05/19/2017 07:27 AM EDT
By Natasha Korecki (firstname.lastname@example.org; @natashakorecki) and Kristen East (email@example.com; @kristenicoleast)
Good Friday morning, Illinois.
THE BUZZ - Frustrations are building in Springfield as major legislation begins to move - or stall - with an end-of-session deadline looming.
Among those boiling over: state Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat who has acted as a key school funding negotiator.
In an interview with POLITICO last night, Manar accused Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration of "leaking fake documents to a politically-connected publication," to undermine a school funding bill that passed the Senate a day earlier.
Backing up: Manar says he was asked to meet with the governor's administration twice on Thursday - to discuss school funding reform. Manar said Rauner's team was still in negotiating mode - even though the Senate had already passed SB1 35-18. The deal had been part of the so-called Grand Bargain, but after Republican votes fell off, Democrats started moving pieces without them. Republicans complained they weren't ready to vote.
While in the governor's office, Manar said he saw a spreadsheet with school districts and attached dollar amounts expected under the bill that just passed. Except, he said, the numbers were wrong. He said he immediately raised it with the group.
By the time he drove his one-hour commute home, Manar saw a story posted on the web site of one of the publications run by conservative radio show host Dan Proft, a Rauner ally: "Seven Kankakee County school districts lose, six win in state Senate funding revamp"
He said the story contained the same data (which appear at end of story linked above, sourced to the State Board of Education) that he had just seen in the governor's office. Proft, the recipient of millions of dollars from Rauner as a political operative, oversees a chain of 20 publications. That had Manar fearing that bad district-specific information would spread across the state.
"No one in Kankakee County will lose a penny," he said. "Everyone in Kankakee will get more," under the bill as passed, he said.
Manar lashed out at the governor's office.
"This looks a lot like the Rauner administration is leaking fake documents to a politically connected publication to manufacture problems that don't exist so Republican members can cleanse their 'no' votes - and avoid being thrown under the bus by their governor," Manar charged.
The governor's office called it a "wild accusation."
"This claim is false, and Manar is just trying to paper over the fact that he just ran a Chicago bailout yesterday," said Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly. "Rather than making false, wild accusations, they should stop the partisan politics and return to the negotiating table to achieve a bipartisan school funding formula that meets the needs of all students in the state."
What SB1 does: The proposal would create an "evidence-based" model for funding schools in Illinois, grouping them into four tiers based on academic and economic needs. The legislation must still pass the House. That chamber's version of the legislation has emerged from committee.
TAKEAWAY - Manar believes SB1 is good policy - and has political appeal. Rauner's office is calling it a bailout for Chicago. Manar has worked as part of a bipartisan statewide education reform commission, along with Rauner's hand-picked Education Secretary Beth Purvis - someone Manar said he genuinely respects.
What does Rauner still want from negotiations? "They brought me the same list they did in January - we have to pass the governor's reforms," in order to revamp school funding, Manar said. But the legislator said the governor's office is asking for items like: third party contracting at schools, reducing PE and Driver's ed mandates and "dramatically affecting collective bargaining for teachers." The governor's office didn't respond to that specifically (though admittedly, Manar's interview, and our questions, came late last night.) Conservative Republicans have opposed the Grand Bargain, calling it a bad deal for taxpayers.
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FLASHBACK FRIDAY - Back in 2013, when Pat Quinn was governor, someone was astounded by the state's backlog in bills.
The quote: "Illinois' unpaid bills total $5.6 BILLION and have been piling up for more than a decade. It's time to #ReformIL"
Who said it? click here
Today's bill backlog: $14.3 billion
IN THAT VEIN - "Big biz group sides against Rauner in budget war," by Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz: "Warning of a looming 'catastrophe,' a key Chicago business group today effectively sided against Gov. Bruce Rauner in the state's bitter budget war. In an extensive report, the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, which represents the region's largest employers, threw its backing behind efforts to pass a budget that includes considerably more new revenues than spending cuts, and which downplays Rauner's demand for 'structural changes' such as a property tax freeze and workers' compensation reforms in exchange for any tax hike. The report comes as Springfield lawmakers wrestle with the possibility of either passing a state spending plan or putting state government on autopilot until after the 2018 elections. Committee Chair Rick Waddell, CEO of Northern Trust, conceded in an interview that, while the framework laid out in the report urges changes in the workers' comp system, it is silent on a proposed property tax freeze and links neither issue to passage of a budget." Story here
Here is a copy of the report. It's notably called "Bringing Illinois Back." One of Rauner's campaign mottos in 2014 - "Bring back Illinois."
One key takeaway, $8 billion increase in taxes - "The Task Force's findings suggest that expenditure reductions will account for around $2 billion, and revenue increases will be required for the remaining $8 billion."
SPEAKING OF SHORTFALLS - "Emanuel's short-term CPS fix? More borrowing," by Tribune's Juan Perez Jr., Bill Ruthhart and Hal Dardick: "With Chicago Public Schools teetering on the brink of insolvency, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday will call for the district to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars more to get through the school year and make a massive pension payment due June 30, sources familiar with the plan said ... Pushing the money woes to a crisis level: Rauner's veto of pension money the district banked on in this year's budget and the state's failure to pay CPS hundreds of millions of dollars in grants on time ... The district's budget this year is short $129 million - even after CPS made late-year spending cuts in the wake of Rauner's veto of $215 million in pension funding. On top of that, the state is behind in making grant payments of $467 million to the district ...
"Even if Emanuel's short-term plan is implemented and carries CPS through the summer, the district would still face a massive shortfall in 2018 absent some new source of revenue or infusion of cash from the state. The mayor is expected to unveil another plan to deal with next year's finances, one that likely would include a tax hike, according to sources familiar with the mayor's plans." Story here
Emanuel's administration, including Chicago schools CEO Forrest Claypool, point the finger at Rauner's veto and the state's tardiness in paying grants. Rauner's office pointed right back. From spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis: "Instead of engaging with leaders and lawmakers to find solutions to this crisis, the mayor continuously chooses to lay blame on others instead of taking responsibility for his own massive failure of governance. While the mayor is pointing fingers at Springfield, he's running a city with crumbling infrastructure, a school system in crisis and violence that affects every neighborhood in Chicago."
- Democratic candidate for governor and Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar on Thursday said he intends to introduce a resolution next week calling for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Donald Trump.
If it passes, Pawar said the Chicago would be the largest city in the country asking Congress to launch the proceedings. "I believe it is now time for Congress to start taking up impeachment proceedings and move on that quickly," Pawar said in a statement. "Trump has failed to divest himself from his business interests and it certainly appears he has obstructed justice by firing the FBI director. If he hasn't already broken the law, he is dangerously close. And I think it's time to get to the bottom of this so we can begin to take the next steps as a country."
- "Illinois governor candidates want Donald Trump impeached," by Chicagoist's Stephen Gossett: "In the wake of what already feels like an infamous week for the White House, several Democratic candidates for governor are officially calling for impeachment. ... It's been culmination enough for candidates J.B. Pritzker, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) and State Sen. Daniel Biss to drop the 'I' word on Wednesday. Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist, said "there are credible reports that Trump has obstructed justice in the investigation of the Russian hacking of our democracy." Biss was among Wednesday's chorus, as well. "Trump's reckless behavior is a clear threat to our safety and security. Draft articles of impeachment now." Biss shared a petition to start impeachment proceedings, as well." Story here
- "Duckworth worried about Trump controversies," by AP : "U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, says she's concerned that President Donald Trump's 'unpredictable behavior and rhetoric' is undercutting the Pentagon's ability to combat the threat Russia poses to the U.S. and its allies. Duckworth, who was wounded in the Iraq war, says Trump's sharing of top-secret information with senior Russian officials and his firing of former FBI Director James Comey show he's refusing to confront the 'clear and present threat from our adversary.' The FBI is investigating Russian ties to the Trump campaign and Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election." Story here
- "Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.'s departure will be good for department and Milwaukee County," by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Ernst-Ulrich Franzen: "Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. is finally headed to a job in the Trump administration, something he's been pining for, for a long time. It's good that Clarke is leaving, and we hope he can do a better job in Homeland Security than he ever did here. We'll be watching to see. Clearly, he lost interest in being sheriff long ago and was no longer doing the job that voters elected him to do. But before he goes, Clarke owes this community an explanation for the four deaths that occurred in the jail last year. Voters deserve at least that much." Story here
- "With help of Hastert victim, sex-abuse bill on way to becoming law," by Sun-Times' Tina Sfondeles: "With disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert cited as an example and one of his victims as a champion for change - a measure to eliminate statutes of limitations for all child sex abuse crimes cleared the Illinois House on Thursday and heads to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk, where the governor vowed to sign it. The bill was pushed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who testified before a Senate committee alongside Scott Cross, who was one of the boys Hastert sexually abused when Hastert coached wrestling at Yorkville High School in the 1960s and 1970s. Cross, the brother of former state House Republican Leader Tom Cross, broke his silence about the abuse at Hastert's sentencing hearing last year." Story here
- "Watchdog update: Lawmakers question delay in replacing controversial lottery manager," by Chicago Tribune's Joe Mahr and Matthew Walberg: "Illinois lawmakers Thursday questioned what's taking so long to pick a new firm to run the lottery - the state's most lucrative moneymaking venture - amid years of controversy and disappointing results from the current firm.The hearing followed Tribune investigations exposing questions beyond the lottery's tepid financial returns in recent years. That included a report on how the lottery, under private management, collected hundreds of millions of dollars from selling tickets to instant games in which it did not hand out all of the life-changing grand prizes - sometimes awarding no grand prizes before ending a game." Story here
- "House Republican leader joins Pritzker property tax attack," by Chicago Tribune staff: "Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin has joined the GOP's efforts to keep in the news Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker move to secure property tax breaks for a Gold Coast mansion declared "vacant and uninhabitable." The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week on the tax relief, and Republicans have focused on the issue for days. Durkin signed to a bill that would allow local taxing bodies to file a complaint if a property owner getting vacancy relief isn't attempting to sell, lease or alter it. The plan also lays out penalties for those found in violation, including a ban on tax breaks until the property is sold or leased." Story here
- "A warehouse of questions about wasteful state spending," Sun-Times' Editorial Board: "At a time when Illinois is sitting on $14.3 billion in unpaid bills, it's dismaying to learn that the state rented a warehouse for $2.4 million that it could have bought outright for $750,000. Yes, $2.4 million is a drop in the bucket when it comes to state spending, but such wastefulness begs the question of how well - or, rather, how poorly - the rest of our tax money is being spent ... Mike Hoffman, director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services told the Springfield Journal-Register the lease was in accordance with the state's standard approval process. Which just means the state's standard approval process is a joke." Story here
- "Business leaders join Rauner's economic development unit," by Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz: "Some of the biggest names in business have agreed to join the board of Intersect Illinois, the state's privately run economic development unit, Gov. Bruce Rauner is announcing today. The new members are Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White, Archer Daniels Midland CEO Juan Luciano, Loop Capital founder and CEO Jim Reynolds, Northern Trust CEO Frederick 'Rick' Waddell and Schwarz Paper's Andrew McKenna Sr., a longtime leader of business initiatives here." Story here
- "Illinois punished by bond market as deadline nears amid fighting," by Bloomberg News' Elizabeth Campbell: "With less than two weeks left in the regular legislative session, Illinois lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner are still divided on how to end the worst-rated state's nearly three-year budget impasse. Investors aren't pleased. Bondholders are demanding yields of 4.49 percent on Illinois's 10-year bonds, some 2.45 percentage points more than those of benchmark tax-exempt debt. That's the biggest gap since the Bloomberg indexes began in January 2013." Story here
- "Rauner willing to back Chicago casino, but only with grand bargain on budget," by CBS Chicago: "Gov. Bruce Rauner said he might sign legislation allowing for a casino in Chicago and some other places in Illinois, but only if it's part of the overall "grand bargain" being negotiated to end the state's two-year budget impasse. The Illinois Senate - without Republican votes - has approved several pieces of budget legislation, including a gambling expansion plan that would allow a handful of casinos, including a city-owned gaming operation in Chicago." Story here
- "Illinois Senate delays votes on sticky 'grand bargain' bills," by AP: "The Illinois Senate adjourned Thursday without taking action on remaining items from the 'grand bargain' budget compromise. Democrats who run the chamber had said they might push forward Thursday with remaining items after approving several parts of the compromise on Wednesday. But what remains are some of the tougher measures. One would increase the personal income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent." Story here
- "WATCH-LISTEN: Springfield State Budget Forum," by NPR Illinois: "NPR Illinois hosted an Illinois Issues Forum on the state budget impasse. Illinois residents who have been directly impacted discussed the burden placed on their community. " Story here
- "Sounding the alarm: Pension reform needs to focus on refinancing debt," by the State Journal-Register's Editorial Board: "It seems impossible Illinois will ever wake from its financial nightmare. Where do you start? How do you prioritize a stack of unpaid bills that just this week topped $14 billion? Where do you start to rein in the $9.6 billion deficit the 2016 fiscal year ended on? How do you reverse the damage being done to the state's businesses, universities and social service agencies that, at this point, just want some semblance of stability after being mired for nearly two years in a budget impasse? We begin by understanding how Illinois got into this mess - and then find the courage to start reversing decades of poor financial choices. To not do so is to tie Illinois to an anchor and throw it overboard into uncharted waters, and let residents drown as the state sinks to an unknown depth." Story here
- "Senators raise concerns about lead exposure in Cairo; HUD says water filters are 'precautionary' and lead levels do not indicate an emergency," by the Southern Illinoisan's Molly Parker: "Water filters have been installed in all Alexander County Housing Authority occupied units after testing revealed some water samples at two developments contained levels of lead at or above the Environmental Protection Agency's lead action level, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In an emailed statement, Jereon Brown, HUD's general deputy assistant director for public affairs, said the last of the water filters were to be installed on Tuesday inside units in Thebes." Story here
AROUND THE COLLARS
- "Butterball to close Montgomery plant, cuts 600 jobs," by The Daily Herald's Anna Marie Kukec: "Butterball LLC said Thursday it will close its bacon processing plant in Montgomery and cut about 600 full-time jobs by July 17. North Carolina-based Butterball said the closure is due to 'changing market conditions' and 'consumer needs.' About four years ago, Butterball bought Montgomery-based Gusto Packing Co., a maker of pork and turkey products under private labels for retail and food services nationwide. At that time, Butterball said it was looking to use the family-owned business to support its geographic expansion plan and manufacture innovative products." Story here
- "Roger Ailes was a revolutionary in reactionary clothing," by POLITICO Magazine's Jack Shafer: Story here
- "How the FDA approved a $300,000-a-year drug its own experts didn't believe worked," by Wall Street Journal's Susan Pulliam and Brody Mullins: Story here
- "Robert Mueller, former F.B.I. director, is named special counsel for Russia investigation," by The New York Times' Rebecca R. Ruiz and Mark Landler: Story here
- "Former Senator Joe Lieberman is leading contender for FBI chief," by Wall Street Journal's Michael C. Bender: Story here
- "Trump calls appointment of special prosecutor 'the single greatest witch hunt,'" by POLITICO's Louis Nelson: Story here
Tuesday, May 23 -- Illinois Campaign for Political Reform hosts: Cyber Security: Its Impact on Our Daily Lives: Sign up
WHERE's RAHM? Talking CPS funding with alderman.
WHERE'S RAUNER? No public events.
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