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Having it both ways

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* AP

When the Republican Party launches its quadrennial celebration in Cleveland this week to anoint its nominee for president, some prominent party faithful from Illinois won’t be there.

First-term U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is out-front with his reason — he doesn’t like the presumptive nominee, businessman Donald Trump, calling him “too bigoted and racist” for the job.

But other top leaders, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, are joining Republicans from around the country in ditching the convention without saying why. Many face tough re-election races in November and are trying to distance themselves from the contentious name at the top of the ticket.

“I will be traveling the state of Illinois, meeting with community leaders, business leaders and some legislators and signing some of the most important legislation that got passed this spring,” Rauner said last week after declining to answer reporters’ questions about the convention or the presidential race, in general.

* AP

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation banning the sale of synthetic drugs known as “bath salts” in Illinois. […]

The Republican governor signed the bill on the same day the Republican National Convention began in Cleveland. Rauner said last week he is not attending the convention because he is traveling the state signing bills that lawmakers passed this year.

* OK, now let’s go back to the May 6th Chicago Tribune

Gov. Bruce Rauner won’t attend the Republican National Convention or formally endorse Donald Trump for president as fallout from the controversial presumptive nominee reverberates throughout the Illinois GOP.

Aides to the first-term Republican governor said Rauner, who declined to back a candidate in what was once a crowded GOP presidential field, would remain focused on Illinois’ troubled finances. […]

Rauner repeatedly had sought to stay out of the presidential race, though he did say that as leader of the GOP in Illinois, he would back the eventual nominee. But Rauner aides stressed there are various levels of “support,” and that the governor would not be giving Trump a formal endorsement.

That story was published after a March statement by the governor that he would “do everything he can” to support the Republican Party’s nominee. Asked why, the governor said it’s because “I’m the leader of the Republican Party in Illinois.”

As a liberal group called Illinois Working Together correctly noted in a press release today, Rauner has “never clarified his ‘levels of support’ idea or indicated at which level he supported Trump.”

* IWT also pointed out that a couple weeks or so after saying he wouldn’t go to the national convention, and when it was abundantly clear that Donald Trump would be his party’s nominee, Gov. Rauner had this to say to the Illinois Republican Party convention

“Republicans are gonna control our federal government in every office, in every office… Now is the time to come together, now is the time to unite, up and down the ticket… What we can’t do is have Hillary get in the White House. No way Hillary’s getting into the White House. No way, no way… This is the year we take back the White House.” [Emphasis added.]

Hmm.

* Raw video

* Also, this

The head of Illinois’ Republican Party sought to downplay any division that might exist among the rank and file over the nomination of Donald Trump.

Chairman Tim Schneider riled up the crowd of Illinois delegates at a delegation breakfast Monday morning in Cleveland, vowing that Illinois would work to elect Donald Trump in November, and that, counter to reports of division among the ranks, the state is “in lockstep” with Trump.

Schneider may be the “head,” but Rauner has claimed to be the “leader.”

* Also, too

Pence’s vice presidential race is headed by the same operative, Nick Ayers, who ran Rauner’s 2014 race for governor. Ayers described himself to me in a telephone call last year as a key player in Rauner’s campaign—the guy who drafted the campaign plan, hired staff, and handled media buying. He said, “I was the one who on election night [November 4, 2014] called [Rauner] and Diana in their hotel suite and told them we had won. I gave them the news before the AP called it.”

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the Trump campaign is allowing Pence to select his own people and that Nick Ayers is heading Pence’s “own team of professional operatives.”

* The governor is clearly sending mixed messages, refusing all recent attempts by reporters to try and get him to clarify where he stands on Trump, while skipping a national convention where his party chairman declares the ILGOP is “in lockstep” with the candidate.

So, please. Pretty please. Answer the questions, governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* The Chicago Tribune asks if it’s fair or not to attempt to tie Illinois Republican candidates like Mark Kirk and Bob Dold to Donald Trump

But really, who cares? Does it matter how often or how loudly candidates repudiate Trump?

Guilt-by-association tactics are a tried-and-true campaign strategy. Smearing a candidate through alleged connections is a cheap pivot away from the nation’s pressing problems — stagnant wages, out-of-control debt, civil unrest, terrorist threats here and abroad, the potential of a nuclear Iran, to name a few. Where a candidate stands on those issues ought to be far more important to voters than whether the candidate openly denounces Trump. […]

Are Kirk’s views on Trump or Pence a top priority for voters? No. Kirk vs. Duckworth is one of the most heated races in the country. It could determine whether Republicans keep their grip on the U.S. Senate or lose it to Democrats. Voters should be learning the candidates’ positions — on trade, immigration, spending, entitlement reform.

We can spend these final months grilling candidates about their ties, real or imaginary, to Trump. Or we can spend the rest of the campaign season focusing on issues that separate and distinguish those running for office.

One can only wonder whether the editorial board feels the same about tying state legislative candidates to a certain unnamed Illinois legislative leader. Considering their past editorials, my guess is not. [Adding: Rep. Mike Zalewski agrees.]

Anyway…

* The Question: Is it fair or unfair to try and tie Republican candidates to Donald Trump? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


bike trails

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Republican National Convention

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* I thought maybe some of y’all would like to see the tweets and coverage of Illinois political reporters who are in Cleveland this week. I’ll be adding to the list as we go along. Follow the bouncing balls with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Our silly cartoon world

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* Zorn writes about Gov. Rauner’s recent comment that he and Speaker Madigan “have a fundamental disagreement, an honest disagreement”

I’ve certainly heard Rauner raging about and impugning Madigan’s integrity and ethics with all the subtlety of an anonymous blog commenter. But I’ve never heard him suggest that perhaps Madigan is simply wrong on the issues, not evil.

“This is the first time he’s ever acknowledged that Madigan is coming from an ‘honest’ position,” wrote Capitol Fax publisher Rich Miller, who highlighted the TV interview on his website.

Maybe Rauner was tired. Maybe his mind wandered for a moment. Or maybe, and pardon my Pollyanna, he’s getting around to realizing that those who’ve been balking at his “reform” demands sincerely believe that his ideas will hurt middle-income earners and make life harder for working families. […]

His fans seem to approve. Every time I write something that casts doubt on elements of Rauner’s “turnaround agenda,” I am reliably inundated with messages demanding to know how much Madigan paid me to write it because, clearly, no independent thinker could possibly doubt the governor.

Ain’t that the truth.

* People love them some cartoons, and there is no greater cartoon battle in this state than Super Man Rauner vs. Darth Vader Madigan. Any criticism of the governor is automatically viewed as 100 percent support for Madigan. Some Facebook creepster actually asked me the other day if I was a drug user who’s being blackmailed by Madigan. I suggested he immediately seek psychiatric help. Let’s hope he does.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Chicago violence in a nutshell

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* Oy…


- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


“It’s about motivating your people to come out to vote and demobilizing the opponent’s voters”

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* From the Southern Illinoisan

As for Trump’s impact on state legislative races, lawmakers and observers say it could vary widely by region.

While his presence on the ballot might help Republicans in Southern Illinois, it could hurt them in the Chicago suburbs, said Chris Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.

The key will likely be which candidate and party inspires more voters to come to the polls – or to stay home, Mooney said.

“It’s not about changing people’s minds,” he said. “It’s about motivating your people to come out to vote and demobilizing the opponent’s voters.”

Yep. And Democrats will attempt to “nationalize” this race by putting Trump up front in certain areas. Republicans will want to make it more state-focused (meaning: Madigan).

* For example

Today, the House Republican Organization released two TV ads in Southern Illinois to further highlight Gary Forby and John Bradley’s history of backing Mike Madigan’s Chicago agenda.

Gary Forby has been Mike Madigan’s lieutenant in the Senate for over a decade. He voted for Madigan’s phony budgets 14 times and rubber stamped $13 billion in deficit spending. Instead of working to cut waste, Forby voted to double the income tax and expand the sales tax.

John Bradley claims to fight for Southern Illinois, but does Madigan’s bidding in Springfield, voting for billions in debt and tax breaks for a company that closed shop in Southern Illinois and shipped jobs to Chicago.

Gary Forby and John Bradley serve Mike Madigan, and Southern Illinois pays the price.

Watch “Madigan’s Senator” here
Watch “The Madigan Thing” here

Script (Madigan’s Senator):
For decades, Mike Madigan’s had an iron grip on Springfield.
And…our own state Senator, Gary Forby.
Forby’s helped Madigan drive Illinois into the ditch.
Raising our taxes while shortchanging our schools.
14 times Forby backed Madigan’s phony budgets.
Thirteen billion in deficit spending.
He voted to double income tax and expand the sales taxes.
And Forby rubber- stamped Madigan’s bailout for Chicago Public Schools.
Gary Forby: Mike Madigan’s senator — not ours.

Script (The Madigan Thing):
ANNC: John Bradley says one thing here…
BRADLEY AD: “I’m John Bradley, I’ll never stop fighting for Southern Illinois.”
ANNC: But does another thing there — the Madigan thing.
And when Bradley does the Madigan thing, we pay the price.
Massive debt, higher taxes, a bailout for Chicago Schools.
Bradley even supported tax breaks for a company that closed shop here and shipped our jobs to Chicago.
John Bradley doing the Madigan thing — the wrong thing for Southern Illinois.

* Related…

* Rauner still needs Trump, despite differences

* Illinois delegation at GOP convention gets security warning: “We need to work together. All of us together. The Illinois Republican Party, we’re not your enemy. We’re your friend,” Schneider said.

* Trump delegates and GOP regulars: An arranged marriage

* Some Trump RNC Delegates Surprised About Paying Their Own Way To Cleveland

* Unorthodox Illinois Republican delegation heads to Trump convention without Rauner, Kirk

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Easier said than done

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington)

Although Rauner has said he doesn’t think any school district should get less money under a revised formula, Barickman said he doesn’t necessarily agree.

“It is politically expedient to take an approach where you say there are no losers. I think it’s easier to get votes on something when there’s no losers,” Barickman said. “But I also recognize in these times where no losers means more money, we have to be creative. I have long suggested my belief that some districts may be willing to take less if they are given more flexibility with the dollars they have and are given relief from some of the mandates the state imposes on them.”

There it is.

In order to get a deal, Democrats are going to have to face the music on highly popular unfunded mandates and local control (particularly over collective bargaining). It’s not going to be easy… to say the least.

* Meanwhile, this is a post by Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union

Let me count the ways we’ve already given.

    2010 – 1200 educators laid off.

    $1.2B heist from our pension fund.

    2011 – 4% raise, stolen when they had a surplus.

    2012 – 20% increase in school day/year without commensurate compensation.

    2013 – 52 schools closed, hundreds laid off.

    2015 – 100s of special educators laid off. No raises, no steps/lanes.

I’d say we’ve given a lot, not to mention a brutalizing evaluation culture based on voodoo VAM, incessant paperwork and a system so corrupt and vicious, principals and teachers at “good” schools are fleeing the system in droves let alone the so-called crumbling prisons. STOP THE FALSE EQUIVALENCY. CTU MEMBERS HAVE ALREADY GIVEN AND WE GOT OUR TAX BILLS TOO.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Once again, it’s about who can win indy suburban women

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* New York Times Magazine

Unendorsing Trump was perhaps a more politically viable option for Kirk than for his fellow endangered Republican senators. “I’m probably the only one around here who absolutely embraces the M-word,” [Sen. Mark Kirk] said, referring to “moderate.”

And as the Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Rich Miller recently wrote, in Illinois “independent suburban women have been the deciding factor in just about every statewide race since 1990.” Given Trump’s 70 percent disapproval rating among women over all, criticizing the nominee may prove not only useful to Kirk, but also — especially against a female opponent like Duckworth — imperative.

That’s true, but suburban women can be more complicated than just that.

* For instance

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk may frequently be cited as among the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, but the national organization backing GOP Senate candidates says it’s planning to pour money into his race against Democrat Tammy Duckworth. […]

[NRSC Executive Director Ward Baker] declined to reveal how much the group was willing to invest, saying he wouldn’t disclose strategy. In Kirk’s 2010 race, the NRSC pledged $3.4 million.

“2010 was a different environment. Yesterday was a different day. I try to win a day at a time,” Baker told POLITICO Illinois. “Kirk has always run a suburban strategy. Senator Kirk has never had an easy race. The suburban strategy is how you’ll win. He’s the only candidate we knew who could win this race.” […]

Recent terror attacks in Europe and questions about national security strengthen Kirk’s hand in the race, Baker argued. Kirk, a former Naval intelligence officer, has called for a national moratorium on allowing Syrian refugees into the country, opposed President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, and opposed the closing of Guantanamo Bay.

“It helps him a lot. Do you want someone who has always been a hawk and at the forefront of protecting America? Or someone who supported closing Gitmo [allowing] Syrian refugees into Illinois and backed the Iran deal?” he said. “She’s a dove, he’s a hawk.”

I’ll believe the money when I see it. So far, the NRSC has treated Kirk like a red-headed stepchild.

* But

In 2004, George W. Bush won reelection by mitigating the loss of the women’s vote to Democrat John Kerry to less than 10 percentage points. He did this, in part, by scaring “security moms” not to change horses mid-war.

If the absolute craziness in the world and in the nation the past few weeks continues through November and people truly start to freak out, then Sen. Kirk could capitalize on the fears of “security moms.” It’s probably his best hope.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


Here’s a better way for Rauner to get back at Jim Edgar

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

Former Gov. Jim Edgar publicly endorsed Bruce Rauner for governor in 2014 and traveled the state to help Rauner win.

But less than six months after Rauner was inaugurated, Edgar began to criticize his fellow Republican. It was gentle at first, saying in early June of last year that Rauner should maybe stop calling the Democratic legislative leaders “corrupt” if he wanted to get a budget deal, and suggesting that he set aside his anti-union/pro-business “Turnaround Agenda” to make that deal.

By August, Edgar again urged Rauner to cut a deal on the budget, saying there were just some things in his proposals that no Democrat would ever agree to.

In October, Edgar warned that “government is failing,” and he sharply criticized Rauner for holding people and programs “hostage” to his legislative demands.

Rauner and his top staff were seething by then, but the governor mostly held his tongue. “I don’t spend any time criticizing my fellow Republicans,” the governor said at the time.

But Rauner did add a veiled warning shot, saying, “I do not spend any time criticizing decisions made in the past that created the mess that we’re dealing with.”

Rauner was referring to the now notorious Edgar “pension ramp” law passed in 1994 that finally forced Illinois to make its pension payments but put off any steep contribution increases until after Edgar was safely out of office. Some have claimed that Edgar’s ramp got us into this fiscal mess today.

My opinion is that Edgar finally got something done, however flawed, that nobody else had managed to do. The problem was exacerbated by subsequent moves to skip and skimp on those payments.

Edgar didn’t get the hint and didn’t mute his criticism in the intervening months. Rauner finally fired back July 5.

Click here to read the rest before commenting, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Fighting over fairy tales

Monday, Jul 18, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Right off the bat, I should say that I think the so-called “stopgap budget” signed into law on June 30 was a good idea. Not fiscally, but because people who rely on state government desperately needed a break from the all-out legislative war between two ideologically entrenched parties.

Gov. Bruce Rauner absolutely refused to budge on negotiating a fully funded state spending plan until the Democrats agreed to some of his anti-union/pro-business agenda. Democrats wouldn’t move off their support for unions. So after more than 12 solid months of stalemate, the two camps finally agreed to a six-month budget for everything but elementary and secondary education funding, which got a full year’s worth of cash.

And even though social services providers and universities only got about half their previous levels of funding going back the last 12 months and forward through December, the stopgap budget money is probably enough to keep both systems from totally collapsing.

It was a reprieve, of sorts—just enough money to keep most of the “budget hostages” alive while the two warring parties retreated back to their corners to fight the upcoming fall campaign.

The stopgap also prevented state government from grinding to a complete halt. Prisons, for instance, couldn’t pay suppliers for everything from water to electricity to food because they haven’t had any official appropriations since the previous June. Without a court order, agencies can’t spend money if they don’t have a legislative appropriation signed by the governor.

Fiscally, however, the stopgap is a monster.

Comptroller Leslie Munger, who pays the state’s bills, told reporters last week that come late December the state will still be paying off invoices from June and it’ll have a total bill payment backlog of $10 billion.

The very same day, the respected and bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability projected the stopgap deal has an $8 billion deficit.

You may recall that House Speaker Michael Madigan jammed his own spending plan through his chamber in late May, but several rank-and-file Senate Democrats subsequently revolted and stopped that bill dead in its tracks.

Ever since then, Rauner has been busily traveling the state taking credit for killing Madigan’s bill, always claiming it was disastrously out of balance by about $7 billion.

I Googled “Rauner Democrats $7 billion” and came up with 36,200 results. He really burned that message in, and for good reason. His political operation claims its polling shows a vote for that $7 billion deficit is darned near political death.

But . . . wait. Isn’t an almost $8 billion deficit in a budget he signed larger than a $7 billion deficit in a bill he claimed to stop?

Why, yes, it is.

But don’t tell that to the governor.

“We could be way, way worse off if the supermajority’s budget bill had passed,” Rauner said, speaking of Madigan’s proposal. “We’d be spending at an even higher level than we are today.”

Um, huh?

Never mind, because it probably won’t matter anyway when it comes to the campaign.

The Republicans are all about pinning that $7 billion deficit tag on the House Democrats. And the House Democrats are gearing up to whack Republicans for proposing a stopgap budget plan in late May that provided far less funding for K-12, higher education, social services and health care than was eventually approved by both chambers in late June.

Yep, you read that right. Unless somebody changes their mind, we’re about to witness a big, nasty campaign fight over two bills that never became law. Heck, the Republican stopgap proposal never even got a committee hearing, let alone a vote.

The Republicans will slam the Democrats for attempting to force a budget through that would’ve created such a huge deficit that the personal income tax rate would’ve risen to “more than 5.5 percent,” as a Rauner administration memo claimed last week (issued, by the way, the same day the $8 billion deficit projection was released). The tax rate is now 3.75 percent, after partially rolling back in January of last year from a high of 5 percent.

And the Democrats will slam the Republicans for trying to “slash” every politically popular spending program under the sun.

Why won’t the two sides blast each other for putting us in the hole by $8 billion? Because they actually passed that bill and Rauner signed it into law. Whacking each other for a bill that passed with huge bipartisan majorities just wouldn’t be cricket.

And so we’ll get fairy tales.

…Adding… Related…

* Stopgap budget failing to erase damage of state impasse: The ink wasn’t even dry on a partial budget to keep government running through year’s end when most of the state’s public universities saw their credit downgraded — a signal the deal between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the legislature will do little to erase the damage done by their historic stalemate. Indeed, in the days since the agreement was reached, Southern Illinois University announced it’d still need to lay off workers and cut millions in spending; Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the state’s largest human services provider, says it will not be able to rehire 750 workers cut during the impasse or restore more than 30 programs that cared for the vulnerable… “The good news is that there is a lifeline for social services and universities,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group. “But it doesn’t allow them to manage their operations in an effective way because it’s not predictable … the damage is continuing.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


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Monday, Jul 18, 2016

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*** UPDATED x1 - “We are ending operations” *** IllinoisGO folds its tent

Saturday, Jul 16, 2016

[Comments are now open.]

* The controversial and ultimately unsuccessful IllinoisGO has officially shut down both of its campaign committees and refunded millions of dollars in contributions.

The group’s full name is Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity and was created and run by public relations executive Greg Goldner. IllinoisGO spent millions of dollars during the spring primary season, but failed to move the needle toward the governor in any Chicago Democratic legislative races, which was essentially its core mission.

Its most high-profile involvement was supporting Rep. Ken Dunkin’s hapless primary campaign, which ended in electoral disaster. But it played in other campaigns and either lost (2nd Senate District) or wasn’t considered any sort of factor in the win (5th Senate District).

Indeed, the group’s activities only seemed to harden incumbent Democrats against the governor and pushed them even closer to their legislative leaders. To say it was a failure would be a major understatement.

* Goldner’s organization refunded about $4.6 million to several contributors on July 14th, including $600K to Helen Zell (Sam Zell’s wife) and $3 million to Houston billionaire John Arnold and his wife Laura, who have contributed lots of money to pension reform and charter school groups, among others.

I’ve asked the organization for comment and will update this post if they follow through. Its website is still active.

Hat tip: Scott Kennedy.

*** UPDATE ***  Press release…

Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity (IllinoisGO) has ended operations at both its C4 educational arm and independent expenditure committee.

Our purpose was to raise public awareness of and engagement in critical public policy debates. We were driven by a fundamental belief, grounded in progressive principles, that if government is to be an agent for change and equal opportunity, it must operate efficiently in order to maintain public trust and confidence. In Illinois, that trust and confidence has been deeply damaged. The IE intended to protect incumbent Democrats, in the primary and in the general elections, who take tough votes to help restore this trust. We are ending operations, as this did not occur.

While IllinoisGO helped raise awareness among voters of the urgent crisis gripping state and local governments and school districts, in the end, voter awareness and frustration was not enough to prompt state leaders to action. Unfortunately, winning political battles was prioritized over forging a compromise to address Illinois’ budget shortfall, structural deficit, antiquated tax system, insufficient infrastructure and education funding or job-creating initiatives.

Illinois’ current financial crisis was avoidable. It has disproportionately hurt lower income workers, families and our youth. We do not believe it is enough for Democrats to simply stand against Republican policies without also pursuing a proactive, comprehensive set of our own policies to create jobs, economic growth and opportunity. Illinois Democrats have enjoyed electoral success, but in order to remain favored over the long-term, our party has to articulate that vision – and then actually deliver on the policy. Winning elections becomes meaningless without delivering real progress for the people of this state.

As we saw in 2014, voters reject politicians who don’t deliver. We need leadership that produces policy solutions to secure not only Democrats’ political future, but the future of Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* The world is obviously going bonkers. Might as well get up and dance

I sold my house
I sold my motor, too

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Caption contest!

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* It’s been a little slow today. So, let’s see if this spices things up…

- Posted by Rich Miller   92 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* SJ-R

Growing up in Kentucky, one of Alan Lowe’s first memories was visiting Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. On Monday, Lowe took over as the new director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

“The thought of being able to be the director of a library and museum dedicated to his legacy and to use that as a platform to be able to reach people, teach, inspire – it’s kind of hard to beat that,” Lowe said in an interview Monday. “When I heard about the possibility, I couldn’t resist it.” […]

Some critics of the museum have complained that the exhibits haven’t been upgraded since the facility opened more than 10 years ago.

“What I want to do is go through them with a finer eye than I’ve done so far and take a really good look at each component,” Lowe said. “Do we need an update? Do we need a change? Is the technology holding up? Is there a new technology that we could put in there? That depends on a lot of variables, chiefly funding.”

Not only will he rely on his own eye for evaluating exhibits, but Lowe said he wants to carefully review what visitors are saying about the museum, what works and what doesn’t. It doesn’t mean that Lowe necessarily believes there are problems.

* The Question: Your suggestions for Director Lowe?

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


What was Rauner talking about?

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* You may recall this claim by Gov. Rauner the other day

I walked into one department in my first week — second week in office actually. Two-hundred people were in a room with paper applications on their desks, and no computers. I said, this doesn’t look efficient. I found out, we could spend half a million dollars on a computer system —half a million — and save $7 million per year.

* Lots of commenters were skeptical, so I followed up and asked which department this was. I was told it was the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Rauner toured the area where professional licenses are processed. Back then, they were apparently processed in a room entirely by hand. So it stood out to him.

Since then, IDFPR has started to retool. From February

Secretary Bryan A. Schneider of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is pleased to announce that paperless licensing and renewals have now been implemented for the professions licensed and regulated by the Divisions of Real Estate and Professional Regulation. The transition away from paper-based renewals and licenses means that regulated professionals will now be able to renew their license quickly and easily online, and be provided proof of licensure through email and IDFPR’s License Lookup application. The move to paperless technology is part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to modernize the state’s regulatory agency and will save the state nearly $3 million in postage, paper and printing costs over the next five years.

From May

An alternative to the paper license pocket card is now available for the majority of licensed professionals regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). An estimated 1.1 million active licensees within the Division of Professional Regulation (DPR) and the Division of Real Estate (DRE) may now choose to store an electronic license pocket card on their smartphone or tablet. This is of particular importance to more than 110,000 licensed professionals across seven regulated professions who are statutorily required to carry a pocket card and the many others who choose to carry with them proof of their professional licensure. The e-license pocket card is the latest announcement from IDFPR in their ongoing efforts to modernize the state’s regulatory agency.

* The governor also claimed that “many” state departments don’t have computers. Not so sure about that, but I suppose the word “many” would have to be defined.

Either way, he saw a problem and now it’s being fixed. That’s a good thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      


A brief respite

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* Oscar got a haircut this week…

He’s been helping me blog outside today because it’s such beautiful weather.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


$8 billion is still higher than $7 billion

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* Gov. Rauner spoke to reporters today and said this…

“We could be way, way worse off if the super majority’s budget bill had passed. We’d be spending at an even higher level than we are today.”

* Let’s review, shall we? The governor has claimed for weeks and weeks that the House Democrats’ budget proposal was $7 billion out of whack. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability projects the stopgap budget the governor negotiated and signed is almost $8 billion out of whack.

8>7

* Raw audio…

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


A little good news for a change

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* Crain’s

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to hire 300 new workers at its huge factory in Belvidere as it revamps the facility to produce the Jeep Cherokee.

FCA USA, as the auto manufacturer is also called, said today it will invest $350 million in the factory to ready it for the Jeep Cherokee, one of the company’s top sellers during an auto sales boom that resulted in a record number of sales in the U.S. last year. […]

Production of the Cherokee will start in 2017. Right now, the vehicle is made at the Fiat Chrysler facility in Toledo, and that plant will continue producing it until the Belvidere plant is ready. […]

“This investment will strengthen the FCA US presence in Illinois and create good paying manufacturing jobs for Illinois residents,” Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said in a statement. “We’re proud FCA US chose Illinois for production of the Jeep Cherokee.”

* Tribune

Illinois just had its best second-quarter haul of venture capital in years thanks to a single deal, according to one national scorecard.

SMS Assist, the Chicago-based technology company that helps property owners manage maintenance across locations, accounted for more than half the funds raised. The privately held company’s $150 million Series D funding round in June pushed its valuation over the billion-dollar mark, making it the city’s latest unicorn.

Seventeen Illinois companies raised nearly $281 million in the second quarter of 2016, says a new MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters.

Most of the quarter’s investments were in the $5 to $10 million range, in early- and expansion-stage companies, which raised more than $88 million combined. But two later-stage, business-to-business companies — SMS Assist and SpringCM, which offers cloud-based document management for businesses — took in the most dollars. SpringCM announced a raise of $17.5 million in June.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Yikes

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* These new red light cam revelations are pretty darned horrible. There’s just too much hot stuff in there for excerpts, so go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Second. Worst. Decision. Ever.

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* Check out the highlighted part of this quote about the projected $8 billion deficit in the stopgap budget that Speaker Madigan negotiated with the other leaders

“You can either repeal programs and cut spending, or find new revenue,” Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said. “You can’t do it all through cuts. This reaffirms what the speaker has been saying for several years and reaffirms that the decision to let the income tax go down probably was not the wisest decision.”

Ya think?

It was, in retrospect, the [second] worst possible decision the Democrats could’ve made.

* The Democrats thought they were handing Rauner a booby trap when they allowed that tax hike to partially expire, but it was actually a gift. They completely underestimated his resolve to use the leverage of additional revenue to pry loose support for his economic and political reforms.

And here we stand, eye-deep in debt and wreckage all around.

Ugh.

…Adding… A commenter retorts…

[The tax hike] never should have included a sunset to begin with. That was the worst decision ever, but the Dems miscalculated on that too.

Agreed and I’ve changed the headline to reflect this wise commenter’s opinion.

…Adding More… Another commenter weighs in…

Also boneheaded: letting it expire in the middle of a fiscal year. And in an election year. How were they supposed to craft a budget in 2014 when no one had the backbone to try to make the tax hike permanent while running for re-election?

Yep.

I asked Senate President Cullerton about that once and he said it just never occurred to anyone what they were doing.

The perils of hurried passage are very real.

- Posted by Rich Miller   101 Comments      


It’s not my fault!

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* The official reaction to yesterday’s COGFA projection that the stopgap budget Gov. Rauner negotiated and signed into law has a nearly $8 billion built-in deficit

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said the governor knows the stopgap plan is not a complete budget but used existing revenues from set-aside funds to cover necessary costs. However, she added, “The deficit is the result of years of out-of-control spending, mismanagement and court-ordered and statutory spending which have locked in higher spending levels.”

There is no doubt that this state has had years of spending problems and mismanagement. Can’t argue with that. And there has been plenty of court-ordered spending and automatic spending on things like bond payments.

* However, before the income tax hike partially expired, the state was whittling down its pile of bills and its payment cycle was under 30 days. But the Democrats allowed the tax hike to expire after Rauner was elected and then nobody could agree on a real budget, so now we’re in this freaking awful mess.

As a commenter noted yesterday, during the past year our state’s social service system has been whacked hard and our universities have been hobbled and all we got out of it is an $8 billion deficit and a projected $10 billion bill backlog and a six-month late payment cycle and no substantial economic reforms.

And this happened under which administration?

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


Patterson “responds” to Nuding talking points memo

Friday, Jul 15, 2016

* Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesman John Patterson let loose his snark flag yesterday after the Rauner administration sent out a talking points memo to Republican legislators about all of the administration’s accomplishments this year. The administration memo was officially sent by a couple of people, but budget director Tim Nuding was listed at the top, so he received this Patterson e-mail yesterday…

Tim,

Interesting memo you sent around today. I would imagine that’s useful and helpful messaging for some members.

Since this temporary budget agreement was a team effort, I’m wondering if you could help us put together a similar messaging memo for Senate Democrats.

For instance, it would be useful/helpful if you could assist in identifying/listing draconian cuts the Rauner administration proposed that we were able to avoid by working together to make Illinois more compassionate and competitive as we build our bridge to a better future. If you’ve got any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Thanks in advance. Always enjoy working with you,

John

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


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Friday, Jul 15, 2016

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