State Week: Governor Rauner Presents His Budget

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Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to unveil his fourth budget proposal Wednesday in a speech to the General Assembly.

Illinois lawmakers have only enacted a budget for one of the three years he’s been in office.

That led to service cuts and some layoffs, but the state didn’t collapse. For most people, life went on as normal.

So we asked Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey: Does it really matter if Illinois has a budget?

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State Week: Governor Rauner Presents His Budget

Morning Spin: Another Legionnaires’ case at veterans home plagued by deadly water problems

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Welcome 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. Subscribe here.

Topspin

Just a few hours after Illinois lawmakers approved an audit aimed at the deadly outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at the veterans home in Quincy, the state Department of Public Health announced it had found another case.

It’s the third one this week.

The agency said all three residents are stable. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to face criticism from both sides of the aisle regarding his administration’s handling of 13 deadly Legionnaires’ cases dating to 2015. The governor stayed at the home for a week last month to “gain a more thorough understanding” of operations there.

In his state budget proposal Wednesday, the governor asked for $50 million to go toward improvements at the home. On Thursday, the state health department said it is “boosting disinfection levels in its water to further reduce any potential exposure to residents and staff” and will put in place “modified water restrictions” across the campus.

The resolution senators approved Thursday orders the auditor general to examine details of the outbreaks, including the administration’s response, disease prevention measures put in place and how much money the state has spent on improvements thus far.

On Wednesday, the state reported that a resident of the state mental health center in downstate Chester has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. (Bill Lukitsch)

 

What’s on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no events scheduled.

*Gov. Rauner will visit a forging company in Spring Grove and a school in Rockford.

 

From the notebook

*Kennedy follows up radio ad with digital attack on Pritzker: Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy has a new digital ad criticizing primary rival J.B. Pritzker over comments made in a November 2008 phone call with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich about potential African-American appointees to the U.S. Senate.

The half-minute ad features various broadcast reporters and anchors giving their interpretations of a Chicago Tribune report on the government-recorded conversation, which was part of the federal corruption investigation into the now-imprisoned Blagojevich.

In the conversation, Pritzker was advising Blagojevich on filling the U.S. Senate seat held by Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president. Pritzker pitched the idea of picking Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, in part because it “covers you on the African-American thing.” Pritzker also calls potential appointees former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones “crass” and said then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. would be a “nightmare.”

Like the radio ad, the digital ad is coming out more than a week after the Tribune’s report. The radio spot is being played on stations with a large African-American audience and features Jones accusing Pritzker of “insulting our community.” (Rick Pearson)

*Biss governor campaign a planetary cause: Democratic governor candidate Daniel Biss held a news conference Thursday to rail against the profitability aspect of public-private partnerships that deliver government services — but he took it to a whole new level.

“It’s time for the public to come together and make those investments on our behalf, not on Donald Trump’s behalf, not on Bruce Rauner’s behalf, not on their friends’ behalf, not to enrich a billionaire — but to make sure we have the planet, the society, the community that all people in this state and nation need,” Biss said outside the Thompson Center.

“We are here to fight on behalf of the public for public investment in public goods and public resources because that which is supposed to be a human right is never going to be something that we can count on a billionaire to give us out of charity,” he said. “It is time for us to fight. It is time for us to demand what’s ours.”

Biss, a state senator from Evanston, is facing a primary featuring two wealthier challengers. He has sought support among backers of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. (Rick Pearson)

*Kaegi endorsement: One South Side alderman took the occasion of a report critical of Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios’ work to endorse his primary opponent, asset manager Fritz Kaegi.

The report by the Civic Consulting Alliance concluded that error-ridden property assessments effectively punished poor homeowners while providing property tax breaks to wealthy ones – mirroring the results of “The Tax Divide,” a series of reports produced by the Tribune and ProPublica Illinois.

“Upon reading or hearing the results, some have opined that with this report in hand, Berrios should be given a chance to do better,” said Ald. Anthony Beale, who’s also the 9th Ward Democratic committeeman. “I strongly disagree. Berrios had his chance. Berrios blew his chance – now I’ll take my chance on Fritz Kaegi for Cook County assessor.” (Hal Dardick)

*Quick spin: Democratic attorney general candidate state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush.

*On the “Sunday Spin”: Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson’s guests are Elliot Richardson, founder and president of the Small Business Advocacy Council on its legislative agenda; Illinois Senate Republican leader Bill Brady of Bloomington on the governor’s budget message; and Brian Mackey, who covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois. The “Sunday Spin” airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WGN-AM 720.

 

What we’re writing

*Berrios property tax assessments for Cook County homeowners are flawed and unfair, study confirms.

*Berrios challenger Andrea Raila has been kicked off the ballot but vows a court fight.

*Madigan ally ousted after harassment complaint accused of violating protective order in different case.

*Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer shot 6 times, prosecutors say, as suspect held without bail.

*Slain Cmdr. Paul Bauer’s family and friends remember him as steady force who “knew the right things to do.”

*Cook County jail inmates applaud for suspect in Chicago cop’s killing.

*Cook County judge convicted of mortgage fraud.

*Refurbished Woodson library houses black research collection that is “the pride of Chicago.”

 

What we’re reading

*The New Yorker’s take on Emanuel.

*Quenchers, one of Chicago’s original craft beer bars, is for sale.

*Suburban tea store proprietor to hold Chicago concert next year.

 

Follow the money

*Andrea Raila, who was kicked out of the Cook County assessor race pending an appeal, reported giving her campaign $100,000.

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

 

Beyond Chicago

*Suspect confessed to Florida shooting.

*Immigration bills fail in Senate.

*Priebus writes about time with Trump in new book.

Morning Spin: Another Legionnaires’ case at veterans home plagued by deadly water problems

Morning Spin: Duckworth explains ‘Cadet Bone Spurs’ nickname for Trump

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Welcome 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. Subscribe here.

Topspin

First-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who has drawn widespread attention for calling President Donald Trump “Cadet Bone Spurs,” has now explained the jab.

“I think bullies need to have a taste of their own medicine, and he is a bully. And you stand up to bullies,” Duckworth said on Politico’s “Women Rule” podcast. “I just think it’s ironic that you have an injury that is so severe it keeps you out of serving your country, but you don’t remember which foot it was in, or whether it was in both feet.”

Trump played sports during high school in a military academy but received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. One deferment came after a physician stated in a letter that Trump suffered from bone spurs in his feet.

Duckworth lost both legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in 2004.

On the podcast, she wasn’t shy about singling out which Democrats she’d like to see run for the White House in 2020.

“I’m going to have to say Amy Klobuchar,” she said, talking about her Minnesota colleague. Then she plugged Ohio’s Democratic senator, saying: “I would love to see more Midwestern Dems run. I think Sherrod Brown would be fantastic. Amy would be fantastic.” (Katherine Skiba)

 

What’s on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will cut the ribbon on the Woodson Regional Library.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner will tour Methodist College in Peoria, before later attending a Associated Builders & Contractors of Illinois event in Addison.

*The Illinois House and Senate are in session.

*Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, will speak to the City Club of Chicago.

*Democratic governor candidate Daniel Biss, congressional candidate Marie Newman and others will have a news conference at the Thompson Center to criticize Trump’s infrastructure plan.

 

From the notebook

*Kennedy features Emil Jones in new radio ad: Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy is up with a new radio ad featuring former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones criticizing primary rival J.B. Pritzker.

The ad, airing on stations with a large African-American audience, comes more than a week after a Chicago Tribune report on a government recorded conversation between Pritzker and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich over potential African-American candidates to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by Barack Obama’s White House victory.

On the November 2008 call, Pritzker, who was advising Blagojevich on filling the U.S. Senate seat held by Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, pitched the idea of picking Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, in part because it “covers you on the African-American thing.” Pritzker also calls Jones “crass” and said then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. would be a “nightmare.”

Jones, a Kennedy supporter, goes after Pritzker in the one-minute radio spot.

“On FBI wiretaps, J.B. Pritzker said what he really thinks of black folks. Pritzker used insults and code language to put down our entire community,” Jones says, adding African-Americans “shouldn’t be surprised by Pritzker insulting our community.”

Jones goes on to say that “Chris’ father, Robert Kennedy, and his uncle, President Kennedy, fought and struggled and sacrificed alongside Dr. King in the civil rights movement. Chris has devoted his life fighting for those who are left behind. That’s the Kennedy way.”

Kennedy is counting heavily on support from the African-American community in his bid for the nomination. (Rick Pearson) 

*Giffords’ gun-safety group makes legislative endorsements: The gun-safety organization founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a political action committee working against gun violence are jointly backing a dozen Democratic lawmakers and legislative candidates in the March 20 primary.

The announcement comes in the wake of the downtown killing of Chicago Police Department Commander Paul Bauer on Monday and the deadly mass-shooting Tuesday at a high school in Broward County, Florida.

The Democratic lawmakers facing primaries who got the groups’ endorsement are state Sen. Iris Martinez and Reps. Dan Burke, Kelly Cassidy, Robert Martwick, Justin Slaughter and Mary Flowers of Chicago, as well as Reps. Elizabeth Hernandez of Cicero, Robert Rita of Blue Island and Thaddeus Jones of Calumet City.

In addition, Democrat Lamont Robinson received an endorsement as he runs to fill the House seat being vacated by state Rep. Juliana Stratton’s bid to be lieutenant governor. Also getting backing: Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview, who is running for the seat being given up by state Rep. Laura Fine; and Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove, who is competing for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills. (Rick Pearson)

*More than 50 women officials back LipinskiDemocratic U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski on Wednesday announced he’s been endorsed for re-election by 56 women who are elected officials in his 3rd Congressional District.

They include three village presidents: Sandra Bury of Oak Lawn, Mary Werner of Worth and Alice Gallagher of Western Springs, where he lives. Alderwomen, trustees, clerks and other officials round out the group.

Lipinski is being challenged from the left in the Democratic primary by a progressive newcomer, Marie Newman, who has gotten nods from Democratic women in Congress and two sitting U.S. House Democrats in Illinois, as well as from Planned Parenthood Illinois Action.

Lipinski is the only incumbent congressional Democrat from Illinois that has not been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. The group also made no endorsement for the Democratic primary for the seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. (Katherine Skiba)

*A new Legionnaires’ case: A resident of the state mental health center in downstate Chester has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, the Illinois Department of Human Services announced Wednesday.

The agency says the patient is “being treated and is currently in stable condition.” 

It’s a single case and not the kind of thing that typically would get much attention, but Rauner continues to face pressure over his administration’s handling of an outbreak of the disease at the state-run veterans home in Quincy that left 13 people dead.

Like Quincy, Chester sits right on the Mississippi River about 200 miles to the south.

*CUTE: The day of a governor’s budget address can cause heartburn for people at the Capitol, with lawmakers, lobbyists and staff throwing elbows in the crowds outside the Illinois House in the frenetic rush to weigh in.

Rarely does something make you go: “Awwwwwww!”

Our own Monique Garcia tweeted a photo of a person dressed as a heart in the rotunda, saying “Valentine’s Day at the Capitol means lobbying to end heart disease and stroke in women.”

The bright-red, smiley-faced heart is a lot more cuddly looking than other mascots that have popped up in Illinois politics, like the 2014 Rauner campaign’s Quinnochio, a grown man with a sparse beard dressed like a boy puppet.

*Quick spin: Rauner ordered flags lowered to half-staff in Bauer’s honor. The decree runs through the end of the day Saturday. … Biss is getting the backing of People’s Action and its local Reclaim Chicago organization, both progressive groups. People’s Action says it has 48 member organizations in 30 states and supports economic, climate, racial and gender justice.

 

What we’re writing

*Rauner re-election budget takes aim at two favorite targets: CPS and unionized state workers.

*Four-time felon charged in fatal shooting of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. Go here for full coverage, updated frequently.

*Bauer was never late, so aldermen knew something was up.

*Pritzker on Madigan’s handling of sexual harassment complaint: “It shouldn’t take that long.”

*State prepares to spend $75 million to expand college-admissions related testing to 9th, 10th and 11th graders.

Morning Spin: Duckworth explains ‘Cadet Bone Spurs’ nickname for Trump

Morning Spin: Duckworth explains ‘Cadet Bone Spurs’ nickname for Trump

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Welcome 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. Subscribe here.

Topspin

First-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who has drawn widespread attention for calling President Donald Trump “Cadet Bone Spurs,” has now explained the jab.

“I think bullies need to have a taste of their own medicine, and he is a bully. And you stand up to bullies,” Duckworth said on Politico’s “Women Rule” podcast. “I just think it’s ironic that you have an injury that is so severe it keeps you out of serving your country, but you don’t remember which foot it was in, or whether it was in both feet.”

Trump played sports during high school in a military academy but received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. One deferment came after a physician stated in a letter that Trump suffered from bone spurs in his feet.

Duckworth lost both legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in 2004.

On the podcast, she wasn’t shy about singling out which Democrats she’d like to see run for the White House in 2020.

“I’m going to have to say Amy Klobuchar,” she said, talking about her Minnesota colleague. Then she plugged Ohio’s Democratic senator, saying: “I would love to see more Midwestern Dems run. I think Sherrod Brown would be fantastic. Amy would be fantastic.” (Katherine Skiba)

 

What’s on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will cut the ribbon on the Woodson Regional Library.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner will tour Methodist College in Peoria, before later attending a Associated Builders & Contractors of Illinois event in Addison.

*The Illinois House and Senate are in session.

*Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, will speak to the City Club of Chicago.

*Democratic governor candidate Daniel Biss, congressional candidate Marie Newman and others will have a news conference at the Thompson Center to criticize Trump’s infrastructure plan.

 

From the notebook

*Kennedy features Emil Jones in new radio ad: Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy is up with a new radio ad featuring former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones criticizing primary rival J.B. Pritzker.

The ad, airing on stations with a large African-American audience, comes more than a week after a Chicago Tribune report on a government recorded conversation between Pritzker and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich over potential African-American candidates to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by Barack Obama’s White House victory.

On the November 2008 call, Pritzker, who was advising Blagojevich on filling the U.S. Senate seat held by Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, pitched the idea of picking Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, in part because it “covers you on the African-American thing.” Pritzker also calls Jones “crass” and said then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. would be a “nightmare.”

Jones, a Kennedy supporter, goes after Pritzker in the one-minute radio spot.

“On FBI wiretaps, J.B. Pritzker said what he really thinks of black folks. Pritzker used insults and code language to put down our entire community,” Jones says, adding African-Americans “shouldn’t be surprised by Pritzker insulting our community.”

Jones goes on to say that “Chris’ father, Robert Kennedy, and his uncle, President Kennedy, fought and struggled and sacrificed alongside Dr. King in the civil rights movement. Chris has devoted his life fighting for those who are left behind. That’s the Kennedy way.”

Kennedy is counting heavily on support from the African-American community in his bid for the nomination. (Rick Pearson) 

*Giffords’ gun-safety group makes legislative endorsements: The gun-safety organization founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a political action committee working against gun violence are jointly backing a dozen Democratic lawmakers and legislative candidates in the March 20 primary.

The announcement comes in the wake of the downtown killing of Chicago Police Department Commander Paul Bauer on Monday and the deadly mass-shooting Tuesday at a high school in Broward County, Florida.

The Democratic lawmakers facing primaries who got the groups’ endorsement are state Sen. Iris Martinez and Reps. Dan Burke, Kelly Cassidy, Robert Martwick, Justin Slaughter and Mary Flowers of Chicago, as well as Reps. Elizabeth Hernandez of Cicero, Robert Rita of Blue Island and Thaddeus Jones of Calumet City.

In addition, Democrat Lamont Robinson received an endorsement as he runs to fill the House seat being vacated by state Rep. Juliana Stratton’s bid to be lieutenant governor. Also getting backing: Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview, who is running for the seat being given up by state Rep. Laura Fine; and Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove, who is competing for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills. (Rick Pearson)

*More than 50 women officials back LipinskiDemocratic U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski on Wednesday announced he’s been endorsed for re-election by 56 women who are elected officials in his 3rd Congressional District.

They include three village presidents: Sandra Bury of Oak Lawn, Mary Werner of Worth and Alice Gallagher of Western Springs, where he lives. Alderwomen, trustees, clerks and other officials round out the group.

Lipinski is being challenged from the left in the Democratic primary by a progressive newcomer, Marie Newman, who has gotten nods from Democratic women in Congress and two sitting U.S. House Democrats in Illinois, as well as from Planned Parenthood Illinois Action.

Lipinski is the only incumbent congressional Democrat from Illinois that has not been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. The group also made no endorsement for the Democratic primary for the seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. (Katherine Skiba)

*A new Legionnaires’ case: A resident of the state mental health center in downstate Chester has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, the Illinois Department of Human Services announced Wednesday.

The agency says the patient is “being treated and is currently in stable condition.” 

It’s a single case and not the kind of thing that typically would get much attention, but Rauner continues to face pressure over his administration’s handling of an outbreak of the disease at the state-run veterans home in Quincy that left 13 people dead.

Like Quincy, Chester sits right on the Mississippi River about 200 miles to the south.

*CUTE: The day of a governor’s budget address can cause heartburn for people at the Capitol, with lawmakers, lobbyists and staff throwing elbows in the crowds outside the Illinois House in the frenetic rush to weigh in.

Rarely does something make you go: “Awwwwwww!”

Our own Monique Garcia tweeted a photo of a person dressed as a heart in the rotunda, saying “Valentine’s Day at the Capitol means lobbying to end heart disease and stroke in women.”

The bright-red, smiley-faced heart is a lot more cuddly looking than other mascots that have popped up in Illinois politics, like the 2014 Rauner campaign’s Quinnochio, a grown man with a sparse beard dressed like a boy puppet.

*Quick spin: Rauner ordered flags lowered to half-staff in Bauer’s honor. The decree runs through the end of the day Saturday. … Biss is getting the backing of People’s Action and its local Reclaim Chicago organization, both progressive groups. People’s Action says it has 48 member organizations in 30 states and supports economic, climate, racial and gender justice.

 

What we’re writing

*Rauner re-election budget takes aim at two favorite targets: CPS and unionized state workers.

*Four-time felon charged in fatal shooting of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. Go here for full coverage, updated frequently.

*Bauer was never late, so aldermen knew something was up.

*Pritzker on Madigan’s handling of sexual harassment complaint: “It shouldn’t take that long.”

*State prepares to spend $75 million to expand college-admissions related testing to 9th, 10th and 11th graders.

Morning Spin: Duckworth explains ‘Cadet Bone Spurs’ nickname for Trump

Morning Spin: Lawmakers flock to new Obama plaque at Illinois Capitol

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Welcome 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. Subscribe here.

Topspin

State lawmakers are lining up like tourists in the Illinois House to take selfies in front of a new plaque that commemorates former President Barack Obama‘s 2016 speech to lawmakers in the Illinois House.

The marker hangs behind the speaker’s podium, where Obama delivered his remarks. In his speech, the then-president called on lawmakers to set partisan differences aside and work toward ending the longest budget impasse in Illinois history.

That stalemate ended last summer, when lawmakers voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s veto and raise income taxes. The Republican governor will give his budget address at noon Wednesday near the new commemorative hardware.

The plaque features Obama’s signature, the state seal and a quote inscribed in golden typeface.

“Our founders trusted us with the keys to this system of self-government,” the plaque reads. “Our politics is the place where we try to make this incredible machinery work, where we come together to settle our differences and solve big problems, do big things together that we could not possibly do alone.”

Those snapping photos included Rep. Juliana Stratton of Chicago and Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford. Both are Democratic lieutenant governor candidates. (Bill Lukitsch)

 

What’s on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no public schedule.

*Gov. Rauner delivers his budget address to lawmakers at noon. Governor candidates will then react.

*The Illinois House and Senate meet.

 

From the notebook

*Raila ruling now expected Thursday: After a long, heated hearing Tuesday on whether property tax consultant Andrea Raila should stay on the Democratic ballot for Cook County assessor, the county Electoral Board put off a decision until Thursday.

Raila attorney Frank Avila accused the hearing officer who recommended her removal from the ballot of “bias.” Avila said the officer, Christopher Agrella, “fantasized a conspiracy theory” in concluding Raila’s campaign engaged in a pattern of fraud while collecting nominating petition signatures.

Andrew Finko, an attorney for the campaign of asset manager Fritz Kaegi, was equally harsh. “This is the poster case for pattern of fraud,” Finko said. “And it should feature the face of Andrea Raila prominently in the center of that poster, because Andrea Raila was the mastermind who orchestrated and implemented the fraud that the hearing examiner found through this 69-page recommendation.”

Raila sat in the gallery, often shaking her head. If the board rules against her, she would have the option of going to court to overturn the decision, which will be made by representatives from the offices of Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

At stake is whether Kaegi gets to take on incumbent Joe Berrios in a one-on-one race on March 20, or ends up vying with Raila for any anti-Berrios vote. (Hal Dardick)

*Quick spin: Former Democratic senator and Attorney General Roland Burris is endorsing state Sen. Kwame Raoul for AG. Yes, that Roland Burris, the guy with the lengthy tombstone that then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed to succeed Obama in the U.S. Senate during the waning days of his governship.

 

What we’re writing

*Speaker Madigan takes heat over handling of sexual harassment complaint against now-fired political aide.

*Rauner’s budget will ask local schools to pay millions of dollars more toward teachers’ retirements.

*Chicago police commander shot to death at Thompson Center.

*Dorothy Brown can’t ‘end-run’ First Amendment, judge says in denying delay in access to electronically filed civil lawsuits.

*CTA train operators, others would get raises under deal between unions, transit agency.

*Cook County prosecutors toss more convictions tainted by corrupt ex-Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts.

 

What we’re reading

*Two more Legionnaires’ cases found at Quincy veterans home.

*In surprise reversal, case collapses against ex-Schaumburg cop accused in drug ring.

*No bars on wheels in downtown Naperville.

 

Follow the money

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

 

Beyond Chicago

*FBI rebuts White House Porter story.

*Russia could meddle in 2018 elections.

*Trump aide hosts podcast.

*Police recommend corruption charges for Netanyahu.

Morning Spin: Lawmakers flock to new Obama plaque at Illinois Capitol

‘It’s a travesty:’ Roseland Hospital CEO sees death sentence in funding cut

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Two South Side hospitals fear they may have to shut or slash services as a result of changes to how the state allocates Medicaid funding.

Roseland Community Hospital and South Shore Hospital say they face a potentially fatal funding squeeze in the long-awaited redesign of a program state lawmakers are expected to vote on soon. Meanwhile, many other safety-net hospitals in poor communities that serve large numbers of Medicaid patients are breathing sighs of relief that their funding won’t take the hits they feared.

“It’s a travesty,” said Tim Egan, CEO of Roseland, which along with other hospitals across the state received updated estimates late last week of how much they would lose or gain under the redesigned program.

Egan said the new numbers show the 160-bed Far South Side hospital receiving $6.5 million less in annual funding from the program even though the total pot of Medicaid money for hospitals will increase. The Illinois Health and Hospital Association, the trade association that is leading the redesign, “has written Roseland’s obituary,” he said.

“Instead of investing in the future of Roseland with additional funding, the IHA plan cripples Roseland Hospital and will jeopardize current operations,” Egan said.

At South Shore Hospital, a 136-bed hospital with 500 employees, CEO Tim Caveney said he needs a $3 million increase in funding in order to keep the doors open. But the updated estimates show South Shore’s funding will be flat.

“The likelihood of us closing this summer is very high unless I can come up with some money somewhere else,” said Caveney, whose hospital population consists of two-thirds Medicaid patients. He said he laid off 50 people last year and cut all salaries by 10 percent, except for those people on minimum wage, and has lost good employees as a result.

The state House Appropriations-Human Services Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning to discuss legislation that details the redesign of the funding program, and the Senate Human Services Committee had a hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, chairman of the House committee, said a vote wouldn’t take place Tuesday, but lawmakers are under the gun to act quickly. The plan must be signed by the governor and approved by the federal government before the current program expires June 30.

Hospital executives have been wringing their hands for months about the revamp of the hospital assessment program, a $3.5 billion pot of money that provides more than half the state’s total hospital Medicaid funding. The program taxes hospitals and then grows that money through a federal match, and the total is redistributed to about 200 hospitals across the state.

The redesign threatened to reduce funding to some safety-net hospitals — many of which are in Chicago’s low-income communities — with large Medicaid patient populations, as well as rural critical-access hospitals, because it’s been so long since the formula was updated.

The current formula bases the amount hospitals pay and receive on 2005 inpatient data and 2009 outpatient data, which officials say doesn’t reflect how and where Medicaid recipients are currently getting their care. A decline in hospital stays, growth in outpatient services, population shifts and an expansion of Medicaid to include some 680,000 more Illinois adults has spread the Medicaid market to more hospitals than a decade ago.

The state recently agreed to ask the federal government for $360 million more to add to the assessment pot, raising hopes that it would cover the needs of the safety-net hospitals, many of whose budgets depend heavily on the Medicaid money. Indeed, safety-net and rural critical-access hospitals, which together comprise more than 70 hospitals across the state, collectively would receive more than half of the new federal funding included in the plan, said Danny Chun, spokesman for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.

“We have been working very hard for many, many months to try to assure the best outcomes for hospitals across the state,” Chun said, emphasizing that preserving access to health care among vulnerable communities has been a priority of the redesign.

Several hospital executives who had worried they might have to close their doors were heartened by the updated estimates of their funding as the legislation is finalized. Charles Holland, CEO of St. Bernard Hospital in Englewood, which initially faced a $1.7 million cut, said his new numbers are a “significant improvement.”

Similarly, Jose Sanchez, CEO of Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park, said he was pleased with the latest model, after initially blasting the state for what he viewed as a disregard for community hospitals like his.

Still, Sanchez said he was concerned about the safety nets that won’t get the money they need, and “I expect that there will be a political solution to ensure these institutions continue to provide the vital services and quality health care to their impoverished communities.”

At Loretto Hospital in the Austin neighborhood, CEO George Miller said he appreciated that he would be getting a $2 million increase in funding, rather than the $9 million funding cut that originally had been estimated months ago. Still, Miller takes issue with a major change in the distribution methodology, which will increasingly allocate funding in a way that reflects actual patient and procedure volume, rather than a fixed sum.

The state hospital association said that’s a necessary change to get federal approval of the plan. But safety-net hospitals have expressed concern about what that will mean for cash flow, especially given high rates of claims denials.

In addition, Miller said his funding boost will depend on whether he can increase the volume of inpatient procedures at his hospital, but his community may be better served with other types of care.

“If we don’t put patients in the hospital, we won’t get more money then,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense.”

Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, expressed concern at Tuesday morning’s hearing that some large hospital systems are poised to get a funding bump while two safety-net hospitals are contemplating closure.

“Are we setting ourselves up so that the safety nets say, ‘I can’t afford to fight the fight anymore?’” Davis said.

Rep. Camille Lily, D-Oak Park, said she worried the changes could increase disparities in poor communities that already lack access to transportation, housing, grocery stores and schools.

The Association of Safety-Net Community Hospitals said it appreciates that its many of its member hospitals’ needs were taken into account in the new funding formula.

“We are hopeful the safety nets who still have funding concerns can have those addressed as the legislative process moves forward this week,” said Ryan Keith, spokesman for the association.

Anel Ruiz, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Public Health, said in a statement that the city supports adequate funding of hospitals. “Chicago’s community hospital are an integral part of our city’s world-class health care system,” she said.

aelejalderuiz@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @alexiaer

‘It’s a travesty:’ Roseland Hospital CEO sees death sentence in funding cut

‘It’s a travesty:’ Roseland Hospital CEO sees death sentence in funding cut

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Two South Side hospitals fear they may have to shut or slash services as a result of changes to how the state allocates Medicaid funding.

Roseland Community Hospital and South Shore Hospital say they face a potentially fatal funding squeeze in the long-awaited redesign of a program state lawmakers are expected to vote on soon. Meanwhile, many other safety-net hospitals in poor communities that serve large numbers of Medicaid patients are breathing sighs of relief that their funding won’t take the hits they feared.

“It’s a travesty,” said Tim Egan, CEO of Roseland, which along with other hospitals across the state received updated estimates late last week of how much they would lose or gain under the redesigned program.

Egan said the new numbers show the 160-bed Far South Side hospital receiving $6.5 million less in annual funding from the program even though the total pot of Medicaid money for hospitals will increase. The Illinois Health and Hospital Association, the trade association that is leading the redesign, “has written Roseland’s obituary,” he said.

“Instead of investing in the future of Roseland with additional funding, the IHA plan cripples Roseland Hospital and will jeopardize current operations,” Egan said.

At South Shore Hospital, a 136-bed hospital with 500 employees, CEO Tim Caveney said he needs a $3 million increase in funding in order to keep the doors open. But the updated estimates show South Shore’s funding will be flat.

“The likelihood of us closing this summer is very high unless I can come up with some money somewhere else,” said Caveney, whose hospital population consists of two-thirds Medicaid patients. He said he laid off 50 people last year and cut all salaries by 10 percent, except for those people on minimum wage, and has lost good employees as a result.

The state House Appropriations-Human Services Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning to discuss legislation that details the redesign of the funding program, and the Senate Human Services Committee had a hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, chairman of the House committee, said a vote wouldn’t take place Tuesday, but lawmakers are under the gun to act quickly. The plan must be signed by the governor and approved by the federal government before the current program expires June 30.

Hospital executives have been wringing their hands for months about the revamp of the hospital assessment program, a $3.5 billion pot of money that provides more than half the state’s total hospital Medicaid funding. The program taxes hospitals and then grows that money through a federal match, and the total is redistributed to about 200 hospitals across the state.

The redesign threatened to reduce funding to some safety-net hospitals — many of which are in Chicago’s low-income communities — with large Medicaid patient populations, as well as rural critical-access hospitals, because it’s been so long since the formula was updated.

The current formula bases the amount hospitals pay and receive on 2005 inpatient data and 2009 outpatient data, which officials say doesn’t reflect how and where Medicaid recipients are currently getting their care. A decline in hospital stays, growth in outpatient services, population shifts and an expansion of Medicaid to include some 680,000 more Illinois adults has spread the Medicaid market to more hospitals than a decade ago.

The state recently agreed to ask the federal government for $360 million more to add to the assessment pot, raising hopes that it would cover the needs of the safety-net hospitals, many of whose budgets depend heavily on the Medicaid money. Indeed, safety-net and rural critical-access hospitals, which together comprise more than 70 hospitals across the state, collectively would receive more than half of the new federal funding included in the plan, said Danny Chun, spokesman for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.

“We have been working very hard for many, many months to try to assure the best outcomes for hospitals across the state,” Chun said, emphasizing that preserving access to health care among vulnerable communities has been a priority of the redesign.

Several hospital executives who had worried they might have to close their doors were heartened by the updated estimates of their funding as the legislation is finalized. Charles Holland, CEO of St. Bernard Hospital in Englewood, which initially faced a $1.7 million cut, said his new numbers are a “significant improvement.”

Similarly, Jose Sanchez, CEO of Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park, said he was pleased with the latest model, after initially blasting the state for what he viewed as a disregard for community hospitals like his.

Still, Sanchez said he was concerned about the safety nets that won’t get the money they need, and “I expect that there will be a political solution to ensure these institutions continue to provide the vital services and quality health care to their impoverished communities.”

At Loretto Hospital in the Austin neighborhood, CEO George Miller said he appreciated that he would be getting a $2 million increase in funding, rather than the $9 million funding cut that originally had been estimated months ago. Still, Miller takes issue with a major change in the distribution methodology, which will increasingly allocate funding in a way that reflects actual patient and procedure volume, rather than a fixed sum.

The state hospital association said that’s a necessary change to get federal approval of the plan. But safety-net hospitals have expressed concern about what that will mean for cash flow, especially given high rates of claims denials.

In addition, Miller said his funding boost will depend on whether he can increase the volume of inpatient procedures at his hospital, but his community may be better served with other types of care.

“If we don’t put patients in the hospital, we won’t get more money then,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense.”

Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, expressed concern at Tuesday morning’s hearing that some large hospital systems are poised to get a funding bump while two safety-net hospitals are contemplating closure.

“Are we setting ourselves up so that the safety nets say, ‘I can’t afford to fight the fight anymore?’” Davis said.

Rep. Camille Lily, D-Oak Park, said she worried the changes could increase disparities in poor communities that already lack access to transportation, housing, grocery stores and schools.

The Association of Safety-Net Community Hospitals said it appreciates that its many of its member hospitals’ needs were taken into account in the new funding formula.

“We are hopeful the safety nets who still have funding concerns can have those addressed as the legislative process moves forward this week,” said Ryan Keith, spokesman for the association.

Anel Ruiz, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Public Health, said in a statement that the city supports adequate funding of hospitals. “Chicago’s community hospital are an integral part of our city’s world-class health care system,” she said.

aelejalderuiz@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @alexiaer

‘It’s a travesty:’ Roseland Hospital CEO sees death sentence in funding cut