Half of that $586 million is reimbursed by the federal government, but it’s money the state doesn’t have and won’t have without a budget.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From Comptroller Susana Mendoza…
As if the Governor and legislators needed any more reason to compromise and settle on a comprehensive budget plan immediately, Friday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court takes the state’s finances from horrific to catastrophic. Payments to the state’s pension funds; state payroll including legislator pay; General State Aid to schools and payments to local governments – in some combination – will likely have to be cut. Payments to the state’s bond-holders will continue uninterrupted. A comprehensive budget plan must be passed immediately.
In the face of the State of Illinois’s ongoing budget impasse, a federal court today ordered the state to substantially increase monthly outlays to pay bills for healthcare provided under the Medicaid program. Under the court’s order, if the budget impasse continues, the state Comptroller is obliged to pay $586 million toward the state’s Medicaid obligations monthly, as opposed to the current payments of about $160 million. The state will be able to claim reimbursement for half of those expenditures from the federal government.
The court-ordered payment, which is the amount the state ordinarily pays in years when there is a budget in place, will prevent the $4 billion backlog of unpaid bills from growing larger. The court also ordered the state to pay $2 billion toward the backlog of unpaid bills over the next 12 months, with the goal of getting it down to the amount owed before the state budget impasse started.
In issuing the order, Judge Lefkow additionally emphasized that the State shall, “prioritize appropriate preference to ‘Safety Net Hospitals’ and other providers most crucial to affording the plaintiff class members’ access to federally mandated healthcare services.”
“The court’s order prevents the collapse of the healthcare system that serves children, families, seniors and people with disabilities across Illinois,” said David Chizewer, an attorney with the Chicago law firm Goldberg, Kohn, who is part of the team representing the healthcare beneficiaries. They are also represented by attorneys from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law (Shriver Center) and Legal Council for Health Justice.
Although the court had previously ordered the state to make Medicaid payments during the budget impasse, for two years it has been paying only a small percentage of those bills. The growing backlog of unpaid bills precipitated the current crisis. “Without these payments, doctors, hospitals, clinics and other key healthcare providers would stop seeing Medicaid patients, or else simply go out of business altogether,” said Tom Yates, of Legal Council for Health Justice.
“It is important to note that the Illinois General Assembly met today, the last day of the fiscal year, to try finally to pass a full year fully funded budget,” said the Shriver Center’s John Bouman. “We urge them to get that work done and to be sure it includes a path to pay down the back bills. That is the only sure way through this thicket.”
KENNEDY: I won’t be someone who’s tied to the status quo, indebted to them for my election and reliant upon them for all good things in the future. […]
The establishment in both parties has failed to do the basic things like pass a budget. The fact that they can’t get that done is an indictment of their capacity across the board.
CAMERON: Why couldn’t JB [Pritzker] get that done?
KENNEDY: I think the manner in which he might get that done would be in a way that is completely reliant on the status quo and the current leadership. I think he’ll arrive there, if he were to be elected, as the product of the Madigan machine and as such he’ll be indebted to them.
The reason we don’t pay for our schools at the state level is it would mean we’d shrink the reliance on property taxes. But the leadership in our party and many of the people in both parties make their money in the property tax appeals business. So, if the property tax is a smaller part of our economy, then they’re going to make less money. So they’re not free of the conflict of interest to vote on what really matters to the future of our state. They can’t embrace a new system because they’re making money off the old one. Someone needs to stand up to that.
Man, that’s quite an indictment. Later, though, he said he thought Madigan would be willing to “sacrifice” by giving up his property tax assessment business. I’m not so sure I agree.
* Kennedy also went after the governor later in the interview, saying Gov. Rauner has created a “culture of fear” in his party and in the state. He also said this about Rauner…
I think his hope, really, is to cripple it - cripple government’s functionality by leaving it with such incredible debt that it’s capable of doing little else than to service that debt.
A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state’s voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President’s commission on voting.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to each state Wednesday asking a series of questions soliciting feedback about election administration, voter fraud and the integrity of the process. CNN obtained a copy of the letter sent to Maine’s secretary of state.
Kobach also requested that each state provide “publicly available voter roll data” as allowed under each state’s laws, which could include full names of registered voters, dates of birth, party registration, last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting history.
The letter was discussed on an organizational call of the commission, according to a White House readout and spokesman Marc Lotter.
* Several states have refused to comply and people have absolutely freaked out about this on social media today, particularly about the Social Security numbers stuff. One Democratic gubernatorial candidate here issued a press release about it…
“There is no evidence of voter fraud in Illinois. That’s a fact and not an alternative one this administration is using to peddle false voter fraud conspiracies,” said JB Pritzker. “The Kobach Commission is nothing short of a scam. The administration’s request for Illinois voter rolls is not just a waste of time and resources, it’s a violation of Illinoisan’s privacy. I urge Bruce Rauner to stand with the leaders of Virginia, California, and Kentucky and refuse to comply. It is past time for Rauner to protect Illinois families from Donald Trump’s lies, attacks, and nonsense.”
* Secretary of State Jesse White was apparently getting bombarded with so many inquiries that he took to Twitter to remind Illinoisans that he doesn’t oversee elections here…
.The IL State Board of Elections handles voter info: not IL Sec. of State. Call them at 217-782-4141 or 312-814-6440.
Illinois election officials on Friday acknowledged receiving calls of concern over information being sought by President Donald Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, but said they have yet to receive a formal request for the state’s voter data.
I am requesting that you provide to the Commission the publicly- available voter roll data for Maine, including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.
Emphasis added. They don’t want anything that’s not already publicly available.
Kobach said Friday that Kansas also won’t be sharing Social Security information with the commission, for which he serves as vice chairman, at this time. The state will share other information about the state’s registered voters, including names and addresses, which are subject to the state’s open record laws. […]
Other states, including Republican-led Oklahoma and Utah, announced plans to provide some information to the commission while withholding other pieces, such as the partial Social Security numbers.
“That’s perfectly fine,” Kobach said Friday when asked about states that would provide names but withhold other information. “We understand that. And that is entirely up to each state.”
[The Kobach] letter hadn’t arrived yet in Illinois, where state elections board members are scheduled to meet Monday. They still could discuss the request for “publicly available data” the president’s commission is seeking. […]
Illinois law allows voter data to be obtained by political committees, which use them to develop their voter databases, and by governmental agencies for governmental purposes, such as for jury duty notices.
But Illinois law prevents the release of more personal information associated with the voter files, such as Social Security numbers, drivers’ license numbers or digital copies of voter signatures. [Emphasis added.]
So, most of your info won’t be shared and there’s no demand from Kobach that all of it has to be shared, either. Pritzker himself has probably already purchased the same voter info either from the Board of Elections or through Democratic list vendors, or his direct mail vendor did. It’s no more of a “violation of Illinoisan’s privacy” than what countless campaigns here have already done and will do in the future.
The A.C.L.U. has filed four suits against Kobach since he was elected in 2010. All of them challenge some aspect of his signature piece of legislation, the Secure and Fair Elections Act, or SAFE Act, a 2011 state law that requires people to show a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers to register to vote. Kobach has long argued that such a law is necessary to prevent noncitizens from registering to vote, a phenomenon that he has repeatedly claimed is both pervasive and a threat to democracy. The A.C.L.U. has countered that the real purpose of the law is not to prevent fraud but to stop the existing electorate from expanding and shifting demographically. The same principle informed the “grandfather clauses” of the Jim Crow era, which exempted most white voters from literacy tests and poll taxes designed to disenfranchise black voters. Even a seemingly small impediment to registration, like a new ID requirement, favors the status quo, and in Kansas, and indeed nationally, the status quo favors the Republican Party.
When Kris Kobach, Kansas’ aggressive secretary of state, convinced the state legislature to give him prosecutorial power to pursue voter fraud, he said it was necessary to root out tens of thousands of undocumented aliens who were voting as well as tens of thousands more who he claimed were voting in two states.
Two years later, Kobach has produced exactly nine convictions. Most of them were not illegal immigrants but rather older registered Republicans.
And the Kobach Commission is also hugely controversial. It looks like he put a bunch of vote-suppression types on it. Click here for that stuff. Whew.
Resisting this request is fine by me if that’s what states (including this one) want to do. The commission seems like a massive waste of time to me and may even have nefarious intent to find ways of suppressing votes.
* But some of your personal data is already being shared with campaigns. Keep that in mind when you take to social media to scream into the electronic wind.
*** UPDATE *** Some folks have asked for an analysis of the House Democratic budget proposal. That proposal will undoubtedly be altered during talks with Republicans, but click here if you want to look at it.
Governor Bruce Rauner today issued an amendatory veto of SB 1839 to ensure that critical 9-1-1 services continue without a massive tax hike on Illinois families and businesses.
“The majority in the General Assembly waited until the last moment to send this 9-1-1 service reauthorization bill to my desk. Unfortunately, those lawmakers also inserted a major tax hike into this bill, a tax that’s both excessive and unwarranted, and that I strongly oppose,” Governor Rauner said. “This extreme increase is unfair and indefensible. But the majority in the General Assembly is using the threat of cancellation of 9-1-1 services on Saturday as leverage to force this tax hike through over my opposition.”
In the amendatory veto, the Governor removed all the surcharge increases and special interest giveaways. He also revoked the sunsets on the Emergency Telephone System Act and the sections regarding telecommunications and cable and video in the Public Utilities Act. These changes mean 9-1-1 would continue in Illinois without the General Assembly having to pass legislation to renew the service.
“This mean-spirited strategy has been employed by the majority repeatedly over the years, most prominently in the current budget impasse: holding innocent people, our most vulnerable residents and essential services hostage as leverage to force excessive, unwarranted tax hikes onto the people of Illinois,” Governor Rauner said. “This practice must stop.”
“The majority” was actually a bipartisan super majority, and an even bigger bipartisan super majority passed another, revamped bill this week.
While noting that the measure that passed was “only an amendment,” Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said, “Obviously, things are heading in the wrong direction. Today, the Republicans in the General Assembly raised the white flag to a massive tax increase.”
McSweeney said Republicans who do vote for the tax increase that’s on the table – more than $5 billion – owe an apology to former Gov. Pat Quinn.
“Now they support a tax increase bigger than he did,” McSweeney said. “We’ve done nothing to reform government. Spending continues to increase. I am going to be fighting tooth and nail to stick to our core principals.” […]
Rep. Jeanne Ives criticized the House budget plan as bloated spending and requiring a tax increase that taxpayers can’t afford.
“This budget does not look out for small businessmen,” Ives said. “This budget does not look out for the ordinary taxpayer. This budget is gross overspending of people’s hard-earned income, going to a bloated system that we have failed to reform.”
She continued: “This budget is a disaster, and this budget is the death knell for Illinois. It tells every taxpayer who’s capable of moving from the state of Illinois it’s time to pick up stakes and leave. That’s what this budget does.”
Today’s House debate was remarkable for its bipartisan nature, which isn’t often seen in that chamber. GOP Rep. Steve Andersson received thunderous applause for his remarks, with Rep. Greg Harris saying it was the finest speech he’d ever heard delivered in the chamber.
* From Speaker Madigan’s office…
“The work of the governor and General Assembly is clearly not done. As a result, the House will remain in session. While we’ve made progress on solving the governor’s budget crisis, we are not done. We will remain in session to continue our progress toward passing a balanced budget. In light of this ongoing progress, I would ask that bond rating agencies temporarily withhold judgment and allow legislators time to negotiate a bipartisan, balanced budget.”
*** UPDATE *** As I noted earlier today in our live coverage post, this amendment vote was Speaker Madigan’s idea. He wanted the budget amendment adopted as a sign of good faith and then he’d restart negotiations on the non-budget issues and revenues. The budget itself is still not agreed.
So, a “top Republican source” described today’s floor action as more of a “procedural vote” than a sign of support for the underlying bill. There’s still a lot of work to do.
Here's a letter Madigan sent to bond houses asking to delay cutting credit rating to junk status. Calls it the "governor's budget crisis." pic.twitter.com/qGkObVQ1tl
*** UPDATE 1 *** I was moving so fast I posted the wrong ad. Sorry! I accidentally posted the first ad, which is already on the air. Here’s the Do Your Job, Inc. spot which is online right now, but will be put on TV if today ends without an agreement…
*** UPDATE 2 *** Do Your Job, Inc. had scheduled a press conference for today at 1:30, but they just canceled it.
When I asked why, I was told “good faith.”
The ad’s still up, however.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Latest ad buy report from Comcast…
*** UPDATE 4 *** I asked the group’s spokesman what the group plans to do tomorrow and was told “We’ll see.” The spokesman said the buy extension was done to “coincide with the special session.”
State Sen. Bill Brady was elected by a unanimous vote of his Republican colleagues to serve as new Illinois Senate Republican Leader for the remainder of the 100th General Assembly on Friday.
“It is an honor to be chosen to lead the Senate Republican Caucus,” Sen. Brady said. “I thank them for their faith in me. I also appreciate my constituents in the 44th District for giving me the privilege to represent them in the State Capitol and the opportunity to serve as Leader,” Brady said.
The Bloomington Republican was nominated by Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles.)
“The issues facing Illinois are daunting, but our caucus remains committed to working together to face those challenges,” Brady said.
Brady has served in the State Senate since 2002. He previously served as state representative from 1993 until 2001. He currently serves as Assistant Republican Leader.
The official vote will come by a vote of the full Senate as soon as possible.
Governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement on Sen. Bill Brady’s election as the new Senate Republican Leader:
“It’s an honor to congratulate Sen. Bill Brady as the new Senate Republican Leader. He is a champion for Illinois families – understanding the changes our state needs to create jobs, lower property taxes, strengthen schools, and reform our political system. I look forward to working with all of the outstanding leaders in the Senate Republican Caucus as we work to fix Illinois by creating a more responsive and responsible state government.”
Comptroller Susana Mendoza explains what’s at stake if there is no budget passed by midnight Friday (as well as where we are and how we got here) in a new video that for Illinois, is going viral. As of last evening it had 1.4 million views and more than 32,000 shares on Facebook.
“Derailment is imminent,” Mendoza warns. “This is not a false alarm.” Unless there is a budget, she says: “Illinoisans must brace for maximum impact.” In the video, Mendoza urges the public to call state legislators and the governor and tell them to pass a budget.
After a caucus meeting on Wednesday, a number of other House Democrats have started floating the notion in private conversations they could live with passing a budget deal before the first checks of the next fiscal year are scheduled to come out on July 15th.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a former House Democrat herself, strongly advised against this reckless strategy.
“People need to act like adults,” Mendoza said. “Anyone who thinks that June 30 at midnight is not a real deadline is just insane. Because guess who does think that’s a real deadline? All of the credit rating agencies who are watching. They don’t believe July 15 is a credit deadline.”
Lindsay Perez, a suburban Chicago mother, and her 9-year-old daughter Elena, who survives on a Medicaid-funded ventilator, described for reporters on Thursday the horrific situation of losing some of her medical supplies because of the budget crisis.
The girl, who was born without a lung, urged politicians to pass a budget.
“If you could try hard enough, you could do it,” she said.
City Colleges of Chicago is laying off 120 employees, part of larger cuts planned in response to the prolonged state budget crisis.
Chancellor Juan Salgado announced the cuts Wednesday to outline priorities for his spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Reductions also will include 10 percent pay cuts for senior leadership. City Colleges also plans to sell the district headquarters at 226 W. Jackson Blvd. and move administrative staff to the Kennedy-King College in Englewood and Dawson Technical Institute in Bronzeville. […]
The layoffs come at a time when City Colleges has experienced a significant decline in enrollment and what administration officials have called an unprecedented state budget shortfall of $70 million in the last two years alone. The system has about 90,000 students at seven colleges and five satellite locations.
Eastern Illinois University’s president announced a “hard freeze” on purchases effective immediately Thursday.
In a memo, David Glassman told account managers, P-Card holders, and OfficeMax users that he is implementing a temporary freeze on “all purchases.”
Last year, there was a freeze implemented on many purchases at the university, including things like travel expenses and non-instructional capital equipment purchases. This time around, the freeze has “stronger” and more definitive language to better rein in university expenditures, said Paul McCann, vice president for business affairs.
He said Thursday’s halt has been implemented to set more rigid control over cash outflow.
“We’re approaching a third fiscal year without a budget and our bond rating is about to go to junk, but Illinoisans can find Bruce Rauner sitting at his desk waiting for someone else to do his job,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Governor Junk has driven this state to the edge of a fiscal cliff and he is about to slam his foot on the gas.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** Text from a top Republican…
Hey - Think it is worth noting that the party has pulled down the digital ad they released last night following the floor action this morning
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan plans to call a Democratic spending plan for a vote on Friday, amid a midnight fiscal budget deadline and the very real threat of credit agencies dropping the state to “junk” status. […]
Leaders met again on Thursday to iron out their differences, including on workers’ compensation and pension reform. While Madigan said he’d call the Democratic spending plan on the floor, Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said House Democrats have a backup plan, placing provisions within the spending plan into “smaller subsets” in case the overall spending bill fails.
“We took the higher education portion, the K-12 and the transportation provisions into separate bills. They’re ready to go. They look exactly the way they look in the main bill. And we may or may not call them. We’ll just see how the votes goes when we vote on the entire spending plan,” Lang said.
State Rep. Greg Harris, Madigan’s appointed budget negotiator, filed an amendment on Thursday to the Senate’s revenue bill. While the income tax rate hike remains at 4.95 percent, streaming and satellite fees have been removed.
“We have closed corporate tax loopholes. We have increased the earned income tax credit for working families to keep more in their pockets. We’ve also restored the research and development and manufacturers’ tax credit to attract more businesses and bring jobs,” Harris said.
*Where they’re at on tax increases: There’s general agreement to hike the state income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent but disagreement on whether to make the start date Saturday or retroactive to Jan. 1, which would take a bigger bite out of your paycheck. There’s also disagreement about whether to make the tax hike permanent. And there’s disagreement about whether to expand the service tax or close corporate tax loopholes.
*What else is up in the air: The tax hikes almost certainly won’t pass without resolution of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s economic items. Differences remain on a property tax freeze. A four-year freeze is agreed to, but House Speaker Michael Madigan wants exemptions for Chicago Public Schools, Chicago City Hall, troubled school districts and pension costs. Rauner is opposed. Another sticking point is workers’ compensation reform. Rauner wants to further cut fees that doctors, hospitals and pharmacies receive for treating injured workers. Madigan said if those fees were cut, they wouldn’t be cut as deep as the low amounts set by Medicaid rules. Madigan also wants to regulate workers’ comp rates set by insurance companies.
*The potential ramifications if nothing gets done: A Wall Street downgrade to “junk” credit status, no Mega Millions or Powerball lottery games, uncertainty for some school openings in the fall, the future of what remains of a frayed social service safety net and the prospect of road construction project shutdowns. In addition, a federal judge’s ruling is expected on a lawsuit that seeks to require the state to start paying hundreds of millions of dollars more each month to Medicaid providers. All of that led Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza to say that the consequences to the state of failing to reach a budget agreement by midnight Friday go from currently “horrific” to “catastrophic.”
*The backup plan: If those measures fail to gain enough support, state Rep. Greg Harris said Democrats would consider a series of bills to appropriate funds in key areas such as social services and education. But those efforts would not come with the needed dollars to actually pay for the programs, meaning they are likely designed to provide political cover to allow Democrats to say they voted in favor of projects important to their districts.
* The House Democratic perspective from Rep. Kathleen Willis’ Facebook page…
Today I plan to vote on a full budget. It is a spending plan that is lower than the governor’s proposed plan and lower than what we are spending now under court orders. It is funded by a combination of cuts, closing corporate loop holes and returning the income tax to 4.95 percent.
* The anti-tax House Republican perspective from Rep. John Cabello’s Facebook page…
The note on the left a unknown person put on my car at the hotel I am staying at. The note on the right I put on my car in response.
* It’s gonna be a busy day, campers. It’s the last day of the fiscal year, the House and Senate convene at 9 o’clock, with the House taking up its budget bill. The Senate Republicans will meet today to vote on Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno’s replacement. As always, watch it happen in real time with ScribbleLive…
In a stunning development amid ongoing negotiations to end the budget crisis in Springfield, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno has announced she is stepping down July 1.
Radogno’s announcement came after a private meeting with GOP Senate colleagues, on the heels of a meeting of the four top state lawmakers at the Illinois State Capitol.
“I have really tried hard and it’s time for someone else to take the reins,” Radogno said at a news conference, adding she wants to travel with her husband and spend time with her five grandchildren.
She told reporters that the end of the fiscal year is a “natural break” to leave her position, despite the fact that leaders in the House and Senate have still failed to reach a budget deal. She said she would continue to work on a resolution through Friday.
Radogno began her third term as leader in 2013. She has served in the Illinois Senate since 1997 and represents the 41st District in DuPage, Will and Cook counties.
In discussing her departure, she also became teary-eyed while discussing the sudden death of Lisa Radogno, her daughter, in 2014. Lisa Radogno, 31, was an executive assistant for Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; she died from a blood clot in her lung about a month after she was injured in a hit-and-run accident.
“It doubled down my interest in it [politics], but it did give me the perspective that nothing is forever,” Radogno said. “And I don’t want to squander my life with my husband and my grandkids and my other daughters. We only all have a certain amount of time and that experience told me, that’s for sure.”
Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, praised Radogno, saying she “demonstrated true willingness to negotiate in good faith,” and that she showed the “humanity” that’s needed within the next few days to end the budget impasse.
* Illinois Senate Republican leader Radogno steps down: Even before her announcement, behind-the-scenes efforts to replace Radogno were being made by state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, who served as her top deputy in the Senate GOP caucus, and by state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, the former Kane County Board chairwoman from St. Charles, legislative sources said. Talk of Radogno’s decision had begun spreading privately during the closing days of June in the aftermath of months of contentiousness with a Democratic legislative majority and a demanding Republican governor who has extensively used his personal wealth to command loyalty among GOP lawmakers. Radogno found her members’ loyalty to Rauner sometimes created problems with loyalty to her leadership, some GOP lawmakers said privately. That surfaced in attempts with Democrat Cullerton to negotiate an end to the state’s historic budget impasse known as the “grand bargain.”
* Christine Radogno resigns from Illinois Senate: She said she was not leaving out of frustration with a lack of support from the governor. “I feel strongly the governor has the right agenda, but it’s not that easy getting there. We need fundamental change in this building, but we need to compromise in order to get there,” she said.
* Radogno sends shockwave with sudden resignation from Senate: Radogno said she isn’t resigning because of the lack of budget progress. “I can expel that unequivocally,” Radgono said. “I was disappointed … that it didn’t happen. If that was my motivation, I would have been gone then. I really wanted to continue to try to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt and try to get to a place where we have the agreement.”
* Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno to resign: In the past few weeks, Radogno has maintained a relatively low profile at the Capitol. When Senate Republicans have scheduled news conferences or other public events to present their views, Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Sen. Karen McConnaughay of St. Charles have often led the discussion. Radogno, who has served in the Senate since 1997, did not mention a successor to her role as Senate Republican leader. In her statement, she said it was time for a new leader.
* Batinick: Timing of Radogno’s resignation ‘brings uncertainty’: “I’m not surprised that she resigned; I am surprised that she is doing it so soon,” Batinick told the Will County Gazette. “I knew her very well and respected her very much. I wish her the best in the future. Her replacement has big shoes to fill.”