Good morning on this Friday the 13th. After a bumpy few days in state politics, it might be a good time to recap on the week’s events and reflect on political winners and losers. Let’s start with the governor.
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WINNER -- Gov. Bruce Rauner peels off exactly what he needed; one Democrat, allowing him to topple Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s supermajority, in an embarrassment to the speaker. In reality, the governor made aggressive cuts to a child care assistance program that hurt the business community (his base), the working poor (remember his post-election motto to be “compassionate?”) and embarrassed his wife (have they met? she’s exec. director of an early childhood advocacy group).
-- Rauner’s “compromise” on restoring child care assistance was really capitulation after various constituencies howled. But by blocking the override attempt, he retained the ability to make everyone go through the same exercise in the future.
-- Rauner’s true triumph of the week was brokering a deal on unemployment insurance, a compromise that unions and businesses signed onto. Now to get that bill called …
-- Rauner also reversed his freeze on Illinois Film Tax Credits, which immediately enlivened that industry and changed course on tax credits (EDGE program) for Illinois businesses. The series of changes were designed to send the same signal -- the governor is moving, now it’s the Democrats’ turn.
Winner - Jim Durkin: Once again, the GOP House leader showed he holds strength over his Republican caucus, all of whom voted with him on key roll calls.
Loser - House Speaker Mike Madigan: Lost his iron-clad grip on his caucus in a defeating and highly publicized roll call vote.
Loser -- State Rep. Ken Dunkin who has alienated both his caucus and supporters who felt betrayed by his previous pledge. Dunkin and the governor’s office insistence that Dunkin played a key role in negotiations smacked of an overt political deal, given that Dunkin never disclosed negotiations to the group to whom he pledged loyalty.
Winners -- state Sen. Toi Hutchinson for engaging in negotiations to craft a child care compromise over drastic cuts that excluded 70,000 children from day care services over the last 4 ½ months. State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth who in the House took the stage and captured the spotlight in a passioned floor argument over the issue.
TALK OPENLY ... BEHIND CLOSED DOORS -- “Business groups urge dumping public budget negotiation,” by the Associated Press: “Five leading Illinois business groups are urging Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders to skip the public budget negotiation they've scheduled for next week… In a letter released Thursday, the business leaders say a public meeting over the 18-week budget holdup would prevent ‘sincere and constructive’ conversation necessary for successful negotiation… Several good government groups last month offered to host a meeting of Republican Rauner and legislative chiefs to spur bargaining over an unsettled state spending plan that should have taken effect July 1.” http://bit.ly/1Qzb168
-- In this week’s presser, Madigan was asked whether a public leaders’ meeting would diminish the group’s ability to truly get word done. Madigan’s response: “The work is not being done behind closed doors.” That much is true.
MILLER’S TAKE -- “Biz leaders want private talks,” by Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller: “I’ve been hearing this week that some folks are talking behind the scenes of having the four leaders and the governor make some statements on November 18th, then convene a private meeting and talk to reporters afterward. So, this letter may be an attempt to give the leaders some political cover…” http://bit.ly/1ksOLz3
WORLD IS UPSIDE DOWN -- In one of the remaining curious episodes of the week, Rauner flip-flopped on a funding issue, taking a brick off of HB4305, giving the green light for the appropriations bill to fund lottery winnings, motor fuel tax projects and money to local governments. The piecemeal approach to the budget was something Madigan attempted to do in the past and Rauner railed against it.
-- In a rare unity vote, both Republicans and Democrats backed the bill. Rauner went from opposing the action, to supporting it plus he was asking for last-minute add-ons like releasing money for road salt. Perhaps the mean Illinois winter wasn’t on Rauner’s mind when he vetoed the appropriation bills sent to him in May. “It’s a learning curve the gentleman is going through,” said one Rauner critic.
-- For his part, Madigan didn’t allow for Rauner’s add-ons, saying they came too late -- a point the governor’s office vigorously rejects. Now the bill sits in the House with a procedural hold on it. Madigan used a new bill, rather than a vehicle that could have expedited it. That now means the Senate must meet on three separate days before the measure can go to Rauner’s desk. Right now, the number of days the Senate is scheduled to meet for the remainder of the year = zero.
EXELON FOR HIS EXCELLENCE -- A day after the Springfield drama was behind him, Exelon held a fundraiser for House Speaker Mike Madigan Wednesday night at the Union League Club in Chicago. About 100 guests turned out, including City Clerk and Illinois Comptroller candidate Susana Mendoza and state Rep. Christian Mitchell. Exelon CEO Chris Crane introduced Madigan, who spoke for a few minutes about the financial stalemate in Springfield. Of the state’s budget impasse, Madigan told the crowd there was “no end in sight.”
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IMAGERY -- Gov. Bruce Rauner poses for a selfie with Mr. #budgetbeard himself, Peoria Journal-Star journalist Chris Kaergard. This is how long we’ve gone without a budget → http://bit.ly/1Qlkf6U
KEEP IT CLEAN, BRUCE -- “Clean energy advocates urge Rauner to go against coal,” by the Southern Illinoisan’s Kurt Erickson: “Supporters of wind and solar energy queued up outside Gov. Bruce Rauner's office Thursday to deliver more than 30,000 signatures in support of new federal energy rules… With the governor in charge of deciding how Illinois will comply with the Obama administration's clean energy program, the advocates said they are urging him to make renewable energy a priority over coal.” http://bit.ly/1WVlxo3
FOLLOW THE MONEY -- The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform’s weekly fundraising tracker shows more than $2 million contributions flowed to state committees over the last week. See who got the most money and the top funded committees statewide: http://bit.ly/1kt5lPg
DUNKIN’S VIEW OF THE WORLD -- “A vote for SB 570 would have destroyed child-care deal,” by Rep. Ken Dunkin for the State Journal-Register: “At my request, the Rauner administration entered into negotiations with legislators from the Illinois House and Senate to find a way to restore child care income-eligibility for 100,000 kids. And at my continued insistence, the governor agreed to reverse course. All he asked was that the General Assembly not take away the administrative flexibility needed to respond to emergencies in the child care program … You read that right. The governor agreed to let tens of thousands of families back into child care so long as the legislature didn’t pass a bill that took away executive authority to deal with emergencies. Talk about a no-brainer.” http://bit.ly/1SMzjZF