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Madigan: Reinstate EDGE credit that was already temporarily reinistated

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Press release…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago, is directing the House Revenue committee to take up a Democratic Caucus proposal to reinstate a key tax credit for employers who create jobs in Illinois.

In a letter to state Rep. Michael Zalewski, chairman of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, Madigan requested the panel begin work to reinstate the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credit, a key component of the Democratic Caucus’ economic growth agenda.

“House Democrats know that Illinois must take serious steps to improve the business climate and create job opportunities, and we continue working on a reform agenda that promotes job growth without disadvantaging the people who work in those jobs every day,” Madigan said. “Businesses deserve the certainty of knowing that the state will stand with them as they work to create new jobs here in Illinois. By investing in businesses that invest in Illinois, the EDGE Tax Credit is essential to improving our business climate.”

The EDGE Tax Credit provides an incentive for employers who create a significant number of jobs in Illinois. The renewal of the tax credit was recently cited by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce as a key reform Illinois could undertake to help revitalize the economy.

“The House Democratic Caucus believes that it is possible to provide good jobs for working families while also passing policies that help businesses grow,” Madigan said. “These ideas are not mutually exclusive; in fact they’re both critical to the future of our state.”

The governor and the GA let the program expire at the end of last year and then reinstated it for a few months earlier this month. If this was the plan all along, they could’ve just made it permanent earlier.

Seems like make-work to me, but whatevs.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From the synopsis of SB 690

Amends the State Designations Act. Repeals the following State designations: State bird; State insect; official language; State mineral; State tree and flower; State animal; State fish; State prairie grass; State vegetable; State fruit; State fossil; State artifact; State folk dance; State theatre; State soil; State snackfood; State amphibian; State reptile; State tartan; and State pie.

* The Question: Your thoughts on this proposed legislation?

- Posted by Rich Miller   108 Comments      


AFSCME calls JT allegations “misinformation”

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Yet another e-mail to state employees…

Dear Colleagues,

As AFSCME leadership conducts its campaign for strike authorization, we will continue to provide accurate information and clarify any confusion that employees bring to our attention.

On that note, we learned yesterday of what appears to be a troublesome attempt to discourage voting by those who are inclined to vote against a strike. We learned that some union representatives were telling employees that not participating in the strike vote would be the equivalent of a “no” vote. However, a week ago AFSCME’s spokesperson said, “a vote of more than 50 percent of those voting would grant the bargaining committee the authorization to call a strike if necessary.”

Based on that statement, what the reps were saying yesterday is wrong. We hope the union confirms that by not voting, you have no say in the strike authorization decision.

The decision to vote is yours and yours alone, and we will respect your choice either way. Our obligation is to make sure you have accurate information. To that end, please continue to reach out with questions and concerns and refer to the Labor Relations link on team.illinois.gov.

Sincerely,

JT
John Terranova
Deputy Director
CMS Office of Labor Relations ​

Emphasis added because that’s a pretty serious allegation.

* From Anders Lindall at AFSCME Council 31…

The truth is plain and simple: We want every AFSCME member to vote, and they’re doing so by the thousands right now.

If the Rauner administration would seek compromise instead of spreading misinformation, we’d be at the bargaining table.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Rauner: Send power back to the states

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From the annual Koch brothers summit

The government needs to move quickly, [Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley] told a large gathering of wealthy conservative and libertarian donors gathered in California, to send power back to the states and deregulate the economy. The problem is how slowly Washington, D.C. moves, and how the administration is tied up in bureaucracy. But if states, which know which regulations affect them hardest, sue, that would give the feds the power to simply settle and withdraw the reg.

“If a state would bring a suit against a regulation, it gives the federal government the opportunity to withdraw that regulation.”

This, he told donors and reporters, “will give the government the ability to move quickly on deregulation.” […]

“I like President [George W.] Bush but… look, they screwed it up,” Rauner told attendees, echoing a common center-right gripe that Bush did not do enough to decentralize government. “Send power back to the states.”

OK, but what are you gonna do with that power, governor? I mean, dude, you can’t even pass a budget with your reforms.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Unclear on the particulars

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Check out the caption on this Bloomington Pantagraph photo

Tom Cullerton? Majority speaker of the Senate? Did Dan Proft buy that paper, too? /snark

* As I told you yesterday, the Pantagraph’s parent company just shut down its Statehouse bureau. I’m assuming we’ll see lots more oopsies like these in the coming weeks and months, if they even bother covering the Statehouse at all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


CPD suicide rate far higher than elsewhere

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Sun-Times

Buried among the facts and figures in the Justice Department’s recent book-length report on the failings of the Chicago Police Department was a telling statistic: The rate of suicide among CPD officers is 60 percent higher than other departments across the U.S.

Among the ranks of the nearly 10,000 patrol officers of the CPD, an average of three officers will take their own lives each year, according to life insurance claims information from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the union representing the bulk of the department’s sworn officers.

In the past decade, 13 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Nearly twice as many officers died by their own hand during the same span.

Ron Rufo was a peer support counselor for most of his 21 years as a patrolman in the 9th District, volunteering to talk to his fellow officers at any scene where an officer was killed or injured. Rufo, who retired a little more than a year ago, estimates the number of his former peers who kill themselves each year could be double the FOP figure.

“There is a problem, and nobody’s doing anything about it,” Rufo said. “Supervisors don’t talk about it. The rank-and-file don’t talk about it. And it’s like the administration does not want to admit it’s a problem.”

Go read the whole thing before commenting, please. Massively depressing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Because… Madigan!

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From a Republican pal regarding the fight over Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s legal motion to stop paying employees without a formal appropriation…

I’m not sure I buy the theory that this is going to take away Rauner’s leverage… I think he’d rather not shut it down, but if it has to be done, he’ll let it happen and blame Speaker Madigan for it.

He’ll certainly try.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Rate the new ILGOP ad: “Drop the Mike”

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From the ILGOP

After House Democrats ignored the will of the people by electing Mike Madigan to a 17th term as Speaker, it’s clear the only way we will stop the Madigan Machine is by ousting the politicians that give Madigan his power.

This means taking the case directly to the voters.

That’s why today, the Illinois Republican Party is launching the first phase of its “Drop the Mike” campaign, highlighting how Madigan and his prospective Gubernatorial candidates are working for the Chicago machine and against the people.

Watch the ad here.

And sign the petition at BossMadigan.com/Drop-The-Mike

The Madigan Machine is running on borrowed time.

* Rate the ad

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Illinois Policy Institute: Slash funding for local governments, universities, schools, Medicaid

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* The Illinois Policy Institute has a new budget plan. I’m still going through it, but it wants a five-year property tax freeze while also taking away billions from local governments and schools

» Revenue-sharing agreements that fuel excessive local spending, such as the Local Government Distributive Fund – for counties and cities with populations above 5,000 – and the Downstate Transit Fund. (Savings: $1.75 billion)

» State pension subsidies that allow districts and universities to dole out higher pay, end-of-career salary hikes and pensionable perks. Going forward, local school districts and universities should be responsible for paying the annual (normal) cost of pensions. (Savings: higher education: $450 million; K-12: $970 million)

» Special carve-outs in the state’s education funding formula that grant subsidies to a select few school districts affected by local property tax caps and special economic zones. (Savings: $250 million)

So, whack the LDF, transfer pension costs to schools and universities and cut Chicago’s school funding.

* But it does give locals this

Reform costly state mandates imposed on local governments such as prevailing wage requirements and collective bargaining rules. Ease the process for government consolidation and other cost-saving measures. (Local government savings: $2 billion-$3 billion)

Right. Yeah.

* It also wants a 10 percent reduction in the number of state employees and implementation of Gov. Rauner’s contract terms, for a claimed savings of $500 million for each point.

The group wants to cut higher education spending by $500 million a year. It would cut Medicaid spending by $415 million.

* Its pension proposal looks like it revamps the ramp

» Phases in the costs of any pension funds’ actuarial changes over a five-year period. This will reduce the required $800 million increase in state contributions by nearly $650 million in 2018.

» Creates a new contribution schedule with a 2018 payment that is $1 billion less than baseline contributions. That will protect overburdened Illinoisans from
tax hikes and allow the state to prioritize funding for social services.

* Its chart…

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* But it’s long overdue…

As her first act on the Senate Government Reform Committee, Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) introduced legislation to close the revolving door between state government employees, officials and lobbying firms.

“It is high time that we strengthen ethics laws in Illinois and tighten regulations on the revolving door,” Steans said. “The General Assembly last passed revolving door reforms nearly 10 years ago. While those acts were undoubtedly progress, elected officials and state employees should not be able to immediately translate relationships built on state time into lobbying connections upon leaving public service.”

Senate Bill 615 requires employees and officials to wait one year after leaving a position with the state before accepting a position or compensation for lobbying state government. The legislation also bans state employees and officials from negotiating employment terms or compensation from lobbying entities while employed or serving as an appointee of the state.

“SB 615 restricts legislators and state employees from lobbying for at least one year after their departure from state government, bringing Illinois in line with a majority of other states who restrict this kind of activity,” said Sarah Brune, executive director of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “This legislation is an important step in closing the revolving door of state government in Illinois and encouraging openness and transparency in the political process.”

* As defined in the lobbyist registration act, “state official” means

(1) the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and State Comptroller;
(2) Chiefs of Staff for officials described in item (1);
(3) Cabinet members of any elected constitutional officer, including Directors, Assistant Directors and Chief Legal Counsel or General Counsel;
(4) Members of the General Assembly; and
(5) Members of any board, commission, authority, or task force of the State authorized or created by State law or by executive order of the Governor.

Legislators in particular should not be allowed to negotiate employment terms with lobbying entities while in office. It defies common sense.

…Adding… It probably should be noted that the governor’s executive order from 2015 did some of this as well. But Rauner didn’t bar his people from working for lobbying entities for a year, like this proposal does. He just barred them from actively lobbying the governor’s part of the executive branch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Cat moving HQ to Chicago area

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Whoa

Caterpillar Inc. has scrapped plans to build a new office complex in Downtown Peoria and will move its global headquarters to the Chicago area by the end of the year.

The upper echelon of executives, including newly installed CEO Jim Umpleby, will begin relocating later this year, with up to 100 employees total moving by year’s end. About 300 employees will work in the new office at an as-yet undecided location once the transition is complete. […]

The [company’s restructuring] contributed to $2.3 billion in savings in 2016, but sales and revenue for last year still were more than 40 percent below peak levels of 2012. Umpleby said that decline is a fundamental reason the company’s Board of Directors opted to move global headquarters to an area where the global marketplace is in easier reach. […]

“I understand it is a big deal, and it is not a decision that we made lightly. As we step back and looked at what is most important, what’s most important for us is to get Caterpillar growing again and for us to make the company successful,” Umpleby said. “And I clearly recognize it will be disappointing, it will be tough. This is not easy. I clearly recognize that. But again I think it’s the right thing for Caterpillar to do in the long term.”

* The same thing happened with ADM not too long ago. Execs want to live in or next to a big city, with big city amenities and access to transportation hubs. From the Peoria paper’s interview with the CEO

We have decided to locate a small, lean headquarters team, a team of senior executives, in the Chicago area to have better access to flights. About two-thirds of our business over the last five years has come from outside the United States. We see a lot of growth coming in the international markets, and we believe that speed and agility for our senior leadership team to be able to travel around the globe is very important. I do want to emphasize that the vast majority of our employees in Peoria will not be relocated. And again, both of these decisions, although they seem related, are independent decisions. They’re very much focused on allowing Caterpillar to grow and prosper again. […]

I suspect we’ll start with 100 employees, probably less by the end of the year. And when this new office is up and running, it will probably be around approximately 300 employees. One thing I want to make clear is we’re not moving the top 300 people to Chicago. That’s not happening. Many officers will continue to be in Peoria. We’re talking about the executive office, maybe a couple of the vice presidents. It will be a small group, and then, as with any lean headquarters, there will be support staff around, including a few key finance functions, human resources and members from the legal department. […]

There will be more vice presidents in the Peoria area than there will be in our new location. We have over 12,000 employees in the Peoria area, and we’ll still consider Peoria our hometown. This is where we grew up, this is where our employees are. We’ll be here a lot, so you’ll see us knocking around town. It won’t be a situation where we’re gone. We’re not looking for a building the size of AB (the current Downtown Peoria headquarters) to fill up. We’re not going to build a building. We’re going to lease space in an existing building.

* Crain’s

Caterpillar already has a footprint in the Chicago area. There are operations in LaGrange, Joliet and Aurora, though the company is considering ending manufacturing in Aurora.​

The company also houses its digital and analytics team in the Merchandise Mart. But the new headquarters will not be at any of those locations, and the employees at the Merchandise Mart will not be moved to the new headquarters, wherever it is situated.

Caterpillar has 12,000 employees in Peoria, Potts said, “and that’s not going to change.” The central Illinois city “is still our hometown.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Maybe it’s time to consider consolidating villages?

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* When we think of local government consolidation, we often think of schools or townships. But Illinois also has 1,299 incorporated cities, towns and villages

Former police chief Craig Kennedy said Monday he wasn’t surprised and has no hard feelings about being laid off by the village of Jerome.

As part of cost reductions necessitated by a budget shortfall, Village President Mike Lopez said the police chief was let go Friday. Kennedy was paid $55,000 per year.

“I attend 99 percent of the village board meetings and watched the downturn in sales tax revenue and figured I would be the first to go,” said Kennedy, 57, who spent the past 15 years with the Jerome Police Department, including three as chief. […]

Earlier this month, The State Journal-Register reported that police officers in nearby Leland Grove had been covering shifts in Jerome due to what village officials described as a temporary manpower shortage.

The 2015 Census estimate puts Jerome’s population at 1,651.

* From earlier this month

Lopez said that village coffers have been hurt by late payments from the state on monies owed. For example, the village in December received checks from the state to pay for officers who participated last spring in seatbelt emphasis patrols, he said. […]

Sales tax revenue in Jerome is also down, Lopez said. While the opening of Hy-Vee on MacArthur Boulevard might have been good news for the City of Springfield, it has reduced spending at Shop ’n Save, one of the largest businesses in the village. On the other hand, gambling revenue has soared to as much as $7,000 a month, he said, but that money will likely tail off due to the number of video gaming machines that have been installed throughout the area. […]

The village this month ceased paying a portion of health care premiums for dependents of village employees, which will save nearly $23,000, Lopez said, and Jerome residents can expect other cutbacks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


More on the strike authorization vote

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Finke on AFSCME’s strike authorization vote, which began yesterday

But as [AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall] said, only members who are eligible to strike are eligible to vote. AFSCME represents about 38,000 state workers in Illinois. Of those, roughly 30,000 can strike. The others work security jobs at the Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice and are forbidden from striking. […]

Actual voting will take place at 700 work sites around the state, Lindall said. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to vote for as many members as possible.

“We’re trying to give people multiple opportunities (to vote),” he said. “We are putting a tremendous effort into the access to vote and also for the integrity of the vote. We are following federal labor board processes for security votes similar to a union-authorization election.”

Although votes can be cast at hundreds of locations, they will be counted at a central location, Lindall said. None of the votes will be counted until after the election is concluded. Voting is scheduled through Feb. 19, although union officials have said it could be extended a bit if necessary to accommodate all voters.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Durbin calls AG Madigan filing a “bold move”

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Tina Sfondeles at the Sun-Times

Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday called Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion to halt state employee pay without a budget a “bold move” that will force Gov. Bruce Rauner’s hand.

Durbin — who last year opted not to run for governor — told the Sun-Times the budget impasse, which he said has shredded a safety net and cut off care for the most disadvantaged, hasn’t been enough to create a force for compromise.

“I think what she’s saying is ‘Let’s face the reality.’ The [Illinois] Constitution says you can’t appropriate it. You can’t spend it unless it’s appropriated. And if she tests that, and it comes through, it’s going to force the hand of the governor as to whether or not that the things he’s insisting on are so important that it would create an even worse situation in our state,” Durbin said. […]

“It’s no surprise that Dick Durbin is spinning like a career politician,” state Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said in an email. “Durbin knows ridiculous political attacks by Mike Madigan and the money men who fund his machine don’t work, but exposing the failure of Madigan’s decades of rule in Springfield does. Dick Durbin is unwilling and afraid to stand up to Mike Madigan. It’s why Durbin chose not to run.”

Discuss.

* Meanwhile, Jim Dey’s take is right out of “Mad Men”

Jim Dey: Is Lisa Madigan rescuing ‘Dadigan’?

Little Lisa is making a big splash.

The Diminutive Daughter of the Diminutive Don of Illinois politics shook things up big time last week when she inserted herself into the 19-month-old state budget battle between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and her father, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Wow. Words fail me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

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*** UPDATED x3 - Rauner admin responds to Mendoza - AG declines comment - Mendoza responds *** Rauner lawyer urges comptroller to keep paying workers even if AG Madigan wins

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Here’s a new twist. Check out the fourth paragraph


I heard this could be happening earlier today. The AG filed two motions the other day, one was to dissolve the preliminary injunction, but the other was a petition to intervene. The original defendant was Comptroller Munger, who retained her own counsel over the AG’s objections.

So, the governor’s position is that Comptroller Mendoza should retain her own lawyer, keep AG Madigan out of the case, and even if the judge decides to obey the Constitution and lifts the order that forces the comptroller to pay employees without an appropriation, Mendoza should just keep on paying them until Madigan convinces a judge to tell her to stop doing so. You gotta figure that they’ll then demand that Mendoza appeal it.

In other words, they want to delay doomsday as long as they possibly can while making AG Madigan pay the political price every step of the way. And if the comptroller doesn’t go along with the governor, they’ll make her pay the price, too.

I’ve asked the comptroller’s office and the AG’s office for a response.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  From Abdon Pallasch at the comptroller’s office…

As the Comptroller said Thursday, the Governor could very easily end this court action by fulfilling his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget, and then work with the General Assembly to get it passed into law.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Asked for a comment, AG Madigan’s spokesperson responded: “No thanks.”

Heh.

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the governor’s office…

Once again, Comptroller Mendoza was given an opportunity to stand with state employees and fight for their paychecks. Once again, she declined.

Like I said, they want her to pay an ongoing political price.

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


Koch brothers looking to spend up to $400 milion on the 2018 cycle

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* I forgot to point this out in an earlier post, so here it is now

The Koch network plans to spend between $300 million to $400 million on policy and political campaigns during the 2018 election cycle.

Officials revealed the target budget at the start of a three-day donor summit at a resort here, indicating that they intend to continue expanding their reach at a time when Republicans control Congress and the White House. By comparison, the network spent about $250 million during the 2016 cycle on policy and political efforts.

The funds will be spread across a constellation of groups, including Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Action Fund, along with Concerned Veterans for America, the Libre Initiative and Generation Opportunity, which now operate under the AFP banner.

Leaders from the groups said that they plan to focus on building up the capabilities of their grass-roots organization, which has boots on the ground in 36 states, and that the precise amount will depend on opportunities.

Whew, that’s a lot of dough. AFP in Illinois, perhaps the Illinois Policy Institute and who knows what other groups could make out like bandits with this push.

* The Democratic Governors’ Association had an interesting bit of spin

“While people in Illinois were being detained, Gov. Bruce Rauner was relaxing with fellow millionaires in Palm Springs,” said DGA Communications Director Jared Leopold. “The millions that Rauner is raising for the Koch brothers won’t do much to protect the people of Illinois from Donald Trump. Illinois voters deserve a governor who will stand up and fight for their values, not run off to Palm Springs in the middle of a crisis.”

* OK, first of all, not to defend the Koch brothers or anything, but they’re opposed to the travel ban

The leaders of the conservative network aligned with billionaires Charles Koch and David Koch on Sunday said they opposed President Trump’s controversial ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.

“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,” Brian Hooks, a co-chairman of the Kochs’ seminar network, said in a statement.

“The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive,” Hooks added, saying it hinders a Koch goal of promoting a free and open society.

The statement marks the first public criticism of the Trump administration from the Kochs, who oversee one of the most influential outside operations in conservative politics with a staff, budget and voter-turnout operation that rivals the Republican Party.

* Secondly, most folks would presume that Rauner went out there to raise money from the Koch network, not to raise money for it. Not quite sure what to make of that yet. Any ideas?

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


More lip service

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* From the twitters…


- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Administration warns AFSCME members on strike costs

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* From JT to state employees…

Dear Colleagues,

Today marks the first day of AFSCME leadership’s campaign for strike authorization. The decision to vote in favor of a strike is a very serious choice and should not be done with incomplete (or worse, inaccurate) information. At CMS Labor Relations, we always strive to provide complete information to bargaining unit employees on all topics. You can visit team.illinois.gov to find answers to your many questions and to submit new ones. Our team stands ready to help in these challenging times.

We also prepared the attached one-page document that briefly summarizes why, in our view, a strike is not warranted. Although others may disagree, we believe a strike against the taxpayers is reckless.

We firmly believe that our last, best, and final proposal is one that is both reasonable and necessary given the State’s current fiscal condition. Twenty other unions have accepted substantially similar proposals. A lengthy strike will result in significant disruptions to striking workers’ pay, health insurance, and pension benefits, and risk disrupting the services to some of the taxpayers we have pledged to serve.

Of course, the decision to strike is yours and yours alone. We will respect whatever decision you make and hope the Union does likewise. We remain available to answer questions or provide information to ensure you are fully informed.

Sincerely,

JT
John Terranova
Deputy Director
CMS Office of Labor Relations​​

* From the attachment…

The State’s Proposal Is Reasonable and Necessary

· Employees continue to be among the best-paid in the nation: average total annual compensation, with benefits, is over $100,000

· Health insurance options allow employees to select what is best for them and their families

· Depending on the choice of health insurance plan, monthly premiums can be as low as zero (AFSCME falsely claims everyone’s premiums will double)

· Temporary pay freeze (not permanent, as AFSCME claims when it falsely says the State is permanently eliminating step increases)

· A merit incentive program that extends to all employees a plan similar to one successfully implemented for AFSCME-represented Lottery Sales Reps four years ago

· Additional safeguards against privatization, along the lines of what AFSCME has negotiated in its CBAs with employees in other States

· Retention of bumping rights during layoff

· Modest changes to overtime provisions without changing the work week you’ve always had

Potential Costs of a Strike Are Significant

· No pay during the strike

· No health insurance subsidy during the strike

· No credit towards pension benefits during the strike

· Average monthly cost to a striking employee is over $8,000

· No one knows how long a strike may be; whether employees strike or not, the State simply cannot afford AFSCME leadership’s demands of billions of dollars in additional pay and benefits during the four-year contract at issue

· Replacement workers can be hired to maintain services during a strike, and in some cases, those replacement workers may be permanent.

· In contrast, employees who cross the picket line continue to receive their pay and benefits and retain their same job protections—contrary to AFSCME’s claim, they do not become “at will”

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Harris wants to penalize drivers for hitting people in crosswalks

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Kerry Lester

A suburban lawmaker is pushing to make failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk a felony if it results in death or injury. The move was inspired by the death of a Mount Prospect mother of five.

State Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, tells me he attended meetings after the June 9 death of 55-year-old Joni Beaudry, who was struck and killed as she rode her bike through a Central Road crosswalk near Melas Park.

“One of the things that troubled me so much is that over the years we’ve emphasized the right of the pedestrian in the crosswalk,” Harris said. “But that’s just one side of it. … We’ve got to tell drivers, if you don’t do it, there’s a penalty.”

Currently, there are no penalties on the books for striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk, though drivers are penalized for reckless driving. Hanna Burzynska, 56, of Elk Grove Village, pleaded guilty to three different traffic violations for hitting Beaudry. Burzynska lost her license for a period of time and had to pay $364 in fines and court costs.

Learn something new every day. I had no idea there weren’t any specific penalties for hitting people in a crosswalk.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Bernie interviewed Democratic state Treasurer Michael Frerichs

For a time, Frerichs was among Democrats being talked about as a possible candidate for governor, though that talk has waned as he hasn’t aggressively promoted himself.

He said he knows it sounds like a cliche, but he is focusing on his office.

“I like my job,” the Champaign resident said. “I’m looking at keeping that job.” And he added that speculation about who’s running for 2018 offices “does nothing to advance the ball” and “stories right now should be exclusively on the fact that the state doesn’t have a budget in place.”

He said he was hopeful that after the November election there could be real movement toward a budget.

“But I think what we’ve seen is people immediately start putting millions of dollars in campaign funds, creating websites and attacking people they’re supposed to be negotiating with,” Frerichs said, without specifically naming Gov. BRUCE RAUNER, who put $50 million in his own campaign fund after the election, and the state GOP, which during the veto session launched BossMadigan.com, designed to criticize House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN, D-Chicago, and people associated with him.

“You can guess who I’m talking about,” Frerichs said. “And I just don’t think that moves our state forward.”

Unlike our new comptroller, who has been bashing the governor for months, the treasurer has been almost mute about the governor for the past two years, avoiding direct conflict.

* Indeed, after the election, which was super-tight, Frerich’s campaign spokesman said this

“What we saw emerge [Tuesday] in the suburbs exceeded our expectations. This race is being decided by tens of thousands of Rauner-Frerichs voters: independents in suburbs from Winnetka to Orland Park, from Waukegan to Joliet in the collar counties, and from Rock Island to deep Southern Illinois.”

* Today…


* The Question: Should Treasurer Frerichs amp up his rhetoric about Gov. Rauner? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey hosting

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Today’s number: $700 million

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Tribune

The state has a record stack of unpaid bills that’s expected to hit $15 billion by July if nothing is done, and it must fork over interest when it’s late paying them. Putting a hard dollar figure on those interest costs is difficult, however.

A bipartisan budget-forecasting group says the state owes at least $370 million alone in interest on bills for state employee health care during the 18-month stalemate. The Democratic comptroller’s office estimates the state will have to pay $700 million on interest based on what it’s spending in the current budget year, a number more than twice the state’s previous high water mark. The Republican governor’s budget office declined to provide any estimate, saying it “cannot speculate” on future costs. […]

Rauner’s office has declined to put a figure on what the state will owe in interest due to the impasse. And until early December, Rauner was able to make that stick because the comptroller, Leslie Geissler Munger, would not provide an estimate either. Rauner appointed Munger to the job, but she lost to Democrat Susana Mendoza in the November election.

Mendoza’s office puts the state’s interest costs from this year’s budget at $700 million, acknowledging the ultimate figure is a “moving target” depending on how much more the state spends in the coming months.

The estimate is based in part on last year’s spending, when state government operated without a full budget but continued to spend money based on court orders, laws and spending agreements. Illinois is in a similar position this year, as a temporary six-month budget expired with the new year, once again leaving universities, social service providers and prisons without funding.

Not that I’m all that confident about this particular comptroller’s projections, but the governor’s budget office does cost projections all the time, so it’s kinda weird that they won’t do projections on this topic.

Every year, for instance, it has done a five-year cost and revenue projection. It also projects costs in every budget it puts together. And it only recently projected next fiscal year’s cost for the Senate’s grand bargain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


The Illinois Policy Institute offers up a compromise stopgap

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Interesting thought

The 2016 court ruling puts the attorney general in a position to force the state to stop paying workers, since lawmakers haven’t passed a bill funding state-worker salaries. If the attorney general gets her way, state workers will go without pay until the General Assembly passes an appropriations bill. This could put pressure on state lawmakers to pass another unsustainable state budget like the proposal gaining traction in the Senate, which would subject Illinoisans to massive tax hikes with no real reform, long the priority of Lisa Madigan’s father, House Speaker Mike Madigan.

But the push to force through the Senate’s budget plan is based on a false choice: Lawmakers don’t have to pass this proposal to ensure state workers get paid.

Instead, the General Assembly could pass a clean appropriations bill for state-worker pay, rather than a deal as part of an increasingly complex and unwieldy budget package now taking form in the Illinois Senate.

The governor, however, has said he would demand a permanent property tax freeze and term limits in exchange for his signature on another stopgap budget.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


AG Madigan’s timing questioned

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* SJ-R editorial on Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s legal filing on state worker pay

What’s inexcusably wrong is the timing. Madigan said with a new legislative session underway, it was the appropriate time to ask the court to reconsider. She’s asked the court to terminate the injunction on Feb. 28, giving a firm deadline and restoring urgency to get the almost 19-month-old budget impasse resolved.

That argument could hold water - if there had been no substantive recent action on a budget. And while legislators have appeared blind to it, urgency has been a part of this impasse since day one. Just ask any of the vendors waiting for the 141,225 unpaid bills, worth a collective $10.7 billion, to be processed by the state. Or talk to one of the nearly 1 million people throughout Illinois who didn’t get help they needed during the fiscal year where there wasn’t a budget, according to United Way estimates.

Those vendors and clients had reason for hope recently because there were honest efforts at compromise in the Senate, where President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, have diligently worked together for the past month on a bipartisan budget package. Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his sincere thanks during his State of the State address Wednesday, and implored them to keep working on an agreement.

Lawmakers were finally putting people before politics. The tone of the conversation was slowly changing as politicians together sought solutions. The budget package lit a flame under lawmakers that was intensifying on its own as senators debated and amended the proposal in attempts to improve the plan. Madigan’s actions Thursday added unneeded fuel to that fire: A glance at the statements from the usual political players shows the tentative bridges that had started being built could now come tumbling down. […]

Madigan’s action was the antithesis of the collaboration the state had started to see. If this lone-wolf action slows the momentum that had started and reverts the Capitol to shouting over who is most to blame instead of reaching a budget compromise, Illinois residents will continue to be the ones who suffer.

* The Belleville News-Democrat was far more direct

If this were a board game, you would have quit long ago because there was no way to win at “Illinopoly.”

“At a meeting I attended just this morning, a comment was made that, ‘as soon as deals in Illinois are close to done, someone always tries to blow it up,’” said state Rep. Avery Bourne, a Republican from the Litchfield area.

The Illinois Senate seems on the verge of hammering out a budget deal with some of the reforms insisted on by a governor who refuses to continue monkey business as usual. Here comes Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, daughter of the game master, who wakes up after 18 months to decide, “Hey. We shouldn’t be paying state workers without a budget. I’ll sue.”

* Mark Brown

If anything, I question why the attorney general didn’t push this issue sooner, which, by the way, is totally consistent with her legal defense of Rauner’s failure to pay social service providers.

At this point, it doesn’t matter. This is the right move.

I don’t want to see state workers go unpaid. I want the state to come up with a budget.

Amid the howls in reaction to the attorney general’s move were complaints the added pressure could disrupt ongoing talks by Illinois Senate leaders, who have provided the first glimmer of hope in a while that a resolution is possible.

Sorry, everyone needs to feel that pressure.

When Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno visited our offices a week ago to tout their proposed deal, they both made it clear a budget needs to be approved now, not months from now. […]

In that light, I don’t see anything unreasonable about Madigan asking a judge to set a Feb. 28 date for wrapping up a budget before stopping state workers pay. The judge could also set a later date.

The important point is that we don’t let this continue indefinitely.

* Sun-Times

On Thursday, Attorney General Lisa Madigan set the wheels in motion for tens of thousands of state workers to stop being paid if a state budget is not approved by Feb. 28. Effectively, that would mean a government shutdown. Madigan did so, she explained, to create overwhelming pressure on the state Legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner to finally cut a deal.

Here’s our problem with that: Working people once again are being treated like pawns in a game of power by politicians who will never have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck. If Madigan’s gambit does not work, they will pay the price. And we can’t be sure of her motives. Maybe she’s the most honest of brokers, just trying to force an end to the budget impasse. Or maybe she’s working an angle with the Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael J. Madigan, who happens to be her father.

Lisa Madigan will object to that charge. She has worked hard over the years to show she runs her office independent of her father, and there is no evidence she’s doing his bidding now. But there also is no escaping the bad optics. Given that the Speaker and attorney general are father and daughter, skeptics will always suspect a tag team. And Lisa Madigan’s latest legal maneuver is giving her father’s number-one foe, Rauner, fits. A government shutdown threatens much of Rauner’s leverage to force pro-business reforms as part of a budget package.

Nonetheless, Attorney General Madigan appears to be on firm legal ground — and that means the clock is ticking. If a budget agreement is not reached, state workers may not get paid beginning in March.

* Greg Hinz

Now, Team Rauner is of the opinion that Madigan acted now because her father doesn’t like the grand budget deal the heads of the Senate, President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno, are trying to push through against tough odds. Speaker Madigan wants to do as little as possible until 2018, hoping to unseat Rauner in that year’s election, they suggest.

That may be true. On the other hand, some top Democrats believe Rauner is trying to sandbag the deal.

And some folks believe Lisa Madigan’s move could boost pressure on lawmakers to finally act. “It’s a gentle nudge to get something done,” says one well-connected business lobbyist.

I don’t know. What I do know is that, as a matter of good public policy, Lisa Madigan’s action is appropriate. Tardy, but appropriate.

If lawmakers continue to squabble and paychecks are halted, voters will be furious and take it out on somebody. Good. They should.

And maybe the fear of that finally will get us a budget.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Responses roll in on Trump travel ban EO

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* From the governor’s office…

Hi, Rich:

Governor Rauner has always said we need to balance our tradition as a nation welcoming of immigrants and refugees with legitimate national security concerns to keep Americans safe from terrorism.

The governor has been supportive of tightening the vetting process for Syrian refugees because of ISIS attempts to infiltrate refugee flows — but he’s opposed to immigration bans that target any specific religion.

Serious concerns about the [presidential] executive order have been raised. We urge swift resolution of these concerns through the courts to ensure we are a nation that is both secure and welcoming of immigrants and refugees.​

Best,
ck

* That was a pretty measured response, so in comparison this is way over the top, but he is who he is…


* More on local GOP response

(A)s of Sunday evening, four of our six GOP members of Congress representing Illinois remained completely silent as to where they stood on Trump’s order. Republican U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren did not respond to requests for comment from POLITICO, while others did not respond to requests from other media. […]

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, (R-Ill.), posted a response on Medium saying Trump’s executive order “has caused confusion among those asked to enforce it.”

“I urge the Administration to clarify the specifics on what should and should not be done to best protect our homeland, our people, and our communities,” Kinzinger wrote. “I support a comprehensive look at our vetting process, and I believe it’s something every new administration would be expected to do. However, reports of green card holders and those who assisted us in the war on terror being denied or delayed entry is deeply concerning. Such detention is unacceptable and must be remedied immediately.”

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, (R-Ill.), embraced the temporary ban, saying it would allow “time to evaluate and improve the vetting process,” of refugees.

* AG Madigan…

Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined with 15 other attorneys general today to condemn the unconstitutional Executive Order on immigration. 
 
Madigan and the attorneys general issued the following statement:
 

    “As the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, unAmerican and unlawful Executive Order and will work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution, respects our history as a nation of immigrants, and does not unlawfully target anyone because of their national origin or faith.
     
    Religious liberty has been, and always will be, a bedrock principle of our country and no president can change that truth.
     
    Yesterday, multiple federal courts ordered a stay of the Administration’s dangerous Executive Order. We applaud those decisions and will use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order and preserve our nation’s national security and core values.
     
    We are confident that the Executive Order will ultimately be struck down by the courts. In the meantime, we are committed to working to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created.”

 
Joining Madigan in issuing the statement were attorneys general from: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

* U of I…

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The University of Illinois System is a leader in teaching, discovery and outreach in our state, the nation and the world. Our doors are open and welcoming to talented individuals from around the globe and we pledge to ensure that this openness continues into the future. It is at the heart of our commitment to global access and extraordinary impact and is reflected in our Nondiscrimination Statement.

We are greatly concerned about the negative consequences for members of our community and their families arising from President Trump’s recent Executive Order instituting changes in immigration policy.

We want to assure you that we are monitoring events closely and we are working with other universities, national organizations, legal counsel and government officials to support and protect all of our international faculty, visiting scholars and students.

Because of the entry restrictions cited in the new Executive Order, we strongly recommend that students and scholars who might be affected defer travel outside the U.S. until there is fuller assessment of the Executive Order and its implementation, including resolution of several newly mounted legal challenges.

We are working with colleagues at other universities and with national higher education advocacy organizations, such as the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, Association of American Universities and American Association of State Colleges and Universities to assess the effects of the immigration directives and to urge that the Executive Order be reconsidered as quickly as possible. We are also engaging with members of the Illinois congressional delegation to share specific concerns.

All three of our universities are communicating with affected members of our communities and are providing information and support. For specific resources, please contact:

    University of Illinois at Chicago: Office of International Services, (312) 996-3121 (ois@uic.edu)
    University of Illinois at Springfield: Office of International Programs, (217) 206-8319, (intprog@uis.edu)
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Supporting Our International Community, (217) 333-1303 ext. 1

We stress that our international community is a vital part of our excellence and reflects our steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion, global engagement and impact in today’s society.

Sincerely,

Tim Killeen
President

* Mayor Emanuel…

“One hundred years ago, the people of Chicago opened their hearts and their homes to my grandfather when he immigrated to this great city, fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe in search of freedom and opportunity. In that spirit, in the coming days my family and I will host DREAMers attending Chicago Public Schools and Chicago City Colleges for a meal, a conversation, and a recognition and celebration of all that unites us, rather than what divides us. I am asking every interested resident of the City of Chicago to join us by hosting a similar meal in your own homes and at restaurants in your own neighborhoods, or by sharing welcoming words through a phone call or email. At a moment of unease and vulnerability for so many, let’s come together as a city and put action behind our words and the values we hold dear as a welcoming city. Lets show the world that the City of Big Shoulders is also a city of big hearts.”

* Comptroller…

In response to President Trump’s Muslim ban, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza issued the following statement:

“President Trump’s attack on Muslims is an attack on every American and it strikes at the heart of our dearest American values of democracy.

We saw clear and troubling warning signs from Trump the candidate, but this goes beyond hyperbolic fear-mongering. To use the Presidential authority granted to him by the American people to isolate, marginalize and discriminate against any group of people based on their nationality or religion, those are the actions of a tyrant.

I denounce President Trump’s despicable and decidedly un-American campaign against immigrants and refugees and I call on my fellow Illinoisans to rise up in a vocal and peaceful opposition until his executive action is revoked.

As an elected official, as the daughter of immigrant parents and as a patriotic American, I will not tolerate bigotry or xenophobia in any form, and most certainly not when it is made legal and institutionalized through the abuse of our democratic republic.”

* Sen. Duckworth…

“I wish the President had realized that governing in a fair and just manner is harder than rallying crowds with catchphrases before human lives were affected, as they were by today’s needless and dehumanizing detentions at O’Hare and airports around the country. Stopping legal permanent residents and babies simply because of where they’re from is not the American way and it doesn’t make us safer. This Muslim ban must end.”

* Sen. Durbin…

“History will judge where America’s leaders stood today, said Durbin. “Faced with the humanitarian crisis of our time, the United States cannot turn its back on children fleeing persecution, genocide, and terror. During the Holocaust we failed to fulfill to our duty to humanity. We cannot allow mindless fear to lead us into another regretful chapter in our history.”

* JB Pritzker…


* Related…

* ADDED: Koch network slams Trump immigrant ban: “We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,” Brian Hooks, a co-chairman of the Kochs’ seminar network, said in a statement. “The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive,” Hooks added, saying it hinders a Koch goal of promoting a free and open society.

* Data: Refugees in Illinois: More than 40 percent from banned countries: More than 40 percent of the more than 30,000 refugees who have settled in various parts of Chicagoland since 2002 are from the seven countries specifically mentioned in Donald Trump’s latest executive order.

* Chicagoans decry travel restrictions as family, friends held at O’Hare

* As hundreds protest, attorneys seek info on how many are detained

* In tweets, President Trump denies immigration order caused airport chaos

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


Lee to shutter its Statehouse bureau

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Last week, Decatur Herald & Review Chris Coates sent an e-mail to employees…

As some of you may have heard, we’ve made the very difficult decision to close the Springfield bureau. This was not an easy choice. I hope we work something out to re-open our Statehouse operation at some point. But for now, we’ll be filling the gaps and localizing content whenever possible.

The H&R, the Bloomington Pantagraph, the Southern Illinoisan, the Mattoon/Charleston Journal Gazette & Times-Courier and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are all under the Lee Enterprises umbrella. It wasn’t that long ago when most of those papers had their own Statehouse reporter, plus one for Lee itself.

Dan Petrella recently announced that he was leaving Lee. They’re not replacing him. None of the other papers in that company have a Statehouse reporter.

* I followed up with Coates and here’s what he sent me today…

We’ve decided to no longer have a full-time reporter at the Illinois Statehouse. We’ll continue covering these issues with reporters from our newsrooms. Illinois politics and Statehouse decisions are important to us, and we’re committed to reporting on these critical areas.

*Sigh*

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Drury takes credit for AG action

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Notice the use of the royal “we” in this constituent e-mail from Rep. Scott Drury…

Friends:

We are pleased to announce that Attorney General Lisa Madigan has embraced our long-held belief that the best way to end the budget impasse is from the pressure created by a true government shutdown. Specifically, in an effort to bring the impasse to an end, she is seeking a court order to stop further state payments to government workers

History
Since fall 2015, we have contended that the General Assembly and the Governor have prolonged the budget impasse by implementing a series of partial budgets and making sure government continues many of its day-to-day functions. In an email in November 2015, we stated: “Through a series of various maneuvers, Illinois leaders have helped prolong the budget impasse by relieving pressure points before they boil.”

The Rational Voice
Our belief that the best way to break the impasse is a true government shutdown has often required us to be the rational - but lone - voice against misguided partial budgets. Notably, those budgets: (a) only provided our universities with 30% of their funding - causing damage for years to come; and (b) picked winners and losers, with social service providers repeatedly being the biggest losers.

Madigan’s Actions
Consistent with our view since 2015, in a filing last week, AG Madigan stated that by halting employee pay, she is trying to raise the pressure to get a budget in place. We will keep you posted on the progress of her legal action.

Closing
Success for us is a long-term project. Getting buy-in for our pressure theory has taken over a year and, at times, subjected us to ridicule by Springfield insiders. But we are fueled by the knowledge that the only way to make progress in Illinois, is to continuously push against the status quo. So push we will.

As always, thank you for the privilege of allowing me to represent you.

–Scott

He’s a true visionary, that one.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


A simple answer to a simple question

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* From the twitterverse…


* The simple answer is in the second sentence of this excerpt from the state Constitution

The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State. Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.

As long as the General Assembly is allowed to estimate available funds, then legislators can play with the numbers all they want and there’s really nothing anybody can do about it except change the Constitution.

The GA did give some power to the Auditor General to check to see if the numbers were valid and then to recommend actions, but that authority expired with most of the income tax hike.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


The attack has failed twice in a row

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner is among three Republican governors attending an annual summit in California hosted by billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch — a trip that’s drawn criticism from unions and some Democratic lawmakers over its timing.

The Koch brothers, the nation’s top conservative donors, have hosted gatherings of donors and politicians over the years, but usually in private. This year’s attendees include five Republican senators, three governors and two congressmen.

The governor’s office confirmed Rauner is attending the summit in Palm Springs, California, but said he’s there to discuss policy and the state’s achievements with criminal justice reform, not politics or fundraising. An administration aide added that Rauner is also meeting with people on the West Coast to recruit tech companies to come to Illinois.

But the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which is in a longstanding war with the governor amid the state’s budget impasse, on Sunday harshly criticized Rauner for what they called “huddling” with the Koch brothers as refugees are stranded and Illinois is in “crisis.”

“Actions speak louder than words. He’s not compassionate. He’s not willing to work together,” IFT President Dan Montgomery said in a statement. “In one of our darkest hours, he’s plotting with billionaires on how to make the rich richer.”

* More from the IFT…


* McQueary turned that exchange into a column

Class warfare, preached and evangelized by liberals, is frustratingly nefarious and frustratingly effective. From the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to the state and local levels in Illinois, caricaturing Republican candidates as out-of-touch elitists is akin to linking them to thuggery.

The disgust. The furor. The loathing.

That’s why it will be fascinating to watch the 2018 gubernatorial election to see how the Democrats, who seethed over Gov. Bruce Rauner’s wealth, will handle J.B. Pritzker as one of their candidates and a potential gubernatorial front-runner or nominee. What a pretzel they’ll be in trying to repeat the themes of 2014. This time, one of their own candidates could be labeled as a self-funded billionaire, philanthropist and entrepreneur.

Then, will the Democrats be forced to drop the nauseating references to “Billionaire Bruce?” Will they have to stifle their hysteria over self-funded campaigns? Will they cast aside Pritzker because of his wealth?

Because at this point, Pritzker’s pockets are the primary reason he’s being taken seriously in Democratic circles. He can self-fund, pitting his money against Rauner’s and relieving a pressure valve on Democratic donors who can instead put their money into other races, perhaps legislative. Pritzker is seen as perhaps the only chance to take out Rauner.

Valid points all. But the one she missed is that the “Billionaire Bruce” attack didn’t work in 2014, and the “Billionaire Trump” attack didn’t work in 2016. Maybe it’ll work in 2018, but there’s a decent chance that the Democrats will also nominate a billionaire here.

Perhaps Montgomery is sending a message to Pritzker, or perhaps he’s just reaching for the nearest stick to use. If it’s the former, then fine. It’s a free country. If it’s the latter, then think it through a bit before doing so again.

Also, we’ll take up the local angle on the travel ban in another post, so let’s stick to this topic in comments, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Drury throws Morrison under the bus

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* John Kass interviews Rep. Scott Drury

“I only needed eight votes to tie up the speakership vote and send it to a runoff, and they weren’t there,” Drury said. “To give you an example of how hard it was to find votes, I reached out to my state senator [Julie Morrison]. … I said to her, ‘Will you send out a message saying that you support or encourage my run for speaker of the house?’ I got a text back: ‘I don’t feel comfortable getting involved.’” […]

“I told him it was not my role to get involved in House politics,” Morrison told me. “I try to stay on my side of the rotunda. I said I would give it some thought, and I texted back, and said, ‘No.’”

Yet wasn’t her silence a tacit endorsement of Boss Madigan rule?

“Absolutely not,” she said. “I’ve worked cooperatively with Scott. I’m not going to get involved with Madigan and House politics.”

Throwing his own Senator under the bus like that gives you a pretty good insight into how he operates. The dude apparently couldn’t convince a single House Democrat to stand with him, so he casts blame on Sen. Morrison.

* Meanwhile, some folks have tried to use the fact that Drury didn’t receive a clock from Speaker Madigan to raise some money online

Now I know you are thinking, this seems a little out of proportion with everything going on in the State right now, and you would be right, but we must take a stand.

So please donate generously so that we can buy Rep. Drury a desk clock in hopes that he can stop releasing press releases and return to passing a budget.

No doubt the clocks handed out to Democratic legislators were priceless- and due to gift limits we likely can’t buy a priceless clock - so please know any money raised over the price of a dollar store clock will be donated to one of the nonprofits in Rep. Drury’ district that hasn’t been paid on time.

It would probably help if they actually named the not-for-profit group because they’ve only raised $30 so far.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Biss wins Dem straw poll

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* From the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association

Today the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association (IDCCA) announced the results of their online straw poll conducted from Monday January 23rd to midnight on Sunday January 29th. The poll asked respondents to select their preferred Democrat candidate to run for Governor and Lt. Governor in 2018. The result was comprised of its existing members and Democrats who joined the organization via online submission of name, email, and zip code. More than 5,352 ballots were cast online.

* Results

The straw poll results are as follows. These results were tabulated from 5,352 responses and examined for duplicates and interference by IDCCA team members. This poll is not a scientific representation of the Democratic Primary electorate.

    State Senator Daniel Biss, 25%, 1339 votes
    Alderman Ameya Pawar, 15%, 806 votes
    Chris Kennedy, 12%, 617 votes
    Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, 11%, 602 votes
    J.B. Pritzker, 10%, 550 votes
    State Senator Andy Manar, 7%, 356 votes
    Congresswoman Robin Kelly, 4%, 238 votes
    State Senator Kwame Raoul, 2%, 113 votes
    City Treasurer Kurt Summers, 1%, 80 votes

* 13% (651 votes) of responses were for write in candidates.

Write in Candidates:

    Attorney General Lisa Madigan, 87 votes
    Governor Pat Quinn, 45 votes
    US Senator Dick Durbin, 41 votes
    Alex Paterakis, 39 votes
    State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, 24 votes

Lt. Governor votes are currently being tallied and will be posted as soon as they are available.

Alex Paterakis is running a campaign of sorts on social media.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Timing, the constitution and the governor’s “leverage”

Monday, Jan 30, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Question the timing all you want, but last week’s legal filing by Attorney General Lisa Madigan to stop paying state employee wages without an official appropriation is long overdue and is completely consistent with a 2016 Illinois Supreme Court ruling and with her (and the governor’s) opposition to a similar lawsuit brought by social service providers.

Back in 2015, after the General Assembly and the governor couldn’t come to terms on a budget deal, AFSCME and other unions went to court and asked a judge to force the state to pay state workers even though there was no official appropriation for the salaries. That ruling remains in place today.

But this passage in the Illinois Constitution pretty much says it all: “The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State.”

So the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in March of 2016 on a different case that the portion of AFSCME’s contract with the state requiring payment of back wages could not be honored without a proper legislative appropriation. In other words, no appropriation, no payment, even with a contract.

It was a completely reasonable decision. The governor shouldn’t be able to sign contracts and then force state payment without an actual appropriation. The potential for abuse is mind blowing. Just imagine if Rod Blagojevich could’ve paid whomever he wanted, how much he wanted without any legislative permission.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s position against a lawsuit brought by human service providers is also completely in line with that 2016 Supreme Court decision. The service providers say their signed state contracts mean they should be paid in full even though the General Assembly hasn’t approved the appropriations to do so. Never once has Gov. Rauner said those providers ought to be paid without a formal budget in place.

But there he was last week saying that Attorney General Madigan’s motion would “directly harm” state workers while urging her to drop her legal motion. He’s been fighting the state employee unions since Day One and has said he wants to help social service groups, yet he wants state workers paid without an appropriation but doesn’t want social service providers paid the same way?

C’mon, man. I was born at night, but not last night. What’s he really up to? Give me a minute and I’ll get to it.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s reaction to AG Madigan’s move appeared to fly in the face of common sense: “This decision clearly undermines the legislature’s duty to negotiate a bipartisan solution.”

I was in Decatur to give a speech last week about the prospects for the Senate’s much-touted “grand bargain” when I found out about AG Madigan’s motion. My speech, as initially written, gave that bipartisan effort no better than a 50-50 chance to spur a final deal.

If the attorney general had filed her motion last year after the Supreme Court ruling, we wouldn’t be in this mess today, and Leader Durkin most certainly knows it. Nothing focuses the General Assembly’s bipartisan attention quite so much as a massive crisis.

So, why didn’t she file it last year? I’m told she wanted to give the General Assembly and the governor some time to work things out. They eventually agreed to a stop gap budget, so she laid low. But that stop gap budget expired at the end of December and the General Assembly left town last week without making significant progress.

There will naturally be widespread suspicions that AG Madigan acted on behalf of her father. The Illinois Republican Party explicitly made that very point when it claimed the attorney general “decided to put Speaker Madigan’s power politics ahead of hard-working families in an effort to shut down state government.”

That last sentence is the key here. The governor has done all he could to avoid a shutdown because a shutdown means all the emphasis would then be on quickly passing a real budget and the tax hikes which go along with it to reopen the government’s shuttered doors.

And that means the governor will lose much (or most, or possibly even all) of his beloved “leverage” to force through his various anti-union/pro-business economic reforms. And that leverage, whether he admits it or not, is the extreme pressure that’s been put on social service providers and the people they serve since this impasse began 18 long months ago.

The attorney general has asked the judge to allow the governor and the General Assembly to delay any order until February 28th to give them time to work out a deal.

Get on it, folks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


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* Poll: 53 percent of Illinoisans disapprove of Trump, 64 percent say Rauner should "act to protect the reproductive health care of all women in Illinois"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Question of the day
* Roll Call: Rauner race is "Toss-up/Tilt Democrat"
* Clear as mud
* Can CPS avoid closing early?
* *** UPDATED x1 - Biss responds *** Rauner says HB 40 is "divisive" and "we need to focus" on fixing other problems
* Signs of the times
* Blagojevich again denied
* Illinois is heading for junk bond status
* The "growth only" canard
* Biss criticizes Democratic Party, Madigan
* Democrat Manar blasts Bourne, Rauner
* Caption contest!
* SIU and WIU join EIU, NEIU and GSU in junk bond territory
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* With tough race looming, rare pro-choice Republ.....
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage p.....
* Slowik: Rauner is like a performance artist pla.....
* Is the tollway getting cold feet on Route 53 ex.....
* On the Trail: Illinois Democrats guard district.....
* Morning Spin: Rauner’s improbable fundraising p.....
* Chicago’s cold shoulder to charters..
* Man jailed at 15 under controversial felony mur.....
* Morning Spin: Rauner's improbable fundraising p.....
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage p.....


* Obama to deliver first post-presidency speech in Chicago
* EXCHANGE: 12-year-old student is president of a state club
* Gillespie, Monk, Ella celebrated at Chicago Jazz Festival
* Kids ride Metra for free on Take Our Children to Work Day
* Frank Lloyd Wright building tours planned to mark birthday
* Springfield children's hospital stages voting for new mascot
* 5-month paving project to begin on I-55 in Springfield
* Remains of Illinois man killed at Pearl Harbor come home
* Remains of Illinois man killed at Pearl Harbor come home
* Eastern Illinois University attempts to boost enrollment

* Lawmakers return from spring break; 'bargain' remains unresolved
* Illinois Democrats aim high with minimum wage proposals
* Lawmakers return to unresolved issues
* 2018 Illinois governor's race likely to be most expensive in U.S. history
* Next year's governor's race likely to be most expensive ever
* Springfield group seeks to help progressive women candidates
* Group seeks to help progressive women candidates
* Jacksonville drug treatment center to close
* Ratings agency downgrades credit of 6 Illinois universities
* Hearing probes Illinois auditor general's campaign spending

* Like our roundup? Share it around.
* Who's lending to South Side homebuyers?
* How big of a threat can a 13-hospital really be?
* These stock-pickers continue to outsmart the indexes
* Munoz's biggest challenge at United: fixing a 'toxic culture'


* Police: Gun found during traffic stop in Riverside
* Morel of the Week begins: And other notes around Chicago outdoors
* Jackson Street bridge in Joliet closes Monday for repairs
* Shot fired during robbery at Lincoln Park store
* Man charged with shooting friend in Elgin
* Smash-and-grab burglars hit Magnificent Mile store
* Police: Man tried to lure 4 boys to van in Gresham
* Dear Abby: Husband bought house, I do all the work
* Georgia Nicols horoscopes for April 24, 2017
* 3 robberies reported in Back of the Yards


* House call doctor accused of patient sex abuse — years after first reports to police
* Thieves crash car into Louis Vuitton store on Magnificent Mile
* Nearing 100-day mark, Trump says milestone not 'meaningful'
* Inundated with gunshot victims, Chicago doctors and nurses face 'compassion fatigue'
* Man jailed at 15 under controversial felony murder rule has sentence commuted
* Chicago visit Monday to start Obama's re-entry into public eye
* South Korea, allies brace for North Korea follow-up act
* Morning Spin: Rauner's improbable fundraising pitch: Balanced budget without tax hike
* Mainstream politics shut out as Le Pen, Macron win in France
* LINDA C. BLACK HOROSCOPES for 4/24/17


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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