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Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Sunny Sweeney will play us out

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x2 - Cochran apologizes - ILGOP responds *** Mendoza wrongly claims Rauner laughed at “rape culture” comment

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Media advisory…

WOMEN’S ADVOCATES JOIN COMPTROLLER MENDOZA TO ADDRES RAPE CULTURE LANGUAGE

WHO: Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza
Rev. Marvin Hunter of Grace Memorial Baptist Church
Dr. Phalese Binion, Executive Director of Westside Baptist Ministers
Kathy Ragnar, Executive Director of Sarah’s Circle
Vickie Smith, Executive Director of ICADV
Rev. Stanley Watkins of New Covenant Baptist Church

WHAT: Women’s advocates will hold a news conference on the last day of Women’s History Month about rape culture language.

WHERE: James R. Thompson Center
15th Floor

WHEN: Friday, March 31, 2017
3:00pm – 4:00pm

ICADV is the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Sarah’s Circle provides services to homeless women.

* Here’s the full video of the presser from Comptroller Mendoza’s Facebook page

* So, what is this about? Well, you’ll recall that a recent Quad City Times editorial referred to Mendoza as a “slave” to Speaker Madigan.

Mendoza demanded an apology from the editorial board today.

* As we discussed yesterday, Mendoza called out the Illinois Republican Party for its Statehouse tracker video of her getting into her state-paid SUV by tweeting “Way to creepily stalk me.” CBS 2 Chicago picked up the story.

Today, Mendoza asked, “What’s next? My house? My family?” Good questions.

* But then we get to the “news” portion of the news conference. Gov. Rauner appeared on the Steve Cochran WGN Radio program earlier this week. After discussing Rauner’s new “duct tape” TV ads and then Rauner’s ongoing spat with Mendoza, Cochran said this

Maybe you could take, I was gonna suggest maybe you can take some of that duct tape you’re working with and put it over her mouth. But that probably wouldn’t be appropriate.

Ugh. What sort of person says something like that during a supposedly professional radio broadcast?

So, Mendoza rightly demanded an apology from Cochran today for “casually” suggesting that Rauner duct tape her mouth closed.

But Mendoza also claimed that Rauner “laughed right along with” Cochran. From her press release…

I am calling on WGN, on radio host Steve Cochran, and on Governor Rauner to issue an apology. Not for me, but for the millions of women who’ve been victims of violence or sexual abuse, who could turn the radio on, and hear a radio personality suggest to the Governor that duct tape be used to silence a woman and rather than have the Governor denounce that type of language, instead laugh right along with him. Rape culture language is not a laughing matter and it’s never OK.

She repeated the claim that Rauner laughed later in the press conference.

* I knew this was coming, so I isolated the audio. The first time I listened, I thought I heard Rauner laughing. But then I listened again a few more times and heard Rauner coughing and letting out a quick groan. He didn’t seem to enjoy the humor

Raw audio is here.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Tribune

Asked for comment, Rauner’s office referred questions to the Illinois Republican Party, which the governor largely funds. GOP spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski issued a statement in which she said the governor “doesn’t chuckle” at the radio host’s remark.

“Here we go again. Another absurd rant from Susana Mendoza. Instead of encouraging Speaker Madigan and fellow Democrats to come to the table and pass a budget with real reforms, Mendoza is spending her taxpayer funded time coming up with wild, defamatory accusations about the governor,” the statement read in part. “It’s a ploy to distract from the fact that she has no productive solutions to Illinois’ crisis.”

Todd Manley, vice president of content and programming for WGN-AM, said Cochran planned to apologize for the comments.

“It was an unfortunate choice of words, there is no way around it. He should have never said it, and it’s as simple as that,” Manley said. “I know Steve regrets it.”

Manley is right. But since when has the ILGOP been about “productive solutions” to anything here? Asking for a friend.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Steve Cochran…

I made a comment earlier this week while Governor Bruce Rauner was a guest on my show that has been misrepresented by Comptroller Susana Mendoza today.

The comment the Comptroller is apparently referring to was meant to be about my opinion that there is far too much grandstanding and not enough action by those in power to fix our state budget disaster.

I chose the words poorly and Ms. Mendoza was offended by it. I apologize.

Furthermore the words were mine and mine alone.

I must add the following. I grew up in a house where I witnessed violence by my father against my mother. Nothing is more offensive to me.

I have worked with agencies to raise funds and awareness to this cause. I have contributed my time and money to this fight. I have used my platform as a public person to speak out on this scourge for more than 30 years.

As a husband, father, and grandfather to two amazing women and 1 incredible little girl, I’m proud of the work I’ve done and continue to do on this cause.

My hope is that the leaders in state Government will work just as hard to finally finish a budget that will in part help fund the cause of stopping violence against women and helping the victims who are still in jeopardy.

Neither the Comptroller nor her office made any attempt to contact me prior to her public statement today. She is welcome on the show to continue this discussion in person and I hope she will join me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Another hostage goes down

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* CJE SeniorLife was founded decades ago by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. The impasse has forced it to close down its personal care program

This has been a very challenging year for CJE SeniorLife and other health and human service providers due to the financial situation in the State of Illinois. Consequently, after extensive deliberation by the Executive Committee of CJE’s Board of Directors along with Senior Leadership, CJE has made the difficult decision to close its Personal Care Program as of April 28, 2017. As a result, CJE will terminate the Managed Community Care Program (MCCP) contract and its Title III B chore housekeeping contract. Earlier this year, CJE closed its Community Care Program (CCP) that provided in-home personal care services through the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) in order to contain its losses.

Since July 2016, however, CJE has been reimbursed less than 40% of what is owed for providing vital home and community-based services that are funded through state contracts… and the State budget situation is not anticipated to be resolved in the near future. All of CJE’s valiant efforts over the past nine months to reach out to the Illinois Department on Aging, State legislators and the Comptroller’s office to get reimbursed for services have been unsuccessful. As a non-profit organization, CJE simply does not have the resources to provide these services indefinitely without jeopardizing the viability of the entire organization which annually serves more than 23,000 seniors with a wide-range of health and human services.

By closing the access to these vital in-home services, CJE will no longer provide in-home services or care management to approximately 265 low-income and at-risk older adults living in the community. These vulnerable and frail older adults will need to be transferred to new providers in a service network that is shrinking daily as more providers cancel State contracts due to lack of payment. This action also impacts approximately 86 of CJE’s full-time and part-time in-home employees who will lose their jobs.

According to Mark D. Weiner, CJE’s President and CEO: “This was an extremely heart wrenching decision for our Board and senior leadership team. CJE was founded 45 years ago with the mission to provide services and programs that would facilitate the independence of older adults in our community. Home and community-based services have been the cornerstone of our agency’s work and we know for a fact that it is more cost-effective for people to age-in-place than move to a nursing home. But our State’s fiscal crisis is causing us to cut a vital program and while we are committed to protecting our mission, we also have to be financially prudent.”

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Press release…

Governor Rauner today toured the Illinois Science and Technology Park and discussed changes to increase job growth and the importance of innovation and technology in Illinois economy.

“The Illinois Science and Technology Park is on the forefront of innovation to help grow Illinois. This facility allows for smaller companies to grow and flourish,” said Governor Rauner. “In order to move Illinois forward, we have to continue to invest in small businesses that our transforming our economy. We need to make structural changes to get our state back on track.”

As part of the tour, Governor Rauner met with employees and discussed the administration’s plan to create good-paying jobs and strengthen our schools. The administration has delivered unprecedented funding for grade schools and put more emphasis on apprenticeships to create a well-trained workforce. Currently, the administration is working to cut the red tape in state agencies and making it easier for people to do their jobs in a safe and efficient way.

The Illinois Science and Technology Park is a corporate research campus with multi-user wet-lab research and office space for life science and technology companies. Approximately 1,400 jobs are based in the park with 25 different companies including LanzaTech, Northshore University Health System and start-ups from Northwestern University.

Attached pictures may be used for publication.

* One of the attached photos…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Manar won’t run for governor

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Not a surprise…

Today, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced that he will continue serving Central Illinois families as State Senator for the 48th District. Manar, who publicly explored the possibility of running for Governor, has recently been focused on overhauling the state’s school funding system and reaching a resolution to the budget impasse.

Senator Manar issues the following statement:

“Our state and our nation today face generational challenges. Illinois continues to operate without a budget, our economy continues to lag behind our neighboring states and the nation as a whole, and our schools continue to shortchange children in nearly all but the most well-off suburban Chicago districts.

“Our governor, two years into his term, has failed to grow into the leadership role we so desperately need, instead choosing to use his ample wealth and the position in which the people entrusted him to put partisan politics in their most foolish, destructive forms ahead of substantive negotiation and competent reforms.

“The legislature, to be sure, is not blameless. But absent even a hint of leadership from the governor, there is little direction, and even less progress.

“For the last several months, many have asked if I planned to challenge Governor Rauner.

“I will not be a candidate for governor in 2018.

“As a husband, a father of three young children, and as the State Senator of the 48th District, a long, expensive campaign for governor would be unfair, both to my family, and to the people who have elected me to help create jobs, get our state’s finances under control, and create a fair school funding formula, an issue for which I have a great deal of passion.

“I will continue to be a strong voice for the citizens of Central Illinois. The families I represent, and working families throughout the state bear no responsibility in the dysfunction of Springfield. And yet they bear nearly all of the burdens of a government that refuses to get its act together. It’s unjust. And it’s not who we are as Illinoisans or as Americans.

“I won’t stop fighting for you. And despite the seemingly impossible situation we find ourselves in, I truly believe in our people and I believe we can strengthen all of our schools, create broad economic opportunities, and restore the lost pride in this great state.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


7 shot dead and barely a peep is heard

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Can you imagine if seven people had been shot dead in an eight-block radius by foreign terrorists? There would be a massive response from every level of government with huge media headlines and frantic updates. Everybody from the president and the FBI Director on down to US Senators, to congressmen, to the US Attorney, to the governor, to the mayor, to legislators, to the aldermen would’ve taken their turns in front of the microphones.

Instead, except for the mayor’s response, it’s just another day on the South Side of Chicago

When the shooting stopped, two young men lay dead inside the South Shore restaurant Thursday afternoon, another was dead outside and a fourth was found dead around the corner, slumped against a tree.

Paramedics draped a sheet over the man outside the Nadia Fish and Chicken restaurant at 75th Street and Coles Avenue as his mother grieved. […]

Officers ran toward a commotion farther south and found the fourth victim behind an apartment building on Coles, slumped against a tree. It was the woman’s other son. […]

The shooting may have been part of an internal gang conflict involving the Black P Stones gang, in retaliation for the killing of a 37-year-old man in the 7900 block of South Phillips Avenue about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, police sources said.

* But, wait, that’s not all. Three more people were murdered in that same neighborhood, including a pregnant woman

Seven people, including a pregnant woman, were killed in three separate shootings that happened within 12 hours of each other on Thursday in South Shore.

The attacks took place in an eight-block radius in the neighborhood, but Chicago Police have not said if they were related. No arrests had been made as of Friday morning.

* Related…

* Mark Brown: Untold harm from buying guns legally in Indy to sell here: “There are a lot of people in Indiana selling guns for profit,” Jackson said. “Not everybody’s getting caught.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Where’s Roger?

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* New York Times reporter Julie Bosman

It was supposed to be an easy glide to yet another term for the longtime mayor of this suburb of Chicago. But then Mayor Roger Claar helped throw a fund-raiser for Donald J. Trump and things got complicated. Here is the story of one village election on Tuesday that has become as much about Mr. Trump as the candidates on the ballot.

• The Race: Mayor Claar, 71, an old-school pol, is running for his ninth term, but Jackie Traynere, 54, a labor organizer, is mounting an ambitious challenge.

• Ms. Traynere was so mad about the fund-raising event last fall that she decided to run against Mr. Claar. The Democratic apparatus in Illinois — senators, members of Congress, you name it — is lining up behind her.

• Mayor Claar hasn’t answered our requests for an interview, so we’re hoping to catch up with him today.

Click here or here to follow Julie on her Bolingbrook tour today.

* Traynere has sent over a dozen mailers during the campaign. She’s raised over $130K, I’m told, mostly in small contributions.

Several of her mailers are about Claar’s support for Trump in a town which went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton (click here for one example). Those mailers are designed, I’m told, to catch the interest of voters so that they can move on to other issues, particularly the town’s huge debt (click here for one example).

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


The peril of deliberate budgetary inaction

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* CBS 2 interviewed University of Illinois at Springfield political science professor emeritus Kent Redfield about the impasse

Redfield said a lot of knowledgeable people in Springfield believe Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers won’t settle on a state budget before the next election in 2018.

“It’s very, very difficult to be both in campaign mode; and then be trying to put together the kind of negotiation, compromise, sharing of the pain, and extending the kind of trust that makes these bargains,” he said.

The state’s current backlog of $14 billion in unpaid bills could balloon to $28 billion by the time the next governor and Illinois General Assembly are sworn in in January 2019.

“A new governor in 2019, whoever that is, could be in the middle of a fiscal year that has no budget, but would be looking at $28 billion of unpaid bills,” he said.

The Democratic candidates need to start talking more about this other than just yelling at Gov. Rauner. Surely, they don’t want to inherit such a fiscal disaster. The tax hikes and cuts needed to extricate ourselves would be beyond punitive. And it’ll be even tougher to accomplish if Illinois bonds are downgraded to junk status by then.

* Meanwhile, the Northwest Municipal Conference sent a bulletin to its members today about Sen. Bill Brady’s new budget proposals…

Two of these bills are of particular concern to local governments. Senate Bill 2181 (Sen. Bill Brady) includes a 10% reduction in the LGDF beginning on July 1, 2017. Senate Bill 2178 (Sen. Bill Brady), creates the Budget Management and Control Act and grants the Governor extraordinary emergency powers to transfer funds and dictate cuts. The legislation does not make any specific cuts to state collected local government revenues; however, provides that the Governor could transfer up to $1 billion from “any funds held by the Treasurer” to the General Revenue Fund. Consequently, the bill could subject critical local revenues such as the LGDF, Sales Tax, Use Tax, the Personal Property Replacement Tax (PPRT) and others to reallocation.

The NWMC strongly believes that state should not look to solve its budget problems with local revenues. Such an action would merely shift the burden to local governments. If these revenues are lost, local leaders will be left with difficult choices: defer infrastructure investments; further reduce services upon which our residents and businesses rely; or, raise revenues (although multiple legislative proposals seek to eliminate this option, leaving severe cuts and service reductions as only ways to respond). These are completely unacceptable choices to impose on fiscally responsible communities.

Look, if people are gonna get haircuts, then everybody should take one.

The problem here, of course, is that Gov. Rauner wants to take state money away from local governments while simultaneously imposing a permanent, or at least 5-year property tax freeze. That’ll be difficult, to say the least, without radical reductions to employee rights, pay and benefits.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Pritzker vows to fight Rauner consolidation move

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Tina Sfondeles

Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to sign an executive order on Friday to consolidate the Human Rights Commission into the state’s Department of Human Rights — a move his administration says will help to expedite discrimination complaints.

Rauner’s administration says there are more than 1,000 cases pending at the Human Rights Commission, which adjudicates complaints of civil rights violations based on protected classes in employment, real estate transactions, financial credit, public accommodations and education.

The average time after filing a charge of discrimination is more than four years, the administration says. And the backlog is being blamed on “inefficient communication and sharing resources” between the two entities.

“I think this will be better for people who have been discriminated against, and also better for employers so their liabilities aren’t growing,” said Jay Shattuck, executive director of the Employment Law Council. The council represents Illinois businesses on employment law topics. […]

While the two are meant to act as checks and balances to one another, the administration says the consolidation will not compromise the commission’s independent review of the cases.

Jay is a very pro-business type.

* JB Pritzker weighed in…


Hmm. Maybe now that he’s weighing in on state policy, he can answer my question about legalizing pot.

* Anyway, the ILGOP quickly fired back with some oppo…


A political party claiming that money buys appointments. OK.

* Either way, Pritzker was appointed to the commission in 2003. According to the Illinois State Board of Elections’ website, Pritzker gave RRB $10K in 2002. The rest of his contributions came in 2005 and 2006. He left the commission in July of 2006.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Rauner, Dems raise money ahead of deadline

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* The end of the quarter is today, so that means a big push is on to raise campaign money before the contribution reporting period deadline. Here’s the Tribune

Going into Friday, Pawar has reported $160,542 in contributions of $1,000 or more this year.

Another Democratic candidate, Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy, emailed supporters Thursday with a nod to the deadline.

“My campaign staff wanted me to send out one of those end-of-quarter emails to convince you of the urgency of the moment,” Kennedy said. “I told them, we should send out an email that treats people like adults, with respect, and recognizes that every American today understands the urgency of this moment.” […]

Rauner has raised $16,000 in large donations so far this year. But his re-election campaign fund started the year with $50.8 million — with $50 million coming from Rauner’s pocket in December.

Rauner was the guest of honor at a Thursday night fundraiser where tickets topped out at $40,000.

* Ald. Pawar poked a little fun at the governor’s fundraiser yesterday while simultaneously showing why so many Democrats are leery of the unknown, under-financed candidate…


* A group of labor union protesters showed up to picket Rauner’s fundraiser, but he apparently avoided them…



* From the Kurt Summers campaign last night…

We have an important fundraising deadline coming up tomorrow, and I need your help. Our message of fighting for those who need it most and putting people over politics is already gaining traction! The end of the quarter deadline will help us show that our efforts are funded by people like you, not by millionaires and corporations.

If you pitch in $15, $50, or $100 today, it will send a message to Governor Rauner and Trump’s Republican pals in Illinois that we are standing up against unbalanced budgets, attacks on working people, and their failed leadership.

* Chris Kennedy…

Illinoisans have lost faith in our political system. Instead of seeing government as a force for leveling the playing field and creating opportunity, they see the growing dominance of a small group of wealthy individuals who use government as a tool to grow their own personal wealth. They see a small group of wealthy friends seeking to protect what they have, even if they have to impoverish the rest of our citizens to do so.

The result is an agenda that destroys the American Dream by cutting off support for education, defunding programs that help the poor, decimating unions, opposing the minimum wage, and sabotaging our job-creating economic engines like community colleges and universities.

Already, our campaign has more contributors in 6 weeks than Rauner received during the entire first year of his first campaign for governor.

That’s because this campaign isn’t about me or Governor Rauner – it’s about you and the future we need to build for Illinois. This state has given me enormous opportunities. The kind of opportunities all citizens deserve.

Please contribute before today’s midnight reporting deadline to restore faith in our politics and rebuild our future.

I haven’t received anything from the Biss campaign in the past 24 hours or so. But maybe I’m not on that list.

…Adding… I’m not on the Biss list, so this was forwarded to me by a helpful reader…

Today’s the quarterly fundraising deadline — which may not be such a big deal if you’re a millionaire or billionaire who can fund your campaign with your own personal wealth, or with now-legally-unlimited contributions from all your wealthy friends.

On the other hand… if you’re a former math professor trying to build a movement of people to take back their state from money and the machine, today’s deadline turns out to be pretty important.

Daniel may not have millions of dollars in personal wealth, but he has you — this rapidly growing movement of people ready to build a new politics in Illinois. And today is our first real test.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Edgar to Springfield: Do your job

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Haley BeMiller at the Tribune

Democrats and Republicans briefly put aside their differences Thursday to honor a longtime Springfield insider known for working across the aisle, saying his pragmatic approach should serve as inspiration to break the unprecedented budget impasse.

Stephen Schnorf spent 22 years in state government and held a variety of positions during his tenure, including budget director under former Republican Govs. Jim Edgar and George Ryan. Schnorf died last month of pancreatic cancer.

His memorial was held in an ornate committee room, a rare honor that drew a crowd of family, friends and colleagues, including Edgar and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. As speakers reflected on their fond memories of Schnorf, some pointed to his ability to rise above partisan politics to solve problems. […]

Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, echoed Edgar’s sentiments, calling Schnorf “the soldier for the state of Illinois.”

“He was a doer, a thinker and also a strategist of how to make this great state work for all of us,” he said. “Not red, not blue – make our state work for us.”

If you missed it yesterday, the event can be seen by clicking here.

* Gov. Edgar recounted a long list of his administration’s achievements, attributing many of them to Schnorf. He also referenced a poll taken at the end of his tenure by the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University which showed, he said, that “the public overwhelmingly thought that Illinois government was doing their job. The best numbers we ever received before or since. And, again, Steve deserves a lot of credit for that.”

I found a reference to that poll in Jim Nowlan’s book “Fixing Illinois: Politics and Policy in the Prairie State.” According to the book, the poll found that 51 percent of Illinoisans were satisfied with the state’s direction, compared to 10 percent who weren’t satisfied.

Imagine that. Half the people liked the direction of the state. Now, compare that to a poll taken earlier this month

(W)ould you say that things in Illinois are going in the right direction, or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?

    12% RIGHT DIRECTION
    82% WRONG TRACK
    4% NO OPINION (DO NOT READ)
    2% REFUSED (DO NOT READ)

Ugh.

* More from Edgar’s speech

You win elections so you have power, so you can get things done, you can solve problems, you can help people.

Now, nobody was more partisan in an election up to election day than Steve. But the day after the election, he’d put the partisanship aside and was willing to reach out and was willing to work with the other side to find solutions to the problems.

You know, people today forget that state government used to work in Illinois. Back in the 1990s it worked pretty well. It wasn’t perfect, we had our partisan battles, we didn’t get everything right. But at the end of the day, we came together in a bipartisan manner, in a timely manner and solved the problems and the state moved on.

And a major reason for that was Steve. […]

Our unemployment rate in the last half of the 90s was below the national average. That’s something that has never happened before in Illinois history and it hasn’t happened since. […]

We left a billion and a half dollar surplus when we left in ‘99. As budget director, Steve had a lot to do with that.

…(I)n the early years we had to lay off thousands of people because the state was basically bankrupt. Steve had to administer that through CMS. But the whole time, through all those difficult situations, we had a very civil relationship with the state employees’ union. Again, I give Steve a lot of credit for that.

* And this is how he ended his speech

Success will only occur when hundreds of people, both elected and appointed, both Republicans and Democrats, both executive branch and legislative branch do their job - working together, setting aside personal agendas and solving problems.

Nobody in Illinois state government, nobody did his job better than my friend Steve Schnorf.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


More bad news for higher education

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* The Southern

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn on Wednesday issued a difficult directive to the Carbondale campus to identify $30 million in potential cuts to address a structural deficit caused by a double whammy of declining enrollment and the “governmental abomination” playing out in Springfield.

The arduous undertaking has been underway for months, but Dunn, in a letter to the campus community, put a hard number to the immediate call for cuts: $30 million in cost reductions to be identified by July 1, on top of the $21 million in cuts the university previously identified.

Dunn also is planning to recommend that SIU Board of Trustees members declare a short-term financial emergency for the Carbondale campus. Dunn said that would signify that the Carbondale campus is operating in deficit mode — it will potentially dip into the red next month — and serve as a warning system to indicate that an even more serious situation could be on the horizon without corrective action. […]

“There’s no way you can cut $30 million dollars out of a human capital enterprise and not have it affect personnel,” Dunn said, in an interview. “There’s no way to do it otherwise.”

Colwell echoed that sentiment in his letter. The “challenging and painful” reductions “will almost certainly include layoffs,” according to Colwell.

That’s a 15.9 percent cut for Carbondale, by the way.

* WSIL TV

Dunn blames three factors for the impact here:

    - the state budget impasse
    - declining enrollment
    - the fact that the Carbondale campus has already tapped out about $80 million in reserves the school must now pay back.

…Dunn went on to say that if the university is in this mess six months from now, then its the fault of the state.

Their enrollment problems are at the heart of this situation. The impasse ain’t helping, however. There is zero certainty in higher ed right now. If I was a parent with a college-bound student, I think I’d be reluctant to recommend an Illinois school.

* Dunn also wants the Edwardsville campus to loan Carbondale some money

In his email column, “The System Connection,” Dunn said he is proposing a short-term financial emergency for the university. Dunn said Carbondale will be asking for a loan of unrestricted funds from the Edwardsville campus.

“I fully understand there may be keen frustration — if not anger — at the fact that earlier cost-cutting efforts and strong enrollments at Edwardsville are being rewarded with that financial strength achieved now benefiting another campus … one which has shied away from making some difficult decisions over the past many years,” Dunn said in the column.

In Chancellor Randy Pembrook’s response to the announcement, he said he understands the potential frustration from the Edwardsville campus.

“At this point in time, we have an important role to play as part of the SIU System. Our campus’ financial strength will be critical to the system as we wait for a budget resolution from Springfield,” Pembrook said.

* And then there’s the medical school

The $2.2 million in additional cuts that are being considered for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine related to the ongoing state budget crisis could lead to an undetermined number of layoffs, the medical school’s dean says.

“We’re really going to try to avoid anything massive,” dean and provost Dr. Jerry Kruse said Thursday. […]

Pay for SIU faculty doctors has been cut 5 percent, many positions vacated through attrition haven’t been filed, and several departments have been restructured to become more efficient, he said. […]

At least five to eight SIU surgeons have resigned over the past 20 months because of the budget uncertainty, he said.

The SJ-R also reports that a lot of new medical school graduates are choosing to leave Illinois for residencies in other states. Just 21 percent of graduating students signed up for Illinois residencies this year, compared to previous averages of between 38-45 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Rauner’s Acting Labor Director bails after six weeks

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* From a February 17th press release…

Governor Bruce Rauner today announced that Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano will be transitioning out of state government.

Governor Rauner has designated Anna Hui as the Acting Director of the Department of Labor. Hui is the current Assistant Director of the Department of Labor. Hui’s experience at the state and U.S. Department of Labor make her an excellent choice to lead the department.

* Yesterday’s report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Gov. Eric Greitens has tapped Anna Hui, acting director of the Illinois Department of Labor, to head Missouri’s labor department.

Calling her a “fearless change agent” in an announcement Thursday, Greitens also said Hui’s appointment marks the first time in Missouri history that an Asian-American has served in a governor’s cabinet.

“We are honored to have her join us to shake up Jefferson City and bring some much needed reforms to the Missouri Department of Labor,” Greitens said in a statement. […]

Hui also served under two other Republican governors in Illinois – as special assistant to the governor for Asian-American affairs under Gov. Jim Edgar, and as a senior member of Gov. George Ryan’s Washington, D.C. policy team.

Organized labor was gearing up for a state Senate confirmation battle against Hui, which may have played into this.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Rauner to make ALPLM a separate agency

Friday, Mar 31, 2017

* Finke

Gov. Bruce Rauner is moving ahead with plans to make the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum a separate state agency.

Rauner will issue an executive order Friday making the ALPLM a standalone facility, an idea first floated three years ago by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

Rauner’s order will also place the remaining functions of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency under the Department of Natural Resources. […]

The administration says the new management structure should save $3.2 million annually, even though the ALPLM will need to add eight positions to cover support operations that it did not have to handle before.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Steve Schnorf’s “celebration of life”

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* The program will begin at 2 o’clock. Many thanks to BlueRoomStream.com for making this live feed available


- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


People, we really need a budget

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* Total year-over-year change in non-farm jobs from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Click the pic for a better image

Hmm, let’s see… Job losses in Bloomington and Carbondale, with weak performance in Champaign?

If only there were some major, fully funded state universities in those towns which could spur some much-needed economic growth.

Also, Peoria and Decatur both have private universities, both of which likely have MAP Grant-reliant students.

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


Rauner again hammers Mendoza over tech funding

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* Tweet…


* Press release…

The Rauner Administration released the following statement regarding the Auditor General’s release of the Statewide Single Audit report. The state’s lack of a centralized financial system has caused years of repeated audit findings, which can be resolved by fully implementing ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning. The following is attributable to Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis:

“The audit finding in the report perfectly illustrates why Illinois needs to modernize our antiquated technology systems. We continue to be baffled by Comptroller Mendoza’s decision to halt payments on technology upgrades that will bring more financial transparency and accountability to the State of Illinois. Making these upgrades will allow the Governor’s Office and every executive branch agency the ability to quickly prepare and complete accurate financial records that the people of the state deserve.”

The audit is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Because…. Madigan!

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* The Illinois Republican Party got itself involved in some Schaumburg Township trustee races and is using a familiar storyline…

I’ve heard of sins of the father, but not sins of the son.

* Dan Murray is the father of my former intern Mike Murray. Mike helped run former Sen. Dan Kotowski’s campaign in 2012 and was Rep. Fred Crespo’s campaign manager in 2016. Crespo won with 63 percent, so it’s not like this was some hugely targeted race. I barely remembered Mike was working there because I don’t think I ever actually reported on that no-contest race.

But, hey, “Madigan” is one of our state’s favorite pejoratives these days.

Also, Zuhair Nubani is an attorney. Never met the guy, don’t know him. But some background on that particular ILGOP claim is here and here.

…Adding… From Zuhair Nubani…

In my 25 years as a practicing attorney I have represented many clients across a wide spectrum of races, religions and creeds. Unlike my opponents I believe everyone in the United States has a fundamental right to legal counsel regardless of their race, religion or political belief. Bigotry and fear mongering has no place in our society

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Mendoza responds *** Republicans put Statehouse tracker on Mendoza

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* Press release…

SPOTTED: Mendoza’s “LOADED” Taxpayer Funded SUV
Mendoza Used Taxpayer Dollars to Buy $32,000 SUV With Heated Leather Seats, Navigation, Power Trunk

Last month, Comptroller Susana Mendoza drew heat for using taxpayer dollars just weeks into office to buy herself a $32,000 luxury featured SUV, sending her staff with a check to pay for the car in full.

Listing records reveal that Madigan’s comptroller spent taxpayer dollars to get herself a “LOADED” SUV with heated leather seats, navigation, and a power liftgate - luxury features paid for by you, the taxpayer.

New footage shows just how fancy Mendoza’s taxpayer purchase is.

* The video

*** UPDATE ***  From the twitters…


…Adding… The ILGOP tweeted back at her…


- Posted by Rich Miller   92 Comments      


Our sorry state

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* Ugh…


* More from the IMA…

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


This year’s version of the “AFSCME bill”

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* AP

The Illinois Senate is telling Gov. Bruce Rauner it doesn’t want prison nurse jobs filled by private contractors.

Plainview Republican Sen. Sam McCann’s measure won approval Wednesday 40-15. It would prohibit the Department of Corrections from eliminating jobs of any state employees who provide prison health care services.

Republican Rauner’s administration announced last week it intended to dismiss 124 union nurses and privatize their positions this summer.

* Finke

The Senate voted 40-15 on Senate Bill 19, whose chief sponsor is Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview. […]

“We have to really think about what’s best for our districts, what’s best for the state, what’s best for these facilities, what’s best for the safety within the facilities,” he said, citing a 400-page study by the federal government that showed serious understaffing by Wexford. There have also been multiple lawsuits filed by inmates alleging inadequate care by Wexford.

“Wexford’s busy counting their money in Pennsylvania. I’m trying to keep Illinoisans working,” McCann said.

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said that Wexford has offered to hire at least some of the laid-off nurses. […]

A similar bill passed the General Assembly last year, but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. The bill died when the House failed to override the veto.

* Public Radio

Governor Bruce Rauner says his plan would save 8 million dollars per year. Private companies, in his view, can do the same work for cheaper. However, Democrats say that’s because private companies don’t pay their workers well. Four Republican senators, including Sam McCann from Plainview, agreed.

“Why can’t we be for working people?” he said. “Why would we let these nurses go, then hire them back the next day…for less.”

The Rauner administration says Illinois has been outsourcing other prison health services for 25 years.

* Related…

* Menard prison nurse hopes to keep job after layoff notice: For 11 years, Tara Chadderton has worked a graveyard shift at Menard Correctional Center. This past week, she received a layoff notice from the state. This prison nurse refuses to go quietly into the night. Employment in a maximum security prison is not for everyone, but Chadderton said she has found it to be a good fit for her. It takes a certain amount of mental toughness, as there are occasions when she and the other nurses are harassed by the inmates while they make the rounds delivering medication. They have been spit on, and had excrement thrown at them. She said some nights are worse than others.

* Layoffs looming as nurses worry about prison care: She said it is important nurses stand their ground sometimes to get their patients the care that is needed. “These people are somebody’s brother, somebody’s loved one. They’re people, too,” she said. “It’s not my job to judge. We’re hired to take care of them.”

* 13 Dixon prison nurses bracing for layoffs

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Audit finds Chicago State University has serious administrative problems

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* Time for a change

An audit of Chicago State University by the state’s auditor general released on Wednesday found that the embattled university improperly reported more than $51 million in federal awards.

According to the report by the state’s Auditor General Frank Mautino, the university did not properly prepare expenditure reports, as federal law requires, for federal awards amounting to $51,731,277 for two loan programs from the Department of Education.

Two awards from the Department of Health and Human Services related to a program for providing education and training to eligible individuals for health-care related professions were also improperly classified, the report said.

The university is required to identify in its accounts all federal awards received and expended, and the federal programs under which they are received, the report said.

The university responded that it agreed with the recommendation but said that it had properly reported the loan amounts within the “footnotes” of their report.

There’s more, so go read the whole thing. The official summary report digest is here.

* Related…

* Chicago State University Postpones Decision on Administration Changes

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Legislators explain opposition to legalized pot, while Summers announces support

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* The Decatur Herald & Review interviewed some local legislators after the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute released a poll showing 66 percent of Illinoisans support legalizing marijuana

State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, described himself as “old-fashioned” with his opposition to legalization, feeling it acts as a gateway drug to harder, illegal substances.

“I think it raises more problems than it could possibly answer,” he said. “With legalization, I don’t agree with it at all.”

However, Mitchell did say he would be open to some decriminalization in relation to marijuana.

State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, expressed similar sentiments about marijuana being a gateway drug, saying that legalization would increase the rate of homelessness and poverty as well as put a financial strain on social services who help people with addiction.

“You’re going to have ill effects with legalization, especially if Illinois is the only Midwestern state to do this,” Righter said.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said in an unrelated conference call Monday morning that he has not yet taken a stance on the matter, focusing most of his attention on school funding and a “grand bargain” budget bill. He did say he hopes the proposed plan starts a dialogue among lawmakers about legalization and that more information comes out in the coming months during hearings.

Hey, if we do become the only Midwestern state to legalize weed, the tourism potential would be pretty darned strong.

And why would legalized marijuana increase homelessness? There are plenty of homeless alcoholics, so should we ban their hugely addictive substance? Also, plenty of highly productive folks use marijuana. That argument is a total red herring. And a gateway drug? Dude, the 1980s called, it want its propaganda back. Also, you might as well ban beer, because it’s often a “gateway drug” to whiskey.

I mean, heck, even the curmudgeons at the Champaign News-Gazette grudgingly admitted this week that times have changed

But it seems obvious that more and more people expect less bad to result from law enforcement’s expansive and hugely expensive efforts to reduce consumption of a product in wide demand.

…Adding… As mentioned in comments, there are some very real gateway drugs that lead to the abuse of some truly dangerous substances, so maybe focus on those?

The so-called “Heroin Highway” from Chicago to Kane County is thriving, Kane County Sheriff’s Department officials said in Aurora.

“We are getting killed by heroin,” Kane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Feiza said at a forum in Aurora, calling the current situation a crisis.

Dealers from primarily Chicago’s West Side are bringing heroin into the Aurora area with a higher potency than before, which is causing more overdose deaths throughout the county, he said. […]

Thefts, burglaries and other crimes are up in Kane County and 99 percent of the time the crimes are associated with addiction, [Kane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Feiza] said.

He estimates 95 percent of heroin addicts he’s dealt with started using prescription drugs first. Prescription drugs often are more expensive - one pill can cost between $70 and $80, he said. Heroin becomes a cheaper alternative, Feiza said. A bag of heroin costs $10 or $15 for the same kind of high, he said.

…Adding More… Crain’s

Private insurance claims related to opioid abuse and dependence diagnoses increased 329 percent in Illinois between 2007 and 2014, according to data from Fair Health, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to increase transparency in health care costs.

In Chicago alone, such claims increased 382 percent over the seven-year period.

Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health—which analyzed more than 23 billion claims from more than 150 million privately insured Americans—says that while Chicago’s claims increased at a greater rate than the state’s, the city’s proportion of opioid claims remains smaller than that of the rest of Illinois, based on population.

Citing U.S. Census data from last year, she says Chicago represents 21 percent of Illinois’ overall population but only 14 percent of opioid-related diagnoses.

* Will there be problems with legalization? Of course there will be. But this failed national war on pot is hurting far more lives than the actual use of the product.

Also, Sen. Manar, way to stick your neck out, bud.

* Meanwhile, you’ll recall that I asked the Democratic gubernatorial candidates this week about their own position on the topic. I heard back from Kurt Summers last night…

I support the legalization of marijuana if the goals of the legislation are to take power away from gangs and reduce drug-related violence. The impact of the legislation should be to divert resources from arresting and prosecuting low-level, non-violent offenders to focus on those who seek to harm others. Our communities have been under siege for too long for this to be passed without support from community leaders and law enforcement officials. This isn’t just a criminal justice issue, it’s a public health issue, and we must commit the proper resources to address these issues responsibly.

…Adding… Tribune

Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers is continuing his flirtation with a run for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018, sending an email to supporters explaining why he’s weighing a bid and alerting them to an upcoming fundraiser.

In the Wednesday night email, titled “New Leadership in Illinois,” Summers says he’s been meeting with community leaders, union workers, business owners and others about a possible run and concluded that “Illinois needs someone who will fix our budget deficit, create jobs, improve education and fight for working people day-in and day-out.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


RGA spending at least a million dollars on Rauner TV ads

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* Bernie

The next time Gov. BRUCE RAUNER could face a Democrat on the ballot is 19 months away — in November 2018.

But it’s just nine weeks until the scheduled May 31 end of the spring legislative session, when, in a normal year, it might be about the time a budget gets approved.

Of course the state hasn’t had a real budget in place since June 2015, so there is no normal.

Into that mix there is now added at least $1 million in ads featuring Republican Rauner — some with him saying, “The politicians that got us into this mess” want as a solution “higher taxes, more spending, no real reforms.” […]

JON THOMPSON, communications director for the Republican Governors Association, said the Rauner ad is paid for by State Solutions, a 501(c)4 affiliate of the RGA. He said the ad buy is seven figures and nearly statewide, including the Chicago and Springfield markets. The ads are also on digital platforms across the state.

If you missed seeing the ads, click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Moody’s again warns state on budget gridlock

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* From a Moody’s press release…

The State of Illinois’ (Baa2 negative) credit rating is vulnerable to further downgrades as “grand bargain” talks to resolve an almost two-year budget impasses have broken down, and intensifying liquidity pressures have tripled the state’s chronic backlog of unpaid bills to a record $13 billion, Moody’s Investors Service says in a new report.

“Illinois is at a critical juncture and its leaders must choose between further credit deterioration and drift without compromise, or the potential for stabilization. With a budget consensus, Illinois could quickly secure its financial position,” said Ted Hampton, a Moody’s Vice President – Senior Credit Officer.

The report, “Illinois (State of): Record Bill Backlog Signals Critical Juncture for State’s Leaders,” notes Illinois is the lowest-rated state and is seven notches lower than the median Aa1 state rating. Illinois’ credit weakness incorporates very large unfunded pension liabilities, the two-year political standoff, and its long-running reliance on payment deferral to manage operating budget imbalances.

The state’s bill backlog reached a record $13 billion on March 20, according to the state comptroller, and if no agreement is reached it could approach $28 billion by the end of FY 2019. The lack of an agreement to raise revenue, which is at the center of the state’s fiscal impasse, means that Illinois taxes and other revenues are insufficient to cover its operations.

Failure to reach a consensus before the current legislative session adjourns on May 31 would signal political paralysis, leaving Illinois on a path toward unsustainable fiscal challenges that will heighten the risk of creditor-adverse actions. These could include borrowing from debt service funds, depleting available non-operating cash, or prioritizing core operating needs over debt service.

While the state’s growing liquidity pressures have not yet impacted its ability to pay bondholder debt, the state’s chronic underfunding and payment deferral is running into political and legal limits, notably at the state’s public universities, where Illinois has appropriated $1.5 billion less than it normally would have.

While Illinois’ current fiscal year operating deficit is $5.7 billion, the state could quickly begin stabilizing its finances once budget balancing measures have been reached. Liquidity would be promptly restored because Illinois’ financial pressures have been driven by gridlock, rather than economic conditions beyond the government’s control.

And while the “Grand Bargain” appears to be stalled in the legislature, Moody’s believes the revenue measures in the deal, combined with spending restraints that keep payment deferrals from recurring, could improve Illinois’ financial prospects.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017

* Today’s post is sponsored by the American Heart Association of Illinois. Follow along in real time right here with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Weekend news roundup
* React to Rauner's Friday vetoes
* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* Rauner vetoes several major pieces of legislation
* Four leaders meet in Chicago, plan another sitdown on Tuesday
* Kennedy delivered an unusually somber Democrat Day speech
* Governor signs River Edge bill in Rockford... err... Aurora
* Caption contest!
* All's well that ends well, I suppose
* Question of the day
* SDems have most seniority, HGOPs the least
* Asked when he'll take responsibility, Rauner blames Madigan
* Do Your Job, Inc. puts latest online ad on TV
* *** UPDATED x1 - IDHS responds *** What's the holdup on domestic violence funding?
* Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez says she won't run again
* Rauner calls TRUST Act a "very reasonable" bill, won't commit to signing it
* Drury says he has a "good sense" of how government works
* The story behind that Facebook pic of Madigan
* Rauner explains his weight loss
* Today's quotable: “No one’s going to locate there"
* *** UPDATED x3 - Still hasn't seen it - DGA criticizes Rauner *** Rauner points to WVON host's defense of Illinois Policy Institute cartoon as legislators to protest HQ
* Yesterday's stories

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