lcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what’s going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield.
Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza issued a blistering critique of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday, accusing him of a massive “disconnect” from reality because of his wealth and of trying to deflect blame for the state’s financial problems.
Mendoza also accused Rauner of trying to “demand” she break the law and continue issuing at least partial paychecks to state workers even if a St. Clair County judge lifts an order allowing employees to be paid in the absence of a full state budget. Rauner’s administration responded by trying to link her to the Republican governor’s chief political nemesis, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Speaking on WGN 720-AM, Mendoza said Rauner has previously failed to present to the Democratic-controlled General Assembly a balanced budget proposal and appears likely to do so again later this month. Illinois has gone for more than a year and a half without a full state spending plan.
“We are now going into a third year without that balanced budget proposal. He hasn’t done it once. He hasn’t done it twice. As a result of that, my office is responsible for having to pay $11.2 billion in bill backlogs. That’s how bad of a situation we’re in. We’ve had six downgrades to our credit since Gov. Rauner has taken office,” Mendoza said.
“Our state has never been worse off financially, yet this governor’s personal finances have more than tripled since he was sworn in,” she said, noting his adjusted gross income for 2015 was $188 million compared with $58.5 million in 2014. “You have to acknowledge there is a massive disconnect between the reality that he’s living in and the reality of your average person in the state of Illinois.”
Mendoza defended Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s decision to ask that a lower court order allowing state worker paychecks be lifted — a move Rauner has criticized for potentially precipitating a government shutdown.
Mendoza said if the order is lifted, she could not lawfully comply with Rauner’s request that paychecks continue to be issued in some form.
“It’s really clear. I would be in violation of the law if I continued to pay, and, you know, the governor, I think, has a habit of not paying attention to the state constitution,” she said. “He basically went out of his way to put this on me to somehow deflect to me and to ask me, basically demand, that I break the law. And that’s not going to happen. I mean, like, he’s not above the law. I’m not above the law. The law is the law.”
She said Rauner was trying to posture that, “Oh, Comptroller Mendoza, it’s her fault that the state’s goes into crisis or it’s the attorney general’s fault.
“It’s like, enough of the blame game, enough of the deflection. Take some responsibility. Lead this state. You’re now going into your third year. You’re not a rookie to this anymore. You can’t call yourself an outsider. It’s as insider as you get, and it’s time for him to do his job,” she said.
Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly contended Mendoza, a former Democratic state lawmaker, was aligned with the attorney general’s father, Michael Madigan, in trying to force state government into a crisis over the worker pay issue.
“Comptroller Mendoza has every legal right to hire her own attorneys and work to ensure state employees are paid despite the legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget,” Kelly said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, she is truly living up to being (Michael) Madigan’s comptroller by trying to force a crisis that hurts people rather than help us reach a balanced budget,” the governor’s spokeswoman said.
Rauner announced Friday he had hired former state Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger, whom Mendoza defeated in a special election in November, as a new deputy governor. Munger had been appointed by Rauner to the comptroller’s post after the death of Judy Baar Topinka.
“I wish her well and I hope her very first job is to sit down with the governor and figure out a way for him to abide by his constitutional duty of presenting, preparing and submitting a balanced budget proposal to the general assembly so we can get to work,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza also contended Rauner’s inability to work with Democratic lawmakers to put together a budget has contributed to a poor job growth and business economy.
Businesses, she said, are “leaving in large part because we are going into a third year without a budget and the governor, who is supposedly, you know, a great business mind, has clearly failed this state when it comes to helping businesses and creating jobs in this state.”
Noting Munger’s appointment to Rauner’s administration, Mendoza said, “I guess he just created one (job) on Friday, right? But that might be the only job that I’ve seen him create since he’s been governor.” (Rick Pearson)
What’s on tap
*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be at Stanford University to talk Chicago tech.
*Gov. Rauner has no public schedule.
*The week ahead: The Illinois General Assembly returns; the Cook County Board meets Wednesday.
What we’re writing
*Rauner ally Durkin warns union to be ‘careful’ about ‘crossing’ governor with strike.
*Rauner names former Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger a deputy governor.
*Illinois Secretary of State White wants to sell ads on vehicle registration notices to bring in money.
*Officer Van Dyke’s lawyers again seek to dismiss charges in Laquan McDonald killing.
*CPS shortfall from last year hangs over current budget woes.
*Chicago Teachers Union protests at Emanuel’s office on first unpaid furlough day.
*Despite financial struggles, Chicago State has for years worked to open $60M second campus.
*Medical marijuana companies in Illinois battle growing pains.
What we’re reading
*10 years later, families of 5 missing still search for truth.
*Construction begins on tallest tower west of Kennedy Expressway.
*This tabletop football story is getting a lot of buzz.
From the notebook
*Cullerton speech: Democratic Senate President John Cullerton could try to grab momentum for the massive state budget proposal he and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno have pushed when he takes the podium at the City Club of Chicago on Monday.
Illinois lawmakers left the Capitol almost two weeks ago without voting on the complex plan of tax hikes and pro-business changes even though Cullerton and Radogno had said they were coming. In the meantime, there hasn’t been much public discussion of the plan.
But Cullerton has called for a vote this week when lawmakers return to Springfield, and his sold-out lunchtime speech Monday to a politically interested audience could refocus attention on an effort he and Radogno have warned could collapse because of heavy lobbying against it.
“It’s progress that might have seemed impossible just a few weeks ago,” Cullerton said before lawmakers left the Capitol last month. “So, if we need more time to pull this together, I am going to consider that encouraging. But then, it’s going to come time to make a decision. To reiterate, the problems we face are not going to disappear. In fact, they are going to get more difficult every day.”
The proposal includes several ideas that can be politically tricky for lawmakers to address individually, much less together. The package would raise income taxes, put term limits on some elected officials, change the state’s workers’ compensation system, freeze property taxes and expand Illinois’ gambling options, among other things.
Radogno and Cullerton put together the proposal without public input from the two biggest figures in Illinois’ lengthy budget battle, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. Any plan to end the state’s budget war would need to go through both leaders, so the Senate plan faces an uncertain future even if lawmakers in the chamber approve it this week.
Rauner told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board last week he is mostly staying out of the Senate’s talks even as he has encouraged the effort publicly.
“I think a deal is more likely to happen if it’s organic, coming from the rank-and-file members of the General Assembly, and the important thing is to get a good compromise. I’ve been very clear. I mean, the good news and bad news is nobody’s wondering what I think is the right thing to do,” Rauner said.
*Roskam, Schneider on same page on Iran: They may be miles apart politically, but Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton and Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield are both backing the actions by President Donald Trump’s administration to sanction Iran over its ballistic missile activities.
Roskam, in a statement, said it was “refreshing to see a White House willing to stand up to the Islamic Republic’s illicit activities and belligerent behavior.”
The Republican said the sanctions “should make it clear to the mullahs they must act like a responsible member of the community of nations if they want to be treated like one. Now is not the time for companies to expand business with the Iranian regime.”
Roskam has been an ardent supporter of sanctions on Iran and has worked to prevent major U.S. firms, such as Boeing, from doing business with the country.
Schneider said Iran should never be able to gain nuclear weapons capability, calling the nation “a bad actor in a dangerous region of the world.”
“A key component of Iran’s nuclear ambitions is the country’s ballistic missile program, and I believe the new sanctions…are a necessary and appropriate response to the belligerent aggression shown by Iran in last week’s ballistic missile test,” the Democrat said in a statement. (Rick Pearson)
*Madigan opposes Trump order: Attorney General Lisa Madigan is opposed to actions by the Trump administration that she said could “upend and decimate” consumer financial protections implemented after the nation’s 2008 economic collapse.
Specifically, she cited the weakening of Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform, the Consumer Protection Act that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and a halt to implementing a rule ensuring that financial advisers act in the best interests of the clients.
“The CFPB, the Dodd-Frank reforms, and the fiduciary rule provide critical consumer protections against another economic collapse. Americans need strong advocates and laws against Wall Street greed and other financial fraud,” she said in a statement.
“Without these important protections, the vast majority of Americans will have no one protecting their financial interests,” she said. (Rick Pearson)
*Area chambers, small business groups “exhausted” by impasse: The Small Business Advocacy Council and 23 local chambers of commerce and other groups have written a letter to Gov. Rauner and legislative leaders urging them to finally act on a new state budget.
“The remarkable dysfunction in Springfield continues to damage the state’s economy. The inexcusable failure of Illinois’ politicians to pass a responsible budget, and the resulting fall-out, continues to hurt small businesses, devastate non-profits, negatively impact college students and cause irreparable harm to our state,” the letter says.
“As advocates for small businesses and local communities, we demand that Illinois’ politicians take immediate action to end the state’s destructive budget impasse,” it says. “Our patience has been exhausted by the political gamesmanship in Springfield.”
The letter said Republicans under the governor and the Democrats who control the General Assembly “must unite, hash out their differences and pass a responsible budget before more people, and businesses, are hurt” and help restore “the business community’s confidence in the Illinois economy and our state government.”
Among the signees to the letter are chambers of commerce representing Barrington, Northbrook, Highland Park, Glenview, Bolingbrook, Homer Township, Lemont, Winnetka, Northfield, Niles, Skokie and city neighborhoods of Lincoln Park, Lake View East, Logan Square as well as the Chicago Southland chamber. (Rick Pearson) *The Sunday Spin: On this week’s show, Chicago Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson’s guests were Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, who talked about the negative impact of the state budget impasse; Democratic state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who ripped the Republican governor; and Rebecca Shi, executive director of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, who talked about the Trump travel ban. The “Sunday Spin” airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WGN 720-AM. Listen to the full show.
Follow the money
*The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform tracks the week’s biggest campaign contributions.
*Appeals court rejects quick bid to restore travel ban.
*Democrats try to make Bannon a scarier Rove.
*Sanders calls Trump “fraud” for Wall Street rules rollback.
*Turkish police detain over 440 people in anti-ISIS operation.