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A couple of possible Dem candidates weigh in

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* From US Rep. Cheri Bustos, who has floated her name for governor…

“Gov. Rauner’s first two years have been an epic failure that has pushed our state to an unprecedented crisis point. Under his downturn agenda, our state’s most vulnerable citizens are unable to count on services they should be able to take for granted, including domestic violence shelters, home health assistance or child-care assistance for low-income households. More than ever, Illinois needs a leader in the Governor’s Mansion. I urge Gov. Rauner to put aside his ideological war on working families to do the job he was elected to do and pass a budget.”

* And here’s Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers…

As Governor Rauner delivered his State of the State address, there remains more than $11 billion in bills that the state owes to vendors and service providers. There are 1 million people who have lost services, including mental health and substance-abuse treatment, HIV prevention services, and programming for victims of domestic violence. And, our budget deficit will remain $5.3 billion if the Governor continues his stubborn and partisan aversion to compromise. What we heard was nothing more than a campaign speech from a Governor who still hasn’t figured out how to lead. We heard no new ideas, and despite his claims, we have seen no effective attempt to work across the aisle to find solutions. In fact, we have seen our Governor actively work to divide us and enhance the partisan rancor that is preventing any real progress. The people of Illinois are sick and tired of waiting for real leadership.

Governor Rauner: You said you’re frustrated. Well, we are too. In these past 18 months, you have consistently treated the black, brown, poor, and working class people of Illinois as acceptable collateral damage. You had an opportunity to be a bipartisan leader, but you have put ideology and your own interests first, while failing to comprehend that your inaction is contributing to a vicious cycle of poverty, violence, and community instability in the places you pretend to be an advocate for - across all Illinois. In order to make real progress, we need leadership that can harness our collective focus on a balanced budget, meaningful education funding reform to fix our schools, and a jobs plan that works for all of us.

* As I said the other day, Sen. Kwame Raoul’s consultant/fundraiser is now working for Raoul’s friend Chris Kennedy, so he may not be in this one, but here’s his statement…

While I appreciate the governor calling attention to some serious issues within our criminal justice system, we need to recognize that real change will only come about if we invest in our neighborhoods. I recently passed legislation in the Senate that offers comprehensive trauma recovery services in communities with high levels of violent crime. If Governor Rauner is serious about ending the cycle of violence, I hope he will approve this measure.

Additionally, the governor has let another year go by without a plan to provide state services to people with disabilities, mental health issues or addiction. Every day without a budget is a day that some of our most vulnerable citizens lack access to the help they need.

As we reflect on the state of our state, we must recognize how much worse our financial situation has become under Governor Rauner’s leadership. Before the governor took office, we had paid down our backlog to a 30-day cycle. We now have an unprecedented $11 billion in unpaid bills. It is not hard to see that the difference between then and now is who is sitting in the governor’s office.

We must make it a priority in the coming days and weeks to end this stalemate. I am ready to work with anyone who comes to the table with real solutions and a willingness to compromise.

* She’s not a gubernatorial candidate, but Comptroller Susana Mendoza defeated Rauner’s hand-picked incumbent last November and is up for reelection in less than two years…

Take all the governor’s “alternative facts” out of his speech and The State of the State is: Leaderless.

He said he’s “offered many proposals to achieve a truly balanced budget.” Where are these proposals? Article 8, Sec: 2 of the state Constitution gives one very clear direction to the governor: He must prepare a balanced budget and submit it to the General Assembly. Because he has failed to do that for two years, people around this state are suffering.

Because my job is to pay the state’s bills — with inadequate funds thanks to his failure to propose a balanced budget — I hear stories every day from child care providers in Chicago, from nursing home operators in Peoria, from state employees in Springfield having their surgeries canceled if they can’t come up with half the cash to cover their own surgeries.

It is obscene that while everyone else in Illinois is suffering, Gov. Rauner has more than tripled his personal income from $58 million to $187 million and funneled more than $50 million into his own re-election campaign; tens of millions more into other political campaigns. I don’t think he can connect with the working-poor college students who had to drop out of state universities because the state has cut MAP grant funding and the university has to cut programs. The high-flying rhetoric in his speech about making the state universities great, doesn’t paper over his proposal to cut spending on higher education by 30 percent.

His administration was able to find $4 million dollars to give bonuses to higher-level non-union employees in October just before the election, but they can’t find money to fund social service agencies around the state that care for our most vulnerable residents.

He seems to be living in an alternative reality where his lack of leadership is helping the state move forward and people aren’t suffering.

In the last two years, the state’s backlog of bills grew from $6 billion to $11 billion. When we finally pay those bills, we have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars of interest on them.

Our bond ratings have dropped on the governor’s watch. Last week, bond rating agency Moody’s identified the lack of a budget as the biggest threat to growth in Illinois – the single biggest drag on the state’s economy.

The state of our state does not begin to get better until the governor fulfills his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget. He didn’t even list it as a priority in today’s speech. It’s good he thanked the leaders of the state senate. They’re doing his job for him.


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

“Boss Madigan” wins

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* If you’ve been watching Twitter closely the past couple of weeks, you know that two competing parody accounts have started attracting followers, @BossMadiganIL and @BossRaunerIL.

The person(s) behind Boss Rauner just lost a big round…

Yep. He gone. Not sure what happened there.

* Speaking of Speaker Madigan, this is from Steve Brown…

The leadership selected for the 100th General Assembly will be:

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Majority Leader
Representative Louis Lang, Deputy Majority Leader
Representative Arthur Turner, Deputy Majority Leader
Representative Luis Arroyo, Assistant Majority Leader
Representative Dan Burke, Assistant Majority Leader
Representative Sara Feigenholtz, Assistant Majority Leader
Representative Mary Flowers, Assistant Majority Leader
Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, Assistant Majority Leader
Representative Elaine Nekritz, Assistant Majority Leader
Representative Greg Harris, Conference Chairman
Representative Jay Hoffman, Assistant Majority Leader, non-compensated

Jay Hoffman in leadership? Man, Punkin Haid has really come a long way since Madigan stripped him of his committee chairmanship for working too closely with Rod Blagojevich.

Hey, maybe Scott Drury can one day work himself back into Madigan’s good graces, too. /s

…Adding… When Pat Quinn became governor, he continued using his lt. governor business cards and just crossed out the “Lt.” Did he get the House signage contract?…

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

What was up with that football stuff yesterday?

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Tribune

Meanwhile, some details buried in the far-reaching proposal emerged as surprises, an example of legislators’ willingness to throw in anything but the kitchen sink if it means there’s a possibility the budget impasse that’s hampered universities and social service providers could come to an end.

One such “throw in,” as it was called by Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, is an idea backed by the Chicago Bears aimed at cutting the amount of pay they have to dole out for injured players. Current law means they often have to cover injuries until a player is 67; they want that lowered to 35, contending most healthy players don’t play much longer than that.

Opponents, including players’ attorneys, argued that change would create a two-tier system. Supporters said the idea was to limit high-dollar payouts for players with expensive contracts, but conceded some work may still need to be done on the issue.

* From a group called the Illinois Sports Workers Compensation Task Force

Professional athletes employed by sports teams in Illinois are among the highest paid employees in the state, but they are entitled to the same workers’ compensation rights as every other employee. Professional athletes file a sizable number of Illinois workers’ compensation claims. These claims inequitably compensate professional athletes and impose significant costs on the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Additionally, professional athletes abuse the workers’ compensation system by forum shopping. Several other states’ workers’ compensation laws exclude or reduce the workers’ compensation rights of professional athletes and prohibit professional athletes from forum shopping. Illinois should consider similar amendments to its workers’ compensation laws for professional athletes.

A Google search turned up nothing for the group, but I can’t help but wonder if its address might be 1410 Museum Campus Drive.

* The group distributed its full analysis (click here) to some legislators, but it has no real numbers or specific examples with names attached to them. They do cite this case

Professional athletes employed by sports teams based outside of Illinois, forum shop by filing claims in Illinois in order to take advantage of Illinois’ favorable workers’ compensation laws. For example, several years ago, a professional football player employed by the Cleveland Browns filed an Illinois workers’ compensation claim based on a specific injury he suffered while playing in a football game in Illinois. This player chose to file a claim in Illinois instead of Ohio because he determined that he will receive a greater award under Illinois law. These types of claims show the inequities of Illinois’ workers’ compensation system, and waste the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s resources. Unless Illinois amends its workers’ compensation laws, Illinois may challenge California as the trendy state in which professional athletes file their workers’ compensation claims, regardless of the home state of the professional athletes’ employers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Cullerton remains optimistic, but challenges remain

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Senate President John Cullerton on the governor’s State of the State address…

“The Senate is well aware of the state of our state. That’s why we are working together to put an end to the budget impasse and restore economic stability to Illinois. Our state is filled with wonderful people and places. It is state government that has failed and fallen behind. Our efforts continue in the Senate to turn this around and I remain optimistic that we are near an agreement.”

That’s the best response I’ve seen today.

But optimism alone isn’t gonna pass that grand bargain.

* Tribune

The complex package, including tax increases, as well as workers’ compensation changes aimed at helping business and a new plan to alter state worker pensions, met with heavy opposition from an alliance of business and unions.

Democratic senators said privately they were fearful that Republicans could not deliver the votes needed to reflect the bipartisan nature of the compromise plan.

They don’t need many. And Cullerton has come a long way since veto session, when he once again demand that Rauner set the tax hike level himself. And while he’s been saying for months that Republicans need to put a bunch of votes on any tax hike roll call, I’m pretty sure he’ll accept a fraction of that now.

* Meanwhile

(T)he Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian group that usually backs the governor, said that while he “has been able to make significant progress” in some ways, “he cannot do it alone.” To help out, the group adds that it intends next week to release its own plan to balance the budget without a penny of tax hikes.

That’ll be fun.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Mayor Emanuel said this on WTTW last night

Emanuel says Rauner has “abdicated” his leadership responsibility, by delegating negotiations on a resolution to the 18-month [impasse] to Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, and then sending “underlings” to undermine their bipartisan compromise framework.

* Today, the governor went “off script” in his State of the State address to say this…

* The Question: Do you believe the governor is finally ready to end this impasse and get to a deal? Make sure to explain your answer. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      

Madigan: House to begin “thorough vetting process of proposals” to create jobs, help middle class

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Press release…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago, issued the following statement Wednesday after Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address:

“As we chart a course for Illinois in the coming year, we should begin by focusing on where we can all agree. We all agree the state cannot continue to operate without a budget. Passing a balanced budget remains Illinois’ top priority, and a top priority of the House Democratic Caucus.

“We can also agree that Illinois must take serious steps to improve our business climate and create new job opportunities. But House Democrats reject the idea that the only way to create jobs in Illinois is to cut wages and strip away workplace protections in order to pad the profits of big corporations. Instead, we will work to advance an agenda of positive economic reforms that improve the business climate without hurting the middle class.

“We believe we can grow our economy and create jobs without hurting middle-class families. We can provide good jobs for working families while also passing policies that help businesses grow – those two ideas are not mutually exclusive to one another. Under my direction, the House will begin a thorough vetting process of proposals that will enable us to create jobs while also lifting up and helping the middle class and struggling families around our state.”

Pretty vague, but at least he’s talking about eventually talking about something.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

SOTS open thread

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* I have to go do some teevee, so monitor the address on our live coverage post and watch/listen on the House’s page or check your local listings.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

Deal reached for “substantial” protections of parolee rights

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Press release…

A federal class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Illinois’ parole revocation process has been resolved with a guarantee that attorneys will be provided to eligible parolees and an agreement the state will take additional steps to bring fairness to the process of determining whether a parolee must return to prison due to a parole violation.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve approved the settlement agreement reached with the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB). Plaintiffs were represented by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the Uptown People’s Law Center.

“The terms of the settlement, if implemented correctly, will guarantee that many parolees throughout the Illinois will receive state-funded attorneys to represent them throughout the revocation process,” said Alexa Van Brunt, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

“In addition, all parolees will receive key due process protections, including being informed of the evidence being used against them, the right to present a defense on their behalf and written findings at each stage of the process,” Van Brunt said. “Timelines will be set to speed the process and ensure that parolees do not languish in prison cells before IPRB determines whether they actually have violated terms of their parole.”

“The parole revocation process in Illinois has robbed parolees of their right to due process,” said Alan Mills, Executive Director of Uptown People’s Law Center. “They have been unable to speak on their own behalf at phony hearings, unable to present evidence in their defense, and unable to cross-examine adverse witnesses. In short, they have not received substantive hearings before a fair and unbiased decision-maker.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the settlement, while not perfect, would allow changes to happen rapidly and not require a protracted trial on the allegations.

“The protections for parolees are substantial and if implemented effectively this agreement should end the revolving door between prison and our communities and reduce the number of people held behind bars throughout the state,” said Sheila A. Bedi, Associate Clinical Professor of Law at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center. “An independent monitor will be appointed to assist with the implementation of the changes and compliance with the settlement. If, for instance, a lack of state budget should cause the state to fail to uphold its end of the settlement, we can and most definitely will terminate the agreement and return to court.”

Terms of the settlement reached with IDOC and IPRB include:

    • At preliminary and final hearings, many parolees will be represented by legal counsel provided by the state, if they meet certain criteria.

    • Parolees will receive written notice of any alleged parole violation leading to revocation and written findings at each stage of the process.

    • Parolees will be able to explain their side at a preliminary hearing before a hearing officer or an IPRB member. If determination is made that a parole violation did not occur, the parolee will be released. Previously, preliminary hearings were rarely held, and people sat for months before anyone heard their defense.

    • If the preliminary hearing results in a determination that probable cause exists to believe a violation occurred, the parolee will be able to present his/her case for release at a final revocation hearing, conducted by members of the IPRB.

    • IDOC and IPRB will adhere to deadlines for prompt hearings and final decisions.

    • An independent monitor will be appointed to help IDOC and IPRB comply with the settlement agreement and report on the status of compliance.

Pretty interesting in light of the furor over the POTUS tweet on Chicago violence.

More background is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

More react to Trump tweet

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Fran Spielman

Nobody knows precisely what President Donald Trump meant by his threat to “send in the feds.” But if it means National Guard troops patrolling the streets of Chicago, African-American aldermen and community leaders want no part of it.

That includes Gov. Bruce Rauner, who discounted the idea on a morning radio appearance, and Cardinal Blase Cupich — who said we “should all welcome the help of everyone” to deal with violence, but still fell short of endorsing the use of the Guard. […]

Rauner, appearing on Steve Cochran’s morning show on WGN-AM (720) was asked whether Trump has reached out to him about Chicago violence. He said no. But he said his administration has been in conversation with the DEA and the FBI, as well as other experts.

“We continue to believe it’s not the right thing for us to send in the National Guard. That would be a mistake. But we are working, the Illinois State Police, we put a surge in there. We put more State Police up there to control the expressways. We’ve also have our State Police helping with the forensics and lab work and the investigation work that’s going on with CPD. I continue to try to do everything we can at the state level to help the city of Chicago deal with the violence.”

Rauner said he supports more equitable school funding, and adding vocational training to high schools to help young people get careers instead of joining gangs.

More money for crime prevention/disruption efforts would be nice.

There’s lots more react in that Sun-Times piece, so go read the whole thing.

It would be helpful if the President clarified his remark, but I’m not holding my breath.

* Tribune

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Wednesday he’s baffled by the meaning of President Donald Trump’s latest tweet on Chicago violence but said he would oppose bringing in the National Guard if that is what the president is considering.

“The statement is so broad. I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Johnson said of Trump’s tweet Tuesday night threatening to “send in the Feds!” if Chicago “doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage.’ “

In a telephone interview, Johnson told the Tribune he hasn’t been contacted by the Trump administration and didn’t believe Mayor Rahm Emanuel or other city officials had been either.

If Trump meant in his tweet that he might bring in the National Guard to help quell the city’s violence, Johnson said he would be opposed to that.

* Tribune

Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was at City Hall to be honored for his recent elevation to cardinal, said the situation is “more complex” than one that can be dealt with simply by posting federal troops on Chicago streets. “The problem is surely much more complex than that type of a solution,”‘ he said. “I surely would welcome, and I think a lot of people would welcome, assistance on a multi-level basis, simply because the problem is not simple. It is complex and it can be improved if we all pull together.”

* ABC 7

Deputy Mayor and Chief Neighborhood Development Officer Andrea Zopp sat down with ABC7 News This Morning to talk about the president’s tweet.

“We’ve talked long and hard that policing is not the sole answer here. If they are going to have help, certainly federal support and prosecution. But also making sure that we have jobs programs, that we have infrastructure investment to create jobs. Those are the kinds of things that are really going to help on this issue,” Zopp said Wednesday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

A quick look at the revenue angle

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* A few people have sent me the Illinois Chamber’s list of the Senate’s revenue-related proposals with questions of their own…

* Removal of the soda tax and is replaced by the Business Opportunity Tax Act. This tax is a tax imposed on businesses based on the number of Illinois employees of the business.
* Raises corporate income tax rate to 7% and personal income tax rate to 4.99%.
* Establishes the following service taxes; storage services, amusements, repair and maintenance services, landscaping services, and laundry and dry-cleaning services.
* Establish a tax on cable television services and direct broadcast satellite services.
* Decouples from the Domestic Production Activities Deduction.
* Eliminates the unitary business noncombination rule.
* Makes the research and development credit permanent.
* Redefines manufacturing to include graphic arts production and includes items formerly included in the manufacturers purchase credit in the manufacturing machinery and equipment exemption.
* Provides that False Claims Act cases may not be brought with respect to any taxes imposed, collected, or administered by the State of Illinois.
* Repeals the Adult Entertainment Tax effective January 1, 2018.
* Modifies pollution control facilities valuation under the Property Tax Code.

The Chicagoland Chamber made the same mistake as the Illinois Chamber by referring to the “Opportunity Tax” as a “head tax.” As we discussed yesterday, the tax isn’t based on the number of employees, but rather on the amount of a company’s annual payroll.

And while it’s true that the Adult Entertainment Tax (often referred to as the “pole tax” when it passed) is repealed, those strip clubs are now covered under the new service tax on “amusement” businesses. And the sexual violence programs funded under that previous tax will still receive funding from the service tax.

* Even after using the Google, I still don’t understand some of the other stuff in the bill, but it looks like business got some wins with its losses.

Any help out there?

By the way, the full legislation as most recently amended is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

A straight uphill climb

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

The Illinois Senate has begun the process to pass what leaders call a grand budget compromise, but is facing opposition from nearly all sides.

Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno presented 13 bills that they hope will break the years-long budget stalemate. One of the proposed bills made changes to the workers’ compensation laws in the state. It drew opposition from both business organizations and workers rights groups alike. Radogno said the bill, like the others, is a middle-of-the-road approach.

“At the end of the day not everyone is going to love this,” Ragodno said.

That’s an understatement.

* But Radogno is completely determined to get this done

“We have generally utilized the ideas that have come from our members, from the working groups, from stakeholders,” Radogno said during Tuesday’s committee meeting. “I think while we certainly would like to get something done, we are both very humble and willing to accept further additions, refinements and so on.”

“This is a huge package with many, many moving parts and I can’t stress enough how much we are interested in constructive feedback to make this thing work,” she added.

* And even Sen. Bill Brady, no fan of tax hikes, is pushing forward

Meanwhile, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, a close ally of Rauner, is opposing the entire package because of the way all the pieces are linked together, President Todd Maisch said.

While there are some positive aspects, Maisch said, “Our assessment is the package on the whole is very much a net negative for the business community.”

One concern for the Chamber of Commerce is the proposed business opportunity tax, which would range from $225 annually for businesses with Illinois payrolls of less than $100,000 to $15,000 for businesses with payrolls of $1.5 million or more.

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said it’s important to continue having these discussions to arrive at an agreement that everyone can live with.

“This is still fluid,” Brady said. “It’s still our hope that … we will get to a point where the business community believes there’s more benefit than negative.”

* Sen. Nybo is another one to watch

But the strike-fast-and-heavy approach has yet to materialize. Republicans balked at a quick vote to send a statement earlier this month; Tuesday, there were jitters on both sides. Hutchinson defended her measure, which drew 112 separate notices of interest-group opposition to the Revenue Committee, against criticism that it’s “rushed.” And Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) whose support for cost-saving changes to the workers’ compensation system is crucial, complained about making difficult decisions while Rauner has lawmakers “under the gun.”

“It’s not so much that the administration has us under the gun as that we have no budget,” replied Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst), the committee’s ranking Republican. “We owe more than we spend and businesses are leaving in droves. That’s the gun that I see were under.”

* Tribune

Cullerton and others tried to paint the widespread opposition as a good thing, saying all sides must sacrifice to get a fair agreement.

“These individuals are special interests. They don’t have the obligation that we have of trying to pass a budget,” Cullerton said. “We’re not offended by that. It just proves that what we’re putting together is a true compromise.”

That argument fell flat for many lawmakers who worried about casting votes for major tax increases with no guarantee they would erase the state’s persistent money woes, saying changes designed to ease the pain by spurring job growth don’t go far enough.

Some pointed to a provision that tied the various proposals together. The idea being that if one piece of the puzzle failed, none of the bills could become law. But some have interpreted that to mean that even if they don’t vote for a tax increase, they would be cast as enablers should they choose to support other measures. Radogno said that line of thinking was “a huge stretch.”

Cullerton and Radogno are both right, of course. But heavy opposition from all sides is never easy to overcome. And while it is a huge stretch to tie members to all the bills with even a single vote for one of them, we’ve all seen much larger stretches used in campaigns.

* From a pal…

Anyone from either party expecting a ticker tape parade for voting to get us out of this mess needs to get their head out of their posterior. There will not be any celebrations with business leaders or union leaders. If that is their standard, there won’t be a deal.


- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Emanuel and Rauner lash out at each other as POTUS jumps into the fray

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Sun-Times

In an interview on WTTW-Chicago Tuesday night, Emanuel launched an attack on the governor for a two-year budget impasse, criticizing him as a man who has left the state “rudderless” due to a “rigid ideology and a rigid style.”

“He’s never proposed a balanced budget in two years. I think tomorrow morning when he gets up to speak at the State of the State, he owes the people of Illinois. Start, ‘I am sorry.’ Start with an apology,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel said the governor has “abdicated” his gubernatorial responsibilities and should be offering up solutions “not gum up the works with ideological things that are ancillary.”

“The State of Illinois is rudderless under Rauner,” Emanuel said.

* Politico

“What I don’t support is what the governor has done. The state of Illinois is rudderless under Rauner. You’re the governor. If I went two weeks without a budget, would you be blaming Ald. Carrie Austin, the chair of the budget committee, or me?” […]

“The governor is treating the kids of Chicago as if they’re not part of the state. And he’s treating taxpayers as if they’re second class citizens,” Emanuel said. “What is he doing? Rather than making progress, he is standing in the way. I think he has taken these rigid ideological positions, a rigid style, and Springfield and now Illinois have ground to a halt because of the approach he’s had.”

Rauner’s office fired back in a statement.

“A partisan rant coming from Madigan’s mayor is unhelpful to progress in Springfield,” spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement. “Madigan’s mayor should focus less on alliteration and more on getting his murder capital city under control.”

“Murder capital city”? He does realize that Chicago is in Illinois, right? And criticizing alliteration in a statement full of the same is a bit odd.

* And then this happened…

* CNN thinks it has that one figured out

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor” ran a segment about violence in Chicago that included the following statistics: “228 shootings in 2017 (up 5.5% from last year” and “42 homicides in 2017 (up 24% from last year).”

One of the show’s guests, Horace Cooper, an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, said, “I don’t know another word besides ‘carnage’ to describe the devastation that’s been taking place.”

Just over an hour later, at 9:25 p.m. ET, Trump took to Twitter using the same statistics Fox News had used and the same language as Cooper.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

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SOTS preview

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* From the governor’s office…

In the State of the State, the Governor will say that he is optimistic about the future of Illinois and use the opportunity to talk about Illinois’ accomplishments, as well as the work that still lies ahead. He is optimistic because of recent bipartisan agreement that we need to make changes to the system with passing a truly balanced budget

Another element to that optimism comes from a look at what we’ve already accomplished, like ethics reform, record education funding, job creation and making government more efficient. He will also encourage the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing voters to weigh-in on fair maps and term limits. The Governor believes that by working together we can build on these changes and address the problems facing our state.

Additionally, he will be highlighting a family from Clinton as he discusses the Future Energy Jobs Bill in the speech.

Speech Excerpts:

“Clearly we’re excited about the achievements we’ve made and the opportunities left to seize. But we still face significant challenges.”

“Through bipartisan cooperation, Illinois can once again be the economic engine of the Midwest and the home of innovation and prosperity.”

“We – Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between – have a moral obligation to work together to bring change. We, together, can return Illinois to a place of hope, opportunity, and prosperity.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session & State Of The State Coverage

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

Republicans rip House rules, Drury again votes against his party

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* So far, the Illinois Republican Party has sent me no press releases whacking individual House Dems, but I assume those are coming. From the ILGOP

“By voting to enact Madigan’s Rules, House Democrats have relinquished all ability to act independently or put the people ahead of the political machine. Today House Democrats chose to put Mike Madigan first.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

Moments ago, House Democrats voted to relinquish all autonomy and independence to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Mike Madigan, by adopting Madigan’s own handcrafted rules that govern the Illinois House of Representatives.

Madigan’s Rules continue to give the Speaker an unprecedented amount of power over the legislative agenda of the Illinois House of Representatives, stifling the voice of all other 117 members, both Democrats and Republicans. These rules allow Speaker Madigan to determine what legislation lives and dies.

House Republicans, led by Leader Jim Durkin, proposed alternative rules that increase transparency and public participation in the legislative agenda and process of the House. The House Republican proposal was not given a public hearing. Highlights of the proposal were discussed in Capitol Fax.

Thanks so much for dragging me into this, ILGOP.

The roll call is here.

* Rep. Scott Drury, who voted against Madigan for Speaker, voted “No” on the rules today.

Rep. D’Amico is listed as a “No,” but he rose after the vote to say he accidentally hit the wrong switch. Reps. Mayfield and Soto have excused absences.

…Adding… I should also probably note that House Majority Leader Currie pointed out during today’s debate that all Senate Republicans voted for very similar rules in their own chamber just this month.

* From newly elected GOP Rep. Steven Reick…

Today in Springfield the House Democrats used their majority status to push through a set of egregious House Rules that stifle democracy and silence the voices of Republican lawmakers on important issues.
After a vigorous hour-long debate that was heated at times, rules that will govern the movement of legislation for the 100th General Assembly were approved in a 63-53 vote. All but two Democrats in attendance voted in favor of rules that increase House Speaker Mike Madigan’s power over the entire General Assembly.

State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), voted against the proposed rules. “I’ve heard stories about the heavy hand of Mike Madigan and how he manipulates the rules to increase his power, but today’s action showed a breathtaking example of overreach,” said Reick, a freshman lawmaker from McHenry County. “Good ideas that benefit real people will be buried because of Mike Madigan’s singular authority over what bills get heard and what pieces of legislation will die a slow death in his all-powerful Rules Committee.”

Reick continued, “Individual Democrat members have said publicly that the rules need to change, and today we had an opportunity to return representative democracy to the people by rejecting Speaker Madigan’s Rules. Unfortunately, at the end of the debate, much like they did with the House Speaker vote at Inauguration two weeks ago, House Democrats fell in line and did what they were told to do.”

Under the rules approved on Tuesday, Madigan will retain a 3/5 majority on his House Rules Committee. Consisting of his most loyal stalwarts, no bill will be assigned for a hearing before a substantive committee without a majority vote of the Rules Committee. “Speaker Madigan’s most loyal supporters serve as the gatekeepers of the Rules Committee and all legislation,” said Reick. “These loyalists determine which bills advance through the process and which ones never see the light of day.”

The element Reick said he found to be the most egregious is a stipulation that rulings of the Speaker related to the discharge of bills cannot be appealed or challenged. “Even if lawmakers follow the rules to the letter for the discharging of a bill, the Speaker can, and has on many occasions, ruled a motion to be ‘out of order’ and his ruling is final. This unrestricted power is a slap in the face of representative democracy and it undermines our ability as legislators to bring forward legislation that benefits our constituents.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* OK, let’s try this again since I misidentified the person in the previous question, which is now deleted. Been one of those days. Ugh. Sorry!!!

* The Question: How do you foresee the Senate’s “grand compromise” playing out in the next month or so?

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Reproductive Health Care for all in Illinois

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x4 *** Service tax, “opportunity tax” introduced

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* Things can change in a nanosecond on days like these, but a new service tax is expected to be unveiled before the Senate Revenue Committee meets today at 3 o’clock.

In recent days, I was told that the new tax would be somewhat limited and kinda like Wisconsin’s tax. Click here for that state’s list of taxable services. Candidate Bruce Rauner proposed a limited service tax back in the day.

I’m not sure what will be in the Illinois tax at this moment. But when/if it does surface, the amendment will likely be at this link.

No vote is scheduled on this and other tax hikes at that 3 o’clock hearing. As explained below, it’s gonna be testimony only.

* So, to recap, the sugary drinks tax is being removed from the package, the income tax will be set at 4.99 percent, a corporate tax exemption on certain dividend income that was targeted for repeal likely remains intact and a service tax could become part of the mix.

And it’s doubtful that we’ll see floor votes this week

Republican Leader Christine Radogno said she’s unsure if a series of votes will come at all this week, citing concerns from lawmakers who are worried about the size and scope of the evolving package. The plan calls for everything from raising the income tax to overhauling how schools are funded.

“It’s gigantic, there’s a lot of moving parts, we are still amending it,” Radogno said Tuesday. “I, who have been living and breathing it for two months, am still having a hard time getting my head around certain pieces. So obviously, we want to respect people who have to cast a vote, that they are comfortable.”

* As always, keep track of everything by monitoring our live coverage post below.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  The Senate bill could include what’s called an “opportunity tax.” It’s essentially a tax on employers based on their payroll. It’s supposedly a low tax that could raise big bucks because there are so many employers here. It has been estimated by one business group to raise $500 million a year and it’s sort of a “nod” to Speaker Madigan’s proposal to make all corporations pay a tax. ADDING: I’m now hearing this could raise $750 million a year at the level set in the legislation.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The amendment is now public. Click here. A quick reading shows a service tax on storage, amusements, repair and maintenance, landscaping, laundry and drycleaning,

*** UPDATE 3 *** And here’s that “opportunity tax” language

(a) Beginning on July 1, 2017, a tax is hereby imposed upon each qualified business for the privilege of doing business in the State.

(b) The tax under subsection (a) shall be imposed in the following amounts:

    (1) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is less than $100,000, then then annual tax is $225;

    (2) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $100,000 or more but less than $250,000, then the annual tax is $750;

    (3) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $250,000 or more but less than $500,000, then the annual tax is $3,750;

    (4) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $500,000 or more but less than $1,500,000, then the annual tax is $7,500; and

    (5) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $1,500,000 or more, then the annual tax is$15,000.

Apparently, there are about 100,000 businesses in Illinois with a payroll of less than $100,000.

And, yes, the personal income tax rate will indeed be set at 4.99 percent. The corporate rate will be set at 7 percent.

*** UPDATE 4 *** The proposal also repeals the franchise tax, which is a tax hated by the Illinois Policy Institute

Illinois’ corporate franchise tax makes no sense. It is convoluted and economically harmful, and should be repealed. Even the term “franchise tax” is misleading and outdated, as it is not a tax on the franchise locations of a larger business, such as a chain of Burger Kings. Rather, it is a tax on entrepreneurs and investments in Illinois for the privilege of doing business here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

The Senate’s higher ed funding numbers are not all they appear to be

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* From the Southern Illinoisan

The Senate package, which also includes tax increases, gambling expansion, pension reforms and a host of other issues, would allocate an additional $1.1 billion in the current year for higher education. That includes money for universities, community colleges and grants to low-income students through the Monetary Award Program.

Combined with nearly $1 billion for higher education that was included in a stopgap spending deal approved in June, the Senate plan would restore university funding for this year to where it was in the 2014-15 school year. Schools currently aren’t receiving any state funds because the stopgap deal expired after Dec. 31.

* But drill down

Under the Senate’s proposal, SIU would receive $93.4 million on top of the $106.2 million it received from the June stopgap spending plan. But the university, like others across the state, used the stopgap money to pay for expenses from the 2015-16 school year, during which it received only $57.5 million from an emergency funding measure approved in April.

In effect, Charles said, because the June stopgap money was used for last year’s expenses, the $93.4 million from the Senate plan would be SIU’s only state funding for the current year, compared with $199.6 million for the 2014-15 school year.

And the same goes for the other schools. They’re gonna wind up being about a billion short, I think. But they should go back to “normal” next fiscal year. If, that is, the governor and legislators can come to some sort of agreement.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** “Subject matter only” in Senate committees today

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* Subscribers know lots more about this topic…

The plan is to take testimony on the bills, then go to caucus late this afternoon. If the caucuses approve, then they’ll go back to committee for votes [the bills will be moved to the floor by the Senate Assignments Committee, which is unusual, but further amendments could be heard in committee]. If they don’t approve, then votes will be postponed until next month when the Senate returns. Again, subscribers know more about the why’s and the what’s.

As Monique says, floor votes tomorrow do, indeed, look iffy right now. Stay tuned and keep a close eye on our live coverage post below.

*** UPDATE *** Subscribers were told about this earlier today…

Again, keep an eye on our live coverage post below.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Today’s number: Up to 95,000 lost jobs

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* SJ-R

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association has said block grants for Medicaid, combined with the loss of subsidized private insurance [via the ACA], could lead to a potential loss of $11.6 billion to $13.1 billion in annual “economic activity” in Illinois. The IHA says that translates to a potential loss of 84,000 to 95,000 jobs.

The hospital association is an interest group, so take its job numbers with a grain of salt.

But, man, even if those lost jobs are half that number. Whoa.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Rauner announces changes to pharmacy oversight

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* Our old buddy Ray Long at the Trib

Responding to a Tribune investigation that found drugstores frequently failed to warn customers about potentially dangerous drug interactions, Gov. Bruce Rauner is unveiling a major plan designed to improve public safety at pharmacies throughout the state.

The administration’s proposal would require pharmacists to counsel patients about risky drug combinations and other significant issues when buying a medication for the first time or when a prescription changes. Illinois law now requires only that patients be offered counseling, a mandate often addressed at the cash register with a brief inquiry, such as: “Any questions for the pharmacist today?”

The governor also plans to beef up state oversight, including directing inspectors to put more emphasis on adverse drug reactions and launching a “mystery shopper” program to test how well pharmacists comply with the law. […]

A Walgreens spokesman said: “Our goal is to provide the highest level of care to patients, and we are supportive of the governor’s effort to further promote a culture of safety in community pharmacies.”

Rauner’s plans to use existing inspectors and new mystery shoppers to improve safety at Illinois pharmacies can be achieved through executive orders. But changing the counseling requirement would need the approval of a bipartisan House-Senate panel, as would his proposal to post signs in pharmacies with a consumer hotline along with information about a patient’s right to counseling.

I still don’t understand why these big pharmacy chains don’t have computer programs that can automatically cross-check a customer’s prescriptions for potential harmful interactions. Why are we relying on human memory here? Humans can make mistakes because they get too busy (on orders from on high) or whatever.

…Adding… The proposed additions are underlined along with stricken text

Failing to provide ensure that patient counseling in accordance with this Part, failing to respond to requests for patient counseling, attempting to circumvent patient counseling requirements, or otherwise discouraging patients from receiving patient counseling concerning their prescription medications is offered or refusing to respond to requests for patient counseling. […]

c) Every licensed pharmacy directly serving patients at a physical location must conspicuously post a sign provided by the Division containing a statement that the patient has the right to counseling, the Division’s consumer hotline number, information on how to file a complaint for failure to counsel, and any other information the Division deems appropriate. The sign must be printed in color ink or displayed electronically in color, measure at least 8 1⁄2 x 11 inches in size, and be posted at either a cashier counter or waiting area clearly visible to patients. Licensed pharmacies that do not maintain a physical location directly serving patients must include a copy of the sign within any dispensed prescriptions. The sign will be available to download on the Division’s website. […]

Nothing in this Section shall be construed as requiring a pharmacist to provide counseling when a patient or patient’s agent refuses such counseling. When a patient or patient’s agent refuses to accept patient counseling as provided in this Section, that refusal shall be documented. The absence of any record of a refusal to accept the offer to counsel shall be presumed to signify that the offer was accepted and that counseling was provided.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

This didn’t have to happen

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* From way back in late May of 2015

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he wants to see how the frenzied final days of the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session play out before asking the new City Council to begin the search for new revenue to solve the $30 billion pension crisis that has dropped Chicago’s bond rating to junk status.

“We’re in active discussions on a casino as a funding source to shore up” police and fire pensions, the mayor told reporters after a City Council meeting. […]

Emanuel said he remains hopeful on what he once described as a “mega, mega-deal” that may include a sales tax on services, partial restoration of the expired increase in the state income tax, a Chicago casino and pension relief for police and fire and Chicago teachers.

“We’re now in the final two weeks before the end of the session. And as you know, this is usually the time — not just in Springfield, but with legislative bodies [everywhere] — when days are weeks and weeks are like months,” he said.

“There will be a lot of activity. I’m gonna be out there pressing the issues that are related to Chicago and its future [to make certain] Springfield does not make decisions at the expense of Chicago because there’s not a healthy Illinois without a healthy Chicago,” Emanuel said.

And since then? Almost nothing but destruction. And now we have a Senate plan that looks a whole lot like what was floating around a couple of years ago.

It all seems so pointless.

* From today’s NY Times

At a meeting with the leaders of several construction and building trade unions, President Trump reiterated on Monday his interest in directing hundreds of billions of dollars to infrastructure investments, some of it from the federal government, union officials said.

“That was the impression I was taken away with,” said Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, an umbrella group, on a call with reporters after the meeting. “That the American citizenry and the American Treasury will be invested in building public infrastructure.” […]

Mr. McGarvey and Terry O’Sullivan, the general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, stressed to reporters their satisfaction at meeting with the president so soon after the inauguration. They said they went the entire Obama administration without being invited to a similar meeting. […]

At the meeting, Mr. McGarvey raised one point of possible discord between the labor leaders and the Trump administration: the so-called Davis-Bacon Act, which requires the federal government to pay contractors and subcontractors “locally prevailing wages,” as determined by the Labor Department, on most construction or renovation projects.

Many conservatives contend that the act inflates the cost of infrastructure projects, and on Tuesday, Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, is proposing a bill to suspend it for federal highway construction contracts.

President Trump was apparently non-committal about the proposed GOP changes.

But just imagine how much things could’ve been different in Illinois if our Republican governor had reached out to the building trades right away like Trump just did.

* From Illinois Public Radio

The [Senate’s proposal] shows there are many areas in which Democrats and Republicans can come to an agreement. But it still leaves one big philosophical question unanswered.

That question is whether a governor can say: “Pass my agenda, and only then will I negotiate on a budget.” […]

“It’s a very dangerous precedent to set,” [Sen. Kwame Raoul] says. “You don’t know who’s going to be elected governor in the future, and if we start to do these types of thing now, every governor is going to want to do that.”

One can imagine a future governor holding out on the budget in exchange something she wants around guns or abortion or some other contentious issue.

And here we are.

- Posted by Rich Miller   110 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

Senate leaders promise their budget will balance in FY 18

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* Finke

The Illinois Senate’s “grand bargain” package of bills will be revised to create a balanced budget, Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said Monday.

During a meeting with The State Journal-Register editorial board, Cullerton, D-Chicago, said he will show Senate Democrats a draft for the state to have a balanced budget by June 30, 2018. […]

Cullerton said he believes the analysis produced by Rauner’s budget office contained some flawed assumptions, and that lawmakers will be able to work throughout the spring on a balanced spending plan for next year that will be based on additional revenue. […]

Cullerton warned that the state could be facing another credit downgrade if it doesn’t take action this month to show it is dealing with the budget crisis.

Subscribers know more about those claimed “flawed assumptions” by GOMB.

* More on the possible credit downgrade from Pierog and McKinney

Fitch has warned that inaction on the budget front would result in a downgrade by the end of this month.

“If they do not do something that comprehensively addresses their budget problem and their long-term accumulated budgetary liabilities, then we certainly would take action,” Fitch analyst Karen Krop said Monday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

New House rules proposed by Leader Durkin

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

* Yesterday, a commenter wondered why the House Republicans didn’t propose an alternative to Speaker Madigan’s proposed rules, which have been sharply criticized by the GOP and the Illinois Policy Institute as autocratic.

Well, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin filed a rules proposal yesterday. You can click here to read through it. I asked the HGOP early this morning for quick highlights of some of their proposed changes…

1. Creates specific requirements for advance notice of Rules Committee hearings, including identification of the measures to be considered:

    One-hour notice for floor amendments & concurrence motions

    72-hours notice to consider referral of bills to committee

    24-hours notice for any other purpose

Currently, the Rules Committee often meets without providing any public notice; and it does not identify the legislative measures to be considered at the hearing.

Also requires a 2/3 vote for the Rules Committee to bypass standing/special committee consideration and advance floor amendments and concurrence motions to full House. In other words, such a motion to expedite business would require support from both the majority and minority party members of the committee.

2. Creates a public review period before action on committee amendments by requiring at least two-hours advance notice for an amendment to be considered in a committee.

Currently, committee amendments must be filed with the Clerk by 3 p.m. on the preceding day, but there is no requirement to provide public notice that such amendment may be considered at hearing of a particular committee.

3. Extends the Public Review Period for Floor Amendments (currently 1 hour) - Creates a longer public review period before committee consideration of floor amendments and concurrence motions by requiring that advance notice of a public hearing be given no later than the calendar day before the date of the hearing.

With the current one-hour notice requirement, a floor amendment can be filed, posted for a hearing, and adopted to the bill, and the bill passed by the House, all on the same day.

4. Restores a requirement in the House Rules that each bill be referred to a standing or special committee during the first year of a G.A. In 2013, the Democrat majority removed this decades-old requirement, thereby allowing the Rules Committee to kill a bill by preventing its consideration in a standing or special committee.

5. Second reading of bills during perfunctory session would be prohibited. In order to expedite the consideration of bills when the full House is not in session, the Clerk is often instructed to read bills a second time during the perfunctory session. This practice sometimes allows a bill to be approved by committee and then read by the Clerk on the same day, thereby allowing final passage on the following day.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* More shenanigans!
* Saturday campaign money report
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Shenanigans!
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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* *** UPDATED x1 - DGA responds *** Elections board says DGA should file disclosure for Ives ad
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Jones; IEA/IFT; Reis; Mitchell; Edgar
* ISRA, Drury both try to claim Raoul inserted "poison pill" into gun bill
* Pro-life group launches GOTV effort for Lipinski
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner opens new online track against Ives
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* Rauner calls Madigan "a unified force of bad, of evil"
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* *** UPDATED x2 *** Has Pritzker gone to ground?
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** Caption contest!
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