* I caught a cold this week and therefore a ton of weekday errands have piled up high, so I’m gonna have to knock them out on Monday. If I finish early there could be some afternoon blogging. We’ll see.
A social service agency known to many on [the EIU] campus is facing hardships because of the current budget impasse in the Illinois government. The Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service relies heavily on state funding and without knowing the budget, the agency is sorting out their next steps.
This is the first time the agency has been faced with a threat of future closing.
Erin Walters, the executive director of SACIS, said the non-profit rape crisis center offers free and confidential services to those impacted by sexual violence. She said SACIS runs off of federal funds supporting their services, including grants. Walters said the agency has used up all their reserved funds to carry them along and that the state is supposed to reimburse them for their expenses.
Right now, the state has not given SACIS their reimbursement payments so SACIS has been running their reserved funds and taken out a loan to keep their services going. Without the federal dollars the agency would be close. […]
Walters said she does not see SACIS having any additional resources to support the services beyond December. She is working with the board of directors to determine if there are steps to take so they can make small changes to avoid closure.
I saw your post about Ashley, and I thought I would share one thing we are coordinating that can be of help to nonprofits struggling to provide services to those in need in the face of no budget and no payments. You may have heard of Giving Tuesday – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this year, December 1). The 92nd Street Y in New York started it a few years ago. It has spread across the country as a way to give back during the holiday season. Donors Forum has organized a campaign called #ILGIVE - http://www.ilgive.com/ - as a vehicle for Illinois nonprofits to the use the day to raise funds and connect with donors.
This campaign does not raise money for Donors Forum. It raises money for the nonprofits that sign-up to be part of it.
Our goal is to raise $6 million dollars on one day for Illinois nonprofits. Right now, about 250 nonprofits are signed up, many of which are ones that rely on state funding to serve Illinois families and communities - Erie Family Health Center, Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago, Children’s Home + Aid, YMCA of Danville, Transitions Mental Health Services in Rock Island, to name a few.
Will this campaign close the budget gap most nonprofits are facing because of the state budget crisis? Of course not. It is, however, one tangible thing we can do to help in a time where a lot of us are feeling pretty ineffective at making a difference.
I would love to see the Capitol Fax community get involved.
· The nonprofits that read Capitol Fax can sign-up.
· Elected officials can spread the word to the nonprofits in their communities about this opportunity, and then promote the day to constituents, encouraging them to donate to a cause they care about on that day.
· Everybody can spread the word and give what they can on December 1.
It is not the end all, be all, but it can make a big difference to nonprofits and those they serve. Thanks for hearing me out. If you decide to share, feel free to list me as a contact for folks that have more questions and want to get involved. Let me know if you have any questions.
Vice President, Strategy & Policy
In the latest lob of back-and-forth insults between Gov. Rauner and Mayor Emanuel, the governor stopped by a Lakeview grocery store to buy dead fish he vowed to send to the mayor.
It’s a jab at the old story of Emanuel sending a dead fish to pollster he was unhappy with in 1988. And that was a play off the scene in “The Godfather,” when the Corleone family was sent a dead fish as a message that their enforcer, Luca Brasi, was dead and “now sleeps with the fishes.”
On Friday, Rauner said he hoped two plastic-wrapped tuna steaks would send the same message, especially with regard to this week’s landmark property tax hike.
“This mayor has put in the biggest tax hike in Chicago’s history with no structural reform,” Rauner said. “I understand why he’s sensitive right now — he’s got a lot of angry constituents, and they’re angry for good reason.”
“Having supported workers’ comp before, in 2011 when we passed the last major reform of workers’ comp, there’s a place I’ll work with you. And I want to see a municipal part of that because, as one of the largest employers in the state, we have a vested interest in reform to workers’ comp.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday tried to inject some levity into his back-and-forth with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, telling told reporters he planned to send a piece of “dead fish” to City Hall.
Just hours after Emanuel suggested that the rookie Republican governor “stop name-calling and just do your job,” Rauner held a news conference at a North Side meat market, where he bought some double-cut pork chops, a beef tenderloin, and a piece of tuna steak.
The tuna, Rauner said, was “a gift for a special person.”
“I bought some fish, to send some dead fish to the mayor,” Rauner said. “I think he will deeply appreciate that, as only he can.”
* Things can always be worse. There’s Pennsylvania, for instance…
Though Illinois’ ongoing budget impasse is a credit negative for local governments, things are far worse in a state with similar problems. Moody’s investors services says Pennsylvania is experiencing similar issues during their ongoing budget impasse as Illinois but with a greater impact on local governments and schools.
A report from the investors service says school districts in Illinois are receiving most state aid but in Pennsylvania similar fund distributions are not being made which negatively affects local governments’ budgets. The report also says that community colleges and 4-year public universities are adversely affected in both states. In Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the appropriations measure for K-12 school funding, but no appropriation for higher education has been passed and approved. Moody’s downgraded six public universities in Illinois Tuesday.
State aid for Pennsylvania school districts constitutes 10%-83% of operating revenues, and many schools already face financial pressure from charter schools and rising pension costs. Although Pennsylvania schools received their property taxes in September, districts more dependent on state aid are now relying on cash reserves and short-term borrowing to keep the doors open and pay fixed obligations. As of September, 17 school districts and two intermediate units instructing 169,000 students in the state have borrowed more than $346 million and face a combined $11.2 million in interest fees on these loans. Philadelphia School District (Ba3/negative) alone comprises $275 million of the borrowing, according to the state auditor general.
* The Question: Illinois is to Pennsylvania as ____ is to ____ ?
I am very sorry to hear of the circumstances facing Ms. Goodwin and her family. Thank you for sharing her story and helping illuminate the critical need for immediate passage of a state budget with adequate funding for supportive housing.
In communities across Illinois, affordable supportive housing is all that stands between 12,000 men, women and children and a return to homelessness or other settings far more expensive for taxpayers. These individuals are formerly homeless and/or have special needs such as a mental illness, intellectual and developmental disability, or chronic, debilitating physical illnesses like multiple sclerosis or HIV/AIDS. Because of issues with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, veterans often are among the population served.
The absence of a state budget and resulting lack of funds for supportive housing threatens to drive these vulnerable people to the streets, jails, state institutions or nursing homes – alternatives to which they go when they cannot access these services. Taxpayers would then bear the cost of their emergency room visits, incarceration and other far more expensive crisis response measures.
The scenario could get even worse. If state policy makers don’t resolve the budget soon, local supportive housing providers could lose federal funding as well. Implosion of the state’s human services infrastructure – and the toll for Illinois communities – would be far-reaching and lasting.
For each dollar the state allocates for certain homeless supportive housing services, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development provides three. But Illinois providers must demonstrate by Nov. 20 that $7.6 million in state funds will be available in order to leverage the annual federal funds. If they can’t do that, they risk forfeiting $23 million – an entire fiscal year of federal funds.
Without state funds dedicated by the Nov. 20 deadline, there is no assurance the federal matching dollars will materialize over the next year. If the agencies managing supportive housing services lose that support, closures and wholesale service reductions will be unavoidable.
After food and clothing, shelter is the most elemental need; without the stability and safety it affords, individuals cannot overcome the challenges they face. Positive outcomes of supportive housing include housing stability and retention, improved quality of life and health outcomes, reduced homelessness and emergency room use, greater participation in behavioral health treatment, and lower healthcare costs.
We respectfully urge policy makers to immediately focus on approving a state budget with adequate funds for supportive housing. Failure to do so will prompt catastrophic consequences statewide, and it will significantly increase costs for taxpayers for years to come.
If I may be helpful in answering any questions you have about Illinois supportive housing, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank for you for your time.
Supportive Housing Providers Association
The leading state Republican and the spokesman for the leading state Democrat differ on what they’ve compromised on. Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s narrowed down items on his agenda, including taking so-called “right-to-work” off the table. But the Governor insists on other reforms before agreeing to tax increases to shore up the state budget. Rauner said he won’t discuss publicly what his so-called red line is but told the Southern Illinoisan newspaper editorial board earlier this month that local control of prevailing wage and collective bargaining tied to a property tax freeze is important. Rauner also put emphasis on workers compensation reform.
“Workers comp is broken in Illinois. It’s one of the major drivers of businesses leaving the state. It’s a major cost driver inside government.”
Rauner says he’s getting pushback on his requested reforms because of special interests. Steve Brown, spokesperson for Speaker Michael Madigan, said Democrats have compromised on a variety of issues like freezing lawmaker pay and privatizing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, among others.
“So, I think more than halfway is an understatement in terms of what the legislature has done with the Rauner agenda.”
Brown also say the General Assembly passed quote “significant” changes to workers compensation but Republicans criticized the workers comp measure passed earlier this year as not addressing what defines an injury eligible for payouts.
* I assume we’ll soon be seeing a Chicago Tribune editorial addressing this growing trend…
The state needs to get its fiscal act together because college students, domestic violence victims and low-income working families are among those hurt by the state not having a budget, participants at a rally held at Northern Illinois University said Thursday. […]
“Politicians are forcing domestic violence victims back to their abusers,” read the sign that Lynnea Erickson held at the rally. She is an abuse intervention services coordinator at DeKalb County-based Safe Passage, a nonprofit agency that assists victims of domestic violence.
Although the rally didn’t take a political side, Erickson said the governor, ultimately, is responsible for the the state’s budget impasse. She blames the state not having a budget for social agencies losing funding, cutting services and, in come cases, closing.
“The governor is holding social services hostage to negotiate the deal he wants for business,” she said.
*** UPDATE *** The fuming, thunderous Tribune editorial came faster than even I figured it would. Click here.
EXELON CEO CHRIS CRANE – “A PHENOMENAL YEAR FOR US”
Today, Exelon announced third quarter 2015 profits of $629 MILLION. Yes, you read that right. Exelon has made more than $2.0 BILLION in the first nine months of this year. And yet despite their good fortune, Exelon still demands a corporate bailout even as our state budget crisis goes from bad to horrendous. They have promised to return to the ILGA with a full court bailout push in 2016!
IN THE THIRD QUARTER, EXELON MADE NEARLY SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS A DAY or $284,873 AN HOUR
On this morning’s earnings call, Exelon CEO Chris Crane described 2015 and said, “This is a phenomenal year for us.”
OTHER EXELON NEWS: ALL ILLINOIS PLANTS TO REMAIN OPEN
Yesterday, Exelon announced that Clinton would remain open through at least 2017.
Exelon previously announced that because Quad Cities and Byron cleared the PJM auctions, Quad will remain open through at least 2017 and Byron will remain open through at least 2018.
Oh my goodness, THANK YOU, everyone! I can breathe a sigh of relief on the debts, so troubling , getting behind, wondering when an employer is going to call. It is not for the faint of heart when you have to sell your car to pay rent, but you learn to persevere.
We will get through this, but we never had a chance without your help… Thank you again I was actually jumping up and down on the bed with the kids a minute ago - so great to feel that way!
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* I caught a glimpse of Ashley Goodwin’s Twitter feed not long ago. She had tweeted something critical about the governor, so it popped up on one of my routine searches…
No jobs, no hope, Illinois is a joke, preparing for homelessness….
* Goodwin appears to be an intelligent woman who is struggling to understand how she got to where she is and how to get out. She and her family are literally on the verge of homelessness, but she and her husband can’t find work or government help. Her feed is definitely worth a scroll…
Ever since their Danville, Illinois, apartment building burned down three years ago, Anthony and Ashley Goodwin have been hustling to survive.
Anthony dug through the rubble for three days, searching for his wallet. But after working in tech repair and starting a resale business on eBay to stay afloat, the Goodwins have again found themselves in dire straits.
They don’t have enough money for rent. The gas has been turned off at their home. And Anthony walks three miles to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy groceries. Anthony, Ashley, their three-year-old daughter, Ana, and two-year-old son, Alex, face homelessness by mid-November.
They both want work, but there isn’t much to be found nearby.
“I can’t get a job at any of the 15 employers that hire unskilled labor in our community,” Anthony said. “The jobs aren’t there.”
The Goodwins are far from the exception in Illinois. They are not alone. […]
“If we could move out of Illinois, we would,” Ashley said. But her family can’t afford to leave.
The Goodwins have never taken government rental assistance, but their recent struggles have them calling state agencies every day looking for answers. There’s just one problem: Because Illinois doesn’t have a state budget in place, operations have ground to a halt at many social-service departments.
“The homelessness-prevention hotline is disconnected,” Ashley said. “That defeats the whole point of a hotline. It is really frustrating. For the first time in our lives, we are reaching out to the state for help, but there’s no one on the other end of the line.”
The broader context is the lack of jobs. Danville is not a great place to find work, and the family appears to have moved to Watseka, which, take it from me, isn’t much better.
Please share where you can - Trying to get help in Illinois is pointless, as most agencies do not answer, or are temporarily closed, there is nothing but a run-around and no answers from DHS or any other government agency.
I own my own mobile home in a small mobile home park, have lived here for two years, then had a recent change in income so we have gotten behing the last 2 and a half months, now, facing an eviction notice I recently received, I have come to realize just how the Illinois budget impasse has effected our lives.
I have a 2 and 3 year old and yesterday, according to United Way, since most agencies rely on the funds that have been frozen due to the impasse, I have run out of options so I need to prepare to lose my home that I own for a lousy $680 in back lot rent, because apparently, Illinois does not have $680. Not to mention our power is going to be shut off due to the impasse and LIHEAP (energy assistance) funds being frozen. All together, we have a $540 gas bill, they already shut us off, and our electric is $180, which will be shut off any day as well.
This has been an eye-opening nightmare, I have been calling every agency in the State, those that do answer, have no clue what to do as the funding is not available or try to pass me on to someone else who is even less help, but most don’t even answer, including the ever-worthless DHS “help line” at 800-843-6154, the number they give if you need help.. I have been calling every day for a week now, never get a person, no answer, and you cant even leave a message.
I am at a loss - something has to be done with this situation in Illinois. Someone has to look into what has gone wrong here. I have never gotten rental assistance in my life , yet am treated like I have no options, what is it all for?
The Sunday Spin: On this week’s show, airing from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on WGN (AM-720) and wgnradio.com, Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson’s guests are… former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, who marks the 25th anniversary of his first election as governor on Nov. 1.
You don’t have to wake up that early on Sunday to listen because they’ll eventually post it on their website. Should be interesting.
* Yes, let’s stop playing games and work on common sense, bipartisan reforms. Please!…
The governor put the brakes on capital development projects around the state. In fact, he made his remarks just steps away from the stalled Stevens Building project on the NIU campus.
“I’m sorry that DeKalb is suffering from no budget. They shouldn’t have to suffer,” said Rauner. “It’s wrong what’s going on. And what we’ve said to the Legislature is, ‘Stop playing games. Let’s vote on common sense, bipartisan reforms, let’s get a truly balanced budget so we can grow our economy and help great communities like DeKalb.’ “
Now, if he’d just follow his own advice we might actually get somewhere.
“It’s your city government, your county. You should decide how bidding gets done, how outsourcing, how contract gets done – also, how collective bargaining gets done. It’s your community, its your town … you should decide,” Rauner said.
Among the county’s economic highlights mentioned at the event is the enterprise zone designation it received from the state this summer.
The municipalities of DeKalb, Genoa, Sandwich, Sycamore, Cortland and Waterman look forward to bringing jobs and economic investment to the area by using special tax incentives the enterprise zone allows.
But the required certification of the zone is on hold because the Rauner administration said the state is losing too many jobs and the cost of doing business in Illinois is too high.
So, lemme get this straight. A local enterprise zone, which could be used to help the area’s business climate, is on hold because… the economy is bad…?
Yesterday, Exelon announced that it will defer any decisions about the future operations of its Clinton nuclear plant for one year. This is encouraging news for Illinois. According to a report by the State of Illinois, the Clinton plant supports nearly 1,900 jobs and contributes $481 million to the state’s economy. Overall, Illinois’ nuclear energy facilities produce 90 percent of the state’s carbon-free energy, support 28,000 jobs, and inject nearly $9 billion into the Illinois economy every year.
Over the past year, Exelon has worked to educate policymakers on the economic challenges facing several of its nuclear plants and the potential that they could be prematurely closed. The General Assembly and Governor have been focused on the budget and have not had a full opportunity to consider this issue. The challenges have not gone away, but Exelon decided to continue operating Clinton at a loss for an additional year to allow policymakers more time to consider potential solutions.
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) recently began examining capacity market reforms. Such reforms could alleviate some of the economic pressures facing the Clinton plant. While MISO’s recognizing the need for market reforms is encouraging, if reforms are not timely implemented and economic conditions for the Clinton nuclear plant do not improve, Exelon will be forced to take steps to reduce its losses, which may include shutting the plant.
Policy reforms, such as the Low Carbon Portfolio Standard and a state implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan, that properly recognize and value the significant amount of carbon-free electricity derived from the nuclear fleet are still needed to level the playing field for all forms of clean energy and best position the State of Illinois to meet EPA’s new carbon reduction rules.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office called Emanuel “just another tax-and-spend politician,” Thursday afternoon and at an event later last night in DeKalb, Rauner lit into the mayor for blaming Chicago’s financial woes on the General Assembly. “That’s not created by Springfield,” Rauner said. “That is a failure on the mayor’s part and a failure to take on reforms.”
– “It’s clear that less than 24 hours after passing the largest property tax hike in city history, the mayor is already laying the ground work for another tax hike because he is refusing to engage in passing structural reforms that will save Chicago taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in a statement. “The mayor needs to get serious about whether he is going to be a reformer or just another tax-and-spend politician who wants to blame someone else for their failures.”
– Responding to … — On Wednesday, Emanuel told reporters: “It’s a very strange economic strategy to try and hurt your economic engine, that’s how you’re gonna grow the economy…Name me a governor in the other 49 states that is attacking the economic engine of their state. Is the gov of Washington state going after Seattle? Is the Gov of Oregon going after Portland?”
– It’s your own fault, Rauner says: “Unfortunately, in hearing the mayor’s comments in Chicago, it sounds like he’s trying to lay the blame for the failure of Chicago on other people, on Springfield,” Rauner said in DeKalb, according to audio obtained by POLITICO. “Chicago has been fundamentally mismanaged for years and the mayor is forcing a massive property tax hike — the biggest tax hike in Chicago history … and it doesn’t even fix the problem … even with that… there are going to be more tax hikes coming because Mayor Emanuel has not done fundamental structural reform for the long term.”
– Basically Rahm, you’re a ‘failure’: “He’s already admitted after this big tax hike he doesn’t have enough money to properly fund the pensions. He’s admitted he doesn’t have enough money to fund for the school year,” Rauner said. “That’s not created by Springfield. That is a failure on the mayor’s part and a failure to take on reforms.”
Please note that the governor said those things in DeKalb. I wonder if he’s ever said anything like that to the mayor himself.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From the twitters…
Rahm to Rauner: "Stop name calling and just do your job"
“My view is we (passed a budget) without rancor, but actually doing exactly what we need to do,” Emanuel said Friday. “I think what Springfield needs to do is not call names to anybody, you’re 120 days and counting behind schedule, 6,000-plus kids have been thrown out of daycare. The job to get done is to actually go back to the negotiating table and get a budget. Calling people names doesn’t get you a budget.”
“My view is, and I would just say this to the governor and the governor’s office: you’re 120 days behind budget, $6 billion and counting in not paying bills. Stop name-calling and just do your job.”
* The following e-mail appears to be in response to comments on this post from yesterday. Ms. Meyer makes some good points here, and they’re made with respect (it’s not often that a large and influential group responds to blog comments, after all), so keep that in mind when you comment, please…
I see we’re a hot topic of conversation on your comments [yesterday]. It seems a lot of your commenters are wondering what we’ve been up to and questioning how effective we’ve been during this budget crisis.
I thought I’d chime in to help with those wonders and questions.
· The Ounce has been publicly opposed to changes the governor has announced in child care and in other areas of the budget beginning with his budget address and as recently as Tuesday on your blog.
· We have participated in and helped organize action days, attended hearings, issued numerous calls to actions and have worked closely with all of our program and advocacy partners
· We have also kept in constant communication with the media to highlight the impact these cuts and restrictions are having on children and families throughout our state
· And, we have countless meetings with all levels of the government advocating for our cause – and yes, this includes Diana Rauner and all members of our Illinois policy team
· In addition to our advocacy work, we’re also service providers and as such our organization and the programs we support are affected
We continue to fight for child care and other early learning programs with both the governor and the legislature. Our message has been consistent and clear - the governor should repeal the child care changes and both the governor and legislature need to put aside their differences and resolve the 2016 budget impasse, including revenue to fund priorities like child care, home visiting and preschool.
The Ounce has been doing this good work for over 30 years. Our priority is to the children and families we serve. We’re working hard to make a difference for them. Do we feel our message is getting through in Springfield right now? I don’t think any of us in the early childhood field feel we’ve made a breakthrough…but we’re not giving up.
Manager, Marketing Communications & Media
Ounce of Prevention Fund