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For the umpteenth time, Madigan urges focus on budget

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* Press release…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement after Moody’s Investor Services downgraded Illinois’ credit Thursday. The downgrade comes just three days after Fitch Ratings issued a downgrade of its own to the state’s credit rating:

“Two credit downgrades in the same week are certainly nothing to claim victory over and nothing to ignore. These downgrades will have direct consequences on state taxpayers. The interest rate on future debt repayment will be higher, costing taxpayers more for the foreseeable future.

“Yet despite the Fitch Ratings downgrade Monday, Governor Rauner has insisted on moving ahead with his agenda, which would damage middle-class families’ standard of living and drive down wages, despite the clear lack of support for his agenda from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“With its own credit downgrade Thursday, Moody’s made it very clear that what the state needs to do is focus on eliminating our budget deficit, creating a long-term plan to fund the state’s pensions and reducing the state’s bill backlog.

“We all want economic growth, more business investment and more good-paying jobs for hard-working families in every part of Illinois. That is not in question. These priorities can be achieved through a state budget that takes a balanced approach with some spending cuts and some new revenue, not by slashing services and programs that families count on.

“The biggest issue facing Illinois is the state budget deficit. Two credit downgrades in less than a week have driven home that important fact. So I urge the governor, again, to put aside his agenda that Democrats and Republicans alike oppose - an agenda that will hurt middle-class and struggling families - and instead focus on a budget that helps all Illinoisans.”

…Adding… From the governor’s office…

Hi, Rich –

The report is another confirmation that years of unbalanced budgets, deficit spending and mismanagement have damaged Illinois’ fiscal health and major, structural reforms are needed to restore it. This is more proof that instead of blocking all reforms and passing a broken budget that was $4 billion in the hole, the Super Majority in charge of the legislature should partner with the governor to enact real reforms that will grow jobs and free up more resources to balance the budget.

All the best,


Um, the downgrade focused pretty exclusively on actions (or lack thereof) during calendar year 2015.

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      

A commenter retires

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* From the commenter known as “DuPage Dan”…

Mr Miller,

I am closing my nearly 26 years as a state employee. Today is my last day working at the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission.

While I may visit the blog from time to time, it is unlikely I will be posting since I am also leaving the state and traveling much over the next several years.

I appreciate this venue, and all the hard work you put into it. I may not be on the same “side” as you are but I appreciate having a monitored forum to see what other folks believe and say. There are few venues where this can occur, as you well know.

Take care, sir and all the best for you in this great state.

Daniel McNeil

What a classy way to go out.

Thanks, man. Have a great retirement.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

Illinois Policy Institute poll: Everybody is unpopular and nobody has a clear mandate

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* From the Illinois Policy Institute

Today, Illinois Policy Action released the results of a new statewide poll conducted this week by Ogden & Fry. The poll found that likely Illinois voters are frustrated with the General Assembly budget gridlock and their elected officials – but they blame state politicians and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan the most, as opposed to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. The poll also found that nearly half of likely voters would have an unfavorable view of elected officials who raise taxes to balance the budget.

Illinois has been without a state budget for more than 100 days. Lawmakers sent Rauner a budget that was unbalanced by nearly $4 billion, so he vetoed almost all of it. Rauner has said he would like to see the state make significant economic reforms before considering raising taxes. State politicians, specifically those under the leadership of Speaker Madigan, have refused to pass such reforms.

“The poll results are clear: Illinoisans are frustrated by the budget stalemate, and they’re frustrated with politicians who are holding the budget hostage in opposition to much-needed economic reforms,” said John Tillman, CEO of Illinois Policy Action. “For many years, lawmakers relied on tax hikes, borrowing and accounting gimmicks to pass unbalanced budgets, and voters see where that dysfunction has led the state. That’s why voters don’t want politicians to raise taxes to balance the budget, and they are putting more blame on Madigan and other members of the General Assembly than the newly elected governor. With these poll results out in the open, politicians now have a choice whose side they’ll take.”

Ogden & Fry conducted the statewide poll on Oct. 20 and 21. The same poll also was conducted in Cook County.

Here are some key findings from the statewide poll:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Gov. Rauner is handling his job?

    Approve: 34.4 percent [Corrected number]
    Disapprove: 53.2 percent
    Undecided: 12.4 percent

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Speaker Madigan is handling his job?

    Approve: 19.9 percent
    Disapprove: 57.2 percent
    Undecided: 22.8 percent

Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the Illinois General Assembly?

    Approve: 9.8 percent
    Disapprove: 69.6 percent
    Undecided: 20.6 percent

How would you view the elected official who raised taxes to balance the budget?

    Favorably: 30.8 percent
    Unfavorably: 48.8 percent
    Undecided: 20.4 percent

* None of that is a surprise, except that Madigan’s disapproval rating is only a few points higher than Rauner’s. That’s a big surprise to me. It took Madigan 40+ years to rack up that disapproval rating. Rauner has apparently done it in less than a year.

* But, unsurprisingly, there’s more to the poll than the group reveals - mainly that there is no mandate for either side here.

“Illinois is in terrible financial shape. Should Gov. Rauner fix the political and economic issues that created the problems even if services to the needy are cut?”…

“The Illinois Constitution requires the State to have a balanced budget. The State Budget has not been balanced in over 10 years helping create today’s budget crisis. How would you view the elected official who cut services to balance the budget?”…

“In order to fix the budget, would you rather services be cut or pay more in taxes?”…

* And check this one out: “Are you or someone in your immediate family affected by the budget stalemate?”…

That’s a huge percentage of the population.

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      

Moody’s downgrades Illinois

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* First Fitch, now Moody’s

Moody’s downgrades Illinois’ outstanding $27B of GO bonds to Baa1; outlook negative

Global Credit Research - 22 Oct 2015

About $33B of debt affected including subject-to-appropriation and sales-tax securities

New York, October 22, 2015 — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the State of Illinois’ $26.8 billion of general obligation bonds to Baa1 from A3, while also lowering ratings on the state’s sales-tax (Build Illinois) bonds to Baa1 from A3, and on the state’s subject to appropriation bonds (issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and for the state’s Civic Center program) to Baa2 from Baa1. The outlook for all of these obligations remains negative.


The downgrades reflect weakening of the state’s financial position during 2015 and our expectation that an ongoing budget stalemate will lead to further deterioration. Structural budget imbalance, accounts payable, and other fiscal metrics are back-tracking, despite a favorable economic climate, leaving the state more vulnerable to the next economic downturn, barring unexpectedly strong and swift corrective actions. Any recurring measures ultimately enacted for the fiscal year that began July 1 will have a short time in which to offset the state’s approximately $6 billion (or 16%) general fund deficit caused in part by recent income tax cuts. Payment deferrals could drive the state’s balance of unpaid bills higher than the levels seen in late 2012, when the backlog approached $10 billion. Additionally, the partisan gridlock evident this year is impeding efforts to address the state’s unfunded liabilities for pensions and retiree health benefits. Despite the emergence of early speculative characteristics, Illinois’ credit is still supported by a diverse economy, legal provisions that ensure continued payment on debt even with no enacted budget, and a broad legal ability to adjust state revenues and spending.


The state’s negative outlook is consistent with the potential for additional credit weakening following this year’s extended budget impasse. Further deterioration in key measures, such as the state’s unfunded pension liabilities and amount of unpaid bills, would put pressure on the state’s GO and related ratings.


- Implementation of a realistic plan to provide long-term funding for pension obligations

- Progress in reducing payment backlog and adoption of legal framework to prevent renewed build-up of unpaid bills

- Expectation of sustainable, structural budget balance


- Persistent and growing structural imbalance that leads to reduced liquidity and growing payment backlog

- Continued growth in unfunded pension liabilities and indications of unwillingness to allocate sufficient resources to retiree benefits


Illinois is the fifth most-populous state in the US, with estimated 2014 population of 12.88 million. Almost three quarters of its residents live in and around Chicago (Ba1 negative), the nation’s third-largest city. The state is comparatively wealthy and economically diverse, with personal income per capita equal to 103.5% of the nation.

* The Bond Buyer was prescient this week

Investors should brace for further deterioration of Illinois’ already battered bond ratings after this week’s Fitch Ratings downgrade prompted state leaders to further dig their heels in over the state budget impasse, market participants said Tuesday. […]

“I don’t know how much more patience the rating agencies will have. The state is going down a path that is going to be difficult to recover from,” said James Colby, senior municipal strategist at Van Eck Global.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* The governor spoke to school kids this week

Another student asked what tasks he has to perform.

Gov. Rauner told the students he meets with world leaders, attends funerals for fallen officers and firefighters, and signs bills into law.

* The Question: Can you also describe the governor’s job duties?

- Posted by Rich Miller   116 Comments      

More ideas, more demands

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* The sentiment is nice, but it’s not like there is a particular “logistics” problem with getting the four tops in the same room as the governor. But, hey, if it moves the ball forward, I’m fine with it…

We are calling for a meeting between the governor and the four Illinois legislative leaders to discuss solutions for the current prolonged budget impasse threatening our state.

This inaction is unprecedented and unacceptable to Illinois voters.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform along with Illinois Public Interest Research Group and our other nonpartisan reform organizations want to help.

We are ready to facilitate the logistics of a meeting in either Chicago or Springfield but believe that it must occur prior to Nov. 15 due to the urgent need for resolution on this issue.

After more than 100 days of this stalemate, the consequences have become clear. Illinois residents in serious need are unable to receive important government services, and many non-profit organizations are unable to continue critically important work tied to state grants. Illinois’ state universities and community colleges may not be able to operate in the next semester of this academic year, leaving many students unable to graduate on time.

The consequences are too great.

We cannot let this situation continue.

While leadership may not align on some core principles, we believe it is necessary for them to meet together, work through these issues and agree on a budget.

Now is the time to act, before the consequences become even more dire.

We extend this offer with sincere concern for the citizens and the state of Illinois.

    Susan Garrett, board chair, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
    Mary Kubasak, president, League of Women Voters of Illinois
    Hoy McConnell, executive director, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest
    Maryam Judar, executive director, Citizen Advocacy Center
    George Ranney, chair, CHANGE Illinois
    Andy Shaw, president and CEO, Better Government Association

* I checked with the comptroller’s office and there’s no change in her belief that economic reforms must come if taxes are to rise to pay for all this…

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Thursday toured the Community Crisis Center in Elgin and discussed the impact the state’s budget impasse is having on domestic violence providers and other nonprofits in Illinois.

Without a budget in place, the state is legally not able to pay domestic service providers for work they have done since July 1. As a result, some centers have had to dig deep into their cash reserves, others have had to lay off workers and cut services, and others have closed their doors. Thousands of victims of domestic violence are going unserved.

“Ironically, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” Munger said. “The best way to acknowledge and honor the efforts of our domestic violence providers this month is to pass a balanced budget so they can continue providing critical services to women and children in need.”

* And legalized kidnapping? Hmm

One Illinois State Senator is trying to re-cast John Hughes’ Cult ‘80s classic “The Breakfast Club” with the state’s political leaders.

Deerfield Democrat Senator Julie Morrison filed legislation Tuesday that would essentially lock Illinois’ leaders into a room once every week until they learn to play nice with the people’s’ tax dollars. If passed, Senate Bill 2190 would make these weekly after-school detentions a public forum so all of Illinois can see how well it’s government is getting along.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

On the other hand…

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* From commenter lake county democrat

What was Pat Quinn’s main goal when he came into office? Political reform. How far did he get with it? Nowhere - Madigan forced him to throw his own blue-ribbon commission under the bus and sign a warm puddle of next-to-nothing (I won’t say nothing because there was a soupcon of worth items in there). Now imagine if he had said “This state is messed up with corruption and I’m going to fix it, or you legislators are going to face the voters owning it. No budget gets passed without this reform.” Now imagine if Madigan had said “WE WON’T EVEN DISCUSS THOSE REFORMS - YOU WILL NOT HOLD THE BUDGET HOSTAGE.” I think there would have been immense pressure on Madigan to cave and at least agree to negotiate. I think there would have been stronger reforms passed as a result.

If you assume that 1) Rauner wants as many anti-union / pro-business goals as possible, 2) knows he won’t get everything he wants but 3) would rather force the Dems to take ownership rather than agree to something like Quinn did, his actions make sense. What other leverage does he have?

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      

The roots of the impasse and how we got here

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* Illinois Issues

On September 18, 2012, the year before Bruce Rauner declared his candidacy for governor, he shared his vision for a crisis that could help reshape state government.

“In Illinois there’s been a long-time history of what I would call social service, social justice, a bigger role for government in the safety net than in many other states,” Rauner said at a tax policy conference sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute. “I think we can drive a wedge issue in the Democratic Party on that topic and bring the folks who say, ‘You know what? For our tax dollars, I’d rather help the disadvantaged, the handicapped, the elderly, the children in poverty. I’d rather have my tax dollars going to that than the SEIU or Af-scammy (AFSCME), who are out there for their own interests.’”

Three years later, Rauner says he’s “very unhappy” Illinois is without a budget. But he has followed through with his proposal that “the disadvantaged, the handicapped, the elderly, the children in poverty” be conscripted into his battle against organized labor. Domestic violence shelters are turning away victims. People with mental illness are losing access to treatment. Programs that make it less likely delinquent juveniles will become adult criminals are scaling back or closing. […]

All of this amounts to a selective government shutdown, and it appears to be the early result of Rauner realizing his vision. The plan imagined Democrats could be prodded into turning against unions. But a close examination of all the changes Rauner is demanding for labor in Illinois — and both the practical and political consequences of those changes — shows why Democrats have so far refused to relent, and why they say they never will. […]

In the run-up to the general election, on the other hand, Rauner was careful to mostly avoid union talk. “Pushing any specific labor regulation is not my priority at all,” he told Illinois Radio Network less than a month before voters went to the polls. Four months later, he unveiled the Turnaround Agenda. […]

Rauner, however, says his labor agenda “is not a partisan issue, it’s a good government issue.” At an appearance in Decatur last week, he discussed other topics, like selling the Thompson Center in Chicago and changes he wants for state pension plans. But he says labor is the core issue: “Are we going to be willing to modify how we handle collective bargaining inside government in Illinois or not? Are we going to take that on?” […]

“Crisis creates opportunity. Crisis creates leverage to change,” Rauner told the Chicago Tribune editorial board in April. “We’ve got to use that leverage of the crisis to force structural change.”

They missed one. Remember last year when he debated Pat Quinn at the Illinois Education Association?

Quinn also compared Rauner to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, saying he wanted to bust unions.

“Limiting collective bargaining is not part of my agenda,” countered Rauner.

* And even though Gov. Rauner told the Tribune editorial board what he planned to do back in April, that board continues to put the blame solely on the House Speaker

So if you think the Democrats are sincere about fixing their budget mess, think again. And catch this: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle told us Wednesday that the county is waiting on $70 million from the state. When Preckwinkle talked to Madigan about the money this summer, he told her to not count on a budget resolution until 2016 … when the state runs out of money.

“I was surprised and disappointed,” Preckwinkle said.

Madigan’s spokesman didn’t get back to us to clarify. But Madigan’s plan is clear: Wait it out, refuse to budge, blame Rauner.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Madigan shares significant blame here. I would never suggest otherwise.

But the Tribune editorial board has its devil, so its members will see only what they want to see, even when the governor himself makes it plain as day. From today

“We’re going through some change, change is difficult, change causes pain. We believe very strongly that we’re going to go through some short term pain for some very long term gain,” Rauner said.

He dismissed suggestions that his refusal to back down could do more harm than good should he not eventually get his way, saying he’s been encouraged by business leaders to “stay the course.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

Emphasis added

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* This week’s column from Jim Nowlan, who served three Republican governors

Few businesses in their right minds would locate in Illinois right now, with its unstable and unpredictable fiscal and tax future.

* From last year

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement regarding the news that Illinois’ unemployment rate was unchanged last month:

“Tragically, under Pat Quinn’s dismal leadership, Illinois continues to lag far behind our neighboring states and the rest of America. We will only get Illinoisans back on the job, when Pat Quinn loses his job.”

* The Illinois Policy Institute this week

Illinois only created 2,200 total jobs in the first nine months of 2015, whereas its neighbors have seen significantly higher jobs growth. Iowa has created six times as many jobs as Illinois between January 2015 and September 2015, and Missouri and Kentucky have each created seven times as many jobs as Illinois during the same period. Wisconsin residents have seen 12 times as many jobs created as have Illinoisans. Indiana created 18 times as many jobs as Illinois, and Michigan created 24 times as many jobs as Illinois between January 2015 and September 2015.

* From the campaign last year

In August of [2013], the Illinois jobless rate was 9.2 percent. Last month’s [2014] rate was 6.7 percent as state officials report the creation of 13,800 jobs, including 2,000 in manufacturing. […]

“We need to grow,” Rauner said. “I’ve been a business builder. I’ll grow our economy and we’ll fix our problems through growth.”

* From late August this year

A major financial supporter of Rauner is the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. Greg Baise, the group’s president and CEO, said that regardless of the future political implications, both sides need to reach a compromise on the budget quickly.

“You can only go so far when you wake up every day and Mike Madigan has 71 votes and John Cullerton has 39 votes, and that’s not going to change until the next election,” Baise said.

“I applaud the governor for his ardent support of business reforms that the business community supports very strongly. But ultimately, we need to get a budget, a balanced budget, so our businesses — manufacturers included — understand that this state is finally getting its act together,” he said.

* Illinois Policy Institute this week

Illinois continued to shed jobs in September, as the state lost a total of 6,900 jobs, including 1,800 manufacturing jobs, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. Illinois has lost manufacturing jobs in eight of the nine months between January 2015 and September 2015, for a total loss of 12,500 manufacturing jobs during this time period.

* From last year

Rauner acknowledged in a statement that “it’s always good news when more Illinoisans are working,” but that didn’t stop him from calling the figures into question hours before they were even released. Speaking at a downtown job fair for veterans, Rauner said the data could be “misleading,” arguing the jobless rate may have dropped because many people have simply stopped looking for work. […]

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 64.7 percent of the state’s population was employed in July 2014, down slightly than a year prior when that figure was 65.3 percent. Nationally, the labor force participation rate was 62.9, down from 63.4 during the same time period last year.

* From the Illinois Policy Institute this week

Worker dropout has driven Illinois’ labor-force participation rate to 38-year lows, dropping to 64.4 percent in September 2015 from 68.8 percent before the 2008 recession.

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      

Rauner throws brush-back pitch at GOP predecessors

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* Riopell

Facing criticism from two past Republican governors in recent days, Gov. Bruce Rauner pushed back Thursday, saying Illinois faces harder challenges than when Govs. Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar were in office.

“I don’t spend any time criticizing my fellow Republicans,” Rauner told reporters today. “I do not spend any time criticizing decisions made in the past that created the mess that we’re dealing with.”

…Adding… From comments…

Wasn’t he the guy who said something like a third of GA Republicans were corrupt, too?


- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Nothing new here, move along

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* I’m not sure where this came from, but it’s not like it’s a new development…

Rauner backed off his so-called “right to work” push months ago when it apparently became obvious even to him that it was backfiring by firmly uniting organized labor.

* And, needless to say, dropping one idea of many that have absolutely zero chances of passage is neither negotiating nor compromising.

It would be like the Democrats saying they’ve dropped their plan to eliminate all restaurants, so now Rauner must compromise on their proposal to forbid the sale of cheeseburgers, and maybe, just maybe, they might be open to compromise by only banning double cheeseburgers with grilled onions. And then, and only then, will the Democrats give the governor the privilege of emptying all state prisons.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Facing the music

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* From the Queens, NY Times Newsweekly

Before the NLCS started, [New York State Sen. Joseph Addabbo] and his fellow Queens senators agreed to the wager with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and his colleagues. Should the Mets win, the Illinois Senate will ship deep-dish Chicago-style pizza to the Queens senators; should the Cubs prevail, the Queens senators will send to the Illinois Senate thin-crust New Yorkstyle pizza.

The losing delegation must also congratulate the winning team on the floor of its Senate chambers, and the senators must wear the winning team’s apparel during a cleanup day within their districts. […]

“I hope that Senator Cullerton looks good in blue and orange, and I wish our counterparts in Chicago the best of luck in coming up with a creative way to keep the deep-dish pizza warm while on its way to Queens,” [said Addabbo].

Wrigley Field is in Cullerton’s district, but he’s more of a Sox fan. Still, that isn’t gonna be fun.

…Adding… LizPhairTax has already won the Internet today with this gem

Whatever Addabbo. We’ll get to it right after we pay the butter cow lady.

If you don’t get the joke, the as of yet unpaid Illinois State Fair “butter cow lady” lives in New York.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Laying the groundwork?

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* From Jane Michaels at Pioneer Press

Illinois Senate Republican Minority Leader Christine Radogno said a tax increase is inevitable, given the state’s woefully inadequate pension funding levels and a legal ruling against legislation to revamp pension obligations.

“We have to bite the bullet and pay it,” Radogno said. “The payments have to be made. That does put Illinois at a disadvantage.” […]

Radogno said lawmakers likely will consider hiking the state income tax or taxing retirement income, rather than increasing the state sales tax or instituting a tax on services.

Illinois is one of the few states, which doesn’t tax retirement income, she noted. Any plan would have to avoid encouraging retirees to join others who’ve moved because it’s cheaper to live in another state with lower taxes, she said.

Radogno said she wasn’t optimistic about an end to the state’s budget impasse in the near future. It’s possible Chicago representatives could force Democratic leaders to the negotiating table so a deal could be reached before January when only a simple majority is needed to take votes on difficult issues, such as raising taxes, she said.

The fact that she’s not only talking about an income tax hike, but also a tax on retirement income is quite significant.

Then again, we’re nowhere near to a vote on any of that right now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   117 Comments      

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Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Good morning!

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

* Right through the lightning and the thunder

To the dark side of the moon

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Rauner on the stump

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* Keep in mind that he proposed huge childcare program cuts in his February budget…

* And this is an interesting admission…

Maybe she’s been having tea with Edgar and Thompson.


- Posted by Rich Miller   113 Comments      


Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* Don’t wanna beeya

Former Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith, of Chicago, has been ordered by a federal judge to report to prison on Friday.

The judge denied Smith’s attorneys’ attempts to keep the ex-lawmaker out of prison while they appeal his five-month sentence for his conviction on attempted extortion and bribery charges. Judges can allow a convicted person to remain out of jail if it appears that a higher court might accept their appeal and overturn the conviction, but U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman indicated that will probably not happen for Smith.

The ex-lawmaker was convicted in June of 2014 for accepting a $7,000 cash bribe in exchange for writing a letter of support for a day care center seeking a state grant. During his trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of Smith allegedly accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for the recommendation in what was ultimately an FBI sting.

* Also, some folks on the county central committee might want to keep in mind who was responsible for sending Smith to the House. The Illinois House, not the big house..

A Democratic Party committee is set to meet Wednesday to discuss rescinding the party’s endorsement of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, with Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) being floated as potential replacements on the March primary ballot. […]

Burnett said he’s interested but wants to see what the party leaders decide.

“My mentor is asking me to take a look at it,” Burnett said. “I will say a lot of my supporters have been pushing me . . . I may if the party asks me. I’ll consider it.”

Emphasis added in case you weren’t clear.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Munger to talk about domestic/sexual violence programs

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* Greg Hinz

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger, who recently caught some heat from fellow Republicans for seeming to suggest that Gov. Bruce Rauner ought to stop union-bashing and just cut a budget deal, may be about to catch some more.

The comptroller, appointed by Rauner but now running for the job in next year’s elections, is due to tour the Community Crisis Center in Elgin, which provides services to Illinoisans dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault or economic and financial difficulties. She’ll then hold a press conference with its leaders to “highlight (the) ramifications of the (Illinois) budget impasse,” according to an advisory from her office. […]

But by publicly underlining that domestic violence shelters are not included in that part of the state budget that’s on auto-pilot, Munger inevitably will be boosting pressure on Rauner to save women from being beat up and leave anti-union reforms until later.

* From the twitters…

* From Voices for Illinois Children…

To refresh, here is what zero state investment in domestic and sexual violence services means:

    * Ending state funding for services that help 75,000 survivors of domestic violence across the state of Illinois—20,000 women and children in Cook County alone. This includes medical, psychological and legal services as well as emergency shelter and other protections.

    * Some rape crisis centers are facing closure and others will be forced to lay off 30-40 percent of their staffs in the coming months, which would result in turning away 3,400 victims of sexual violence who need advocacy and counseling;

    * Eliminating state funding for services that provide immediate crisis intervention for at least 3,700 survivors of sexual assault;

    * Eliminating state funding of civil legal aid, compromising access to the civil justice system for 17,500 vulnerable Illinoisans impacted by domestic violence, eviction, and financial exploitation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* Your caption?…

- Posted by Rich Miller   123 Comments      

Fun with numbers

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* Jim Edgar

“An unstable state government — and that’s what we have right now, very unstable — is a detriment to economic growth,” he said. “I mean, folks aren’t going to come to this state and make an investment if they think state government’s dysfunctional.”

Edgar, who is a senior fellow with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs, noted that no higher education budget is in force. He said the U of I has a lot of reserves and can cover costs for a while, but other institutions “are really getting into trouble. … I’m not sure how long that can go.”

“One of the strengths this state’s had for years is … a great higher education system,” he said. “I think that is in jeopardy now.”

When he was governor, Edgar said, CEOs of companies would tell him that they’d wanted tax breaks and lower workers’ compensation costs, ” ‘but most important, we want a stable, dependable state government. We want an education system that works. We want a good quality of life.’ “

* From the most recent Illinois Department of Employment Security press release

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that Illinois’ unemployment rate in September declined to 5.4 percent and nonfarm payroll employment shed -6,900 jobs, based on preliminary data released by the Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The state’s job numbers dropped for a fourth consecutive month, keeping Illinois below the national average. Based on the slower path recorded this year, IDES analysts anticipate that Illinois employment will not recover from the 2007-2009 recession until April 2017. The nation is currently 2.9 percent above its prior peak level of employment.

Illinois businesses have added only 2,200 new jobs since the beginning of this year,” said Jeff Mays, Director, IDES. “It’s been six years since the recession and job growth is still dismal. We’ve got a long way to go before Illinois realizes real employment and economic recovery.”

* From an IDES press release in October of last year

The Illinois unemployment rate fell in September for the seventh consecutive month to reach 6.6 percent while employers created +19,300 jobs, according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The data is seasonally adjusted.

The drop from 9.1 percent one year ago marks, for the second consecutive month, the largest year-over-year decline since 1984. The last time the rate was lower than 6.6 percent was in June 2008 when it was 6.3 percent. Also, there are +69,000 more jobs than one year ago.

“Unemployment rates continue to fall because private-sector employers are averaging more than 5,400 new jobs each month since the Illinois economy began to improve,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “Meanwhile, help wanted ads for full-time work continue to grow and indicate employers expect their need for more workers to remain strong.”

I’m not saying, I’m just sayin…

All emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      

So, how’s that plan working out?

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* From June 2nd, 2015

Rauner starts budget cuts to force Dems to negotiate on his agenda

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday said he will cut spending on programs that help the poor with child care costs and help the elderly stay out of nursing homes, nix the proposed Illiana toll road, close state museums and suspend tax credits for businesses and film production.

The Republican governor billed his moves as a way to show how he will deal with a deficit-ridden Democratic state budget that’s yet to reach his desk. It also represents Rauner’s latest attempt to ratchet up pressure on Democratic lawmakers to agree to the pro-business, anti-union agenda he’s made a condition of getting a budget agreement.

Many of Rauner’s actions appeared aimed at separating rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. The two Chicago Democrats control the House and Senate, and have presented a largely unified front against the Republican governor.

* Yesterday

Speaking at a Statehouse news conference, Madigan did not report progress in resolving the budget impasse, although he said he has met with Rauner three times in the past few weeks.

“They’ve been very cordial meetings. We had a very full discussion of the issues that are before the legislature and the governor’s office,” Madigan said. “I would say that we have not plowed any new ground. But we weren’t screaming and shouting at each other. I would say it’s better that we meet and talk than not meet and talk.”

…Adding… Related…

* Group warns Illinois State Museum may lose accreditation due to closure

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      

Rep. Harper takes “Esther Golar Pledge”

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* The first press release I’ve seen quoting the Illinois House’s newest member is from SEIU Healthcare…

Just moments after she was appointed by committeemen to fill the vacant 6th District House seat late Tuesday, community activist Sonya Harper signed the “Esther Golar Pledge” to support Senate Bill 570 and reverse the dangerous cuts to the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) promulgated by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The unilateral cuts already have excluded more than an estimated 15,000 families from CCAP.

Golar’s last legislative act before her death was to vote for SB 570 and Harper vowed to carry on the legacy of fighting for kids when a vote on the bill comes before the House on Nov. 10th:

    “In an act of total bravery and at great risk to herself, Representative Golar came to Springfield to defy Bruce Rauner and stand up for the people of the 6th District. Her very last vote was to reverse his cruel cuts to child care, which do not solve our budget crisis but DO harm our economy and hurt working families.

    “I have pledged to honor Representative Golar’s legacy and, on November 10th, I hope to join my new colleagues in voting to roll back the Rauner rules which are causing needless devastation to vulnerable residents of the 6th District and across all Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Loan plan emerges

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* SJ-R

A House committee Tuesday advanced a bill to provide money due to local governments from gaming revenue and fuel taxes, but the day ended with the state apparently no closer to resolving its months-long budget impasse.

The House Executive Committee gave its approval to a $1.9 billion bill that authorizes money to be paid to local governments from money that does not involve general state taxes. […]

“(It) is another attempt by the Democratic majority to piecemeal together a budget that will force a tax hike on hardworking families without any meaningful reforms,” said Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly. […]

“This is money that will not be spent by the state government,” [House Speaker Michael Madigan] said. “Therefore we plan to advance that bill in the House.”

* Meanwhile, the Rauner administration has an alternate plan

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration floated a plan that would allow the Illinois Finance Authority to offer towns low-interest loans that could be repaid when the money raised by the gas tax and a 911 surcharge on phone bills is eventually sent out. […]

The proposal would not require legislative approval. It emerged after Democratic lawmakers advanced a competing plan that would release the gas tax and 911 surcharge money, plus $1 billion to the Illinois Lottery, which stopped paying out on winnings of more than $600 this month, saying its checking account ran dry.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said he was not familiar with the Rauner administration’s proposal but expected the broader bill to come before the House for a vote when lawmakers return Nov. 10.

The Democratic legislation has the backing of the Illinois Municipal League, which represents local governments. “Our position is there is no need to take a loan when the state should pay the money that’s owed,” said Brad Cole, the group’s executive director.

The idea might be to get that loan money out the door before the House returns to Springfield next month and therefore spare Republican members from the embarrassment of voting against their local governments.

But there are plenty of other non-GRF approps in that bill, including money for breast cancer victims, grants to the Special Olympics, and lots of stuff for veterans.

And there’s also a new approp bill out there, which would fund programs for the State Fire Marshal (including the University of Illinois’ Fire Service Institute), Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

The perils of being a moderate

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* Illinois Review

Why, oh why, does Sen. Mark Kirk even bother calling himself a Republican anymore?

Tuesday he somehow managed to be the only so-called member of the GOP to vote FOR sanctuary cities and allow the Senatae to keep federal funding while sanctuary cities nullify federal immigration law. […]

This after being given an award Monday by an Illinois anti-gun group and tweeting out a line about needing the close the gun show loophole and blaming Wisconsin, Indiana, and Mississippi???… for the guns being used in all of the gang and drug violence in Chicago, Rockford, and elsewhere in Illinois. […]

Before that, Kirk was voting to keep Planned Parenthood and its baby butchery fully funded.

Before that, he was working with Mitch McConnell and the Democrats to revive the corporate welfare of the Export-Import bank, which we now find out could be used to give out loans to Iran thanks to the nuclear deal.

Before that, he was voting for many of President Obama’s radical nominees.

* EMILY’s List…

EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, put Illinois Senator Mark Kirk “On Notice” for 2016. “On Notice” is a list of incumbent Republicans at all levels of government who will be held accountable for their anti-woman, anti-family records in the 2016 elections.

“Senator Mark Kirk can try to run from his record, but his extreme Republican colleagues depend on his support when it’s time to advance their anti-woman and anti-family agenda,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List. “Sen. Kirk voted against ensuring that survivors of trafficking – the most vulnerable women and girls – would have access to comprehensive health care, voted against a provision to ensure women of color receive adequate services under the Violence Against Women Act, and has consistently opposed legislation aimed at protecting women and families from gender discrimination in pay. It’s clear that Illinois working families can’t count on Sen. Kirk to fight for them to have a fair shot, and that’s why EMILY’s List is putting him ‘On Notice.’”

The group is backing Duckworth for Kirk’s Senate seat.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

MJM responds to critics

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Asked Tuesday what responsibility he bears for previous downgrades over the years that lead to the [Fitch downgrade to] BBB+ rating, Madigan said he wants to remain focused on solutions.

“If you wish to be a critic of me then you would blame everything that’s happened in the state for the last several years on me. Some do that, some people do that. I don’t choose to be so negative. I choose to look at the problems we are looking at today–work to be reasonable, work to be moderate, work not to be extreme, bring people together and work toward a solution to the problems.”

Governor Bruce Rauner’s office said the Fitch report points to Illinois’ economy lagging behind other states and the major structural challenges facing the Land of Lincoln. Rauner said the legislature continues to protect the failed status quo. The Governor’s office also pointed to statements back in August where the Governor said he doesn’t work for the credit rating agencies, he works for the people.

Those are nice words from Madigan, but they ain’t getting us anywhere.

* Eric Zorn is joining the Tribune editorial board’s call for a new Rauner budget…

Rauner has yet to “prepare and submit” a balanced budget proposal, as the state constitution requires. The budget outline he released back in February relied on $2.2 billion in future savings from a change in pension law that would require a constitutional amendment to enact, and on $3.6 billion in spending cuts that Democrats contend would violate the law or existing contracts.

Instead Rauner has harped on the Democrats for submitting appropriations requests totaling some $3 billion to $4 billion more than anticipated revenue and for refusing to use their supermajority to try to pass tax increases to pay for the spending they want.

Just meeting in the middle on the spending dispute was always going to be hard enough without the paralyzing complication of Rauner’s attacks on unions.

To preserve any chance of winning, in the future, he needs to throw in now, not double down on what’s looking more and more like a losing hand.

Put forth a realistic budget, make the Democrats do the same and hammer out the differences. Live to play another hand.

Rauner can’t “make the Democrats do” anything right now. And he’s not going to introduce a realistic, balanced budget. He doesn’t want to wear the jacket for the cuts, which are usually far more controversial (to people who actually vote) than the tax hikes.

* The Speaker would be wise to heed his own advice. Start being a whole lot more reasonable on workers’ comp and some other biz items, for instance, and pressure will most definitely build on the other side to cut a deal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

Our own “Freedom Caucus”

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* SJ-R

Democratic state Rep. Frank Mautino was approved Tuesday to become the state’s third auditor general.

Mautino, 53, of Spring Valley, will take over for Auditor General William Holland who plans to retire at the end of the year.

At a time of deep partisan divides in the legislature over the budget impasse, Mautino won support from lawmakers in both parties. The Senate approved his nomination by a 55-0 vote. The House followed shortly after voting 102-10.

All of the opposition came from House Republicans.

And the HGOPs who voted against Mautino are the most conservative, and often some of the most partisan in the chamber

Andersson, Batinick, Frese, Ives, Jesiel, McDermed, Morrison, Phillips, Wehrli, Keith Wheeler,

They’re also all fairly new to the Statehouse.

* Related…

* Dan and Amy interview State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) on AM 560

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - IllinoisGO responds *** Yep, they’ve got them right where they want them

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* SJ-R

Rauner met privately with House Republicans for about an hour Tuesday afternoon. He declined comment after leaving the session.

Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, said Rauner told the Republicans “everything is on track and moving forward.” Poe said his sense is that the House Republicans are all still behind the governor. Asked if he thinks things are on track and moving forward, Poe said, “What I read and what you listen to seems to be a little different. We’re going to have to start negotiating at some point.”

* Politico

While behind closed doors, Gov. Rauner told the House Republican Caucus: “We are winning … Democrats are scared.” How does he figure? As low as Rauner’s favorability has fallen, he told members House Speaker Mike Madigan’s are worse, several sources with knowledge of the meeting tell POLITICO. […]

SCARED? “There’s a lot of anxiety out in the streets, more so in the Democratic districts,” a Republican insider told POLITICO. That’s largely due to the IllinoisGO PAC, funded by five well-heeled donors, including Helen Zell, the wife of billionaire Sam Zell . Some of them, including Mr. Zell, also happen to donate to and align with Rauner. The plan is to run primary opponents in a series of Democratic statehouse races - including against Madigan. There are signs that other Chicago House Democrats, including Ann Williams and Will Guzzardi are also targets.

STRATEGY - Sources familiar with the IllinoisGO strategy say a slate of candidates will be announced in the waning days of petition circulating, which runs Nov. 23-30.

Drafted to run - Democrats who are pro-charter and conservative on budget matters while left on social issues.

‘BLEED’ THEM - Running to the right of Dems in the city sounds like a recipe for failure but there’s a long game, says one Springfield insider familiar with the strategy. “Not win but bleed,” is the point here. “Bleed them and [Senate President John] Cullerton and Madigan have less money in the target general races they care about.” And there goes their two-chamber, supermajority.

Yes, the House Democrats are truly anguished. You can just feel their fear.


Also, all you’re going to accomplish by running somebody against MJM is to poke the bear and make him even more difficult to deal with in Springfield.

* And while I get the idea, it’s gonna take way more than primary opponents against Williams and Guzzardi (one of the hardest working people in show bidniss) to bleed Madigan dry

House Speaker Michael Madigan reported another $105,800 in 18 contributions, including $50,000 from the plumbers’ union Local 130, $10,800 from energy firm Ameren and $2,500 from red light camera firm American Traffic Solutions. The Democratic Party of Illinois fund Madigan controls got another $23,000-plus, including $15,000 from a Comcast political arm.

Since Jan. 1, Madigan’s personal campaign fund has collected $573,000 from 122 contributions, while the state party fund has received nearly $1.1 million through 262 contributions, according to State Board of Elections records.

*** UPDATE *** From IllinoisGO

Illinoisans for Gro wth and Opportunity (IllinoisGO) Executive Director Greg Goldner offered the following response to Natasha Korecki regarding her Politico report this morning:

“Since we haven’t spoken, and you haven’t spoken to any of our board members, there is no informed source as it relates to IllinoisGo’s political strategy.

Maybe so, but you can’t help but wonder if they’ll get their “political strategy” when a certain somebody gives it to them.

- Posted by Rich Miller   104 Comments      

“Out of service”

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* From James Hawker

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

NLCS open thread

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

* Despite myself, I really am starting to feel bad for you guys. Cheer up, Cub fans…

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

* Even more shenanigans!
* More shenanigans!
* Saturday campaign money report
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Shenanigans!
* Tribune drops bombshell on Biss running mate
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner: "Madigan has rigged the Democratic primary for Pritzker"
* New Ives radio ad claims Democrats are trying to help Rauner, while Brady does Rauner robocall
* *** UPDATED x1 - DGA responds *** Elections board says DGA should file disclosure for Ives ad
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Jones; IEA/IFT; Reis; Mitchell; Edgar
* ISRA, Drury both try to claim Raoul inserted "poison pill" into gun bill
* Pro-life group launches GOTV effort for Lipinski
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner opens new online track against Ives
* Erika Harold still can't remember comments, but says "I was wrong"
* Rauner calls Madigan "a unified force of bad, of evil"
* Sen. Duckworth gets involved in another state central committee race
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Has Pritzker gone to ground?
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* McCann, barred from SGOP caucus meeting, claims Rauner threatened to "destroy you and your family"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Caption contest!
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