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*** UPDATED x3- Mendoza says “No” - Could Mendoza do something on her own? - ILGOP responds *** Mendoza to pay some bills, lashes out at Rauner

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017

* Press release…

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced on Tuesday that state revenues will allow her office to pay another $94 million in past-due bills to Home Service Care providers who care for the elderly.

Since taking office in December, Comptroller Mendoza has now paid a total of more than $235 million in past due bills owed to vendors for the state’s Department on Aging, she announced Tuesday at the West Point Plaza senior apartments on the Near West Side.

“Our actions prove our commitment to Illinois seniors, the Department on Aging, the Community Care Program (CCP), and our citizens who rely on the program to stay in their homes and avoid being placed in a nursing home,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “We’re doing what we can to help, but this isn’t a long-term solution. To ensure our state’s neediest people are cared for, we need Governor Rauner to meet his most basic constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget for the General Assembly to act on. While people in Illinois continue to suffer, he continues to shirk his responsibilities and refuses to take ownership of the crisis.”

While the comptroller is prioritizing human services and programs like CCP, her office can only pay the bills it receives. Because the Governor shirked his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget for the General Assembly to act on — and has twice vetoed funding for these social services — there is no spending authority to pay bills owed to these providers for services not covered by Medicaid. Nearly $200 million in bills for such services are sitting at the Department on Aging due to the lack of a budget.

“It’s time for Gov. Bruce Rauner to stop using seniors as pawns in his vicious budget game, where he is exploiting their pain and suffering to get what he wants on his political wish list,” said Tanya Moses, home healthcare worker in the Community Care Program.

Ashley’s Quality Care, which provides home care services for seniors, is just one example of the consequences of this inaction. The Canaryville home care provider is owed about $800,000 in non-Medicaid payments from the state. The lack of funding has forced them to reduce the number of seniors they care for from 900 to 300 in the last two years.

To add insult to injury, Gov. Rauner’s administration has prohibited Community Care vendors from participating in third-party loan programs managed by the administration and widely used by vendors like the highly-paid consultants Governor Rauner wants to prioritize. At a time when many social service providers have exhausted their lines of credit from banks, these programs could give them access to operating funds they need to keep their doors open.

“It really shows where The Governor’s heart is when he has opened up the Vendor Assistance Program to some of America’s largest corporations but has denied offering the same kind of life preserver to our frail elderly,” said State Rep. Gregory Harris. “I think it’s small business in Illinois we should be helping. Big insurance companies and multinational corporations should have the capacity to take care of themselves.”

*** UPDATE 1 ***  From the ILGOP…

“Susana Mendoza taking credit for releasing these funds is like an arsonist posing as a firefighter. She’s throwing water on a fire she started by starving providers in the first place.”

Pretty tough case to make against a liberal, female Democrat. Just sayin…

*** UPDATE 2 *** A buddy of mine who represents a company that loans money through the Vendor Assistance Program just called to say that Comptroller Mendoza could change some paperwork coding for social service providers on her own to get them into the bill-paying program. Mendoza’s Republican predecessor apparently refused to do so. So, it’s not Rauner’s fault, it’s actually hers.

Time to put away the press releases and get to work.

*** UPDATE 3 *** The comptroller’s office says they will hear out the company rep, but they’re pretty adamant that they can’t change the coding on these vendors and is likely a misinterpretation of the rules. It’s up to CMS, they say, and the agencies, which submit the coding to the comptroller.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - There is a problem with zoning - Durkin weighs in - Rauner whacks Madigan *** Madigan scolds Rauner on Thompson Center sale

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017

* A letter sent today to Gov. Bruce Rauner from House Speaker Michael Madigan…

Governor Rauner:

Yesterday my staff and CMS had another productive discussion about the sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago. As you know, I have publicly acknowledged a desire to work with you on legislation authorizing the sale of the Thompson Center. Over the course of staff discussions, both your staff and mine determined the legislation proposed by Leader Durkin does not adequately plan for the sale and inadvertently interferes with the zoning authority of the City of Chicago. Your staff previously acknowledged that the legislation needed to be rewritten, and it was further conveyed, again yesterday, that legislation is not ready to move forward at this time.

Around the same time as this productive meeting, you stated publicly that I have held up the sale of the Thompson Center and that reporters should ask me why I’ve been blocking progress on this part of your agenda. With all due respect, I believe it is disingenuous of you and beneath your office to make such false statements to the media when you know or should have known that I have pledged my cooperation, that our staffs are working together on this initiative, and that we are working toward the same goal with your administration in good faith.

As you are aware, your administration included the sale of the Thompson Center in your proposed FY18 budget, with an anticipated sale price of $300 million. I have directed my staff to provide any assistance necessary so that we may pass legislation advantageous to the State of Illinois, while providing the least disruption to CTA commuters utilizing the lines that feed into the Thompson Center. I am advised CMS is in negotiations with the City on issues related to the CTA station and the easement, as well as zoning matters, and it is these discussions that have led to the stalling of the legislation, not my actions or the actions of the House.

Despite your inability to provide an accurate account of the facts or acknowledge my public and private comments, my staff will continue working cooperatively with your staff and CMS to develop a plan to maximize the ability of the State to sell the property, with a goal to passing legislation no later than May 31st.

With kindest personal regards, I remain

Sincerely yours,
Michael J. Madigan
Speaker of the House

Your thoughts on this?

*** UPDATE 1 ***  From Eleni Demertzis at the governor’s office…

Speaker Madigan and his majority have had two years to do anything productive for the people of Illinois, but instead he’s held up every proposal to create jobs, provide property tax relief, balance the budget and improve education. Two years of holding up the people of Illinois — and now just more excuses and distractions to hold up something as simple as selling the Thompson Center. As usual, positive changes in government take place when the Governor can make things happen on his own — and change hits a brick wall whenever the Speaker has the ability to block it.

Yeah, things are sure looking brighter these days.

To be clear here, the governor’s CMS director said during a House committee hearing that the administration can sell the Thompson Center without the General Assembly’s involvement. It just can’t make the sale on the administration’s preferred timeline unless legislators approve. Rauner wants to use proceeds from the sale to help balance next fiscal year’s budget.

*** UPDATE 2 ***  House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told reporters this morning (click here for raw audio) that objections to the Thompson Center sale legislation by CMS is “news to me.” He’s had the bill out there since 2015, he said, and hadn’t heard of any problems identified by the administration.

Leader Durkin claimed that Madigan was engaging in stalling tactics to prevent the governor from getting any wins.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Greg Hinz discovers there is a real problem, but it can be dealt with

Rauner has been counting on the proposed sale to generate $220 million for the state, plugging a hole in his budget, as well as tens of millions of dollars in future property-tax revenue for the city. But to get that kind of money, he wants to ramp up zoning on the site, clearing the way for a huge development, perhaps the 115-story tower that one developer envisions.

One Rauner official who asked not to be named conceded that talks with the city are continuing about tripling the size of what now legally can be built on the site, as well as access to the CTA station in any new development.

But the city agrees in principle with selling the property, and any remaining issues with language can be resolved after the General Assembly passes legislation authorizing the sale, that source said.

However, it appears the speaker wants those issues settled first—and doesn’t like Rauner attacking him in the process. He wrote, “I believe it is disingenuous of you and beneath your office to make such false statements.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017

* Today’s post is sponsored by the American Heart Association of Illinois. Follow everything in real time right here with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner explains why he’s airing TV ads *** Rauner in new TV ads touting his agenda

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017

* I told subscribers about these ads earlier today. From a press release

State Solutions, an affiliate of the Republican Governors Association, launched a new television and digital advertisement effort today in Illinois, highlighting Governor Bruce Rauner’s push to balance the budget, reform government and improve the state by capping spending, freezing property taxes, creating term limits on politicians and adding jobs. […]

“Governor Rauner is working hard to enact a balanced budget that protects taxpayers and grows jobs,” said State Solutions spokesman Jon Thompson. “The same duct tape solutions - higher taxes, more spending and no real reforms - that Illinois politicians have used in the past won’t fix the state. It’s time for a true spending cap, a real property tax freeze, and reforms to repair the state’s broken political system and add jobs.”

The 2018 season has officially arrived.

* Here is the 30-second ad

* And here is the 15-second spot

…Adding… Press release…

Illinois Working Together Campaign Director Jake Lewis released the following statement in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new television ads:

“Governor Rauner’s new television ad blitz is just another reminder of the governor’s wrong priorities, putting political games ahead of getting the job done for the people of Illinois. Not only has Rauner never passed a budget, the most basic responsibility for any governor, but he has never even proposed a balanced budget as required by the Illinois constitution. Rauner’s “balanced budget” claims have already been deemed “pants-on-fire” false by Politifact Illinois.

“What Rauner fails to mention in his ads are his accomplishments in more than two years as governor — because he has none. Rauner’s wrong priorities have resulted in disruptions to school funding, cuts to services for seniors, and an Illinois economy hobbled by uncertainty. Enough with the political games, governor. Do your job.”

*** UPDATE ***  Gov. Rauner was asked by reporters today why he was airing TV ads

I hope and believe that messaging to the people of Illinois about what’s going on and what’s at stake will help us get an agreement in the General Assembly, help us get a balanced budget with structural changes to grow jobs, protect our taxpayers, get term limits.

I think it’s very important that the people of Illinois understand what’s going on, they understand what’s at stake and I’ve personally worked hard in my role to communicate with the people of Illinois. I’ve done it directly by going to meet with people around the state in groups of from two to two thousand, to talk with them about what’s at stake. I’ve met with you, members of the media on a pretty regular basis to talk about what’s going on and what’s important and asking you to communicate back to the people of Illinois. I’ve used social media, tried to use social media to communicate the important issues that’s going on in the state of Illinois.

And now, and from time to time, we have used and we will use paid media to communicate to the people of Illinois what’s importantly at stake, the changes to fix the broken system that we’re advocating, term limits and property tax freeze and balanced budgets with more jobs. We can’t tax our way out of our problems, we gotta grow. We need regulatory changes to be competitive and grow jobs. It’s important that the people of Illinois understand what we’re working for and that’s what we’re trying to do is help them understand.

No mention that his poll numbers are in the tank.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      

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* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner explains why he's airing TV ads *** Rauner in new TV ads touting his agenda
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