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items tagged with Michael Madigan

Statehouse Impasse Finally Cracks – a Little
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-04-24 11:51:22

A blog post appears to have helped at least temporarily break the long stalemate at the Illinois Statehouse.

Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) wrote up a story, and I posted it on my blog on April 18 about a way to provide some funding for higher education. Universities and community colleges haven’t received a dollar from the state since June because the government has no budget. Some are on the verge of actually going under.

Fortner’s idea wasn’t new. Some other folks, particularly at the endangered Eastern Illinois University, have been saying for a while now that money is just sitting in a state account and isn’t being used for its intended purpose. Budget negotiators have also been eying the fund.

But, for whatever reason, Fortner’s proposal took off like a rocket. It probably helped that the Republican legislator devised the plan with a Democrat from the Senate, Pat McGuire of Joliet.

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Public Budget Negotiations Represent an Improvement
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-04-10 11:43:04

Governor Bruce Rauner has hit a brick wall attempting to convince House Speaker Michael Madigan to come to the negotiating table to talk about ending the long governmental impasse and then working out a budget deal. So after holding numerous public appearances to demand a sit-down, Rauner shifted gears last week when the two Republican legislative leaders trotted out a new spending plan to provide $1.3 billion to fund human services and other programs.

The proposal would partly be funded with some pension reforms that Republicans claim will save $780 million. The reforms include some accounting changes and pushing off pension costs to local schools and to higher-education institutions for salaries above $180,000 a year. But there are relatively few employees making more than $180K a year, and the $780 million is about a third of the state’s annual “normal costs” for pensions, so it seems somewhat difficult to believe that these savings are actually as high as billed.

And even if the money is real, the $1.3-billion GOP proposal is significantly smaller than either appropriations bill passed by the legislature’s Democratic majorities. The Senate Democrats’ spending plan was pegged at about $3.8 billion, with half of that ($1.9 billion) going to social services.

Still, the bill could very well generate some interest among rank-and-file Democrats worried about the implosion of the state’s social safety net as a possible next step in the negotiating process. For instance, the legislation appropriates more than $10 million for the Adult Redeploy program, which diverts nonviolent offenders from prison terms. That money would come from the General Revenue Fund, but the legislation also uses money from special state funds to pay for programs popular with Democrats that aren’t currently being funded by the state, like homeless-youth services.

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Rauner’s Primary Reaction Illustrates His Separation from Reality
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-03-27 11:56:59

It’s almost impossible to make a deal with somebody who won’t accept reality. And that’s been the case in Illinois for more than a year, as Governor Bruce Rauner has made one politically unrealistic demand after another while refusing to negotiate a budget until those demands are met, all the while blaming the entire impasse on the intransigence of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Because the public debate is so wrapped up in partisanship and ideology, it’s been tough for a large segment of the population to wrap its collective mind around what’s really been going on. Many see this fight as the “new, good” Rauner versus the “old, bad” Madigan. While that argument certainly has plenty of merit, it’s not nearly the entire story.

It takes two to tango, and the truth is and has always been that Rauner doesn’t even have enthusiastic support among legislative Republicans for a big chunk of his Turnaround Agenda, particularly those demands opposed by labor unions. His complete agenda cannot pass both legislative chambers no matter who the House speaker is.

After what happened the day after the March primary election, however, Rauner’s obvious inability to accept some stark political realities might finally help more folks understand what the rest of us have been seeing for the past year or more.

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In Primary Races, Both Sides Used Madigan’s Ruthless Playbook
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-03-13 11:27:05

Illinois Republicans have long complained that House Speaker Michael Madigan’s campaign organization doesn’t just beat you; it destroys you. Madigan doesn’t set out to merely win; he wants to make sure he doesn’t ever have to deal with you again.

Madigan’s own Democratic primary race was a good example. He posted yard signs all over his district urging his constituents to vote against “convicted felon Jason Gonzales,” and his cable-TV and direct-mail ads ceaselessly pounded home that very same message. His captains also reportedly had volunteers holding those signs at the entrance to voting locations.

Gonzales is, indeed, a convicted felon. But that happened two decades ago, and he was pardoned by former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. To hear the Madigan campaign tell it, however, you’d think the guy just walked out of prison.

Or take a look at what Madigan did to Katelyn Hotle. The House speaker’s operation dropped at least nine negative mailers on the little-known, lightly funded candidate in the Quad Cities-area Democratic primary to replace retiring state Representative Pat Verschoore (D-Milan). The gist of the attacks was that Hotle, a Rock Island city-council member, profited personally from her shoddy government service, but none of it was true.

They also smeared Hotle in the media for being a “plant” of Governor Bruce Rauner. Why? The only real explanation is that she was the lone female in a four-way primary, so she could do well on demographics alone and they had to take her out. For good.

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Illinois Stalemate Features Mirror-Image Opponents
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-03-06 11:29:21

“How do they sleep at night?”

It’s a question I’m asked a lot these days. The inquirers always wonder how Governor Bruce Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and their more full-throated enablers on both sides can live with themselves as they watch big chunks of state government’s responsibilities crumble before their very eyes during the months-long governmental impasse.

As far as I can tell, they’re sleeping pretty well. And both sides appear to be using almost the exact same coping strategies.

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