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Madigan: “Thank you very much”

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Sun-Times

On the House floor on Wednesday, Madigan was asked by State Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, whether he believes term limits should come before the millionaire tax — that’s a reform Gov. Bruce Rauner has pushing in his Turnaround Agenda and one his administration says he’d support.

Madigan said term limits are administered by voters –who can choose to retain an elected official or not at the ballot box.

“Members of your political party and Gov. Rauner subjected me to a vote of the people in the last primary election, and I won overwhelmingly. Thank you very much,” Madigan told Sandack.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

U of I prepares for layoffs

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Talks continue on the higher education appropriations bill. This ought to kick it up a notch

The University of Illinois’ Urbana campus is making plans for possible layoffs, as a result of the budget stalemate. In a memo obtained by Illinois Public Media, Associate Provost for Human Resources Elyne Cole indicates that some jobs, including some in Civil Service, could be cut, effective at the start of the fall semester. […]

AFSCME Local 3700 President Ann Zettervall says she’s seen the memo, which was sent Monday to some campus personnel, including some who are covered by union contracts. […]

The memo from Associate Provost Cole outlines a schedule for action during a “position elimination period.”

Zettervall says Civil Service hiring and testing has been suspended during that period. That’s to minimize the disruption caused when Civil Service workers whose jobs are cut are allowed by seniority rules to take jobs from other Civil Service workers, who are then “bumped” into other positions.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Impasse hostage barely alive

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Stephanie Esters at The Southern

The door opens and two teenage-looking girls look over at the guests, their eyes wide, before they return to the work in front of them, while an older woman, perhaps their mother, seems to relax at a chair in a corner, watching as a toddler plays with toys.

Another mom, with a smiling toddler in tow, finishes a call on the community phone downstairs and walks back up the stairs to the family living space she shares with other female parents and their children.

In the kitchen on the main level, another woman is making sandwiches, asking for help in loosening the lid on a jar of grape jelly.

This is life in The Women’s Center, a safe house for women and children who are victimized by domestic violence and those who are needing an advocate and help after they have been victimized by sexual assault. The center, which operates the Domestic Assault Program and the Rape Crisis Center, serves 1,400 people a year, about 250 of them in the sexual assault awareness program.

All those individuals that the program helps, though, are in danger of not having any place in the region to get help, if much-needed state aid does not come through by the end of June, its executive director Cathy McClanahan said. On Friday, there were 21 women and children living at the facility, which has a capacity for 36 people.

The center’s operating budget is $1.4 million, 80 percent of which comes from state funding.

These human beings are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Kicking them to the curb is just downright immoral.

Find. Another. Way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Tribune

A Senate committee advanced several measures that would overhaul the Illinois Constitution to eliminate the lieutenant governor’s office, replace the flat income tax rate with a graduated system based on income and overhaul how legislative districts are drawn.

Similar measures also are moving in the House, meaning it could all be for political show…. If each chamber chooses to pass only their versions of a bill, it would allow lawmakers to say they voted for the changes even if the bills have no chance of becoming law.

All of those issues poll well among the public, but changing the tax structure would be difficult in an election year when it would amount to a tax increase for the wealthy. At the same time, Democrats are loath to pass any legislation that could limit their power, such as eliminating a potential political office or making the legislative mapping process less political.

* The Question: If you could unilaterally change one thing in the Illinois Constitution, what would that one thing be? Make sure to explain your answer. And here’s a link to the Constitution in case you need to reference specific wording.

Also, in anticipation of a flood of responses on one topic, if your answer is “the pension clause,” go ahead and say it, but then give us something else.

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Madigan bashes Republicans *** It’s just a bill…

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* The House is debating Speaker Madigan’s surtax on income over a million dollars, with all the money set aside for schools. However…

Good question.

* But also some good points…

*** UPDATE ***  Press release…

House Speaker Michael Madigan released a statement following Wednesday’s vote in the Illinois House of Representatives on a constitutional amendment to increase state funding for elementary schools and high schools through a surcharge on millionaires:

“For the second time in less than a year, Republican legislators have rejected the wishes of their constituents and opposed a measure requiring the top 1 percent to pay more to help boost education funding in Illinois.

“This proposal is not a partisan issue. An advisory question on this matter was put to voters in the 2014 general election and it received over 60 percent support statewide. The people of Illinois spoke – they believe a surcharge on millionaires is a good way to get our schools the help they need. We should listen to the wishes of our constituents, not big business or the 1 percent who would put profits ahead of our children’s education. Unfortunately today, Republicans again failed to listen to their constituents.

“This constitutional amendment would give Illinois residents the ability to decide whether the state constitution should be amended to increase the income tax on multi-millionaires to provide additional dollars for schools across the state. All revenue from this proposal – an estimated $1 billion annually – would be distributed to school districts on a per-pupil basis.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Yeah, this’ll help

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Oy…

The rhetoric from folks like Lewis and some on the other side is so intense that I should probably repeat my worry that this craziness could gin up a nutball enough to take matters into his own hands and then something really bad could happen.

Not good at all.

…Adding… From Catherine Kelly at the governor’s office…

This kind of rhetoric has no place in American public discourse and sets a terrible example for our kids.


* Meanwhile

The Chicago Teachers Union will put on a major public relations blitz today, with a rally in Springfield and a speech by President Karen Lewis in Chicago.

It all comes amid the lack of a new contract. The school district’s chief says the system is on the brink of insolvency. Lewis says the union could soon go on strike, after it rejected an arbitrator’s findings.

Both sides point to Springfield as the path to a solution. To that end, union members and allies are scheduled to descend on the Capitol today to lobby lawmakers and rally in the building’s rotunda after boarding buses at 6 a.m. and heading south.

* Protesters have blocked the street near the governor’s mansion. Here’s a photo taken by a friend shortly after one o’clock…

…Adding… Sun-Times

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis dubbed Gov. Bruce Rauner a “new ISIS recruit” because “the things he’s doing look like acts of terror on poor and working class people” in her remakrs before the City Club Wednesday afternoon. […]

“If a man tells you he loves America yet hates labor, he is a liar. . . Bruce Rauner is a liar,” she said.

* ABC 7

“If Governor Rauner says he loves Illinois, yet he hates labor, he is a liar! There is no Illinois without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other,” Lewis said. “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? Because the things he’s doing looks like acts of terror on poor and working class people.”

…Adding More… From a pal…

Vandalism of the Capitol is an excellent way to persuade people to your point of view.

The pic he took in the 2nd floor men’s room…

I suppose it’s nice that at least one protester knew what he was in town for (lots typically don’t). But what a jerk thing to do. Now, one of our custodians is gonna have to try and clean up that mess.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Green shoots breaking through

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Brief recap of yesterday’s mess

There are once again competing proposals to get money to public universities that have been deprived of state funding during the nearly yearlong budget standoff at the Capitol.

The House Executive Committee signed off on a plan Tuesday from state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, that would send a full year’s worth of funding to the universities hardest hit by the lack of a budget: Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois and Northeastern Illinois universities. Mayfield said she plans to amend the bill to add $10 million for Southern Illinois University, 5 percent of its annual state funding. […]

State Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, is proposing a plan that cover one-third of annual funding to all nine public university systems and one semester’s worth of grants to low-income students through the Monetary Award Program, which isn’t included in Mayfield’s plan.

Fortner’s plan would cost $558.3 million, with the revenue coming from the state’s education assistance fund. The fund, which gets dedicated revenue from the state income tax, gambling and other sources, is expected to have $600 million available by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

* But

The “stopgap” proposal from state Rep. Mike Fortner, a West Chicago Republican, follows a handful of other plans that have been debated in Springfield but all failed as Democratic leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner continue their nearly yearlong war over the state budget.

But a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan called the idea a “distant third-place” among proposals to pay for higher education in Illinois, putting its future in question.


* I’m told, however, that Downstate House Democrats and many Senate Dems refused to support Rep. Mayfield’s bill. The new proposal will reportedly look more like Rep. Fortner’s idea.

Unless, of course, it falls apart yet again.

Stay tuned.

…Adding… A House Democrat involved with the process says they’re “Working through the numbers and working across the aisle.”

Keep your fingers crossed that somebody doesn’t try to blow this thing up.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Careful what you wish for…

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Well, I have been asking for more contemporary acts at the State Fair

Pop/R&B singer Meghan Trainor is the latest addition to the Illinois State Fair concert lineup.

Trainor, 20, became a household name in 2014 with the hit song “All About That Bass.” The song reached No. 1 in 58 countries; it spent eight consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. […]

Tickets range from $28 to $50. Hailee Steinfeld (”Love Myself”) will open the show.

That’s great for her legions of area fans, but I was kinda thinking more along the lines of Umphrey’s McGee or Blackberry Smoke, or something. But, yes, I did ask for contemporary.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Reporter says he was fired for “disagreeing” with coverage by Illinois Policy Institute-owned radio network

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Reporter John Gregory abruptly left the Illinois Radio Network shortly after the network was purchased by the Illinois Policy Institute. John has stayed mostly mum about his departure until now

In such tendentious new company, could the Illinois Radio Network’s modest operation possibly remain uncompromised? Soon after IPI took it over, the radio network’s reporters in Chicago and Springfield both were doing something else. Dave Dahl in Springfield quit to work full-time for a local radio station, WTAX, where he’d already been moonlighting. John Gregory in Chicago says: “Disagreeing with the network’s coverage of certain topics was the reason given when I was fired.” Gregory is now freelancing.


* But, hey, they have been replaced

The new man in Chicago, Julio Rausseo, has kept such lively company in the past that the radio network might be the most mainstream forum he’s ever turned up in. Here he is in 2012 on the Corbett Report discussing the “police state takedown” of the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago. (If you’re not familiar with the Corbett Report, judge it by one of its high water marks: a breathless, five-minute argument for 9/11 as a massive conspiracy and coverup.) And here’s Rausseo talking about a favorite bête noir, the Transportation Security Agency—four years ago with Alex Jones, the radio and TV host and self-described “icon of the burgeoning liberty movement,” and last December on The Rundown Live, an alt-news website whose founder lists as his concerns “9/11 Truth and government corruption,” “promoting anarchist philosophy,” and “cop watching.” […]

IRN’s new man in Springfield, Greg Bishop, joined the Illinois Policy Institute in 2014 to run the Illinois News Network’s radio operation. He’d been a reporter and radio host on WMAY-AM 970 in Springfield, where according to a 2014 profile in Springfield’s State-Journal Register, he didn’t try to play it down the middle. “Back in 2012,” wrote reporter Bernard Schoenburg, “Bishop made no secret of his support for Ron Paul for president. He got himself named as a delegate to the state Republican convention that year, even as he was reporting on Springfield city government and other news and doing a talk show. One of the issues he pushed at that convention, he told me later, was a right-to-work resolution saying public sector employees shouldn’t be forced to pay union dues.”

“Taxation is slavery,” Bishop said in 2013. “If you don’t pay, they’re coming after you with guns.” He was “sick of my taxes being used to fund

Go read the rest.

So far, most of the network’s “straight” news has been OK. Not particularly great, sometimes with obvious holes and slants, but OK. IRN, however, is now a shell of its former self.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  React from John Tillman at the Illinois Policy Institute…

I find it ironic on a story regarding journalistic integrity and advocacy that neither Miner or you properly notes that this is only his “claim” and there is no evidence to support it beyond his word as a terminated employee. There is obviously another side to the story but employers are almost always prevented by labor law from commenting.

For my part anyway, I wrote that Gregory “says” he was fired for the above reason. Not sure why I’m lumped in there.

*** UPDATE 2 *** More from Tillman…

John Gregory was terminated by me with a witness present. I state categorically that the reason Gregory gives for his terminations is not true. While I wish I could provide more details other than refuting his false claim, we cannot comment further on such personnel matters.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

NY turnout paled in comparison to Illinois’

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Illinois Review

With all the media attention, of the over 2,600,000 New Yorkers that went to the polls, 518,601 voted for Donald Trump and 1,037,344 voted for Clinton. […]

Illinois - which has a smaller population than New York - had 1,434,006 Republicans vote on March 15th. Of those, 556,000 voted for Donald Trump.

In the Democratic primary, 2,015,647 participated, with 1,017,006 voting for Hillary Clinton.

Altogether, 3,449,653 voters participated in the Illinois primary. Nearly 1 million more than in New York

Several people think turnout was so strong in Illinois because of the impasse. Voters are mad as heck and they turned out in huge numbers to express it. Also, too (in the city), Rahm. And (among Republicans and some ultra-liberal Dems) Obama. Then there’s the Trump factor in both parties (sparking turnout in support and opposition).

Maybe. But something surely happened here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Candidate censured for “half-truthful, vulgar and destructive campaign of terror”

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* OK, things are really getting weird now. The St. Clair County Republican Central Committee has voted to censure 114th House District Republican candidate Bob Romanik, who has personally deposited over $2 million into his own campaign account. Press release…

The St. Clair County Republican Central Committee (SCCRCC) has voted to censure Bob Romanik, Candidate for State Representative in the 114th Legislative District, after his attacks on the Republican Party, its elected officials, and candidates escalated in the last month.

“Bob Romanik has demonstrated that he is only interested in a self-serving agenda and is not interested in improving our county,” said Doug Jameson, Chairman of the SCCRCC. “He is using the electoral process to execute his own personal vendetta for past legal troubles.”

By issuing this censure, the Republican Party of St. Clair County is officially breaking all ties to Romanik, a lifelong Democrat who is attempting to run as a Republican in the 114th Legislative District following his run-ins with local Democratic leadership.

“His half-truthful, vulgar and destructive campaign of terror works to destroy anyone who does not agree with him,” Jameson continued. “The Republican Party is a party of inclusion, ideas and growth–not destruction, which is why the Central Committee voted almost unanimously to rebuke and censure him.”
After listing a series of offences, the Censure concluded: “Therefore the St. Clair County Central Committee expresses its official displeasure and vehement disapproval of the aforesaid language, actions and behavior of Bob Romanik, and adopts this measure as a formal and stern rebuke. This rebuke carries with it the following actions:

    • The SCCRCC will not support nor endorse Bob Romanik’s election in any way.
    • Bob Romanik and his representative will be denied attendance to any official meeting or event conducted by the SCRCC.
    • Bob Romanik’s name will not appear on any official SCCRCC list of Republican candidates.
    • SCCRCC will make no financial contributions to Bob Romanik’s campaign nor receive contributions from Bob Romanik.”

“Mr. Romanik’s language and behaviors have become so unacceptable and outrageous that this decision was absolutely necessary to send a clear message that no individual will be allowed to use the electoral process, which people have died for to protect, for personal vengeance,” said Chairman Doug Jameson. “It is hypocrisy to fight a ‘Culture of Corruption’ by using the same methods as the ‘Culture of Corruption’.”

“This election is a critical one for the people of St. Clair County. Voters want real change and the Republican Party is the voice of that change. Bob Romanik does not represent the St. Clair County Republican Party. By taking this action, we are taking a stand for decency and honesty. “

* The list of particulars…

• Republican Candidate for State Representative, Bob Romanik has proclaimed on his radio show “I am not a Republican” and “I am a Democrat”.

• At a meeting called to discuss “The Future of the Republican Party” on April 6th, Romanik said, “[F—] the Republican Party.”

• Romanik has intimidated political persons, which whom he does not agree, with threats of character assassination.

• Romanik verbally assaulted a Republican candidate for Judge on April 6th.

• Romanik on his radio show on April 7, malign the character of the Chairman of the Republican Central Committee with materially false statements.

• Romanik has stated at a SCCRCC event that he intends to give Democratic Precinct Committeemen $5,000 each to work their Precincts in East St. Louis.

• Romanik has caused the printing, public distribution and mailing of tasteless imagery of public officials in contradiction to any standards of decency of our Party.

• Romanik continuously uses profane language on and off the air in a political context that does not reflect proper decorum of our Party.

• Romanik has hosted a fundraiser for a Democratic candidate for County Board in opposition to a Republican candidate for the same office.

If Mr. Romanik would like to respond, I’d be more than happy to publish it here. But no profanity, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Happy 4/20!

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* I’m definitely not a fan of decriminalization because I’d much rather have full legalization to stop the illegal (and too often violent) growing and distribution network and bring in more money for the state. But, whatevs. Baby steps, I suppose. Tribune

The Illinois Senate took another stab at decriminalizing marijuana statewide, approving a measure Tuesday aimed at satisfying Gov. Bruce Rauner’s concerns that led him to veto a similar bill last year.

The idea is that people caught with small amounts of marijuana would be fined instead of receiving jail time. The first-term Republican governor contended the old version would have let people carry too much marijuana and set fines too low.

The new edition drops the number of grams allowed from 15 to 10 and raises the range of fines from $55 to $125 to between $100 and $200.

Opponents argued that amount was still too lax, saying it was the equivalent of as many as 20 cigarette-sized joints. Supporters joked about that.

“Quite frankly, they can be different sizes,” said sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago. “One of my colleagues says the way she would roll them, it’d be about three.”

I honestly have no idea how many joints are in a gram. I even used the Google and still didn’t find anything certain. But Sen. Steans is right that they can be different sizes.

Either way, so what?

* More

If the measure passes the Illinois House, it would follow action by more than 100 Illinois communities – plus 20 other states and the District of Columbia – which have already removed criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession, the statement said.

“Serious penalties should be reserved for people who commit serious crimes, not used to punish marijuana consumers. Nobody should face a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” said Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst Chris Lindsey.

* Oh, brother

Critics say the measure treats marijuana less seriously than alcohol and could lead to problems with addiction.

The full roll call is here.

* I’ll close with a GQ interview of the late, great Merle Haggard discussing Willie Nelson and weed

GQ: What do you think motivates Willie? What do you makes him tick deep down?

Merle Haggard: Marijuana. [laughs]

GQ: There must be a bit more than that.

MH: He told me, and I don’t disagree with him, that had we not smoked pot during our life then we would probably be dead from drinking whiskey or smoking Camels… And there’s a lot of reasons they don’t want you to smoke it. The people who make the valium, they don’t want you smoking something you can grow in your [expletive deleted] garden, and the whiskey people don’t want you doing something you can do without using their brand.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - CTU not impressed *** CPS asks union for binding arbitration

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

*** UPDATE ***  ABC 7

In a statement, a CTU spokeswoman called the request a “publicity stunt.”

“We have hundreds of members in Springfield right now fighting for revenue,” the statement said. “CTU does not have binding interest arbitration because we choose to negotiate and write our own contracts—plus police and fire, as he referenced, cannot strike. We can’t say we’re interested in this until we know the rules of arbitration and under what terms.”

OK, then get them the rules and terms.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* From Chicago Public Schools…

April 20, 2016
Karen Lewis
Chicago Teachers Union
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400 Chicago, Illinois 60654
Re: Proposal for Final and Binding Arbitration In Lieu of Strike

Dear Karen,

We are disappointed that the CTU decided to reject the Fact Finder’s recommendation. We are also aware of your public comments that the “clock is ticking” toward a strike. In our view a strike whether in May or in August or in September would be devastating to our students and parents. Further, we are at a loss as to how a strike would solve or even advance a solution to the considerable challenges that CPS faces. The best course is for CPS and CTU to join together in Springfield for long term sustainable funding for our schools. A strike is counterproductive and would only fuel the anti-CPS forces in Springfield.

To avoid disruption to our schools and to advance our partnership in Springfield, we are asking that CTU agree to final and binding interest arbitration in lieu of a strike. As you know, final and binding interest arbitration is permitted pursuant to section 12 (a-10) (d) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Interest Arbitration has been used in Chicago for our Police and Fire contracts for decades. I believe that teachers are just as important as our policemen and firemen. The extraordinary circumstances that CPS currently faces demands that we use every means available to avoid disruption to our schools and our families.

We very much hope that you will give this offer your serious consideration. We would be most appreciative if we could have your response by April 27, 2016.

Thank you.

Forrest Claypool
Chief Executive Officer

If they resolve this equitably with binding arbitration, it would go a long way to show that AFSCME’s very similar legislative proposal was right all along.

…Adding… So the other side, I suppose, is CTU’s desire to protect its right to strike, something that AFSCME was willing to give up. If the union rejects this arbitration offer, it’ll be signaling that the right to strike gives it more leverage and is more valuable than entering arbitration. But rejection will also show that opponents of the AFSCME bill may not be right when they claim that arbitration generally favors unions.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Stuff you may not know about Illinois

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* DataUSA has developed profiles of each state. The site has already sucked up a bunch of my time today. Have a look

Largest demographic living in poverty

    Female 25-34

14.4% of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Illinois (12.6M people) live below the poverty line. This is lower than the national average of 15.5%.

Largest race or ethnicity living in poverty


The most common race or ethnicity living below the poverty line in Illinois is White, followed by Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino. […]

93% of the population of Illinois are US citizens. This is approximately the same as the national average of 93%. […]

The most common non-English language is

    1. Spanish
    2. Polish
    3. Chinese

Illinois has a relatively high number of speakers of

    1. Polish
    2. Serbo-Croatian
    3. Gujarati

The most common language spoken in Illinois, other than English is Spanish. 22.6% of Illinois citizens are speakers of a non-English language. That is higher than the national average of 21.1%. […]

Most common [higher education] major is

    1. Registered Nursing
    2. General Psychology
    3. General Business Administration & Management

High relative number of people major in

    1. Agricultural Communication & Journalism
    2. Horticultural Science
    3. Other Applied Horticultural Business Services […]

65.5% of the housing units in Illinois are occupied by their owner. This is higher than the national average of 63.1%. […]

Commute Time
Average Travel Time

    27.4 minutes

Employees in Illinois have a longer average commute time than the national average of 24.9 minutes. 2.88% of the workforce in Illinois have “super commutes” in excess of 90 minutes. That is higher than the national average of 2.62%.

* Emphasis added for obvious reasons

Compared to other states, Illinois has an unusually high number of Podiatrists; Actuaries; and Cargo & freight agents. […]

The highest paid jobs in Illinois, by average salary, are Physicians & surgeons; Lawyers, & judges, magistrates, & other judicial workers; and Chief executives & legislators.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Local governments accidentally overpaid millions

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Unbelievable

At a time when Chicago Public Schools has been desperately seeking financial help from Springfield to avoid insolvency, it instead has received something else: a bill for $23.5 million.

The Illinois Department of Revenue also says the almost-as-strapped city of Chicago owes it $19.4 million in alleged overpayments, Cook County $6.5 million, and dozens of area school districts and communities lesser amounts, as much as a half-million dollars each. […]

Other city units that got too much include City Colleges of Chicago, a reported $1.7 million.

Suburban units that allegedly received too much include the Niles Township high school district, $577,000; the city of Aurora, $533,000; and the Bloom Township high school district, $397,000. Among other governments in the millionaires club were the city of Rockford, $2.8 million, and the Granite City school district near St. Louis, $1 million.

* More

The error, announced Tuesday by the Illinois Department of Revenue, is part of a misallocation of $168 million that had been distributed by the state to local governments since 2014.

The error affects about 6,500 taxing districts throughout Illinois, the agency said, and overpayment amounts are less than $10,000 for most of them. Just 10 taxing districts were overpaid by more than $1 million, including the city of Chicago, which was overpaid $19.4 million, and Cook County, which was overpaid $6.5 million.

The Chicago Park District received $5.6 million more than it should have, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District was overpaid $5 million. […]

The revenue department said the misallocation was the result of a paperwork error and was discovered as the agency was implementing a new ledger system.

* Department of Revenue press release…

A recent tax system modernization initiative at the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) has uncovered a misallocation to the Personal Property Replacement Tax (PPRT) Fund that began under the Quinn administration. The error has resulted in overpayment of an estimated $168 million to the taxing districts that receive PPRT disbursements. The over allocation was identified during IDOR’s implementation of a new general ledger system, designed to enhance accuracy and efficiency at the Department.

Approximately 6,500 districts are impacted by the misallocation that began in 2014. For 5,291 Illinois taxing districts, the individual taxing district’s total overpayment amounts to less than $10,000. For 10 taxing districts, however, the overpayment totaled $1 million or more. In 2014, the total amount of PPRT distributed to taxing districts was $1.37 billion, and in 2015 the amount was $1.43 billion.

“We are certainly sensitive to the impact recouping these funds will have on some of our taxing districts,” said Connie Beard, IDOR Director. “We will be working with the impacted taxing districts to establish a plan to recapture the funds over an extended period of time. The Auditor General’s regularly scheduled Financial and Compliance Audit of the Department began today, and we have fully disclosed the calculation error to the auditors for appropriate review.”

The miscalculation occurred under the prior administration following the passage of Public Act 098-0478. The statutory change resulted in the discontinuation of Form IL-1000 and revisions to Forms IL-1065 and IL-1120-ST, which caused calculation errors associated with the payments for these forms.

Personal property replacement taxes (PPRT) are revenues collected by the State of Illinois and paid to local governments to replace money that was lost by local governments when their powers to impose personal property taxes on corporations, partnerships, and other business entities was abolished in the 1970 Constitution.

The full list can be viewed by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016

* Follow the weirdness with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

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Rauner on Dunkin’s loss

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* From the Morris Herald

Pointing out how critical it will be for Republicans to win seats in the upcoming election, Rauner referred to the contentious March primary race in which state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, lost his seat.

He said Dunkin lost because he didn’t show up in Springfield for a potential veto override of a Madigan-backed bill designed to limit the governor’s control in negotiating with state employee unions.

“We were able to get one Democrat off of the override, so my veto stood,” Rauner said. “But the Democrat leadership got so cranky … they took him out of the primary. This is the Chicago machine power that we’re dealing with.”

Dunkin also missed another vote that day, to fund the state’s child care assistance program. In the end, nobody but Rauner stood up for him, which was telling.

* Related…

* Rauner ally Dunkin has $1.2M in campaign fund — what will he do with it?: Dunkin did not return phone messages Monday and was listed as an excused absence at the Capitol.

* In Defeat, State Rep. Ken Dunkin Kept A Million-dollar Consolation Prize: “It’s very unusual,” says Kent Redfield, a retired political science professor and a longtime observer of money in Illinois politics. “People are going to speculate as to exactly what was going on,” says Redfield. “Was there an arrangement? Is this a golden parachute?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Cleaning up Pat Quinn’s mess

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* AP

A state audit has found that anti-violence programs administered by former Gov. Pat Quinn lost nearly $4 million in questionable expenses or unspent funds never collected.

The review released Tuesday by Auditor General Frank Mautino covered three programs designed to fight violence, including the “Neighborhood Recovery Initiative” that Quinn’s office developed in 2010 as he was running for election to a full term. Questions about program spending helped defeat his 2014 re-election bid.

The audit found problems with how grant recipients were chosen, how contracts were written, how spending was monitored and how unspent funds went uncollected.

Other than that it was fine.


The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

A tried and true template for ending the carnage

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Pennsylvania has a wealthy Democratic governor and a conservative Republican-controlled legislature. Its long impasse finally ended recently when minority party Democrats aligned with the Republican legislative majority

House Republicans had threatened an override attempt if [Gov. Tom Wolf] vetoed their budget closure package, emboldened by the fact that 13 Democrats had joined them to pass it last week, just hours after Wolf promised a full veto.

The GOP would have needed 16 Democratic votes to override a veto, and top House Republican staffers felt they were within reach of dealing Wolf a politically embarrassing defeat.

Wolf sidestepped questions about that threat Wednesday, saying only that his change of heart was in response to pressure “to do the right thing” by all the interested parties in the dispute.

Publicly, at least, House and Senate Democratic leaders voiced confidence that they could have sustained a veto. But they also readily admitted they didn’t want that fight, and appealed to Wolf to avoid it in recent days.

* And now in Kansas

After he became Kansas governor in 2011, Sam Brownback slashed personal income taxes on the promise that the deep cuts would trigger a furious wave of hiring and expansion by businesses.

But the “shot of adrenaline” hasn’t worked as envisioned, and the state budget has been in crisis ever since. Now many of the same Republicans who helped pass Brownback’s plan are in open revolt, refusing to help the governor cut spending so he can avoid rolling back any of his signature tax measures.

If Brownback won’t reconsider any of the tax cuts, they say, he will have to figure out for himself how to balance the budget in the face of disappointing revenue.

“Let him own it,” Republican Rep. Mark Hutton said. “It’s his policy that put us there.”

We’ve seen the same thing happen here over and over again. Child care, local government funding, whatever. When our legislators in the same party as our governor rise up and say “Enough!” they get their way.

The movement we’ve seen the past week or so is due in significant part to them. Not all of it, but a lot of it.

Keep it up.

…Adding… The fact that two House Republicans have now signed on to a Democratic higher education funding plan probably guarantees that the bill will move forward. The Rauner folks say they have no problem with the HGOP co-sponsorship.

However, and this is a big however, Democratic Sen. Pat McGuire helped draft the plan sponsored in the House by Republican Rep. Fortner. Also, the Senator who represents the U of I is a Democrat, and he’s likely very unhappy that the House Democratic proposal doesn’t give a dime to his university.

In the end, the Republican plan may be the way to go. Not sure yet, though. They could amend the Democratic bill in the Senate to make it more like Fortner’s.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Beware another criss-cross

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Keep in mind that the House is preparing to approve HJRCA 5, which does the same thing

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) told reporters in a press conference at the State Capitol Tuesday that he expected Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 29 to be heard on the Senate floor later this week. SJRCA 29 would abolish the office of lieutenant governor in Illinois, adding it to Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wyoming, which do not have the office.

Cullerton was confident his measure would pass out of a Senate subcommittee Tuesday as well as Executive Committee Tuesday afternoon.

“As most people know, I have been successful regarding consolidation on local governments starting in 2013, when I ran SB 494 that looked to consolidate local governments within DuPage County. This is a followup on that effort. The savings we estimate will be $1.6 million a year.”

The measure will go to referendum on this November’s ballot if passed by the Senate and House.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

Lots of moving parts in proposed Lucas deal

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Greg Hinz lays out everything that will have to happen before George Lucas can build his museum at McCormick Place

If not for the deal, McPier would have to finance more than $200 million in needed maintenance in the Lakeside Center, which is east of Lake Shore Drive—money the agency doesn’t have, they said. But to get that money, the city is cutting an unusual deal with museum patron George Lucas, a deal that will have to be approved not just in Chicago but in deadlocked Springfield.

Under the plan, Lucas would front the city the $743 million that construction of the museum was estimated to cost at its original lakefront site. McPier then would borrow about $1.17 billion, using the Lucas money as collateral of sorts.

Roughly $500 million would be spent for the new convention space at King Drive and $665 million to partially demolish and cap Lakeside Center and to build the museum and related green space on top.

The city would pay that and related debt service on the bonds. But eventually, more money would be needed; Koch and Healey said it would come from shifting to McPier a 2 percent hotel tax that originally was imposed to build U.S. Cellular Field for the White Sox. That levy, which now goes to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, would go to McPier after 2032, when it is due to expire, and be continued through 2066.

In addition, Emanuel wants to extend McPier’s tax authorization power to 2066. And, in exchange, the agency would give up after 2022 $15 million in state “incentive” funding it gets to lure conventions here.

All of that would have to be approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rauner.

* Mayor Emanuel is publicly optimistic

Legislators who are up for re-election in November likely would fear being tarred as tax-and-spend politicians if they voted for the mayor’s museum plan, but Emanuel contended Tuesday that it’s visitors, not city residents, who are being taxed — even though many tourists come from the suburbs and downstate.

“There’s a hotel tax, which is visitors that come to the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said. “And so fees that already exist, it’s not new taxes.”

Emanuel also described the spending as a way to keep the city prosperous.

“I would say the right thing to do is invest in the future,” Emanuel said. “While Springfield has its challenges, those challenges do not inhibit the ability to grow the cultural, educational and business and economic future of the city in Chicago. One of the largest employers in the city is the convention and hospitality industry.”

* Hal Dardick at the Trib is not optimistic

The mayor’s new plan got a noncommittal reception at the Capitol, where spokesmen for House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, said they’d have to look at the details before commenting. A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner declared the matter “under review.”

The list of unresolved issues in Springfield is long, with school funding, a CPS bailout, lack of a major construction program, the budget impasse and Rauner’s pro-business, union-weakening agenda at the top.

Given that, Laurence Msall, president of the nonpartisan Civic Federation budget watchdog group, questioned whether the mayor’s plan was coming at an appropriate time.

“In the midst of a state budget crisis that has prevented the legislature from addressing some of the most basic requests of the city of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools, it is difficult to see how this enormous request for state resources fits into the priorities of the city and the state of Illinois’ financial crisis,” Msall said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Lipinski says he’ll vote for Sanders if convention’s contested

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Bernie Sanders also won the 13th Ward, but there’s been no word from Speaker Madigan about what he plans to do. Lynn Sweet

Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., a “superdelegate” to the Democratic National Convention, said if there is a contested convention, he will be for Bernie Sanders because he won his congressional district in the Illinois primary.

Every Illinois House member is a superdelegate, a nickname given to the Democratic Party honchos who automatically are delegates to the convention, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia July 25-28. […]

“As a Democratic member of Congress, I have a vote at the Democratic National Convention as a superdelegate. Before the Illinois primary I told Democrats in the 3rd District that I decided that I would pledge my vote to whichever candidate won the district,” Lipinski told the Sun-Times in an email.

“When the votes were counted, Sen. Bernie Sanders received 54 percent and Secretary Hillary Clinton received 45 percent in my district. Therefore, if there is a contested vote at the Democratic National Convention in July, I will vote for Sen. Sanders.”

If that doesn’t make your head spin, I don’t know what will. I mean the logic is sound, but Lipinski isn’t otherwise a hipster Bernie dude.

* And speaking of the convention, here’s Lynn Sweet again

Duckworth said she will attend the Democratic National Convention, which runs from July 25-28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. I’m expecting Duckworth to be assigned a prime-time speaking slot

* Meanwhile, Lynn Sweet looks at a Mark Kirk superpac

The Independent Voice for Illinois has raised $868,100 since it was founded last year and has $663,204 cash on hand. Its main expense is payments to a firm run by Eric Elk, Kirk’s former chief of staff.

“The Independent Voice for Illinois PAC works to elect individuals who represent the common sense values of Prairie State citizens,” Elk told me in an email.

The biggest donation to the group, $100,000, came from the Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., whose chairman, Robert Murray, donated to Kirk’s 2010 Senate campaign.

Sweet gets more political scoops per person-hour than anyone I know.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Things really are getting better here

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* From Sarah Leiseca at the Pew Charitable Trusts…


The Pew Charitable Trusts’ “Fiscal 50” interactive today updated its 50-state personal income data. The latest figures show that states have benefited unevenly from the nation’s long-running economic expansion. Personal income in all states is higher than before the Great Recession, even though a handful of state economies faltered at the end of 2015.

Adjusted for inflation, personal income in 21 states has expanded faster than in the nation as a whole since the start of the recession. Only in mid-2015 did the final state—Nevada—recover its personal-income losses and return to its pre-recession level.

In the latest year of this post-recession expansion, personal income in all but six states – Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming – continued to make gains.

Click here to see the charts.

* If you sort by growth rate since the Great Recession, Illinois finishes second to last, ahead of only Nevada.

However, if you sort by growth rate over the past year, Illinois is 16th best.

* Blue is growth rate since the recession, green is the 2015 growth rate

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Maybe now we know why things heated back up in January

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* That graduated income tax poll we talked about yesterday had some more responses which I didn’t have yesterday. For instance…

Now, I’m going to read a list of public figures and organizations. For each, I would like you to tell me if you have a generally favorable, neutral, or generally unfavorable opinion of that person or organization. If you’ve never heard of that person or group, please say so.

The responses…

Keep in mind the poll was taken in January. I wish it woulda asked specifically about Speaker Madigan, but the more generic “Democrats in the State Legislature” outpolled Rauner back then? And unions outpolled everything and everyone including President Obama? Interesting.

* More…

As you may know, Governor Bruce Rauner and the state legislature have not been able to agree on a budget. Who do you believe is more to blame for the lack of a state budget?


These sorts of numbers may have been why Rauner came roaring back from the holiday break, blasting Democrats wherever he went in January (and February, and March…). It was a distinct contrast to December, when folks seemed to be trying to keep a lid on stuff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Nuclear Energy: Vital for Illinois’ Clean Power Plan Goals

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Even with the clean air contributions of its current nuclear energy facilities, Illinois is expected to decrease its CO2 emissions by 31 percent by 2030 under the U.S. EPA’s pending Clean Power Plan – the equivalent of removing 5.7 million cars off the road, or more than all of the current passenger cars in the state. Losing any nuclear energy facilities would be a major setback. Here are the facts about nuclear energy in Illinois:

    o Nuclear energy is the single greatest provider of clean air energy in Illinois, producing 92 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity.

    o To replace the carbon-free electricity produced by just one nuclear facility, Illinois would have to build a solar farm larger than Springfield or install windmills five miles deep along the state’s entire shoreline of Lake Michigan.

    o If all of Illinois’ nuclear energy facilities were to close, it would result in a 130-million megawatt-hour shortage of carbon-free electricity – enough to power more than 11 million homes or twice the number of homes in Illinois!

Nuclear is an irreplaceable part of Illinois’ energy portfolio. Click here to learn more about the value of nuclear energy and its importance to Illinois in meeting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan requirements.

- CASEnergy Coalition

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Take the poll and then explain your choice in comments, please. Let’s treat this as a sort of Rorschach test…

“Frown”         “Smile”

feedback surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Here comes the criss-cross?

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Sen. Kwame Raoul’s proposed constitutional amendment to change the remap process is up for a subject matter only hearing today. But he told me this morning that he intends to call it for a vote

Proposes to amend the Legislature Article of the Illinois Constitution concerning the decennial redistricting of Legislative and Representative Districts. Provides that the Senate, by resolution, instead of “the General Assembly by law”, shall divide the Legislative Districts into 3 groups for the determination of terms of office. Eliminates the requirement that Legislative Districts be divided into 2 Representative Districts. Provides criteria for creating districts. Provides for the General Assembly to redistrict Legislative and Representative Districts by law by June 20. If that fails, provides for the Senate to redistrict Legislative Districts and the House to redistrict Representative Districts, each by resolution adopted by three-fifths of the members elected. If no resolution is adopted by July 20, provides for a Senate or House Redistricting Commission to redistrict by August 20. If that fails, provides for a Special Master. If that fails or a bill, resolution, or plan is invalidated, the General Assembly may redistrict by law. Requires hearings and allows for the public to submit plans. Further proposes to amend the Legislature Article of the Illinois Constitution concerning the decennial redistricting of Congressional Districts. Provides criteria for creating districts. Provides for the General Assembly to redistrict Congressional Districts by law by June 20. If that fails, provides for a Special Master. If that fails or a bill or plan is invalidated, the General Assembly may redistrict by law. Requires hearings and allows for the public to submit plans. Effective upon being declared adopted.

The “criss-cross” is an age-old play. The House passes one version of a reform, while the Senate passes another. Members in both chambers claim they voted for a reform, but nothing ever gets done.

This isn’t the first time Sen. Raoul has pushed this particular remap reform idea. It failed in the House by a single vote a while back, mainly because of GOP opposition. Because of the Jack Franks proposal and the Independent Maps petition drive, I doubt the GOP will climb on board this time, either.

Raoul told me he “doesn’t like” Rep. Franks’ proposal. I’m hearing he wants to kill the Franks proposal, but this will all be up to Senate President John Cullerton, a big fan of partisan redistricting.


- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

React to Munger move publicly muted

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* You’re not going to hear too many legislators gripe about Comptroller Leslie Munger’s decision to put legislative paychecks in the same pile as all other overdue state bills

“I don’t think anybody’s fazed by it. What we have to do, we will do,” said Democratic Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, an attorney. “She has a difficult re-election ahead of her and she’s looking for every chance she can get to get her name in the paper. It’s what we all do in the political world, but it should just be called what it is.” […]

“I’ll do what the families in my districts have done over the last year. Lean on the credit cards, lean on friends and family,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago. “My girlfriend will have to take me out to dinner every once and a while. It’ll be tough, but it’s tough all over.”

Rep. Jaime Andrade, D-Chicago, said his legislative salary is his family’s only source of income.

“At least I know I might get a check down the line, but I have residents who know they will never get a check,” Andrade said. “For me, this might be a difficult situation, but for others it’s worse.”

* Mark Brown explains

As much as state lawmakers might be exasperated with Munger’s maneuver, some of them no doubt seething privately over the projected two-month delay in their paychecks, nobody running for election in November is going to want to challenge her populist decision. […]

As much as state lawmakers might be exasperated with Munger’s maneuver, some of them no doubt seething privately over the projected two-month delay in their paychecks, nobody running for election in November is going to want to challenge her populist decision.

I’ve talked to some legislators about this as well, and many expressed real private worry about their personal financial future. They also know that Munger has plenty of money, as does the governor, the House Speaker and the Senate President, along with the two top GOP leaders. Those folks won’t suffer a minute.

* This, however, is an interesting comment

State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) supports her fellow Republican’s decision and said she hopes it brings lawmakers closer to a compromise.

“This is probably something that should have happened back in January,” Bryant said.

That’s pretty much what Munger’s Democratic opponent said about it on Sunday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

Illinois Policy Institute lauds state jobs report

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* A mostly upbeat economic assessment from the Illinois Policy Institute? Yep

Illinois gained a net 14,700 payroll jobs in March, putting Illinois in the black for jobs in 2016, according to March data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The state unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent in March from 6.4 percent in February, driven by an increase of 9,600 Illinoisans who are unemployed.

Illinois’ March payroll jobs report revealed a second strong month in a row for the state. Illinois added 14,700 jobs on net, with significant gains in leisure and hospitality (+6,300); construction (+4,100); financial activities (+3,200); and trade, transportation and utilities (+2,800). Manufacturing was the only sector to show significant job losses (-3,100) with losses also coming from professional and business services (-1,400).

Illinois’ household survey data, which estimates the raw number of people employed and unemployed regardless of industry, showed Illinois’ workforce grew by 37,700 in March, with employment growing by 28,100 and unemployment growing by 9,600. The growth in the number of unemployed people is the reason the state’s unemployment rate ticked up in March to 6.5 percent from February’s 6.4 percent.

Given that Illinois’ workforce shrank consistently during the recession era, the recent expansion of the workforce is a positive sign, despite the fact that the growing workforce is contributing to Illinois’ rising unemployment rate

I almost choked.

* This may be why

Illinois’ workforce contracted by over 225,000 from before the beginning of the Great Recession and shrank by 61,000 in 2014 alone. The state’s workforce bottomed out in January 2015, just as Gov. Bruce Rauner took office. But since January 2015, Illinois’ workforce has grown by an impressive 157,400. It’s not immediately clear whether there is a relationship between the expansion of the state’s labor force and Rauner’s tenure as governor. However, a change in workforce sentiment has occurred, and this warrants further investigation.

A commenter wondered whether this represented a “pivot” to the Rauner is great and wonderful for Illinois! rhetoric.

If not, that’s pretty much what it will look like when it happens.

* But it wasn’t all upbeat

The manufacturing sector shed jobs in most states in the region, with Illinois having the second-worst loss of any state. Only Wisconsin had an especially strong showing on the manufacturing front, gaining more than 4,000 manufacturing jobs. […]

Illinois continues to have the weakest manufacturing recovery in the region. All states experienced a manufacturing jobs bottom in 2009 or 2010. Since each state’s respective bottom, though, Illinois has had the worst manufacturing jobs recovery.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Bill would force automatic federal fund transfers to community colleges

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* One “benefit” of the impasse is everybody appears to be learning lots more about budget mechanics. This is a good idea…

Yesterday, the Illinois House of Representatives provided essential long-term assurance to community colleges in the state by passing HB 4675, which would ensure that all future federal dollars distributed to the State of Illinois for Adult Education and Career and Technical Education are timely appropriated to community colleges, even in lieu of a state budget. Currently, these funds are coded within the Comptroller’s Office as “special funds” rather than “federal funds,” which had previously compromised their ability to be distributed in lieu of a higher education budget. Other similar technicalities within the fund distribution process were addressed by previous bills, but did not include the funds outlined specifically by HB 4675.

“While achieving a full and comprehensive state budget remains my highest priority as a legislator, I am very much committed to doing what I am able in the meantime to alleviate the burden of this current impasse, such as sponsoring and promoting legislation like HB 4675 so that institutions and organizations can continue to acquire as many of the resources they are entitled to as possible. I am especially proud to have had this opportunity to assist our community colleges in this way, as I have always been a tireless advocate for higher education in Illinois. There should be no reason for the state to delay the delivery of these federal dollars to their rightful owners, even in the midst of our own financial dysfunction,” said Unes (R-East Peoria).

Community colleges in Illinois have been especially impacted by the now ten-month absence of a state budget. In Representative Unes’ District, these colleges include Illinois Central College (East Peoria) and Spoon River College (Canton).

“Having these federal funds not be held up by other budget discussions allows our community college to plan for future offerings of Adult Education and Literacy Programming. In addition, we are better able to budget for expansion and enhancement of our Career and Technical Education programs. Each of these programs has a direct impact on our regional economy and enhances Spoon River College’s ability to have an educated workforce available for our region’s employers. Not having a hold on these funds allows us to put those federal dollars to work immediately,” said Curt Oldfield, President of Spoon River College.

Currently, 45% of Spoon River College’s budget for its Adult Education programs is comprised of federal dollars, and amounts to about $65,000 annually. They also receive approximately $79,965 in federal Perkins funds, which support their Career and Technical Education programs.

According to Illinois Central College (ICC) Interim President Bruce Budde, ICC receives roughly $400,000 annually in federal subsidies for its own programs of this kind

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Madigan advances his constitutional amendment

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Illinois Public Radio

The constitution currently says the state has the “primary responsibility” to fund early education through high school. However, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled it’s a goal, not a mandate. Property taxes pay for most of the public school funding while the state covers about a third of the total.

Madigan said he wants to change the wording so it says education is a fundamental right and it’s the duty of the state to provide it.

“If approved by the voters, the state would be required to fund 51 percent of the cost of education,” he said. Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said the state would have to come up with billions more to put into education.

Madigan said the legislature could manage how to make this change from relying on property taxes. But Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, said he thinks it would be a challenge to push up its share of state funding quickly if voters approved the amendment.

“Do you think it would be more difficult than the situation we’re in today,” Madigan said.

“If we were required to double the educational funding, I would argue that it would put us in a much more difficult situation,” Sosnowski replied.

The bill passed the committee on a partisan rollcall.

Reps. Ives and Sosnowski are both probably right. It’s hard to argue with the idea behind this. Illinois should’ve been doing it all along. But if the courts order the state to provide 50 percent plus a dollar of all school spending (without any way of reining in that spending), it’ll likely cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Sen. Kirk responds *** Poll: Illinoisans overwhelmingly favor criminal justice reforms

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

*** UPDATE *** From US Sen. Mark Kirk…

“As Senator for Illinois, I am working with some of the most conservative and liberal voices to do what is right. We are spending about $60,000 per prisoner every year in Illinois to incarcerate individuals who leave prison more dangerous than when they arrived - everyone knows this system is broken. Here at home, we cannot allow another generation of kids to be plagued by gang violence, so the new criminal justice reform bill directs more attention to fight gangs of national significance in Chicagoland.”

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Press release…

A new poll released today by the U.S. Justice Action Network, the largest bipartisan organization working on criminal justice reform, shows that registered Illinois voters overwhelmingly support reforms that would fix the state’s criminal justice system. Voters strongly believe that, as a result of mandatory minimum practices, Illinois’ current system imprisons too many people for too long and that judges should have greater discretion in determining sentences. The poll, conducted by Fako Research & Strategies, revealed strong support for reform among Republican and Democratic voters, in addition to bipartisan agreement that the goal of our criminal justice system should be rehabilitation.

“This poll reveals a mandate for criminal justice reform in Illinois,” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the U.S. Justice Action Network. “The prison population has exploded over the last few decades, and yet we aren’t seeing the public safety return that we deserve. So it’s no surprise that an overwhelming number of voters from the far left to the far right support policies that would reduce prison sentences for low-risk, non-violent offenses and offer more rehabilitation programs for those leaving incarceration. In light of this polling data, we urge lawmakers to take action to support these needed changes to our broken system.”

Among the poll’s top findings include:

    * 94% of Illinois voters agree that the justice system should offer more rehabilitation and job training for individuals convicted of low-level, non-violent offenses so that when they re-enter society, they can get jobs, turn away from crime, and get off the taxpayers’ dime.

    * 92% of Illinois voters – including 92% of Democrats, 96% of Republicans and 93% of Independents – favor reducing prison time for individuals convicted of low-risk, non-violent offenses in Illinois prisons. They support reinvesting some of those savings to create a stronger probation and parole system that holds offenders accountable for their crimes.

    * 87% of Illinois voters– including 89% of Democrats, 91% of Republicans and 86% of Independents – would support replacing mandatory minimum sentences with sentencing ranges so that judges can weigh the individual circumstances of each case, such as seriousness of the offense and the offender’s criminal history, when determining the penalty.

    * 83% of Illinois voters – including 82% of Democrats, 88% of Republicans and 82% of Independents – support sending fewer individuals who commit low-risk, non-violent offenses to Illinois prisons so that state funding can be used to keep violent criminals in prison for their full sentence.

    * 85% of Illinois voters support spending some of the money Illinois is spending on locking up non-violent offenders should be shifted to strengthening mandatory community supervision programs like probation and parole.

    * 90% of Illinois voters – including 92% of Democrats, 90% of Republicans and 92% of Independents – agree that we should break down barriers for ex-offenders so they can get jobs, support their families, and stop being dependent on government services that cost Illinois taxpayers money.

“Criminal justice reform is an issue where Illinois voters recognize the problem that we spend too much tax money keeping non-violent criminals behind bars. Voters also strongly agree that the main goal of our criminal justice system should be rehabilitation,” said Dave Fako, of polling firm Fako Research Strategies.

This poll comes at a time when Illinois is weighing up significant changes to their justice system through recommendations from the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. With U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin leading the charge on federal reforms, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk recently announcing his support, and Gov. Rauner looking to cut the prison population by 25 percent, Illinois is emerging as a leader on justice reform.

“The results of this poll affirm what Gov. Rauner believed when he within the first days of his election worked with Sen. Raoul and others to create the commission,” said Rodger Heaton, Illinois Director of Public Safety, Chair of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. “This poll and its results will go a long way towards helping the Commissioners consider even more challenging reforms to our system and to stop what we think has been an over reliance on incarceration.”

“Illinois residents clearly recognize we need to rethink and rework who we put behind bars and why,” said State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13th). “Our current system has devastated our communities and not improved public safety. We should pass reforms that ensure our system provides hope and redirection for low-level offenders who do not need to be imprisoned or who should not return once they are released, and to ensure the violent, dangerous criminals are locked away where they cannot continue to wreak havoc on our streets.”

“This poll reinforces the ACLU’s own polling numbers – the public is ready for leaders to take bold steps to safely reduce our prison population and support programs that reduce the number of individuals who return to prison,” said Ben Ruddell, Criminal Justice Policy Attorney, ACLU of Illinois. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Justice Action Network and other bipartisan advocates to advance proposals that will keep us safe and refocuses our justice system on rehabilitation.”

“Illinois spent $1.4 billion in taxpayer money last year but this poll shows that voters realize their justice system is not spending this money wisely,” said Derek Cohen, Deputy Director, Right on Crime. “Voters in the state are urging lawmakers to pass policies that create alternatives to incarceration which are more cost effective and provide better results.”

This is a Fako & Associates poll, so it’s trustworthy.

* A few other noteworthy items I picked from the pollster’s memo

Reform marijuana laws so that those who possess or use marijuana are provided alternatives to incarceration such as probation and treatment options. (83% Total Support, 62% Strongly Support)

People convicted of possessing a small amount of drugs shouldn’t automatically go to prison, but have the chance at participating in probation and drug treatment. (87% Agree, 69% Strongly Agree)

One‐quarter (26%) of voters believe the Illinois criminal justice system needs “A Complete Overhaul.” One‐third of voters (33%) believe that the Illinois criminal justice system needs “Major Reform” while another quarter of the electorate (26%) feels the system needs “Minor Reform.” One‐tenth of voters (9%) feel that the Illinois criminal justice system is “Working Pretty Well As It Is.”

Respondents were asked which of the following two statements came closest to their point of view regarding prison sentences

    Illinois has some of the most overcrowded prisons in the country and that our system needs to be reformed. Other states have created more effective, less expensive alternatives to prison for non‐violent offenders, and Illinois should consider making those changes to our system to save money and lower our crime rate.


    People who commit any crime belong behind bars, end of story. It may cost a lot of money to run prisons, but it would cost society more in the long run if more criminals were out on the street.

A solid majority (70%) of Illinois voters agree with the first statement that Illinois prisons are overcrowded, requiring reform for non‐violent offenders. Less than a quarter (22%) of voters agree more closely with the second statement that all criminals should be behind bars, end of story.

Likewise, a strong majority of Democrats (72%), Independents (76%), and Republicans (63%) indicate that their opinion comes closes to the first statement, that Illinois prisons are overcrowded.


* Related…

* Mitchell: Removing stain of arrest a step toward justice reform: And Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart — who put a national spotlight on the injustice of warehousing mentally ill offenders in the Cook County Jail — now is backing a bill to remove a provision of the law blocking anyone with a previous conviction from applying for an expungement… The bill now in Springfield doesn’t allow ex-offenders to erase a conviction. What it does, though, is waive the $120 fee required to apply for an expungement for those who have been released from jail, with the charges against them dropped… Though the expungement bill made it out of committee, supporters are getting pushback from the Illinois State Police and the Clerk of the Circuit Court. These agencies share revenue from expungement applications.

* Editorial: Government shouldn’t seize assets without greater proof of crime

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Republicans start to sign on *** Even more green shoots

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* Politico

HOPE FOR HIGHER ED? — “GOP proposes stopgap plan for higher ed,” Rich Miller:

– Rauner’s office says it supports this effort, which would draw some $600 million from an existing fund and divert it to stopgap higher ed spending and provide one semester’s worth of MAP grant funding. It would also include changes in procurement code, something the governor’s office has sought.

GLIMMER OF HOPE — House GOP Leader Jim Durkin tells Illinois Playbook that it isn’t all doom and gloom in Springfield: “Contrary to what the press reported last week, I felt the meeting of the leaders produced some positive results. More so than I’ve seen in a long time. I felt better about the level of discussion, I felt better about last week’s meeting than I have in some time. There was some progress made.” Durkin could not get into specifics: “I will leave it at that.”

Subscribers know more, but the train is definitely starting to chug a bit. Keep your fingers crossed.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  I’m told by a Rauner administration official that the budget office estimates that the Education Assistance Fund will have $600 million available to fund higher education by the end of Fiscal Year 2016. The Fortner plan and another pushed by House Black Caucus members both rely on the EAF for funding.

Here’s a comparison of what the two plans do

*** UPDATE 2 *** Two House Republicans have now signed on as hyphenated co-sponsors of Rep. Mayfield’s bill, Reps. Norine Hammond and Reggie Phillips.

Things are moving.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Man, I hope this works

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* The House Executive Committee unanimously approved Rep. Jack Franks’ remap reform proposal yesterday. Franks handed out this fact sheet comparing his plan to the Independent Map group’s proposed constitutional amendment…

Franks appears to have the best proposal out there right now.

* This is also good news

Bray said the Independent Maps coalition does not have a position on Franks’ proposal.

That’s the best that can be hoped for at the moment. They should continue gathering signatures and raising money until it becomes crystal clear that the Franks proposal will be on the ballot. At that point, if Franks addresses the issues raised in committee yesterday by Republicans and good government groups, this scenario ought to be avoided

What happens if both are put on the ballot?

Franks was asked that question at Monday’s hearing and said he’d “defer to counsel.”

What a nightmare that would be. What if they both passed? Worse, what if they both went down because of the confusion?

* This is also good news

Five organizations filed witness slips with the Executive Committee in support of Franks’ amendment, including Common Cause, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and the state Chamber of Commerce.

If Todd Maisch is for it, then partisan sniping can be overcome

Northern Illinois Republican state Rep. Ron Sandack says to really be fair, [House GOP Leader Jim Durkin’s remap reform] measure should also be considered by lawmakers.

“We ought to be debating something that’s been on file for a year — for a year — and let it have a full vetting and then compare and contrast,” Sandack said.

Sandack is the floor leader. He has to say stuff like that. But I think Franks is right that his is the better idea. Either way, work with Franks to amend his bill and let’s get this train moving now.

I supported a constitutional convention back in the day mainly because I believed we couldn’t get remap reform through the General Assembly. The possibility that the Independent Maps folks might succeed has prodded the House Democrats into action. I truly never thought I’d see this day, so nobody better mess it up. Seriously. Don’t mess this up!

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

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Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016

* And away we go. Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* More shenanigans!
* Saturday campaign money report
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Shenanigans!
* Tribune drops bombshell on Biss running mate
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner: "Madigan has rigged the Democratic primary for Pritzker"
* New Ives radio ad claims Democrats are trying to help Rauner, while Brady does Rauner robocall
* *** UPDATED x1 - DGA responds *** Elections board says DGA should file disclosure for Ives ad
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Jones; IEA/IFT; Reis; Mitchell; Edgar
* ISRA, Drury both try to claim Raoul inserted "poison pill" into gun bill
* Pro-life group launches GOTV effort for Lipinski
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner opens new online track against Ives
* Erika Harold still can't remember comments, but says "I was wrong"
* Rauner calls Madigan "a unified force of bad, of evil"
* Sen. Duckworth gets involved in another state central committee race
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Has Pritzker gone to ground?
* Illinois House Bill HB 4900 Wastes Government Resources
* McCann, barred from SGOP caucus meeting, claims Rauner threatened to "destroy you and your family"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Caption contest!
* Obama mailer kerfuffle in Lipinski district
* Rauner attended Quincy campaign event after Quincy veterans' home presser
* After spending millions in Dem primary, Rauner accuses "Washington liberals" of "hijacking" the GOP primary
* Yesterday's stories

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