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*** UPDATED x5 - Pritzker, IFT, CTU, Rauner, Emanuel, Madigan respond *** On second try, education funding reform passes with 73 votes

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Roll call…

* The House Speaker’s “member management” worked. He gave his members a chance to blow off steam by voting against a bill that contained the private school scholarship tax credits, then gave them a shot at overriding SB1 and then, when it was clear there was no other alternative, passed the bill. The only alternative was to either wait until a true crisis built or re-worked the entire bill, which would have been a grueling task that would’ve likely hurt CPS.

I’ll post react as it comes in.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Speaker Madigan…

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement Monday:

“Today we saw compromise. Instead of pitting children and communities against each other, Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement on much of what’s in this bill. And even where we don’t fully agree, we’re willing to work together in good faith and meet each other half way.

“This bill provides the same promise of permanent funding for our schools as Senate Bill 1, with some additional items included at the request of Republicans. Even if all members did not agree with 100 percent of what is in the final bill, this bill still delivers 100 percent of what schools throughout Illinois need. This bill is a permanent promise of more funding for schools statewide. Every district in Illinois wins under this plan.

“Through compromise, we’ve included some provisions that many members would not have supported on their own. But a package that permanently provides more money for Illinois schools and puts us closer than ever to fixing Illinois’ broken school funding system is too important to let partisan differences get in the way.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Mayor Emanuel…

“The Illinois House took a significant step tonight by passing an education funding plan that provides parity and stability for children across Illinois. I want to thank Speaker Madigan, Leader Durkin, Rep. Will Davis and the bipartisan group of legislators who put politics aside to address decades of inequity. As a new school year begins, students and educators deserve peace of mind. We are hopeful the Senate will take action and Governor Rauner will sign this historic legislation to support the education of children throughout Illinois.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Gov. Rauner thanks… Speaker Madigan? Yep…

“Today, members of the Illinois House of Representatives voted to bring historic education reform to Illinois children and their families. I want to thank Speaker Madigan, Leader Durkin and their staff members for finding common ground that will reverse the inequities of our current school funding system.

“Aligned with the framework provided by the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission – a bipartisan, bicameral working group chaired by the Secretary of Education – this bill has much to celebrate. First, every district in Illinois will have an adequacy target based on 27 elements brought forth through an “evidence-based model” of school funding. Second, new state funds will be distributed to ensure that those districts with the largest gap between current spending and adequacy will be funded first. Third, no district will lose state funding as compared to last year.

“The compromise includes the much-needed flexibility for school districts through mandate relief, while providing avenues for property tax relief. It increases transparency related to how districts are funded through local, state and federal resources.

“It protects the rights of parents to choose the school that best meets the needs of their children – providing more school choice for children from low-income families. By setting yearly minimum funding targets, this bill also ensures that Illinois will continue to invest in our most important resource – our children’s education.

“I encourage members of the Senate to also pass this bill, which I will sign quickly in order to ensure that our schools – many of which have already opened for the 2017-2018 school year – receive their much-needed resources.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** IFT…

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery released the following statement after the House passed Senate Bill 1947:

“Tonight, state legislators moved Illinois closer to doing what we have needed to do for decades – treat our poorest students and communities fairly. Unfortunately, it came at a very disappointing cost. Governor Rauner capitalized on the crisis he created when he vetoed the original bill and used it as leverage for private school tax credits that benefit the wealthy while working families continue to struggle. We’re on a better path toward equity and adequacy, and we must move forward in our classrooms and communities. But it’s clearer than ever that this Governor does not prioritize public schools, and we must fight for one who does in 2018.”

* And the CTU…

*** UPDATE 5 *** Pritzker…

“I am relieved to know that our schools will be funded using an equitable school funding formula, but it is disappointing that Bruce Rauner used our students as pawns in his political games to get a back-door voucher program put in place,” said JB Pritzker. “As governor, I will not support school vouchers and will work to do away with this program.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - SB1 override fails - What’s next? New vehicle bill *** Education funding reform bill gets just 46 votes

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Roll call…

Both parties are now going to caucus.

…Adding… Democrats voting “No”…

Andrade, Arroyo, Beiser, Cassidy, Chapa Lavia, Conroy, Costello, Crespo, D’Amico, Deluca, Drury, Feigenholtz, Fine, Flowers, Ford, Gabel, Gordon-Booth, Greenwood, Guzzardi, Halpin, Harper, Hernandez, Hoffman, Hurley, Jones, Kifowit, Martwick, Mayfield, Mitchell, Moeller, Riley, Scherer, Slaughter, Stratton, Stuart, Turner, Wallace, Walsh, Welch, Williams, Willis, Yingling.

Lots of leaders, “regulars,” targets, liberals and Black Caucus members on that list.

* The Democrats only had 18 “Yes” votes…

D Burke, K Burke, Connor, Currie, Davis, Evans, Lang, Lilly, Manley, Moylan, Mussman, Nekritz, Phelps, Rita, Sente, Tabares, Zalewski, Mr. Speaker.

* 28 Republicans voted “Yes,” which is two shy of their target…

Andersson, Batinick, Bellock, Bennett, Bourne, Brady, Breen, Butler, Demmer, Durkin, Hammond, Hays, Jesiel, Jimenez, McAuliffe, Mitchell, Olsen, Pritchard, Reick, Reis, Sauer, Sommer, Sosnowski, Spain, Swanson, Unes, Wehrle, K Wheeler.

…Adding… As noted in comments, it is a little “weird” that the bill didn’t receive 47 votes, which would have allowed the sponsor to place the bill on the order of Postponed Consideration. It fell just one shy of that mark, which is, of course, raising some eyebrows that *somebody* might not have wanted this to pass right now.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  If you look at the rollcall just before they locked it down, GOP Rep. Randy Frese and Democratic Rep. Art Turner switched their votes from “Yes” to “No” at the last second. Click here.

*** UPDATE 2 *** A new vehicle bill was just moved out of the Rules Committee. Amendment 1 to SB444 is apparently identical to the bill which just went down.

The game plan, I’m told, is to allow an override vote on SB1 to placate Madigan’s more liberal members. If that override fails, as expected, they’ll take up the new amendment and try again.

*** UPDATE 3 *** As expected the override fails…

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      

House Democrats release analysis of school funding reform bill

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Click here for the document which was handed out at today’s House Democratic caucus meeting.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

More Rauner staff changes

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Hmm…

* One of the few stories on the Google where Hummel’s name appears with Gov. Walker

When Gov. Scott Walker came to Lodi on Thursday, attorney Jeffrey Mayer was one of the chosen ones.

It was, by Walker’s count, the 11th listening session that he has held in communities around Wisconsin to seek ideas on Wisconsin’s direction in the next 20 years. It’s called 2020 Vision, and it was announced during Walker’s State of the State address Jan. 19.

But the 90-minute event was by invitation only; the general public and media were not allowed to attend. […]

Four Walker staff members were stationed outside the Lodi Common Council chambers during the session, and they did not allow a reporter to enter, or get closer to the doors than about 10 feet.

“This is the standard format,” said Brian Hummel, director of external operations for the governor. “Individuals coming to these meetings might not be comfortable speaking in front of the press.” […]

If someone wants to be invited to a session, he said, he or she may request an invitation by calling Press Secretary Laurel Patrick at 608-267-7303 — who also provides, on request, lists of invitees to all the sessions.

* Meanwhile, remember this?…

* Well…

From what I understand, however, Clark went on his own accord. He wasn’t moved.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** CPS board president says district stands to gain $450 million

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* And, yet, the Chicago Teachers Union and some Chicago Democrats want to kill this deal

School board President Frank Clark said on Monday that Chicago Public Schools may see as much as $450 million from a pending state accord on education funding, about $150 million more than the district had anticipated.

Clark used the figure to address criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union over a possible tax credit program for private school scholarships. His comments came as the school board was set to vote on a proposed $5.7 billion operating budget. […]

“I cannot, in my own mind, balance $75 million [for the private school scholarship tax credit program] against $450 million that CPS would benefit from,” Clark said to [CTU Vice-President Jesse Sharkey]. “Whether I agree or disagree on the vouchers, you guys are doing an excellent job of lobbying against that component. But frankly, it puts the whole deal in jeopardy. That’s your right, you may feel in fact it’s your obligation. But when I balance $450 million versus $75 million … I land on the side of the $450 million that goes to the Chicago Public Schools.”

A district spokeswoman did not directly respond to the $450 million figure touted by Clark and said CPS would need to wait for a final analysis from the Illinois State Board of Education to make a calculation on the amount it might get from the state.

* Meanwhile, some Chicago House Democrats remained in the room after their party caucus ended to talk with Speaker Madigan about the deal. Madigan is expected to address the media, so keep an eye on our live coverage post.

*** UPDATE ***  And away we go…

This might take another day. Then again, they might not be running this if they didn’t have the votes. We’ll see soon enough.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Justice Department criticizes Rauner’s signature on TRUST Act

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* The Fox News Channel covers the governor’s signing of the TRUST Act today

The governor’s office pointed to a decision made by an Illinois-based federal court that immigration detainer orders from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are illegal.

A spokesperson from Rauner’s office told Fox News that the law “coincides” with that ruling.

They may have meant “codifies,” which is standard procedure in cases like these. You generally want your statutes to conform to judicial rulings.

* More

But fellow Republicans are calling the bill another “sanctuary” measure — the kind the Trump administration has been fighting in cities across the country.

Asked for comment about the new Illinois law on Monday, a Justice Department official was critical.

“As the Attorney General has said, when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley told Fox News. “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted for criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk – especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Rutherford cleared, but appeal is expected

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Tribune

A Cook County judge on Monday criticized the way former Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford ran his office, but ruled in his favor in a lawsuit filed by three former employees who alleged they were fired after cooperating in a sexual harassment investigation.

The three men, logistics manager Patrick Carlson, community affairs and marketing director George Daglas and investment director Ashvin Lad, didn’t prove at trial that they were fired in retaliation for corroborating another employee’s claims that he faced sexual harassment and political pressure at the hands of Rutherford, Judge James Synder ruled.

Attorneys for the ex-state treasurer have denied the allegations , saying the trio was let go after an inspector general’s report recommended they be fired over allegations of falsifying timekeeping records.

In his ruling Monday, the judge said he believed that’s why they were fired.

The three have vowed to appeal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Fine, but then what?

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* From the Chicago Teachers Union

The CTU is also condemning a legislative deal that Emanuel has embraced—and the Board of Education has done nothing to oppose—which opens the door to school vouchers, a move that is expected to put roughly $75 million in public dollars into the coffers of private schools and provide hefty tax breaks for the wealthy. The union argues that the voucher “compromise” in SB1—modeled on the extremist privatization policies of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos—is tantamount to planting a ticking time bomb on a bus and driving through school districts throughout the state, creating even greater debt and fiscal distress.

“The mayor’s failure to responsibly budget for our schools has set the stage for him to cut a deal with the governor to implement some kind of state-run ‘school finance authority’,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. “This allows him to wash his hands of our schools while avoiding taxing his wealthy friends—many of whom are among his biggest campaign donors.”

“This false choice of a voucher ‘compromise’ for SB1, without public debate, will undermine the core promise of quality public education for all students—low income students, in particular—and give more hefty tax breaks to the rich, Sharkey added. “Legislators should reject this scheme and vote for a straight override of the governor’s veto of SB1.”

* Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)…

This scheme is a major legislative priority of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council, an ultra-conservative legislative think tank) and US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In some cases, like Georgia, it allows donors to profit from their “donations” by getting multiple tax breaks at the state and federal levels.

We must pass a school funding reform bill to ensure that schools statewide receive the money they need to successfully educate our children. I can’t, however, compromise on my long-held opposition to vouchers and other mechanisms to strip support from our neighborhood schools.

I want a clean school-funding bill, one that doesn’t compromise the well-being of the students in the most vulnerable schools that have seen the greatest cuts at both the local and state level. And once again, they are being used as hostages. We are being asked to rubber stamp this last-minute, unreviewed scheme because it is those students at the highest need schools that require state aid the soonest.

OK, first of all, ALEC is also heavily involved in criminal justice reform, so not everything they do is horrific to liberals. And this plan isn’t like Georgia’s in that it doesn’t allow for a federal tax break.

Second, these aren’t vouchers. And they’re not stripping support from anybody. The tax credits are being paid out of GRF. Now, I have no idea where they’re going to find the money, but the school budget is already set in stone. Also, the hold-harmless provision in the new bill is not based on per pupil, so schools that lose students to private schools won’t be penalized.

And, finally, what happens when SB1 isn’t overridden? Do we all just wait for yet another meltdown crisis? And does the CTU or any of the Chicago legislators opposing this deal really believe that Chicago will get the same deal that it’s getting now if the CTU and Chicago legislators manage to kill this deal over a $75 million pilot project?

…Adding… The deal doesn’t just magically get better for CPS if Chicagoans kill it. Also, lots of liberals applauded Republicans last month for swallowing hard and voting for a tax hike and a budget that would almost assuredly cause them electoral grief…

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      

Besler leaves Rauner campaign, heads back to IOP

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Press release…

The Illinois Opportunity Project announced today that Matthew Besler will resume his work with the Illinois Opportunity Project and Illinois Liberty PAC, leaving his role as Chief Strategic Advisor with Citizens for Rauner, Inc. Besler said the following about his decision:

“With Governor Rauner’s re-election team now in place and the teams for the House and Senate GOP caucuses in place, I am returning to my role as President of Illinois Opportunity Project (IOP) and Chairman of Illinois Liberty PAC, a direct expenditure PAC, as these organizations represent critical policy and political infrastructure for advancing economic liberty in Illinois.

I wish Mark Harris, Governor Rauner’s general consultant, Betsy Ankney, Rauner’s campaign manager, Nick Klitzing and Kayleen Carlson at the ILGOP, David Walsh and Joe Woodward at the House Republican Organization (HRO) and Brian Burian at the Senate Republican Organization (SRO) great success in the 2018 election cycle.

The organizations I lead will be there to provide support where our interests intersect.”

* From Dan Proft, one of the IOP co-founders…

“For the sake of clarity amid recent personnel changes and much rumor-mongering and grievance-prosecuting from former Rauner staff, my position hasn’t changed. I will continue to head the independent-expenditure Liberty Principles PAC.

“Our goals remain as they were prior to Governor Rauner’s election and since: (1) improve the quality of the GOP legislative caucuses in terms of legislators committed to the economic liberty policy agenda; and, (2) grow the numbers of those caucuses to majority control of both chambers.

“We are warriors for actual justice and we will support candidates who are similarly disposed–those who will fight for policies that promote free minds, free markets and a free society. And we will oppose those who do not, regardless of their party affiliation or official title.”

- Dan Proft, Chairman, Liberty Principles PAC

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

The more things change…

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Back in what I believe was the late 1990s, I wrote a story about how several people along a parade route screamed a perjorative term for “homosexual” that begins with an “f” at then-state Rep. Kurt Granberg. As I recall, it was a tongue in cheek story about how the screamers were not only out of bounds, but they were also wrong about the legislator’s sexual orientation.

So, I didn’t really get too awful fired up about this incident

It is disturbing, but all too easy in today’s political climate, to picture the reality state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez recently found herself in.

A spectator yelled “We hate you” at Jimenez, her husband, 4-year-old twins and mother as they walked in the Illinois State Fair parade. One of her sons asked his grandmother if the man hated him; she downplayed the incident, and the boy theorized perhaps the man was upset because he didn’t get any candy.

That may pacify the child now, but as he hears more insults hurled at his mother, how do his parents explain that a growing number of Americans have enthusiastically embraced the misplaced notion that incivility toward an elected official is a duty?

Not cool at all, but at least the person didn’t scream profanities at her.

* The SJ-R followed up with a story entitled “For some lawmakers, frustration a factor in leaving legislature.” But some of these problems have been with us for generations

He also said citizens have changed, “and I think social media is a part of that, where it’s just so easy for people to be very visceral and not gather the facts – just spout off. It’s not as much fun as what it once was.”

Yes, social media does concentrate the kooks because they can more easily find each other and commiserate about their miserable lives. It’s made even worse when groups deliberately cultivate that anger and weaponize it against legislators. But the citizenry has been spouting off since even before they dumped tea into the Boston Harbor.

I will agree that times aren’t as fun as they used to be. But maybe that’s because I’m getting older.

* More

Mitchell and other departing legislators point at issues like the expansion of the campaign cycle, gerrymandering of districts and the lack of term limits for legislative leaders as contributing causes for the impasse. […]

Mitchell agreed that said House members on two-year campaign cycles have really always been in the constant-campaign mode – starting a term in January and starting to circulate petitions the following September for the next year’s election.

Those petition deadlines have been in place for eons, as has gerrymandering, as has no term limits for leaders.

* This, however, is a very real change

“I’m a moderate Republican, yet I still got elected. That doesn’t happen a lot.”

Judy Baar Topinka was pro-choice on about 90 percent of all issues when she ran for governor in 2006, but she was labeled pro-life by the ardent pro-choicers and pro-abortion by the pro-lifers. That trend had already started, but you won’t find any pro-choice Republicans in the General Assembly these days. They’ve dropped out, lost primaries or lost general elections to Democrats.

And I get the feeling that there won’t be very many House Republicans who are open to tax hikes elected to the 101st General Assembly.

At the same time, conservative, Downstate, rural Democrats have become an endangered species. That trend began with the Civil Rights era, kicked up hard in 1994 and has recently accelerated again.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

TRUST Act finally signed into law

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* From Senate President John Cullerton…

Illinois offered newfound security to immigrants on Monday, spelling out in a new law that state and local police shouldn’t double as immigration agents and encouraging immigrants to report crimes without fear of reprisals for their immigrant status.

The Trust Act (SB31) was sponsored by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and ultimately won legislative approval and the support of law enforcement groups this spring session. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed his name to it on Monday, making it the law in Illinois. Cullerton applauded everyone involved in seeing this new law through.

“An immigrant woman who’s been victimized shouldn’t have to think twice about reporting that crime. She deserves justice as much as anyone else in our society. At the same time, police need her report to effectively track down violent criminals and protect all of us. This law reminds us that we’re all in this together and we need to be able to work together and trust one another,” said Cullerton.

Specifically, under the new law, state and local police cannot arrest or detain someone on the basis of immigration status alone. This prohibition does not apply if there is a valid judicial warrant. Similarly, state and local police are prohibited from arresting or detaining someone based on what’s known as an “immigration detainer,” which is a civil document issued by an immigration agent, not a criminal warrant issued by a judge and supported by probable cause.

Across the country, there have been news accounts of crimes going unreported in immigrant communities because victims fear they will end up arrested for lacking immigration documents if they report the crimes. The proposal Cullerton sponsored and the governor signed is designed to foster trust between police and immigrant communities and refocus resources on fighting priority crimes.

“The immigrant community has always been a vibrant part of our state’s story and a vital part of our economy today. Everyone deserves safety and security,” said Cullerton.

“If someone is going to be detained in Illinois it should be because an actual crime has occurred, not because of how they look, what they believe or what paperwork they may or may not have. The Trust Act reinforces the message that our immigrant neighbors are part of our community. It is my hope that this new law will enhance interaction between the immigrant community and state and local police to improve safety and the quality of life for all Illinoisans,” Cullerton said.

* Cullerton was a bit snarkier at the bill signing today…

For a raging opinion in dissent that doesn’t actually address the contents of the legislation, click here. For raw audio of today’s bill signing event, click here.

More press release will be posted on our live coverage post.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** School funding reform language filed

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* House amendment 5 to SB1947 was just popped out of Rules Committee. Click here and tell us what you see.

Both parties have gone to caucus meetings, so you have some time to read it over. Don’t forget that you can track all the action with our live coverage post.

*** UPDATE ***   Dusty Rhodes is live-tweeting details of the bill, so here’s a ScribbleLive thingy to watch her work

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Rauner accused of “playing the victim”

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Bernie’s latest column focuses on a quote from Gov. Bruce Rauner about how Speaker Madigan was successful at “breaking the General Assembly to force a tax hike with no reforms whatsoever“…

I have wondered about Rauner’s repeated claim, in absolute terms, about the lack of reforms, as he has made his way across the state signing bills that sure seem like they contain some of what he wanted.

Take for example his announcement in Urbana on Aug. 9, when he signed Senate Bill 8, described in his news release as “a bipartisan bill that makes the state procurement process more efficient and transparent, thus saving money for Illinois taxpayers.”

“Reforming the procurement process allows more flexibility for vendors,” Rauner was quoted in the release. “Removing red tape will make it easier for small and midsize businesses to bid on state contracts. This is a win for our government agencies, for universities, for businesses and, most importantly, for taxpayers.”

In the budget package itself, there is some pension reform, with elements of a 401(k) style defined contribution program included. The legislation he praised Thursday in Naperville would keep retired police officers from re-entering the pension system a second time if they return as chief or join another force. And in Oak Brook on Aug. 14, he signed Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 607, both of which help enable local officials to consolidate governments. But the headline of that day’s news release also showed he thinks “more action is needed.” […]

“It seems inconvenient for the governor to admit that we enacted significant reform, largely at his direction and request,” [Sen. Don Harmon] said. “He seems to like playing the victim. He seems to like saying he didn’t get his way, when in fact he got his way on a significant number of bills.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Rauner signs AVR bill

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* AP

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure Monday allowing automatic voter registration in Illinois, a move that comes a year after he rejected a similar measure over concerns about voter fraud.

Illinois joins more than half a dozen other states with some form of automatic voter registration, which proponents say boosts civic participation.

“This is good bipartisan legislation and it addresses the fundamental fact that the right to vote is foundational for the rights of Americans in our Democracy,” Rauner said at a Chicago bill signing ceremony attended by supporters. “We as a people need to do everything we can to knock down barriers, remove hurdles for all those who are eligible to vote, to be able to vote.”

* From a press release…

SB 1933 reforms current registration laws so that whenever an eligible Illinois citizen applies for, updates, or renews a driver’s license or state ID, he or she will be automatically registered to vote at their new address, unless they choose to opt out. AVR creates a similar program for other state agencies, which will make it the farthest reaching automatic voter registration law in the country. In May, the legislation passed both the House and the Senate in unanimous, bipartisan fashion: 115-0 and 55-0, respectively.

“With the Governor’s signing of automatic voter registration, Illinois has solidified its status as a national leader in expanding voting rights and ballot access,” said Andy Kang, Legal Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago. “Over two years, the Just Democracy Illinois coalition has worked across the aisle to gain support for AVR, a model that can now be duplicated in other states fighting to modernizing their voter registration system.” […]

The bill passed in 2017 after two amendments were adopted into the language, including changes to align automatic voter registration with the implementation of REAL ID at the office of the Secretary of State, and adding two agencies to the program: the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. REAL ID is a federal program that tightens standards for state identification documents, expected to be implemented in Illinois in 2018.

* The bill was sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar, who has had his share of go-arounds with Gov. Rauner on education funding reform. Both were at today’s bill signing ceremony…

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

SEIU to ramp up “Fight for 15″

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Tribune

In an effort to unseat Gov. Bruce Rauner and other Republican politicians in the Midwest, the union behind the Fight for $15 campaign is launching a voter engagement drive to mobilize its members to get people to the polls.

The Service Employees International Union and its Fight for $15 campaign plan to launch the initiative at a Labor Day rally in Chicago. The rally, one of several across the country, will include a march on the American Hospital Association to highlight hospital workers, who are new to the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and are expected to play a key role in the voter drive.

Over the 14 months leading up to the fall 2018 election, SEIU members and workers participating in the wage campaign will pledge to volunteer 40 hours of their time to reach out to disengaged voters and encourage them to turn out for candidates who support union priorities such as a $15 minimum wage and universal health care. […]

SEIU plans to roll out the voter initiative across a dozen battleground states mostly in the Midwest, including Illinois and Michigan, as well as Florida, Colorado and Nevada. Paid canvassers as well as “tens of thousands” of SEIU and Fight for $15 members are expected to participate. There are 150,000 SEIU members in Illinois.

The governor, of course, vetoed the $15 minimum wage hike on Friday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

*** LIVE *** “Emergency session” coverage

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* The House convenes at 11, but expect the two parties to caucus soon after. The Senate convenes tomorrow. Background on the reason for calling an emergency session is here. Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Rauner to match contributions to send Speaker Madigan “a clear message”

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Team Rauner fundraising e-mail…

Speaker Madigan and his political machine have done nothing but attack Team Rauner’s reform agenda since Day One.

From forcing a massive, 32% income tax increase on Illinois families, to protecting his special interests at our expense, Madigan continues to play politics with our state’s future - and we won’t let him win.

We need to push back against Speaker Madigan and send him a clear message. That’s why Bruce is willing to double your support heading into our end-of-month deadline.

Chip in today. For every dollar you donate to help us fight back against Speaker Madigan and his machine, Bruce will match it.

Chip in $20 = $40 >>
Chip in $50 = $100 >>
Chip in $100 = $200 >>

When Bruce was first elected, he promised to fight each and every day to stop politicians in Springfield from making our lives harder and more expensive.

But while Bruce has been fighting for lower taxes and a balanced budget, Speaker Madigan forced a massive tax hike on all of us that will hurt businesses and families in our state.

Bruce is committed now more than ever to continuing his fight against the political machine, and he’s going to match your support this month.

Donate and tell Speaker Madigan we’ve had enough of him playing politics in Illinois; Bruce will match you dollar for dollar.

Thank you,

Team Rauner

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Mrs. Rauner talks about Mrs. Madigan

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Sneed on the relationship between Mrs. Madigan and Mrs. Rauner

“Diana and Shirley are like night and day personality wise, but they have a wonderful relationship and talk and text all the time,” said a top Sneed source.

“They may be acquaintances by association, but they are good friends. I’m told Shirley sends Diana friendly emojis all the time.

“They were excited about taking a trip to Rome together to see the investiture of Cardinal Blase Cupich, but I’m told Mike Madigan canceled because he didn’t want to go with Bruce Rauner,” added the source.

“Shirley is a role model,” Diana told Sneed in an exclusive and rare interview Friday, shortly after the historic school-funding deal was reached after months of tug of war.

Mrs. Madigan almost always uses tons of emojis when she texts people. Also, I don’t think Speaker Madigan canceled that trip because of the governor. Anyone close to Mrs. Madigan would probably know why.

I asked Speaker Madigan’s press secretary if he’d care to comment on the story, but he declined, saying “I have no idea that it has any basis in fact.”

* Anyway, there’s more from Mrs. Rauner, so go read the whole thing

“I consider my husband and I warriors for social justice, and we don’t always agree on the methods to get there.

“But we wouldn’t be married if we did not share the same motivations and values. But I will say this: He is driven to do the right thing, not just the easy thing, and he wants nothing but to do a good job and help the people of Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Opposition builds to education funding reform compromise

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Tribune

With legislative leaders still working on the finer points of a plan to send money to public schools, their efforts risked being derailed amid ongoing rancor between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as pressure from unions. […]

Even before the accord was announced, Emanuel poked Rauner over his decision to shed his new press staff just weeks after bringing them on amid a massive staff shakeup in the governor’s office.

“I kind of think some guy that’s talked about running on a ‘turnaround agenda,’ it’s becoming quite apparent that it’s a ‘turnover agenda,’” Emanuel said, mocking the tagline Rauner had given to his pro-business wish list.

* Press release…

Today, as the Illinois House of Representatives considers revisions to Senate Bill 1, Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery released the following statement:

“We were happy to support Senate Bill 1 as originally passed. For the first time in a generation, it creates an opportunity to fund schools more equitably and adequately by considering regional circumstances and ensuring that no district loses a dollar. But as he did with the bipartisan budget, Governor Rauner vetoed the legislation and is holding our kids’ education hostage to his political demands.

The Governor’s priority is not fair and equitable funding for all of Illinois’ students. This was clear in the 120 changes he made when he vetoed SB1, and it’s clear now in his last-ditch effort to use our students as leverage for private school tax credits.

Taxpayer dollars should be invested in our public school classrooms, plain and simple. The Governor’s proposal gives the wealthy another break while robbing our public schools of students and dollars.

We encourage lawmakers to reject this. Override Governor Rauner’s veto and pass Senate Bill 1 as written. Vouchers should not be the price of progress.”

I’ve asked the IFT if it is willing to allow schools to shut down over this beef with the tax credit proposal. I’ll let you know what they say.

…Adding… From the IFT…

Of course we do not want schools to shut down. That was the Governor’s desire when he completely rewrote SB1 in his AV. Legislators can simply override the veto. (And aside from what private school tax credits do to undermine public school funding, is now really the right budgetary time to do this?)

They can’t “simply override the veto,” but whatever.

* Meanwhile, the CEO of the state’s second largest school district (Elgin) was bad-mouthing the compromise plan and demanding an override of SB1 on Twitter yesterday, so I asked him some questions

That’s a lot of dancing.

…Adding… Never bet against the leaders when they’re all pulling in the same direction. If that is truly the case here, then everyone should probably calm down a bit…

…Adding More… This is the standard partisan split on structured roll calls. It’s based on the percentage each party has in the chamber. The object is to meet these minimum targets…

* Related…

* What’s going on with Illinois school funding? Here’s a Q and A: What’s with the $75 million in school vouchers? First, they’re not vouchers, which would be public money or tax credits provided directly to families paying tuition. What’s been proposed are tax credits for anyone who donates to organizations that would create scholarship funds for low- and mid-income students attending private schools. At least for the next five years — when the measure will sunset — donors will get a credit for 75 cents on every dollar they give. Though it’s not yet clear how any of that will happen.

* Legislative Leaders Inch Toward School Funding Deal: “It’s time for everyone, if they have minor objections, look at the goal. Who gets hurt? No one gets hurt, everyone succeeds under this. Every student in Illinois is going to be a beneficiary of what we have to come to a conclusion in,” Durkin said.

* GOP leaders: School funding reform plan still on track

* IL Lawmakers Working To Hammer Out Details On School Funding

* Rep. David McSweeney Says The New School Funding Plan May Cause More Harm Than Good

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      

Behind Rauner’s bragging on the economy

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column now appears in the Decatur Herald & Review

After years of harshly bad-mouthing the state’s economy, Gov. Bruce Rauner has pivoted in the past couple of weeks as the campaign season has heated up.

“I’m proud since I became governor,” he said recently, “we have recruited and added around 120,000 new jobs to the state of Illinois.”

“But,” Rauner said, “we should be growing at four or five times that rate. But we have red tape and restrictions, regulations on our businesses. I have advocated change that, so far, Speaker Madigan has resisted.”

The governor has repeated the 120,000 new jobs figure at least a couple of times since then and has tossed in the reference to House Speaker Michael Madigan as well.

And, indeed, using nonfarm jobs data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, over 120,000 net jobs have been added in Illinois since February 2015, the first full month of Rauner’s term in office.

But most of those jobs were gained in 2015, when 83,400 jobs were added. In the 19 months starting in January 2016 through July 2017, just 41,900 jobs were created in Illinois, according to IDES data. Of those, a mere 19,600 jobs were added in Illinois during the first seven months of this year.

The situation is much bleaker if you look at the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers.

According to BLS, Illinois added just 40,002 jobs from February 2015 through July 2017.

But, according to BLS, Illinois has lost a whopping 29,877 net jobs from January 2016 through July of this year. Take out July’s horrible preliminary report (which are often revised), and Illinois only added a paltry 530 jobs between January 2016 and June 2017.

It almost goes without saying that Rauner’s political opponents will be sorely tempted to blame those lagging indicators on the two-year state budget impasse. The impasse’s negative impacts really kicked into gear starting in the second half of Fiscal Year 2016, which would be January, when the slide began.

Rauner inherited an economy that, according to the same Illinois Department of Employment Security data he uses, added 61,500 jobs in 2013 and 84,600 in 2014, before Rauner was inaugurated, only to slow to a crawl in the past 19 months, despite a tax cut that took effect at the beginning of 2015. So far this year, the “Trade, Transportation and Utilities” sector has lost 9,300 jobs.

Illinois’ gross domestic product was almost $792 billion in 2016, according to the federal government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. Could a state government’s budget troubles really have an impact on an economy that size?

Well, S&P Global Ratings Managing Director Gabriel Petek said in a statement back in February that Illinois’ “distressed fiscal condition and dysfunctional budget politics now threaten to erode the state’s long-term economic growth prospects.”

In January of this year, another credit rating agency, Moody’s, published a report which claimed Illinois’ “political gridlock is imposing significant economic costs.”

The uncertainty created by the budgetary chaos almost certainly took a toll on the economy. And then there were all the layoffs at Illinois’ public universities due to lack of state funding which were amply documented in the media - 1,500 or so by the end of May.

Gov. Rauner’s opponents will have a point if they pounce on him for damaging the economy. He didn’t create the crisis on his own, but he’s the governor and governors wear the jacket.

And that’s a big reason why he needs to get his own house in order as soon as he possibly can.

As you probably already know, the governor fired his most loyal staff members over a month ago and replaced many of them with staff from the far-right Illinois Policy Institute. Those folks haven’t worked out very well. Rauner has lurched from one self-created public relations crisis to another ever since he purged his staff. A controversy over an Illinois Policy Institute cartoon, of all things, lasted more than a week.

The governor pushed out four of those PR folks last week, but he’ll need to replace them some competent, experienced professionals if he wants to get back on track. I’m not sure if he can ever explain why he’s not at fault for these lousy job numbers, but he surely won’t be able to do that with his current team.

And maybe a new team could help him figure out what to do about these problems. So far, things are not getting better on his watch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

Rauner signs two bills sought by gay rights activists

Monday, Aug 28, 2017

* Press release…

Criminal defendants who kill LGBTQ people can no longer be acquitted by claiming a panic defense–that they were provoked by a fear of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity–under a new law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner that was part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBTQ Illinoisans.

“This new law ensures​ LGBTQ people are not blamed for the violence perpetrated against them simply because of who they are,” Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, said Monday. “We thank Gov. Rauner for supporting the panic defense ban. With the unanimous support of the legislature and the governor’s action, Illinois continues its proud bipartisan tradition of advancing justice for LGBTQ Illinoisans.”

The measure, SB 1761, which the governor signed on Friday after unanimously passing both chambers of the General Assembly, is part of the 2017 legislative agenda of Equality Illinois. The agenda also included two other bipartisan bills signed into law in recent days. The LGBTQ Public Service Law (SB 1670), which enhances LGBTQ representation and visibility on state boards and commissions, was approved by Gov. Rauner on Aug. 18. The third bill, HB 1785, modernizes state law so transgender individuals won’t have to undergo unnecessary surgical procedures at great expense in order to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. It was signed last Friday.

“This is a huge achievement. With the approval of these three bills by the legislature and the governor, Illinois is moving forward on LGBTQ rights while the federal government reverses course and Donald Trump is going against the tide of history,” Johnson said. “These bills improve the lives of LGBTQ Illinoisans, and having them signed into law also improves the social and political fabric for everyone in the state. It could have only happened through the collaboration of Illinois Democrats and Republicans. Working together, we can achieve great things.”

An initiative of Equality Illinois, Senate Bill 1761 was sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and state Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford. The legislation unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly in May. SB 1761 is, we believe, the first bill in the country supporting LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) rights to pass with unanimous support from a state legislature.

* From Friday

[Gov. Rauner] also signed legislation that would make it easier for transgender people to change the sex designation on their birth certificates.

Formerly, state law said transgender people could only change their birth certificates if a doctor said they had transition surgery. The new law would allow for a change if a medical or mental health provider confirms someone has received “clinically appropriate” treatment. A range of practices including hormone therapy would be covered, using a similar standard that applies to U.S. passports.

Supporters said people were often denied coverage for preventive care like pap smears and prostate exams if their birth certificates and identities don’t match, saying the previous surgery requirement was an unnecessary burden.

“It’s basic common sense that a person’s gender should be recognized and respected, whether or not that person has had any particular kind of surgery,” John Knight, director of the LGBT and HIV Project for the ACLU of Illinois. “I’m extremely proud of our state for taking this important step to modernize a law that has been a significant barrier in transgender people’s lives for many, many years.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

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Monday, Aug 28, 2017

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Leaders’ meeting updates

Sunday, Aug 27, 2017

[Comments are now open on this post.]

* 4:44 pm - Just after 4:30 this afternoon, the two Republican legislative leaders talked briefly to reporters about the education funding reform negotiations before walking into Speaker Madigan’s office.

After Friday’s curious comments from Gov. Bruce Rauner about how the Democrats had inserted “bad things” into the proposal, House GOP Leader Jim Durkin assured the media that the governor “is 100 percent behind it.” Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady chimed in by saying “The governor will sign this.”

Leader Durkin also acknowledged that there was some pushback within his caucus, but said it wasn’t any different than any other major issue he’s ever worked on.

When asked “And you’re not concerned that it’s falling apart?” Leader Brady said “Not at all.”

*** UPDATE ***  Notes from when Leaders Brady and Durkin emerged from the meeting around 6:50…

Brady: We just left another successful meeting… We made some great progress on some outstanding issues, mostly technical nature. We still have a deal that we hope to present to the House tomorrow… Another meeting tomorrow morning.

Durkin: It’s a 500-page document. Goal was to tie up loose ends. We’re down to the minutiae.

Q: And you’re confident you have the votes to pass it?

Durkin: I can’t speak for Mr. Madigan, but our caucus is prepared to take the votes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

SDems: Special session will avoid triggering veto clock

Sunday, Aug 27, 2017

[Comments are now open on this post.]

* Forwarded by the House Democrats…

Sent on behalf of the Clerk of the House

Members of the 100th General Assembly:

The President and Speaker have declared an emergency exists which requires immediate action by the General Assembly. Pursuant to Article IV, Section 5(b) of the Illinois Constitution, and in conformity with the Special Session Act, an emergency Special Session of the 100th General Assembly shall convene at 11:00 a.m. on August 28, 2017, at the State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois.

The purpose of the Special Session shall be to consider legislation and legislative actions that would establish, by law, an evidenced-based funding formula to provide State funding to school districts.

* The governor has vetoed several pieces of legislation, so there was a lot of speculation that coming back to deal with school funding reform would trigger the 15-calendar-day clock for dealing with overrides

A side effect of the legislature constantly coming back into session to fix things that should have been fixed long ago is what’s going to happen during the veto session.

With the rules governing how vetoes and amendatory vetoes must be handled in the legislature, it’s possible that first one chamber and then the other will be forced back to Springfield over the coming weeks to deal with vetoed bills. Depending on how things played out, they could seesaw back and forth for a while. Basically, they could mostly be done with the vetoes before we hit the time of the traditional veto session.

Interestingly, there is nothing on the General Assembly’s schedule for a fall session at this time.

But I asked Senate President Cullerton’s spokesman today if the emergency special session would avoid triggering the veto clock. “Yes,” was his reply.

* Meanwhile, the four tops are scheduled to meet again today at 4:30 in Springfield. I’ll let you know what happens.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

More Friday veto dump reacts

Saturday, Aug 26, 2017

* Press release…

Today, Governor Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of House Bill 302, bipartisan legislation that amends the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act to further protect families from unscrupulous practices by insurance companies that have withheld millions of dollars in unclaimed cash and assets from consumers across the state.

HB 302 was sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Collins and State Representative Robert Martwick, and championed by Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs. The legislation would require insurance companies to compare lapsed policies going back to 2000 against the Social Security Death Master File (DMF) to verify that a policyholder has passed, and that benefits have been paid.

During the legislative session, Illinois PIRG organized a letter of support from consumer and low income advocacy organizations including AARP, Center for Changing Lives, Center for Economic Progress, Heartland Alliance, Housing Action Illinois, Illinois Asset Building Group, Northwest Side Housing Center, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and Woodstock Institute.

In response to the veto, Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr issued the following statement:

We are disappointed Governor Rauner has turned away consumers seeking to reclaim the benefits to which they are entitled as the rightful owners, heirs, or beneficiaries of life insurance policies. His veto and amendment attacking independent, third-party auditors, contracted by the state to enforce compliance with unclaimed property law, places the priorities of insurance companies – many of whom have a documented history of predatory practices – ahead of grieving families. We will continue to work with allies to amend Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act to more effectively return cash and assets to their rightful owners.

* Treasurer Michael Frerichs…

“Today, Governor Bruce Rauner put corporate profits over people. He sided with greedy life insurance companies that line their pockets with death benefits they should have paid out to loved ones. But he did more than that. With a stroke of his pen, he is trying to take away the tool our office uses to catch any company in the act.”

* AG’s office…

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today denounced Governor Rauner’s veto of the Illinois Student Loan Bill of Rights that was passed to crack down on the student loan servicing industry that has made it more difficult and more expensive for Illinois borrowers to repay their loans. Madigan encouraged the General Assembly to override the governor’s veto and protect borrowers, their families and the state’s economy.

The Illinois Student Loan Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 1351, was drafted by Madigan’s office and sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss and Rep. Will Guzzardi to address widespread abuses and failures in the student loan industry. These abuses were revealed by Madigan’s investigation and lawsuit against one of the country’s largest student loan servicing companies, Navient.

“Today Gov. Rauner failed to stand up for struggling student loan borrowers, their families and our state’s economy. His veto of the Student Loan Bill of Rights shows he doesn’t care about the financial reality that student loan borrowers face and has instead sided with large corporations that put their profits before their customers,” Madigan said. “My investigation into the student loan industry revealed that student borrowers were forced into expensive repayment plans they cannot afford. These abusive practices prevent borrowers from achieving their goals, dreams and financial independence.”

“Today, unsurprisingly, Governor Rauner sided with profitable student loan servicers over students who want to pay for higher education,” Biss said. “The industry was so opposed to these reforms that servicers sent high-powered lobbyists to Springfield to fight against students’ interests. The governor’s action is a win for servicers, but I am committed to working with my colleagues to override the governor’s veto.”

“This was simple and straightforward legislation to protect students from egregious abuses by bad actors in the loan servicing industry,” Guzzardi said. “By vetoing SB 1351, Gov. Rauner shows yet again that he stands with profiteering companies and against the people he’s supposed to represent. The hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans struggling with student debt won’t forget this action, and I urge my colleagues to join me in overriding this senseless veto.”

Over the past decade, student loan debt has doubled to become the largest form of unsecured consumer debt in the country with more than 40 million borrowers owing over $1.4 trillion. Nearly 70 percent of graduates leave college with an average debt burden of $30,000, and one-in-four borrowers are behind on their payments or in default.

Students who attended for-profit colleges are particularly hard hit, making up the vast majority of borrowers in default. While federal income-based repayment options are available, the U.S. Treasury has reported that only 20 percent of eligible borrowers are enrolled in these options, which can lower payments based on income to as low as $0 a month.

Madigan said Illinois borrowers frequently experience problems with their student loan servicers. Specifically, borrowers in Illinois have complained to her office that their loan servicers failed to inform them of affordable repayment options, follow borrower payment instructions and answer questions consistently.

Because it is so difficult to get legitimate help from loan servicers, student loan borrowers are increasingly turning elsewhere for help. Scam artists have rushed in to exploit desperate borrowers, much like they did during the mortgage crisis, with false promises to help in exchange for large, illegal upfront fees. Madigan has led the country in shutting down illegal student loan debt relief operations preying on borrowers.

The Illinois Student Loan Bill of Rights would protect student loan borrowers by prohibiting student loan servicers from misleading borrowers and requiring that servicers:

    Properly process payments;
    Require specialists to provide and explain to struggling borrowers all of their repayment options, starting with income-driven plans; and
    Inform borrowers that they may be eligible to have their loans forgiven due to a disability or a problem with the school they attended.

* Sen. Biss…

Daniel Biss released the following statement on Facebook in response to Governor Rauner’s Friday night massacre.

“In the span of an hour, Bruce Rauner told women that they don’t deserve equal pay, students that they don’t deserve fair loans, and workers that they don’t deserve a living wage, or protections from wage theft. And then he went home to one of his nine houses.

“This is why our state doesn’t work for us. It’s not because we’re broke, or because we don’t know how to fix the problems—it’s because we have an out of touch, arrogant billionaire for a governor who would prefer to see the rich and powerful prosper instead of the people of Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* Quinn's Obama ad shenanigan prompts rebuke: "Black voters won’t be bamboozled by him again"
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
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* Final pre-election roundup
* Caption contest!
* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner dodges *** Monday morning shenanigans roundup
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* The politics behind Rauner's veto and the future of gun bills
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* Question of the day
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Early voting roundup
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