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Why Is Madigan Refusing to Cast Votes? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 26 April 2015 14:39

A couple of weeks ago, I started noticing that House Speaker Michael Madigan wasn’t voting on most legislation during his chamber’s floor debates. Madigan was feeling under the weather that week, and was ill enough that a leadership meeting with the governor couldn’t be scheduled until a few days later, so I let it go.

But the pattern continued the following week. A spot check of roll calls showed Madigan was listed as present and accounted for but hadn’t voted for or against much of anything.

What the heck?

Polling, Committee Suggest Rauner’s Roadmap PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 19 April 2015 15:44

Governor Bruce Rauner devised a new way to reward his friends and punish his enemies on April 16 when he created a campaign committee called Illinois Turnaround.

Illinois Turnaround is an independent-expenditure committee, meaning contributions to it and by it are not capped by law. The committee’s officially stated purpose is to “support state legislative candidates who support Governor Rauner’s bold and needed reforms, and to oppose those who stand in the way.”

According to Rauner insiders, the new committee will be given $4 million to $5 million within days of its founding. That’s in addition to the $20 million the governor has in his own personal campaign account, which won’t be touched for this particular effort.

Spending on advertising is expected to begin soon after the money comes in.

The governor’s campaign also released a polling memo that purports to show that the public backs his agenda. While his job-approval rating is just 38 percent, his disapproval rating is five points below that (33 percent). The percentage of respondents who view him favorably was 42 percent compared to 34 percent who viewed him unfavorably.

Schock’s Fall from Grace Hardly a Surprise PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 29 March 2015 05:27

Congressman Aaron Schock’s resignation is not only a blow to national Republicans – for whom he’d raised millions – but especially to Illinois Republicans.

Just eight weeks ago, Schock was widely believed to be next in line to chair the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). But his rapid fall from grace ruined his career and deprived the NRCC of a chance to project a far more youthful public image.

The Illinois House Republicans are heartbroken by this loss. Schock is a former state House member and he retained quite a bit of personal affection from and even admiration by his onetime colleagues and staffers. But it’s the loss of his assistance that will be felt the most. Schock has been very helpful to the point of being almost indispensable to the House Republicans. He’s helped recruit candidates, raised money for them, and helped them campaign. And he was quite successful.

Ever since he defeated a sitting Democratic Representative in a solidly Democratic district at the age of 23, Schock has been the House GOP’s wonder boy. And they’ve used his help and his model to win other districts, including Adam Brown and Michael Unes taking Democratic districts with Schock’s assistance in 2010.

The Illinois Republicans don’t remember Schock as the jet-setting, rule-shortcutting playboy he became in Washington, DC. When he was in Springfield, Schock was rarely seen on the nightlife circuit, often traveling back to Peoria after the day’s session ended to meet with constituents. He was always a young man on a mission, and he seemed to fully understand back then that if he wanted to continue his meteoric rise up the political ladder, he had to make sure he was always in tune and in touch with the folks back home.

So what the heck happened here?

“Dark Money” Group Looks Like Rauner Front PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 22 March 2015 14:20

A newly formed group of self-described “center-left” Democrats claims to have secured $20 million in commitments to spend on state legislative races in Illinois.

But that $20 million apparently isn’t meant to counter Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s infamous $20-million campaign stash, which he says will be used to support his allies and punish his enemies. Indeed, the Democratic group appears to be promoting what could be seen as a somewhat softer, neo-liberal version of Raunerism.

Illinoisans for Growth & Opportunity (ILGO) is not a traditional Democratic group. The press release announcing its launch blasted Democratic leadership, including former Governor Pat Quinn and both legislative leaders, for passing a budget last year “that they knew would create a financial crisis.”

The group also bemoans the lack of manufacturing employment, the state’s horrible credit rating, and its poor business-climate ratings without specifically endorsing any real-world fixes such as workers’ compensation reform.

ILGO blames all these problems on unspecified “special interests” that have had “far too much influence with legislative majorities in setting public policy.”

Child-Care Savings Based on “Magic Assumptions” PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 15 March 2015 05:06

Buried deep within Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget plan for next fiscal year is yet another claimed “savings” that might not actually save any money, and could easily wind up costing the state more.

The governor proposes to save $108 million by discontinuing child-care services provided by relatives in the child’s or relative’s home.

At first glance, that cut might look prudent. Why should the state pay grandma to babysit her own grandkid? Is that some sort of scam? Go to any right-wing blog, and you’ll occasionally see stories bashing this whole idea.

But those payments are designed to help low-income parents go to school and work their way out of poverty. So by pulling those payments, “grandma” could lose her income and may very well have to find a different part-time job, meaning the parent then has to search for another provider and the state saves no money.

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