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Rauner to veto HDem approp bill

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* From a senior administration official…

While GOMB will need time to comb through a 500 page bill no one has ever seen before, if indeed this is as it seems to be — the biggest unbalanced budget in Illinois history — the Governor will veto the bill.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

Munger: HDem budget will push unpaid bills past $15 billion, force delays in legislator paychecks

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* From Comptroller Leslie Munger…

“The only thing more irresponsible than allowing our state to operate without a budget would be to pass a spending plan that digs us deeper into debt. Yet, legislation being circulated in the House does just that.

“The consequences of implementing this proposed budget would be catastrophic to those who are already suffering from the state’s continued fiscal mismanagement. Today, Illinois has more than $7 billion in unpaid bills and payment delays are running more than 6 weeks behind at best. If the proposed budget is passed, our unpaid bills would surge past $15 billion, with payments delayed an unprecedented 8-9 months. That means everyone – small businesses, nonprofits, schools, hospitals, elected leaders and others – will wait even longer for what they are owed by the state.

“When you’re in a hole, the best thing you can do is stop digging. For Illinois, that means members of both parties coming together in good faith to pass a budget that is truly balanced.”

Subscribers already know about the likely delay in issuing legislator paychecks. You will recall that Munger tossed those checks into a pile with the rest of the state’s past-due bills in April. Their April 30th checks were delayed. Some thought they’d get those checks on May 31st. Nope.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked yesterday whether he planned to travel to Springfield to lobby legislators for help with his schools system’s budget

For the mayor, deciding whether to insert himself into the delicate situation at a stalemated Capitol carries some risk. Though he could claim some measure of credit if a funding bill that helps CPS passes following an eleventh-hour visit, Emanuel could get stuck with an even bigger share of the political blame if he goes there and the legislature then doesn’t act on education funding, or passes a bill that doesn’t help Chicago the way he wants.

The mayor’s record on in-person appeals to lawmakers is mixed. In May 2012 he made a much-ballyhooed speech to a House pension panel, calling for an overhaul of city government worker pensions and saying the “day of reckoning has arrived.”

The General Assembly did not act on the plan Emanuel proposed at the time, and it would be another two years before they passed a different pension reform bill, which the Illinois Supreme Court ultimately threw out in March.

The mayor didn’t rule out heading down there in the next few days, however. “I didn’t say — leaving that open,” he said. “What I said to you is, don’t assume it’s just the last 24 hours or the last 48 hours. I’ve been at this for over a year.”

* The Question: Should Mayor Emanuel travel to Springfield and lobby legislators? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

find bike trails

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - GOMB says proposal would require income tax rate of 5.5% to balance *** A very odd budget plan

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* From the House Democratic budget proposal analysis

Items mandated for payment under a court order are not appropriated in these bills. As a result, in some instances, entire agencies are absent from this legislation.

That means things like Medicaid expenses aren’t being appropriated, which is what I’ve been warning subscribers about for a while now. Also, no personal service lines are appropriated because employees are being paid via court order. What they intend to do if the courts rule that the employees can’t be paid without an appropriation is another story.

* And speaking of which, the bill also appropriates over $63 million for back pay for state workers as a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling that employees can’t be paid without an appropriation.

* And then there’s this under the heading “capital projects”…

Yep. $3 billion in new capital spending.

* Watch for updates on this story on our live session coverage post.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Greg Hinz

But the latest word is, after a top Rauner aide called [Madigan’s budget] plan “the phoniest phony budget in recent Illinois history,” the speaker decided to put it all together in one big bill and dare the GOP governor to veto it, potentially keeping schools from opening this fall.

The original version of the plan, circulated to House members last night, called for a hike in state school aid of $575 million, with $500 million targeted toward high poverty districts.

But in the latest version, I’m told, Madigan raised the ante, boosting the $500 million for high poverty districts to $700 million. And while $700 million is the “number under discussion now,” it could go up further, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown tells me.

While every school district in the state would get more money, CPS would be a particular winner. Sources say it would get 41 percent of the $700 million—about $300 million. Beyond that, it no longer would get the $75 million cut because of lower enrollment that Rauner had proposed. It also may get some additional money for teachers pensions now, up to $50 million.

So, maybe a $400+ million benefit for CPS when compared to Rauner’s proposal.

*** UPDATE 2 *** ILGOP…

House Speaker Mike Madigan is pushing a budget proposal today that creates a $7 billion deficit and requires revenues of nearly $39 billion. Balancing the phoniest of all phony budgets would require the highest tax rate in Illinois history.

“Now we know why Mike Madigan said in December that taking the income tax back to 5% was a ‘good place to begin.’ Apparently, Madigan has long been planning to pass the highest tax rate in Illinois history,” said Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe. “Every single Democrat who votes for this proposal is voting for an unprecedented tax hike on Illinois families, workers and small businesses. The Madigan tax hike would crush Illinois families and lead to more people and businesses leaving the state.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** From a senior administration official…

According to GOMB, this level of spending would force an income tax rate of 5.5% to balance the budget. In essence, a vote for this budget is a vote to force a $1,000 tax hike on the average Illinois family.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 *** Madigan: No

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* Here we go…

…Adding… From Amanda in comments…

To be clear: Productive was my word/summation; Speaker used “persuasive.”

*** UPDATE 1 ***   The statement is getting out there on Twitter, so here’s the full governor’s office response to the Speaker’s proposed budget which I told subscribers about earlier…

According to GOMB, the House Democrats are proposing a budget that is as much as $7 billion out of balance, proposing to spend as much as $39 billion with only $32 billion available. It is by far the phoniest phony budget in recent Illinois history - and that’s saying something.

…Adding… Actually, some of the working groups are making progress. So this statement by MJM is a bit, um, off. But the governor told Madigan today that he wants the groups to continue meeting.

…Adding More… From Voices for Illinois Children…

Without new revenue the analysis from Voices’ Fiscal Policy Center shows, as does GOMB’s analysis, that a spending plan with previous spending levels comes up least $7 billion short.

It’s important to remember the reason the numbers don’t add up. It’s because there is no new revenue to make up for the huge tax cut that occurred when lawmakers failed to make the temporary 5% income tax rate permanent.

It’s not enough to decry an unbalanced budget. To balance the budget, lawmakers and the governor either need to make $7.1 billion in cuts (something Voices does not suggest, and something no policy maker has suggested) or generate $7.1 billion in new revenue.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Tribune

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is planning to present a budget that would pour $500 million more into school funding for districts with low-income students under a spending plan that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration suggests is $7 billion short.

The broad points of the proposal surfaced Wednesday as the governor and legislative leaders met again behind closed doors with a spring session deadline looming Tuesday. The House Democratic budget blueprint largely envisions state government running on autopilot — an indication that despite Rauner’s vague suggestion of optimism, there is unlikely to be a resolution to the historic budget stalemate.

According to an analysis of the legislation distributed to lawmakers and the administration, the plan calls for spending just $13.7 billion out of the state’s general revenue fund, the primary checkbook of state government. Much of state government instead would be funded under a patchwork of court orders and decent decrees that kept more than 90 percent of funding flowing as Illinois operates without a complete budget. […]

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the proposal may morph over the next few days, but is “based on what we believe Illinois law requires to be spent.”

It’s actually more than $500 million. Click here to see the analysis. Weird stuff in there, man, as subscribers have known for many days.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      

Social service groups, including Mrs. Rauner’s, file motion for “emergency relief”

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* From an e-mail…

Hello Rich,

On behalf of by Pay Now Illinois, the coalition of 82 – newly increased from 64 – human and social service agencies suing Gov. Rauner and seven state agency heads, I want to make sure you are aware of two new important court filings today, following the initial lawsuit filed May 4. The two filings and release are attached and additional information can be found at:


    · Today the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking emergency relief that would require the state to begin immediate payment on contracts that are more than 60 days in arrears, an amount estimated to be $100 million. The total owed to the plaintiffs for 11 months of unpaid work exceeds $130 million. The motion argues that the case represents a “public emergency,” human and social service agencies are facing a cascade of damages – laying off staff, reducing or eliminating essential programs, or shutting down entirely.

    · Also today, Pay Now Illinois filed an amended complaint adding 18 new human and social service agencies plaintiffs to the original suit, and two new defendants: Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger and Audra Hamernick, Director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

We are happy to set up interviews with two members of the Pay Now Coalition, who are plaintiffs in the suit: Andrea Durbin, CEO of Illinois Collaboration on Youth, and Nancy Ronquillo, President & CEO of Children’s Home + Aid.

Many thanks,

The new motion is here. The full press release is here.

…Adding… Ounce of Protection, run by Mrs. Rauner, is one of the groups that jumped aboard the lawsuit. Ounce is owed millions. Interesting.

* Related…

* Voice of The Southern: Gov. Rauner, sign SB2038: A $700 million human services “stopgap” appropriations bill – Senate Bill 2038 – passed both houses of the legislature last week with broad bi-partisan support. Our Republican senator, Dave Luechtefeld, and our Democratic senator, Gary Forby, were sponsors of the bill. It passed in the House by a 111-0 vote and passed the Senate by a 56-0 vote. It was sent to the governor’s desk on Wednesday, where it continues to sit. We urge the governor to sign SB2038 bright and early tomorrow morning.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Facing the abyss

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* Subscribers know much more about the latest plan and the reaction from the governor. I’m expecting to see it pop sometime today. In the meantime, here’s the Tribune

Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton didn’t flinch when they passed a budget far out of balance in 2014 — heavy on the spending and without the revenue to pay for it. They didn’t flinch when they passed an out-of-balance budget in 2015. And now, all signs point to a repeat performance for 2016.

If Democrats again send Rauner an unbalanced budget, it will be time for the governor to end the standoff himself. Time to use his veto pen to strip spending line by line, something he avoided last year, instead vetoing the entire spending plan, except for education. If Rauner doesn’t act, Illinoisans could go another year with no budget — another year of spending at unsustainable levels, another year of debt piling up, another year of the state’s most vulnerable citizens harmed.

A truly balanced budget in this debt-ridden, spend-happy state will be ugly and far worse than what social service providers have experienced so far. But if Democrats insist on riding the Tilt-A-Whirl at fantasy land instead of actually governing, Rauner will have to do what he promised as a candidate: make the tough, painful decisions himself.

* The budget office has repeatedly explained that the governor can’t balance the budget with line-item vetoes alone because lots of spending is mandated in state law or by federal courts. Even so, Gov. Rauner could reduce at least some spending that way. I just don’t think he will because then he’d have to own all those individual cuts and he ain’t much of an owner. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong.

They don’t want to do reduction vetoes, either, by the way, because those can be overridden with simple majorities.

So, I’m not sure what the outcome is gonna be. We’re pretty well stuck if the leaders can’t come to a bipartisan agreement.

* Related…

* ADDED: State’s lost year about to become two as budget cliff nears

* Some charter schools won’t survive proposed CPS budget cuts

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

Caption contest!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* With a hat tip to the Tribune

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Protected: *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Rauner administration denounces budget proposal

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Today’s number: $7.1 billion

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* Press release…

State Sen. Kyle McCarter is leading the way with a balanced budget compromise combining true budget reforms and no new taxes.

Sen. McCarter (R-Lebanon) said his plan is a balanced approach that incorporates ideas and proposals from legislators and the Governor’s office.

The “plan” is here. Almost half his savings come from pushing $1.4 billion in pension costs down the food chain to local schools and universities, which would jack up property taxes and tuition. He claims a $924 million savings by moving new hires into 401(k) plans. $700 million comes from cutting state worker pay and benefits. And $300 million would come from some apparently super drastic workers comp cuts.

Um, OK.

* Not to mention that the hole is larger than that. From Voices for Illinois Children

That’s a pretty darned big hole.

* More

Cutting $7.1 billion from the budget wouldn’t be easy, even if it were desirable (which it isn’t). For one thing, it couldn’t be done in an across-the-board manner. That’s because roughly $27 billion (70%) of the budget can broadly be categorized as “mandatory” spending. This includes: debt service, pension contributions, transfers made according to existing state law (largely to local governments and transit systems), Medicaid costs, and spending relating to consent decrees and court orders. It’s difficult (or impossible) to cut these areas.

The remaining $11.6 billion of the general funds budget can broadly be considered “discretionary” — it doesn’t have to be spent under law. (For more details on how we calculated what is “discretionary,” click here.) This is not to say that these parts of the budget are unimportant. Far from it. This is spending on PreK-12 education, higher education, and a significant portion of human services, including areas such as homeless prevention, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and domestic violence.

* Another chart

* And

If lawmakers and Governor Rauner maintain (or even increase) funding for PreK-12 education, the total amount of remaining discretionary areas of the budget is less than the total revenue gap. In other words, even if the state eliminated entire sections of the state budget, it would still not balance the next state budget. Without billions of dollars in new revenue, it will be nearly impossible for the state to stop digging itself an ever-deeper financial hole. There is no getting around this.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Leaders to meet again today, but there may be bigger news

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* The four legislative leaders and the governor will meet today at 11 o’clock. It’s just the third time they will have met this calendar year, but the second time this month. Speaker Madigan’s spokesman confirmed that his boss will also attend.

Discussion topics?

…Adding… Legendary White Sox player Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas will be at the Statehouse today around noon. Thomas supports the fantasy sports legalization bill.

So, that’s some good news outta Springfield for a change.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - AFSCME responds - Rauner responds - Bill defeated *** AFSCME bill override vote could come today

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

*** UPDATE 1 *** The veto override failed by two votes. Rep. Ken Dunkin was recorded as voting “Yes” to override, but he was apparently in the Senate when the vote was taken, so expect possible fireworks.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the governor’s office…

The Office of Governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement after the House of Representatives failed to override the Governor’s veto of HB 580. This is attributable to Catherine Kelly, Press Secretary for the Governor:

“HB 580 was unprecedented and unaffordable, and simply another attempt by the Majority Party in the legislature to insert themselves into the contract process and put hard working families in Illinois on the hook for a $3 billion tax hike. The Governor thanks those members who took the pro-taxpayer position today, and believes it is now time to move forward and find compromise on a balanced budget with structural reforms that will put our state on the path to prosperity.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** AFSCME…

AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch issued this statement:

“We are deeply disappointed in the 48 legislators in the House today who failed to override Gov. Rauner’s veto of the fair arbitration bill, House Bill 580. They sided with the governor against the people of Illinois and against the public service workers who protect kids, care for veterans and the disabled, respond to emergencies and keep us safe.

“In January the Rauner Administration walked away from the bargaining table and has since refused to even meet with our union. Instead the governor is seeking the power to unilaterally impose his extreme demands, including forcing workers to pay double their current costs for health care, a four-year wage freeze, and doing away with protections against unfettered privatization.

“If he imposes those demands, public service workers will be forced to work under his terms or go out on strike. While as a candidate Rauner vowed to force a strike, the union supported the arbitration bill as a fair alternative path to keep Illinois working.

“Contrary to the governor’s wild exaggerations designed to defeat HB 580, the bill would have merely provided to all state employees the same fair arbitration procedures already available to public safety workers throughout Illinois. According to state records, those procedures in the past 10 years have resulted in 48 percent of all arbitration decisions favoring the employer, 43 percent favoring the union, and 9 percent split.

“The fair arbitration bill was meant to protect public services and ensure fairness for the men and women who work to provide them. That’s why large majorities of voters even in Republican districts consistently supported the bill and urged their legislators to enact it. It’s unfortunate that too many lawmakers sided today with Governor Rauner rather than representing their constituents.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Vinicky

Unionized state employees worried about stalled contract talks could learn Wednesday whether there’s hope for a work-around.

Last week, thousands of union members rallied in Springfield. They asked legislators to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill that would change how the state negotiates with labor. Wednesday they may see if it worked.

Democratic Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch says he plans to call the measure for a vote.

“I think the rally in Springfield last week was very impressive,” he said Tuesday. “And people are hearing that. So we’re going to put it on the board and see if the votes are there.” […]

The governor has called it the “worst” bill he’s seen, but unions say Rauner is trying to force a strike or walk-out.

- Posted by Rich Miller   124 Comments      

This job is more than the Turnaround Agenda and a budget

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* As we’ve discussed before, Gov. Rauner gave lawmakers a detailed road map last year when he used his amendatory veto powers on the marijuana decriminalization bill. Legislators followed his directions and yet he still won’t embrace the legislation

“I’ve been a little distracted with economic issues, and frankly more important issues,” Rauner said last week. “We in Illinois tend to get — we get caught up in what our state pie’s going to be and how much marijuana is going to get sold. You know, it’s lovely topics. We got a budget crisis. We need more jobs. We need higher wages. We need more money for our schools. Let’s focus on what matters.”

That was not a unique comment. Rauner said much the same thing Monday afternoon in his Statehouse news conference: “You’re going to see a lot of votes and a lot of bills pop out this week. I hope they relate to what matters. We don’t need band aids. We don’t need to declare another state pie. We don’t need to declare another state vegetable. We don’t need to declare another illegal substance that we should expand. We need to focus on what matters.”

There you have it: The governor is comparing a bipartisan change in criminal justice policy to naming the state pie — pumpkin, by the way, sponsored by a Republican and signed into law by … Gov. Rauner.

It’s a striking comment from a politician who’s been widely praised for saying he’s willing to take on the inefficiencies and inequities of our criminal justice system. Rauner has called for significantly reducing the number of people sent to prison in Illinois. Now, it’s true that decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana will not make much of a dent in that — very few people are sent to prison for small time pot busts, especially for a first offense. And yet, advocates say it’s a worthwhile step in the right direction.

Not only that, but he could expand job opportunities in this state by expanding the medical marijuana program or even legalizing it. If jobs were solely based on workers’ comp costs and property tax costs, we wouldn’t have any jobs here. There are other ways to do things that don’t involve his Turnaround Agenda. Innovation is a big one, and strangling our research universities certainly isn’t helping.

* Also, too, the pumpkin pie bill is an easy target, but Illinois is the national center of pumpkin production

Prairie State farmers grow more ornamental and canning-type pumpkins than any other state. In fact, Illinois produced more than twice as many pumpkins in 2012 as second-ranked to California. […]

The state’s farms harvested a record 16,200 acres of pumpkins in 2012, according to the Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service (IASS). Most of those were processing pumpkins, the best type for canning and cooking. More than 90 percent of the nation’s canning pumpkins grow in Illinois, says Mohammad Babadoost, a plant pathologist and professor at the University of Illinois.

We also process those pumpkins here.

So, stop dumping on a vital home-grown industry already.

* Meanwhile

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Champaign is among the nation’s faster-growing cities.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that the city is the only one in Illinois to reach that distinction. Of the others, 74 are in California, 47 are in Texas, and 17 are in the Carolinas.

From July 2014 to July 2015, the Census found Champaign grew by 1.5 percent, to just over 86,900. It’s now the 380th-largest city nationally and No. 10 in Illinois.

Champaign is rapidly becoming my favorite small city. So, learn some lessons from that town and help others do some of the same sorts of things. Not everything can be duplicated, of course, but this ain’t rocket science.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Kirk says Clinton won’t hurt Duckworth bid

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* Corfman

Many Senate Republicans downplay the impact of Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy on their chances in November, stressing the importance of local issues. But ask those same Republicans about Hillary Clinton, and suddenly who’s on the top of that ticket becomes very important, Politico reports.

Except to one.

“Asked whether Clinton will hurt Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., replied: ‘No,’ before an aide interrupted him and swept him away,” the website reports.

The full story is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Simple answers to simple questions

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* True…

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session Coverage

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

…Adding… We have a new sponsor for this post: URENCO USA.

* Track the carnage in real time with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

The other potential candidates

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* I think it’s just too early for this. It’s akin to all the chatter about a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series. But, whatevs. Democrats cannot stand this governor and therefore the speculation will intensify as the days progress.

Here’s Mark Brown on what happens if US Sen. Dick Durbin doesn’t run for governor against Bruce Rauner two and a half years from now

After Lisa Madigan, the list is less obvious.

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs was elected in 2014 with Rauner and appears to covet the governor’s job, but may not have the stature at this point.

Frerichs moved into the treasurer’s post from the Illinois Senate, where several of his former colleagues — Daniel Biss, Andy Manar, Kwame Raoul and Heather Steans — also are believed to be positioning themselves for higher office.

All four are among the more cerebral members of the Legislature, but going up against Rauner would be a major step up in weight class for any of them. […]

Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is said to want a rematch with Rauner and never shies from the competition, but at some point, he’s going to have to recognize that his electoral career is finished.

Businessman Christopher Kennedy has flirted with runs for political office on several previous occasions, but some believe he is serious about jumping into the race against Rauner.

Quinn lives in Quinnland, so I’m not sure he got the memo about his electoral career, or ever will. Brown also mentioned Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who could be the strongest candidate in the bunch, but getting him to run is a different matter. Sen. Steans has been traveling the state for a while now, and she’d have access to significant resources, but she’d be starting from scratch.

* Korecki

Whoever runs against Rauner must be prepared to go up against the former private equity investor’s bottomless pit of money and the monsoon of opposition research and negative attacks that Rauner is capable of financing. Some insiders are estimating Republicans may spend $100 million in the next gubernatorial campaign. Dems wouldn’t have to match that dollar for dollar, but they’d have to raise $60 million to stay competitive. That’s why party insiders are looking to persuade big guns like Durbin, and to a lesser degree, Arne Duncan. Lisa Madigan would be a formidable opponent if her father agreed to step down as speaker if she were elected. While Brown notes other rising stars, they’d have a tough road ahead building name recognition and creating a strong organization while battling the Rauner jabs.

Brown’s kicker seems appropriate here: “Add it all up and what do you get? A lot more speculation about Durbin being the candidate.”

I really doubt that Speaker Madigan will step aside, mainly because doing so would seem like an admission that Rauner had forced him off the battlefield. Duncan does appear to be positioning himself for something. And I speculated in comments a few days back about Rauner potentially spending $100 million. The word’s definitely going around.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

Jewish bride denied Galena wedding ceremony

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* From the Illinois ACLU…

A young couple’s dream day turned into a nightmare after the owner of an Inn offering wedding services would not allow them to hold the non-religious wedding ceremony the couple desired. Jonathan Webber and Alexandra Katzman paid a deposit to Bernadine’s Stillman Inn in Galena in February of 2015 to secure the wedding date their chosen wedding date – May 14, 2016. Only when they visited the Inn on November 1, 2015 did the Inn’s owner, Dave Anderson, tell them that he would only permit a Christian wedding service in the facility. When Mr. Webber and Ms. Katzman noted that Ms. Katzman was Jewish and that her family members would be uncomfortable with such a service, Mr. Anderson said that the wedding was “not a good fit” for the Inn.

The charge filed last month with the Illinois Department of Human Rights alleges that the Inn, a public accommodation, denied the couple service on the basis of their religion. The couple is represented in the matter by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

“The entire experience was maddening and humiliating,” said Ms. Katzman, who was married to Mr. Webber earlier this month at another location. “After months of thinking that we’d found the perfect location for our wedding, we learned that the only way we could move forward was to have a service that might well offend my Jewish guests and my religious heritage.”

“I was stunned when this happened,” added Mr. Webber. “The Inn had cashed our deposit check and had the form with our wedding needs – including a non-religious ceremony – for months. It was shocking to be turned away.”

Ms. Katzman and Mr. Webber determined that Bernadine’s Stillman Inn was the perfect location for their wedding because they stayed there the weekend they became engaged. In February 2015, after learning that their desired date was available, the couple sent the Inn a form outlining their wishes for the big day, including that they wanted a “non-religious” wedding ceremony. The Inn’s website provided instructions for securing the services a local judge for performing a wedding service, so they assumed that everything would be fine.

The couple’s hopes were dashed when they returned to Galena on November 1, 2015 to finalize details for their wedding. For the first time, Mr. Anderson told them that he could only perform a Christian wedding. Ms. Katzman explained that her family was Jewish, and thinking that Mr. Anderson misunderstood their plans, she volunteered that a friend’s mother was a judge and would be happy to perform the ceremony. Mr. Anderson said that he was not comfortable with anyone else performing a ceremony in his chapel.

Still hoping to salvage their plans, Mr. Webber and Ms. Katzman (after excusing themselves to speak privately) asked Mr. Anderson if they could hear what he would say, hoping that some compromise might be possible. Mr. Anderson complied, reading a long script that specifically and repeatedly referenced Jesus Christ. When Ms. Katzman again noted that her family was Jewish, Mr. Anderson replied that the couple was “not a good fit” for him, and refunded their deposit.

“This type of discrimination is exactly what the Illinois law was designed to prevent,” said Rebecca Glenberg, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois. “As a public business, open to all, the Inn cannot impose religious requirements on my clients or others, especially not at their own wedding.”

“Through the intervention of some good friends, we were able to keep our date and had a lovely wedding,” said Ms. Katzman. “But we don’t want anyone to go through this humiliation in the future – that is why we filed this complaint.”

* WGN TV covered this story last night

The owner of the Stillmam Inn says he is shocked by the charge but blames his decision on a rule by the City of Galena. WGN contacted Galena officials and they gave us this statement, “As far as the city, we regulate land use. We don’t get involved with religious matters.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition: Budget analysis

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Good morning!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

* Everybody knows this is nowhere

Everybody seems to wonder what it’s like down here

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

* Rauner to veto HDem approp bill
* Munger: HDem budget will push unpaid bills past $15 billion, force delays in legislator paychecks
* Question of the day
* *** UPDATED x3 - GOMB says proposal would require income tax rate of 5.5% to balance *** A very odd budget plan
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Madigan: No
* Social service groups, including Mrs. Rauner's, file motion for "emergency relief"
* Facing the abyss
* Caption contest!
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Rauner administration denounces budget proposal
* Today's number: $7.1 billion
* Leaders to meet again today, but there may be bigger news
* *** UPDATED x3 - AFSCME responds - Rauner responds - Bill defeated *** AFSCME bill override vote could come today
* This job is more than the Turnaround Agenda and a budget
* Kirk says Clinton won't hurt Duckworth bid
* Simple answers to simple questions
* *** LIVE *** Session Coverage
* The other potential candidates
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