Your article on education funding was one of the most thorough and accurate analyses of the funding problem and the competing bills that I’ve seen.

The only quibble I had with the piece was the reference to a “poison pill” in the budget requiring school funding to be “evidence-based.” Although that provision was included in the budget bill that ultimately passed the General Assembly (see page 433 of the PDF version of the enrolled SB6), that identical language was included in the Republicans’ “Capitol Compromise” budget proposal, SB2214, which the Democrats had no hand in drafting. I’d refer you to page 533 of that bill for the reference to “Evidence-Based Funding.”

The education-funding-reform bill that passed the House and Senate in May and was finally sent to Governor Bruce Rauner on July 31 was the product of four years of research, endless listening tours, and lots of hard bargaining.

But when Rauner issued his amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1 last week, he introduced a bunch of new ideas that had never been on the table, including during endless discussions among members of his own education-funding-reform commission.

Jeff Sessions in 2016.

Amidst growing outcry against civil asset forfeiture, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Justice Department’s new directive focused on increasing the practice.

The battle plan to kill the Democrats’ education-funding-reform bill (Senate Bill 1) that was plotted before Governor Bruce Rauner’s infamous staff purge in early July – and which still appears to be mostly operative – actually anticipated low special-session turnout, because there likely wouldn’t be much of anything to vote on. Rauner’s folks figured that the Democrats would wait a while before lifting the parliamentary brick off the education-funding-reform bill – the better to foment a crisis atmosphere as the clock ticks down to schools reopening after summer break.

So legislators not showing up for session will likely only amplify the governor’s contention that the majority party isn’t interested in preventing a crisis and funding schools.

In the end, Mike Zolnierowicz had only one choice. Governor Bruce Rauner’s top political lieutenant and former chief of staff, the man everyone calls “Z” who was most responsible for winning the 2014 Republican primary, simply had to resign late in the afternoon on Friday, July 14.

The week began with the early-Monday firing of Richard Goldberg, Z’s close friend and hand-picked successor as Rauner’s chief of staff. Rumors had circulated for months that First Lady Diana Rauner had turned on Goldberg and wanted him out, and in the previous few weeks it was known among a select few that the governor had been calling around looking for a possible replacement, including calling a couple of people in Indiana who declined the offer.

But Z and others were caught totally off-guard when Goldberg was abruptly fired and not offered a position in the vast campaign apparatus that Z had constructed. Rauner had not only made a major decision without consulting Z, his supposedly number-one guy; he had also needlessly kicked Goldberg to the curb.

One of the joys of life is outsmarting the bureaucrats and regulators. They are constantly seeking to ruin our lives with demands that we comply with. Free men and women must resist.

Here are five easy hacks to fight back.

After Governor Bruce Rauner hired Illinois Policy Institute President Kristina Rasmussen as his new chief of staff, I reached out to one of the House Republicans who voted to override the governor’s budget and tax-hike vetoes. How was he feeling?

“You mean after the irate phone calls and e-mails and the letter that arrived at my house today telling me and my wife (by name) to move out?” he texted back. “I’m doing fine – seriously I am. I can just guess what the new chief of staff might have in store for me.”

Rasmussen’s anti-tax group essentially weaponized its Facebook page against lawmakers during the run-up to and aftermath of the overrides of Rauner’s vetoes.

After years of ugly gridlock and weeks of groups and political leaders whipping up an already-disgusted populace over a 1.2-percentage-point income-tax increase, lots of legislators were understandably on edge last week.

Representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) tweeted ahead of the votes to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of a budget package that it was “hard not to think about the [recent Virginia] congressional shooting showing up to work today.”

And so people were naturally a bit rattled when a woman triggered a more-than-two-hour delay of those override votes as police and a hazardous-materials team frantically combed the Statehouse.

Todd Martin Stafne

It is with a heavy heart that I write these words. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Todd Martin Stafne, passed unexpectedly at his home on April 11.

Todd was part of the circle of lifelong friends in Bettendorf (three of whom preceded him in death – Chuck High, Dave Glynn, and Dave Halverson) that cornered the market on being the most fun, the best looking, the most popular, and the most fiercely loyal. I have commented before that this special group of friends was a cut above in every respect, cool as hell and just as kind. All still are.

Describing Todd as another total Bettendorf original and force of nature (while entirely true) is putting it mildly. He had a thunderous presence. His joie de vivre was underpinned by a fabulous sense of humor and the ability to tell a story that none could rival. He rocked the house every time. Laughter is one of the things I most cherish about growing up with him.

Christine Radogno was the first female leader of a state legislative caucus in Illinois when she took charge of the Senate Republicans in 2009. That alone puts her in the history books.

But she’s also a decent human being, something that often seems in short supply around the Statehouse.

When she held a press conference last week announcing her July 1 resignation, the fact that several Senate Democrats showed up and then took turns hugging her after it was over demonstrated the deep well of respect and admiration she had built in the building. She even got a hug from House Speaker Michael Madigan after she told her fellow legislative leaders she was resigning in two days. Madigan isn’t the hugging type, at least not at work.

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