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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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