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Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* From a July 12, 2015 Capital Gazette story

Of the hundreds of songs Charlie Richardson has recorded in his decades as a local audio technician, one still stands out for him as the best representation of Maryland.

“The (Naval Academy) Glee Club was singing it and they were singing around the state and I heard the thing at one of the concerts and it caught my attention and ear.”

The approximately two-minute “My Home, My Maryland” was composed and performed in 1976 for the glee club’s bicentennial concerts.

“There’s no finer place on Earth than my home sweet home, my Maryland,” the choir sang, the recording made in the Naval Academy Chapel resounding in Richardson’s living room Wednesday. The Annapolis resident, the founder of Richardson Records, has been recording local songs for about 50 years.

“It doesn’t have all that political stuff in it,” Richardson said.

The actual state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” has come under fire for its strong pro-Confederate slant — it uses phrases like “Northern scum” and “sic semper.” There have been attempts to change it over the last five decades; all have failed.

It didn’t happen, but click here to listen to the song.

* Also…



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Why has tuition increased so much? State funding cuts are a big reason

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Before Rod Blagojevich was elected governor in 2002, Illinois had an unwritten rule that higher education received $1 for every $2 received by K-12. Blagojevich believed universities were too top-heavy, so he cut their budgets year after year. That trend continued through two successive governors. From the Illinois Board of Higher Education

2002 was the peak year for state appropriation support for Illinois public universities ($1.5 billion). When accounting for inflation and new, unfunded mandates public university operations funding for Fiscal Year 2018 is less than half of what it was in Fiscal Year 2002 ($736 million in 2018 relative to $1.5 billion in 2002). [Emphasis added.]

Yikes. Let that sink in for a moment. Less than half.

* They now turn to a more recent timeline

In Fiscal Year 2017 general funds covered just 37.8% of public university revenue, with UIF covering the remaining 62.2%. In comparing 2010 and 2017, total revenue is nearly identical in both years (difference of +0.1%) after making an inflationary adjustment using the consumer price index (CPI). The decline in state appropriations to public universities from 2010 to 2017 (-22.8%) roughly parallels the increase in university income funds (+22.2%)

The accompanying graph

* So, adjusted for CPI, overall higher education spending has leveled off, but state funding has plummeted. They gotta pick up the slack somewhere else.

And, according to IBHE, if you adjust for the Higher Education Price Index, total higher education spending has lagged by 4.5 percent, meaning the universities are doing their part to control costs while the state slashes its own funding.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Post-Janus service charges for non-members?

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Robert Bruno writes in the Sun-Times about what public employee unions can do in the wake of Janus. Here’s one of his ideas

New York recently amended its state public employee’s law. It allows public employee unions to deny representation to non-members in any disciplinary cases as well as any legal, economic or job-related services beyond those provided in the collective bargaining agreement, without violating the duty to fair representation.

The Court majority opinion endorsed this approach by stating that individual “nonmembers could be required to pay for the [grievance] service or could be denied union representation altogether.” In a footnote, Alito cited a California labor relations law as an example. Other states including Oregon, Hawaii, New Jersey and Florida have passed or are considering post-Janus measures. Illinois could do the same.

This is discussed on pages 15-18 of the decision.

Your thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** Hannah Meisel had a similar story at the Daily Line today. They’ve taken it out from behind the paywall

Ed Maher, a spokesman for Local 150, said Alito’s suggestion “seems to leave crack to charge nonmembers for grievance cost, arbitration costs.”

Pierson said that charging nonmembers for such services — which are as high as $5,000 for an arbitrator and $1,000 for one day of work for a court reporter — may cause a nonmember to “think twice about not paying dues,” and to see the dues as an “insurance policy” instead of money taken from a paycheck.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Earlier today, a Republican operative texted me this question…

If you had to write a headline for Pritzker for the month of June, what would it be?

My answer: JB plays it safe.

* The Question: Your answer?

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


Rauner defends record on veterans, Quincy

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* JB Pritzker has been on statewide publicity tour ostensibly designed to showcase his meetings with veterans. Here’s the end of a Peoria Journal Star article

Alex Browning, a Rauner spokesman, said the governor is committed to helping veterans of Illinois.

“When the Quincy Veterans Home needed him, he took action. He worked hand-in-hand with the CDC from day one and secured $53 million for new construction at the home. Gov. Rauner has also led efforts to help veterans who have fallen on hard times, increased veteran access to education, and created a pilot program for temporary childcare services for veterans who have medical appointments or job interviews,” he said.

* Pritzker campaign

The Rauner campaign is claiming that “when the Quincy Veterans Home needed him, he took action.” Let’s take a look at the real record:

    * In 2015, Rauner’s administration waited six days to publicize the first Legionnaires’ outbreak — even though they recognized it looked like the “beginning of an epidemic.” In a span of weeks, 12 Veterans and spouses died and 54 were sickened.

    * In 2016, Rauner shows up in Quincy to announce “we’re really on top of the situation” as his Veterans Affairs department confirms two new Legionnaires’ cases. Sixteen days later, a third case is confirmed.

    * In 2017, a Korean War Veteran dies, bringing the death toll to 13. Weeks later, three cases are confirmed. In December, a media investigation exposes Rauner’s fatal mismanagement, and Rauner launches into cover-up mode.

    * In 2018, Rauner holds a week-long press stunt at the Quincy Veterans’ Home and proposes a task force instead of concrete, long-term solutions to end the crisis. While Rauner has no regrets and blames Quincy staff for his fatal mismanagement, Rauner’s administration skips a legislative hearing into the Legionnaires’ crisis hours before the fourth case in 2018 was confirmed. Rauner claims “nothing has taken long” days after his administration says it will take “three to five years” before the problem will be solved.

“When Quincy Veterans needed him, Bruce Rauner was busy covering up his fatal mismanagement instead of ending the Legionnaires’ crisis he let spin out of control,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “It is deeply troubling and frankly a disgrace to the memories of our fallen heroes for Rauner or his campaign to rewrite history on a crisis caused by his failed leadership.”

Links to referenced stories are here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


You can’t wish this pension funding problem away, Chicago

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* The Chicago mayor’s election is next February. Fiscal Year 2020 begins the following January 1st. The city’s pension contributions will rise $400 million (a 31 percent increase from the previous year) because of state statutes requiring minimum funding levels for various pension funds.

The city’s budget this year is $10 billion. So, $400 million is about a four percent budget increase.

Natural revenue growth ain’t gonna cover it and, remember, other spending pressures will increase as well.

* Amanda Kass, one of the most talented numbers people in the business, wondered what the mayoral candidates had to say about tax hikes and here’s some of what she found

* Lori Lightfoot: In an interview with Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman, Lightfoot stated, “Our taxes are way too high.” Spielman followed-up by asking Lightfoot what choice Mayor Emanuel had since without the tax increases the “pension funds were going belly up.” Lightfoot didn’t directly answer, but said she wanted to “reduce the tax burden on middle-and lower-income people.”

* Gary McCarthy: His campaign website states that, “After years of borrowing against our city’s future, Mayor Emanuel can no longer kick the can down the road. Chicago needs real reform. Shady accounting tricks and constant tax hikes will not help fund our municipal and teacher pensions.” It also states, “Our police, fire and teacher pensions have to not only be protected, but funded in full.”

* Paul Vallas: I haven’t seen anything that’s specific to the City’s four pension systems, but Vallas has explicitly critiqued the Chicago Public Schools’ pension holidays and cited past “failures to think and plan proactively” as a reason he’s running. (CPS is an especially hot topic for Vallas because he was its CEO from 1995-2001. CPS’s pension fund is a whole different topic though, so I’m largely tabling that issue for now.) He also pointed out how the pension holidays ended up costing the City more in the long-term.

As of June 2018, I didn’t see any campaign statements specifically about the City’s pensions and the upcoming pension payments from the other four declared candidates (Rahm Emanuel, Ja’Mal Green, Troy LaRaviere, and Neal Sales-Griffin).

So, the fiery progressive Lightfoot says taxes are way too high. Gary McCarthy is talking out of both sides of his mouth. The alleged fiscal geek Vallas has no plan. And nobody else has even addressed it yet.

* Here’s Phil Kadner with some context

The lowest composite [property] tax rates in Cook County are in Hinsdale (6.5 percent), Burr Ridge (6.8 percent) and Barrington (7.2 percent), according to the Cook County clerk.

The tax rate in Chicago on residential homes is 7.2 percent, according to Orr’s office. The average tax rate in the north suburbs is 9.3 percent. The average in the south suburbs: 11.9 percent, actually a decrease from previous years.

The average tax bill on a single-family home increased 4.78 percent in the south suburbs (an increase of $247), 3 percent in the north suburbs ($213) and 2.75 percent in Chicago ($109), where there has been a lot of squawking about property tax increases.

So, even after the recent increases, Chicago is tied with Barrington for third lowest composite property tax rates in Cook County.

* Meanwhile, you may have seen this story

Homeowners in Lakeview Township, upset by the big increases in assessments they received from Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios in May, have called a public meeting tonight with government officials.

“I’m alarmed by the size of the increases,” said Andrea Raila, who said the assessor’s estimate of her home’s taxable value went up by 57 percent since the last assessment, in 2015.

Raila, who ran for assessor this year, should know better…


There goes Amanda with her pesky facts again.

The Tribune sums up its series of property tax articles

An unprecedented analysis reveals that Cook County’s unique property tax system created an unequal burden on residents, handing huge financial breaks to more affluent homeowners while punishing those who have the least, particularly people living in minority communities.

Translated: Lakeview homeowners had better brace themselves.

* Related…

* The Fiscal Firebomb Looming for Small Cities in Illinois: I would suggest that Illinois also create, as Virginia has, an independent state fiscal oversight commission to assess specific fiscal/budget issues and recommend, if warranted, further assistance to help stabilize areas of concern. It should implement, as Rhode Island did in the wake of Central Falls’ municipal bankruptcy, a quasi-SWAT team of city managers and legislators to provide technical assistance and potential state assistance to assess municipal operations and develop long-range financial forecasts for revenue. And finally, the state should adopt a revenue-sharing program, modeled after the one signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan, which assessed relative fiscal need, local tax effort and population.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Lots of fake news on Janus ruling

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* From a Belleville News Democrat editorial

Mark Janus was told that he had to pay union dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 if he wanted to work for Illinois.

Um, no, he wasn’t. He was told he had to pay fair share fees for the benefits he received from the union contract.

* Same editorial

Janus objected to AFSCME spending one-quarter of his roughly $600 a year in union fees on politics, especially when it spent only about 20 percent on representing workers.

I could not find confirmation of that “20 percent” figure anywhere. Perhaps someone else can help.

* Jim Dey

In not paying the equivalent of dues, these non-joiners will no longer have to subsidize the political causes and candidates the union spends dues money to advance.

Fair share fees couldn’t be used for campaigns.

However, because people can now get full union service for free, that could very well cause the union to spend more member dues on servicing the freeloaders. And that, in turn, could cause them to spend less on everything else.

* Tribune editorial

We’re intrigued — and hopeful — about the implications of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. If government workers don’t have to contribute, maybe this begins a reckoning for the political class of Illinois. We’re not great fans of that symbiosis between one party and the public’s workforce. Unions

AFSCME and the IEA in particular had a long history of backing Republicans. For crying out loud, the IEA endorsed conservative Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) in 2014. But when Rauner was elected, Kay and others went with Rauner.

Unions, like everyone else, don’t endorse their enemies. To expect otherwise is ridiculous. It’s like wringing your hands over the fact that the NFIB didn’t endorse Jan Schakowsky.

* And finally

The court ruled broadly for the plaintiffs, requiring the unions to adopt an “opt in” system to join up and pay dues rather than merely allowing workers to opt out of doing so. “Nobody out there is going to be paying money to a public sector union unless they affirmatively want to,” said Charlotte Garden, a law professor at Seattle University.

AFSCME already has an opt-in system here. From Anders Lindall…

The court case changes nothing in this regard. In Illinois a represented employee has always had to sign a card to join the union; we provide the signed cards to the employer who then deducts dues.

Despite Rauner trying to sow confusion and drive people to his anti-union web site, it’s critically important that every union-represented employee understand they need take no action: Union members have already opted in by signing a card. Fair share payers aren’t opted in and their fees will no longer be deducted.

The only action necessary is if you were fair share and now want to join the union: You should contact your local union leader or steward, or reach out to Council 31, and we’d be more than happy to provide a membership card for you to sign.

*** UPDATE *** Pat Hughes from the Liberty Justice Center vehemently disagrees with AFSCME…

We interpret the Janus ruling as a sweeping win for government workers. The opt in portion of Justice Alito’s opinion means exactly what it says - post Janus, governments should stop collecting union dues of any kind for any member or non-member. It doesn’t matter whether or not someone previously opted in, the conditions upon which that happened - forced agency fees regardless of whether you opted in- made the decision making process for each state employee very different in a pre-Janus world.

Many thanks to Fran Eaton at Illinois Review for the tip.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


HFS processing backlog may have killed a nursing home

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Remember yesterday when I told you about the backlog at Illinois’ Medicaid long-term care (LTC) program? LTC covers 55,000 eligible residents in 738 nursing homes. The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services has to approve coverage, and they currently have a backlog of 14,572 pending admissions this month. So, the nursing homes are forced to pay for care out of their own pockets, and that amount has reportedly reached $300 million.

Why is this happening? A few reasons, according to the comptroller’s office (click here). Nursing home residence applications are rising as the population ages. The state has a shortage of case workers. And the snazzy data system launched late last year apparently isn’t performing as well as hoped.

* The delayed payments may have killed a nursing home

Pleasant Hill Healthcare [in Girard] said they will have to almost immediately shut down due to the lack of state funding.

It’s part of the Pleasant Hill Village, which includes the Healthcare and Assisted Living department. The Healthcare department, which includes a Dementia unit and Skilled Care unit, will shut down.

The facility opened in 1905, about 113 years ago. Some residents describe the place as a serene and peaceful home. […]

[Executive director Paulette Buch Miller] said the state owes them over $2 million in pending and approved Medicaid payments.

Aside from the human factor, the worst part of all this is that it’s Medicaid, so there’s a federal match that the state isn’t tapping.

* From the comptroller’s office…

We haven’t had any hardship letters from this nursing home. But we don’t have any vouchers here in our system for them. So even if they did reach out for help through our hardship process, as it stands now, there’s really nothing we can do.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


It’s “Toilet Week” at the Rauner campaign

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Monday…

Rich,

Pritzker Plumbing t-shirts have been a hit and we’re placing another order this week! Make sure to order yours TODAY to get your name on the list!

By wearing your t-shirt, you’ll help make sure everyone knows about Pritzker’s plumbing schemes. NO TOILETS…NO TAXES!

Thanks for your support.

Ally Check
Social Media Manager

* Tuesday…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2018
Contact: xxxx

Where in Illinois are Pritzker’s Toilets?

JB Pritzker disconnected the toilets in his Gold Coast mansion in order to receive a massive tax break after having the home reclassified as “uninhabitable.”

The question remains: where in Illinois are Pritzker’s toilets?

One of them made an appearance last night at the Northfield Township Democrats general election kick off party, where JB Pritzker was making an appearance.

Stay tuned as the toilets continue to pop up across Illinois.

Nothing Wednesday (Janus day).

* Yesterday…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2018
Contact: xxxx

#TBT JB Pritzker: “I Certainly Have Discovered the Flaws in the System”

In January, JB Pritzker said “I certainly have discovered the flaws in the system” when he was questioned about removing toilets from his mansion to receive a $230,000 tax break.

In response, the Rauner campaign released a video titled “Flaws in the System.” The video includes quotes from stories covering Pritzker’s scheme to benefit himself at the expense of taxpayers.

Check it out below:

Chicago Sun-Times: “J.B. Pritzker … argued [the house next door] was ‘uninhabitable’ to win what so far have been nearly $230,000 in property tax breaks.”

Chicago Tribune: “Pritzker has benefitted from the reassessment of a neighboring Gold Coast mansion he purchased.”

Daily Herald: “Pritzker is also implicated by buying a mansion next to his posh house in Chicago and letting it fall into disrepair to get a $230,000 property tax reduction.”

* Today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2018
Contact: xxxxxx

Where in the world are Pritzker’s toilets? One was spotted outside of the McCallister’s house, made famous by the film Home Alone.

We wonder if the McCallisters called 1-833-TAX-SCAM.

…Adding… Pritzker’s campaign manager…



- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Controversy, confusion over state’s new “Change Union Membership Status” website

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Interesting take

The state webpage, titled “Change Union Membership Status,” begins as a notification that Wednesday’s Janus decision no longer obliges Illinois public workers to pay what’s known as “fair share” fees for the services such as collective bargaining that they receive from unions — the basic substance of the high court’s Janus decision.

But it soon goes on to explore the ramifications if an employee chooses to “opt-out of the union.” That crosses a line, according to unions and labor academics.

Calling the entire website “strikingly partisan,” Prof. Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said Thursday that it goes far beyond the high court’s ruling in the Janus decision.

“The most that the state should do, if it’s complying with the letter and the spirit of the court’s decision, is to simply notify employees that fair-share designation no longer exists,” Bruno said.

The Janus decision pertains to “fair share” fees for those who don’t belong to unions, Bruno pointed out. The state-funded website uses that as an entryway to address union members directly.

“Who are they talking to?” Bruno said. “Who is the audience? Well, the audience is not fair-share members. The audience for this is union members. Clearly, clearly the state should not be involved in a campaign to solicit union defections.”

* Sun-Times

But the Illinois Central Management Services Department acknowledged state employees were confused on Thursday. The department said hundreds of employees went onto the website, believing they would have to take action to ensure the fees were no longer deducted. But under the new Supreme Court ruling, the state said they would automatically stop deducting the fees from non-unionized workers.

That apparently caused issues that could impact workers paychecks. But the department said it hoped the confusion would be settled by Monday.

About 75,000 state workers are represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31, with fewer than 10 percent of that number being non-union members still covered by collective bargaining, according to AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall.

* Meanwhile

Afscme, which in 2015 privately estimated that half the workers it represents could be “on the fence” about whether to pay dues, said it’s trained 25,000 members who’ve helped conduct 800,000 face-to-face conversations with co-workers on the topic.

The American Federation of Teachers said that more than 500,000 of its members in the 10 states most affected by the ruling have recommitted to their union over the past six months, and that educators won’t be swayed by anti-union ads or canvassers funded by right-wing groups. […]

But while such groups as Nevada’s casino union have flourished in the absence of mandatory fees, the big picture for organized labor is bleak following the high court’s ruling. In states with “right-to-work” laws, where it’s illegal to require workers to fund unions that are required to represent them, employees are already half as likely to have union representation—or less.

Such laws, and the Supreme Court opinion, have significant electoral consequences. “Right-to-work” laws already reduce the Democratic Party’s share of a state’s presidential vote by 3.5 percent and cut turnout by 2 percent to 3 percent, according to a working paper published this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Those policies, often put in place by Republican-controlled state legislatures, help dampen union political participation—the ultimate goal of anti-union initiatives at all levels of government, labor supporters said.

* Chicago FOP

The Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, would like to advise its members that the recent Supreme Court ruling Janus vs. AFSCME, will likely not have a significant impact upon the membership or finances of our Lodge.

The ruling, which stated that certain union-imposed fees are unconstitutional because they violate the First Amendment rights of union members, will likely not affect Lodge members because our members can only receive legal defense if the officer is a member of F.O.P.

The Supreme Court ruling means that government unions may no longer extract fees from members who do not want to pay them. The members will now choose whether they will financially support their union.

But because the Lodge provides so many crucial benefits to members, particularly legal representation, FOP President Kevin Graham stated that he does not believe many members will opt out of paying their union dues. Lodge members now pay $5 a check for the Legal Defense budget.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Ives still snapping at Rauner

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Greg Hinz asks around about how the Janus decision helps Gov. Rauner’s reelection campaign

The decision in the Janus case “gave him a good press pop. It helps him with the conservative base,” which is still outraged that Rauner signed a bill beginning Medicaid funding of abortion, says one top GOP official, who asked not to be named. “But in the end in this year, it won’t make a difference.”

“Maybe it’ll help him get up every morning and realize he’s made a difference,” quipped a top party activist. “It’s still very much up hill.” […]

“I’m surprised he’s as well-positioned as he is,” said [consultant Thom Serafin], noting a recent poll that shows Pritzker leading by less than 10 points. After the big win over organized labor, “He’s got more to talk about” with the GOP’s conservative base, added Serafin. “He’s still got quite a bridge to cross.” […]

Asked if Rauner’s Supreme Court victory is enough to bring her aboard and get her endorsement, [Rep. Jeanne Ives] had a clear answer: “No. I’m not going to endorse the governor. I’m going to let him buy back his voters.”

Ouch.

…Adding… Bernie

Chris Mooney, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said unions have been strongly against Rauner since he made it clear at his inaugural address in 2015 that he was taking on the power of public-sector unions.

“Even if they won this Janus case,” Mooney said, “they would have still been there to fight Rauner tooth and nail. It’s a death match between them.”

But to some conservatives who may not be enchanted with Rauner, Mooney said, “With this, maybe it looks like Rauner [is] not completely ineffectual. Maybe he can get something done.”

* Pearson

Rauner still is looking to unify a socially conservative Republican Party base that split in the March primary over his signature on laws expanding abortion, immigration and transgender rights. His campaign already is touting media coverage of the ruling to help try to heal the rift.

But the court decision on its own may not help unify the party. Third-party governor candidate Sam McCann, a Republican state senator from central Illinois, is a supporter of organized labor who espouses socially conservative views. McCann attacked Rauner over the court ruling, and he symbolizes Downstate areas that are largely Republican but peppered with state institutions and the union members who work there. […]

Yepsen said that while Rauner and “a lot of people who do not like unions … are going to be gloating” about the court decision, “they need to be careful what they wish for.” He and others see the ruling as benefiting Pritzker and Democrats at the ballot box.

“I think it will have an energizing and radicalizing effect on the (union) members. This has been the history of the labor movement all along. You start messing around trying to threaten unions and break unions and what’s the effect of it? It’s a mobilizing effect,” he said. “I think it’s an organizing tool, it’s a mobilizing tool, not just with public-sector unions but with all of labor, which is threatened.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


FOP backs Pritzker: “Illinois needs a fresh start”

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Press release…

Today, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police endorsed JB Pritzker for governor. The Illinois FOP is the second largest in the nation, representing over 34,000 active and retired police officers.

“I’m proud to have the support of the Illinois FOP and the working families they represent,” said JB Pritzker. “With workers’ rights under assault, Illinois needs a governor who will stand up for working families. Instead, Bruce Rauner has fought against them at every turn, attacking the right to collectively bargain, working to lower wages, and attempting to slash pensions. As governor, I will fight tirelessly to defend the rights of our working families and work with law enforcement to increase accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve so we can strengthen relationships and ensure safer communities across our state.”

“Law enforcement officers, like all other working men and women in Illinois, want a leader who won’t bankrupt the state by trying to dictate his own personal agenda at all costs. Moreover, it is often law enforcement officers who must pick up the pieces in the aftermath of Bruce Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis that caused deep cuts to key state programs,” said Illinois FOP State Lodge President Chris Southwood. “The 34,000 members of the Illinois FOP have confidence that J.B. Pritzker is the best candidate to shake up Springfield and return civility, decency and a true sense of public service to Illinois. JB is truly different. Illinois needs a fresh start and JB is the man to do it.”

The ILFOP endorsed Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014, but backed his Republican opponent Bill Brady in 2010. They endorsed Rod Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006.

Rauner’s anti-union stances and the Janus decision no doubt played a role in this, but it is interesting they went with the guy who openly and firmly supports legalizing marijuana.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Friday, Jun 29, 2018

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Comptroller Mendoza threw out the first pitch at a recent Joliet Slammers game

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Rep. Conroy donates kidney, doing well in recovery

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Facebook…


This is from my hero Rep Deb Conroy. She never stops amazing me with her personal strength and heart.

Posted by Kathleen Willis on Thursday, June 28, 2018

* Rep. Deb Conroy explains the image on her Facebook page

The Transplant Team at Rush gave this to me today. When I pinned it on my shirt I found myself looking around the waiting room at all the many patients. Men and women of all different race and age waiting for and not knowing when or where their donor will come from.

From the bottom of my heart I want everyone to know that one week post surgery I feel great, I lost 4 pounds and I now have an answer to a question my little nephew once asked me. Liam asked me once why does God give us two kidneys if we only need one? Well Liam, God had me carry an extra one around and keep it safe until it found a new home with Uncle Tim.

So many people are waiting for the gift of life and through live donation we can give it.

Rep. Conroy has not had an easy year, to say the least, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish her nothing but the best and the speediest recovery possible.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Our sorry state

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Great governing

The Associated Press has learned that private Illinois nursing homes are fronting $300 million for residential care because the state is so far behind on determining whether they’re eligible for Medicaid.

Numbers compiled by state Comptroller Susana Mendoza and obtained by the AP show the state has a backlog of 15,000 people who are awaiting Medicaid eligibility determinations. The backlog has nearly tripled since August 2014.

A judge in a federal lawsuit ordered the state to clear up the backlog by Thursday or presume everyone is eligible and put up the state’s Medicaid share of $300 million.

Unbelievable.

*** UPDATE *** Excerpt from the comptroller’s press release…

The Comptroller’s report, which uses Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) data, found that the number of pending Medicaid eligibility determinations for LTC over 90-days-old rose 143 percent between December 2017 and May 2018. HFS has reported it can only process 60 percent of new, incoming applications in a timely manner and, as of the end of last month, there were 16,378 pending admissions. According to the Associated Press, the estimated cost of these pending admissions is up to $300 million.

These problems are occurring at the same time the Rauner Administration continues to dump tax dollars into a failed technology solution meant to streamline Medicaid eligibility processes. The state has committed $288 million to Deloitte, the global consulting firm, for an Integrated Eligibility System (IES) to modernize enrollment in benefit programs like LTC or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

In six years, the cost of the Deloitte IES has doubled from $144 million to nearly $300 million. The IES has been plagued by public failures that have stopped or delayed critical services for eligible, needy families. And the cost continues to rise: Earlier this month, HFS issued an emergency request to outsource its application processing duties. The cost will likely exceed $14 million over the next two years.

The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Supreme Court paves the way for huge lawsuit against SEIU

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Hmm…



SEIU could be on the hook for “$32 million it unconstitutionally seized from over 80,000 personal assistants without their consent,” according to the petition.

AFSCME fought SEIU over which union should represent those workers. I’m betting the folks at AFSCME are breathing a sigh of relief right now that they lost.

*** UPDATE *** The Illinois News Network has a story up entitled “Foundation: Janus decision could prompt refund of ‘billions’ in forced union fees”

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said this is good news for workers.

“We’re going to be able to get the money back for those home healthcare workers in Illinois and we may be able to get the money back for every government employee across the country that has been forced to pay these fees,” Mix said.

* However, this is from the petition

To allow unions to profit from unconstitutional fee seizures will beget more unconstitutional fee seizures. This ramification will be especially problematic if the Court rules this term in Janus that it is unconstitutional to force public employees to pay agency fees. Under the Seventh and Sixth Circuits’ decisions, public sector unions will have little incentive to comply with that ruling and cease their agency fee seizures. Instead, unions will have a strong financial incentive to keep seizing fees from nonmembers until a court forces them to stop, because the unions will be able to retain most of the illegally seized monies. It is thereby imperative the Court establish that unions are not free to keep monies they unconstitutionally seize from nonmembers who have not expressed an objection.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


WIU lays off 24 teachers, eliminates 62 vacant teaching positioins

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Two weeks ago

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said education reforms in the recently passed state budget will definitely help Western Illinois University-Quad Cities.

Appearing before some 100 students, faculty and others Thursday afternoon at the Riverfront Hall in Moline, Rauner said he believes a number of things in the state budget will help the students immediately.

“The immediate thing is we got the budget passed,” he said. “We got the MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants fully funded (for all four years of a student’s education). We got $25 million more coming to our state institutions of higher ed. And we’ve got immediate help on getting the support for this year.”

But, he quickly added, more work is needed. Among the things he plans to tackle are adding more resources while greatly reducing or eliminating mandates, restrictions, requirements and procurement, pension, hiring limitations and bureaucracy.

“Higher education, this is our time,” Rauner said.

* Today…



Hat tip: Jake.

…Adding… The WIU press release is here.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

“After state universities were crushed by Bruce Rauner’s 736-day budget crisis, layoffs are still plaguing our higher education system because of his failed leadership,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Teachers and students’ futures are being jeopardized by a failed governor who puts photo-ops ahead of actually doing his job.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Free speech or partisan politics?

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold…

“The Janus decision strikes a constitutional balance, respecting a person’s choice to join a public sector union while ensuring those who choose not to join are not compelled in violation of the First Amendment to pay fees to support speech and advocacy they do not feel benefits them and with which they disagree.”

* Worth noting…



* But Greg Hinz claims the Janus decision isn’t about “free speech” at all, it’s about partisan politics

Plaintiff Mark Janus was just a patsy. This case was all about politics, about giving one political party and its ideology and its beliefs about who ought to pay how much in taxes a leg up on the other. As Trump tweeted, “Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”

Indeed. As the four liberal dissenters on the court wrote, “When the vicious cycle (of union members dropping their membership) finally ends, chances are that the union will effectively lack the resources to effectively perform.” Either as a bargaining agent, or in the political sphere. Take that, Mike Madigan and you evil Democrats! That’s what’s really going on.

Now, in the abstract, I understand the notion that someone like Janus, a child specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services, shouldn’t be forced to pay partial dues to the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees. Even though Janus is exempted from paying the share of dues that go toward partisan political activity by AFCME, the court majority held that even contributing to what the union tries to accomplish at the bargaining table might offend his views. Like, for instance, seeking insurance coverage for female union members who want an abortion. Or extra hiring consideration for African-Americans or Latinos. The majority didn’t really say.

But it hinted at one of the sentiments underlying its opinion, writing, “Public sector union membership has surpassed that in the private sector and that ascendancy corresponds with a parallel increase in public spending.” Translation: Rauner is right that unions force up spending and taxes. So we’re gonna give him some help.

* And Aviva Bowen of both the IFT and Kwame Raoul’s campaign agreed with Hinz in her response to Erika Harold’s comment…

Spare me. This case was about politics, not speech. Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump bragged about that yesterday. No one was ever forced to pay fees to support political candidates, and nothing in Janus changed that.

This case was a brazen attempt to further rig the economy and weaken the collective voice of the middle class. And it’s why, more than ever, we need a strong Attorney General like Kwame Raoul who will fight back and defend workers’ rights.

*** UPDATE *** Springfield’s Catholic Bishop…



- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      


“Most of them won’t be funded this year”

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* The Civic Federation looks at state appropriations for capital projects

The total appropriation of roughly $17.1 billion is the largest capital bill since FY2015. The roughly $8.1 billion of new appropriations are the highest amount since the passage of FY2010’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan.

However, since the FY2019 budget does not raise any additional revenues for capital projects, it is unlikely that a majority of the appropriations will be spent during the fiscal year. Authorized projects that are not completed or started may be rolled forward with reappropriations in future years.

* As does the Bond Buyer

llinois’ new state budget paves the way for the state to pay off swaps tied to $600 million of floating-rate debt and authorizes $1.8 billion in new general obligation borrowing to finance pension buyouts and capital projects.

The new GO authority — $1 billion for the buyouts and $800 million for capital — is lean and falls far short of a fiscal 2019 capital budget that totals $16.8 billion when new authorizations of $7.8 billion are counted along with $9 billion in reauthorized projects. Most of them won’t be funded this year.

Keep all that in mind during the summer and fall ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

* Back to the Bond Buyer

State debt service peaks this year at $4.4 billion and then declines by $1 billion next year as bonds issued in 2011 to cover pension payments are retired. The state owes a total of $32.2 billion in principal and $14.2 billion in interest on $14 billion of GOs for capital, $2.3 billion of Build Illinois sales-tax bonds, the $6 billion of GO bill backlog pay down debt issued last fall, and $9.9 pension-related GO debt. The backlog borrowing carries $1.8 billion of interest and is retired in fiscal 2030.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Contribution caps blown in attorney general race

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Missed in yesterday’s hullabaloo over yesterday’s Janus decision was a $255,000 independent expenditure by Fight Back for a Better Tomorrow PAC (click here).

Fight Back for a Better Tomorrow, you’ll recall, is run by top officials of Operating Engineers Union Local 150. The dark money super PAC spent well over a million bucks in the attorney general’s primary against Rep. Scott Drury and former Gov. Pat Quinn. The end game was to help Sen. Kwame Raoul’s bid, and it worked.

The latest expenditure is designated as “Media - television” in support of Sen. Raoul’s general election campaign.

Contribution caps are lifted after a statewide candidate contributes more than $250,000 to his/her own campaign or someone else expends more than that amount to benefit or oppose a statewide campaign.

The Illinois State Board of Elections just formally lifted the caps (click here).

JB Pritzker and Gov. Rauner and other bigtime money-bags are now free to give Raoul and Erika Harold whatever they want.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Rauner campaign continues victory lap

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Rauner campaign…

What They’re Saying: Governor Rauner’s “Major Victory” in Janus v. AFSCME

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME to restore free speech rights of government workers. Governor Rauner first initiated the case and has fought for freedom of speech from the moment he was sworn in to office.

Take a look at what they’re saying about Governor Rauner’s victory:

Chicago Tribune:
“In a case with roots in Rauner’s first weeks in office, the court ruled that public workers shouldn’t have to pay fees to a union they don’t want to join.

…Challenging the fees was one of Rauner’s first acts when he took office in 2015. He issued an executive order giving state workers who don’t want to pay permission not to, and he later instructed state agencies to stop collecting the fees on behalf of public employee unions. He also preemptively filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have the matter escalated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rauner has used the Janus lawsuit to make the case to voters that he should be reelected to a second term, pointing to it as an accomplishment from his time in office and promising that once the fees are overturned, it will result in ‘transformative change’ for taxpayers.

….You look at how we’re going to transform politics in Illinois, across America, when we win the federal lawsuit against AFSCME that I started,’ Rauner said. ‘That’s transformative. You think that Republicans across Illinois, across America, aren’t excited about how that will change the balance of power between taxpayers and special interest groups inside government?’”

CBS 2 Chicago:
“The 5-4 ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME is a win for Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has fought to weaken labor unions, and once was a plaintiff in the case.”

Chicago Tribune Editorial:
“If government workers don’t have to contribute, maybe this begins a reckoning for the political class of Illinois. We’re not great fans of that symbiosis between one party and the public’s workforce. Unions have a vested interest in the taxing-and-spending status quo in Illinois, which in fiscal terms is a disaster. Democrats have been too happy to go along for the ride, saddling taxpayers with enormous public debts. The results for this state and its economy are political gridlock and disappointment: Illinois has weak job growth, a bleak credit rating and a $130 billion hole in the state’s pension funds. Those are largely byproducts of the hand-holding between unions and Dems.”

WBEZ:
“Rauner, who was in Washington, D.C., praised Wednesday’s decision. ‘For decades, Illinois workers have been forced to pay partial union dues against their will,’ Rauner said in a statement. ‘The practice infringed on the constitutional rights of public sector workers who were asked to give up their First Amendment rights as a condition of employment. This decision fairly reinstates those rights.’”

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform:
“The ‘Janus’ SCOTUS Case was at the start —AFSCME vs Rauner.
Rauner will soon have changed the world for the better more than most governors in US history ever have”

Andrew Nelms, Americans For Prosperity Illinois State Director:
“This decision is a huge victory for workers not just in Illinois but across the country. Forcing public workers to fund political activity to keep a job and support their family is a violation of the Constitution. This case vindicates our activists who have long asserted that forcing workers to fund political activity without their consent was a violation of the fundamental and unassailable right to free speech.”

ABC News:
“The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of public employees’ First Amendment rights to decline to pay union dues, marking a potential blow to the funding for influential unions of public employees.

The Court found that union fees violate the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on public matters, even if they disagree with the message.”

Belleville News-Democrat:
“The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that a Springfield man does not have to belong to a union, in a case that could have far-reaching implications for workers across the country.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   111 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Jun 28, 2018

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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* If you're Dick Lockhart's friend, please get in touch with him ASAP
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* *** UPDATED x2 - "Agreed to step down" *** Pritzker withdraws nomination of Cesar Santoy to Tollway board
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Afternoon update
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Sanguinetti bows out of congressional race
* Open Letter: The University Of Illinois Must Protect First Amendment Rights
* *** UPDATED x2 - Sandoval submitted chairmanship resignation letter *** Sandoval's chairmanship appears to have been yanked
* *** UPDATED x19 *** Senate Democrats release unredacted Sandoval search warrant
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