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Breen to be new House GOP floor leader

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin will announce this evening that Rep. Peter Breen will take over as his new floor leader.

Breen (R-Lombard) is an attorney who advocates for pro-life causes. He’s very sharp in floor debates, so this role should be a good fit. He’s from the Jeanne Ives ideological wing in the HGOP caucus, but doesn’t have the same personal abrasiveness as some of those folks. Even so, it’s going to be interesting watching this guy work. Smart, very conservative and quick-witted.

Former floor leader Steve Andersson was ousted after he helped lead the override of Gov. Rauner’s budget and tax hike vetoes. It’s pretty darned certain that Rep. Breen won’t ever be doing anything like that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Barickman walks it back, blames the coverage *** Barickman claims Rauner will negotiate when he gets SB 1, cautions on outcome

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* Sen. Jason Barickman, the lead school funding reform negotiator for the Senate Republicans, told reporters this afternoon that he spoke to the governor about negotiating with the Democrats on SB 1

I asked the governor, ‘When the bill is transmitted to you, will you hold the bill so that we can have a negotiation?’

He said, ‘Yes.’ He said ‘That’s a very reasonable thing to do. But I need the bill first.’ […]

I will tell you I am concerned that those negotiations will play out like prior ones, where the Democrats walked away from the table, introduced legislation that had no public scrutiny and advanced it through the legislative process that they control.

After a follow-up question, Barickman confirmed what he said. “There will first be negotiations, yes.” He also said there are no “hard lines in the sand.”

So, if Barickman is right, the governor seems to have reversed himself on that whole “Don’t you see how outrageous that is?” schtick.

*** UPDATE ***  Press release…

The best way to help schoolchildren is for Gov. Rauner to agree to sign a landmark overhaul of how Illinois funds public education, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said Thursday.

Cullerton renewed his request for Rauner to indicate his support for Senate Bill 1 and cautioned him against using his veto powers to rewrite the plan, which would jeopardize its future. Cullerton noted that an amendatory veto does not automatically become law and instead sets up a showdown with lawmakers on an override vote.

Here is the full statement from Senate President John Cullerton:

    “All the governor needs to do is tell us he will sign his name. The fastest way to help the children is to sign this historic education reform into law.

    An unconstitutional amendatory veto threatens all the work that has gone into this reform proposal. I again urge the governor to show us any changes he wants and to sit down for rational discussions now.

    We’ve done our homework. We passed an overhaul of the worst public school funding system in the nation. All the governor has to do is sign his name to get credit.”

*** UPDATE 2 ***  Well that didn’t take long. And look how he’s blaming the coverage of his exact words…

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      

Safe or nanny?

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

A new safety report ranks Illinois as the second safest state in the country. But one lawmaker says there’s a fine line between safety and being a nanny state.

Illinois gets high marks from the National Safety Council’s latest state-by-state report of its safety laws. Everything from mandatory seatbelt laws to partial credit for a workplace safety mandate. The report even praises Illinois’ workers compensation system for it’s generous payouts and lifetime coverage.

Peoria Sen. Chuck Weaver says he talks to business owners every week who say Illinois shouldn’t be lauded for its workers’ compensation system.

“Right now, they feel that they are being taken advantage of. They feel that the laws are unfair. They feel that there’s a lot of fraud in the system,” Weaver said. “Every one of these [business owners] wants to make sure they are fair to workers. But you can’t have laws in place that allow the system to be taken advantage of. And that’s what we have in the state of Illinois right now.”

Fraud and taking advantage of the system have little to nothing to do with being an allegedly safe place to live. If you want workers to receive less compensation or receive fewer on the job protections, just come out and say it.

The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* SJ-R

Abe’s right arm temporarily joined the backlog of repairs and maintenance at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield earlier this month.

The 30-foot, fiberglass statue of a young, ax-carrying Abe Lincoln has stood inside the Main Gate on Sangamon Avenue for 50 years. Illinois Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Rebecca Clark said Wednesday fairground workers believe age simply took its toll.

“We do not believe this is related to storm damage or vandalism, rather just routine wear,” said Clark. “While repairs were underway, the decision was made to give Abe a fresh coat of paint so he can welcome visitors to the Illinois State Fair.” […]

The department called on the expertise of Ernie Ball at Ernie Ball Auto Body of Springfield to reattach the arm and repaint the statue.

“It’s fiberglass, just like a Corvette. I’ve been working on them for years,” said Ball. “It took about a day and a half.”

* The Question: There’s gotta be an Illinois government analogy here somewhere, so can you come up with any?

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Not much to round up today

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

“We’re all here. Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton chose to do nothing,” Rauner said Thursday after both chambers adjourned with no action. “President Cullerton, Speaker Madigan, turn in your homework. … A bill was passed two months ago to fund schools, but they’re hiding it.”

Cullerton said Wednesday that he hoped to meet with Rauner to negotiate changes before the governor uses his amendatory veto powers on it. He said he’d send it to the governor’s desk Monday if that meeting does not happen before then.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon and was asked why wait until Monday.

“There’s nothing magical about Monday, you’ll have to ask the senate president that question,” Manar said, adding that Rauner has changed his position multiple times since the Senate first passed the measure in mid-May.

“That makes it difficult for us to understand where and how he wants to land the plane,” Manar said. Sending the bill to Rauner and allowing him to veto it “would put the bill in … final action. There’s no redo on an amendatory veto. That’s a take-it-or-leave it proposition.” […]

“What is so outrageous is to use our children as political leverage,” Rauner said at Thursday’s news conference.

Rauner, interestingly enough, didn’t take questions at that news conference.

* Sen. Manar did chat with reporters, however

I’ve asked the governor’s office for a list of schools that might not be able to reopen after summer break, or would have to close down soon afterward. So far, nothing.

* Here’s an AP report on that topic

Without a state funding solution for public education, several Macon County districts could run out of money and turn to borrowing by January or earlier, district leaders said Wednesday. […]

For Cerro Gordo, the answer is 167 days, meaning the district would run out of money by early January, Robinson said. State money makes up about one-third of the district’s $5.1 million budget.

The need for a solution is even more urgent for Decatur Public Schools, which would run out of cash in mid-November, top officials have said. […]

Meridian Superintendent Dan Brue said his district also would consider those options if the state doesn’t come through with funding by mid-January, when his district would run out of money. […]

The Mount Zion district is in a better position than many of its Central Illinois neighbors, Superintendent Travis Roundcount said. The district has just under $11 million on hand, more than the $6 million to $7 million per year that it typically receives from the state.

CPS has said it will reopen in the fall come heck or high water.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* From the RGA

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Illinois Dem Gov Candidate Chris Kennedy Caught Using Tax Reduction He Attacked

After spending months railing against property taxes on the campaign trail, a new report shows that Illinois Democrat gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy’s rhetoric does not match his actions. POLITICO has revealed that Kennedy, who has criticized Illinois’ property tax appeal system as a way of giving “lucrative tax breaks to politically connected insiders,” used the same process he condemned to pursue an appeal for a 20 percent tax reduction on his home in suburban Chicago.

POLITICO reports:

    “Democrat Chris Kennedy has made Illinois property taxes — among the highest in the nation — a focus of his campaign for governor. He’s railed against an appeal system that he has likened to “extortion” for kicking lucrative tax breaks to politically connected insiders with high-powered lawyers.

    But even as Kennedy took to social media and forums to complain about a ‘rigged system,’ he was actively pursuing a second property tax appeal of his own — asking for a 20 percent reduction for his personal home in the Chicago suburb of Kenilworth.

    Kennedy then quietly withdrew his appeal request, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO, seven days after a story surfaced that was critical of property tax reductions won by his chief primary opponent, billionaire J.B. Pritzker.

    ‘Dear board members, please withdraw the above-referenced complaint for the 2016 assessment year,’ said the letter, dated May 19.

    It was penned by Kennedy’s attorneys, Tully & Associates, a firm has donated at least $60,000 to members of the board that considers such requests. The firm also represented Kennedy and business partners when they won a nearly 63 percent reduction in one of the buildings under development, according to Crain’s Chicago.”

Chris Kennedy’s message to Illinois voters is clear: do as I say, not as I do. Kennedy’s decision to engage in this level of hypocrisy shows voters that they can’t trust him to tell the truth or govern effectively.

Meh. He withdrew it. Nobody busted him out first. He did it on his own. I just have trouble getting all worked up about this. Maybe I’m wrong. Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

No, “Tom” is that other guy in DuPage

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* From NBC 5 last night…

Background on this weird and persistent phenomenon is here.

[The person who sent that to me said it was WGN, so it’s been corrected and sorry for the confusion. I hear that’s going around.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Two different conflicts

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* Bernie recounts Gov. Rauner’s claims about Speaker Madigan’s alleged conflict of interest

“When a person who sets tax policy and has controlled it for 35 years also controls a property tax appeal law firm that fundamentally makes money from the property tax policy in a way that … specifically disadvantages the families of Illinois, that is wrong; our system is broken; it’s fundamentally unfair.”

* Here’s some of Madigan’s response via Bernie’s column

Asked about it at his own news conference later, Madigan reiterated what he has said in the past: His law firm’s clients are a matter of public record, and an extensive newspaper investigation into his law practice found no client that got special or inappropriate treatment.

“My firm and myself operate under conflict rules,” Madigan said. “Any potential client seeking a state benefit is rejected. If a client requests my intercession with a state agency, I refuse. If a client expresses an interest in legislation, I recuse myself from consideration of the bill.”

* Steve Brown sent me the outline of Madigan’s statement that he read to the press yesterday…

* It’s plain that they’re talking about two different types of conflicts of interest. Madigan is focusing on the legal and direct ethical conflicts of dealing with law firm clients. Rauner is talking about the broader concept.

Raw audio of Madigan’s presser is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

Two views on the new workers’ comp rate recommendation

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* During his press conference yesterday, Senate President John Cullerton mentioned the new workers’ comp ratings advisory. Cullerton crowed about the recommended 10.9 percent drop. We have two views today, starting with Sean Stott at the Laborers’ Union…

This week, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) released the latest figures on what Illinois employers should expect to pay for workers’ compensation insurance next year – a 10.9% decrease in their premium rates compared to this year. This is the fifth consecutive recommendation for lower rates for employers following the 2011 workers’ compensation benefit cuts enacted by the Illinois General Assembly, and follows the third largest drop in the nation in 2017. In total, Illinois employers should have seen a 36.5% reduction in their workers’ compensation rates since the 2011 benefit cuts, according to the NCCI.

But in Illinois, insurance companies aren’t required to follow those recommendations, and the industry has increased its own profit margin rather than pass savings on to Illinois employers.

“Common sense will tell you that if insurance companies are paying out less to injured workers and paying less to health care providers, costs should also go down for Illinois employers,” said Sean Stott, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Midwest Region of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “But that’s not happening. In fact, insurance profits have increased more than 400% since the 2011 benefit cuts.”

“The Legislature passed bills that would hold insurance companies accountable for what they charge Illinois employers and create a more competitive market,” said Stott. “If Governor Rauner truly wants to save Illinois employers money, he would sign those bills into law.”

This year’s recommendation is the fifth time since 2011 in which the NCCI has recommended lower rates for workers’ compensation insurance, including the second consecutive double-digit percentage reduction. The NCCI did not make a recommendation in 2016.

In 2011, the General Assembly made the following changes to the workers’ compensation system in Illinois:

    · Cut medical fee payments by 30%;
    · Expanded the use of American Medical Association (AMA) Guidelines for assessing permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits (despite the AMA’s insistence that this is an inappropriate use of their Guidelines);
    · Restricted PPD wage differential benefits to the later of age 67 or 5 years after injury;
    · Cut PPD for most carpal tunnel cases by 20% and reduced the basis upon which benefits are calculated by 7.5%; and
    · Allowed employers to limit injured workers’ choice of medical providers.

* From Mark Denzler at the IMA…

Illinois continues to have the 8th most expensive cost of workers’ compensation in the United States and it remains a major impediment for manufacturing companies operating in this state. Surgeons continue to charge 250 to 350 percent more for performing the exact same surgery on a patient covered by workers’ compensation than they receive under private insurance. In real numbers, an arm injury in Illinois pays out an average of $439,858 compared to the national average of $169,878 – these out-of-whack numbers are the reasons why wealthy trial attorneys, union bosses and doctors oppose even modest changes to the current system. The fact is that the average cost of a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois is among the highest in the nation.

While we are pleased that NCCI’s latest advisory recommends an advisory rate level decrease, and our members hope to see some reduction in their premium cost from insurers, the cause behind NCCI’s advisory underscores the real problem facing the state’s economy.

NCCI made a key observation about a drop in the lost-time claim frequency of 4.6 percent in the last year. However, NCCI research points to three main reasons for reductions in lost-time claim frequency including

    * an industry shift away from construction and manufacturing jobs,
    * a decrease in average weekly hours for employees, and
    * a reduction in earned premium resulting from an unstable economic climate.

Quite simply, Illinois’ poor economic climate coupled with the loss of good, middle-class manufacturing jobs and reduced hours for workers is causing the drop in lost-time claim frequency.

At the end of the day, Illinois is not competitive when it comes to the cost of workers’ compensation and we will continue seeing companies leaving the state and families suffer because Illinois lawmakers choose to protect the interests of wealth trial lawyers, union bosses, and the medical community over job creators and hard working Illinoisans who struggle to find good jobs.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

FOIA reveals how Rauner calculated his school funding numbers

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* The governor has never been able to specify just how he arrived at the district-by-district numbers in his school funding reform plan. From the other day

REPORTER: Did ISBE score this version of your amendatory veto?

RAUNER: Uh, I don’t know. We, we’ve done the calculations.

REPORTER: Who is we?

RAUNER: Our administration in conjunction with, uh, our legislators and in conjunction with, uh, school officials.

* And then Bill Brady tried his hand at an explanation that turned out to be false

Another topic Rauner sidestepped today was whether the Illinois State Board of Education had run the numbers on his plan. State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) stepped to the microphone to state that ISBE analyzes only legislation, not proposals.

Via email, ISBE spokesperson Jackie Mathews later offered this explanation for the confusion: “ISBE will produce an analysis for legislation before it is filed but will make the analysis public only at the request of the bill sponsor. An analysis is considered draft until the bill is filed.”

* As it turns out, there’s a simple explanation. Dusty Rhodes had to file a FOIA to get it, however

When lawmakers want to see how a school funding bill would work out, they ask the Illinois State Board of Education to build a simulation or model. But on June 26th — the Monday after House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) held a press conference to demand that Rauner sign the school funding bill known as Senate Bill 1 — ISBE received “multiple requests” for new models showing varying appropriation levels. To expedite matters, the board’s legislative liaison, Amanda Elliott, sent an email to several staffers in both parties with a detailed plug-and-play diagram attached, showing them how to build their own school funding simulations using models already published on […]

​NPR Illinois obtained the email through the Freedom of Information Act.

So, why the need for sloppy answers and secrecy? Couldn’t they have just said right off the bat how they arrived at their numbers? Sheesh.

Better messaging, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Purvis does it again *** Purvis partially blames Comptroller Mendoza for coming school crisis

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* Gov. Rauner’s education czar Beth Purvis was on Steve Cochrane’s radio show this morning

PURVIS: In addition, the comptroller has not yet released the Q3 and Q4 what are called mandatory categorical payments. The schools are owed about $850 million from FY17. And so we also call on the comptroller to release at least those Q3 dollars so that schools have the cash on hand that they need to open their doors.

COCHRANE: Why did she not release that?

PURVIS: That is a question for the comptroller. We believe that, and I think there have been conversations with her from many people saying she can at least release those Q3 dollars. Again, Q3 and Q4 the districts across the state for their mandated categorical payments, which is serving students with disabilities, serving English language learners, transportation, transportation for special education students. So when you add what is now a 56 or 57-day delay [in sending SB 1 to the governor’s desk] and the fact that the comptroller will not release those Q3 and Q4 payments, it is creating a crisis in all 850, well, not all, in those districts that serve a high percentage of low income kids, including the Chicago Public Schools, and those districts, who, because of proration of General State Aid or the fact that the General Assembly did not fully fund the schools from 2009 to 2015, a lot of them have burned through their cash reserves, so this cash flow issue is a really big one.

COCHRANE: Nobody runs a business like this. How can you run, you know, politicians standing up and going ‘Oh, it’s the kids, it’s all about the kids.’ Kiss my butt. It’s all about the kids, you care about yourself. And let me tell you something, when it comes to the comptroller, gimme an e-mail address Andrea for the comptroller so that we can let every listener know that they should be e-mailing the comptroller today and demanding an answer for why those Q3-Q4 payments haven’t been released, and when will they be…

* From the comptroller’s office…

If creating havoc for the State of Illinois was a form of art, Governor Bruce Rauner would be Michelangelo. Just three weeks removed from a narrowly-avoided statewide financial meltdown, he’s back at work on his latest masterpiece, plunging the state into a school funding crisis, and blaming everyone but himself.

Governor Rauner more than tripled the state’s bill backlog from $5 billion to $15.4 billion since taking office. Despite Governor Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis, our office prioritized putting together $429 million last month to make a delayed categorical payment to schools around the state. As of today, the state’s checkbook balance is only $254 million. The Governor has not left enough money in the state’s accounts for another categorical payment to happen again soon. Falsely blaming our office for not making payments from a bank account he emptied is like a check-bouncer blaming the bank for bouncing his check.

Thanks to the General Assembly overriding his veto and passing a budget, our office has been able to use dedicated funds — funds that can’t be used for K-12 education — to provide much-needed relief to higher education and Medicaid. General State Aid (GSA) to K-12 schools cannot be paid through interfund borrowing or through the General Revenue Fund (GRF) without a school funding bill being passed to authorize those expenditures.

This misinformation campaign coordinated by the Rauner Administration is the height of hypocrisy. Unfortunately, we have seen this playbook before. The governor needs to stop the political spin, do his job, and stop holding schools hostage. School funding legislation must be sent to the governor and he needs to sign it so I have the legal authority to release critical funds for schools.

In other words, you can’t pay big bills with a nearly empty checking account.

*** UPDATE ***  Purvis tried it again at the Sun-Times today

In an interview with the Sun-Times on Monday, Education Secretary Beth Purvis noted vouchers were submitted to the comptroller’s office on time by the Illinois State Board of Education and implored Mendoza to “prioritize” the payment the same way she prioritized post-secondary education payments.

Purvis said that payment would alleviate some pressure — without a school funding bill in place. The governor and Democratic leaders continue to bicker about that measure, with Rauner vowing to issue an amendatory veto to take out Chicago pension costs.

The comptroller’s office released about $429 million for “categoricals” a month ago. But another quarterly payment is delayed because there’s no revenue in the books yet to pay for it.

Mendoza on Thursday pinned the blame for the delayed payment — and the budget impasse — squarely on Rauner’s back.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune: Madigan, Cullerton to blame for losing Foxconn to Wisconsin

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* I seriously doubt that this particular POTUS would’ve favored a state he lost by 17 points over a state he unexpectedly won and which helped make him President, but whatever

Early this month, when they hit taxpayers with a 32 percent jump in the individual income tax rate, many legislators broke a promise they had made: No more tax hikes without major reforms to help Illinois’ moribund economy. Don’t worry, said Democrats who pushed the tax hike. We’ll get to those reforms soon enough.

But not soon enough, we now see, to keep electronics giant Foxconn from bypassing Illinois to make a jobs-rich investment in southeast Wisconsin. This is a huge win for Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin whom Illinois Democrats loathe. Just as this is an embarrassment for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

Once again, the people of Illinois see how Madigan and Cullerton, with their combined 86 years in Springfield, have left Illinois ill-prepared to compete for 21st-century jobs. Their agenda is about raising taxes, not about delivering those reforms. As we wrote a few days ago, every other state on Foxconn’s short list looked better than Illinois by the basic measures of financial stability and pro-growth economies. […]

But we do know this: Wisconsin boasts a freshly burnished global image. One of the planet’s largest tech firms, with a million workers worldwide, says its search led it to bet a fraction of its future on Wisconsin. Assuming that happens, expect robust economic growth from suppliers, subcontractors, construction companies and other businesses that will serve Foxconn and its workforce.

Illinois is a train wreck. The government is paralyzed with infighting and barely keeping its fiscal head above water, it can’t figure out how to fund its schools, the state has a lousy economic climate overall and is losing population. What’s not to love?

But it will still benefit from this because workers in the northern part of the state could find employment, and some or even many of those suppliers and contractors could wind up being from Illinois (unless they move operations north, of course).

* Not to mention that, at a time when the state is still struggling mightily to recover from the just-ended impasse and can’t even revive its most important corporate incentive (click here for that story), shelling out as much as $3 billion in subsidies probably would be frowned upon here

Let’s take a look at those figures: Wisconsin is paying as much as $1 million per job, which will carry an average salary of $54,000. The state’s economic development corporation is selling the project to taxpayers with a claim that it will create 10,000 construction jobs for building the facility and another 6,000 indirect positions. It’s expecting $3.3 million of investment per employee from the Taiwanese company.

Politicians, lobbyists and Foxconn can make the figures work by being generous with the facts. For example, if every one of those jobs came to fruition, they can claim 29,000 positions for $3 billion, or $103,000 per job. But that’s not going to happen.

Foxconn has factories in China and another dozen countries globally, yet that stated $10 billion investment is more than the group’s publicly traded flagship — Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. — has devoted to capital expenditure over the past five years combined.

There is potential for the payroll to climb to 13,000 in the future — a figure crucial to Wisconsin justifying the expense — but I wouldn’t bet your 401(k) on it. That’s because if Gou really does dish out $10 billion on this facility, the only way to make it viable is by keeping staffing low and leaning on automation to boost productivity. This LCD factory will be either labor intensive or highly automated. It can’t be both.

* But it still would’ve been a big win

The agreement represents an opportunity as well as a risk for Wisconsin — state lawmakers must now consider a subsidy package nearly 50 times bigger than the state’s previous record.

The factory project would involve a virtual village, with housing, stores and service businesses spread over at least 1,000 acres, according to interviews. That acreage, a 1.5 square-mile area the size of Shorewood, could be assembled from parcels that initially aren’t contiguous, the source said.

At 20 million square feet, the factory would be three times the size of the Pentagon, making it one of the largest manufacturing campuses in the nation. It would initially employ 3,000 workers making an average of $53,900 a year plus benefits and could eventually boast more than four times that.

*** UPDATE ***  Greg Hinz reached out to an upbeat Mark Peterson, the new head of Intersect Illinois...

Intersect Illinois already has been talking with county officials about how to plug local folks into Foxconn Technology Group’s talent search, and has had preliminary talks with the company that likely will be followed by a fuller discussion later this year, he said.

“We want to talk to them about what they need,” he says. “What can we do to customize (through worker training and other programs)?”

The state also may facilitate a connection between Foxconn and Northwestern University, Peterson said. Foxconn likes to work with academic institutions, and engineering-heavy NU “has a lot of things that could be beneficial.” […]

The potential is at least equally large for suppliers, Peterson said.

Though some will be located on a campus with Foxconn’s main factory—and still, a site hasn’t been chosen—”A lot of times, they want their suppliers close but not in their backyard. They don’t want to cannibalize their own workforce.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   93 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker lampoon’s Rauner’s “Best team in America” comment

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* Press release…

Crisis Creatin’ Rauner released a new video today highlighting Bruce Rauner’s so-called “best team in America,” a group of radicals and amateurs, many of whom were hired directly from the Illinois Policy Institute.

After Rauner was asked about his controversial new hires by a Quad City TV station, Rauner said, “we’re building the best team in America.” So far that team has included a staffer fired on his first day for “racially-charged, homophobic and sexually explicit tweets,” and a still employed staffer who “compared abortion to Nazi eugenics.” In total, over 20 Rauner staffers have been fired or resigned in protest and have been replaced by people with little to no government experience and extremist views.

“The only thing Rauner’s new team is ‘best’ at is unleashing crisis on this state,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. ‘‘His new hires will only aid Rauner in furthering the damage he’s done to the state, and their radical views are deeply out of step with the people of Illinois. Surely, even Bruce Rauner and the Illinois GOP can do better than this.”

* The video


*** UPDATE ***  That video reminded me of something that a buddy pointed out to me earlier this week and I forgot to post. This is from Gov. Rauner’s recent WSIL TV interview about the hiring and firing of his one-day body man, who, you’ll recall, tweeted out some pretty disgusting things

REPORTER: But weren’t you involved in interviewing him?

RAUNER: Interviewing?

REPORTER: When he was hired?

RAUNER: No. I met him once.

If you watch the video, “I met him once” was said in an offhanded way.

We already know that the governor’s denial about interviewing his own body man has been contradicted by reporters, including Tina Sfondeles at the Sun-Times.

* And if you click here and let the video run for a few seconds, you’ll see the governor appearing at an event with his body man on the day he was fired. Here’s a screen grab…

I suppose that traveling with the guy for a couple/three hours back and forth to an event in Mt. Zion could be characterized as meeting him “once.” Or maybe he was just hoping nobody would notice.

By itself, on a scale of 1-10 this might rise to a 1.3. Not a big deal at all (which is why this is an update and not its own post). But politicians who establish a pattern of telling little fibs to reporters can often find themselves in hot water down the line.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* And this is from the ILGOP…

It’s been over 57 days since Mike Madigan and his machine have taken school funding and the futures of Illinois children hostage for their $500 million Chicago bailout.

Today, the Illinois Republican Party has updated with a stopwatch to remind voters just how long the Madigan Machine has taken our children hostage.

On May 31st, SB1 passed the General Assembly. Per the Illinois Constitution, the bill is supposed to head to Governor Rauner’s desk.

But Mike Madigan and John Cullerton are intentionally holding the bill, perverting the legislative process.

It’s a blatant assault on our democracy in order to create pressure for their Chicago bailout.

See the updated BossMadigan page here:

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Team Rauner sets 5-day fundraising target “to show Madigan that Illinois does not want the old way”

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* From a fundraising e-mail…

In case you missed it: this month, Michael Madigan forced the largest tax hike in state history on Illinois families.

FIRST: Career politicians crippled our state for decades with a culture of corruption and self-interest.

THEN: Madigan, the House and Senate rejected commonsense reforms presented by Governor Rauner.

NOW: Madigan forced a permanent 32% income tax hike on Illinois families and passed a budget that is $2 billion out of balance.

We can’t sit by and watch Illinois go back to the old way of doing things.

Illinois is already suffering and the last thing we need is higher taxes without structural reform.

We have only 5 short days until July 31st and we need to raise $10,000 by then in order to send the message that we’re not going to accept the unsustainable and dangerous habits of the past.

Will you help fight back against the 32% tax hike?

If you agree we need to see real budget reform in our state - NOT a massive 32% tax hike - please donate to our reform fund today so we can fight back.

    >>Donate $10>>
    >>Donate $25>>
    >>Donate $50>>
    >>Donate $100>>

We need to show Madigan that Illinois does not want the old way.

Team Rauner

As I’ve talked about before, small-dollar fundraising helps people feel they have “buy-in” on a campaign. The tiny amount of money is irrelevant to Rauner. But a list of committed small-dollar donors is worth its weight in gold. Rauner reported over $182K in unitemized receipts during the last quarter. Not bad for a rich guy.

* Meanwhile, in other campaign news…

Today, Illinois Painters District Councils No. 14, No. 30, and No. 58 joined together to endorse JB Pritzker for governor. As members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, they represent 36 different craft trades collectively across Illinois. This endorsement comes as labor support for JB Pritzker continues to grow, with support from the Illinois AFL-CIO and seventeen unions across the state of Illinois, including the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, and the United Steelworkers Union.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

“Don’t you see how outrageous that is?”

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* The governor was asked this question during a press conference yesterday…

Governor, the Senate President says he’s holding [SB 1] until Monday in the hopes that you’ll come around and agree to meet with him and to negotiate. Are you unwilling to have that meeting?

* The governor’s clearly angry response, after a long pause, is the headline to this post

Now, the governor does go on to explain there is a constitutional process here. The legislature passed a bill in May, but haven’t sent it to him yet. The next step in the process is he takes action and then the General Assembly takes further action on his amendatory veto. He’s right about all of that.

But to claim that a meeting with a legislative leader is an “outrageous” demand is a bit much.

…Adding… Roundup…

* Rauner camp calls Cullerton’s ‘mental state’ remark ‘inappropriate’

* Cullerton won’t send Rauner school funding bill until Monday

* Finger-pointing continues as Cullerton says he’ll wait until Monday to send education funding bill to Rauner’s desk

* Sparring continues on school funding bill; nothing resolved

* No movement on 1st day of special session on school funding

* School Funding Special Session Keeps Legislators & Gov. At Odds

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      

DGA Poll: Rauner disapproval at 63 percent

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* I’ve already given my brief take to subscribers, but here’s the full polling memo from Normington Petts on behalf of the Democratic Governors Association

• Incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner remains extremely vulnerable with every measure of his political support below 40%.

• Rauner’s veto of the budget has worsened his standing with voters.

    o His favorable rating has declined since January, dropping from an already meager 33%-44% to 33%-48%.

    o His job rating as governor is also lower, falling from 36%-58% to 34%-63%.

    o Against a generic Democrat, Rauner trails 37% to 49%, a wider margin than the 35%-45% deficit we measured in January.

• Rauner’s job rating on “the state budget” is a devastating 29%-65%, with a majority (50%) saying Rauner has done a “poor” job on that issue.

Not only do the common measures of political strength show weakness, but under the surface there are signs of significant trouble for Rauner’s re-election chances. Since January, the percentage of voters who rate the job he is doing as governor as “not so good” or “poor” has increased from 58% to 63% (+5) across the Prairie State. In what should be alarming for Rauner supporters, Rauner’s negative job rating stands at 61% and has increased 10 points among white voters age 60 and older since January (61% negative, +10). Rauner has seen negative increases in other key demographic and geographic groups including in the Chicago media market (68% negative, +8), among Independents (65% negative, +8) and in the Collars (54% negative, +4).

Rauner is not just losing ground with those critical constituencies, but there are signs that Rauner’s low standing among his own partisans combined with the intensity of dislike from Democrats could create a disproportionate turnout scenario that further damages his re-election chances. Democrats rate the job Rauner is doing as governor at 8%-89%, with 66% saying he is doing a “poor” job. That level of intensity among Democrats is met with tepid support from Republicans who give him a job rating of 68%-29%, with just 17% saying he is doing an “excellent” job. That is a nearly 4 to 1 ratio of hate to love. These kinds of ratings create a plausible scenario of unenthused Republicans staying home and angry Democrats coming out in larger than expected numbers, which results in a wave across Illinois that will affect every candidate in 2018. Rauner is on track to be an albatross around the neck of GOP candidates up and down the ballot.

* Chart

* Methodology

(L)ive interview telephone survey conducted among 600 likely voters in Illinois on behalf of the Democratic Governors Association. Respondents were reached on both landlines and mobile phones. Interviews were conducted July 18-20, 2017. The sampling error for this survey is ±4%. There are references to a poll conducted January 3-5, 2017 with the same sample size and methodology.

* Pritzker campaign response…

Today, the Pritzker campaign released the following statement in response to a new poll showing Bruce Rauner’s poll numbers underwater after failing to do his job, vetoing the state budget, and causing lasting damage across our state.

“Bruce Rauner is the most vulnerable governor in the country and it’s clear that Illinois voters are ready for a real leader like JB,” said Pritzker campaign manager Anne Caprara. “While Rauner continues to blame everyone but himself for his failures, Illinois families know the truth. Rauner created a 736-day budget crisis, drove the bond rating to the edge of junk status, and is now holding funding for schoolchildren hostage to force his reckless, special interest agenda. Our campaign is committed to holding Rauner accountable for his callous disregard for the people of this state. This should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks it’s politically wise to follow the governor’s polling numbers off a cliff.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Special session coverage

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

* Both chambers convene at noon. No committee hearings are currently scheduled. And since the Senate President said yesterday that he isn’t sending SB 1 to the governor’s desk until Monday, attendance may be even lighter today. Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Thursday, Jul 27, 2017

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

State mental health director scolds Cullerton

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* An odd press release during a very odd time…

Illinois Director of Mental Health’s Statement on Leader Cullerton’s Comments

SPRINGFIELD – Director Diana Knaebe of the Illinois Division of Mental Health today issued the following statement after Leader Cullerton’s press conference:

“The Illinois Division of Mental Health works every day to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. For a political leader to perpetuate this stigma to score political points is completely inappropriate and we respectfully request that our leaders stop doing so.”

The background is here in case you somehow missed it.

I get what she’s saying, but Cullerton didn’t say that the governor was mentally ill. He said he had concerns about the governor’s “mental state,” specifically citing Rauner’s anger. The governor himself once cited his own emotions as reason for vetoing a bill that’s directly related to this very topic.

…Adding… A different perspective in comments…

Cullerton was plainly trying to insult Rauner by deriding his “mental state.” That insult only works if having mental issues is something perceived as bad. That’s where Knabe is coming from, and that’s why Cullerton is in the wrong, full stop.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      

Madigan says House won’t get a chance to accept Rauner changes

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

[As a commenter rightly noted, I didn’t understand what Madigan was saying, so the headline and a few other words have been changed. Oops.]

* It took him a while to get there (you should definitely watch the video), but Speaker Madigan said today that he didn’t believe an amendatory veto acceptance motion would ever get to the House…

“In all likelihood, the amendatory veto will never get to the House,” is his quote.

But asked later about the prospects for an override in his chamber, Madigan said “I think there’s a good possibility of an override in the House.” Madigan explained that as more members learn about what’s in the bill, they’re liking it a lot more.

* However, the opposite appears to be happening

[Rep. Steve Andersson] was the GOP’s floor leader in the House until he voted to override Rauner’s veto of the budget bill. He was asked to step down from his post after his vote.

But don’t expect Andersson to break with the governor over SB1. He’s a firm “no” vote as the bill stands now.

Andersson recently told Mark Brown that he was undecided.

* Meanwhile

As lawmakers battle over school funding in Springfield, Illinois’ First Lady is stepping into the ring.

On Tues., the Rauner campaign released a digital ad that shows First Lady Diana Rauner seated on a beige couch, praising her husband’s position.

But during a press conference in Peoria Wed., Diana Rauner gave a veiled response to whether or not she supports the plan approved by the Democrat-majority Legislature.

“I’m actually not going to speak about any particular bills, I just want to say that we, all of us, know how important it is that all children have access to high quality education throughout their lives,” Rauner said.

Mrs. Rauner’s organization is on record as supporting SB 1.

* Other stuff…

* Finger-pointing continues as Cullerton says he’ll wait until Monday to send education funding bill to Rauner’s desk

* House speaker says governor won’t compromise

* The Latest: House speaker says governor won’t compromise

* CPS Renews Call on Rauner to Sign SB1 as Special Session Begins

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - “That didn’t happen” *** Rauner makes another claim about Cullerton’s subserviance to Madigan

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* From the governor’s second press conference of the day, held in the governor’s ceremonial office, speaking about pension reform

I was going to appear with you in this room with President Cullerton to announce that he and I together were going to do his plan. He got a phone call from the Speaker on the way to that press conference and then he didn’t show up. The Speaker said, ‘You’re not gonna do an agreement with the governor for pension reform.’ And that died.

I’ve asked Cullerton’s press secretary for a rebuttal. Speaker Madigan would only say this is part of the “world of Bruce Rauner,” when he was asked about it today.

*** UPDATE ***  John Patterson…

Do you know what bill or when this press conference was allegedly supposed to occur?

The Senate passed the consideration model. It is something the Senate President and the governor agree on. It’s in the House.

The Senate also passed and helped enact all the other pension system changes the governor wanted.

As to the Speaker call: No. That didn’t happen.

The Senate President doesn’t recall ever being invited to a Rauner pension news conference.

* Raw audio files from today’s press conferences…

* Governor Bruce Rauner signs HB 643​, freezing legislative per diems, plus Q & A

* Sen. President John Cullerton discusses special session and school funding reform bill

* Governor Bruce Rauner holds media availability after special session. Audio also includes Sen. GOP Leader Bill Brady and House GOP Leader Jim Durkin

* House Speaker Mike Madigan discusses special session and the education funding reform bill

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

ILGOP claims Pritzker’s SB 1 support means he “works for Mike Madigan”

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Pritzker campaign…

Today, JB Pritzker kicked off a series of live streamed policy discussions called “JB & Me Live.” The debut livestream focused on education funding, with JB urging Bruce Rauner to sign Senate Bill 1 – legislation the governor agrees 90% with. If Rauner doesn’t agree to sign the bill, Illinois schools may not be able to open on time. JB also discussed his own priorities for education and his over two decades of advocacy for early childhood education in Illinois and across the country.

Click here to watch it.

* The ILGOP pounced…

“J.B. Pritzker’s support for SB1 in its current form is all about politics, not the children. He knows that a Chicago bailout hurts children across Illinois by redistributing their tax dollars towards a broken pension system without reform, but he doesn’t care. Pritzker is willing to hurt children in order to maintain his good favor with Mike Madigan’s Chicago machine.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

In a Facebook live video today, billionaire J.B. Pritzker declared his unequivocal support for SB1 in its current form – a school funding bill that includes a massive taxpayer funded Chicago bailout.

Pritzker knows that funneling 64% of all new education funding towards Chicago is fundamentally unfair, but he’s unwilling to speak up for children across Illinois.

Pritzker knows holding SB1 in the Senate is a perversion of the democratic process. And he knows that Madigan wants the bailout – so he’s playing ball.

It’s just more evidence that Pritzker works for Mike Madigan and his Chicago Machine, not us.

* Pritzker campaign response…

“As JB outlined in his Facebook live event today, Bruce Rauner is willing to say just about anything to distract voters from that fact that when it comes down to it, he’s not looking out for Illinois children and families. And his partner, the Illinois GOP, trots out the same tired talking points to paper over their governor’s callous disregard for children and families.

“Bruce Rauner doesn’t seem to care about anything other than his personal political agenda. This is the man who vetoed the entire Illinois budget, including literally every single program that gives children and families the tools they need to build better lives.

“If Rauner had his way, Illinois wouldn’t have funding for public education, agriculture and vocational training, child care, higher education, MAP grants for low-income college students, roads, bridges, clean water, community care for seniors, mental health and substance abuse treatment, job training, adult literacy programs, HIV/AIDS prevention, state parks, breast and cervical cancer screenings, small business incubators, immigrant integration services, homeless youth services, heating assistance for seniors, or meals on wheels – to name a few.

“What sort of man tosses the best interests of children and families across this state aside in favor of a radical right-wing agenda, and then places blame on everyone but himself?” — Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

National Journal cites staff changes in rating Rauner’s chances

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* From the DGA…

A new report from the National Journal Hotline lists Bruce Rauner as the most vulnerable incumbent governor in America, and ranks Illinois as the third most likely gubernatorial seat to flip parties behind New Jersey and New Mexico whose governors are term-limited. Hotline’s listing comes just weeks after Rauner was tagged as the “most vulnerable incumbent” by Cook Political Report.

From the National Journal ranking of the 12 most-likely governorship to flip parties:

    “3. Illinois—Bruce Rauner (R)

    In what could break spending records for a state race, Republicans’ most vulnerable incumbent is seeking a second term after overseeing a two-year budget impasse in a state Hillary Clinton won handily. Rauner seeded his campaign with $50 million and has shifted right by hiring conservative think-tankers.”

As National Journal points out, Bruce Rauner faces the uphill challenge of running in a democratically leaning state, and with Trump’s approval rating sitting at 36%, a right-wing staff shakeup will not help his reelection chances. Besides, it was Bruce Rauner’s no-compromise governing that earned him low approval ratings, and doubling-down on that style of politics will only solidify voters’ already poor impression of him.

“Political analysts agree – Governor Bruce Rauner’s reelection effort is in big trouble and it should come as no surprise,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Bruce Rauner has earned the title “Most Vulnerable Incumbent” by consistently putting his political considerations ahead of Illinois families’ concerns. Rauner forced the state through a two-year budget crisis that did real damage – jobs lost and people fleeing the state, social services programs cut, and schools on the brink. When legislators sent him a budget to end the impasse, Rauner vetoed it. Illinois is worse-off under Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership, a fact that has not escaped voters’ attention.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Rauner won’t talk about ACA repeal and replace until final product is on the table

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Mark Maxwell at WCIA

Governor Bruce Rauner’s plan to influence the national healthcare debate is to wait and see what happens next.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote in the Senate on Tuesday, bringing Republicans one step closer to repealing President Obama’s signature health law, the Affordable Care Act. In a narrow 51-50 vote, the Senate filed a motion to proceed into the next phase of debate.

Governor Rauner’s office responded to the vote in an email to WCIA, which said, “The governor is eager to see how Congress resolves the debate over the Affordable Care Act. As you know, the situation in Washington has been changing on a near daily basis and he is holding judgment until there is a final product and plan on the table. That’s when he’ll be able to assess what this really means for Illinoisans.”

The statement provided by new Communications Director Laurel Patrick paints Rauner as a referee instead of a player. While no governor has a vote in Congress, several popular Republican governors in deep blue states have taken a more vocal stance against repealing Obamacare. Governors John Kasich of Ohio, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Maryland’s Larry Hogan are a few Republicans who have signed letters to Congress urging a more moderate solution.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Cullerton says he hasn’t released SB 1 “because of the mental state of the governor”

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Senate President John Cullerton said this to reporters today about Gov. Rauner’s threats to issue an amendatory veto on SB 1

I’m afraid he’s acting out of anger. You know he has had a bad month. I mean, we’ve overridden him I think four times in a row, half his staff was either fired or quit. And I just wanted to have a meeting with him so we could talk rationally about what’s in the bill.

* When asked later why he hadn’t yet sent SB 1 to the governor’s desk, Cullerton told reporters this…

It’s because of the mental state of the governor. It’s been the fact, as I said, he’s really had a bad month.

Whew, man. I haven’t heard talk like that since the Blagojevich days.

…Adding… As a couple of commenters have rightly pointed out, Cullerton has been holding SB 1 for almost two months, so he did have an opportunity to release the bill during a “good” month for the governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

More on the lack of a woman running for governor

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* We’ve discussed this topic before, but here’s a new story from Illinois Public Radio

A website that popped up this month asks a question as its URL: It then very simply answers it with a bright red “NO.” A group of professional women in the state are behind the effort to draw attention to the issue.

Kady McFadden is the deputy director of the Illinois Sierra Club. She’s one of the people behind the site. She says the idea came up over dinner with several other women who also hold powerful positions. “It sort of felt like the elephant in the room that we needed to address - and the first thing we wanted to talk about before we could dive into the race itself. As colleagues - as female colleagues that work in politics, that care about issues in our state, it was one of the first things on our minds,” says McFadden.

* And here’s Katelynd Duncan writing in Crain’s

For the past 10 years, I have worked with candidates across the state of Illinois running for local and statewide office. Over and over again, I have seen donors who are reluctant to give money and campaign resources to female candidates. Research has shown us that, when women decide to run, they are elected and re-elected at the same rate as their male counterparts. However, with the epic spending no longer limited to the “sexy” top-tier offices such as president, Senate or gubernatorial races, down-ballot races cost more than ever.

The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that the governor’s race here in Illinois is averaging about $120,000 spent per day. There are still 18 months until the election—a race for a single office that, according to Politico, is on track to become the most expensive statewide contest in U.S. history, possibly topping a record $300 million.

So what does this all mean? It means that consultants, candidates and donors need to adapt and evolve. Fast. Gender aside, the traditional donor pool cannot keep up with this level of campaign spending and raise enough money to win. The bar of fundraising expectations has been raised to a level that renders potentially viable candidates—not just women, but especially women—irrelevant if they don’t have the resources to run.

That’s where we step in. Not only do we need to build a pipeline of talent at the local level—we need to give them checks. Change starts at home, and we need more women to run for local school boards, public libraries and boards of commissioners. We need to donate to them, too.

While bipartisan campaign finance reform is a pipe dream, donating to women candidates can be a reality. There are currently dozens of women running for office in Illinois right now, each one an opportunity to invest in the future of our state.

And until we start making that investment, we surely will have the same male candidates over and over again.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Rauner won’t answer questions about his own possible conflict of interest

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* You’ll recall this from yesterday

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan deliberately advances policies that promote high property taxes out of a “stunning conflict of interest” that has made him wealthy, Gov. Bruce Rauner charged Monday.

In a harsh broadside that likely previews a re-election campaign strategy to target the house speaker, Rauner said, “Madigan for his own reasons is a fan of high property taxes.” […]

Asked to clarify, the governor did not offer specifics but pointed to the legal work on property tax appeals conducted by Madigan & Getzendanner, the Chicago law firm Madigan co-founded in 1972.

* Bernie Schoenburg pointed out to the governor today that he had vetoed an income tax increase that would’ve personally cost him “millions of dollars.” Wasn’t that also a conflict of interest? The governor’s response

Bernie, when a person who sets tax policy and has controlled it for 35 years, also controls a property tax appeal law firm that fundamentally makes money from the property tax policy in a way that systematically disadvantages the families of Illinois. That is wrong. Our system is broken. It’s fundamentally unfair.

Bernie tried to follow up to get him to answer the actual question, but Rauner moved on and the other reporters let him.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Unions deny they’re withholding support from Pritzker to pry something from him

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* A look at the influence of labor unions in the governor’s race by ICPR

Democratic candidate JB Pritzker is currently leading the field of gubernatorial candidates as measured by union endorsements. The self-funded Democrat has secured endorsements ranging from small local councils to large, statewide unions, including the 900,000-member Illinois AFL-CIO. All told, Pritzker has received 17 endorsements from unions collectively representing over 1.1 million members.

As endorsements have come out over the last few months, some argued that unions backed Pritzker early because of his personal wealth and promise to self-fund his campaign, which would allow unions to spend more money supporting labor-friendly candidates in General Assembly races across the state.

Kent Redfield, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois - Springfield, agrees with this assessment, ascribing many of these early endorsements to financial priorities. Redfield said that instead of focusing on policy differences between candidates, “union money is going to be much more concerned about whether they have to spend on the governor’s race, and on keeping a Democratic majority” in the General Assembly. Redfield noted that unions spent over $30 million on Governor Pat Quinn’s campaign in 2014, and would prefer to spend that money on down-ballot races in 2018.

Notably, some large labor groups have refrained from endorsing a candidate this early into the race. Such organizations include AFSCME Council 31, SEIU, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. […]

[Wayne Steger, Professor of Political Science at DePaul University] believes that state employee and teacher’s unions, like SEIU, IFT, and AFSCME, “are withholding their endorsement because they are trying to get stronger commitments from JB [Pritzker].” Steger points out, “it’s a risk, because if they wait and Pritzker takes a big lead in the polls, they are coming late to the game.” However, if the polls are looking close for Pritzker, key endorsements before the Primary could give Pritzker the edge he needs to win, elevating the clout of the unions.

There’s more, including the Sen. Sam McCann angle, so go read the rest.

* But I wanted to give a couple of those public employee unions a chance to respond. Here’s Anders Lindall from AFSCME Council 31…

AFSCME endorsements are the culmination of a grassroots process in which union members throughout the state examine the records, priorities and viability of the candidates in any given race. With respect to the 2018 primaries, that process is now in its early stages and will conclude at a statewide conference in January. If ICPR or the professor had contacted us before publishing this piece, we would’ve been happy to share that our actions to date reflect our process, not our judgment about any candidate.

* And here’s Aviva Bowen from the Illinois Federation of Teachers…

We’re not withholding anything. Our members drive the endorsement process, and they have only just started learning about the candidates and their visions for the future of Illinois. All we know for certain right now is that Bruce Rauner is committed to crisis, and we will do everything we can to stop him from hurting working people any further.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Cullerton contradicts Rauner, says he plans to send SB 1 to him Monday *** Rauner again blames Madigan, ridicules Cullerton

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Gov. Rauner spoke to reporters today about SB 1

Let me be crystal clear. The Senators have been clear with our team that they are under specific orders from Speaker Madigan to hold the bill… You guys are all smart. You’ve been around Illinois politics for a while. You know how this goes. Speaker Madigan has directed the Senators to hold the bill.

* He also said this

President Cullerton called me about an hour ago. I called him back. His specific request was, he said ‘Governor, you know, um, I’d like to meet with ‘ya on Monday in Chicago to talk about school funding.’

Really? Are you kidding me? Monday? In Chicago? When we’ve called a special session, when it’s the duty of the legislature to pass a funding bill and get it done so our schools can open on time? You’ve got to be kidding me.

The governor then claimed: “Our children are being held hostage by these politicians.” And he repeatedly refused yet again to provide any details of his own plan.

I’ve asked the Senate President’s office for a response. I’ll post it if and/or when I get it.

*** UPDATE ***  Hmm…

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      

A diversion of a diversion

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017


Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration signed off on an elaborate financial shell game that obscured payment of $55 million for renovations at Navy Pier with tax dollars reserved to fight urban blight, records show.

The bookkeeping jiujitsu appears to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the controversial tax-increment financing program, which critics say has been widely abused and not used for its intended purpose of spurring development in or near economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

A joint investigation by the Better Government Association and Crain’s Chicago Business finds that the administration began filtering the money in 2014 through a hotel project at McCormick Place, capitalizing on its Near South Side location as a rationale for tapping funds reserved for struggling communities.

Emails and internal documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that officials at the city as well as the governing body of the lakefront convention complex knew the planned 1,205-room Marriott didn’t need the financing. But they also knew that Navy Pier, 3 miles away and a vast distance from any urban blight, did.

* It’s a long and involved story, but Ben Joravsky breaks it down

In the case of South Loop TIF deals, the mayor swore up and down he was spending $55 million in TIF dollars on the arena/hotel project at 22nd and Michigan. But thanks to Crain’s and the BGA, we now know the money was diverted to pay for Navy Pier renovations. So it’s a diversion of a diversion. Impressive! I’m not sure Mayor Daley the Younger even tried that—and he pioneered this scam. […]

Surprisingly, state and city officials were up front about the apparent switcheroo—at least in the e-mails they wrote to each other. James Reilly, the former CEO of MPEA—its board is appointed in equal parts by the mayor and the governor—acknowledged the unorthodox transaction in a July 12, 2013, e-mail, one of many Chase and Ecker secured via Freedom of Information Act request: “There is a somewhat complicated series of cash flow issues that we need to get a handle on between the City, MPEA and [Navy Pier] with regard to the Tiff [sic] funds that will come from the City to MPEA to reimburse MPEA for the purchase of the land for the [hotel and basketball arena] which in turn will enable MPEA to grant $55M to [Navy Pier] for its reconstruction project.” […]

Wait, there’s more. In October 2014, Richard Oldshue, MPEA’s chief financial officer, sent the following message in an e-mail to Mark Jarmer, an aide to Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan: “None of this TIF money comes to MPEA as incentive or otherwise. The City is aggregating balances from various existing [TIF] districts as they become available to transfer funds to MPEA which we transfer in full to [Navy Pier]. We don’t keep any.” […]

Dowell says she’ll insist the City Council hold hearings on the deal. That would be helpful—as the council never actually held a hearing on whether to spend the $55 million in the first place. In July 2013, two weeks after Reilly wrote the aforementioned e-mail, Emanuel hammered the deal through on a voice vote—most aldermen didn’t know about it until after the vote was taken. We now know why the mayor wanted to keep it a secret.

* David Reifman, a commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning & Development, and Lori Healey, chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, respond

By failing to understand the typical approach to how the city expends TIF funds, the authors of this article have created unnecessary confusion and overshadowed the significant public benefits that the Elevate Chicago initiative has achieved. We are writing to set the record straight.

In short, no TIF funds were diverted to Navy Pier.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the city contributed $55 million toward the $498 million overall hotel project cost as a reimbursement to the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, not as an upfront payment. This approach protected the public’s interest by only allowing the expenditure of TIF funds after eligible expenses were complete. MPEA advanced the funds for these reimbursable costs through its own sources. Only after MPEA made these upfront payments did the city reimburse it, and the city’s payments were applied only to certified TIF eligible costs related to the hotel and for no other purpose.

It is also important to remember that all of the projects mentioned in the article were announced together in May 2013 as Elevate Chicago, a unified and targeted $1.1 billion investment in Chicago’s tourism and convention infrastructure. Elevate Chicago included Wintrust Arena, the Marriott Marquis Chicago, a privately funded smaller hotel, streetscape work and the first phase of Navy Pier renovations. This was widely reported in 2013.

In sum, MPEA advanced all of the funds for the hotel project, some of which were later reimbursed by the city. Only once MPEA received reimbursement from the city did it have sufficient funds to support other Elevate Chicago projects, including a capital investment in the improvement of Navy Pier, which it owns.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

ILGOP launches another round of robocalls

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Press release…

Today, the Illinois Republican Party released robocalls statewide highlighting Mike Madigan’s hostage-taking.

Mike Madigan and his political allies are trying to hold schoolchildren hostage in order to force through a $500 million Chicago bailout without reform.

This comes after Madigan held state government hostage for years in order to force through his 32% permanent income tax hike.

Now, the Chicago Machine is refusing to release education funding for all Illinois schools unless they get their taxpayer funded bailout.

And while Madigan and his allies work the legislative side, Madigan’s candidates for Governor – J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss – support the bailout too.

The Illinois Republican Party is committed to exposing Madigan’s hostage-taking scheme.

I’m told this is a “targeted statewide call.”

* The audio

* The script…

That’s a school bell ringing, but your kids may not hear it this fall if Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan gets his way.

Mike Madigan and his enablers in the state house are threatening to shut down schools unless they get a special $500 million bailout for Chicago public schools.

First, Madigan held the budget hostage to force through a 32% permanent income tax hike with no reforms.

Now, Madigan is holding our school children hostage to get a $500 million bailout for Chicago.

And Madigan’s candidates for Governor - J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss - support the bailout too.

Now is the time to fight back and stop the Chicago politicians before it’s too late.

Call your state representative and state senator. Tell them your higher taxes shouldn’t pay for a Chicago bailout.

Paid for by the Illinois Republican Party.

So, it’s a $500 million bailout now?

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Special session coverage

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* The big question this morning is how many legislators show up…

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

150’s Sweeney loses Tollway board slot

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted this long

Labor union leader James Sweeney, who accused Gov. Bruce Rauner of trying to “destroy the labor movement” in Illinois and once parked an inflatable rat on the tollway lawn, won’t be reappointed to the tollway board.

Rauner chose not to keep Sweeney, president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. His term expired in May.

A Local 150 spokesman confirmed an official told Sweeney last week that his term wouldn’t be renewed. […]

“They’re losing a lot of expertise … there’s no longer any directors with firsthand knowledge (of road construction) during one of the largest capital expansions in the tollway’s history,” Local 150 Communications Director Ed Maher said.

I mean, the guy did everything he could to deny Rauner a 2014 GOP primary win, funded a Libertarian Party candidate against Rauner in the general, helped engineer the early AFL-CIO endorsement of JB Pritzker and is now actively looking around for a Republican to run against Rauner in the 2018 primary.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

The “old Bruce Rauner” also opposed the bill

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* NBC 5

At issue is the way the bill factors CPS’ finances into what would become the new statewide funding formula. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with both Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton Monday as he continued his calls for Rauner to sign the legislation.

“My view is do what’s right,” Emanuel said Tuesday. “I know for a fact the old Bruce Rauner – before there was this coup in his office – supported, by saying he agrees with 90 percent of the funding in education, 90 percent of what’s in this bill,” he added.

First, his education czar, not the governor, said that. Second, she also said the governor would veto the bill anyway. This has nothing to do with his new staff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

I… just don’t get it

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Perhaps you can help explain this campaign logo to me?…

…Adding… We may have a winner

It might be a B that was rotated around the center. If you look at the right half the top part is slightly smaller than the bottom, and if you look at the B in Biss it follows the same style. Kinda weak but best I have.

Kinda makes sense.

…Adding More… Hmm

Agree with Perrid but a little more…notice you can see the bold I and the proportional S curves…so the logo actually can spell his whole name…

- Posted by Rich Miller   83 Comments      

Pritzker “fact checks” new Rauner ad

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Pritzker campaign…

Yesterday, Bruce Rauner released a new ad featuring his wife Diana, highlighting the couple’s “passion for education.” But lately Rauner’s only passion is causing crises and distorting his own record. The reality is that Bruce Rauner continues to intentionally cut programs that help children and families build better lives.

Let’s take a look at Bruce Rauner’s real record on education:

Due to Rauner’s 736-day budget crisis, Illinois is over $1 billion behind in paying school districts money they were promised.

Hundreds of public university employees were laid off and dozens of programs were cut after Rauner failed to pass a budget for two years.

Rauner proposed a 20% cut to higher education and a 31.5% cut to universities in his 2015 budget proposal.

The ad claims Rauner “increased early childhood education to its highest level ever,” but in reality he proposed a $338.5 million cut to the Childcare Assistance Program in 2016 and decimated the program with his 2015 Emergency Rule, cutting off 90% of previously eligible families.

This month, Bruce Rauner vetoed the entire FY18 Illinois State Board of Education budget worth $11.9 billion, including:

    $443.7 million for the Early Childhood Block grant.
    $29 million in additional funding for bilingual education.
    $387.6 million for disabled student transportation.
    $135.2 million for disabled student tuition.
    $262.9 million in transportation reimbursement.
    $15 million for afterschool programs.
    $1.4 million for the parent mentoring program.
    $2.4 million in technology for success.
    $846,000 for blind and dyslexic services.
    $3.1 million for district consolidation costs and supplemental payments for school districts.
    $100,000 for autism training and technical assistance.
    $9 million in reimbursement for free breakfast and lunch programs.
    $1.4 million for the visually impaired and educational materials coordinating unit.
    $38 million for career and technical education.
    $11.5 million for truant alternative and optional education program.
    $6.3 million for alternative education and regional safe schools.
    $5 million for agriculture education program.
    $2.4 million for Afterschool Matters.
    $500,000 for advanced placement classes.
    $1 million for the lowest performing schools.

“Fresh off vetoing the entire education budget, this governor is ready to allow schools not to open next month. There is nothing ‘right’ about what Bruce Rauner is doing to Illinois schoolchildren,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “No amount of messaging, distortion, and validation is going to change the fact that this governor is failing in his basic obligation to ensure Illinois children receive a quality education.”

The childcare program and early childhood education are separate beings, but wrapping that veto around him isn’t a bad play.

* Related…

* Mark Brown: Downstate knows more about its schools than first lady does

* Diana Rauner appears in new ad praising governor’s support for education

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Rauner to sign bill to prevent legislative pay, reimbursement hike

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* From the governor’s public schedule…

What: Gov. Rauner signs HB 643, freezing legislative per diems
Where: Governor’s Office – Illinois State Capitol
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Time: 11:30 a.m.

What: Gov. Rauner addresses media
Who: Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin
Where: Governor’s Office – Illinois State Capitol
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Time: 15 minutes after adjournment of General Assembly

We discussed HB 643 on Monday. From the synopsis

Amends the General Assembly Compensation Act. Establishes the fiscal year 2018 mileage reimbursement rate and allowance for lodging and meals. Amends the Compensation Review Act. Prohibits cost-of-living adjustments for or during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017 for State government legislative and executive elected officers and appointees in positions for which the Compensation Review Board previously recommended or determined compensation. Effective immediately.

So, by signing that bill today, he will prevent the cost of the special session from rising. Notice, however, that the two top legislative sponsors (both Democrats) aren’t on the schedule.

…Adding… SJ-R

Lawmakers will continue to collect $111 in daily expense money because they were called into special session by Rauner to deal with school funding. However, without the bill signed by Rauner, that amount would have automatically increased to $142 a day.

“The special sessions the governor has demanded are expensive, costing taxpayers upwards of $48,000 each day,” said Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, in a statement. “I am pleased that the governor signed my measure to prevent his special sessions from becoming even more expensive.”

Bush was the lead Senate sponsor of House Bill 643 to freeze the rates. Neither Bush nor the lead House sponsor, also a Democrat, were at the bill signing ceremony in Rauner’s office attended by numerous Republican lawmakers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Purvis changes her story

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Rauner’s Education Secretary Beth Purvis said the Democrats’ bill is an evidence-based plan, but it also provides hundreds of millions of dollars to Chicago Public Schools pensions above and beyond the funding formula.

Purvis said that in 1995, an agreement was made that, because the state didn’t pay for the cost of Chicago Public Schools pensions, it instead would send a block grant, which is about $250 million a year “that is over and above what they would otherwise get within the school funding formula.”

“And the idea was, ‘Chicago Public Schools, we’re going to give you that money and pay down your pensions’,” Purvis said. “Now CPS didn’t use that $250 million to pay down their pensions. In 11 of 25 years, they only made partial payment or no pension [payments].”

Purvis said by ignoring that pension debt, the health of CPS pension funds deteriorated rapidly.

“Our argument is … it’s as if your parents gave you money to pay for your college tuition,” Purvis said. “You didn’t pay for your college tuition, instead you bought a car. That car got you to and from school so it’s important but now you’re going back to your parents and saying, ‘Hey, can I have some of my brother and sister’s college money to pay down my college debt?’ I just don’t think that’s fair.”

* Dusty Rhodes at WUIS earlier this week

In reality, the CPS block grant has no formal relationship to pensions. All districts receive state reimbursement for seven “categoricals” above what they receive in General State Aid. Every district except Chicago has to submit vouchers to get reimbursed for these categoricals. But since 1995, Chicago has been reimbursed via a block grant, based, at least in part, on the reality that submitting claims for thousands of different students was burdensome. Over the years, as CPS enrollment has declined, the block grant resulted in the district receiving $250 million more than it would if it had to submit vouchers for reimbursement.

Rauner’s education czar Beth Purvis has said those extra funds have been audited, and aren’t being misspent. “There’s no implication that CPS is misusing those funds in any way, shape or form,” she told me in May. “We believe that they’re using them for the educational costs of educating those children.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Caption contest!

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* Um…

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Early voting roundup
* Still more shenanigans!
* Sunday campaign money roundup
* Even more shenanigans!
* More shenanigans!
* Saturday campaign money report
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Shenanigans!
* Tribune drops bombshell on Biss running mate
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Rauner: "Madigan has rigged the Democratic primary for Pritzker"
* New Ives radio ad claims Democrats are trying to help Rauner, while Brady does Rauner robocall
* *** UPDATED x1 - DGA responds *** Elections board says DGA should file disclosure for Ives ad
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Jones; IEA/IFT; Reis; Mitchell; Edgar
* ISRA, Drury both try to claim Raoul inserted "poison pill" into gun bill
* Pro-life group launches GOTV effort for Lipinski
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner opens new online track against Ives
* Erika Harold still can't remember comments, but says "I was wrong"
* Rauner calls Madigan "a unified force of bad, of evil"
* Sen. Duckworth gets involved in another state central committee race
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Has Pritzker gone to ground?
* Illinois House Bill HB 4900 Wastes Government Resources
* McCann, barred from SGOP caucus meeting, claims Rauner threatened to "destroy you and your family"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Caption contest!
* Obama mailer kerfuffle in Lipinski district
* Rauner attended Quincy campaign event after Quincy veterans' home presser
* After spending millions in Dem primary, Rauner accuses "Washington liberals" of "hijacking" the GOP primary
* Yesterday's stories

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