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*** UPDATED x3 - Kerthunk! *** Where we stand now

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 9:09 pm - Senate Democratic rank and file pushed back very hard against Senate President Cullerton’s advocacy for Speaker Madigan’s budget bill, and as a result…

So now it becomes a test of wills between the Senate and the House. The Senate Democrats are tired of being forced to vote for a House budget for the umpteenth time, which is a big reason why the caucus rejected the House proposal. The Senate has advanced a stand-alone education bill to the floor which funds K-12 and higher education. But it’s not at all clear that it will pass the House if it clears the Senate because it provides $200 million a year for CPS pensions and the House just had to pull a $100 million subsidy out of the record because of widespread opposition.

There’s a procedural problem. The Senate’s stand-alone education funding bill is the last House appropriations bill the Senate has in its possession. Once that bill is sent across the building, it has no more bullets to fire. ADDED: The Senate has one more approp bill after this. Sorry about that. The House is sitting on, I believe, three Senate approp bills, so it has more options.

* I have no idea what’s going to happen next, which is why I love this stuff. The House could wind up forcing the Senate’s hand, or they could adjourn with nothing passing, or the Senate could find a way to get something else done. As always, keep an eye on our live coverage post for immediate updates.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  The Senate has passed its stand-alone education funding bill and soundly thumped the House’s approp bill.

*** UPDATE 2 *** So, what’s the next move? The House will take up the Senate’s stand-alone education funding bill. If that dies, Madigan’s spokesman says the next step will likely be to work on a stopgap budget with the governor’s office, which could take a week or two.

*** UPDATE 3 *** The House defeated the Senate’s stand-alone education bill by a lopsided 24-92 vote. Budget and non-budget working groups convene in the morning. Attempts will be made to structure a stopgap budget bill. More tomorrow.

And check out the governor’s public schedule for Wednesday…

Daily Public Schedule: June 1, 2016

What: Governor Discusses Fully Funded Stopgap Budget and Clean Education Bill
Where: Alton Mental Health Center
4500 College Ave, Alton
Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Time: 9:00 a.m.

What: Governor Discusses Fully Funded Stopgap Budget and Clean Education Bill
Where: Vienna Correctional Center
6696 State Route 146 E, Vienna
Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Time: 11:00 a.m.

What: Governor Discusses Fully Funded Stopgap Budget and Clean Education Bill
Where: Mahomet-Seymour CUSD#3 Administration Office
1301 S Bulldog Dr., Mahomet
Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Time: 1:15 p.m.

What: Governor Discusses Fully Funded Stopgap Budget and Clean Education Bill
Where: Quincy Board of Education
1416 Maine St, Quincy
Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Time: 3:30 p.m.

What: Governor Discusses Fully Funded Stopgap Budget and Clean Education Bill
Where: Tazewell County Sheriff Office
101 S. Capitol St., Pekin
Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Time: 5:15 p.m.


Watch the live coverage post

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’m not going to be updating much in a separate post because so much is going on in so many different directions. So, click here and watch our live coverage post to find out the latest.

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Rauner lays out his case

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Rauner listed some some pretty compelling reasons this afternoon during a Statehouse press conference why he believes the Democrats ought to pass his stopgap funding proposal. Speaker Madigan has said he would negotiate a temporary budget, but Madigan refused to advance it today.

According to Rauner, Senate President John Cullerton made it clear in the leaders meetings that the non-budget items shouldn’t be voted on until after the election. Quite a few of Rauner’s proposals are not backed by unions, and Cullerton doesn’t want to go against his allies during the election season.

OK, that’s fine, Rauner said. So, he said, let’s pass a stopgap budget to get the state through the rest of this fiscal year and the first half of next fiscal year - without those controversial Turnaround Agenda items. Keep state agencies from imploding. Make sure schools and universities open on time. Make sure human service providers have some funding. And then come back in November and start working again.

Like I said, that’s pretty compelling. I mean, what the heck is the harm in that, unless you truly do want a collapse?

* Rauner also re-started his attacks on House Speaker Michael Madigan, blaming him for high property taxes, unbalanced budgets, population exodus, high unemployment, and pretty much everything else under the sun.

“The Democrats have spent our state into the toilet for 30 years,” Rauner said. “We’re like a banana republic.”

But the hyper-partisan rhetoric aside, he made a reasonable argument.

* When I asked if the stopgap proposal would be taken off the table come June 1st, Rauner wouldn’t say. He also wouldn’t reveal any plans for special sessions.

The governor was asked about a possible bond rating downgrade, but he didn’t directly answer. However, a senior administration official told me, “If the majority fails to act today and the state suffers a credit downgrade because of it, every Democrat in the General Assembly will own that credit downgrade.”


*** LIVE *** Candidate filing deadline

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Our good pal Scott Kennedy is tracking legislative candidate filings today. As you already know, May 31st is the deadline to get on the November ballot, so legislators and many others are watching the filings closely to see who emerges. You can click here for real-time updates from the State Board of Elections, or just follow Kennedy’s posts right here with ScribbleLive


Hump day will also be session day

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Democratic leaders on Monday for the first time spoke of scheduled sessions in June, as the budget deadline ticks loudly and Republican leaders appear unlikely to agree with Democrats on a budget bill. […]

[House Speaker Michael Madigan] announced the House would be in session every Wednesday through June. Cullerton also said the Senate would be “available” to work through June. […]

Durkin said the Democrats are stalling because they’re focused on the 2018 gubernatorial election.

“I think it’s pretty clear just in talking to people in the building and outside the building is that they don’t want to see Gov. Rauner get re-elected,” Durkin said. “So it’s just my impression — ‘they’ meaning organized labor and also the Democrats who run both chambers.”

Madigan said the Wednesday sessions would begin next week. So, no session tomorrow unless the governor calls a special session. No word on that option yet. Stay tuned.


Question of the day

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Your one word prediction for the end of session?


Rezko still claims he was wrongfully convicted

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I had no idea that Tony Rezko was recently released from prison

More than 250 friends, family, political activists, and government officials attended a special “Welcome Home” celebration on May 12 to honor Antoine “Tony” Rezko who was released from Federal custody only one week earlier.

Rezko served 8.5 years in federal custody allegedly for illegally raising money for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who remains in a federal prison serving out a 14 year prison sentence.

In addressing the crowd at the posh Al Hambra Palace Restaurant just west of the Chicago Loop, Rezko told supporters that he was tried and convicted of a crime he did not commit.

“Even though I was indicted, tried and convicted of a crime I did not commit, I am very blessed. I am fortunate to have the friends I have. I am blessed to be born as a Rezko. I am fortunate and blessed to have Danny, Adam and Chenelle call me father. And I am indeed fortunate to share my life with Rita, my wife,” Rezko said naming members of his family who attended and also spoke at the event.


Ignoring a huge public health crisis

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Illinois Department of Public Health…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first bird to test positive for West Nile virus in Illinois for 2016. Douglas County Health Department employees collected the blue jay on May 20, 2015, in Arcola Township.

* Also from IDPH…

Bats are starting to become more active, which means the possibility of exposure to rabies is increasing. Bats are the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has already had 10 bats test positive for rabies this year.

* But isn’t this a far worse threat to public health?…

* Memorial Day weekend closes with 69 shot in Chicago, many of them on West Side

* 6 dead, 63 wounded in Memorial Day weekend shootings: Six people were killed, including a 15-year-old girl, and at least 63 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago over Memorial Day weekend.

* 69 shot over 76 hours: A look at every shooting over holiday weekend

* Thugs stalk couple at lakefront, ends in woman’s death

* 17-year-old boy shot in Little Village

* Holiday violence: ‘Every time you look up, it’s a shooting, it’s an innocent’

* Man, teen charged with string of North Side robberies: A man and teenage boy have been charged with committing four armed robberies in just over an hour this weekend on the North Side.

* Man, 29, stabbed on CTA bus

And that’s just a few of them. There’s more. Lots more.

* If we weren’t so insane in this state, we’d have an urgently coordinated response to this disaster.

So, no offense at all to IDPH. They have a tough job to do and they seem to be doing it well. But I’m far less worried about West Nile and rabies (and the 2014 campaign “issue” of Ebola) than I am about the future of my state’s largest city.


* Related…

* The History of Violence as a Public Health Issue

* The Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention

* Violence as a Public Health Risk

* Is Violence a Public Health Problem?


ComEd/Exelon: $1 Billion Guaranteed Profits On $2.4 Billion In Programs

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

 While Exelon’s $2.6 BILLION nuke bailout “reeks” as the Quad City Times editorialized, perhaps even more outrageous is that ComEd/Exelon’s so-called “Next Generation Energy Plan” GUARANTEES more than $1 billion in profits on program spending of just $2.4 billion for the first 10 years

Instead of passing-through expenses with no mark-up for programs like energy efficiency, which has been done for years, NGEP forces ratepayers to borrow from ComEd and then pay guaranteed profits with no risk.  It’s like a massive statewide predatory lending scheme. 

  • Energy Efficiency: ComEd earns $804 million in guaranteed profits over ten years (NGEP presentation p12).

  • Solar Rebate: ComEd earns $113 million in guaranteed profits over ten years (NGEP presentation p17). If a person or business invests their own money in solar panels, ComEd receives guaranteed profits on part of that investment.
  • Microgrids: ComEd earns $106 million in guaranteed profits over ten years (applied rate of return from other programs to Microgrid spending).

 In total, ComEd/Exelon’s bailout bill is a $7.74 BILLION RATE HIKE over ten years. 




 BEST Coalition is a 501C4 nonprofit group of dozens of business, consumer and government groups, as well as large and small businesses.  Visit

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The great salesman

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* May 25th

Amazon plans to more than double its presence in Joliet, adding a second warehouse that it says will add more than 2,000 full-time jobs to the 1,500 it announced last summer at its first Illinois warehouse.

And the state is rolling out the welcome mat, offering the online retail giant additional tax breaks expected to be worth at least $2 million a year for a decade. […]

Ikea and candy giant Mars also are building new distribution centers in the area, which has become a favorite for national retailers looking to serve the Chicago market, thanks to its transportation links and availability of affordable labor: Joliet in March had an 8.8 percent unemployment rate, well above the statewide average of 6.8 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. […]

Increased demand for its same-day Amazon Prime delivery service and competition from other Internet retail operations, including Wal-Mart, are pushing it to expand the number of warehouses it operates. In addition to the Joliet warehouse, it also on Wednesday announced additional distribution centers in California.

Loving the jobs, but a company with a $338.55 billion market cap really needs another million bucks a year from us to open yet another much-needed warehouse near a gigantic profit center?

* The Illinois Policy Institute wasn’t all that fired up, either

Bribing large corporations with tax breaks, though, isn’t what will revive Illinois’ sluggish economy and generate more jobs growth. In August 2015, when Amazon announced its first new warehouse and the new jobs that would come with it, it was revealed that the state had given the online retail giant tax breaks worth approximately $1 million annually – for 10 years. The Tribune now reports Amazon’s estimated tax breaks for the expanded facilities are worth $2 million annually. While more job opportunities are necessary for Illinois’ growing labor force, strong growth will not happen unless the state embraces reform rather than handouts.

* But, hey, it’s a done deal. So the state trumpeted all those new jobs and development, right? Nope

Other governors have used such news to trumpet the good things about Illinois. But the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which is part of the governor’s administration, didn’t even issue a news release about the development.

A spokeswoman for the department led me to an Amazon news release. At least Rauner was quoted in that document.

“By expanding its investments and operations in Illinois, Amazon will employ thousands more hardworking residents to grow our economy,” Rauner said. “This expansion is a vote of confidence in the state’s new way of doing economic development in Illinois with the ILBEDC (the public-private Illinois Business and Economic Development Corp. Rauner formed by executive order) working alongside” DCEO.

I asked Rauner about the 2,000-job development for Will County after a roundtable discussion he had about property taxes and reform at Wiley Office Furniture in Springfield.

“Oh, there’s many companies that are trying to come here, or a few have come here, and many are leaving,” Rauner said. “We’ve been treading water. … I don’t want to go down the list today of the companies who are leaving, and who have announced cutbacks this year and last year. We’re treading water, and we’ve got to grow.”



*** UPDATED x1 *** Today’s quotable

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Bloomberg News

“It’s the worst situation I can remember in the 50 years I’ve been around state government by far,” said former governor Jim Edgar, a Republican who served two terms in the 1990s. “Every day we go without a budget it gets much worse. It does permanent damage.”

…Adding… More…

*** UPDATE ***  More from that Public Radio interview

On whether voters understand the hardship resulting from the budget standoff

Oh, no, I don’t (think they understand). I think a lot of people haven’t been affected yet. Many have, and many are coming more and more to realize. But if you shut the schools down, you’d have a budget resolved in a matter of days. If you didn’t have any state workers, I think that’d put a lot of pressure on. A lot of state services are still being provided. A lot of people who don’t rely on specific grants from the state, I don’t think yet have felt it. They just think these guys are down there fighting and “why don’t they resolve it?” If you’re in education, particularly higher education; if you’re in social services; if you’re; in any program that relies on state funding, you know it. But there’s a lot of people who haven’t yet felt that.

I think more and more every day are, but still I don’t think there’s enough outcry to get this thing resolved. And that’ll have an impact. If the schools didn’t open … in the middle of August, I think by the end of August you’d have a budget. I think then you would have enough pressure that everybody would have to back off a little bit and find some compromise.


Museum could re-open in July

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced today that the Illinois State Museum will re-launch Saturday, July 2, 2016 pending approval of the administrative rule that will allow the Department to charge an admission fee at the main museum campus.

The administrative rule is on the agenda for the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) meeting to be held June 14. With approval, the museum will be able to open about two weeks later. Initially, the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Dickson Mounds Museum near Lewistown and the Research and Collections Center in Springfield will officially open July 2. The IDNR continues to work with stakeholders in communities where other Illinois State Museum branches are located in hopes of securing partnerships that would allow those branches to open.

“IDNR has been working steadily through the JCAR process to establish the administrative rule to set an admission fee,” said IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal. “By setting the admission fee, working closely with the Illinois State Museum Board and Illinois State Museum Society, we feel we are setting the Museum on a more sustainable path for the future.”

The administrative rule authorizes the Department to establish an admission fee for the Springfield campus of $5 for adults. Children under 18, seniors and veterans will be admitted free. The admission fee is part of a greater effort to diversify the sources of funding for the museum.


Rahm kinda walks it back

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* When talking to reporters today about the lack of trust he and others have of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked if he regretted these comments about the governor’s wife last week…

* Emanuel’s response…

* It actually took him a bit to wander into that sentence…

“Well, first of all, Ounce of Prevention did sue. I’ll take ownership if I got hot. But that doesn’t hide the fact that Ounce of Prevention sued, which does tell you, in my view, that the lack of trust and what’s in the breakdown has led to organizations not just Ounce of Prevention, but others. And I should have noted the Ounce of Prevention and not the First Lady. And that I own and I’m responsible for.”

But at least he got there.

* Raw audio


This just in… Madigan on Rauner budget stopgap: “This is not something that’s going to happen today”

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 10:42 am - House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton told reporters after the leaders meeting that they had talked with the governor about his new stopgap budget proposal.

But Madigan said he “made it clear” to Rauner that while the budgeteers would work on the proposal, “this is not something that’s going to happen today.”

Word from inside is that Madigan only wanted to talk about a stopgap for this fiscal year, not next.

* Cullerton said that the governor’s proposal to increase K-12 funding by another $100 million, which would hold CPS harmless, was “inadequate” and would have to be negotiated.

“I expect the news will evolve over the day,” Madigan’s spokesman said as he ended the presser.

This post will be updated.

* 10:57 am - After saying last week that Senate President Cullerton’s idea for a stopgap amounted to “pulling the plug” on negotiations, the two Republican leaders said today that not passing their own stopgap proposal would prevent schools from opening and create a serious crisis.

Leader Radogno said that the Democrats’ refusal to pass a stopgap bill meant they were saying no to “minimal stability to this state.” Leader Durkin said there was plenty of time remaining to pass something, pointing to the hurried approval of the long-ago White Sox stadium bill.

Durkin also pointed out that passing the bill today, rather than waiting until later, would make it “easier” to get it done because it would only require simple majorities.

“They don’t care if the universities close, they don’t care if the schools close… it’s all about politics,” Radogno said of the Democrats.

And Durkin called on rank and file members to “force their leaders” to pass something today.

* Look, they’re not wrong here. An agreed bill is always preferable and there’s plenty of time to do this. It would also be much easier to pass this stopgap bill in the Senate than Madigan’s because rank and file Senate Democrats aren’t happy about Madigan’s proposal.

But, man, their overreaction to Cullerton’s proposal last week is gonna bite them hard. The budget director was trotted out last week to emphatically say he could not support a stopgap, but now he says he wants one and actually created his own. And then they leaked it to the media before handing it to the Democratic leaders. (And, yes, the House Democrats ran their own budget bill last week without talking to the governor first. Not good, either. Two wrongs, however, don’t make a right. Let’s get off the war footing for the rest of the day, shall we?)

* 11:07 am - The Illinois Republican Party is already out with a statement…

The Democrats’ Choice

Democrats’ Decision Today Will Show Whether They are Serious About Keeping Government Running or Intent on Running Illinois into the Ground

Democrats face a critical choice today. Their first option is to support Gov. Rauner’s paid-for budget proposal that ensures schools open in the fall and keeps critical operations, like state prisons, running. The other choice is for Democrats to pass a phony budget that is $7 billion in the hole and forces taxes to record highs.

“The Democrats’ real intentions will be revealed today,” said Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe. “They can either choose a balanced, paid-for budget that keeps schools and prisons open while work continues on critical reforms or they can pass the most unbalanced budget in state history, proving once-and-for-all that all Democrats want to do is crush Illinois under a mountain of debt, push taxes to the highest levels in state history and hold the state hostage to their outrageous anti-taxpayer demands.”


Caption contest!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Speaker Madigan’s Steve Brown and Gov. Rauner’s Catherine Kelly chat outside today’s leaders meeting


Closing Illinois’ Nuclear Facilities Will Devastate Our Economy and Environment

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Two nuclear plants in Illinois are on the brink of closing. While some have argued Illinois should do nothing, the costs of inaction would be devastating to the state’s economy, consumers, workers and our environment. What would it mean? According to an independent State of Illinois report, these plants closing will result in:

    Higher Electric Rates – Wholesale energy prices to rise by $439 million to $645 million annually for homes and businesses in the region.
    Major Economic and Job Losses – $1.2 billion annually in lost economic activity in Illinois and more than 4,200 highly skilled, good paying, full-time jobs lost.
    Huge Environmental Costs – An increase in carbon emissions by more than 20 million metric tons – the equivalent of putting more than 4 million cars on the road. The societal costs of the increased emissions would reach nearly $10 billion between 2020 and 2029.

Fortunately, the Next Generation Energy Plan will help preserve these plants. This legislation’s economic and environmental benefits for Illinois far outweigh the costs of inaction. Illinois can’t afford to wait.

Members of the Illinois General Assembly: Vote YES on the Next Generation Energy Plan by May 31st, before it’s too late.

Learn more:

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Plug pulled on Exelon bill

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Turnaround Agenda and the budget aren’t the only things crashing and burning this year. Exelon’s bill isn’t being called for a vote

The sponsor of a bill aimed at remaking Illinois’ electric utility landscape and saving the Clinton nuclear power plant said Monday the legislation won’t be passed before today’s deadline set by Exelon Corp.

And Exelon officials said they’d reveal “within the next few days” how the failure to pass the bill would affect the future of the power plant and its 700 employees.

Exelon had warned earlier that it needed the Legislature to act by May 31, or it would begin a lengthy process to shut down the 29-year-old nuclear plant by next summer. The plant about 30 miles west of Champaign makes up about half of the assessed valuation in DeWitt County. […]

The chief sponsor of SB 1585, Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said groups involved in its negotiations had met as recently as last Friday.

“Time has run out,” said Trotter. “I’m disappointed because I saw and heard, by sitting in those meetings, that there was some movement. It was just one or two entities — and I’m not going to name them — who I think were intentially slowing the process down.

* The Peoria Journal Star’s editorial board doesn’t think that’s a bad thing, and they point to a local employer for proof

Keystone Steel & Wire, which employs 1,000 here in the Peoria area and is among the last of its kind in the United States, has objected to the $1.1 million cost to its bottom line and the degree to which it imperils its workforce. The bill “threatens to put us at a competitive disadvantage in a fragile economy,” Keystone Vice President Mark Brachbill testified before a legislative committee earlier this month. “These cost increases will not be realized by neighboring states or our international competitors, which will make passing along the increased costs impossible in the current business climate.”

Meanwhile, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office opposes the current legislation, as does the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), the consumer watchdog group. Among the concerns is that there are not enough consumer protections, especially if prices rebound for the utility. Meanwhile, they think there is still time to explore better, perhaps market-based solutions to keep those plants open. Exelon seems to think not, saying “the capacity market alone can’t preserve zero-carbon emitting nuclear plants that are facing the lowest wholesale energy prices in 15 years.” We’d still prefer that all other options be exhausted first.

For its part, CUB acknowledges that the threat of plant closure is real, that this is a better bill than previous efforts — last year’s version would have sent $300 million annually Exelon’s way whether the plants were profitable or not, this year’s about half that — that it’s important to keep this more environmentally friendly, reliable energy source around. Nonetheless, “there is still significant work to be done relating to consumer protections, the role of Ameren, ensuring that there is a full and functional Renewable Portfolio Standard, and giving customers the tools to better manage their energy use … This is a step forward, but we’re not there yet.”

* Related…

* Why is Dynegy idling Illinois coal plants? It’s more complicated than ‘the war on coal’: Every year, MISO, the grid manager for Southern Illinois, Eastern Missouri and parts of 13 other states, holds a so-called “capacity auction” that determines the price paid to power plant operators that agree to be ready to pump electricity into the grid when demand is highest. Downstate Illinois is deregulated, so Ameren Illinois customers can shop for power from different sources. Most of MISO, on the other hand, is made up of regulated utilities such as Ameren Missouri that own both the wires and the power plants. They’re guaranteed a rate of return by state commissions. Dynegy argues that those regulated utilities don’t rely on the capacity auctions to recover costs but can sell their electricity into a deregulated market such as Southern Illinois at low prices that depress rates.


Medical marijuana bill clears the House

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As we’ve already discussed, a bipartisan deal was reached on extending and expanding the medical marijuana program. It advanced a notch yesterday

The Illinois House has approved a plan to expand the state’s medical marijuana pilot program by two-and-a-half years and add post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness to the list of allowed conditions.

Lawmakers voted 86-27 on Monday to advance the measure, which Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner supports. It now goes to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass.

Illinois’ four-year pilot program is set to sunset at the end of 2017. Under the bill, it will continue to July 1, 2020.

* Activists are cheering the progress

“I’m thrilled,” said Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, a family medicine physician in Glenview who is chairwoman of the advisory board. “We were all concerned that this whole thing was going to go away.”

Anne Berg, a pharmacist and the agent in charge at Professional Dispensaries of Illinois, a suburban Chicago cannabis dispensary, said they hear from many people, particularly veterans suffering from PTSD, who are looking for an alternative to other drugs that either have been ineffective or caused unwanted side effects.

“I think it’s really going to help,” Berg said Saturday. “We’re going to help some people for whom everything else has failed. People who are looking for another, safe option.”

Watch our live session coverage post for rapid updates.


Dot points on the new GOP school plan

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The governor’s education czar Beth Purvis explains the new Republican-backed school funding plan…

HB6583/SB3434 does the following:

    · Increases early childhood education by $75mm dollars. This will help CPS because the majority of new full-day early childhood seats supported by these dollars are in the Chicagoland area.
    · Increase the GSA by $55mm, ending proration for the first time since

2009. Like other years, there will be natural variations in funding based on three factors:

    o Enrollment
    o % of children who live in poverty
    o Local available resources
    · Adds an additional $105mm to “hold harmless” schools that get less money in FY2017 than they got in FY2016


    o Over the last few years, CPS has seen a decrease in enrollment, a decrease in percentage of children who qualify for free and reduced lunch and an increase in property values. This resulted in their GSA being reduced by $74mm.
    o $74mm of the $105mm will go to CPS to hold them harmless
    o Additionally – by not changing the funding formula, the Block Grant stays in place. Every year, this grant has ensured that CPS gets approximately $250mm more for special education services than their proportional share of students with disabilities.

This funding proposal will:

    o Hold CPS harmless even though they have fewer students, a lower percentage of children with poverty and higher property wealth than many other districts
    o Ensure that CPS continues to get the special education and poverty grant dollars as in other years


First time for everything: Rauner veto overridden in House

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* More on yesterday’s veto override by the AP

Chicago taxpayers will save $1 billion on police and fire pension costs in the short term under a law the General Assembly approved Monday after some House Republicans bucked their governor, who had railed against it as a ridiculous expansion of the Illinois’ growing pension hole.

The House voted 72-43 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the savings plan, which trumps state law that required the city to pump $4.62 billion into retirement accounts for police officers and firefighters through 2020.

The huge payments could have forced a $300 million property tax increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel had warned. But Rauner countered that shorting payments will cost an extra $18.6 billion in interest during the next 40 years.

The House quickly followed the Senate in reversing the first-term governor, a businessman who has pounced on the issue of Illinois’ woeful pension funding — in municipal as well as state accounts — since he was a candidate.

* Tribune

“I very respectfully disagreed with (Rauner),” said [GOP Rep. David Harris], who voted “present” on the bill last year. “I understand his logic in terms of saying that it’s kicking the can down the road, and it does stretch out the payments, absolutely. But at the same time, I believe the mayor has taken some really significant actions to try to address the problem.”

Harris said he notified House Republican leadership of his plans to override Rauner but emphasized his action was “totally separate and distinct” from the governor’s agenda, focused on pro-business changes and altering collective bargaining and workers’ compensation rules.

McSweeney said he voted for the override to prevent a tax hike in Chicago. “I looked at it and I’m not voting for a property tax increase. I never have, never will,” he said.

But opponents sought to play the regionalism card in arguing Chicago was seeking a special deal.

* Sun-Times

Shortly after the veto, House Speaker Madigan and Cullerton walked to Rauner’s office for a leaders meeting. After the meeting, Madigan told reporters he thought it was “interesting” the governor “had nothing to stay about the override.”

“I was raised not to cause embarrassment for people so I didn’t raise it,” Madigan said.

* Politico

Emanuel plans a news briefing this morning at City Hall where he’ll discuss “bipartisan” support for the pension funding bill. He’s expected to again unleash on Rauner.

* Gov. Rauner…

“It’s unfortunate that the legislature voted again to allow the City of Chicago to borrow $843 million at an interest rate of 7.75% from their pensions, putting an additional $18.6 billion on the backs of taxpayers. Clearly, those who supported this measure haven’t recognized what happens when governments fail to promptly fund pension obligations. Instead of kicking the can down the road, local and state governments should instead focus on reforms that will grow our economy, create jobs and enable us live up to the promises we’ve made to police and firefighters.”

* Mayor Emanuel…

“On Memorial Day I particularly want to thank‎ the Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly for putting politics aside‎ and doing the right thing for Chicago taxpayers, and for our first responders. We in the city agreed to step up and finally do our part to and responsibly fund these pensions, and I want to thank Springfield for doing their part as well. I also want to thank all our partners in labor, business groups and everyone else who stood up in support of this bill. I particularly want to thank Senate President Cullerton and Speaker Madigan for their leadership on behalf of the entire city. While for the first time in history our police and fire pensions will be funded appropriately, I will not rest until and Municipal and Laborers pensions are fully secured as well.”


Rauner does about-face, proposes stopgap budget

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Subscribers have lots more details, including the full budget office memo…

* The Tribune also got the GOMB memo

[Rauner budget director Tim Nuding] called on lawmakers to pass a stand-alone bill to fund elementary and secondary schools, as well as companion legislation that would pay for homeless and domestic violence prevention programs, provide medical services and food for prisoners and veterans homes, ensure schools open on time this fall and pump $600 million into public universities and community colleges.

It would be paid for through a combination of tapping into the state’s “rainy day” fund and other specialized funds, not repaying $450 million the state borrowed last year to plug a different budget hole, and federal dollars.

“This proposal is not designed as a full-year budget. It is designed as a bridge plan that allows schools to open, keeps the lights on, protects public safety and prevents a government shutdown,” Nuding said. “It is fully funded and therefore fiscally responsible, unlike other potential short-term budget proposals that seek to impose piecemeal out-of-balance budgets for months at a time.”

It’s unclear how Democratic leaders will respond to the proposal. Cullerton said Monday he planned to push for a full-year budget backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, which Nuding now pegs as being $7.5 billion out of balance. Madigan, meanwhile, has been cool to other suggestions for a short-term budget, saying his members are prepared to work throughout the summer.

* Related…

* Legislature sets up dramatic budget showdown with Rauner: Sources with knowledge of Democratic strategy expect the [Madigan] budget bill to pass out of the Democratic-controlled Senate today and to be forwarded to the governor by late June. That’s despite leaders’ talk of progress in working groups on Monday. “It’s over,” said one top strategist who asked not to be named.

* Illinois Democrats poised to defy governor’s budget veto threat: Senate President John Cullerton signaled his chamber could vote on a budget bill passed by the House last week, or on an alternative plan he declined to outline. He also said he was trying to round up votes for the House budget bill.

* Another year without a budget? Sure looking that way: “My view is that if there is no agreement by (Tuesday) night, I would ask the governor to keep his working groups functioning on a regular schedule because the House is going to be in continuous session,” Madigan said. “The House designees consistently report back to me that progress is being made and they want to stay at it.”… “The most important thing for the governor to do is pass the budget and not hold the state hostage,” Cullerton said. “He’s done that for a year and a half. He’s got to back off of these radical demands that he’s made over the last year and a half to finally pass a budget.”


*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Today’s live coverage post is sponsored by URENCO USA. Watch the last scheduled day of spring session with ScribbleLive


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