04/21/2017 06:54 AM EDT
By Natasha Korecki (email@example.com; @natashakorecki) with Kristen East (firstname.lastname@example.org; @kristenicoleast)
Good Friday morning, Illinois.
THE BUZZ - Illinois journalists have reported on the impact of the state's budget impasse for nearly two years. Activists have decried the closure of senior service centers, rollbacks of funding to those with developmental disabilities; harm done to domestic violence shelters or drug treatment centers. The unpaid bills and growing pension liabilities. The list goes on and on. This newsletter has a separate section every day entitled "budget crisis" (and before that, "grand bargaining" when there was such a thing). Still, there seems to be little outrage at the grassroots level over a lack of a state budget in Illinois even as we near two years without one. The common thinking is that average resident won't get riled unless schools close, state workers go unpaid, government offices shut down or taxes go through the roof. If one social service agency after another goes under, so be it.
The truth that one expert after another will tell you , however, is that deep, long-lasting damage is being inflicted on the state every day we don't have a funding plan. The long-term effect on state universities is just one example. On Thursday, our universities suffered another major credit ratings blow, with S&P citing the lack of a budget and the unlikelihood that one is on the way. Since the impasse, brought on by a political stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Illinois universities have lost students to other states. Low-income students who rely on monetary assistance have had to drop out, and industries surrounding university towns are starting to suffer.
Thursday's news, from Reuters: "Illinois' budget crisis dragged down the credit ratings of six state public universities and Chicago's community college system on Thursday in a slew of downgrades by S&P Global Ratings. The rating for the University of Illinois, the state's largest system, fell one notch to A after S&P determined it could only be three notches above the state's BBB rating. S&P also warned of a further downgrade if the state failed to fund the system beyond a stopgap amount of $356 million approved last June. Illinois is limping toward the end of its second straight fiscal year without a complete budget due to a political stalemate between its Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature. The impasse has resulted in only partial appropriations for state universities, forcing most of them to tap reserves and cut expenses. 'Given the budget impasse of fiscal 2016, ongoing fiscal 2017 budget impasse, and the absence of an agreement among elected leaders, it is our opinion that state appropriations to public universities in Illinois will remain uncertain in the intermediate term,' S&P said in a report." Story here
** A message from America's Biopharmaceutical Companies: We are in a new era of medicine This week, Axios held an event on innovation in mental health. Check out a recap of the one-on-one interviews with experts and newsmakers here or on Twitter via #GoBoldly. **
BUDGET CRISIS (Read it and weep. Please.)
- "Illinois net pension debt tops $119 billion," by Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz: "In case you had any doubt, here's more evidence that Illinois remains a national basket case when it comes to underfunding its government worker pension funds. A report issued today by the pew Charitable Trusts indicates unfunded liability in Illinois' pension funds hit $119 billion in fiscal 2015, the latest year for which data were available. That increased from $111.5 billion in fiscal 2014. Illinois' deficit is means roughly $10,000 for each man, woman and child in the state. But who's counting?" Story here
- "As Illinois budget crisis continues, people with addictions find tougher road to treatment," by WSIU's Durrie Bouscaren: "Sam Werkmeister, a father of two, nearly died six times last year. He started taking pain pills to get through shifts at a restaurant. That led him to a full-blown addiction to opioids. After a relapse last summer, it took Werkmeister six months to gather the courage to go back into treatment. 'It's called carfentanil, and it's really cheap,' he said, as he sat on a worn couch in the Granite City group home he shares with a half dozen other men. 'It destroyed my life.' The roommates share a pledge to stay sober as they work to recover from their addictions: alcohol, prescription drugs or heroin. But the continuing budget crisis in Illinois will make that kind of treatment harder to come by as the state's network of providers is strained." Story here
- "If Chicago's schools close early, the blame lies 200 miles away," by Chicago Sun-Times editorial board: "Nobody wants to see Chicago's public schools close early this year for lack of money. But it is the job of Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly, as made clear in the state Constitution, to find the necessary funds at this point. They should not be let off the hook." Story here
- "IL comptroller speaks out about budget, impact on higher ed," WSIL TV: "Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza spoke with WSIL Thursday about a wide range of issues, including the lack of a state budget and the impact that's having on higher education. 'If we don't have a budget in the very near future, this isn't an idle threat, this isn't false alarm, the university system in this state will crumble,' said Mendoza. Mendoza went on to say for every $1 taxpayers invest in higher education, it creates a $4 return on investment for the state. 'If one of those universities goes under it will impact, devastate, not impact, devastate the entire region's economy.'" Story here
- "Manar: What Illinois needs is accountability, not apologists," by Andy Manar in the State Journal Register: "State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, took to this page recently, not to address the state's problems or offer solutions, but to absolve the governor of any responsibility for the mess. It's no surprise she defends him. He and his ultra-wealthy Chicago friends are key donors for her. More than halfway through a term devoid of accomplishments, Gov. Bruce Rauner needs people like Rep. Bourne to tell everyone it's not his fault, because in Rauner's world nothing is ever his fault.
... "But like the folksy persona Gov. Rauner adopts in his Carhartt jacket and western plaid shirts, his pledge to usher in a new era of accountability and frugality was all an act. Among his first moves was to pay higher salaries for many of his office's staff positions than previous governors. He hired a former Hawaii governor for nearly $200,000 a year. He hired a Florida budget consultant for $30,000 per month. These so-called superstars burned through taxpayers' cash at a record pace only to leave with the state in worse shape than when they were hired ... Keep in mind, the stopgap budgets Rep. Bourne now decries as unacceptable, she supported when her governor and political patron told her to ... if Rep. Bourne is really as concerned about the overall state budget as she claims, I would welcome her suggestions and involvement. I imagine she agrees with me that it's hard to have a serious discussion about our long-term finances in the middle of a crisis or campaign. The problem is that it appears neither the crisis nor the campaign will ever end under Gov. Rauner." Story here
- "State Rep. Avery Bourne: Illinois needs a balanced budget, not another stopgap," Avery Bourne's piece: "Two years. Illinois has been operating without a budget for nearly two full years. This is unacceptable. Despite what is often said, the fact remains that Democrats have the votes to end it on their own - if they want to. Democrats enjoy large majorities in both the Illinois House of Representatives and state Senate. Yet, instead of working with us to pass a budget, or instead of passing one on their own, they'd rather point the finger of blame at the governor for their own failure to do their job. Don't listen to their excuses. The governor presented a budget. House Speaker Michael Madigan has never, in his 32 years as speaker, used a governor's proposed budget as a basis for his own budget. He has always done it his way. The responsibility to pass a budget lies with the General Assembly. The state Constitution is clear ... However, Democrats recently proposed yet another 'stopgap' spending plan - not a budget. A budget balances spending with projected revenue. A budget prioritizes the needs of vital social services, state universities, community colleges and other priorities without adding to the state's staggering backlog of past-due bills, currently at about $12.9 billion." Story here
In its ongoing feud with Gov. Bruce Rauner over his vow to veto HB40, Personal PAC this morning has sent supporters an email that includes a message from a different Republican governor: Jim Thompson. The group is pointing to Thompson's 1977 veto message after he rejected a bill that denied abortion access to women who rely on Medicaid. Here's an excerpt of the email (which asks for donations) : "Governor Thompson's veto message is an eloquent defense of reproductive rights from a man who was not afraid of right-wing extremists, who knew what he believed, and who kept his word in both his campaigns and when governing. What he said, he meant. He was honest with the citizens of Illinois. Something that should not be too much to ask of Illinois' highest elected official. Please take a moment to read Governor Thompson's veto message. Governor Thompson was not the only Republican Governor to veto bills that the anti-choice movement passed in the Illinois General Assembly aimed at attacking low-income women's access to abortion care. Republican Governor Jim Edgar and Republican Governor George Ryan each vetoed a bill that attempted to make it more difficult for women on Medicaid to access a safe and legal abortion. Governors Ryan and Edgar stood up to the anti-abortion extremists and did the right thing."
- "Illinois lawmakers ponder proposal to legalize marijuana," by AP: "The head of Colorado's Department of Revenue has spoken to a panel of Illinois lawmakers considering a proposal to legalize marijuana in the state. The Chicago Tribune reports that the department executive director, Barbara Brohl, told Illinois lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday that she believes the legal market for marijuana is eating into the black market, funding drug abuse treatment and prevention, and providing a safer product." Story here
- "War of words between between governor, AFSCME over state worker contract negotiations," by My Stateline: "The ongoing battle between AFSCME and Governor Bruce Rauner is heating up. This week, Rauner spoke in the Quad Cities, talking about the lengthy process of finalizing new contracts for state employees. While both parties are at an impasse, Rauner shared some 'true feelings' if a strike were to occur. 'We're gonna do this, we have to do this and I hope you don't strike, I don't want you to strike, but we're probably not going to miss you if you go,' he told a crowd." Story here
- "Mautino: No records to show," by The Times' David Giuliani: "For more than a year, the state elections board has sought records to show how former state Rep. Frank Mautino spent campaign money at a bank and gas station. The answer on Thursday: The documents no longer exist. During a two-hour hearing in Chicago, attorneys argued whether the Spring Valley Democrat's spending of campaign money complied with state elections law. Mautino, now the state's auditor general, was not present." Story here
- "Our View: Tax dollars shouldn't pay for abortions," by Northwest Herald editorial board: "We don't need to spend public funds paying for abortions in Illinois. Legal abortion long has been the law of the land since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. It is likely to remain the law. However, there is a substantial group of people who object to abortion on moral grounds. They sincerely believe abortion is equivalent to killing children. They consider it odious. ... A change in the rules could lead to the state paying to terminate many pregnancies." Story here
- "Judge in Laquan McDonald case warns against harassing Officer Van Dyke at court," by Chicago Tribune's Megan Crepeau: "A Cook County judge issued a warning Thursday after a complaint that Officer Jason Van Dyke, facing murder charges in the high-profile shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, had been harassed at his last appearance at the courthouse. Van Dyke had apparently been confronted outside the Leighton Criminal Court Building last month by a protester holding a poster reading "16 shots" -- a reference to the number of times the white officer shot the black teen." Story here
- "Feds Say State Is Lax on Pipeline Safety Because of Chicago's Problems," by NBC Chicago's Phil Rogers: "The federal government says the systems put in place by the State of Illinois to prevent potentially catastrophic damage to pipelines is 'inadequate,' because of lax enforcement by the city of Chicago. The program is most familiar to the general public through signs warning to 'Call JULIE Before You Dig'... Chicago doesn't take part in "JULIE", opting to operate its own program called "DIGGER". But unlike the state program, which has the full enforcement muscle of the Illinois Commerce Commission behind it, the United States Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) says it found the city has no enforcement system in place, to either compel companies to call before they dig, or levy punishment for those who rupture lines. 'This presents a significant gap in pipeline safety,' the agency warned, in a letter to the I.C.C., where they also noted that with that finding they now have the power to levy fines against violators as high as $205,638 per day." Story here
- "Morning Spin: Burke wants Chicago police to consider using 'Textalyzer' on distracted drivers," by Chicago Tribune: "A pair of city aldermen want Chicago police to consider using new technology to better determine if drivers in crashes had been texting. Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, and Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling on the Police Department to appear before a City Council committee "to address the use of emerging technology, such as Textalyzer, in enforcing the city's existing traffic laws or the investigation of vehicle accidents." Story here
- "Harnessing Bernie Sanders' energy to revolutionize the Democratic party," by Chicago Reporter's Curtis Black: "Halfway through his second term, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will get a report card from progressives Saturday at a "State of the City" event launching Our Revolution Chicago, part of a national organization working to advance the agenda of Bernie Sanders's remarkable 2016 presidential campaign. Local activists including veteran organizer Katelyn Johnson, Tom Tresser of the TIF Illumination Project, and Tania Unzeuta of Mijente will give reports on Emanuel's record on education, crime and policing, immigration, jobs and economic development, and taxes and city finances." Story here
- "Gotta go? Proposal would ensure public toilet access in emergency," by Chicago Sun-Times' Fran Spielman: "When nature calls, rookie Ald. David Moore (17th) wants Chicago businesses to listen. Moore wants every licensed business with a public restroom -- including restaurants, bars, hotels and retail stores -- to be required to make washrooms available to "individuals who have an emergency ... without having to make a purchase" or pay a fee. Moore introduced the ordinance at Wednesday's City Council meeting after running into a humiliated woman at a Subway restaurant two weeks ago who had just had an accident after being denied entry to a public washroom." Story here
- "City pledges new resources to include help for "doubled-Up" homeless families," by Windy City Times: "A new analysis by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless shows that 82% of homeless people in Chicago in 2015 sought shelter with relatives and friends, also known as being "doubled-up." CCH's report was released Thursday as its HomeWorks campaign joined the city of Chicago in announcing the city's new school-based housing initiative. The Housing Homeless Families program will offer permanent housing to 100 homeless families attending six Chicago Public Schools located in high-crime communities." Story here
- "Joe Walsh GOP club fundraiser sparks protest plan by Democrats, others," by DNAinfo's Alex Nitkin: "A collective of progressive and Democratic Party groups will stage a protest outside a Republican fundraiser Friday featuring former congressman and provocative talk radio host Joe Walsh. ... The fundraiser immediately caught the attention of the Gladstone Park Huddle, a local offshoot of the Women's march on Washington that meets bimonthly to discuss progressive organizing tactics, according to group co-founder Sonia Mozek." Story here
- "Initial 2018 gubernatorial ratings," by Geoffrey Skelley and Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball: "Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is ready to spend millions to win reelection, but he might have a wealthy opponent in the general in either venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker (D) - who just injected $7 million into his nascent campaign - or businessman Chris Kennedy (D), a scion of Robert Kennedy. Pritzker and Kennedy seem to be the Democratic favorites, but there could be a very crowded field. Rauner has a weak approval rating, so he will be vulnerable in Democratic-leaning Illinois. Toss-up" Story here
IN THE COURTS
- "Schock asks judge to toss out expense fraud indictment," by POLITICO's Josh Gerstein: "Former Rep. Aaron Schock is demanding the dismissal of a 24-count criminal indictment charging him with diverting government funds and campaign accounts for his personal use. In a broad motion filed Thursday in federal court in Urbana, Illinois, Schock's attorneys argue that the indictment amounts to an unconstitutional intrusion by the executive branch into the internal operations and rules of the House of Representatives." Story here
AROUND THE COLLARS
- "Caterpillar picks Deerfield for global HQ," by The Daily Herald's Anna Marie Kukec: "Caterpillar Inc. will be in good company when it moves its global headquarters from Peoria to Deerfield in coming months. Caterpillar will become neighbors to other headquarters for Walgreens, CF Industries, Mondelez, and Takeda, said Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal. "It all comes down to access to O'Hare, ease of commute, good housing and good schools," Rosenthal said." Story here
- "Sen. Duckworth to headline Wisconsin Democratic Convention," by AP: "U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, of Illinois, will be the keynote speaker at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention in June. The state party on Thursday announced Duckworth as the headliner for the first day of its meeting Friday, June 2. The annual gathering bringing together state office holders, party activists and others is in Middleton, just outside of Madison." Story here
- "Coroner: Powerful animal tranquilizer used by local overdose victims," by the State Journal-Register's Jason Nevel: "A powerful opioid used as a tranquilizer for elephants and other large animals has shown up in the toxicology reports for two recent overdose victims in Sangamon County, Coroner Cinda Edwards said Thursday. Carfentanil, which is not approved for human use, is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Edwards said toxicology tests from a 63-year-old man who died in March and a 34-year-old man who died earlier this month showed a mix of carfentanil and heroin." Story here
- "Sen. Dick Durbin to hold town hall meeting on SIUC campus Friday," by the Southern Illinoisan: "U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Friday will hold a town hall meeting with constituents in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building auditorium on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus. Durbin will give brief opening remarks before taking questions from the audience, according to a news release from Durbin's office." Story here
- "Congressmen back home without a clear path in Washington," by NPR Illinois' Tom Lisi: "U.S. Representatives Darin Lahood, R-Peoria, and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, have been joining forces in touring their home districts during Congress' spring break. They say they're trying to bring back a consensus from voters on some issues in which there clearly isn't one for Republicans in Washington. "Our Republican caucus, we're like a big family. We don't agree on everything but we have to come together to come up with a solution [on healthcare]. So, this recess that I've been home, I've been talking to a lot of people on both sides of it, trying to get some consensus on what we do to move forward," LaHood said." Story here
- "Former Clinton staffers share happy photos to push back against infighting claims," by Yahoo News' Gabby Kaufman: "As a new book, "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign," gains attention for its depiction of the Hillary Clinton campaign as dysfunctional, former staffers are pushing back against claims of friction and infighting. The book's authors, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, said they drew that depiction after interviews with over 100 sources inside and outside the campaign." Story here
- "Journalist describes the loneliness and leakiness of Trump's White House," by NPR's Terry Gross: "As the first American president to be elected with no prior political or military experience, President Trump has had to adapt quickly to the responsibilities of public office. 'The magnitude of the job is sinking in for him,' White House correspondent Maggie Haberman says. 'The degree to which whatever he does is going to impact millions of people and the responsibility of that is slowly settling in.' ... Haberman describes the president as a homebody who hates interpersonal conflict." Story here
- "Chance the Rapper makes Time's '100 most influential people' list," by WGN's Saher Khan: "Time Magazine's annual "100 most influential people in the world" list is out and Chance the Rapper is among those listed. The list is broken up into five categories; Pioneers, Artists, leaders, Titans, and Icons. Chance is listed under "Pioneers." Chance, a local rapper, has made headlines not only for his music but for his philanthropy. Amidst the Chicago Public School funding crisis, Chance donated a million dollars to CPS and continues to raise thousands of dollars more to go towards public schools in the city." Story here
TODAY -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker is to make stops in Carbondale and Carterville.
WHERE'S RAHM? Along with CTA will announce renovation of the historic Quincy Loop station.
WHERE'S RAUNER? In Chicago, addresses "economic growth, job creation" at 50th Annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair; in Addison celebrates Earth Friendly Products' 50th Anniversary
HOW A SEWER WILL SAVE ST. LOUIS: St. Louis is one of hundreds of U.S. cities, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, that have problems with overflowing sewers. The latest installment of POLITICO Magazine's "What Works" series takes a look at how St. Louis, under an agreement with the federal government, is spending nearly $5 billion to prevent tainted storm water from fouling its waterways. Read more. Photo gallery: A Sewer Runs Through It- St. Louis' River des Peres used to be called the "River des Pew," but engineers are trying to restore it to health by preventing sewage contamination.
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** A message from America's Biopharmaceutical Companies: We are in a new era of medicine
Biopharmaceutical science has never been more promising. There are more than 130 medicines currently in development to help the more than 40 million Americans suffering from some form of mental illness. Axios & America's biopharmaceutical companies held an event this week in Chicago on innovation in mental health featuring perspectives from experts in technology, biopharmaceutical innovation, community and public advocacy. New breakthrough science and personalized therapies are transforming the way we diagnose and treat patients. Learn more about this new era of medicine at www.Innovation.org and #GoBoldly. **
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