Governor: Sen. President playing politics with “dead piece of legislation”; and more from INN Radio

Governor: Sen. President playing politics with “dead piece of legislation”

The Senate President is playing politics with a bill that appears doomed on arrival. That’s according to Governor Bruce Rauner’s office in response to Senate President John Cullerton calling for a cooling-off period before sending over a tuition assistance bill.

Senate Bill 2043, which Democrat majorities say will fund MAP grants for eligible students, passed the legislature last week despite minority Republicans pointing out the governor intends to veto the bill because it’s not tied to any funding stream.

Senate President John Cullerton’s office issued a news release Monday saying he’s waiting until February 16th to send the bill to the governor so the governor will “rethink his veto announcement.”

Cullerton’s office said the state isn’t honoring its commitment to students and urged the governor rethink his position and “not act rashly but rather in the best interest of these students.”

Governor Bruce Rauner’s office responded saying there’s no way to pay for SB 2042. The administration has offered a path toward compromise. A statement from Rauner’s office says the governor has agreed “to sign legislation that funds MAP, community colleges and universities tied to ways to pay for the programs.”

The governor’s office says “rather than playing politics with a dead piece of legislation, we urge the Senate to focus on finding real solutions and vote next week on legislation that would fund MAP grants with a fiscally responsible way to pay for them.”

During debate last week Republicans said there’s a plan that would fund MAP grants, community colleges and higher education tied to another measure to give the governor broader authority in managing the state’s resources.

A memo from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget last week recommended the bill be vetoed because without a funding stream the measure would add hundreds of millions of to the state’s deficit.

Flash index show slow growth for Illinois

Illinois’ economy isn’t getting worse, but it’s barely going. That’s the message from the latest Flash Index from the University of Illinois.

Fred Giertz, professor of economics at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at U of I, says the monthly report for January shows the index decreased slightly.

“It is sort of a situation now where everyone is getting concerned about both the state, U.S and world economy but right now we’re still growing, but growing at a slower rate.”

As to the reason for slow growth, Giertz says the world economy is slowing and there are concerns about uncertainty in the financial markets, but that’s not all.

“It appears that the U.S. economy actually slowed down quite a bit in the last quarter so those things together I think explain the situation in Illinois.”

Flash Index indicates more of the same slowdown

Giertz says the slight drop in the index is not a horrible sign, but a sign that it’s more of the same.

“It doesn’t mean things are going to get a whole lot worse. It means that there doesn’t seem to be any indication of a more rapid recovery right now. So again it is not a very precise message but I think the message is that where we have been the last month or two is probably where we are going to be a few month into the future.”

Giertz speculates the reason for Illinois’ slowed economy is uncertainty in the financial markets and a slowdown of the global economy in places like China. Giertz says it’s more difficult to pin the seven-month-old budget impasse to the state’s economy but says the longer it goes the bigger impact it will have.

Meanwhile recent employment numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security indicate Illinois ended 2015 with 3,000 fewer jobs than it started the year with.

Rep. McSweeney: Red light cameras are not about safety

Red light cameras should be banned in Illinois. That’s the push from a group that supports pending legislation to do just that.

Mark Wallace is director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras and he supports Democratic Representative Ken Dunkin’s measure that would repeal authorizing local governments to use the technology, especially after the conviction of a former Chicago city official in a bribery scandal involving a red light camera vendor.

“Legislature needs to get rid of this system and to make some real provisions for public safety and traffic safety.”

Republican Representative David McSweeney had legislation pass the House last year that would ban red light cameras in non-home rule areas he says is a first step to banning them across the state.

“They are being used by local governments to raise revenue, it is not about safety.”

Both Wallace and McSweeney point to studies from the Federal Highway Authority and Texas A&M that says rear-end crashes increase in areas where there are red light cameras in place.

Rep. Thapedi: Chicago admin. law judges “less than fair”

Meanwhile Wallace says he has a concern about the accused’s due process.

“The person who was conducting the moving violation, that person must be observed by a peace officer or police officer, not a third party, private company that is based in another state somewhere enforcing Illinois law.”

Democratic Representative André Thapedi agrees lack of due process is a problem.

“These quasi judicial officers that oversee the cases involving my constituents, I believe they are less than fair.”

Dunkin’s bill to repeal giving authorization to municipalities and counties to use red light cameras remains in the Rules Committee.

Governor to sign executive order partnering DCEO with private group

Look for the governor to soon sign an executive order formally establishing a relationship between the state and a private, non-profit business development corporation.

Last week during Governor Bruce Rauner’s State of the State, the governor said he wants to make the state’s economic engine faster and more responsive.

“Our Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is hampered by red tape and a slow bureaucracy that makes business development and job recruitment more difficult.”

In the coming days, Rauner said he will sign an executive order to formalize a relationship between the private and newly formed Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation and the state DCEO. Speaker Michael Madigan is critical of private-public-partnerships.

“Privatization has happened all over the country, the results are a mixed bag.”

Speaker Madigan critical of P3s

Rauner said last year there was an attempt to create a similar pairing but it stalled.

“This year we will move forward with a revised version that will laser focus on sales, marketing and customer service to increase our competitiveness for job creation and investment.”

Speaker Madigan said he worked with the governor on last year’s attempt but there was one thing that made the deal fall apart.

“These agencies are a mixed bag and so my request was ‘Governor, we will give you what you want but three years from now let’s do an automatic review to see if it is working. If it is not working then we will move in a different direction.’”

The governor’s announcement last week said the corporation is developed from the best practices from where similar operations were formed. Private donations will fund ILBEDC for the current fiscal year, according to the administration. The governor’s office also said DCEO will have final authority and oversight of all state grants and incentives negotiated by the ILBEDC.

Lawmakers show frustration over lack of action in General Assembly

Several of Illinois’ lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem to be growing more disillusioned with how the state is handling the taxpayer’s business.

Just after the governor gave his State of the State speech Wednesday Republican Representative John Cabello questioned why lawmakers didn’t stay and finish the people’s work.

“All I know is that we do good things together, we do horrible things apart or when it is partisan. I am embarrassed to be a state Representative right now.

Meanwhile during floor debate Thursday Democratic Representative Scott Drury said he’s not convinced there’s a will to get anything done.

“I am convinced that there are not a majority of the members here that are serious about doing anything other than being good politicians at the expense of being good legislators.”

Sleeping bags and golf raised to highlight priorities in House floor debate

Democratic Representative Ken Dunkin presented a sleeping bag and a lunch box, putting out a challenge to other lawmakers to stay in Springfield and get the job of a balanced budget done.

“Let’s not leave this chamber skipping up to our respective districts coming up or looking up for another excuse of why we are not working, of why this budget has not been resolved. Shame on all of us.”

Republican Representative David Harris said the state’s priorities are out of whack.

“We can’t fund our social services, we can’t fund our universities, we can’t fund MAP, but we vote $55,000 to expose the youngsters in the state Illinois to the game of golf.”

It’s been a full seven months of the fiscal year and there’s still no budget in place. Without a balanced budget, the state has been funding programs through court orders and consent decrees and is on pace to spend billions more than it’s expected to bring in.