* Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s spokesperson responds to Gov. Rauner’s claim that her legal motion to stop paying state workers without an appropriation will create a crisis…
What’s truly shocking is the claim that our filing created a crisis in state government. We are in a crisis and we have been for more than 18 months.
The claim that this filing has created a crisis ignores the reality that nonprofit organizations, grantees, vendors and universities have been living in crisis for a year and a half. Many of these organizations that provide critical services to the people of Illinois have been irreparably harmed during this impasse.
Our filing explicitly recognizes the difficulty the Governor and Legislature are having in enacting a full budget. We have asked the court to set a date over a month away – to give the Governor and Legislature even more time to enact a budget that avoids hardship not just to state employees but for all the organizations that serve people in this state.
Asking the court to impose a deadline for the Governor and Legislature to do their jobs will solve the crisis, not create it. The Governor and Legislature can resolve this situation at any time and they have had ample time to do that.
* Steve Schnorf sent me this a little while ago and asked that I share it with you…
I read the comments and am awestruck to find that I have affected so many people’s lives. Fortunately it sounds like I’ve impacted them in a positive way. Those of you who know me best know that I am an imperfect man with many faults and shortcomings, but you also know that I try to never let those human failures impinge on what needs to be done in government and in politics.
I had it easy: I had a wonderful mentor in Jim Edgar for whom I worked 18 years. I was then able to finish my full-time career in state government working for the most decent man I’ve ever known in state government, George Ryan. I have known and worked with multiple iterations of the four leaders in the General Assembly. They have all been extraordinary public servants. You could find no finer than the current four.
Do not lower yourself to thinking of Governor Bruce Rauner or House Speaker Mike Madigan as base or thoughtless, much less evil. Help them help us do what must be done; abandon your silly partisanship. Be inclusive and growth will come from that. Protect the state’s working men and women by improving the state’s economic environment and by defending the virtues we have held dear over the years.
Unapologetically old school all day, every day.
Comments are now closed for the weekend, but you can still post well-wishes by clicking here and I’ll unblock them so that Steve can read them.
State Rep. Kelly Burke (36th District), is calling for aggressive economic reforms that will improve Illinois’ business climate, invest in education and provide immediate relief to hardworking middle-class families in response to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s annual State of the State Address.
* Closing loopholes and cracking down on large corporations that currently pay nothing in taxes.
* Reinstating the EDGE tax credit for businesses that create jobs.
* Passing reforms to the workers’ compensation system that require insurance companies to pass savings onto employers.
* Outlawing any future tax incentives for businesses that ship American jobs overseas.
* Allowing working families to keep more of their hard-earned money by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit.
* Raising the minimum wage.
* Requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share to fund elementary and secondary education by creating a small surcharge on annual income greater than $1 million.
Not exactly the Chamber’s idea of “aggressive” reforms.
“Closing loopholes that unfairly advantage big corporations, reducing workers compensation costs and expanding tax credits for job creators will improve Illinois’ business climate and put more people to work,” Burke said. “These economic reforms, in conjunction with a fair and responsible budget, can help Illinois move on from the past two years of gridlock and partisanship and allow us to tackle the other serious challenges facing our state.”
The House Democrats apparently still haven’t come to terms with the fact that Illinois elected a Republican governor two years ago.
Since 2012, the median amount of bond set by Cook County judges for people charged with felony gun crimes has doubled — from $25,000 to $50,000. But over the same time period, the average number of days a defendant spends in jail before posting bond for a gun charge has fallen by more than half, from 42 to 18 days, according to the Tribune analysis. […]
But defendants accused of theft, who often can’t afford bond, typically spend more time in jail than those facing gun charges, the Tribune found.
In the same time period, shootings increased by 42 percent while the number of firearm recoveries, as well as firearm-recovery arrests, have plunged. Firearm recovery arrests dropped by 9 percent, and gun recoveries fell by about 33 percent, from 12,650 in 2012 to 8,416 last year, according to police data.
That last part is a bit misleading because arrests appear to be slightly on the rise after a drop a few years ago…
Following the U.S. Department of Justice’s withering criticism of the Chicago Police Department’s training efforts, top police officials have vowed to improve a field training program that matches rookies with seasoned cops for on-the-job mentoring and education.
Yet two cops currently in training to become field training officers were themselves involved in separate controversial fatal shootings. Both fatalities resulted in multimillion-dollar legal payouts by the city.
I wanted to follow up on the Governor’s message below and assure all employees that, in addition to other resources, they can reach out to our labor relations team for updates on the employee pay lawsuit. The Attorney General’s move to halt employee pay is truly unfortunate. The least my office can do in response is to keep everyone informed.
Staying informed is especially critical for those of you who are about to decide whether to authorize AFSCME to call for a strike. The decision belongs to each employee and we trust that everyone is going to seek out accurate information to make an informed choice. With the Attorney General’s move to cut off employee pay, AFSCME members should consult with their union representatives and ask whether a strike for higher wages would be lawful if the Attorney General succeeds in her quest. In addition, because the Attorney General’s argument implicates the provision of health insurance to state employees-a benefit for which the General Assembly also has not appropriated sufficient resources-AFSCME members should consult with their union representatives on whether a strike over health insurance would likewise be lawful. We know that the decision to strike is yours and yours alone, and we continue to encourage all employees to get accurate information as they decide whether to strike. Please continue to visit the FAQ website and submit your questions for our team.
CMS Office of Labor Relations
Of for crying out loud. This is a labor dispute over the contract, not the appropriations.
* Anyway, I’ve been quietly wondering last night and today whether one reason the governor doesn’t want a court ruling on worker pay is that he won’t be able to pay “replacement workers” if AFSCME employees do walk out. He also wouldn’t be able to shift currently non-union workers to union positions because they wouldn’t be paid, either.
Capitol Fax reported this morning that Mike Madigan showered his legislative enablers this week with engraved crystal clocks.
The cost? Nearly 50 grand.
Madigan’s campaign fund reported spending over $46,000 at the end of 2016 at “Sawbridge Studios”, where engraved crystal clocks from Simon Pearce are sold.
What’s worse? The clocks apparently feature the inscription, “The honorable Michael J. Madigan. Longest serving Speaker of a state House of Representatives in United States history.”
House Democrats sold out the people of Illinois and Mike Madigan paid them off with thousands of dollars in expensive clocks while mocking the people of Illinois with gifts as tone deaf as the Chicago agenda he supports.
Now House Democrats and other Madigan cronies can be constantly reminded that they are always on the clock for Mike Madigan.
Man, I hate getting dragged into this stuff, especially since that story was behind a subscribers-only firewall. I’ll be having a chat with those boys and girls.
Sawbridge Studios is in Winnetka, by the way. Madigan sends people on his Christmas gift list a Simon Pearce piece every year. Pearce is an Irish-American, so it’s kinda fitting.
I didn’t look at his campaign committee spending for my story this morning. But I just did and Madigan’s campaign committee has spent a total of $535,127.03 at the place since 2005. In October of 2015, Madigan reported spending $39,312.50 at Sawbridge, and this past November, he spent the identical $39,312.50. He reported spending $7,312.50 on December 20th. So, that $50K number quoted above may not be accurate. We’ll see if MJM demands a retraction.
* Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch e-mailed her members today. The e-mail’s subject headline was: “Attorney General Is Wrong”…
Last night AFSCME’s attorney received official notification that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a motion yesterday in St. Clair County Circuit Court to dissolve the preliminary injunction that AFSCME secured nearly two years ago to ensure that state employees would continue to be paid despite the state’s budget standoff.
I want you to know that AFSCME is prepared to return to court in opposition to the Attorney General’s motion and to pursue every available legal means to halt her action. Other unions representing state employees were our partners in securing the original injunction and I’m confident they will stand with us now.
The Attorney General is justifying her action by citing the urgent need for a resolution of the state budget stalemate.
Of course, we all agree that such a resolution is long overdue. That’s why AFSCME has repeatedly called on Governor Rauner to end his insistence that enactment of a state budget must be tied to his personal political agenda which is aimed at weakening workers’ rights.
However, the need for a budget resolution can in no way justify the Attorney General’s harmful and irresponsible legal maneuver.
AG Madigan’s action is particularly objectionable coming as it does at a time when Governor Rauner has already been waging a relentless assault on state employees—seeking to impose his own contract terms that would drastically drive down employees’ incomes and weaken rights on the job.
Our union has said repeatedly that we do not want to see a shutdown of state government. We have done everything possible to avert a strike. But we are determined to resist the governor’s efforts to impose his terms—which would set us back for many years to come.
That’s why it is more critical than ever that union members vote “YES” to give your Bargaining Committee the authorization to call a strike if that becomes the only recourse to gain fair treatment and respect.
Today Governor Rauner will be claiming that he is a friend of state employees and wants to make sure you get paid. We know well what a bunch of baloney that is. After nearly two years of unremitting hostility toward state employees—doing everything possible to inflict damage to our working conditions and our economic security, there’s no way Bruce Rauner has decided to be our buddy now. Rather, his phony sympathy is nothing but an effort to protect his own position in the state budget battle.
You and your fellow state employees are on the job every day providing vital services that Illinois citizens depend on—often under difficult, even dangerous, conditions. It is deeply disturbing when it appears that our state’s political leaders see you as no more than pawns in their games—failing to respect or value the vital work that you do.
But we won’t be discouraged or beaten down. We have won so many battles standing together and fighting back—and we can win this one too!
…Adding… From SEIU President Keith Kelleher…
“On behalf of our home healthcare and child care workers who have collective bargaining agreements with the State of Illinois and provide vital care for 30,000 people with disabilities and 61,000 children, we obviously oppose any efforts to stop payments or efforts that delay payments to our workforce, who struggle to get by as it is. But we all know how we got here–because of a governor who ran on shutting down government.
“Bruce Rauner NEVER will know the real pain that is endured by those he causes to suffer. But he has welcomed it in a shameful fashion by abandoning his constitutional duty to present a balanced budget to the General Assembly. Instead he has held Illinois hostage to his political wish list. The Attorney General’s action is a symptom. This governor is its cause.
“We call on Rauner to present a budget that funds vital services for the most vulnerable in our state.”
* Pretty much everyone who knows Steve Schnorf respects him as a professional and loves him as a human being. The former CMS and budget director has forgotten more about running a government than most everyone will ever know. And he’s one of the kindest, sweetest souls you will ever meet.
We had dinner a month or so ago and he looked great and we had a very nice evening. A few days later, though, Steve called from the hospital to tell me that he had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
That’s the bad one. It moves very fast. An experimental treatment from the University of Chicago was supposed to prolong Steve’s life, but it’s not working as billed. He developed a nasty infection and was in intensive care here in Springfield when I visited him yesterday. He said he was being moved out of the ICU to palliative care. Steve said he expects to be sent home in a week for hospice care.
Steve told me yesterday that he and his wife Jane are planning a celebration of life event and he wants it to be held somewhere at his beloved Capitol Complex after he’s gone. He and his daughter, a musician, are working on the music.
* Steve has been an integral part of this blog. His comments carry great weight. He told me yesterday the tubes in his hands have prevented him from commenting on or even reading the blog, which caused him to realized how much this website and all the characters who populate it have meant to him over the years.
I asked him if he was OK with me doing a post. He made a joke about how he figured I’d eventually try to monetize his impending demise. We had a good laugh about that one. But, hey, I always laugh a lot when I’m around Schnorf. He’s a super guy and I cannot tell you how much I will miss him without breaking down. My heart and the hearts of the few who’ve known about this sad development have been broken for the last month or so.
But he’s taking it like the man he is, and so will I. No tears - just the joy of knowing that I and many others are darned lucky to know this gentleman.
Schnorf has been my friend and my mentor for many years. He has helped so many people and has meant so much to them that I’m not really sure this very modest man understands the full impact of his life.
* So, the point of this post is for all of us to tell Steve what he means to us and to wish him well on his journey. He’ll be reading your comments.
This is my favorite photo of Schnorf from last summer before we took Oscar for a spin on the pontoon…
* While speaking at an event, Gov. Rauner gave a statement to reporters today about AG Madigan’s motion to stop paying state workers without a valid appropriation…
I am deeply disappointed, very upset about this court filing that Attorney General Madigan has made in St. Clair County seeking to block state employee pay.
I hope this is not a direct attempt to cause a crisis, to force a shutdown of the government to force another stopgap spending plan, short-term, unbalanced, incomplete, as a step to force a tax hike without any changes to our broken system.
I hope that’s not what this is. I hope the attorney general will reconsider. This is gonna hurt workin’ families, the good hard-workin’ employees of Illinois, who deserve to be paid, deserve to stay workin’.
The people of our state need our state employees to continue workin’. I hope the attorney general will reconsider this move.
And let’s not block the great work that the Senate is doing to come up with a compromise and a truly balanced budget, which is what we need, along with changes to the system so we can grow the economy and create more jobs.
Please do not take steps to disrupt the Senate’s work. And please respect the fact that we are making progress.
I want to thank, again, the House that did pass the property tax freeze and has said that we need economic reforms to grow jobs.
Let’s not block our progress by creating a crisis.
Um, OK, but this crisis started when he vetoed the budget in 2015.
*** UPDATE *** The governor just sent an e-mail to all state workers…
By now you’ve heard the shocking news that Attorney General Lisa Madigan went into court late yesterday to petition a judge to halt state employee pay.
It’s disappointing to see any move to stop employee pay and disrupt government services, especially now as the Senate is on the verge of a bipartisan agreement to enact a balanced budget with changes to create jobs and lower property taxes. The Attorney General’s court filing seeks to directly harm thousands of employee families and even more who rely on your hard work every day.
Our Administration will use all available legal options to continue employee pay and avoid any disruption to government services. I am hopeful Comptroller Mendoza will stand with state employees - just as Comptroller Munger did previously - and support our legal arguments to continue employee pay.
No matter what, we will work tirelessly on your behalf to stop this attempt to undermine good-faith bipartisan negotiations in the Senate - ensuring employee pay continues, government services remain intact and the General Assembly enacts a bipartisan balanced budget with changes to our broken system.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But so far they have been unable. It’s been going on for years. And I wasn’t president. So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that. […]
They weren’t shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech. What — what’s going on?
Chicago Police, however, told BuzzFeed News there were no fatal shootings in the city on Jan. 10, the day the former president gave the speech.
A police record of shootings in the city that day provided to BuzzFeed News also shows no shootings from about 8 to 9 p.m. while Obama spoke. According to the records, five shootings were reported in Chicago on the day of Obama’s visit, but none of the victims were fatally wounded.
According to the Tribune database, the city had no slayings for about 24 hours before and after Obama’s speech, which lasted from 8:02 to 8:53 p.m. A man was shot about 20 minutes after the speech about eight miles away in the West Side’s Lawndale neighborhood, but that victim survived, according to Police Department data.
Calls and emails seeking comment from the White House media affairs office were not immediately returned.
With crises mounting around him, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s strategy for fending off potential Democratic challengers and keeping his job in 2018 includes stressing the bright spots while blaming others for the things going horribly wrong.
As a Republican in a solidly Democratic state, the wealthy former private equity investor would have been one of the country’s most endangered GOP incumbents even under the best of circumstances. Adding to his task are a state budget impasse that has dragged on for most of his two years in office, decimating many social service agencies and creating billions more in debt, and a labor dispute that has Illinois’ largest public-employee union holding its first strike-authorization vote.
Rauner didn’t make more than a fleeting reference to the budget until the end of his annual State of the State address on Wednesday. Instead, he highlighted accomplishments such as ethics reforms, increased funding for schools and improved cybersecurity of state records and said he was “deeply optimistic” about Illinois’ future.
When he made it to the budget issue, he was quick to point the finger at his predecessors for creating a mess that includes $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and the worst credit rating of any state.
Yeah, and then things got worse on every fiscal front.
* A couple of things got lost in the crazy shuffle last night when Barton and I were posting statements regarding Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s legal motion to dismiss the state employee pay order. For instance, Barton rightly asked the AG’s office this last night…
The question I keep getting is why now? Why not weeks or even months ago?
The second paragraph from the AG office’s response was inadvertently left out, so here’s the statement in full…
It has always been our goal to allow the executive and legislative branches to do their job without further litigation. While the stopgap budget was in place, it was our hope that the Governor and Legislature would continue to work to enact a full fiscal year budget. The Legislature and the Governor now face the need to enact a budget for the rest of the fiscal year. With the legislature in session, this is an appropriate time to address the need to pass a full budget to cover all operations.
Also, the burden of the budget impasse has unfairly fallen on the non-profits and vendors that serve millions of Illinois residents. Some of these organizations have been irreparably harmed in the process. The State can avoid causing further damage to them and avoid any impacts to State employees if the Governor and the Legislature take action to enact a full budget.
The AG’s motion is here. Last year’s Supreme Court ruling on an almost identical matter is here.
* The last part of Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s statement also wasn’t posted…
The Office of the Comptroller is currently moving forward with contingency plans to meet the technical adjustments that a payroll stoppage would require. For example, employees in certain categories would receive partial payments and their paychecks and deductions would have to be adjusted accordingly.
Despite the possibility of a payroll stoppage over the last 18 months, the previous administration did not put in place policies to deal with this scenario.
You can’t force someone to work for no pay. The Civil War decided that question. But you can use federal law to designate “essential” workers and then pay them minimum wage. The previous comptroller argued in court that this would take months and may have even been impossible.
However, I am told that former Comptroller Munger’s office had developed a list of workers who could be labeled as essential. Maybe somebody in Mendoza’s office should pick up a phone.
* I was in Decatur about to give a speech to the local Chamber of Commerce when I found out about the filing and called Barton in a panic. Thank goodness for Barton! Anyway, for some reason, my speech was deemed newsworthy by the Herald & Review…
A judge had previously ruled state workers could continue being paid throughout a standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature, although nobody knew that the impasse would last as long as it has, said Rich Miller, founder of CEO of the Capitol Fax, a daily newsletter about Illinois government. […]
The lawsuit puts pressure on Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, the attorney general’s father, to come together on a budget agreement by the end of February, Miller said. […]
“We could be seeing the end of this stalemate,” Miller said. “I would have given [the Senate grand bargain] a 50-50 chance. We need more than that or we’ll be in trouble like nobody has ever seen in the history of history. Illinois is already a national and in many ways an international embarrassment.”
What a crazy night. I had prepared a speech about the Senate’s grand bargain and then this AG thing happened so I had to retool the whole speech on the fly.
Madigan’s office filed the request Thursday afternoon in St. Clair County Circuit Court, seeking to undo a July 2015 ruling from St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Robert LeChien that said the state must pay workers in full despite a lack of a budget agreement.
Madigan makes it clear in the court paperwork that she’s trying to raise the pressure to get a budget in place, saying the judge’s order “has allowed the legislative and executive branches to fail to fulfill their constitutional duties without facing the real threat of a government shutdown.” […]
“With no possibility of a government shutdown to force action by the legislative and executive branches, the state has continued to operate without a budget to fund many services provided by vendors and grantees,” Madigan said in the filing. “Those vendors and grantees and the many Illinoisans they serve are bearing the brunt of this egregious and untenable budget impasse. This situation does not usually happen for long on the federal level or in other states precisely because the possibility of a government shutdown eventually leads to the passage and enactment of a budget.” […]
In the latest motion, Madigan argues a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling rejected the idea that withholding pay would violate employee contracts, saying collective bargaining agreements are subject to funding from the legislature.
“While serious bipartisan negotiations have accelerated in the Senate, it is outrageous that Lisa Madigan tonight decided to put Speaker Madigan’s power politics ahead of hard-working families in an effort to shut down state government,” state GOP spokesman Steven Yaffe said in a statement. “Only a Madigan would try to disrupt bipartisan momentum in a matter that threatens to cripple government services and hurt state workers and their families.”
Steve Brown, spokesman for the speaker, called the Republican Party’s comments “off base” and “not surprising.”
“The attorney general is her own person and will do what she chooses is the best thing to do,” Brown said, adding there is no basis to the questioning of the timing of the filing.
“They’ve [The Senate leaders] set their deadline. They are moving on their plan. I don’t see the connection frankly,” Brown said.
Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti: “Just one day after Governor Rauner thanked the Senate for their work to reach a bipartisan agreement on a balanced budget, Attorney General Madigan is attempting to disrupt that progress by filing a lawsuit that could shut down government operations. Illinois’ hardworking state employees deserve to be paid so they can continue to support their families who depend on their work.
State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove: “In the midst of an unprecedented budget crisis, our state employees have continued to perform their work every day and have provided services to the people of Illinois while facing tremendous pressure and uncertainty. I am thankful that every state employee has continued to receive a paycheck throughout this impasse. It is extremely disappointing to hear that Attorney General Lisa Madigan is attempting to block state employee pay until a budget is finalized. We have seen tremendous progress in the last couple of weeks towards hopefully ending this stalemate. I am calling upon Attorney General Madigan to drop her efforts to block state employee pay and allow the members of the General Assembly to finish the work that the Senate has begun and negotiate a balanced budget that will get our state back on the right path.”