that is not in the public interest.

“We will join with concerned citizens and other unions to urge lawmakers to override this veto and enact Senate Bill 1229, assuring the continued provision of public services while we work toward an agreement that is fair to all.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


About that PPP poll

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Dave Fako wrote a very insightful comment yesterday which explains why the new PPP poll isn’t all that helpful to gauge the general election contest

PPP has a good track record, and I have no comment on accuracy or methodology, but high quality standards and reliability and disclosure are and always have been vital to me and our polling firm (Fako Research & Strategies). Below is the methodology statement from the poll which discloses the breakdown of partisanship by primary voting history and the mode - in this case 80% of interviews are via phone (presumably landline) and 20% via Internet among households without landlines.

My only comment about the poll’s methodology is this: their methodology statement says the poll was conducted among 931 registered voters, which was made up of 409 Democratic Primary voters and 369 Republican Primary voters, leaving 153 non-primary voters in their sample.

Is PPP saying only 16% of Illinois general election electorate is made up of non-primary voters (frequently IDed as “Independent”) on most Illinois voter files?

In 2012 ~ 69% of all general election voters were NOT Democratic or GOP Primary voters.

He’s right.

So, we probably shouldn’t give this particular poll too much weight regarding general election issues.

* But it does have some use for primary contests, so back to PPP

Scott Walker leads the Republican field in the state with 23% to 18% for Donald Trump, 11% for Jeb Bush, 8% for Chris Christie, 7% for Ben Carson, 6% for Marco Rubio, 5% each for Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul, 4% for Ted Cruz, 3% for Carly Fiorina, 2% each for Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, 1% each for Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, and Rick Perry, and the dreaded less than 1% rounding to 0 for Jim Gilmore and George Pataki.

Walker is very popular in his neighboring state, with a 64/15 favorability rating. To put those numbers into perspective, no other Republican hopeful does better than a 51% favorability in the state. Walker leads both with voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative’ and ’somewhat conservative,’ while Trump is the choice of moderate Republicans.

On the Democratic side Clinton is dominant. She gets 60% to 23% for Sanders, with Martin O’Malley at 4%, Jim Webb at 3%, and Lincoln Chafee at 1% rounding out the field. Clinton gets at least 54% within every group we track by ideology, gender, race, and age with her support peaking among African Americans with whom she gets 76% and Hispanics with whom she gets 72%.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


GOP tries to clean up Gidwitz’s mess

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Pearson

A series of verbal gaffes by U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk have left top Illinois Republicans privately fretting over his re-election bid, but they also concede there’s little chance he’ll be pressured into leaving next year’s ticket.

“Not going to happen,” said one prominent Republican close to Gov. Bruce Rauner, a major Kirk ally.

Several factors contribute to the Kirk-or-bust GOP outlook: He’s got the support of Rauner and the Washington GOP establishment. The first-term senator has no intention of leaving. And it’s too late to recruit and fund a major candidate to keep a seat that’s viewed as essential for Republicans to retain their Senate majority in 2016.

Kirk’s camp found itself on the defensive Wednesday, a day after veteran Republican fundraiser and businessman Ron Gidwitz initially called for Kirk to step down because he was hurting the party’s prospects. Gidwitz quickly recanted and endorsed Kirk, but the damage had been done.

* O’Connor

Pat Brady, the former Illinois Republican Party chairman, said the party needs to “rally around” Kirk.

“He’s been a great senator,” Brady said. “He’s been a leader on national security issues. He’s really tried to be bipartisan, which, in Illinois, is important. He’s been good on the environment. He was way out front on the marriage equality issue, so he fits the state perfectly, and he’s a great candidate for us.”

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Tim Schneider, current chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, also expressed support for Kirk’s re-election bid in statements late Tuesday.

Kirk has received widespread financial support, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been working to get him re-elected.

* Korecki

[Former Gov. Jim Edgar] said he not only believes Kirk can ride out the recent rough waters, but that he may be in the best position to keep the seat in Republican hands in 2016. Edgar notes that 2016 will be an especially challenging year for any Republican, given that it’s a presidential year. Illinois is still a blue state and Democratic turnout is expected to be high.

What’s crucial to Kirk’s survival is receiving Rauner’s unwavering support, those in the party say. In winning back the governor’s mansion last year, Rauner united what was a fractured and cash-strapped Republican party. So far, the deep-pocketed Rauner has pledged Kirk his support.

He held an event for Kirk in March and is expected to appear with the senator this summer in Springfield during the state fair.

“Without the governorship, Republicans aren’t really a cohesive party,” Edgar said. “The governor is the 800-pound gorilla.”

* Meanwhile

While the GOP’s hard line on Planned Parenthood is hardly surprising, it comes as some party strategists have advised members to tread lightly on social issues so as to not turn off young and female voters, especially in purple and blue states.

One Republican apparently taking that advice to heart is Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who told The Hill this week he doesn’t plan to “cut access to basic health care and contraception for women, the majority of whom have no other resources.”

For their part, Planned Parenthood officials are pushing back vigorously against what they’ve characterized as a right-wing smear campaign.

“These extremists created a fake business, made apparently misleading corporate filings and then used false government identifications to gain access to Planned Parenthood’s medical and research staff with the agenda of secretly filming without consent — then heavily edited the footage to make false and absurd assertions about our standards and services,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 *** Exelon turns up the heat a little

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Make sure to read the last excerpted paragraph in this Crain’s story

Looks like Exelon’s Quad Cities nuclear plant is a goner come September.

Chris Crane, CEO of the Chicago-based utility giant, which also is the largest nuclear plant operator in the country, made clear on a conference call with analysts today that he doesn’t see a way to keep money-losing Quad Cities open in the absence of a state law to charge ratepayers throughout Illinois more to bolster revenues at Exelon’s nukes. Exelon says that three of its six Illinois plants are losing money as wholesale power prices remain historically low due in large part to the cheap cost of natural gas.

Exelon has established September as the time it must decide the future of Quad Cities, and an anticipated revenue windfall for Exelon’s nukes courtesy of a regional power-plant auction set for next month almost certainly won’t be enough, Crane said.

That auction, conducted by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection to set the price of “capacity” paid by all utility customers to qualifying power plants, is expected to materially hike electricity rates beginning in June 2018, as well as revenues for big power generators like Exelon. PJM has changed the rules of the auction to virtually ensure that companies will get paid more and energy prices for customers will rise. Exelon’s Illinois nukes are in line to see hundreds of millions in additional revenue beginning in mid-2018 from the changes. […]

Quad Cities, too, ultimately could survive if Exelon prevails in Springfield, even if the company announces in September it will close the plant. Company executives in the past have said they could reverse such a decision as late as six months or so after making it. After that, though, it would be irreversible, they’ve said.

So, in reality, the GA has until March to do something.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Former Exelon CEO John Rowe begged to differ this week

Q: Depending how the upcoming PJM capacity auctions go, Exelon’s nuclear plants may benefit a lot and it would seem they would not need the bill in the legislature to guarantee their future. What do you think?

A: The [MISO] capacity auction in southern Illinois did not have much effect on Exelon because it sold the power forward. It would have an effect a year from now but not big enough to make that plant [Clinton Power Station] profitable. The [PJM] auction could make that Quad Cities plant profitable.

Emphasis added.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition…

“Exelon’s threats to close the Quad City and Byron plants increase the urgency to pass the Illinois Clean Jobs bill, which will raise production of wind and solar to 35% and double energy efficiency. This is the only viable way for Illinois to meet the Obama Administration’s new Clean Power Plan rules expected out next week and along the way save consumers $1.6 billion on electric bills and employ more than 32,000 workers over the next decade and beyond.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Mrs. Rauner’s group joins “formal complaint,” request for investigation

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Check out the groups listed at the end of this press release…

Today, Voices for Illinois Children, along with other early childhood education advocates, submitted a formal complaint and request for an official investigation into the harmful cuts to Illinois’ child care program enacted unilaterally by Governor Rauner and the Illinois Department of Human Services. The complaint and request for an investigation were submitted to the Department of Human Services and the Members of the Joint Committee on Administrative rules, the body responsible for assessing the validity of the rulemaking process.

“The Department of Human Services, under the direction of Governor Rauner, failed to follow procedures required by the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act when they radically changed the child care system in Illinois,” said Emily Miller, Policy and Advocacy Director at Voices for Illinois Children.

On July 1, 2015, Governor Rauner improperly used emergency rulemaking to change the Child Care Assistance Program, or CCAP. The purpose of CCAP is to ensure that low-income, working families have access so safe, quality early learning environments for their children.

As a direct result of the Governor’s actions, 90% of low-income families who apply for CCAP are being denied.

“We hope that once the Governor reflects on the detrimental impact his actions continue to have on our families and communities, he will voluntarily rescind the rule,” concluded Miller. “If the Governor fails to stop the cuts to child care, we request that JCAR complete their investigation, object to the rule, and require the Department of Human to rescind it.”

Children’s Home and Aid, Illinois Action for Children, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law joined Voices for Illinois Children in filing the complaint and request for investigation.

Emphasis added for obvious reasons.

You gotta respect that woman’s guts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Tom Cullerton drops out

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* Riopell

State Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park says he’ll drop his bid for Congress in 2016 and run for re-election to the Illinois Senate instead.

Cullerton was one of the Democratic contenders in the 8th Congressional District to try to replace U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is running for U.S. Senate. […]

His exit from the race leaves businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and fellow state Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin as Democratic candidates for the seat. But with months left before candidates have to file for office, others could get in or out. […]

Krishnamoorthi has led early fundraising, pulling in $621,041 to Cullerton’s $134,761 in the second quarter of the year. Noland reported raising about $64,516.

That money gap was probably a big reason that Cullerton woke up to reality. Also, without him, the Senate Democrats were in real danger of losing that seat.

*** UPDATE *** Sen. Mike Noland…

I’ve had the privilege of serving the people of Illinois alongside Tom Cullerton, and I’ve come to admire and respect his commitment to public service and the people of our communities. Tom is a military veteran, something we have in common, so I know that he believes in being a part of something greater than any one individual. Those of us who have served have a unique understanding of what it means to put the good of the community ahead of your own personal interests. I think that’s what drew us both to public service. I know that there are many great things ahead for Tom, and I wish him the best of luck in his re-election campaign. I look forward to working with him as the congressman for this district for years to come.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Car rental vendor cuts off state

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

* A memo from Kelley Wells, the State Travel Coordinator at the Governor’s Travel Control Board…

Please be aware that the State’s car rental vendor, Enterprise, has advised that, effective as of the close of business today, July 29, 2015, it will temporarily suspend direct billing to all State Agencies that participate in the State’s vehicle rental program. Please forward this communication immediately to all personnel at your agency who may be impacted by this development, including all employees who may be travelling on or after July 30, 2015 in connection with State business.

We note that State employees will still be able to secure the competitively bid lower rate through Enterprise. However, until direct billing is reinstated, employees who rent a car from Enterprise in connection with State business will be required to pay out-of-pocket and to seek reimbursement through the travel voucher process, rather than having charges directly billed to their employing agency. Further, as a result of the budget impasse, employees may experience significant delays in having expenses in connection with State travel reimbursed.

We will update employees as soon as Enterprise has restored direct billing, and on all other relevant developments. In the meantime, until a budget has been enacted, agencies are encouraged to authorize employee travel only when it is essential. If travel is determined to be essential, employees must continue to use the most cost effective method of travel considering travel time, costs and work requirements. In addition, we encourage agencies and employees to use alternatives to travel, including video conferences, teleconferences, and webinars, when travel is not absolutely necessary.

As always, travel approval must be obtained by appropriate agency personnel in advance. Authorized methods for essential travel include the use of state vehicles, public transportation, car sharing, or reimbursement for use of a personal car when appropriate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


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