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A look at the Chicago numbers

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Ralph Martire on the “blame Chicago” rhetoric

The problem is the current rhetoric about the Chicago bailout, just like the vast majority of past attempts to pit downstate Illinois against Chicago, creates a false dichotomy that ultimately encourages legislation counter to the interests of downstate communities. Understanding why this is the case, requires an understanding of what the dreaded “Chicago bailout” actually entails. The key element of the proposal involves providing some financial support to Chicago Public Schools, by having the state cover all or a portion of the “normal pension cost” — that is, the employer cost of future retirement benefits — currently being earned by CPS teachers.

Many of you are probably wondering why state tax dollars collected everywhere from Rockford to Marion, should be used to cover the normal cost of pension benefits being earned by teachers in Chicago. Well, first and foremost, because Illinois already pays the normal cost of pension benefits earned by teachers in every school district statewide except Chicago. That’s right, CPS is the only school district that has to fund its own normal cost.

Of course, this also means Chicago taxpayers foot the full pension bill for CPS teachers, while also chipping in to cover a portion of the pension benefits being earned by teachers in Rockford, Marion, Winnetka — heck, you name it. And lest you think that contribution isn’t significant, Chicago residents alone account for roughly 20 percent of all income tax revenue collected statewide. So, the proposal isn’t so much a bailout — but rather an attempt to put CPS on equal footing with every other school district.

* Sun-Times today

The Chicago Public Schools will make a $676 million payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund due Thursday even though that massive payment will leave the nearly bankrupt school system with just $24 million in the bank — enough to cover just 1.5 days of payroll.

“Chicago Public Schools will make that pension payment. . . . In the last two years, the city of Chicago has made more pension payments to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund than the preceding 15 years. Payments weren’t made by Springfield or anybody else, and that was wrong,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday.

Emanuel said CPS would “not have a financial challenge” if Chicago taxpayers were not paying twice — through property taxes for the pensions of their own teachers and through income taxes for the pensions of teachers outside the city.

* According to the governor’s budget office, the state’s pension contribution to the Downstate and suburban Teachers Retirement System is estimated at $3.743 billion this fiscal year. If the 20 percent number is accurate across the board, Chicagoans are paying roughly $749 million to the state to fund a pension system that doesn’t include their own teachers - on top of the $676 million payment they’re making Thursday for their own pension fund.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Rauner looks to the South for inspiration

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Greg Hinz

Rauner’s right that the state’s economy has lagged, and has done so for a long time. But will his solution work?

Fortunately, we don’t have to go very far to find a real-world point of comparison. That’s in neighboring Wisconsin, another Rust Belt state that has lagged the nation’s growth for decades, but which, in January 2011, got a new governor much in the mold of Rauner in Scott Walker. And unlike Rauner, Walker had a GOP-majority legislature to work with, so he was able to actually get through the sorts of union-weakening measures that Rauner so far can only dream of.

Did it work? According to research forwarded to me a few months back by the Rauner-friendly Illinois Policy Institute, between January 2010 and January 2016, total private-sector job growth in Illinois and Wisconsin was almost identical: 7 percent here versus 7.1 percent there.

Using a slightly different time period shows a slightly different result.

According to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data crunched for me by my colleague John Pletz, comparing December 2010 (the month Walker took over) to December 2015 shows a 5 percent employment gain for Wisconsin to 3.3 percent for Illinois. But Illinois entered the great recession a little later than Wisconsin and came out of it a little later. So if you compare December 2008 to December 2015, the difference is just 1.2 percent, with Wisconsin up 2.4 percent and Illinois half that.

When I asked Rauner about that when he appeared before Crain’s editorial board last week—click on the video and go to around minute 53 — he said it “takes time” for changes to kick in.

Fair enough, but if you look just at the last two years, December 2013 to December 2015, the job growth figures again are almost dead even: 2 percent here versus 2.4 percent there

* Greg asked Rauner if that data suggests “the reforms you want aren’t the great panacea?” His reply

“No, not at all. The comparables are not necessarily just Wisconsin, or Michigan or Indiana. But the comparables are Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia where there’s a lot more rapid growth. You’ll see in the long-term, Wisconsin and Michigan start to fix their problems, and you can certainly see it in Indiana. Indiana started fixing their problems earlier than Wisconsin and Michigan, that’s why they’re taking so many more of our jobs and their financial health is so much better.

“Wisconsin’s financial health isn’t all that good. See, Wisconsin and Michigan, but especially Wisconsin, they were a collectivist state, even before Illinois. And they were more extreme than Illinois in the collectivism. And they’ve already got a high graduated income tax and they’ve already got embedded the problems that we haven’t gone to yet. I’m trying to prevent us from going there, because once you get there, coming back from that is all the harder.”

There’s that word again.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner admin responds *** AFSCME local to hold “special strike assessment” meeting

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* This flier was recently posted on the union bulletin board at the state prison in Decatur…

* I asked AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall for an explanation…

Rich,

As you know, the Rauner administration walked away from negotiations on Jan. 8 and has refused to meet with the AFSCME bargaining committee ever since. Instead, the governor is asking his Labor Board to give him the unprecedented power to unilaterally impose his harmful terms—including massive hikes in employee costs for health care, freezing wages for four years, and wiping out existing safeguards against reckless privatization.

If Rauner imposes, public service workers in state government will be forced to choose between working under those harmful terms or going out on strike.

AFSCME members don’t want a strike and continue doing everything in our power to avoid one. We want to be at work, serving our communities, protecting kids, responding to emergencies, caring for veterans and the disabled and much more. We have repeatedly indicated our willingness to return to the bargaining table and our readiness to offer further compromises in hopes of reaching a fair agreement. We supported legislation to prevent a strike and instead settle the differences between the parties through a fair arbitration process.

But we know that as a candidate, Bruce Rauner vowed to force a strike and shut down state government. We know that last summer his administration was attempting to recruit strikebreakers, even reportedly discussing the mobilization of the National Guard. And we know that the administration still refuses to meet with our bargaining committee.

Governor Rauner’s threatening approach has created instability and uncertainty throughout state government. We have to be prepared for him to continue seeking confrontation and sowing chaos. That’s why AFSCME local unions throughout Illinois are meeting to share information and answer questions, and continuing to organize and build community support.

Anders

I’ll let you know what the Rauner administration says about it, if they choose to respond.

*** UPDATE ***  From an administration spokesperson…

We are deeply disappointed that, in the middle of impasse proceedings before the Labor Board, AFSCME is reportedly planning for a strike vote. To even talk of striking, much less taking a vote, before the Labor Board has had a chance to rule in this case is not only irresponsible but also a violation of the parties’ Tolling Agreement. Rest assured, although the Governor hopes employees reject AFSCME’s irresponsible call to strike, our contingency planning team is ready and will not let AFSCME’s actions disrupt the provision of services to Illinois citizens.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* SJ-R

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday reiterated he will not support what he calls a bailout of Chicago schools as part of his effort to get lawmakers to pass a stopgap budget and funding for K-12 education.

At a Statehouse news conference, Rauner said Democratic leaders have indicated they’re willing to hold up education funding to secure additional money for the Chicago school system.

“The people of Illinois should not be held up to bail out Chicago schools,” Rauner said.

* Sun-Times

The state’s board of education, headed and governed by Rauner appointees, launched a financial investigation last winter into CPS’ finances. Through that probe, it determined that CPS didn’t meet criteria for the certification of financial distress necessary for the state board to take financial control.

CPS faces a $1.1 billion deficit in the new fiscal year starting July 1, and has been hoarding cash to make a massive pension payment on June 30. It passed last year’s budget with a $480 million gap and has been begging Springfield to help ever since, borrowing hundreds of millions at sky-high interest rates in the meantime. The district has also argued it is exempt from state oversight and has been lobbying for a change to the state funding formula for schools.

* But it’s not just about Chicago money. Riverbender

“Governor Rauner’s proposed education funding plan does not invest enough money into our local schools,” continued [Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton]. “Education funding needs to be made a priority by the governor and my fellow members of the General Assembly, because if an agreement is not made, many schools may not be opening in the fall. It is important that everyone works together to move our all of our schools forward—not just some of our schools.”

Under Rauner’s plan, which was unveiled only hours before the May 31 deadline, two schools in Beiser’s district would see no increase in state funding, East Alton-Wood River CHSD 14 and Wood River-Hartford Elementary School District 15. In total, the governor’s plan would send $2.6 million dollars less to local schools than the plan that Beiser supports.

“The education funding plan that I voted for would send $34.4 million to schools in the 111th district, which would represent an increase for each school district,” Beiser said. “The governor’s plan fails to help every school. In fact, Governor Rauner’s plan shifts funding towards wealthy suburban school districts, while schools like East Alton-Wood River would not see any additional investment. That’s not something I can support.”

* AP

Steven Brown is spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan… says House Democrats approved hundreds of millions more for elementary and secondary education than Rauner seeks. So the schools issue remains unsettled.

…Adding… And this…


* The Question: Knowing that additional money would not be paid for because of a lack of revenues, how much, if any, extra money should Gov. Rauner agree to for all K-12 schools in order to reach a deal on the stopgap budget? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


panel management

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Rauner’s new favorite word

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* June 20th Tribune

Rauner, who described himself as a free-market conservative, went so far as to say that Illinois is being damaged by a “collectivist economy,” employing a term generally used to suggest communist or socialist influence.

“We’ve become a collectivist economy in Illinois. It’s crushing us. And no problem is going to get fixed unless we bring more economic freedom into the state. And I believe that very passionately,” the governor said.

“That’s going to kill us in the long run. I’ve got to change that. And the other issues, we can debate, but that one I have to stay very strong on,” he said.

* And today, when asked about a harsh editorial by Crain’s Chicago Business…


* Merriam Webster

Full Definition of collectivism

1: a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution; also : a system marked by such control

2: emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity

* From Ayn Rand

Collectivism does not preach sacrifice as a temporary means to some desirable end. Sacrifice is its end—sacrifice as a way of life. It is man’s independence, success, prosperity, and happiness that collectivists wish to destroy.

Observe the snarling, hysterical hatred with which they greet any suggestion that sacrifice is not necessary, that a non-sacrificial society is possible to men, that it is the only society able to achieve man’s well-being.

* From a recent Crain’s editorial, entitled “One more burden, and Chicago businesses might break”

Chicago, as anyone in business knows, has a lot to offer. But lately government seems to be going out of its way to negate these pluses. Let’s hope the City Council doesn’t heap yet another burden on job creators with a well-meaning but ill-thought-out law requiring employers to offer five days of paid sick leave a year to employees.

* From the Crain’s endorsement of Bruce Rauner in the 2014 Republican primary

Mr. Rauner understands employers’ priorities and promises to bring a pro-business message to Springfield. He also pledges to put renewed vigor and energy into the state’s marketing efforts and outreach to business.

Illinois could use such a cheerleader. Despite its current straits, this state still has a lot going for it, including global transportation connections, a thriving arts and cultural scene, leading universities, Fortune 500 companies and a close-knit business community that’s accustomed to taking on big civic projects. Putting a businessman in the driver’s seat in Springfield will send a positive message to employers that Illinois is serious about reform and ready to embrace a pro-growth agenda.

* From the Crain’s endorsement of Bruce Rauner in the 2014 general election

Mr. Rauner’s experience as a private-equity investor would benefit Springfield. Government isn’t the same as business, of course. As head of the state’s executive branch, the governor wields real power, but it’s less than that of a chief executive. Still, Mr. Rauner would bring the much-needed perspective of a private-sector leader. And he has a sharp eye for efficiency, something that bloated state government desperately needs.

He is no politician, and that is a good thing.

Mr. Rauner promises reforms that would lessen the burdens on business and promote entrepreneurship, including cutting red tape, making common-sense changes to workers’ compensation and revitalizing the state agency that should be hustling to bring business to Illinois, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He has said he would become the state’s top recruiter. We believe him. […]

Illinois is badly in need of a fresh spirit of confidence that we can tackle the problems that lie ahead. A natural salesman in the best sense of the word, Mr. Rauner will convey a renewed sense of optimism about the future, replacing the funk in which Illinois finds itself. […]

If elected, Mr. Rauner likely would face stiff opposition in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Still, his relationship with the Democratic leadership is unlikely to be worse than Mr. Quinn’s, and could be better, by putting honest differences on the table.

Yep. Collectivists. For sure.

Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      


A violence prevention program that seems to work?

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Sun-Times

Crimes committed by at-risk Chicago students dropped in half, and high-school graduations rose sharply in an innovative education program called Becoming a Man that is capturing national attention and could become one antidote to the city’s persistent bloodshed, according to a newly published study.

BAM focuses on adolescent and teenage boys on the city’s violent South and West sides. They’re deemed at risk to fail and are offered a chance to skip a class to participate in a program that tries to teach them alternatives to having “automatic” negative responses to stressful situations. […]

The randomized study compared about 4,800 BAM students with peers in regular school programs. Violent-crime arrests fell 50 percent, and arrests for all types of crime fell 35 percent among the BAM students — although those declines were not “persistent” after they cycled out of the BAM program.

Nevertheless, high-school graduation rates rose 19 percent among the same BAM kids. […]

A similar program in the Cook County juvenile detention center reduced readmission rates 21 percent, the study concluded.

* Crain’s

The young people were randomly divided into a control group that received no special services and those who for up to two years attended a one-hour weekly counseling session and who had access to a counselor the remainder of the school week—both designed to “help youth recognize their automatic responses and slow down their thinking in high-stakes situations.”

In other words, to think about it, not just pull the trigger.

In the first study conducted during the 2009-10 academic year, the percentage of those who subsequently were arrested for a violent crime in an 18-month period was cut almost in half, 45 percent, amounting to 10 percent of participants, versus 19 percent in the control group. A total of 2,740 young men participated.

Results were very similar in the second round of testing, with 2,064 ninth- and 10th-graders participating. The odds of being arrested for a violent crime were half that in the control group, 6 percent versus 11 percent.

Overall arrests didn’t drop quite as dramatically as arrests for violent offenses but still were off considerably in the study group, down 28 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

* Meanwhile

Seven people were killed and at least 51 people were wounded in weekend shootings across Chicago.

So far this year, over 1,880 people have been shot across the city and more than 200 of those wounded have died of their wounds, according to records kept by the Chicago Tribune. At least 317 people have been killed this year by shooting, stabbing or other means, Tribune records show.

Twelve of the 51 people shot this weekend were wounded in the city’s Harrison District, an area on the west side where more than 270 people have been shot this year.

The busiest period during the weekend was from Saturday morning to early Sunday, when four people were fatally shot and 26 others were hurt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Rauner to hold press conference with mayors

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Press release…

Daily Public Schedule: Monday, June 27, 2016

What: Governor and Local Mayors Discuss Need for Stopgap Budget and Education Funding
Where: State Capitol - Governor’s Office
Date: Monday, June 27, 2016
Time: 10:30 a.m.​

BlueRoomStream.com’s live feed is here. The CMS live feed is here.

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


Today’s quotable

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Riopell

Thursday is the end of a full year without a state budget — plus another blown deadline to make a budget for the new fiscal year that starts Friday. […]

A hodgepodge of federal court action and money from Washington has kept some social services in Illinois intact. Funding for others has fallen away, including Des Plaines-based Lutheran Social Services, which early this year cut 750 jobs and programs for vulnerable people.

A United Way survey suggests more than 1 million people have now lost services as a result of the state’s failure to pass a budget. The new fiscal year beginning Friday means an end to the contracts some of the providers signed with the state, leaving them to wonder if they’ll ever get the state money they’re owed. Dozens are now in court.

“We’ve been told: ‘They’ll resolve this by Labor Day; they’ll resolve this in the veto session; they’ll resolve this after the (candidate) filing session in December,’” said Andrea Durbin, executive director of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, one of the groups leading the lawsuit. “It became clear to us that we cannot rely on the political process to protect us in this.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


More money isn’t everything

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* This is entirely insane

Money may be tight in Bellwood School District 88, but the school board still managed to quietly divert more than $105,000 from an education fund to replenish a retirement account its superintendent drained years ago.

The money added 20 years of service to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System account for Superintendent Rosemary Hendricks. That change, under a TRS formula, would increase annual pension benefits to $77,000 from an estimated $14,000. Taxpayers across the state will pick up the tab, potentially for years to come. […]

District 88’s attorney said Hendricks, 66, is required to repay the $105,504 to the district, but the district has not provided a copy of that agreement or any details about a repayment plan or said whether she must pay interest. […]

Local tax revenue has been flat in Bellwood, and last year the state sent additional aid to the district, which has spent nearly twice as much on administration than the average district in Illinois, state records show. Student achievement lags far behind statewide averages as well. […]

Hendricks was dismissed during her first two terms — in 2008 and 2012 — and the district paid her $120,000 in legal and other settlements. As of last school year, Hendricks had earned more through suing her employers or getting bought out of contracts since the 2008-09 school year than through the time she spent working, state records show.

More state money is obviously not the answer for that particular district (and others).

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Crain’s: “By nearly every measure, the state is worse off since Rauner took office”

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Crain’s Chicago Business endorsed Bruce Rauner in the 2014 Republican primary and then again in the general election. They’re not happy with the results

At the time, we were skeptical that the governor could accomplish much with a Democratic-controlled Legislature. But Rauner assured us that he’d dedicate himself to persuading his opponents—and he promised he would wield his executive powers to work around House Speaker Michael Madigan if he had to.

Madigan, of course, bears the lion’s share of responsibility for the mess Illinois is in, thanks to his decades in power. But Madigan is not the governor. Rauner is. And there’s no way to deny it: By nearly every measure, the state is worse off since Rauner took office. Pension liabilities now top $110 billion and are rising by the minute. The stack of unpaid bills is ballooning, turning Illinois into a notorious deadbeat. Vital social service agencies are being cut. Students are abandoning the state’s universities. Illinois’ credit rating hovers just above junk-bond range. We’re in Year Two without a budget—and the best hope for one is months away, after the Nov. 8 election.

In short, Illinois needs fixing more than ever. No matter how beneficial Rauner’s idea of reform might be for the state’s economy long term, what he’s doing to get there is not working.

It’s time for the governor to redefine victory. It can and should look something like this: Craft a balanced budget by cutting where we can and raising enough sustainable revenue to pay for it. For a governor who once hoped to usher in a raft of business-friendly reforms, this probably will feel like failure. But as he himself noted during a visit to Crain’s editorial board, Illinois hasn’t had a balanced budget in 25 years. If Rauner could deliver one, that alone would be a major accomplishment—and put Illinois finally on the path toward living within our means. We could cheer for that and for him.

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      


More bad news

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Tribune

Between 2014 and 2015, more than 9,000 black residents left Cook County, and since 2010, the Chicago area, which for the census includes parts of Indiana and Wisconsin, has lost more than 35,000 black residents. The exodus is greater than in any other metropolitan area in the country.

“I have very little desire to return to the city,” said Roosevelt Johnson, 47, who moved to Lake County 10 years ago when he first saw the writing on the wall: limited services on the South Side, where he grew up, and unaffordable housing on the North Side, where he later moved. “It became a rat race of having to try to get from Point A to Point B with raising our family. Making sure everyone is in the place they need to be, despite escalating costs. It became too much for us to handle.”

Chicago itself lost 181,000 black residents between 2000 and 2010, according to census data. The numbers are indicative of a larger pattern of Illinois’ general population loss, which dropped by 22,194 residents between 2014 and 2015. The Chicago metropolitan statistical area, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the city and suburbs that extend into Wisconsin and Indiana, lost an estimated 6,263 residents between 2014 and 2015, the area’s first population dip since at least 1990. […]

Census numbers also show that African-Americans continue to move to the suburbs, a pattern that slowly began in the 1970s, when manufacturing jobs started to dry up, and picked up in the 2000s. Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, director of research and evaluation at the Chicago Urban League, said suburbs in DuPage and Kane counties have better housing and job opportunities, citing the Interstate 88 business corridor in DuPage.

“They’ve got lower taxes, more job opportunities, maybe better-funded school districts. All of those things are available in Cook County, too, but not as strongly,” she said.

* Related…

* The CHA’s great upheaval — a Sun-Times/BGA special report

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


This Is Illinois

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Oy…


- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


Duckworth case settled for fees, costs

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* Pearson

A potentially politically embarrassing civil lawsuit against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth, alleging workplace retaliation during her time as head of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, was settled Friday for $26,000 from the state, with no finding of wrongdoing.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, representing Duckworth in the case, said in a statement that during a pre-trial settlement conference in Downstate Union County “it became clear that we could resolve this matter… for nuisance value — saving the state the costs of lawyers preparing for and trying the case.”

Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said the $26,000 award to two workers at the Anna Veteran’s Home “will cover attorney’s fees and all costs,” and the “settlement is based on the agreement that there is no finding of a violation of the law.”

The lawsuit, which had been scheduled for trial mid-August, had been the dominant theme of Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s early attacks on Duckworth, currently a two-term congresswoman from Hoffman Estates, as he seeks re-election.

They settled for fees and costs, meaning the plaintiffs didn’t get a dime.

* But that isn’t stopping the Kirk campaign…

“We now know that there are 26,000 reasons why Tammy Duckworth was guilty. The simple truth is that if Tammy Duckworth was innocent, she would not have settled this case. Instead of taking the stand and testifying, Duckworth has chosen to stay silent and settle the case at taxpayer expense in order to hide from the truth. Duckworth’s actions have cost Illinois taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars while prolonging the legacy of Rod Blagojevich corruption.”

* And Sen. Kirk had this to say to WGN TV

“If you’re innocent, you will demand to testify, and the people of Illinois deserve to see this Blagojevich official be on the stand and under oath.”

* But

Duckworth’s campaign on Friday called the case a “frivolous workplace case that dragged on over eight years.” Campaign spokesman Matt McGrath pointed the finger at the Kirk campaign for telling voters the case was about Duckworth endangering the care of veterans and that taxpayers would be on the hook for a six-figure settlement.

“Kirk had clearly pinned his desperate campaign hopes on what a federal judge deemed a ‘garden variety workplace case,’ and now it’s clear he’s got nothing left to offer Illinois families,” McGrath said.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** A good idea, just don’t over-promise

Monday, Jun 27, 2016

* I wrote a blog post the other day which I thought at the time could be re-worked into a decent newspaper column. Here it is

Illinoisans are undeniably furious about the way their government has been running (or, more accurately, not running). They’re looking for solutions, and some are grasping at anything within reach.

A downstate newspaper editorial the other day attempted to pin the blame for just about all of our state’s fiscal and economic problems on the way politicians in this state draw legislative district maps.

That’s just silly.

Reforming the process by taking away map-drawing duties from politicians and handing it to a nonpartisan commission is definitely a good idea. But, don’t kid yourself that reforming this one process, where politicians choose their voters instead of voters choosing their politicians, will suddenly make Illinois great again, or whatever.

First of all, it may not work like some think it will. When editorial writers and pundits talk about redistricting reform, they usually focus on the man who draws many of the legislative district maps: Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, one of the most disliked politicians in all of Illinois, and the man who is blamed by many for much (or even all) of our problems. Take that power away from him and you’ll do away with Madigan, the theory goes.

OK, but take a look at the Illinois Election Data website, which has the 2014 gubernatorial election results by Illinois House district. Those districts were drawn, of course, by Speaker Madigan.

Bruce Rauner won 50.8 percent of the popular vote in 2014. Yet, by my count, Rauner also won 69 of Illinois’ 118 House districts that same year, or 58.5 percent.

In other words, the Republican candidate for governor won 22 more House districts than the House Republicans.

That’s why Gov. Rauner thinks he has a real shot at picking up some House seats this year. His operation is focusing like a laser on the districts he won.

Why didn’t Republican House candidates do as well as Rauner?

Let’s step back a couple of years. The House Democrats picked up seats in 2012 after they drew the new map in 2011, but besides creating districts that certainly favored their candidates, the wins were also due to ‘12 being a hugely favorable (to them) presidential election year. Democrats do much better here in presidential years.

And once people are elected, it’s difficult to knock them out. By the time the national GOP wave swept through two years later, in 2014, it ran smack dab into Democratic incumbents who’d been working their new districts hard for two years. That’s always something to remember about Madigan. In exchange for his monetary and staff support, he demands rigorous door-to-door work by his candidates. Once they’re in, they tend to stay in.

This year, the presidential election means the national trend will likely be the Democrats’ friend yet again. If Rauner doesn’t net some gains, he’ll likely blame Madigan’s map, but that won’t be totally true.

And just because one party draws the map doesn’t mean it has a lock on it. For instance, the Republicans currently control three U.S. House districts that were actually drawn to favor Democrats.

Also, go back to 1991, the last time the Republicans drew the legislative district map. Madigan’s Democrats managed to hold on to control in the very next election, when Bill Clinton and Carol Moseley Braun swept the state. But Madigan’s Democrats lost the majority two years later in a huge national GOP landslide. Madigan learned some hard lessons in 1994. He regained the majority in 1996, when President Clinton ran again, and managed to hold onto it until he could draw his own map in 2001.

Yet the Senate Republicans held their majority throughout that very same 10-year period.

The lesson here is that getting rid of Madigan, or even clipping his wings, ain’t going to be as easy as it looks.

Again, I think that a nonpartisan, independent remap process would be a good thing no matter the Madigan-related outcome. But so would California’s open primary system, where the top two vote-getters battle it out in November even if they’re from the same party. I’d love to see that brought to Illinois.

There are lots of things we can do to reform the process. But I highly doubt that this one reform will solve all our problems. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise because they’re living in an overly simplistic cartoon world. I prefer the real world.

* Meanwhile…

Rich —

With oral arguments a few days away, here’s the last brief to be filed by Independent Maps coalition in opposition to the lawsuit that seeks to block the redistricting reform amendment from the ballot. The attached reply memorandum from Independent Maps was filed Friday afternoon.

Oral arguments are scheduled for 2 p.m. June 30 before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Larsen.

The reply memorandum is here.

*** UPDATE ***  The plaintiffs also filed a motion on Friday. Click here to read it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


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Monday, Jun 27, 2016

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« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser lists and a supplement to today's edition
* Rauner's minority hiring record checked, and new ads from both candidates on race
* Gov. Ricketts?
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* Illinois Credit Unions: Giving Back to the Communities We Serve
* Downstate newspapers appear to be picking the lesser of two evils
* Caption contest!
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Plaintiffs holding press conference today
* Maybe have a long chat with the governor about this?
* Pritzker campaign touts party-building money
* Learn from this, please
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