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Today’s number: 145,441

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Press release…

Since September 28, 2015, Illinois Area Agencies on Aging have been providing a weekly alert addressing the impact of the budget Impasse. I4A is chronicling the erosion of services to seniors in the State of Illinois. Given that we are in late January and there is no visible effort to address and resolve the budget crisis, we are now projecting an Illinois that does not support older people who are in greatest need (or who can avoid unnecessary incapacitation with minimal assistance within their communities).

Last week I4A reported on the number of older people this year who have been denied meals and supportive assistance because of the budget Impasse. With major cash flow delays, no compensation under the Prompt Payment Act (meals and supportive services are distributed as grants - not eligible for interest when payment is delayed), expensive lines of credit and exhausted reserves, of course people have not been served.

The following itemizes the number of people who will be abandoned if state support for Planning and Service Grants and Community Based Services funding are forever gone:

    Annual number of people served by the Illinois Aging Network (federal and state support): 484,000
    Annual number of people served if only federal funding is received: 338,559
    Number of people who are abandoned under the current budget impasse: 145,441

Represented within your 145,441 older citizens/constituents affected by the loss of funding are a minimum of:

    1,621 people forced to enter nursing homes instead of exploring options for care
    206 people no longer able to receive door-to-door assistance with transportation – doctor appointments missed
    9,356 people literally missing the bus because of other lost transportation services
    105,973 people without information assistance, resulting in missed benefits and financial assistance
    4,067 people not receiving outreach to tell them that they can and should receive help
    387 people without a functioning home environment due to lost chore/housekeeping
    114 people facing added caregiver strain or leaving their loved ones alone because of denied respite
    163 people risking falls and other household injuries because no one can change a light bulb, etc.
    77 people left alone without a call from a concerned organization’s telephone reassurance
    303 people not understanding how they can survive with lost counseling services
    962 people not attending life enriching education classes
    516 people with undetected health issues because of lost health screening
    257 people unable to locate suitable housing, leaving them at risk of homelessness
    2,257 people without legal assistance to advocate for them to receive benefits they’re entitled to
    13,400 people locked out of senior centers
    6,525 people without recreational activity and often without a purpose to keep going

We are facing a projected loss of $5,417,708 of GRF normally supporting senior services in Illinois. Each of the 13 Illinois Area Agencies on Aging listens to their communities to assure that services of the highest priority are supported, thus these projections show the potential impact but will be adjusted based on planning principles and needs throughout the state. The bottom line is that nothing is self-supporting – the Illinois Aging Network is a balance of state, federal and local funding that provides the most responsive and important service network for older people in Illinois (and the nation). Thus home delivered meals are similarly lost when supportive services are not part of the community agency’s budget. It is time to resolve the budget impasse and identify the resources and priorities for Illinois spending based on the dignity and importance of every Illinois citizen.

Distributed for I4A by:
Jonathan Lavin
Chief Executive Officer
AgeOptions

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Mautino under fire

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Illinois Leaks took a look at Auditor General Frank Mautino’s campaign finance reports from when he was a legislator and found something that at least on the surface looks pretty odd. Over an approximately ten-year period, then-Rep. Mautino spent over $200,000 on gas and (mostly) car repairs at the same gas station in his home town of Spring Valley

Mautino spent $213,338.31 on fuel and repairs for his campaign vehicle between March of 2005 and December 2015. Even more if you go back a few more years. His campaign itemized expenditure reporting indicates $20,914.20 of the $213 thousand was used specifically for gas purchases during that same time frame, all at the same gas station, Happy’s Super Service Station.

Using the very figures from his itemized expenditures covering ten years and nine months, Mautino’s expenditures average approximately $54.42 of campaign money every day during that time frame for gas and repairs to his campaign vehicle.

There’s a whole lot of hyperbole and speculation in the piece. And $21K over more than ten years on gas is about five bucks a day. But over $20K a year in car repairs?

So, I checked with Mautino, who said that it wasn’t just one car, but several which received repairs and gas.

They weren’t necessarily his cars, Mautino said, but were owned by people who did campaign work.

* But then there’s this

Out of 387 itemized entries in the time frame referenced, 35% of them were whole numbers. Most accountant’s would look at that as entries that deserve more attention. Having been a mechanic my whole life as well as an FAA licensed Air-frame & Power plant mechanic, I have seen my share of repair bills and let’s just say I have rarely seen any that were round numbers like those we see in the itemized listings. I found 137 such entries out of 387 since March of 2005. I would bet if every one of our readers were to go back and look at their own repair bills there would be fewer than 1% that could find one that was a perfectly round number.

For example:

    3/29/2005 – $1,200.00
    4/11/2005 – $300.00
    6/13/2005 – $1,500.00
    4/13/2007 – $1,200.00
    6/12/2007 – $1,200.00
    12/06/2007 -$1,500.00
    1/18/2008 – $1,100.00
    2/08/2008 – $1,000.00
    6/16/2008 – $3000.00
    11/10/2008 -$1,100.00
    9/11/2008 – $2,100.00
    12/16/2008 -$1,00.00
    2/26/2009 – $851.00
    3/24/2009 – $600.00
    5/08/2009 – $1500.00
    6/16/2009 – $800.00
    10/06/2009 – $1,000.00
    12/03/2009 – $925.00
    2/10/2010 – $1,500.00

Mautino said over the weekend that he was putting some info together, but I haven’t heard back. This is a small town shop, so maybe they were just sloppy.

I’ve known Frank Mautino since the day he got to town, and I don’t even want to think about the possibility that something might be hinky. But, he really should get in front of this sooner rather than later.

…Adding… Illinois Times

Susan Garrett, a former Democratic state senator and representative who now chairs the board of directors for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said that both an investigation and an explanation from Mautino is in order.

“I think there needs to be an investigation,” Garrett said. “I think that Mr. Mautino needs to explain to the public how his campaign funds have been spent. … He needs to explain this, especially because of his new position as auditor general of Illinois. The highest ethical standards are required to hold that position.”

It’s not clear who would conduct an investigation. The General Assembly is supposed to have an inspector general tasked with investigating allegations of wrongdoing by legislators, but that position has been vacant for more than a year.

“Unfortunately, there isn’t anybody who can conduct, as far as I know, right now, because of the vacancy, there’s nobody who can conduct the type of investigation that needs to be done,” Garrett said. “What can easily happen is, Mr. Mautino can come forward and answer some of these questions.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - WIU approves layoffs *** EIU President: “Our state government is literally starving its public universities”

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Forwarded by a reader…

Dear Campus Community,

As we begin our spring semester, it is important that I update you on the financial position of the university. Incredibly, the state’s legislature and governor have yet to approve a state budget for FY16. This unprecedented action means that EIU has not received any of our annual appropriation (typically around $40 million), nor MAP reimbursement for EIU students (approximately $9 million). Our state government is literally starving its public universities.

The difficult budget adjustments that were made this past fall equating to reductions of roughly $10 million accomplished our goal of moving us toward a balanced budget for FY16. However, our budget was predicated (as are all state universities’ budgets) on receiving our state appropriation and MAP reimbursements, and that has unfortunately not happened.

As I have told our lawmakers, in higher education we operate in semesters, rather than weeks or months. Our budgets are formulated on an annual basis and in accordance with the academic calendar.

We will continue to provide our students excellent learning, service and research opportunities without diminishing academic excellence during the current semester and for many years to come. EIU is ranked the top regional public university in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report and we are committed to maintaining the focus on student success that earned us that spot.

I am hopeful that a state budget or higher education appropriation soon will be finally enacted. However, we cannot rely on optimism alone and must begin unfailingly to preserve our funds for instruction and employee payroll in the case our appropriation is further delayed or not received at all.

During the first half of FY16, we carefully managed our operating expenses using tuition revenue and cash flow reserves to move us well into the spring semester. Now, we have identified specific measures that will need to be executed to allow us to operate through to the completion of the semester while ensuring our educational mission and preserving funds to meet payroll.

Beginning immediately, we will implement the actions of halting all non-instructional capital equipment purchases; delaying all deferred maintenance and repairs that are either unrelated to safety and security or already paid for; delaying all non-instructional capital projects; halting all non-instructional supply purchases without vice presidential approval; freezing employee-reimbursed travel with minimal exception such as for required federal or governmental purposes; and freezing all hiring that involves FY16 funding. Any exception will need presidential approval.

If an appropriation continues to be delayed further into the semester, we will need to temporarily and/or permanently lay off hundreds of non-instructional employees and mandate unpaid furlough days to others beginning in March. Call backs will occur immediately after an appropriation is enacted and funds have begun to be received by the university.

The actions of the budgetary impasse in Springfield are testing our resolve and fortitude to meet the needs of our students. I call upon everyone’s cooperation to remain strong and positive in attitude for our students and our beloved university as we await our lawmakers and governor to authorize state support for public higher education. Together, we will get through this challenging time and after which, return to our pathway to success.

Sincerely,

David M. Glassman
President, Eastern Illinois University

*** UPDATE *** From the Western Illinois University student newspaper Facebook page

In a 5-1-1 vote this morning, the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees (BOT) is in favor of the execution of staff reductions. According to resolution No. 16.1/1, reduced enrollment is partially responsible for the staff reduction. “Western Illinois University seeks to implement staff reduction as outlined in Article 24, Article 40 and all additional articles referenced therein,” reads a clause on the resolution. The BOT has officially given the administration authorization to lay off where necessary.

- Posted by Rich Miller   82 Comments      


How Bruce met Rahm

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Good stuff in here. Too much to excerpt. But they go back a long way

MODERATOR DAVID KAHNWEILER: Do you mind talking about Rahm a little bit?

RAUNER: OK.

KAHNWEILER: I’ve known you for a very long time. Rahm’s been at all the family events, the bat matzvahs and, I mean, I remember at, I think, at Meg’s bat mitzvah where you were in private equity and he was in Congress and you’re paying for dinner and he’s razzing you about threatening, you know, to raise taxes on your, uh…

RAUNER: On capital gains, yeah. Yeah.

KAHNWEILER: On capital gains. And your relationship has always been one of just needling each other. So is this just more needling going on in the last few weeks or is it getting to be a little sharper than needles?

RAUNER: No. It’s way more sharper than – there’s really a lot on the line.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Not safe for work

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* I watched part of this go down in real time. Oof.

And no bad language in comments, please, even if you are just “quoting” somebody.

…Adding… DNAinfo Chicago did a story

“It’s a street fight, and sometimes it gets a little messy, and that’s OK, because street fights are long overdue in Chicago,” Proft said Monday. “I’m sick of the deference that is given and politicians in the city and state think they deserve. They don’t deserve it.”

Reilly, by contrast, called the exchange “unfortunate,” but quickly added, “I take my record on fiscal reform seriously,” pointing to how he voted against Emanuel’s 2016 budget and its record tax increase.

“Dan took some shots at me because I had the audacity to label the governor’s CPS takeover as the sham that it is,” Reilly said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Durkin responds *** Question of the day

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Senate President John Cullerton talked at length today about the state’s broken school funding formula. From a press release

Illinois has not updated its school funding formula since 1997. The system has resulted in striking inequities across Illinois’ school districts, rewarding wealthier communities and penalizing impoverished communities where students need more resources to succeed.

In addition, Illinois covers barely a third of the total cost of public education, while most states cover half.

As a result, the performance gap that divides rich and poor students, as well as students of color, ranks among the worst in the nation. Illinois is 42nd in terms of the gap in reading scores among these students, and it falls among the bottom 10 in the achievement gap between black and white students.

Cullerton said Illinois leaders must ask themselves two questions: How much are we going to spend on education, and how are we going to spend it?

“If the money isn’t going to help students in need, it doesn’t really matter how much we spend,” he said. “That’s why our funding formula needs to be overhauled.”

To level the playing field among schools, Cullerton said a new funding approach must include some key principles:

    State resources should go to school districts based on the needs of students, with more funds to support children who need extra support – those who live in poverty, have special learning needs and who are English language learners.

    There should be a single, straightforward funding model and no more special deals for some districts.

    The formula must account for a district’s ability to support local schools with local dollars, and accountability must follow those dollars.

Cullerton noted that no one wants any school district to lose money. But in Illinois’ system of winning and losing school districts, there are far too many losers.

“There’s a reason why the current school funding formula has been in place for two decades. It’s hard to change an entrenched status quo. It requires true, dedicated leadership,” Cullerton said. “The question is whether today’s leaders are up to the task.”

* And then he said this

The governor has linked things together. We don’t have a budget because he’s got his Turnaround Agenda.

So I can link things together, too.

This is a Turnaround Agenda. We gotta change the school funding formula.

Before we appropriate money for education for next [fiscal] year, which starts July 1st, we have to fix this formula.

* The Question: Do you agree with the Senate President that there should be no approps for K-12 until the funding formula is changed? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey services

*** UPDATE *** House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…

“As a suburban legislator, I remain open to working with the Democrats to fix our archaic school funding formula. At the same time, I hope this means Democratic leadership is now ready to work with us on other structural reforms to put Illinoisans back to work and to bring the budget impasse to a close.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   114 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Political events list

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Senate President Cullerton’s City Club address

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* It’ll begin soon. Video is here

* Your ScribbleLive app for this event


- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


I was actually being charitable

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* From my intervew with Gov. Bruce Rauner

“(I)f we can get business regulatory change so I can recruit manufacturer’s here and more transportation companies here, and more businesses here, we can generate billions of new revenue without raising tax rates. That’s directly tied to the budget.”

* As you already know, I asked for proof of this. He had his staff send me a memo and chart that he distributed to legislators last September. I quoted from his own documentation that he projected increased revenues of $510 million.

That came from this particular page

Economic Growth

    • Personal Income Tax Savings by Ending Out-
    Migration: $140 million

    • Revenue Growth by Making Illinois “Average” in Unemployment: $150 Million

    • Revenue Growth if Average Gross State Product: $220 Million

* But then on the very next page, the governor’s own analysis only used one of those numbers

Net State Financial Impact from Reforms

    • Savings: $1.8 billion

    • Revenue from Economic Growth: $220+ million

    • Total Net State Financial Impact: More than $2 billion

So, $220+ million in “net” revenues from economic growth.

Those are the governor’s own numbers that he sent to legislators last fall to justify holding out for a better deal and shutting down part of the government in the process.

Hey, maybe the numbers are very conservative. Maybe they’re even wrong. But they’re not my numbers, they’re Rauner’s numbers.

The point is, why send this to legislators if it was a wild low-ball? Why then send those very same numbers to me? And then after sending it to me, why whine that I got the numbers wrong when they were his own numbers?

Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Another big charitable closure on the way?

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Oy…


- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      


Emanuel says Rauner is “his own worst enemy”

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* After what just happened to me this morning, I can most certainly relate

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday said Gov. Bruce Rauner’s public scolding of him — and other politicians — gets in the way of solving already challenging issues.

“The governor can be his own worst enemy and can’t seem to get out of his own way, as yesterday showed as it relates to the pension,” Emanuel told reporters at a breakfast event downtown. […]

“I wish he had as much energy . . . in challenging the problems that face the state as he does challenging people in calling them names,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel praised the governor for trying to “move something forward” on pension reform but said he needs to do a better job of building relationships if he wants to have success on “serious issues.”

“You can call me names all you want and you attack me, but attack the problems of Illinois, which would be a better idea,” Emanuel said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Meh

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* People get all upset about this, perhaps because it’s easy to understand. But I really don’t think it’s such a big dealio

An associate counsel in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and a school board member in the a Chicago suburb has been named chief of staff for First Lady Diana Rauner.

The governor’s office said Emily Bastedo will assist with “agency transformation” and act “as a liaison for the First Lady across the state. She will also have an active role in the restoration of the Executive Mansion.”

As an associate counsel, Bastedo was the legal liaison for 10 state agencies, boards and commissions. She also is a member of the Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 School Board.

She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and earned her law degree from DePaul University. She and her husband Brian live in Elmhurst with their sons Charlie and Elliott.

Our last governor wasn’t married, so he didn’t have a first lady. I don’t ever recall this topic being such a huge story before that.

Mrs. Rauner has taken on the huge responsibility of rehabbing the governor’s mansion, which Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich had allowed to badly deteriorate. I can definitely see the need for a chief of staff to handle this project.

Also, much of the social media criticism of this hire is coming from the left side of the spectrum. But Mrs. Rauner is probably the best friend they have. Why go after her? Her chief can be another voice in the mix for Mrs. Rauner’s positions - and there aren’t many over there right now.

And, finally, complaining about funding this position during the governmental impasse is like saying we can solve all of our fiscal problems by cutting waste. It’s empty rhetoric.

But, hey, I’m sure many of you want to vent. It won’t make a bit of difference and it’s silly and maybe even counter-productive, but feel free.

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


Lutheran bishops: The state’s “reliability has failed”

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* A letter to pastors and church members from the state’s Lutheran Bishops…

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As you may know by now, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) has announced a very significant reduction in both its workforce and its program portfolio for the delivery of essential human services to the people of Illinois. The cuts will eliminate 758 jobs, and a number of ministry programs, including those that serve senior adults, prisoner and family ministries, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and community counseling services.

The announcement issued directly by LSSI does an excellent job of describing the nature of these reductions and the reasons for them. As your bishops, however, we felt it necessary to address you from a pastoral perspective and to emphasize several important points.

To begin, we can reassure you, as members of the LSSI board, that the process of evaluation, planning, praying and listening, though painful, was extraordinarily careful, considerate, and responsible. As with many expressions of the common good in Illinois, we have been placed in an untenable position by the paralysis of state government. Our Christian faith commitment to providing the highest quality of care to the state’s neediest citizens at the lowest possible cost also makes us vulnerable and highly dependent upon the reliability of our partners in civic leadership. That reliability has failed. We are owed more than $6 million by the state for services already delivered, with no foreseeable prospect of prompt reimbursement. We have exhausted all credit options available to us to sustain our ministries. The costs of these programs far exceed our current donative capacity to absorb the losses and continue the work. And even with frugal and expert stewardship, the financial margins in providing these services are far too thin to sustain us over long periods of uncertainty and non-payment. To continue without adjustment would threaten the security and well-being of all our employees, and might ultimately endanger the future of all our ministries.

Secondly, we want to emphasize our continued confidence and commitment with respect to the mission that remains strong–providing mental health services, affordable senior housing, services for at-risk families, residential support for adults with developmental disabilities, foster care, home care, and programs that help children maintain connections with incarcerated parents.

These services continue to be exemplary expressions of our common call to serve our neighbor in need, in Christ’s name and on Christ’s behalf.

Finally we encourage everyone to work and to pray in response to these developments. We ask you to work in your local communities and in the general society for justice, for responsible and compassionate government, and for fair and universal access to health and opportunity. And we ask you to pray, now, for the dedicated staff of LSSI who are losing their jobs, for courage and joy among those who continue to work, for wisdom among the board and the executive staff entrusted with the stewardship of this mission, for clarity and courage among our political leaders caught in the deadlock of the state’s financial crisis, and above all we ask you to pray for consolation and hope among the thousands upon thousands of children, families, vulnerable and invisible individuals who will be deeply affected by these changes.

It is a hard time for us. But we continue, as we always have, with complete confidence in the promise that God’s grace is sufficient for us, and that we will be restored and lifted up again to share Christ’s abundant love with even greater joy.

In Christ,

Bishop S. John Roth, Central Southern Illinois Synod
Bishop Gary Wollersheim, Northern Illinois Synod
Bishop Wayne N. Miller, Metropolitan Chicago Synod

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Setting the record straight: The governor just lied

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Gov. Bruce Rauner just told reporters that I used to work for Speaker Madigan.

I have no idea where he got that, but I did work as a House page for less than a month back in 1985. Perhaps that’s what he’s talking about. I have no idea.

Lee Daniels tried this dirty trick on me back in the day. It didn’t work then because it wasn’t true.

…Adding… This became a topic during the Q&A when somebody asked Rauner about my column based on revenue growth numbers that Rauner himself supplied to members of the General Assembly. He said the numbers were “way” off, even though they were his own numbers, then went on his false tirade about me having worked for Madigan.

…Adding More… From “walker” in comments…

This isn’t some kind of looping tactical misdirection. Rauner simply doesn’t know any better. He heard someone say it, and it fits into what he wants to believe.

Rauner didn’t lie about the Cullerton pension deal — he actually believed it said what he said about it. He just doesn’t pay attention to any details that don’t support his overall narrative.

- Posted by Rich Miller   198 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Gov. Rauner press conference

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* BlueRoomStream.com’s live video feed is here. The rest will be handled, as always, by ScribbleLive…


- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


When I was a child, I spoke like a child

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

I was a truly lousy basketball player in elementary school. I just didn’t have the skills, and it frustrated me to no end because I wasn’t horrible at other sports I tried.

After another embarrassing performance during a weekend morning “B-team” game, my dad offered some gentle advice. He noticed that I didn’t commit a single foul and said I could improve by getting more aggressive on the court.

Tired and humiliated, I burst into tears. “But I don’t want to foul out!” I cried.

I hate that story because it makes me look like a big baby, but I learned from it and found that a few sharp elbows helped me play better.

So what do we take away from this story? I’m certainly not advocating that Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan get more aggressive with each other. Just the opposite.

Click here to read the rest before commenting, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Crisis intervention services to be suspended in Englewood and West Englewood

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* With more than 200 Chicago shootings since the year began, this is very bad news, indeed…

The mounting toll from the Illinois budget impasse is now reaching vital programs that effectively keep youth out of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. On Feb. 15, Children’s Home + Aid will suspend crisis intervention services for runaways and youth at risk of delinquency in Englewood and West Englewood.

The services are delivered through the state-mandated Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services (CCBYS) program, which has been operating without payment since July 1. Children’s Home + Aid was on track to serve an estimated 70 youth this year through the CCBYS program on the South Side of Chicago. The suspension follows months of CCBYS program reductions by providers across the state, a direct result of the budget impasse.

“This is the first of many program suspensions we are forecasting around the state,” said Andrea Durbin, CEO of Illinois Collaboration on Youth, a statewide network of organizations delivering programs, services and advocacy for at-risk youth and families. “Providers tell us they are expecting to make significant cuts in services and staff in February and March. These are the same providers who have been working in good faith since July 1 to meet the needs of kids and families in crisis in every county in Illinois. But without a budget or the possibility of payment any time soon, we will see more and more of these program suspensions and eventually every CCBYS program will close.”

The consequences of the suspension of the CCBYS program in Englewood and West Englewood – communities in Chicago marked by unemployment and violence – are significant and sharply undercut commitments from Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly to increase community-based services. Youth will be turned away from successful, low-cost community programs, and increase the pressure on already strained and expensive systems such as the justice system, schools and child welfare.

CCBYS provides crisis intervention and family reunification services for almost 7,000 youth, aged 10-17, statewide, roughly 3,000 of whom are runaways, locked out of their homes, or otherwise at-risk. These mandated services are provided through CCBYS at an average cost of $1,883 per youth, per year, far less than foster care. As programs suspend operations due to lack of funding, those youth served by CCBYS will be referred directly to DCFS, and many will be pulled into the foster care system.

“DCFS only has about 2,350 youth, aged 10-17, in out-of-home care now,” said Durbin. “The child welfare system is simply not equipped with enough hotline workers, investigators, case managers, or foster homes to respond to an influx of adolescents coming from the CCBYS program. The lives and safety of children and youth will be at risk.”

The fallout from the budget impasse is growing, according to an ICOY survey of CCBYS and Homeless Youth providers across the state carried out at the beginning of January. Forty percent of those CCBYS providers responding have reduced staff and decreased or restricted services since July 1. Among Homeless Youth providers responding, 50% have cut staff and 36% have decreased or restricted services; one program has closed. Based on the survey, ICOY projects significantly more cutbacks, including closings, as soon as February and March.

The likely damage to the most vulnerable youth and families, while actually increasing long-term financial costs to the state and local communities, comes as Gov. Rauner has pledged to reduce the Illinois prison population by 12,000 men and women over the next decade, focusing on rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration.

The budget stalemate also threatens new legislation that went into effect Jan. 1 designed to support at- risk youth with services that can keep them out of the juvenile justice system. Under P.A. 99-254, alleged delinquent minors under 13 are meant to be provided CCBYS services, rather than be held in a detention center. Another new law, P.A. 99-456, calls on community providers to assist schools with interventions to minimize student suspensions and expulsions. Now, with resources squeezed, there are questions about whether the legislation can be effectively implemented.

“The Governor and the General Assembly have had some great ideas about shifting youth from high-end care to community-based services,” said Durbin. “But the lack of a state budget is placing children and youth at risk, starving community-based providers, and haphazardly forcing program closures and suspensions. It’s difficult to see how we make progress as a state under these circumstances,” she added.

Like I said earlier today, you also gotta walk the walk.

…Adding… From Emily Miller…

Hi Rich.

The bevy of press conferences held by the governor and minority leaders last week addressing issues ranging from government takeovers of CPS to public pension reform gave the press a chance to forget the ongoing damage the budget impasse continues to have on real people across Illinois.

Friday, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois closed 30 programs, cutting off services for 4,700 Illinoisans, and laying off 750 staff. In response, the governor said he was “frustrated,” but did not seem any more willing to make getting to a fully funded budget his number one priority.

Without a budget, Illinois continues to operate like a plane on autopilot running on fumes, and children and families are the ones getting shoved off to lighten the load.

Here’s this morning’s dose of devastation: by now you’ve probably seen the press release from ICOY announcing the suspension of a program called CCBYS that provides crisis-intervention for at-risk youth on Chicago’s south side. These are kids who have been locked out of their houses, who have fled dangerous homes, or who are at risk for being placed into the juvenile justice system.

This is not a “Chicago issue.” CCBYS programs exist in every county in this state. Each day the governor and lawmakers fail to agree on a budget, children in every house and senate district come one step closer to being left alone with no one to help them. By February and March, the program will be a shell of what it was, and eventually, without funding, every CCBYS program will close.

Until now, CCBYS providers have been able to step in and advocate for the safety and well-being of those children. Children in immediate physical danger received compassionate, professional and immediate care that kept the number of CCBYS cases referred to DCFS for further intervention down to about 11 per month. There’s no immediate formal plan in place to deal with those children, but ultimately it’s a DCFS issue, and the program closure will increase the referral of these types of cases by 2,200%, according to a memo ICOY released earlier this year. In case people need reminding, that hotline referral number is 1-800-25-ABUSE.

And here’s the thing- it’s not rocket science. This is what happens when you don’t have a budget for seven months. We were warned that children would be hurt if a budget was not prioritized. We knew that the children abandoned when CCBYS programs closed would end up costing the state even more when they’re placed in foster homes or institutional settings.

In fact, ICOY issued a memo in September, during our third month without a budget, warning that children would be hurt, citing not only the financial cost of this program suspension, but also the dangerous physical and psychological cost to Illinois children closing these programs would have.

But instead of passing a budget, the governor and leaders continue to sit back and play games that, for them, have only political ramifications. For Illinois children, the games grown-ups are playing are life-threatening.

Last Friday Illinois walked away from 4,700 vulnerable Illinoisans. This morning, Illinois abandoned 34 children in one neighborhood. Anyone who doesn’t get that the children and families in their neighborhood are next isn’t paying attention.

Emily Miller
Policy and Advocacy Director, Voices for Illinois Children
Co-Coordinator, Responsible Budget Coalition

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Look past the theatrics

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Gov. Bruce Rauner blew a perfect opportunity last week to finally drive a public wedge between Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan, clearly put Madigan on the defensive and maybe finally make progress on an important issue which might save the state a billion dollars a year.

But he badly bungled the rollout of a deal with Cullerton on pension reform. Instead of describing the agreement for what it really was, Rauner greatly exaggerated its scope and portrayed it as a big defeat for AFSCME and other unions.

In reality, the deal with Cullerton (and there is still a deal with Cullerton, despite what you may be reading elsewhere) is narrow in scope and elegantly designed to put Madigan in a truly tough position.

The plan, negotiated over months, is to use most of Cullerton’s bill to offer employees a choice. If they want to keep their compounded 3 percent annual cost of living increase, then their pay hikes going forward won’t be pensionable. If they want their raises to be pensionable going forward, then those raises would be subjected to the “Tier 2″ pension law – annual simple interest pension increases which are either half the Consumer Price Index or 3 percent, whichever is less.

Cullerton has long maintained that if employees are offered a legitimate choice then the state’s constitutional pension contract language would be satisfied. Others note that the constitution also declares that pension benefits cannot be diminished or impaired.

To maybe make this work, however, the law would have to be changed to forbid public employee unions from negotiating on this particular, narrow topic. Pension rights are individual legal rights, so only individuals can make the choice about whether to apply their pay raises to their pensions or not.

And in a brilliant move, the Cullerton and Rauner negotiators deliberately included some important language from Speaker Madigan’s own pension proposal on this very topic: “Employers shall not be required to bargain over matters affected by the changes, the impact of changes, and the implementation of changes” made to state pension law.

So, Rauner had Cullerton on board and Madigan in a tight box. Not a bad day’s work.

But when he explained it to reporters, Rauner went way over his skis. To be constitutional, he said, “salary increases have to be taken out of collective bargaining.”

“This is a key point,” Rauner wrongly continued. “Salary increases come out of collective bargaining. So the union has nothing to do with it in the future.”

That’s just not even close to being true. Under this proposal, the unions can still negotiate salary increases, they just can’t negotiate over what part of those salary increases are pensionable.

And Rauner just couldn’t resist taking another shot. “What we’d like to do in the future is to take other things out of collective bargaining at the state and at the city levels.”

As if things aren’t already on edge during this aggravating months-long impasse, Rauner let his longtime hatred of unions get in the way of what could’ve been a triumphant day. Everything quickly blew up, with Speaker Madigan shooting down the whole idea and a confused Cullerton (who had prepared a supportive, bipartisan press release in advance) claiming “It’s not my plan.”

The problem here is that trust is almost nonexistent. Nobody at the top trusts anybody else. So, Cullerton immediately assumed that Rauner had double-crossed him.

Later, staff members from the governor’s office explained what the governor actually meant, and Cullerton’s people said they were still backing the deal they had made with Rauner – but only that deal.

If the governor had quickly corrected his obvious error, this whole thing would’ve been easily cleared up. But no way would Rauner’s people even consider admitting a problem with what the boss said, instead blaming it all on Cullerton and claiming the press coverage was clearly going their way. And then late in the evening, with the media coverage going against them, Rauner’s office finally, grudgingly admitted that “Perhaps the governor was not as precise in his word selection as the Democrats would have liked.”

Even so, last week marked an important turning point.

Rauner finally got Cullerton to triangulate Madigan. Once the craziness dies down a bit, Madigan will be forced to take sides. Will he back language his own staff wrote for another bill, or will he just say “No” and begin fighting with Cullerton?

Forget the temporary blowup. That’s the real thing to watch here.

Cullerton will hopefully clear up this mess during a lunchtime address to the City Club of Chicago. We’ll have live coverage.

* Related…

* Senate President John Cullerton: School funding reform must be top priority for 2016

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Early voting could start late

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* Press release…

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten announced today that ongoing objections to several Presidential Candidates are not anticipated to be resolved by the State Board of Elections in time for ballots to be prepared and voting tabulators to be programmed for the opening of By Mail and Early Voting on February 4, 2016. The ballots and machines will be available no later than February 17, 2016 – the beginning of Grace Period Registration and Voting – by which time most challenges seeking to remove candidates from the ballot should have been decided and final ballot certifications issued by the State Board of Elections.

“It is possible that ballots may be available prior to February 17, and if so, we will notify the media and voters through a release, on our website and social media,” said Hulten. “It’s unfortunate that the compressed filing calendar for Presidential candidates and the circumstances of these objections will likely delay our receiving final certifications from the State Board of Elections and affect the opening of voting statewide. Once final certifications are received, we will move as quickly as possible to finalize ballots, program machines and open for voting.”

Voters attempting to vote early during the period when ballots are unavailable will be offered an application to vote by mail, or the opportunity to vote early when ballots are available.

*** UPDATE *** Maybe not

Objections were withdrawn Monday to nominating petitions of four presidential candidates in Illinois’ March 15 primaries, leaving three candidates — Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Democrat Hillary Clinton — who still must overcome ballot access questions.

Those questions might be answered by next week, said Bernadette Harrington, deputy general counsel to the State Board of Elections. Because there are fewer objections to deal with, Harrington said, an earlier-than-expected meeting of members of the state board could be scheduled for next week to rule on the pending objections. Then, the ballot could be certified, which would allow election authorities statewide to print ballots in time for the planned Feb. 4 start of early voting.
“The hope is to have the certification early next week so that it does not impact the start of early voting,” Harrington said.

Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray had issued a news release earlier Monday saying that the start of early voting could be delayed until mid-February because of the many objections to presidential candidacies the state had to resolve. Gray said state elections officials made it clear at a clerks’ conference in Champaign last week that the start of early voting would have to be pushed back.

But Gray said he would now wait for more guidance from the state board.

And…


- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


You also gotta walk the walk

Monday, Jan 25, 2016

* AP

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to reduce the number of inmates in Illinois’ overcrowded prison system over the next decade — and he’s willing to devote money to do so at a time when he’s urging lawmakers to be prudent with spending in other areas.

* ABC 7

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and the National Alliance on Mental Illness slammed Illinois governor Bruce Rauner after Luther Social Services of Illinois had to lay off workers and close programs due to the state budget impasse.

LSSI announced the impending layoffs and closures on Jan. 21. LSSI President and CEO Mark Studrud said the organization, which is the largest statewide provider of social services, is owed $6 million by the state for services it has continued to perform since the impasse began. The organization reports that 4,700 people will lose access to care due to the cuts.

Sheriff Dart said the closures are of particular concern for him because the Cook County Jail has emerged as Illinois’s largest mental health provider after the statewide cuts to mental health funding.

“Our Governor frequently touts his business acumen and data-driven approach to public policy. I would love for him to show me the data proving that his stubborn refusal to consider the interests of the most vulnerable among us does anything other than destroy lives and swell our criminal justice system,” said Sheriff Dart in a statement.

Dart says 25 to 35 percent of inmates in the jail suffer from mental illness at any given time.

* More from Dart’s press release, with emphasis added…

“[LSSI] provides essential services to the very people government is supposed to care for in times of distress. For the Governor to allow these programs to whither way is simply deplorable. Without Lutheran’s diversion programs, my Cook County Jail population will rise, costing taxpayers significantly more in both the short-term and long-term.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


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