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Tags: Bill Brady

The Stage Is Set for Illinois Republicans. Really.



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Also in today’s Jolt:

Could Illinois Get a Republican Governor in 2014?

Illinois Republicans, you have a golden opportunity this year. Don’t screw it up:

Gov. Pat Quinn may be the ‘luckiest politician alive,’ a moniker given to him by Hillary Clinton after all of Quinn’s primary opponents for Governor dropped out of the race, but a recent visit to Rockford and a new statewide poll shows he has a great deal of work to do if he is to win reelection.

The ‘Capitol Fax/We Ask America’ poll republished in the political website ‘Reboot Illinois’ found the Governor trails whoever may be the prospective Republican nominee.

’Reboot Illinois’ reports that, “According to the poll of 1,354 likely general election voters, all four of Quinn’s potential Republican primary opponents have pulled ahead of the long-unpopular Democratic governor. The poll, taken January 30th, found that Sen. Bill Brady leads Gov. Quinn 48-39. Sen. Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford are ahead of Quinn 46-37. And Rauner leads the governor 47-39. The self-described party affiliation in the poll was 22 percent Republican and 38 percent Democratic, while 40 percent said they were independents.

When one Democrat after another decided to not run for governor against the perpetually unpopular Quinn — most notably Bill Daley and state attorney general Lisa Madigan — I wondered if the current crop of ambitious Democratic pols knew something the rest of us didn’t. Daley’s explanation seemed particularly ominous and cryptic:

“One of the things I always thought in my career that I wanted to do, I thought I would be able to have that opportunity, I hoped, would be to run for office. And even though you’re around it for a long time, you really don’t get a sense of the enormity of it until you get into it,” Daley told the Tribune.

“But the last six weeks or so have been really tough on me, struggling with this. Is this really me? Is this really what I want to spend my next five to nine years doing? And is this the best thing for me to do at this stage of my life?” he said. “I’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t the best thing for me.”

“A sense of the enormity,” huh? One theory: The state’s finances are such an epic mess that whoever is governor starting next year is going to have four years of misery, and if they’re really unlucky, another four after that.

How bad is Illinois’s long-term debt problem? Bad enough to get Democratic state lawmakers to do things the public-sector unions don’t want them to do. That’s baaaaaaaad!

Quinn and the state legislature just passed a major pension-reform bill, at least temporarily slowing down the clock on one ticking financial time bomb. But that bill may get undone, depending on what the judges say:

Illinois’ largest government employee unions sued Tuesday to overturn Illinois’ new pension law, ripping the long sought, landmark money-saving changes as outright “theft” from workers that won’t pass a legal smell test.

The suit, filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court, had been expected following last month’s passage of a bill that seeks to curb annual cost-of-living increases for retirees and to increase the retirement age for many current workers. The goal is to close the state’s worst-in-the-nation $100 billion unfunded public pension liability within 30 years.

Yes, you read that correctly. A $100 billion debt in the state’s pensions. And that’s the optimistic calculation. As our friends at IllinoisWatchdog.org calculated,

The Land of Lincoln is in the top five when it comes to debt per capita ($25,959), debt in relation to state spending (727 percent) and unfunded pension liability ($254 billion).

Even if the pension-reform law sticks around, the state’s fiscal mess is . . . colossal:

Our analysis of the state’s fiscal situation before the recent pension changes projected a $4 billion deficit in Fiscal Year 2015, which would get larger each year and reach nearly $13 billion in 2025. That is a serious budget gap, and one that is impossible for the state to maintain for long. It’s like a family spending $5,000 each month when they only have $4,700 in income — and that $300 monthly gap growing to $800 each month in 10 years. Just as for this family, this situation is unsustainable for the state.

While the pension changes were at least implicitly touted as helping deal with this large and growing budget gap, they actually affect it very little in the long term. The new pension law does substantially reduce the fiscal burden to the state of paying for future pension obligations. The savings to the state come mostly from reductions in cost of living adjustments for current and future recipients of state pensions.

But for the next 10 years, the state will use most of the savings from the law to address the unfunded liability. The state will only allocate about $1 billion each year to reduce the annual scheduled payments to the pension funds. So with the new pension law in place, the projected deficit goes from $3 billion in FY 2015 to $13 billion in 2025 — still a huge shortfall and hardly different than the situation prior to the pension changes.

The state spent nearly $1.5 billion on interest payments for their debt in 2013.

Hey, where are all of you Republican gubernatorial candidates going? Come back!

If the state of Illinois’ budget deficit were a robot, it would look something like this.

Tags: Illinois , Pat Quinn , Bill Brady , Kirk Dillard , Dan Rutherford , Bill Daley

In Illinois, Bill Brady Just Got His Next Big Campaign Issue



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The Illinois state government at work:

Last week Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said the state is going to have to tighten its belt, and then trimmed $1.4 billion from the new state budget. On Tuesday Quinn downplayed the fact that in the same budget he handed-out pay raises to some of his top staffers. An Associated Press report indicates the governor’s office rewarded a number of top officials with pay increases.  Budget director David Vaught, for example, received a $24,000 raise to bring his salary to $144,000 a year.

Quinn said Vaught has earned it.

“He got a new assignment, the budget director, it’s one of the most important jobs in state government.  So it has a different salary, yes it has a higher salary.  But over all the amount of money spent by taxpayers on the governor’s office is significantly lower today.”The governor said countered the criticism, saying his office has been doing a lot more with a lot less.  

But the AP report states that as governor, Quinn handed out 43 pay raises to 35 different people over the past 15 months.  The average raise according to the AP came in at 11.4 percent.

Remember, it’s only a recession for the private sector.

Bill Brady:

Today’s revelation shows there are two rules under Governor Pat Quinn — one for him and the powerful insider crowd, and another for all the rest of us. While working families are tightening their belts and doing more with less, Pat Quinn is doling out massive pay raises to his own staff — and we’re paying for them.  Today’s revelation shows, once again, that Pat Quinn is incapable of solving our fiscal crisis, and has lost control of state government. How many other agencies received pay raises?

Tags: Bill Brady , Pat Quinn

I’m Not Saying Running Against Phil Hare Is Like Playing the Rams at Home



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In yesterday’s rankings, the one that has generated the most skepticism is putting Rep. Phil Hare of Illinois in the “Blue/As Difficult as Beating the St. Louis Rams” category. As one media guy who watches Congress closely put it:

You have Phil Hare in the easiest to beat bunch. He seems more like Leans Democrat to me — equivalent to your Orange/Eagles group. This is a district that was carried not just by Obama, but by Kerry and Gore. In 2008, Republicans couldn’t even be bothered to contest Hare, and he got 57 percent the last time they did. He’s done a couple stupid things lately — ‘I don’t care about the constitution’ and not releasing an internal poll — but this one seems to be a much harder take-away than some others.

All true, but I figure the “I don’t care about the Constitution” makes for one wicked attack ad, and that internal poll must have shown something pretty ominous, or else he would have released it. (Think about it, even a 55-45 split in his favor would be acceptable to release.)

Here’s Hare to the Wall Street Journal at the end of last month, right before President Obama visited the district:

In Illinois, Rep. Phil Hare, the Democrat who represents Quincy, said he needed the president to make the case that the economy was improving, and that his programs, especially the economic stimulus, have worked. “I’ve had a death threat. I had a rock thrown through the window of a leased vehicle. It’s tough out there,” Mr. Hare said.

I’m also wondering about coattails in Illinois; it looks like the Democrats have two awful top-of-the-ticket names in Illinois. Neither Alexi Giannoulias nor Pat Quinn are leading the Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll, and neither Democrat has led a poll since March. The last five percentage totals for Quinn, the incumbent: 36, 38, 38, 33, 37. Those are Corzine-esque numbers.

Tags: Alexi Giannoulis , Bill Brady , Bobby Schilling , Illinois , Mark Kirk , Pat Quinn , Phil Hare

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