The gentleman had questions for the lady . . .

Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) questioning Democrat floor leader

. . . who had the WORST time answering.

Ladies and gentlemen, our tax dollars at work, as documented by a Republican rep and the ineffable Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, ably assisted by a young woman who kept giving her tips as she responded, or sometimes had no tips to give, leading Rep. Currie to repeat “ditto” numerous times, all in response to the Republican’s asking if a budget line item had value for a “penniless” state.

Stay to the end or go there right away in this video of fecklessness by Democrats on full display. Over a million views and counting . . .

Source: (16) Illinois Policy

Cutting off Illinois water

Major lender says no more.

For years, Illinois has found the municipal-bond market open whenever it needs to raise money, despite budget deficits, worst-in-the-nation pension shortfalls and a political paralysis so severe it’s headed for a second year without even a blueprint for what it should be spending.

It’s about time to shut the doors on the state, says BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest money manager.

“We as municipal market participants should really be penalizing in some way, by almost not giving them any access to the market,” Peter Hayes, who oversees $119 billion as head of munis at BlackRock, said in New York on Wednesday. “Think about it — they’re a state without a budget, they refuse to pass a budget, they have the lowest funded ratio on their pension of any state, and yet they’re going to come to market and borrow money.”

This from someone who tries to handle other people’s money responsibly. Tries harder, we might say, than many if not most of Illinois’ elected officials.

Sen. Harmon of Oak Park an uber-loyal Democrat

It’s this Madigan budget. If party loyalty is Sen. Don Harmon’s (D-Oak Park) strong suit, as in his voting to short-change Oak Park schools, then it’s no surprise that he voted for the Madigan budget, with its absurd $7-billion deficit. On the minority side of a 17-31 vote, no less!

You dance with the one who brought you, of course. Harmon knows (and endorses) that. Where would he be without the party? So he went with the leadership, such as it is, and let the devil take the hindmost.

You can read more about Harmon, Rep. Camille Lilly, and others of the Ruling Party in my new book, Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters, available also in Kindle format.

Gov. Rauner vows to veto Madigan budget if it reaches his desk – Chicago Tribune

Budget that tries to reverse the state’s downward trajectory vs. one that kicks can down road:

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday vowed to veto a House Democratic state budget bill if it gets to his desk, setting up a potential election-year blame game against Speaker Michael Madigan should public schools throughout Illinois fail to open this fall.

Pension debt solution vs. same-old, same-old:

The threat came as Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel ratcheted up their battle over the governor’s Friday veto of a bill that would have created a new funding timetable for Chicago police and fire pensions. Emanuel labeled a city property tax hike that now could be needed to fund pensions a “Rauner tax,” while the governor faulted the mayor for failing to come to Springfield to work for comprehensive reforms.

Businesses vs. unions and trial lawyers:

The spring session is scheduled to end at midnight Tuesday, but Madigan said Sunday that the House would remain in “continuous session” past the deadline — the same term he used at the end of May 2015 when the stalemate started — and disregarded Rauner’s call for a quick grand compromise that included elements of the governor’s pro-business agenda, parts of which would come at the expense of Democratic allies in organized labor and civil liability attorneys

Trouble is, businesses create jobs if given a chance, unions work to raise cost of doing business while taking care of their own, lawyers love high-payout cases in which they profit handsomely.

Guess who helps or hinders economic growth and prosperity.

Source: Gov. Rauner vows to veto Madigan budget if it reaches his desk – Chicago Tribune

Rahm has good idea of what do with a crisis, says Rauner doesn’t

Rahm is just mad because someone else believes in not letting a crisis go to waste.

The mayor said in a statement: “With a stroke of his pen, Bruce Rauner just told every Chicago taxpayer to take a hike.”

That said, about wasting a crisis, Rahm has a lot of nerve, getting indignant about this, he being a lover of the blue-state model, whose idea of a crisis is an opening for a new  fix-it program.


Source: Rahm says Rauner’s veto tells Chicago taxpayers to ‘take a hike’ | Chicago Sun-Times

State program throttled, senior citizen suffers. Illinois blues.

Thumbnail-sketch case study of standoff fallout:

The budget standoff hit home for Rachel Grainer when Illinois didn’t put up the money it promised seniors under its property tax-deferral program.

Fine. Of course, standoff doesn’t stand alone. It’s ridiculously inflated Democrat budget vs. Republican Gov. objecting to same. So I would like to see something futuristic that illustrates Illinois with budgets like this one.

Somewhere there’s a really smart columnist who can put future flesh and blood out there, online and on paper, to give us an idea of what the Republican governor finds objectionable. I ask you, is it too much to ask?

Source: BROWN: Oak Park woman faced tax hit on home over budget standoff | Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters

Those Illinois redistricting blues . . .

. . . are being challenged by non-aligned citizens, as we know

The Ruling Party is opposed to this. It kept such a proposal off one ballot and wants to do it in another, each time deploying an ad hoc group represented by the party’s lawyer, while denying its own involvement.

Constitutional issues are arguable in the matter, but the party has a very big stake here. Drawing electoral district boundaries is a monopoly they have gotten used to.

The system seems blatantly undemocratic — hermetically sealed office-holders deciding whom if anyone they will run against. As such it was raised as an issue at a town hall meeting described in my Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters.

A softball question had just been answered at the mid-July, 2013 meeting at the Oak Park Library. Then . . .

A Certified Public Accountant shifted tone considerably, urging [Sen. Don] Harmon to “do something about corruption in our very corrupt state.” He specified “gerrymandering” and complained, “The way it’s set up, candidates know they will win,” continuing at length in this vein.

“Each of us is vulnerable in a primary,” Harmon said. When an opponent surfaces, he might have added. Lilly, appointed in 2010, had run unopposed in primary and general elections in 2012 and would do so again in 2014. Harmon had run unopposed in the general every year but one since he was elected in 2002.

He was to be opposed in the 2014 primary, by a Galewood man with public-employee-union background, whom he defeated handily. He was unopposed in the general, though briefly threatened by a last-minute Republican opponent who thought better of it after a week and withdrew for “personal reasons.”

A candidate needs money to answer nominating-petition challenges, which led to the withdrawal for lack of funds of a credible [primary] candidate seeking to oppose Congressman Danny Davis in 2014, for instance.

Rep. Camille Lilly wound up this meeting with a request.

She closed, telling the questioner, “Give us a call.” This while giving no telephone number or email address or even street address, which for what it’s worth was a few blocks inside Austin, one of the city’s highest-crime-rate neighborhoods.

This location was symptomatic of her low-profile, virtually nonexistent approach to representing mostly white, well-policed Oak Park, not to mention other communities in a long meandering (gerrymandered?) line moving northwest as far as Franklin Park, eight miles from her office.

The long meandering line (her district) was stark evidence of the state’s 2010 redistricting by the Ruling Party to make sure black and other Democrat office-holders are elected with at most token opposition. In another of these meetings, Harmon explained such redistricting as a civil-rights imperative, citing federal law in the matter.

He was apparently referring to the requirement to “remedy a violation” of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. If there was such a violation in Illinois districts in 2010, nobody talked about it. But for the senator, it provided respectability to Ruling Party redistricting.

Illinois Blues is available in paperback and non-Kindle ebook and as a Kindle book.


Tough call for Sen. Harmon . . .

. . . as he himself explains.

But it could have been much tougher.

I mean, he could have voted with the Republicans against the new school-funding bill, which passed (easily) on party lines a week ago.

Sure. And I’m the Easter bunny, as TV news man Len O’Connor used to say at the close of one of his “biting commentaries.”

Anyhow, the state funding of public schools arises in my Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters.

It was at a four-legislator forum at Oak Park’s Percy Julian middle school, on a balmy night in October, 2013.

The legislators were there at the invitation of the parent teacher organization, introduced by the district superintendent and questioned by parent members of the district’s Committee for Legislative Action, Intervention and Monitoring (CLAIM).

An interesting evening all in  all, with Harmon on hand plus Sen. Kimberly Lightford and Reps. LaShawn Ford and Camille Lilly.

School funding came up well into the meeting, when a CLAIM member . . .

. . . raised the long-standing hot-button issue of state funding of public schools in general, setting up a haves-vs.-have-nots give and take.

Lightford complained that the formula for allocating school funding — $4 billion in 2013 — was based on forty-to-fifty-year-old poverty figures. She was to co-sponsor a bill two years later that sought to alter that formula, taking from the wealthier districts and giving to the poorer ones. Nothing had come of it when this book was published. [Yes, but . . . ]

“Is it fair?” she asked, that Oak Park gets as much as it does, “considering its lower-than-average poverty rate?” State aid (to Oak Park schools) “may be” less, she said. Which was sufficiently ambiguous for the occasion. Then she launched into numbing detail about the process of deciding how funds are apportioned.

Harmon ignored her allegation of unfairness — no need to ruffle feathers — but agreed that the formula is “complicated.” He took note also of the long-standing teacher pension subsidy for non-Chicago school districts — featuring highly publicized retirement bonanzas for suburban administrators — as further complicating the matter.

Which it does, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, who had said in May, 2012, that for many years “these fat pensions had a massive, and now dire, impact on state education finances.”

Lilly observed that she would “like to put on the table a corporate round table,” meaning God knew what, and He was excluded from this gathering in a public school. In any case, as often happened in these forums, no one asked.

Illinois Blues is available at Amazon as Kindle and at as paperback or non-Kindle ebook.


Don Harmon: Profile in going along

Sun-Times man Mark Brown praises Oak Park Democrat Sen. Don Harmon for casting “a tough vote. A principled one, too” for a change in allocating state money to local schools because the change would short-change Oak Park schools.

Well. It pained Harmon to vote with the party “on a partisan 31-21 vote”? Not as much, we may be sure, as it would have pained him to vote otherwise, making it 30-22. Not near as much.