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It looks like the lid is on for the night

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Yep…

Vetoes and special session proclamations have to be sent to the Secretary of State’s Index Division and it closed at 4:30 this afternoon. The office will almost always stay open if they get a request from the governor’s office, but no request was reportedly received.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Madigan says he’ll continue trying to negotiate, blames Rauner

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Press release…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement Monday:

“House Democrats will continue to reach across the aisle and work with legislative Republicans in order to enact bipartisan education funding reform. Every child in Illinois deserves a great education, but too many are being held back by one of the most unfair funding formulas in the country, and the reform we need is being held back by a governor who is determined to pit one child against another for political gain.

“Democrats know that many legislative Republicans share our commitment to fair funding for all schools. We will work together on behalf of our children, our schools and our communities, even if the governor continues to choose chaos over compromise.”

*** UPDATE ***  Press release…

A comprehensive overhaul of Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding system was delivered to Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday. The legislation (Senate Bill 1) is the product of years of work and months of intense negotiations. No school in Illinois loses funding under this plan.

Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton issued the following statement.

“By merely signing his name the governor can deliver on his promise to overhaul the worst school funding system in the nation. This reform has been 20 years in the making. I encourage Governor Rauner to make it law. Students, parents, teachers and taxpayers have waited long enough. This is a chance to make a huge, meaningful change for Illinois. This is an opportunity to make Illinois more competitive and more compassionate. I hope the governor will seize the opportunity. Do the right thing, Mr. Governor, sign the bill.”

* Related…

* Rahm to Rauner: Sign school bill and get 90 percent of what you want: “Play regional politics and petty politics” on another issue, Emanuel said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Not defending, just saying

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Bernie

One of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s first acts after a major shakeup of his staff was to call a special session to try to force action on an education funding bill on which he’s at odds with the legislature.

The first three days featured little movement, with more time spent in dueling press conferences. Lawmakers are meeting this weekend to try to negotiate before Rauner’s promised veto of the bill, which the Senate is supposed to send to him on Monday.

Opinions differ on whether it was wise for Rauner to call the special session, and on how his new top staff members might be affecting his administration.

“I don’t know if this new staff … knows what special sessions are,” said former Gov. Jim Edgar. “I mean, they’re completely from outside of state government.”

The former governor isn’t around much and the “Institute” has been a thorn in his side for a few years, so he may be forgiven for apparently not realizing that Rauner’s new chief of staff, Kristina Rasmussen, has been a Statehouse lobbyist for the Illinois Policy Institute for several years. So, I think she probably knows what a special session is.

And, while almost none of the other new Rauner hires has any real government experience, almost all they did at the “Institute” was follow every twist and turn of state government. That doesn’t make them experts at governing, by any means, but they do at least know the topic.

Can they govern? To be determined.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Republicans want AG Madigan to reissue opinion they already have

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* From the Illinois Constitution with emphasis added by me

The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State. Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year..

* The House Republicans have been complaining for months that the House Democrats hadn’t released an official revenue estimate, which they’ve done in the past. And they want Attorney General Lisa Madigan to step in. From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Did the Illinois General Assembly pass an illegal budget? House Republicans are asking Attorney General Lisa Madigan to weigh in on whether lawmakers skipped a vital step in the process.

For nearly two years, state Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, has been pleading with House leadership to adopt a revenue estimate in its budget-making process, which he believes state law requires.

In May, Wheeler and many others asked Madigan to give her opinion as to whether lawmakers need to officially adopt an expectation of how much they’ll bring in before they can pass a budget. He did not receive a response, although Madigan was not required to provide one.

The attorney general is, however, required to respond to Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, who sent her the same request in May. There are very few exceptions to state law regarding official opinions that would allow her to ignore his request. State law says that the attorney general will “give written opinions, when requested by either branch of the General Assembly, or any committee thereof, upon constitutional or legal questions.” But the official opinion guidelines say “all guidelines are subject to exception where special circumstances can be shown to warrant an exception.”

“I don’t make these requests lightly,” Durkin said Thursday. “I’m simply asking for the attorney general to officially memorialize what she said informally in 2014.”

Durkin said that, three years ago, Madigan informally said the revenue estimate was necessary.

“It’s been more than two months since my request, and her silence on an issue as important as this is extremely concerning,” Durkin said.

I’m not sure why resending a new opinion on the exact same topic from 2014 would do any good. Like Durkin says, he’s “simply asking for the attorney general to officially memorialize what she said informally in 2014.” It seems like much ado about nothing.

You can click here to see the 2014 opinion. Whether official or unofficial, her opinion isn’t binding and so can’t change anything. Also, I really doubt anyone could convince the judicial branch to start micromanaging the legislative appropriations process.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Manar responds - Barickman explains *** Talks appear to break down, SB1 hold lifted

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* The Senate has released the parliamentary hold on SB1. As I write this, however, it has not yet been officially sent to the governor. [ADDING: The bill has now been transmitted.]

A little background from today…

The Democrats claimed that they were making progress. The Republicans obviously weren’t convinced.

And away we go…

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Sen. Barickman told reporters this today

[Sen. Andy Manar] asked whether the Republican negotiators would be willing to attend a meeting this afternoon where the Democrats would make an offer. He said that that offer would be a generous offer. And that it would be an offer that reflects the Democrats’ attempts to accommodate Republican priorities that help us bring an end to this impasse… When we attended that meeting, no offer was made. In fact, we spent nearly an hour doing nothing more than listening to the Democrats shuffle their papers and seemingly try to buy time so that they could continue this crisis that they have unnecessarily created. […]

The Democrats are notorious for claiming that there’s progress, when in fact in the actually negotiations they express no interest in actually moving the ball forward and coming to an agreement.

Sen. Manar said he wouldn’t even respond to that.

*** UPDATE 2 *** So, I bated Sen. Manar a little bit and he finally gave his side of the story, saying he wanted to be careful not to completely derail the talks.

Manar’s version is vastly different than Barickman’s. According to Manar, the Democrats have been moving toward one of the Republicans’ chief demands and the Democrats left the meeting promising language within a few hours designed to address the demands. Manar says he thought there’d be another meeting later today.

Instead, Barickman held a press conference to say the Democrats failed to make good on a promise to have language at the first afternoon meeting. Manar sounded stunned at this turn of events.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

ISBE: No schools have submitted plans to delay reopening

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* After reading innumerable horror stories about how some schools might not be able to reopen after summer break if the school funding formula issue isn’t resolved soon, I tried to find out if there were actually any such cases. As I told subscribers this morning, I couldn’t find a single school that planned on staying closed.

The following is an e-mail I received from the Illinois State Board of Education this afternoon after a communications mixup on Friday. Note the last line…


I have attached a list of all school districts’ days cash on hand, according to the fiscal year 2017 School District Budget Plans submitted to ISBE in the fall of 2016. The budget plans indicated that at the end of fiscal year 2017, 401 districts would have fewer than 180 days cash on hand, and 144 districts would have fewer than 90 days cash on hand. (The budget plans do not reflect the current actual days cash on hand and may or may not have contemplated state payment delays.)

As of July 24, 2017, no school districts had submitted requests to amend their calendars to delay the start of the school year.

And then they updated…

I checked again, and as of today, no school districts have submitted requests to amend their calendars to delay the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The attachment is here.

None of this fear mongering would even be necessary had the big brains at the top of the food chain worked out a deal. And, if you’ve been monitoring the live coverage post (and read this morning’s subscriber edition), you know something could be afoot. We’ll see.

* This is from Dr. Jennifer Garrison, the Sandoval C.U.S.D. Superintendent, about her own district’s situation…

We are doing a cash flow analysis each week at a minimum to determine how long Sandoval C.U.S.D. 501 can stay open without FY18 general state aid. The projection as of this morning making payroll and paying only essential bills based on our cash on hand is September 1st. It is important to note that I have implemented a purchasing freeze and only essential items to open our doors to start school are being approved.

Once our local tax revenue comes in, we can operate another month. If our local tax revenue comes in before August 31st, that puts us to October 1st. This is the best case scenario without any unforeseen costs.

Let’s hope this doesn’t last until October.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Two more legislators are leaving

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Friday and today…

* From Rep. Pritchard’s press release, which he intended to send out tomorrow, but was instead leaked…

As the 2018 election cycle approaches, State Representative Bob Pritchard announces he will not seek re-election. “I have appreciated the opportunity to represent the residents of the 70th district over the past 14 years but feel the time has come for another to voice the interests of this district,” he said.

“Like our founding fathers, I do not believe serving in the legislature should be a career but rather long enough to learn the process, make contributions and then return to other activities,” Pritchard stated. He will serve out his term which ends in January of 2019 and continue to be activity engaged in the issues and events of the district. He looks forward to spending more time in the family farming operations, with his grandchildren and in various organizations.

Pritchard said some of the challenges facing our state are a result of representatives serving too long, being unwilling to compromise on difficult issues, and losing the perspective of the impact government has upon private citizens and businesses. “I think we have a better system of government when more citizens take time from their careers to run for public office, and experience the challenges of making public policy for their communities or for a state as diverse as Illinois,” the legislator added.

“I have enjoyed the opportunity to make new friends, listen to the ideas and concerns of residents, and participate in the life of each community in the district,” Pritchard added. “I have tried to keep people informed of the complex issues facing the legislature and our state, and encourage their participation in the process of creating public policies. My efforts would not have been possible without the able assistance of district director Jesse Sheehan, assistant Shelley Ziola, staff in Springfield, and numerous supporters. I deeply appreciate their efforts.”

Pritchard has served on numerous House committees and sponsored legislation on many important issues during his time in the legislature involving agriculture, education, veterans affairs, human services, healthcare, the environment and government operations. He is currently Republican spokesperson on several committees including education and state government administration, plus Co-Chair of the General Assembly Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Pritchard voted for the budget and tax hike but missed the override vote.

…Adding… This doesn’t include a few legislators who are running for other offices, like Sen. Daniel Biss, Rep. Scott Drury (both running for governor, at least for now), Rep. Laura Fine (running for Biss’ Senate seat) and Rep. Cynthia Soto (MWRD)…

More to come.

…Adding More… Sen. McCarter is also not running again due to a self-imposed term limit.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

ILGOP whacks Kennedy over “basket of taxes” comment

Monday, Jul 31, 2017


Kennedy Proposes “a basket of taxes”
On Top of Mike Madigan’s 32% Permanent Income Tax Hike

For Chris Kennedy, Mike Madigan’s 32% permanent income tax hike is only the beginning.

Just this weekend, Kennedy was quoted in the Journal Standard proposing a “basket of taxes”.

And just days ago, a bumbling Kennedy told the 40th Ward Democrats that “we need to broaden” the income tax.

Watch here.

Kennedy’s tax-hiking remarks all come after Madigan’s 32% income tax hike became law.

It’s clear that Chris Kennedy is just another Madigan Democrat who will take even more of your hard-earned money.

* Context from the linked story

He strongly criticized what he said is a “massive disinvestment in education” resulting in “creation of an education underclass.” […]

We asked how the formula should be changed.

Kennedy proposes “a basket of taxes including a graduated, progressive income tax.” He does not think the school property tax should be eliminated completely, however.

That change has not happened, Kennedy charged, “because of a handful of (legislators) who make their money as property tax appeals lawyers.”

Kennedy didn’t name names, but he left nothing to the imagination about whom he meant: The most important property tax appeals lawyer in the legislature is House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat who controls the fate of all legislation. Kennedy proposed a law to ban lawmakers from being involved in a business that benefits from legislative action or inaction.

But, yeah, he’s a Madigan pawn.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

What’s up with SB1?

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* I was told at about 11 this morning that in twenty minutes or so paperwork would be filed to remove the parliamentary hold from Senate Bill 1, the education funding reform bill. That hasn’t happened yet. Gov. Rauner has said he will immediately issue an amendatory veto once it gets to his desk, but I’m informed that negotiations took place this morning. I’m not sure when exactly that hold will be removed, so stay tuned and keep an eye on the live coverage post for updates.

From the AP

There was little movement last week in the first three days of a special session, though late in the week both parties tapped a handful of lawmakers to negotiate over the weekend.

Sen. Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who sponsored the initial bill, said legislators spoke for two days, but declined to elaborate on the details of their discussions until Monday’s session day.

“It was productive,” he said of the talks. “It was time well spent.”

* Related…

* Manar to Rauner: Step out of the shadows and join school reform talks: “If the governor does not come forward to show and explain his threatened veto, I will have little choice but to file an override motion as soon as that veto arrives in the Senate.”

* Rauner expected to finally receive, quickly veto school funding bill today

* Black leaders call on Rauner to sign school funding bill

* A look at the political gridlock over state school funding

* Rep. Steve Reick: Stand Down, Chicken Little. The Sky Isn’t Falling, Schools Will Open

* Back to school bash tempered by lack of school funding budget in Illinois: The Illinois State Board of Education says the funding plan must be approved by August 3rd for schools receive payment on time.

* Principal calls a donation ‘essential’ because of ‘state funding crisis’

* Zorn: The politics of education funding in Illinois is truly deranged: Rauner is clearly suffering from an advanced case of Madigan Derangement Syndrome — the belief that veteran Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is the cause of all of the state’s economic woes and the primary obstacle to recovery.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Ives denounces suggested school funding deal

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Dr. Howard Fuller, a Distinguished Professor of Education at Marquette University, writing for Real Clear Education about the opportunities presented by the current special session

This special session is such an important moment in Illinois. It provides an opportunity to chart a different course for how the state tackles the challenge of providing all students with access to high-quality education. And it begins with using this debate over education funding to enact a tax credit scholarship program that allows individuals and corporations to allocate a portion of their owed state taxes to private, nonprofit scholarship-granting organizations that issue scholarships to low-income students.

By signing a bill with this language into law, the governor would propel Illinois to the forefront of the crucial battle to truly change education in America. Illinois could join the growing list of states that realize there is no one-size fits all system that works for our children, particularly our most vulnerable children.

To take advantage of this special moment in time a conversation is not enough; concrete action is needed. Given the stakes, the policymakers must right now do what’s best for kids.

* On the very same day, the National Review ran this op-ed from Jeanne Allen, the founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform

Fortunately, a bipartisan school-funding-reform commission has been working to come up with a replacement for the byzantine system that has controlled funding for state schools for years. While Democrats and Republicans agree on much of the bill, in its current form it amounts to a taxpayer bailout of the Chicago Public Schools system, which has skipped most payments into its teacher pension funds for more than a decade and failed to deliver even an adequate education to most of its students for decades.

However, Governor Rauner has an opportunity to craft a compromise solution that provides the key to better education for all kids and ensures that schools open on time. The grand bargain would be simple: He agrees to Democrats’ demands if they include a tax-credit scholarship program in the education-funding-formula legislation.

* Rep. Jeanne Ives isn’t amused

I am arguably one of the most conservative state reps in Illinois- my ACU rating for the past two years is 100%, lifetime 98%. Every year I have filed every year a school choice bill of some type, in some years more than one. In full disclosure my children attend both Catholic school AND public school - so I have an educated and unhypocritcal opinion on the matter. I believe in parental choice as do a number of public school teachers who also send their children to private school even as their unions rally against parental choice. Stick with me here on this lengthy discussion…

This year I not only filed a school choice bill, I also got a hearing on it in committee - primarily because the Democrats wanted to embarrass me even though the Democrat Chairperson, sends his kids to private school. Well, my bill failed in committee- it was a re-write of former Democratic State Senator (African-American) bill - didn’t matter, killed anyway and Republicans voted against it too - they like the teacher union money as much as Democrats.

Back to the article and my point, even I, as someone who favors school choice, would not make a deal to pass SB1 and bailout Chicago for a tax credit for scholarships.

SB1, and its Republican version that does not include the obvious Chicago bailout, would still be a terrible bill for education and taxpayers in Illinois.

The author here has no idea what the deal would mean for the children, families, and taxpayers I represent. Visit to learn more. Oh, and I sit on the pension committee- the author has no idea how badly underfunded they really are.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* From an e-mail…

Dear Mr. Rich Miller,

I’m working on a project and wondering if I might ask you for some assistance. I’m a student research assistant working with Peter Ubertaccio, PhD, a professor of politics at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. Prof. Ubertaccio may have already reached out to you several weeks ago, but we wanted to send our request along again in case that initial email got lost in the shuffle. The project is at the intersection of political and food culture. At the moment, we are putting together a comprehensive list of the “must go-to” food establishments and events for politicians in each state.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on the food establishments (restaurants/diners) or events (annual dinners/festivals/fairs) that a candidate for political office in Illinois must attend? Not a place to just be seen, but an authentic stop for both good regional cuisine and to meet ordinary voters.

Any thoughts or advice will be greatly appreciated.

Three restaurants spring immediately to mind. 17th Street Barbecue in southern Illinois, which was called “Illinois’ true barbecue mecca” by the Tribune, is a regular stop for campaigners. In Chicago, Manny’s Deli is a must-visit. The restaurant is celebrating its 75th anniversary. I also think Valois, on the city’s South Side, should be included.

There are almost too many festivals, fairs and annual dinners to even count.

* The Question: What are some food establishments (restaurants/diners) or events (annual dinners/festivals/fairs) that a candidate for political office in Illinois must attend?

Keep in mind this question is not about the best restaurant to find local political insiders. And please explain your choices and identify the locations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      

“A closer look at Rauner’s world”

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Click here for the SJ-R’s web of connections involving Gov. Rauner, the Illinois Policy Institute, Dan Proft, etc. One thing they missed was Leslie Munger’s ties to the “right to work” folks.

* Related…

* How is Rauner’s new staff affecting his administration?

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** A comparison of Trump and Rauner, and Pritzker jumps in hard

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Greg Hinz

In politics and government, just like business, it takes more than good ideas and adequate financing to succeed. A CEO needs the right team around him or her, and all parties have to trust each other, to believe that those with whom they work will have their back out there in the jungle. There’s a word for that: loyalty. And the recent tribulations of President Donald Trump and Gov. Bruce Rauner underline the perils of forgoing that trait.

In Trump’s case, the clearest example is the trial and informal impeachment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, though the just-concluded cage match between top staffers Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci was rooted in the same phenomenon. […]

Then there’s Rauner, now two weeks into his big purge and retreat to the comforting cocoon of ideological soul mates. If the governor wanted to change his staff, if he thought some of them weren’t performing, he had every right to bring in new lieutenants. But frog-marching loyal staff out the door without trying to find them other posts is just mean. No one who works for this governor now can know how long they’ll last.

That’s not just inside baseball, voters. It’s an indication of what this governor does when he’s cornered: He doesn’t grow and look for compromise; he calls in people who will tell him he’s right.

* I wrote a column about that topic almost exactly a year ago

Both have used divisiveness. Rauner has repeatedly attempted to divide the state between Chicagoans and the “hard-working” people everywhere else. Trump points to illegal immigrants and Muslims as the root of our nation’s alleged decline.

Rauner’s policy vagueness during his campaign was legendary, and he still doesn’t like to get too deep into the weeds of substantive issues. Trump’s only specific proposals involve a “great wall” on the Mexican border and a ban on immigration from terrorist-prone countries. Otherwise, he’s not so keen on the details.

They’ve both promised miracles. Rauner claims his economic reforms will result in a dramatic turnaround for Illinois without offering much evidence. In his convention speech, Trump said, “Beginning on Jan. 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”

They both have their bogeymen. For Rauner, it’s always about Madigan, but he’s also referred to Illinois Supreme Court justices and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton as “corrupt.” For Trump, it’s Hillary Clinton—and anyone else who crosses him. […]

But like former Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the Democratic convention, in Illinois we need a “problem solver, not a bomb thrower,” who can bring people together to “get things done.”

On that, and on that alone, the two men are far too similar for my taste.

* Politico today

Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez is joining Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker at Trump Tower in downtown Chicago to give a speech that, no surprise, links the Republican president to the Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner. Get there at 10:30 a.m. if you want to hear it live. But if not, here are some highlights:

On Trump: “Donald Trump’s legislative agenda threatens to wreak havoc on the lives of Illinois families. Trump is actively working to dismantle health care in the United States, stripping millions of families of their coverage and targeting those who need it most. He is waging war on science in his refusal to acknowledge climate change and his rejection of the policies that will preserve our future. Trump’s attacks on public education, immigrant families, and people of color are tearing communities apart, and undermining the principles that make this country strong. Every day, Trump is exploiting divisions and peddling hate.”

On Rauner: “Rauner is silent in the face of Trump’s attacks and refuses to put in place policies that will protect Illinois families. Worse, Rauner is actively working to force a special interest agenda on Illinois that will amplify Donald Trump’s destruction. After a 736-day budget crisis, with a state economy in turmoil, and with public schools at risk, Illinois simply can’t afford Trump’s agenda and Rauner’s failed leadership.”

A bit of a campaign reset, perhaps? We’ll see what his new TV ads say.

*** UPDATE ***  Pritzker has released a “five-point plan to resist Trump”…

PROTECTING HEALTH CARE: JB will work to expand access to care, increase patient choice, and keep costs down by providing a public option health insurance plan. JB will also sign HB 40 into law and defend women’s health and the right to choose.

FUNDING EDUCATION: JB will invest in a public education system — from early childhood through higher education — that improves the well-being of every child and prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow. He will also oppose school vouchers and charter school expansion.

RESTORING OUR ENVIRONMENT: JB will ensure Illinois upholds the Paris Climate Agreement, expand clean energy production, and invest in green jobs. JB will also fully fund Illinois conservation programs and fight to maintain full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

FIGHTING FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM: JB will enhance funding for immigrant and refugee services, increase health care options for undocumented adults, improve the U-Visa certification process for victims of violent crimes, provide access to financial aid for undocumented students, and oppose a federal registry program based on race, religion, and country of origin. He will also sign the Illinois Trust Act.

STANDING UP TO INTOLERANCE: JB will expand access to capital for small business job growth in underserved communities, fully fund after-school and anti-violence programs, and declare that transgender individuals are welcome to serve their state as state troopers. He will also stand against LGBT bullying and intolerance in our schools.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Drury lashes out at Madigan, calls him “Illinois’ own Dr. Frankenstein”

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Press release…


HIGHLAND PARK, ILLINOIS – Scott Drury, Democratic candidate for Governor, released the following statement today:

“As the finger-pointing continues over who is responsible for the lack of an education-funding bill, overshadowed is why this is an issue at all in 2017. Without question, Bruce Rauner’s ascension to power was the direct result of Mike Madigan’s failed policies and leadership. When Democrats had total control of Illinois, instead of promoting progressive ideas that helped the working class, Madigan promoted structural deficits, unfunded pension liabilities and education inequity, while Illinois’ reputation as one of the most corrupt states in modern history flourished. Against, this backdrop, Democrats lost the 2014 gubernatorial election, as voters searched for anything but more of the same.”

“Madigan is Illinois’ own Dr. Frankenstein – the man responsible for creating a monster he cannot control. If Illinois is to prosper, we not only have to reject Bruce Rauner, we have to elect a leader who understands and rejects the failed policies and leadership of Madigan that put him into power. The failure to do this will lead to four more years of Madigan’s creation – Bruce Rauner.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Some reliable Madigan haters begin to turn on the governor

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* The QC Times is one of the most reliable editorial voices against House Speaker Michael Madigan, but it is turning on Gov. Rauner in a big way over SB1

Rauner is scrambling and his agenda is a shambles. And his acts of desperation are making him more difficult to support and defend by the day.

This month’s veto override that ended a two-year budget impasse was a significant loss for Illinois’ Republican governor. The standoff accomplished nothing of value. That bipartisan rebuke of Rauner’s veto, in many ways, left Illinois back where it started prior to Rauner taking office. […]

There’s no doubt that much of Rauner’s consternation is about playing to his base. It’s easy to bang around downstate Illinois blasting Chicago fat cats. Parochialism is good politics in a state like Illinois. But it’s also an explosive chemical compound.

Divisive populist regionalism will never fix Illinois’ failing pension system. It’s a pointless attack on the symptom that does nothing to cure the disease.

More than two years of brinkmanship accomplished precisely zilch for Illinois. But, politically desperate, it appears Rauner is going all in as his 2018 re-election bid nears. After the budget defeat, he sacked his most senior staff. He replaced it with right-wing partisans from the Illinois Policy Institute. And now, he’s banging around the state scapegoating his state’s one major market.

Rauner’s rightward leap risks not only his political fortunes but the well-being of his state.

* Same with the Peoria Journal Star

Indeed, the language leaping out of sleepy Sangamon County has been uncommonly colorful. A Republican governor who promised to veto part of SB1 should Democrats ever get around to sending it to him finds the latter’s behavior “unconscionable,” their stalling tactics “evil,” the minority’s efforts to take back control nothing short of a coming “revolution,” according to various reports. The Democrat Senate president, meanwhile, questions the governor’s “mental state” while inviting him to negotiate something more to his/their liking.

This a clearly furious governor finds “outrageous!” while continuing to demand that Democrats put SB1 “on my desk!” so that he can have his way with it. Curiously, this governor from Chicago has declared war on his Chicago — granted, no Republican gets much love from Chicago — characterizing this as a “bailout” for the city’s school pension system. He calls a special session, to which many legislators hardly pay attention, judging by the no-shows.

Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to berate House Speaker Michael Madigan as public enemy number one, even though it’s the Senate’s John Cullerton who’s sitting on the bill. Apparently he’s decided it’s more politically advantageous to have the monster that is state government wear Madigan’s face. Meantime, the governor doesn’t do his own cause many favors when he can’t quite say how he arrived at the numbers he insists make downstate schools big winners, or explain how the savings necessary to do that seem to be coming out of Chicago’s block grant rather than pensions, or be more specific about his promised veto. […]

But on which party will parents take out their wrath? That’s the gamble, isn’t it? We’re in a pox-on-all-their-houses sort of mood. They argue ad nauseam, but nothing gets done. Illinois on school funding reform, meet Congress on health care reform.

* The Tribune, however, remains firmly in the governor’s camp

For Illinois households with school-age children, August is not simply a month on the calendar. It is closure and reset. Sleepovers taper off. Bedtimes get earlier. School shoes displace flip-flops. Wet bathing suits yield to pleated pants.

The sweet back-to-school ritual is unfolding across Illinois, even as lawmakers in Springfield jockey over legislation — a fight that could jam a shiv into the August calendar. Without agreement on an education funding bill, schools might not be able to open on time. Yes, parents, while you’ve been preoccupied with lemonade stands and summer camps, Democrats in Springfield have been jeopardizing the timely opening of schools.

Democrats and a handful of Republicans supported a budget in early July that tied money for schools to a controversial rewrite of the school funding formula, which they had approved May 31. On top of that gamble, the Senate refused to send the rewrite package to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. Two months have passed with no action, only dueling press conferences and noisy insults.

Just when you think Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan couldn’t be more scheming, they prove you wrong. In this case, they’re jeopardizing the start of the school year. Brinkmanship at its worst. A game of chicken with school families trapped midfield.

*** UPDATE ***  The ILGOP finds other supporting editorials…

Editorial boards this weekend slammed Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, and Democrats in Springfield for holding school funding hostage to their Chicago bailout demands.

The Chicago Tribune: Dear Illinois parents: You’re being played by Democrats in Springfield

    Yes, parents, while you’ve been preoccupied with lemonade stands and summer camps, Democrats in Springfield have been jeopardizing the timely opening of schools.
    … Just when you think Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan couldn’t be more scheming, they prove you wrong. In this case, they’re jeopardizing the start of the school year. Brinkmanship at its worst. A game of chicken with school families trapped midfield.
    To emphasize, parents: August is here and your legislature has not agreed on how to send your state tax money to your schools. You’re being played. You’re supposed to panic and blame a governor who’s, yes, still waiting for that May 31 funding bill to arrive.

The Belleville News-Democrat: Illinois lawmakers set time bomb to get Rauner, hit students instead

    Lawmakers couldn’t pass a budget for more than two years and were willing to owe other people $15 billion, but they sure got their paychecks on time. The rest of us don’t get paid if we don’t work.
    So could it be that they realize the optics are bad on that issue? They fear facing voters in 2018 looking like a bunch of self-serving, ineffective louts? Do they think limiting the per diems would give them the ability to say, “See, we aren’t all about us”?
    They got a chance to earn another $111 a day plus mileage this past week, when Rauner called lawmakers back into session to advance Senate Bill 1, the education funding bill. They failed to do so because Rauner promised an amendatory veto to remove a Chicago Public School pension bail-out. Big surprise, because they are likely doing all this to force an August showdown to get that Chicago money and hand Rauner another fanny-whoooping — at the cost of our students.

Herald & Review: Our view: We’re back where we started with Springfield

    What’s the better solution? Remove the Chicago pension funding proviso from the legislation.
    That would meet Rauner’s satisfaction while preserving the core mission to fix the backwards funding formula.
    It’s easy for us to say, but Chicago pensions shouldn’t break this legislation. We must think of students statewide.
    Remove the pension rule.
    Sign the bill.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Rauner vows to “oppose this tax hike until it’s gone”

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* From a Saturday night fundraising e-mail…

Thank you for your continued support; the response to our Tax Hike outreach efforts has been amazing.

We’re close to our goal, but we need your help to raise $5,000 more to fully fund our program.

Will you consider chipping in $32 in protest of the 32% tax hike?

Your donation will directly support our efforts to show the Madigan Machine that we’re going to oppose this tax hike until it’s gone.

We’ve set a deadline of July 31 at midnight to fully fund the Tax Hike opposition program so we can hit the ground running in August.

Illinois needs change, and together we can stop the old school style politics that have been plaguing our state for decades.

Please help us fully fund our efforts to stop the 32% tax hike with an immediate donation of $32 today!

Thanks for all of your support,

Bruce Rauner

Hat tip to Patrick Yeagle, who points out the mention of a “tax hike opposition program,” and asks “What’s he planning?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

The stunning costs of CPS borrowing

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Tribune

Chicago Public Schools’ latest long-term borrowing deal will buy the district a bit of financial breathing room through 2019 but comes at an immense cost to future generations.

By the time the $500 million loan is paid off, children now entering kindergarten will be in their mid-30s and the school district will have spent $850 million in interest costs alone — making the total expense of the bond issue a whopping $1.35 billion.

And only a small fraction of the money from the long-term bonds issued in July will be used for school construction or classroom improvements, which budget experts say should be the primary use for long-term debt. CPS is using the biggest chunk of the loan to reimburse itself for failed bond market deals the district previously covered with cash. Another large portion will be used to shave a few hundred million dollars off old debts — even as it extends those debts as much as 25 years.

In addition, the deal commits an enormous sum of state aid to bondholders through 2046, even as state funding remains at the center of an ongoing battle in Springfield. If state aid is ever not enough to cover bond payments, CPS has pledged to turn to property taxes to pay for the loan.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

A good plan to stop the override, but no plan yet to pass a bill

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

During the lead-up to the recent special legislative session over the state budget and a tax hike, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s staff studied whether their boss had the power to force legislators to attend the sessions.

A court ruled during the Rod Blagojevich era that the General Assembly must convene at the date and time ordered by the governor, but Rauner’s staff found nothing in state statutes that gives the governor the power to, for instance, deploy the Illinois State Police to haul legislators to Springfield. You may recall 2011, when several Wisconsin and Indiana Democratic legislators attempted to deny their General Assemblies a quorum by fleeing to Illinois, outside the jurisdiction of their respective state police forces. But, as we’ve seen time and time again, for better or for worse, we aren’t Wisconsin or Indiana.

The battle plan to kill the Democrats’ education funding reform bill (Senate Bill 1) that was plotted before Gov. Rauner’s infamous staff purge in early July, and which still appears to be mostly operative, actually anticipated low special session turnout since there likely wouldn’t be much of anything to vote on. They figured that the Democrats would wait a while before lifting the parliamentary brick off the education funding reform bill - the better to foment a crisis atmosphere as the clock ticks down to schools reopening after summer break.

So, legislators not showing up for session will likely only amplify the governor’s contention that the majority party isn’t interested in preventing a crisis and funding schools. The cops aren’t needed.

Overall, the plan devised a while back is pretty good, even though it relies heavily on stoking the flames of regionalism with an unspoken but still clear racial element. Rauner’s “Chicago bailout” card is about the easiest one to throw in this state, and it has been played longer than anyone reading this has been alive.

Despite the fact that Downstate pays far less in state taxes than it receives in state benefits, people who live there think Chicago is the place that gets all the taxpayer goodies. It’s actually suburbanites who pay the bills on net, and with their high local property taxes and a recent income tax hike, those folks are probably (and understandably) not thrilled with the idea of bailing out the city’s notorious school system.

The bill’s supporters have lined up an impressive list of Downstate and suburban school superintendents in strong support of SB 1. Education groups like Stand for Children (which was, ironically enough, brought to Illinois by then-private citizen Bruce Rauner) have been advertising locally to back the plan.

But school superintendents are often resented by local taxpayers for their high salaries. And at least one has already been singled out by conservative political activist Dan Proft’s newspaper empire. Proft’s outfit published a snarky article last week about Harrisburg Superintendent Mike Gauch, a prominent SB 1 supporter who is often cited by proponents. The piece noted that Gauch and his wife, a Carbondale public school teacher, make a combined $220,000 per year, plus benefits.

“The Gauches represent a new reality in Southern Illinois,” the article claimed, “a public employee power couple whose income ranks them among the wealthiest families in Saline County.

Aside from the class warfare angle, the superintendents don’t have a vote in the General Assembly. So, while they can credibly claim all they want that SB 1 isn’t a Chicago bailout, the governor simply counters with his own numbers (which he won’t verify) that Downstate and suburban schools would do much better with his plan (which he refused to disclose for weeks).

The idea of using the superintendents was not just to encourage Republican legislators to support SB 1, but to give them ample political cover if they decided to cross the governor and override his veto. But since the governor has concocted his own proposal with his own numbers (which show that schools outside the city will get lots more money than they would under SB 1), that encouragement now means little and the cover is blown.

Downstate and suburban Democrats who vote to override his veto are also put in a bind because the governor can claim that those Democrats voted against their districts and for Chicago.

Preventing a veto override is the governor’s main effort here, but passing a bill into law that reforms school funding is a whole different matter. Without such a law on the books, billions of dollars of state education formula money can’t be distributed. And as I write this, that solution doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s horizon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Special session coverage

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* Today is the day that the Senate plans to send SB1 to Gov. Rauner’s desk following a weekend of legislative negotiations. Follow all the twists and turns with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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Monday, Jul 31, 2017

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Annual State Fair Democrat Day rally canceled

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

[This post has been bumped up from Friday to Monday for easier display and comments are now open.]

* Mostly true…

* Democrat Day itself has not been canceled. Party members will still get their free tickets to the fair just like Republicans will on Governor’s Day. But the traditional noontime rally has been canceled.

Steve Brown told me part of the problem with Democrat Day over the years was that the same people make pretty much the same speeches at both the county party chairman’s brunch and then at the state fairgrounds rally a couple of hours or so later. It gets boring and repetitive and kinda pointless. It can be a real drag sitting in the hot sun listening to the same speech you just heard at brunch.

So, it looks like this could be the end of a very long era. I don’t know how far back the tradition goes, but it’s a very long time. Back in the day, the first Mayor Daley would send trainloads of people to the fair. It used to be a huge deal, but the rally crowds for both parties have seemed to taper off in recent years and I don’t think that Speaker Madigan likes doing it, either. Maybe it’ll restart if the Democrats elect a governor again, whenever that might be, because then Madigan won’t have to be in charge.

* From a Crain’s column I wrote back in 2014

The Illinois State Fair’s “Director’s Lawn” is a tree-lined venue far from the corn dogs, grandstand concerts and beer tents.

The lawn spreads out in front of a rather dingy house used by the state’s director of agriculture, off a road marred by potholes and best accessed via a special gate that often is closed during the fair because there’s so little public parking. A million or so people attend the fair each year.

The grass on the lawn is trampled flat. But no events ever are as crowded as the annual Governor’s Day and the accompanying rally for the party out of power.

Even in this era of high-tech campaigns, the twin events unofficially kick off the governor’s race, despite the fairgrounds’ somewhat rundown appearance. Politicians high and low attend. The more important ones give speeches, the less important mill about and try to interest others in shaking their hands. Every major media outlet sends reporters.

There usually are four crowds. There’s the “true believers,” young men and women who work or volunteer for the candidates. They wear matching T-shirts, carry signs and fire up the crowds by cheering or shouting slogans on command.

Then there are the “older believers,” folks who aren’t nearly as youthful or fired up but still strongly support their candidates. They sit in the front section with a clear view of the stage.

The “space-fillers” mostly are bused in to increase the crowd. They sit where they can’t see the speakers, either behind the stands for the news media or off to the side under a canvas tent. They chat among themselves and enjoy the free food.

The fourth group is the “hacks in the back.” These are the political professionals, high-level campaign operatives, lobbyists and legislators. They’ve heard enough speeches, so they gossip at the rear of the lawn near the free beer.

No more free beer and hot dogs and politicking on the Director’s Lawn this year, at least for the Democrats.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers will play us out

Watch each card you play
and play it slow

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Fact checking the “Chicago bailout” claims

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* From House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s post on how SB 1 is a “Chicago bailout”

As written, SB 1 is a bailout for the decades of financial mismanagement at CPS. The bill directs millions of dollars to CPS and away from other deserving districts. Under SB 1, as compared to the Governor’s plan, the other 851 school districts in Illinois will receive less of the FY18 budget money while CPS receives credit for a $506 million historical pension payment. The CPS hold harmless includes both the $250 million block grant credit and $221 million for normal pension costs and retiree health care credit.

* Greg Hinz

Part of that is misleading. For instance, in saying “will receive less,” Durkin implies some districts will get less aid than they get now, which is not true. One of the main points of the Democratic plan is a “hold harmless” for every district, spending truly new money on additional state aid without taking away any current money.

But Durkin is right about the $506 million—to a point.

Though Democrats in their comments have almost completely focused on the $221 million for CPS pensions, that only covers current, or “normal costs.” It doesn’t include another $506 million that city taxpayers are having to pony up this year to pay for old, unfunded, “legacy” pension costs. That’s money that doesn’t go to the classroom, and it reduces CPS’ available cash for classroom expenses.

Under the pending bill, as per Durkin’s note, some of that burden would begin to be shifted to the state. According to CPS, it would get up to $25 million or so in additional funds in fiscal 2018 because of that clause, a figure that chief bill sponsor Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, confirms.

Now, $25 million is real money. But it’s not the $506 million that by Durkin’s version CPS “would get credit for.”

That $25 million figure will rise with time. But CPS won’t get the full $506 million until and unless the new formula is fully funded statewide, something that would take $3.5 billion to $6 billion a year. That kind of money won’t be available in the strapped state budget for a decade, and possibly much longer.

More fact checking at the link.

* Also…

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Rep. Fine to run for Biss seat

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Press release

An early favorite has emerged to replace outgoing 9th District State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) as 17th District State Rep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) announced her candidacy and several early endorsements Friday. Fine, a former teacher and advocate for taking on the insurance industry, followed Biss — currently seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination — into her current seat and hopes to succeed him a second time in the state senate.

After her husband Michael lost his arm at the shoulder when a cement truck plowed into his car head on, Fine’s family faced bankruptcy when their insurance company refused to pay medical bills for multiple surgeries and attempted to drop her husband’s coverage. With close to $600,000 in medical bills, Fine fought tirelessly with both the auto and health insurance companies for the quality care her husband needed to recover.

“I ran for the legislature in 2012 to take on the powerful insurance industry and became an advocate for leveling the playing field for all Illinois families against special interests who put their profits above people,” Fine said. “In the State Senate, I will continue to be a voice for our families when they are treated unfairly, and I will not hesitate to do the hard things to make sure people are treated right.” […]

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) said. “Laura Fine is the exact kind of leader our community needs. Someone who works tirelessly on behalf of others and who is not afraid to stand up for what is right. I have had the privilege of working with her both on the local and the state level and I have seen firsthand her commitment to her constituents and I am proud to support her and her candidacy for state Senate.”

Metropolitan Water Commissioner Debra Shore (D-Evanston) added, “I am enthusiastically supporting Laura Fine for IL Senate because I know her to be a woman of experience, integrity, thoughtful approaches to legislation, and deep compassion. Frankly, we need more collaboration and less egos in the General Assembly. Laura is eminently qualified.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Judge clears the way for Cook County pop tax

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Not much else to do today, so here’s the Daily Herald

Cook County Judge Daniel Kubasiak cleared the path Friday for Cook County’s penny-per-ounce soda tax to take effect.

Kubasiak initially sided with opponents of the tax because of hardships placed on consumers seeking refunds if the law was found to be unconstitutional. He granted a restraining order June 30 to prevent implementation of the tax.

He said Friday, however, that there’s nothing constitutionally that prevents implementation of the tax and the exercise of the county’s home rule powers. He said the tax “provides a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to understand what is required” and is “sufficiently detailed and specific to preclude arbitrary enforcement.” […]

County officials had projected the tax would raise about $200 million over the next 12 months, and expected $67.5 million in the remainder of the fiscal year to help cover costs. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle ordered staff reductions and other budget cuts in the wake of the judge’s order, since the county was relying on revenue from the tax to cover those costs. The county laid off about 300 workers and the sheriff’s office laid off more than 110 recruits and trainees, according to officials.

* Sun-Times

Last week, county lawyers argued Illinois law permits differential taxation, which refers to the fact that the tax applies to some beverages and not others. The tax, they also argued, is needed to address concerns surrounding public health.

“Drinks that are widely available pose a greater risk to public health,” said county attorney Kent Ray. “We don’t believe there can be any rebuttal to the position that ready-made beverages and custom-made beverages are different from a public health perspective.”

Attorneys representing the merchants argued there was no substantial difference in how sweetened beverages are classified, making the tax unfairly vague for consumers and distributors.

“The [differences between the] sweetened beverages that are taxed and the sweetened beverages that are not taxed are not real substantial differences,” David Ruskin, an attorney for the retailers, said.

* From the the Illinois Public Health Institute and the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity…

We are gratified that the judge rejected the unfounded arguments for a delay in implementing this optional tax that will benefit our county’s fiscal health and our communities’ physical well-being. The sooner people stop drinking sweetened beverages, the sooner we expect to see a decline in the chronic diseases caused by too much sugar.

…Adding… IRMA…

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, on behalf of Cook County retailers, has issued the following statement regarding the Circuit Court of Cook County’s decision to grant the county’s motion to dismiss the retailers’ lawsuit against the sweetened beverage tax.

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling. We are exploring all legal options,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of IRMA.

…Adding More… Preckwinkle…

Statement from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Judge Kubasiak’s Ruling Dismissing the Sweetened Beverage Tax Lawsuit

We applaud today’s decision by Judge Kubasiak granting our motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit challenging the sweetened beverage tax. We believed all along that our ordinance was carefully drafted and met pertinent constitutional tests. The delay in implementing the tax caused by the merchants’ lawsuit forced us to put into motion cost-saving measures to cope with this revenue loss, which currently is at least $17 million. Until we are able to fully implement and collect revenues from this tax, we will continue to review our financial position and make adjustments accordingly. The ordinance was approved last November and all retailers and distributors should have been prepared to collect the tax on July 1. The tax should be collected at the consumer level beginning on Aug 2. We are especially grateful to our legal team and the attorneys from the State’s Attorney’s office for the hard work that led to this decision.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* How do you think this SB 1 fight will end? Make sure to explain whatever you can.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Cullerton appoints - GOP urges quick negotiations - Durkin, Brady appoint negotiators *** Madigan responds to Rauner offer, appoints two members to negotiate

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Press release…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement Friday:

“First and foremost, it is the sincere belief of House Democrats that Governor Rauner should sign the education funding reform bill currently on his desk. Should he continue to create chaos and attempt to pit one student against another by vetoing reform, we expect to move forward with an override.

“In the spirit of ongoing cooperation, Representatives Will Davis and Barbara Flynn Currie will continue to work with legislative Republicans, as they have been doing for some time now.

“At this juncture, doing what’s right and providing stability and certainty to all Illinois schools is more important than any arbitrary deadline put forward by a governor who continues seeking chaos over compromise. House Democrats are committed to passing school funding reform and we will continue working across the aisle to ensure our schools are able to open on time, despite the governor’s political games.”

Background is here.

…Adding… As several commenters have pointed out, SB 1 is most definitely not “currently on [Rauner’s] desk.” If it was on his desk, we wouldn’t be waiting around right now.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Still waiting on Cullerton…

A statement from Senate Republican Leader-Designee Bill Brady and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.

“At the Governor’s request, we have asked Sens. Jason Barickman and Dan McConchie and Reps. Avery Bourne and Bob Pritchard to reach out to their Democrat colleagues on a school funding reform plan that treats all school districts in Illinois fairly and equitably.
Our schools cannot wait any longer, we must act now.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…


Statement from Sen. Jason Barickman, Sen. Dan McConchie, Rep. Avery Bourne and Rep. Bob Pritchard.

“This afternoon, at the request of the Governor and our respective legislative leaders, we have reached out to convene a meeting with Rep. Barbra Flynn Currie, Rep. Will Davis, Sen. Kimberly Lightford and Sen. Andy Manar as soon as possible on school funding reform. We have cleared our calendars in order to facilitate these discussions today and over the weekend. We are hopeful our Democrat colleagues realize the urgency as well.
With sincere bipartisan discussions, a solution can be negotiated and presented for review before the scheduled transmittal to the Governor of Senate Bill 1 on Monday. Absent that, the Governor has made it clear he will use his Amendatory Veto authority.

We need to act quickly to ensure funding will be released in time for schoolhouse doors to open next month.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Press release…

Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton has asked Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford and State Senator Andy Manar, the sponsor of Senate Bill 1, to join renewed talks regarding school funding reform.

“This is the kind of meeting we’ve been trying to arrange for weeks. Hopefully we can now learn what the governor has in mind with his threatened veto and see if there is a path forward, together,” Cullerton said.

Lightford is a Maywood Democrat.
Manar is a Bunker Hill Democrat.

The Senate President has been trying to meet with the governor about his threatened veto prior to sending him a historic school funding overhaul on Monday, July 31. In addition to explaining the legislation, the Senate President wants to make sure the governor understands what his threatened veto would mean.

Rauner has said he would file an amendatory veto to rewrite Senate Bill 1.

An amendatory veto is a veto. It rejects the proposal but offers specific legislative changes that are supposed to be consistent with the initial theme and scope of the proposal. The constitution and court cases limit the governor’s ability to make changes.

Once that veto is filed with the Senate, the Senate has 15 calendar days to act or else the entire proposal is declared dead. The Senate’s options are to vote to accept the changes or try to override and enact the plan as originally written.

Overriding the governor’s veto requires support from 3/5ths of the members in each chamber. That’s 36 votes in the Senate and 71 votes in the House.

But so too does accepting any changes. That’s because those changes amount to new laws with immediate effective dates since it would be passed after May 31. The Illinois Constitution sets a May 31 deadline for action and anything after requires more votes to become law.

Again, if efforts to override the governor or accept his alternations fail, the entire school funding overhaul fails and lawmakers would need to start over with new legislation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

Martire: Tax hike still leaves Illinois $2.5 billion short

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Illinois Issues

Q: One of the provisions of the budget package for Fiscal Year 2018 is an increase in the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent, while the corporate rate is boosted from 5.25 percent to 7 percent. Is this enough to generate the revenue the state needs?

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Chicago-based Center for Tax and Budget Accountability: One thing that my organization does is that we project whether or not the state’s current revenues will be able to maintain current expenditures into the future, if law doesn’t change. So if no programs or services are added or expanded, does your current revenue make, generate enough growth over time to sustain current level services, and pay off the debt you’ve already incurred at the state level?

So before the tax increase passed and the net tax increase was roughly about $5 billion a year, we projected the state really needed about $7.5 billion in new revenue to be able to maintain current expenditures. And that — if and only if —the state also dealt with its pension debt problem in a rational way because the other main pressure on state finances is the repayment plan for the money that was borrowed from the five state public employee pension system over the last few decades.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Appeal may be in the works on pension ruling

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* AP

A former lobbyist for an Illinois teachers union has lost his battle to retain an enhanced pension benefit obtained through a 2007 law that allowed him to count past years as a union employee toward a teacher pension.

Sangamon County Judge Ryan Cadagin this week determined the provision in the law that benefited retired Illinois Federation of Teachers lobbyist David Piccioli represented “unconstitutional special legislation.”

The legislation allowed union officials to get into the teacher pension fund and count previous years as union workers if they obtained teaching certificates. They had to do classroom work before the legislation was signed into law. Piccioli substitute taught for one day.

Cadagin noted the law contained a cutoff date that only allowed the benefit window to union employees who had become certified and done teaching service before the 2007 law took effect.

* Bernie

A retired Springfield lobbyist for the Illinois Federation of Teachers said Thursday he may appeal a Sangamon County Circuit Court ruling that struck down a 2007 law that allowed him to purchase back credit in the teachers’ pension system for his union work if he was a substitute teacher for at least a day.

“I joined the system legally,” said David Piccioli, 67, who retired at the end of 2012. “I obeyed all the laws. I had no hand in passing any of these laws. … I paid all the contributions.”

Circuit Judge Ryan Cadagin ruled this week that the 2007 law was unconstitutional special legislation, because it contained a cut-off date that only allowed the benefit window to union employees who had become certified and done teaching service before the 2007 law took effect. Piccioli said he did get certified and taught for a day, probably in early 2007. […]

“It’s unconstitutional for the General Assembly to take away vested pension benefits,” said Springfield attorney Carl Draper, who represents Piccioli. “What we are disappointed in,” he said, is that Cadagin “never even ruled on the underlying claim” about taking away a benefit that had been granted. […]

Draper said legal options are to ask Cadagin to reconsider his ruling, or appeal directly to the Illinois Supreme Court because the case involves a law being found unconstitutional.

More background on this case is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Kennedy responds *** A “revolution” against an “evil” Chicago “bailout”?

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* NBC 5

Day two of the Special Session in Springfield has Gov. Bruce Rauner Rauner meeting with his Republican caucus Thursday urging them to stick together in opposing the school funding bill.

Senate Bill One is not yet on Rauner’s desk, but, with schools opening in the next few weeks, many districts are anxiously awaiting the state’s financial aid.

So what happened at Thursday’s closed door caucus meeting?

Sources tell NBC 5 Rauner said a “revolution” is coming.

He also told Republicans SB1 is evil and a Chicago bailout.

I’ve talked with a half dozen or so Republicans I trust this morning who were at the meeting (none of whom are Rauner rah-rah types) and not one of them can remember hearing the word “evil.” One said he might have used it to describe what Madigan and Cullerton were doing by holding on to the bill, but he couldn’t be sure. That doesn’t mean the report is wrong, just that I can’t confirm it.

The governor regularly calls SB 1 a Chicago bailout, so that’s assured. And “revolution” is a term often used by Republican tea party types, so I can definitely believe he said it, particularly in relation to Speaker Madigan.

…Adding… From a Senate GOP source…

He said “evil” in describing them holding the bill and putting schools at risk of not opening, not the bill itself.

*** UPDATE ***  Chris Kennedy…

The only revolution that needs to happen is for the people of Illinois to rise up in the next election and remove Bruce Rauner from office. His irresponsible, neglectful, self-serving leadership is holding back our state. That he would use children as political pawns and threaten not to open public schools in a few weeks is a new low in the history of Illinois. We need fundamental change to fix our public schools and provide all children with a quality education that prepares them for college, career and life. It is far past time that our state elects leaders in Springfield who will commit themselves to serving families throughout the state.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

New ILGOP video: “Get back to work”

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

ILGOP Releases Digital Video – “Get Back to Work”
Madigan and Cullerton Holding Schoolchildren Hostage

Mike Madigan and John Cullerton are holding school funding hostage by refusing to send Governor Rauner the education funding bill they passed two months ago.

It’s a perversion of the democratic process in order to force through their $500 million Chicago bailout.

Today, the Illinois Republican Party is releasing a digital video highlighting the Madigan machine’s refusal to honor the Illinois Constitution and send the education funding bill to the Governor’s desk.

* The video

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner says he’s asked “key” Republican legislators to negotiate on SB 1

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Press release…

“Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton continue to delay putting the education funding legislation on my desk. Until then, I am unable to change the legislation so that it’s fair and equitable for all schoolchildren in Illinois and the taxpayers who foot the bill.

“Our schools cannot wait.

“If the Democrat majority won’t send me the bill, I’m hopeful they’re willing to negotiate with their colleagues to achieve the same result by July 31.

“I have asked key Republican lawmakers to reach out to their Democrat colleagues to negotiate in good faith so an alternative can be presented by July 31.

“If a reasonable compromise that is in the best interest of our children isn’t reached, I will move forward with my amendatory veto on Monday as planned.”

Perhaps the big brains figured out that angrily referring to an offer to negotiate as “outrageous” probably wasn’t the greatest PR move ever?

And nice job throwing Sen. Barickman under the bus yesterday.

…Adding… Oof…

*** UPDATE ***  Pritzker campaign…

Two days ago, Bruce Rauner was asked if he was willing to meet and negotiate Senate Bill 1, and his response was just as baffling as you’d expect: “Don’t you see how outrageous that is?” He then one upped that comment by telling Republican legislators yesterday that a “revolution” is coming.

However, the failed governor changed gears and today is suddenly calling on “key” legislators to negotiate the school funding bill for him. It appears that neither Rauner nor his new extremist staff will take part in those negotiations. All the while, schools across the state face the possibility of not opening this fall.

“While Bruce Rauner fantasizes about his ‘revolution,’ Illinois parents and children want to know that their schools will open in a few weeks,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Instead of signing SB 1, all we’re getting from Rauner is a staunch refusal to negotiate and a renewed promise to veto school funding. Don’t you see how outrageous that is?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Pritzker campaign attacks new House GOP floor leader as “radical”

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* I told you yesterday about this, but here’s the official announcement…

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) announced on Thursday that State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) will join the Republican Leadership Team as the House Republican Caucus’ Floor Leader.

As Floor Leader, Breen will be the House Republican Caucus’ primary bill debater as legislation comes to the floor of the House for consideration. “Representative Breen’s critical thinking skills will prove to be a benefit to the Caucus, particularly as the chief advocate for House Republican viewpoints on legislative matters,” said Durkin, after making the announcement to the 51-member House Republican Caucus.

Breen, a constitutional attorney specializing in defense of free speech, said he is honored to take on the role of floor leader during such a pivotal time in the state’s history. “As the General Assembly works to bring fairness and equity to our school funding formula, it will be a privilege to be our caucus’ leading voice during this important debate,” said Breen. “It is an honor to serve in this role, and I appreciate the trust and confidence placed in me by Leader Durkin.”

Breen was elected to the General Assembly in November of 2014, after serving as a Village Trustee and Acting Village President for the Village of Lombard. He is the only member of the General Assembly to hold an electrical engineering degree, which he earned in three years from Vanderbilt University. Breen also holds a law degree from the University of Notre Dame.

“I look forward to voicing our caucus’ priorities and goals as we continue with reform efforts to move our State from the brink of collapse to substantial recovery,” Breen said. “The leadership team is dedicated to restoring people’s confidence in the State of Illinois and I am pleased to be taking a larger role in sharing our message.”

Breen will take his seat as Floor Leader immediately.

* The Pritzker campaign is not happy…

Rep. Peter Breen is reportedly taking over as House Republican floor leader, a move that solidifies Illinois Republicans’ dramatic shift to the right under failed Governor Bruce Rauner. Breen will replace moderate Rep. Steven Andersson who was exiled following his leadership in overriding Bruce Rauner’s reckless budget veto.

The new floor leader will have the opportunity to make his radical social conservative views priorities for House Republicans. Here are just a few of the extreme right-wing stances that Breen has taken recently:

    * Defended a new Rauner hire that compared abortion to Nazi eugenics.
    * Fought against a bill strengthening the Illinois’ Equal Pay Act, calling it “the stupidest bill we’ve considered.”
    * Lied about the potential risk Illinois women face in maintaining access to reproductive healthcare.
    * Opposed marriage equality.

“Peter Breen’s ascension to House leadership is another sign of the radical right-wing takeover led by Rauner and his team of ’superstars’ who are desperate for a political win,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “The damage he’s done to Illinois so far is unconscionable. Bruce Rauner continues to line his administration with ideologues eager to help him hold children and families hostage to his political agenda—a move that means more damage is coming.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

Board of Elections to take up new Kobach Commission request at August 22nd meeting

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s voting commission, given a judge’s approval to resume seeking voter data, has issued another request asking states for information and vowing to keep the details confidential.

The voting panel has come under intense scrutiny and faced a wave of lawsuits since making a sweeping request last month for reams of “publicly-available voter roll data,” including names, addresses, dates of birth and partial Social Security numbers.

State leaders from both parties have expressed privacy concerns about potentially revealing personal information, while some officials and voting experts also have pushed back against the commission, which was formed by Trump after he repeatedly claimed - without evidence - that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote in last year’s presidential election. (Studies and state officials have found no evidence of widespread voting fraud.)

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, R, the commission’s vice chair, wrote in letters Wednesday that the voting panel prioritizes “the privacy and security of any non-public voter information.” Kobach vowed not to release “personally identifiable information from voter registration records” submitted to the group.

* From the State Board of Elections

Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Request - Update

Date: 7/27/2017

Description: The Illinois State Board of Elections has received the revised request from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for Illinois voter data. The request will be on the Board’s agenda at the August 22, 2017 meeting, and no voter information will be released without Board approval and advance notice to the public. If you have any comment regarding this request, please submit them in writing to

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Special session coverage

Friday, Jul 28, 2017

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

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Friday, Jul 28, 2017

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* The governor's non-COVID losses continue to mount
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Durbin, Duckworth outline Illinois-specific provisions in Senate's "American Rescue Plan" bill
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