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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist goes to Khadine Bennett of the ACLU

(L)ed the charge on HB 40, transgender birth certificate and civil asset forfeiture bills. She’s always working hard, tries to build bi-partisan support, and works on hard issues that takes coalition building with organizations and sponsors.

That group had a very big year and she was a huge part of it.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to Dick Lockhart

His integrity is unmatched. His record of service - both military and public - is nothing short of legendary. The gentleman literally fired a client in the midst of a committee hearing because the client went back on an agreement previously made on a bill up for consideration. Think about that for a second - a lobbyist firing a client.

* OK, on to today’s categories…

* Best In-House Lobbyist

* Best Legislative Liaison

As always, please explain your votes or they won’t count. And do your very best to nominate in both categories, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Ives puts together her own top ten list

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Rep. Jeanne Ives

“Recently, the Governor outlined his top ten ‘victories.’ The truth, however, is that Bruce Rauner did things not even Democrats would do when Pat Quinn was Governor and they had supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. I submit:

Benedict Rauner’s 10 Betrayals in 2017

1. Folding to Madigan. From State Rep. Peter Breen, House Republican Floor Leader, “I personally observed him badly botch negotiations with the General Assembly on a variety of subjects, finally getting to the point where Governor Rauner couldn’t even be in the same room as House Speaker Mike Madigan. Madigan is the one guy who Rauner promised to stand up to, but he can’t or won’t even enter the arena for that fight.”

2. HB 40. From the man who said he had “no social agenda” Benedict Rauner told Illinois families he would veto the legislation. He committed to the GOP legislative caucuses that he would veto the legislation. Instead he became the first governor in U.S. history to initiate taxpayer funding for abortion on demand, all nine months of pregnancy. This creates a new, open-ended entitlement at a time when Illinois has $16 billion in unpaid bills to vendors and social service providers.

3. Sanctuary State. From the man who said he had “no social agenda” Benedict Rauner joined leftist governors like California’s Jerry Brown in designating Illinois a “sanctuary state” the effect of which is inhibiting the cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement. This legislation make Illinois families less safe.

4. Trans Birth Certificates. From the man who said he had “no social agenda” Benedict Rauner signed legislation to allow individuals to change the sex listed on their birth certificate. Dr. Michelle Cretella, President of the American College of Pediatricians, recently wrote: ‘No one is born transgender. If gender identity were hardwired in the brain before birth, identical twins would have the same gender identity 100 percent of the time. But they don’t. Biological sex is not assigned. Sex is determined at conception by our DNA and is stamped into every cell of our bodies. An identity is not biological, it is psychological. It has to do with thinking and feeling. Thoughts and feelings are not biologically hardwired. Our thinking and feeling may be factually right or factually wrong.’ Rauner’s legislation will put grown men in women’s bathrooms with girls and boys in girls’ locker rooms.

5. Public Sector Utility Bailout. Rauner negotiated a $2.35 billion bail out of a company that makes over $2 billion in profit a year - that doesn’t make sense. Since Illinois produces 40% more electricity than we consume, our residents are subsidizing cheaper power to residents in other states. And the same crony subsidy Exelon argued for in IL, they argued against for their competition in Ohio.

6. Bailout of Chicago Public School Pensions. Benedict Rauner’s $100K wine club buddy Rahm said of Rauner’s bailout, Chicago Public Schools got everything he wanted “and more”.

7. Rauner Promised the State Income Tax Would be Down to 3% by the End of His First Term. Instead, it’s back up to Pat Quinn levels at 4.95%. Rauner saw 15 of his bought-and-paid for House Republicans vote with Mike Madigan to pass the 32% increase while he sat impotently by.

8. Same old politics. Rauner won’t answer questions about the dismissal of his former general counsel and a memo surfaced suggesting that Rauner was intent on using state resources for political purposes, one of the bases that sent two former governors to federal prison.

9. No Action on the State’s Two Largest Issues: Pensions and Property Taxes. In a 2014 campaign ad, Bruce Rauner blasted Pat Quinn for property tax rates that were the second highest, saying ‘He just doesn’t get it.’ Today, according to the Wall Street Journal, ‘Property taxes in Cook County and Chicago’s “collar” counties are the highest in the country outside of California and the Northeast. In 2014, Governor Rauner repeatedly said he would replace traditional pensions for public workers with 401(k)-style retirement plans. Three years later, Fitch Ratings reports that Illinois’s unfunded pension liabilities equaled 22.8% of residents’ personal income last year, compared to a median of 3.1% across all states and 1% in Florida.’

10. “I am not in charge.” Rauner ended the year with a Freudian slip, admitting that he has ceded control of Illinois to Mike Madigan and Chicago Democrats.

“Is this the new face of the Illinois GOP? Will Republicans accept their thirty pieces of silver to continue backing Benedict Rauner, or will they reject him in advancement of their stated values and principles? On March 20, we will find out.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

State rolls back LLC fees

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Press release…

Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that substantially reduces startup, annual filing and other fees for limited liability companies (LLCs), the organizational structure preferred by many of Illinois’ 1.2 million small businesses.

The new law will encourage more businesses to form in Illinois rather than go to other states to escape high fees. Effective today, the filing fee for new LLCs drops to $150 from $500 and annual report fees drop to $75 from $250. Previously, Illinois charged fees that were among the highest in the nation.

“This is a step in the right direction for our small businesses,” Rauner said. “The new rates are more competitive with other states. By easing the fee burden for LLCs here, we are sending a message to entrepreneurs and small business owners in Illinois: Start here and stay here.”

The governor signed the bill in the presence of dozens of small business advocates gathered at Level Office, an LLC that provides shared office space for startups. Level Office began in Chicago and now has facilities across the country.

“This is a clear win for business in Illinois,” Rauner said as he penned the legislation into law to rounds of applause.

“Small businesses are the engines of our economy, our job creators who employ the majority of new workers in our state each year,” said Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, who chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council. “We need to keep them here and help them grow, and this legislation will reduce their costs and make us more competitive with surrounding states. This is especially important for our small towns because we need more small businesses in rural Illinois to drive their economies and create jobs.”

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy said reducing LLC fees sends a positive signal.

“We support businesses that are looking to grow, invest and create new jobs in our state, regardless of their size,” McCarthy said. “SB 867 helps alleviate unnecessary burdens to allow Illinois businesses to thrive.”

“This bipartisan initiative is about much more than reducing some of the highest LLC fees in the nation,” agreed Small Business Advocacy Council CEO Elliot Richardson. “It is about leveling the playing field for small businesses, encouraging new businesses to form in our state, and growing our way toward economic stability.”

State legislators also hailed the action.

“As a small business owner myself, I know the challenges small businesses face to compete and grow,” said state Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, primary House sponsor of the bill. “Organizing and paying filing and renewal fees shouldn’t be so costly here, and now they won’t be.”

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, was the chief co-sponsor of the legislation in the Senate.

“This new law displays our state’s commitment to stimulating and revitalizing Illinois’ economy,” he said. “Cutting startup fees will help new businesses get off the ground and set up roots here in Illinois. Encouraging economic development in our state will help create new jobs, increase the tax base and grow our economy.”

“It’s about time,” cheered Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, a chief co-sponsor in the House. “This should be just the first step of many to make Illinois a more business-friendly place.”

“This legislation provides some relief for the small business owners, who drive the Illinois economy,” added state Rep. David S. Olsen, R-Downers Grove. “It sends a clear message to those who provide jobs in our state that we want to ease their burden so they will remain and expand their businesses here. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to find more comprehensive measures that will provide tangible relief for business owners across our state.”

State Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, said landing a more competitive stance with neighboring states on the LLC fee front is a key step for Illinois.

“We need further significant reform to our state’s business laws and regulations to help small businesses create more good-paying jobs in our state,” he added.

“The creation of new businesses is one of our best tools to help grow both jobs and our state economy,” said Sen. Chuck Weaver, a Peoria Republican who was among those sponsoring the legislation in the Senate. “This new law will help encourage our entrepreneurs to launch new businesses, which will create new opportunities for growth. This is a win for Illinois.”

Bill Bennet, founder of Level Office, also was enthusiastic.

“Level Office is thrilled to see this legislation enacted, as over 98 percent of employers in the state of Illinois are classified as small businesses,” he said. “We see this as a step to improving the business climate in our home state.”

* More…

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Rauner dodges questions about veterans’ home problems

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* The background is here. Gov. Rauner was asked today about the 12 deaths at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy in 2015 from Legionnaires’ disease

Rick Pearson: Do you as governor bear any moral responsibility for those deaths? Moral responsibility.

Gov. Rauner: Um, I’ll tell you this, it’s heartbreaking that any, anyone should have suffer, um, a health challenge or, uh, be exposed to a bacteria. Um, and we are taking every step we can, every step we can to keep our veterans safe and reviewing every option and being as aggressive as, as possible with every expert from around the nation.

Rick Pearson:As governor, do you bear any moral responsibility for what happened to those deaths in Quincy?

Gov. Rauner: Bottom line, I work every day to support our veterans. They are our heroes and I will never ever back down or give up on fighting and workin’ to keep our veterans safe.

Amanda Vinicky: Have you reached out to the families?

Gov. Rauner: I have been to that veterans’ home several times, meeting with the veterans and meeting with their families. And Erica Jeffries, our director of our veterans administration, has been constantly reaching out and talking to members of the families, the veterans and their representatives.

…Adding… Video of his answer to the first question is here. He seems to shrug it off.

* These family members say they haven’t been contacted

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Things can always change in politics, which is what makes it so beautiful, but the RCP generic average for live call polls in December of 2009 before the 2010 Republican wave was GOP+4.1 and the RCP generic for December of 2005 was Dem+10

If it’s that high nationally, you gotta wonder what it is in Illinois.

Headline explained here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Kennedy’s son taking active role in campaign

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* I think some Chris Kennedy campaign staffers were a bit surprised when a new organizational chart was distributed by the candidate’s 25-year-old son, Chris Jr., who appears at the very top. Here’s the upper portion of the chart…

* The Sun-Times explains

Kennedy, one of former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s 11 children, says his four children are all volunteering for the campaign in varying roles that will become more significant in the new year. A new organizational chart of the campaign shows Chris Kennedy Jr., 25, at the helm of the organization. But campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Evans said Kennedy Jr. is there to “support” multiple departments, including finance and communications. Kennedy took time off from a full-time management consulting job to help the campaign ahead of the primary March 20.

Kate Kennedy, 26, has been active in the campaign for months, helping with events and “organizational issues,” according to her father. Sarah Kennedy, 23, is a teacher in Englewood but serves as a surrogate for events on the weekends. And Clare Kennedy, 19, is planning to spend a six-week college break to help bolster her dad’s campaign.

Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy — the 28-year-old daughter of Robert Kennedy Jr. — is helping out with the campaign’s communications and digital teams. She previously ran digital communications for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights advocacy organization. And the Democratic candidate says there’s more family on the way.

“Almost all of my brothers and sisters and cousins will be coming in during the next three months, and that’s really great. They’re able to cover some of the parts of the state where we have two events simultaneously and that’s super helpful,” Chris Kennedy said. “Chris, in particular, he’s able to spend the most time on the campaign and it’s really helpful to have somebody who can call me at 11 o’clock at night or 6 in the morning and say, ‘Hey you need look at these two or three things,’ or ‘be prepared’ or ‘stick to your call time’ in a way that is more difficult for someone, let’s say in a classic sense, works for me.”

Despite some rumors, the campaign emphatically denies that the candidate’s son has taken over the operation. And from what I’m told, the son does a good job of handling the candidate in a way that others haven’t been able to.

At the request of the campaign, I’m not going to post the entire organizational chart, but it shows that Mary Beth Sova has been brought in as finance director. Hanah Jubeh, a consultant who has served as Kennedy’s chief fundraiser, is not on the chart.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Could the federal tax bill hurt the state’s budget?

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Sun-Times on the congressional tax bill

The shave in rates, and doubling of the standard deduction, and an increase in the child tax credit and some other new breaks may not counterbalance the new $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes. At present, all income and property taxes are deductible. […]

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who represents the 15th Congressional District in southern Illinois, asked about the state and local tax deduction cap said, “Maybe Illinois should cut their taxes.”

* New York Times on the “one-two punch” to state tax systems

The first blow would come from expanding 529 college savings accounts, which offer tax advantages to encourage families to save money for college, to cover K-12 expenses, such as private school tuition and home schooling costs.

This amendment by Senator Ted Cruz passed only because of a midnight tiebreaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence. Under current law, earnings on contributions to 529 plans are not subject to federal taxes. These investment vehicles work well for college savings because deposits grow tax-free over a long time. Using 529 accounts for elementary or high school tuition, however, substantially shortens that period, making these accounts a minimal boost to school choice.

While this change would have only a small effect on the federal Treasury, it creates outsize impacts on the state income tax bases in the 33 states that instituted state tax deductions and tax credits to encourage 529 college savings. The federal expansion opens these state incentives to an entirely new area of expenditures, allowing private school families to funnel their tuition payments through 529s as a way to avoid state taxes. […]

Illinois, for instance, allows deductions for $20,000 in contributions a year per beneficiary to 529 plans […]

Expanding 529 plans to deliver state deductions to private school families will erode the tax base that funds public schools, affecting high-poverty schools the most. By limiting state and local tax deductions at the same time, Republicans would make it harder for states and cities to raise taxes to make up for those shortfalls.

The piece estimates this could cost New York’s state budget as much as $3 billion a year. It likely won’t be that much, but, yikes. New York has a $10,000 state income tax deduction for 529 contributions and there are 465,000 New York private school students. Illinois has a $20,000 deduction and has 279,432 private school students.

*** UPDATE *** With a big hat tip to a commenter, the 529 plan apparently got the boot under the Byrd Rule It turns out, only the home-schooling aspect of the 529 plan was dropped. So, carry on…

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Kennedy, DGA respond *** Illinois drops to sixth-largest state

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Illinois Policy Institute

Illinois is no longer the fifth-largest state in the U.S., according to data released Dec. 20 by the U.S. Census Bureau. That title now belongs to Pennsylvania.

Illinois shrank by 33,700 people from July 2016 to July 2017, the worst decline of any state in the U.S. in raw terms. In percentage terms, Illinois saw the third-worst population decline in the nation. That brought the 2017 population estimate for Illinois to 12,802,023 people.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania saw modest population growth of 18,400 people over the same time. And that was enough to overtake Illinois as the fifth-largest state in the country. The Census pegged Pennsylvania’s population at 12,805,537.

The one-year spreadsheet is here. Indiana gained 32,811 people during the same one-year period. Iowa gained 14,842. Michigan gained 28,866. Ohio added 36,055. And Minnesota added 51,556.

Illinois had 12,830,632 people in 2010, and then peaked at 12,890,403 in 2013 before dropping by 88,380 since then.

*** UPDATE 1 *** DGA…

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates that showed Illinois is continuing to shrink under Governor Bruce Rauner. Over the past year, 33,703 people left the state. Illinois fell behind Pennsylvania and now is the 6th largest state in the nation. All of Illinois’ neighbors grew.

The rate of population loss has been accelerating under Rauner’s failed leadership:

    2016-2017 – Lost 33,703
    2015-2016 – Lost 26,325
    2014-2015 – Lost 20,387
    2013-2014 – Lost 7,965
    2012-2013 – Gained 11,909
    [US Census, Accessed 12/20/17]

Rauner made out-migration a campaign issue in 2014, and his inaugural address focused on population loss - “People are leavin’ to find jobs, or because they run companies, and they’re takin’ their jobs with `em.” Rauner continued, “One of the main reasons companies have been leaving Illinois is that they don’t have confidence in the financial condition of our state.”

Rauner’s solution? He plunged the state into a budget crisis that tripled the bill backlog, sunk the state’s bond rating, and forced a max exodus from the state’s colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, more people are leaving the state than before he became Governor.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Chris Kennedy campaign…

Bruce Rauner’s leadership is decimating our state and our rapid population decline is evidence of that. Illinois residents are moving to states where quality schools and economic opportunity are available to them. His budget impasse cut off social services to more than 1 million people and made it impossible for too many to see their future in our state.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But, we need to do more than change our governor to fix the broken system that’s pushing people out of Illinois in droves. We have to change the way we fund our schools, the way we tax our citizens, the way we confront gun violence, and we need to hold our leaders in both parties accountable.

- Posted by Rich Miller   163 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Biss, Pritzker, Kennedy respond *** Another big problem uncovered at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Mark Maxwell

A malicious cyber attack launched in early July paralyzed a statewide computer program built to help Illinois veterans claim their benefits from the government.

The outage blanketed the state for at least six weeks and disrupted thousands of claims likely worth several million dollars, according to state records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Veterans were left to fill out pages of tedious paperwork and submit their claims on fax machines. The logjam delayed benefit claims that run the gamut, including drastic reductions in processed medical claims for wounded veterans, burial benefits for surviving family members and pension benefits for widows. […]

Stranded without access to their computers and some without internet, Veteran Service Officers worked overtime to fill out as many claims as they could on paper. Now that the program is back up and running, many of those claims are still waiting to be submitted online. Army veteran Justin Jennings works at the Springfield location and says he still sees a staggering amount of wounded combat veterans come in to claim benefits for the first time. […]

(N)early halfway through the fiscal year, the total figures and monthly averages in FY2018 are far behind the number of claims filed in previous years.

Veterans Compensation benefits are down 57 percent; Widows Pension benefit claims are 45 percent behind where they were last year; Veterans Pensions idle at 48 percent below FY17 figures; VA Education benefit claims lag 65 percent behind; DOD Combat Related Special Compensation claims suffered at a rate of 60 percent on average; Monthly Discharge/Medal claims were filed 73 percent slower after the July cyber attack; Also stuck in a 73 percent nosedive are death benefits for veterans killed in the line of duty and burial benefits granted to surviving family members; VA Insurance claims are down 62 percent so far this fiscal year.


Go read the rest.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Kennedy campaign…

This is yet another example of Governor Rauner and a broken system in Springfield failing our most vulnerable—our seniors and veterans.

Veterans risked their lives for us and, in return, Bruce Rauner watches as a growing claims backlog puts their health and, ultimately, their lives in jeopardy. Veterans left behind widows whose benefits have diminished under Rauner’s administration.

Bruce Rauner owes veterans and their families further explanation about why he’s knowingly let them suffer and he owes them an expedited plan to fully restore the online claims system and the benefits he’s withheld. It’s time for our elected leaders in both parties to demand accountability for failures so we can bring back transparency, faith and credibility to state government.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…

Thousands of Veteran benefits potentially totaling millions of dollars have lapsed after Bruce Rauner let a Department of Veterans’ Affairs hack spin out of control.

While millions of dollars in healthcare, pension, widow and burial benefits were interrupted, Bruce Rauner did little to address the hack, even praising a “rapid response” effort. This “rapid response” consisted of the entire statewide system shutting down for six weeks, forcing benefits to be administered through phone and fax. Almost six months after the hack, medical benefits for wounded veterans have plummeted by 62%, pension benefits for widows have dropped by 45%, and burial benefits have dropped by over 70%.

“Bruce Rauner’s gross mismanagement of our state government is costing veterans who bravely served our country the security and dignity they deserve,” said JB Pritzker. “Instead of taking charge and providing the leadership needed to navigate the state through this crisis, Rauner continues to evade responsibility and try to cover up the truth. Whole agencies of state government are not functioning, the lives of our nation’s heroes are on the line, and Illinoisans deserves answers from their failed governor.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Sen. Biss…

“It’s outrageous that Bruce Rauner continues to neglect his responsibility to our veterans. We have a social and moral responsibility to provide the best our government can offer to the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. Instead, veterans have lost their lives and are being denied the benefits they earned because our governor either lacks the empathy or the ability to effectively manage our state.

“Bruce Rauner is solely responsible for the way social services have failed our state’s most vulnerable residents under his watch. And while he’d like you to think “he’s not in charge” and that all our state’s problems are anyone else’s fault, the reality is that Bruce Rauner is a complete failure and a callous villain with no heart. There is no excuse for the pain and destruction he has caused Illinois families. That’s why we need a governor with experience, who will represent middle-class families across Illinois.”

* Related…

* Ill. Senator tours vets’ home due to Legionella cases: Cullerton said he hopes to find out through the hearing when the outbreaks actually occurred and why families weren’t notified immediately. He believed residents at the home shouldn’t have to worry about coming down with an illness like Legionnaires’ disease.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - DGA, Pritzker respond *** Rauner: “We had the possibility of a transformation for the state with the crisis that we had”

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Tribune

When Rauner appeared before the Tribune editorial board just months into his firm term in April 2015, he promoted the idea that “Crisis creates opportunity. Crisis creates leverage to change.” It became a precursor to an historic 736-day budget impasse, a test of wills between his pro-business, union-weakening agenda and labor-backed Democrats who control the legislature. […]

Some Republicans joined Democrats in July to end the impasse by passing a major income tax hike and spending plan over Rauner’s vetoes. As a result, the governor said the state had “lost” an opportunity for economic change.

“We had the possibility of a transformation for the state with the crisis that we had — if we had a principled caucus. It’s the primary reason I ran. We had the opportunity for a massive transformation. We lost that,” the Republican governor said.

The governor’s office pushed back hard this morning against part of my subscriber edition that used the above quote. What he told the Tribune yesterday doesn’t prove that he created the crisis, only that he tried to use it to get what he wanted. Fair enough.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Pritzker campaign…

During a meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board yesterday, Bruce Rauner endorsed the Crisis Creatin’ Rauner campaign by finally admitting that he created a crisis to leverage his special interest agenda. The endorsement comes after Rauner’s infamous comments two and a half years ago to the same editorial board where he said:

Yesterday, Bruce Rauner admitted that his crisis creatin’ ways had failed, saying: “We had the possibility of a transformation for the state with the crisis that we had — if we had a principled caucus. It’s the primary reason I ran. We had the opportunity for a massive transformation. We lost that.”

“Bruce Rauner gave truth telling a try and finally admitted what we’ve known all along: Rauner manufactured a budget crisis to advance his political agenda no matter the human cost,” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “The Crisis Creatin’ Rauner team appreciates the governor’s validation of our work and resounding endorsement of our mission to put his ruthless strategy and malicious intent on full display.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** DGA…

In a Trumpian editorial board meeting yesterday, Governor Bruce Rauner laid to rest any lingering questions about his role in creating and exacerbating the budget crisis. Rauner admits he wanted to use the crisis to pass his political agenda, and lamented to the Chicago Tribune that he “lost” the “possibility of a transformation for the state with the crisis that we had” after Republicans broke ranks in July […]

This spring, Rauner twice pulled back his caucus from negotiating a compromise. He then vetoed the state’s first budget in two-years despite warnings from credit houses that further impasse would lead to a “junk” bond status for the state. Rauner’s budget crisis exploded state debt, slowed job creation, devastated state services, and decimated the state’s higher education system.

Earlier this week, Rauner’s campaign listed the budget veto as a “Top 10 accomplishment.”

“Bruce Rauner just admitted he forced the state to go years without a budget for his own political ambition,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Millions of Illinois residents had their lives disrupted and hurt by the budget impasse, but Rauner shows no remorse for his actions. Rauner only regrets that it did not continue longer. Illinois is worse off because of the budget crisis and Bruce Rauner just admitted he is to blame.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

A fitting tribute to Steve Schnorf

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* This privately funded memorial is now hanging outside the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget…

I miss that guy every day.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Rauner now says his second term will be successful because the courts will let him bypass Madigan

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

* Tuesday, December 5th

Reporter: You ran on a platform of taking on the Speaker and reducing his power. If you have been unable to do that successfully, and are not in charge now, what is the argument for having four more years if the Speaker isn’t going anywhere?

Gov. Rauner: Ah, but the point is I believe he will be going somewhere. Into, uh, into retirement. And that’s what we’re working on. […]

Reporter: So, are you saying that you envision a scenario where you get elected to a second term… and the Speaker is not the Speaker any more?

Gov. Rauner: I think there’s a very, very high probability of that and it would be a wonderful step for the state.

Yesterday, I explained why the governor’s repeated boasts about taking away Madigan’s Democratic majority were almost surely empty. So, it’s back to the ol’ drawing board.

* The Tribune pressed Rauner yesterday on this very same topic

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday raised the central questions surrounding his re-election campaign: What exactly would be different in a second term? Why won’t his agenda “just be crushed by” Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan “again and again?”

The governor then sought to provide answers, saying he’s counting on the courts to give him several “transformative” wins over organized labor, allowing him to bypass Madigan’s opposition. […]

Top among those is an expected June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on an Illinois case that Rauner supports and the Trump administration Justice Department backs. The case challenges the requirement that public union members pay “fair share” dues even if they disagree with union membership.

“If we win, it will transform government. It will transform state government, local government and school districts in every state in America,” Rauner said.

“I will be able to have thousands of state employees not be in the union who don’t want to be, and I will be able to pay them based upon productivity and merit and bonuses, and pay them more based on what they do for the service quality and taxpayer benefit than seniority,” he added.

Unless he can decertify AFSCME, he’ll still have to negotiate and deal with the union under state law. And keep in mind that “fair share” fee-payers have dropped since Rauner took office as workers decided to become full dues-paying union members. So, the scenario he painted seems pretty darned pie in the sky. There’s also the little problem of civil service protections.

The governor also told the Tribune that he is pinning his hopes on a court ruling that his local “right to work” zones case is valid (which he claimed will bring “dozens of manufacturing firms” to the state) and state courts will back him in the judicial sparring over AFSCME’s contract.

* Related…

* Rauner administration to appeal AFSCME step pay ruling: Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration will fight an appellate court ruling that it violated state law when it stopped awarding step increases in 2015 to eligible members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees… Rich Bossert, spokesman for the Department of Central Management Services, said the state is asking for the Supreme Court review because the Illinois Labor Relations Board previously said the ste increases did not have to be paid after the AFSCME contract expired… “Illegally denying steps to the newest-hired and lowest-paid state employees fits Bruce Rauner’s pattern of anti-worker behavior,” Lynch said. “Unfortunately, despite the court’s ruling, he is unrelenting and refusing to honor the law.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      

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Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017

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*** UPDATED x1 - WBEZ responds *** Rauner claims WBEZ canceled monthly show for political reasons

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* Umm…

*** UPDATE *** From WBEZ President and CEO Goli Sheikholeslami…

“WBEZ and Governor Rauner’s team agreed that the ‘Ask the Governor’ segment would have a limited run and end by Labor Day, as it would not be fair to gubernatorial candidates of all parties to allow the governor an hour of airtime each month during the election campaign. WBEZ is committed to providing voters with fair coverage of all candidates, and we look forward to having Governor Rauner join us for our upcoming GOP primary candidate forum in 2018.”

I checked with a former Rauner staffer this evening and was told the very same thing. This was always a limited run show.

Also, nice little jab at the end. Rauner has refused to answer any questions about whether he will debate Rep. Jeanne Ives.

…Adding… Sfondeles

Rauner began appearing on “The Morning Shift” for a monthly segment which began on Feb. 10. He appeared six times, with his last show on Aug. 18. Listeners were able to call the studio with questions or post them on their Facebook page. The show’s host Tony Sarabia also asked the governor questions during the “Ask the Governor” segment, which usually lasted about 20 minutes.

A former staffer with knowledge of the deal said the governor’s office and WBEZ had agreed to do the segment for three months — with the option of continuing it. But there was an agreement that it could not carry into the campaign months, so as not give him an unfair advantage.

The staffer said it was both Rauner and First Lady Diana Rauner’s idea to do the segment — inspired by one conducted on a public radio station in Massachusetts. The Rauner administration had been in talks with WBEZ since fall of 2016.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Ives proposes pension changes

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* From Rep. Jeanne Ives’ campaign

Last week, a Fitch Ratings report determined that Illinois is the worst in the nation when it comes to pensions as a share of residents’ personal income. Under Fitch’s calculation, Illinois’ total debt – defined as net tax-supported debt and net pension liability – amounted to more than 28 percent of Illinois residents’ personal income. The average in other states is 3 percent. State Representative Jeanne Ives, a Republican Candidate for Governor, released the following statement:

“The Fitch Ratings report that Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities equaled 22.8% of residents’ personal income last year, compared to a median of 3.1% across all states and 1% in Florida, explains why Illinois’ economy has been stagnant, growing a meager 0.9% on an inflation-adjusted annual basis since 2012—the slowest in the Great Lakes and half as fast as the U.S. overall.

“Illinois finances and fiscal policy aren’t just bad, they are extreme and immoral. Illinois families and businesses contribute billions of dollars each year to both local and state pensions, yet the state’s unfunded liability continues to rise, despite increasing contributions and a favorable stock market. Currently, pension payments eat up a full quarter of our state budget.

“After his election, Benedict Rauner was quick to abandon us in the fight for pension reform. While some in Springfield chose to ignore his betrayal, it did not go unnoticed by the ratings agencies. And once the junk ratings come, it will be too late to reverse course without an enormous amount of pain to taxpayers, state retirees, and the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

“I urge Governor Rauner to join me, and many of my colleagues in the General Assembly, in taking thoughtful and transformative action on the state’s most pressing issue. One of the first pieces of legislation that I filed as a state legislator was a bill to bring about major reforms to our pension system (HB 3303, 2013, 98th ILGA). Our pension system is the state’s most urgent budget issue. It must be solved to save our state and our cities.

“These three initiatives must happen simultaneously:

    Pass a constitutional amendment to change the pension protection clause in Article VIII, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois, which states that pensions cannot be diminished or impaired. This change will ensure taxpayers are not on the hook for pension obligations on services not yet rendered.

    Require all new hires to enter a 401K-stlye self-managed plan. This provides the flexibility and ownership of assets that is prevalent in our private sector and relevant for our modernized employment system where job mobility is important to workers. As well, the US Military is shifting to this plan for all military personnel.

    Re-negotiate pension obligations with current workers and retirees. Many of these plans will either be insolvent or require confiscatory taxes that cannot be paid. We must have an honest conversation, as Rhode Island politicians had with their pensioners, in order to solve this problem once and for all.

“The plan I am proposing ultimately restores fiscal order to the state by eliminating unsustainable pensions and unfunded liabilities. This paves the way for the economy to flourish, fostering an environment where businesses can thrive and create the jobs Illinoisans need.”

It’s an individual guarantee, so they’d have to negotiate with every worker and every retiree, unless they can come up with another way to accomplish the same thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   164 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - ILGOP weighs in against Straub *** Oppo dump!

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* I reached out to Mickey Straub’s campaign three times last week about this and haven’t heard one word back. As you already know, the Burr Ridge mayor is running as a Republican against House GOP Leader Jim Durkin. Click the pic for a larger image…

The original document is here.


Mickey Straub Refuses to Say Why He Used Taxpayer Dollars to Attend Political Fundraisers
“Madigan Mickey” remains silent as he faces questions about his misuse of public funds

“There’s a reason why Mike Madigan’s union allies support Mickey Straub. First we discover that Straub defended a friend who abused his public office. Now we learn that Straub has done the same. Public records reveal that Straub used taxpayer dollars to attend political fundraisers, but refuses to answer questions about his misuse of public funds. ‘Madigan Mickey’ Straub is the worst type of politician - special privileges for him, higher taxes for the rest of us.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

There’s a reason why Mike Madigan’s union allies are revving up the Chicago Machine for “Madigan Mickey” Straub.

Weeks ago, we found out that Straub believes politicians deserve special privileges. In the late 1990s, a friend of Straub’s was accused of abusing his public position to get out of traffic violations. Straub took to the papers to defend his friend’s abuse of power. Straub later said there will always be “favoritism” and “we all do it to friends.”

But it gets worse.

Now we learn that Mickey Straub used taxpayer dollars to attend political fundraisers. Public records reveal that Straub used his position as Mayor to steer public resources to his own political priorities, but Straub refuses to answers questions about his misuse of public funds.

“Madigan Mickey” Straub is the worst type of politician - special privileges for him, higher taxes for the rest of us. What will Illinois voters learn about “Madigan Mickey” next?

*** UPDATE *** I forgot to post this new TV ad blasting Durkin

* Related…

* Straub accuses Durkin of creating fake groups and using GOP to spread lies

* Bailey calls for change in direction as he takes on Reis in District 109: As for all the growing rumors about Durkin now working hand and hand with House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), Bailey said there’s no denying that the majority of Durkin’s leadership team aligned themselves behind the record-setting 32 percent tax hike passed as the recently enacted new state budget… Bailey said his hope is that current Burr Ridge Mayor Mickey Straub will find a way to knock off Durkin in the March primary.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best State Agency Director goes to Mike Hoffman at CMS

CMS can be a behemoth of an agency, with controversial issues lurking around every corner. Hoffman has been able to set a clear direction for each of the unique bureaus and handle the criticism that comes with the daily task of managing the state’s operations (including sensitive topics like personnel, state property, health insurance, labor relations, etc.).

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Congresscritter goes to Cheri Bustos

Another vote for Cheri Bustos, IL- 17th. I’ve discussed two of her regular features, “Cheri on Shift” and “Supermarket Saturdays” here previously - she’s responsive to constituents, she’s knowledgeable about the issue of concern (jobs jobs jobs), and she’s a hard worker - a virtue Central Illinoisans admire and respect.

Plus, she’s been running workshops for constituents who want to run for local office, “Build the Bench.”

She’s acquiring a national reputation and to my mind, it’s well deserved.

* And now let’s move along to today’s categories…

* Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist

* Best Contract Lobbyist

As always, make sure to explain your votes and please nominate in both categories. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Caption contest!

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* Properly attired…

- Posted by Rich Miller   94 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner talks up contributions to pro-life candidates while campaign highlights Dems’ worst moments of 2017

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* Tribune

Facing a primary challenge amid Republican unrest over his expansion of taxpayer-funded abortions, Gov. Bruce Rauner is offering a new answer to why abortion opponents should support him: Look at what his wallet has done.

“I am the strongest supporter of candidates for office who are pro-life. Nobody has worked harder to elect pro-life Republicans than I have and I remind everybody of that. I have fought hard,” Rauner said Friday on WJPF-AM 1340 in Herrin when asked what he was telling angry social conservatives.

“I supported Bill Brady when he ran. I’m supporting Erika Harold,” the governor said of the unsuccessful 2010 GOP candidate for governor and current Republican contender for attorney general, respectively. “I’m supporting legislators who are pro-life. I am a strong ally and strong supporter for pro-life candidates.” […]

“He happened to be on a very popular southern Illinois radio station and of course down there he told everybody he’s pro-life. That’s what you would actually think if you didn’t know the real story,” said [Rep. David McSweeney], a Barrington Hills Republican. […]

The lawmaker also said it’s another sign that for Rauner, “the issue is that it’s all about the money again.” Rauner pumped millions of dollars into GOP legislative campaigns last year, in part earning the allegiance of rank-and-file Republican lawmakers until earlier this year.

*** UPDATE *** Personal PAC is fundraising off the story…

Governor Rauner is committing to spend tens of millions of dollars to elect the most extreme anti-choice candidates to ever run for the Illinois House and Senate, all of whom are pledging to repeal HB 40 and ending reproductive rights in Illinois. And he is not shy about his plans.

This is what Personal PAC is up against. The most well-funded and extreme candidates imaginable who are committed to making abortion illegal in Illinois, ending access to birth control and making certain HB 40 is repealed.

Personal PAC does not need to match Governor Rauner and his right-wing allies dollar for dollar, but our amazing pro-choice candidates need us—and YOU!— to make certain we can adequately communicate with voters in order to win elections. Without your help, we simply can’t win.

The primary election is 13 weeks from today. Please make a year-end contribution to our vital work TODAY so that we can be as strong as ever in bringing our candidates over the finish line on election day. Donate here.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Rauner campaign…

2017 Illinois Democrats’ Not Top 10
After looking at Governor Rauner’s accomplishments yesterday, let’s take a look at Illinois Democrats’ worst moments from this past year

1. Madigan’s 32% Tax Hike
Mike Madigan forced through a 32% tax hike on Illinois families. Despite decades of irresponsible spending and tax increases, Madigan continues to ask more of hardworking taxpayers with reckless tax increases and no desire for real spending reform.

2. Madigan-Pritzker-Berrios Property Tax Racket
This month, the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica published a shocking report on Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and the corrupt property tax racket he oversees. Mike Madigan’s property tax assessment law firm benefitted from Berrios’ dereliction of duty, making millions while hurting small businesses and hardworking families. Not to mention political insiders like J.B. Pritzker utilizing their Madigan-Berrios connections to secure their own tax breaks.

3. J.B. Pritzker: Incompetent Investor or Avoiding Taxes?
When Hyatt Hotels heir J.B. Pritzker released his tax returns for the past year, he reported only $15 million in income. For someone who inherited well over $1 billion, it begs the question: is he an incompetent investor, or is he avoiding paying his fair share of taxes? Republicans and Democrats agree: J.B. Pritzker has a troubling record of cheating on his taxes.

4. Chris Kennedy’s ‘business prowess’ costs taxpayers millions
Utilizing family connections, Kennedy’s company received a no-bid contract to oversee a nearly half billion-dollar public-private partnership to build a Medical Mart in Cleveland, Ohio, a project which was “plagued by accusations of insider dealings, secrecy and failed promises.” Once Kennedy had made his millions, their company was gone, leaving taxpayers with “an inherited albatross” and the bill.

5. Pritzker’s Embrace of Mike Madigan
It’s taken some time for him to come out of his shell, but J.B. Pritzker is embracing Mike Madigan. It makes sense after all. Whether it’s term limits on elected officials or property tax reform to reduce the corruption in the Cook County Assessor’s Office, Pritzker’s responses are flippant and deferential to the man lining up support behind him: the longest serving state Speaker of the House in U.S. History, Mike Madigan.

6. J.B. Pritzker Pays to Play
The Chicago Tribune published a bombshell report highlighting a $100,000 campaign donation from J.B. Pritzker to incarcerated former governor Rod Blagojevich, which was followed just days later by a $1 million state grant to the Holocaust Museum. That project’s chief fundraiser was none other than J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker was already caught on FBI wiretaps discussing potential appointments, proving just how deep his ties are to the corruption and cronyism that plague Illinois.

7. Cook County Democrats Line Up to Save Their Friend Blago
A number of Cook County Democrats have signed on to an amicus brief requesting the Supreme Court hear disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich’s appeal for a reduced prison sentence. Among those Democrats who have signed on to the amicus brief are Luis Gutierrez, Mike Quigley, and Glenn Poshard, three key endorsers of J.B. Pritzker’s candidacy. Does he stand with his endorsers in calling for the Supreme Court to hear Blagojevich’s appeal?

8. Unfunded Pension Liabilities
Another year and Mike Madigan continues to disregard Illinois’ massive unfunded pension liabilities. Since Madigan joined the General Assembly in 1971, pension liabilities have skyrocketed from $2.5 billion to $151.5 billion dollars. Madigan has been called the “constant in key decisions that created the mess” Illinois finds itself in.

9. Soda Tax Goes Pop
Cook County Board President and Madigan ally Toni Preckwinkle enacted an unpopular and unclear soda tax this year, leading to an overwhelming outcry for tax reduction and spending reform. Preckwinkle defended the tax despite its clear and disproportionate impact on low income communities throughout Cook County. Thankfully, public outrage led to its repeal.

10. Daniel Biss picks Socialist Running Mate, Promptly Replaces Him
State Senator and candidate for governor Daniel Biss took proving his progressive bona fides too far when choosing a self-proclaimed socialist Carlos Ramirez-Rosa as his running mate. Biss’ former running mate supports BDS - a total boycott and divestment from Israeli organizations, a stance that Biss has made clear he does not support. After just one week, Biss dropped his running mate and broke the hearts of Illinois’ socialists.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

*** UPDATED x4 - Rotering, Ruiz, Fairley, Quinn, Drury respond *** Opponent says Raoul should return “deeply disturbing” campaign contributions

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* Greg Hinz

A leading contender in the race for Illinois attorney general has received $100,000 in donations in recent weeks from companies controlled by a tobacco mogul, companies that are directly regulated by the attorney general’s office under the national tobacco master settlement agreement.

Campaign disclosure records indicate that state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, who has been endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Organization in the race to succeed retiring Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has received 10 contributions of $10,000 each from companies operated by Don Levin.

Levin’s Top Tobacco is one of the parties to the national pact that Madigan enforces and oversees here in Illinois. Madigan’s office confirms that it has opposed Top Tobacco in a series of arbitrations—one pending—in which it is seeking tens of millions of dollars from that company and others in a dispute over payments to the state from the tobacco settlement.

Levin is best known locally as the owner of the Chicago Wolves professional hockey team. But, professionally, he’s more prominent as the head of an empire of tobacco and tobacco-related products, including Job rolling papers, which Reuters in 2012 estimated as being worth as much as $2.3 billion. […]

Also at issue is the appearance that, if he’s elected with Levin’s money—Levin’s companies have provided roughly a third of the funds Raoul has reported receiving so far for the primary campaign—Raoul would be in a position to immediately provide millions of dollars of regulatory relief in exchange. […]

Raoul spokesman Holmes said none of this makes a difference, since “Raoul is not attorney general.”

* From rival AG candidate Jesse Ruiz…

It is deeply disturbing that Kwame Raoul has accepted $100,000 in campaign donations from ten companies controlled by a single tobacco mogul – even though that mogul’s company is currently in direct conflict with the Illinois Attorney General through a multimillion-dollar tobacco arbitration.

The statement from his campaign that ‘Raoul is not Attorney General’ demonstrates a profound ethical indifference incompatible with the responsibilities of the Illinois Attorney General. This indifference can further be seen in the fact that Senator Raoul has seemingly encouraged a contributor to do an end run around the legal limits on campaign contributions.

When candidates take huge amounts of money from contributors who have a very obvious financial interest in the outcome of an election and a pending case, it undermines public trust in our democratic system of government. I call on Kwame Raoul to do the right and ethical thing and return the $100,000 in tobacco money.

*** UPDATE *** Raoul campaign…

Sen. Raoul has the strongest drug reform record in this race. He’s eager to talk about what he’s done for Illinois children as a legislator and what he will do for them when he’s attorney general over the course of the campaign.

However, since Mr. Ruiz brought it up, let’s examine Sen. Raoul’s record side-by-side with Mr. Ruiz. While Jesse was supposed to be looking out for our children he:

    awarded a multi-million dollar no-bid contract to the SUPES Academy - a training group where then-CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had once worked - which led to an eventual 4 and ½ year prison sentence for bribery charges
    closed 50 schools in Chicago’s neighborhoods
    Had to borrow $1 billion just to cover budget gaps created by his board’s mismanagement

Meanwhile, Sen. Raoul:

    Passed a law to establish penalties for knowingly manufacturing, delivering or possessing fentanyl.
    Passed a bill out of the Senate which makes it illegal to distribute or sell a product containing or delivering nicotine that is not a tobacco product unless the product has been approved or otherwise certified for legal sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco use cessation product, or for other medical purposes, and is being marketed and sold solely for that approved purpose.
    Passed a bill out of the Senate which bans flavored tobacco wraps which were manufactured and marketed to minors.
    Passed a law to amend the Illinois Controlled Substances Act to include certain synthetic cannabinoids under the list of Schedule I controlled substances.
    Was the chief co-sponsor of a law to provide that treatment under the supervision of a licensed program designated by the Department of Human Services is not available to: a first-time offender charged or convicted of possession of 15 grams or more of methamphetamine; or a person who is otherwise ineligible for probation under specified provisions of the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act.
    Sponsored a law to provide that the offense of knowingly manufacturing or delivering heroin, or possessing heroin with intent to manufacture or deliver, is not eligible for probation, conditional discharge, or periodic imprisonment if the amount of the heroin is 3 grams or more.
    Sponsored a law to provide that a person who falsely advertises a synthetic drug product is guilty of a Class 3 felony and may be fined an amount not to exceed $100,000. That law also amended the Illinois Controlled Substances Act to include 5-methoxy-diallyltryptamine as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.
    Sponsored a bill to gives DHS the ability to schedule entire structural classes of synthetic drugs as controlled substances. The bill also expanded the definition of “controlled substance” to specifically include synthetic drugs. It also defined “synthetic drug” to include references to the three most common classes of synthetic drugs: synthetic cannabinoids (”Spice”), synthetic cathinones (”Bath Salts”), and synthetic piperazines (”Fake Ecstasy”).
    And he voted for SB 500, the Smoke Free Illinois Act. He was a co-sponsor of and voted for HB0556, the proposed 90 cent per pack cigarette tax hike, in ‘07 and co-sponsored resolutions recognizing our Smoke Free Illinois law.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Former Gov. Pat Quinn…

“If you’re running for Attorney General, you shouldn’t be taking $100,000 from Big Tobacco. That’s the wrong way to go. Pay-to-play has no place in the Attorney General’s office, which directly oversees the tobacco settlement agreement. Senator Raoul should return the $100,000 campaign contribution from Big Tobacco immediately.”

Rep. Scott Drury…

Raoul has a long history of taking the side of special interests to the detriment of consumers and children. Whether the issue is promoting underage gambling, the proliferation of guns and, now, tobacco - Raoul is the enemy of consumer protection.

Illinois deserves an Attorney General committed to cleaning up Illinois. I have demonstrated that commitment as a federal prosecutor and legislator, and, as Attorney General, I will continue this fight.

* Sharon Fairley…

Senator Raoul is becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate special interests that cause the most damage in our communities – energy companies, casinos, alcohol distributors, and now big tobacco. These companies have so much to gain, and Illinoisans have so much to lose, by having an attorney general under their influence.

Raoul’s most recent contributions from a tobacco magnate have obviously been structured in a manner to circumvent campaign finance rules, and are a clear reflection of the Senator’s lack of concern for the African-American community of Illinois, which is disproportionately affected by the harms of smoking.

This does not reflect the kind of integrity and independence we should expect from our next Attorney General.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Jesse Ruiz…

It’s not surprising that Kwame Raoul is trying to change the subject and shift attention away from his unethical decision to accept $100,000 in tobacco money from someone with litigation pending before the Office of the Attorney General.

So will Kwame Raoul return the tainted contribution or is he going to hide behind his statement that it doesn’t matter since he’s not currently the Attorney General? Will he stand for honesty and integrity in government or will he continue the same unethical ways of Springfield that voters are so sick of?

My father always told me that the best test of a person’s character is the way you behave when you think no one is looking. Senator Raoul is failing that test.

*** UPDATE 4 *** Mayor Nancy Rotering…

“Revelations that Kwame Raoul circumvented campaign finance laws to accept one hundred thousand dollars from ten different companies associated with Tobacco Mogul Dan Levin is deeply troubling. It was the Illinois Attorney General who, in 1998, sued Big Tobacco for the millions in compensation the state pays for tobacco-related medical expenses each year. Kwame Raoul can not be trusted to continue to hold Big Tobacco accountable. He has already demonstrated he lacks the political backbone to stand up to powerful special interests such as the NRA. In 2013, Kwame Raoul compromised with the NRA by writing a bill that made it now illegal in Illinois to ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. His compromises with the NRA are no less outrageous than his willingness to enlist Big Tobacco as a partner in his campaign for Attorney General. He should immediately donate this cash to non-profits such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Lung Association.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

PPP poll has Chuy Garcia above 50 percent in crowded field

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* About as expected…

* More

PPP surveyed 412 likely Democratic primary voters in both English and Spanish from Dec. 13-14. The margin of error in the poll is +/- 4.8 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Because… Madigan!

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017


More Mike Madigan Loyalists Endorse J.B. Pritzker’s Campaign for Governor
Stuart, Hoffman, and Greenwood all voted Madigan Speaker, now supporting Madigan’s candidate for governor

“J.B. Pritzker is the key for Mike Madigan to protect his majority, rig the legislative maps one more time, and tighten his grip on power. That’s why it’s no surprise that politicians loyal to Madigan are lining up behind Pritzker, Madigan’s candidate for governor. Illinois taxpayers can’t afford any more corrupt, tax-hiking politicians who are loyal to Madigan like J.B. Pritzker.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

It was over six months ago that we first learned Mike Madigan was “breaking legs behind the scenes” to ensure J.B. Pritzker steamrolls his opposition and wins the Democratic nomination for governor.

We already know Pritzker gave $900,000 to Madigan’s Super PAC and secretly funneled over $200,000 to Madigan’s hand-picked House candidates, but why does Madigan want Pritzker so badly? Other than using Pritzker’s inherited fortune to protect his majority, Pritzker is the key for Madigan to return Illinois to one-party rule by gerrymandering the legislative maps for another decade, tightening Madigan’s grip on power.

That’s why it’s no surprise that more lawmakers loyal to Mike Madigan have endorsed J.B. Pritzker’s campaign for governor. Not only have Katie Stuart, Jay Hoffman, and LaToya Greenwood voted for Speaker Madigan, they’ve pushed his unbalanced budgets, tax hikes, and job-killing regulations.

Now, House Democrats are falling in line with Madigan once again. They want Pritzker in the Governor’s Mansion so they can rig the legislative maps one more time and continue to push their disastrous Chicago agenda on Illinois taxpayers.

* Tribune

Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza blasted Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for calling her a “puppet” of House Speaker Michael Madigan, saying the governor won’t accept responsibility for problems he’s created for Illinois.

“To always say, first of all, that a strong, independent, outspoken woman who holds him accountable is a puppet of someone else, which is exactly what he did call me … is just a condescending acknowledgment, frankly, that he cannot take criticism from anybody — much less than from a 5-foot-3 woman from Chicago,” Mendoza said on WGN 720-AM. […]

“If you want the job, then take the accountability that comes with it. Take the criticism that comes with it,” she said. “Don’t just take credit when people say nice things about you.

“When you screw up the state of Illinois to the extent that you have, take ownership of it. Act like a grown man and a grown adult. Don’t blame everybody else but yourself for your colossal failures,” Mendoza said. “This governor has a gene in his DNA code that does not allow him to take accountability or responsibility for any of the failures that he has imposed upon this state.”

The full interview is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Merry Christmas! No food stamps for you!

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* AP

Problems with a state computer system have prevented tens of thousands of Illinois households from receiving federal food stamp benefits since the new system’s latest phase got underway.

The Illinois Department of Human Services began rolling out a new computer system in 2013 to administer entitlement benefits, including food stamps. The second phase of that process began in late October.

State officials tell The Chicago Tribune that problems with the computer system caused more than 40,000 households to lose their food stamp benefits during November. More than 30,000 of those households remain without those benefits.

This is just… I mean… Oh, never mind. What a mess.

* Tribune

Officials with the Department of Human Services and representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union — which represents more than 2,400 human services caseworkers in Illinois — disagree on what’s causing the problems. But both sides say they hope to restore benefits as soon as possible for those who are eligible. […]

A certain number of SNAP recipients routinely lose their benefits each month because of missed deadlines or ineligibility, but that number ballooned after the second phase of the new system was rolled out. With the old system, the state canceled some 14,000 to 15,000 cases per month, said Diane Grigsby-Jackson, director of the division of family and community services for the Department of Human Services.

On Nov. 15, under the new system, the state canceled 41,000 cases, 12,000 of which have since been reinstated, she said.

Some caseworkers on the front lines say they’re overwhelmed and undertrained.

“Everybody’s learning the new system, but the problem is we’re learning on the backs of poor people. And we’re taking their benefits away during the worst possible season,” said Vonceil Metts, a human services casework manager at a local DHS office in West Garfield Park.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

As the holiday season begins, tens of thousands of Illinois working families are not receiving federal food stamp benefits due to a botched program rollout by Bruce Rauner’s Department of Human Services.

In late October, the department began rolling out a new computer system to administer benefits, causing more than 40,000 households to lose access to the program. Over a month after the rollout and with the holidays quickly approaching, more than 30,000 families still had not received their benefits as of last week.

“Bruce Rauner’s mismanagement and neglect is once again devastating Illinois families as tens of thousands are now going without SNAP benefits this holiday season,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “From DCFS, to Veterans Affairs and now Human Services, Bruce Rauner has proven entirely incapable of running the government of Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

Today’s quotable

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* I’ve been using this line in speeches for over a year and it always gets a big reaction

The people following state politics and government the closest read the Capitol Fax web site, and the people at the City Club heard from the man behind that one-man operation Monday.

Rich Miller knows not to make predictions, but he has seen enough Illinois government and politics to say this:

“(Gov. Bruce) Rauner or whomever the Democrat is will be left with another mess,” Miller said before raising his voice. “We really suck at this governing thing in Illinois!”

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

The most negative campaign ever

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* It’s custom to take questions after a City Club speech and somebody asked me yesterday about how Gov. Rauner can win reelection

“In a wave like this, he’s not going to win by touting his accomplishments,” Miller said to widespread laughter in a packed room of business and civic leaders that it’s fair to say tilted heavily Democratic.

“He has to run the most negative campaign anyone in this room has ever seen, period. He has to drive down the black turnout, the woman turnout, Latino turnout, young people turnout — he’s got to drive them all down,” he said of discouraging voters most likely to cast a ballot for the Democrat running against Rauner.

“The only way to do that — the only way to do that — is to be unbelievably negative, so negative that you just gasp at the TV ads.”

Short of Twitter going out of business and “solving a lot of Republican problems” by silencing President Donald Trump’s social media output, “that’s what (Rauner) has to do,” Miller said, citing the higher-than-expected black voter turnout in Alabama’s recent special election as evidence of an energized Democratic base.

“Negative, negative, negative, negative … what Rod (Blagojevich) did to Judy (Baar Topinka) times 50,” Miller said, referring to the expensive 2006 campaign ads in which Blagojevich painted the late Topinka as irresponsible by repeating the phrase “What’s she thinking?” over and over again.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Rauner touts his top 10 accomplishments

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* From Team Rauner…

2017 Rauner Top 10
As the year comes to a close, let’s take a look at some of Bruce Rauner’s biggest accomplishments this past year

1. Historic Education Funding Reform
For the first time in decades, Illinois has updated the formula that provides funding to the state’s public schools. Thanks to Governor Rauner’s influence, this bill distributes funding more equitably across the state and puts in place a school choice program to provide low-income families with greater education options for their children.

2. Illinois’ First Ever Scholarship Tax Credit Program
For the first time in its history, Illinois has enacted a scholarship choice program, providing the neediest families in the state an opportunity to choose the best educational options for their children. Governor Rauner has long been an advocate of providing school choice for underprivileged students, and this program is the first step to providing quality education to every child in Illinois.

3. Creating Clean Energy Jobs
The Future Energy Jobs Act, signed into law by Governor Rauner one year ago, has helped make Illinois the 2017 Midwest leader in clean energy jobs. Illinois is a state with abundant energy resources, and thanks to the governor’s reforms, the Midwest is already seeing the results of growing jobs in Illinois.

4. EDGE Tax Credits
Renewed this year to further promote business growth in Illinois, the EDGE Tax Credit Program has served to attract businesses and jobs to the state. Providing incentives for companies that create long-lasting, good-paying jobs in Illinois is a crucial part of Governor Rauner’s strategy to make Illinois a business-friendly state.

5. Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force
The opioid crisis has claimed too many lives in Illinois and across the country, but Governor Rauner has put in place a task force to stop its advance and help push back against the horror of addiction. The Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force has provided resources to those suffering from addiction, as well as expanded first responders’ access to life-saving drugs like Narcan.

6. Vetoed the Madigan Tax Hike
Mike Madigan forced through a 32% tax hike on Illinois families, but Bruce Rauner stood in firm opposition. Governor Rauner is fighting to protect the hardworking taxpayers of this state, and will not stop until Madigan’s outrageous tax hike is rolled back.

7. Ethical Government and Fighting Corruption
Governor Rauner has worked to run an ethical government, starting with proposals for term limits for elected officials and fair maps to ensure every voter’s voice is heard. Now the Governor is calling on Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios to resign as the Madigan-Pritzker-Berrios property tax racket has been exposed, where political insiders make money hand-over-fist while taxpayers foot the bill.

8. Discovery Partners Institute
In October, Governor Rauner released his plan for the Discovery Partners Institute, a public-private partnership led by the University of Illinois bringing the state’s best and brightest together on one campus in Chicago’s South Loop. The plan will bring millions of dollars of direct investment to the state, as well as build up a pool of talented Illinoisans working together to address issues facing society and business. The campus is part of the broader Illinois Innovation Network, connecting all of Illinois’ universities in collaboration on a variety of projects.

9. International Trade Missions
Following renewal of the EDGE Tax Credit Program, the governor embarked on international trade missions to China, Japan, and Israel to bolster Illinois’ standing abroad and recruit foreign direct investment to the state. Meeting with business and political leaders of these countries, Governor Rauner successfully promoted Illinois’ future as he continues to cut red tape and make Illinois a business-friendly environment.

10. Amazon
Governor Rauner is leading the team that has put together a proposal to bring Amazon’s second headquarters to Chicago - a $5 billion project that will create 50,000 jobs. Working with a bipartisan group of business leaders, the governor was able to highlight the talented young workforce, prime strategic location, and diverse community available to Amazon in Chicago, providing a compelling case for the company to bring their business to Illinois.

Um, OK, the Amazon bid made the list? A bid made a top 10 list? Really?

* DGA…

Today, Governor Bruce Rauner’s campaign released a list of 10 “accomplishments” in 2017 that really underscore how little Rauner has done for Illinois families. Rauner’s list includes a couple whoppers, some stretches, and a few things that simply didn’t happen:

    Rauner’s list includes passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act…which was signed in 2016 and not 2017.

    Rauner’s campaign lists “Amazon” as an accomplishment. By that logic, 238 states and locales that applied for HQ2 consideration can claim that accomplishment.

    Rauner continues take credit for education reform, despite the fact Rauner vetoed and campaigned against the reforms for months.

    Rauner lists his veto of the state’s budget as an accomplishment. Yes, he wanted to keep the budget impasse going despite the debt and strain it put on the state.

    Rauner claims he “worked to run an ethical government.” This year, Rauner hired a lobbyist as his Chief of Staff, saw his General Counsel mysteriously resign after penning a memo on separating politics from governing, and has had ethics complaints filed against two staff members.

Rauner’s list ignores the damage he did to the state’s services during an opioid epidemic, praises the release of a plan with no funding source, and brags about taking overseas trips where he bad-mouthed the state. It would not be a surprise to find “made a list” as the 11th accomplishment.

“Bruce Rauner is patting himself on the back for another failed year in office,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Illinois is still falling behind but Rauner seems oblivious to his administration’s failures. Debt went up, jobs and people were still lost, and Rauner spent the year dodging the tough fights on behalf of Illinois families. Rauner should be honest with Illinois voters and list the 10 ways he’s failed the state.”

* Pritzker campaign…

Today, the “Worst Republican Governor in America” released his top 10 “accomplishments” of 2017. Seeing as Bruce Rauner left a few items off of that list, the JB for Governor campaign launched to show what really happened with the #WorstGov in charge.

Here are the top 10 accomplishments of the Worst Republican Governor in America:

    1. BUDGET CRISIS: For 736 days, Bruce Rauner created a historic budget crisis that decimated vital services across the state. Rauner closed social service agencies and small business development centers, withheld billions of dollars from doctors and school administrators, and cost thousands of Illinoisans their jobs.

    2. VETERANS’ HOME CRISIS: Under Bruce Rauner’s gross mismanagement and neglect, 13 Illinois Veterans have lost their lives from Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy. Now, 11 families are suing the state for negligence and some lawsuits even allege that Rauner’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs failed to notify families of the outbreaks and test residents for the disease.

    3. MEDICAID SCHEME: Bruce Rauner inked the largest procurement in state history behind closed doors and is now under fire for skyrocketing costs and violating procurement law. A health policy expert said Rauner’s Medicaid overhaul could destabilize Medicaid and cause significant care disruptions.

    4. MURASHKO MEMO: Shortly after authoring a detailed memo on ethical guidelines for interactions between the governor’s official and political offices, Bruce Rauner’s chief legal counsel abruptly resigned. Questions about potential ethics violations are mounting while Rauner refuses to give Illinoisans the answers they deserve as to why Murashko resigned.

    5. DCFS IN SHAMBLES: Bruce Rauner’s understaffed DCFS has been plagued by gut wrenching failures, leading to a “toxic” environment at the agency. Whether it’s handing out no-bid contracts or mishandling heartbreaking cases, Rauner’s DCFS has consistently failed Illinois children and families.

    6. SNAP TERMINATED: As the holiday season began this year, over 30,000 Illinois working families were not receiving their SNAP benefits due to Bruce Rauner’s dysfunctional DHS.

    7. STAFF FIRINGS: In a move straight out of the Trump playbook, Bruce Rauner cycled through senior staff this summer, including firing his whole communications team after only 37 days on the job.

    8. SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS: In a desperate effort to ram through his special interest agenda, Rauner manufactured a school funding crisis that ended in him signing face-saving legislation while forcing through a back-door voucher program.

    9. CREDIT DOWNGRADES: Rauner pushed Illinois’ credit rating to the brink of junk while dragging five Illinois universities’ down to junk status and decimating public education across the state.

    10. BILL BACKLOG: Bruce Rauner’s budget crisis tripled Illinois’ bill backlog, leaving medical providers, schools, and social service agencies with billions in IOUs. When Illinois legislators tried to pass transparency legislation, Rauner vetoed it only to be overridden by a bipartisan group of legislators.

“Either Amazon moved to Illinois and forgot to tell anyone or Bruce Rauner is so desperate for accomplishments he is boasting about submitting a proposal,” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “This is a failed governor who announces plans like the Discovery Partners Institute with no follow through, decimates education funding and calls it a victory, and manufactures a 736-day budget crisis and then says ‘I’m not in charge.’ Illinoisans no longer expect Bruce Rauner to accomplish anything other than getting voted out of office in November.”

…Adding… Heh…

* Sun-Times

“It’s a warmed-over list of so-called accomplishments, some of which he opposed, some of which just benefit the wealthy and well-connected, and some of which are simply figments of his imagination,” said state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston. […]

Chris Kennedy’s campaign, too, said the governor is “disingenuous” for “patting himself on the back.

“It would take more than 10 items to list the lasting damage Governor Rauner has inflicted on the state of Illinois from slashing the social safety net to cutting public education to the rampant gun violence across Illinois,” Kennedy spokeswoman Rebecca Evans said in a statement.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Will Rauner ever get to be in charge?

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

“I’m not in charge,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said recently, “I’m trying to get to be in charge.”

Rauner said he’ll “get to be in charge” by taking away House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Democratic majority next year. Madigan, Rauner says, is “really” in charge of Illinois.

The Republicans need to win nine net seats. So, can Rauner really take out Madigan next year?

Keep in mind that Speaker Madigan drew the legislative district maps. Thumping him in what looks to be a big Democratic year after taking four net seats away from Madigan in 2016 will stretch the partisan possibilities of that map beyond what most would consider common sense.

Rauner does have three things going for him, however: Money, the income tax hike passed over his veto and Madigan himself. Rauner has plenty of the former, and the latter two don’t poll well for the Democrats.

The Republicans must first sweep four southern Illinois districts to have a shot, and winning them are very possible.

The only statewide Democrat to win appointed Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie’s (D-Elizabethtown) deep southern Illinois district since 2012 was Secretary of State Jesse White. She has a great family name for the area, however, and she was appointed after the income tax hike votes.

Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Smithton) also has a well-known family name, voted against the tax hike, but also has a district that has been won only by White since 2012.

Freshman Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) was the sole bright spot for the House Democrats last year. She defeated a flawed Republican incumbent, Dwight Kay, who is running again against a female Republican. Stuart voted against the tax hike.

Rep. Dan Beiser’s (D-Alton) winning margins seemed to tighten every two years, which is one reason why he’s retiring. While President Trump won Beiser’s district by 16 points, Tammy Duckworth and Susana Mendoza both won, as did Dick Durbin, Lisa Madigan and Jesse White in 2014. President Obama also won it by five points in 2012. So, while it’s in play because it’s an open seat, this won’t be easy for the Republicans.

OK, so let’s say Republicans win all four of those (not a lock, but maybe). They still need five more.

Let’s start with three suburban races that have been in play before.

Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake) underperformed Hillary Clinton by 9 points and had to be dragged across the finish line in the closing days by Speaker Madigan’s top field generals. He won what was considered to be a GOP district in 2012, so the Republicans won’t ever give up. Yingling voted against the tax hike.

Retiring Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) cruised to an easy victory last year. She had some trouble in 2014, winning by five points. Rauner won that district by 16, which puts it in play in the GOP’s mind along with it being an open seat.

Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines) won his last race by 19 points, but the Republicans never give up on him, either. Just three statewide Republicans have won this district since 2012 (Munger, Rauner and Judy Baar Topinka). Moylan voted against the tax hike. The anti-gun Democrat is facing a pro-gun Republican, Marilyn Smolenski.

If the Republicans somehow win all three (not likely), they’re still two seats shy of taking the chamber — if they can somehow hold onto all their own suburban seats.

Now, let’s look at possibly vulnerable Democrats who voted for the “Mike Madigan income tax hike” earlier this year.

Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) is at the top of the list. Scherer voted to override Rauner’s tax hike veto after first voting against the tax hike. Her district just barely went Democratic last year.

Rauner and Topinka are the only two Republicans who’ve won Rep. Fred Crespo’s (D-Hoffman Estates) district since 2012 (Clinton won it by 29). Add Tom Cross to that very short GOP winner list for Rep. Deb Conroy’s (D-Villa Park) district. Those same three Republicans won Rep. Stefanie Kifowit’s (D-Oswego) district. Rep. Anna Moeller’s (D-Elgin) district is also pretty solidly Democratic, outside of Rauner and Topinka wins during a strong national GOP wave.

Two pretty Democratic north suburban open seat races might possibly be in play: districts represented by retired Rep. Elaine Nekritz and attorney general candidate Rep. Scott Drury. And there may be one or two more, but I have my doubts about Rauner picking up a net nine.

So, if Rauner is re-elected next year, he probably still won’t be in charge — by his own definition.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

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