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Cullerton to run again, disagrees with Rauner that grand bargain is near

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* As I told subscribers this morning, the race for Senate President has officially been called off. Tribune

(A)fter weeks of letting the idea linger, Cullerton put to rest the notion that he would not seek re-election, saying he planned to file his petitions to run again next year.

“I want to serve under a Democratic governor again,” said Cullerton, who declined to endorse a candidate in the March 2018 primary election.

* The Tribune also asked Cullerton about running the stopgap bill, something we discussed yesterday

Cullerton also rejected the idea that freeing up that cash would remove the pressure for a larger deal, noting that he and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno have been negotiating an agreement. Cullerton has blamed Rauner for derailing those talks, saying an agreement is not near despite recent suggestions from the governor to the contrary.

“We still have the pressure of owing $13 billion, and spending $8 billion more than we have coming in, that’s enough pressure,” Cullerton said.

“We had those bills ready to go, and of course, what happens? The governor pulled the plug on it. So now we have to hope that the governor comes back to Springfield from campaigning, stop campaigning for about six weeks, govern, and then he can campaign on some successes.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   90 Comments      

It’s just a bill

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Or several of them. From a press release…

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce today announced a new designation and web page called “Job Crusherz” designed to highlight legislation that is bad for the state’s business climate and employers’ ability to create and maintain jobs in Illinois.

The “Job Crusherz” list shines a spotlight on some of the worst bills currently pending in the statehouse.

“As the busiest month of legislative session approaches, people and employers alike, need to be aware that there are bills on the table in Springfield that would be devastating, or moreover, crushing to employers in Illinois. Illinois cannot afford to fall further behind other states, and that is why the Illinois Chamber is working to oppose these bills by highlighting them for policymakers, employers and residents,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch.

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois lost nearly 9,000 jobs last month and continues to be over 19,000 jobs short of its high in 2000.

“We need pro-growth and business-friendly reforms to move the state in the right direction: forward. Raising taxes over and over is not the solution that we need to revitalize our businesses, and neither is overregulating our employers. This is just one of the many reasons legislators must oppose the bills on this list,” said Maisch.

The bills on the “Job Crusherz” list cover topics of minimum wage, workers’ compensation, income tax, recreational marijuana, overregulation issues and more.

“We have to stop the movement of these bills now, before they have a chance to negatively affect our communities statewide,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce Director of Advocacy Nathan Hoffman.

For more information and to view the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s “Job Crusherz” list visit

The site isn’t working right on my Firefox browser for whatever reason, but click here for the full list.

* Sun-Times editorial

Last month, the Illinois House voted unanimously to stop requiring that a pamphlet be mailed out, although the bill is being revised to allow the Legislature to authorize mailings when a proposed constitutional amendment deals with a complex topic. Information about proposed amendments still would be posted online and in newspaper legal notices, but notification by mail to your home — the best way to assure that all voters are made aware — would be eliminated unless the Legislature deems otherwise on a case-by-case basis.

Bad move. Even in this day and age, many people do not use the internet. And those who do go online might never stumble upon information about some proposed amendment in Illinois. They might not even know to look.

When there is an election coming up, voters know to look to see who’s running for this or that office. But a constitutional amendment, unless on a big issue such as taxes, can go unnoticed. Some voters would stare at their ballot and try to figure out on the fly the wisdom of the proposal.

House sponsor state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington, says the measure will save taxpayers $1.3 million for every proposed amendment, but that’s a rather limited analysis of costs. If a bad amendment is enacted into law, it could cost far more than this proposal would save.

* Press release…

Legislation requiring life insurance companies to look back to 1996 to identify policy holders who have died and the benefits have not been claimed or paid to their loved ones passed the Illinois House today, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs said.

The Illinois House passed the proposal (HB 302) by a vote of 68-47. The proposal now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“We must continue to stand up for Illinois consumers and make sure they are getting what they are owed from insurance companies,” Frerichs said. “For decades, we know some life insurance companies manipulated the rules to avoid paying death benefits, and that dishonest practice to help pad their bottom line at the expense of the deceased needs to stop.”

House Bill 302 requires insurers to evaluate policies in force since 1996, including those currently in lapsed or terminated status, because Frerichs and supporters believe some of these policies should have been paid to survivors. The legislation also requires insurers to request updated contact information for insureds and beneficiaries, such as a telephone number, mailing address, or email address. Doing so could avoid polices from going unpaid as a result of missing or mistaken contact information. The legislation also prohibits finders from charging owners a fee to recover their property from the time the property is presumed abandoned until it has been with the treasurer’s office for at least 24 months. Finally, the proposal would provide the treasurer’s office with access to vital records maintained by the Illinois Department of Public Health to assist in reuniting unclaimed property with the rightful owners or their heirs.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* From the governor’s campaign fund…

When I work every day for budget and reform in Springfield, it’s not just for the immediate gains of getting our state back on track. I do it because our children and our grandchildren deserve a better future in Illinois; they deserve to work and live in a state that makes them proud.

Illinois should be kickin’ tails. I know we can get there, but we need to come together get it done.

It’s about the budget - and so much more. It’s about bringing our state to its full potential so that we can keep our jobs here, grow our economy here, and make Illinois a great place to work and raise a family. I need your help in getting out this message, and your contribution to our budget and reform fund will equip our team with the resources to share this effort across the state.

* The accompanying photo…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      

Smallish crowd so far

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* The crowd for today’s Women’s March appears to be a lot smaller than many expected, including myself. Rep. Welch was more impressed, but his photos reveal more than his words….

But maybe more will arrive in time for the second rally at 2:30. We’ll see.

* While we wait, we can have a little fun with the fact that Senate President John Cullerton was misidentified on Twitter today as Speaker Madigan…


…Adding… They took down the tweet, but here’s the pic…

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - ILGOP responds *** Rep. Ammons announces congressional exploratory committee

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Press release…

Rep. Carol Ammons announced the formation of an exploratory committee at the Women’s March on Springfield to formally decide whether she will challenge Congressman Rodney Davis in 2018. This decision followed weeks of encouragement from constituents and conversations with her family.

Ammons said: ​“I’ll be listening to voters throughout this district, not just Democrats. I’m heading to small towns, university communities, and manufacturing cities. I’ll be listening to everyone: coal miners, students, manufacturing workers, service workers, professors, farmers, and more.”

“During this exploratory phase, I’ll learn about our district and its community member, as well as their expectations for their next Representative. I’ll learn about their jobs and their schools, their struggles and their successes,”​ Ammons added.

“Following weeks of listening, I’ll decide if it is in the best interest of the 13th District for me to run for Congress,” ​Ammons said.

* If she tries to step up to a federal office, this 2013 interview might come back on her

SP: Would it be appropriate for any state of the union to fly the confederate flag?

Ammons: That’s an interesting question. I have an older son who’s 18 and who is attending Jackson State University right now. We often go to the South, which I enjoy. It’s a very different space. When we’re down there, we often see the confederate flag alongside the U.S. flag. And when it comes to African-American culture and history, neither flag has been very good for African-American people. For me, in my 40s, I don’t think the confederate flag conjures as much negative feeling as it conjured for me in my 20s. It doesn’t give me as much angst as seeing the U.S. flag flying coupled with lies and assaults against other nations.

Your thoughts?

*** UPDATE ***  From the ILGOP

“The battle lines have been drawn as Bernie-backed Carol Ammons announces her long shot bid for IL-13 in an attempt to bring her socialist views to Washington. Ammons will be facing off against Pelosi-backed David Gill in what is sure to be a race to the radical left. With candidates like these, Democrats are once again proving they are out of touch with Central Illinois values.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

Today, State Representative Carol Ammons announced her long shot bid for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.

Bernie-backed Ammons makes no bones about her socialist sympathies. In Springfield, Ammons voted for Speaker Mike Madigan’s out-of-balance spending plans while supporting an extension of the 67% Quinn-Madigan tax hike with no reforms of state government. Even worse, Ammons gushed about her Communist hero who praised Vladimir Lenin and his violent Marxist tactics. Now she wants to bring her radical views to Washington.

Ammons’ announcement follows her unsuccessful attempt last year to help socialist Bernie Sanders win Illinois’ Democratic Primary in the race for President.

In exchange for Ammons’ support, Bernie Sanders fundraised for Carol Ammons shortly after Illinois’ 2016 March Primary. Now, Carol Ammons is running as Bernie’s candidate for Congress.

Ammons joins Pelosi-backed, five-time failed Congressional candidate David Gill in the race for IL-13. In 2012, Nancy Pelosi poured in over $3 million to unsuccessfully elect Gill. Last year, Gill was wooed by Bernie’s campaign to endorse his candidacy for president, but Gill said “no”. After taking Pelosi’s campaign cash and rejecting Bernie, it’s clear that David Gill is running as the establishment Democrat for IL-13.

The battle lines for the democratic nomination in IL-13 are becoming clear as Carol Ammons is running as Bernie’s candidate and David Gill is running as Pelosi’s candidate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Hundreds of school chiefs demand a budget

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Courier-News

Without a state budget, School District U46 cannot keep classrooms running beyond Thanksgiving, CEO Tony Sanders said Monday.

The district’s top administrator went on his Facebook and Twitter pages Monday as part of a statewide movement imploring parents and others to pressure state legislators to negotiate and pass what hasn’t been done in two years. […]

According to Sanders, the state’s second-largest school district has halted all discretionary spending for the school year, such as travel and technology upgrades. The district has stopped between $3 million and $4 million purchases of new computers to both replace outdated devices and continue moving the district to having one device per student.

But it isn’t enough to offset the lack of state dollars. The district will be $12 million in the red at the end of this school year. Reserves cannot sustain cash withdrawals for much longer, Sanders said via phone Monday.

* From a press release…

School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders and more than 390 school chiefs from across the state, representing 1.3 million students, are calling on the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor to immediately pass a state budget. The grassroots initiative, called “Pass Illinois’ Budget!,” also urges lawmakers and the Governor to improve the state’s education funding formula, and pay school districts millions of dollars owed in unpaid bills this year.

As legislators return to Springfield following spring break, school districts are using school marquees to share their frustration with the state budget crisis and taking to social media with a call to #PassILBudget. The state now owes School District U-46 more than $25 million, and has been operating without a full budget for the past 22 months. […]

The superintendents are calling on members of the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor to do the following:

    ● Immediately, and with bipartisan support, end the state budget impasse.

    ● Improve the state’s education funding formula and invest in students and schools, including higher education, throughout the state.

    ● Pay school districts what they are owed this year.

* My mom sent me a link to Tuscola’s sign…

They’re probably gonna need to get harsher and a whole lot more specific about who is to blame if they want to crank up some real heat.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Quinn’s IDOT patronage detailed

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Tribune

A new report issued Monday by a court-appointed watchdog charged with looking into patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation details how top Democrats clouted relatives and friends into positions under former Gov. Pat Quinn, even as many of those hired had little or no experience.

House Speaker Mike Madigan’s office successfully pushed a former bricklayer for a job that included “maintaining relationships” with minority road contractors, though the man eventually resigned after being arrested for allegedly “physically assaulting” a then-state lawmaker. Cicero Rep. Lisa Hernandez sent in the resume of a bank manager who was put on the state payroll to inspect roads. And a daughter of 30th Ward Chicago Ald. Ariel Reboyras ended up in another state job after complaints at a different agency.

The final findings are the result of an inquiry that began in 2014 after a federal judge assigned a lawyer to dig into hiring at the agency — an order that came just two weeks before Election Day, as Quinn went on to lose to Republican Bruce Rauner. The judge’s move followed an earlier report that year by then-state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza, which found improper hiring began under ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich but accelerated under Quinn.

At issue were hundreds of people hired into “staff assistant” positions after administration officials bypassed strict personnel rules aimed at preventing politics from influencing state hiring. Meza stopped short of placing the blame on Quinn’s office, saying his investigation was “unable to conclude” that top officials in the administration knew of the illegal hiring. Chicago attorney Michael Shakman, who has battled patronage hiring in court for decades, said the state investigation wasn’t enough, and pushed for court oversight.

Pat Quinn loved him some patronage. Click here or the full federal report. It’s quite something

The hire process for [Candidate 6] illustrates the Governor’s Office’s role in pushing candidates at IDOT. (See infra at IX.A.23). On August 26, 2010, the Governor’s Office sent IDOT a copy of [Candidate 6]’s cover letter, resume, and CMS Application. The cover letter states that [Candidate 6] is “applying for the position of ___.” No position is stated. On the same day, internal Governor’s Office emails with Subject Line “[Candidate 6] and [Staff Asst. 47]” (Staff Assistant) state, “Just writing to check on their IDOT epar status.” The Governor’s Office emailed IDOT again on September 7, 2010 asking IDOT to call “ASAP, please. Re: [Candidate 6].” [Candidate 6] was hired at IDOT 13 days later, on September 20, 2010, as a 60- Day Emergency Hire TM II Safety Issues Analyst. (See Chronology at 8/26/10, 9/7/10, 10/1/10). The duties of that position are described as follows:

    This position is responsible for assisting the Director of the Division of Traffic Safety in the promotion of highway safety measures and programs in Illinois through the development of a highway safety advocate network. The incumbent is also accountable for the preparation of division positions on legislative issues, developing responses to legislation inquiries and conducting special studies/projects to support highway safety activities.

[Candidate 6] resume contained no experience, training, or education in traffic safety. Prior to being hired at IDOT, [Candidate 6] worked in the Governor’s Office for two years. In that capacity he performed duties, such as: submitting work repair orders, resolving billing issues, auditing travel vouchers, and working with excel spread sheets, among other duties.

* In other news

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s technology czar has contracted to spend $208,000 in tax dollars for two professional memberships even though the state is without a budget and is billions of dollars in debt, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Hardik Bhatt, the $145,000-a-year secretary of the Department of Innovation and Technology, has had a $50,000 annual membership in the Chief Information Officer Leadership Council of the Virginia-based executive-assistance organization CEB Inc. since 2015. He’s also approved a $29,000 subscription and annual renewal for his agency, known as DoIT, with CEB’s Risk Leadership Council. […]

DoIT spokeswoman Jennifer Schultz said the membership and subscription are “strategic investments” to help the state improve on an “outdated, inefficient” and unsafe system.

“These groups provide guidance and research to states and Fortune 500 companies,” Schultz said in a prepared statement. “The benefit to Illinois is to learn and implement best practices in organization design, cyber-security, IT governance and other areas to help us avoid making the same mistakes the state has made previously in IT.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

It is time for HB40!

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Norwood defends her boss on HB 40, but sponsor says Rauner is trying to change the subject after “lying”

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Director and former Planned Parenthood Vice Chair Felicia Norwood cut a video to defend Gov. Rauner’s decision to veto HB 40

* One of the claims Director Norwood makes in the video was something I told subscribers about yesterday and the Tribune had today

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, would allow women to use Medicaid coverage and state employee health insurance for abortions. Supporters say the bill also would help ensure abortion remains legal in Illinois if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court by removing a so-called trigger provision in current law.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has vowed to veto the bill, despite pledging in 2014 to work for legislation that would lift restrictions on Medicaid- and state employee insurance-covered abortions. The governor’s office told Feigenholtz he could support the bill if she removes that portion, but she declined.

* I called Rep. Feigenholtz this morning and asked her about Norwood’s claim. Feigenholtz said she’d received a “confidential” call from the governor’s staff telling her that Gov. Rauner would sign HB 40 without the Medicaid and state employee health insurance coverage expansions. Rauner, at the time, was under huge pressure from his right flank to veto the bill.

“I would never separate those bills,” Rep. Feigenholtz said. “They are very very important to women,” she said, adding that the General Assembly “has to undo” what she called an “injustice.”

Rauner, she correctly noted, had submitted a questionnaire to Personal PAC which “not only checked the right box,” but also included a long addendum that extrapolated on his strong belief that Medicaid and state employee insurance should cover abortions.

The governor “filled out a questionnaire for the highest state office in government,” and then “lied to voters in this state. And that to me is a betrayal,” Feigenholtz said.

“They’re using this to try to change the subject, but they are the ones who lied,” she said.

…Adding… From a GOP operative…

Pritzker said last night that Sara Feigenholtz is supporting his campaign. It’s worth putting today’s march, and the refusal of Democrats to remove taxpayer funded abortions from the bill, in the political context of this Gov’s race.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Batinick floats borrowing idea

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* As we saw (again) yesterday, with his vow not to vote for “non-essential” legislation until there’s a balanced budget, Rep. Mark Batinick can be a bit of a grandstander (although he did follow through and voted “Present” yesterday on a bill that he co-sponsored). But he also has some decent ideas. Check out this one…

Anyone following the Illinois budget impasse knows that our pile of unpaid bills is growing; up to $12.9 Billion and counting. This creates added pressure on the state because those bills will eventually have to be paid. In the meantime, we are paying 12% interest on many of those bills. That’s a big amount. We are literally incurring hundreds of millions of dollars of late payment penalties. That is money that doesn’t help balance the budget, fund social services, higher ed, or any of the other things state government does. There is a way to pay off most of our debt, eliminate late fees, and significantly increase state revenue all without raising taxes. Here’s how:

First let me be clear – I don’t like debt. I don’t support unnecessarily increasing it. Yet all debt is not the same. If you have it, it needs to be managed the best way feasible. Right now Illinois has a lot of it. Some of it needs to be consolidated. That consolidation can free up a lot of money.

Our unpaid bills are essentially debt. We also have other debt taken out during the Blagojevich regime and during the last capitol bill. Some of that debt is about to be paid off. Our bond payments drop from $2.418 Billion in FY 2018 to $2.091 Billion in FY19 then $1.536 Billion in FY 2020. If the difference of those debt payments (roughly $1.5 Billion) was essentially consolidated on a 10 year note with the bulk of the unpaid bills we can essentially use the same line item to make the new consolidated loan payment. Because the debt can’t be called early, the logistics would be slightly different, but the effect would be the same. Use the line item for the old debt in 2018 to make the new consolidated loan payment.

Paying off our unpaid bills helps close the budget shortfall in many ways. First, we will stop paying hundreds of millions in late fees. Second, injecting nearly $10B into the economy paying money we owe to vendors and medical providers in the state will have a massive effect on revenues. All of the people and companies will now see gains that have been deferred. Income tax revenue should also increase by hundreds of millions. Third, much of the money we owe is for Medicaid payments. Those Medicaid payments come with a federal match. Our federal source of revenue could increase by as much as $1.5 Billion!

Now there are a couple of things that should be done before bonding out our back bills. First, we need to balance the rest of the budget. Freeing up $2B helps significantly, but there is still more work to be done. Plus, having a true balanced budget plan also should help us get a better rate on any bonds we do get. Second, we need to place a constitutional amendment referendum on the 2018 General Election ballot strengthening the balanced budget clause. Illinois voters should be given the opportunity to hold legislators accountable to follow the state constitution and pass a balanced budget every year so this never happens again.


- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Kennedy will attend Women’s March after all

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Chris Kennedy isn’t on the list of speakers for today’s Women’s March. I was told the other day that he had a scheduling conflict. Well, that conflict has now been resolved and he’ll be in town in time for the second rally featuring the gubernatorial candidates. Good move, but kinda late.

Anyway, Kennedy was in Caseyville last night and went live on Facebook. Lots and lots of red meat in here, including him saying that Gov. Rauner is holding the state “hostage” and “needs to be stopped.” He also talks about Trump voters and economic segregation. It’s worth a look and it got about 4,500 views, despite not being promoted with ads. That’s less than Gov. Rauner’s last heavily promoted FB Live video event, but more than JB Pritzker’s campaign kickoff event.

Have a look

* Meanwhile Ameya Pawar has a new post on Daily Kos

A billionaire with no political experience decides to run for office as a self-proclaimed “outsider.” Elected by people who are tired of a broken political system that has forgotten them, he quickly runs away from any campaign promises and pursues measures that would hurt the people who elected him. He introduces chaos and dysfunction to the point where members of his own party wonder what he’s doing.

Sound familiar? In Illinois, we didn’t need to see this movie. We wrote the script.

Bruce Rauner, the governor of Illinois since 2015, might not seem like Donald Trump on the surface. He isn’t a preening megalomaniac, and doesn’t get into Twitter feuds with minor celebrities. But he provided the playbook for Trump’s rise, running as a regular, flannel-wearing guy who understood working families and could help them by overturning the political system. He ran as a problem solver.

Illinois has a lot of problems to solve. Unequal school funding means students across the state are at competitive disadvantages. Underfunded pensions threaten the economy and jeopardize the well-being of the people who worked their whole lives depending on them. Social services across the state are crumbling, along with our neglected infrastructure.

To say that Gov. Rauner failed to solve these problems is to minimize the issue. He didn’t even try. Like Trump, he talks about the working class while undercutting unions (the latest version of this is privatizing prison nurses so they can be paid less). He’s threatening to limit abortion rights to placate the far right (despite professing to be pro-choice). He’s even slammed the door on Syrian refugees, betraying any sense of Midwestern decency.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Biss starts counting the days since tax disclosure announcement

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* This was sent to me yesterday, but it got buried. From Sen. Daniel Biss’ campaign…

It’s now been 10 days since all the Democratic candidates for governor pledged to follow Daniel Biss in releasing their tax returns.

To date, none have.



    Biss releases 5 years of full returns. Daniel Biss, author of a bill in the Illinois legislature requiring Presidential candidates to release tax returns in order to appear on the state ballot, released five years of federal and state tax returns with schedules, and pledged to release his 2017 returns before the 2018 primary. [4/13/17].

    All Democratic candidates for Illinois governor pledge to follow Biss, release 5 years of full returns. “Pritzker, Kennedy and Pawar all say they will release their tax returns. Gov. Rauner has released his returns every year. Rauner’s last return, for 2015, showed he had tripled his annual income.” [Capitol Fax, 4/14/17]

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Another hostage goes down

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Jacksonville Journal-Courier

A Jacksonville non-profit agency established to improve the health and well-being of those dealing with addiction is shutting down.

Wells Center Executive Director Bruce Carter confirmed the Wells Center will discontinue services as of the first week of May. According to a statement, the board and administration of the center explored alternatives to keep the center open but ultimately decided it will have to close.

As of March, the center — which opened in 1968 — had $342,000 in unpaid state vouchers, money that was necessary to keep the center afloat. Things looked promising after Carter spoke with state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, but Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville previously said that the state’s cash flow problems were leaving little to no cash for the center.


In a statement, Wells Center Executive Director Bruce Carter announced that “having explored possible alternatives that may have allowed the Wells Center to remain open, the Center administration and board have made the difficult decision that the Center will have to close and cease operations.”

* SJ-R

The announcement was an abrupt change from a month ago when the center’s board voted to reverse a decision to close in early April because of chronic late payments from the state due to the budget impasse. At the time, the center said it expected it would be able to remain open for at least another three to six months.

The decision to remain open came after a visit from Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who pledged to do what she could to expedite payments to the not-for-profit center. Mendoza’s office issued a statement Friday that it “advanced all available state payments owed the Wells Center – about $400,000 the last few weeks.”

“We’ve pretty much cleared out our cupboard of what was owed to them,” said Mendoza spokesman Abdon Pallasch.

* Meanwhile

The Illinois budget crisis strikes again, and Courage Connection, a local women’s domestic violence shelter, is in danger of having to close its doors. They are reaching out with an emergency donation campaign to stay open. Their closure would affect the lives of women and children who are in dangerous and vulnerable situations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Are they really “very close”?

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Democratic Sen. Scott Bennett in his local media

The Senator was asked whether he is optimistic about a new state budget as lawmakers return to Springfield. ‘’Not as optimistic as I was,’’ said Bennett.

‘’I’ll be back first thing Tuesday morning. The Governor was here locally and was telling people we’re really close, and he’s meeting with all these people in the Senate. I’m on the Budget Committee and I’ve talked to the chairman of the Budget Committee, and there’s been no conversation with them. So whether these are conversations just with the Republicans that have a super minority in the Senate, or whether the Governor has been misinformed, we want these meetings. We want these to take place,’’ says Senator Bennett. ‘’And frankly there’s no excuse. The last two weeks there was a break from Springfield. There should have been people meeting every single day,’’ added Bennett during comments at Danville Area Community College Monday evening.

* Meanwhile, Gov. Rauner told a St. Louis TV station that a school funding reform bill could be ready in the next few weeks

[The plan from the two parties are] not dramatically different. I’m pretty optimistic that the two parties can come together in the General Assembly and iron out their differences and we can get one bill and I’ll be able to sign the bill. I think we can get it done in the next few weeks.

* Sen. Andy Manar’s online response…

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Rauner fully pivots to 2018

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Remember yesterday when we talked about that Bruce Rauner campaign fundraising letter wherein the governor says taxpayers “deserve a balanced budget without any tax increases”?

Finke delved a bit deeper, pointing out all the times that the governor has said cuts alone can’t balance the budget and how he’s open to tax hikes. And then he talked to a few legislators and Speaker Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown, who said the letter was just another example of the governor’s flip-flops

“The document, taken in the context of the last two or three weeks where there’s been a variety of positions announced, it now seems he needs to really explain what his position is, at least for the next month,” Brown said. […]

[Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington] also said that mathematically a budget could be balanced with no new revenue, but the cuts “would be very difficult, even from a Republican standpoint when it comes to government services.”

“The problem that you’ve got is there would have to be severe cuts in Medicaid eligibility. Education would be dramatically affected,” he said. “When you have such high fixed expenses in pensions and debt, it would necessitate some pretty dramatic cuts.” […]

“My immediate reaction is, what has the governor been trying to negotiate for now going on 2 1/2 years?” [Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill] said. “It makes it impossible to negotiate. The first rule of negotiating is you have to stake out your positions. This governor has yet to stake out a position.”

* Here’s the envelope, by the way…

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Women’s March kicks off with a bit of controversy

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Politico

In advance of today’s Women’s March in Springfield, Personal PAC posted a video skewering Gov. Bruce Rauner on abortion. It had 3,000 views in three hours. In it, Rauner’s voice is heard from a 2014 debate in which he says abortion is an issue between a woman and her doctor. As he’s talking, the video shows state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, HB40 chief sponsor, walking into a store. It continues, music building up. It cuts to Diana Rauner from those 2014 TV ads saying “Bruce doesn’t have a social agenda” and turning to Rauner’s latest spot referring to “duct tape solutions.” What’s Feigenholtz buying at the store? Duct tape. Enter state Rep. Kelly Cassidy: “We’re taking duct tape to Springfield to help Bruce Rauner stick to his promises to defend women’s health.” The video ends by slapping duct tape across Rauner’s mouth.

Um, remember when Comptroller Mendoza held a press conference to slam WGN Radio host Steve Cochran for joking with Gov. Rauner on-air about taping her mouth shut with duct tape?

Yeah. In that light, maybe it wasn’t the best image to use. Watch the video

*** UPDATE 1 ***  I just spoke with Terry Cosgrove, who said the duct tape image “was intentional.”

“This was intentional to highlight what was said about Susana Mendoza and the duct tape. And this veto of HB 40 is an extension of that sexism,” he said.

“He’s being sensitive about duct tape? Please!”

*** UPDATE 2 *** A formal written response from Cosgrove…

Gov. Rauner keeps saying he wants real solutions to real problems and not duct tape solutions. The ad points out he is using duct tape to cover up his lies about abandoning his support for HB 40. Governor Rauner should use the duct tape to stop telling lies to voters.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* The governor’s people put out their own video highlighting his commitment to women. It begins with his former comptroller, Leslie Munger

Kind of a yawner.

* More on today’s proceedings

A Democratic lawmaker pushing legislation to remove prohibitions on publicly funded abortions in Illinois hopes to call it for a vote as thousands of women converge on Springfield to lobby for a “progressive agenda.” […]

A vote Tuesday would coincide with the Illinois Women March on Springfield. It’s patterned on worldwide women’s marches Jan. 21. It will include a rally for measures including Feigenholtz’s bill and the long-stalled ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

The event will include a noon rally at the Lincoln statue on the east side of the Statehouse grounds, and a rally in the Statehouse rotunda at 2:30. Lobbying and a march around the Capitol complex comes between those events.

To make way for the marchers, Second Street will be closed between Monroe and Jackson streets, and Capitol Avenue will be closed from Second to Third streets, city public works officials said. The closures begin at 10 a.m. and last until 1:30 p.m.

A full list of speakers and event details are here. There won’t be a public live video feed, but you can follow the march by monitoring our live coverage post.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session and Women’s March coverage

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

* Follow everything in real time right here with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

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* A big nail unanimously driven into the drug war's coffin
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