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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      

Watch the live coverage post

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Rauner lays out his case

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Candidate filing deadline

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Hump day will also be session day

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* Your one word prediction for the end of session?

- Posted by Rich Miller   165 Comments      

Rezko still claims he was wrongfully convicted

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Ignoring a huge public health crisis

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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?

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[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

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

The great salesman

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Today’s quotable

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      

Museum could re-open in July

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Rahm kinda walks it back

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   123 Comments      

Caption contest!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

Closing Illinois’ Nuclear Facilities Will Devastate Our Economy and Environment

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[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:

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Plug pulled on Exelon bill

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Medical marijuana bill clears the House

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Dot points on the new GOP school plan

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

First time for everything: Rauner veto overridden in House

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

Rauner does about-face, proposes stopgap budget

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

* 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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

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Rauner overridden on pension bill

Monday, May 30, 2016

[I somehow accidentally disabled comments on this post. Oops. Reopened. Sorry.]

* Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) switched from “Present” to “Yes” today and the House overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of Mayor Emanuel’s police and fire pension bill with 72 votes. Background on that bill and the nasty fight between the governor and the mayor is here.

Rep. Harris said during debate that it was difficult to vote against his governor (who was adamantly opposed to the legislation) but he felt it was the right thing to do. He said stretching out pension payments, as this bill does, isn’t good policy, but it’s not an uncommon practice and is a “reasonable” action.

* This is the first time the House has overridden the governor since the heroin legislation. But the governor backed off his opposition to that bill under pressure from Republicans. This time, the governor did not back off.

…Adding… Rep. Harris wasn’t the only Republican to vote for the bill today. Rep. McSweeney switched to “Yes” and Rep. McAuliffe was a “Yes” last year and this year. Roll call is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Statehouse flooded with education funding bills

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Tribune

Senate Democrats pushed through two new bills to fund local school districts. Both are aimed at propping up funding for poorer districts. One would center around so-called “evidence based models” that would distribute money based on studies that show bilingual education students benefit from higher spending, and all students perform better in classrooms that are smaller in size.

The other would freeze the current school funding formula for three years, instead sending low-income districts an extra $700 million. It was billed as a bailout for Chicago Public School, as the bill also contained a provision to pick up $205 million in Chicago teacher pension costs, and would allow for the city to raise property taxes to the tune of $175 million. Neither plan is expected to advance in the House.

There are actually four education bills out there and Jessica Handy with Stand for Children posted a brief bit on all of them. Click here to read it.

…Adding… Yet another bill has been introduced. Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Rep. Bradley responds *** Murphy: Madigan has “personal vendetta against the Governor that holds all of Illinois hostage”

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Earlier this afternoon, I updated last night’s post about how some Republicans attempted to get into the House Democrats’ briefing on the various working groups.

Press release…

Statement from Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) regarding denial of entry into House briefing:

“As long time participants of the working group process, Rep. Brady and I were disappointed we were not allowed to ensure the presentation is factual. We are concerned this may not be an informational briefing, but rather a meeting designed to blow up the working group process. The truth is Democrat rank-and-file members have been willing to compromise on worker’s compensation, collective bargaining and pension reform.

I still believe there is time for a grand compromise to get a balanced budget and reforms before adjourning tomorrow night. I hope rank-and-file legislators will stand with us and not fall victim to the Speaker’s ongoing personal vendetta against the Governor that holds all of Illinois hostage.”

Yeah, everything’s just fine and dandy these days.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  From the ILGOP

“It is becoming clear that Mike Madigan’s personal dislike of the Governor is the only reason we can’t achieve compromise in Springfield. If Madigan was interested in finding a solution to this crisis before tomorrow night’s deadline, he would set aside his feelings towards the Governor and allow Republicans to attend these meetings, so that both sides can work together to reach a compromise before it is too late. If not, it’s finally time for rank-and file-Democrats to reject a leader who is intent on dragging down the state because of his bizarre obsession. Republicans remain committed to working across the aisle to reform the state and balance the budget. Democrats should join them instead of mindlessly carrying through Mike Madigan’s vendetta.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…

Good afternoon. Below is a statement from state Rep. John Bradley in response to earlier comments made by state Sen. Matt Murphy relative to informational meetings held among House Democrats on the ongoing working groups at the Capitol.

Rep. Bradley Responds to Rhetoric on Working Group Meetings

“We continue hearing from the governor and his allies suggesting a desire to work together with Democrats, but Senator Murphy’s negative rhetoric makes that much more difficult.

“The purpose of the informational meetings on the working groups, which I helped conduct, was to brief House Democrats on the status of the working groups and that we continue to meet and work toward points of compromise. Any claims to the contrary only serve to further undermine the bipartisan process that Democrats fully endorse, and suggest that Republican legislators and the governor have no real interest in compromise. And for legislators of one party to try to interject themselves into the meetings among legislators of the other party as a media stunt is unprecedented.

“House Democrats will continue to attend the working groups, and we will continue to work toward compromise on the governor’s issues where possible. The only opposition House Democrats may have is opposition to damaging attacks on the financial security, wages and standard of living of middle-class families.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

AFSCME: “It is time for these seven House Republicans to move beyond rhetoric and take action”

Monday, May 30, 2016

* From AFSCME Council 31…

At the end of last week, seven House Republicans sent a letter to our union and to Governor Rauner, urging the governor to come back to the bargaining table and resume negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement for the 38,000 state workers represented by AFSCME. The governor has refused to even meet with our union since he broke off talks on Jan. 8, and “this stalemate will continue to hurt all interested parties,” the representatives wrote.

In the public interest and in the interest of fairness, AFSCME immediately reiterated our union’s willingness to participate in renewed negotiations. We also urged the lawmakers to support their statement with action by committing to enact a fair arbitration process if the governor again refused to negotiate. Giving all state employees the same option of an impartial arbitrator to help settle differences between the parties—a process in place for tens of thousands of public safety personnel statewide for more than 30 years—would encourage a negotiated resolution and ensure against a harmful strike if no such resolution could be reached.

But the very next day, Governor Rauner’s office rejected the legislators’ letter and again falsely attacked our union, an occurrence that has become all too commonplace. This morning, the Republican Party’s political apparatus sent a press release echoing many of the same false attacks.

It is extremely regrettable that the governor is unwilling to bargain. It is outrageous that his party is distorting the facts to try to score political points at the expense of public service workers.

Now more than ever, Illinois and its people need serious governance, not political stunts. Governor Rauner’s refusal to negotiate is yet another failure of leadership. His party’s readiness to bolster his confrontational posture toward his own workforce in the midst of one of the biggest crises our state has ever confronted shows how disordered its priorities have become.

Lawmakers of both parties say they want a negotiated settlement that is fair to all. That is what AFSCME members have always sought, but we cannot do it alone. Since the governor refuses to negotiate, it is time for these seven House Republicans to move beyond rhetoric and take action by committing to vote to reject partisan politics, embrace responsible governance and enact the fair arbitration bill.

* From the IL GOP earlier today

Days after passing a $7 billion budget deficit, the largest in Illinois history, House Democrats may reconsider a motion to override the Governor’s veto of HB580, a bill the Herald & Review says would have a $3.6 billion cost to taxpayers. With only hours left in session, Democrats in the General Assembly would rather pass bills that force massive tax hikes instead of a balanced budget with structural, job-creating reforms for state government.

HB580, a reincarnation of SB1229, would remove Governor Rauner from the negotiating table with public employee unions for the duration of his first term in office and put in place an unelected, unaccountable arbitrator who would have the power to force a massive $3.6 billion tax hike on Illinois families. Even though the motion failed to muster enough votes to pass twice, the House may consider it for a third time. […]

“House Democrats, why can’t you take no for an answer?” said Aaron DeGroot, Illinois Republican Party spokesman. “Instead of voting to force massive tax hikes on working families for the umpteenth time, come to the negotiating table and fulfill your constitutionally-mandated duty. Choose Illinois over Mike Madigan and pass a balanced budget with job-creating reforms to state government. Illinois is counting on you.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      

Lesser-known impasse problems

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Kerry Lester

I was tipped that 177 Cook County workers who enforce child support agreements are expected to be laid off next month as yet another result of the state budget standoff.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office reports the county has been shifting money from its general funds to keep the program afloat. But the state owes $12.4 million and the county is unable to keep the program going without those funds past June 30.

* Mark Brown

Illinois’ budget standoff hit home for Rachel Grainer in a way she never would have anticipated.

The 79-year-old Oak Park woman, just home from a hospital stay, was shocked to receive a letter from her mortgage company in March demanding that Grainer immediately pay her overdue real estate taxes and threatening to force her to open an escrow account for future taxes.

Grainer thought there must be some mistake. That’s because she is among hundreds of Chicago area homeowners who participate in the state’s Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral Program. […]

But Grainer was among 290 Cook County residents whose taxes totaling $943,663 went unpaid last year because the state did not remit the money to the county as promised.

The reason: no state budget, therefore no legal authority for the Illinois Department of Revenue to make the payments, the same Catch 22 facing dozens of state programs during the impasse.

* John O’Connell

The current state budget crisis is having an extreme negative effect on wildlife and fisheries management in Illinois. Federal excise taxes, such as the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (Dingell-Johnson Act) and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act) were created to provide federal monies for the management and restoration of fish and wildlife. When sportsmen purchase ammunition, firearms, and fishing equipment, they are contributing to these funds, with the knowledge that the money collected will be redistributed to the states for the enhancement and management of wildlife, angling, and associated recreational activities.

It should be simple; the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is billed for expenditures on projects approved for federal grant-in-aid funding and, in turn, bills the federal agencies that have allocated the funds. These funds are then reimbursed and are thus often referred to as “flow-through” funding. Unfortunately, the flow has been blocked; the IDNR is not currently authorized to reimburse projects due to the budget impasse. An immediate solution would be to issue a spending authority to the IDNR explicitly for these specific accounts, regardless of budget status. This can happen without the passing of the state budget; similar spending bills have already been issued by the state general assembly for other purposes during the impasse. If Illinois does not authorize the spending of these funds soon, they will be forfeited, a serious injustice to the fish and wildlife of the state as well as the sportsmen who paid into the funds.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

New York vs. Chicago on guns

Monday, May 30, 2016

* New York Times

The homicide rate in Chicago is just a little higher than in New York when guns aren’t involved. But when it comes to shootings, both fatal and not, Chicago stands out, suggesting a level of armed interaction that isn’t happening in New York.

…And Chicago is more lenient about illegal handguns than New York, prescribing a one-year minimum for possession versus three and a half years in New York. An attempt to match the New York law in 2013 was rejected by the Illinois legislature out of concern for skyrocketing incarceration rates for young black men.

The whole thing is worth a read.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Your caption?…

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Lobbyist at center of controversy blames opponents

Monday, May 30, 2016

* DeJuan Kea is the fantasy sports game lobbyist who was accused by House Black Caucus Chairperson Rep. Rita Mayfield of sending an “unethical, and in my opinion illegal” e-mail to his superiors allegedly suggesting that “in exchange for considerations, donations” to House Black Caucus charitable activities “he could guarantee votes.”

I’ve been attempting to talk to Kea for a while now. Two of his friends reached out yesterday, but we couldn’t come to an agreement about when or where to meet. He sent me this e-mail today…

Dear Mr. Miller,

I am writing in hopes of correcting some of the information that has been reported on by you and other journalists about an email sent by me to my client.

At the request of my client, I did research about how they could create connections with the Black community as a part of overall company long term local CSR (corporate social responsibility) goals to have an ongoing relationships in Illinois. I sent my client an email describing the ILBC Foundation programs and activities.

My email with my client about community involvement was meant only for my client. There is nothing wrong or improper with the email contents or intent in the context of our work in Illinois. There is no crime or impropriety in the contents of the email. What is troubling is that others were in possession of my work product, or a portion of it, and are making allegations and assumptions about its content.

I have worked in this industry for ten years and I am very proud of my record, my conduct and my accomplishments. I am troubled that my email has been used by someone to try to create a scandal where none exists. Evidently someone wanted to delay the online fantasy sports regulation bill and they have succeeded.

Please contact me if you have any other questions.

I asked him to share his e-mail with me. So far, he hasn’t responded.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Nobody’s giving in

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Pat Gauen

It’s not that Madigan and fellow Democrats are necessarily right. Or that they do not bear major responsibility for the decades of under-funding pensions and services that helped create the mess. It’s that for now they are too strong for Rauner to go through or around.

My dad, the card player, knew when to fold and wait for a better hand.

The trouble is that both sides are blocked. Neither can go forward without the other and so neither is willing to fold.

* So, you get editorials like this one from the Belleville News-Democrat

The system will not change unless forced.

* And this one from the Dispatch/Argus

The speaker won’t give in unless lawmakers convince him that his terrible strategy for winning in November is really a loser. They need the support of voters to do so.

There are just four days left to foment a little rebellion before the speaker wins his waiting game. If he does, everyone else will lose — including schoolchildren, college students and Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens.

Please contact your lawmakers and tell them to order their leaders to stay at the table until they create a responsible budget that also includes some of the reforms necessary to restore Illinois’ future. Remind them, too, of the consequences if they don’t.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Unclear on the concept

Monday, May 30, 2016

* While I do agree with some of the recent Tribune editorial blasting the House’s massively out of balance appropriations bill, this is just plain wrong

Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, voted a cowardly “present.”

The bill included money for state employee back pay. You’ll recall that a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision about this very issue declared that state workers can’t be paid without an appropriation, so the House appropriated the money. Smiddy, a former Department of Corrections employee, told me he’s owed about $5,000. He voted “Present” because he had a conflict of interest. That’s how you’re supposed to vote when you have a direct conflict.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

A look ahead

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Tribune

In the end, Senate Democrats may try to advance the short-term budget Cullerton backs, a salve to his members who feel too much of the budget is being dictated by Madigan. But the speaker already has deemed it to be a nonstarter in the House.

That leaves Madigan’s ultimate dare — the bet that despite their distaste, Senate Democrats will realize they are left with no other choice but to pass the House Democratic budget plan as the last viable option, even with the Rauner administration’s veto threat.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Evanston was one of a few House Democrats who voted against Madigan’s budget plan, saying she thought there was still time to develop a comprehensive balanced budget. But, she said, “If that bill came up May 31st, I might feel differently about it.”

That was written a couple of days ago, but I think it’s probably the best look forward out there.

* Meanwhile, the Illinois Policy Institute agrees with the governor’s vow to veto the entire Madigan budget if it reaches his desk

Not only does the bill present Rauner with a record deficit, Madigan’s budget only appropriates – or directly allocates – $14 billion of the total $40 billion it’s estimated to spend.

The remaining $26 billion, which includes items such as pension payments and debt service, will instead be on autopilot, determined by court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations. That’s how Illinois was able to function in fiscal year 2016 without a budget.

Rauner is unable to veto a large majority of that spending. In other words, much of the budget is untouchable.


Plus, a line item veto would give too much opportunity for House and Senate Republicans to break ranks and vote to override line items that directly benefit their districts.

* And I’m sure we’ll be seeing more Rauner statements like this one pretty soon

[Gov. Rauner] also asked Democrats to break from longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“The speaker is perfectly fine having deficit spending and borrowing. He’s perfectly fine crushing the economy, crushing our taxpayers. He’s been fine with it, and we need his members to say: ‘No, Mr. Speaker, no more,’” Rauner said.

…Adding… This is something I told subscribers about yesterday morning

There is another important deadline on Tuesday. That’s when lawmakers will find out whether local party organizations will field candidates to oppose them in the fall if no challenger filed for nomination in the March 15 primary election. Lawmakers may feel freed up to take controversial votes if they know they don’t have an opponent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** War of words escalates between Rauner, Emanuel

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Gov. Rauner was asked yesterday about the sharp criticism from Mayor Emanuel over the governor’s veto of a bill to change the pension payment ramp to put off higher payments into the future, which Rauner claims would cost the city billions of dollars more in the long run. Rauner had been open to the bill, but only if it was coupled with some of his economic and fiscal reforms. Those obviously haven’t come to fruition

That didn’t stop Rauner from flatly describing the bill as “terrible policy” Sunday when he met with reporters. He also said it is “false,” “wrong” and “misleading” to suggest the bill would have saved Chicago $843 million over five years. Rather, he said Emanuel would have been allowed to “skip” payments and borrow from the pension funds.

“What Chicago has been doing for decades, and it’s the reason they’re so financially — they’re on the verge of bankruptcy as a city and as a school district — is because they’ve been borrowing to fund operations. And that’s what the mayor is doing by delaying these pension payments. He hasn’t done any real reforms.”

Rauner then added: “If the mayor wants to get upset that he can’t borrow more to fund operations, what he ought to be doing is being down here in Springfield, advocating for reforms for his city.”

Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins called it “kind of a bizarre comment.”

“Mayor Emanuel has passed more significant legislation in Springfield over the past year and a half than the governor has,” Collins said in an email. “Whatever spin the governor wants to put on it, the fact is he has been hypocritical on police and fire pensions. He was literally for the plan before he was against it.”

*** UPDATE 1 ***  The bill fell far short of a super majority in the House, so Charles is right…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Press releases…

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President Dean Angelo and Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 President Tom Ryan issued the following statement after the Illinois state Senate voted to override Governor Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 777.

“On behalf of thousands of active and retired Fire Fighters and Police Officers, and on behalf of the millions of Chicago taxpayers, we wish to thank the members of the state Senate for overriding Governor Rauner’s veto. Senate Bill 777 reflects months of negotiation between our Fire and Police unions and the city of Chicago, through which we came together on an agreement to solve a decades-old pension problem, an excellent example of local control at it’s best.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

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“Working together will never happen”

Monday, May 30, 2016


A measure that would legalize fantasy sports in Illinois is dead for the remainder of the spring legislative session.

The plan passed the Senate, but stalled in the House after a legislator accused a fantasy sports lobbyist of offering charitable donations in exchange for votes.

State Representative Michael Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, is the measure’s sponsor.

Zalewski says because of the controversy, he’s not going to call the plan for a vote this month.

* AP

“This became a distraction to an unhealthy degree,” Zalewski said, without referencing the allegations that another lawmaker made last week.

Democratic Rep. Rita Mayfield had said she became privy to an email in which a lobbyist working for FanDuel and DraftKings suggested he could get support from members of the House Legislative Black Caucus in exchange for contributions to their foundations. Mayfield made the allegation during a hearing on the bill and said she didn’t feel comfortable voting on the proposal.

“The email basically alleged that in exchange for considerations, donations, that he could guarantee votes. That’s illegal,” she said.

During the hearing, Mayfield didn’t elaborate on the contents of the email, didn’t say who it was sent to, or who showed it to her. She has declined to speak to The Associated Press about it.

A spokesman for FanDuel and DraftKings denied that they participated in the vote-buying overture Mayfield alleged.

* The sponsor doesn’t appear to be all that hopeful about the future, either…

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Illinois’ connection to Memorial Day

Monday, May 30, 2016

* From the Decatur Herald & Review

The mystic chords of memory that swelled into the chorus of remembrance we call Memorial Day had its first notes sounded in Decatur.

It all began with the Grand Army of the Republic, which called for the creation of Decoration Day in 1868, a commemoration that would eventually morph into the Memorial Day we honor today. So the GAR gave us Memorial Day, and a march back through history shows Decatur gave us the GAR.

The veterans organization for Union soldiers who served in the Civil War was actually the brainchild of Maj. Benjamin F. Stephenson, who lived in Springfield. His idea was to create something that could pool resources and help the “hungry and poor” widows and orphans left behind by his fellow soldiers killed in the war. He also thought it would be jolly to have something to promote “worthy comradeship” between the survivors who had lived to go home again. […]

With growth came publicity, and with publicity came political firepower and influence, which was being felt as early as 1868. That’s when the GAR’s second commander in chief, Maj. General John A. Logan, issued something called “General Order No. 11,” establishing May 30 as Decoration Day to honor Union veterans’ graves, and it wasn’t long before a grateful nation also snapped to attention and took notice of what the GAR was doing.

…Adding… A view of General Logan’s grave this morning…

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Monday, May 30, 2016

* Today’s live coverage post is sponsored by URENCO USA. The Senate convenes at 9, the House convenes at 1. Watch the fireworks in real time with ScribbleLive

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* Poll: 53 percent of Illinoisans disapprove of Trump, 64 percent say Rauner should "act to protect the reproductive health care of all women in Illinois"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Question of the day
* Roll Call: Rauner race is "Toss-up/Tilt Democrat"
* Clear as mud
* Can CPS avoid closing early?
* *** UPDATED x1 - Biss responds *** Rauner says HB 40 is "divisive" and "we need to focus" on fixing other problems
* Signs of the times
* Blagojevich again denied
* Illinois is heading for junk bond status
* The "growth only" canard
* Biss criticizes Democratic Party, Madigan
* Democrat Manar blasts Bourne, Rauner
* Caption contest!
* SIU and WIU join EIU, NEIU and GSU in junk bond territory
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* Chicago visit Monday to start Obama's re-entry into public eye
* South Korea, allies brace for North Korea follow-up act
* Morning Spin: Rauner's improbable fundraising pitch: Balanced budget without tax hike
* Mainstream politics shut out as Le Pen, Macron win in France

» Photos: Cosplayers Descend Upon McCormick Place For C2E2
» Chicago EPA Workers Prepare For Budget Battle With Storytelling Class
» To Explain Change On Abortion, Rauner Cites Economic Agenda
» State Week: Abortion Flip, 'Junk Bond' Universities
» Appeals Court Denies Blagojevich Request For 3rd Sentencing
» How Chicago Public Schools Could Avoid Closing Early
» Southern Illinois County Suing Manufacturers Of Opioid Painkillers
» Undocumented And A Victim Of A Violent Crime: Looking At Problems With Obtaining U-Visas In Illinois
» Illinois Issues: The Trouble With Temp Work
» City Crackdown On Party Buses Doesn’t Ban Legal Guns

* Lawmakers return from spring break; 'bargain' remains unresolved
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage proposals
* Lawmakers return to unresolved issues
* Our View: Civil town hall meetings good for democracy
* 2018 Illinois governor's race likely to be most expensive in U.S. history
* Next year's governor's race likely to be most expensive ever
* Angie Muhs: Citizens Academy gives behind-the-scenes look at the FBI
* Bernard Schoenburg: State workers highest paid? A look at the stats
* Our View: The longer we wait, the worse it will get
* Statehouse Insider: Let the show resume

* PODCAST: State Sen. Scott Bennett 04-24-17
* New Parkland board member refuses to relinquish posts
* Illinois trails national average
* 19th Ebertfest receives a lovely sendoff
* Distracted driving a choice we make
* Clinton, Reynolds speak up at Tribeca
* Those Who Served: Bretz keeping father's memories fresh
* All or nothing on crime mugshots
* Pet Talk: Tears and repairs
* Area history, April 24, 2017

* Is the tollway getting cold feet on Route 53 extension?
* Harper College could ask voters to pay for building plan
* Images: Some of the best photos that you may have missed this weekend
* Elgin man who accidentally shot friend faces gun charges
* Dawn Patrol: Student's family, Wheaton College community lean on faith

* US Rep. Randy Hultgren accepting internshi...
* GOP congressman appears to distance himsel...
* Rep. Randy Hultgren on Trump's Foreign and...
* League of Women Voters event in St. Charle...
* Randy Hultgren to participate in League of...
* Rep. Hultgren asks Caterpillar to immediat...
* Hultgren Reacts to Missile Strike On Syria...
* Batavia's Congressman Holding Service Acad...
* Oswego's Congressman Reacts to Missile Str...
* Veterans seek answers at forum with US Rep...

* Durbin: Trump Will Be Shutting Down Gov't ......
* Durbin, Duckworth announce $16 million in ......
* Illinois receives $16 million to fight opi......

* Sen. Duckworth Pushes for Free Two-Year Te......
* Duckworth talks health care, Trump during ......
* Durbin, Duckworth announce $16 million in ......
* Illinois receives $16 million to fight opi......

* Help Day For Property Tax Appeals
* CPS and “Wrong-way” Claypool.
* Trumpen. 
* People with clout are still contacting Rahm on his private e-mail account, and other Chicago news
* Scenes from Saturday's March for Science
* Hitting Left.
* NEA’s charter position is okay but a little like closing the doors on an empty barn. No mention of vouchers?
* North Korea and the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. What message is Trump sending?
* Earth Sunday.
* A Republican moderate.

* IDOT Celebrates Earth Day by Distributing Trees to Schools
* Earth Day Honor: IDOT Recognizes Longtime Adopt-A-Highway Volunteers - More than 140 groups thanked in tree-planting ceremony
* The State of Illinois to Build a Digital-Ready Workforce - Partnership with the IoT Talent Consortium to Offer Data Science Training to Illinois Workers and Learners, with Cybersecurity Training Next in the Pipeline
* Governor Makes First #GovClassroomVisit
* New Siemens Charger Locomotives Begin Testing

* Deal: Get a lifetime of online protection from TigerVPN for $29
* [TA Deals] Get the Java Programming Bootcamp package for $39
* Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime 2 offers Android Nougat to Cricket customers at $150
* LG G6 arrives in India to rain on Galaxy S8’s parade, lower price, Quad DAC and all
* Alcatel A30 tablet gets rendered en route to T-Mobile, Nougat and LTE most likely in tow
* Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) has specs outed in several benchmarks, J5 (2017) swings by the FCC
* T-Mobile Galaxy Note 5 also gets Android Nougat

* In My Words: White Sox booth is Benetti's bliss
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Bats roar to life against Tribe in series finale
* White Sox snap out of scoring slump vs. Tribe
* Gonzalez eyes continued success vs. Royals
* Davidson out for fourth consecutive game
* White Sox turn to Holland in finale vs. Tribe

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