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*** UPDATED x3 *** Quick stopgap budget roundup

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* Tribune

The Illinois House and Senate on Thursday approved a stopgap budget that would keep state government afloat for six months, ensure schools open this fall and provide help to struggling Chicago Public Schools after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly struck a deal amid intense political pressure with the November election looming.

The overwhelming votes followed two days of closed-door negotiations, the first meaningful round of give-and-take on the budget as the state was about to enter a second straight year without a full spending plan come Friday.

Without a temporary budget in place, schools faced the possibility of not opening this fall, thousands of construction workers could spend the summer off the job, and the state’s unraveling network of social service programs faced further decimation.

“I suspect the reality is everybody wanted to get someplace and get us on the road to solving these problems. So I think the governor was very anxious to have a program in place to fund public education, so was everybody else,” said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat and top lieutenant of House Speaker Michael Madigan. “So I think there was pressure everywhere you looked to do something, and I think this is that something.”

* Sun-Times

But amidst the back-patting and words of compromise, House Speaker Mike Madigan couldn’t resist taking a shot at the Republican governor.

After the stopgap budget passed his chamber 105-4, Madigan said that problem with passing budgets has been Rauner’s insistence on including “his personal agenda that hurts families.”

“Many previous efforts to implement a more comprehensive budget failed due to the governor’s insistence on the inclusion of his agenda that would drive down middle class wages and standards of living,” Madigan said.

“The difference today is that the governor has dropped his demand that his agenda be considered before a budget could be approved.”

* AP

Republican House Leader Jim Durkin said it would’ve been “atrocious” and likely spur a public revolt if lawmakers finished another fiscal year without a budget. He noted that even with the compromise, the ongoing budget standoff between Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature will be an election-year issue.

“Mark my word that it will be articulated in the fall by various entities,” he said.


*** UPDATE 1 ***  Rep. Kelly Cassidy had a pretty good constituent update, so I’m going to use it here…

This week we returned to Springfield and today passed a package of bills representing a compromise with the Governor and Republicans on a stop-gap budget for fiscal year ‘16 and the first six months of fiscal year ‘17. Most significantly there are no turn-around agenda items included in these bills and State operations will continue. Here is a summary of what is included:

K-12 Education:

    Increases General State Aid by $361 million
    Equity Grant to assist high poverty schools
    $75 million increase to early childhood education
    Full year of funding for fiscal year ‘17

Higher Education

    $1 billion in funding for universities, community colleges, MAP Grants, adult education, career & technical education, Illinois Math & Science academy operations
    Covers FY ‘16 & first half of FY ‘17
    Developed by members of the budget working group

Human Services

    Includes $667 million in funds from the Commitment to Human Services Fund for programs not currently operating under court order
    Covers 65% of full funding for the 18 month period
    Includes programs that were suspended, such as immigration services, autism programs, Teen Reach & other youth programs.

Agency Operations

    Funded from the Budget Stabilization Fund ($275 million), General Revenue Funds ( $448 million) and Commitment to Human Services Fund ($31 million) for operational expenses. These amounts will pay for expenses such as utilities, FOID, medical care, gas, etc.


    The bills include appropriations for IDOT projects, EPA projects and other development projects that have had to shut down mid-construction

Other State Funds

    Includes items such as federal funds for the Area Agencies on Aging, LUST fund reimbursements, emergency response appropriations and other similar programs

These items are funded using existing funds only. We remain far short of what is needed for full operations and we will need to address our revenue short-fall before the end of the first six months of this fiscal year. Agencies that have gone without payments or contracts while providing services should expect to begin receiving payments under this plan.

Other items addressed today:

SB2822 Chicago Pension Parity - This bill will establish a one year (FY ‘17) requirement that the State make a contribution of $205 million to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, creating parity with downstate and suburban teacher pension funds.

SB 318 Chicago Property Tax Increase for Teachers Pension Fund - This bill would re-establish an annual property tax levy for the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund. This levy would be capped at a rate of 0.383%, which is estimated to generate $250 million. The proceeds of the tax would be paid directly to the pension fund. The additional tax rate would not be subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (the tax cap).

While today’s actions represent real progress, my wish would have been for us to have passed a full budget with sufficient revenues to operate for a full year. I will continue to advocate for a truly responsible solution to restore stability and fiscal health to the State.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The Illinois State Board of Education has run the numbers for the GSA funding formula increase. Click here to see the list by district.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Oy…

The ratings are here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Video *** Comptroller Munger to “reassess” lawmaker pay delay

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* Legislators haven’t been paid since late March because Comptroller Leslie Munger decided to throw their paychecks into the pile of unpaid bills along with everyone else. It was, she said, a way of showing lawmakers how their inaction on a state budget was impacting social service providers, many of which were struggling to keep their doors open.

Legislators will likely receive their April paychecks next week because the state payments for bills from the end of April will also be going out the door.

Munger’s chief of staff just told me that the office will now look at the just-passed stopgap budget package and “reassess” Munger’s decision. He said they’ll be looking at upcoming payment delays and “who’s going to be waiting when,” with a particular emphasis on social service providers. If they think they’ll be able to catch up, then Munger could release the hold on paychecks.

* This has been a huge topic of discussion for legislators who don’t have outside jobs, independent wealth and/or employed spouses.

Sen. Kimberly Lightford spoke out today on the Senate floor, saying legislators are not vendors, they’re employees of the Senate and House. All other state employees are being paid by court order, of course…

*** UPDATE ***  Video of Sen. Lightford’s remarks

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Silver: Trump is gonna get trounced in Illinois

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* Pearson writes about Nate Silver’s latest prediction that Donald Trump has just a 20 percent chance of winning the election. Here’s the relevant Illinois part

Illinois traditionally trends Democratic in presidential election years, and Silver’s polls-only forecast shows the state would be the 10th-most lopsided of states going to Clinton, favoring her by at least 18 percent and putting her odds of winning its 20 electoral votes at 97 percent.

In electoral-vote rich states of California and New York, Clinton’s odds are rated even better, at close to 99 percent. But if the election were held today, Silver said, Clinton’s odds in her birth state of Illinois would be 98.7 percent.

No surprise there. What’ll be most interesting to people like me is how Trump will do in contested legislative and congressional districts.

* Related…

* Sneed exclusive: Ditka politely declines Trump’s invitation: In an email to the Trump folks, Sneed stated, “Mike Ditka said he’d love to speak although he hadn’t heard from you guys yet, how about a few words from your boss. It could be great!” Thus, in a three-way conference call orchestrated by Sneed at 2:15 p.m., Trump officially invited Ditka — a huge Trump fan — to speak at the Republican convention next month.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

K-12 preliminary analysis

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* Stand for Illinois Children takes a look at the new K-12 plan

We got some snippets of information about the education bill that looks like it’s coming together and wanted to provide an update. (But keep in mind that we haven’t seen bill language for the formula changes and that none of this is a done deal until they pass it to the Governor’s desk and he signs it into law.) […]

First, the (as-yet-unseen) bill would give every school district the same amount as they received last year through the formula. Then, $250 million would be distributed through an Equity Grant, which would flow to districts based on their poverty concentration. Finally, every district would get at least what it would have received if the formula were fully funded next year, even if the first two pieces didn’t get them quite there. My math shows the total increased cost would be $328 million.

This isn’t a long-term solution to fix the deeply inequitable funding disparities in Illinois. Illinois’s school formula is one of the most regressive and unfair system in the country and we desperately need a comprehensive solution. But, without an education budget in place, the neediest students in the poorest districts will suffer the most. The Equity Grant proposal takes a step toward equity while giving the legislature time to come up with a new funding structure.

Below are two charts. The first shows where new dollars would be allocated if the current General State Aid (GSA) formula were fully funded. The second shows how the Equity Grant proposal increase is allocated. Funding the current GSA system results in a trendline that has no correlation to district need. The Equity Grant trend shows more dollars being delivered to schools with higher rates of poverty – exactly the direction that Illinois needs to move in.

The bill was released after the above was written. It’s an amendment to SB 2047.

* The two charts

* More

Want to know more details about what this means for your own school district? Here’s our best guess. Keep in mind we haven’t seen language and there are a few variables that could change. (In fact, one variable will definitely change – we need to revise this using net GSA numbers for last year instead of gross GSA. It’s not a huge difference, but we’ll dig that up ASAP and update this.) In general, lower-income districts across the state will see the biggest per pupil gains, from Antioch far up north (+$788 per pupil) to Anna-Jonesboro far down south (+$600) and from Brooklyn in the Metro East (+$650) to South Holland in the South suburbs (+$491). Chicago Public Schools has the 111th biggest per pupil gains (+$291).

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

What’s in the BIMP?

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* House Democrats received this brief analysis of the budget implementation bill today. Click the pic if you need a larger image

…Adding… The BIMP has passed the House.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

More heroin/Fentanyl deaths than traffic fatalities

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* Wow

Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil has been tracking heroin deaths for a long time, and sounded the alarm several years ago when he believed the problem was reaching epidemic proportions.

Initially, he saw five or six deaths in a year, but then he saw those numbers double, triple and quadruple.

This year, the county could have its worst year ever as far as deaths due to heroin and opiate overdoses. The reason? Fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opiate, blamed in the recent death of musician Prince, that is cheaper than heroin and is often mixed with it, or offered to an unsuspecting buyer in the guise of being heroin.

Last year, Will County recorded 53 overdose deaths linked to heroin and fentanyl — more than the 51 deaths caused by traffic accidents in the county. The numbers were even worse in Cook County, where the 526 heroin and fentanyl deaths last year were more than double the 240 traffic fatalities. […]

The state’s Heroin Crisis Act, which took effect Jan. 1, will, in part, increase access to naloxone, which local police departments and paramedics have credited with saving lives.

Without the access to naloxone — the new law also requires it be made available at pharmacies — Will County could “easily have over 300″ heroin related deaths, O’Neil said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

BGA takes a look at an anti-union group

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* From the BGA

A small and obscure law firm backed by powerful forces sympathetic to what critics say is Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-union agenda is on the front lines of a groundbreaking government vs. labor mêlée underway in Illinois.

The Liberty Justice Center in Chicago is representing the Village of Lincolnshire in two lawsuits brought by organized labor against the municipality’s passage of an ordinance declaring a “right-to-work zone” for the private sector. In such designated areas, employees cannot be forced to pay union dues, even if a workplace within the zone is unionized.

Labor unions vehemently oppose right-to-work zones and top legal experts question the concept. As a result, municipal leaders trying to implement such zones are in for prolonged and costly legal battles at taxpayers’ expense, experts say.

Lincolnshire officials, however, took that risk because the Liberty Justice Center promised to represent them pro bono, says the northern Illinois suburb’s village manager.

Liberty Justice Center is also providing pro bono representation in a case with potentially even greater labor ramifications: Challenging unions’ right to collect “fair share” dues from state workers who opt not to join a public employee union.

Liberty Justice Center is funded by and shares offices with the Illinois Policy Institute, a self-professed free-market-oriented and fiscally conservative non-profit organization. The law center was founded in 2011 by IPI’s CEO John Tillman; conservative talk radio host Dan Proft; and Hinsdale real estate developer and attorney Patrick Hughes.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

What’s at stake today

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* Press release…

The Board of Directors that oversees a 72-bed shelter for homeless men in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago voted last night (Wednesday) to close its doors on July 31st because the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services said it was unable to process a contract until the State of Illinois passes a budget for the fiscal year 2017.

The shelter is run by the Interim Housing Program of North Side Housing and Supportive Services which was founded in 1983. It is located in the Peoples Church at 941 W. Lawrence Ave., and has been in operation for several years. It is open 365 days a year; and in the past year, more than 320 different men spent a total of 18,000 nights at the shelter.

Over half of the shelter’s funding, or about $255,000 per year, is provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services through contracts with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

Richard Ducatenzeiler, Executive Director of North Side Housing and Supportive Services was notified by the City of Chicago that, “…until we know what is going to happen to the state budget we are not at this time processing the IDHS contracts.”

North Side Housing and Supportive Services, is a non-profit social services organization. In addition to the Interim Housing Program (shelter), North Side also provides case management, permanent supportive housing, and other supportive services for the homeless.

“Our other programs are funded by donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies,” Ducatenzeiler said. “We have no extra funding. Without the state funding for the shelter, we are forced to shut it down until replacement funds can be found. The program will cease to operate on July 31st if no contract is executed.”

As flawed as it may be, that stopgap budget needs to pass.

* Related…

* Illinois Issues: The Impasse And The Damage Done

- Posted by Rich Miller   101 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* What one word would you use to sum up this week’s events?

- Posted by Rich Miller   136 Comments      

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Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

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*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Thursday, Jun 30, 2016

* Here we go, campers. Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      

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Deal outline begins to emerge

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

[Most updates will be found on our live coverage post for a while. Easier for me that way. Click here to follow along.]

* I’ve talked with a couple of people who have been briefed about what went on today at the leaders meeting. It was described to me as the outline of a deal.

On K-12…

    $250 million for statewide poverty grant. CPS would get a sizable chunk of that. [ADDING: CPS’ cut of that would be about 38 percent, which works out to $95 million. It could also be 40 percent, if they use the House Dems’ version of education funding.]

    Legislature would mandate authorize CPS to levy beyond the property tax cap (a bill that’s sitting in the Senate) [ADDING: This, by the way, isn’t to say that the governor “supports” a property tax hike for Chicago. What this does is essentially allow Chicago to solve/address most of its own problems.]

    Starting June 1st next year, CPS would receive “pension parity” [ADDING: A third source says the pension parity bill will be voted on very soon (structured roll call), but the GA will hold the bill while everybody works on pension reform. The agreement is they have to transmit the bill to Rauner before this GA adjourns in January. The governor will veto the bill if there is no pension reform passed in the interim].

* On the stopgap…

    Also hearing stopgap deal is basically done. GOMB is drafting it. Everything’s starting in the House on what I’m told will be a single Senate bill.

    ADDING: The stopgap bill is the budget working group’s version, I’m told. It’s basically the contents of Cullerton’s approp bills (SB2055, 2056 and 2057).

Remember, however, things change. Stuff goes off the rails. Stay tuned.

…Adding… Vinicky

“There’s a likelihood of the bridge budget, the stopgap if you will,” Republican Rep. Dan Brady, of Bloomington said in the early afternoon.

If it pans out, that’d lead to a temporary spending plan for universities, social services and government operations.

A source says that would be separate from funding for schools; something Brady calls a “tender nerve.”

Democrats favor spending hundreds of millions of dollars more on education, in part to help out the financially struggling Chicago Public Schools.

A deal on that could be in the works, perhaps by allowing Chicago to raise its property taxes; however that would fly in the face of Gov. Rauner’s steadfast promotion of a property tax freeze.
Brady says there needs to be a way to avoid the perception of what Republicans and downstaters call a CPS “bailout.”

…Adding More… OK, last one. Tribune

First, the state would add about $250 million in spending intended for school districts with low-income students. A sizable, to-be-determined chunk of that money would go to CPS.

Second, lawmakers would approve a bill to allow Chicago to raise property taxes to help pay for CPS pensions. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing for Springfield to give him the authority to restore a property tax levy that would be dedicated to teacher pensions, and has estimated that doing so would generate an additional $175 million for the district.

And third, the state would start picking up about $200 million of CPS pension costs, but wouldn’t start doing so until next year. The delay in part is meant to allow the legislation to pass with just a simple majority. That’s because the threshold to enact bills jumped to a three-fifths majority after May 31. The pension spending could be tied to lawmakers sending Rauner separate legislation to help relieve the state’s pension troubles, with Rauner reserving the right to reject the pension help for CPS if the statewide pension legislation doesn’t materialize down the road. […]

The approach being crafted would provide full-year funding for schools statewide. The stopgap spending measure is designed to keep state government open for six months. That would allow Rauner and ruling Democrats in the General Assembly to punt their larger budget fight until after the November election.

- Posted by Rich Miller   158 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Do you think the state should give local government entities the option to declare bankruptcy? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

bike tracks

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      

Rauner proposal funds abstinence education grants

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Um, OK…

* From May 22, 2013

Illinois public schools that teach sex education will be required to provide information about birth control under a measure the Senate sent to Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday.

The legislation is a change from current policy, where abstinence is the only requirement for schools with sex ed classes. The measure was approved on a 37-21 vote and needed 30 to pass.

Supporters argue that abstinence-only education is not effective and students should be taught about other methods of birth control and protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Opponents contend abstinence-only education should remain the norm in schools, saying parents should decide how to educate their kids about sex.

Sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said the measure still would require schools to teach that abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy and disease, while at the same time allowing “students to make healthy decisions for themselves.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      

Social services implode as middle class shrinks

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Chicago Magazine took a look at the Chicago-area social service providers from that devastating United Way of Illinois survey we’ve talked about before

Chicago-area humanitarian groups have long warned that the Illinois state budget crisis would cause irreparable damage to the state’s social safety net, and the latest survey numbers suggest it’s already happened.

Of the 172 human service agencies in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will County surveyed by United Way this month, 91 percent said they had cut clients due to budget troubles. That’s up from 37 percent of agencies who said the same in July 2015.

More than half (55 percent) of the agencies said they would have to cease some services within the next six months if the state doesn’t fix its budget problem. And 36 percent say they will have to close their doors in that time frame. That’s 61 groups providing services like shelters for the homeless, food for the hungry, mental health care, support for domestic violence victims, and educational services that will soon shutter, according the United Way survey.

* And then there’s this context

While it’s never a good sign for social service organizations to be shuttering and turning down clients, this comes at a particularly tough time for the Chicago metro area, as the Metropolitan Planning Council reports that the middle class is shrinking (down 9 percent between 2000 and 2014) and mostly moving into the lower class (up 16 percent in the same time frame). As Marisa Novara writes, “This may be due in part to the fact that our unemployment rate jumped a full 63 percent from 2000 to 2014, from 4.3 percent to 7.1, an increase second only to Los Angeles among peer metros.”

* From that MPC report

A conundrum amidst continuous news of the endless permutations of the middle class: If the middle class is shrinking, is it because the lower class is growing, or the upper? It turns out that for the Chicago region, it’s both, with substantially higher growth among the lower-income. From 2000 to 2014, the percentage of lower-income metro Chicagoans grew from 23.6 to 27.4, a jump of 16 percent. Middle incomers dropped from 56.3 to 51.1, a loss of 9 percent, and upper incomers grew from 20.2 to 21.5, an increase of 6 percent.

These changes are actually less extreme than those in, for instance, the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, where the lower class grew by 22 percent, middle class fell by 11 percent, and upper class increased 12 percent.

According to Pew, looking back further to 1970 shows an even more pronounced shrinking of the middle class. For the entire country, the middle-income share decreased from 61 percent in 1971 to 50 percent in 2015. Over this nearly 45-year period, the share of the upper-income tier rose from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the share in the lower-income tier increased from 25 percent to 29 percent.

According to Census data, Chicago’s shift was even more extreme: The share of middle class families in metropolitan Chicago has declined from 72 percent in 1970 to just 47 percent today.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Reporters are understandably freaking out about Chicago’s violence

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Oy…

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

IDPH director violated rules, judge declares, so med-mar coverage must include PTSD

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Tribune

A Cook County judge ruled Tuesday that the state must add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana.

The ruling may be rendered moot by pending legislation that would do the same thing. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office had indicated he will sign it, after previously blocking expansion of the medical marijuana program.

The court ruling is potentially significant because there are pending lawsuits seeking to add seven other conditions to the list, including cases involving chronic pain and osteoarthritis that are before the same judge.

In his opinion, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen criticized Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah for failing to follow the recommendations of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

* AP

Illinois law allows people to petition the state to add health conditions to the eligible list, but Rauner’s administration has rejected all new conditions despite the advice of an expert panel that reviewed available medical evidence.

In the case of PTSD, the advisory board voted unanimously to add it, but Shah, a Rauner appointee, conducted his own investigation and rejected PTSD applying a standard of medical evidence that “appears nowhere in the Act or the Department’s rules,” the judge wrote. Shah not only deprived the plaintiff of his right to due process but also “was contrary to the plain language of the Department’s rules,” Cohen wrote. […]

Seven other plaintiffs have filed similar lawsuits seeking to add these conditions to the Illinois program: chronic post-operative pain, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, polycystic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, intractable pain and autism. Cohen is the judge in the chronic pain and osteoarthritis cases, while the others are before other judges.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

“It was as if a mini-Capitol had sprouted”

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* I’m excerpting too much from Molly Parker’s article because it’s pretty darned good

A war of words erupted in Marion on Tuesday between a Republican House candidate taking a “Fire Madigan” pledge and his supporters, and a group of people who came out to protest the event with a message of their own: “Fire Rauner.”

The protesters – about a dozen of them – held their “Fire Rauner” signs to the window of Dave Severin’s campaign office, where inside the Republican from Benton challenging Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, read prepared remarks about what he deemed the “defining issue in this campaign.”

Severin was flanked by a handful of supporters at the news conference, which was attended by one reporter, as he announced, “I pledge to fire Mike Madigan.”

He then went on to say that “Bradley’s loyalty to Mike Madigan has dire consequences” for the people of Southern Illinois, and closed his prepared remarks by signing a giant pledge card sealing his decision not to cast a vote for Madigan as speaker should he be elected to the House this November – not that Madigan would have been counting on his vote anyway.

Pressed on who Bradley and other downstate Democrats should support for Speaker when the 100th General Assembly is seated in January, Severin offered up zero alternatives.

The whole ordeal — including a heated exchange between a Severin supporter and a “Fire Rauner” protester stationed outside, with both trying to talk over one another, and neither even attempting to acknowledge the other’s point of view — seemed to mimic the events playing out in Springfield that have led to a protracted budget stalemate.

It was as if a mini-Capitol had sprouted in an otherwise ordinary Marion parking lot strip mall housing offices, a tattoo parlor and Mexican restaurant.

That’s even more so because the sharp political exchange that began at noon was sandwiched between two other events — of social service providers in the morning, and higher education leaders in the afternoon — where local leaders discussed the devastating effects the budget impasse is having on the region, economically and socially.

She can write, that one.

* Parker also wrote about something that I told subscribers about today. From the Dave Severin campaign Facebook page

Well, if there was any doubt that John Bradley and Mike Madigan are best buds, this guy who protested our news conference removes it all! ‪#‎LoveThePassion‬

Check out the video


- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Kirk slams Duckworth and “crooked Democratic machine in Springfield” which defended her

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Pearson

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth and the state may have settled a potentially politically problematic lawsuit alleging workplace retaliation last week, but Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign is trying to make voters feel very unsettled about it.

A one-minute radio ad that Team Kirk said will air in Chicago and Springfield goes on the attack against Duckworth, calling her a “partisan pawn.”

“The crooked Democratic machine in Springfield spent tens of thousands of tax dollars to defend Duckworth in court, so you paid the price,” a female narrator says. “The Democratic machine protected Tammy, not the whistleblowers … and not our veterans. Haven’t we had enough of Blagojevich’s corruption?”

On Friday, Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office announced the case, which had gone on for years, had been settled for the “nuisance value” of $26,000 and “no finding of a violation of the law.”

* Click here to listen to the ad.

* Script…

Fighting for her political career, Tammy Duckworth finally settled a seven-year lawsuit because she tried to silence whistleblowers who exposed Duckworth’s poor record as Rod Blagojevich’s veterans’ chief.

Duckworth settled the lawsuit so she wouldn’t have to testify in open court about her shameful record – humiliating workers who reported shoddy care for veterans, and telling them to keep quiet.

When one employee blew the whistle on abuse of veterans, Duckworth even told her to quote shut her mouth.

Why? Voters will never know.

The crooked Democratic machine in Springfield spent tens of thousands of tax dollars to defend Duckworth in court, so you paid the price.

The Democratic machine protected Tammy, not the whistleblowers… and not our veterans.

Haven’t we had enough of Blagojevich’s corruption?

Illinois can’t afford to send a partisan pawn like Tammy Duckworth to the US Senate.

That “crooked” machine would be led by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Interesting choice there. But, as I’ve told you before, the GOP is already gearing up to challenge her in two years.

…Adding… MrJM in comments…


Team Kirk is desperately trying to distance themselves from their party’s presidential nominee, but still can’t resist using Trump’s trademark divisive language.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

A little late

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* OK, so now we know why the Daily Herald jumped in with their drama-filled editorial late yesterday

About a dozen Illinois newspapers are using their front pages to call on Illinois’ political leaders to end the state’s year-old budget stalemate.

Newspapers in Springfield, Chicago and other cities are publishing simultaneous editorials in their editions Wednesday, when lawmakers return to the capitol to debate budget proposals.

Newspapers rarely use their front pages for opinion pieces or coordinate opinions. Many plan to use the headline “Enough.”

Rosanne Cheeseman is interim publisher of the (Springfield) State Journal-Register, which coordinated the effort. She said papers are taking the unusual step because lawmakers appear to have stopped listening to constituents.

* Some newspapers, like the Northwest Herald, simply ran the same editorial as the SJ-R. It’s not bad at all. Others, like the Decatur Herald & Review, ran their own editorials.

* But the News-Gazette was having none of that and doubled down on its support for Gov. Rauner

But that [2011] tax hike — Madigan’s solution then as it is now — solved nothing. That’s why it’s our view that Rauner would be making a mistake by acceding to Madigan’s tax hike proposal without gaining needed reforms in exchange. He has proposed changes to the state’s workers’ compensation plan, offered to back Democratic Senate President John Cullerton’s pension reform legislation and asked that local governments be given more flexibility in negotiating with unions to control costs.

Those changes could help make a positive difference in restoring Illinois’ weak economy to good health.

It would be easy now for Rauner to simply throw up his hands and cave in to Madigan’s demands. The Chicago Democrat is tough as nails in the pursuit of his political goals.

But it would solve nothing. Rauner didn’t run for governor to preside over Illinois’ continuing decline. That’s why this battle — obnoxious and unpalatable though it is — will likely resume when the truce expires after the November election.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Group warns Rauner stopgap does “nothing” for human service provider contracts

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* From the Illinois Collaboration on Youth…

Dear PNI coalition and potential plaintiffs,

We wake to newspapers across the state declaring “Enough!” and a small cameo for the PNI Coalition in last night’s broadcast of The Daily Show.

We also wake to details of the Governor’s proposed stopgap bill that was filed yesterday. Unfortunately, it appears that HB6591 will have little to offer human service providers despite its 773 pages. ICOY has analyzed it for youth-related funding in human services (see attached analysis of Federal and non-Federal funding) and found that it will do NOTHING to address our concerns about payment under our contracts. I strongly encourage you to take a look to see if your funding would be included as well.

Further, Nora (ICOY’s Policy Director) notes:

    HB6591 was filed 6/28/16 as the Governor’s second proposed stop gap bill for FY16 and FY17. Article 23 provides for limited operational expenses, but this does not include many of the services delivered via contractual obligations without existing appropriation authority. Article 94 provides for limited operations for FY17, including many FY17 federal passthrough funds. Please note that if this bill is enacted - and SB2038 is enacted - HB6591 has a provision that repeals the section of SB2038 that prohibits the executive branch from reallocating funds to other budget items outside the intent of SB2038. Specifically, it would repeal ARTICLE 996 of SB2038: “No appropriation authority granted in this Act shall be used for personal services, state contribution for employee group insurance, contractual services, travel, commodities, equipment, permanent improvements, land, electronic data processing, operation of automotive equipment, or telecommunications services, as those terms are defined in Section 13 of the State Finance Act.” (The Governor also had another “clean” K12 education bill filed HB6590 on 6/28/16).

In short, please do not get swept away by rhetoric and false hope today. Please review this bill closely and speak to your legislators about what you find. It is unlikely that they have scrutinized such a massive bill with your interests in mind. The House convenes at 11 am and the Senate at noon.

* Click the chart if you need a larger image

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

“The wasteland that is Illinois”

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* The Daily Show took a whack at Illinois yesterday, with a not so flattering focus on the governor. Also, the bit where Rep. Ron Sandack completely denies blame for anything whatsoever is truly something to behold

[Click here if the embedded video doesn’t load for you.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   100 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** LIVE *** Leaders meeting and session Coverage

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* The leaders are scheduled to meet at 9 today. Click here to watch live video from our good pals at The House convenes at 11, the Senate at noon. Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

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Good morning!

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

* Keep your fingers crossed…

* And let’s hope the feeling lasts through the day

Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Stay tuned

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016

[Bumped up for visibility.]

* Keep an eye on BlueRoomStream’s live video feed from the Statehouse. They’re covering this afternoon’s leaders meeting, which started at 4:30 or so.

At about 5:20, Speaker Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton emerged from the meeting. Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown announced that the two were “taking a break,” and would return.

I’m hearing from within that this is “potentially” a sign of progress. Keep your fingers crossed. But this being Illinois, don’t hold your breath. You could die.

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

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