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First big blow-up of the week as Durkin slams Madigan for “moving the goal posts”

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Remember when I warned you there would be blow-ups this week? The first big one happened today.

Senate President John Cullerton emerged from today’s leaders’ meeting saying it was a “very positive meeting. Very productive.” Click here for a transcript of his remarks.

Speaker Madigan told reporters later, “We had a very calm and reasonable meeting today. And everybody understands the gravity of the situation. I think (Republicans) understand that it’s their responsibility to persuade the governor.” Madigan said his chamber will start voting on his reform proposals tomorrow. “There is substantial compromise contained in the positions which will be advanced by the House tomorrow.”

* But a clearly agitated House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told reporters later that Madigan had once again “moved the goal posts.”

Madigan, Durkin claimed, added a fresh demand that Gov. Rauner sign the AT&T bill, which includes a mobile phone fee hike to subsidize 911 emergency call centers. Rauner has said he will veto the bill.

Durkin said that while Madigan expects him to convince the governor to accept reasonable demands he can’t ask the governor to get behind these things unless he can first convince his own members to support them.

Leader Durkin insisted that Madigan “show his cards” on a tax hike and produce a budget implementation bill to show exactly where he’s cutting. “Unless we see revenue, we cannot determine whether it’s a balanced budget,” he said.

And he characterized tomorrow’s floor votes on Democratic reform bills as just that: Democratic bills without bipartisan compromises. He has negotiators working on deals with Democrats - some of whom were meeting with each other during the leaders’ meeting - but none of the talks are yet finalized.

“It’s a two-way street,” Durkin said. “I can’t determine if they’re sincere or not.”

“We need to resolve this in a bipartisan manner by the end of the week,” Durkin said.

* Meanwhile, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) outlined the House Democrats’ budget plan. Here are a few dot points…

* The state is currently spending $39 billion. Rauner’s introduced budget was $37.316 billion. The House plan is $36.489 billion

* HDems wanted to take the “best ideas” from SDems and GOP plans and accommodate requests of the governor

* $1.850 billion for group health insurance. Full payment for next year.

* 5 percent reduction to operating lines for most agencies. Give directors lump-sum flexibility.

* HDem plan is a five percent cut to higher ed as opposed to a 10 percent cut in the GOP plan.

* Goal is to “live within the confines” of the revenue set by SB 9. But is not ready yet to release an actual revenue proposal.

* There are no new programs in the HDem budget…. But they’ve decided to supplement existing programs.

* Transferring money from new computer software projects, which totaled about $900 million.

* “We are showing a teeny, tiny surplus.”

* $7.394 billion for pensions. Full payment.

* Borrow money to pay off bill backlog, saving hundreds of millions in interest penalties to providers, but there’s no set plan yet

…Adding… Hmm…

…Adding More… I’ll have to watch her broadcast, but I was just told this by a Republican spokesperson…

No blow ups, just frank discussion.

..Adding More… From Durkin’s office…

Talk going around that Madigan may have ‘blown a gasket’ during leaders meeting: Leader Durkin says he did not witness it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

Caption contest!

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* From moments ago…

As always, keep it clean, please.

And keep an eye on our live coverage post for further updates from today’s leaders’ meeting.

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* We talked about a new ABC 7 story on NEIU’s problems a little earlier today. Here’s the end of the piece

The governor’s office offered a written statement saying the governor is gravely concerned about the “severe financial challenges” that face students and higher education universities. The statement said the governor is working hard for a sustainable solution. It is the same written statement the governor’s office has released about higher education funding multiple times in the past.

* From April 18th

“The Governor understands and is gravely concerned about the severe financial challenges facing our students, colleges and universities due to the General Assembly’s failure to pass a balanced budget,” Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said in a statement. “This is why he is working every day to find consensus on a budget that is truly balanced, and ensure the state’s higher education system thrives in the long term.”

* April 24th

Rauner spokesperson Catherine Kelly referred questions to Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis.

“The Governor understands and is gravely concerned about the severe financial challenges facing our students, colleges and universities due to the General Assembly’s failure to pass a balanced budget,” Purvis said in an email response. “This crisis is why he is working every day to find consensus on a budget that is truly balanced, and ensure the state’s higher education system thrives in the long-term. Instead of pointing fingers, we would encourage Comptroller Mendoza to urge her former colleagues in the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget with changes to fix our broken system.”

* April 27th

The Rauner administration responded to the rally with a statement from Secretary of Education Beth Purvis.

    The Governor understands and is gravely concerned about the severe financial challenges facing our students, colleges and universities and that is why he is working every day to find consensus on a budget that is truly balanced.

* May 4th

“Governor Rauner understands and is gravely concerned about the severe financial challenges facing our students, colleges and universities and that is why he is working every day to find consensus on a budget that is truly balanced, and ensure the state’s higher education system thrives in the long-term,” Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis said in a statement, adding that Rauner won’t endorse a budget unless it addresses long-term pension reform.

* The Question: How about you give the governor’s office some new talking points without using the phrase “gravely concerned”? Have fun.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Springfield budget director says it’s actually worse *** More on the House Dems’ property tax freeze

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* One of the big objections the governor and some Republicans have to the new House Democratic property tax freeze proposal is how the HDems exempt pension payments from their four-year freeze.

The Illinois chapter of Americans For Prosperity use Springfield as an example for why this exemption could blow a big hole in a freeze…

Exempting pensions from a property tax freeze would fail to address a substantial contributing factor to our highest-in-the-nation property taxes. Take Springfield, for example. Here in our fair capital city pension payments consume 80% of all property taxes paid to the city.

The first image is from Springfield’s FY2016 CAFR [Comprehensive Annual Financial Report] (pg. 10) showing property tax revenue of $27.9M. The second image is a Sangamon County Clerk’s Office 2016 Levy and Rate Report showing the city’s property tax extensions for pensions totaled $22M, or 80% of all property taxes paid by Springfield residents to the city. Clearly exempting pensions from a freeze will have little effect on ever-increasing property taxes.

* You can click on the images for the original documents…

* So, what does this mean? Well, in Springfield, at least, including pension payments in a freeze could create a serious squeeze at the local level. While polls shows that people hate their property taxes, they’re probably not gonna love reduced services, either.

And there is a real problem with the unfunded liability levels for police and fire pensions. Those funds weren’t subjected to the same requirements as other municipal pension funds, so lots of local governments skimmed and skipped payments. Taxes will have to rise to pay for that and/or governments will have to cut.

* Meanwhile, here’s an AFP press release on the HDem proposal…

“This legislation is a step backwards if we are to deliver true property tax relief to Illinois homeowners and small businesses. Exemptions for debt service and unpaid pensions render meaningless any promises of taxpayer relief,” said AFP-IL Director Andrew Nelms. “Our property tax burden is driving families and jobs from our state. Illinoisans acknowledge that their sky-high property taxes are a problem and legislation to implement a meaningful freeze would be a welcome sign that our lawmakers understand the gravity of the problem. Illinois lawmakers should instead pass a long-term property tax freeze with no exceptions. Beleaguered Illinois homeowners and businesses deserve true tax relief.”

* And for the other side, here’s Phil Kadner

House Speaker Michael Madigan was the latest to join the chorus. Madigan over the weekend said he would agree to a property-tax freeze, if the governor were prepared to spend more state money on the Chicago Public Schools.

Madigan is largely responsible for creating this problem. He has never been a champion of spending on public education outside of Chicago. And his law firm has made a fortune on property-tax appeals cases.

This state is rotten to the core. Instead of addressing the real problem, the state budget and state debt, Rauner and Madigan want to appease taxpayers by freezing their property taxes, which will hurt public schools.

It’s a bait-and-switch tactic to make voters feel better about a state that can’t pay its bills. With the ship of state taking on water, elected officials want to throw your children overboard.

*** UPDATE ***  From Springfield’s budget director William McCarty…


Our pension obligation issue is more pronounced than that 80% calculation would lead you to believe. The nonmajor governmental portion of property taxes collected are from SSAs and the increments from TIF districts. Absent SSAs and TIF, most of that money would go to other taxing districts, not Springfield.

It is likely that in the next fiscal year, police and fire pension obligations will exceed the city’s General Fund property tax revenue for the first time ever (i.e. 100%+) Even if we were to include the city’s true portion of the tax increment monies, I would venture to guess we would still be at or near the 100% level next year. In the past, we paid for the library, debt service and other items from property taxes. Those days are gone.

One other thing, the City of Springfield component rate of total property taxes has not been increased since 1984. Our taxes have increased due to development and increases in valuation, not a change in the rate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

Expect delays for your Lottery winnings if there’s no budget

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* As if getting kicked out of the Powerball and Mega Millions wasn’t enough

If you win more than $25,000 in the Illinois Lottery after July 1, don’t expect to take home your winnings right away.

The Illinois Lottery said the lack of funding due to the state budget crisis will cause a delay in the payment of lottery winnings. In 2015, a similar situation caused by a lack of appropriations held up more than $112 million in lottery claims.

“Players should be confident knowing the Illinois Lottery has the money to pay these winning claims,” Illinois Lottery Acting Director Greg Smith said. “That means the General Assembly needs to approve a truly balanced budget that includes Lottery funding in order to ensure all prize payments will occur.”

Small prizes of $600 or less will continue to be paid normally.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Chamber could back larger income tax hike, while new EDGE plan introduced

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Greg Hinz reported yesterday that the Illinois Chamber doesn’t want to expand the sales tax to services, but can support an income tax rate above 5 percent

[President and CEO Todd Maisch] said his members dislike both the idea of a wider sales tax and the “unconstitutional” aspects of applying it to some types of entertainment but not others. He conceded that eliminating the service tax extension could bump up the individual income tax, which under the GOP proposal would go from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent, but he said the shift would be worth it.

“Most people get that game” of holding just below 5 percent, he said. “You might as well get to 5.02 or 5.03, if you’re at 4.95 or 4.99.”

The chamber also wants more money for roads, with a new dedicated revenue stream—Maisch leans against a gasoline tax hike in favor of something broader—and is vigorously against a pending clause in a proposed budget pushed by Republicans that would shift $266 million next year in road funds to public transit, mostly in Chicago.

Maisch conceded that shift aims to avoid making cuts in spending for the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and other agencies that easily could translate into politically unpopular fare hikes. But diverting such funds “upsets a fragile consensus about how you divide transportation money.”

Maisch’s full letter to legislators is here.

* Also from Greg Hinz

A new effort to revive the state’s Edge payroll tax credit has surfaced in Springfield, and while this one lacks the poison pill that made business groups hate an earlier version, there’s no guarantee it will pass amid the larger Capitol budget war.

The new version comes from Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago. It would extend the program, which expired April 30, but trim benefits for qualifying companies.

For instance, Edge recipients now are able to claim 100 percent of the cost of payroll taxes as a credit against their corporate income tax liability. Under the bill, the credit for net new employees in the state would be 50 percent of their payroll tax plus up to 10 percent for training costs. The 50 percent figure would jump to 75 percent if the facility involved was in an economically depressed area. The credit for retained employees generally would be 25 percent (plus the 10 percent for training).

The plan also toughens language to qualify, saying that applicants must provide evidence that the incentive was “essential” to making an Illinois facility price-competitive with locating in another state.

The June 30th clock is ticking loudly, but this amendment was filed to a House bill on 2nd Reading today. If they get a new Senate vehicle or zip this along right away, it’ll be worth watching.

* Related…

* Retailers sue to stop Cook County soda pop tax

* Why States Are Struggling to Tax Services

* Press Release: IRTBA, Members of Industry to Testify on the Illinois House Floor Regarding Impact of Transportation Construction Project Shutdown - $345 Million and 43,000 Jobs in Jeopardy, New Analysis Shows

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Total time spent on special session: 111 minutes over 7 days

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute

The Illinois General Assembly is seven days into the special session but lawmakers continue to spend minimal time actually in special session, which Gov. Bruce Rauner called with the intent of passing a state budget.

The Illinois House of Representatives and Senate adjourned from the seventh day of special session after less than 11 total minutes between the two chambers. The Senate adjourned after only six minutes and 49 seconds. The House marked its shortest special session yet, adjourning after a mere three minutes and 55 seconds.

Over seven days, the two legislative chambers have put in less than 111 minutes of work in special session. With each day of special session costing taxpayers an additional $50,000, according to an estimate from the Chicago Tribune, the special session has run taxpayers around $350,000, or about $3,150 for each minute the House and Senate have worked.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Bruce Rauner interview with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution

I’m speaking at African American churches every Sunday morning, and I judge myself by how many standing ovations I get.

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      

Pritzker sends out his third mailer

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Press release…

Today, the JB for Governor campaign launched a new statewide mailer highlighting Bruce Rauner’s abdication of responsibility when it comes to protecting Illinoisans’ health care.

While five GOP senators and three GOP governors are actively working to stop TrumpCare because of its devastating impact on their states, Bruce Rauner has stayed silent and hasn’t lifted a finger to shield Illinoisans from this assault on their wellbeing.

Devastating is a mild description of the far-reaching damage that TrumpCare would have on Illinois:

    * 5.5 million Illinoisans would lose protections for pre-existing conditions
    * Millions of Illinoisans’ heath insurance coverage would be jeopardized
    * Over 600,000 working Illinoisans would lose their Medicaid

But instead of doing his job and standing up for the people of Illinois, Bruce Rauner is standing by and doing nothing.

“Bruce Rauner should be fighting tooth and nail against this devastating bill — like five GOP senators and three GOP governors have been — but instead, he’s doing nothing,” said JB Pritzker. “TrumpCare is a disaster for our state. Millions of Illinoisans’ coverage could be jeopardized and over 600,000 working Illinoisans could lose their Medicaid. So I ask Bruce Rauner: What are you doing to stand up for the people of Illinois?”

* The mailer…

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

The coming higher ed disaster

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* This higher ed fact sheet was handed out earlier in the week. Click the pic for a larger image


* Meanwhile, from ABC 7

Dozens of faculty members from Northeastern Illinois University held a New Orleans-style funeral march for the state’s higher education through the streets of Winnetka and up to Governor Bruce Rauner’s door.

They marched to the governor’s home because they said they were out of other options. NEIU typically operates on a $90 million budget, one-third of which is funding from the state. Now the school is trying to figure out how they will open their doors in the fall.

The NEIU employees took their slow funeral march through downtown Winnetka. At the front of the pack of horns and robed employees was a tombstone symbolizing the death of public education.

“What we think this is, is Rauner trying to ruin the university system,” said Sophia Mihic, professor of political science and philosophy at NEIU and president of the faculty union.

* And unionized NEIU staff produced a video the other day

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Rep. Litesa Wallace endorses Biss for governor

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Rep. Wallace is an African-American female legislator from Rockford. She is, in other words, potential running mate material…

Today, Daniel Biss announced the endorsement of State Representative Litesa Wallace.

“Daniel Biss is the leader we need to take our state back,” said Litesa Wallace. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Daniel in Springfield for a few years now, most recently on our bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. As a legislator, educator, therapist, and mother, I’m serious about fighting for economic justice for Illinois families, and I know Daniel feels the same way. He is the only candidate in this race who combines a powerful, positive vision and the experience to make that vision a reality—that’s why I endorse Daniel for Governor of Illinois.”

“It is an honor to receive Litesa Wallace’s support,” said Daniel Biss. “She is an inspiration with unparalleled dedication to working families and the courage to stand up to Bruce Rauner, most notably when he tried to slash child care. I look forward to working with Litesa in the coming weeks as we demand that Governor Rauner raise the minimum wage, and in the coming years as we enact progressive solutions to our state’s greatest problems.”

* And speaking of the minimum wage bill which was sent to the governor’s desk yesterday, here’s the Washington Post

When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.

The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.

The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city. The study, published as a working paper Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not yet been peer reviewed.

On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum. […]

Yet the study will not put an end to the dispute. Experts cautioned that the effects of the minimum wage may vary according to the industries dominant in the cities where they are implemented along with overall economic conditions in the country as a whole.

And critics of the research pointed out what they saw as serious shortcomings. In particular, to avoid confusing establishments that were subject to the minimum with those that were not, the authors did not include large employers with locations both inside and outside of Seattle in their calculations. Skeptics argued that omission could explain the unusual results.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

“Dark money” group releases new anti-Rauner ad featuring Jim Edgar audio

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* I’ve already told subscribers about this new TV ad buy, so I’ll just post it here without much comment. First, the press release…

A new effort, entitled Do Your Job, Inc., is on the air with a new ad calling on Governor Rauner to do his job and end the budget crisis.

The ad, entitled “The Brink”, features the words of former Republican Governor Jim Edgar. In the ad, which begins airing today, Edgar declares that Illinois is in the worst condition he can ever remember including the state’s tenure during disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich. The ad then encourages voters to call Governor Bruce Rauner and tell him to do his job as the state reaches the brink.

Do Your Job Inc is led by IL Sen. Mike Hastings of South Suburban Cook County, IL Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie and Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael T. Carrigan. “The Brink” will run in conjunction with the legislature’s special session schedule in hopes of helping to secure a budget.

“For two and a half years, Bruce Rauner has been able to hide behind ads blaming everyone but himself for the state’s fiscal condition. Meanwhile, the Illinoisans most affected by the Governor’s inaction - domestic violence victims, seniors who’ve lost healthcare, and women who can’t get breast cancer screenings - haven’t had a voice on the airwaves. That changed today. Our first ad gives voters the opportunity to hear directly from a former republican governor as Illinois reaches the brink of collapse,” said the group’s leaders in a joint statement. […]

Do Your Job, Inc. is a 501(c)(4) organization and does not coordinate with other candidates, campaigns or political parties.

* The ad

* Ad transcript…

Edgar: The fact that we’ve gone now without a budget for over two years has put this state in the worst condition I can ever remember. Even during the Blagojevich years it wasn’t this bad.

Narrator: Governor Rauner has brought Illinois to the brink of collapse. Rauner is standing in the way of a budget deal – refusing to compromise, putting funding for our schools and roads in jeopardy. Call Governor Rauner. Tell him to sit down, pass a budget and do his job.

* The group also has a Facebook page and will do some social media ads, which may be based on this info from the organization…

Governor Edgar’s words are from a longer interview he gave on WXAN 103.9 FM on May 2nd. That interview contained other notable quotes including:

    6:35 mark: “This state needs a budget and a good budget and that’s going to take compromise. And that’s going to take everybody sitting down concentrating on the budget and not other things.”

    11:22 mark: “To me the budget is the most important thing that state government has to deal with – particularly now. And as Governor I always felt that was the number one priority. There are other things I’d like to get done but those have to wait until I get a budget.”

    12:13 mark: “These other issues, some of them are good – some of them I don’t think are worthwhile – but the budget is to me the most important issue and has to be the one that everybody focuses their attention on.”

    12:30 mark: “It’s painful to see what’s happened to the state…because state government hasn’t done the job of coming up with a balanced, adequate state budget.”

    13:57 mark: “If people are worried about the economy that alone ought to underscore why we need to get a budget.”

* The interview

Again, everybody needs to stay calm.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

ILGOP calls HDem property tax plan “not real relief”

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Moments after I hit the “Publish” button on that post below about how everyone needs to try and remain calm, this press release landed in my in-box…

Extra! Extra! This morning 27 House Democrats received personalized letters highlighting their vote this January to permanently freeze property taxes.

Unfortunately, the tax freeze bill died in the Senate. But Democrats in the General Assembly now have a chance to make good on their pledge and pass real property tax relief.

As Politico Illinois notes - the current proposed Democratic property tax freeze has major gaps, including exemptions for the City of Chicago and CPS. It’s simply not real relief as drafted.

The following Democrats received letters this morning:

HD 15 John D’Amico
HD 44 Fred Crespo
HD 46 Deb Conroy
HD 55 Marty Moylan
HD 56 Michelle Mussman
HD 59 Carol Sente
HD 62 Sam Yingling
HD 98 Natalie Manley
HD 96 Sue Scherer
HD 111 Dan Beiser
HD 116 Jerry Costello
HD 118 Brandon Phelps
HD 40 Jaime Andrade, Jr.
HD 3 Luis Arroyo
HD 83 Linda Chapa LaVia
HD 58 Scott Drury
HD 12 Sara Feigenholtz
HD 31 Mary Flowers
HD 24 Elizabeth Hernandez
HD 113 Jay Hoffman
HD 78 Camille Lilly
HD 60 Rita Mayfield
HD 21 Silvana Tabares
HD 67 Litesa Wallace
HD 11 Ann Williams
HD 77 Kathleen Willis
HD 22 Speaker Madigan

* The hand-delivered letter…

As I’ve already told subscribers, the House Republican Leader has informed Speaker Madigan that he could be for a freeze plan that exempted the city. The state party and the governor who funds it need to back the heck off and let the House negotiate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Keep calm and negotiate on

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* A text from a longtime buddy…

Given Madigan’s and Rauner’s negotiating styles, I expect at least 2 more blow ups.

I jokingly said there could be 20.

But it’s something to keep in mind as we move through this week. I warned you yesterday that there will be problems. The main thing we need now is for the people in charge to keep their cool. No “emotional” veto threats from the governor. No embarrassingly over the top political gamesmanship by the House Speaker.

Above all, they need to commit to remaining on the playing field.

* As we discussed yesterday, the House Democrats unveiled their property tax freeze bill today during the Revenue Committee hearing. It’s Amendment 1 to SB 484

No Republicans voted for the bill, but two (Reps. David Harris and Brian Stewart) voted “Present” and urged continued negotiations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

A pretty darned good school funding reform explainer

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Dusty Rhodes has written the best article on the school funding reform debate I’ve yet seen. Go read the whole thing

All districts receive state reimbursement for seven “categoricals” above what they receive in General State Aid. Since 1995, CPS has received its reimbursement in the form of a block grant. But as enrollment has declined and the block grant has not, CPS now receives about $250 million more from this block grant than it would if it had to submit vouchers for reimbursement. The Democrats, sticking to the “hold harmless” concept, would bake that $250 million into CPS’s base funding minimum. The Republicans would allow CPS to keep four categorical bonuses that add up to about $50 million; the remaining $202 million would be redistributed via the new funding formula.

Here’s how Barickman explained it at the Saturday hearing:

“When you make adjustments to the Base Funding Minimum for Chicago, and that’s the only place where adjustments are made, that eats up dollars first that cannot then go through the formula,” he said. “And for all of us who purport to say we want to fix the formula and create something with equity, the way in which we do that is by driving money through the formula.”

As a result of these conflicting interpretations of “hold harmless,” the two school funding bills run very different amounts of funding through the new formula. The Democrats’ most recent model assumes a $350 million appropriation (despite their own appropriation bill setting aside only $288 million). The Republicans’ model uses $672 million through the new formula, which results in much larger dollar amounts promised to each district. That $672 million includes fiscal year 2017 appropriation plus the $288 million proposed by Democrats, along with the $202 million taken from Chicago Public Schools’ block grant. (Despite conflicting testimony at Saturday’s hearing, this amount does not appear to include the “equity grant” that was given to districts with heavy concentrations of low-income kids). […]

Both the Chicago pension fund and TRS have massive unfunded liability. In the upcoming fiscal year, the state’s TRS payments will increase from $4 billion to $4.6 billion. Jessica Handy, with the statewide advocacy organization Stand For Children, testified Saturday that CPS’s statutorily required pension payment will be $721 million. The Democrats’ plan would provide a partial accommodation to CPS by adding a $500 million credit to its “local capacity target.”

What’s a local capacity target? In simple terms, both bills (Democrat and Republican) use a model built on interactive parts, like a mobile you’d see hanging over a baby’s crib. When one part is pulled down, the opposite side goes up. The State Board would calculate for each district an “adequacy target” (the amount needed to fund schools) and a “local capacity target” (the amount the district can be expected to generate using local property taxes). The state would supply funding to bridge the gap in between.

Ralph Martire, with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, helped write the Democrats’ plan, and on Saturday, he tried to explain that it handles CPS legacy pension costs less like a gift and more like a tax credit.

“The way we decided to deal with that in SB 1 was to acknowledge they can’t spend the same tax dollar twice,” Martire said. “So if they have to devote their local capacity to covering these unfunded liability costs, that local capacity is also not available to help fund schools.”

Another major point of contention on Saturday was whether the hold-harmless should be done on a per-district basis or a per-pupil basis. The Democrats’ plan uses district funding; Republicans, in an effort to compromise, use district funding for the first few years and then switch to per-pupil. That switch could result in decreased funding for districts that have lost enrollment. Rep. Christian Mitchell, a Democrat from Chicago, did a little research on how that might play out, and found that the majority of schools that have lost enrollment are in Republican-held districts.

Again, go read the whole thing. They pay attention to clicks over there, so help her out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Study finds opioid use declining here among injured workers

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Illinois’ rate dropped by almost ten percent, according to this study…

As states implement reforms to address issues related to overuse and misuse of opioids, a new study released today by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) observed decreases in the frequency and amount of opioids dispensed to injured workers in a majority of study states. However, higher utilization of opioids and other high-risk utilization patterns were seen in some states in the most recent study period.

“This report serves as a tool to monitor ongoing policy changes on opioid utilization in 26 state workers’ compensation systems. By comparing variations in the use of opioids across the states, this study can help policymakers and stakeholders be better informed about the level of opioid use in their states and better target future efforts to address issues related to prescription opioids in their states,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and in-house counsel.

The study, Interstate Variations in Use of Opioids, 4th Edition, examines interstate variations and trends in the use of opioids and prescribing patterns of pain medications across 26 state workers’ compensation systems covering data from October 2009 through March 2015.

The following are sample findings from the study:

    * Comparing opioid utilization for workers injured in 2010 and 2013 over an average two-year period following the injury, the study found reductions in the average amount of opioids dispensed to injured workers in several states, with larger reductions seen in Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, and New York.

    * Despite the reductions, opioid use was prevalent among nonsurgical claims with more than seven days of lost time. In 2013/2015, about 65 to 75 percent of these injured workers with pain medications received at least one opioid prescription in most of the study states. The proportion was higher in Arkansas (85 percent), Louisiana (80 percent), and South Carolina (80 percent).

    * The average amounts of opioids received in Louisiana, New York, and Pennsylvania continued to be the highest among the 26 study states for claims with opioids. Although New York is among the states with a higher-than-typical amount, it is important to note the substantial decrease in both the frequency and amount of opioids in New York over the study period.

    * The study observed a sizable percentage of claims with opioids that were receiving chronic opioids (at least 60 days of opioids supply over any 90-day period) and at higher doses (average daily dose of opioids exceeding 50 and 90 morphine equivalent milligrams).

    * Among claims with opioids, simultaneous use of opioids with at least one other sedating drug was seen in one-third to one-half of injured workers across the 26 states. Muscle relaxants and opioids were dispensed together in 28-48 percent of claims with opioids. Use of both opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time was seen in 0-9 percent of claims.

This study uses data comprising over 430,000 nonsurgical workers’ compensation claims and nearly 2.3 million prescriptions associated with those claims from 26 states. We observed prescription utilization over an average two-year period after the injury for claims with injuries arising from October 1, 2009, to September 30, 2013. The data included in this study represent 36-69 percent of workers’ compensation claims in each state.

The 26 states included in this study are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These states represent over two-thirds of the workers’ compensation benefits paid in the United States.

To download a copy of this study, visit WCRI’s website at The study was authored by Vennela Thumula, Dongchun Wang, and Te-Chun Liu.

* The accompanying chart…

Still a long way to go, though.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

Illinois “getting to a point where there’s a tangible body count. Of children”

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* A friend of mine read the post yesterday about Family Focus laying off 100 employees and slashing its services. The group provides parenting classes for DCFS families, “drastically reducing the percentage of parents that reengage with the system.”

My friend said she couldn’t sleep last night and explained why via text message this morning…

I was playing out all the awful scenarios. DCFS is already WAY over capacity in terms of caseloads. Without Family Focus and other similar organizations, those numbers go up. That means more and more children who are being neglected and abused who are just waiting for a grown up to step in and save them will die. That’s not hyperbolic. That’s what actually happens.

Remember when Rauner said Quinn owned the consequences of his dysfunctional DCFS?

We’re talking about getting to a point where there’s a tangible body count. Of children.

* And it’s not just DCFS children. Here’s Mark Brown

Operators of group homes across Illinois say they are facing a staffing crisis because they can’t pay high enough wages to attract workers.

And they say they can’t pay workers more because for nearly 10 years the state has not increased the reimbursement rates it provides for the care of individuals residing in their homes.

As a result, 13 group homes across Illinois have closed in the past year while another 22 have consolidated, according to the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities.

That translate into fewer group home openings for the Lenza twins and thousands of other families in a state that was already regarded as woefully short of housing opportunities for disabled adults.

Illinois has more than 8,500 individuals with developmental disabilities on a waiting list for residential services. Even when approved for funding, they often have trouble finding a group home in their area that will accept them.

Go read the whole thing.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

Family Focus, an early childhood development center with seven locations across the Greater Chicagoland area, has announced a “mass layoff” amid the historically-long budget crisis manufactured by Bruce Rauner. A stunning 71% of their staff is being let go to end a “severe cash flow crisis” as they wait for $2.7 million in state payments. That amounts to another 100 jobs lost under Rauner’s failed leadership.

Meanwhile, Bruce Rauner spent his day yesterday visiting Iowa to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony and is the happiest he’s been in 20 years.

“For two and a half years, Bruce Rauner has been utterly tone deaf, saying that ‘we’ll take short-term pain for big long-term gain.’ But these are people we’re talking about, not line items on a budget,” said JB Pritzker. “This is not short term. These are children. You can’t unhurt a child. You can’t redo childhood. The children and families who lose access to these services will be permanently affected. Is Rauner’s special interest agenda worth endangering the lives and well-being of the 17,000 families Family Focus serves?”

…Adding More… From the DGA…

Late last Friday, Governor Rauner’s administration announced the appointment of Beverly Walker to head the state’s troubled Department of Children and Family Services after the resignation of George Sheldon.

Governor Rauner has not, however, gone into any details about the scandals that engulfed DCFS and played a part in the Sheldon’s resignation. Nor has Rauner explained to the public what it was doing to correct the mistakes of the past and prevent future tragedies. In his only public comments on Sheldon’s resignation, Rauner said his administration was “investigating everything” pertaining to the ex-Director’s tenure, yet the public has seen nothing.

All he public knows is that Bruce Rauner did not ask for George Sheldon’s resignation and does not think his hiring was a mistake. That is worrisome for future reform.

“Governor Rauner cannot simply wish away the crisis at the Department of Children and Family Services,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Governors lead by showing the public they are actively working to address issues, but Bruce Rauner has failed the leadership test by hiding from accountability. The public deserves an acknowledgement from Governor Rauner that his administration failed to protect children and a full accounting of past mistakes.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

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Mrs. Rauner won’t talk about her husband’s happiness

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* As we briefly discussed yesterday, Diana Rauner spoke to the City Club. She didn’t say much that seemed particularly newsworthy…

* Tribune..

“Oh no, we’re going to be there until next summer,” Diana Rauner told Chicago Inc. on Monday, after giving a speech on early childhood development at the City Club of Chicago.

Long-overdue renovations to the 162-year-old governor’s mansion forced the couple to move this spring into the bungalow on the fairgrounds, where they have encountered a family of foxes, and now, Diana Rauner said Monday, a family of hedgehogs. […]

More serious topics of conversation, alas, were deemed out of bounds. The first lady declined to discuss her husband’s oft-repeated story, in which she informs the governor that she has not seen him happier in 20 years. Democrats this weekend seized on the governor’s latest recitation of the tale as evidence he was “out of touch” with ordinary people during the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

Diana Rauner told Inc. that “I’m not going to discuss that today.” She was whisked out of the building before she could be cornered by a gaggle of TV camera crews.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Talks break down, Medicaid providers want half a billion more a month

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Reuters

A U.S. judge should order Illinois to pay Medicaid providers about $1 billion a month to ensure medical care continues for the three million recipients of the health program after talks with the state reached an impasse, according to a court filing on Monday.

The move would cause a huge problem for the cash-strapped state, which has accumulated a $15 billion bill backlog due to a budget stalemate between its Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature. It could force Illinois to stop making full payments on other state-mandated or court-ordered spending such as pensions and payroll.

The filing in U.S. District Court by attorneys representing Medicaid recipients asked Judge Joan Lefkow to order the state to pay $500 million a month for four months to start reducing a $3.1 billion pile of unpaid bills owed to managed care organizations that turn pay doctors and others.

As long as Illinois remains without an enacted budget, the proposed order calls for the state to spend an additional $586 million a month to cover Medicaid-related bills incurred after June 30, 2017.

The proposed order noted that federal reimbursements for Medicaid would reduce Illinois’ outlay to $543 million a month.

Oh, this is so not good. As we’ve already discussed, Illinois will barely have enough cash to make its “core” payments in July and will fall $185 million short of having enough money in August for those payments.

A court hearing is scheduled for later today tomorrow at 9:45. (For some reason, I keep thinking today is Wednesday. Maybe it’s because we worked over the weekend.) Stay tuned.

The legal motion is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Special session coverage

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

* Watch June clock click down in real time with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

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* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune asked 16 mayoral candidates to release tax returns, 6 complied
* A rough idea of what they're looking at
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Rauner was wrong about "record levels" of unionization
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Stava-Murray updates
* Pritzker's inauguration ball tix will benefit Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation
* Rauner claims he's been too busy to reflect on his term
* Pritzker's day in DC
* *** UPDATED x3 - Morrison wants emergency meeting of ILGOP - McConnaughay explains - Schneider responds *** Rauner says he tried to drop out of race after primary
* Feds re-raid Ald. Burke's office
* Yesterday's stories

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