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Where would the Democratic candidates cut?

Friday, Apr 14, 2017

* After convincing all the Democratic gubernatorial candidates to take a side on legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol (all but Chris Kennedy and Bob Daiber were for it), I figured I’d try to get them to talk about a different topic. Here’s the e-mail I sent…

As you may know, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno has criticized all of you for not supporting any cuts to state spending:


Can you name one state spending program that you/your candidate would cut or reduce if elected? Not a tax credit, etc. We’ll get to those eventually. An appropriated spending program. And about how much would that save?

* Ameya Pawar’s campaign was the first to respond, so we’ll start with him…

To answer your question - The $5 million annual subsidy to White Sox Stadium (through IFSA) is a good place to start. Background here.

Sometimes, I really hate Cub fans. /snark

* Chris Kennedy’s campaign was next…

Illinois can’t cut its way out of the budget crisis just as it can’t tax its way out of it. A single cut isn’t a solution but a political talking point. We need comprehensive reform in terms of spending, government operations and taxes to pass a budget that grows Illinois’ economy while embracing our shared values. For example, Illinois could merge the offices of comptroller and treasurer saving over $12 million. But any reform must be part of a comprehensive solution.

Bruce Rauner has been governor for two years and just this Spring neither he nor his Directors could detail a cut to the state budget they will make. Governor Rauner has failed to present a comprehensive approach to Illinois’ budget crisis instead holding the state hostage to pass his extreme, personal political agenda.

* Sen. Daniel Biss…

I was pretty confused by Leader Radogno’s letter. It’s as if she hasn’t been in Springfield the last 2 years or even the last 2 months. Leader Radogno should know better than anyone that the Governor is an absolutist who only cares about his own political career and his inner circle.

Leader Radogno said herself on the Senate Floor that we’re losing 11 million dollars every day we don’t have a state budget. She knows that despite the Governor’s campaign pledge to cut more, not a single agency head was able to tell us what they would cut when brought before Senate Committees. She also knows first hand that this Governor has no interest in governing.

Governor Rauner’s obsession with politics at the expense of governing has led him to make high-priced politically-motivated hires like Leslie Munger. We should begin by cutting her $138,000 salary.

We also should not be making hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments on overdue bills. It is especially absurd that the state deliberately sets a high interest rate and then allows private lenders to use it to turn a profit. Of course, the best way to avoid all interest payments would be to finally enact a truly balanced budget and pay down our bill backlog.

Unfortunately, Governor Rauner has failed to meet his constitutional obligations and present a balanced budget 3 times. Instead, he’s cut the services Illinoisans rely on to the bone, all to prevent the wealthy from paying their fair share.

So let’s start here: cut the political nonsense and work to pass a budget to save the state 11 million dollars a day.

* Bob Daiber’s campaign…

“Let’s start the ‘cuts’ discussion by saying we need substantial reform to the structure of government in Illinois in terms of the way money is spent. We currently have so much waste and mismanagement that structural reforms are the only way to see substantial change.

“So our first elimination would be the abolishment of CMS. We stand in support of Representative Brandon Phelps HB 2889. The abolishment of CMS could see savings of over $1 Billion within the first year of implementation. In addition, the potential savings through streamlining procurement procedures for all agencies and redistribution of the current CMS appropriated funds could see the elimination of nearly $2 Billion dollars in waste.

“Despite the politics as usual campaign rhetoric of Senator Rodogno, we are also in favor of many other reforms in spending and waste. Maybe Senator Radogno should spend a little less time campaigning for Boss Rauner and spend a little more time getting a budget passed,” states the Daiber campaign.

* JB Pritzker’s campaign…

Governor Rauner has failed to introduce a balanced budget, consistently refusing to do his job and dragging our state down a path of financial ruin. Instead of focusing on his constitutionally mandated duty, he chose to campaign for re-election this week, putting politics ahead of governing.

Rauner’s failure to pass a budget has led to misplaced spending priorities. Unlike Rauner, JB will focus on smart, long-term investments that would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in both the short and long term. For example:

    * Illinois spends close to $35,000 per year for a senior citizen to live in a nursing home, while in-home care costs half that amount and allows our senior citizens the dignity of living at home. Yet, under Rauner, in home care services have been cut by 25 percent – and he wants to cut it more. As a result, the state fails to realize significant savings.

    * Illinois spends $20,000 per family on emergency housing per year, while homeless prevention services for that same family cost little more than half that amount and keep families off the streets. Yet, under Rauner, those prevention services have been cut by 25 percent, once again demonstrating his misplaced spending priorities.

    * Illinois spends $178,000 per year to house one child in a juvenile detention center, when it costs just $6,000 for community-based intervention programs that do not disrupt a child’s development and prevent recidivism. Yet, under Rauner, funding for those intervention programs was cut by a third, showing a lack of concern for children, their families, and our state budget.

Governor Rauner’s refusal to do his job has resulted in wasteful and inefficient spending that leaves working families and their children without access to the tools they need to reach the middle class. When JB announced his candidacy for governor last week, he made it clear that he will stand for progressive values that have been lost under Governor Rauner’s failed leadership. JB has taken on big challenges and gotten real results, and he will do the same as governor.

Ultimately, JB is committed to eliminating the one thing that has cost Illinois families the most: Bruce Rauner.

I’m expecting a late response from the Summers campaign. I’ll add it when it gets here, but I need to run some errands soon, so I wanted to get this post up.

* Rate their answers.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    I am available as a campaign advisor. I have $1.65 billion in cuts ready. No need for a paycheck, my civic duty.

  2. - Mama - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    JB Pritzker & Ameya Pawar’s ideas sound do-able.

    We also need to know which specific programs the governor wants to cut.

  3. - Mama - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    Blue dog dem - please tell which program cuts your $1.65 billion represents? Please show your work.

  4. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    Full marks to Pawar, as much as I hate to give him credit for anything. Concise answer. Totally agree and I’m a White Sox fan.

  5. - Arsenal - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    In pure political terms, I put it this way:


    Biss and Pritzker jump up and down on “Bruce Rauner failed”. Biss gets ranked a touch higher because “cut the political games” plays better than actually ID’ing any cuts.

    Kennedy at least basically rejects the premise of the question.

    Pawar and Daiber give in, though, and ID cuts. Now they’re playing on unfriendly turf.

  6. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    Mama. I have at least 20 times. We start with The remnants of DCEO and work our way to a 20% reduction in LGDF. We then completely eliminate the state superintendents and yes, heaven forbid tickle statewide K-12 through the elimination of drivers ed and high dchool PE. I have many,many more

  7. - RNUG - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    And, with few exceptions​, not a single one went after the low hanging fruit of all the so-called deputy governor’s and fake agency heads / advisors. Heck, they couldn’t even trot out eliminating the Lt. Governor’s office.

    I will agree with eliminating the $5M White Sox subsidy … but then I’m a Cubs fan.

  8. - Deft Wing - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:52 pm:

    Lol! Dems talking cuts is anathema to them naturally, but especially so now it appears. These answers are all terrible. I mean BAD.

    Get your “A” game going fellas because the primary winner will get pounded relentlessly … and even more so if this is the example of your work-product.

  9. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    Mama. Question for you. What would you cut. What taxes would you raise?

  10. - City Zen - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    ==Full marks to Pawar, as much as I hate to give him credit for anything. Concise answer.==

    Ditto. Biss rates as lowest for going off on a tangent to read viewer mail.

  11. - the 647 - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    A+ for Pawar and I can’t grade the rest because I couldn’t get through them with all that rhetoric.

  12. - Arsenal - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    ==And, with few exceptions​, not a single one went after the low hanging fruit of all the so-called deputy governor’s and fake agency heads / advisors. Heck, they couldn’t even trot out eliminating the Lt. Governor’s office.==

    I mean, Biss went right at it. 1 out of 5 isn’t “not a single one”.

  13. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:09 pm:

    I would like to see how you get $3 billion out of eliminating CMS and “streamlining procurement.” (As an aside, the latter has to be one of the two most baloney-filled phrases in recent Illinois history, the other of course being “pension reform.”

    Love ‘em or hate ‘em, CMS manages a handful of the more difficult programs in State Government. So, when we abolish it, does every agency procure their own healthcare? Will we see “streamlined procurement” like DHS and the empty warehouse? Let every agency decide what kind of vehicles they like without the advantage of buying in bulk?

    This statement confirms my previous feelings that a) Daiber is not a serious candidate and b) He doesn’t know jack about how State Government works.

  14. - Juice - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    So here’s the problem with eliminating the $5M for Sox Park.

    If the hotel/motel tax revenue is not sufficient to meet the debt service, the City of Chicago then becomes on the hook for the payments (which many on here are probably fine with, but a Chicago Alderman probably shouldn’t be).

    Nice talking point, but not likely doable.

  15. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:23 pm:

    Of course none of these candidates for Governor mention reforming the biggest drain on state spending currently devouring 25% of our budget- pensions.

    Why because doing so would aggravate a special interest group

  16. - Evanstonian - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:24 pm:

    Definitely laughed at Biss’ bold plan to save the taxpayers $138,000/year. Nice work, progressive champ. Stick to hurting pensioners, it’s obviously where your heart is.

  17. - Smitty Irving - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    Blue dog dem-
    Why 20% cut in LGDF (about $300 M)? You do realize the reason LGDF and MTF exists is that the Constitution explicitly forbids local governments from imposing vehicle fees, income taxes, etc., things that are done in MO.

  18. - Anon23 - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    == We need comprehensive reform in terms of spending, government operations and taxes to pass a budget that grows Illinois’ economy while embracing our shared values ==

    So what exactly is the difference between Rauner and Kennedy? ‘Cause I don’t see any difference here. (Other than one is a billionaire, and the other is a mere millionaire, of course)

  19. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:38 pm:

    LP, stick to something you understand. That 25 cents on the dollar is not going to pay pensions. About a dime tops is going for that. The rest is paying down (slowly) the unfunded liability.
    The Supreme Court has ruled that pensions to current retirees must be paid. Reducing the amounts going to pay down the unfunded is like skipping house payments.

    I’m guessing you probably weren’t a Finance major.

  20. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    Smitty. The reason i believe LGDF.has to be hit, is to share the pain throughout the state. I know it will be hard, but everyone needs to contribute. We all keep saying we need a mixture od spending cuts and increased revenue, so i was asked for my cuts and i presented them (some).

  21. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    Well at least Pawar answered the question and cut something. Most of the rest seemed allergic to the idea. Someone gonna remind Daiber of what CMS does and all the union jobs at CMS soon?

  22. - Earnest - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:49 pm:

    >high-priced politically-motivated hires like Leslie Munger. We should begin by cutting her $138,000 salary.

    This is the closest to a strong attack I saw. I don’t think much of its substance, but I could see its use as a political issue. Governor’s “wingman” gets soft landing and pension bump.

    >Illinois spends $20,000 per family on emergency housing per year, while homeless prevention services for that same family cost little more than half

    I’ll give credit for some numbers, but these seem more theoretical than real.

    >Mama. I have at least 20 times.

    Some real stuff here. I like that. What? He’s or she’s not running?

    >- pensions…Why because doing so would aggravate a special interest group

    I dislike it when paying back the pension payments we borrowed is not differentiated from actual pension payments. Since I believe it’s a moral obligation to pay one’s debts, I don’t see this as something to be cut, but I agree with you that they should be addressing the expense and how they will deal with that. What? He or she’s not running either?

    In terms of substance from the candidates, poorly done. In terms of political messaging from the candidates, unimpressive as well.

  23. - Honeybear - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    Well there goes any support for Daibler. I’m even metro east. Dude I can’t even imagine what a nightmare cutting CMS would be. Loving God it’s not we have personnel to do the jobs on the books as it is. I workforce down 30% from when Rauner took office which was the smallest per capita of all fifty states. Daibler is insane to think that we could cover the duties of that agency and absorb the functions in our surviving agencies. My God the folly of that is disqualifying.

  24. - Collinsville Kevin - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    Nice answer by Pawar, the rest sounded like politicians, and appear eager to continue borrowing money they have no intention of ever repaying.

  25. - Smitty Irving - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 2:06 pm:

    Blue dog dem -
    We’re in this mess because the State under funded pensions, so part of the solution … is … steal money from Cairo / Alexander County?

  26. - Pundent - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 2:06 pm:

    =Of course none of these candidates for Governor mention reforming the biggest drain on state spending currently devouring 25% of our budget- pensions.=

    And a big thank you to them for that. Pretending that magical “pension reform” will somehow fix our historical unfunded constitutionally mandated liability is disingenuous and only continues to add to the problem. The only “reform” that will fix this problem is funding.

    And BTW, I wouldn’t characterize the constitution as a “special interest group”.

  27. - Responsa - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    Disappointing, simplistic, non-robust responses from all.

  28. - cgo75 - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 2:16 pm:

    I agree that Pawar is the only one that answered the question. It’s so irritating when politicians try to “redirect” the question and give a non-answer. It’s become so common that people just expect it.

  29. - Skeptic - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 2:17 pm:

    At the risk of legitimizing the IPI, they do have a nifty pie chart on a (mostly) unbiased page we can all refer to:

  30. - KAY-ro - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 2:28 pm:

    A (0) for all of them. No one understands the problem. Jim Thompson and Mike Madigan (among thousands of others) took out an unlimited balance credit card in the 70’s and 80’s and the balance is now due. The spending in the 70s and 80s was not paid for by that generation and passed to others who did not enjoy the services or have representation, to the tune of a $137B pension deficit.

    The State today operates on a skeleton crew. All facility/system maintenance is deferred until the buildings crumble. There is no employee training or institutional knowledge capture when people are hired. The institutions of government are slowly crumbling because a LACK of funding, as all our tax dollars pay for services that were rendered decades ago.

    Automation, efficiency, these things require capital investments in technology and spending. More spending. The State needs to spend $12B now just to bring existing facilities into a state of repair. Literally every building needs massive capital improvements, new roofs, hvac, asbestos remediation, etc.

    The future is beak no matter who is governor

  31. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    Of course paying off old pension debt is still “paying pensions”

    25% of the state revenue is going into the pension fund and it is squeezing every other item in the state budget.

    the point is none of these candidates have said they agree with Speaker Madigan that the current system is unsustainable and we need to change the system going forward

    We keep digging the hole deeper going from 77 billion during the great recession in 2009 to 130 billion today

    Despite all the higher tax revenue and the tripling of the stock market since 2008 the unfunded debt had doubled and is certainly unsustainable

    Leader Radogno is right, these candidates are ignoring the elephant in the room that is eating up all of our revenue

  32. - LTSW - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 3:05 pm:

    JB needs to work on his numbers. It is costing us more than $35,000 to keep people in their homes. And it will cost more if SEIU is successful in getting higher wages. There are reasons to keep people in their homes, but with Illinois low nursing home reimbursement rates cost is no longer one of them.

  33. - Amalia - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 3:10 pm:

    that’s it Pawar? that is not a serious response. it is a political response. I thought he was above that.

    Biss has a snippy Munger hit with flowery nothing wrapped around it.

    JB and Kennedy are essentially saying the same kind of thing, but JB with more words and constituency groups attached.

    I’d actually rank the Daiber comment the best because it hits the hardest at administration.

  34. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    ===Disappointing, simplistic, non-robust responses from all.===

    Ah, so way better than the present governor. And Lucky P, pensions are a huge problem. But finding a constitutional solution is an even bigger one. You are really good at going to a website and pulling some statistics off of it. We all know the problem. What is the solution? Don’t forget the IL constitution.

  35. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 3:19 pm:

    Smitty. Regrettably. Yes.

  36. - Smitty Irving - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 3:21 pm:

    KAY-ro -
    Actually, pre-Edgar ramp, the last budget to “fully fund” pensions (as that was defined then) was the FY 1986 budget passed by … wait for it … Michael J. Madigan. (Full disclosure, it was much more likely Phil Rock’s idea, but Madigan did vote for it.) Jim Thompson reduction vetoed it. Who wudda thunk it?

  37. - CapnCrunch - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 3:23 pm:

    “That 25 cents on the dollar is not going to pay pensions. About a dime tops is going for that. The rest is paying down (slowly) the unfunded liability….”

    All of the money is going into the pension funds. If the 15 cents will not be used to fund pensions in the future what will it be used for?

  38. - JoeMaddon - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 3:30 pm:

    ** It is costing us more than $35,000 to keep people in their homes. … There are reasons to keep people in their homes, but with Illinois low nursing home reimbursement rates cost is no longer one of them.**

    LOL — where do you get your numbers?

    The average Community Care Program (home care for seniors) consumer costs $883 per month (directly from DOA numbers), or $10,600 per year.

    The average (per consumer) Home Services Program (home care for people with disabilities) cost per month is about $2000 per month, or about $24,000 per year.

    The average NH resident per day cost is about $150, or just under $55000 per year.

    So I don’t think its JB that needs to check his math.

  39. - Arsenal - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 4:50 pm:

    The consensus seems to be, “These are all bad because they don’t endorse *my* preconceived ideas!”

    Not surprising, that’s the most popular political position in the world.

  40. - Shytown - Friday, Apr 14, 17 @ 4:55 pm:

    No word from Summers yet? I guess he must be going line by line through the budget…

  41. - (Un) Happy - Saturday, Apr 15, 17 @ 8:25 am:

    ==I would like to see how you get $3 billion out of eliminating CMS and “streamlining procurement.”==

    Because CMS is no longer the Procurement lead for the State. If you take the remaining Procurement SMEs (and the funding for those positions) from CMS and move them to the EEC where the Procurement decisions are made, then what’s left in CMS that’s critical?

    CMS pays the State’s bills for real property leases, telecom, utilities, etc and charges the agencies 23% (last time I checked) to do it. That means every State agency receives invoices from CMS for the amount of those bills plus a handling fee to pay their staff to process the vendors’ invoice payment.
    That system results in two payment vouchers going through the Comptroller for every invoice.
    That’s like writing a check to your spouse for your electric bill with a 23% markup to pay your spouse to write a check to the electric company.

    THAT’s the waste their talking about.

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