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Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers will play us out

Watch each card you play
and play it slow

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Fact checking the “Chicago bailout” claims

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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…


Rep. Fine to run for Biss seat

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.”


Judge clears the way for Cook County pop tax

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.


Question of the day

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

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


*** 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 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.


Martire: Tax hike still leaves Illinois $2.5 billion short

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.


Appeal may be in the works on pension ruling

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.


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

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.


New ILGOP video: “Get back to work”

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

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


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

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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?”


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

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.”


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

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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


*** LIVE *** Special session coverage

Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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Friday, Jul 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

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* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* Uber Partners With Cities To Expand Urban Transportation
* Yes on operations and capital spending, No on revenues to pay for it
* Giannoulias on House floor while bill goes down
* Some budget react
* Governor rebuffs Rep. Crespo’s worries of future fiscal cliff
* Coverage roundup: House sends $53.1 billion FY25 budget to the governor
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Live coverage
* Welch: 'No one's ever said the House is boring'
* House passes budget 65-45 - BIMP passes 62-46 - Grocery tax elimination sails 86-20 - Revenue omnibus put on postponed consideration - Motion to reconsider passes - But big problem and Dems will have to suspend the rules - Concurrence motion finally passes as GOP gives up
* Yesterday's stories

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