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Pritzker builds budget speech around Henry Horner’s legacy

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* From Gov. Pritzker’s budget address…

History can be a cruel exercise in pessimism if you narrow your gaze. But if you widen your vision just a little bit, you will see that the recurring reports from the past have been occasionally dotted with unapologetic optimists who focused on tackling old problems with new ideas and new vigor, reducing the burden for each generation along the way.

One of those unapologetic optimists was Governor Henry Horner, who took office in 1933. It puts the current day in honest perspective to think about the challenges Horner faced.

The Great Depression had just begun…Nearly half of Illinois’ work force was unemployed…Hungry workers were marching on Springfield…Teachers had not received a paycheck in nearly a year…Labor disputes were ending in bloodshed…Banks were shuttering… And to add to it all, floods were sweeping across wide swaths of the state.

Nevertheless, with the daunting nature of the state’s condition, Horner approached his job with optimism, with wit and with a dogged work ethic. In a speech soon after he took office, he said:

“We have got to hurdle a few more obstacles before we are on the broad highway of return to normal conditions. However, the road is clearly in sight.”

Today, that is where we find ourselves again. […]

I mentioned at the beginning of this speech that Henry Horner took office in 1933 at the start of the worst decade of economic decline in US history.

Horner was good friends with Carl Sandburg. They shared a love of all things related to President Lincoln. In the later years of his life, Sandburg granted an interview about his friend Governor Horner, in which he said, “Horner was the real goods…he got to high places without selling his soul.”

Indeed, despite all the economic struggles the state faced during the Great Depression, Horner still managed to increase school funding, institute unemployment insurance and pensions for older Illinoisans, create building programs for state institutions and improve public health services.

He understood that prosperity doesn’t trickle down…it trickles up. When we lift up those who have the least, our boats all rise together.

Horner was a fundamentally optimistic man. He approached his job as governor with a hopeful heart, and he never let that hope diminish under the uncommon burdens of being head of state.

He knew what I know…that the state of our state has always been strong because of the values of our people…not the value of our coffers.

Horner once said: “The only way to carry out any great purpose is not on your shoulders, but in your heart. Carry it on your backs and it may wear you down. Carry it in your hearts and it will lift you up. Thus, the heart strengthens the purpose, and the purpose gives poise and inspiration to the will.”

Like you, I carry the burdens of this state in my heart – and despite the heavy load it lifts me up every day. I share my purpose with you so that it may give poise and inspiration to our collective will – because I know the road ahead is hard, but I think it’s about time we all walk it together.

* The Tribune has some background on Gov. Horner

A probate judge in Cook County for many years, Horner was a Democrat like Pritzker. Horner became Illinois’ first Jewish governor when he was elected in 1932. His grandfather had been one of the first four Jews to settle in Chicago, 91 years before.

In his speech Wednesday, Pritzker repeated his call for a graduated income tax that will weigh more heavily on the wealthy. Horner also took on a tax issue, successfully pushing in 1933 for a state sales tax, a 3 percent levy that was roundly denounced by business interests. […]

An opponent of patronage and corruption, Horner sparred with powerful Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly. In 1936, Chicago’s Democratic machine sought to defeat Horner, but with strong Downstate support he won re-election. Two years later, a state ticket he supported in the face of machine opposition “triumphed,” the Tribune reported.

But, according to the Tribune, “the successful effort he then made to overcome the bosses cost him his health.” Horner suffered a stroke in 1938, and died while still in office in 1940. He was 61.

* Bernie

Pritzker said he belongs to the same Chicago synagogue that Horner attended: Chicago Sinai Congregation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* Your one word assessment of Gov. Pritzker’s budget address? One word only, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   101 Comments      

Dispute between Statehouse reporters, Pritzker administration over budget briefing

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* ILCA letter to Pritzker PR staff…

Dear Jordan and Emily,

This message is coming from interested members of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association. As you know, it’s that time of year when we’re working to provide our readers, listeners, and viewers with thorough coverage of the governor’s budget proposal. To that end, we are requesting that the budget briefing be fully on the record (meaning anything said would be quotable with attribution).

Some of our members cannot attend with any restrictions.

This is in keeping with longstanding practices of past administrations, Republican and Democratic. (Until recently, they were embargoed until noon the day of the budget address, but they were still on the record. Even that limitation was dispensed with in recent years.)

Please do not hesitate to get in touch for further discussion.

Members of the ILCA

— John O’Connor, The Associated Press
— Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune
— Dan Petrella, Chicago Tribune
— Tina Sfondeles, Chicago Sun-Times
— Doug Finke, The State Journal-Register — Joseph Bustos, Belleville News Democrat — Shia Kapos, Politico — Hannah Meisel, The Daily Line — Rebecca Anzel, Capitol News Illinois — Peter Hancock, Capitol News Illinois — Jerry Nowicki, Capitol News Illinois — Jeff Rogers, Capitol News Illinois — Dan McCaleb, Illinois News Network — Daisy Contreras, NPR Illinois — Jaclyn Driscoll, NPR Illinois — Mary Hansen, NPR Illinois — Brian Mackey, NPR Illinois — Dusty Rhodes, NPR Illinois — Dave Dahl, WTAX — Mark Maxwell, WCIA, WMBD, WTVO, WHBF — Rachel Droze, WICS/WRSP — Doug Wolfe, WAND-TV — Tony J. Yuscius, Blueroom Stream

I am not on the list because I submitted my name too late.

* Response…

Brian - thank you so much for reaching out. Please let your members know that we strongly encourage them to attend, as we certainly want them and the public to understand what’s in this budget proposal. I hope you forward this email to all of them.

At the briefing, we’ll be running through the budget at a more granular level of detail than the speech itself, as well as giving them an opportunity to get their questions answered. All of this information can and should be reported. We encourage your members to use the information that they receive in that briefing to share with the public through all their reporting platforms, whether that’s print, broadcast or digital.

They are welcome to describe the budget briefing in detail, including that Deputy Gov. Hynes and Budget Director Sturm led the briefing and provided the facts. An example of attribution that we are comfortable with is below.

EXAMPLE OF ATTRIBUTION: According to Hynes and/or Sturm, this budget includes the first increase in funding for CTE programs in a decade.

We are asking that they not use direct quotes from either Dan or Alexis, so that today, the Governor has the opportunity to communicate his budget priorities himself, in his own voice.

For members who don’t attend, we’ll be happy to provide them with answers to their questions, and they should feel free to reach out to me or Jordan.

I’m told that at least three Statehouse reporters refused to attend.


- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Supporters issue statements of support

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* Speaker Madigan…

After four years of unprecedented crisis, we are still uncovering the extent of the damage to our state’s budget. Bruce Rauner’s budget crisis has left us with billions of dollars in unpaid bills, frayed our social service infrastructure, and squandered $1 billion on late payment penalties instead of funding our schools, health care and critical human services. Without the efforts of House Democrats and some rank-and-file Republicans who worked together to make tough decisions and end Rauner’s crisis, the damage would have been even worse.

Amid the challenges we heard spelled out today, we also heard that we now have a governor who recognizes the magnitude of these challenges and will work with us to address them. House Democrats stand ready to work with Governor Pritzker and our Republican colleagues, bring all options to the table for honest negotiation, make the tough decisions, continue to stand strong and protect critical human services and quality schools, and move Illinois forward.

* House appropriation committee chairs Luis Arroyo, Kelly Cassidy, La Shawn K. Ford, Robyn Gabel, Rita Mayfield and Robert ‘Bob’ Rita…

“Governor Pritzker’s budget address was a sobering reflection of the real challenges facing our state after four years of Bruce Rauner’s neglect and mismanagement. The Rauner crisis has left us with a $3.2 billion structural deficit, and $14 billion in unpaid bills. Eight credit downgrades in just four years leave us on the verge of junk bond status. And the consequences are falling on those who can least afford it, from seniors, to children in need, to elderly veterans.

“House Democrats will continue to prioritize funding for essential services, and ensure that our most vulnerable residents receive the resources they need. This is the first of many steps as we work to restore Illinois’ fiscal house over several years, and with that will come many tough but necessary decisions. We will continue reaching across the aisle and working with our Republican colleagues to craft bipartisan budgets that set Illinois on a path to financial stability.

“Governor Pritzker’s straightforward assessment of the challenges Illinois faces is a welcome departure from Rauner’s years of neglect. While a lot of negotiation remains to be done, the governor’s proposal shares our commitment to funding our most critical services and lifting up our local communities by creating good-paying jobs and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. This is a starting point in a discussion of how we invest in education, repair our human services network, and ultimately create a better Illinois.

“As we begin the process of making a new budget and addressing these challenges, we come to the table prepared to work with the governor and legislators on both sides of the aisle with the goal of passing a responsible, balanced budget on time.”

* Senate Appropriations I Committee Chair Heather Steans…

“Having the governor propose a balanced budget is a positive step toward restoring stability to our state and ensuring long-term functionality within our government. Illinois continues to face structural budget challenges and I am encouraged that Governor Pritzker is addressing them head on.

“I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues in the Senate over the next few months to develop a budget that significantly moves Illinois toward a solution that achieves financial certainty and builds trust that Illinois is back on the right track.”

* IFT President Dan Montgomery…

“After four years of divisiveness and destruction under Bruce Rauner, it was inspiring today to hear Governor Pritzker call for unity and collaboration to help Illinois get back on track.

“The problems we’re facing have taken decades to develop, and Rauner made them exponentially worse during his manufactured budget crisis. As a result, the new administration has inherited a $3.2 billion budget deficit and nearly $15 billion in unpaid bills.
“Despite these fiscal challenges, we are excited to see that Governor Pritzker is keeping his promise to prioritize public education and plans to dramatically increase funding at every level. It’s clear that he understands the importance of great public schools and higher education and is committed to fulfilling the state’s responsibility to invest in them.

“We are also interested to learn more about the pension ideas proposed today and glad they did not include any unconstitutional cuts to workers’ hard-earned retirements. We welcome the opportunity to work together to address the debt, and that’s why I’ve been proud to serve on the transition committee and advise on pension issues, to help ensure this is done responsibly and fairly.

“In the end though, none of our state’s economic problems can be solved without more revenue. We agree with the Governor – and 72 percent of Illinoisans – that our state’s wealthiest citizens should pay their fair share, while lower and middle-class families get a break. We are fully committed to helping pass a fair tax.

“We are heartened to have a governor who respects the vital work of public servants and our unions and look forward to tackling the challenges ahead – together.”

* IEA President Kathi Griffin…

Today marks a new day and a new focus for education in Illinois. It’s refreshing to have a governor not only focused on what is best for students and Illinois’ future, but who is willing to work collaboratively to get the best results.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed an additional $25 million toward K-12 education in Illinois, above and beyond the $350 million new dollars added last year through the new evidence-based funding law. There is also an additional $21 million in funding set aside for special education grants, $5 million for much-needed career and technical education programs for high school students and $2 million to help low-income students pay for Advanced Placement testing.

Gov. Pritzker also is proposing an additional boost over last year’s funding for higher education. While this is an amount still below what higher ed needs, it is a step toward fuller funding for higher education and, importantly, a move away from the financial starvation strategy we saw in recent years. It includes a 5 percent increase for community colleges and public universities and $50 million for MAP grants.

And, in what is a huge leap forward toward education equity in Illinois, Gov. Pritzker has proposed a boost of more than $100 million in birth to age five education funding. We have seen study after study that shows early education helps level the playing field for students over their entire learning careers and sets students on a path toward successful lives.

We applaud Gov. Pritzker for looking at various funding sources because funding has to play a role in the future he’s building for Illinois. A starving state cannot grow.

And, we find the Governor’s pension proposal an interesting start to the conversation. We understand this is a huge issue for Illinois and we also understand that any solution should be fiscally responsible, fair and constitutionally sound. We look forward to getting all stakeholders in the room to discuss viable solutions to find a healthy pathway forward.

* Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael T. Carrigan…

“Gov. Pritzker has signaled that he is taking on the state’s financial challenges in an open, fair, and productive manner. By enacting a minimum wage increase yesterday and putting forth plans for a state infrastructure improvement program along with a Fair Tax proposal, Pritzker is following through on his promise of investing in the working people of Illinois as a path to solid financial footing and economic security for our state. We welcome the opportunity to work with the governor and General Assembly on solutions that create an economy that works for all.”

* Illinois Working Together Executive Director Jake Lewis…

“Gov. JB Pritzker’s address today makes clear the hard choices facing Illinois as it begins to heal after four devastating years under Bruce Rauner. It will not be easy, but we commend the governor for taking a bold stand in tackling the challenges facing the state. We especially applaud Gov. Pritzker for recognizing that key to our future prosperity are a Fair Tax that asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share and a Capital Bill that invests in high quality infrastructure to keep our citizens safe.

“We welcome Gov. Pritzker’s commitment to move Illinois forward with high-road solutions that promote economic justice for all.”

* Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter…

“After four years of destruction and turmoil at the hands of Bruce Rauner, it is time for all of us to have the open and honest conversations that will get Illinois back on track to prosperity for all. Without mincing words, Governor Pritzker laid out the issues plaguing the state and his ideas to solve them, including a fair income tax. We are encouraged by Governor Pritzker’s message to Illinoisans and his refocusing our priorities on education, health and human services, and public safety. He laid out a thoughtful budget aimed at growing the economy and expanding the middle class. We stand ready to work with Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Legislature to find solutions that promote upward economic mobility among all working families.”

* Comptroller Mendoza…

Today, Governor Pritzker took a welcome departure from the past. His budget address shows he grasps the problems Illinois faces and is embracing serious solutions to attack them. As he said, it has taken decades to get Illinois into this mess, and Governor Pritzker knows it will take years for us to dig ourselves out.

Governor Pritzker’s proposed support for early childhood, elementary and higher education; crime prevention; veterans; mental health, child care and aging programs is both welcome and necessary.

Today is just the first step in the budgeting process, but it appears to be a good step. Now it’s time for Governor Pritzker and the legislature to get to work. My office will continue to serve as a resource for up-to-date fiscal information and transparency for taxpayers.

…Adding… Senate President Cullerton…

I give the governor credit for offering specifics. His plan is filled with ideas — real, doable, constitutional ideas. Now, whether or not they happen remains to be seen. That’s what the legislative process is for. But I commend Governor Pritzker for stepping forward today and presenting specifics. It’s a heck of a lot better than an empty “$4.6 billion by working together” line we saw in past years.

This is a budget that’s about restoring stability and functionality to state government. That’s what we need to build for the future.

Does it solve all of our problems? No. But it’s a vital step in the right direction.

There’s increased school funding. That means more resources for local public schools everywhere in Illinois, and that means more opportunities for our children.

There’s additional support for working families. You see it with the increased funding for child care assistance. Under this plan, a family of four making $50,000 would qualify for help with child care costs.

There’s more financial aid for college students.

The Chicago Veterans Home – a modern care facility for our veterans – would finally open.

I give the governor credit for being creative, aggressive and specific in his budget, and I look forward to working with him to bring it to reality.

…Adding… Jennifer Walling, Executive Director of The Illinois Environmental Council…

Governor Pritzker’s budget prioritizes moving Illinois to 100% clean energy and environmental justice communities by fully funding the nation-leading Illinois Solar for All program, as well as a new program designed to bring the benefits of energy efficiency to environmental justice communities. The proposed budget would also increase headcounts at both IEPA and IDNR, which will lead to better enforcement of environmental laws, and reverses the trend of leaving money on the table by fully appropriating federal funds.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

It wasn’t all praise

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* I’ve received several press releases supporting the governor’s proposed budget. Here are some in opposition. First up, Jessica Collingsworth, Lead Midwest Energy Policy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists…

In his State of the State address today, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker did not reiterate a campaign pledge that he will work to ensure all the state’s energy needs are met with solar, wind, and other carbon-free energy sources by 2050.

Below is a statement by Jessica Collingsworth, lead Midwest energy policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Midwest office.

“While Governor Pritzker neglected to lay out his plan to wean the state off fossil fuels by 2050, I’m hopeful he still plans to honor his campaign promises. He took a laudable first step in joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, becoming the 18th governor to uphold the environmental protections outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. But he can do much more to make Illinois a climate leader.

“As the climate changes, so will the circumstances of many Illinoisans. We’ll likely experience more intense floods as well as droughts. More frequent and intense heat waves also will increase public health risks and energy demand.

“In addition, Illinois has several frontline communities battling pollution from the energy sector. The science is clear, we must invest in renewable energy and help communities, especially those hardest hit, withstand climate impacts. Illinois deserves a healthy economy and environment where everyone can thrive.”

* And…

The Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois released the following statement in response to the governor’s budget proposal that includes a 36 percent wholesale tax on vapor products:

“The governor’s proposed tax would do nothing more than create another hurdle for adults who are trying to quit smoking. Studies have shown that vaping products are among the most useful tools to help adult smokers quit traditional cigarettes. In fact, they have even been shown to be twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum. With vaping products proven to be 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes, it seems unethical to tax a person for making better, healthier choices. The long term savings to our state is in improving the health of its citizens by moving them from deadly cigarettes to something that is far less harmful and we look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to achieve this end,” said Victoria Vasconcellos, president of the Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois.


“Skipping pension payments, borrowing new debt, raising taxes, increasing spending - it’s clear that J.B. Pritzker is the new Rod Blagojevich. Pritzker’s unbalanced budget proposal is more of the same, failed policies that got our state into the mess it’s currently in. Illinois taxpayers cannot afford to return to the budget deficits and failed policies of the Blagojevich era. Pritzker pledged to deliver a balanced budget, and he failed.” - Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider

Today, Governor J.B. Pritzker gave his first budget address where he outlined his first, and probably not last, unbalanced budget proposal. In his speech, Pritzker advocated for a return to the same, failed budgeting that got our state in the mess it’s in:

    Skip pension payments, $800 million a year for the next seven years
    Madigan and Blagojevich supported a plan to skip pension payments
    Issue $2 billion in new pension obligation bonds to make up for skipping pension payments
    Madigan and Blagojevich supported a plan to issue pension obligation bonds
    Increase spending by hundreds of millions of dollars
    Levy new taxes
    Theoretical graduated income tax, could not be enacted unless voters approve referendum in fall 2020, and Pritzker still refuses to release rates or revenue projections, yet Pritzker promises it will pay for everything - from pensions, to property and income tax cuts
    Enact statewide plastic bag tax
    Legalize recreational marijuana use, tax sales
    Legalize sports betting, tax winnings
    Increase video gaming taxes
    Phase out the bipartisan Invest In Kids tuition tax credit scholarship program for low-income schoolchildren
    Shorting the pension system $800 million a year might be the most irresponsible proposal from Governor Pritzker’s FY2020 budget. Pritzker’s decision to skip pension payments will cost billions of dollars more down the road. This is the exact opposite of what Pritzker pledged he would do during his campaign for governor. Last year, Pritzker told the Crain’s Editorial Board that the state should increase, not decrease, yearly contributions to the state pension systems.

Furthermore, Governor Pritzker’s spending plan relies on tax revenue the state has not yet received. It will take years to enact a theoretical graduated income tax, yet Pritzker is already committing that revenue to new projects. Pritzker’s budgeting is reckless and fiscally irresponsible.

It’s clear - J.B. Pritzker is the new Rod Blagojevich. Illinois taxpayers cannot afford to return to the budget deficits and failed policies of the Blagojevich era. Pritzker pledged to deliver a balanced budget, and he failed.

* Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady…

The Governor’s proposed budget represents a starting point for further negotiations.

We heard a lot in his speech about more spending, more tax increases and concepts tried in the past. And while we as legislators now begin digging into the details, I have grave concerns about the pension plan and I remain opposed to a graduated income tax.

The people of Illinois are demanding their elected officials address the fiscal crisis facing our state. If we are going to put Illinois on a path forward; then we need to learn from history, not repeat it.

* Illinois Manufacturers’ Association…

“In order to grow and provide more middle-class jobs, Illinois manufacturers need financial stability from state government, including a budget that doesn’t spend more than taxpayers can afford or rely on gimmicks that will only cost more in the long run. While we applaud the focus on education and workforce development, this budget has a structural deficit of $3.2 billion and continues to kick the can down the road on pensions,” said IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler. “It’s past time for lawmakers and the administration to make some tough decisions in order for Illinois to become a more attractive place for businesses to locate and expand. We stand ready to work collaboratively toward that goal.”

…Adding… Kelly Welsh, President of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago…

Our plan called Restore Illinois is a comprehensive roadmap to put Illinois on the path to fiscal solvency. Unfortunately, the proposed budget does not go far enough to address Illinois’ fiscal problems. Delaying an aggressive approach will worsen our state’s financial outlook, and continue to slow our economic and jobs growth. We urge the General Assembly and the Governor to work together to develop a plan that changes the trajectory of Illinois’ finances now, before they get worse.

* House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…

The Governor’s budget today shows the true need for bipartisan solutions to fix Illinois’ many fiscal challenges. We cannot tax, borrow and spend our way out of this deficit as the governor has proposed. Illinois families deserve a focus on reform, including our out-of-control pension costs and sky high property taxes, and not a penny more in new taxes or fees. My caucus is prepared to work with the Governor on crafting a balanced budget that reflects our priorities and moves Illinois forward.

…Adding… Ideas Illinois Chairman Greg Baise…

“Today we got a Blagojevich style budget, spending we can’t afford and the biggest jobs tax in Illinois history. We think the state needs to get its own fiscal house in order before it punishes families with another round of massive tax increases.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Budget address open thread

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* Click here to watch the speech. Click here to read the speech [fixed link]. Click here to see the proposed budget.

…Adding… This is from the “Budget in Brief”

Illinois will continue to face structural deficits, including an estimated deficit of $3.2 billion in FY2020

Um, what?

How can a budget be balanced and have an estimated $3.2 billion deficit?

Checking with the administration.

…Adding… The administration claims it closed the $3.2 billion hole. So, apparently what that above passage means is they projected a budget hole and then closed it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      

Caption contest!

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* Heh…

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      

Our state’s biggest budget problem

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Gov. J.B. Pritzker will stare down Illinois’ dismal state finances in his inaugural budget address today. According to the state’s own numbers, Illinois hasn’t balanced a budget in nearly two decades.

But why?

One simple reason: State spending has grown far faster than Illinoisans’ ability to pay for it.

From 2007 to 2017, Illinois state spending grew nearly 50 percent faster than personal incomes on a per capita basis. This rapid growth in spending has led to irresponsible budgeting, tax hikes and borrowing.

But there is an alternative.

The Illinois Policy Institute’s Budget Solutions 2020 plan provides a bipartisan path to a balanced budget without tax hikes, while responsibly paying down the state’s pension debt and bill backlog. Thankfully, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have already introduced many of the tools Pritzker needs to balance the state budget in the current General Assembly, including a smart spending cap, school district efficiency and constitutional pension reform.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* Rep. Anne Stava-Murray’s House Bill 3539

It is a civil rights violation to ask a candidate for election to public office in this State about: his or her parental status; his or her plans for childcare; his or her religion; his or her sexual orientation; or any other question that may result in unlawful discrimination.

Um, anybody remember that thing called the 1st Amendment?

* The gigantic loophole in this bill is that the cam footage wouldn’t be subjected to FOIA laws. I mean, why have all those body cams if the public can’t get access? Also, the bill (click here) would apply to all public officials, not just elected officials. Public officials are defined as “any person who is elected or appointed to public office,” so we’re talking about maybe tens of thousands of people here

All elected officials in Illinois would be required to wear body cameras while conducting public business if a bill sponsored by state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, becomes law.

The intent of the bill is to reduce corruption at the state and local levels, but Cabello acknowledges his idea has virtually no chance of winning approval.

“We see the dealings going on in Chicago with some of the wiretaps and some of the corruption that’s been going on for decades,” Cabello said. “We hear of the state lawmakers that get themselves into trouble with bribes and so on and so forth. So, I just thought that since the state was looking at making all police officers wear body cameras, I figured this might be a good way to have records of what lawmakers are doing.”

I’m betting he also figured it was a good way to get a few press pops.

But perhaps Rep. Cabello could wear a cam himself for a while and see how it goes before asking to impose this on everyone else.

* On a much more serious note, I didn’t realize Illinois still had this law on its books…

Recently released inmates people would no longer need to reimburse the Illinois Department of Corrections for the cost of their incarceration under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D – Chicago) which passed out of a Senate committee today.

“It’s ridiculous that a provision like this even exists in the first place,” Peters said. “These people already have a major burden placed on them by the criminal justice system. It’s unconscionable that there’s an additional financial burden placed on them once they’re finally released, and only makes a return to a life of crime more likely.”

Under current law, recently released persons are required to reimburse the DOC for any expenses incurred as a result of their incarceration. The measure, Senate Bill 1158, strikes this requirement from the statute.

The bill passed through the Senate Committee on Criminal law and will now proceed to the full Senate for consideration.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Quick budget address roundup

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* Tribune

While the full scope of Pritzker’s spending plan remains unclear, an administration document shows the governor will propose spending an additional $630 million on education, from preschool through college.

A new statewide formula for funding elementary and secondary education already calls for an increase of $350 million for public schools compared with the current year, but Pritzker wants to add another $25 million.

His budget plan also will call for spending increases of $55.2 million for public universities, $13.9 million for community colleges and $50 million for tuition grants to low-income college students.

He also will call for $100 million in additional spending on early childhood education.

And since he’ll use this address as an opportunity to kick off his two-year campaign to implement a graduated income tax, expect a lot of talk today about how this budget is merely a “bridge” to the future

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) I will deliver a budget that begins to stabilize our state finances while starting to rebuild our human services, our universities and P-12 education, and our public safety, along with the funding needed to make this minimum wage a reality,” Pritzker said.

* The other side is waiting for him

Ideas Illinois has launched a digital ad campaign just hours before Gov. J.B. Pritzker makes his first budget address. The ad, obtained by POLITICO, highlights what chairman Greg Baise calls a “lack of new ideas” to solve Illinois’ serious financial problems.

“Even though Illinois has a new governor, all we hear are the same failed solutions to our state’s budgetary problems—higher taxes, shorting our pension funds and massive amounts of new spending,” said Baise. Ideas Illinois is a 501C4 not-for-profit that’s pro-business and anti-progressive income tax (which it refers to as a jobs tax). It’s the counter to Pritzker’s Think Big Illinois group.

The ad claims “Illinois leads in all the wrong categories” and it ticks off as examples “high property taxes, billions in unpaid pension obligations, never-ending tax increases and population that has declined for five years in a row.”

It’s all a shot at Pritzker, whose party controls both houses of the legislature—leaving Republicans wafting in the wind.

The ad is about a minute long

* Meanwhile

Incoming Gov. J.B. Pritzker will include revenue from Illinois sports betting when delivering his budget proposal to the state legislature Wednesday, according to an advance briefing to lawmakers Tuesday.

As the new Democratic governor who upended a Republican incumbent, Pritzker holds a lot of sway with his party members. Democrats dominate in each chamber of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois Rep. Mike Zalewski, who soon plans to introduce a sports betting bill, tells Legal Sports Report that Pritzker backing IL sports betting will be “a huge help” to his efforts.

“He’s trying to rectify a budget situation that’s four years in the making, and he sees sports betting as part of that solution,” Zalewski said. “He’s an incoming Democratic governor who won by a wide amount. Those in our caucus want to give him what he asks for to lead us.

“To have him ask for sports betting, I think we’ll be supportive of it.”

That’s a pretty good article, by the way. So click here and read the rest if you’re interested in the topic.

* In other budget-related news

During his campaign for governor, Pritzker frequently attacked his predecessor’s handling of multiple Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at a state-run veterans’ home in downstate Quincy, Ill. The families of 12 residents are suing the state for neglect over their loved ones’ deaths. Legislators overrode a veto from Rauner to raise the limit of what those families could win in their lawsuits, from $100,000 to $2 million.

Chicago attorney Steven Jambois, who represents one of those 12 families, told WBEZ Tuesday that those settlement negotiations have just begun. Jambois said he’s demanding the full $2 million for his client, the family of Valdemar Dehn, a Korean War veteran who died in 2017 — two years after the first Legionnaires’ outbreak at the Quincy home.

“How does one evaluate the value for that? Particularly on our case, he was one of the last persons to die and clearly in our mind the most preventable of all the deaths, since they clearly had sufficient notice,” Jambois said.

In addition, Pritzker vowed during the campaign to continue Rauner’s plan to rebuild the Quincy veterans’ home. Last year, lawmakers put $53 million as a down payment toward construction. Rauner estimated the total spending on a new veterans’ home in Quincy could cost about $245 million.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      

Fitch likes, criticizes aspects of Pritzker pension proposal, but says unlikely to affect near-term rating trajectory

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* Fitch Ratings…

Recent pension proposals from Illinois’ new governor are an important first step in addressing the state’s significant fiscal challenges, according to Fitch Ratings. But whether or not they are implemented, Fitch anticipates Illinois’ long-term liability burden will remain elevated and amongst the highest for U.S. states for the foreseeable future. Fitch also anticipates annual employee retirement costs will continue to pressure the state’s expenditure flexibility. Fitch’s focus in the near term, reflecting the key rating sensitivity in resolving our Negative Outlook, remains Illinois’ ability to achieve progress in addressing its immediate structural budgetary challenges. The pension proposals offer a mix of potential revenue increases, cash and asset infusions, indirect benefit changes and an actuarial adjustment, to address the liability and budgetary demands of the states’ pension systems. Several elements will take months or even years before full implementation. […]

The pension plan outlined by Illinois’ Deputy Governor for Budget and Economy includes five closely related proposals. The first is to dedicate $200 million of new revenue from a proposed graduated income tax as an annual supplemental pension contribution. While this would be in addition to the statutory pension requirement, Fitch notes this statutory requirement only targets 90% funding of pension liabilities. In fiscal 2018, the gap between the state’s 90% statutory funding requirement and the actuarially determined contribution was over $1 billion dollars, more than five times the amount of the proposed supplementary funding. The graduated income tax requires a state constitutional amendment that must be approved by legislative super-majorities (which Democrats have in both chambers) and then by voters, also by a super-majority. Fitch estimates the earliest it could be approved would be in the November 2020 general election.

A second proposal to repurpose or sell state-owned assets to support the pension systems is also uncertain. The administration recently created a taskforce to evaluate state assets for this purpose but has not yet indicated a specific target amount or a timeline. Fitch cautions that financial engineering transactions that use a government-owned asset to strengthen a pension plan’s funded condition and slow the burden of rising contributions are not a substitute for more fundamental reforms that correct an underlying sustainability problem.

The third proposal is for issuance of $2 billion in pension obligation bonds (POBs) to reduce the pension liability rather than as budgetary relief for annual contributions - this reflects about 1% of the most recent estimate of the Illinois’ Fitch-adjusted net pension liabilities of more than $162 billion. Fitch generally considers POBs a neutral to negative credit factor. If POB proceeds are deposited with a pension trust, while full actuarial contributions continue to flow uninterrupted from annual budgetary resources, the issuance of POBs offsets the unfunded liability and has little immediate effect on the issuer’s overall long-term liability burden. In announcing the plan, the Deputy Governor said the state would only pursue the bonds if interest rates are lower than the discount rate on pension obligations at the time of issuance. Fitch notes that the POBs could be multi-decade obligations and present inherent investment and timing risks.

Fourth, the administration proposes extending the buyout programs enacted with the state’s current year budget, perhaps permanently. Several of the buyout programs have accepted applications but no payouts have been made to date. Fitch previously indicated uncertainty in the savings budgeted in fiscal 2019 from these buyouts. Extending them indefinitely could add to current year budget pressure by eliminating the incentive for eligible pension system members to sign up for a buyout this year, thereby reducing the immediate savings to the state. Over the long-term, Fitch considers the proposed open-ended buyouts as indirect pension benefit changes that could gradually reduce the long-term pension liability, but would require an ongoing funding source. Illinois’ fiscal 2019 budget anticipated issuance of up to $1 billion in GO bonds to fund pension buyouts. Absent a constitutional amendment, Illinois’ ability to more directly reduce already-accrued retiree benefits appears sharply limited.

The fifth proposal is arguably the clearest and most achievable change, but one that comes with considerable risk. To reduce the annual budgetary burden, the governor proposes extending the current closed 26-year amortization by seven years to 2052, while maintaining the comparatively weak 90% funding target. Re-amortization has been used by other state and local governments when addressing pension challenges, but is typically in the context of a commitment to achieving full prefunding, making actuarially determined contributions, and sometimes, benefit changes for current or future employees and retirees. Illinois’ re-amortization would maintain an inadequate funding target and be combined with uncertain revenue commitments, and limited indirect benefit changes.

The pension proposals in aggregate attempt to reduce immediate budgetary demands and longterm net pension liabilities, but on their own are unlikely to affect Fitch’s rating trajectory for Illinois’ IDR in the near term. Resolution of our Negative Outlook hinges on the state’s ability to address structural budgetary issues in the current year and fiscal 2020, and demonstrate progress toward more sustainable fiscal management. Fitch has previously identified more than $2 billion in risks and one-time items in Illinois’ nearly $40 billion fiscal 2019 general funds budget. The administration recently estimated the structural deficit for fiscal 2020 at $3.2 billion. The governor’s pension plan and his upcoming executive budget proposal will begin the process of determining how Illinois will meet these pressing fiscal challenges. [Emphasis added.]


- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Rate the new anti-Daley TV ad

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* From Local 150’s Fight Back for a Better Tomorrow fund

* Script…

Bill Daley says it’s time to get real.

But who’s the real Bill Daley?

Daley was hand-picked by Bruce Rauner to co-chair his transition team, laying the framework for Rauner’s reckless policies.

And as Rauner drove Illinois billions into debt, Daley stood by and did nothing.

Now Daley’s the only candidate funded by Bruce Rauner’s biggest donor.

Daley even said he was “proud” to take 2 million dollars from Rauner’s billionaire Wall Street buddy.

And now we should trust Bill Daley to be different from Bruce Rauner?

Let’s get real.

…Adding… Daley campaign…

The following should be attributed to Jorge Neri, campaign manager:

“This week, the Better Government Association rated the claims made in this new ad as false. Bill Daley served under two Democrat presidents: as Chief of Staff for former President Barack Obama, and U.S. Commerce Secretary for former President Bill Clinton. He also served as campaign chairman for former Democratic Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign. Bill is proud to be a longtime Democrat and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

“Bill is the only person in the race with the ability and experience to ensure every Chicago neighborhood prospers. Special interest groups aligned with Susana Mendoza are scared and these groups have chosen to hide behind dark money to maintain their grip of perceived political influence.

“This dark money group, with suburban roots, has previously supported Republican candidates over Democrats like Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood. The fact that they want to tell the City of Chicago who to vote for is laughable.

“As mayor, Bill will be accountable to the people of Chicago.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Pritzker appoints new DHS, IDNR, IDFPR heads

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

Building on a strong team of diverse experts in their fields, Governor JB Pritzker announced the following personnel appointments:


Grace Hou will serve as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).* Hou is currently the president of Woods Fund Chicago, a grant-making foundation that funds organizations that draw on the power of communities to fight the brutality of poverty and structural racism. From 2003 to 2012, she served as the Assistant Secretary at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) where she was responsible for the oversight of the agency’s six program areas. During that time, she was a key leader in the creation and implementation of the state’s nationally acclaimed Immigrant Integration New American’s Executive Order. Hou previously served as executive director of Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA) and has been a vocal advocate for immigrant rights. She received her Master of Public Administration from the University of Illinois Springfield and her Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Colleen Callahan will serve as Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR).* Callahan currently manages her own communications consulting firm after spending over seven years as state director for USDA Rural Development in Illinois. During her tenure, she oversaw a 20% reduction in staffing while still being able to generate a $1 billion increase in the Illinois loan portfolio. Prior, Callahan served as the agribusiness director for WMBD in Peoria, a position she held for 30 years. She was the first female president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Callahan received her Bachelor of Science in agricultural communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Deborah Hagan will serve as Secretary of Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).* For over 36 years, Hagan has been a strong and exemplary advocate for consumer protection in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. In her role as leader of the Consumer Protection Division, she advanced and defended the interests of Illinois consumers in critical areas such as mortgage origination and servicing, student loan servicing, debt collection, identity theft and other areas of financial risk. Hagan has played a critical leadership role in many groundbreaking settlements on the state and national level, helping to recover billions of dollars in restitution for victims of consumer fraud and other wrongful conduct. In addition to her current role which she has held since 2004, Hagan has served as bureau chief, deputy bureau chief and assistant attorney general. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Dayton School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Miami University.

Mario Treto, Jr. will serve as Director of Real Estate at IDFPR.* Treto currently serves as Deputy City Attorney for the City of Evanston where he provides legal counsel to its elected officials, departments, and staff with compliance, transactional, and corporate matters. Prior to entering the public sector, he worked at a Chicago-based law firm focusing his practice on commercial and residential real estate, corporate law and commercial transactions. Treto is a nationally recognized lawyer by various organizations, including the International Municipal Lawyers Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar. He also serves as board chair of Howard Brown Health, a federally qualified health center in the Chicagoland area with ten clinics and a youth center serving 35,000 patients. He received his Juris Doctor from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts in biology and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis.

Francisco Menchaca will continue to serve as Director of Financial Institutions at IDFPR.* Menchaca has held the post since his appointment by Gov. Quinn in July 2013 and previously served the department as credit union supervisor. Prior to beginning state service, Menchaca developed an extensive resume managing financial institutions and governmental agencies at the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC). He has spent over twenty years of his career in the financial industry, notably serving as the First Vice President at Bank One, where he also spearheaded the Latino Employee Network. Menchaca is a proponent of robust public‐private partnerships and community outreach, citing his youth in the Pilsen/Little Village neighborhood as his inspiration in seeking to provide opportunities for educational and economic development. He received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University.

Jessica Baer will continue to serve as Director of Professional Regulation at IDFPR.* Baer has held the post since her appointment by Gov. Rauner in September 2016 and previously served the department as general counsel. In that role, she oversaw the entire legal department for the agency, providing input on a number of topics including pending litigation, labor issues, and legislation. Prior to joining IDFPR, Baer spent six years as an associate at K&L Gates focusing on litigation and antitrust law. Her cases involved complex contractual disputes, antitrust litigation and regulatory compliance counseling. Baer is licensed to practice law in Illinois. She earned her Juris Doctor from DePaul University and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Click here to view the previous appointments to the Pritzker administration.

* Appointment pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate.

He seems to be keeping around quite a few Rauner appointees.

* The Illinois Sierra Club is loving the Callahan appointment, by the way…

We applaud Governor Pritzker’s appointment of Colleen Callahan to be the be the first woman to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Colleen for years to protect natural resources and bring the benefits of the clean energy economy to central Illinois. She has a big job ahead of her at a Department that has been devastated in recent years by budget problems and neglect, and we look forward to working with her to rebuild Illinois’ commitment to conservation and protecting our natural heritage for today and for future generations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Evans puts mileage tax on ice

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* This is the second bill that I know of to be tabled this week. Yesterday, Rep. Monica Bristow (D-Alton) tabled a bill that would’ve required a DCFS investigation whenever a home-schooling registration form was submitted after an outcry from parents. And now this

A bill that would test a mileage tax for vehicles driving on state roads has been tabled, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead.

Chicago Democrat Marcus Evans last week filed House Bill 2864, establishing a pilot program for a 2.1-cent tax on every mile a vehicle is driven on state roads.

But Evans tabled the bill Tuesday, saying he wanted to send the message that he’s not going to bring it back this session. “But if someone else wants to find a creative way to do that, then they can,” Evans said. […]

“This bill needs so much work — why have it out there?” Evans said. “Let’s just talk about the idea, and educate ourselves on what it is first. We can still have conversations, but not for bill purposes.”

The blowback on social media was pretty intense. He got his “conversation,” but it likely wasn’t what he expected.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019

* It’s budget address day. Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

* Caption contest!
* The harm done by the "pension crisis" narrative
* What Is The Credit Union Difference?
* Unmentioned?
* Question of the day
* Pritzker wants to start phase-out of private school scholarship program
* Snoop Dogg will perform at Illinois State Fair
* Pritzker budget boosts early childhood education, child care
* Two vastly different ways of addressing the issue of consent
* Way to go, Tina
* A look at some of Pritzker's increased spending
* A quick look at Pritzker's new revenue streams
* A big nail unanimously driven into the drug war's coffin
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

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