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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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* How Jason Van Dyke's projected 96-year sentence wound up being 81 months
* Pritzker campaign official pushes back hard against latest lawsuit
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* Question of the day
* Pritzker orders "comprehensive review" of problems, opportunities at state veterans' homes
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - This just in...
* It's just a bill
* "Trooper's trooper" laid to rest
* RNUG: Vallas' plan "appears to make Chicago's pension problem manageable"
* Because... Chicago!
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update to this morning's edition
* What's up with this lawsuit threat?
* It's Time To Put Our Progressive Values Into Action
* Money isn't yet flowing toward Burke's challengers
* Lock up your guns and vaccinate your kids!
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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