Sunday, April 3, 2016

State government to return to "action"

The legislature will soon be back in session. Two informative stories can be found in the Bloomington Pantagraph (reprinted in the Southern, as it's part of the same chain of newspapers) and the  Springfield State Journal-Register. Finally, this story from the "Illinois News Network" cites a couple of pundits saying a budget resolution is unlikely anytime soon.

The first story is the most comprehensive. It notes that the apparently imminent closure of Chicago State University is amping up the pressure on the governor and the legislature, and provides an update on the latest bargaining positions of the two sides. The Democratic position seems to be: sign the appropriation bills we've sent you (including funding for MAP grants and public universities), and we'll go from there. The Dems know there's not enough money to fully fund those bills, but this would at least get some funding out. Rauner's position seems to be that since there's not enough money to fully fund those bills, they are worthless. Instead he thinks the Democrats should first agree to the watered-down items remaining on his Turnaround Agenda, and we'll go from there. Going on from there for both sides seems to mean addressing revenue as well as budget cuts, though no doubt Rauner will want more of the latter and Democrats prefer more of the former.

The juiciest thing the second article is the back story on an otherwise mysterious memo from the governor saying he was going to continue to pay state employees despite a recent court decision. For the very court decision that denied AFSCME employees back pay could be taken to provide a legal argument that no state employees should be getting paid now in the absence of a budget. There was scuttlebutt that Attorney General Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike Madigan, and potential gubernatorial candidate) was going to sue to prevent employees getting paid; despite the lack of any statement from Lisa Madigan on this topic, Rauner decided to score some political points against her be decrying her supposed plan.

The third story is mainly informed speculation, but also contains some more background on the memo and the issue of state employee pay, suggesting that might trigger a still larger crisis that could result in a budget.

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