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Moody’s warns on grants to CPS, General State Aid

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* From Moody’s Investors Service…

On p. 4 of its new Weekly Credit Outlook for Public Finance released today (attached), Moody’s notes the ongoing budget impasse in the State of Illinois (rated Baa2/negative outlook) has delayed over $1 billion in payments to school districts, with a handful of districts facing increasing cash flow pressures and a growing potential for a material decline in reserves amid the continued delays. The most vulnerable districts are those that are highly dependent on state grant funding and those with limited operating reserves.

The most vulnerable rated school districts are Chicago Public Schools (B3/negative), Will County Community High School District 210 (Lincoln Way) (Ba1/negative) and Marion, et al Counties High School District 200 (Baa1). These three districts’ narrow cash reserves provide limited protection against continued delays

Illinois provides two types of cash distributions to schools: general state aid, which supports districts’ general operations, and categorical grants, which support specific programs such as transportation and special education. School officials report that general state aid has been received on time, but grant funding is increasingly delayed against a backdrop of continued state budget pressures. Reported lags in quarterly grant payments to districts have increased from approximately three to six months in prior years to nearly nine months in the current year.

We expect that delays in grants will not materially affect most rated districts because they have limited dependence on state grants and ample operating liquidity. Even districts with relatively high reliance on state grants, such as McHenry County Community Unit School District 200 (Woodstock) (Aa2) and Kankakee & Will Counties Community Unit School District 5 (Manteno) (Aa3), will not likely experience cash flow stress, though they may experience credit-negative declines in reserves.

Most rated Illinois school districts have limited dependence on state operating grants. In fiscal 2016, grants comprised less than 5% of revenues for 54% of rated districts, between 6% and 10% of revenues for 42% of rated districts, and more than 10% of revenues for just 4% of rated districts.

While general state aid revenues have continued to flow for Illinois school districts in the current fiscal year, a budget for schools will need to be passed for disbursements to continue in fiscal 2018. In the last two years, the state has passed its K-12 budget in May. Any event that results in delayed or reduced general state aid disbursements for Illinois schools could result in a much larger group of materially impacted credits.

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Brown responds *** Rauner says Madigan “hinted” about working on budget with Rauner’s reforms

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Earlier today, Speaker Madigan issued a press release (click here) saying he’d met with the governor today and urged him “to turn his focus to the budget.”

The governor had a different viewpoint of what went on…

The Rauner Administration has released the following statement regarding the Governor’s meeting with Speaker Michael Madigan. The following is attributable to spokesperson Eleni Demertzis:

“For the first time in more than two years, Speaker Madigan today hinted that he may be willing to enact a truly balanced budget with changes that will help create jobs, properly fund our schools and lower property taxes. It’s too soon to tell if the Speaker will ultimately agree to follow through, but the governor remains optimistic that all sides can work together to enact a balanced budget with changes that fix our broken system and restore balanced budgets for the long-term through strong economic growth. ”

There have been some whispers about this possibility of late, but it couldn’t be confirmed. We’ll see.

*** UPDATE ***  Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown disputed the notion that the House hadn’t been interested in passing a balanced budget, pointing to the cooperation with the governor on the FY 15 budget fix.

He also noted that the House has already passed a property tax freeze bill and “we’ve talked about things that create jobs,” including moving ahead with one bill today to make workers’ comp more affordable.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Rauner talks higher ed as SIU prepares reforms

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Let’s revisit that Amanda Vinicky interview of Gov. Bruce Rauner

BVR: We need to shrink the bureaucracy in our university system. We have an expensive overhead, pension, work rules, restrictions. Just like inside state government, we need to shrink that bureaucracy. We need to put our money in our schools, in our teachers, in our students, and we need the state to step up and do a better job supporting our schools. We also need to eliminate the redundancy in our schools. Many of them offer the same majors and options, and we have too much overlap. We need to help streamline our university system.

AV: Was that the plan all along? To force mergers, administrative layoffs, consolidate programs?

BVR: No, not at all. I’ve wanted a balanced budget with proper university funding for more than two years now. It’s outrageous the general assembly has not passed a balanced budget. […]

AV: If you want some of these programs to consolidate, some of these universities to “shape up,” why hasn’t that been done? If not now, when?

BVR: There are negotiations underway with our Board of Higher Education, and universities talking about how they can streamline their overhead, how they can work together and specialize in certain majors. Those discussions are going on right now and I’m optimistic that they can lead to even better school options for our students, and more value for taxpayers.

OK, first of all, the budget he proposed in 2015 included a 31.5 percent cut to higher education.

Secondly, as a product of elite schools, I’m not sure if the governor understands the usefulness of and need for non-elite universities. Lots of kids whose families can’t afford to send them to top-notch schools need the state’s “directional” universities to help themselves move up the ladder of life. And a lot of those students attend the directionals nearest their parents. So, yeah, there’s curricular overlap, but there’s good reasons for that.

* Rauner’s right about overhead costs, though, and Southern Illinois University claims it’s about to announce a revamp

Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn said that his Carbondale campus is developing a “financial sustainability plan” that will be released around July 1.

“Everything within the magnitude of operations, we’re going to be looking at,” Dunn said. “Potentially making reductions or closing certain operations. Everything other than tenured faculty would be available for reorganization, restructuring, removing.” […]

“We may look like a different institution. We may have to let some programs go and reconfigure others. We may not have as many people. Staffing will change. But from the standpoint of a 150-year history being lost, that’s not going to happen.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

A good idea that could cost a pretty penny

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* The Illinois Policy Institute on legislative fiscal impact notes

From March 2015 to January 2017, the 99th General Assembly passed 938 bills that were ultimately signed into law; however, only 2.9 percent of the bills contained fiscal notes. A fiscal note essentially acts as a price tag for a bill and contains details about how much the state will pay for a particular law its legislature passes.

Though problematic, this lack of fiscal notes is nothing new for Illinois.

Between 2011 and 2012, less than 3 percent of the 1,173 bills passed by the 97th General Assembly and enacted into law contained fiscal notes. The trend continued into the 98th General Assembly, and in 2013, only 3.4 percent of the bills passed in that year contained fiscal notes.

While not every bill passed relates to fiscal matters, many bills, even those of seemingly little consequence, can have an effect on the state budget. Other laws, which may contain notes pertaining to pensions, land conveyance appraisal and other issues, don’t always have fiscal notes, even though they have a direct or indirect impact on the state’s finances. Illinois’ financial problems are legion, and yet only 27 of the 938 bills passed in the 99th General Assembly have fiscal notes.

The solution is simple: Require every bill to have a fiscal note.

The idea is not uncommon. At least 10 states require every bill to have a fiscal note, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. But in Illinois, the state’s current fiscal notes law only requires fiscal notes on bills that pertain directly to state revenues or debt impact bills. Despite this requirement, many pieces of legislation that have financial implications do not include fiscal notes.

One example is recent legislation relating to Illinois’ tax credit program, which often benefits large corporations. Senate Bill 513, which would later go on to become Public Act 99-0925, extended the Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credit program through April 30, 2017, potentially costing taxpayers millions. Yet, the bill did not contain a fiscal note when it was introduced because it did not fall under the narrow criteria set forth by the current fiscal notes requirements. House Bill 2685, now Public Act 99-0238, became law Aug. 3, 2015, and allows the Regional Transportation Authority to borrow over $100 million through bond sales – yet there was no fiscal note. Without real reform, politicians will continue to pass bills that do not tell their true impact on the state’s finances.

Ironically, the most important thing missing from this analysis is a cost estimate. And that might be high. The analysis only reports on the number of bills passed, but about 6,200 bills have been introduced during this spring’s session. The GOMB would have to hire a whole bunch of people to prepare all those notes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Rauner hosts third graders for Facebook Live program

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017


Thursday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hosted a live event on his Facebook page to connect with Illinois students.

Additionally, third graders from Riverton Elementary School joined Governor Rauner at the State Capitol as part of the Facebook Live. […]

Gov. Rauner took questions from students and teachers from across the state.

He also spoke about what it’s like to work every day for the people of Illinois and how he’s working to ensure every child in Illinois receives a high-quality education.

If you missed it, you can watch by clicking here.

The governor also told the children about his favorite foods (ice cream, hamburgers and pie), the time that his pet snake got out and scared his mom and how he loved multiplication tables when he was in third grade.

* And some of those little kids were either really tired, or bored or both today…

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Madigan says he met with Rauner today, asked him to focus on budget

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Press release…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement Thursday after a meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner:

“I requested a meeting with Governor Rauner to ensure he understood my desire to pass a full-year budget and discuss the urgent need for a resolution to the state budget impasse. Throughout the governor’s time in office, we have agreed to seven compromise budget bills when negotiations are allowed to focus on the budget. Schools, human service providers, rating agencies and thousands of others have asked us to do one thing – pass a budget. I ask the governor to turn his focus to the budget.”

The only thing new there is the meeting itself.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* From the twitters…

Almost limitless possibilities here.

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Our two economies

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Crain’s

Chicagoland accounted for almost 87 percent of the nearly 426,000 private-sector jobs added since the Great Recession. This graphic shows the percentage change in private-sector employment by year in the Chicago area and the rest of the state compared to 2009.

* The graphic

* Back to the Crain’s piece

Sixty-three percent of Indiana’s counties have lost population since 2010. The percentage is 67 percent in Missouri and Michigan, 73 percent in Iowa and Ohio, 55 percent in Minnesota and 53 percent in Wisconsin. Illinois topped them all: 86 percent of the state’s 102 counties lost population.

The magnet-like attraction of the Chicago region defies its highly-publicized problems. Data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show Chicago and its surrounding metro counties are the engine for 9 out of 10 new jobs in Illinois. It is a trend vividly underscored in recent months when farm and construction equipment giant Caterpillar announced it was moving its headquarters from Downstate Peoria to north suburban Deerfield. […]

Despite talk of statewide economic development strategies, the lure of investment almost always benefits large metropolitan areas. Wage data bear that out. Just three of Missouri’s 115 counties—in metro St. Louis and Kansas City—have an average weekly wage of $900 or more, while the average wage in 49 counties is under $600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Indiana, frequently pointed to by politicians and interest groups as a model for Illinois to follow, average weekly wages are below the national norm in 90 of 92 counties, statistics show. […]

“Moreover, because Chicago is less reliant on goods-producing employment, it has been better insulated than the rest of the state from the struggles affecting both the construction and manufacturing industries,” the report said. “The difference between the Chicago-area economy and the economy in the rest of the state has had and will continue to have important implications for Illinois.”

* Related…

* Dynegy to decide by year-end whether to exit southern Illinois: Representatives of MISO Energy, the grid operator for all or parts of 15 states in the central U.S. including downstate Illinois, in recent months have privately warned legislative leaders in Springfield and Gov. Bruce Rauner of potential power-supply shortages in the future if they don’t assist some of the coal-fired plants downstate. Absent a court ruling halting the subsidies, which will take effect late this year, or additional state help to his fleet, Flexon said more plant closures are inevitable. Recent market signals are very negative. Under an auction conducted earlier this month by the regional grid operator for the Midwest, generators in downstate Illinois will be paid next to nothing for their promise to be available during peak-demand periods in the year beginning June 1, 2017.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - INA, Biss respond - IDOC responds - Manar responds *** Rauner rescinds IDOC nurse layoffs

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* From a Statehouse reporter…

* I asked the reporter if he had any more info since the governor’s office wasn’t replying…

The House Republicans just confirmed this to me. Rauner rescinded the layoffs “while they negotiate on the issue of subcontracting,” I was told.

* Background…

* 124 Illinois prison nurses get layoff notices

* Lawmakers to Fight Rauner on Prison Nurse Layoffs

* Rauner Says Using Contract Nurses Will Save $8M

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Sen. Andy Manar…

Prison nurses in communities around the state will get at least a temporary reprieve from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to privatize their jobs, thanks to attention brought to their plight by two central Illinois senators.

“This whiplash approach to governing is giving a lot of people a headache,” said Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “It’s never too late to do the right thing, but this entire situation, all the turmoil and stress for these workers and their families could have been – and should have been – avoided if the Rauner administration simply did a better job at running the state.”

Manar, along with Republican Senator Sam McCann (R-Pleasant View), sponsored bipartisan legislation to halt Gov. Rauner’s plan to lay off 124 unionized nurses currently employed by the state of Illinois in prisons around the state and privatize their jobs with an out-of-state corporation. According to the administration, the laid-off nurses would have an opportunity to reapply for their positions with the corporation, presumably at lower salaries.

The legislation that would have stopped the governor from pursuing his short-sighted plan passed in both houses of the Legislature and made it to the governor’s desk.

The administration intends to reverse its plan to lay off the nurses and continue contract negotiations with them instead, it was announced this morning.

*** UPDATE 2 *** IDOC…

Hey Rich,

We remain committed to working with the INA to avoid the potential layoffs, and believe there is ability to reach common ground on compromise proposals that would allow DOC and INA to come to an agreement. Although we are disappointed that INA is not available until May 8, we are ready to meet whenever and hope they find availability sooner.

…Adding… I’m told that the layoffs have been rescinded until May 22nd.

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the Illinois Nurses Association…

Today, it has been reported that the Illinois Department of Corrections has rescinded the layoffs of 124 nurses who work at a dozen Illinois Correctional Facilities.

This is welcome news if it is true. In their communications with us, the Department links “rescind” to good-faith meetings while at the same time, failing to repudiate their position that they do not have a duty to bargain in good faith with the INA over subcontracting. It remains to be seen what the Department actually intends.

Because of this uncertainty, INA is urging all Illinois legislators to continue working to support Senate Bill 19, which would halt further privatization of Illinois government jobs, including the 124 nursing positions. We believe a legislative remedy provides more assurance that the 124 nurses will be able to retain their positions and provide excellent health care to Illinois prisoners.

* Sen. Daniel Biss…

The Rauner administration’s sudden move to halt its drive to privatize the jobs of 124 unionized prison nurses shouldn’t offer sense of comfort to those whose jobs are on the line, state Senator Daniel Biss said Thursday.

Biss, an Evanston Democrat, noted that Gov. Bruce Rauner reverted to his anti-union rhetoric earlier this month when he said nobody would miss state workers should they choose to go on strike. Previously the governor had expressed support for state workers and ensuring they continue to be paid during the state budget stalemate.

“The Rauner administration did the right thing by putting the brakes on its plan to outsource these prison nurse jobs, but I remain wary of the governor’s motives, particularly given his inconsistent and recently strident anti-union statements. I wouldn’t blame any of these nurses if they aren’t ready to breathe a sigh of relief just yet.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

It’s just a bill

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* AP

Don’t toss the grammar-school composition paper yet.

The Illinois House approved legislation 67-48 Wednesday requiring elementary and high schools to teach cursive writing.

The sponsor is Chicago Democratic Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch. He says it’s important that tech-savvy children to retain cursive writing to read historical documents, write personal notes and sign documents.

Republican Rep. Steven Andersson of Geneva says cursive does not help develop young minds any better than printing. He says a legal document doesn’t need a signature but only a “mark.”

* Public Radio

Members of the Illinois House passed legislation today that would require state agencies to buy American products, even if they’re not the cheapest.

Democratic Representative Jay Hoffman of Swansea is sponsoring the proposal. He says it aligns with President Donald Trump’s focus on American manufacturing.

“I could just reference your president’s executive order regarding ‘Buy American.’ This is saying our state taxpayer dollars should put our people to work and we should use the buying power of our state to create jobs and economic opportunity.”

Republicans voted against the measure. They say it doesn’t make sense given the state’s financial crisis.

* Press release…

A controversial plan before Congress that would permit companies to fine workers who refuse to share their genetic information through workplace wellness programs has prompted Illinois lawmakers to tighten up a state law protecting workers from such repercussions.

“We’re seeing changes proposed at the federal level that are concerning to me and to others,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and sponsor of Senate Bill 318. “The goal here is only to protect the genetic information of individuals when that information might be used against them in the employee-employer relationship.”

The legislation advanced out of the Senate Labor Committee Wednesday. It was prompted by news that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, in March proposed the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (HR1313).

Supporters said the measure would enable employers to have the “legal certainty” to promote good health while lowering health care costs. However, critics said it would allow employers to pressure workers to share their private genetic information by rewarding them with lower health insurance costs, while penalizing those who choose not to disclose such details.

The Winston-Salem Journal, Foxx’s hometown newspaper, called the measure an example of “big government run amok,” in an editorial urging Congress to kill it.

Under Illinois’ Genetic Information Privacy Act, employers must handle genetic testing consistent with the federal laws. It prevents employers from requiring genetic testing as a condition of employment, from changing terms of employment as a result of genetic information, or from classifying employees based on genetic testing. Further, it says testing done in the context of a workplace wellness program is available to employers only in aggregate form, not on an individual basis.

Manar’s proposed update to the law would bar employers from penalizing workers who choose not to disclose their genetic information or do not participate in a program that requires disclosure of their genetic information.

“I think we have a strong law in Illinois, but I don’t think it’s very strong about barring employers from penalizing employees,” he said.

…Adding… IL Public Radio

With support from labor unions, Illinois House Democrats passed legislation Wednesday that would restore certain bargaining rights for Chicago Public Schools teachers — letting them negotiate with the city on things like class size, length of school day, and layoffs.

For the last 22 years, Chicago Public School Teachers have been constrained in collective bargaining — limits that don’t apply to teachers in the rest of the state. The legislation would restore that parity — letting Chicago teachers have a say in private vendor contracts, class schedules and size, and the length of the school day.

Representative Silvana Tabares ,D-Chicago, the proposal’s sponsor, tied the interests of teachers with students. “Teachers will have a voice to have a discussion about these items, and that will improve the quality of education.”

Opponents take a different tack, that what’s good for teachers is not always what’s good for students. Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, says the bargaining limits were established after multiple harmful strikes from CPS teachers in the 1980s.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Goldberg says Rauner would sign a stand-alone K-12 funding bill

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Sen. Andy Manar asked the governor’s chief of staff Richard Goldberg during a hearing this morning whether Gov. Rauner would sign a K-12 funding bill in absence of a full budget.

“I don’t think that we should be considering hypotheticals,” with several weeks to go before the end of the spring session, Goldberg said.

However, Goldberg went on to say that he believes “K-12 education, ensuring that schools open in the fall will absolutely be a top priority for him,” as it has in the past.

Yet, the governor won’t agree to fund other programs without a full budget, including the House’s stopgap proposal which uses money from designated social service and higher education funds that is currently piling up in bank accounts collecting dust.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

Daiber says he voted for Hardiman

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Bernie

Meanwhile, a 2014 Democratic primary candidate for governor, TIO HARDIMAN, now of Calumet City, talked with some of the candidates after the speeches, and Daiber told Hardiman he had voted for him. Former Gov. PAT QUINN defeated Hardiman in that primary, but Hardiman won 28 percent of the vote, and topped Quinn in more than a quarter of the state’s counties.

Daiber told me it was a “protest vote” because he had been upset with Quinn for seeking to cut out pay for regional superintendents when Daiber was president of their organization.

“Pat Quinn was a good governor,” Daiber said. “He did a lot of good things.” He said he has campaigned with Quinn, backed him in the 2014 general election, and they are friends.

* Meanwhile, Sen. Daniel Biss was busy yesterday, speaking at a minimum wage hike rally

Hundreds of minimum wage workers rallied at the state capitol to fight for $15.

The rally drew workers from all over the state and multiple organizations were represented, all fighting to make the minimum wage $15 an hour. Many speakers came out including State Senator Daniel Biss, D-Evanston.

“We’re not going to stand for it, we are not going to accept it. We are going to fight, we are going to fight, and we are going to win.” he said to the hyped up crowd.

Attendees were there pushing for House Bill 198, a bill pending in the House that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

* Biss also spoke to Alzheimer patient advocates…

* Ameya Pawar continued his visits to Downstate communities…

As the campaign’s volunteer director, I can tell you that Ameya Pawar doesn’t just meet with voters. He’ll even meet their Republican parents.

In rural communities - including areas that haven’t voted for Democrats in years - Ameya is unafraid to articulate the same message of a New Deal for Illinois that he touts in Chicago. That’s what he did on a recent trip to Prophetstown when one of our supporters invited him to travel there to meet her conservative parents.

These trips are part of our work to mobilize voters in every county. And Ameya is winning over voters, one skeptical dad at a time.

* And JB Pritzker is back in Springfield for another event today…

B Pritzker to Speak at Springfield IFT Rally in Support of Higher Education

JB Pritzker to rally with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and speak about Bruce Rauner’s harmful cuts to higher education.

Thursday, April 27 at 1:15 PM

Lincoln Statue
Illinois State Capitol

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

“As soon as he gets that call, he’s immediately changing his number”

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Politico has published a 2,000-word piece about the possibility that Theo Epstein, the president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, will run for office some day. The story includes a lengthy interview of David Axelrod. It’s a bit on the silly side

Politico: Let’s imagine the messaging of a hypothetical Epstein campaign. Could he sell himself as the ultimate turnaround artist? First, the Red Sox, then the Cubs, next the state of Illinois, for example?

Axelrod: [laughs] It would work if he were running for alderman on the North Side of Chicago, but I suspect voters might resist the idea that turning around a baseball team is commensurate with turning around a city, a state or a country … A good example would be Bill Bradley (a former New York Knicks star who became a Democratic senator from New Jersey). When he ran he did very little referencing of basketball. He was actually even self-conscious about being a jock, so I think you have to separate yourself a little bit from sports … One thing that is transferable is the notion of building a team and getting people to work together. You could use that as a bridge to say what we need in this country is to regain the sense that we’re all on the same team and that we’re only going to prosper if we work together and find a way to build that bridge. That would be a winning message.

* Axelrod, however, firmly believes that Epstein will never run for office

Politico: But you don’t think he’ll take the bait?

Axelrod: I think as soon as he gets that call, he’s immediately changing his number … I think Theo would be frustrated in public office because of the situation he’s in now. He basically has free rein to do what he needs to do for the success of the organization. That is not the case in politics—you’re seeing that with the governor in Illinois (Bruce Rauner) right now. You have to deal with legislatures and all kinds of public stakeholders. And if you’re used to making things happen, I’m not sure the Senate would be a particularly satisfying job for you. When I talked to him on my podcast … about what he might want to do next … he allowed that he might want to own a team sometime and use that team or use that platform to try to impact on a community. He clearly cares about the larger world and wants to make an impact … But there are many, many reasons I think Cubs fans can relax and enjoy the benefits of his leadership for many years to come.


- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

House advances equal pay bill

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* Tribune

A day after advocates descended on the Capitol to push for women’s rights, the Illinois House passed a bill that proponents say would help close the pay gap between men and women.

Sponsored by Democratic Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin, the measure would bar employers from asking job applicants for prior wage or salary history unless it’s already public information or the applicant is moving within the company. Moeller and other supporters say this would help curb wage discrimination against women by ensuring an employer’s salary offer isn’t based on an unequal wage. […]

But the bill did win support from some Republicans who said it was time for lawmakers to address inequalities in the workplace. It passed the House 91-24 and now heads to the Senate.

“I may be one of the few people in this assembly that spent 30 years working for a large corporation, in fact one of the largest corporations in the world. This was my life, and I have to vote for this bill,” said Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, a former attorney for a major oil and gas company. “I think about with very great regret how much more I would have retired with if we’d had some of the protections that our representative is fighting for here today.”

* Finke

Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said the law will hamstring employers who hire sales representatives who work on commissions.

“I need to ask how much they made in the past (to evaluate them),” Batinick said.

Moeller said the information is not relevant.

“To say it is not relevant, I think is an absurdity,” Batinick responded.

However, Rep. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva, said he’s spent 25 years hiring people, and past salary history is not relevant.

“You know what’s relevant? Recommendations, work experience, where your education came from,” Andersson said. “We have to accept the reality that women are paid less than men.”

* Michon Lindstrom at WAND TV

“The very fact that women continue to make less demonstrates that we must do better in this state. Illinois can be a leader in assuring that women are paid for their work.” said Representative Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, the sponsor of the bill.

Opponents of the measure say the new restrictions on employers would be bad for business in the state and could cause them to leave.

“This bill has nothing to do with pay equity. All it is doing is putting additional restrictions on people who want to create jobs in the state. That’s the reason every single business group in the state is opposed. This is the stupidest bill we have considered this week.” said Representative Peter Breen, R-Lombard.

The roll call is here. Lots of Republicans voted for that bill. Politically, it’s conceivable that Gov. Rauner could undo some of the damage he’s done to himself by flip-flopping on HB 40 by signing that legislation into law. We’ll see.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Animal stories

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* GateHouse

Gov. Bruce Rauner and first lady Diana Rauner are not the only new residents at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

In response to questions at an Employer Action Day event on Wednesday, Rauner explained that a family of foxes has taken up residence beneath the stairs of the Director’s House, where the Rauners are staying during a major historic restoration of the Illinois Executive Mansion.

“I learned my first morning, there’s a den of foxes under the stairs, so a mom and six little pups,” Rauner said during the event at Wyndham City Centre.

Rauner said precautions have been taken to protect the litter from the family dog, Stella, who he pointed out is a hunting dog. He joked that he also wanted to avoid a “social media event” involving Stella and the fox family.

“Stella’s not with me, so we don’t have an interaction that would be very unproductive,” said Rauner. “I hope those puppies grow fast and then move on. That would be a great thing.”

* Press release…


Who: Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza
The Honorable Daniel Solis, Alderman – 25th Ward
The Honorable Nicholas Sposato, Alderman – 38th Ward
The Honorable James Cappleman, Alderman – 46th Ward
Susan J. Russell, Executive Director, Chicago’s Commission on Animal Care & Control
Kristen Pearson, CEO, PAWS Chicago
Steve Dale, Syndicated Columnist, My Pet World

What: Comptroller Mendoza will relaunch the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s animal rescue program, Comptroller’s Critters. Immediately following the announcement will be a tour of the Chicago Animal Care and Control Facility.

Where: Chicago Commission on Animal Care & Control
2741 South Western Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60608

When: Thursday, April 27th, 2017 10:30am - 12:00pm

About Comptroller’s Critters: Comptroller’s Critters was designed to help people locate pet adoption shelters throughout Illinois and place shelter pets in loving forever homes. Our goal is to give people the resources they need to adopt a pet and ultimately reduce animal control costs at a state and local level. The Office has partnered with shelters throughout Illinois to help reduce the number of animals waiting to be adopted.

She also included a pic of herself with Ald. Sposato and the late Judy Baar Topinka at a pet adoption event they hosted together…

* And since we’re talking about pets, Oscar and I were joined by our good friend Ken this past weekend on the ol’ pontoon boat…

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Oppo dump!

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017

* As Mary Ann Ahern reported last night, JB Pritzker supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2008 and then said this in the spring of 2012 when he was asked if he was supporting President Obama’s reelection


Ahern admitted during the press conference, by the way, that the quote was pointed out to her by one of Pritzker’s primary opponents.

* Pritzker’s response to Ahern yesterday

My opponents will suggest a lot of things, I’m sure, that aren’t true. Here’s the thing, I’m a Democrat. You’ve heard what my progressive values are. I’ve stood for those things. I’ve fought harder than anybody that’s running in this race against Donald Trump.

He also pointed out that he backed Obama after the 2008 primary and supported him in 2012.

Even so, those 2012 comments will make for a heck of a TV ad or ads on Chicago black radio stations.

* Meanwhile

“He was down on the ground with us regular folks when we were out there knocking on doors for the democratic party,” [Ald. Walter Burnett] said. “J.B. was there too and his wife was there also – who I met before he even married her. He knows how to feel people.”

And Pritzker was expressing some of those feelings on the South Side. Pritzker announced his campaign kickoff in Alderman Michelle Harris’ South Side ward, and Harris said the enthusiastic turnout was well earned.

“Out of every candidate, his concepts, his ideas and his vision for this state really connects with the African American community,” Harris said.

Harris admits another major fact is the fact that Pritzker is worth billions and has the money to run against wealthy incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

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Rauner explains his fundraising letter

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky interviewed Gov. Bruce Rauner this week. You really should click here to read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt

AV: You just sent out a fundraising letter that says Illinois residents deserve “a balanced budget without any tax increases.” At the same time, you said you want the grand bargain, which contains a tax increase, to pass and it’s closed. So which is it?

BVR: I introduced a balanced budget my first two months in office, and it had no new revenue, no new tax increases and had spending cuts. I was ignored, and the majority and the general assembly have said they don’t want to cut much, if at all, and they would rather support a tax hike. I’ve said I’ll go for new taxes, so amount of new revenue democrats are recommending. If we’re going to do that, we need structural change to make sure—

AV: That’s not what your fundraising letter said. It said without any tax increases—

BVR: No, that would be the first choice. The first choice is always that. But if we can’t do that, and the democrats have made it clear they won’t cut enough to balance the budget, they want new revenue. I said I’ll go along but only if we have structural changes to grow new jobs, because if all we do is raise taxes, we might have a balanced budget for one year, but within two or three years, we’ll be unbalanced again because we’ve done nothing to slow down government spending. And our economy has been flat. We’ve basically created no new jobs for 17 years. We have to change that or our budgets will never stay balanced.

Getting him to answer a question is not easy. At all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

Caption contest!

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* House Speaker Madigan and Rev. Jesse Jackson in Springfield yesterday

* A little background from yesterday

As the state nears the two year mark without a budget, Rev. Jesse Jackson told the crowd he’s trying to broker a summit between the parties.

“We should not adjust to this state of affairs and let ideology stand between us. Cullerton will do it, I think Madigan will do it, and I think the governor is more inclined to do it,” Jackson said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Kennedy: Endorsements are bad, except when they’re not

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* From Chris Kennedy’s reaction to the endorsement of JB Pritzker by Kurt Summers and four black Chicago aldermen

“I made it clear where I stand when I spoke to the Cook County Democrats in March. This race is not about politicians endorsing other politicians or what might be happening behind closed doors.”

* OK, that’s great. But if you go to Kennedy’s campaign website and click on the “Press releases” tab, this is currently at the very top

March 1, 2017

First major endorsement in the governor’s race goes to Chris Kennedy two weeks after announcing his campaign

Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor, received the endorsement of the Southern Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association yesterday. This is the first major endorsement in the Democratic race for governor. […]

“I am honored to accept the endorsement from the Southern Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association. Across Illinois, voters are ready for a change in Springfield and ready for Illinois to again embrace the American Dream — the notion that we are a country and a state where anyone can make it and where unlimited opportunity is the promise of our country,” Kennedy said.

* Related…

* Mark Brown: Summers’ floating of own candidacy could buoy Pritzker: Perhaps more helpful to Pritzker was Summers’ brushoff of candidate Chris Kennedy as someone who doesn’t have “a true understanding of the needs of the underprivileged and communities of color in particular.”

* Summers won’t run for governor, endorses J.B. Pritzker instead: But, the mayor’s closest business advisor and biggest campaign donor, Michael Sacks, is with Pritzker. Now, so is Summers, who once worked for Sacks at Grosvenor Capital Management.

* City Treasurer Summers backs Pritzker for governor, jabs Kennedy: Asked if any promises were made about a future role in a Pritzker administration or the campaign — governor candidates must find lieutenant governor running mates — Summers said no.

* City Treasurer Summers Announces He Will Not Run for Governor: The endorsement for Pritzker is seen as a blow to Chris Kennedy, who is polling well in the African American community.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Rauner suggests doing a capital bill before fixing the budget

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Gov. Rauner spoke to some business groups today. Bernie reports that Rauner is still claiming that the Senate is working on a grand bargain, even though Senate President Cullerton said it’s not. The governor also said this…

So much to unpack here.

1) A “big” capital plan would require lots of borrowing while we’re simultaneously racking up gigantic operating deficits. Not exactly responsible.

2) And if we’re gonna have a big capital plan, then the money ain’t gonna just magically grow on trees. How’s he gonna pay for it? More new taxes while universities crumble and social service agencies starve? As he rightly notes above, it’s gotta come from somewhere.

3) And I’m thinking maybe the bond rating agencies will show “some resistance” if Illinois tries to borrow billions of dollars without a real budget in place.

Bottom line: Walk before you can run and, please, stop projecting.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Be very careful out there

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* From an e-mail…

Hi Rich,

According state-wide polling data collected by Illinois Public Opinion Strategies there is fervent constituent support for the Cook County Sheriff’s proposed data transparency legislation (SB 1502/HB 2774).

Some of the numbers:

    · More than 94 percent disapprove of corporations collecting, sharing, or selling personal data.
    · More than 80 percent said they would use the law and request the names of the companies that have obtained personal data.

The Right to Know Act seeks to give consumers transparency into the types of personal data companies are collecting and to which third parties they’re selling it.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you would like to speak with the Sheriff.


Samuel Randall
Director of Communications, Cook County Sheriff’s Office

The full poll and methodology is here. Just 10 percent were mobile phones, so keep that in mind.

* Some of the questions

2. Do you have you a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Facebook?

    • Favorable 30.52%
    • Unfavorable 42.82%
    • Undecided 26.65%

3. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Google?

    • Favorable 55.92%
    • Unfavorable 19.95%
    • Undecided 24.13%

I haven’t been on Facebook much since the election. Too much drama.

* Anway, more questions

8. Do you approve or disapprove of corporations collecting, sharing, or selling for profit your personal information, such as your social security number, credit card number, race, religion, gender, or location?

    • Approve 04.46%
    • Disapprove 92.39%
    • Undecided 03.15%

9. Do you approve or disapprove of corporations collecting, sharing, or selling your personal information, such as your social security number, credit card number, race, religion, gender, or location, without your knowledge?

    • Approve 04.00%
    • Disapprove 94.13%
    • Undecided 01.87%

Kinda interesting that about the same number disapprove of this with or without their knowledge.

* A couple more

10. Do you approve or disapprove of legislation that would require corporations to inform you about their on-line collection, sharing, or selling of your personal information, such as your social security number, credit card number, race, religion, gender, or location collected on their Web sites?

    • Approve 66.20%
    • Disapprove 28.81%
    • Undecided 04.99%

14. Do you approve or disapprove of consumers being able to file a lawsuit against a corporation whose smart phone application tracks your personal movements, locations visited, and your travel activity without your consent?

    • Approve 69.36%
    • Disapprove 19.53%
    • Undecided 11.11%

And there it is.

As I’ve said before, we have a budding high tech sector in this state. Reasonable statutory restrictions to ensure privacy are fine by me. But keep the trial lawyers out of the enforcement or we could kill the golden gosling. We’ve got enough problems here without doing that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* I’ll have more on this statewide poll in a bit, but let’s discuss its first question now…

Do you believe Illinois is heading in the right direction or the wrong direction?

    • Right 10.60%
    • Wrong 75.28%
    • Undecided 14.13%

Whew. Those are some serious pitchfork and torch numbers right there, man.

* The Question: What sort of person do you think believes the state is heading in the right direction? Bonus question: What sort of person would be undecided at this point?

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      

ALEC’s constitutional convention resolution awaits approval of full House

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* From HJR 32’s synopsis

Makes application to Congress under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government and limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.

The measure’s chief sponsor is Rep. Bob Martwick (D-Chicago), but it has several GOP co-sponsors. The proposal was unanimously approved by the House Executive Committee on March 30th.

* Common Cause is not a fan…

While Illinois citizens remain transfixed by the daily news of events in Springfield and Washington, D.C., a serious threat to our democracy has been quietly gathering steam. Through House Joint Resolution 32, a bipartisan group of State Representatives have issued a call for the State of Illinois to request a convention to amend the Constitution of the United States. This proposal is part of a well-funded highly-coordinated national effort by conservative advocacy groups who are seeking to bypass the Congress and use the vague language in Article V of the Constitution to fundamentally alter the nature of our democracy.

“Every Illinois citizen should be terribly concerned about the reckless calls in this state for a constitutional convention,” warned Brian Gladstein, Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois. “There simply aren’t any rules to limit the nature or scope of what could put on the table once a convention is called and provide megadonors the opportunity to restrict or completely take away some of our most fundamental rights. We just can’t risk it.”

Back in 2015, Common Cause issued a report entitled The Dangerous Path: Big Money’s Plan to Shred the Constitution, that laid out its concerns about calls for a constitutional convention, including:

    THREAT OF A RUNAWAY CONVENTION: There is no language appearing in the United States Constitution that would prevent a constitutional convention from being expanded in scope to issues not raised in convention calls passed by the state legislatures, and therefore could lead to a runaway convention.

    INFLUENCE OF SPECIAL INTERESTS: An Article V convention would open the Constitution to revisions at a time of extreme gerrymandering and polarization amid unlimited political spending. It could allow special interests and the wealthiest among us to re-write the rules governing our system of government.

    LACK OF CONVENTION RULES: There are no rules governing constitutional conventions. A convention would be an unpredictable Pandora’s Box; the last one, in 1787, resulted in a brand new Constitution. Indeed, the group that is advocating for HJR 32 openly discusses the possibility of using the process to undo hard-won civil rights and civil liberties advances and undermine basic rights extended throughout history as our nation strove to deliver on the promise of a democracy that works for everyone.

    UNCERTAIN RATIFICATION PROCESS: A convention could re-define the ratification process (which currently requires 38 states to approve any new amendments) to make it easier to pass new amendments, including those considered at the convention. This happened in 1787, when the convention changed the threshold necessary for ratification.

    THREAT OF LEGAL DISPUTES: No judicial, legislative, or executive body has been given a clear authority to settle disputes about a convention, opening the process to chaos and protracted legal battles that would threaten the functioning of our democracy and economy.

    APPLICATION PROCESS UNCERTAINTY: There is no clear process on how Congress or
    any other governmental body would count and add up Article V applications, or if Congress and the states could restrain the convention’s mandate based on those applications. Notably, a separate call for a constitutional convention seeking a federal balanced budget amendment that is being funded by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate juggernaut masquerading as a charity, insists that it is just six states shy of meeting the threshold, even though 16 of those state resolutions came from a failed attempt to call a convention decades ago.

    POSSIBILITY OF UNEQUAL REPRESENTATION: It is unclear how states would choose delegates to a convention, how states and citizens would be represented in a convention, and who would ultimately get to vote on items raised in a convention.

The language in HJR 32 appears to have been pulled directly from ALEC’s model bill library, and perfectly illustrates the threat of a runaway convention. The measure generally calls for amendments imposing term limits for members of Congress and the judiciary, “fiscal restraints on the federal government,” and limits on the power of the federal government. The vague language in this measure was first introduced in 37 different state legislatures in 2015, and it has already been passed in nine states.

It should also be noted that it is not only conservative groups that are pressing for a constitutional convention. In fact, in 2014, the General Assembly issued another resolution seeking a constitutional amendment to overturn the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. That effort was primarily being lead by the left-leaning group known as Wolf PAC. Although Common Cause Illinois is committed to fighting against the corrosive presence of big money in our political system, it believed then as it does now that the risks associated with this plan are simply too great.

“We will continue to fight against any demand for an Article V convention, no matter who is leading the charge,” said Gladstein. “We are committed to safeguarding our democratic principles, and we hope that our elected officials in Springfield will join us in this fight.”

They make a good point about this being a copy of ALEC’s model bill. Click here for the Illinois resolution. Click here for the ALEC model.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

The strange case of that $71 million for DoIT

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Buried deep in this AP story about a conveniently timed legislative hearing yesterday about the AP’s story yesterday on secretary of the Department of Innovation and Technology Hardik Bhatt’s spending on an executive-assistance firm, is this more interesting (to me) nugget

Bhatt also deflected committee questions about a transfer last fall by defeated GOP Comptroller Leslie Munger of $71 million from general revenue funds — available to pay providers of human services — to accounts from which DoIT operates. […]

Rep. Will Guzzardi, a Chicago Democrat, pounded Bhatt over Munger’s transfer of $71 million after she lost a special November election to Mendoza. He said the two special accounts DoIT relies on had $85 million on hand. DoIT chief of staff Tyler Clark told Guzzardi, “We needed the money to pay bills.”

Guzzardi responded, “The state owes a lot of money to a lot of vendors out of” the general revenue fund. “Here, $70 million was put on the front line to go out to the vendors you all have, which makes the line longer.”

Bhatt said he did not ask for the money and pointed out that information technology improvements benefit all state services.

Bhatt didn’t ask for the money? And DoIT had $85 million on hand and then got another $71 million to “pay bills” while social service providers were going under?

Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office told me a while ago that they were looking into whether they could transfer Munger’s DoIT cash back to GRF. But, I was told, doing so would be “unprecedented.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

Mayor pounds governor on trust issue

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel went off again on Gov. Rauner yesterday

“When it comes to the issue of choice and health for everybody, the governor when he was a candidate took a position … that was clear and defined, and he’s now flipped on that,” Emanuel said after an event to announce the construction of a new grocery store in West Woodlawn.

Emanuel also contended that Rauner went back on his word to provide Chicago Public Schools with $215 million in additional pension funding — although Rauner has said it was Democrats who didn’t come through on a broader deal to reform the state’s pension system — and initially balked at a bill that would have helped the renewable energy industry that the governor said he supported.

* Bill Cameron

“To work and get a budget passed, you have to be trusted and I would tell you on this position, while you can just narrowly focus on the issue of choice which is a fair enough way to measure it, I think it goes to an issue of trust and the voracity of somebody’s word when they give it to you,” said Mayor Emanuel.

The mayor said he’d be pleasantly surprised if Rauner’s prediction of a school funding bill is near, but he doubts it.

* Derrick Blakely

“And if your word is not valued or trusted, nobody will work with you.”

* The response

The governor’s spokeswoman, Eleni Demertzis, responded to the mayor’s latest broadside by insisting that Rauner has been “consistent on the issues.”

“It’s unfortunate that Mayor Emanuel is continuing his tired finger-pointing instead of working with the Governor to address the challenges facing the city and state,” Demertzis wrote in an email.

As for the abortion bill approved by the Illinois House, Demertzis said Rauner “opposes a massive expansion of taxpayer funding that would put Illinois out of step with nearly every state in the union. However, he has asked the General Assembly to pass a clean bill to remove the ‘trigger’ language.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Cullerton: Don’t call it a stopgap or a lifeline

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Illinois Public Radio

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been saying he thinks a comprehensive budget deal is “very close.” He points to negotiations in the state Senate, so Brian Mackey asked the Senate president if that’s the case. […]

I asked Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, if the governor had been hearing that from him.

“No,” Cullerton said. “But he should come back from wherever he is now, and we’re in session, and we should talk and he could tell me — I’d be happy to know what he’s talking about.”

The governor was actually touring the Beer Nuts factory at about that time

A self-proclaimed fan of Beer Nuts, Gov. Bruce Rauner took a guided tour of the Bloomington plant on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with employees where he touted the state’s economic potential.

Yep, while women were rallying in Springfield and both chambers were in session, the governor was touting Beer Nuts in Bloomington.

* Anyway, back to Cullerton

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he and his colleagues will take up a partial government spending bill passed by the House earlier this month.

The legislation would release more than 800 million dollars piling up in special state accounts for social service contractors and state universities.

Republicans call it another “stopgap” budget. House Democrats called it a “lifeline.” But Cullerton says neither term is accurate.

“Really it’s important for you to know that I don’t view those as stopgaps or lifelines,” Cullerton said Tuesday. “Those monies are trapped in those funds, and cannot be spent by the governor or anybody else unless we authorize them to spend it.”

* More

“If we don’t pass some authorization to spend those [funds from two state accounts set aside for social service agencies and higher education] the money can’t be used, which is kind of ridiculous when we have so many people who are owed so much money,” Cullerton said. “That’s why we need to authorize the spending of those funds.”

The measure has arrived in the Senate, where there are anticipated changes, which will have to be approved in a committee. But it could be called as soon as this week.

Asked whether the bill to fund social services and public universities removes the pressure to get a full budget, Cullerton said the numbers speak for themselves.

“It doesn’t. We still have the pressure of owing $13 billion and spending $8 billion more than we have coming in,” Cullerton said. “That’s enough pressure.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Proponents respond to HB 40 passage

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Rep. Sara Feigenholtz…

“Today is a victory for every woman in our state because it protects every woman’s right to choose,” Feigenholtz said. “I applaud my colleagues who took the critical vote that removed the dangerous anti-choice trigger language from the original act. Today, we stated unequivocally that access to safe legal abortion will remain protected in Illinois.”

“After repeated threats from the White House and President Trump’s remarks to strip abortion rights away from women, this legislation was necessary to safeguard a woman’s right to make decisions that affect her personal health in Illinois,” said Feigenholtz. […]

Before the vote, Feigenholtz sponsored a bus from Chicago to Springfield to enable dozens of activists and concerned citizens to have their voices heard.

“Everyone has the right to not only see democracy in action but also participate in it. I was honored to give my constituents that opportunity,” said Feigenholtz, who earlier this year participated in the historic Women’s Day March in Chicago. […]

Feigenholtz also had a message for Governor Bruce Rauner, who has publically opposed the bill which would give all women, regardless of economic status, the ability to receive the full complement of reproductive healthcare options.

“Governor Bruce Rauner is clueless about what women go through when trying to access reproductive health care in Illinois,” said Feigenholtz. “He sits in his ivory tower spending millions on TV campaign ads- what he needs to do is spend a day in the shoes of a woman struggling to access reproductive health care.”

* Ameya Pawar…

Three years ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner put his name – and his signature – on a pro-choice pledge. Last week, he broke his word to Illinois families, threatening women’s health.

This afternoon, I spoke in solidarity with hundreds of people at the Women’s March on Springfield to rally support for House Bill 40. It’s a common-sense bill that would end the trigger criminalizing abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned. It would also expand reproductive health coverage for low-income women.

Women’s reproductive health is a basic right. We can’t let extreme politicians like Bruce Rauner take that away. Please share this image on Facebook to show your support for HB40.

This bill shouldn’t be used as another political game for a failed governor. While Gov. Rauner tries to protect his political career by rallying his far-right base, I’ll stay focused on protecting women’s health.

We need to pass House Bill 40 to make reproductive health care more affordable and end the potential criminalization of abortion in Illinois. Please share this message on Facebook or forward this email to three friends.

Gov. Rauner broke his word to all of us. Together, we can hold him accountable – and protect women’s health.

Thank you for being part of our movement,

* JB Pritzker…

“Today the Illinois House took a courageous step in protecting women’s healthcare and pushing back against the GOP’s attack on Illinois women,” said JB Pritzker. “I marched in Springfield today, and for more than a quarter century I’ve marched, petitioned, and spoken out to protect women’s reproductive rights in Washington and across our state. It’s because I stand for the values of those I respect the most – my mother, my sister, my daughter, my wife – that I keep fighting. As your next governor, I will continue standing up to protect access to quality healthcare for all Illinois women.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Opponents react to HB 40 passage

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017


“Instead of working to solve our state’s catastrophic challenges, Madigan Democrats just passed a radical bill for taxpayer funded abortions, at a cost of $60 million, while we don’t have a budget. Springfield yet again shows it’s tone-deaf to the concerns of Illinoisans.” - Illinois Republican Party National Committeewoman Demetra Demonte

Interesting that they call this “Madigan Democrats” proposal “radical” when Gov. Rauner supposedly supported that bill before he was against it, and even implied that he could support the bill if only the impasse was resolved.

* Catholic Conference of Illinois…

The head of the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops today lamented Illinois House passage of legislation authorizing the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions for Medicaid recipients and state employees.

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, criticized lawmakers for turning a moral argument into campaign fodder.

“Elected representatives today chose raw politics over the innocent lives of the unborn,” Gilligan said.

Today’s passage of House Bill 40 denoted the culmination of a legislative spring break marked by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s promise to veto the legislation, which was quickly followed by accusations of broken campaign promises. Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago last week issued a public statement in which he thanked the governor for his “principled stand” to veto HB 40.

“Abortion is a controversial issue in this country, but using public money to provide abortions should not be,” Cardinal Cupich stated.

Public opinion polls indicate strong opposition to public funding of abortion. A January 2017 poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion for the Knights of Columbus shows that 61 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 40 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.

Only 15 states currently pay for elective abortions for Medicaid participants, and 11 of those states do so through a court order, not legislative action.

Gilligan stressed the House’s vote represented a dangerous misplacement of priorities, especially when the state has not had a budget for 22 months and has nearly $13 billion in overdue bills.

“The state can’t pay for essential services, and lawmakers are funding elective abortions – where is the logic in that?” he said.

Illinois’ Catholic bishops have lobbied hard against House Bill 40, issuing letters to parishioners urging them to contact their state representatives to vote against the measure. Cardinal Cupich and the other bishops noted that a better use of taxpayer money in such dire fiscal times would be to fund prenatal services for the poor and child care for working mothers, as well as expand health-care options for those in need.

HB 40 passed the House on a 62-55 vote, and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

* Illinois Federation of Republican Women…

“Yesterday, Democrats passed a far-reaching bill that will force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions. As a result, Illinois taxpayers are on the hook to pay over $60 million. Democrats continue to show they are willing to increase the financial burden on our state and taxpayers. Instead of playing politics with this controversial piece of legislation, Speaker Madigan should focus on working with Governor Bruce Rauner to pass a balanced budget. We need reforms so we can properly and adequately fund our universities and social services, not more of Madigan’s games.”

If I recall correctly, Gov. Rauner cut off talks with Madigan last December.

* Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard)…

“Today, Mike Madigan and his Illinois House Democrats voted to spend taxpayer funds to abort healthy babies. Our best estimates show that taxpayers would pay for over 30,000 abortions if this bill is signed into law, at an impact of $60 million to our Medicaid system. Despite the dire financial straits facing our state, Illinois Democrats today put their political patrons in the abortion industry ahead of fiscal sanity and a balanced budget.”

“According to the Workers’ Action Guide published by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Medicaid provides medical coverage for pregnant women who make less than 213% of the federal poverty level. The latest numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, released in May 2016, indicate that 75% of women who receive abortions have income under 200% of the federal poverty level. Based upon this information, and published documentation from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services about the cost and frequency of abortion procedures, the $60 million price tag would decimate our Medicaid budget.”

In 2015, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget said an identical bill wouldn’t cost anything extra.

* Illinois Family Institute…

After passionate testimony from both sides, HB 40 passed by a vote of 62-55 yesterday afternoon. Sixty votes are needed for passage. This proposal for taxpayer funding of abortion will now proceed to the Illinois Senate where it is expected to pass. […]

Passage of HB 40 would translate into tens of thousands of additional abortions in Illinois every year through Medicaid. As explained in an earlier article, this law would result in a disproportionate number of black and brown babies being killed.

HB 40 also allows the Deptartment of Health and Human Services to make grants to nonprofit agencies and organizations that use such grants to refer, counsel for, or perform abortions.

In addition, state employees would have abortion coverage added to their insurance plan under HB 40.

Proponents, for the most part, focused their testimony on a woman’s choice to have control over her own body and the “right” of poor women to have access to “health care” while opponents’ focus was on the fact that innocent pre-born human life would be killed with taxpayer resources.

It’s a tragic day in Illinois when the most helpless have no protection from the adult lawmakers who are already born.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Rauner wants to fire “illegal” Quinn hires

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Press release…

The Rauner Administration this week filed a motion to deny employees hired illegally by the previous administration the protection of a collective bargaining agreement.

The motion continues the Rauner Administration’s commitment to reforming the patronage mess it inherited. As the Special Master noted in her recent report:

    “Over the past two years, the Rauner Administration and IDOT have taken significant steps toward eliminating some of the problematic employment practices identified above and in the 2014 OEIG Report… The illegal hiring of the Staff Assistants has a continuing impact on State government. Many individuals hired illegally into the Staff Assistant position remain employed in other positions.”

Currently, at least 36 employees who were improperly hired into the IDOT staff positions remain employed with the state. Due to collective bargaining protections, the Administration cannot terminate these employees. The Administration’s motion asks a judge to decide if collective bargaining rights covering improperly hired employees can actually protect them.

“Since the governor first took office, we have worked diligently to create a more ethical and responsive government,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “We are pleased the Special Master recognizes our commitment to both cleaning up the patronage mess we inherited and changing the system so the abuse of the past cannot reoccur. Under our changes, rank-and-file state workers will be hired based on what they know, not who they know.”

Last September, Governor Rauner announced that the Administration abolished the staff assistant position and terminated all remaining staff assistants, which were at the center of the IDOT patronage hiring scandal. A 2014 OEIG report found the previous administration illegally hired staff assistants at IDOT and then transferred them into protected government positions or allowed them to perform job duties with little or no relation to their actual job description.

In direct response to the IDOT hiring scandal, Governor Rauner began requiring the state to publish all Rutan-exempt employees on the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal website during his first month in office. Additionally, the Rauner Administration has removed a level of bureaucracy in hiring civil-service positions, which has further protected the hiring process from unlawful political influence.

Keep in mind that the Quinn administration was alleged to have conspired to skirt hiring laws for Rutan-covered civil service jobs in order to get politically connected people into those positions. There are still a number of exempt positions that can be filled via political means. So, comparing this Quinn thing to Rauner’s hiring of, say, Leslie Munger, is apples to oranges. You may not like that hire, but it was legal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

*** UPDATED x5 - Kennedy responds - 4 aldermen also endorse - Will back Pritzker *** Decision day is here for Kurt Summers

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Tribune

Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers will hold a 10 a.m. news conference. The advisory from Summers’ campaign team indicated Summers will make a “press conference announcement.” The ambitious Summers has held out the possibility he will run for the Democratic governor nomination and indicated a decision was coming soon. The field already has five announced candidates, including Chicago billionaire J.B. Pritkzer.

Think he’ll get in?

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Nope…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Interesting

City treasurer Kurt Summers, long a rumored candidate for governor, is expected to announce Wednesday morning that he will not seek that office and instead endorse billionaire J.B. Pritzker, a source told the Sun-Times.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Look who showed up today…

*** UPDATE 4 *** Pritzker also got some aldermanic endorsements. From a press release…..

Today, Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers announced his support for JB Pritzker for Governor at Gallery Guichard in Bronzeville. Joining Kurt in endorsing JB were Alderman Pat Dowell (Ward 3), Alderman Roderick Sawyer (Ward 6), Alderman Mike Scott (Ward 24), and Alderman Emma Mitts (Ward 37). […]

“JB is the right candidate to lead the fight against Governor Rauner and to clean up the mess that’s been created in Springfield and across our state,” said Kurt Summers. “I’ve known JB for over a decade. I’ve seen up close his values, his expertise and his relentless passion for helping others. JB understands that the best way to lift up our communities is through job creation and real investment, and I trust that he will bring back stability to Illinois.

“JB’s past experiences prove he is the most committed and the most capable person to govern our state and deliver on the promise to improve the lives of working people and low-income communities. He is the person we need to lead Illinois, prioritizing those who are most vulnerable among us. I know JB will fight every day for the people of this state, especially for black and brown communities that have suffered from disinvestment and have been disproportionately affected by Governor Rauner’s lack of leadership. JB will work hard to earn every single vote – and truly represent us all as governor.”

“Today, I am honored and humbled to accept the endorsement of Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers,” said JB Pritzker. “Kurt is someone who shows up every day and fights for all our city’s children and families, especially for communities that are too often left behind. And, unlike Governor Rauner, Kurt gets results and we’re all better off because of it. We’re just twenty days in to this campaign, and I’m thankful for the strong showing of support we’re receiving from leaders across Illinois.”

*** UPDATE 5 *** Press release…

Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for Illinois Governor, released the following statement on Kurt Summers’ announcement that he would not be running for Governor.

“I made it clear where I stand when I spoke to the Cook County Democrats in March. This race is not about politicians endorsing other politicians or what might be happening behind closed doors. This race is about restoring the promise of the American Dream to the people of Illinois. Voters want to see the depth of our ideas and the vision we bring to rebuilding the promise of this state. My focus will be on earning the trust of the voters of Illinois and making Springfield finally work for their future.”

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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Early voting roundup
* Still more shenanigans!
* Sunday campaign money roundup
* Even more shenanigans!
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* Saturday campaign money report
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Shenanigans!
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** Caption contest!
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