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Cullerton was also gone today

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Earlier today, state Sen. Daniel Biss sent me this statement about Gov. Rauner going to Iowa for a ribbon cutting ceremony at a bridge that spans the Mississippi River

“Bruce Rauner had to go to Iowa to find a groundbreaking ceremony because there aren’t any ribbons to cut in Illinois.”

Sen. Biss, of course, was at the Pride Parade yesterday during the General Assembly’s special session.

The Chris Kennedy campaign and the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association also piled on Rauner for abandoning his post during special session and I think some folks were a bit rankled.

* As it turns out, the leader of Sen. Biss’ own chamber, Senate President John Cullerton, was spotted working out at a Chicago gym at about 9:30 this morning. Special session started at 10 o’clock, so he couldn’t have made it back to Springfield in time.

So, I asked Cullerton’s spokesman what his boss is doing in the city during a special session day…

“He is meeting with a group of concerned constituents who are specifically concerned about school funding and their local public schools in Chicago and that meeting takes priority today.”

…Adding… Senate President Cullerton reportedly approved this statement earlier today, but it’s just now going out. I didn’t know whether to put it here or on the earlier post below, and decided to just post it on this one…

“There is a sad irony in that as we celebrate the start of this tremendous construction project the reality is that the looming downgrade to junk status would make it nearly impossible from a financial aspect to ever do such a substantial project again.

“The lack of a budget will soon hobble a state known for building big dreams into reality. From our bridges and highways to our transit systems to our airports and convention centers, our ability to maintain their structural health and grow our economy is undercut if the financial sector loses confidence in us as a state and we fall into junk status. I don’t want that to happen and I trust that the people of Illinois don’t want that to happen either. The Senate has taken the tough votes and provided the legislative vehicles to end this impasse. We can end this standoff and avoid the downgrade to junk status if the will is there. I would urge all involved to prove that it is.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Oops. I got so busy today that I forgot to post a question and now it’s almost 4:30. Let’s make this an Illinois-centric open thread instead.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

“Mass layoffs” by budget hostage

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* From Sarah Holliday at Family Focus…


At the urging of colleagues, I am writing to share news of a mass layoff at our social service agency, Family Focus.

Family Focus has been providing early childhood development programs in the Chicagoland area for more than 40 years. We currently serve 17,000 people annually in Chicago, Aurora, Cicero, DuPage County, Evanston, and Highland Park/Highwood. We help families make sure their children meet developmental milestones and are ready for school on time. We provide parenting education to DCFS families, drastically reducing the percentage of parents that reengage with the system. Our centers have been a cornerstone of the communities we serve for many years.

We are heartbroken that we have to take this step and we hope that our partner organizations can be saved from this pain. So, we are sharing our story in the hopes that it may move someone in a position to help bring an end to this impasse. I attached a letter from our CEO, Merri Ex, explaining the steps we are taking.

On a personal note, I’ve been reading Capitol Fax since I started working with our state contracts. The information you’ve posted has helped us plan as much as was possible over the past two years, and your work is much appreciated.

Thank you,


* The attached letter from the CEO is here.

According to the CEO, the state owes Family Focus $2.7 million. They’re laying off 100 employees, about 71 percent of their staff. They’ve taken out emergency loans from board members and key donors, but it hasn’t been enough. They’re experiencing an extreme cash flow crisis and have to slash costs.

You can learn more about this group by clicking here and here.

This state makes me want to scream.

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      

Madigan warns tax hike will be difficult, says he needs GOP leaders to persuade governor on “non budget” items

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Rep. Greg Harris, the House Democratic budget point person, told reporters today his caucus would soon present its own budget plan. Leader Durkin said yesterday there would be no point in another leaders’ meeting unless the House Dems had their own budget plan.

House Speaker Madigan then talked to reporters

“Once [the spending plan] is in place, the question is, can we work together to find the revenue to pay for that spending plan? And that’s where we come up against Gov. Rauner’s demands for an extreme right agenda. This is where, I said a few days ago, that the House Democrats will be fully engaged on every issue brought to us in the special session. Those issues will be property taxes, pensions, government consolidation, workers’ compensation. We’re fully engaged on those issues, we’ve designated members of our caucus to talk to Republicans about all of the issues.

Notice that the House Speaker didn’t mention term limits. That subject matter is also included in the governor’s special session proclamation.

* Back to Madigan

“My prediction of two and a half years ago stands. If Gov. Rauner is reasonable on these issues, then we can finalize an overall agreement. The responsibility will lie upon the Republican leaders. Take the positions that will be negotiated between Democratic designees and the Republicans, take those positions to the governor and persuade the governor to be reasonable. It will be the responsibility of the Republican leaders, persuade the governor to be reasonable on these non-budget issues.

And then he talked about his own non-budget issues, like SB 1, the controversial Medicaid managed care contract and rate regulation on workers’ comp insurance companies.

* When asked about the 30-vote requirement for House Republicans, Madigan said, “That’s the responsibility of legislative leaders,” adding “Mr. Durkin’s predecessors were always able to do their job.”

Asked about a property tax freeze, Madigan said the House Revenue Committee will meet tomorrow morning and hinted that his property tax plan would be unveiled at that time. The hearing is scheduled to start at 8:30.

* With many thanks to Amanda Vinicky, here’s the raw audio

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Rauner/GOP budget would sweep “every penny” from ratepayer-funded solar program

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Press release…

Even after both the Illinois House and Senate overwhelmingly approved resolutions supporting funding for job creating sections of last year’s Future Energy Jobs Act, a budget proposal by Senate Republicans - and endorsed by Governor Rauner - would sweep every penny of $185 million slated for the landmark Illinois Solar for All Program, which was created by the new law. The law, often called the biggest clean energy breakthrough in state history, won praise for its support of job training and expanding access to solar energy and solar jobs to economically disadvantaged communities.

“Illinois requires a budget that delivers what communities need, including human services, education, and economic and environmental justice. Taking away these funds, from communities most in need, prevents critical jobs, job training, and access to money-saving solar energy,” said Juliana Pino, Policy Director at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. “We must not hollow out the core promise of the Future Energy Jobs Act.”

The funds in the Renewable Energy Resources Fund (RERF) were raised from electric utility bills, not taxes, and are intended to be used for projects that will create jobs and expand access to solar energy.

“The innovative Illinois Solar for All program is a bright spot to accelerate clean energy, create jobs and improve environmental health in Illinois,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The General Assembly should not divert the negotiated renewable energy funds that are vital to keep Illinois competitive in growing our clean energy economy.”

The Illinois Power Agency is in the process of implementing the Illinois Solar For All Program and has worked closely with stakeholders to ensure the program benefits communities across the state, and that the funds are maximized for the greatest job-creating impact.

“There is incredible statewide excitement about the Solar for All Program,” said Lesley McCain, Executive Director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “We’ll fight to make sure the money is there and the program is a success.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Pritzker launches targeted Senate district robocalls blasting Rauner

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Press release…

Today, 726 days into Bruce Rauner’s manufactured crisis, the Pritzker campaign released new robo calls targeting state Senate districts across the state. The calls aim to expose what Bruce Rauner’s budget compromise actually is: a sham. It’s a plan written solely by Republicans behind closed doors and that’s not compromise. While lawmakers are in Springfield today, Bruce Rauner will be in Iowa, doing nothing to help end this crisis he created.

The robo calls are part of the multimedia Crisis Creatin’ Rauner campaign, holding Bruce Rauner accountable for this crisis of his own making and the families, schools, and social service agencies that continue to pay the price.

The statewide robo calls will target SD 23 [Tom Cullerton - D], SD 29 [Julie Morrison - D], SD 30 [Terry Link - D], SD 48 [Andy Manar - D], SD 56 [Bill Haine - D], SD 57 [James Clayborne - D], SD 25 [Jim Oberweis - R], SD 36 [Neil Anderson - R], SD 50 [Sam McCann - R], SD 59 [Dale Fowler - R].

“Bruce Rauner kicked off special session with a sham unity address that called on legislators to support a partisan budget written behind closed doors,” said Pritzker campaign communications director Galia Slayen. “While Bruce Rauner travels to other states and pretends to want compromise, Illinois families, schools, and social service agencies are suffering under his failed leadership. 726 days and counting without a state budget, and Bruce Rauner and Republicans are leading Illinois off of a fiscal cliff – it’s time they’re held accountable for their political games and disingenuous efforts to end the budget crisis. Bruce Rauner needs to focus on doing his job for Illinois families.”

* The robocall

* Script…

Hi. I’m with JB For Governor.

For the third year in a row, Bruce Rauner has failed to produce a fair budget for Illinois families.

It took Bruce Rauner and Republicans over 700 days to introduce a compromise budget, but it wasn’t a compromise at all.

It’s the same special interest agenda that Bruce Rauner has been trying to force on Illinois from the start. Their budget was crafted behind closed doors with Rauner pulling the strings.

That’s not a compromise. That’s a sham.

Our social service agencies are shutting down. Our schools might not be able to open in the fall. Our families are suffering. We don’t have time for Bruce Rauner’s political games.

Tell the governor to do his job and pass a balanced budget now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Durkin walks back term limits comment *** Durkin “not focusing” on term limits with Madigan, warns of tough road to 30 HGOP votes

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Chain, meet yank…

“To clarify my position regarding House Republican priorities, it is my intention to designate House Republican members to address consolidation and term limits and I ask the same from the House Democrats.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** After saying again that he was focused on workers’ comp, pension reform and property taxes, Durkin was asked (at about the 15:14 mark on the raw audio) whether he was willing to give up on term limits. Here’s his response

“I’m talking about three issues right now. I think term limits, uh [long pause] I’m focused on those three. I don’t have a designee on that, but I think that right now I’m focused on the major issues that are going to help the Illinois economy and help the middle class.”

The Durkin people say this isn’t a walk back, but he more than just implied that those other three issues were the big ones.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin talked to reporters today. You can click here for the raw audio. Here are some highlights…

* 30 House Republican votes out of the 71 needed for anything with an immediate effective date is a fair deal for Leader Durkin. As I told subscribers this morning, it’s the same basic percentage as Durkin’s 51 out of 118 House members.

And Durkin is right that the more Madigan waters down this stuff the tougher it’s going to be for him (and, don’t kid yourself, the governor) to round up those 30 votes. But, the Republicans have always known that Madigan would water down whatever came out of the Senate, or whatever the Republicans proposed. It’s a balancing act, but that’s what governing is.

* Leader Durkin also said his people have met with the Democrats twice each on property taxes and pension reform within the past 24 hours, so that’s good. There have been multiple meetings on workers’ comp reform, which still has a ways to go.

The most positive part of this press conference was that, while the Republicans expressed concern, the process hasn’t gone off the rails. Both sides will at times be tempted to derail this train. And I figure there will be some high-profile wrecks this week. That’s always to be expected and particularly so in this climate. But everybody should do whatever they can to prevent any problems from becoming fatal.

And it goes without saying that “not focusing” on term limits is good news for those who want a deal because Speaker Madigan is so opposed. But it ain’t such good news for people who’ve believed that Gov. Rauner would finally rid the state of Speaker Madigan (albeit in ten years). A tax hike and Madigan in perpetuity won’t go over well with people like the Illinois Policy Institute’s loyal followers. Their heads are gonna explode.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Because… Madigan!!!

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Bruce Rauner was interviewed earlier this month by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution. A Statehouse reporter just tweeted about it so I took a look. The full video is here and the transcript is here.

Here’s an excerpt

Bruce Rauner: Well, there are many factors, but we were taken over in 1983 by some politicians who were really in public service for their own benefit, a lot of self-dealing, a lot of corruption. Government insiders, special interest groups that make their money from government became ascendant and really took power, and as a result, deficit spending, inside deals, corruption, cronyism, patronage. Four out of the prior nine governors to my administration, four of them went to prison. Many members of the General Assembly are engaged in very much self-dealing and selfish behavior, and the system has just broken down.

Gee. I wonder what happened in 1983? Who took over that year? Hmm. Could it be… I dunno… Madigan?!!!

* Why, yes

Bruce Rauner: Well, we have the highest property taxes in America, right up there with New Jersey, and we have political leaders, the head of the legislature, the head of the Democratic party, also happens to have a property tax appeal law firm, where he’s become a millionaire by holding up business owners in Cook County for their property tax appeals. We have a very corrupt, self-interested regime running the system. What I said is let’s break that system up. Let’s freeze property taxes by law, and let’s empower local residents, local voters to decide themselves what their property tax levy should be by voter referendum. They want more taxes for their schools, they can vote to do it. They want their property tax levy to come down, they can vote to do that. Give power to the people, and take it away from the politicians.

He got rich by “holding up business owners”? Yikes.

* And

Peter Robinson: We’ll get to what did happen. What did you think would happen? You say to a guy, “Here’s a club, and the moment I get elected I’m going to smack you right between the eyes.” What did you think the legislature would do?

Bruce Rauner: The good news is that many Democrats in the General Assembly know that what we’re advocating for is the right thing for the long term. The issue is getting them to vote the right away against the wishes of their leadership. The speaker is very powerful, been the speaker for 35 years.

Peter Robinson: Speaker Madigan.

Bruce Rauner: That’s correct. The issue is he’s very much focused on self-dealing and maintaining the status quo. We’ve got to convince his caucus members to vote the right way. We’re getting there, but it’s been too slow.

Sometimes, the governor sounds a lot like an Illinois Policy Institute Facebook commenter. And, notice, he didn’t say a word about the violent imagery in that question.

All emphasis was added, by the way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

Medicaid directors warn against “transfer of risk, responsibility, and cost to the states of historic proportions”

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* From a “consensus statement” from the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) Board of Directors on the Republican US Senate healthcare plan

The Senate bill does formalize several critical administrative and regulatory improvements, such as giving Medicaid Directors a seat at the table in the development of regulations that impact how the program is run, and the pathway to permanency for certain waiver programs.

However, no amount of administrative or regulatory flexibility can compensate for the federal spending reductions that would occur as a result of this bill.

Changes in the federal responsibility for financing the program must be accompanied by clearly articulated statutory changes to Medicaid to enable states to operate effectively under a cap. The Senate bill does not accomplish that. It would be a transfer of risk, responsibility, and cost to the states of historic proportions.

While NAMD does not have consensus on the mandatory conversion of Medicaid financing to a per capita cap or block grant, the per capita cap growth rates for Medicaid in the Senate bill are insufficient and unworkable.

Medicaid - or other forms of comprehensive, accessible and affordable health coverage - in coordination with public health and law enforcement entities, is the most comprehensive and effective way address the opioid epidemic in this country. Earmarking funding for grants for the exclusive purpose of treating addiction, in the absence of preventative medical and behavioral health coverage, is likely to be ineffective in solving the problem and would divert critical resources away from what we know is working today.

Medicaid Directors recommend prioritizing the stabilization of marketplace coverage. Medicaid reform should be undertaken when it can be accomplished thoughtfully and deliberately.

The NAMD is a “professional organization representing leaders of state Medicaid agencies.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

The backlog is horrible, but it could be even worse than we know

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* All the following charts are from the comptroller. Click here for the full document. The state’s bill backlog has never been this horrible


* It would be helpful if the administration was required to fully disclose all the bills it’s sitting on because the comptroller can only estimate the backlog

* The QC Times agrees

The Debt Transparency Act is a good piece of legislation that’s in line with the private sector’s best practices.

That’s why a veto-proof, bipartisan slate of Illinois lawmakers thrust it upon Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. And that’s why Rauner — facing a potential revolt from his fellow Republicans — should sign it immediately. […]

As Mendoza tells it, on any given Friday, as much as $1 billion in bills might land on her desk from out of the blue. These aren’t new charges, mind you. In some cases, they’ve been festering in executive agency accounting departments for up to 10 months. Then, at the last minute, they get submitted.

Rauner’s primary motto has centered on interjecting business sense into historically wasteful state government. No private entity — at least one designed to last very long — would manage its books the way Illinois does now. Just keeping track of cash flow is impossible when a few hundred million could suddenly appear on the books, just because the executive doesn’t feel like submitting the vouchers.

If Rauner is really about good business, then DTA is a no-brainer.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

CTBA: Property tax freeze would cost schools up to $830 million a year

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* From the ILGOP…

Just yesterday, Mike Madigan called efforts to get lasting property tax relief an “extreme right-wing agenda.”

This comes as Madigan and House Democrats continue to push for massive tax hikes.

Does Rep. Natalie Manley agree with Madigan? Is property tax relief really an extreme agenda?

Manley should stand up for homeowners and speak out against Boss Madigan’s attack on the middle class.

* As you can see from this screen shot of my in-box, they put out a bunch of these…

* But this is from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability

Cost of Property Tax Freeze to IL Schools? Up to $830 Million

CTBA analysis indicates that a two-year property tax freeze would be devastating for Illinois’ public education system, effectively cutting between $430 million and $830 million from K-12 education per year by the end of 2019.

Late last month, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 484, which would freeze property tax collections for school districts across the state for two years. Such a measure has been a central demand of Governor Bruce Rauner, who has insisted that he will not sign a full state budget without a property tax freeze.

CTBA’s projection was derived by applying the property tax freeze in SB484 to property tax collections by school districts in 2014 and 2015, the most recent years for which full property tax data is available from the Illinois Department of Revenue. Because the base of collections has increased since then, a funding gap created by the freeze of the same proportion would be greater in nominal dollars today. The smaller amount, $430 million, assumes that every district will increase its levy by the full Consumer Price Index (CPI), which SB484 would allow only for debt and pension payments. The larger amount, $830 million, is the effect of the freeze if no district has debt payments for which it can increase its levy under these terms.

These cuts would hit all areas of the state. Cook County would see an annual schools funding cut of between roughly $200 million and $360 million; the collar counties, between $76 million and $214 million; and districts in the rest of the state, between $156 million and $250 million. On a per-pupil basis, these cuts amount to as much as $496 for every student in Cook County, $382 for every collar county student, and $375 for every student in the rest of Illinois. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate these cuts.

* Attachments…

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Cook Political Report moves Rauner reelect from “Lean Republican” to “Tossup”

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* From the DGA…

On Friday, the Cook Political Report released a new analysis of 2018 Gubernatorial races, and it was only bad news from Governor Bruce Rauner. Cook Political Report not only moved the ranking of the race from “Lean R” to “Tossup”, they also singled out Governor Rauner for being the “most vulnerable incumbent seeking re-election next year.”

Cook Political Report:

    “The fifth seat is in Illinois where GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner is seeking a second term. Rauner has been under siege for much of his term in a standoff with the Democratic-controlled legislature over the state’s budget – or rather, the lack of one.”

    “As a Republican in a very blue state, Rauner is the most vulnerable incumbent seeking re-election next year.”

Governor Rauner’s re-election challenges are numerous and self-inflicted, and really boil down to one question – has Illinois moved forward under Governor Rauner? With no budget, skyrocketing debt, job growth stuck in the mud, and an education system on the verge of collapse, it’s hard to see many voters eagerly pulling “Rauner” in 2018.

To complicate matters, Governor Rauner will have an albatross hanging around his neck named President Trump pushing unpopular legislation on health care and the environment. Rauner so far has refused to break with his party’s leader in memorable fashion.

Rauner’s already suffering from punishingly low approval ratings, and with an election strategy that is summed up as “blame someone else,” it looks like 2018 will not be kind to him.

“You don’t get labeled the ‘most vulnerable incumbent’ without compiling an impressive record of failure,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “With no accomplishments to run on, Governor Rauner’s only hope at re-election is to spend tens of millions dodging responsibility and blaming others for his own failed leadership. Illinois voters will see through his cynical re-election strategy and demand accountability for the state’s slide backwards.”

The full report is here. Just keep in mind they do these ratings from far away and it’s really early, so the ratings are always subject to change.

* Meanwhile, from the Rauner campaign…

We’re quickly approaching the end of the quarter.

Normally at this time of year, we’d email you to help us reach our big end of quarter fundraising goal, which directly fuels our team’s efforts across the state.
But this isn’t a normal end of quarter here in Illinois.

Last week, Bruce called legislators back to Springfield for a special session to work towards a Capitol Compromise that brings a balanced budget and real reforms to Illinois.

These legislators have just four more days to come together in a bipartisan fashion to fix our state.

We’re not concerned about our end of quarter fundraising deadline. We’re concerned about our state legislators following Bruce’s lead to change the system and get our state back on track.

So, instead of contributing to our fundraising goal today, we’re asking you to show your support. Will you commit to the budget and reform movement? Sign here.

Let’s show Bruce that we’re behind him as he keeps up the momentum in Springfield.

Our movement is stronger than ever, no matter what career politicians try to get in the way.


Team Rauner

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

Candidates at the Pride Parade

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Chris Kennedy’s pink feather boa is great and I don’t think our current governor could pull off that look. But, I’m sorry, the Cub float in the background just ruins the pic for me…

* And I’m not sure all the Democratic candidates can run like this

* Kennedy appears to have been quite well received

* JB seems like he had a great time…

* Sen. Biss’ people chanted “Billionaires have got to go”…

* And Ameya Pawar’s campaign put together a pretty good video…

…Adding… The Pritzker campaign just posted a new video…

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Caption contest!

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* I wore my “Missing Budget” t-shirt to the Statehouse yesterday. Click here to order one for yourself. The proceeds benefit charities that have been slammed by the impasse.


- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Pritzker campaign responds *** Dueling press releases

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Posted in the order they were received. Pritzker campaign…

Pritzker Campaign Launches New Digital Ads Holding Bruce Rauner Accountable on Health Care

Bruce Rauner Has No Plan for Health Care Bill Jeopardizing Coverage For Millions of Illinoisans

Chicago, IL – Today, the JB for Governor campaign launched new digital ads holding Bruce Rauner accountable for his failure to respond to the GOP health care bill. The ad campaign will run banner ads on local online publications throughout the state.

The bill introduced by Senate Republicans will be nothing short of devastating for Illinois families. It jeopardizes health care coverage for millions of Illinoisans, automatically terminates Medicaid coverage for 650,000 low-income Illinoisans by 2021, and could cost the state $40 billion over 10 years. Premiums could skyrocket across the board, with seniors bearing the brunt of the increased costs.

Despite the devastating impact this will have on our families, Bruce Rauner has yet to produce a plan to mitigate its impacts on the people he is supposed to represent. The new digital ads aim to hold Bruce Rauner accountable for failing to protect Illinoisans from this damaging legislation.

“This health care legislation will jeopardize coverage for millions of Illinoisans, financially devastate our families, and cost people their lives. There is no excuse for Bruce Rauner failing to produce a plan,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “This is a time for courage and leadership in Springfield to guide our state through the crisis this legislation will deliver to our doorstep. Instead Bruce Rauner is telling Illinoisans they will have to go it alone as Donald Trump’s agenda devastates our state. Rauner’s silence is cowardly and his failure to act will do long term damage to Illinois families.”

* From the ILGOP…

Pritzker and Madigan Sync Up Talking Points – Again!
Use Liberal Dog Whistles to Attack Reform

J.B. Pritzker and Mike Madigan are syncing up their talking points yet again.

Both oppose efforts to reform Illinois – but refuse to actually explain why outside of name calling.

Just yesterday, Madigan called Republican efforts to get lasting property tax relief an “extreme right-wing agenda.”

Likewise, J.B. Pritzker regularly refers to good government reforms like term limits, fair maps, and property tax relief as a “right wing Koch brother agenda.”

Here’s a question for Madigan, Pritzker, and the other candidates for Governor who oppose reform – what about helping the middle class is extreme?

What about an honest political system that works for the people, not the politicians, is extreme?

Democrats need to stop the liberal dog whistles and provide real solutions for Illinois.

A massive tax increase with no reform just won’t cut it.

Who won?

*** UPDATE ***  Galia Slayen of the Pritzker campaign…

“After two and a half years as governor, Bruce Rauner is still unable to articulate how his turnaround agenda will help the middle class. That’s because this agenda has always been about shaking the foundation of working class families as he uses them as leverage to achieve his personal, special interest agenda. Workers’ compensation reform that funnels more money into insurance company coffers isn’t real reform and undermining collective bargaining is an attack on working families. Illinois GOP arguing that these proposals help middle class Illinoisans is as much a joke as Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership. The fact that Rauner cannot seem to focus on the task at hand — passing a budget — further proves that he is incapable of providing the leadership our state needs. Focus, Bruce, focus.”

I like the “focus” stuff at the end.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Um, no

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Stephen Moore, an economic consultant at Freedom Works and senior economic analyst at CNN, writing in the Washington Times

The media has hyper-obsessed over the Kansas tax hike this year and has sold this as a repudiation of “supply side economics.” But the real story in the states has been the catastrophic effects of “tax and spend” fiscal policy in Illinois. […]

Back in 2013 the previous governor, Democrat Pat Quinn, followed the advice of economists like Paul Krugman of The New York Times, and raised taxes on the very wealthiest residents of the Land of Lincoln. He argued that the super rich in Illinois could easily afford to pay a bigger share of the tax load and no one would leave.

The more Mr. Quinn raised taxes, the deeper the budget hole got. Whole resort towns in Florida and Arizona have become high-income refugee camps of former affluent residents of Chicagoland. […]

So what is the lesson for the rest of America? Soak the rich economics almost never works. As tax receipts keep sinking in Illinois, the safety net is tattered, the roads are in disrepair, crime is out of control in Chicago, and the state is home to some of the worst schools in the nation.

When you try to soak the rich, they leave, the state goes bankrupt and it’s the middle class that gets all wet. How’s that for tax fairness?

Why is the national media ignoring this story?

The national media isn’t “ignoring” this particular story because Moore has his facts completely wrong. Illinois has a flat income tax. It didn’t jack up tax rates solely on the rich, it jacked up tax rates on everybody, rich and poor, and it looks like it’s about to do it again.

Also, Quinn raised taxes once, and the bill payment cycle was reduced to under 30 days. That income tax hike was allowed to partially expire on January 1st of 2015 and it hasn’t since been restored. The government is running mostly on auto-pilot due to court orders and state statutes and the comptroller is struggling to pay state invoices from last September.

…Adding… As a commenter also points out, the tax hike was passed in 2011, not 2013, as Mr. Moore claims.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

Special session roundup

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Tribune

After years of railing against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for making several “non-budget” items a prerequisite to a spending agreement, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan announced Sunday he’s come up with his own demands if there’s to be a deal.

* Illinois Public Radio

Madigan says he expects three things from Rauner: signing the Democrats’ big education funding overhaul, letting Illinois regulate workers’ compensation insurance rates, and slowing down a big change in the Medicaid program, so it can go through the normal state procurement process.

“This is a governmental negotiation. This is a situation where nobody gets 100 percent,” Madigan said. “I asked the Republican leaders: Please go down to the governor and explain — in a governmental negotiation, nobody gets 100 percent. Please do that.” […]

“Remember, there’s been a lot of complaints about the governor ‘moving the goalposts’ — we just saw that today from the Democrats,” [House GOP Leader Jim Durkin] said. “But you know, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We’ll work it out.”

“I think the fact that they’re willing to negotiate, to me, is a little more movement than we’ve seen in the past,” he said.

* SJ-R

Madigan said House Democrats are working on a bill to freeze property taxes, although he did not say for how long. Madigan said the length of a freeze is an “open question.” […]

Although Durkin said there were some positives from the meeting, he said there won’t be another one until the House Democrats produce their own balanced budget plan.

“The fact is, we’re not going to meet until we actually get a plan out of the House Democrats,” Durkin said. “We’ve got five days left.”

“That’s forthcoming very shortly,” said Madigan who added that he wants to meet with the leaders again on Tuesday.

* But it wasn’t all roses. For instance, here’s Madigan on the property tax freeze

“Only because the governor wants to impose that on people who depend upon public schools to education children, OK? It’s part of the extreme right agenda,” Madigan said of Rauner insistence on a property tax freeze.

Local property taxes are the primary funding source for schools.

“That is the furthest from the truth. And that’s really disappointing at this stage, after two and a half years that it has now become part of some right wing conspiracy. That doesn’t help,” House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said of Madigan’s comment. “Our property taxes are the worst … in the United States. Not a good statement to make.”

* And

Will Madigan agree to Rauner’s term limits proposal? “I strongly believe in the wisdom of the people of Illinois and how they vote,” Madigan said before referring to his own reelection. “We had a term limits question on the Southwest Side of Chicago about a year and a half ago. There was a million dollars spent against me — and the people voted for me.”

* Related…

* Durkin raw audio

* Madigan raw audio

* Cullerton raw audio

* Cullerton press release

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Rauner loves going over reporters’ heads, and he did it again

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Gov. Bruce Rauner regularly attempts to “go over the heads” of the news media and talk directly to the public without any journalistic filters.

Usually for people in his particular position, that’s just not possible. Governors aren’t presidents, after all.

They can’t deliver Oval Office addresses that are carried live by television networks or give stump speeches that cable news networks regularly broadcast. They don’t have millions of Twitter followers or Facebook video watchers.

But that hasn’t stopped Rauner from trying. It’s what his prolific television advertising is really about. He has spent millions even in non-election years attempting to frame his issues his own way without any filters — mainly to avoid taking any blame for his state grinding to a halt without a budget and to shift all blame to House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Democrats instead.

Aside from those ads, most of his Facebook videos have fewer than 10,000 or so views, a tiny fraction of Illinois’ population. He only has about 20,000 Twitter followers, which is fewer than I have.

So, last week’s Old State Capitol speech about the need for “unity” was a true rarity. Rauner’s 3-minute, 15-second address was carried live by several television stations, including the one with the largest news audience in the Chicago region, Channel 7.

He didn’t break much ground with what he said.

What was new was the platform he used. Because he inserted himself into TV news broadcasts, tons of people got a chance to hear him speak live on the topic of his choosing for the very first time without interruption — which has simply never happened before in this state.

The extreme drama of more than two years with no budget, a state teetering on fiscal collapse and a crucial special legislative session starting the following day was just too juicy to resist for the stations. Toss in the location of the Old State Capitol, which was used by both Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama for major speeches and the setup was nearly perfect.

The governor used lots of buzz words like “compromise,” “bipartisan” and “unity.” He got in his pitches for a property tax freeze, school funding and term limits, all hugely popular out there in Voter Land.

Not once did he utter the phrase “tax increase,” even though he supports a plan to increase the income tax rate by about a third. And he called the impasse “unnecessary” even though the Statehouse war was basically his idea from the get-go.

It was all too much for the Democrats, who mostly reacted harshly.

Chris Kennedy labeled it as “a few minutes of empty remarks in an empty room.”

Sen. Daniel Biss called it “the worst infomercial in our state’s fiscal history.”

JB Pritzker said: “Rauner has decided he wants to make people think that he’d like to work together to get something done.”

Ameya Pawar called Rauner a “liar, a fraud and a flake.”

And the House Democrats’ official response accused the governor of “talking out of both sides of his mouth.”

To the people who watched the speech, that reaction may have been seen as an overreaction, if they even bothered to look up the react. Rauner’s specialty is winning the news cycle, and he most certainly won the week with that little address of his.

Rauner’s speech wasn’t about getting a budget deal. It was about portraying himself as the good guy and the person who is not to blame and then letting the other side take its nastiest shots to prove how they’re not so good.

“Why are they picking on this man who only wants bipartisan unity?” would be the preferred message received.

On the other hand, Rauner was poorly lit, his face and head were distractingly shiny, the empty room had lousy acoustics and he had what appeared to be a cold sore on his upper lip.

Television is all about the visuals, which is why the best way to effectively rate a TV ad is to turn off the sound. People see way more than they hear.

What they probably heard last week were the poll-tested, tried-and-true buzz words.

What they saw may not have been so great.

Still, the fact that Rauner pulled it off is quite an accomplishment.

I used to tell Rod Blagojevich to stop trying to go over our heads and learn to deal with the news media’s filter.

Rauner figured out how to do what Blagojevich never could.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Kennedy slams - Biss criticizes *** Rauner criticized for “campaign” trip to Iowa during special session

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* From the governor’s office…

Daily Public Schedule: Monday, June 26, 2017

What: Governor Rauner Joins Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to Break Ground at the I-74 Bridge Project

Where: Leach Park

100 12th St., Bettendorf, Iowa

Date: Monday, June 26, 2017

Time: 1:45 p.m.

Note: No additional media availability.

* From the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association…

While Democrats Work to End His Crisis, Rauner Attends Out-Of State Photo-Op
Rauner to campaign in Iowa instead of meeting with legislative leaders in Springfield

Springfield, IL – On Monday, June 26th, Governor Bruce Rauner is attending a political photo-op in Bettendorf, IA at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River. This project is expected to cost taxpayers up to one billion dollars. While Rauner is in Iowa attending the event, Democrats are in Springfield trying to find a way out of the budget crisis that Bruce Rauner created.

Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association President Doug House issued the following statement ahead of Bruce Rauner’s photo-op:

“It takes a special kind of arrogance to call a $40,000 per day Special Legislative Session and then attend a photo-op out of state to promote a one-billion-dollar construction project that cannot start because of the budget crisis he created. I echo what other Democrats have said. Bruce Rauner should meet with legislative leaders every day until a compromise is reached on the state budget. He shouldn’t be leaving the Illinois for photo-ops while the state burns down.”

House further added:

“Democrats have attempted to meet the Governor halfway on his demands. We want to end the Rauner crisis and start to put the pieces of our state back together, but the governor simply refuses to compromise. Voters are starting to wise up to Rauner. Rauner needs to stop pointing fingers, stop the political attacks, and end this crisis immediately. ”

Fair hit or not? I’m kinda torn. Yeah, he should be in Springfield, but he hasn’t called out individual Democratic legislators for skipping special session days (which would be an easy hit) and he’s not directly involved in the leaders’ meetings. Frankly, it’s probably better that he leaves town for a while, considering what he did to the Senate’s grand bargain.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Sen. Daniel Biss…

“Bruce Rauner had to go to Iowa to find a groundbreaking ceremony because there aren’t any ribbons to cut in Illinois. Due to the budget crisis Rauner has created, the Illinois Department of Transportation will be forced to shut down all construction work in the state in just four days.

“What Illinoisans have learned about Bruce Rauner over the last three years is that while he loves endlessly campaigning to keep his job, he won’t actually do his job.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Chris Kennedy campaign…

Governor Rauner is failing to lead once again. Instead of focusing on our budget impasse, he has fled Springfield to cut a ribbon for a bridge we can’t pay for without a budget. This bridge is a productive capital project that creates jobs and strengthens infrastructure in the region but without a budget, it will become a bridge to nowhere. Inevitably, Iowa will need to collect Illinois’ share of the I-74 bridge project. When they do, we will need a functioning budget in place to deliver on our commitment. After more than 725 days without a budget, there is little to no faith that Governor Rauner will follow through. It’s time for the governor to start building bridges in our state legislature and not dodging his responsibility to the people of Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Illinois’ First Lady to speak at Chicago City Club today

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* From the City Club…

What: The City Club of Chicago welcomes Ounce of Prevention Fund CEO Diana Rauner on Monday, June 26, 2017

When: Monday, June 26, 2017 - 12:00 p.m. luncheon/12:30 p.m. remarks

Where: Maggiano’s Banquets - 111 W. Grand - Chicago, IL - 60654

You can watch a video live stream by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Special session coverage

Monday, Jun 26, 2017

* Watch it all in real time with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

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Monday, Jun 26, 2017

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* IEPA issues "seal order" on Sterigenics plant
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