WBEZ | Michael Madigan http://www.wbez.org/tags/michael-madigan Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Governor Rauner Celebrates One Year in Office http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-13/governor-rauner-celebrates-one-year-office-114465 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Rauner-Flickr-JanetandPhil.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Governor Bruce Rauner is celebrating one year in office by making the media rounds and reminding us that even though the state is still without a budget he has made some improvements.</p><p>Our state politics reporter, Tony Arnold visited Rauner at the Governor&rsquo;s Mansion in Springfield. Rauner talked about his accomplishments over the past year, and House Speaker Michael Madigan&#39;s solution to the state&rsquo;s desperate budget situation. Take a listen to what the Governor thinks about that idea and what else is on his agenda for the coming year.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 13:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-13/governor-rauner-celebrates-one-year-office-114465 Governor Rauner, Legislative Leaders Meet for Budget Summit http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-rauner-legislative-leaders-meet-budget-summit-114016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_465809716400.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) &mdash; The latest on Tuesday afternoon&#39;s state budget meeting between Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and leaders of the Illinois General Assembly (all times local):</p><p><strong>3:20 p.m.</strong></p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner closed the public portion of Tuesday&#39;s budget summit with a forceful plea to take on what he says are the root causes of Illinois&#39; financial woes.</p><p>The Republican governor capped statements to open the budget negotiation with a familiar speech about the business and political climates in the state and the need to change them. He disagreed with statements made by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of&nbsp;Chicago. Madigan has argued since summer that the changes Rauner wants to make are not related to the budget and should be discussed separately.</p><p>The businessman first-year governor wants to restrict workers&#39; compensation and liability lawsuit payouts and restrict union power as a way to make business grow and produce more revenue.</p><p>He says &quot;we&#39;ll still chase our tails&quot; if the state just raises taxes &mdash; as Democrats desire &mdash; without &quot;structural reforms.&quot;</p><p>Rauner and the leaders are now talking in private.</p><p><strong>2:55 p.m.</strong></p><p>House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says there will never be enough revenue to feed Illinois&#39; spending appetite without reforms of the type proposed by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner.</p><p>The Western Springs Republican says the budget deficit problem didn&#39;t begin with Rauner&#39;s inauguration in January. He criticized Democrats who held the governor&#39;s office and the Legislature for the past 12 years.</p><p>Durkin made the statements in opening remarks to the partially public budget summit in the governor&#39;s office. Democratic Senate President John Cullerton ofChicago&nbsp;followed and criticized Durkin for the comments.</p><p>Cullerton says Democrats and Republicans cooperated on issues such as a massive capital construction bill during the 12 years of Democratic rule. And he says the GOP also voted for a temporary income tax increase because it was necessary.</p><p><strong>2:45 p.m.</strong></p><p>House Speaker Michael Madigan has opened the budget summit with Gov. Bruce Rauner by arguing for a tax increase and spending cuts to balance the budget.</p><p>The&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Democrat-led off the partially public meeting by pledging to work cooperatively with the Republican governor but criticizing his desire to make changes to the business and political climates before working on a state budget.</p><p>Madigan says that state officials cannot &quot;simply cut our way out of the budget deficit problem.&quot;</p><p><strong>2:30 p.m.</strong></p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner has opened the much-anticipated budget summit by welcoming legislative leaders &mdash; including the Democrats he&#39;s feuded with for months.</p><p>The first part of the meeting is being televised online for the public. Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan suggested the whole conference be public, but Republican Rauner took over planning and is allowing just opening remarks to be televised by a pool camera belonging to the state&#39;s public communications agency.</p><p>The governor anticipates opening remarks will take about an hour. Then the leaders will negotiate behind closed doors.</p><p>Rauner and the Legislature&#39;s majority Democrats have been unable to agree on a spending plan now six months into the state&#39;s fiscal year.</p><p><strong>11:30 a.m.</strong></p><p>Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly are trying to appear optimistic about Tuesday afternoon&#39;s rare budget summit with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.</p><p>Rauner and the four legislative leaders &mdash; including Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton &mdash; haven&#39;t been in the same room together since May. Tuesday marks the start of the sixth month of the fiscal year with no budget.</p><p>Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the meeting is &quot;another step&quot; in trying to reach an agreement. Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton hopes there will be &quot;productive negotiations.&quot;</p><p>But Madigan and Cullerton have objected to Rauner&#39;s insistence on making changes to the business and political climates before talking spending. And Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says the governor still plans to discuss his proposals for &quot;structural reforms.&quot;</p><p><strong>3:01 a.m.</strong></p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday in a highly publicized and partially public budget summit.</p><p>The Republican executive and Democrats who control the General Assembly have been unable to agree on a state spending plan for the year that began July 1.</p><p>They&#39;ve not all met in the same room since May.</p><p>Rauner will host House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton &mdash; both&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Democrats &mdash; and Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Christine Radogno (ruh-DOHN&#39;-yoh) in his Capitol office for the mid-afternoon conference.</p><p>The public may watch the first hour or so &mdash; when lawmakers and Rauner make opening statements. Then officials will close the door to negotiate.</p><p>Expectations are low for the meeting first suggested by good government groups</p></p> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-rauner-legislative-leaders-meet-budget-summit-114016 Education group says school choice could be what unifies Illinois lawmakers http://www.wbez.org/news/education-group-says-school-choice-could-be-what-unifies-illinois-lawmakers-113511 <p><div>There&rsquo;s no end in sight to the political gridlock in Springfield, but one group believes it has an education plan it&rsquo;s convinced both Republicans and Democrats could support.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That plan is a new twist on an old idea: Corporations pay money into a special fund to get tax breaks -- and the cash from that fund could go to qualifying parents to spend on the school of their choice.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Myles Mendoza works on education policy, including school choice issues. He worked with Rauner on some of those issues before Rauner had the keys to the governor&rsquo;s mansion.&nbsp;Mendoza leads the Illinois Kids Campaign and its member organization, <a href="http://www.onechanceillinois.org/about/mission/" target="_blank">One Chance Illinois</a>. The coalition is quietly pushing an idea that looks in concept like school vouchers, even though Mendoza&rsquo;s quick to distinguish his plan from vouchers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>WBEZ got a draft of Mendoza&rsquo;s plan. It hasn&rsquo;t been introduced in the Statehouse, but Mendoza&rsquo;s looking for a lawmaker&rsquo;s backing. It&rsquo;s early in the process, but Mendoza was willing to explain why, in spite of all of the financial issues facing Illinois, lawmakers should support tax breaks to corporations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re giving out tax credits for people to have luxury sports cars, we&rsquo;re giving tax credits for all kinds of things and I think kids having access to quality education should be a high priority on the list of where we&rsquo;re allocating tax credits,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Illinois doesn&rsquo;t literally give tax credits for buying luxury cars, but the state has offered breaks to companies threatening to leave, or offered them in an attempt to lure new companies to locate jobs in the state.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mendoza&rsquo;s point is tax breaks would be an incentive for a corporation, or even an individual, to contribute cash to a scholarship fund. The plan caps the amount the state&rsquo;s Dept. of Revenue could give out in tax breaks at $200 million annually, and limits a single corporation or individual&rsquo;s tax credit to $5 million in a calendar year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Families - including middle-class families - could apply for some of that money so they could send their kid to, say, a private school they couldn&rsquo;t otherwise afford. The draft points to families making more than two-and-a-half times the income needed to qualify for a free and reduced-price lunch. That means a family of four with an income of $100,000 could qualify for scholarship money, under the proposal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mendoza said that also means that kids attending failing or overcrowded schools could receive financial help to go somewhere else. Mendoza says 60 percent of the scholarship fund would be directed toward students in those low-performing or overcrowded schools. A non-profit would be in charge of managing the scholarship funds.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_130319110529.jpg" style="height: 221px; width: 350px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="A supporter for public education holds up a sign during a rally at the Statehouse Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Indianapolis. Opponents of a proposal to expand Indiana's private school voucher program rallied at the Statehouse to make their case that the vouchers hurt traditional public schools. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)" />Other states have approved similar plans, including Indiana and Iowa. A recent attempt to pass the concept in New York recently stalled.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The draft also calls for reimbursing teachers up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses spent on supplies for the classroom.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Illinois, Mendoza said charter schools, parochial schools and some trade unions are getting behind this idea in a coalition he called &ldquo;unorthodox.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a variety of people that normally wouldn&rsquo;t come around the same table that have to support kids getting a quality education,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Someone else whose outlook on education could fit in with Mendoza&rsquo;s plan is Gov. Rauner. Mendoza said leaders in Springfield know what his group is working on, but Rauner&rsquo;s office wouldn&rsquo;t comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Again, it&rsquo;s early.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But there are signs it&rsquo;s a concept Rauner could favor: During <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education-candidates-illinois-governor-closer-they-think-110575" target="_blank">last year&rsquo;s campaign for public office</a>, Rauner talked a lot about his support of school choice and charter schools. And, he chose a Democrat, former State Sen. James Meeks, who pushed for school vouchers, to lead the state board of education.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/rauner/#/tag/education" target="_blank" title="In this Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 photo, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to students during a visit to Lamphier High School in Springfield, Ill. Rauner told students he needs to reallocate money from nonessential government services and move it over into essential services, like education. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_393187639659.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 540px;" title="In this Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 photo, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to students during a visit to Lamphier High School in Springfield, Ill. Rauner told students he needs to reallocate money from nonessential government services and move it over into essential services, like education. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)" /></a></div></div><div>So say, hypothetically, Rauner&rsquo;s in.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mendoza would still need Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan acted favorably toward vouchers in the past, even though the initiative ultimately failed when it was last attempted in 2010.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before you start humming Kumbaya, there is opposition: Teachers unions can&rsquo;t stand Mendoza&rsquo;s plan. They say it is vouchers, plain and simple; and they say that Mendoza&rsquo;s trying to call it something else because vouchers are controversial.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The reason they don&rsquo;t want to call it &lsquo;vouchers&rsquo; is because vouchers have been highly discredited around the country as having no beneficial public effects, no beneficial effects on education,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, who heads the Illinois Federation of Teachers. &ldquo;They do not make better schools. They don&rsquo;t provide better outcome for kids.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Montgomery didn&rsquo;t hide the contempt in his voice, when he talked about giving tax breaks to corporations and wealthy people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s just unconscionable,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mendoza takes issue with calling his plan vouchers: He said vouchers use public money and this plan calls for private money, even though giving out tax breaks is taxpayer money.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That complicates things because there&rsquo;s another education policy initiative competing for political capital at the statehouse: Changing the formula the state uses to calculate funding for schools.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While all this is going on behind the scenes, it does look like Rauner&rsquo;s planning for an education push after the budget impasse, assuming it&rsquo;s ever resolved.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re actually working on big, big reforms in education,&rdquo; Rauner said last week when a reporter asked why he&rsquo;s been quiet on education. &ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t announced them yet because they&rsquo;re all being formulated and it&rsquo;s in process. In the coming months, we&rsquo;re going to see some big announcements on things we&rsquo;re gonna do to improve education.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The question is, with the political atmosphere in Springfield so toxic right now, is there any education plan so appealing that it could actually bring the two sides together?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold.</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 15:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-group-says-school-choice-could-be-what-unifies-illinois-lawmakers-113511 Proxy Wars: How Madigan gets Republicans to vote against their own plan http://www.wbez.org/news/proxy-wars-how-madigan-gets-republicans-vote-against-their-own-plan-113049 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_641348072748.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>By now, most people probably have a sense that things at the Illinois Statehouse have gotten downright nasty, even if it&rsquo;s not completely clear what all the fighting is about&mdash;or, how it&rsquo;s playing out behind the scenes.</p><p>To reveal the parts of the fighting that the public doesn&rsquo;t get to see&mdash;the squabbling and cynical gamesmanship&mdash;WBEZ and Illinois Public Radio wanted to pull back the curtain.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Tony Arnold <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/proxy-wars-meet-rauner-aide-driving-democrats-crazy-113048">reports on one tactic from Republicans</a>.</p><p>But Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has also been doing something that&rsquo;s really gotten under Republicans&rsquo; skin.</p><p>Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he has five big things he wants for the state of Illinois. On Aug. 25, the Illinois House of Representatives, which is lead by Democrats, brought one of the items up for a vote.</p><p>&quot;This will provide tax relief to the people of Illinois,&quot; explained Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), who called the bill.</p><p>Representatives were about to vote on Rauner&#39;s plan to freeze property taxes, something that would transform a main source of revenue for every town, city and school district in the entire state. One might think the fact that a Democrat was sponsoring one of Rauner&#39;s ideas amidst all the infighting was a huge deal&mdash;but no.</p><p>The discussion&mdash;or lack thereof&mdash;lasted all of two minutes. The package was voted down, in flames. And the media&mdash;Illinois Public Radio included&mdash;ignored it.</p><p>Because, this had happened before. Many, many times.</p><p>Rep. Bradley called the exact same proposal July 21...and, on June 9, June 23, July 1, July 9, July 15, Aug. 5, Aug. 12 and, as noted earlier, on Aug. 25.</p><p>Every time, it was the same result: A brutal, definitive death. It&#39;s become so routine by now, that Democrats like Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove) joke about it.</p><blockquote><p>NEKRITZ: Is this lucky 13?<br />BRADLEY: I think it&#39;s 12.<br />NEKRITZ: Oh darn, next week.</p></blockquote><p>Altogether, property tax relief was brought up for a vote 14 times in just four months. That never happens. Bills usually get one chance, maybe two if they just miss the goal line&mdash;not a dozen.</p><p>It&#39;s a not-so-subtle way of Democrats taking one of Rauner&#39;s ideas and&mdash;in public&mdash;burning it to the ground. Over and over, on almost a weekly basis.</p><p>As one might imagine, Republicans got mad.</p><p>&quot;Boy, if we wanna know why citizens are skeptical, especially in its governance and its government. This whole process. What an embarrassment,&quot; Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) said.</p><p>Sandack is the designated mouthpiece for House Republicans. Just about every time Democrats called a vote on the property tax freeze, Sandack stood up, and railed.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s no reason to believe that this is any more legitimate than the eight, nine maybe 10 previous instances of this charade. This joke. This embarrassment. This waste of time. This sham. Because this is the personification, the definition, the embodiment, of a waste of time,&quot; Sandack said.</p><p>Part of the issue is that Republicans are watching one of their big-ticket items die over and over. But it&rsquo;s even more complicated than that: GOP legislators are helping do it; they&rsquo;re voting against against property tax relief.</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to understand something about Rauner&rsquo;s plan to freeze property taxes: It&rsquo;s attached to a plan that would undercut unions. He wants to freeze property taxes&mdash;if, and only if, Illinois also limits collective bargaining rights.</p><p>Democrats wouldn&#39;t ever go for that. So the way Democrats have played it, it&rsquo;s a little complicated. They break Rauner&rsquo;s single proposal in two, so that each part is voted on separately. That way Democrats get to look good voting to freeze your property taxes, then also make labor happy by killing the governor&#39;s anti-union proposal.</p><p>And killing that second part, that&rsquo;s a deal Rauner won&#39;t go for. So Republicans vote against all of it&mdash;and that&rsquo;s how you get a bunch of Republicans voting against property tax relief.</p><p>Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) said Democrats are playing games. At this point, he refuses to vote at all.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t vote,&rdquo; Batinick said in an interview. &ldquo;Fourteen times, 15 times, 100 times. At what point are we doing to start being adults and start actually addressing the issue instead of you, know, worrying about what&#39;s going to be on a mailer?&quot;</p><p>By &ldquo;mailer,&rdquo; Batnick was alluding to the political implications of all this. Democrats can legitimately print campaign fliers that say something like, &ldquo;Republicans stood in the way of property tax relief a gzzillion times.&rdquo; An attack ad like that has already gone out in Batinick&#39;s neighborhood.</p><p>&quot;This is not about policy, this is about campaigning. This is using the legislative structure for political purposes,&rdquo; Batinick said. &ldquo;My belief is good policy is good politics. That&#39;s not what&#39;s happening here. This is using the General Assembly to further your political gain.&quot;<br /><br />Democrats don&#39;t openly admit to this strategy; it&#39;s no political setup. They have said they&rsquo;re genuinely trying to compromise&mdash;after all, they presented a property tax freeze 14 different times.</p><p>The thing is, if Democrats were just wanting to use this against Republicans for campaign reasons, that&#39;s been taken care of.<br /><br />At a press conference, Illinois Public Radio asked Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan why his party keeps calling the same measure over and over, when it always meets the same fate? What&#39;s the point now? Isn&#39;t it just a little gratuitous and a waste of time?</p><p>The exchange went like this:</p><blockquote><p>MADIGAN: Remember that old expression? America is the land of opportunity. Remember that?<br />VINICKY: I know it.<br />MADIGAN: And so we&#39;re just abiding by that principle and providing opportunity to these Rauner Republicans in the House to fulfill their promise to freeze real estate taxes. In life sometimes, people are a little slow to take advantage of opportunities. So we don&#39;t want to foreclose the opportunity.</p></blockquote><p>When asked about plans to call the property tax proposal up for the same vote again in the future&mdash;if Democrats plan to keep putting Republicans through this&mdash;one of Madigan&rsquo;s floor leaders said, they&rsquo;d keep doing it until, &ldquo;something breaks loose.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Amanda Vinicky covers Illinois politics for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio. Follow her @<a href="http://twitter.com/AmandaVinicky">AmandaVinicky</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 05:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/proxy-wars-how-madigan-gets-republicans-vote-against-their-own-plan-113049 Proxy Wars: Meet the Rauner aide driving Democrats crazy http://www.wbez.org/news/proxy-wars-meet-rauner-aide-driving-democrats-crazy-113048 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/goldberg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>By now, most people probably have a sense that things at the Illinois Statehouse have gotten downright nasty, even if it&rsquo;s not completely clear what all the fighting is about&mdash;or, how it&rsquo;s playing out behind the scenes.</p><p>To reveal the parts of the fighting that the public doesn&rsquo;t get to see&mdash;the squabbling and cynical gamesmanship&mdash;WBEZ and Illinois Public Radio wanted to pull back the curtain.</p><p>Illinois Public Radio&rsquo;s Amanda Vinicky <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/proxy-wars-how-madigan-gets-republicans-vote-against-their-own-plan-113049">reports on one tactic from Democrats in Springfield</a>.</p><p>But Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner also has been doing something that&rsquo;s really gotten under Democrats&rsquo; skin.</p><p>If you think of the whole dispute at the Statehouse as a war, as it&rsquo;s been described, then think of Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan as its generals; their back-and-forth is well documented. Much more so than how the shin-kicky, hand-to-hand combat is playing out on the front lines.</p><p>Enter Richard Goldberg.</p><p>Odds are, most Illinois residents have never heard his name, but Richard Goldberg is well known in the halls of the Capitol.</p><p>Goldberg works for Rauner&mdash;and he drives Democrats crazy.</p><p>Goldberg is young, he&rsquo;s 32. He used to work for Congressman&mdash;now U.S. Senator&mdash;Mark Kirk. And, Goldberg&rsquo;s very good on his feet: He&rsquo;s quick-witted and fast-talking, and he seems to like a good political fist fight.</p><p>The way Rauner has deployed Goldberg is as his administration&rsquo;s proxy with lawmakers. As in, Democrats have business to do with Rauner and the governor sends Goldberg as his representative.</p><p>Democrats don&rsquo;t like it, they see it as a slap in the face. They call hearings and Rauner sends someone they basically see as a whipper snapper.</p><p>Case in point: May of this year. State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) called a hearing on workers compensation benefits. Raoul&rsquo;s done a lot of work on the issue in the past and, and knows it well.</p><p>And Goldberg shows up. Here&rsquo;s a transcription of how that went.</p><blockquote><p>GOLDBERG: These reforms are directly tied to our budget, to the future of fiscal sanity in this state, to be able to grow our economy, to be able to create jobs, to be able have the revenue base for our budget so that we are not just...<br />RAOUL: I&rsquo;d appreciate it if you could&hellip;<br />GOLDBERG: Mr. Chairman.<br />RAOUL: No, no. I am the chairman. I am the chairman.<br />GOLDBERG: Mr. Chairman.<br />RAOUL: I am the chairman.This is not the governor&rsquo;s office.<br />GOLDBERG: Mr. Chairman.<br />RAOUL: Senator Haine, you&rsquo;re recognized.<br />GOLDBERG: Mr. Chairman.</p></blockquote><p>Democrats like Raoul feel like Goldberg breaks all kinds of rules of decorum by interrupting committee chairs and talking out of turn. That&rsquo;s on top of the whole young whipper snapper effect.</p><p>&ldquo;Some people want to give campaign speeches or maybe impress the governor, that&rsquo;s fine to be done outside of the committee room, to be done wherever they want to do it &ndash; in the bathroom or wherever they want to do it,&rdquo; Raoul told reporters after that shouting match. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s not fine to be done when we&rsquo;re supposed to be debating the specific provisions.&rdquo;<br /><br />This scene of Goldberg as Rauner&rsquo;s proxy, and Democrats feeling insulted by it, played out a few times this year, and it only got worse.</p><p>In another Senate hearing, Democrats questioned the head of a state agency, Jim Schultz, who was appointed by Rauner. And even though Schultz was the one they wanted to hear from, he defered to Goldberg. As in, he tried to give Goldberg the floor.</p><p>Democrats were not OK with that.</p><blockquote><p>SEN. KIMBERLY LIGHTFORD: How do you see this being a good bill for our schools?<br />DEPT. OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY DIRECTOR JIM SCHULTZ: Well, two points. One is our property taxes are one of the highest in the country, so I think we need to find solutions to that. But it&rsquo;s tied to the other elements of this bill which I&rsquo;d like to defer to Mr. Goldberg to address the question.<br />GOLDBERG: Senator, if I could just address your question specifically, because you know Governor Rauner proposed<br />LIGHTFORD: I&rsquo;m still - I&rsquo;m still talking to the director. Rich, you&rsquo;re so rude. I&rsquo;ll come to you.<br />SEN. DON HARMON: Mr. Goldberg. Mr. Goldberg. When a senator is speaking. Mr. Goldberg. Mr. Goldberg. When a senator is speaking to you, I would strongly counsel you to close your mouth and open your ears and then you&rsquo;ll have a chance to respond.</p></blockquote><p>Sen. Don Harmon, (D-Oak Park), the Democrat who told Goldberg to close his mouth, is the chairman of the Senate Executive Committee, where that exchange took place.</p><p>&ldquo;It was part of a much longer hearing and I, frankly, listening to it now, not particularly pleased with my condescending tone,&rdquo; Harmon recalled&nbsp;last month in an interview at his law office. &ldquo;But at the time it was like talking to my pre-teen children who were talking over each other, yelling at each other.&quot;<br /><br />It&rsquo;s worth mentioning that Harmon is not known for talking smack. If anything, Harmon has a reputation for going out of his way to be fair to the people who testify at the committees he runs. He&rsquo;s an attorney from west suburban Oak Park who&rsquo;s been a state senator for 12 years.</p><p>But when Harmon agreed to an interview about Goldberg, it was obvious that Harmon&rsquo;s had some things about the Rauner aide on his mind for a while.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;Rich&rsquo;s job is to be the governor&rsquo;s unmentionable anatomy. And he embraces that role with the flare and enthusiasm that can only have been born of years of experience in fraternity houses and undergraduate bars,&rdquo; Harmon said.</p><p>After the initial interview with Harmon, WBEZ went back to clarify what the senator mean when he said, &ldquo;unmentionable anatomy.&rdquo; He said he meant something that rhymes with &ldquo;grass bowl.&rdquo;<br /><br />Rauner&rsquo;s administration did not make Goldberg available for an interview for this story. But his office did send a written statement.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s no surprise that these local legislators aren&rsquo;t willing to clean up Springfield, when they relish the opportunity to personally attack a Navy reservist who served our country fighting terrorism in Afghanistan,&rdquo; said Lance Trover, a Rauner spokesman.<br /><br />In other words, Trover said: Hey Democrats, you just called a war veteran a &lsquo;grass bowl.&rsquo;<br /><br />Just a reminder that while all of this is going on, there have been virtually no meetings among leadership in Springfield, for months; and no real sign of progress. But Goldberg started doing something else that&rsquo;s made him even more notorious.</p><p>You know how Democrats were so mad when Goldberg would try to speak at those committee hearings? The only thing that could maybe make Democrats madder than that is Goldberg not showing up at all.<br /><br />Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) put on a display because Goldberg didn&rsquo;t show up at a committee hearing Bradley called into how Rauner was paying some of his staff.</p><p>&ldquo;Is there anyone from the governor&rsquo;s office here to testify? Is there anyone here from the governor&rsquo;s office to testify? Is there anyone here from the governor&rsquo;s office to testify?&rdquo; Bradley asked three times out loud at the hearing.</p><p>Goldberg wasn&rsquo;t there&mdash;because instead of showing up and antagonizing Democrats in person, he began to write them antagonistic letters.</p><p>The letters are full of lines where Goldberg straight up insults Democrats&rsquo; intelligence, or calls their hearings worthless.</p><p>In one letter Goldberg wrote, &ldquo;As you may know, 35 minus 28 equals seven. Given your support for a budget out of balance by $4 billion, finding errors in basic arithmetic is not a great surprise.&rdquo;</p><p>In another, he said &ldquo;holding sham hearings to rehash questions already answered in another committee is not a step toward compromise.&quot;</p><p>Some of the letters are a fireworks display of condescension and petty insults. And the icing on the cake, Goldberg&rsquo;s sign off:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;With warmest personal regards, I remain sincerely yours, Richard A. Goldberg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Chris Mooney, the director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, said on a scale of one-to-10, the snark level of those letters reaches an 11.&nbsp;</p><p>But what stands out, Mooney said, is the motivation for this level of snark. Because some of the gimmicks going on are designed to be traps and could be turned into campaign hit pieces by the other party. But Mooney said these particular hearings and letters aren&rsquo;t likely to end up being used in campaign ads against one candidate or another.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really gratuitous in this case. I don&rsquo;t quite understand it. It seems rather personal,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Some Democrats said they&rsquo;re embarrassed for the Rauner administration because of Goldberg, and that his presence in that job is a signal from Rauner that makes Democrats feel hopeless that any kind of deal is on the horizon.<br /><br />But Republicans defend Goldberg. They said Goldberg is a person of substance, and if Democrats would just listen to him they would see that. In other words, Republicans say, if there&rsquo;s a problem here&mdash;if something&rsquo;s toxic about what&rsquo;s happening with Richard Goldberg&mdash;it&rsquo;s the Democrats&rsquo; fault.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold is covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 05:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/proxy-wars-meet-rauner-aide-driving-democrats-crazy-113048 Political wills battle contributes to budget impasse in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/political-wills-battle-contributes-budget-impasse-illinois-112800 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_963329869976.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois is entering its fourth month without a budget. While there&#39;s a fight over ideology, it has also become a battle of wills &mdash; pitting the Republican governor against the state House speaker.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/02/436820852/battle-of-political-wills-contributes-to-budget-impasse-in-illinois" target="_blank">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 09:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/political-wills-battle-contributes-budget-impasse-illinois-112800 Without a budget, courts step in to force state to pay bills http://www.wbez.org/news/without-budget-courts-step-force-state-pay-bills-112477 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4397586040_c9c4b84976_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers remain at an impasse over the state budget.</p><p>But over the last few weeks, the courts have repeatedly stepped in&mdash;telling the state, budget or no budget, it has to pay for certain things, pay some bills.</p><p>The result of that: The state is, bit by bit, forcibly reverting back to some of its budget from last fiscal year -- which happens to be a budget that nobody wants.</p><p>Without a budget, here&rsquo;s Illinois&rsquo; situation: Money can come in. But the rules about how the state can spend it are unclear.</p><p>When last year&rsquo;s state budget expired on July 1, everyone knew certain state business wouldn&rsquo;t stop: There are laws that say prisons can&rsquo;t close and the state police can&rsquo;t call it quits.<br />But there were lots of other things that nobody knew whether the state could continue to fund.</p><p>Can the state still fund foster care without a budget? What about state parks or the DMV?</p><p>Over and over again these last few weeks, the state has been in court to sort these things out.</p><p>Foster care, for example, the courts said the state had to pay. Same for treatment for adults with developmental disabilities.</p><p>This week it was Medicaid, funding healthcare for the poor. And singling out how this Medicaid situation played out is important--because it&rsquo;s a good example of how having no budget is hurting the state; how it&rsquo;s making a bad situation even worse.</p><p>Medicaid is one of the biggest budget lines in Illinois: More than $7 billion. Hospitals, clinics and patients all over the state depend on that money.</p><p>So, it&rsquo;s not surprising that lawyers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/judge-orders-state-pay-cook-county-medicaid-providers-during-budget-impasse-112465">went to court</a>&mdash;wanting a judge to force the to state to keep Medicaid going in Cook County.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to increase access to care not decrease it,&rdquo; said John Bouman, an attorney with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, who brought the lawsuit against the state, hoping to force Medicaid payments.&nbsp;</p><p>Bouman and others argued that if the funding didn&rsquo;t come through, hospitals would close. People couldn&rsquo;t get treated.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to keep the whole system going as if there&rsquo;s no budget impasse in order to ensure that the children have access to care,&rdquo; Bouman explained.</p><p>The court agreed: A federal judge ordered the state to continue paying Medicaid in Cook County.</p><p>Because there&rsquo;s no current budget to guide Medicaid spending, the state was has been ordered to keep spending on Medicaid according to last year&rsquo;s budget.</p><p>And the thing about that is last year&rsquo;s budget was widely accepted to be awful.</p><p>&ldquo;Cobbled together. It was in overdraft,&rdquo; said Chris Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Springfield.</p><p>Last year&rsquo;s budget was complicated, in part, because halfway through, when Rauner won the governorship, he let the income tax rate go down. Meaning: lower taxes for residents, and less money for the state.</p><p>Nobody in Springfield thinks last year&rsquo;s budget process should be used as a guide for how the state spends money now. But with each of these court interventions, that&rsquo;s exactly what&rsquo;s happening.</p><p>Simply put: because leaders can&rsquo;t make a new spending plan, the state has to use last year&rsquo;s faulty one--which appears to make things tumultuous on pretty much all fronts.</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, the whole thing sucks,&rdquo; Mooney said.</p><p>He remains convinced that Rauner and Democrats will reach a budget...there just might be snow on the ground by the time it&rsquo;s decided.</p><p>Meanwhile, the court interventions, like the Medicaid one, keep piling up: DCFS, foster care and a bunch of other things -- are all being funded according to an outdated budget that everyone thinks is trouble.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers state politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 25 Jul 2015 13:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/without-budget-courts-step-force-state-pay-bills-112477 When is a government shutdown not a shutdown? http://www.wbez.org/news/when-government-shutdown-not-shutdown-112350 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/illinoislegislature.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thursday technically marks day nine of the Illinois state government not having a budget. But unlike a federal government shutdown, you might not have seen consequences yet.</p><p>Your trains are still running &mdash; hopefully they&rsquo;ve been on time.</p><p>The prisons are still accepting inmates and paying to feed them.</p><p>If you get a paycheck, you&rsquo;re still paying state taxes.</p><p>So, just what does this shutdown even look like?</p><p>&ldquo;The word shutdown is a bit of a misnomer,&rdquo; said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University. &ldquo;I think this is gonna be more of a slow strangulation.&rdquo;</p><p>Yepsen said the doors to government buildings haven&rsquo;t been padlocked, yet, which could limit how much, or how often, any given Illinois resident is confronted with the absence of a budget for state government operations.</p><p>&ldquo;Government, oftentimes, doesn&rsquo;t affect a lot of people directly,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But Yepsen cautions that the longer the impasse, the more likely you, or someone you know, will see the impact.</p><p>&ldquo;If people with mental health problems all of a sudden aren&rsquo;t getting treated, that starts to have real consequences in society,&rdquo; Yepsen said.</p><p>In any other year, Illinois state government would be sending money to mental health providers right now. Without a budget, those contracts haven&rsquo;t materialized; meaning there&rsquo;s no guarantee finances are coming. For instance, Heather O&rsquo;Donnell, with Thresholds, one of the largest mental health providers in Chicago, said one $800,000 state contract for psychiatrists is in limbo.</p><p>&ldquo;The longer that we go without a budget then the average person will start to feel it or see it,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Donnell said.</p><p>Thresholds is a larger operation compared to other mental health providers in the area, and as a result, O&rsquo;Donnell said it may be able to wait out the political impasse longer than smaller organizations that may have to start turning patients away.</p><p>&ldquo;You wouldn&rsquo;t withdraw cancer treatment from somebody who has breast cancer but you&rsquo;re going to pull mental health treatment for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder?&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Thresholds and other human service providers that care for people in need, like kids with autism or adults with disabilities, are operating in an gray area while this political stalemate continues. Their uncertainty doesn&rsquo;t seem to be preventing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner from giving ultimatums to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, or Madigan from acknowledging some of Rauner&rsquo;s proposals.</p><p>But rhetoric aside, there&rsquo;s also the question of accountability when services usually provided by the state government don&rsquo;t materialize.</p><p>State funding of mental health has been cut in the past several years. When those reductions happened, there was little, if any, political retribution for those who voted in favor of those cuts.</p><p>Yepsen&#39;s done polling - it shows Illinois residents do want to see cuts, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean there&rsquo;s motivation to end the political impasse yet. Because those same people who want to see cuts don&rsquo;t like the options of choosing to cut either education, prisons, natural resources or social services.</p><p>According to Yepsen, some residents are becoming more comfortable with increasing taxes. Though, he adds, the political motivation to end the stalemate may not exist until even more pain is felt by more people &mdash; say, when tens of thousands of state employees aren&rsquo;t paid their salaries in the coming weeks, or when human services close completely.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 Jul 2015 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/when-government-shutdown-not-shutdown-112350 Judge rules no pay for Illinois workers without state budget http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-rules-no-pay-illinois-workers-without-state-budget-112338 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP120209138862 (1)_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 20px; background-color: rgb(249, 249, 249);">▲&nbsp;</span>LISTEN </strong><em>A pair of courtroom decisions in Chicago Tuesday is drastically changing the dynamics at play in the political drama unfolding in Illinois state politics. Both rulings have to do with how the state government will operate as it goes further into shutdown mode. WBEZ&rsquo;s state politics reporter Tony Arnold joins host Melba Lara to break down what&rsquo;s at stake.</em></p><p>Illinois won&#39;t be allowed to pay state workers in full during an ongoing budget impasse, a Cook County judge ruled Tuesday, potentially leaving some 65,000 employees without a paycheck and putting added pressure on lawmakers to approve a new spending plan.</p><p>Judge Diane Larsen said that without a 2016 budget in place Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger may only pay some workers who are covered under a federal labor law. Those workers would receive the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour plus overtime.</p><p>But Munger&#39;s attorneys and lawyers for the state&#39;s personnel agency said it would take as long as a year to determine which employees would be paid under federal law and adjust payroll because of antiquated computer systems. That effectively means no workers will be paid until Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature approve a budget, the comptroller&#39;s attorneys said. It&#39;s also likely to trigger federal fines and penalties.</p><p>Larsen&#39;s ruling likely won&#39;t be the final word. Munger and the leader of the state&#39;s largest public-employee union separately said they plan to appeal, and Rauner directed the state personnel department to do the same. Thirteen labor unions representing state employees also have filed a lawsuit in St. Clair County seeking full pay. A hearing in that case could occur this week.</p><p>&quot;Public service workers in state government are on the job despite the lack of a state budget for the fiscal year that started July 1,&quot; said Roberta Lynch, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. &quot;Throughout Illinois they are keeping their communities safe, protecting kids, caring for veterans and people with disabilities, and providing countless other vital public services - and they should be paid for their work on time and in full.&quot;</p><p>The comptroller&#39;s office must begin processing payroll on Thursday for workers to receive their first paycheck of the new fiscal year as scheduled in mid-July. Rauner told employees in a memo last week that they must continue coming to work, and AFSCME has said its members plan to do so. The governor also said his office is asking local banks and credit unions to offer loans to workers who need help paying their bills.</p><p>Larsen acknowledged the situation is unfortunate but said the state constitution prohibits the comptroller from paying bills without spending authority or a federal mandate. She said responsibility lies with Rauner and the Legislature for not agreeing on a spending plan, and with state officials who have known since at least 2007 that their computer systems were incapable of meeting federal law.</p><p>Lawmakers have been deadlocked over a budget for weeks. Rauner, a conservative businessman seeking pro-business reforms in Illinois, vetoed a budget passed by the Legislature that fell far short of available revenues. Democrats such as House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton are seeking increases in revenue to ensure the government continues to provide social services and other key operations.</p><p>Lisa Madigan, a Democrat and the speaker&#39;s daughter, had asked the judge to clarify what state government is obligated to pay without an approved budget. Her office argued that the only way for all workers to be paid their regular salaries is for Rauner and the Legislature to act.</p><p>Munger, a Republican, wanted the judge to rule that all state employees be paid their regular salaries. Her attorneys noted Madigan agreed to an order that all workers be paid during a 2007 budget impasse, and he questioned whether the difference this time around is politics.</p><p>Madigan&#39;s office said circumstances are different because in 2007 lawmakers had passed a temporary budget and were days away from approving a full plan. A spokeswoman denied politics played a role.</p><p>&quot;This entire situation has been caused by the failure of the Governor and the Legislature to enact a budget,&quot; Madigan said in an emailed statement.</p><p>Without appropriation power, the comptroller is limited to paying only crucial bills, such as debt service and pension payments, as well as federal-program participation fees and payments required by court orders.</p><p>A Rauner spokesman noted legislators passed a law last year allowing them to continue to be paid without a budget and said the governor would support similar legislation to cover state workers. It was unclear if or when a bill will be introduced.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 07 Jul 2015 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-rules-no-pay-illinois-workers-without-state-budget-112338 At eleventh hour, CPS makes huge pension payment http://www.wbez.org/news/eleventh-hour-cps-makes-huge-pension-payment-112290 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/madigan_1_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8f7b37b5-46c0-8279-17ad-1b39333078ba"><em>UPDATED July 1, 7:53 a.m.&nbsp;</em></p><p dir="ltr">The head of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund says Chicago Public Schools deposited the full $634 million into the pension fund Tuesday evening.</p><p>&ldquo;The need for long-term solutions is not erased with this payment,&rdquo; CTPF&rsquo;s executive director Charles Burbridge said in a statement.</p><p dir="ltr">But with that payment, according to CPS officials, comes more borrowing and 1,400 layoffs of school district employees.</p><p>Illinois&rsquo; powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools would pay the hundreds of millions of dollars that it owes to teacher pensions by the end of the day.</p><p dir="ltr">The surprise announcement came after CPS had been asking state lawmakers for a short-term reprieve from the massive $634 million payment. Last week, the House of Representatives voted down the district&rsquo;s proposal, even though it had a minority Republican support. At the time, Madigan denied he singularly defeated the proposal, even though he wields influence over many lawmakers.</p><p>On Tuesday, he said that debate was moot, as he&rsquo;d been told by &ldquo;reliable sources&rdquo; that Chicago Public Schools would make the payment, in full.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been advised by reliable sources they have cash on hand and they&rsquo;ll be in a position to make a payment by the end of the business day today,&rdquo; Madigan told reporters.</p><p>As for how the district can make this payment to its pension system and still afford bills in the near-term, Madigan said he doesn&rsquo;t know how that math will work.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There are open questions going forward in terms of paying the bills at the Chicago Board of Education,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In a statement, interim schools CEO Jesse Ruiz criticized Springfield for failing &ldquo;to address Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; financial crisis.&rdquo; Ruiz said CPS was able to make its 2015 pension payment by borrowing money, but they&rsquo;ll also have to make an additional $200 million in cuts. CPS officials said 1,400 jobs - not just teachers - would be impacted Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;As we have said, CPS could not make the payment and keep cuts away from the classroom, so while school will start on time, our classrooms will be impacted,&rdquo; Ruiz said.</p><p>City Hall sources said late Tuesday night that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jesse Ruiz would be presenting a &ldquo;comprehensive plan that includes long-term solutions to the district&rsquo;s pension and funding inequities&rdquo; on Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier in the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave no indications to reporters in Chicago that CPS was in fact planning to pay the bill in full by the end of the day. However, he did address the impact of the pension payment on the school system&rsquo;s budget.</p><p>&ldquo;School will start, but our ability to hold the impact of finances away from the classroom, that&rsquo;s gonna change,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Springfield lawmakers are set to hear Wednesday about a <a href="http://ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09900SB0316sam001&amp;GA=99&amp;SessionId=88&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;LegID=84277&amp;DocNum=316&amp;GAID=13&amp;Session=">new</a> proposal that could funnel hundreds of millions of state funds toward CPS pensions.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>. Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/eleventh-hour-cps-makes-huge-pension-payment-112290