Honoring All Fallen Members of the IDOC

Being Memorial Day, here’s a list I found of all the IDOC employees who died in the line of duty. The list was found on the Officer Down Memorial Page. I have no way of verifying if this list is complete. I doubt that it is but I might be wrong. Read more of this >>

City Room™ – Politics – Watchdog Urges Quinn to Veto State Budget

An Illinois budget watchdog group is calling on the governor to veto the new state spending plan.

Lawmakers are sending Governor Pat Quinn a budget that would put the state another $6 billion behind on its bills. They've also given Quinn emergency powers to cut spending unilaterally.

Laurence Msall, president of the non-partisan Civic Federation, based in Chicago, calls the bill “irresponsible.”

MSALL: This year we faced a $12.8 billion deficit. Next year, if things stand as they are, and there's not some sort of miracle economic recovery – which no one that we're aware of is forecasting – the state's deficit is gonna zoom well past $13 billion.

Msall says, down the road, it could be harder for Illinois to borrow its way out of financial trouble because its bond rating will likely drop.

He says Quinn should call lawmakers back to Springfield to re-work the budget.

But Quinn says he's planning to sign it, and make the cuts himself.

via City Room™ – Politics – Watchdog Urges Quinn to Veto State Budget.

U.S. Senate Committee Witholds Funding For Thomson Purchase

The Senate Armed Services Committee just released its summary text of the defense authorization bill it marked up last night. And look what the bill does, just like its House counterpart:

“Eliminates availability of funding for the construction of a military detention facility in Thomson, Illinois. Restricts the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention facility to certain countries where Al Qaeda has an active presence.”

The full text of the bill isn’t yet available. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, last week floated that the money to buy Thomson — key to the administration’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay — could come from the Justice Department’s budget, which is still before the congressional judiciary committees.

via Senate Panel Blocks Funding for Obama’s GTMO Closure Plan « The Washington Independent.

Some cuts blocked, others approved – AFSCME Council 31

Some cuts blocked, others approvedAFSCME lobbying efforts helped to defeat budget amendments to lower the mileage reimbursement rate for state workers and raise health insurance costs for state and university retirees. But the General Assembly has now approved a budget package that includes massive cuts to a wide array of vital services.AFSCME lobbying efforts were key in convincing a House committee to vote down an amendment introduced by Rep. Karen May to drastically increase state and university retiree health care costs. Her fellow legislators rejected May’s contention that retirees should have to “feel the pain.” AFSCME was also successful in beating back an amendment from Rep. Naomi Jakobbson that would have reduced the mileage reimbursement rate for state workers.But the House of Representatives went on to adopt a budget plan that relies heavily on borrowing, underfunds virtually every responsibility of state government, and relies heavily on borrowing—further jeopardizing our state’s fiscal stability. The Senate concurred, allowing legislators to meet their end-of-May deadline and head home without ever really grappling with the state’s severe fiscal crisis.

via Some cuts blocked, others approved – AFSCME Council 31.

Illinois Issues blog: Senate skips pension borrowing vote

The Senate wrapped up some major issues before leaving Springfield today but avoided one of the largest components of the budget framework approved by the House this week.

And it seems that if a bill to borrow more than $4 billion to make the required employee pension payment is going to pass, Gov. Pat Quinn will have to do some hard lobbying of senators.

Read more of this >>

The Democrats Stumble At The Budget Finish Line | Progress Illinois

The spring session has officially come to an end in Springfield.  Both chambers passed some minor revenue generators, as well as a framework for the state budget that gives Gov. Quinn wide leeway to cut spending.  However, one large item remains unresolved.

The sticking point is a measure (SB 3514) that would allow the state to borrow $4 billion to cover the upcoming contribution to the pension system.  After narrowly passing the House earlier this week, the bill met resistance among the Democratic caucus in the Senate. “I don’t think we can afford to punt it down the road and keeping avoiding the problem even longer,” said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), one of a handful of Democratic holdouts.  So, instead of calling the bill in committee yesterday morning, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) held it with the intention of whipping up more support. But the body ultimately adjourned without even bringing the legislation to the floor. That means lawmakers will probably be called back to the capitol building for a special session sometime this summer. Read more of this >>

State budget still not foregone conclusion – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register

The Illinois Senate will take its stab at wrapping up a new state budget Thursday, but the results are anything but a foregone conclusion.

Although Democrats hold a super-majority in the chamber, there is dissent both on giving Gov. Pat Quinn extensive emergency budget powers and on borrowing up to $4 billion to make next year’s pension payments.

“There are members of the Senate Democratic caucus that don’t support borrowing for the pension, so we will definitely need Republican votes,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.

That could be a major problem.

Read the full article here:

State budget still not foregone conclusion – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register.

Madigan still not committing to a tax increase for Illinois | Political Fix | STLtoday

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said any future tax increase for Illinois hinges on the state’s weak revenues and how effectively Gov. Pat Quinn uses his emergency budget powers to cut spending.

In a rare interview on Wednesday with the Post-Dispatch, Madigan wouldn’t commit to any time line for a tax hike and said his insistence on Republican participation before Quinn’s requested increase would be called in the House this session was based on history, not election politics.

“Tax-raising, tax imposition has historically been on a coalition basis, and the last two years Republicans in the House and Senate have been on a campaign plan where there are problems they want only the Democrats to solve them,” he said.

Read the full article here:  Madigan still not committing to a tax increase for Illinois | Political Fix | STLtoday.

House OKs borrowing to cover state pensions – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register

Pension borrowing — a major (and controversial) component of a state budget plan — finally won approval in the Illinois House on Tuesday after a series of rejections.

The House voted 71-44 to borrow up to $4 billion to cover next year’s payments to the five state-funded pension systems. The bill needed a super-majority of 71 votes to pass, and two Republicans — Bill Black of Danville and Robert Biggins of Elmhurst — provided the needed margin.

“We can borrow money or we can take a hike on our responsibility to pay the pension,” said House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago. “We have shown we can’t cut $3.7 billion, and we have shown we can’t raise $3.7 billion in revenue. That leaves borrowing.”

Read the full story here:

House OKs borrowing to cover state pensions – Springfield, IL – The State Journal-Register.

Clout St: House finds one vote needed to pass key part of state budget

SPRINGFIELD — The Democratic-led House passed legislation tonight to borrow $4 billion to cover payments for the state pension system and cobble together a shaky state budget, hours after the same effort failed by one vote.

The borrowing plan was approved with the bare minimum 71 votes with the help of a couple of lame-duck Republicans who broke ranks as supporters argued borrowing now is the best of a number of bad options. Forty-four lawmakers were opposed. You can see how they voted by clicking here.

The breakthrough vote came as the Memorial Day deadline for passing a budget looms large and the visceral politics of Election Day could not be mistaken. The Senate returns to the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon to take up some of the House-approved budget measures.

Republicans mostly held firm against any proposal that called for borrowing, and Democrats contended it was the only way to end the spring session.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, said borrowing the money would cost the state $1 billion over eight years. But skipping the pension payment next year, which is also under consideration, could cost $20 billion over time because of losses in , Currie said.

“So 20-1 ratio, you tell me what’s the responsible thing to do,” Currie said.

Read the full story here:

Clout St: House finds one vote needed to pass key part of state budget.