* Among other things, today’s letter from Gov. Rauner’s chief of staff Richard Goldberg to House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie was just debated on the House floor…
May 24, 2017
Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie
300 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Dear Leader Currie:
As you know, last week I privately offered to meet with you one-on-one in response to your public request for a meeting. At that time, you refused to meet with me in an initial one-on-one meeting.
I write today to renew my offer. If you are sincere about your willingness to support changes to our broken system – like real and lasting property tax relief – you should have no reason to refuse to meet.
In recent weeks, Governor Rauner and key Illinois business leaders invited Speaker Madigan to come to a meeting to discuss these issues. Unfortunately, the Speaker refused to meet. Now you claim publicly that you want to meet to discuss the budget and reforms, but privately refuse to meet with me one-on-one.
We have a few days left in the regular session. If you are sincere about reaching a balanced budget agreement, I look forward to meeting with you.
Richard A. Goldberg
Chief of Staff
Office of the Governor
* Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown told me this afternoon that instead of meeting with Rauner and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, Madigan just decided to meet one-on-one with the governor last month. “There was really no purpose involving them,” Brown said of the Civic Committee. “We had their report,” which was recently released to the public.
During today’s floor debate, it was revealed that Leader Currie told Goldberg that while she wouldn’t meet with him alone, she offered instead to bring along the other negotiators appointed by Speaker Madigan earlier this month. Goldberg flatly refused her offer.
“I don’t know what they’re afraid of,” Brown said of the governor’s staff. “Why don’t they want to have a meeting?”
I was told earlier today that Goldberg wanted to gauge how sincere this effort was by first meeting one-on-one with Currie. And, indeed, bringing a bunch of people to a meeting is a classic way of slowing down a process - a tactic Madigan has used many times in the past.
But here we are, with a week to go before the scheduled adjournment, and they can’t even agree on a simple thing like a sit-down.
Last night, Democrats in Springfield abandoned compromise and rammed through a massive tax hike on a party-line vote. Their plan includes no real reform to grow jobs and no property tax relief for homeowners.
Today, the Illinois Republican Party is highlighting their disastrous decision with statewide and targeted robocalls.
Statewide robocalls highlight the Democrat’s tax-hike plan, and how Democratic candidates for Governor are falling in line behind the Madigan Tax Hike agenda.
Last night, Illinois Democrats took the first step in enacting a major tax hike without reforms.
It’s part of a scheme pushed by House Speaker Mike Madigan and Democrat candidates for governor like Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker.
They’ve said Illinois’ top priority should be raising taxes by billions without reforms.
And yesterday, Democrat state senators voted to increase the income tax by 32% on every Illinoisan.
They passed a new sales tax on everyday services like Netflix, dry cleaning and television.
And chose to let property taxes continue to skyrocket.
The Democrats’ Tax Hike agenda is wrong for Illinois.
Instead, it’s time to pass real reforms to create jobs and a real property tax freeze to give homeowners relief.
Paid for by the Illinois Republican Party.
* Back to the press release…
Additional robocalls will target Democratic House members in competitive districts. Democratic House members can stand up to Mike Madigan and kill this disastrous tax hike.
The following House districts will receive the call.
HD 15 – John D’Amico
HD 17 – Laura Fine
HD 18 – Robyn Gabel
HD 43 – Anna Moeller
HD 44 – Fred Crespo
HD46 – Deb Conroy
HD 55 – Marty Moylan
HD 56 – Michelle Mussman
HD 57 – Elaine Nekritz
HD 59 – Carol Sente
HD 62 – Sam Yingling
HD 72 – Mike Halpin
HD 84 – Stephanie Kifowit
HD 98 – Natalie Manley
HD 96 – Sue Scherer
HD 111 – Dan Besier
HD 112 – Katie Stuart
HD 116 – Jerry Costello
HD 118 – Brandon Phelps
It’s simultaneously a reconciliation, tangling up the layers of policies that have emerged over the past couple years, and an ultimatum, tying it off—whether it works as politics inside the statehouse or outside it.
“We passed Bruce Rauner’s budget today and the income tax that he asked for,” Cullerton said. “How’s that for an answer? Is that a good answer?”
While Illinois’ historic 22-month budget impasse has again dominated the legislative session in Springfield, state lawmakers have also grappled with how to respond to Chicago’s gun violence.
One high-profile bill aimed at stemming the violence would impose longer prison sentences for repeat gun offenders. Under the proposal, people caught with an illegal gun a second time would face a maximum 14-year sentence. Judges could issue shorter punishments if they explain their reasons. Currently, the maximum sentence is seven years.
The bill has already passed the Senate, and needs approval in the House and from Gov. Bruce Rauner, who said he’ll sign it in its current form. The idea is nothing new in Springfield, but this time the opposition is coming from Chicago Democrats, not downstate Republicans or the National Rifle Association.
[Yesterday] the Illinois Senate voted 34-24-1 in favor of passing SB 1719. The legislation places a privilege tax on Hedge Fund and Private Equity Managers like Bruce Rauner and Ken Griffin who exploit a federal tax loophole to get a lower tax rate than that paid by many working Americans.
Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative, explained, “This is great news for Illinois residents that have been languishing under an extended budget impasse. Illinois needs new revenue. SB 1719 generates significant revenue – raising it from those who have profited for years off of a rigged tax system, instead of asking for more sacrifices from our most vulnerable residents.”
“This is an important step in creating the kind of state we want to live in,” stated Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), lead sponsor of SB 1719. “We have a small group of very wealthy individuals using an archaic loophole to avoid paying their share, at the expense of other taxpayers and vital social services. Illinois now has an opportunity to right this wrong, to move towards greater fairness, and raise $1.7 billion in new annual revenue that our state desperately needs.”
Despite his loudly voiced objections, Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) must now count on colleagues in the House to stop a bill that will set up a “Small Donor” matching program for candidates running for some offices in Illinois.
Senate Bill 1424, reintroduced to the Senate by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), would allow candidates for governor, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state, state senator and state representative to opt into the program.
Only donations of $500 or less would be allowed under the program, with contributions of $25 to $150 being matched at a 6 to 1 ratio.
Biss has argued that the program levels the playing field by giving small donors more power in elections, but Righter called it another money grab that will hurt taxpayers already financially strapped.
“Despite the amendment that has been filed, the message back home and the question that you all will be answering if you vote for this would be, ‘Wait a minute, senator, you voted to spend my hard-earned tax dollars, including the tax increase, on the campaigns that we’ve been seeing for the last few years?’” Righter said.
I am attaching some artwork that I had a friend of mine in Carbondale, Brad Moore, illustrate for me. It’s a “Budget Man” on the side of a milk carton, like the old missing person photos. My plan is to put this on a T Shirt and sell them online and take the profits (about $10 per shirt) and give that money to some social service providers in Illinois that are being starved by the lack of a budget. I was thinking starting small and just publicizing it here in Southern Illinois and giving the money to the Women’s Center in Carbondale. […]
WXAN General Manager
Mayor of Murphysboro
* This would go on the front of the t-shirt…
But Will is wondering if he should put a message on the back, perhaps to motivate people to act. I suggested we consult the CapitolFax.com hive mind. So…
* The Question: What slogan or message should be on the back of this t-shirt?
Under the Senate plan, which passed Tuesday on a partisan vote of 32-26, the [income] tax rate would nearly return to what it was: Illinois residents are looking at paying a rate of 4.95 percent on their income taxes. Corporations would see their taxes rise, too, with the rate edging from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.
Both hikes would be retroactive, going back to January.
Because the income tax hike is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017, personal income taxpayers will pay an effective tax rate of 5.81 percent on their earnings for the remainder of the year.
The reason it’s backdated is because the grand bargain was originally designed in January to fix the hole in Fiscal Year 2017, the current fiscal year. So the plan all along has been to make it retroactive to January 1st.
That would’ve been no problem if the grand bargain had passed in January or February, but Gov. Rauner demanded the Senate fix the Fiscal Year 2018 hole as well and then punted the problem to the chamber during his February budget address. And when Rauner derailed the package on March 1st it took almost two more months to patch something together, and by then it was a partisan plan.
So, more delays will mean an even higher effective tax rate for the rest of this calendar year unless they simply write off FY 17 like they already have with FY 16.
* Apparently, this situation calls for a futile gesture on somebody’s part. In this case, a front-page editorial…
A year ago we declared “Enough.” The day after, the governor and lawmakers passed a six-month stopgap spending plan that did not provide lasting stability. That’s not good enough.
It’s time to demand that Governor Rauner and our lawmakers do what is right. It’s time for the budget to come first. To not do so will cement their legacy with one word that encapsulates the sorry condition of our state.
Every sign of progress has been marred by partisan politics. A budget was approved Tuesday by the Senate — with no Republican support. Even if the House concurs, Rauner likely will veto a measure only supported by Democrats. A bipartisan compromise is needed for Illinois to persevere.
A bipartisan compromise is required, but sometimes you gotta force the issue. So instead of saying the Senate’s bills should be put on Rauner’s desk and he should sign them, or at the very least the Senate’s proposal should be used as a template for a final deal, they punted.
That Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois House and Senate would allow Illinois to stumble through yet a third year without a budget, as bills and debt pile up and businesses and residents leave, is beyond irresponsible.
And spare us the lecture about the need for structural reform first. If Illinois keeps going like this, there won’t be much to structure or reform.
Meanwhile, Rauner and the Legislature — most specifically House Speaker Mike Madigan — have shown zero political courage. At least Senate President John Cullerton has stuck his neck out, pushing a spending plan through the Senate on Tuesday, without a single Republican vote, that includes tax increases and spending cuts.
Rauner is running political ads, the goofy ones with the duct tape, laying the groundwork for his re-election next year. But he is not governing. As we said in a previous editorial, the first and most basic job of a CEO — and a governor is a CEO — is to produce a budget. The buck stops there.
And Madigan? Mike is being Mike, as inscrutable as ever. Nobody’s can be sure if he has any interest in passing a state budget at this point, or if he’s biding time until he can run Rauner out of Springfield.
And yet no endorsement of the Senate’s plan.
The budget can’t be balanced without actual legislation. The Senate Democrats are the only people in the Statehouse who have passed just such a package of bills. If you really want to drive the argument, then endorse a specific proposal. Maybe even back the plan devised by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Or the Illinois Policy Institute’s plan. Or Sen. McCarter’s plan. Something. Anything. Just pick a freaking lane, already.
Encouraging people to angrily vent over the phone without any direction is irresponsible and plays right into the hands of both Rauner and Madigan.
The Illinois General Assembly is back to work after the Senate approved a major spending package.
Eyes are back on to the Senate on Wednesday to see how negotiations will shape up between majority Democrats and Republicans over issues important to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The Senate approved a $5.4 billion tax increase for a $37.3 billion spending plan Tuesday. Republicans said Democrats were walking away from attempts to trade a tax increase for a local property tax freeze and Rauner-demanded reductions in the cost of the workers’ compensation system.
* A Senate Republican operative was super cheerful this morning about the spotlight finally being off that chamber after months of turmoil, and then I shared the above link. The response…
Who told them that?
I don’t think anybody did. The Senate President’s spokesman said he’s not aware of any scheduled negotiations on property taxes or workers’ comp. Cullerton is open to such negotiations, however.
The governor may want these talks to stay in the Senate, but those days are over unless he comes up with a new path.
“All of these cries for more time, please allow me to say you have more time in the other chamber,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson.
*** UPDATE *** I explained some possible House scenarios to subscribers this morning and told them about Springfield’s special visitor. Here’s Greg Hinz…
About two hours after Illinois Senate Democrats sucked it up and approved a big tax-hike bill late yesterday, two other figures were seen dining at a Springfield restaurant: Michael Sacks, a confidant and emissary for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Consider it a sign that the inevitable finally has arrived. […]
That leaves Madigan in position to box in Rauner. But what will he actually do?
Sacks, who was good enough to email me, isn’t saying — if he knows. About all he’ll disclose is: “I came down with a group to talk about education funding. With the prospect of a new formula and significant revenue, it is really important to get things right. It was great to be able to catch up with (Senate) President (John) Cullerton and Speaker Madigan and other leadership.” […]
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the speaker and governor are not now scheduled to talk. But he does allow that a Madigan budget and revenue package likely will emerge in committee “over the weekend.” It looks like that will be the first solid indication of the shape of the world.
A federal judge could decide today whether insurers collectively owed more than $2 billion by the state of Illinois can move to the front of the long line of vendors waiting to get paid.
If they win, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who pays the state’s bills, says she could lose the little room she has to decide who gets paid first. Currently, she says, she prioritizes payments for agencies that care for the most vulnerable populations: children, elderly and people with disabilities, among others. […]
The bill backlog for vendors has reached $14.4 billion, Mendoza said. Of that, private insurers that are contracted to manage the care of about two-thirds of Illinois’ 3.1 million Medicaid recipients are owed more than $2 billion. The budget crisis has created a ripple effect: When insurers don’t get paid, they don’t pay doctors and hospitals. Patients, particularly those on the state health insurance plan, lose out if their providers turn them away or make them pay upfront for care. […]
Consent decrees and court orders dictate how about 90 percent of bills are paid. But Mendoza has the discretion to prioritize who gets the remaining 10 percent, a small pool of money she wants to protect.
If the insurers win their federal case, the comptroller could lose control to the court of where that money flows. A victory for the insurers could be a “breaking point” for Illinois, she said.
W/o a budget, IL will owe more than 1/2 its operating budget to the bill backlog or $16 billion by the end of the fiscal year, 6/30. #twill
A question I’ve had for a while now is what happens when the state just doesn’t have the cash to satisfy all these court orders? Does a federal or state judge take charge? And which judge? The state is dealing with several federal consent decrees and a state court which has ordered employees are to be paid without an appropriation.
*** UPDATE 1 *** The judge didn’t issue a ruling today. Both sides were told to return to court next Tuesday.
*** UPDATE 2 *** From the courtroom…
Arguments for moving Medicaid to front of the line: system is crumbling & doctors will stop seeing Medicaid patients if they aren't paid
Two years ago, Judge Joan Lefkow ordered the state must pay Medicaid providers even though it is operating without a budget. The state is now virtually out of money — its backlog of bills has grown beyond $14.2 billion — and Medicaid service providers said the state isn’t paying them fast enough.
During a Wednesday court hearing, Lefkow suggested that Medicaid payments be paid faster — but she stopped short of issuing a ruling. “I don’t know what I’m going to do here,” said Lefkow, who called for another court hearing next week, where she is expected to make a decision.
“It doesn’t seem right that Medicaid payments are being de-prioritized, shall we say,” Lefkow said. “Ultimately this comes down to a political issue.” […]
As the hearing concluded, Lefkow addressed the attorneys who have been representing the state government during the budget impasse.
After giving a typically fiery speech on Tuesday to those gathered at a City Club of Chicago luncheon in which she denounced Gov. Bruce Rauner and his No. 1 supporter, billionaire Ken Griffin, for contributing $70 million between them to re-elect Rauner, CTU president Karen Lewis was asked by Chicago Inc. what she thought of Pritzker’s largely self-funded campaign. […]
“Can one oligarch replace another oligarch?” Lewis responded, rhetorically. “What’s going to be different?”
Lewis said she’d met with all of the Democratic primary contenders, including Pritzker, adding that she’d shared her concerns with Pritzker about his estimated $3.4 billion wealth.
“He said, ‘But I’m a progressive,’” Lewis said. “I thought it was hilarious!”
“You don’t think that’s funny, that an oligarch thinks he’s progressive and says, ‘You know, I’m different’?!”
* Last night and then earlier this morning, I asked most of the Democratic gubernatorial campaigns for their response to the Senate’s passage of a budget that includes new revenues.
Here’s Galia Slayen at the JB Pritzker campaign…
“It’s been 693 days without a state budget. Our state’s finances are in shambles and working families across Illinois are paying the price. Rauner’s pet projects and stalling tactics aren’t going to get our state the relief it so desperately needs. It’s past time for Bruce Rauner to stop playing politics and figure out how to govern.”
Not exactly an answer to my question. The Pritzker campaign is also running “interactive digital banners highlighting the 693-day budget crisis that Bruce Rauner created”…
* Sen. Daniel Biss voted for the bills, and his state office sent this out after the vote…
“It’s time to stop the dangerous, unproductive, two-year staring contest in Springfield.
“A budget is a statement of priorities, and while this one is far from perfect, it reflects some core priorities – health care for the poor, P-12 schools, higher education, an increase in the tax credit for low-income workers and vital services for those who need our help. It offers some short-term stability by making different choices and calling on everyone to share the burden of cleaning up Gov. Bruce Rauner’s failures.
“But long-term solutions to our fiscal problems will require bigger reform to create a fair tax system. We must repeal our constitution’s unjust and unusual flat tax provision; we must finally require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share; and we must eliminate the current carried interest tax loophole that allows the super wealthy to evade state taxes.
“That’s why I am pleased that today we made progress toward establishing each of these policies and building the fair economy that is our only hope for long-term economic health.
“These are the kinds of honest solutions that taxpayers want lawmakers to find the courage to pursue. Until we do that, we will continue to fight budget battles like these – battles that result in winners and lowers – over and over again.”
How about telling us what the “fix” would be? Say what you want about Rauner, but at least he has an idea.
Such an odd campaign.
…Adding… By the way, the Kennedy tweet links to a story that’s partially about JB Pritzker’s new online ad.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Ameya Pawar…
I applaud my friend Sen. Biss for his efforts on the carried interest bill and the public servants in the Illinois Senate for putting the most vulnerable, our public schools, our social service agencies, and the future of Illinois ahead of politics.
We now have confirmation - something we knew all along - that Governor Rauner and the Senate Republicans he controls never wanted a budget. Social services are collapsing and people are dying because of Governor Rauner’s failed leadership and the Senate Republicans are now complicit. They should be ashamed of themselves.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Kennedy campaign…
It’s a sad day when, after almost two years of stalemate and stubbornness from a failed governor, we appear no closer to resolving a budget crisis that’s holding the entire state hostage. Chris Kennedy believes taxes and cuts alone are not enough to solve our problems. Illinois needs fundamental change from top to bottom to restore the promise of this state, including an overhaul of the corruptible property tax system that we rely on to fund our public schools.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said she prefiled to be a sponsor of the tax increase bill “because I think there’s a bigger conversation that needs to happen before there’s a tax increase.”
Ives said she’s not on board with any tax increase.
“There’s a lot of tax increases in here we shouldn’t even have a conversation about until we talk about cutting spending and doing more for the business community rather than making them the highest tax in the United States,” Ives said.
However, she says her attempts to control it in the House could be taken away from her through procedural moves.
She would love nothing more than a fight over sponsorship of SB 9, and that’s why I really doubt the House Democrats will do anything. Why make her into a national cable TV and talk radio martyr in her courageous and lonely battle against the entrenched Speaker Madigan? So, she’d better milk this for all it’s worth right now because at the end of the session she will almost undoubtedly still be the chief House sponsor of a huge tax increase.
Now the bill moves to the House and into the safe hands of the staunch GOP anti-taxer state Rep. Jeanne Ives.
Screeeeech! Say what? Yup. Ives, a Republican, stealthily filed paperwork early in the session ensuring that the revenue bill to come out of what was then the so-called grand bargain would end up in her lap. So the Dems’ SB9 is slated to come to the same House member who told POLITICO last night she believes the state needs a “tax revolt.”
If the House Dems do decide to run a tax hike bill, they can shell out a Senate bill and amend it with their language. Or, they could use a House bill.
Remember, the Senate removed all the “if and only if” language from the grand bargain package that inextricably tied all those bills together. When Rep. Ives pre-filed for sponsorship back in February, that language was still in the grand bargain bills so her motion would’ve been a more important move. As it stands now, she’s merely sitting on a bill that can be easily copied.
No doubt this has great comedic value, and I’m all for that in times like these. But Ives’ move means nothing.
“I want to be a part of the conversation when it comes to taxes and how any tax increase would impact hardworking Illinois families and job creators. Senate Bill 9 would give Illinois the highest taxes on employers of any state in the nation and make it more difficult for middle-income families to make ends meet. There is a bigger conversation that needs to be had before the state considers a tax increase; specifically on real property tax relief, responsible spending cuts and pro-business reforms to help create jobs in Illinois. I believe the best way for me to have a voice in that discussion is to control the bill in the House of Representatives as its sponsor.”
This sounds reasonable until you realize that no matter what sort of “bigger conversation” is had on property taxes, budget cuts and pro-business measures, Rep. Ives won’t be voting for a tax hike anyway.
Charter schools operate best when local communities, parents, teachers and school boards work together to offer the best options possible for all of our children. HB 768 supports that effort and promotes local control in establishing quality public charter schools.
The State Charter School Commission will remain in its current role as the authorizing entity for currently existing state-mandated charter schools. Their effective work in this role will not be impeded in any way with the passage of HB 768.
Let’s work together to ensure quality public charter schools for all the children in Illinois. Support HB 768.
What happened to the art of compromise? I know its not perfect but I feel that you, Madigan and Cullerton should work out a budget where the people win. I feel that you, Madigan and Cullerton let your ego’s get in the way of progress. Remember you, Madigan and Cullerton were elected by the people. Serve the people period.
The governor only read the first sentence, then gave a long, rambling response that appeared to indicate Democrats needed to compromise with him, not the other way around.
It got me to thinking that I’d rather hear more of what Hadnott had to say than to listen to another day of everyone blaming each other in Springfield, so I tracked him down. […]
Some of you are saying “Amen,” [about Rauner’s response] and some are wondering how anybody could compromise with a fellow with that kind of tin ear. […]
[Hadnott’s] premise is simple: “I feel like three reasonable people should be able to sit down and work this out. It wouldn’t be perfect. But it would be better.”
“You can’t just have it all your way,” Hadnott said.
“In a compromise, I get A, B and C, and you get D, E and F. They keep saying win-lose. I’m a big believer in win-win.
I think that’s how a lot of people see it, and while those of us who follow these matters closely might get bogged down on the details, Hadnott is expressing the essence of the common man’s frustration over living in a state now on Day 694 without a budget.”
Hadnott also said that while he believes the governor is interested in finding a middle ground, he ought to stop talking so much about the past: “No one wants to hear about the past mistakes. The issue is where do we go from here?”