A New Can Of Worms
06 November 2003
 
So Much for a Strong Executive

Secretary of StateJesse White and House Speaker Madigan did an end round the governor. Dave McKinney has the details:

"A bitter feud flared anew between Gov. Blagojevich and Secretary of State Jesse White on Wednesday after the Illinois House voted to undo a contentious budget deal the two Democrats struck last month.

Blagojevich's administration fumed that White reneged on an agreement the two had made in October to restore $5 million in money the governor had trimmed from the secretary of state's budget.

With Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's blessing, the House did an end-run around that pact and gave White an additional $4.8 million he was seeking to cover pension contributions for his work force -- a move the secretary knew about ahead of time and did not attempt to block."



 
SJ-R.COM - Fee Hhikes Aren't Panning Out

Says this mornings SJ-R:

"Hundreds of fee and penalty increases that state lawmakers approved last spring have so far produced only about $56 million of the $302 million that was projected for fiscal 2004, a report to the General Assembly shows.

On top of that, key state revenues have been flat through the first four months of the fiscal year, which began July 1, adding to fears that the budget is woefully out of balance.

The Economic and Fiscal Commission - the legislature's budget analysts - said Wednesday that $55.8 million from the fee and penalty hikes was collected during the first three months of fiscal '04. To meet the goals set by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Office of Management and Budget, the fees will have to produce $246 million during the last nine months of the budget year.

The OMB contends there is no cause for concern because money from many of the increases isn't expected for several months. "


I'd also note that the Economic & Fiscal Commission has income tax and sales tax revenues remaining flat.
 
SJ-R.COM - Fee Hhikes Aren't Panning Out

Says this mornings SJ-R:

"Hundreds of fee and penalty increases that state lawmakers approved last spring have so far produced only about $56 million of the $302 million that was projected for fiscal 2004, a report to the General Assembly shows.

On top of that, key state revenues have been flat through the first four months of the fiscal year, which began July 1, adding to fears that the budget is woefully out of balance.

The Economic and Fiscal Commission - the legislature's budget analysts - said Wednesday that $55.8 million from the fee and penalty hikes was collected during the first three months of fiscal '04. To meet the goals set by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Office of Management and Budget, the fees will have to produce $246 million during the last nine months of the budget year.

The OMB contends there is no cause for concern because money from many of the increases isn't expected for several months. "


I'd also note that the Economic & Fiscal Commission has income tax and sales tax revenues remaining flat.
 
SJ-R.COM - Fee Hhikes Aren't Panning Out

Says this mornings SJ-R:

"Hundreds of fee and penalty increases that state lawmakers approved last spring have so far produced only about $56 million of the $302 million that was projected for fiscal 2004, a report to the General Assembly shows.

On top of that, key state revenues have been flat through the first four months of the fiscal year, which began July 1, adding to fears that the budget is woefully out of balance.

The Economic and Fiscal Commission - the legislature's budget analysts - said Wednesday that $55.8 million from the fee and penalty hikes was collected during the first three months of fiscal '04. To meet the goals set by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Office of Management and Budget, the fees will have to produce $246 million during the last nine months of the budget year.

The OMB contends there is no cause for concern because money from many of the increases isn't expected for several months. "


I'd also not that the Economic & Fiscal Commission has income tax and sales tax revenues remaining flat.
05 November 2003
 
Shifting Healthcare Costs

The Institute's latest looks at the proposedBed Tax in Illinois:

"Please tax me!

That unusual message, from the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA), comes out of desperation. The solution to the plight of hospitals, though, is not to raise taxes, but to promote economic growth and health care reform.

Gaming the System
The IHA wants the General Assembly to impose a bed tax on hospitals. The legislature, which pays for many of those hospital beds through the Medicaid program, may be willing to pay that tax.

Why would a business and one if its chief customers think that a tax is a good thing? Because they can game the federal government for more dollars."


John La Plante put the brief together for the Institute.

When doctors and patients game the system like this, they usually go to jail -- that is if they are caught...

There will be a press conference tomorrow at 11 am at the Capitol by who I believe to be proponents. I told a reporter this evening that this is a short term solution but I do have to concerns. That first, the Feds have rejected this scheme in Illinois before and second, that this shifts costs on to the insured and helps deny access to healthcare to the poor as the affects ripple through the health care economy.


04 November 2003
 
More On Out Blago-ing Blagojevich

While hardly the issue that returns them control of the State Senate, the strategy so far appears to be working. Blagojevich has made ethics issue 1, and the Senate Republicans are seeking to weaken his hold on member initiatives:

"Illinois' secretive process for deciding which of thousands of state pork-barrel projects are funded could end under an initiative unveiled Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, R-Greenville, wants lawmakers to create a new review panel that would meet publicly to consider pending and future projects, which are known in Springfield as 'member initiatives.'

'It is apparent that we need more sunshine on the member-initiative process,' Watson said. 'There are a couple of federal investigations under way that are looking into member-initiative fund projects in Northern Illinois. That ought to be reason enough to change the way we do business.'"


If Watson succeeds, he will be taking a big tool away from the Governor. Blagojevich has had the ability to peel away Republican Senators with promises of pork. A lot of Republican Senators believe if they go easy on the Governor they'll get something in return -- i.e. business as usual -- or the Bob Michel strategy, whichever you prefer. Watson a) recognizes that Blagojevich will merely toy with Rep. Senators with entreaties on the one hand and then b) use Senate Republican obstructionist as his whipping boys. Rank and file members haven't broken that code.

03 November 2003
 
The Return of the Circular Firing Squad

Eric Zorn today commented on Tom Roeser's attack on the The Illinois Leader during his WLS-AM program, "Political Shootout."

I caught Roeser's comments last night and was pretty appalled. I switched on the TV caught Law & Order: CI. Roeser's acidic comments lost me.

Here's part of what Zorn reported:

"Also on Political Shootout, host Tom Roeser, a long-time conservative activist and spokesman, ripped into the Illinois Leader, a conservative online publication:

"Let me tell you about the Leader," he said. "My experience with the Leader is that you've really got to take it with a giant grain of salt.

"I don't think anybody's infiltrated the Leader. Certainly not common sense....I don't know who they are, the Leader."

When a caller later challenged him on this assessment, Roeser launched in again: "I think what you're doing is reading the Leader, and that's a big mistake," he said. "If you want to hear what's wrong with it, you can call up sometime when I have a full hour.

"It comes free and it's worth every penny you pay for it. It spews out a lot of rumors that are not verifiable and in fact it spewed out rumors about people that, um, they really, some of them, ought to be sued as a result.

"It carries a scurrilous type of news....I don't read it anymore because it doesn't matter. I don't think anybody cares about the Illinois Leader."


The Leader often, but not always, posts my latest policy brief or commentary on their site and I'm very grateful for that. I wonder if I'm scurrilous? I know reporters at the Statehouse read it and appreciate having a conservative outlet in a state where no other exists. I also know that the Leader isn't perfect. I think some columns that have appeared in it have have been weak. One in particular I've been meaning to vent about was written by someone named Al Cronkite. I found it disturbing and if not racist then at least bigoted:

"It may take several decades for the results of this horrendous injustice to work itself out. As the standard of living of the America worker is brought down to that of the Chinese worker, some stability will again return to American society. When that has been consummated Asia will be in the position America enjoyed at the end of the Nineteenth Century. They will own most of the world's wealth. International corporations under Fascist control will domicile the elite and the world will have two classes; wealthy and powerful, and poor and helpless. By that time the white race will be a minority and what is left of American society will have lost its former glory and settled into tyrannical poverty. Until that happens we will continue to lose jobs."

I think publishing this kind tirade where the writer negatively compares free traders to facists and Stalin and then launches into a class anlaysis himself shows a remarkable ignorance of what he is talking about. And why the gratuitous comment about the white race being a minority? I think there is only one answer to that question, and there is no room for that sentiment in the conservative movement. That was a poor editiorial decision. Then again, Paul Krugman defended anti-semitic comments made by Malaysian Prime Ministers Mahtir Mohammed on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times last week. He then defended it! So, lets not be too hard on the Leader. People make mistakes.

Okay so, the Leader isn't perfect and they've been helpful to me. I believe them to be a positive force.

Roeser on the Other Hand...

Roeser's comments are part and parcel to the circular firing squad that has hindered main stream conservatisim from taking hold in the Land of Lincoln. I've put in phone calls and emails to Roeser and some of the older generation conservatives -- that includes Paul Caprio -- and not a word of response. I contrast that with people such as Jill Stanek, Fran Eaton and Dan Proft who have continually made an effort to work with and foster new groups in Illinois. The Leader joins us regularly for our Leave Us Alone Coalition conference call that is growing in effectiveness ans size after just one year of meetings.

In our weekly calls we talk about what we are doing to move our own agenda forward with out the kinds of backbiting or acidic comments expressed by Tom Roeser. Individuals from such groups as the RYP and ILGOP who are otherwise at each others throats can come together to discuss, in a civilized tone, how they are moving their agenda forward in a positive manner. Nothing negative. Members of the General Assembly staff update us on their activities as do national groups when they join us. These individuals are more interested in beating the liberals than each other. Tom Roeser is nowhere to be found.

This week, representatives from the Illinois Leader will be there when President Bush signs the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Was Tom invited? I'm getting help from all over the country to build a new free market state based think tank in Illinois. I'm not getting any help from this older generation of Illinois conservatives who apparently see me as either a) encroaching on their turf or b) not worthy of their attention. I've emailed, called and asked others to reach out to these individuals on my behalf. Nada, nothing. That's fine. I understand where they are coming from, yet I am still open to working with them.

Whenever the national groups we do work with have an announcement in Illinois, they make sure their PR people know to get it in the "Leader." Do they do that with Tom Roeser? I don't hear them saying that.

The Leader hasn't been perfect. Some of the columns have been misguided and I imagine some of their barbs have hit pretty close to home, yet Roeser's comments are unwelcomed and unwarranted. How do they help matters?

When you stop to realize that the Leader has been publishing for little more than a year, you have to admit they've come a long way. One also recognizes that as the Leader grows in influence others will feel left out and passed up. Perhaps that is what motivates Roeser's agitation. Or, maybe he's fallen prey to the divide & conquer tactics used by the state's political leadership so effectively to blunt the movement. Many conservative leaders that I understand Roeser is close with have been embroiled in these fights. Perhaps that is what motivates him.

When I have a disagreement with someone in conservative circles -- and I've had a few this year -- we get on the phone and discuss it. We clear up any misperceptions and walk away with a better understanding. I've apologized on a couple occasions, in fact. In other occassions I defended my point and have even changed some opinions. If Tom Roeser has problems with the Leader, then perhaps he should attempt this strategy instead of lashing out. I'm also sure they would gladly publish any response either in a letter to the editor or as an opinion piece. It would probably help us all.

Roeser's comments betray a long time of conservative infighting in Illinois that has gotten conservatives absolutely no where. While those at the Leader continue to grow and learn -- and yes even make mistakes -- you get the impression that they are the future of conservatism in Illinois and the attitutedes that Tom Roeser's comments represent are fading into the past.
 
Why We are Winning

Brian Anderson, editor of City Journal chronicles the center-right's advances on the cultural front.

Interestingly, on Bruce Dumont's Beyond the Beltway last night --where an hour was spent on the failures of conservativism (and an hour on the failure of liberalism) -- nary a word was spoken on the alleged cultural failure of conservatisim. That used to be one of the main critiques -- one that is still batted by curmudgeons like Robert Bork.
 
Out Blago, Blago

The Chicago Tribune today gives us some insight in to the Senate Republican strategy:

"Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration said Sunday it supports the 'concept' of having unpaid advisers to the governor publicly disclose their finances but stopped short of endorsing such a requirement for three top Blagojevich insiders."

If Hot-Rod wants to be the agent of change, the Senate Republicans will be an even greater agent for change:

"Senate Republican leader Frank Watson of Greenville has voiced concern over potential conflicts of interest arising from what he dubbed a "shadow government" that wields influence with Blagojevich on state policies.

Among those cited by Republicans is Kelly, a wealthy roofing contractor with dealings at O'Hare International Airport who is Blagojevich's chief fundraiser. Kelly has represented the administration in talks with the Illinois Gaming Board in efforts by the state to issue a new casino license. Republicans also cite the influence of Wilhelm and Wyma, two longtime Blagojevich loyalists who have a say in policies and personnel in the Democratic governor's administration."


Here's Hot Rod's problem:

"The Blagojevich administration finds itself under increasing public pressure to live up to the governor's campaign pledge to reform government, a recent Tribune poll found. Blagojevich himself has touted his election as a call for change by voters unhappy with his scandal-clouded Republican predecessor, George Ryan.

But in a survey conducted last month, only 31 percent of general election voters said they believed Blagojevich was keeping his promise to "end business as usual" among insiders and cronies in Springfield. And 29 percent said they believed he was not living up to his commitment."


If Hot Rod's rhetoric doesn't match reality, he'll find himself in trouble fast. At 49 percent, his public approval ratings are not good. Edgar, Thompson and probably Ryan all had much higher approval ratings in this stage of their administrations. If Blagojevich is hovering at 50 percent people will begin to smell blood in the water.

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