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Cullerton: Don’t call it a stopgap or a lifeline

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Illinois Public Radio

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been saying he thinks a comprehensive budget deal is “very close.” He points to negotiations in the state Senate, so Brian Mackey asked the Senate president if that’s the case. […]

I asked Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, if the governor had been hearing that from him.

“No,” Cullerton said. “But he should come back from wherever he is now, and we’re in session, and we should talk and he could tell me — I’d be happy to know what he’s talking about.”

The governor was actually touring the Beer Nuts factory at about that time

A self-proclaimed fan of Beer Nuts, Gov. Bruce Rauner took a guided tour of the Bloomington plant on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with employees where he touted the state’s economic potential.

Yep, while women were rallying in Springfield and both chambers were in session, the governor was touting Beer Nuts in Bloomington.

* Anyway, back to Cullerton

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he and his colleagues will take up a partial government spending bill passed by the House earlier this month.

The legislation would release more than 800 million dollars piling up in special state accounts for social service contractors and state universities.

Republicans call it another “stopgap” budget. House Democrats called it a “lifeline.” But Cullerton says neither term is accurate.

“Really it’s important for you to know that I don’t view those as stopgaps or lifelines,” Cullerton said Tuesday. “Those monies are trapped in those funds, and cannot be spent by the governor or anybody else unless we authorize them to spend it.”

* More

“If we don’t pass some authorization to spend those [funds from two state accounts set aside for social service agencies and higher education] the money can’t be used, which is kind of ridiculous when we have so many people who are owed so much money,” Cullerton said. “That’s why we need to authorize the spending of those funds.”

The measure has arrived in the Senate, where there are anticipated changes, which will have to be approved in a committee. But it could be called as soon as this week.

Asked whether the bill to fund social services and public universities removes the pressure to get a full budget, Cullerton said the numbers speak for themselves.

“It doesn’t. We still have the pressure of owing $13 billion and spending $8 billion more than we have coming in,” Cullerton said. “That’s enough pressure.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Proponents respond to HB 40 passage

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Rep. Sara Feigenholtz…

“Today is a victory for every woman in our state because it protects every woman’s right to choose,” Feigenholtz said. “I applaud my colleagues who took the critical vote that removed the dangerous anti-choice trigger language from the original act. Today, we stated unequivocally that access to safe legal abortion will remain protected in Illinois.”

“After repeated threats from the White House and President Trump’s remarks to strip abortion rights away from women, this legislation was necessary to safeguard a woman’s right to make decisions that affect her personal health in Illinois,” said Feigenholtz. […]

Before the vote, Feigenholtz sponsored a bus from Chicago to Springfield to enable dozens of activists and concerned citizens to have their voices heard.

“Everyone has the right to not only see democracy in action but also participate in it. I was honored to give my constituents that opportunity,” said Feigenholtz, who earlier this year participated in the historic Women’s Day March in Chicago. […]

Feigenholtz also had a message for Governor Bruce Rauner, who has publically opposed the bill which would give all women, regardless of economic status, the ability to receive the full complement of reproductive healthcare options.

“Governor Bruce Rauner is clueless about what women go through when trying to access reproductive health care in Illinois,” said Feigenholtz. “He sits in his ivory tower spending millions on TV campaign ads- what he needs to do is spend a day in the shoes of a woman struggling to access reproductive health care.”

* Ameya Pawar…

Three years ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner put his name – and his signature – on a pro-choice pledge. Last week, he broke his word to Illinois families, threatening women’s health.

This afternoon, I spoke in solidarity with hundreds of people at the Women’s March on Springfield to rally support for House Bill 40. It’s a common-sense bill that would end the trigger criminalizing abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned. It would also expand reproductive health coverage for low-income women.

Women’s reproductive health is a basic right. We can’t let extreme politicians like Bruce Rauner take that away. Please share this image on Facebook to show your support for HB40.

This bill shouldn’t be used as another political game for a failed governor. While Gov. Rauner tries to protect his political career by rallying his far-right base, I’ll stay focused on protecting women’s health.

We need to pass House Bill 40 to make reproductive health care more affordable and end the potential criminalization of abortion in Illinois. Please share this message on Facebook or forward this email to three friends.

Gov. Rauner broke his word to all of us. Together, we can hold him accountable – and protect women’s health.

Thank you for being part of our movement,
Ameya

* JB Pritzker…

“Today the Illinois House took a courageous step in protecting women’s healthcare and pushing back against the GOP’s attack on Illinois women,” said JB Pritzker. “I marched in Springfield today, and for more than a quarter century I’ve marched, petitioned, and spoken out to protect women’s reproductive rights in Washington and across our state. It’s because I stand for the values of those I respect the most – my mother, my sister, my daughter, my wife – that I keep fighting. As your next governor, I will continue standing up to protect access to quality healthcare for all Illinois women.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Opponents react to HB 40 passage

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* ILGOP…

“Instead of working to solve our state’s catastrophic challenges, Madigan Democrats just passed a radical bill for taxpayer funded abortions, at a cost of $60 million, while we don’t have a budget. Springfield yet again shows it’s tone-deaf to the concerns of Illinoisans.” - Illinois Republican Party National Committeewoman Demetra Demonte

Interesting that they call this “Madigan Democrats” proposal “radical” when Gov. Rauner supposedly supported that bill before he was against it, and even implied that he could support the bill if only the impasse was resolved.

* Catholic Conference of Illinois…

The head of the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops today lamented Illinois House passage of legislation authorizing the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions for Medicaid recipients and state employees.

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, criticized lawmakers for turning a moral argument into campaign fodder.

“Elected representatives today chose raw politics over the innocent lives of the unborn,” Gilligan said.

Today’s passage of House Bill 40 denoted the culmination of a legislative spring break marked by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s promise to veto the legislation, which was quickly followed by accusations of broken campaign promises. Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago last week issued a public statement in which he thanked the governor for his “principled stand” to veto HB 40.

“Abortion is a controversial issue in this country, but using public money to provide abortions should not be,” Cardinal Cupich stated.

Public opinion polls indicate strong opposition to public funding of abortion. A January 2017 poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion for the Knights of Columbus shows that 61 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 40 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.

Only 15 states currently pay for elective abortions for Medicaid participants, and 11 of those states do so through a court order, not legislative action.

Gilligan stressed the House’s vote represented a dangerous misplacement of priorities, especially when the state has not had a budget for 22 months and has nearly $13 billion in overdue bills.

“The state can’t pay for essential services, and lawmakers are funding elective abortions – where is the logic in that?” he said.

Illinois’ Catholic bishops have lobbied hard against House Bill 40, issuing letters to parishioners urging them to contact their state representatives to vote against the measure. Cardinal Cupich and the other bishops noted that a better use of taxpayer money in such dire fiscal times would be to fund prenatal services for the poor and child care for working mothers, as well as expand health-care options for those in need.

HB 40 passed the House on a 62-55 vote, and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

* Illinois Federation of Republican Women…

“Yesterday, Democrats passed a far-reaching bill that will force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions. As a result, Illinois taxpayers are on the hook to pay over $60 million. Democrats continue to show they are willing to increase the financial burden on our state and taxpayers. Instead of playing politics with this controversial piece of legislation, Speaker Madigan should focus on working with Governor Bruce Rauner to pass a balanced budget. We need reforms so we can properly and adequately fund our universities and social services, not more of Madigan’s games.”

If I recall correctly, Gov. Rauner cut off talks with Madigan last December.

* Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard)…

“Today, Mike Madigan and his Illinois House Democrats voted to spend taxpayer funds to abort healthy babies. Our best estimates show that taxpayers would pay for over 30,000 abortions if this bill is signed into law, at an impact of $60 million to our Medicaid system. Despite the dire financial straits facing our state, Illinois Democrats today put their political patrons in the abortion industry ahead of fiscal sanity and a balanced budget.”

“According to the Workers’ Action Guide published by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Medicaid provides medical coverage for pregnant women who make less than 213% of the federal poverty level. The latest numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, released in May 2016, indicate that 75% of women who receive abortions have income under 200% of the federal poverty level. Based upon this information, and published documentation from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services about the cost and frequency of abortion procedures, the $60 million price tag would decimate our Medicaid budget.”

In 2015, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget said an identical bill wouldn’t cost anything extra.

* Illinois Family Institute…

After passionate testimony from both sides, HB 40 passed by a vote of 62-55 yesterday afternoon. Sixty votes are needed for passage. This proposal for taxpayer funding of abortion will now proceed to the Illinois Senate where it is expected to pass. […]

Passage of HB 40 would translate into tens of thousands of additional abortions in Illinois every year through Medicaid. As explained in an earlier article, this law would result in a disproportionate number of black and brown babies being killed.

HB 40 also allows the Deptartment of Health and Human Services to make grants to nonprofit agencies and organizations that use such grants to refer, counsel for, or perform abortions.

In addition, state employees would have abortion coverage added to their insurance plan under HB 40.

Proponents, for the most part, focused their testimony on a woman’s choice to have control over her own body and the “right” of poor women to have access to “health care” while opponents’ focus was on the fact that innocent pre-born human life would be killed with taxpayer resources.

It’s a tragic day in Illinois when the most helpless have no protection from the adult lawmakers who are already born.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Rauner wants to fire “illegal” Quinn hires

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Press release…

The Rauner Administration this week filed a motion to deny employees hired illegally by the previous administration the protection of a collective bargaining agreement.

The motion continues the Rauner Administration’s commitment to reforming the patronage mess it inherited. As the Special Master noted in her recent report:

    “Over the past two years, the Rauner Administration and IDOT have taken significant steps toward eliminating some of the problematic employment practices identified above and in the 2014 OEIG Report… The illegal hiring of the Staff Assistants has a continuing impact on State government. Many individuals hired illegally into the Staff Assistant position remain employed in other positions.”

Currently, at least 36 employees who were improperly hired into the IDOT staff positions remain employed with the state. Due to collective bargaining protections, the Administration cannot terminate these employees. The Administration’s motion asks a judge to decide if collective bargaining rights covering improperly hired employees can actually protect them.

“Since the governor first took office, we have worked diligently to create a more ethical and responsive government,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “We are pleased the Special Master recognizes our commitment to both cleaning up the patronage mess we inherited and changing the system so the abuse of the past cannot reoccur. Under our changes, rank-and-file state workers will be hired based on what they know, not who they know.”

Last September, Governor Rauner announced that the Administration abolished the staff assistant position and terminated all remaining staff assistants, which were at the center of the IDOT patronage hiring scandal. A 2014 OEIG report found the previous administration illegally hired staff assistants at IDOT and then transferred them into protected government positions or allowed them to perform job duties with little or no relation to their actual job description.

In direct response to the IDOT hiring scandal, Governor Rauner began requiring the state to publish all Rutan-exempt employees on the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal website during his first month in office. Additionally, the Rauner Administration has removed a level of bureaucracy in hiring civil-service positions, which has further protected the hiring process from unlawful political influence.

Keep in mind that the Quinn administration was alleged to have conspired to skirt hiring laws for Rutan-covered civil service jobs in order to get politically connected people into those positions. There are still a number of exempt positions that can be filled via political means. So, comparing this Quinn thing to Rauner’s hiring of, say, Leslie Munger, is apples to oranges. You may not like that hire, but it was legal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - Will back Pritzker *** Decision day is here for Kurt Summers

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

* Tribune

Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers will hold a 10 a.m. news conference. The advisory from Summers’ campaign team indicated Summers will make a “press conference announcement.” The ambitious Summers has held out the possibility he will run for the Democratic governor nomination and indicated a decision was coming soon. The field already has five announced candidates, including Chicago billionaire J.B. Pritkzer.

Think he’ll get in?

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Nope…


*** UPDATE 2 *** Interesting

City treasurer Kurt Summers, long a rumored candidate for governor, is expected to announce Wednesday morning that he will not seek that office and instead endorse billionaire J.B. Pritzker, a source told the Sun-Times.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Look who showed up today…


- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


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Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Cullerton: Don't call it a stopgap or a lifeline
* Proponents respond to HB 40 passage
* Opponents react to HB 40 passage
* Rauner wants to fire "illegal" Quinn hires
* *** UPDATED x3 - Will back Pritzker *** Decision day is here for Kurt Summers
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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