* We’ll talk about this more on Monday, but here’s the press release…
Today, Personal PAC released the results of a statewide poll it recently conducted showing that Governor Rauner is completely out of step with the vast majority of Illinois voters on the issue of abortion.
73% percent of Illinois voters believe abortion should be a private decision between a woman and her doctor versus 20% who do not, making the margin of difference 53%. 7% were not sure. Among these voters, 58% of them are Republicans, 86% are Hispanic/Latino, 71% are White, and 83% are African American, with strong support across all age groups, 85% of 18-29 year-olds and 70% of those older than 65. Of people living outside the Collar Counties & Chicago/Cook County, 65% agree with this statement versus 27% who disagree.
On the question of whether Governor Rauner should protect the reproductive health care of ALL women, 64% agree and 24% disagree, with 12% undecided. 47% of Republicans agree as do 75% of Hispanic/Latinos, 60% of White voters and 74% of African Americans, 57% of those older than 65.
One of the most encouraging and fascinating results is that among 18-25 year-olds, 83% agree that Governor Rauner should protect the reproductive rights of ALL women which is almost identical to the 85% who believe abortion should be safe and legal in Illinois. This age cohort clearly understands that being pro-choice means supporting access for all women and their families. Translation: A choice without the means to exercise that choice is meaningless.
On the question of being more or less likely to vote for Governor Rauner if he DOES NOT PROTECT the reproductive health care of ALL women, 46% are less likely to vote for him while 20% are more likely to vote for him, with 28% making no difference and 5% not sure. 21% of Republicans and 47% of Independent voters are less likely to vote for him when asked this question.
Only 35% of Republicans would be more likely to vote for him and to 39% of Republicans it makes no difference. Among all Republicans on this question, fully 64% are either less likely to vote for Governor Rauner (21%), it doesn’t make a difference (39%), or they are not sure (4%).
43% of voters living outside the Collar Counties and Cook County/Chicago are less likely to vote for Rauner if he doesn’t support the reproductive rights of all women.
The results of this poll make it abundantly clear that Governor Rauner is on the wrong side of every demographic in the State of Illinois on the issue of abortion rights and access to reproductive health care for all women.
Yesterday, Governor Rauner stated that he will veto HB 40 because the issue is “too ‘divisive’ and “controversial.’” However, this poll points to the truth: Governor Rauner is the one who is too divisive and controversial; not the protections for women contained in HB 40 that he now opposes. It would be quite simple for Governor Rauner to take all that “focus” he has and spend just five seconds of his valuable time to place his signature on HB 40 to make it the law in Illinois.
Signing HB 40 is what the people of Illinois want Governor Rauner to do and expect of him, not only in this poll, but what he promised to do in writing in 2014 by stating, “As Governor I will work for equal access to contraception and abortion services.” “I dislike the law that restricts abortion coverage under the state Medicaid plan and state employees’ health insurance because I believe it unfairly restricts access based on income. I would support a legislative effort to reverse that law.”
The people of Illinois agree with your 2014 statement Governor Rauner. HB 40 is the “legislative effort to reverse that law.”
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling April 17-18, 2017 among 855 registered voters statewide. 80% of the respondents were reached by land line phones and 20% were cell phone users.
Donald Ray Edwards, 70, of Frankfort, IL, passed away peacefully on April 19. He was born in Alton, IL, and lived a life of full of love, good humor, commitment to causes that inspired him, and devotion to a family who loved him deeply.
Don’s passions were numerous and sincerely felt. A fishing trip with his son. An afternoon of golf with his closest friends. A day spent volunteering at the food pantry. His service to the Lion’s Club. A peaceful morning with his wife, Deborah, sharing coffee over the newspaper. An evening with his daughters, playing games and sharing stories. Don’s first passion was always his family, to whom he was endlessly devoted and imparted values and life lessons that will remain with them always.
Don’s passion was also evident in his nearly-50 years of service to credit unions, 39 of which was spent at the Illinois Credit Union League. In numerous roles, most recently as the Senior Vice President of Federal Government Affairs, Don oversaw the League’s legislative and political action activities, always advocating with his trademark gentle charm and sincerity. Though he was honored for his decades of service with tribute awards and a scholarship established in his name, it was the friendships he formed and belief in his cause that inspired Don to accomplishments too numerous to list here.
Don is survived by his wife of 36 years, Deborah; his three children, Jessica (Brian), Daniel (Katie), and Julie; his grandson, Zavier; his brother, James (Teri), and his step-brother, John Roy.
Visitation will be held Monday from 3-8pm at Gerardi Funeral Home, 9501 W. Lincoln Hwy., Frankfort. Funeral Services will be held Tuesday at 10:30 AM, also at Gerardi Funeral Home. Interment Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Frankfort. For information, please call 815-469-2144.
In lieu of flowers, the Edwards family requests memorial contributions be directed to the Leukemia Research Foundation in Don’s name.
[NEIU] is heavily reliant on state funds and the ongoing budget battle in Springfield is holding up appropriations. To save money, the school cancelled classes on April 11 and 12 and plans to do so again one day in May.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, says this is exactly why taxpayer-funded schools shouldn’t be allowed to pay commencement speakers. He is filing a bill that would ban the practice in Illinois.
“It certainly isn’t the best use of public funds at a time when the university’s laying off workers and furloughing people,” he said. “And if you expect to get paid for that sort of speech, you don’t deserve to give that sort of speech.”
The same version of his bill that was filed last legislative session would allow private funding for speakers.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is the most vulnerable incumbent governor in 2018, according to new national election rankings today from Roll Call analyst Nathan Gonzales.
Rauner is the only incumbent governor currently projected to lose in 2018, according to the non-partisan rankings. Gonzales lists Illinois as “Tilt Democratic,” citing difficult headwinds for Rauner.
“The governor is willing and able to spend tens of millions of dollars to get re-elected. But that doesn’t change the distinct Democratic lean of the state. … The state and political environment will likely work against the governor. Tilt D.”
The announcement caps off another tough week for the embattled governor. Newspapers around the state have grown weary of Rauner’s dearth of answers to the state’s problems.
From the excuses over the budget impasse, to the thinly veiled campaign trips, to his flip-flops on reproductive rights, Rauner has done little to inspire confidence.
If you click here and go to the report, the Rauner race is actually listed as “Toss-up/Tilt Democrat.” The subscriber section referenced by the DGA lists it as “Tilt D.” Either way, it’s gonna be a heckuva race.
* In other campaign news, JB Pritzker was interviewed by Tom Miller at WJPF Radio today. Have a listen…
He’s getting better. That’s the best interview I’ve heard him do yet. But the questions were friendlier than the others.
As proposed, HB40 purports to do two things: ensure that abortion in Illinois would remain legal even if the U.S. Supreme Court rolls back Roe v. Wade and allow for the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. This is a very strange policy, since fewer than half of Americans find abortion morally acceptable. And, according to another recent poll, Americans do not want to pay for other people’s abortions.
Aware that their bill has unpopular policy results, those advocating the bill created political cover. They dusted off the old law books and found language in a 1975 Illinois abortion law that mentions a general intent to protect unborn humans from abortion. The advocates for HB 40 falsely claim this language amounts to a “trigger law” that will make abortion illegal in Illinois if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe decision. It’s a scare tactic aimed at reducing support for Governor Rauner. If they can get voters upset over this false claim, perhaps these voters will forget the fiscal crisis we are in and vote accordingly.
The truth is that the Illinois Legislative Research Unit in 1989 already studied this question and determined that there is no trigger law. If Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, abortion will be just as legal in Illinois as it is today. It would take an entirely new law at the state level to make abortion illegal. So, then, HB40 would really only do one thing: Require taxpayers to pay for abortions through Medicaid and state workers insurance.
A preamble to the 1975 law allowing abortions says if the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is ever reversed or modified, “the former policy of this state to prohibit abortions unless necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life shall be reinstated.”
Despite the strong wording, most Illinois legislators, bolstered by an opinion from the General Assembly`s legislative research unit, say lawmakers would have to pass new bills before abortion could be banned or severely restricted again.
The reference to reverting to the old law “lacks all of the kinds of specific, operative provisions that would be necessary for enforcing such a policy, such as definitions and penalties,” the legislative research unit said in February.
Anti-abortion groups would likely go to court to get the 1975 law reinstated [if Roe v. Wade is overturned], but whether they would succeed remains a question. […]
“Abortions will not be illegal because there is no statute in Illinois that makes abortions generally criminal,” [Attorney Paul Linton, counsel for the anti-abortion Americans United for Life] said.
The Illinois Legislative Research Unit of the General Assembly also shares that view. It would take a new law to outlaw abortion here, the research unit concluded in a 1989 study. […]
[Colleen Connell, director of the reproductive rights project of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois] of the ACLU maintained that both the preamble and the law are unenforceable.
“The law has a unconstitutional vagueness,” she said. “It doesn’t specifically tell physicians which acts are prohibited and which are not. There’s a long-standing and unquestioned doctrine of criminal law in Illinois that says the law must be very specific.
“What the preamble says is the General Assembly didn’t like abortion, but the preamble has no legal, binding aspect.”
Despite those comments, the ACLU of Illinois is currently advocating for the “trigger” law repeal.
Under Illinois law, a preamble “is not a part of the Act itself and has no substantive legal force.” Because a preamble customarily precedes the enacting clause, “ ‘[it] is not regarded as being an operative part of statutory enactments.’ ” A preamble cannot, by itself, prescribe rights or establish duties, but may only be used as a tool of statutory construction. [Citations removed.]
The preamble has long been recognized as one of the quintessential sources of legislative intent. The fact that the preamble often accompanies a bill throughout the legislative process, is voted upon by the members of the General Assembly, and is included in the text which is presented to the Governor for signature highlights the unique character of the preamble in terms of legislative intent. In this regard, we note that a preamble constitutes a stronger expression of intent than does a passing comment made by a single legislator during legislative debates. Thus, we are not confronted with a situation where the contrary legislative intent needed to rebut the presumption of retroactivity is cloaked in doubt or uncertainty.
Equally important, however, is the fact that our decision is faithful to the cardinal rule of statutory construction which dictates that courts must ascertain and give effect to the true intent and meaning of the legislature.
What they were talking about in that case was a preamble which announced the intent of the General Assembly that wasn’t actually in the statute. The statute simply and succinctly repealed the Structural Work Act (”The Structural Work Act is repealed”), but the specifically stated legislative intent was only to bar legal actions going forward (”It is the intent of the General Assembly that any action accruing under the Structural Work Act before the effective date of this Public Act may be maintained in accordance with the provisions of that Act as it existed before its repeal by this Public Act.”). The Supremes went with the legislative intent in the preamble after an injured worker attempted to claim damages from an injury received before the repeal took effect.
It is the intention of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois to reasonably regulate abortion in conformance with the decisions of the United States Supreme Court of January 22, 1973. Without in any way restricting the right of privacy of a woman or the right of a woman to an abortion under those decisions, the General Assembly of the State of Illinois do solemnly declare and find in reaffirmation of the longstanding policy of this State, that the unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes of the unborn child’s right to life and is entitled to the right to life from conception under the laws and Constitution of this State. Further, the General Assembly finds and declares that longstanding policy of this State to protect the right to life of the unborn child from conception by prohibiting abortion unless necessary to preserve the life of the mother is impermissible only because of the decisions of the United States Supreme Court and that, therefore, if those decisions of the United States Supreme Court are ever reversed or modified or the United States Constitution is amended to allow protection of the unborn then the former policy of this State to prohibit abortions unless necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life shall be reinstated.
An ACLU of Illinois spokesman says the group hasn’t changed its position, but that there is just “too much risk” now from legal ambiguities like the one above to allow a judge to decide what happens next should Roe v. Wade be repealed. That’s why they want to repeal the “trigger.”
The district is suing the state for more money, but lawsuits are always iffy propositions. It probably can’t borrow the money because it’s pretty much locked out of the markets and borrowing would simply push the problem onto next year. It can’t really delay the coming pension payment, either.
Here’s the rub: TIF surpluses are not available at this point in the fiscal year, mainly because the city can’t surplus money it doesn’t yet have. The next infusion of property tax revenue will be in August, said Tatia Gibbons of the Cook County Clerk’s office.
And August is too late to make that $215 million pension payment by June 30th.
It could cancel construction projects that use TIF money. But it’s unclear how much that would free up by reading the article.
Its current deficit amounts to just about 2 percent of its $5.4 billion operating budget. It also has a $1.5 billion line of credit.
CPS says its line of credit is being fully used, though the district still may be able to borrow more money in the short term or shift funds around and hold tight until its next infusion of property tax money in August. […]
The district refuses to say how much money it has on hand, what bills for this year are outstanding and whether it has any wiggle room when it comes to using its line of credit to manage cash flow.
CPS officials said cash flow information is not revealed for “market reasons,” offering only that CPS’ cash flow situation is precarious.
“I fundamentally believe that abortion should be a woman’s private decision, hopefully in consultation with her loved ones and her faith community, and that decision should not be impeded by government,” Rauner wrote in reply to Personal PAC’s questionnaire.
“This principle should apply to all women, regardless of income level or location of residency. As governor, I will work to ensure equal access to contraception and abortion services. It is my hope that by increasing access to reproductive health services we can reduce the incidence of abortions in Illinois, while ensuring that women who do make this decision receive services in a timely manner,” he wrote.
Rauner added: “My highest priority in this area will be to ensure effective administration of the laws regarding access to contraception and provide that access regardless of income. I dislike the Illinois law that restricts abortion coverage under the state Medicaid plan and state employees’ health insurance because I believe it unfairly restricts access based on income. I would support a legislative effort to reverse that law.”
Additionally, Rauner checked “yes” boxes on questions about whether he would sign bills repealing the so-called trigger law as well as legislation about lifting Medicaid and state-employee insurance restrictions. [Emphasis added.]
As you already know, Gov. Rauner recently made it known that he will veto HB 40, which would repeal the trigger law and expand Medicaid and state employee health insurance coverage of abortion.
Expanding taxpayer funding, expanding taxpayer funding is a very divisive issue. It’s a very controversial issue. What we need to do is focus in Illinois. We need to protect existing Illinois law, but we need to focus on jobs. We need to focus on reducing property taxes. We need to focus on education funding. We need to focus on getting term limits on elected officials. These are difficult issues. We need to focus on, this has everything, we need to focus.
It has everything to do with focus. What we should not do is take on controversial, divisive issues right now, when we don’t have a balanced budget, when we do not have proper school funding, when we do not have economic growth and job creation. We should not take on divisive, controversial issues and expanding taxpayer funding is a controversial, divisive issue.
We should protect existing law, protect women’s reproductive rights in the state of Illinois. That is not controversial, at least for the majority of folks. Changing and expanding taxpayer funding, very controversial, very divisive and we need to focus. We need to focus on jobs, we need to focus on relief for property taxpayers, we need to focus on proper school funding and we need to focus on fixing our political culture by putting term limits on elected officials.
* He was then asked: “Did you not know in 2014 that this was a divisive issue, and what changed between then and now?”
We need, we need to focus. What we don’t have is a balanced budget in Illinois. What we don’t have is structural change to grow jobs, to protect our property taxpayers and bring down our property taxes. What we don’t have is proper school funding in the state of Illinois, and we still don’t have term limits, even though the people of Illinois overwhelmingly want term limits to fix our political culture. We have got to, we have got to focus. We have got to focus, we’ve gotta get this done. Thank you.
…Adding… From a friend…
As a woman, it sounds like all other state problems are more important.
Balanced Budget Note (Office of Management and Budget)
An accurate cost assessment for this bill cannot be completed at this time because it does not mandate the State to fund these services. However, by removing these prohibitions it opens the State up for significant cost liabilities to incur. It is unknown how often these services would be utilized by Medicaid enrollees or State employees, the exact cost to health insurance plans, or how many new grant requests the Department of Human Services would receive as a response to this, and future related legislation.
*** UPDATE *** From Sen. Daniel Biss…
“There is no more fundamental issue than what you can do with your own body. Only an arrogant billionaire who thinks he’s accountable to no one would say the liberty of half the people of our state is a distraction.”
A federal courtroom has taken simply three days to reject the attraction of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich looking for a 3rd sentencing.
The unanimous ruling Friday by the seventh U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals in Chicago dismissed arguments that the Democrat’s trial-courtroom decide ought to have decreased his 14-yr jail time period for corruption due to his good conduct behind bars.
Pepper v. United States, 562 U.S. 476, 481 (2011), holds that “when a defendant’s sentence has been set aside on appeal, a district court at re-sentencing may consider evidence of the defendant’s post-sentencing rehabilitation and that such evidence may, in appropriate cases, support a downward variance from the now-advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines range.” Blagojevich’s original sentence was imposed in December 2011, and he entered prison in March 2012. He submitted evidence that between then and the new sentencing in August 2016 he had helped other inmates with their educations and set an example of moral and caring behavior.
The district judge acknowledged this evidence but found that it did not justify a lower sentence, in large part because none of the other inmates had known Blagojevich while he held office and therefore could not show that he had fundamentally changed his attitude toward corrupt dealing. The judge demonstrated that he understood the extent of discretion under Pepper and did not need to explain at greater length why he found the new evidence unpersuasive. See Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 356–59 (2007) (brief reasons suffice). Blagojevich’s treatment of fellow inmates may show that outside of office he is an admirable person, but the court was entitled to impose punishment that reflects how Blagojevich behaved when he had a different menu of opportunities and to deter those who hold office today. The authority recognized by Pepper belongs to the district judge. As with many discretionary subjects the fact that a judge could have ruled otherwise does not imply that the judge was compelled to rule otherwise.
Blagojevich’s contention that the vacatur of five convictions calls for a lower sentence likewise was considered by the district judge, who observed that the remaining counts of conviction represent the same kind of conduct as the vacated counts. We did not hold that Blagojevich was innocent of the charges in the vacated counts; we concluded, rather, that the jury instructions did not separate political horse trading (Blagojevich’s offer to appoint someone to the Senate in exchange for the President’s promise to appoint him to the Cabinet) from extortion and similar crimes (Blagojevich’s offer to appoint someone to the Senate in exchange for cash). 794 F.3d at 734. The district judge, who presided over two lengthy trials, was free to consider all of the evidence even though the prosecutor elected not to retry these five counts. The district judge also observed that the vacatur did not affect the Guidelines range. Given the standards of Rita, the judge said enough to justify the sentence. […]
According to Blagojevich, McDonnell calls the reasoning of our first decision into question. Not so. The only issue before the Court was whether McDonnell had traded “official acts” for money and other benefits. The Justices considered the definition of “official act” in 18 U.S.C. §201(a)(3) and concluded that McDonnell’s jury had been instructed incor rectly. Blagojevich, by contrast, has never contended that the activities of appointing someone to a vacant seat in the Senate, signing legislation, or the other activities that a jury found he sought to profit from, were not “official acts” of a state’s governor.
Blagojevich’s remaining arguments do not require discussion.
* If nothing changes soon, then it’s not a question of “if” Illinois hits junk bond status, it’s “when”…
The lowest-rated U.S. state is headed toward its third year of an unprecedented budget impasse as Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-led legislature repeatedly fail to agree on how to plug chronic deficits and halt the growing backlog of unpaid bills.
Both Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings have warned that Illinois could be downgraded again, while investors are already demanding higher yields on its bonds than they do from borrowers that are on the cusp of junk, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“It’s getting harder and harder to find a reason to be optimistic for a budget,” said Ty Schoback, a senior analyst in Minneapolis at Columbia Threadneedle Investments LLC, which holds some Illinois debt among its $22 billion of municipal holdings. “That being said, this is politics — you can’t predict. Two years ago, we were debating whether or not Illinois falls into BBB. Today, we’re debating whether it falls to junk status. If the status quo persists, what are we going to be debating in two years?” […]
Both Moody’s and S&P have warned of further credit deterioration if Illinois enters a third year without a spending plan. Both companies rank Illinois only two steps above junk with negative outlooks, signaling the rating could fall again. No U.S. state general-obligation bonds have ever been rated below investment-grade, according to data going back to at least 1970.
* From S&P’s rating downgrade of the U of I…
We will reassess the rating and outlook as new information becomes available and expect to resolve the CreditWatch status over the next 90 days. We could consider additional negative rating action, including a multinotch downgrade during the CreditWatch period if the rating on the state is lowered.
* From S&P’s rating report on ISU…
We could consider additional negative rating actions, including a multinotch downgrade during the CreditWatch period, if we lower our rating on the state.
* From S&P’s downgrade of City Colleges of Chicago…
“The CreditWatch reflects our view that there is at least a one-in-two
likelihood of a rating change within the next 90 days”
The president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce is renewing his call to give up the status quo in Springfield to dig out of the state’s fiscal mess.
Todd Maisch told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin it boils down to the need for the governor and lawmakers to promote economic growth to increase revenue instead of raising taxes.
“We think that’s the wrong approach,” Maisch told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin regarding increasing revenue through higher taxes. “You’ve got to go ahead and spur small- and medium-sized business investment if we’re ever going to get out from this cycle where economic growth trails government spending. It’s just a dead end. You’ve got to break that cycle. It’s painful right now, but you’ve got no choice but to do it.”
No argument at all that we truly need some real growth in our state’s economy.
* But the Civic Federation shows us how many “painful” cuts need to be made immediately (before any long-term “growth” can kick in) if taxes aren’t raised…
If GOMB’s revenue projections and maintenance - level FY2017 expenditures are assumed, a one-year cut of over 26% is necessary to eliminate the FY2018 structural deficit. This would represent a cut of 18.5% from FY2015 spending levels. If implemented across the board, this would mean cutting K - 12 education from $7.4 billion to $5.5 billion in one year. It would also represent a cut of approximately $1.2 billion from FY2015 levels.
Similarly, higher education would experience a cut of $482 million in one year. This would follow two years of underfunding from the FY2015 level that totals $1.4 billion. Finally, human services would also experience a one-year cut of more than $1.5 billion, also following two years of underfunding without full-year budgets.
Some efforts, including debt restructuring and statutory transfer reform, could mitigate these cuts. However, existing consent decrees and further litigation resulting in court-ordered spending would reduce the flexibility of the state to implement cuts in a cost-effective manner. As a result, cuts would have be concentrated in areas with less legal protection.
Even after the severe cuts needed to balance the FY2018 budget, further reductions would be needed to eliminate the backlog of bills. Additional spending cuts of 4.45% per year would eliminate the backlog by FY2022. The cuts total more than a 38% reduction in spending over five years. Cuts of this magnitude would almost certainly result in a decline in the quality of life in Illinois, and would represent a drastic departure from the current understanding of the relationship between the government of Illinois and its people.
Keep in mind that such cuts would undoubtedly force up property taxes and university tuition, which wouldn’t be great for “growth.” All because they can’t agree to raise the income tax rate by a point-and-a-quarter.
“The Democrats had been in power in Springfield for 12 years, and yet, we still had the fourth-most-unfair tax system in the country,” Biss said, “where we taxed the middle class and the working poor more, and the richest Illinois residents, who have been the beneficiaries of two generations of all the economic growth aren’t being asked to pay their fair share.”
Biss supports replacing the current flat tax system with a graduated income tax. He also wants to peg property taxes rates to income.
In addition to taking potshots at the flat-tax system, Biss also criticized House Speaker Michael Madigan’s “concentration of power” after 32 years in office. He says a constitutional amendment he filed would change that.
“You can’t serve as speaker or senate president or minority leader for more than 10 years,” Biss said. ” I just believed it from day one that that concentration of power is unhealthy. And I’m prepared to say that now, even in a Democratic primary, because it’s true. And I believe in being honest, even about our own warts as a party.”
He’s right about the Democrats not doing anything on tax fairness. Everything was either symbolic (non-binding referendum) or didn’t move after passing one chamber. Same goes in recent years for a minimum wage increase and a whole host of other “progressive” ideas. A whole lot of show and almost no go.
Illinois’ budget crisis dragged down the credit ratings of six state public universities and Chicago’s community college system on Thursday in a slew of downgrades by S&P Global Ratings.
The rating for the University of Illinois, the state’s largest system, fell one notch to A after S&P determined it could only be three notches above the state’s BBB rating. S&P also warned of a further downgrade if the state failed to fund the system beyond a stopgap amount of $356 million approved last June. […]
“Given the budget impasse of fiscal 2016, ongoing fiscal 2017 budget impasse, and the absence of an agreement among elected leaders, it is our opinion that state appropriations to public universities in Illinois will remain uncertain in the intermediate term,” S&P said in a report.
Southern Illinois University’s credit rating was dropped into the junk level of BB from BBB, while ratings for Northeastern Illinois and for Eastern Illinois universities fell deeper into junk, at B, from BB. Western Illinois University’s rating was cut to BB-minus from BBB-minus and Governors State University’s rating was downgraded to BB from BB-plus.
S&P also lowered the rating four notches to BBB from A-plus for the City Colleges of Chicago, which operates seven community colleges.
The ratings were placed on a watch list for a potential subsequent downgrades.
That means, as I told subscribers this morning, we now have five universities with junk bond status.
Illinois journalists have reported on the impact of the state’s budget impasse for nearly two years. Activists have decried the closure of senior service centers, rollbacks of funding to those with developmental disabilities; harm done to domestic violence shelters or drug treatment centers. The unpaid bills and growing pension liabilities. The list goes on and on. This newsletter has a separate section every day entitled “budget crisis” (and before that, “grand bargaining” when there was such a thing). Still, there seems to be little outrage at the grassroots level over a lack of a state budget in Illinois even as we near two years without one. The common thinking is that average resident won’t get riled unless schools close, state workers go unpaid, government offices shut down or taxes go through the roof. If one social service agency after another goes under, so be it.
The truth that one expert after another will tell you, however, is that deep, long-lasting damage is being inflicted on the state every day we don’t have a funding plan. The long-term effect on state universities is just one example. On Thursday, our universities suffered another major credit ratings blow, with S&P citing the lack of a budget and the unlikelihood that one is on the way. Since the impasse, brought on by a political stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Illinois universities have lost students to other states. Low-income students who rely on monetary assistance have had to drop out, and industries surrounding university towns are starting to suffer.