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Kennedy responds to GOP hit

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* The background to this item is here. I somehow completely missed this statement from Chris Kennedy’s campaign this morning. My e-mail browser has been acting up a bit today. Better late than never, I suppose…

Yesterday, Governor Rauner said he is focused like a laser on getting a budget passed, but yesterday, when the Senate was voting on budget, he was nowhere to be found. After two years of failure on a budget, it seems like the only thing Governor Rauner and his Republican allies are laser focused on is false political attacks.

That would’ve been a decent response if I’d posted it at 10:30. Oops on my part.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Another stumbling block

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* From a Monday SJ-R story about the governor’s education funding reform commission’s final report

Rauner said he’s still digesting the report from the commission. He also said it wasn’t the commission’s job to draft a bill that could be considered by lawmakers.

“What they did was lay out the parameters for a bill to get drafted,” he said. “I’ll talk to the General Assembly about who should draft. My sense is, I think the senators, I don’t know, I think they’re working on something. If they’d like our administration to draft something, we can do that.”

* Emphasis was added above because of what happened today

When it comes to the complex, politically prickly topic of overhauling public school funding in Illinois, lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office can’t even agree on who should take the first step.

Democrats who run the Senate Education Committee told Rauner’s education adviser Thursday that the Republican governor should draft legislation to reflect recommendations from a school funding report released last week. The adviser, Beth Purvis, countered that the plan should come from the Legislature.

The two sides agree that the formula for financing public education should be changed to ensure poorer districts receive more financial support from the state. The recommendations, which come from a commission created by the governor, said that Illinois must assess how it supports schools on a district-by-district basis but didn’t indicate how legislators could accomplish this.

I’m getting a sore neck from watching this ping-pong game. How about they just find a way to somehow do it together?

Wait, wasn’t that the commission’s job? Apparently not.

…Adding… Hey, maybe they could use this bill…

The Funding Illinois’ Future coalition applauds Rep. Will Davis for his leadership in the introduction of HB2808, which aligns with the Illinois School Funding Commission’s Report. HB2808 makes school funding in Illinois more equitable and adequate and has the potential to end a decades-long problem. The bill aligns with equity principles in last week’s Illinois School Funding Reform Commission Report—and the principles of Funding Illinois’ Future—providing any new money to the neediest schools first and taking local contributions to school funding into account. We urge members of the House to co-sponsor the bill as a first step toward passing bipartisan, bicameral legislation this spring. Illinois must end the chronic underfunding of low-income schools and give all students the education they deserve in order to be ready for college and career.

Illinois needs a funding system that is equitable, adequate and fair. Illinois remains worst-in-the-nation in providing resources for low-income school districts. For every dollar Illinois spends on a non-low-income student, it spends 81 cents on a low-income student. Legislative action is needed now so that students in poverty access to resources so that districts may invest in reducing class sizes, providing updated textbooks and modern technology and offering advanced placement and other classes like art, foreign language and music that make up a well-rounded education. Funding Illinois’ Future remains steadfast in its view that new funding legislation must do the following:

    1. Recognize individual student need
    2. Account for difference in local resources
    3. Close funding gaps in five years and keep them closed
    4. Provide a stable and sustainable solution

About Funding Illinois’ Future
Funding Illinois’ Future is a coalition of more than 200 school districts, school superintendents, community- and faith-based organizations working toward fixing Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula with the goal of giving every student in Illinois the education they deserve.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* Press release…

WBEZ Chicago’s new monthly segment, Ask the Governor, will give listeners a rare opportunity to have their questions answered directly by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who will be live in WBEZ’s studio. WBEZ 91.5 FM is the only media outlet in Illinois with access to the governor in this capacity. The first segment airs tomorrow, Feb. 10 at 9:00 a.m. on WBEZ’s live weekday talk show, The Morning Shift. If you miss the live broadcast, it will be available for streaming on-demand at or on the WBEZ app.

Hosted by The Morning Shift’s Tony Sarabia, Ask the Governor aims to promote government transparency by providing constituents with real-time insights on the Illinois political landscape.

Listeners will be able to submit their questions by calling the studio line at (312) 923-9239 and by posting to WBEZ’s Facebook page.

“We need to work together to move our state forward, which is why I’m thrilled about this open dialogue with Illinois residents,” said Gov. Rauner. “I’m looking forward to a spirited, and productive, discussion that results in a spectrum of ideas about how we get our state back on track.”

“As always, we’re big proponents of transparency, accountability and productive, open-minded public conversation—values that are especially important right now,” said Vice President of Content and Programming Ben Calhoun. “We’re pleased to have the governor at WBEZ to connect him with the public for what we imagine will be very substantive, meaningful conversations.”

This new segment is an ideal fit for The Morning Shift as it will rely heavily on authentic engagement with listeners on-air and via social media to stimulate conversations with a local and regional impact.

The Ask the Governor segment is just another example of the unique, thought provoking programming that WBEZ Chicago is committed to producing for its listeners. This further aligns with the station’s mission to keep listeners engaged and informed through the production of high quality journalism.

Further scheduling for Ask the Governor will be announced at the end of February.
For video from the live broadcast, please contact the Illinois Office of Communications and Information at 217-782-xxxx or contact xxx xxx at or 312-xxx-xxxx. Video will also be available for download at the Illinois Department of Central Management Services website.

* The Question: Your question for Gov. Rauner?

- Posted by Rich Miller   89 Comments      

Kennedy aide denies report on planned spending

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* ABC7

Kennedy said he would spend between $50 million and $100 million of his own fortune to defeat Rauner.



I hadn’t seen that anywhere else, so I reached out to Chris Kennedy’s campaign. The reply…

No, he didn’t say that. He said that even if Rauner put $100 million in it wouldn’t be enough to paper over his failed record.

Thomas might have take that along with what he said that he would put his money where his mouth is to suggest that he would self fund the whole race. But he never committed to an amount that he was going to put in.

Well, that kinda put a damper on my planned post about yet another wealthy self-funder. My draft headline: “Kennedy to spend up to $100 million of his own money on race.” Since I already put the rest of it together, we might as well get on with it.

* Rick Pearson has a very solid piece on the Chris Kennedy announcement, so while we’re gonna take a look at this little bit, you should read the whole thing.

[State Sen. Daniel Biss] dismissed the need for fielding a wealthy challenger to Rauner, saying Democrats need someone “who can draw a strong contrast with the governor.” […]

Given the prospect of two wealthy businessmen atop the November 2018 Illinois ballot, Kennedy sought to separate himself from Rauner’s background in acquisitions, mergers and finance.

“I’ve spent my whole career building things up. I made money by paying other people. Gov. Rauner has done just the opposite. He’s made money by tearing things down, breaking them apart. He’s made money by firing people,” Kennedy said.

“I think it’s important that people have drive and ambition and intelligence, but any coach, any board of directors, any employer, any employee will tell you the most important thing is heart. And Gov. Rauner appears to be heartless,” he said, noting reduced funding for social service safety-net programs due to the budget impasse.

Explaining why one rich guy is a good guy and another rich guy is a bad guy won’t be easy, but it can be done I suppose.

* AP

“I’m not afraid of a billionaire,” Kennedy said.

He was talking about Rauner, but he could’ve just as easily been talking about JB Pritzker.

* Back to the ABC7 report

“In the history of our state, we’ve probably never had a worse governor,” said the 53-year-old former chairman of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. “We’ve gone two years without a budget and only one person is responsible for that and that’s Gov. Rauner.” […]

“I made money by employing people, by paying them. (Rauner’s) whole career was about buying things and dismantling them, taking them apart,” Kennedy said. […]

“I’ll have all of the resources I need to compete, but I don’t think the size of your wallet is what matters to voters. I think its the strength of your vision, the breadth of your ideas and the depth of your commitment,” Kennedy told ABC7 on Wednesday.


Kennedy was interviewed on WGN Morning News Thursday, and anchor Robin Baumgarten asked him,”What do you say to people who say, here’s another wealthy guy who’s just going to throw money at the office. How much different will it be than what Bruce Rauner is doing?”

Kennedy responded: “I think it’s important that people of drive and ambition and intelligence like Gov. Rauner does, but I think you also have to have a heart and a sensitivity, and I don’t think there’s any demonstration that he has a heart.”

Baumgarten followed up by saying, “That seems harsh, you’re calling him heartless.”

“Well I think he is. He’s thrown a million people of out government programs. He sat on the sidelines while 75 percent of these kids are doomed to a life of economic oppression,” Kennedy said.

The full interview is here. The interviewers repeatedly press him on why he’s blaming the Republican governor and not his fellow Democrats.

* Now, click here and go to the 1:24 mark on the CBS2 story about Kennedy’s announcement. As noted elsewhere today, Gov. Rauner talks about how he’s “very focused like a laser on getting a balanced budget.” But he also goes on to say this in a very sincere and muted tone

“We need to compromise with each other. We need to listen to each other. And I’m very focused on that. I’m really not paying attention to politics.”

The man has some mad skills. He almost had me convinced. Seriously, watch the video. Rauner will not be easy to beat.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

ILGOP says Comptroller Mendoza “bought and paid for” by Madigan

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* Press release

“Susana Mendoza this week refused to accept independent legal counsel to fight for state employee pay. Instead, she chose to work with the Madigan family as part of a blatant effort to shut down state government and cause a crisis to force even higher taxes and more unbalanced spending with no reforms. Susana Mendoza promised us she’d be an independent watchdog, but instead she’s become a Madigan minion.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

Today, the Illinois Republican Party added Comptroller Susana Mendoza to to highlight how Mendoza is working with the Madigan family to shut down state government and force a crisis.

Check out the page at

And watch our new digital video here.

Susana Mendoza is bought and paid for by Boss Madigan, and now as Comptroller Mendoza is taking orders from her political patron, pledging to help him and Lisa Madigan shut down the government if allowed by the courts.

Career politician Susana Mendoza quickly became a Madigan ally in the House, voting for every unbalanced Madigan budget that became law, adding billions in debt while shortchanging Illinois schools. She even voted for the highest income tax hike in Illinois history, voted to raise her own pay, and then doubled dipped by taking two government pensions.

In exchange, Mendoza endorsed Madigan for Speaker six times, calling Madigan her “mentor”. In one speech lauding Madigan’s reign, Mendoza nominated him for Speaker and called him a “man who time and time again has demonstrated his passion and love for this state,” and proclaimed that “someday, our children will learn of his contributions.”

Knowing she was a loyal ally, Madigan provided Mendoza with money and support for her political career. When Mendoza wanted to run for higher office, Madigan cleared the Democratic field for her and funded her campaign for Comptroller.

To date Madigan has funneled millions to Mendoza. Now, she’s working with the Madigan family to shut down state government and cause a crisis to force even higher taxes.

“The Madigan family.” Expect to hear that line a couple billion more times.

* Another highly edited video

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Pay Now Illinois files new lawsuit asking for same treatment as state workers

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* The Illinois Supreme Court has already ruled that a state contract provision can’t be paid without a legal appropriation. But filing this suit in the same circuit which ruled in favor of AFSCME’s lawsuit to pay state workers without an appropriation is definitely an interesting idea….

Pay Now Illinois (PNI), a coalition of Illinois-based human and social service agencies and companies, filed suit today in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Governor Bruce Rauner, Comptroller Susana Mendoza and directors of three statewide agencies, seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction that would force Illinois to begin timely payments for services performed under binding contracts dating back to the start of the current fiscal year, July 1, 2016.

The suit, a direct result of Illinois’ 20-month budget impasse, was filed in St. Clair County where, in 2015, a circuit court ruled in the case of AFSCME v. State of Illinois that the State of Illinois must pay state employees on a timely basis, despite the lack of a budget or agreed-to appropriations by the General Assembly and the Governor. State employees have not missed a single paycheck since the start of the budget impasse on July 1, 2015.

“Precedent has been set with the ruling in St. Clair County that required state workers be paid; we feel our constitutional claims are as strong, or possibly stronger,” Pay Now Illinois Chair Andrea Durbin said. “We are hoping for the same success so that we can get paid what is owed us, and we can be certain of getting paid in the future. After all, why should state workers be paid, but not state contractors? The state must provide assurance that it is a responsible business partner.”

The Pay Now Illinois suit in St. Clair County claims that with the adoption on June 30, 2016 of the six-month Stop Gap Bill – PA 99-524 – the state paid some outstanding contracts for fiscal year 2016, but did so by reducing or terminating funding of contracts for fiscal year 2017. “The so-called ‘Stop Gap’ Bill has unlawfully reduced or capped the liability of the State to plaintiffs on the contracts for services in fiscal year 2017 – contracts that had been agreed to in writing or orally before P.A. 99-524 was adopted on June 30, 2016,” the suit says.

As a result of unpaid contracts and an uncertain future, social service agencies are facing severe cash squeezes, according to the lawsuit. Over 40 percent of the plaintiffs are using or have fully expended their lines of credit, and more than 32 percent are struggling with liquidity issues. Approximately 76 percent have already taken actions to reduce staffing expenditures, while nearly 60 percent of the plaintiffs have reduced services. Failure to pay for work that has been carried out “is causing permanent and not temporary damage” to the agencies and “irreparable injury to the client populations that have lost services and damaged the credibility of the plaintiff organizations with many vulnerable and emotionally troubled persons,” the lawsuit says.

The suit also claims that the state’s failure to pass a fully funded, balanced budget is a violation of the state’s constitution. The lack of a budget removes the security to contract holders that they will be paid. And the lack of appropriations removes the opportunity for a legal remedy against the state for failure to pay its obligations, violating the plaintiffs’ rights to due process. It goes on to warn, “In the absence of injunctive relief, not only the plaintiff organizations but the entire State-supported infrastructure for providing human services faces irreparable and lasting injury.”

In addition to the Governor and Comptroller, other defendants in the suit are James Dimas, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services; Jan Bohnhof, Director of the Illinois Department on Aging; and, John R. Baldwin, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. PNI plaintiffs include 37 Illinois-based human and social service agencies and companies.

This is Pay Now Illinois’s second suit against the governor and others seeking payment on overdue bills. The first suit, filed in May of 2016, is now on appeal before the Appellate Court of the First District of Illinois. On August 31, 2016, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rodolfo Garcia dismissed PNI’s first suit, which had sought an immediate preliminary injunction and full payment of unpaid contracts dating back to July 1, 2015. Agreeing that this case presented important constitutional issues, he urged PNI to expeditiously appeal the suit to a higher court for resolution.

“We are suing to get paid, but also to protect the integrity of contracts in the State of Illinois,” Durbin said. “Right now, nobody doing business with the State of Illinois can be certain of getting paid. And that is no way to run a business. If the State can get away with not paying our contracts, does any contract holder have security that the State’s word is good? Will they believe that the State of Illinois has integrity?” [Emphasis added.]

* The proposed remedy for the constitutional violation of not enacting “a fully funded, balanced budget”

Grant preliminary and permanent injunctive relief requiring the defendant state officers to specifically perform their obligations of payment under the contacts attached hereto and on a timely basis pay the vouchers submitted and to be submitted for the remainder of the fiscal year

* More from the lawsuit

Nonetheless, defendants have paid other creditors in the absence of agreed-to appropriations.

While such payments have occurred under various court orders, the defendant Governor announced that the State should continue to pay State employees without agreed-to appropriations even if the order requiring such payment in AFSCME v. State were to be dissolved—and that he would take every available action to ensure they would get paid even without an appropriation.

At the same time, defendants—including the defendant Governor—will not pay plaintiffs in the absence of agreed to appropriations.

Yep. Consider him called out. Finally.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Our sorry state

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* Illinois Policy Institute, using US Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers

The Land of Lincoln lost 11,000 manufacturing jobs in 2016, easily the worst in the region.

Over the past four years, Illinois has lost 18,000 manufacturing jobs. Iowa is the only other state to lose manufacturing jobs over this time period.

So, the pace has quickened. Not good at all.

* Same group, same numbers source

Union membership in Illinois is declining. In 2016 alone, union membership fell by 35,000 in Illinois, the worst loss in the region.

States like Missouri and Indiana, on the other hand, saw substantial growth in union membership according to an annual Bureau of Labor Statistics report on union membership.


* And it’s gonna get worse without a real budget. From S&P Global Ratings

We believe Illinois’ distressed fiscal condition and dysfunctional budget politics now threaten to erode the state’s long-term economic growth prospects.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Cassidy testimony kicks off women’s agenda push

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* This is just one more reason why so many people think so highly of Rep. Kelly Cassidy. She’s something most typical politicians are not: honest, frank and open

With abortion access under siege by a president who once suggested women who seek abortions should be punished, several North Side state representatives want to make sure abortions remain safe and legal in Illinois.

One even decided to speak up about her own.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) said medical issues meant that without an abortion, she would have become infertile as a result of a high-risk pregnancy.

“I didn’t want to have an abortion; I wanted to have those two babies,” Cassidy said during a committee hearing Wednesday. “But I wanted to survive, and I wanted to maintain my fertility.”

Cassidy, who represents Edgewater, Andersonville and Rogers Park, added that she never would have had her three sons later on had it not been for the affordable, safe access to an abortion.

Yeah, she has a liberal district, but that testimony took real guts.

Also, check out the witness slips on that bill. 8,290 in favor and 3,502 against. That may be a record.

* Tribune on the other bills being debated

The legislation is part of a broader agenda announced Wednesday by House and Senate Democrats that represents resistance to Trump in the legislature their party controls. Democrats detailed their fears that he’ll push to weaken women’s rights, and they protested the president’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees from some Muslim-majority countries. […]

Other efforts announced Wednesday call for paid sick time, paid family medical leave and access to free feminine hygiene products for students in grades 6-12. The group emphasized that more legislation could come up during session as it discusses other issues and the impact of the state budget impasse on women.

Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said she is hoping to build on momentum from last year, when she successfully rolled back the sales tax on feminine hygiene products. Her new focus centers on legislation that seeks to prevent tailors, dry cleaners, hair salons and barbers from charging men and women different prices for the same services.

* Press release…

Building on the spirit, enthusiasm, and sense of solidarity of those who participated in Women’s Marches across Illinois on January 21st, a coalition of legislators gathered today at the State Capitol to embrace an agenda titled, Illinois Women Moving Forward. The agenda, created in a collaborative process with legislators and public policy groups committed to improve the lives of women in Illinois, is premised on the basic notion that all “Illinois women are entitled to equality.” The agenda contains a number of issues that the legislators hope to debate during the upcoming months of the legislative session, from access to affordable health care, equal pay, and policies that positively impact the ability to raise a family.

“The Women’s March was so inspiring, drawing together masses of people reflecting the true diversity of the entire State of Illinois,” said State Senator Toi Hutchinson. “One of the things that was easy to see was that the March was not simply a moment in time, but a call to action for a positive agenda to move forward. That is what Illinois Women Moving Forward provides – advancing the lives of everyone in Illinois, we won’t go backward.”

The agenda contains three basic pillars: Women’s Health Care, Economic Security, and Justice. The health care pillar includes a pledge to safeguard and ensure access to safe and legal abortion, as well as guaranteeing health coverage for women’s preventive health care. The economic security pillar calls for paid sick time, paid family medical leave for working families, and a raise in the minimum wage to a sustainable standard. Finally, under the justice pillar, the group is seeking to strengthen the Equal Pay Act to target systemic discrimination, banning discrimination in insurance coverage, and publicizing portions of the Illinois Human Rights Act that bar charging men and women different prices.

“Passage of this agenda would move not only women, but all of Illinois forward,” said Representative Sara Feigenholtz. “We do not want to go backward as a State – and this is a comprehensive path forward that will support women and families from Waukegan to Carbondale.”

The signatories to Illinois Women Moving Forward include: Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Senator Daniel Biss, Senator Melinda Bush, Senator Cristina Castro, Senator Toi Hutchinson, Senator Julie Morrison, Senator Heather Steans, Representative Kelly Cassidy, Representative Sara Feigenholtz, Representative Laura Fine, Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Representative Robyn Gabel, Representative Will Guzzardi, Representative Sonya Harper, Representative Lou Lang, Representative Anna Moeller, Representative Litesa Wallace and Representative Ann Williams.

The agenda also is supported by organizations, including the ACLU of Illinois, Aids Foundation of Chicago, Chicago Foundation for Women, Chicago Women Take Action, EverThrive Illinois, Fathers, Families and Health Communities, Illinois Choice Action Team, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Illinois NOW, McHenry County Citizens for Choice, Men4Choice, Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, Midwest Access Coalition, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, National Association of Social Workers, Illinois, National Coalition of American Nuns, National Council of Jewish Women IL State Policy Advocacy Network, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice – Illinois, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, The Voices and Faces Project and Women Employed.

More here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

CME’s Duffy rattles his saber again

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* Lynn Marek in Crain’s Chicago Business

On the local political landscape, [CME chief exec Terry Duffy] is less sanguine. Budgetary and other fiscal problems plaguing Illinois and Chicago will lead CME to remain light on its feet and mindful of other headquarter options, he said. In 2011, CME threatened to move its base if the state didn’t provide a tax cut that was eventually forthcoming.

In the past few years, the company has sold and leased back much of its local Chicago real estate, including some of its Chicago Board of Trade buildings, and sold its Aurora data center to CyrusOne, making it more nimble, Duffy said.

“I’m a big believer that if you want these companies that are headquartered in this great city—and I call it a great city–you have to give clarity that you’re willing to make the tough decisions to put plans in place so we can reinvest here because it’s hard for us to reinvest when we don’t know what it’s going to be like,” Duffy said. “Right now, I will tell you this company is as nimble as it’s ever been in its history and it’s going to stay that way until we get more clarity.”

The company’s approximately 2,700 employees are about 43 years old, on average, and are some of the youngest, most highly paid in the city, with no particular loyalty to Chicago, he adds. “They rent and they’re ready to go–you gotta sometimes hold them back,” Duffy said. Duffy noted that Detroit has a lot of the same attributes as Chicago—on the water, with a central US location and a transportation hub, dangling the notion that Chicago isn’t a unique “geographic gem.” “Chicago and Illinois need to get (their) fiscal house in order,” he said.

Still, CME wouldn’t find the caliber of trading industry talent that is in Chicago in Detroit, Rosenthal said. Rival Intercontinental Exchange would have a heyday picking up CME Chicago employees on the cheap if CME were to move to someplace like Texas, he said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - AFSCME responds *** Rauner takes his anti-Madigan message to state workers, threatens to veto payroll bill

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* The governor sent an e-mail to state employees today…

Dear State Employees:

As you know, Attorney General Lisa Madigan is attempting to block state employee pay and force a crisis in Illinois. There are two proposals in the General Assembly, but only one is a real solution. Watch this video to know where we stand.

Thank you for your work on behalf of the people of Illinois.



* The video

* Transcript

Hi Everybody.

As you know, Attorney General Madigan is going into court asking a judge to end state employee pay. The Attorney General now believes the state should be shut down until a budget is passed. We do not agree.

Two proposals have emerged in Springfield to address this issue. One proposal, sponsored by Rep. Avery Bourne and Rep. CD Davidsmeyer, would ensure state employees get the same treatment as legislators and constitutional officers — making it the law of Illinois to pay state employees on a continual basis regardless of the budget impasse. The other proposal is backed by Speaker Madigan — and it supports the Attorney General’s attempt to shut down government. Rather than stop paying employees and shut down government immediately, Speaker Madigan’s bill would stop employee pay and shut down government on June 30th instead.

Speaker Madigan will try to sell his June 30th government shut down proposal as a solution in case his daughter wins in court. But don’t be fooled. It’s not a solution — it’s a crisis showdown set for June 30th when the Speaker will use the leverage of a forced shut down to finally get the massive tax hike he recommended in December 2015.

There’s only one solution that makes sense: give state employees the same rights as the Speaker, rank-and-file legislators and the Attorney General herself. Give state employees permanent continuing appropriation for their pay just like legislators gave themselves. I will veto the Speaker’s June 30th government shut down proposal should it reach my desk. The General Assembly should fix this problem once and for all by sending the Bourne-Davidsmeyer state employee pay proposal to my desk immediately.

I don’t take a paycheck - never have, never will, but I believe state employees who show up to work every day for the people of Illinois should get their paychecks no matter what.

After all the hooplah over that CPS letter to parents blasting Rauner, this might be a bit much [ADDING: Click here for Greg Hinz’s take on that particular dustup.]. It’s not nearly as blatantly political, of course, but it most certainly mirrors the Rauner political attack machine messaging.

The Bourne bill is here.

…Adding… When the governor promised to veto the Madigan bill, wasn’t he actually threatening to “create a crisis”? Isn’t that what he accuses both Speaker and AG Madigan of trying to do?

…Adding More… The governor’s people strongly disagree. They say they believe Madigan’s bill is designed to take the heat off himself and the attorney general so that he can then flip the pressure on the governor to do a stopgap budget deal by the end of June to avoid a “real” shutdown because there would be no appropriations authority to pay state workers and likely no court order, either.

…Adding Still More… Hmmm…

*** UPDATE ***  From AFSCME Council 31…

Governor Rauner’s latest attempt to mislead state workers is centered on the claim that he wants state employees to be paid ‘like legislators’, but legislators are now paid six months late due to Rauner’s refusal to do his job and sign a budget.

The governor caused this crisis by holding the budget hostage to his political demands. Next week he’s due to present a spending plan for fiscal year 2018. If he introduces a budget, helps pass it and signs it into law on schedule this spring, this entire conversation is moot. Instead Rauner says he’d veto a payroll bill, an action that could shut down state government.

For our part, AFSCME and a dozen other unions representing state workers won the court order upholding payroll even without a budget, and our unions have been working with Rep. Sue Scherer to advance House Bill 1798 to ensure state employee payroll now. That bill wasn’t perfect in its initial form, but Rep. Scherer has been willing to address our concerns, and the bill is moving forward. That’s how compromise and the legislative process work.

In contrast, the governor’s threat to veto a bill not sponsored by his partisan political allies follows a familiar pattern: Rauner makes a demand, refuses to compromise, and bullies those who disagree.

If he wants to make progress, the governor should negotiate, not dictate, both in developing a fully-funded budget and reaching a fair contract for state employees.

- Posted by Rich Miller   106 Comments      

Calling out Rauner

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* Finke

Speaking Wednesday night at the Sangamon County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner, Gov. Bruce Rauner said he had to leave the Prairie Capital Convention Center and “go back over to negotiate some more with the legislators. We’re in the middle of heated negotiations around getting a balanced budget” with needed changes. […]

He also lauded Democrats in the Senate for working with Republicans on issues including term limits, property tax relief and reducing the regulatory burden on business.

“This is a major breakthrough,” Rauner said. “We’ve got to applaud them. It’s hard. They’re getting attacked from all sides. … But we’ve got to compromise, listen to each other, but get a good, fair deal for taxpayers.”

OK, first of all, I’m kinda betting he left because he didn’t want to be in the story about Corey Lewandowski’s speech to that GOP gathering. I mean, he keeps saying he’s hands off the Senate’s grand bargain talks. What could he be negotiating?

Secondly, I’m glad he acknowledged that Senators are being “attacked from all sides.” But that would include attacks on the Senate Republican Leader, who’s being whacked hard by several of Rauner’s own pals. Click here, for the latest.

* From a press release sent by Sen. Kwame Raoul on yesterday’s floor votes…

I do believe many of my Republican colleagues wanted to vote in favor of these measures, but they were undermined by the governor’s office and members of the far right, who are sabotaging work towards a compromise that will allow us to create the stability our state needs.

* And then there was this

With Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan having locked horns from day one on the issue of a budget — with little progress to show for it — Cullerton and Radogno began their compromise negotiations without either one being part of the mix.

Now, however, Cullerton is calling on Rauner to raise his voice on the issue, contending a push from the governor in the right direction could make a world of difference in finally making the bitter stalemate between him and Madigan a thing of the past.

* And this

Further, Cullerton says, expedience is necessary because the plan raises $6.5 billion in new revenue – in part by raising the state income tax to 4.99 percent, retroactive to the start of the year. Get too far into 2017 without making the new rate law? Making the change, and counting on the revenue from it, will no longer be possible. […]

Republicans’ reluctance may stem from their awaiting a signal from Rauner, who has used his personal wealth to largely fund the Illinois Republican Party, which in turn funds many senators’ campaigns. Rauner has continually voiced his appreciation to Cullerton and Radogno for their work, but he has been unwilling to take a public stance on what they’ve crafted. Some of the governor’s staunch allies, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Policy Institute, are actively campaigning against the plan.

“I think the pressure should be on the Republicans from the business community to realize that they finally have to do something quickly. That’s what I’m hoping will happen,” Cullerton said, as he held up a report released this week by Standard & Poor’s that said the Senate plan could help to alleviate pressure on Illinois’ deteriorating fiscal condition.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Focused like a laser

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* He is just absolutely relentless about his framing…

[Hat tip: IR]

I did my usual news search for Speaker Madigan House and it’s mostly stories about Kennedy’s announcement. Those Rauner guys know what they’re doing.

* Chris Kennedy’s response to Korecki

In an interview with POLITICO, Kennedy lampooned Rauner, calling him a “petulant child” who engages in “revenge politics” and casting him as a dictator who has bought the Republican Party and silenced dissenting voices.

“I’d say the only thing worse than a one-party state is a one-man party and that’s what Rauner has done,” Kennedy said.

When asked about Madigan’s dual role as Democratic Party chair and powerful legislator, and criticism that he wields too much control in the state, Kennedy countered that it’s the Republican Party in Illinois that has grown too fearful of Rauner and his money, to speak out. […]

“Do you think Dick Durbin reports to Mike Madigan? Do you think Rahm Emanuel reports to Mike Madigan? Do you think any congressman or senator reports to Mike Madigan? Our party is a party of enormous diversity and independent voices,” Kennedy said. “The Republican Party has none of that anymore … the Republican Party has become a one-man shop, where one or two men have dominated … Where he uses his wealth to silence them. He’s an economic bully. I think that weakens them, I don’t think that makes them stronger.”

Not bad. But he did stutter through the Madigan questions when pressed by Mary Ann Ahern

* Marni Pyke at the Daily Herald

“The governor said he was going to shake up Springfield, instead he’s tried to hold up Springfield. He was sent to heal not hurt, and he’s failed in every way,” said Kennedy, son of former Attorney General Robert Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. […]

Asked about the critique, Kennedy faulted Rauner for using his wealth to silence opposition in the GOP. “I have not heard state representatives or senators offering a second way because he bullies them with his money.”

* Tribune

“I think it’s an insult to me, an insult to the entire Kennedy family and an insult to the voters of Illinois to make a statement like that that anybody’s going to believe,” [Kennedy] told the Chicago Tribune [about the Republican attacks].

“I think Gov. Rauner has spent his entire time blaming others and not leading. Even now, as the state Senate tries to find a compromise on the budget, Gov. Rauner remains on the sideline. We don’t know what his intentions are. And that’s not right. He’s in the big chair. He ought to lead. Otherwise, he’s one (term) and done.”

Following an event in Normal, Rauner did not address Kennedy’s candidacy when reporters asked about it.

“I am very focused, like a laser, on getting a balanced budget with structural changes to our system, but it’s broken and been broken for a long time. And we need to compromise with each other. We need to listen to each other. And I’m very focused on that. I’m really not paying attention to politics,” the governor said.

He’s focused like a laser, alright. On the budget? Maybe not so much. On his Madigan messaging to avoid blame for the impasse and taint his opposition? Yeppers.

*** UPDATE ***  Right on schedule

“Chris Kennedy spent day one of his campaign sticking with Mike Madigan, defending him in TV interviews and even going so far as to proclaim that Madigan bears no responsibility for Illinois’ problems. Kennedy is following rule one of the Chicago machine – never speak an ill word about your political boss.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

Chris Kennedy’s first day of the 2018 campaign got off to a rocky start. In multiple interviews with Chicago TV, Kennedy would not blame Madigan for any of Illinois’ problems.

Asked about his relationship with Mike Madigan by every Chicago television station, Kennedy either defended Madigan or dodged the question.

WLS reported that Kennedy doesn’t “hold Mike Madigan responsible for any of this” and Kennedy confirmed to NBC Chicago that he met with Speaker Madigan to discuss his campaign.

You can almost see the strings being pulled behind above Kennedy’s head.

The cleverly edited video


- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

“Bottom line: Grand bargain still alive”

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* From Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesman John Patterson…

I’ve received several process or technical questions about the status of the “grand bargain” given the defeat of SB 11.

First, if you need it, here’s a statement you can attribute to me, John Patterson, spokesman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.

    “The overall deal remains under construction.

    “Today, we began the process of getting the balanced budget and reform package approved. We took a few important steps forward, and we also learned that more work needs to be done. The Senate President has already talked to the Republican Leader and we’ll see what steps we can take to regain momentum and hopefully deliver a long overdue balanced budget plan.”

OK, now for the process.

From a process standpoint, the proposals that won support today – SBs 3, 8 and 10 — remain in the Senate. The pension reform legislation – the defeated SB 11 – will need to go on a new Senate Bill. Upon winning support for that Senate Bill, the previously approved SBs 3, 8 and 10 could be recalled so we could update the language that links all the proposals together as a grand bargain.

Basically, there are procedural avenues to keep the grand bargain negotiations going.

Bottom line: Grand bargain still alive.

That is your inside baseball process update.


More in a bit, but I think this was a good place to start.

By the way, Leader Radogno told reporters yesterday that yesterday’s floor action was just “a temporary little bit of drama.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Thursday, Feb 9, 2017

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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Question of the day

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* If you were watching the live coverage post today, you saw that the Senate Democrats attempted to move ahead with some “grand bargain” votes even though the Republicans said the entire package wasn’t ready and ended up voting either “Present” or “No.”

* The Question: Do you think the Senate can get back on track or is this just too difficult to go it alone? Please explain your position. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Some Kennedy headlines don’t quite match

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Chris Kennedy’s new campaign video features what appear to be some headlines like this one

But the 2012 Tribune story does not contain the phrase “On a mission to fight hunger.” Click here to see it yourself. The actual headline is “Chris Kennedy’s ambitious food project.”

* Here’s another one

You might think that the BGA said Kennedy has “vision,” but it was actually a quote by former Gov. Pat Quinn, who isn’t exactly popular

“I thought the U of I board was the right fit,” Quinn said. “I nominated him for the board because he has the same qualities as his father. He has a passion for social justice. He is someone who can build a team and work together with people. He’s very smart. And he has vision, which you’ve got to have when you’re chairman of a $6 billion corporation, which essentially what the University of Illinois is.”

* And then there’s this

The phrase “job creator” isn’t in the Tribune’s story. But it does have this headline

$1 billion high-rise project proposed downtown at Wolf Point

3-building plan, backed by Kennedys, would be biggest Chicago development since recession, financial crisis

Probably close enough, and that headline is accurately quoted later in the video, as is a headline about how Kennedy is on a “quest to do more.”

*** UPDATE ***  From Eric Adelstein…

The piece is an amalgamation of Chris Kennedy’s record in the fight against hunger and as a businessman creating jobs.

The “mission to fight hunger” quote is from the CBS 2 news story narrated by Linda McClennan that accompanies the piece.

The visual in the video is a combination of his work for the Greater Food Depository and his creation with his wife Sheila of Top Box Food referenced in the Tribune article. We combined the Tribune article and the CBS 2 story to accurately reflect over 30 years of work to eliminate hunger.

Job Creator is a summary of the Tribune article referencing “The biggest development since recession” quoted in the article on a project that has and will create upwards of 2,000 jobs. In the video, the term is not in quotations.

Bruce Rauner is a failed Governor. He and the Republican Party should spend less time making false attacks and get to work cleaning up the mess they’ve created in Illinois. That’s what Chris Kennedy’s focus will be on as Governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

House Dems say they have questions about education funding report

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Press release…

House Democrats expressed concern over a number of items contained in a report released last week by the panel considering changes to the state’s education funding formula. In a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s appointed secretary of education, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and other House Democrats on the commission questioned aspects of the report, some that were not explicitly endorsed by all commission members.

“While this commission did not accomplish all it set out to do, it was encouraging that a bipartisan group of lawmakers could work cooperatively to begin moving forward on a very difficult and complex issue. However, the final report failed to clarify some key points, and included items that were not agreed upon by all members of the commission,” Currie said. “Given the importance of this issue for families and communities in every corner of the state, these points need to be clarified.”

There’s more, but you get the general drift.

* Here are the specific questions in the letter to Purvis

* The report does not properly recognize that Illinois’ current school funding system is broken, in large part, because of overreliance on property taxes. Property tax dollars account for 67% of all education spending, while the nationwide average is 45%. This creates inequity, because too often there are not enough state resources to support the districts with inadequate local wealth. Unless a truly massive infusion of state resources can be provided to our schools, Illinois will continue to be regressive compared to states with less property tax reliance. Perhaps the current discussion surrounding a property tax freeze would help the situation while providing the benefit of relieving the property tax burden for local constituents, but ultimately we must acknowledge that an influx of state education dollars is necessary to increase equity, approach adequacy, and avoid classroom cuts.

* Appendix II of the report provides the entirety of the 27 adequacy elements proposed in the Evidence-Based Model. Commission members did not explicitly endorse the Evidence-Based Model or these 27 elements. At this time, there remains a lack of general understanding regarding the elements and how removing, adding, or changing elements would impact school districts.

* The report suggests the group found consensus on the notion that district-authorized charter schools should receive funding that is equitable to district-managed public schools. While all commissioners believe adequate charter school funding is important, the term “equitable” can be misleading. There are situations where a school district will offer services, use of buildings, and other benefits to its charters.

As such, districts should retain the flexibility to provide funding that is commensurate with such services. A strict interpretation of “equitable” funding removes this flexibility.

* The report placed a significant negative emphasis on the Chicago Block Grants without a commensurate discussion of the pension inequities facing the district. Chicago taxpayers continue to help fund the downstate teachers’ pension system payment, over $4.5 billion for FY 18, while receiving only $12 million in state funding for Chicago teachers’ pensions. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the single largest district in the state, representing 19% of all Illinois’ students. If the commission’s work is truly an attempt to find a statewide solution to our school funding issues, then we must consider revising policies that impact CPS both positively and negatively.

* While the report accurately reflects the commission’s acknowledgement of the additional funding needs for students living in concentrated poverty, we feel this point is of vital importance. The report does mention some possible strategies to ensure additional funding for this population, but without further study, it is unclear whether or not such strategies will sufficiently address the issue.

* Appendix III of the report provides specific details regarding membership, duties, and timeframes for the “Commission for Oversight and Implementation of the School Funding Formula.” While many commissioners are comfortable with these details, there are outstanding concerns that it will exclude experts who have spent their entire professional lives working towards the common goal of funding reform. The report’s identification of the specific commission membership, duties, and timeframes seems to be unnecessarily limiting.

I’m thinking the CPS aspect might be the most important question they have.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

Kennedy responds to ILGOP attacks

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* AP

Kennedy says the Illinois’ current Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner needs to lead and not blame others such as Madigan for Illinois’ problems.

Which prompted yet another rapid response from the Madigan-obsessed ILGOP

Chris Kennedy: Don’t Blame Madigan!

It’s just hours into his campaign for governor and Chris Kennedy is already defending House Speaker Mike Madigan and dodging questions about him.

“Chris Kennedy is already showing that his true loyalties belong to Mike Madigan,” said Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe. “If Chris Kennedy won’t stand up to Madigan as a candidate, he will never stand up to him as governor.”

A bit of a stretch.

* Kennedy campaign response…

Every minute Governor Rauner and the Republican Party spends attacking Chris or someone else is another minute he is not working on a balance budget, helping a small business grow, or helping someone find a job. That is what Chris will focus on as Governor.

* The Sun-Times asked Kennedy himself for a response to the anti-Madigan press releases from earlier today

“The voters are too smart to fall for that. They know that I’m going to be an independent voice,” Kennedy said.

“I know the speaker and I think he’ll, as head of the Democratic Party, run a good primary — a fair and open one. And so be it,” Kennedy said when asked about his relationship with Madigan.

* On Rauner

“I believe that negotiation is compromise. I don’t believe that compromise is surrender,” Kennedy said. “He doesn’t understand how to get people to work with him unless he’s paying them, and this must be a very frustrating experience. I think that differentiates us entirely.”

Kennedy called Rauner “ambitious,” “smart” and “bright,” but “heartless.”

“He has no heart and if you have no heart you can’t be part of a team — and you can’t get others to go out of their way to sacrifice for you,” Kennedy said. “What leader does not sacrifice? Every great leader sacrifices and has asked others to sacrifice. He’s never done that. A heartless leader who makes no sacrifice doesn’t deserve to keep the job.”

* The ILGOP also didn’t mention this from Greg Hinz’s piece

But, interestingly, he not only left the door wide open to but seemed to back term limits, something unlikely to earn him plaudits from Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, even as the Illinois Republican Party put out a statement saying Kennedy “will never stand up” to him. […]

(A)sked about term limits, he replied: “If term limits encourage the nation that government is trusted, we ought to embrace them.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Radogno urges “Present” votes *** This just in… Cullerton intends to start taking votes

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* From Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesman John Patterson…

Here’s a status report to give you an idea of where we are:

The Senate President informed the Republican leader that we intend to begin voting today on provisions of the balanced budget and reform package.

The Senate Republicans have asked for a 30 minute caucus.

At the moment, when we start back up the plan would be to take up SB 3 (government consolidation) and see what happens.

As always, things are subject to change, but this is my attempt to give you an idea of where we stand.


There is some question about whether the Republicans want to vote today. Plenty of pressure out there to delay at the moment to try and get a better deal. But, as I told subscribers this morning, the Democrats are raring to go. So, they may wind up going alone. But as Patterson says, things are subject to change.

As always, keep a close eye on our live coverage post for instant updates.

*** UPDATE ***  Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is urging her fellow Republicans to vote “Present” on the first bill in the grand bargain - local government consolidation. Looks like the Democrats are going to have to go it alone today.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

Pritzker releases statement in wake of Kennedy announcement

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Statement from JB Pritzker…

“As many people know, I’m seriously considering running for Governor. I’ve listened to people throughout Illinois, and it’s clear that our government isn’t working effectively for them. Governor Rauner has failed to address the real needs and concerns facing our state. We need a new leader with a record of getting results, who wakes up every day thinking about improving the lives of working families and people all across Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Bustos already targeted by NRCC, but not Schneider

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Politico

Republicans, already hoping to expand their House majority in 2018, have devised a 36-seat list of top Democratic targets for the next two years — and they are particularly focused on blue-collar parts of the country where President Donald Trump is popular.

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list provides an early window into how the GOP is preparing for the midterm elections — a still-far-off political fight, but one that is already taking shape behind the scenes.

One-third of the districts, detailed in a NRCC spreadsheet, are seats that President Donald Trump carried over Hillary Clinton even while a Democratic House member also claimed victory. That segment of the list is heavy on blue-collar districts in the Midwest, which Republicans believe will be especially fertile political territory in the Trump era. It includes two Democrats who were not heavily targeted by the GOP in 2016: Reps. Dave Loebsack, a veteran incumbent from southeastern Iowa, and Ron Kind, who is from west central Wisconsin and ran unopposed in 2016 while Trump carried his seat by more than 4 percentage points.

Democratic US Rep. Cheri Bustos is on the list (click here for the full list) because Donald Trump won her district last November. Congressman Brad Schneider, incidentally, is not on the list, even though he lost two years ago after winning four years ago. Clinton won that district bigly.

Often, when congresscritters’ districts change on them, they look to move up the ladder. Dick Durbin did it with his US Senate bid, for example. So, as John Gregory notes, that may be the reason why she’s taking a harder look at running for governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

Caption contest!

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* The IMA’s Greg Baise has been on a statewide tour recently talking about the dire straits of Illinois manufacturing. He was in Carbondale yesterday

Down a quiet street in Carbondale, millions of plastic products are rolling out of Com-Pac International’s factory every year.

The flexible packaging manufacturer turns about 6 million pounds of plastic resin into dozens of different medical and food bags and products that are shipped to locations around the world.

Highly engineered, value added packaging is the company’s specialty. Com-Pac’s success translates into 235 full- and part-time jobs for Southern Illinois residents. The benefit package for full-time employees includes health care at a nominal cost.

It’s the type of business that’s held up as an example of what it would be nice to have more of — because there used to be more. Manufacturing companies were once looked to as the employers in Southern Illinois who provided the vast majority of middle-class wages for blue collar workers.

* That’s Baise on our left

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      

3rd Annual “Cocktails with Capitol Fax”

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

[The following is a paid advertisement]

TrackBill CEO, Steve Marciniak, and his team will be in Springfield this week to show off the latest features of their legislative tracking platform.

Together with Rich Miller, they’ll be hosting a happy hour reception at Boones Saloon, 301 W. Edwards St., on Wednesday, February 8th from 3:30 to 6:30pm. They’ll have a computer set up, so you can see first-hand how TrackBill can work for you.

Stop by for cocktails and light appetizers, and feel free to bring a friend!

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Chicago GOP chief to file ethics complaint against Claypool

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Background is here. From a press release

What: Chicago Republican Party Chairman and Chicago Public Schools parent Chris Cleveland to file ethics complaint against CPS CEO Forrest Claypool for using taxpayer funds for political letter

When: 1:00pm, Monday, February 08, 2017

Where: Office of Inspector General for the Chicago Board of Education, 567 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL 60661

Note: Chris Cleveland will be available for questions following the filing of the complaint

Copy of the ethics complaint letter:

Mr. Schuler:

Earlier this week, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool used taxpayer resources to send a blatantly political letter home with students.

The letter was sharply criticized by parents as “inappropriate” and rebuked by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform as “invoking partisan politics.”

Using public time and resources on such a letter should always be considered a misuse of taxpayer funds, but it is made even more egregious in light of CPS’s self-declared financial crisis.

Via this letter, I am formally filing an ethics complaint against Mr. Claypool and ask that you investigate Mr. Claypool’s latest actions as part of your on going review of Mr. Claypool’s questionable stewardship of Chicago Public Schools.

Coming on the heels of the school district blocking an investigation into a $250,000 legal contract with Mr. Claypool’s former law firm and interfering in another investigation of major theft and “criminal conspiracy” by a CPS’ employee, Mr. Claypool’s latest misuse of taxpayer dollars appears to be part of an alarming personal habit of disregard for and abuse of the public’s trust.

Former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett serves as a cautionary tale of what happens when high-ranking CPS officials thinks the rules don’t apply to them.

I ask that you look into Mr. Claypool’s pattern of unethical behavior to help guard against CPS finding itself with the same fate under Mr. Claypool as it had under Ms. Byrd-Bennett.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* DNAInfo

Groups across the city are pushing the state to ditch laws banning rent control in Illinois as rental markets in Pilsen, Logan Square and Hyde Park heat up.

State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Logan Square) has introduced a bill in Springfield that would repeal a 1997 law passed under Republican Gov. Jim Edgar.

“The fear was the bogeyman of rent control,” Guzzardi said of the Rent Control Preemption Act at a Tuesday news conference in Kenwood. […]

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Logan Square has increased by 40 percent to $1,250 at the end of 2016 from $895 at the end of 2011.

* The Sun-Times turns a big thumbs down

Under a rent control system, a city caps rent increases for a certain percentage of apartments. The goal is to maintain a supply of affordable rental units, even in areas where housing costs are shooting up. New York and Los Angeles, for example, have rent control rules. But by disrupting market forces, rent control inevitably creates a dangerous disincentive for developers to build new housing and for landlords to properly maintain existing units. Rents for some apartments hold steady while rents for others shoot up to make up the difference when the demand is high. An illegal black market develops as one renter quietly tries to pass an apartment along to another renter — sometimes demanding a kickback — without the landlord catching on. […]

One way City Hall can help residents caught in the cross-hairs of gentrification is through transit-oriented development. This is a creative and far-sighted effort to build a greater number of living units near transportation hubs than would be normally be allowed. By requiring a large number of affordable units in the new construction, aldermen are helping longtime residents stay in their neighborhoods.

Transit-oriented development also works naturally to produce more affordable living opportunities in a city. Because the building typically is located right next to a CTA L stop or Metra station, residents are less likely to need a car. And the building can be designed with fewer parking spaces, bringing down the cost.

* On to the next topic

U.S. presidential candidates would be barred from appearing on the ballot in Illinois unless they release five years of their income tax returns under legislation introduced today by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston).

Biss says the measure is designed to ensure Illinois voters have important information about the financial interests of candidates who seek the most powerful and influential job in the world.

* And, finally

Ambitious legislation in the Illinois House would restrict the hours pharmacists can work each day, limit the number of prescriptions they can fill each hour, require break time during their shifts and provide whistleblower protection if they expose safety problems. But the bill already is drawing heavy opposition from lobbyists and skepticism from Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The measure represents one of the nation’s most aggressive responses to concerns from pharmacists that growing pressure to work faster increases prescription drug errors.

The move comes as states beyond Illinois mandate break time. A rule is in the works in Minnesota to require bathroom and meal breaks; pharmacists there complained they are afraid to drink liquids during a shift because they may not have the time to go to the washroom.

Filed last week, the House bill is the latest reaction to a Tribune investigation that found half of 255 pharmacies tested in the Chicago region failed to warn about prescriptions for potential drug interactions that could be harmful or fatal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Payroll tax out, food and medicine tax in… for now

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Tribune

The mammoth budget blueprint under consideration in the Illinois Senate changed shape yet again Tuesday, with lawmakers floating the idea of applying a higher state sales tax to food and drugs.

The change allows backers to shelve a proposed “opportunity tax” that would charge companies for the “privilege” of doing business in the state. That ran into opposition from business groups. But the broad nature of the sales tax expansion is likely to spawn arguments that it hits hardest those least able to afford the increase.

Some background: the state sales tax on most goods is 6.25 percent. The rate, however, is just 1 percent for many food, drugs and medical supplies — think stuff bought at the grocery store. It’s higher in places where local governments can impose their own taxes. In Cook County, for example, shoppers pay an additional 1.25 percent tax to the Regional Transportation Authority for a 2.25 percent total rate.

Here’s how the Senate plan would work: The overall sales tax rate of 6.25 percent would drop to 5.75 percent, but it would be applied to a broader range of goods including food, drugs and medical supplies. Cutting the overall sales tax by half a percentage point would drop the total sales tax in Chicago to 9.75 percent. In addition, services would be taxed at 5.75 percent, including car repairs, landscaping, laundry, and cable and satellite.

* SJ-R

Extending the sales tax to some services such as landscaping, laundry, and cable and satellite television remains in the bill. […]

Trotter, though, said, “This is continually changing.”

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said the trade-off is a lower tax rate that applies to a broader base. […]

Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, a member of the Republican leadership team, said there was “great reserve and concern” about the business opportunity tax, which would impose a new tax based on the size of a company’s payroll.

“Obviously, this is a mathematical problem. If you take away one, you’ve got to come up with something else so both sides are equal,” Althoff said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner campaign weighs in*** ILGOP again ties Kennedy to Madigan

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Press release

Chris Kennedy – A Mike Madigan-First Politician
ILGOP Launches

To Mike Madigan’s pleasure, Chris Kennedy today announced a run for Governor.

Over the summer, Mike Madigan endorsed Kennedy’s run. After a secret meeting, Madigan lauded that Chris Kennedy would “make a very good candidate for Governor.”

“Mike Madigan has already endorsed Chris Kennedy’s run because he knows that Kennedy will never stand up to him. Chris Kennedy secretly met with Madigan this summer to kiss his ring and get Madigan’s blessing. Kennedy’s already done his part to placate his boss, giving Madigan thousands to fund his anti-reform attack ads. We need a Governor who will fight for reform, not another Mike Madigan-first politician.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

To highlight Chris Kennedy’s deep ties to the Madigan Machine, today the Illinois Republican Party has launched

Chris Kennedy’s already proved he will be loyal to Mike Madigan. Before announcing his campaign, Kennedy secretly met with Madigan to get his blessing to run for governor. Then, Kennedy bankrolled a $10 million Madigan-aligned political front group and gave thousands more to Madigan’s hand-picked candidates for the legislature.

Chris Kennedy is committed to the Madigan Agenda and tried to give Madigan even more power. The last thing Illinois needs is a Madigan lap dog in the governor’s office.

Illinois needs an independent reformer, but Chris Kennedy is just another Mike Madigan-first politician.

Sources: Federal Election Commission, Illinois State Board of Election, Crain’s Chicago Business 11/2/2016, Chicago Tribune, 10/11/2016

Um, Madigan didn’t endorse Kennedy. Madigan said he met with the guy and told him “he’d make a very good candidate for governor.”

*** UPDATE ***  From the governor’s campaign…

Today, Chris Kennedy announced his bid for Governor of Illinois.
Show your support for Team Rauner instead by contributing $5, $15, $50, or whatever you can afford today.

We’re here to tell you that Illinois deserves better. Why? Because Chris Kennedy is a pawn of Mike Madigan. Kennedy secretly met with Mike Madigan to get his seal of approval before announcing his candidacy. And now he wants to do Madigan’s bidding.

Now, more than ever, Citizens for Rauner needs your support to hold Kennedy accountable and make sure that another Madigan crony isn’t elected Governor.

We’re here to make sure that Illinois is put first. Show that you’re with us by contributing today.


Team Rauner

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Issues formal statement - Kennedy confirms bid *** Adviser: Chris Kennedy is in the race

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* AP

An adviser says Democratic businessman Chris Kennedy plans to run for Illinois governor in 2018 against Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner.

Hanah Jubeh, a Kennedy campaign adviser, told The Associated Press Wednesday that Kennedy is running.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Kennedy just called me to confirm the report. He’s in the race.

He said something interesting about the “Because… Madigan!” angle used by the Republicans here. “We may think it’s unique,” to Illinois, he said, but the Republicans are “using it everywhere” to suppress the vote. People are told over and over that “government is broken” and there’s nothing that anyone can do. So, people choose to just tune out, basically, and stay home.

“I can battle that better than just about everybody,” he said. “I can give people reasons to vote.”

The challenge, he said, is not “simply to get more union members or [other demographics] to vote Democratic,” but to “get more people to vote,” and the Democrats will win.

As he was winding down from those remarks and trying to move on to his next call, I asked him to quickly comment on the Senate’s grand bargain. Gov. Rauner, he said, “should show some leadership.”

Anyway, it was a pleasant call and we’ll be sitting down for a more formal interview soon.

* Meanwhile, here’s his announcement video. Rate it

*** UPDATE 2 *** Formal statement…

Today I will file my formal paperwork to the State Board of Elections, launching my campaign for Governor of Illinois.

What once made our country different from any place on earth was the notion that anyone could make it here - that America was the land of opportunity. But today, if you’re born poor in America, you will almost certainly stay poor. The American Dream is slipping away and it’s up to us to keep this fundamental promise.

I love this state, and I’m running for governor because we can do better. Together we can restore the American Dream in Illinois in a single generation. Watch the video below to learn more, then share it with your friends and family to encourage them to join our campaign.

We have a tough task ahead: taking on a governor who has put Illinois in the worst shape it’s been since I moved here thirty years ago. I feel called to serve at this moment because I know we can do better. Through my previous work at The Merchandise Mart, through Top Box Foods, the nonprofit hunger relief organization I co-founded with my wife Sheila, and through my involvement in dozens of civic and service organizations, I have brought people together to solve complicated problems for a common good.

Compromise is not surrender. We can fix the immediate budget crisis facing our state. If we are willing to work together, mothers and babies will have early access to health care and nutrition. Early childhood education for all Illinoisans can be a priority again, and K-12 education can be paid for at the state level so every child in our state receives an equal, quality education. I want to give everyone access to higher education or trade school, and prepare the next generation of Illinoisans to be productive members of a healthy economy. If we can put stubbornness aside, we can act on a shared vision for making Illinois a place where everyone can succeed.

We can restore the future and keep the promise of this state. Let’s get to work.

Thank you for joining me on the journey ahead,


- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      

Bustos will decide in a month

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Ed Tibbetts at the QC Times

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said Tuesday that she has given herself 30 days to decide whether to run for governor and that she’ll weigh such factors as whether a downstate figure “with my brand of politics” can appeal to a statewide audience — and if she has the skills to make a difference in the infamously deadlocked state. […]

“As I weigh this, it is a matter of where can I make the biggest difference and how can I be in a position to help our state and region as much as possible,” she said. […]

“Does my brand of politics and governing, does it resonate in other parts of Illinois?” she said. “I’m a downstater. My politics are not the same as perhaps another member of Congress in another part of the state.” […]

“I ask myself, ‘Am I the best person to set our state on a healthier path,’ and I take that part very, very seriously,” she said. “And if there’s something that keeps me up at night as I make that decision, it is that. I think about that a lot.”

She was given an A-minus rating from the NRA, which could go badly in a Democratic primary traditionally dominated by Cook County. She has other conservative votes as well, like voting for a refugee ban in 2015.

But if the votes are split between several Cook candidates, she could have a chance. Deciding this early is understandable, but it doesn’t give the rest of the ticket time to shake itself out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

“The man behind the fiscal fiasco in Illinois”

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Dave McKinney has a long piece for Reuters today about Speaker Madigan

As speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Michael Madigan has outlasted five governors and is now on his sixth. This year, the Chicago Democrat will become longest-serving state or federal House speaker in the United States since at least the early 1800s.

Madigan is to Illinois what his late mentor, Mayor Richard J. Daley, was to Chicago, the state’s great metropolis - a city the political boss once controlled down to the last garbage truck. As speaker for all but two years since 1983, Madigan has directed the fate of key pension, labor and tax laws. As state Democratic Party chairman since 1998, he has shaped the fortunes of his allies and stymied opponents.

But if Daley’s Chicago was “the city that works,” a nickname coined during his tenure, Madigan’s Illinois is the state that doesn’t work. The speaker is one of America’s most powerful politicians, presiding over arguably its most dysfunctional state capital.

Illinois is beyond broke. It is the first state in eight decades to go without an annual budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Its bond ratings, the lowest of any state, are near junk status. It is projected to have a budget deficit this fiscal year of $5.3 billion and owes vendors about $10.8 billion in unpaid bills. […]

No one in modern Illinois politics wields as much legislative power, said David Axelrod, the Chicago-based Democratic political consultant who helped put Barack Obama in the White House.

“In his domain - in terms of the art of keeping and exercising power within that building - he’s incomparable,” Axelrod said, referring to the state capitol in Springfield. “Whatever his complicity in helping to create the problem, he’s also going to be essential to its solution.”

Like I said it’s a long piece so go read the whole thing.

* Two related links by Reuters…

* Madigan’s money maker: lowering property taxes for big business: As Illinois House speaker for more than three decades, Michael Madigan has often worked to raise people’s taxes. As a private attorney, he works to lower them… Between 2004 and 2015, the speaker’s firm won $63.3 million in refunds for clients, according to a Reuters analysis of data from the Cook County treasurer’s office. In 2015, Madigan’s practice ranked second among law firms in total property tax refunds, the county data shows.

* Graphic: Mountains of public debt in Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

* Both chambers are in session today. Follow along in real time with ScribbleLive

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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2017

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CPS students sent home with letter blasting Rauner

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017


Intense rhetoric between Chicago democrats and Illinois’ republican governor is nothing new, but some parents are upset it is now being played out in a letter sent home with their kids. Chicago Public Schools officials sent home a letter with all 381,000 students blasting Gov. Bruce Rauner and ignoring any role democrats may have played in the state’s budget woes.

The “Dear Parents” letter begins by stating “Governor Bruce Rauner, just like President Trump, has decided to attack those who need the most help.” Twice the letter accuses Gov. Rauner of “cheating” children. Once it says the governor “stole” from kids. The letter goes on to cite Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool’s often repeated claim that the governor broke a promise by blocking Chicago from receiving $215 million for city schools.

One CPS parent who contacted WGN wrote: “This is so inappropriate. How can he send political propaganda home?” The letter, paid for by taxpayers, does not mention democrats who have been in control of the city and state legislature for decades.

Government watchdog groups questioned the district’s decision to use such strong partisan language in a letter sent home with kids. “Invoking partisan politics – especially at the national level – is not the most effective way to build trust with parents and students,” said Sarah Brune of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

We’re arrived at a whole new level of weirdness, campers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      

More finger-pointing

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Sun-Times

A day after Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool heightened his war with Gov. Bruce Rauner by blaming him for the school district’s latest financial woes — and likening him to President Donald Trump — Rauner’s education secretary on Tuesday fired back — essentially telling Claypool to look in the mirror.

Education Secretary Beth Purvis released an open letter to CPS parents, placing the blame for the financial mess squarely on CPS’ “continued mismanagement” and calling the latest cuts “curiously timed.”

The letter to parents comes after CPS officials encouraged parents to bombard the governor with phone calls in support of “fair funding.” It also comes during a high pressure week in Springfield, as Illinois Senate leaders try to pass a package of bills meant to end the state’s budget crisis.

In the letter to CPS parents, Purvis called the freezing of as much as $69 million in spending “a shock to all of us.” And she noted that CPS doesn’t have to make its full pension payment until June 30. […]

“Why would CPS arbitrarily create a crisis and hurt its students and teachers rather than work to pass the Senate’s balanced budget reform package?” Purvis wrote.

The full letter is here.

* You’ll get no argument from just about anybody that CPS finances are a mess and have been for a very long time.

And yesterday’s timing may very well be suspicious. CPS’ numbers are so opaque (and I’m being kind) that it’s impossible to determine if all these cuts are necessary or if they’re cutting items for maximum media impact and are using the Rauner bogeyman to mask their own incompetence and/or failure

“He’s clearly adopting Donald Trump’s tactics of attacking vulnerable citizens in order to score political points,” Claypool told reporters. “Just like Trump, [Rauner is] attacking children of immigrants, he’s attacking racial minorities, attacking the poor here in Chicago. In this case it’s children which is particularly shameful.”

Yeah, that’s gonna invite a retaliatory response, which is what Purvis did today.

But, look, if CPS didn’t make cuts and no budget deal is reached by June 30th, then the district may not be able to make its pension payment in four and a half months and that would be a very, very bad thing. These cuts are, ostensibly, at least, meant to avert a potential catastrophe in just a few months. I mean, would you bet on Springfield averting your own personal bankruptcy before June 30th? Of course not. So, on that level, the cuts can be seen as prudent.

* I agree with Purvis that Emanuel and Claypool ought to be far more supportive of the Senate’s work. Don’t just sit up there in Chicago and scream. Activate the troops before Rauner’s allies at the Illinois Chamber, the Illinois Policy Institute, Americans for Prosperity and Liberty Principles PAC kill the Senate plan. Do something positive. If you’re too afraid of Madigan, then push hard for a plan in his chamber. The Rauner veto is a dead horse. It can’t be undone. The only choice anyone has now is to move forward.

And while we’re at it, maybe the governor could say something about his allies’ trashing of the Senate plan? A public brush-back pitch, perhaps? Or maybe pick up the phone to call off the junkyard dogs? Or maybe (gasp!) start working on behalf of the Senate plan like his education secretary wants CPS to do? Unlike Claypool or Emanuel, after all, he actually plays a direct constitutional role in this here crisis.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

How are immigrants and refugees impacted by the impasse?

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* You will recall that yesterday Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged Gov. Bruce Rauner to do three things “to protect all Illinois residents from the harm caused by the executive actions” of President Trump

* Refuse to enter into any agreement that would use Illinois law enforcement authorities as federal immigration officers. Deputizing Illinois law enforcement as immigration officers would not only divert already scarce resources away from public safety efforts and raise serious legal questions, but also undermine the values on which the country was built.

* Strengthen the work performed by the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services within the Illinois Department of Human Services, which assists immigrants and refugees settling in Illinois through training, health screening, citizenship classes and other services. From October 1, 2016 through January, 31, 2017, 1,001 refugees arrived in Illinois.

* Commit to strong enforcement of Illinois’ anti-discrimination laws and bolster efforts to fight hate crimes against all residents across the state, including immigrants and refugees. Illinois’ hate crime statute provides both criminal and civil protections to those who have experienced hate-based harassment, injury and property damage.

* The governor’s office responded after I’d left the office…

The attorney general’s press release is detached from reality and is clearly an attempt to distract from her efforts to stop the pay of state employees and force a crisis in Illinois. The governor has no intention of deputizing the Illinois State Police as immigration officers, has signed legislation to strengthen Illinois’ hate crime statute, and supported the resettlement of thousands of refugees over the last two years.

Well, that’s good to know. State cops have better things to do with their time, particularly in the Chicago area.

* But Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) sent me an e-mail not long ago saying she’d asked staff about the impact that the impasse has had on services for immigrants and refugees. She forwarded me their reply…

Due to the budget impasse and the Administration’s decision to not issue certain contracts, the following programs did not receive funding in FY 16: Welcoming Centers, Immigrant Integration Services, and Refugee Social Services. This equates to $7.7 million that was issued in FY 15, but not in FY 16. These programs were funded in FY 17 due to the Stop Gap Budget, but providers endured a whole year without funding, and services were cut that help immigrants and refugees successfully integrate into the State and become legal citizens.

The stop gap, of course, has now expired.

“So,” Hutchinson wrote, “for all the folks who want to make sure that we cut, here’s one more example of things that got cut. This needs to end.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Lawsuit filed over alleged lottery scam

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Belleville News-Democrat

A class-action lawsuit filed Monday in St. Clair County alleges the company that managed Illinois’ lottery defrauded businesses that sold scratch-off lottery tickets and individuals that purchased the same tickets.

The suit accuses Northstar Lottery Group of manipulating the number of tickets available for purchase.

The complaint alleges that Northstar designed and operated games so that when it calculated that a particular game was financially beneficial to its profit interests, it would stop sales of tickets for that game and actively collect tickets that had been sent to its vendors for sale. Northstar would then simply start a new game and the process would repeat with the new game.

“We allege that when Northstar realized that it was ahead of the consumer in a particular game, meaning it had sold a number of tickets that did not include the winner, it would stop the game and lock in its profits. The winning ticket never got sold,” said Derek Brandt, one of the attorneys on the case, with Brandt Law of Edwardsville. […]

Gov. Bruce Rauner fired Northstar as the state’s private lottery manager in 2015.

The complaint is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Schnorf: “These people can solve this problem”

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Our old buddy Steve Schnorf read my Crain’s Chicago Business column about him yesterday and sent this…

I appreciate Rich’s column. Governor Rauner believes there are things that need to be done to set Illinois on the right path. I think most of us would agree with him on many of them.

At the same time, most of us find some of them unnecessary and beyond the pale. AFSCME needed to be taken to task and their unreasonable expectations rebuffed. But they neither needed nor deserve to be crushed.

In spite of what some posters on this site believe, Mike Madigan is not just an effective leader but also a decent and compassionate man and has been so the entire time I have known him. He does his job well and he will not be pushed around any more than any other leader. In the past, however, he was willing to step up and do deals with the other side because of the pragmatic need to get those deals done.

I digress by reminding us of Rich’s point that “lead” is the root of the word “leadership.”

I’ve known President Cullerton, Leader Durkin and Leader Radogno for years. In my opinion it’s been 30 years or more since we’ve had such a strong leadership group in the General Assembly.

These people can solve this problem, but it won’t be easy. There will have to be significant cuts in spending, there will have to be significant revenue increases and there will have to be significant concessions in areas such as workers’ compensation.

Let me digress briefly once more by saying that I know the labor leaders will have to make all this happen within their ranks and I know they are both capable and willing to do their part.

I hope this is not too offensive to too many people, but it’s the message I believe I have to deliver. Once again, thanks Rich.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

More like this, please

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Doug Wilson at the Herald-Whig took at look at some of what the Illinois Policy Institute’s budget proposal would do to the Quincy area. First up, doing away with municipal government revenue sharing

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said that would cost the city an estimated $3.8 million a year.

“This would obviously be devastating to city services, especially since our share (of) the corporate personal property replacement tax was reduced by $400,000 last fiscal year,” Moore said.

* Now, the property tax freeze

“We’ve worked hard to be conservative stewards of tax dollars … and decreased operating costs by $1.5 million in the last few years. This practice has allowed us to only minimally increase the tax rate when absolutely necessary,” [Mike Elbe, president of John Wood Community College] said.

“If you completely freeze property taxes and combine that with existing lack of state support, it will significantly limit the college’s ability to fund the array of workforce and college transfer programs that currently serve our students and district. The remaining source of funding is student tuition, which is capped at certain levels to maintain accessibility to high-quality education.”

* On to the almost billion dollar cut to higher education

Matt Bierman, interim vice president of administrative services at Western Illinois University in Macomb, said the school already has faced a huge funding shortfall because of the budget battle. An audit of WIU released last week shows that the school has been forced to cut employment and find other ways to eliminate costs.

“We were shorted by about $30 million in 2016 over what we got in 2015. So last year we spent about that much from our reserves,” Bierman said.

I get why university and college presidents are so reticent to talk about this stuff. They don’t want to scare off current or prospective students. But that was a bit on the weak side.

All in all, though, a pretty solid piece. And there’s more, including local legislative react, so click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

Yet another failure

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* This Tribune story about a stalled project at Olive-Harvey College on the city’s South Side of a “Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Center” to train folks for “careers in automotive technology, applied engineering, the repair and maintenance of heavy equipment and supply chain management” is an interesting read.

The story is kinda all over the place, however, so here’s a straighter timeline.

* The project was a partnership between the state and City Colleges announced way back in March of 2012 - almost five years ago - by Gov. Quinn and Mayor Emanuel. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2013. The state share was $31.6 million with City Colleges putting in $13.2 million.

When the budget passed by the General Assembly was vetoed by Gov. Rauner in 2015, the state halted construction on the 60 percent-completed center because it claimed it didn’t have appropriation authority.

In March of 2016, City Colleges and the mayor announced they were taking over the project. By that time, the project needed an additional $23 million to finish, which included $4 million in new costs because the facility was damaged during the eight-month delay.

But the same day of the takeover announcement last year, the Capital Development Board sent the city a letter saying state law required it to supervise construction that involve state funds

“One possible solution is for you or the city to repay the state’s taxpayers for any expenditures to date,” [Jodi Golden, executive director of the state’s Capital Development Board] wrote. “We welcome additional solutions, but must insist on a formal resolution prior to the resumption of any construction in order to comply with state law.”

The City Colleges takeover was no more.

Then, this past August, CDB informed City Colleges that it had funding for the project and also told contractors to get back to work. But that turned out to be a “premature” statement, Golden admitted to the Tribune. Construction didn’t commence.

Last month, CDB formally shelved the project again.

To date, the state has spent $24 million and City Colleges has spent about $2 million, according to the Tribune.

* The finger-pointing from the mayor’s office

“We wouldn’t even be having this conversation had the state managed to live up to the commitment they made, not once but twice, to finish the project that they negotiated in the first place,” Emanuel spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said Monday in a statement. “This is how the state of Illinois treats higher education, and students around the state - at City Colleges, at Eastern, Western, Southern and throughout the University of Illinois system, and at Chicago State - are bearing the brunt as a result.”

The response from the governor’s office

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration said in a statement Monday that the city has said it plans to work with City Colleges to allocate resources to help the Capital Development Board finish the project.

“We are hopeful that City Colleges will partner with the state and we can get this project moving again,” his office said.

* Look, if there are no appropriations, how is the thing supposed to be built? Speaking of which, why did CDB say it had the money last August when it didn’t? Or did it have the money? And color me a tad skeptical of the city’s 2016 announcement that it would complete the project on its own. With what cash?

This is the sort of wholesale failure caused by the impasse and the inability of leaders to work with each other.

But what’s done is done. Instead of pointing fingers, the mayor needs to get involved and help pass a budget. You know, those bills that contain appropriations for things like construction projects.

For instance, where is Mayor Emanuel on the Senate’s grand bargain? Or is he more allied with the House Democrats?

* What we’ve come to in this state is the constant use of bogeymen to mask and/or excuse failure. Gov. Rauner does it with Speaker Madigan on an almost hourly basis. Mayor Emanuel has taken to doing the same with Gov. Rauner.

I prefer leaders who get things done.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Reproductive Health Care for all in Illinois

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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Proft says his donors want GOPs like Radogno who are negotiating “surrender” with Dems “removed from the battlefield”

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* From Dan Proft, in his capacity with Liberty Principles PAC…

Governor Rauner’s posture on current Senate budget negotiations notwithstanding, I have heard from many significant donors on the broad outlines of the deal Sens. Cullerton and Radogno are attempting to forge and push through the Senate. Those donors have made it clear to me that Republican senators who want to negotiate the terms of surrender to Sen. Cullerton and Speaker Madigan–and that is precisely what Sen. Radogno is doing at present–should be removed from the battlefield in favor of those who are willing to fight for the most overtaxed families and overregulated businesses in the country.

Gov. Rauner contributed $2.5 million to Proft’s PAC last year. His PAC has raised $11.3 million since January of 2015, and $14.3 million since 2012.

Gov. Rauner gave the largest single contribution along with Richard Uihlein, who has contributed a grand total of $7 million to the PAC.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

Poll of Illinois Republicans finds support for unions

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Local 150 of the Operating Engineers International Union commissioned a poll of 600 likely Illinois Republican Party primary voters by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, which is a Democratic pollster. The poll was taken January 4-8 and has a margin of error of +/-4.0 percent. 45 percent of respondents were reached on their mobile phones.

From the pollster

• Primary voters are net favorable towards labor unions. A plurality of voters are favorable towards labor unions (46% favorable / 40% unfavorable), driven by stronger support Downstate (49% favorable / 35% unfavorable). This includes many self- described conservatives (41% favorable / 47% unfavorable) who are 61% of GOP primary voters as well as moderates (54% favorable / 31% unfavorable) who make up almost all of the rest (34% of GOP primary voters).

• Support for labor unions is correlated with GOP dislike of Bruce Rauner. Bruce Rauner receives almost unanimous support from the roughly half of GOP primary voters who dislike labor unions (83% favorable / 12% unfavorable), but the half who is favorable towards unions is less positive towards the Governor (68% favorable / 26% unfavorable).

• GOP primary voters hold many pro-labor positions in opposition to the Governor. As with support for unions generally, support for the pro-labor position correlates with personal unfavorability towards Bruce Rauner. […]

• GOP primary voters also support increased spending on infrastructure and anti- outsourcing laws. We have seen similar levels of support for both policies statewide and among Democrats, though these numbers seem to have increased among Republicans since Donald Trump’s nomination and election.

* Questions and answers

Now, I’d like to ask you your impressions of some people active in politics. As I read each one, just tell me whether you have a very favorable opinion, a somewhat favorable opinion, a somewhat unfavorable opinion, or a very unfavorable opinion of each. If you don’t recognize them, just say so. Here is the first one…

Bruce Rauner

    Favorable 75% (Very 37%)
    Unfavorable 18% (Very 10%)
    Can’t rate 7%

Labor unions

    Favorable 46% (Very 13%)
    Unfavorable 40% (Very 20%)
    Can’t rate 14%

Now I’m going to ask you about some policies. Please tell me, for each one, whether you favor or oppose them.

Ending all labor union membership in Illinois

    Favor 28% (Strongly 15%)
    Oppose 62% (Strongly 36%)
    Don’t know 10%

Prevailing wage laws, which mean anyone getting a taxpayer funded contract has to pay their workers at least the average local wage for their job

    Favor 76% (Strongly 49%)
    Oppose 18% (Strongly 8%)
    Don’t know 6%

Ending the right of unions to collectively bargain for pay, benefits, and safety requirements

    Favor 36% (Strongly 20%)
    Oppose 53% (Strongly 29%)
    Don’t know 11%

Increasing spending on roads, bridges, and bridge safety in Illinois

    Favor 80% (Strongly 46%)
    Oppose 14% (Strongly 5%)
    Don’t know 6%

An anti-outsourcing law that would prohibit companies who ship jobs out of Illinois from getting taxpayer funded contracts

    Favor 69% (Strongly 49%)
    Oppose 23% (Strongly 13%)
    Don’t know

That prevailing wage question is a bit on the biased side, but it’s not a bad poll overall.

* Methodology

The following findings are based on a poll of n=600 likely Illinois primary-election voters, defined as having voted in at least one of the past four statewide Republican primaries (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016) and saying they are likely to vote in a 2018 Republican primary election. Respondents were contacted via landline and cellphone. The expected margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level is +4.0% and higher for subgroups.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Only the Senate is in session today. Follow along in real time with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

ILGOP lashes out at Emanuel

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* From the Illinois Republican Party

Madigan’s Mayor Strikes Again
Rahm lectures West Coast Elite while his political fixer foments a crisis at CPS

While his handpicked political fixer was ordering $46 million in avoidable new cuts to Chicago schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was hanging out in California spouting political advice and inadvertently revealing the sad truth that his cuts are all about trying to gain a political advantage.

“Rahm Emanuel could have spent the last two months working to pass the agreed-to comprehensive pension reform deal that would have benefited Chicago Public Schools, but rather than do what is right, Rahm focused on how to cut services and blame someone else,” said Illinois GOP spokesman Aaron DeGroot. “Madigan and the Mayor are playing from the same divisive playbook, trying to create a crisis and hurt people instead of working to find common ground. It’s time for Mayor Emanuel to stop playing the part of Madigan’s junior partner and actually work to get results for his city.”

From his perch at Stanford University yesterday, Mayor Emanuel espoused a political world view of trying to foster disagreement and division. During Emanuel’s political lecturing, his hatchet man was busy slashing school budgets and trying to create a crisis for his boss who infamously advised to never let a serious crisis go to waste.

In case you don’t have your decoder ring handy, the unnamed “handpicked political fixer” and “hatchet man” is Forrest Claypool, to whose campaign committee Bruce Rauner gave $250,000 back in the aughts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

“A man-made byproduct of policy ultimatums placed upon the state’s budget process”

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Reuters

Failure to embrace pending legislation in the Illinois Senate to address the state’s longstanding budget problems would represent a “significant missed opportunity” and risk a credit rating downgrade and hurt economic growth prospects, S&P Global Ratings said on Monday.

S&P, which rates Illinois BBB with a negative outlook, said legislation boosting revenue and ending the state’s budget impasse could improve the near-term fiscal outlook, although a rating upgrade would be at least two years away. […]

S&P chastised Illinois for a fiscal crisis it called “a man-made byproduct of policy ultimatums placed upon the state’s budget process.

“We believe Illinois’ distressed fiscal condition and dysfunctional budget politics now threaten to erode the state’s long-term economic growth prospects,” S&P Managing Director Gabriel Petek said in a statement. [Emphasis added.]

That’s pretty darned direct, scary and spot freaking on.

* Related…

* Why a Leading Illinois Lawmaker Fears Downgrade to Junk: Illinois faces junk ratings without a solution to the state’s 19-month-old budget stalemate, Senate President John Cullerton warned Monday

* Cullerton’s ‘grand bargain’ push: ‘If not this plan, then what?’: Cullerton has always admitted the plan is in flux. A school funding formula bill is still being drafted, after having incorporated suggestions from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s school funding commission. Cullerton said it has the “principles” needed to get support. And a minimum wage hike bill has been eliminated from the plan — due to pressure from national unions to bump the hike to $15 an hour. The sale of the James R. Thompson Center — a plan being pushed by Rauner’s administration and Republican leaders — has also been added to the plan’s revenue bill. An analysis by the state’s Department of Central Management Services found the sale could bring in $220 million — if the building is demolished and rebuilt. It also could bring in $45 million a year in Chicago property taxes, since it will no longer be a state-owned building. And Cullerton told reporters on Monday that the leaders will likely have a “structured roll call” — which would spare some legislators from taking unpopular votes. It would allow senators in safe districts who are likely to be re-elected to take some of the toughest votes.

* Cullerton: ‘If not this plan, then what?’: But though Cullerton got some help from a big New York bond rating agency, the comprehensive package of $6.5 billion in tax hikes, pension changes and spending cuts continues to catch heavy fire. As Cullerton conceded, “We’ll find out in the next few days” whether the plan will fly politically as a solution.

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      

Education funding reform plan to be unveiled

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Geiger and Garcia

Illinois Senate leaders are poised to add a contentious issue to their already complicated attempt to break the budget stalemate in Springfield as they turn their attention this week to changing the formula used to funnel state tax money to schools.

Senate President John Cullerton said Monday that his Democratic lawmakers would be briefed Tuesday on the schools plan as part of the broader, 12-bill package that Cullerton and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno have been pushing as a way out of the state’s 19-month budget impasse. […]

Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill who has long pushed for an education funding overhaul, said that while the schools portion of the package is still in flux, it is likely to mirror the commission’s suggestion that each school district should have its own specialized funding goal. That target would be set using criteria such as the number of children living in poverty and how much money is available from local property taxes, an acknowledgment that it often takes more resources to bring many children in those areas of the state up to speed than in wealthier areas.

But the legislation also would include a so-called hold harmless provision, which means districts wouldn’t receive less state money in the future than they do now, at least at the start. Just how much more money lawmakers would pump into the education system is still up for debate, but any increase likely would have to be phased in over time given the state’s deep budget problems.

* Finke

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, a major proponent of school funding reform, would only say Monday that, “I’ve been working on it every day since the commission finished its work and that continues. I believe the direction coming from both leaders is clear. They want to try to get a bill passed.”

Rauner said he’s still digesting the report from the commission. He also said it wasn’t the commission’s job to draft a bill that could be considered by lawmakers.

“What they did was lay out the parameters for a bill to get drafted,” he said. “I’ll talk to the General Assembly about who should draft. My sense is, I think the senators, I don’t know, I think they’re working on something. If they’d like our administration to draft something, we can do that.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Emanuel on deal-making and dealing with Trump

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel talking about deal-making

“The hotel industry wanted to throttle Airbnb. [But] nobody signs on to a loss. Nobody willingly. . . . I always before we negotiate draw out on a piece of paper, their wins, my wins. Can I give ’em what I think are their wins. Can they give me my wins? And then, how close are we to that kind of ideal paper at the beginning when we get to the end,” the mayor said.

“We did it recently with the teachers. There are things in there the teachers can claim to their members they won fair and square. Not a problem,” he said. “There’s things we won fair and square. Otherwise, it’s not a very good negotiation or a contract. If you try to make the other side lose, it’s not usually a good way to get a deal done and they won’t sign onto it. And if they do sign onto it, it’s because you crushed ’em. And trust me, they’re gonna come back and get you. What goes around comes around.”


* And here’s some of his advice for Democrats in the age of Donald Trump

Stop the blame game. “Democrats love doing a firing squad in the circle. Stop it: ‘They’re too moderate.’ Forget about it. This guy [Trump] and these people are about to do something on the tax code, the regulatory environment and things that are more threatening than what a fellow Democrat might slightly disagree with you on,” Emanuel said.

Pick your battles. “Not every pitch has to be swung at. … We don’t have the power to swing at everything, so you have to pick what is essential,” the mayor said.

Go slow. “Time is not the incumbent party’s friend. Time is the opposition’s friend. Slow. Go slow. They want to rush. We want to go slow. Real slow.”

Drive a wedge every chance you get. “Whenever there’s a disagreement among Republicans, I’m for one of those disagreements. I’m all for it,” the mayor said. “The President wants Russia? I’m with John McCain and Lindsey Graham. I’m for NATO. Why? Wedge. Schisms have to be wedges. Wedges have to be divides and divisions. …We’ve got to lower the President? Why? Because they are strong enough to get him than us. We’re not strong enough.”

* He also said this

“Democrats are at the lowest level since 1928 in the House of Representatives and the lowest level since 1925 in the state houses. … It is hard to imagine it getting lower,” the mayor said.

“It took us a long time to get this low. It ain’t gonna happen in 2018. Take a chill pill, man. You’ve got to be in this for the long haul. And if you think it’s gonna be a quick turnaround like that, it’s not. You have to be part of this for the long haul. … You’re gonna have a success here and a success here, and then you’ll build a critical mass. But it’s worth fighting for. And I think this country is worth fighting for.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Rauner again insists that Mendoza pay workers without an appropriation or court order

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Gov. Rauner visited the SJ-R editorial board yesterday

Rauner said it is “fundamentally wrong” that some people are arguing that state employees not get paid even though they are on the job every day. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is seeking to dissolve a court order that said workers would get paid even without a state budget in place. The state Supreme Court ruled last year in another case that workers cannot get paid without an appropriation approved by the legislature. […]

Still, Rauner said, “[State legislators] get paid no matter what. And they work part time And many would argue they’re not really doing their jobs, but they made sure they get paid no matter what.”

Rauner said that even if the order is dissolved, Comptroller Susana Mendoza should continue to pay workers.

“It is not right to cut off state employee pay when they are working,” he said.

OK, first of all, state employees won’t be working if they aren’t being paid. You can’t force someone to work without paying them. Google: “1865.”

And if Comptroller Mendoza paid state bills without an appropriation or a court order, she could be impeached. But what does the governor think? Should she pay the social service groups that have contracts but no line items? He apparently hasn’t yet been asked that question. But he was asked this

Asked if human services programs and higher education should also be put under a continuing appropriation to ensure they will be paid without a budget, Rauner said only, “There are many things that get continuing appropriations.”

Great answer. /s

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Republicans say there are problems with Democratic payroll bill

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* I told subscribers about this yesterday

Gov. Rauner’s administration is raising concerns about a plan the House Democrats are pushing to free up money for employee paychecks after Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked a court to block salaries unless lawmakers approved a spending plan.

The Democratic legislation has “a lack of clarity,” according to a review by the governor’s budget office that was included in an analysis of the bill prepared for Republican lawmakers. Among the issues raised is uncertainty about whether the bill earmarks enough money to cover all employee salaries and a lack of funding for contractual workers.

The analysis also noted that some paychecks would be covered by dollars taken from the state’s road fund, which can no longer be tapped to pay for services that aren’t related to transportation under a constitutional amendment voters approved in the November election. However, the analysis notes that restriction could be addressed if the road fund money was used to pay salaries of police and workers in the transportation department.

The evaluation comes as the GOP pushes an alternative plan to keep paychecks flowing by changing state law to ensure salaries are paid regardless of whether or not lawmakers have agreed on a budget plan.

The bill is here. As an example, the Department of Corrections is appropriated just $258,200 for payroll.

* From the analysis

* It is unclear if the amounts in the bill are meant to be an amount needed for the remainder of the fiscal year, and are in addition to amounts that have already been allocated under court order, or if the amounts represent spending including sums allocated under the court order.

* The amounts for some agencies, including the Department of Corrections and the Attorney General, represent a small portion of actual funds needed.

* Some agencies lack appropriations entirely, including DCFS, DJJ and the State Board of Elections. This appears to be because such expenditures would be covered by separate consent decrees.

* Narrative language does not allow payments for contractual personnel services, which are utilized by some agencies.

* Narrative language leaves ambiguity regarding if payments are limited to payroll or could include payments for group insurance claims.

The HGOP proposal, which is basically a continuing approp through the end of the fiscal year, is here. The analysis is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

* Some Capitol Fax subscribers received an e-mail today from Dianna Donaker entitled “Documents” with a pdf attachment. This is a personal G-Mail account of someone who works for a company I use for bookkeeping.

I am told the account was hacked. Do NOT open the e-mail or the attachment.

We’re working right now to figure out if the attachment contained a virus or is benign. I’m sorry for any problems this might create. I’ll let you know more when I know more.

*** UPDATE ***  From the company that handles bookkeeping…

The attachment does not contain a virus. This is a phishing scam trying to get Google login info. It asks you to login to view the doc.

So, don’t open it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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

Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017

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

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* *** UPDATED x2 *** How independent is Madigan's new independent counsel?
* Fourth Legionnaires’ case confirmed at Quincy veterans' home
* Biss endorsed by Sierra Club
* Question of the day
* Two Metro East GOP primaries take sharp turns toward weirdness
* Rotheimer becomes issue in Rep. Hammond's primary
* Agencies a no-show for Senate hearing on Quincy veterans' home
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition and other campaign news
* Rauner on pension cost-shift's impact on property taxes: "It'll help bring them down"
* *** UPDATED x4 - Cassidy explains - Madigan responds - Mendoza, Bustos and Ammons issue statement - Sen. Bush echoes demand *** Rep. Cassidy wants independent probe into "culture that appears to pervade the organizations led by Speaker Madigan"
* Ives, Kennedy up with two new ads
* Raoul donates Decremer contribution to TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund
* Candidates lash out at Pritzker after WCIA cancels debate
* More on Gov. Rauner's budget proposal
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** UPDATED x1 - Madigan responds *** Madigan operative removed from campaigns after complaints, Biss demands resignation of party chairmanship
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner slammed from the right over Janus case
* *** UPDATED x3 - IDCCA clarifies - Biss buy - Quinn responds *** Holiday Monday quick takes: Rotering's new ad slams Quinn; Biss is up on Downstate TV; Pritzker reloads; Daily Journal endorses Ives; IDCCA unveils zero-tolerance policy and pledge
* Konkol out at Chicago Reader after "tumultuous ten days"
* Madigan asks Bustos, Mendoza and Ammons to "develop a plan for elevating the status of women in the party"
* Saturday quick hits: Mendoza wants Quincy veterans moved; Biss and Raoul report big bucks; Reader cover fallout intensifies
* Yesterday's stories

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* (No heading)
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» Lawmaker Rips Rauner On Legionnaires' Response At Vets' Home
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» After Husband's DUI, Supreme Court OKs Seizure Of Wife's Harley
» Setting the Record Not-So-Straight: Rights Group Pushes Inclusive History in IL Classrooms
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* Madigan's leadership becomes Democratic primary litmus test amid handling of harassment complaints
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* (No heading)
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