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Cullerton unsure of pay hike rollback

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* As I told subscribers earlier today, the Senate wasn’t consulted beforehand and won’t be back to town until after legislators receive their first paychecks with the COLA increases in them, which means there are some constitutional issues

The Illinois House on Tuesday voted to repeal the annual cost-of-living increase that bumped up lawmakers’ salaries as Democrats who control the chamber tried to blunt Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s contention that legislators should not get raises while the state budget goes unresolved. […]

But a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton said his office would have to review the constitutionality of the pay raise legislation. That’s because a Cook County court previously has ruled it would violate the state constitution for legislative salaries to be changed in the middle of a term. That court decision followed an effort in 2013 by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn to hold up lawmaker pay as he tried to get them to send him a cost-cutting pension bill.

“It’s something that the court ruled, that, because of separation of powers, you can’t have a situation where the executive branch, like Gov. Quinn, holds up people’s salaries in order to force them to vote for a bill,” Cullerton said last week.

“Unfortunately, it’s the state constitution. And I think you would understand that if we didn’t like some judicial decision, we said, ‘Oh, Supreme Court, you’re working for $1 now,’ that would obviously not be a part of the separation of powers. It’s the same principle.”

* From the Constitution

A member shall receive a salary and allowances as provided by law, but changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the term for which he has been elected.

The salary changes were approved in the previous term. Once they start getting paychecks, it’s probably not legal to lower those salaries.

The big question is, though, would anybody have the, um, temerity to sue? Probably not.

* React from the governor’s office…

“Governor Rauner appreciates today’s action in the House and thanks all those members who showed leadership on this issue. We encourage President Cullerton to swiftly move this legislation to the governor’s desk for his signature. Governor Rauner is ready to work with Speaker Madigan, Leader Durkin and all members of the General Assembly to pass true structural reforms and a balanced budget.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Madigan: “We are involved in an historic struggle”

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* House Speaker Michael Madigan today on the House floor speaking on behalf of the bill to repeal the legislative pay raise

“The governor has staked out a position. He has said, ‘I want my diversionary issues, I want my non-budget issues and then, and then, I’ll talk about new money for a budget.’ That’s the governor’s position.

“We in the House have attempted to meet the governor half way.

“The governor has talked about workers’ compensation. The House has passed a bill that would do changes in workers’ compensation. That bill is in the Senate. That bill could be amended. There could be more changes done to the workers’ compensation system. I acknowledge that, people on our side of the aisle acknowledge that.

“But… But… We are not going to use the government to force people, injured workers, to welfare or to the emergency room. Let me repeat that. We are not going to use the government to force people, injured workers, to welfare or to the emergency room.

“The governor requested a change in the method of operation in the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity… The House, at the request of the governor, passed that bill.

The governor has talked in terms about the absolute necessity to freeze property taxes. There have been eleven opportunities in the House of Representatives to pass a bill that would freeze property taxes. You (pointing at the Republicans) have declined to participate in the passage of the bill.

“And today, again, at the governor’s request, in an effort to meet the governor half way as we have in the three prior instances, we’re going to call this bill. This bill is going to pass. At the request of the governor, we’re going to repeal, we’re going to suspend, the COLA adjustment for the salary for people in the Legislature for the current budget year.

“So, in four separate instances we’ve made a good faith effort to meet the governor half way.

“We ask the governor, ‘How do you respond?’ His response: ‘I have to have my agenda. As is. No change. If I get it, I’ll talk.’

“The best promise you get is, ‘I’ll talk.’

“So, we are at an impasse. We are involved in an historic struggle.

“And I repeat again, this bill is just another effort to meet the governor half way.”

* Video

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      


More lip service

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* June 11, 2015 AARP Illinois press release…

“Governor Rauner’s directive to suspend the expenditure of state funds under the Supplemental Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is dangerous and prohibited under Illinois law – the Governor does not have the authority to take this measure, and it endangers the lives of vulnerable Illinoisans, including individuals over age 65, people with disabilities or who have chronic medical conditions, and children under the age of five.

LIHEAP funds help individuals survive extreme summer and winter temperatures–they prevent deaths and excessive emergency room hospitalizations and other public health costs often associated with heat-related illnesses. The Governor’s action will not save the state any money and could, in fact, significantly increase preventable public health costs.

Over 171,000 Illinois households rely on LIHEAP to provide them with adequate levels of heating and cooling. On average, there are over 600 heat-related deaths each year in the United States, with the highest percentage of deaths occurring among those older than 65 years. Cook County saw 18 deaths as recently as 2012.

Illinois’ Emergency Assistance Act requires the moneys from this fund to pay for electric or gas services on behalf of consumers (i.e. low-income individuals over age 65, people with disabilities and children under age 5) eligible for this program. The Act does not allow for any other use of the funds - which are collected by electric and gas public utilities from their ratepayers or through allowable donations outlined in the Act.

Before endangering the lives and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens during the extremes of Illinois’ summer and winter weather we strongly advise the Governor to reconsider the moral and legal ramifications of his decision.”

* July 25, 2015

Another $75 million was borrowed from the Supplemental Low Income Energy Assistance Fund. The fund uses money from a state surcharge on utility bills to supplement federal funding that provides help to low-income families in paying their utility bills.

Rauner previously announced the supplemental LIHEAP program was being suspended July 1 because no balanced budget had been passed by the General Assembly. He said it was one of a series of steps he had to take to manage state finances in the absence of a budget.

However, if the budget is resolved, the fact the money was borrowed means less will be available for assistance if and when aid is resumed, said Dalitso Sulamoyo, of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies.

* Governor Rauner on WDWS Radio this morning

“It’s great to join your listeners, and before we start I hope we can talk about it, it’s going to be blistering hot. It’s supposed to be 92 here in Springfield today. And remind all your listeners to work to stay cool. Help your neighbors, look out for folks, we’ve got to help people stay cool on these hot days.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Madigan’s U-Turn

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* Subscribers knew about this in the morning

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has filed legislation that would block a controversial pay raise for lawmakers and one of his co-sponsors expects an almost-immediate vote.

Rep. David McSweeney said Tuesday that the legislation would block the 2 percent cost-of-living increase that lawmakers are due. McSweeney is Republican from Cary and a co-sponsor of the Democratic speaker’s legislation. McSweeney said he believes the full House will vote later Tuesday.

* More

On Twitter Tuesday, Rep. Ron Sandack, R- Downers Grove, said: “House Reps tried for TWO weeks to advance our bill to suspend the Dems’ COLA raise. My, how things change, yes? #Duh”

And Rauner’s spokesman, Lance Trover, said in a statement, “As we approach the end of the month, Speaker Madigan and the politicians he controls have one final chance to side with Republicans and make a clean up or down vote on stopping themselves from getting an automatic pay increase.”

Madigan previously would not comment on the raises. But last week he told reporters the pay raise wasn’t in his spending plan.

“We did not appropriate for the pay raise or the COLA adjustment,” Madigan said.

Watch the debate on our live coverage feed.

…Adding… Press release…

The Illinois House today approved legislation to repeal the automatic cost-of-living adjustment that lawmakers recently received according to State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), one of the lead co-sponsors of the legislation.‎ Legislators recently received a two percent automatic cost-of-living adjustment, which amounts to about an additional $1,563 annually. HB 576 eliminates the automatic COLA. The Senate must now pass the bill.

“Repealing the automatic pay increase is the right thing to do,” McSweeney said. “Giving legislators a pay increase when we have not passed a permanent budget is unconscionable. Now that we have rejected the pay increase, let’s finish doing our job and pass a permanent budget without raising taxes.”

Legislators are required by law to accept the COLA, which began on July 1st. McSweeney has already donated the full yearly amount of the COLA to charity. He donated $781.50 to the McHenry County Pioneer Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping economically disadvantaged and disabled people achieve their full potential as individuals. He also donated an additional $781.50 to the Night Ministry, a non-profit group that helps homeless children and adults.

McSweeney has voluntarily cut his own pay and district office budget by 10%. He’s also not going to accept his paychecks until the state budget crisis is solved. Earlier this year, McSweeney introduced House Bill 1313 which eliminates COLA’s for legislators and forces them to take furlough days.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* Your one word description of the overtime session?

- Posted by Rich Miller   180 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Overtime session coverage

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* View the carnage in real time via ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


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

Tuesday, Jul 28, 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      


Today’s map

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* From Reboot

Below is a map of stories from across Illinois of people and organizations that are feeling the pain of the current Illinois government shutdown. Click on the individual map marker to learn more about the impact this state government shutdown has had on an organization or Illinoisan.

* You can also click the navigation icon in the upper left for a list of stories. The map

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


Madigan: “You’d better be strong or you’re going to be gone”

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* Mark Brown read through a 2009 University of Illinois at Chicago interview with House Speaker Michael Madigan

Madigan said he keeps the mass card from the funeral of [the late Mayor Richard J. Daley’s] late wife, Eleanor “Sis” Daley, bearing a photo of the couple, mounted on his desks in Springfield and his Chicago law office.

“So, when I’m sitting there and trying to make a tough decision, I’ll look over at him and just ask myself, ‘What would he do?’ It’s very helpful,” Madigan said.

* More

Asked by Remini if Richard J. Daley was a “boss,” Madigan said:

“Absolutely, he was a boss. He should be. He had to be a boss. Everywhere in life, everywhere in the world, there has to be bosses,” said Madigan, whose own strong but deft ruling style long ago earned him the nickname the Velvet Hammer.

* And my favorite line

“In my life, I live in a lot of situations where you’d better be strong or you’re going to be gone.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Madigan: “Routine” filing *** AG Madigan may appeal pension ruling to US Supreme Court

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* Amanda Vinicky reports that the Illinois attorney general’s office has filed a request to extend the August 6th deadline to appeal the state Supreme Court’s pension ruling to the top court in the land

[AG Madigan’s] office on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension, so it’ll have until Sept. 10 to [file an appeal].

John Fitzgerald, an attorney for retired public school teachers, says they’ll fight it.

“This is entirely a matter of Illinois State Law. There is no basis for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.”

The Attorney General’s petition says the pension case “raises important questions” about states’ rights to use police powers to modify contracts, like public pensions.

“The principal questions presented are (1) whether the reserved powers doctrine prevents a State from abdicating its police powers authority to modify its own contractual obligations in extreme circumstances that imperil the general welfare and (2) if not, whether the Illinois Supreme Court identified the correct standard by which the validity of a State’s exercise of its police power is judged.”

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** From the AG’s office…

We have asked for an extension of the deadline to file a cert petition, which is a fairly routine request. With the decision in the City of Chicago’s pension case late last week, we are continuing to consider all of the arguments and the best next step.

Doesn’t sound like any final decisions have been made.

- Posted by Rich Miller   139 Comments      


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

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Good morning!

Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015

* Dreams

Climb down off the hilltop, baby
Get back in the race

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


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