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Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The House and Senate return Sunday afternoon at 3. I figure I’ll restart the blog around 2. Until then

And wash away the rain

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*** UPDATED x1 - AFSCME responds *** Rauner: No

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Rauner’s administration responded to calls by 7 Republican legislators to re-start contract talks with AFSCME…

After 67 days of bargaining sessions, the Administration asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board – according to the terms agreed to by AFSCME in the tolling agreement - to determine if the parties are at an impasse. Until the Labor Board rules, all formal negotiations have been suspended. AFSCME has repeatedly rejected all of the Administration’s core proposals that the Illinois Federation of Teachers and 17 other unions have agreed to despite our good-faith efforts to address the union’s concerns. Nothing about the Labor Board proceedings prevents AFSCME from proposing a framework similar to those offered by these 18 other unions. AFSCME’s unwillingness to move off their last, best and final offer of more than $3 billion in financial demands is what is causing the impasse.

*** UPDATE ***  From AFSCME Council 31…

Since Governor Rauner has now reiterated his refusal to negotiate, and the legislators wrote that “the stalemate will continue to hurt all interested parties”, then the lawmakers in question should join the Illinois labor movement and the strong majorities of their constituents in supporting a renewed motion to override the governor’s veto of HB 580, the fair arbitration bill, before the General Assembly adjourns. This well-established and impartial procedure appears to be the only way to ensure that the governor can no longer hold hostage the people of Illinois, the public services they rely on, and the men and women who provide those services every day.

Like so much else emanating from the Governor’s office these days, its latest statement is rife with falsehoods:

    · AFSCME has never made a “last, best and final” offer. In fact, we stated clearly at the bargaining table when the Rauner Administration broke off negotiations back in January that our current proposal is NOT our last, best and final offer—and we repeated in subsequent conversations and correspondence that we were prepared to continue to negotiate.

    · Contrary to the administration’s wildly exaggerated claims, AFSCME’s current proposal does not equal anything close to $3 billion dollars in “financial demands”. And as stated, if the governor would join us at the table, AFSCME is prepared to continue to negotiate.

    · It is not true that 17 other unions have agreed to the “core proposals” in the Administration’s offer to AFSCME. Members of those unions will have the opportunity to receive pay raises or improved health care benefits, while the governor is seeking to force AFSCME members to accept both a pay freeze and doubled health care costs.


Deal emerges on medical marijuana

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is good news…

Illinois Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) today announced an agreement with Governor Bruce Rauner over a Medical Marijuana pilot project expansion.

Lang issued the following statement on Senate Bill 10:

“Governor Rauner and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin deserve credit for their willingness and commitment to reform and extend Illinois’ medical marijuana program. I want to thank them for their cooperation to find a bi-partisan legislative compromise on improving a program designed to ease the pain and suffering of seriously ill individuals, including children.”

The chief provisions of the legislation are:

1. Pilot Program extended to July 1, 2020.

2. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and terminal illness added as qualifying medical conditions.

3. Patient and caregiver cards valid for three years, instead of one.

4. Upon renewal of patient and caregiver cards, no fingerprinting is required.

5. Doctors will no longer have to RECOMMEND cannabis, but will simply certify that there is a bona fide Doctor-Patient relationship and that the patient has a qualifying condition.

6. Minors who are patients may have two caregivers.

7. The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board will be reconstituted, and a new procedure created for accepting patient petitions for the addition of new conditions to the program.

Glad to see the governor working cooperatively on this.


Stop ComEd/Exelon’s $7 BILLION Rate Hike!

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Advertising Department

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Rep. Phelps counters HGOP robocalls

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told you yesterday that the House Republicans had launched robocalls slamming several Democrats for voting for the omnibus appropriation bill, among other things.

From a longtime reader…

Robocalls coming in today from both sides. [Rep. Brandon] Phelps says that they are spending less and that the [approp] bill would help Southern Illinois by reopening the Hardin County Work Camp and more money for schools. He gives his phone number in Harrisburg and asks you to call if you have any questions.

A call from the incumbent himself will likely be more effective than a stranger’s voice. But many of these robocalls are tuned out. And they can’t go to mobile phones without a human dialer, which adds expense.

Rep. Phelps said he is doing 20,000 calls. He also said that he wasn’t going to allow the GOP attack to go unanswered. Phelps said he believes Rep. Dan Beiser also recorded a call last night.

*** UPDATE ***  The HGOPs are running online ads now

A Republican political committee has released a stream of online attack ads focused on Illinois House Democrats running for re-election who voted in favor of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s recent budget proposal.

“Over the past two days, House Democrats have decided to put their allegiance to Mike Madigan over the financial health of Illinois, voting twice for a disastrous budget that would create a $7 billion deficit and necessitate a $1,000 tax hike on Illinois families,” an Illinois Republican Party press release reads. “This is a clear signal that they would rather jump off the fiscal cliff than stand up to Mike Madigan.”

The campaign, launched by the House Republican Organization, consists of robocalls in seven districts and digital ads specifically targeting candidates seeking reelection in November.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Oops!

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* A post about Gov. Rauner vetoing a couple of bills has been deleted. While doing ten things at once I somehow misread the darned e-mail. He signed the bills. Sheesh. Sorry about that! Bad me!!! I think I need more coffee or something.

Let’s make this an open thread.

*** UPDATE ***  This post is also going to have to serve as today’s question since I forgot to post one. Man, what a week. I need a nap.


“The safety net continues to crumble around us”

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The impasse has made a whole lot of people realize that their charitable donations are just a drop in the bucket of what those vital organizations need

As of May, the state owed Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago over $25 million. That money pays for state-contracted services the agency provides mostly to seniors. The agency floats the state $2 million each month.

Catholic Charities in the archdiocese is the largest social-service provider in Illinois, caring for 1 million people annually. While the agency raises about $25 million privately each year, a large portion of its annual $200 million budget comes from government contracts. […]

Every 30 seconds, someone in Cook or Lake counties contacts Catholic Charities for help at one of its 160 locations. If the agency were to cut 20 percent of its programs, 200,000 people would be affected — a population about the size of Aurora, Illinois. While Catholic Charities relies on a staff of 3,000, they also have 15,000 volunteers — many from local parishes — to administer services. […]

“As of this month, we have heard that more than 40 food pantries have closed. The safety net continues to crumble around us,” [Msgr. Michael Boland, president and CEO of Catholic Charities] said.

Catholic Charities often refers clients to their nearest food pantry or other providers for services they qualify for that the agency may not provide.

“We never give up and always try to find resources, but our clients are having to travel further distances to receive help,” he said. “All of our emergency assistance sites have seen an increase in people coming to them for help for basic services like food, rent and utilities as the agencies around them are closing.”


“Picking the pockets of poor people” and stiffing the wrongfully convicted

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has a new op-ed in the Sun-Times about people who deserve arrest record expungements, but can’t afford them

In Illinois, however, restoring your good name comes with a hefty price tag –$120. That’s the cost to apply for an arrest expungement in Cook County. In several downstate counties, the expungement application fees are as high as $300 or $400, with no guarantee of success.

These cases are more common than most people realize. Nineteen percent of Cook County Jail inmates end up leaving the jail because their charges get dropped entirely, meaning more than 13,000 Cook County arrestees in 2015 alone were told they could not expunge those arrests without paying the piper.

One hundred twenty dollars is a lot of money to a lot of people. Consider the 200 people in Cook County Jail who could walk out the door right now if they had $500 to post bond. Do we really think that someone who can’t come up with $500 to restore his or her freedom will have $120 sitting around to wade through the tangled legal web of arrest expungements? And even if they do, does that make it right?

* Sheriff Dart is backing legislation to deal with the problem

With the support of state Rep. Art Turner (D-Chicago) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), I have introduced and advocated for state legislation that would end this insidious practice of funding government on the backs of the poor and desperate. This sweeping reform bill would do away with the expungement fee entirely for those who have had their case dropped, found not guilty, or acquitted. […]

My legislation passed the House with strong bi-partisan support, but has now been held up in the State Senate following pushback from the Illinois State Police, who claim that they count on the hundreds of thousands of dollars brought in by these expungement fees. I dare say that if government must generate revenue by picking the pockets of poor people, perhaps we never deserved that money in the first place. This is simply an unconscionable case of government actively working against the people it is supposed to serve.

* Meanwhile, the wrongfully convicted are getting shut out

Now in its 11th month, the Illinois budget crisis continues to cause irreparable harm to organizations and individuals across our state. Some funding has been restored quickly; when lottery payments were frozen last year, for instance, massive public outcry led to their reinstatement within just a few months. Other funding, however, has not been so lucky. Compensation payments to exonerees have remained frozen with little public notice since the budget crisis began.

Wrongful convictions are black marks on our legal system. Far too often, innocent men and women lose decades of their lives to prison due to errors made by the state. Even after exonerating evidence comes to light, these victims of our imperfect justice system can remain imprisoned for years more as they fight through the Illinois and federal court systems. Their uphill battle only continues after exoneration.

The time that these men and women spend in prison leaves a permanent gap in their vocational, educational and personal history. Despite their factual innocence, they face difficulty finding employment, housing and community support. Making matters worse is the fact that many of them leave prison essentially penniless.

Recognizing the need to support these exonerees as they transition back to society, Illinois did the honorable thing: We created a law to provide them with financial compensation for the time that they were wrongfully imprisoned. The compensation levels aren’t high; they are capped at about $220,000 total for those who served over 14 years—well below the federal government’s recommendation of $63,000 per year. Even so, this compensation can provide critical support that these men and women need to restart their lives.


Radogno rips into the Democratic leaders

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Finke

“There was a dramatic change in tone today,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno following a short meeting between Rauner and the four leaders Friday morning. “The Democrat leaders essentially pulled the plug on negotiations. They want to push the balanced budget reforms off until the fall, after the election.”

* WGN finished the above Radogno quote

“It’s clear their priority is political and not for the good of the state.”

* Leader Durkin agreed

After today’s meeting, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told reporters that Democrats are motivated more by politics than reaching a deal.

“It’s clear that they want to push things off until after the election,” Durkin said.

* Sfondeles

“Today, the Senate president characterized this oh, not as waving the white flag, not as giving up but rather a time out,” Radogno said. “Well we should have had a time out in April. There’s nothing that’s changed. I believe they’ve purposely slow walked this to create a crisis.”

Prior to Friday’s meeting, Madigan had always been characterized as the leader most unwilling to compromise in leader meetings with the governor.

But Radogno dubbed that behavior “good cop, bad cop.”

* Team Tribune

Republicans insist the working groups have been making progress and that the lawmakers involved are becoming frustrated with Madigan and Cullerton.

“What I think is happening is that the rank-and-file Democrats are getting ahead of the entrenched leadership that they have, and the leaders now want to pull that back,” Radogno said.


Cullerton says he offered “practical way forward”

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Senate President John Cullerton didn’t talk to reporters after this morning’s leaders meeting, but he has released a statement…

We remain fully committed to the working groups, but the reality is that we need revenue with reforms to have a balanced budget, and it is the end of May.

If we run out of time, we have no backup plan to keep our state operating.

Today, I suggested a short-term compromise to keep the schools open, our universities open and our human service providers open while we continue to negotiate a broader, balanced budget solution.

I think that’s a practical way forward given reality.


Republican legislators want Rauner, AFSCME to restart talks

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Late yesterday AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch received a letter also addressed to Governor Bruce Rauner from seven Republican state representatives (Avery Bourne, Adam Brown, Terri Bryant, CD Davidsmeyer, Norine Hammond, Don Moffitt and Sara Wojcicki Jimenez) urging both parties to resume negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement for state employees.

In a response to the lawmakers sent this morning, AFSCME agrees with the legislators’ call for renewed negotiations, reiterating the union’s oft-stated willingness to return to the bargaining table ever since the Rauner Administration broke off talks on January 8.

In addition, Lynch points out that HB 580—the fair arbitration bill, which the legislators did not support—could actually serve to foster such a renewed bargaining process. If the governor refuses to heed the lawmakers’ call to return to the bargaining table, she calls on the seven legislators to commit to vote for a new motion to override the governor’s veto of the fair arbitration bill before the General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment on Tuesday.

Interesting retort to those seven by AFSCME.

* The letter sent by the legislators

Both letters are here.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Two non-scandals and a potentially serious one

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody make a big deal about such a common practice before

The head of the agency managing state construction solicited help from private builders to lobby for state funding in an email ethics experts say was inappropriate.

The email obtained by The Associated Press was sent Tuesday by Jodi Golden, executive director of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Capital Development Board. Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said it’s “outrageous” to suggest the email created a conflict of interest.

“This is about schools and important construction projects around the state that communities are waiting for,” Kelly said in an email. “They are all being held up by the majority party in Springfield. The people of Illinois have a right to know what’s going on and why.”

Golden’s email from a government account was addressed to “Construction Industry Partners,” urging them to contact lawmakers in favor of legislation providing $2.1 billion for this year and more for next year. […]

“Is this about good government and trying to get the state to improve the infrastructure?” Redfield asked. “Or are you using leverage - because there’s a financial relationship - to get someone to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do?”

Um, why wouldn’t they want to urge legislators to pass the funding bill?

Seriously. This is supremely goofy. Elected officials ask interested parties to help pass or kill bills all the freaking time. The Democrats have asked human service providers to help pass various bills that directly impact them, so would that be a scandal too? I don’t get it.

You can see the “scandalous” e-mail in question by clicking here.

* And the Illinois Policy Institute’s radio network apparently couldn’t even find a goo-goo to comment on this piece..

A former state Senate staff attorney turned lobbyist is being paid $10,000 a month to work on state pension reform.

Eric Madiar is Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s former chief legal counsel. Madiar is now under contract to deal with pension reform.

Cullerton Spokesman John Patterson said Madiar is “just researching the pension clause and really becoming the state’s leading authority on that.”

Patterson also said Madiar has been combing over recent rulings from the state Supreme Court and “analyzing those opinions, interpreting what they mean, understanding how we can learn from what the court has ruled and incorporate it into a model that we think is constitutional moving forward.”

Oh, no! A lobbyist!!! Horrible.

Wait. Doesn’t that network’s parent company lobby? And isn’t that why the House and Senate refuse to allow the network access to the press boxes?

* Look, Madiar is an acknowledged pension expert. He’s perhaps the best pension expert this state has. Eric was right when he predicted the Supreme Court would strike down the last pension reform law. So, I suppose the Senate Dems could just rely on free advice from the Tribune editorial board and Ty Fahner’s Civic Committee, but they were dead wrong on that last pension law. And I’m betting their error cost this state a whole lot more in legal bills than Madiar’s total take.

Madiar’s also a lawyer in private practice now, so those services don’t come cheap. Could the amount be debatable? Maybe, but we don’t know how many hours he puts in. And if he comes up with a way to save us big bucks, it’ll be worth it.

* As we’ve already discussed, however, this is potentially troubling

A bill that would legalize and regulate online fantasy sports betting in Illinois has hit a major snag amid an apparent ethics scandal involving a lobbyist.

State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, said in a House Judiciary-Criminal Committee meeting on Thursday she had become privy to an email from a FanDuel lobbyist to the Black Caucus that offered donations in exchange for a guarantee of votes. […]

“The email basically alleged that in exchange for considerations, donations, that he could guarantee votes. That’s illegal. We have a former governor in jail right now for doing that, so it is an issue,” Mayfield said, adding she wasn’t comfortable voting on the bill.

Mayfield said she learned from the head lobbyist that the lobbyist in question is still employed. […]

“We categorically reject the implication that DraftKings or FanDuel would partake in such behavior,” [Jeremy Kudon, the national lobbying point person for DraftKings and FanDuel] said in a statement. “We do not condone this type of activity. It’s simply not how we do business, here or anywhere in the country.”

There’s only one way to clear this up: Release the e-mail exchange. If you’re gonna tell us that no wrongs were committed, then release the e-mails and the problem immediately goes away.

The cover-up will get you every time. Come clean.

*** UPDATE ***  A rumor? You’ve got the chair of the House Black Caucus saying she saw the e-mail. Release the e-mail chain already…


Rauner budget director to brief reporters at noon

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ll post a special ScribbleLive feed just before this starts…

SPRINGFIELD – GOMB Director Tim Nuding will hold a conference call to discuss the consequences of the General Assembly adjourning without passing a balanced budget with reforms.

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Date: Friday, May 27, 2016

…Adding… As promised, here’s the new
ScribbleLive feed


*** UPDATED x3 - Emanuel responds “Rauner Tax” - Rauner issues veto today *** Rauner expected to veto police and fire pension bill on Memorial Day

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Remember this bill?

After 10 months of playing cat-and-mouse, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s closest ally in Springfield has sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner legislation giving Chicago 15 more years to ramp up to a 90 percent funding level for police and fire pensions.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has been holding the bill — approved by the Illinois House and Senate last spring — amid concern that Rauner would veto the legislation to squeeze cash-strapped Chicago and strengthen his own hand in the budget stalemate over the governor’s demand for pro-business, anti-union reforms.

The delay has already been costly to Chicago taxpayers.

Two weeks ago, Emanuel used $220 million in “short-term bridge” financing to make a state-mandated payment to police and fire pension funds that’s higher than his tax-laden 2016 budget anticipated because the police and fire pension reform bill has not been signed into law.

The deadline for Gov. Rauner to sign that bill is Memorial Day.

* From a reader, with a few typos fixed…

Jason Barclay of Governor Rauner’s Office called. The Governor wants someone at the SOS’s Index Division to accommodate him in filing a vetoed bill on Monday (a state holiday). Jason said that the SOS has helped him with this before. When asked why he could not file the veto today, the Governor’s Office stated that his schedule would not accommodate it today.

The SOS reportedly agreed to accommodate the governor.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  He apparently decided to give that poor SOS employee a break and vetoed it today…

Today I veto Senate Bill 777. This bill continues the irresponsible practice of deferring funding decisions necessary to ensure pension fund solvency well into the future. The bill effectively makes Chicago taxpayers borrow from the pension funds at an additional cost of $18.6 billion. It’s a game politicians like to play with taxpayers’ dollars by delaying payments today and forcing future elected officials to deal with pension funding issues tomorrow. As all know by now, that practice led to our current pension woes across state and local pension systems. Chicago police retirees are rightfully opposed to the bill. Instead of doubling-down on our past mistakes, we must learn from them. In vetoing this bill, I stand with all Chicago taxpayers who will be saddled with higher future pension contributions if the bill were to become law.

The cost to Chicago’s taxpayers of kicking this can down the road is truly staggering. Actuaries estimate that between now and 2055, when the law would require these funds to achieve the 90% funded ratio, the total contributions to the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago would increase by approximately $13 billion—an increase of 47.4% over contributions required under the current law. For the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, the total contributions would increase by approximately $5.6 billion, or 47.1% over the amounts under the current law. In other words, by deferring responsible funding decisions until 2021 and then extending the timeline for reaching responsible funding levels from 2040 to 2055, Chicago is borrowing against its taxpayers to the tune of $18.6 billion. This practice has to stop. If we continue, we’ve learned nothing from our past mistakes.

Irresponsible funding decisions have left us with state pension funds that are collectively underfunded to the tune of $111 billion. The poor fiscal health of these pension funds means we have to spend nearly 25 cents out of every dollar of the state budget on pensions, which significantly impairs our ability to provide vital services to those in need.

Irresponsible funding decisions have left teachers in Chicago with a drop in pension reserves from 100% funded as recently as 2001 to 51.8% funded today. On that trajectory, teachers can count on receiving only slightly more than 50 cents of every dollar owed to them in retirement – all because of a decade of pension holidays in which Chicago skipped the necessary contributions to the teachers’ pension fund.

Irresponsible funding decisions have left two of Chicago’s main employee pension funds near insolvency. The Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago and the Laborers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, covering some 79,000 current and former Chicago workers, are projected to have zero balances as early as 2026 and 2029, respectively.

This is what happens when you fail to responsibly fund pension obligations.

And now, against this historic backdrop, Chicago wants to do it again, this time gambling with the pensions of its police officers and firefighters. SB 777 would permit Chicago to contribute to the two pension funds for its public safety workers far less than is actuarially required during fiscal years 2016 through 2020. Even worse, the bill would allow Chicago an additional 15 years to bring the funds to a responsible funding level of 90%, with the target year shifting from 2040 to 2055. Current and retired police officers and firefighters would have to wait until 2055 to know their pensions are secure. This is bad policy regardless of any fiscal impact, but doubly so when it comes with a price tag of $18.6 billion.

Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 777, entitled “AN ACT concerning public employee benefits”, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.


Bruce Rauner


*** UPDATE 2 *** The mayor’s response…

Statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the Rauner Tax

“With a stroke of his pen, Bruce Rauner just told every Chicago taxpayer to take a hike. Bruce Rauner ran for office promising to shake up Springfield, but all he’s doing is shaking down Chicago residents, forcing an unnecessary $300 million property tax increase on them and using them as pawns in his failed political agenda. And it is an unspeakable act of disrespect toward our men and women in uniform — and toward Chicago taxpayers — that the governor would veto a bill to protect taxpayers and police and fire pensions as we head into Memorial Day weekend. Decades from now, the Rauner Tax will be this governor’s legacy in Chicago. His veto is harmful to taxpayers, and like everything he does, it is contradictory to his own supposed policy positions. It’s no wonder no one can trust him.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Supplemental Rauner response…

“This legislation forces Chicago to borrow against police and fire fighters’ pensions to the tune of $18.6 billion. Absent reforms, this will simply balloon liabilities and ultimately crush taxpayers, which even the Retired Chicago Police Association opposes. This is the same reckless policy that led the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois to financial crisis. Chicago needs wholesale structural reform to solve its problems — borrowing billions against taxpayers is not the solution.”


“I have zero confidence that Springfield will get its act together”

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Superintendent Russell said this yesterday, so he was quite prescient

Illinois lawmakers are still deciding on how to pay for the state’s public schools in September.

It’s a central part of an overall state budget, and last year, despite never passing a full budget, legislators did manage to release money to schools. It’s not clear if the same will happen this year, and that’s causing a lot of angst for many school superintendents.

“District improvement doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a great deal of planning where you’re going to allocate your resources and an investment in staff,” said Mary Havis, Superintendent of Berwyn South District 100. […]

“I have zero confidence that Springfield will get its act together,” said Kevin Russell, Superintendent of Chicago Ridge District 127.5. “I think the last couple of years have proved that. So we will be budgeting for the worst-case scenario.”


*** UPDATED x2 - Rauner audio *** Rauner to comment on collapse of negotiations

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This ought to be interesting… will broadcast it live. Click here. And keep an eye on our live coverage post.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Not surprising…

It appears that we crashed the BlueRoomStream feed. It turns out that the Statehouse lost its Internet service. So, I’m waiting for audio. Hold tight.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Here’s the raw audio

Rauner said working groups met late into the night last night. He asked working group members to stay in town over the weekend.

He also asked that Democratic rank and file stand up to their leaders.


Unclear on the history

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tom Corfman

Who does the Journal think is winning, anyway?

“Gov. Bruce Rauner has the most thankless job in politics: trying to rescue Illinois from its economic and fiscal morass,” according to an editorial by the Wall Street Journal, which celebrates his defeat of an override of his veto of a bill mandating arbitration of a long-running union contract dispute.

“Rauner won in 2014 on a reform platform, but the political lifers in Springfield are fighting him like they’re defending Stalingrad,” the newspaper said.

Wait, didn’t the Russians win the Battle of Stalingrad?

The editorial is here.

* Meanwhile, Greg Hinz asks if Speaker Madigan is losing his mojo

But it appears this time that Madigan’s odds of winning are less, maybe substantially less, than they usually have been. The sauce has lost some of its zing. Signs are growing that the era in which the speaker’s tail wagged Springfield’s dog is seeing its limits.

My specific reference is to the proposed fiscal 2017 budget that the speaker absolutely shoved through his chamber last night, ignoring good rules of comity, proper parliamentary procedure and, perhaps, smart politics. It created such a stink that Madigan today agreed to reconsider and pass the budget again. […]

The bill passed 63 to 53, with seven of Madigan’s Democrats either voting no or abstaining. That kind of thing never happens in Springfield. On today’s rerun, the margin was even narrower, 61-53—just two votes more than a majority, and 10 short of what would be needed to overturn a gubernatorial veto. […]

Even if Senate Democrats decide to suck it up and pass the budget—and that’s likely, not certain—Rauner aides are promising a veto, and I believe them. The rookie governor finally has learned some of the tricks of his new trade, one well-connected lobbyist tells me. “They (now) understand the need for realistic management of the budget, instead of the stopgap” approach the state has been dealing with over the past year, that source says. […]

It’s still far too early to say how this all is going to turn out in Springfield. It could be a long, hot summer. But it’s fair to say that least a wisp of change is in the air.

I dunno. A half dozen HDems didn’t vote for the approp bills last year. And the total went down between Wednesday and Thursday because of absences, not some increasing member revolt.

And I don’t know how the administration is gonna manage a budget without a budget.

As far as the Senate goes… well, you’ll have to subscribe.

* What I do believe is that Madigan has lost his sense of proportion. As the clock ticks down, he should try to forge a compromise as he’s done many, many times in the past (remember how the CTA’s unions were whacked hard by Madigan to obtain a $500 million tax hike for the RTA?). The closer it gets to May 31st, the more eager everybody’s gonna be for a deal.

What was the saying on that old poster? “War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things.”


*** UPDATED x2 - Madigan: “No hostage-taking” - Talks collapse as Dems pull the plug *** Madigan likely to speak after leaders meeting

Friday, May 27, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* For the first time in a while, House Speaker Michael Madigan will likely talk to reporters after today’s leaders meeting, which has already begun. Keep an eye on our live coverage post for updates. BlueRoomStream may also have a live video feed, which you will find here if they set it up in time.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  I’m told Senate President John Cullerton said at the meeting today that the two sides were too far apart to produce results by Tuesday and asked for a short-term budget to get the state through the election. Speaker Madigan concurred.

Republicans maintained that they’re very close to a bipartisan deal and repeatedly pled with the Democrats to reconsider, but eventually the governor ended the meeting.

…Adding… SJ-R

“There was a dramatic change in tone today,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno following a short meeting between Rauner and the four leaders Friday morning. “The Democrat leaders essentially pulled the plug on negotiations. They want to push the balanced budget reforms off until the fall, after the election.”

…Adding More… As subscribers know, Democrats on the collective bargaining working group proposed a way to work around the governor’s previous demand that health care be taken out of collective bargaining rights. It found favor with the governor. So, I’m not sure what Speaker Madigan is talking about.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The rhetoric is really heating up. Tribune

Emerging from Friday’s private meeting, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton had asked for a “timeout” until after the November election and had walked away from negotiations for a grand compromise that Rauner remains publicly optimistic about despite the odds against it. […]

Madigan, for his part, defended the spending plan that he pushed through his chamber, saying it was “a bill that will provide no hostage-taking.”

“We’re not going to hold hostage people that need education, like elementary and secondary education, or higher education. We’re not going to hold hostage people that need health care. We’re not going to hold hostage people that need social services,” Madigan said. “There will be a complaint that the state does not have sufficient money to pay for that budget, and I have said for the last year and a half, I’m prepared to negotiate with the governor to find the money to pay for those services. My first choice in finding money would be taxing the wealthy.”


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