“After the compromise that occurred last week outside of the purview of Speaker Madigan, I’m not surprised by his attempt to take my statements out of context in an attempt to prevent future compromise. I have been consistent for months - work with the Republicans to reach a negotiated balanced budget that provides for state services with real money rather than the phony appropriation bills he supports that only add to the $7 billion plus backlog of unpaid bills.”
To: House Democratic Caucus Members
From: Michael J. Madigan
Date: April 25, 2016
Re: Republican Leadership Comments on Higher Education Funding
Mere hours after the House of Representatives passed a small stopgap funding package for higher education last Friday, the Decatur Herald & Review reported the following:
However, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said the funding approved Friday could end up being all that universities receive for the current fiscal year.
“I’m not quite sure we can get anything else done on higher ed,” Durkin said.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Durkin also said:
“The only thing I’ve made a commitment with is to work with the Democrats on human services.”
The House minority leader’s comments confirmed my predictions about what legislative Republicans and Governor Rauner would do if Senate Bill 2059 moved forward and passed in the form it did. I shared with you in our caucus meeting, among other concerns, that I wanted to continue fighting for a bill that included greater funding for our universities, community colleges and MAP grant recipients to sustain our institutions of higher education for a longer period of time for the very reason the minority leader expressed: I believed the Republicans may consider Senate Bill 2059 a final action on higher education. However, a number of those involved in the negotiations on Senate Bill 2059 felt that was not the case and that the bill was only the first step in a larger agreement for higher education.
In a statement I released last Friday, I expressed hope that Governor Rauner would not see this funding as a final solution to higher education as I had feared, but would begin working with Democrats to craft a full-year budget that properly funded higher education and human services. While I will continue fighting to ensure a full budget is passed for higher education, the House minority leader’s comments just hours after the passage of Senate Bill 2059 do not leave me optimistic that will happen.
An Illinois legislative leader is predicting the months-long state budget standoff could be nearing an end.
Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin (R) Western Springs, told “The Big John Howell Show” on WLS, ”I’m hopeful we can have an FY (fiscal year) 16 and FY 17 budget that we can accomplish by the end of May. We have members that are now saying ‘Enough’s enough. Let’s get this done.’”
Let’s stop trying to knock the train off the tracks, shall we?
Brian Nelson’s years in solitary confinement left him terrified of other people, and he says he can still taste the concrete dust from his cell, even though he’s been free since 2010.
The 51-year-old is afraid to ride the bus, he takes five psychotropic drugs, and sees a psychiatrist every week. Even when he’s at a park surrounded by grass, he says everything starts turning gray, and he remembers how tiny air pockets in the walls kicked up dust whenever he would clean his cell at a now-shuttered maximum security prison in Tamms, near the southern tip of Illinois. He was confined there for the final 12 years of a 26-year sentence for murder and armed robbery.
“Those four walls beat me down so bad,” he told members of an Illinois House committee during a recent emotional hearing on the state’s solitary confinement practices.
Stories like Nelson’s have led Illinois lawmakers to push prisons to restrict the use of solitary confinement, joining a national movement that has policymakers rethinking the longstanding form of punishment that critics say has a profound psychological impact on inmates.
Monica Cosby, who spent 20 years in prison, experienced solitary confinement about 12 years ago when guards discovered lip balm in her pocket.
The typical 15- to 30-day penalty would extend for months due to what Cosby characterized as minor violations such as lying in bed at an angle that leaves a guard unable to see her face. […]
Allen Mills, executive director of Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago, said current solitary confinement practices are unconstitutional, citing a similar case where an inmate who had a piece of candy in a pocket received 30 days in isolation.
Mills spoke of another inmate who was having a seizure and was sentenced to a year of solitary confinement after guards thought she was faking and pushed her against a wall to restrain her.
Mike Atchison, the Department of Corrections’ chief of operations, said that instances like these may be attributed to rogue officers. But if a person commits a serious enough offense, the language in the rules the department follows speaks to the preservation of the safety and security of the facility.
Preserving the “safety and security of the facility” was the same argument used back in the day to justify giving imprisoned gang leaders the power to hand out prison jobs. Back then, prison officials were focused solely on the problems they themselves faced (not blaming them, really, because the problems were and are huge), but didn’t consider the problems they were creating once those prisoners were released. Every now and then, they need to be reminded of this. And it’s happening again.
As you’re no doubt aware, there’s a Democratic bill floating around the General Assembly to set tax rates should the state adopt a graduated income tax.
Supporters said it would actually give a tax cut to 99 percent of Illinois taxpayers and increase taxes only on the very wealthy. […]
A number of objections were raised to the idea of a graduated income tax and to the Democratic proposal in particular, including this one raised by a couple of Republicans: The bill would raise $1.9 billion in new revenue, but the state’s budget deficit is many billions of dollars more than that. So the bill didn’t solve the state’s financial problems.
That’s true. It’s also true that a constant Republican theme for months has been that the Democrats are trying to maneuver the state into a massive tax increase. To then argue a revenue bill is flawed because it doesn’t raise enough money is a good one.
* Federal elections have had non-coordination rules for years. Candidates get around these rules sometimes by posting tracker videos on YouTube or pics on Facebook, among other things. The idea is that it’s not their “fault” if some independent expenditure PAC watches the videos or comes across a photo. They can’t control what some random person does with their stuff.
In Illinois, doing such a thing might not bring a penalty from the Illinois State Board of elections. However, it can still get you in trouble if you happen to work for the Illinois State Police…
State Trooper BRYCE BENTON of Springfield, who lost the 50th Senate District GOP primary on March 15 to state Sen. SAM McCANN, R-Plainview, was given a one-day suspension without pay because pictures of him in uniform were used in campaign materials.
Benton benefited from more than $3 million in “independent expenditure” advertising from a group called Liberty Principles Political Action Committee, and some TV ads from the group featured Benton in uniform. […]
“As part of my campaign,” [Benton] added, “my staff asked me to submit as many pictures as possible for potential use in campaign materials. I gave the campaign a multitude of pictures, including pictures of me in uniform. I advised my staff that I believed we may be unable to use the pictures due to ISP directives, and to refrain from using them pending approval.
“At some point during the week of January 18, my campaign uploaded multiple pictures to my website, including pictures of me in uniform without my knowledge or consent. I was unaware that the pictures were in the public arena until the morning of January 22, when I saw them on television in a third-party ad,” he said. “My campaign staff learned of the use of the uniform pictures the morning of January 22 and removed the pictures from our campaign website early (that) afternoon.”
“At no time did we coordinate with the third-party group on the usage of the pictures in their commercial,” Benton wrote, “and have still had no interaction or discussions with the group.”
That’s probably true about specific coordination. But why even post the pictures to begin with? Benton knew that wasn’t allowed, and his staff surely did as well.
And, man, that suspension is gonna look downright horrible if Benton ever runs for a contested seat in the future. His own people may have ruined their guy. But he was probably disposable to begin with. Maybe now he realizes that.
The wholesale cost of electricity is $17 per megawatt hour and increases to $150 per megawatt hour, increasing the consumer cost by $131 a year. What will a drop to $72 per megawatt hour save that same consumer in a year? A: $21. B: $71. C: We could explain it, but there’s a lot of consumer math involved. You wouldn’t understand.
The answer is A.
See? That’s consumer math. It doesn’t ever work out to the consumer’s advantage.
Ameren Illinois customers paid out $131 more when the wholesale electricity cost surged, but then when it dropped to less than half at the most recent auction the expected savings will not be less than half that increase, as one might expect. You’ll save about $21 in the coming year.
Commonwealth Edison’s leaders rarely miss a chance to tout how the evolving smart grid is ushering in green technologies and customer choice.
But while solar power grows in other states, including those with climates similar to Illinois’ like Minnesota, the industry essentially doesn’t exist here. In ComEd’s vast service territory, with 3.6 million households, there are little more than 500 residential rooftop solar customers.
In Chicago itself, residential solar power is nearly nonexistent, in large part because so many residents don’t own or control access to a roof on which to place solar panels.
Solar industry representatives and their environmentalist supporters say the lack of inroads here is no accident. ComEd recently went out of its way to halt a state rule aimed at jump-starting one of the most promising new technologies—solar energy fields built to serve groups of customers in densely populated areas like Chicago.
In an October 2015 report on the implications of a shutdown of Exelon’s three Illinois plants, The Nuclear Energy Institute, a lobbying group, noted that “over the past 10 years, the (Illinois’ 11 reactors) … have operated at 96 percent of capacity, which is above the industry average and signifcantly higher than all other forms of electric generation.” […]
“The average consumer could pay twice as much for electricity” if the [Clinton] plant closes, contends Stoner. Estimates from a state study indicate that wholesale energy prices could rise by as much as $341 annually for families and businesses in the surrounding region.
Perhaps produce less electricity? I dunno. But if prices are too low with all plants running at almost full capacity, and if prices will skyrocket if one plant is shuttered, perhaps they could come up with an Exelon-based power management decision that doesn’t require a ratepayer bailout?
[Story changed a bit because I had a brain freeze. Still recovering from last week, I think. Sorry.]
* You may not like Senate President John Cullerton’s idea to withhold school funding until school funding reform is completed, but it’s most definitely putting pressure on legislators to end the impasse…
HARRISBURG — The economic hard times that have hit this Illinois coal town are particularly visible inside its 113-year-old high school, where cracks in the walls and holes in the ceiling go unfixed and paint is peeling off the purple lockers lining the hallways.
But lately a greater worry is weighing on Superintendent Mike Gauch: that he’ll have to close the doors. He’s among scores of school officials who face this prospect as Illinois lawmakers’ epic fight over a state budget threatens to spill into summer and jeopardize the education of several hundred thousand students.
Unthinkable even a few months ago, the possibility of the impasse extending to a second year and shutting down school systems has grown stronger in recent weeks. If it happens, it would be the most traumatic consequence of a fight between the state’s Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, and Democrats who run the legislature, and mark a new low for political dysfunction in the nation’s fifth-largest state.
“It scares me to death,” says Gauch, who estimates that without state funds his district of about 2,100 students could remain open until November or December, at best. Other superintendents say their schools won’t make it that long. […]
“Had I not seen that with my own eyes I wouldn’t believe it either,” said Jeff Fritchtnitch, superintendent in the Altamont school district. “For the first time in 30 years (in education), I think this can happen.”
What we’ve seen since June will pale in comparison to what we’ll see if K-12 schools aren’t funded.
I have no involvement in the case, but found it interesting while reviewing cases because two of the justices, Holdridge and Schmidt, offer insight into what Holdridge calls the “sausage factory in Springfield.” (see paragraph 34.) Schmidt’s special concurrence gives some historical context behind the Certificate of Need for hospitals and basically rips the whole process. Schmidt says, “This legislation assures that money keeps pouring in to Illinois politicians not only from those wishing to build new hospitals, but also from incumbent hospitals wishing to avoid any competition. Each side wants their friends on the Board. This, of course, leads each side to “donate” to Illinois governors and senators. This in addition to the history of bribes to Board members.” (see paragraph 48)
I realize it pales in comparison to other things going on in Springfield (not the least being the lack of budget), but thought you might be interested.
Thanks for doing such an amazing job with the blog. It is must-read for anyone who cares about Illinois.
In closing, we offer a few words on the special concurrence. Justice Schmidt’s offering brings to mind a timeless observation made in 1869 by American lawyer and poet John Godfrey Sax, to wit: “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) An Impeachment Trial, The Chronicle, Mar. 27, 1869, at 4. By taking the public on a tour of the sausage factory in Springfield, Justice Schmidt risks triggering a collective case of indigestion. On the other hand, Justice Schmidt may be this generation’s Upton Sinclair. A little dyspepsia might be a small price to pay for some much needed (and long overdue) transparancy. After all, as Justice Brandeis so aptly put it, “[p]ublicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Louis D. Brandeis, Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It (1914). We can only hope that the light that Justice Schmidt shines on the factory floor in Springfield leads to the production of more sanitary and wholesome sausages in the future. For now, to paraphrase Captain Renault from Casablanca, we will merely note that we are shocked, shocked to find that political considerations are influencing the legislative process in Illinois.
In essence and in fact, this legislation is nothing more than an additional corruption tax added to the cost of healthcare in Illinois. This legislation is clearly anticonsumer, but propolitician. Ironically, eradicating the Planning Act would fulfill the stated goal of the Planning Act. Yet, as the cost of healthcare continues to rise and Illinois remains the poster-child for political corruption, the General Assembly repeatedly refuses to do so. This legislation assures that money keeps pouring in to Illinois politicians not only from those wishing to build new hospitals, but also from incumbent hospitals wishing to avoid any competition. Each side wants their friends on the Board. This, of course, leads each side to “donate” to Illinois governors and senators. This is in addition to the history of bribes to Board members.
By restricting the output of healthcare services and diminishing incentives to pursue innovation, the Planning Act imposes significant and unnecessary costs on healthcare consumers, i.e., the people of Illinois. As a result of this legislation, Centegra has been forced to jump through years of pointless hoops and incur untold unnecessary costs in order to build its hospital. Guess who ultimately incurs those costs. This is unacceptable. For these reasons, I specially concur in the judgment.
Last year, 60 percent of Illinois beehives collapsed, devastating beekeepers and putting our favorite fruits and vegetables at risk.” Bees are an important source for honey, but in addition to that, 30 percent of crops worldwide depend on them for pollination according to a 2011 NRDC report. In America, that equals about $15 billion a year in crops. “Without bees, many plants including food crops would die off,” the report says.
Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi of Chicago introduced House Bill 5900, which would make it illegal to use neonictinoids on public land and for residential use. Currently, seven states restrict the use of neonictinoids. Rep. Guzzardi says: “Home Depot and Lowe’s are no longer selling anything that contains neonics, and the grocery store, Aldi, is not selling any foods that have been sprayed with neonics. It is time for the government to step up and join these private corporations’ efforts.”
Jeff Donald — a spokesman for the German chemical company Bayer, which patented the first commercial neonicotinoid and currently manufactures the globally used chemical Syngenta — said in a written statement: “Although bee health is an important concern, honey bee colonies are not declining, and U.S. colonies have steadily risen over the past decade, reaching 2.74 million in 2014, the highest level in many years. Scientists around the world have affirmed the safety of these products to pollinators and consumers when used according to label. A ban on neonicotinoids would only hurt those who depend on these products.”
Notice, the flack didn’t talk about the number of bees, just the number of colonies. The actual bee population is in alarming decline…
These statements stand in stark contrast to what bee experts have observed, says Gene Robinson, director of the Bee Research Facility at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign. He says the latest national numbers show a 40 percent reduction in the bee population since last year.
While experts agree that cutting the use of these pesticides could help bees, they also note that neonictinoids are only one of multiple threats. Pollinator experts are clear that banning the use of neonicotinoids would not solve the problem.
Robinson says there is no single smoking gun that is causing the honeybees to die. “The declining bee population is a four-part problem: Neonictinoids are harmful to pollinators. Honeybees need to be nutritionally healthier. We need more pollinator acreage, and we need to combat the varroa mite,” Robinson says. Varroa mites carry disease that can devastate bee colonies. Robinson says, the mite and the Asian bee have an “evolutionary live-and-let live relationship.” But he says, “the mite and western honeybee do not share this live-and-let-live understanding, and the mite is killing honeybees in record numbers.”
* The governor has signed the stopgap higher education funding bill…
Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2059 today and issued the following statement:
“This legislation doesn’t solve our budget crisis or help our economy grow, but it does represent a first step toward compromise between Democrats and Republicans. Now is the time to build on this bipartisan momentum and focus on enacting a truly balanced budget for Fiscal Years 2016-2017 alongside meaningful reforms that create jobs and free up resources for education, social services and infrastructure.”
The list of victims related to the state’s budget impasse continues to grow, as officials with an Elgin-based drug treatment center traveled to Springfield last week to announce they will close shop July 1 without state help.
About 160 people are at risk of losing their jobs should the Latino Treatment Center, which also has locations in Chicago and West Chicago, go under.
The state owes the center $56,326, on top of $60,690 cut from the group’s budget by the Rauner administration in 2015.
To get by without state funds, agency officials said they cut staff salaries and exhausted credit lines and cash reserves. Without a budget agreement, employees will begin to be laid off on May 15, and two facilities will close by June 15. The third will follow by July 1.
Rauner administration officials and lawyers for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 will meet in a courtroom this morning to begin what could be a weekslong hearing over whether to end negotiations for a new contract for state workers.
At issue is the Rauner administration’s contention that the two sides have reached “impasse,” a technical stage in contract negotiations that could put the union in the position of having to either accept Rauner’s terms for a new contract or go on strike.
An administrative law judge at the Illinois Labor Relations Board will hear arguments from both sides after Rauner asked the panel in January to decide whether impasse had been reached. […]
Rauner contends that the two sides are deadlocked on “nearly every core issue” in the negotiations and that more bargaining “would be futile,” according to paperwork his administration submitted to the board. The union says it’s not done negotiating and Rauner should get back to the table.
According to the Trib, the hearing is expected to last through May. Whoever loses can appeal to the full board.
*** UPDATE *** Monique Garcia is live-tweeting today’s hearing. Follow along here with ScribbleLive…
Tackle the outliers first. People can quibble about all sorts of things, but there’s no question that when it comes to a few measures — credit rating, for instance — Illinois is an extreme state, and not in a good way. That means that we should try to solve the extreme problems first. Does it bother you that Illinois is only 35th best in some way? Fine. But let’s work on that after we’ve tackled the ways that Illinois is one of five or fewer states that need to change a practice.
Go after the structural causes of corruption. The transactional nature of Illinois politics has harmed us in many ways, not least in helping us avoid long-term thinking and therefore adding to our debt load. We need to take this culture on by understanding what enables it and fighting accordingly, starting with money in politics, lobbying practices, and the proliferation of unscrutinized silos all across government.
Take advantage of our assets and retool for a high-skill, high-wage modern economy. This might be the most controversial of the principles, but it is also the most important. We can no longer afford to ignore the changes that have swept the Midwest. We have to acknowledge them in our policies, and we need to chart a bold new economic course. Governor Rauner wants that course to be a race to the bottom, using lower compensation as an economic development tool. Instead, we should capitalize on our many strengths to become a high-wage leader in the new economy.
* State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) Mark Denzler, vice president and COO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Bill Gibson, Illinois state director at Great Lakes Graphics Association wrote this on behalf of the AIM Coalition…
Illinois is home to more than 450 corporate research and development facilities, yet businesses watched the R&D credit renew and expire four different times over the last 13 years. Imagine how hard it must be for a business to invest and spend in Illinois with the uncertainty of our tax environment.
Companies plan their R&D investment 5, 10 or even 20 years in advance and the present on again/off again cycle is one we need to break. Further, the absence of a permanent policy is driving R&D investments to neighboring states taking those good, high paying jobs averaging salaries of $80,000 with them. We are seeing this migration more frequently as new agricultural implement research expands in Iowa and as companies remain headquartered in Illinois, but choose to manufacture and develop product across state lines.
Or in the case of the commercial printing industry, Illinois is the only state in the nation without an incentive for commercial printers engaged in manufacturing activity. Yes, once again we’re at the bottom. The graphic arts exemption expired at a time when the industry employed 55,100 workers in more than 2,300 facilities. Quite simply, that industry’s livelihood is dependent upon this incentive encouraging businesses to invest in higher quality, more technologically advanced printing and graphic arts equipment.
An opportunity exists with bipartisan support to rally around legislation that backs the modern and permanent extensions of four critical tax incentives including:
It’s been pretty obvious since it was unveiled that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s rescue plan to keep the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago is the longest of long shots. […]
Let me float a third way that’s been the subject of some chatter. It’s not perfect, and it could require financial juggling down the road. But if it flies, Emanuel wouldn’t have to worry about filmmaker George Lucas taking his prized collection of art and all those tourists back to the West Coast, because construction already would have begun here.
The two-part idea: Put the museum back in its original location, which happens to be a windblown surface parking lot between Soldier Field and McCormick Place; that would provide a few acres of new green space in the process. Second, enact an ordinance or whatever legally binding step is needed declaring that, when the dilapidated Lakeside Center at the east end of the McCormick Place complex is demolished—you could even add a deadline—all of the land there will be returned to permanent park status, perhaps 20 more acres of it.
Friends of the Parks would have a real public benefit to brag about: not one, but two chunks of new park space. Lucas would be able to start construction on his museum this year. Emanuel would get both without having to spend a ton of money he doesn’t have. And while some of the space in the Lakeside Center (also known as McCormick Place East) eventually might have to be replaced with new exhibition space elsewhere in the McCormick Place campus, the city would have time to come up with a comprehensive plan.
A blog post appears to have helped at least temporarily break the long stalemate at the Illinois Statehouse.
Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, wrote up a story and I posted it on my blog (CapitolFax.com) last Monday about a way to provide some funding for higher education. Universities and community colleges haven’t received a dollar from the state since June of last year because the government has no budget. Some are on the verge of actually going under.
Fortner’s idea wasn’t new. Some other folks, particularly at the endangered Eastern Illinois University, have been saying for a while now that money is just sitting in a state account and isn’t being used for its intended purpose. Budget negotiators have also been eyeing the fund.
But, for whatever reason, Fortner’s proposal took off like a rocket. It probably helped that the Republican legislator devised the plan with a Democrat from the Senate, Pat McGuire of Joliet.
The governor’s folks almost immediately embraced Fortner’s concept, which gives higher education hundreds of millions of dollars to tide the schools over until tuition money starts coming in. The money comes from the Education Assistance Fund, which receives dedicated tax revenues and is split between K-12 and higher education.
Rep. Fortner’s proposal also included giving universities “relief from some of the procurement code.” Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he wants to redo some of the reforms enacted after Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment, and has made it part of his otherwise controversial “Turnaround Agenda.” But while those earlier procurement reforms have, indeed created problems at universities and in state government, House Speaker Michael Madigan has resisted changing them. Legitimate fears of history repeating itself after the Blagojevich scandals is cited as the main reason.
Rauner won’t negotiate a budget until he passes his Turnaround Agenda. So, good news came when Rauner decided not to tie his procurement reform demands to the passage of Fortner’s funding plan. And then more good news came when top Democrats started openly talking about “building a bridge” to next fiscal year, which begins July 1. They can’t pay the state’s obligations without a lot more revenue, and they can’t raise taxes without an agreement on the Turnaround Agenda. So, they wanted to try and prevent a systemic meltdown in the meantime.
The imminent closure of Chicago State University at the end of April, the severe problems faced by several social service providers (including Catholic Charities), the possibility that the legislature might not fund K-12 schools this year, the state comptroller’s decision to delay issuing legislative paychecks for two months and the looming week-long legislative Passover break, all combined to create an extreme sense of urgency.
So, Fortner’s op-ed came just at the right time.
And things are starting to look up elsewhere, too.
Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks’ proposed constitutional amendment to reform the redistricting process sailed out of committee last week. Franks pledged to include some changes suggested by (who else?) Rep. Fortner, and the Illinois Chamber supports it, which possibly indicates where the Rauner folks are.
Ending gerrymandering is part of the governor’s Turnaround Agenda. Speaker Madigan once called redistricting reform a “plot” by Republicans. Yet, he’s supporting Franks’ proposal.
Meanwhile, significant progress is being made in negotiations behind the scenes on workers’ compensation reform, one of Gov. Rauner’s top priorities. People close to Madigan admitted late last week that some reasonable procurement reforms could be achieved.
Last week, rank-and-file legislators in both parties became so disgusted with the impasse that they forced their warring leaders just far enough apart to get something done. Fortner helped that process along by shining a bright, focused light on a solution.
We’re not out of the woods yet. Finding a way to finally end this disgraceful impasse will be far more difficult than tapping an unused state fund. And, heck, even that wasn’t easy. Negotiations were heated, attempts were made at the eleventh hour to pry even more spending out of Rauner, things broke down time and time again and Speaker Madigan ended the week with a nasty shot across Rauner’s bow.
“Time will tell,” Madigan said via press release, “if Governor Rauner has further intentions of destroying our state institutions and human service providers, or if he will begin working with us to craft a full-year budget that is not contingent on passage of his demands that will destroy the middle class.”
Rauner is almost always quick to respond in kind to these sorts of statements by Madigan. This time, though, he let it go.
* The Illinois Nurses Association informed CMS this morning that their tentative union contract agreement had been “overwhelmingly rejected” by its membership.
“613 nurses voted to reject the tentative agreement,” INA Executive Director Alice Johnson told me. Another 275 voted to accept. “It wasn’t a squeaker, let’s put it that way,” she said.
But the governor’s office thinks the union illegally put its thumb on the scale. From a Rauner spokesperson…
What happened here is a direct result of an unprecedented move by the Illinois Nurses Association bargaining committee not to support and recommend for passage the tentative agreement that the Union signed with our administration. That is a clear violation of labor law in Illinois. Had the Union complied with its obligations of good faith bargaining during ratification, we are confident the agreement would have been ratified, just like 17 other agreements that we had reached with numerous other unions. We have asked our attorneys to prepare an unfair labor practice charge to resolve this issue in a proper forum.
* Johnson claimed that the INA is a “democratic union,” and pointed out that the vote was “not even remotely close” and came after a period when “all members had a chance to see the tentative agreement.”
“We met our legal obligation,” Johnson insisted. I also asked her about a claim by one administration official that the union had attempted to go around the contract by getting the General Assembly to pass a bill. “I don’t even know what that means.”
“We worked very, very hard in the negotiation process,” Johnson said. “There was a vote and this was the result.”
“I really wish they would’ve contacted us instead of talking to the media,” she added.
* This is significant since the INA tentative agreement is similar to the offer that Rauner has made to AFSCME.
Recently, a group of leading climate scientists and conservationists from Illinois and around the world, including Dr. James Hansen, Rachel Pritzker, and Michael Shellenberger, urged Illinois’ leaders in an open letter to save Illinois’ nuclear plants so they can provide clean energy for decades to come. They wrote:
Illinois generates more zero-emissions electricity than any other state. Most of it comes from the state’s six nuclear power plants, which produce about half of Illinois’ total generation and 90 percent of its low-carbon generation. These plants are in their prime and could stay in service many more years and even decades.
Unfortunately, Illinois is at risk of losing one or more of its nuclear plants and with them the progress the state has made in clean energy.
If Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants were replaced by natural gas, carbon emissions would immediately increase the equivalent of adding two million cars to the road. If they were replaced by coal, the carbon emissions would more than double.
… Illinois is at an urgent juncture. Failure to keep all of Illinois’ nuclear power plants running for the full lifetimes will result in more air pollution, and further cause Illinois to underperform on climate. Action now would establish all of you as leaders in safeguarding clean air today and the climate for future generations.
Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger issued the following statement Friday following General Assembly passage of legislation to partially fund state universities and community colleges and avoid further cuts and potential closings. The legislation also includes funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for college students. Governor Rauner is expected to sign the legislation:
“It is heartening that the Governor and legislative leaders have come together to authorize funding for our universities, community colleges and student MAP grants. I have directed my staff to begin processing payments immediately, giving top priority to students and the institutions that are suffering the most.
“The $600 million in funding for this legislation comes from the state’s Education Assistance Fund, which today has $354 million on hand. Those dollars will allow us to immediately pay student MAP grants and work closely with our universities and community colleges to ensure they have the resources they need to avoid further cuts and closings. We will continue disbursing funds as they become available, with final payments being made in July. Our students and schools have paid a heavy price for this budget impasse, and we will do everything possible to provide long-overdue relief.
“It is my deep hope that the spirit of cooperation we saw today will continue and lead to the comprehensive balanced budget that our state so badly needs.”
State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) filed early on Friday morning an updated 2016 1st quarter campaign disclosure report, revealing $983,154 in additional campaign expenses than were not reported on the April 15 deadline. […]
On April 15, Dunkin, an ally of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, began the fourth quarter of 2015 with $221,143 in the bank; raised $1,309,500 ($1,300,000 from a Rauner ally) and reported spending only $294,462 and ending with $1,236,180 in the bank, according to state election board records.
Dunkin’s new report, which was filed at 12:31 a.m. on Friday, April 22, now shows that, after $1,220,197 in expenses, he still has a tidy $310,130 in the bank. Nice.
Much of the previously undisclosed money was spent on TV ads, but there are also a ton more workers listed now. Click here for the amended report, which has 932 pages of expenditures. And click here for the original report, which had 432 pages of expenditures.
“Governor Rauner has said that crisis creates opportunity and leverage, and that government may have to be shut down for a while. Now, he has forced a situation where some universities are on the verge of closing. The plan the House passed delivers emergency relief for the state’s colleges, universities and students as we continue pushing for a more comprehensive budget and full fiscal year funding.
“While the governor has said he would approve this small portion of funding for higher education, it’s unfortunate he was unwilling to approve any further funding for human services. If he continues his unwillingness to assist our human service providers, he will be successful in destroying the safety net for those most in need and for critical state services, including services for women who need breast cancer screenings, victims of child abuse and victims of sexual assault.
“I am hopeful the governor sees the funding in this higher education package not as a solution, but as emergency assistance to those most in need. Time will tell if Governor Rauner has further intentions of destroying our state institutions and human service providers, or if he will begin working with us to craft a full-year budget that is not contingent on passage of his demands that will destroy the middle class.”
Um, wow, he doesn’t sound too happy. As one person just said to me, “That sounds like a guy who lost.”
* By contrast, here’s Treasurer Michael Frerichs on today’s passage of the higher education approp bill…
“We took two very important steps today. We took a step closer to fulfilling our promise of helping families pay for college. Equally important, we also saw men and women from both parties work together to find common ground.”
This war needs to end. Today was a small step. Legislators desperately needed to rediscover the fact that they could work together and trust each other and get something done.
When this thing unexpectedly went off the rails last night, people actually cried. One legislator looked like he was going to be physically ill. Another looked like he couldn’t catch his breath. Others were angrier than I’d ever seen them.
* Rank and file members forced this issue forward (too many names to mention here, but there were a lot of them, including Rep. Rita Mayfield, who pushed hard for Chicago State University and kept her focus throughout the day). The governor temporarily dumped his Turnaround Agenda not just to prevent a caucus revolt, but to keep the doors open at universities and colleges throughout the state. The House Speaker was accused of playing games yesterday, but he came around enough to let the bill move forward (although he’s clearly not yet sharing in the joy). The Senate President was patiently firm and didn’t panic when the bill didn’t move last night. He had said all along that he was prepared to keep the Senate in town until they could get a resolution, and he did that by canceling today’s scheduled adjournment. The Senate Republican Leader also kept her cool and worked cooperatively with Cullerton. Top Democrats figured there was no way House Republican Leader Jim Durkin could keep all of his folks in line, but he defied their expectations. Maybe that’s part of the reason why MJM is so upset.
And kudos to Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) and Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) for coming up with the outline of a plan to fund some higher education needs that was adopted by both chambers today.
* Shortly after approving the House-passed higher ed appropriation, the Senate passed yet another appropriations bill today that includes money for some social service programs. Click here to read it. The bill passed unanimously.
Here’s a quick response from Emily Miller of Voices for Illinois Children…
SB2047 was a surprise, so advocates haven’t had time to fully review it.
Upon first glance it appears that the maintenance of effort and federal match funds were not included in the appropriation. That’s concerning moving forward because it puts a lot of federal money in jeopardy when it comes to human services in Illinois in the long term. But without new revenue, there isn’t a lot that you can do to fully fund human services. The short-term cash infusion will be helpful for many providers and will slow some bleeding, but a long-term fix is going to require new revenue.
I hope that lawmakers don’t think their job is done after passing this.
Because of constitutional requirements, the House cannot vote on the Senate proposal today.
…Adding… Rep. Guzzardi is more succinct, but no less correct…
We need. A damn. Budget. Dipping into special funds for quick fixes is only postponing the day of reckoning.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure on Thursday that would exempt feminine hygiene products from the state sales tax. The plan heading to the House is a part of a national movement to eliminate the so-called “pink tax.”
The average statewide sales tax is 6.25 percent but can be as high as 10.25 percent in Chicago.
The roll call is here. Sen. McCarter initially voted against the tax cut, then rose to say his wife told him he voted the wrong way and asked to be switched to “Yes.”
In the House, lawmakers approved a measure that would expand contraceptive options for women by eliminating a complicated waiver process they must go through to get birth control medications not offered by their insurance companies.
Sponsoring Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, said women should be able to choose birth control that’s best for their bodies without having to pay more. She argued the bill actually would save the state money by preventing more unintended pregnancies. […]
“I seriously question how much promiscuity should an insurance company pay (for),” said Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon. “It’s simply wrong, and I think we’re trying to address issues that quite frankly don’t have any business coming up in this General Assembly.”
Supporters contended the debate wasn’t about cost or morality, with several female lawmakers arguing birth control could be used for means other than pregnancy prevention, such as treating migraine headaches or regulating menstrual cycles.
Say what you want. It’s a free country. But a guy running for reelection in a swing district (during presidential years, which this is) should probably keep in mind that a whole lot of happily married, monogamous women use birth control and lots more women who use contraception probably won’t be flattered by his characterization of their private lives when that quote hits their mailboxes come October.
* CTU President Karen Lewis has come under intense criticism for saying Gov. Bruce Rauner is an ISIS recruit…
“You know, I`ve been reading in the news lately about all of these ISIS recruits popping up all over the place — has Homeland Security checked this man out yet?” Lewis said. “Because the things he`s doing look like acts of terror on poor and working class people.” […]
When asked about her comments after the event, Lewis said the governor is “holding people hostage” by delaying the budget.
“Who does that?” Lewis said. “You hold defenseless mothers who are brand new, you hold people who are disabled hostage because you can’t get something you else want that has nothing to do with a budget? It’s ideological. That’s terrorism.”
* She was pretty defensive with a Twitter user…
@KarenLewisCTU@SharkeyCTU1 calling Gov. Rauner the new ISIS recruit it's time you step down and let someone with intelligence do the job!
A day after Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis made inflammatory remarks about Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, the Illinois GOP looked to raise some money from her comments and added its own spin. […]
In the fundraising email appeal, Illinois Republican Chairman Tim Schneider, whom Rauner hand-picked for the top party post, called Lewis’ comments “beyond despicable.”
“Our governor was compared to a group that murders innocent children in cold blood and sells women in to slavery,” Schneider said in the email.
“Stand with Gov. Rauner and tell Karen Lewis that her obscene rhetoric won’t be tolerated. She must be held accountable for such grossly inappropriate statements,” Schneider said. He said Lewis should “set a better example for our school children.”
* Remember Moon Khan? He’s the guy who ran as a write-in for DuPage County recorder, but was initially denied a victory after a bunch of votes weren’t counted. The DuPage Election Commission found 170 votes yesterday after a court-ordered recount, so he’ll be on the November ballot.
The DuPage Election Commission needs to investigate its processes and training of judges further and make significant changes before it runs another Election Night debacle as it did on March 15. It’s already been criticized for its slowness in counting ballots, and now it’s clear that judges erred in several write-in contests. […]
An earlier vote recount resulted in two Republican precinct committeeman write-in candidates also being declared winners. […]
Couple these errors with the need to investigate new technology to help speed up counting, and it’s clear that the election commission needs to get to work to improve it’s one main job.
* Jack Franks has never voted for a tax hike in his life. And even though “Fair Tax” supporters say taxes will increase only on one percent of taxpayers, that’s still a tax hike. So, no surprise here…
State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said Thursday he intends to vote against his party’s progressive income tax amendment along with a proposed set of income tax rates in a separate plan.
Asked in a Reboot Illinois interview if he would vote against the amendment designed to ask voters if they approved of graduated tax rates, Franks replied, “That’s my intention.” […]
With all Republicans expected to oppose the progressive tax amendment and, therefore, all 71 Democratic votes required to approve it by a May 6 deadline for the fall ballot, Franks’ declaration could effectively block the plan that just was unveiled April 15. Sponsors said their progressive tax rate plan would generate $1.9 billion in new tax revenue. […]
Franks said he was concerned that rates could and would rise rapidly and that he believes structural changes should be made before tax rates change. That belief is in line with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call for his turnaround agenda items before he will agree to a tax increase.
They’re gonna need Republican votes to pass this thing, but the governor and the House GOP Leader have done a remarkable job so far of keeping that caucus in line this year. Hey, strange things happen. Just look at yesterday. But GOP votes on this bill would be a truly strange occurrence. Stay tuned.
The [constitutional] amendment by Democratic Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park to eliminate the office of lieutenant governor failed 21-28. Cullerton says it would save the state $1.6 million annually.
Critics say the lieutenant governor has little to do except stand by to succeed the governor if the top post goes vacant. Two lieutenant governors in the past 35 years have resigned for different jobs, and former Gov. Pat Quinn, when he took over for the impeached and ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2009, did not fill the post until 2011.
But Republicans criticized Cullerton’s idea, saying succession would fall to the attorney general — and that post could be occupied, as it is now, by a member of the opposite party.
Some Senate Democrats voted down the amendment, too, but the hypocrisy among Republicans — the party of so-called fiscal conservatives who advocate for smaller, more efficient government — was starker. Instead of putting the measure on the ballot for voters to decide, they swooped in and blocked it.
Even richer, 14 Senate Republicans who helped kill the proposal were co-sponsors of the same legislation in 2013.
Their issue this time around? Who would step in if the governor died or became unable to serve. That’s the primary role of the lieutenant governor. The proposal for a constitutional amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, would tap the attorney general for that role. Same as the 2013 bill that many Republicans co-sponsored. […]
We’re told the directive to vote “no” came from Gov. Bruce Rauner, who ran for office on a platform of government consolidation, not political gamesmanship. His own hand-picked lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, advocated recently for the elimination of her own office. Not long ago, she finished a lengthy report, at Rauner’s direction, on how local governments could get rid of unnecessary layers of government. How voters could be empowered to cut bureaucracy.
They’re right, but this little thing is the issue they finally throw down on?
*** UPDATE 2 *** The House has overwhelmingly approved the measure 106-2. Democratic Reps. Jack Franks and Scott Drury voted “No.”
*** UPDATE 3 *** The Senate unanimously approved the bill.
[ *** End Of Updates *** ]
* The governor’s office and the House GOP Leader did a remarkable job of keeping things together yesterday, and then it all seemed to fall apart…
A bill to send $600 million to universities and community colleges to keep them operating until September was suddenly derailed in the House Thursday night, leaving the fate of the funding bill in doubt.
Illinois House members appeared poised to approve the bill that had bi-partisan support and, according to Republicans, would have been signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
However, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, suddenly announced that she would not be calling the bill for a final vote Thursday.
In the confusion that followed, Democrats said that House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, had requested that the bill not be called for a vote last night.
“There was something going on with the Senate. I don’t know what,” Currie said after the House adjourned for the night. She walked away without further comment.
Rep. Mark Batinick, a Republican from Plainfield, reminded lawmakers after the bill was postponed that prospective college students are deliberating where to go to school, with a May 1 deadline looming for their decisions.
“Congratulations, everybody,” he said, slapping away his microphone.
The money for the bill is possible because of a surplus in the state’s Education Assistance Fund, which takes a portion of income taxes for public schools and colleges. The funding proposal also has nearly $170 million in tuition grants for low-income students.
“The purpose of this bill is simply to provide emergency funding to our universities through the summer with the hope that we can continue to work on a budget so that we can fully fund them,” said Rep. Rita Mayfield, the Democrat sponsoring the measure.
Some lawmakers said they shouldn’t support a deal on higher education funding that amounted to a massive cut. Others saw an opportunity to add spending on social services to the mix. After all, allies of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he would support the budget bill without linking it to provisions to his political wish list known as the Turnaround Agenda. Perhaps they could get the governor to open up the state’s checkbook a little more.
“I think logic finally came in,” said Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who argued against the bill. “I think we have an opportunity now. Because of this, it shows that the other side is now willing to go forward with budget items that don’t have the Turnaround Agenda tied to it, which I think is a major breakthrough.”
A revamped proposal could emerge Friday to provide temporary relief for schools that have been forced to shed jobs and cut programs amid a record-setting state budget impasse. It’s the last chance before lawmakers take a one-week break. Many are eager to act amid intense pressure from universities and social service providers back home, and rank-and-file legislators have been meeting privately all week in an effort to reach a deal.
In a sign of how delicate negotiations remain, even the sometimes pointed Rauner struck a measured tone in a statement released by his office late Thursday.
* The statement was indeed measured…
“The Governor applauds the members in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle who are coming together to deliver emergency assistance to our universities, community colleges and low-income students. We hope the majority will respect the bipartisan agreement reached today and move the agreement to the Governor’s desk without delay.”
Considering the blowups of the recent past, you gotta give them credit for keeping an even keel. It wasn’t easy, by any means.
Some people just want the war to continue. But, someday it has to end. That process should start today. Pass this stuff and move the heck on.
“Well, I’m not sure what just happened because even the old hands here in the Capitol were surprised by this. But clearly, we’re at the point of existential crisis for some of our institutions. And there has to be a patch. There has to be a stop gap” [said Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn].
Jack Thomas, president of Western Illinois University, was visibly angry and requested a few minutes to calm down before answering questions.
“We were all excited tonight, thinking that they were going to come to an agreement, and then BOOM! No budget right now, everything has been put on hold.”
A representative of Chicago State University - slated to close at the end of this month - had previously agreed to an interview but cancelled after the deal collapsed, telling me “We have nothing to say.”
* The flanger, the hair, the technique, the moves, the professionalism, the wordsmanship, the groove, the intelligence, the voice, the artistry, the brilliance, the soul, the end. This 13 minutes and 34 seconds will either change your life or already did….
You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
The measure doesn’t apply to home-rule governments like Chicago and prohibits school districts from getting any more in property tax revenue than they did in 2015 unless voters approve an increase in a referendum.
The House voted 71-31 Thursday on the proposal by Democratic Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo.
Rauner’s call for a tax freeze includes letting local governments control costs by restricting labor-union power and limiting wages on public construction jobs.
But Republicans in favor of Franks’ proposal took the freeze even though it doesn’t include the governor’s reforms.
…Adding… Noting that the bill applies to nobody in Cook and the collars and most others, a Rauner admin official said “The real one failed by 14 votes yesterday.”
* The House Democrats have introduced their proposal to fund higher education and social services. Click here to read it.
The bill spends way more than the governor has proposed and it relies on lots of generic General Revenue Fund money, which means there is no way to pay for some of that spending.
There’s some speculation that this is a deliberate attempt by HDem leadership to derail everything by making the package too heavy. On the other hand, it could also just be a way to get to the governor to agree to more spending than he has so far. Whatever the case, the Senate can’t make any changes if this bill passes the House because it’s a Senate bill.
* However, I have been told by the governor’s office that there’s no way on Earth Rauner will sign an appropriations bill that doesn’t have a way to pay for it.
Rauner has outlined about a billion dollars in special state funds (subscribers know more), but the Democrats’ bill goes way beyond just tapping those funds. If the Democrats do this, then today’s work could very well be for naught. So, stop it already and make a darned deal.
*** UPDATE 1 *** I’m told the GRF money is “maintenance of effort” (explained here) to obtain federal matching funds. So, it is paid for, they say. Hopefully, this will all get worked out. Keep your fingers crossed and hope for calm.
*** UPDATE 2 *** From a senior administration official…
It appears the Speaker could not accept compromise and at the eleventh hour has tanked a bipartisan plan to save higher education. The governor will veto any plan that spends money the state doesn’t have. In the meantime, members of the majority will go home to their districts for a week to explain why they couldn’t support a bipartisan compromise to fund higher education and social services that the governor said he would sign into law.
*** UPDATE 3 *** The Rauner administration continues to insist that there is way more GRF money in the bill than the maintenance of effort stuff. “They have too much in there,” one top guy said of the Democrats.
*** UPDATE 4 *** In caucus today, House Republican members were asked if they planned to vote for the Democratic approp bill. Nobody raised their hands.
*** UPDATE 5 *** Dems are indicating there could be another approp bill vote if this one goes down. That second bill, if it happens, would apparently spend less money.
*** UPDATE 6 *** Sounds like they will do a stand-alone higher ed approp bill. CSU will reportedly be full funded, schools with big trouble get 50 percent, everyone else around 30ish. Not sure if that’ll pass, though. And not sure if that’s 100 percent accurate, either. There is also word that everything could revert back to yesterday’s levels. Stay tuned.
Credit unions exist as member owned cooperative financial institutions. Cooperatives are most often formed to support producers such as farmers, purchasers such as independent business owners, and consumers in the case of electric coops and credit unions. Their primary purpose is to meet members’ needs through affordable goods and services of high quality. Cooperatives such as credit unions may look like other businesses in their operations and, like other businesses, can range in size. However, the cooperative structure is distinctively different regardless of size.
As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions serve individuals with a common goal or interest. They are owned and democratically controlled by the people who use their services. Their board of directors consists of unpaid volunteers, elected by and from the membership. Members are owners who pool funds to help other members. After expenses and reserve requirements are met, net revenue is returned to members via lower loan and higher savings rates, and lower costs and fees for services. In exceptional years, bonus dividends may be deposited into member accounts as well. It is the structure of credit unions - not their size or range of services - that is the reason for their tax exempt status, and the reason why almost three million Illinois residents are now among 100 million Americans who count on their local credit union every day to reach their financial goals.
In case you were unable to attend the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board hearing earlier today, below you’ll find a statement from CPS CEO Forrest Claypool on the 4-1 decision to move forward to seek injunctive relief against future illegal CTU strikes.
“The Labor Board’s important ruling gives Chicago families more certainty that the CTU leadership cannot strike illegally whenever they want, and we are gratified that the Board has taken a major step toward injunctive relief against future strikes.
“Now we return to the bargaining table, in another effort to prevent a strike and the disruption that it would create for Chicago’s students, who are making more progress than ever before.
“We urge the CTU leadership to reconsider the recommendations of the neutral third party, or the deal their leadership previously negotiated and accepted, or the offer to use binding arbitration like police and fire unions. For our part, CPS will continue to use every tool at our disposal to reach a final deal.”
· Three of the five appointees on the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board were appointed by Democratic governors.
· The next step is that the Labor Board will request that the Attorney General take the matter to court.
* As Democrats and their allies push a “Fair Tax” plan this week, Illinois Issues takes a look back at the Con-Con as part of an interesting explainer piece about why the state has a flat income tax and not a graduated one…
During the debate over the state’s Constitution there were those who backed versions of a revenue article that did not prohibit a graduated tax. However, the issue was not the subject of strong advocacy from the groups that would seem likely supporters. “Chicago Democrats could have provided for a graduated income tax by voting as a bloc,” wrote Fishbane and Fisher. But they did not. “Permitting graduated income tax was not, however, a matter vital to organizational maintenance or enhancement.” In other words, adamant support of a graduated income tax would not have helped the Democrats politically.
Some Democratic did not want to risk backing a different and potentially unpopular tax concept. * But they also wanted to make sure enough money would be available for education and social programs as the state moved away from taxing personal property other than real estate. “Democrats in the Constitutional Convention had a vital stake in the adequacy of state government revenue. They had to ensure a reasonably flexible income tax without appearing to stand strongly in favor of it,” Fishbane and Fisher wrote.
Meanwhile, Republicans argued that voters would not accept a Constitution with a graduated tax rate. David Davis, a downstate Republican delegate, said a graduated income tax would be “absolutely repugnant” to the people in his area.
While many education and labor groups supported a graduated tax, according to Fishbane and Fisher, they did little to lobby delegates for it. “Although major elements of organized labor were opposed to adoption of the new constitution, in part on the grounds that it prohibited a graduated income tax, labor made no significant effort to influence the convention’s decision on the matter.” The 40 delegates endorsed by the AFL-CIO “split almost evenly” on the issue.
* In other constitutional amendment news, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform has looked into what could happen if a remap reform amendment clears the General Assembly and the remap reformers continue pressing on with their own proposal and then both measures wind up in front of voters this November…
If two proposals for redistricting reform end up on the ballot, this simple legislative language could clarify the process for all. It is not uncommon for two redistricting reform proposals to be on the same ballot – it happened in both California and Florida when they set out to give Independent Redistricting Commissions the responsibility of setting General Assembly districts. In California, the language below was included in both amendments. We believe that a similar provision would be very beneficial in any Illinois redistricting reform proposal.
SECTION 5. Competing, regulatory alternative.
A. In the event that another measure (“competing measure”) appears on the same ballot as this act that seeks to adopt or impose provisions or requirements that differ in any regard to, or supplement, the provisions or requirements contained in this act, the voters hereby expressly declare their intent that if both the competing measure and this act receive a majority of votes cast, and this act receives a greater number of votes than the competing measure, this act shall prevail in its entirety over the competing measure without regard to whether specific provisions of each measure directly conflict with each other.
B. In the event that both the competing measure and this act receive a majority of votes cast, and the competing measure receives a greater number of votes than this act, this act shall be deemed complementary to the competing measure. To this end, and to the maximum extent permitted by law, the provisions of this act shall be fully adopted except to the extent that specific provisions contained in each measure are deemed to be in direct conflict with each other on a “provision-by-provision” basis pursuant to Yoshisato v. Superior Court (1992) 2 Cal.4th 978.
…Adding… The criss-cross game is in full swing…
Senate approves its version of a remap amendment. Common Cause has found it wanting.
The artist known as Prince has died … TMZ has learned. He was 57.
Prince’s body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota early Thursday morning.
Multiple sources connected to the singer confirmed he had passed.
The singer — full name Prince Rogers Nelson — had a medical emergency on April 15th that forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois. But he appeared at a concert the next day to assure his fans he was okay. His people told TMZ he was battling the flu.
* When I went out to spring training in Arizona last month I decided to rent a car instead of relying on Uber and taxis because the ballparks are so spread out and I was staying a week. It would’ve cost a whole lot more.
But, I gotta tell you, the actual rental experience was so bad that I almost walked out of the airport. I got into Phoenix late on a Friday night. I was tired after a rough week. The line was unbelievably long. They only had a couple people working behind the counter. And instead of processing drivers through as quickly as possible, they made everybody endure a long sales pitch on everything from the type of car (I had rented the cheapest, but they were just sure I wanted a better one), to insurance (”This is a no-fault state, so your insurance probably won’t cover the rental” the agent darkly warned), to GPS, to… I can’t even remember now because I tried to block it out of my memory to avoid hurting my otherwise very enjoyable trip.
* I get that everybody has to make money and that it may be tough to convince employees to work late on a Friday night, but I kept pointing at the long and ever-growing line behind me and pleading for those other customers while I had to wait out the endless and useless corporate-mandated sales pitches.
It took over an hour to rent that car. Somebody else I ran into who arrived the same night said she had to wait three hours. I cant remember if it was the same rental company.
This wasn’t an unusual experience, either. The only time I’ve ever zoomed through an airport rental car line is when I’ve been in a small city or got lucky and beat the rush.
Taxis aren’t the only ones that may be stressing out about Uber Technologies Inc. Transactions from the ride-hailing startup have surpassed rental cars among American professionals, according to Certify, the second-largest provider of travel and expense management software in North America.
Uber accounted for 43 percent of ground transportation transactions expensed through Certify last quarter, while rental cars had 40 percent. Ride-hailing services, with Uber at the forefront, overtook rental cars for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2015 and have since widened their lead, according to a study by Certify published on Thursday.
While an Uber or Lyft Inc. fare costs much less than the average rental car booking, the data show the changing preferences among business travelers. Rental car transactions have fallen 15 percentage points in two years. The decline isn’t quite as steep as the one experienced by taxis, which fell 23 percentage points over the same period. Taxis accounted for 14 percent of ground transportation transactions in the first quarter of 2016.
“It really comes down to convenience,” said Robert Neveu, president of Certify. “The ability to hail and pay efficiently—that convenience factor is huge, and we’re seeing it change the habits and behaviors of our users.”
* Subscribers know more about what could be in this higher education funding plan if it ever sees the light of day…
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, who represents Illinois State University and whose daughter is a student there, assured the crowd that conversations are taking place across aisle to come up with a solution. He encouraged them to speak with their legislators.
“We need your help,” Brady said, adding that it will ultimately take agreement from House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and Rauner to move a plan forward.
Speaking later, Brady said rank-and-file lawmakers are working on a plan that would blend Fortner’s and Mayfield’s proposals in an effort to win bipartisan support.
* It’ll actually do more than than Rep. Fortner’s bill. Community colleges were also in the mix as of late yesterday. But it ain’t soup yet.
Members made significant progress yesterday, but there’s still some resistance behind the scenes today as some members demand that Chicago State University receive its full annual appropriation - which isn’t going down well with others who have universities that are only receiving a portion of their annual funding.
Using a Senate vehicle means both chambers can pass the legislation in one day. The Senate President canceled Friday’s session yesterday, but that could change depending on what happens today.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Click here for the latest numbers I could get. The last two columns contain what I believe is the current proposal along with the percentage of each institution’s “normal” approp. CSU gets the highest percentage among universities, at 40 percent. MAP grants would be funded at 43 percent. Everybody else is around 30-31 percent. But some CSU backers are still reportedly holding out for full funding.
*** UPDATE 2 *** A big meeting has wrapped up and I’m told CSU advocates emerged with full funding for the campus. “We’ll see if it holds up,” said a Black Caucus member.
Also, I’m told they’re using SB 2059 as the vehicle.
Over the past week, two proposals have been filed in the Illinois General Assembly to reform how district maps are drawn in Illinois. Common Cause is a national leader on redistricting reform as was demonstrated by our work to pass meaningful redistricting reform in California. Common Cause Illinois believes that a mapping process can be developed that is non-partisan, effective, and supports the protection of minority voting rights.
Here in Illinois, Common Cause continues to be a supporter of the Independent Maps campaign and their attempt to place an amendment to voters on the 2016 ballot. In the same spirit, Common Cause Illinois has analyzed SJRCA0030 (Sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul) and House Bill HJRCA 58 (Sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks). A summary of our analysis is below.
Senate Bill SJRCA 30
SJRCA 30 falls far short of the democracy reform Illinois residents deserve. It does not address the primary problem with redistricting in Illinois: the conflict of interest in allowing legislators to manipulate their own districts and congressional boundaries for political advantage. This bill does not prevent partisan gerrymandering and only removes politicians from the process under extraordinary circumstances that are unlikely to ever occur. Despite the addition of some neutral standards and public hearings, politician control over the process means that standards will be interpreted for maximum self-interest and public input can be ignored without consequence. With the prospect of strong reform on the ballot this November, we are asking senators to go back to the drawing board and draft a bill that will truly give Illinois residents a voice in their own representation.
House Bill HJRCA
HJRCA 58 provides a promising path forward for ending the unfair manipulation of legislative and representative districts in Illinois. Common Cause strongly supports the bill’s creation of an independent commission tasked with drawing General Assembly districts after hearing public testimony in open meetings around the state. We are working closely with Rep. Franks to improve the criteria that will guide the drafting process, strengthen conflict of interest provisions, and ensure the greatest possible independence from political leaders, protect minority voting rights, and strengthen the ability of Illinois voters to elect candidates of their choice. We commend Rep. Franks on this effort and look forward to a continued collaboration to end political gerrymandering in Illinois.
[House Speaker Michael Madigan’s millionaire tax surcharge] failed 68-47, after Madigan could not gather his 71 Democratic members needed to approve the legislation. Still, the move allows his loyal Democrats to send out campaign mailers saying they supported taxing the rich. Indeed, just minutes after the vote, Madigan’s office sent out a press release declaring “Illinois residents again ignored by House Republicans.”
[CTU President Karen Lewis], after her speech, praised Madigan, saying he is “somebody that’s trying to get things done.”
“But not ideological, and not stuck in the mud,” Lewis said. “Not ideological at all.”
Madigan assumes ideological postures as events fit. So, a few years ago, he stood with Bruce Rauner and others to ram through education reforms. His campaign committee was boycotted at one point by AFSCME, the IFT (to which CTU belongs) and the IEA. And now, with union leaders lining up at his door begging for help, he’s Walter Reuther.
At a time when the marathon state budget stalemate has cut off funding to vital social services, state universities and college scholarships to needy students, Emanuel wants to spend political capital, greatly diminished by his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video, to keep the Lucas Museum in Chicago on a lakefront site he hopes Friends of the Parks will agree not to challenge.
Specifically, the mayor wants to persuade Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, Democratic legislative leaders and a General Assembly paralyzed by partisan politics to raise five tourism taxes and authorize $1.2 billion in new borrowing to expand McCormick Place. […]
While his top aides were outlining the five tax increases, Emanuel was insisting that there would be “no taxpayers’ support for this effort.”
The mayor can say that with a straight face only because the tourism taxes he wants to extend would be used to expand McCormick Place. Never mind that the expansion would not be necessary if he wasn’t planning to tear down McCormick Place East to make way for the Lucas Museum.
There may be good reasons to tear down McCormick Place East, the oldest part of Chicago’s lakefront convention complex. But clearing space for “Star Wars” mogul George Lucas’s Museum of Narrative Art isn’t one of them.
Desperate to keep Lucas from taking his museum elsewhere, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is prepared to sacrifice an important economic asset without a well-developed plan to replace it. Late last week, he proposed building the museum on the lakefront site of McCormick Place East, also called Lakeside Center.
The proposal came amid strong indications that a lawsuit filed by advocacy group Friends of the Parks will delay indefinitely, if not block outright, Emanuel’s original plan to put the museum on a parking lot north of the landmark convention hall. The 71-year-old Lucas, meanwhile, apparently is growing impatient to start construction on a museum he hopes to see completed in his lifetime. Emanuel also has high hopes for the Lucas Museum. He believes it would draw throngs of visitors and generate big money for the city.
Perhaps it will. But conventions already draw millions and generate big money for the city. It’s one of our most important industries, a major source of jobs for people around the region and a wellspring of revenue for local hotels, restaurants and myriad other businesses that serve conventions and convention-goers one way or another. And Lakeside Center is an integral part of that industry.
* But one influential group has weighed in today…
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce: Lucas Museum Net Positive for Chicago
Chicago, IL - The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce continues to be a strong supporter of McCormick Place and the Lucas Museum. McCormick Place is a critical economic engine and the Lucas Museum will deliver long-term benefits for the people of Chicago.
In its first ten years, the museum is projected to create thousands of construction jobs and over 350 permanent jobs. Attracting nearing 1 million visitors to Chicago, the museum could bring $2 billion in spending and generate $120 million in new tax revenue.
Investing in a revitalized McCormick Place and Lucas Museum is a net positive for the city. We will gain a state of the art cultural attraction and an improved convention center complex to enhance the lakefront and the economic climate of Chicago.
Add the agency that runs McCormick Place to the list of state funding beneficiaries being held hostage by Illinois’ ongoing budget stalemate.
Buried in the details unveiled yesterday of a new proposal to replace the convention center’s east building with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art was a troubling revelation for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority: The state owes it a lot of money.
McPier, as the agency is more commonly known, gets up to $15 million each year from the state’s general revenue fund that it uses to lure major events by offering them discounted rent.
For its 2016 shows, the agency and Choose Chicago—the city tourism bureau that actually books the shows—have committed $11.2 million in such incentives. But the state, which is mired in an ongoing battle over its 2016 budget, has not appropriated that money.
…Adding More… The CFL has also weighed in…
Statement from Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez regarding Mayor Emanuel’s plan to move the Lucas Museum to the current site of McCormick Place East
The Chicago Federation of Labor supports Mayor Emanuel’s plan to demolish McCormick Place East to make room for the Lucas Museum. Bringing this museum to Chicago will have a positive economic impact on our city and, more importantly, our working families. Having this one-of-a-kind museum in Chicago will allow our convention and tourism industry to be even more competitive, bringing new business and attracting more visitors to our world class city. The biggest benefit we will see is through the creation of thousands of short-term and long-term jobs for working men and women. It is estimated that approximately 8,000 building and construction trades jobs will be created to perform this work from start to finish. But the job creation doesn’t stop there. Construction jobs typically carry a five to seven multiplier, meaning for every one construction job that is created, five to seven new jobs are created throughout the rest of the workforce. In this case, many of these jobs will fall in our convention and tourism industry, including hotels, restaurants, and airport workers, to name a few. Chicago has the most skilled workforce in the country, so this is a tremendous opportunity for us to grow our economy and create additional jobs for the hardworking men and women of the Chicago area.
* One of the most disturbing things you’ll see in a while…
Surveillance video released Wednesday captures the last moments of a popular hotel cocktail server who was punched and knocked unconscious, landing in a Near North crosswalk. The video also shows more than a dozen bystanders failing to come to his aid in the nearly two minutes before a cab accidentally drove over him.
Marques Gaines, 32, died at an area hospital after the incident about 4:20 a.m. Feb. 7 outside a 7-Eleven store in the 400 block of North State Street.
Attorneys for the family released grainy footage from a Chicago police pod camera that captures Gaines falling to the ground after a heavier man wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants and white sneakers apparently knocked him out with a single right-hand punch. Gaines, who had just bought chips inside the 7-Eleven, could be seen running away from his pursuer before he was struck.
Especially troubling for Gaines’ family was that bystanders didn’t help as he lay in the crosswalk. At least one person believed to be a 7-Eleven employee called 911. Others walked past him without trying to pull him out of the street or block traffic.
Within seconds of the punch, a half-dozen people gathered around Gaines, including two men who appear to have rifled through his pockets. Gaines’ family said his cellphone and debit card were stolen. After a minute, the group and his attacker left the scene and as seconds tick away, individuals and groups of people walked by Gaines without trying to pull him out of the street.
Yes, it was really late at night, so people in that area were likely intoxicated and not behaving well. And, yes that one particular block (State and Hubbard) can be a bit rough at times. And it does look like somebody tried to drag him out of the street and failed.