Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » 2016 » April
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Durkin: Madigan attempting to “prevent future compromise”

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Background here. From House Republican Leader Jim Durkin…

“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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Madigan warns members about GOP intent

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Memo to HDems

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.

* Except Leader Durkin also said this today

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?

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


It’s time for a rethink

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Solitary confinement may work to hold down incidents in prisons, but what happens when the inmates get out of jail?

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.

* More

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Finke

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Benton hit with one-day suspension

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Utilities behaving badly

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* The Belleville News-Democrat has a new editorial about “consumer math”

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.

* Meanwhile, Crain’s reports how ComEd is derailing solar projects

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.

The company’s “plan” is here.

* OK, now look at this story about Exelon’s desire to close the Clinton nuke plant

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.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Your thoughts on the current performance of the White Sox, Blackhawks and other, lesser teams?

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Schools continue freak-out over impasse

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


“Anti-consumer, but pro-politician”

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* From a reader…

Rich,

Thought you might be interested in this opinion from the Third District Appellate Court, Mercy Crystal Lake Hospital and Medical Center v. Illinois Health Facilities and Service Review Board, 2016 IL App (3d) 130847. http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2016/3rdDistrict/3130947.pdf

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.

Regards,

[Redacted]

* The opinion’s setup

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.

Heh.

* The hardball concurrence

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Today’s number: 60 percent

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Illinois Issues takes a deep dive

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.”

* Now, check out the careful wording of this statement by a neonictinoid producer

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.

* But

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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


“First step toward compromise”

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* 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.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Another hostage about to go belly up

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* People, this war has to end now

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.

Once more, with feeling: Find. Another. Way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - LIVE coverage *** Hearing begins today on alleged AFSCME impasse

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Tribune

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


- Posted by Rich Miller   109 Comments      


More ideas worth thinking about

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss has outlined three broad goals to kick off his new effort to help formulate a progressive response to Raunerism

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.

Go read the whole thing, but what do you think of these and would you add any further expansive goals?

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


These are good ideas, too

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* 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:

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


More like this, please

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Greg Hinz

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.

That’s a pretty darned good idea, if you ask me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


It wasn’t easy, but look on the bright side

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

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.

Discuss.

* Related…

* Rauner, Madigan both blink on higher education money

* Illinois lawmakers pass $600 million university stopgap

* Illinois Lawmakers Pass Bill To Fund Colleges, Universities

* Editorial: Stop-gap MAP Grant legislation not enough

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


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

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Madigan taps Maggie Hickey for independent investigation of House
* New photos of the Executive Mansion, and some vintage ones
* Question of the Day
* Wisconsin gerrymandering case punted by Supreme Court
* Morrison defends his handling of SVP arrested twice for child sex crimes
* Rauner campaign launches two new initiatives
* Adventures in data governing
* Higher ed group to continue working this summer
* *** UPDATED x4 *** State Senate candidate once dressed up in blackface for Halloween
* Brady says GOP leveraged balanced budget from nervous Dems
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Politifact rates Rauner Legionnaires' claim 'False'
* Former 'Chicago Tonight' host Elizabeth Brackett has died
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............
<


Loading


* Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial Bridge plaque un.....
* Rauner campaign launches two new initiatives..
* Illinois to fund Medicaid preventative dental s.....
* Vote in the Scott Stantis cartoon caption contest..
* State, Lake County Resolutions Critical Of Foxc.....
* History buffs may want to consider a trip to Sp.....
* Instagram posts from Aurora's first ever ga.....
* State, federal governments push for overdose pr.....
* Brady says GOP leveraged balanced budget from n.....
* Illinois Budget Bill Makes Few Tax Changes exce.....


* Correction: Skydiver Death-Illinois story
* Records: Trump Tower failed to follow fish protection rules
* Illinois to fund Medicaid preventative dental services
* Mother of man fatally shot by central Illinois police sues
* Search continues for 2 after southern Illinois jail escape
* Indiana residents oppose development of waste facility
* Cleanup of massive central Illinois rock slide begins
* Midwestern states endure flash flooding, heat wave
* New organization that honors black firefighters to open
* Rauner names curator for newly remodeled governor's mansion

* Chatham man wins Illinois Bicentennial coin design contest
* Rauner to consider allowing medical cannabis for opioid patients
* Bipartisan work yields gun bills, fate rests with Rauner
* Rauner names Justin Blandford curator of Governor's Mansion
* Rauner names Williamsville woman interim HFS director
* Both Rauner and Pritzker have donated to Mansion renovations
* Both candidates for governor have donated to Mansion renovations
* Illiopolis boy helps push bill to cover hearing aids for kids
* Under the Dome Podcast: AFSCME lawsuits everywhere, #MeToo fallout, governor ad war
* Rauner says more ads coming like one featuring other Republican governors

* Here's what Walgreens' new downtown digs will look like
* Trump: Sanctuary cities order should be limited to Chicago
* Trump administration seeks Supreme Court order on sanctuary cities
* Michigan Avenue penthouse sells for $8 million
* Show us your office!


* At start of LeGrier trial, cop who fired fatal shot defended as ‘reasonable’
* Second driver identified in fatal wrong-way crash on I-57
* Barry Trotz resigns as Capitals’ coach after Stanley Cup win
* Rahm joins parade slamming Trump policy to separate families at US-Mexico border
* FBI’s Wray, Justice Dept. grilled over Clinton email investigation report
* Disney issues seizure warning about ‘Incredibles 2’ for fans with epilepsy
* Emanuel says Amazon ‘really liked’ two Chicago sites
* Chicago, look to the future and go ahead with Elon Musk’s tunnel to O’Hare
* Slave owners and Nazis quote Romans 13 to justify immorality, too
* Body found in burned vehicle in Gary


* Cubs' Javier Baez out against Dodgers, Kris Bryant bats leadoff
* Emanuel: Amazon 'really likes' two Chicago sites
* Hundreds of immigrant children are being held in fenced cages at border facility
* Divided District 64 board seeks committee to weigh in on school resource officer program
* JetBlue founder looks to start new low-cost U.S. airline, reports say
* Porter County cop accused of exposing himself to women
* Trial opens in 2015 police shooting in which bat-wielding teen and bystander killed
* Turano Baking seeks new office building in south Oak Park
* A day before his father sent to prison in Turkey, Knicks' Enes Kanter talked democracy in Mount Prospect
* Rocker Tommy Lee's drama with son Brandon gets ugly on Father's Day


» Illinois Bicentennial Coin Unveiled
» Austin Texas, Like Chicago, Is Struggling With Pedestrian Safety
» Push To Bridge Gender Wage Gap Continues
» Pediatrics For Transgender Kids; ‘Pay What You Can’ Yoga Studio; Illinois Politics
» Dad-isms: Jokes and Lessons Our Fathers Taught Us
» Parkland Survivors Join Chicago Youth, Celebrities At St. Sabina's Peace March
» Why Don’t Chicago Beaches Have A Poop Threshold?
» Furniture From Closed CPS Schools Ends Up In Surprising Places
» Students Go Back In Time To Record On Machine That Democratized Music
» State Week: AFSCME Contract; Abortion Court Fight; Former Madigan Staffer Responds To Accusations


* Chatham man wins Illinois Bicentennial coin design contest
* Rauner to consider allowing medical cannabis for opioid patients
* George Will: Congress suffers arthritic knees from genuflecting to presidential power
* Bipartisan work yields gun bills, fate rests with Rauner
* Bernard Schoenburg: Gov. Rauner owns Sangamon farmland — with somebody
* Bernard Schoenburg: Rauner owns Sangamon farmland — with somebody
* Angie Muhs: New reporter will focus on local business coverage
* Our View: City should not put competing township referendum on ballot
* Faith Coalition for the Common Good: Leaders impact lives of homeless
* Statehouse Insider: Illinois second to Missouri again


* St. Louis Children’s Hospital will show free screening of East St. Louis football doc
* Collinsville man charged with murder in fatal shooting of former neighbor
* Welcome to campus, Ayo
* Shots fired, body found, strange coincidence
* Chatham student designs winning Bicentennial coin
* Illinois to fund Medicaid preventative dental services
* Franklin County town hall to tackle opioid misuse
* BBB warns customers about Rural King, citing 'an underlying pattern of complaints'
* State police investigating after man shot dead by officer during domestic disturbance
* Fire calls


* What suburban members of Congress are saying about Trump immigration policy
* Correction: Skydiver Death-Illinois story
* Report: Shooting in Sweden leaves 4 injured
* H. Clinton: Separating families at border a 'moral crisis'
* Trump admin. asks high court to halt sanctuary cities ruling

* Apartment building with affordable units p...
* The Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Mo...
* Kelly likely to keep seat
* Conway Laments Migrant Family Separation &...
* Berthoud High School second semester honor...
* Luis Gutierrez: GOP Is Using Xenoph...
* How Donald Trump and Chuy Garcia Broke the...
* Lipinski to hold events for 3rd District r...
* Rep. Davis to host military family roundtable
* Peyton Reed Reveals If 'Ant-Man And Th...

* Rebellious Resistance Guide: How to Fight ......
* Monday, June 18, 2018...
* Lvm Capital Management LTD Decreased Its B......
* Great West Life Assurance Company Has Uppe......
* Trump tweets Dems and GOP should get toget......

* Rebellious Resistance Guide: How to Fight ......
* The Democrats' Myopic Reaction to the ......
* Tammy Duckworth for Senate Tammy......
* Our view: GOP group spot on in recent Blag......
* "Senator Tammy Duckworth …&quo......

* The nutty Trump trolls, the Korea agreement and Democrat cold-warriors.
* “They could be murderers and thieves.” Donald Trump.
* Survey: U.S. Public Skeptical That North Korea Will Get Rid of Nukes
* Judicial Watch Sues State Department for Obama-Era Records on Refugee Resettlement Site Locations
* LA Times: High cost of housing drives up homeless rates, UCLA study indicates
* Clark Co joins growing number of Illinois counties passing resolutions upholding Second Amendment
* Talking is better than war.
* Don Hellison.
* 50% oppose sanctuary communities in new Rasmussen poll
* The Weekend In Chicago Rock


* 2017 Wabash County Tentative Multiplier Announced
* Liquor Control Commission Underage Compliance Report for Cook County
* Liquor Control Commission Underage Compliance Report for Will Count
* Multi-State Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Cereal
* PHIL VASSAR AND LOVE AND THEFT ROUND OUT THE DU QUOIN STATE FAIR GRANDSTAND

  
* Tronc to change name back to Tribune Publishing after years of ridicule
* YouTube Music and YouTube Premium are officially launching today, includes more countries
* KCC comes to confirm the existence of an LG smartwatch with Wear OS
* Microsoft says it’s ‘dismayed’ by child separations after criticism over ICE contract
* FCC filing hints at the Moto C2 Android Go smartphone from Motorola
* Google removes Uber integration in Maps with no explanation
* OnePlus’ Kyle Kiang talks OnePlus 6 and record sales

* Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox lineups for Monday, ...
* White Sox Minor League News and Notes, 6/11 to 6/17
* White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: Week 11
* White Sox Weekly Minor League Update: Week 11
* Robert returns from injury to make pro debut
* Dominguez leads DSL Orioles to 4-0 win over DSL White Sox
* Cleveland Indians: Previewing three-game series against the Whit...


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress




Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller