WBEZ | federal budget http://www.wbez.org/tags/federal-budget Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Turnaround school gets turned around again http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-20/Sims.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama and congressional leaders may be trying to cut the federal budget, but they’ve agreed to pour more than a half-billion dollars of new funds into Race to the Top, the president’s signature education program. It aims to turn around low-performing schools by taking steps like bringing in an outside group to replace the staff and run the school. Education Secretary Arne Duncan helped pioneer that model as Chicago schools chief. The city now has 12 turnaround schools. But their record is mixed and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has not said where he stands on them yet. A school near Chicago’s Garfield Park shows that the turnaround strategy is anything but a panacea.</p><p>MITCHELL: When classes change at Orr Academy High School, Tyese Sims drops everything and joins a dozen security guards patrolling the halls. She’s the new principal. And she keeps an eye on all three floors.</p><p>SIMS: I run up these stairs every day, all day.</p><p>MITCHELL: I bet you’re in pretty good shape.</p><p>SIMS: I guess!</p><p>SIMS (to students): Excuse me. What are we doing? Keep it moving.</p><p>MITCHELL: Almost every student in sight is wearing a school-issued polo shirt, either black or gold.</p><p>SIMS: Come on. Hurry up. 30 seconds.</p><p>MITCHELL: By the time the tardy bell rings, the halls are empty again.</p><p>SIMS: You don’t hear loud noises coming out of the rooms. It’s quiet. It’s calm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Orr Academy is undergoing its second turnaround in three years. In 2008, Chicago officials consolidated three small high schools that had occupied the building. To run the new Orr, the district contracted a nonprofit group called AUSL. That’s short for Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL brought in new teachers and staffers and a new principal. But student test scores after the first turnaround remained dismal. And Sims says there were other problems.<br> <br> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script></p><div id="tableau_hide_this" style="width: 654px; height: 634px;">&nbsp;</div><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="654" height="634"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object><noscript>Dashboard 1 <br /><a href="#"><img alt="Dashboard 1 " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;PS&#47;PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors&#47;Dashboard1&#47;1_rss.png" height="100%" /></a></noscript><div style="width: 654px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;"><a href="http://www.tableausoftware.com/public?ref=http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/PSAEscoresatOrrandpredecessors/Dashboard1" target="_blank">Powered by Tableau</a></div></div><p>SIMS: When I came before — profane language, being disrespectful to peers, being disrespectful to other adults — I did see it. It was just something I wanted to change.</p><p>MITCHELL: Now AUSL has changed Orr’s principal again. The group brought in Sims in the middle of the semester. During her first month, the school gave students 310 out-of-school suspensions. A handful resulted from behavior the district calls “very serious” — things like assault, alcohol use and vandalism. Most suspensions concerned infractions like tardiness, disobedience and disruption. Sims says she also dropped almost three dozen students for poor attendance.</p><p>SIMS: If we’re really preparing them for the real world, there’s no way we can keep a job and, with missing this number of days and being tardy, they’ll think, ‘Wow, my high school didn’t prepare me. This was acceptable there, but now I’m in the real world and it’s not like that.’</p><p>LANG: When you’re first starting something new and you’re changing, people have to take it seriously.</p><p>MITCHELL: AUSL’s Debbra Lang oversees Orr and two other high schools the group runs for the Chicago district. Lang says AUSL is applying what’s called the broken-windows theory. It’s a way some police try to keep the peace by focusing on low-level offenses like vandalism. Lang says the approach works for schools, too.</p><p>LANG: The precursor to fighting is often a slew of curse words. And so we would much rather intervene — deal with the cursing — rather than having it lead to fighting. What we’re really encouraging is an environment where learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not everyone is happy about that encouragement. 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett got so many calls about Orr Academy’s latest turnaround that he held a community forum with Principal Sims. She got mixed reactions there from parents...</p><p>MOTHER: Two-day suspension for ‘damn’ — for the words — I think that that’s a little harsh.</p><p>GRANDMOTHER: I like your approach to what you’re doing at the school with the children. They need to have some respect.</p><p>FATHER: My son comes home suspended two days. Where was that phone call to the parents?</p><p>MITCHELL: ...and from teachers and counselors.</p><p>TEACHER: The history at Orr has been inconsistency. You take your kids to Whitney Young, they know on Day 1, ‘I can’t curse in class.’ This year, we’re getting that message half-way into the third semester. That’s where you’re going to get push-back from students.</p><p>COUNSELOR: I’ve never seen Orr any better than it is now. You can walk in that school — I would ask anybody to walk in that school and just walk around.</p><p>MITCHELL: The alderman’s forum also turned out young people. An Orr Academy senior stood up and said she’d like a turnaround of some school staff attitudes.</p><p>STUDENT: Students curse out adults. Adults curse out students. The students are the only group of people being addressed for that.</p><p>MITCHELL: A community organizer spoke up for students who end up on the street.</p><p>ORGANIZER: This is not the first time where we had phone calls from parents, saying, ‘I feel like my kid is getting pushed out.’</p><p>MITCHELL: But Alderman Burnett urged everyone to give the school’s new leaders a chance.</p><p>BURNETT: We just lost a principal at Orr because they didn’t think he was doing well enough. So these principals, just like everyone else, have a duty to do things in order to keep their jobs too.</p><p>JENNINGS: This is a daunting task.</p><p>MITCHELL: Jack Jennings of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy says there’s not much evidence yet that the turnaround model works.</p><p>JENNINGS: These schools serve very poor students who bring the problems of poverty into the school — namely one-parent homes, sometimes parents being on drugs. These schools generally are in dangerous neighborhoods. Sometimes there’s a lack of security in the building itself. These schools have teachers that are frequently discouraged because they’ve tried to improve for years and they’re not being given adequate help. And a number schools do everything right and they still don’t succeed in turning around. And some schools that have become better, if they don’t receive assistance over a couple more years, will slide back and wind up in the same type of trouble [that they were in] before.</p><p>MITCHELL: Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s team didn’t respond when we asked whether he’d try to turn around more schools. This week he did announce that two AUSL officials would fill top city education posts. The turnaround approach isn’t the only vision for improving the nation’s worst schools. In Chicago, the teachers union suggests more social services for students and decent jobs for parents. Those remedies could be expensive, though. At Orr Academy, Principal Sims insists that simpler steps can go a long way.</p><p>SIMS: It’s just structures in place so we can have a safe, orderly environment for our students so learning can take place.</p><p>MITCHELL: Simpler steps like getting kids to class on time.</p><p>SIMS: Let’s go baby. Come on, let’s hustle.</p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/turnaround-school-gets-turned-around-again-85474 National Endowment sails stormy seas http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-19/national-endowment-sails-stormy-seas-85416 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-20/56592092.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-20/56592092.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 347px;" title="(Getty/Paul Hawthorne)"></p><p>The unexpectedly chilly winds of April weren't enough to blow down the National Endowment for the Arts, even though some members of Congress wanted to pour cold Tea Party on it. Much to the surprise of many arts advocates, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) emerged from the harrowing House of Representatives budget process with $155 million for Fiscal Year 2011. This is considerably more than pro-NEA partisans could have imagined just a few months ago, when the Republican-controlled House entertained various proposals for the NEA ranging from deep cuts to zero funding (a Congressional euphemism for murdering an agency). The zero funding option immediately was rejected even by the GOP majority as too extreme. The NEA funding was part of the very tough negotiating process between President Obama and House and Senate leaders over the total 2011 budget. The Senate quickly approved the House-passed appropriations package.</p><p>The $155 million budget represents a cut of $12.5 million (7.5%) over FY2010 funding of $167.5 million. Just months earlier, the House had settled on only $124.4 million for the NEA. The House also had stripped all funding for Arts in Education programs from the proposed appropriation for the federal Department of Education; however the final 2011 budget measure restored a modest $25.5 million for Arts in Education.</p><p>I have a colleague (well, a cousin, actually) who happens to be the chief political officer for a highly-visible federal agency, and he explained it to me in a recent conversation: "President Obama told the House Republicans, 'Look, we can talk about some of the big budget cuts you want, but keep your hands off the little programs. You're not going to save significant money by nickel-and-diming the small stuff.'" My cousin's agency, still considered small at under $1 billion, also survived with most of its funding intact. It probably doesn't hurt, either, that by Federal mandate the NEA must pass along 50% of its funding to state arts agencies and councils (such as the Illinois Arts Council), and House Republicans are aware of how badly the states are hurting.</p><p>Of course, we already are half-way through Fiscal 2011 and the even tougher budget battle over Fiscal 2012 has begun.</p><p>FYI: the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) generally receives a block grant in the vicinity of $500,000 each year from the NEA. That half-million bucks has loomed much larger in recent years with the draconian slashes in state funding for the IAC, which fell from $19.4 million in Fiscal 2007, to $14.2 million is Fiscal 2008 (when the economic collapse began), to flat funding in Fiscal 2009 and then down to an operating budget of just $7.5 million in Fiscal 2010. For Fiscal 2011, the IAC budget was finalized at $8.5 million (NOTE: on paper the budget is $9.3 million, which includes various pass-throughs, but the operating budget is $8.5 million). For Fiscal 2012, which begins July 1, Gov. Patrick Quinn has proposed a $2.1 million increase for the IAC to $11.4 million (including those pass-throughs), but the actual appropriations legislation may be another story. As is usually the case, the final budget won't materialize until months after Fiscal 2012 begins. With a $1.5 billion state budget gap (and that's conservative), every budget proposal is on the chopping block.</p></p> Wed, 20 Apr 2011 02:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-19/national-endowment-sails-stormy-seas-85416 Making sense of the federal budget deal http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-11/making-sense-federal-budget-deal-85012 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-11/Boehner Getty Brendan Hoffman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 3:50 p.m. on 04/11/11</em><br> <br> At the 11<sup>th</sup> hour, leadership struck a budget deal to avert a government shutdown Friday, April 8. But that’s last year’s budget—and it’s six months overdue.<br> <br> WBEZ’s Jason Marck spoke to Charlie Wheelan, a senior lecturer at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, on Monday’s <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to make sense of the ongoing budget battles in Washington. Wheelan franed the last-minute line-item talks in terms of a household budget.<br> <br> “Imagine you and your spouse have been up all night with all the receipts; you’ve argued, you’ve done the math and at the end of it, the morning light comes up and you realize that all you’ve managed to do is pay the minimum balance on your credit card,” Wheelan explained.<br> <br> But at some point, Wheelan said, it dawns that [you] cannot actually pay the full balance on the card much less a car or mortgage payment. Putting off payments month after month is about where the federal government is on its own balancing efforts, Wheelan explained.<br> <br> By failing to pass a budget last year, Democrats yielded considerable leverage to the newly-appointed Republican majority in the House. That said, Wheelan explained that it’s the GOP tail—the Tea Party—that’s wagging the dog of the Republicans.<br> <br> “[John] Boehner had to deliver something to this vocal and influential and winning in November piece of the party,” Wheelan said. Further, Wheelan observed that the Tea Party is different than tails of yore: It’s organized, it got leadership and it’s got a mandate from voters. And so it starts to look like a coalition government similar to those in Italy or Israel.<br> <br> The next big item of the docket is another sizable leverage point: The debt ceiling is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. The United States is unique, Wheelan explained, in that Congress can say “no” to more borrowing. The problem is, the U.S. is consistently running deficits and needs to add to its tab in order to pay off said deficits and the previously due Treasury debt. Were Congress to refuse raising the roof, the U.S. could potentially default on its debt—a threat Wheelan called “quite serious.”<br> <br> A battle on the debt ceiling is the latest opportunity Republicans seized in order to to hold the [Obama] administration’s feet to the fire.<br> <br> “The Treasury bond is the gold standard (not literally) of the financial system. And if there’s even a whiff that people are not going to get their money back or that system is going to be disrupted then there’s going to be widespread concern, if not panic,” Wheelan warned.<br> <br> But all of this, Wheelan said, is just prelude to the much larger conversations this country must have in regards to entitlements and health care and so on. In the nearer term, members of Congress must return to the negotiating table to vote on a 2012 budget. Both parties have what Wheelan described as “glaring blind spots.”<br> <br> “The blind spot on the Democratic side is that we can just keep doing what we’re doing and it going to be OK—we cannot,” Wheelan said. If members care passionately about entitlement programs, he went on to say, they must fix the programs to sustain them—a framework for raising the retirement age to save Social Security has not been drawn nor has a system to contain the cost of health care.<br> <br> “The blind spot on the Republican side is this almost theological aversion to tax increases,” Wheelan observed. He added that he’s not seen any thoughtful observer who believes the United States can dig itself out of a fiscal hole without some sort of tax increase.<br> <br> Wheelan called the recommendations given by the president’s bipartisan deficit commission in the December Simpson-Bowles report “the perfect starting point” for the current discussions. But the plan was stifled by a lack of support from the people who ought to have been behind it.<br> <br> “President Obama’s reaction was tepid at best. Paul Ryan was on the committee, voted against the recommendations and so it was not beginning of that discussion that it should have [been],” Wheelan lamented.<br> <br> But at least part of the blame, Wheelan said, falls on the American people in that taxpayers are not fully prepared for the kind of sacrifice required.<br> <br> On legislative issues of this size and scale Wheelan said a strong executive voice is required. Ryan has provided that voice on the Republican side, whether people like his plans or not. President Obama is expected to deliver a prime-time speech Wednesday on deficit reduction. However many, including Wheelan, feel he’s a bit late to the party. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Music Button: Fujiya &amp; Miyagi, "Minestrone," from the CD Ventriloquizzing, (Yep Roc)</em></p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-11/making-sense-federal-budget-deal-85012 The Budget Deal: One Of Many Late Nights To Come? http://www.wbez.org/story/federal-budget/2011-04-09/budget-deal-one-many-late-nights-come-84979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-09/nightshot.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Now that we know there will NOT be a partial shutdown of the federal government because <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/04/09/135228492/deal-reached-to-avert-government-shutdown" target="_blank">late last night lawmakers reached a deal</a> on a plan to cut about $38 billion from this year's budget, it's time for some morning-after analyses.</p><p>-- Over <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2011/04/09/135234353/deal-averting-shutdown-proves-compromise-is-alive-if-not-well" target="_blank">at It's All Politics</a>, our colleague Frank James says this shows that "compromise is alive, if not well."</p><p>-- <a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/weekend-edition-saturday/" target="_blank">On <em>Weekend Edition</em></a>, NPR's Scott Horsley said that since the agreement was literally reached at the 11th hour, it "suggests that we may have a lot of late nights to come in this new era of divided government." NPR's Liz Halloran, by the way, has <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/04/09/135251034/the-shutdown-matchup-a-preview-of-bouts-to-come" target="_blank">previewed "the bouts to come."</a> The include the 2012 budget and whether to raise the federal debt limit.</p><p>-- <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/52854.html">Politico calls the talks</a> that finally produced a deal "less a high-stakes game of chicken — like most budget wrangling — than an effort to jerry-rig a deal that would be acceptable to House conservatives, Senate Democrats and a president intent on proving he could pull off a bipartisan deal for the second time in five months."</p><p>-- At The Corner, the politics blog of the conservative<em> National Review</em>, it's said that <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/264308/boehner-wins-big-andrew-stiles" target="_blank">House Speaker John Boehner "wins big"</a> in all this because a process that started with President Obama wanting $40 billion more in spending ended with that $38.5 billion reduction.</p><p>-- From the other side of the political spectrum, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/2011-is-not-1995/2011/04/06/AFxPaT5C_blog.html" target="_blank">Ezra Klein at <em>The Washington Post</em> also sees</a> Boehner and the Republicans as having succeeded — and he isn't pleased. "The Democrats believe it's good to look like a winner, even if you've lost. But they're sacrificing more than they let on. By celebrating spending cuts, they've opened the door to further austerity measures at a moment when the recovery remains fragile."</p><p>-- Meanwhile, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704415104576251390267843346.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories" target="_blank">according to <em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a> "leaders of the small-government, tea-party movement are generally giving House Speaker John Boehner high marks for his leadership in the spending showdown, even though the agreement eventually reached Friday night fell short of the cuts the tea party once demanded."</p><p>-- And then there are the views that may make you agree with those who say this is no way to run a government. The deal is something that "nobody loves but that all were willing to live with," <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0409/Government-shutdown-2011-avoided-with-11th-hour-budget-deal" target="_blank">writes <em>The Christian Science Monitor</em>'s Brad Knickerbocker</a>. But, "it doesn't solve the nation's debt and deficit problems, and it certainly doesn't settle the non-spending policy issues that had bedeviled the process of getting to yes — abortion is only the most obvious." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. </p> Sat, 09 Apr 2011 07:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/federal-budget/2011-04-09/budget-deal-one-many-late-nights-come-84979 Government shutdown looms as budget talks continue http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-08/government-shutdown-looms-budget-talks-continue-84912 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-08/Boehner Reid Getty Brendan Smialowski.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The IRS suspends the approval of paper tax returns. National Parks and museums will closed. A flood of financial problems for already struggling states. All this, and more, could become reality if lawmakers on Capitol Hill can’t strike a deal before the day’s end.<br> <br> Thursday's meeting between the President Obama, Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner apparently brought them close, but still no federal budget cigar. To find out more <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to <a href="http://www.rollcall.com/reporters/12.html?zkMobileView=true" target="_blank">David Drucker</a>, a political reporter with <a href="http://www.rollcall.com/mobile/" target="_blank">Roll Call</a> in Washington D.C. He keeps an eye on Illinois senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin while covering the U.S. Senate.</p></p> Fri, 08 Apr 2011 13:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-08/government-shutdown-looms-budget-talks-continue-84912 Democrats, Republicans Appear To Step Back From Budget Brink http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-03-30/democrats-republicans-appear-step-back-budget-brink-84523 <p><p>Just days after it looked like the chances of a partial government shutdown of the federal government had grown significantly due to the failure of Democrats and Republicans to compromise on federal spending, Wednesday brought reports that Democrats and Republicans stepped away from the brink.</p><p>Progress towards an agreement on what the federal government would spend for the remainder of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 apparently came as both sides moved significantly toward each other.</p><p>Republicans who control the House and Democrats who run the Senate, along with the Obama White House, were apparently finding common ground somewhere around $33 billion in spending cuts.</p><p>Considering that House Republicans started out demanding $61 billion in cuts and Senate Democrats and the White House opened the bidding at zero but quickly raised that to $10 billion, negotiations, fitful as they've been, seemed to be bearing fruit.</p><p></p><p>But it was also clear from reports that for all the progress, no real agreement had actually been struck. One is necessary by next Friday, April 8, to prevent a a partial government shutdown.</p><p>Vice President Biden sounded upbeat after meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening.</p><p>The Associated Press reported:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>"There's no reason why, with all that's going on in the world<br />and with the state of the economy, that we can't avoid a government shutdown," Biden told reporters after a meeting in the Capitol with Senate Democratic leaders.</p><p>The tentative split-the-difference plan would end up where GOP<br />leaders started last month as they tried to fulfill a campaign<br />pledge to return spending for agencies' daily operations to levels<br />in place before President Barack Obama took office. That<br />calculation takes into account the fact that the current budget<br />year, which began Oct. 1, is about half over.</p><p>The $33 billion figure, disclosed by a congressional aide<br />familiar with the talks and confirmed by Biden, who used a<br />measuring stick tied to Obama's budget instead of a current<br />spending freeze.</p><p>The number is well below the $60 billion-plus in cuts that the House passed last month, but it still represents significant movement by Senate Democrats and the administration after originally backing a freeze at current rates.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Besides spending cuts, House Republicans have also demanded the inclusion of some of the policy restrictions called "riders" as part of the agreement and there were indications that Democrats would accept some of them.</p><p>More from the AP:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>A Democratic lawmaker familiar with discussions between members<br />of Congress and administration officials said the administration<br />has made it clear that some House GOP proposals restricting the<br />Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory powers would have to<br />make it into the final bill. In order to characterize the<br />administration's position, the lawmaker insisted on anonymity<br />because the discussions have been private.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>But before rank and file Democrats grab their pitchforks and head to Washington, they should know that their leaders aren't folding on riders across the board.</p><p>The AP again:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>"There are certain things we're just not going to do on riders,<br />even if we agree on everything else we're just not going to do<br />it,"' Biden said. In that category, Democrats insist, is the<br />greenhouse gas measure and riders crippling implementation of<br />Obama's health care law, cutting Planned Parenthood off of federal<br />support.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Meanwhile, House Republicans had evidently decided that if a satisfactory agreement with Democrats wasn't reached by April 8, they would take the extraordinary step of voting again on the $61 billion in cuts they already passed this year and, upon passing it the second time, consider it the law.</p><p>For a party that made strict adherence to the Constitution part of its appeal to Tea Party movement voters in the mid-term election, this approach would seem to have some flaws.</p><p>That was duly noted by even Senate Republicans. An excerpt from <a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/house/152833-white-house-gop-edge-closer-to-spending-cut-deal">The Hill</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>The plan was quickly derided by both Democrats and Senate Republicans, however, who responded by offering a civics lesson to their House colleagues.</p><p>"My reaction to that is ultimately the whole body including the executive branch has to sign on here or we're just whistling in the wind," Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said.</p><p>Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: "To be the law of the land, a bill has to pass the Senate and be signed by the president."</p><p></blockquote></p><p>The Wall Street Journal <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704530204576233202212146100.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection">provides a sense</a> of the type of compromises each side was making:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>If the two parties agree to cuts of about $33 billion from 2010 spending levels, Democrats would be accepting reductions of a magnitude almost unimaginable just two months ago, given that the party initially wanted to fund government operations in the current year at the same level it did in 2010.</p><p>Cuts of $33 billion would also be far less than House Republicans have approved, and it was unclear that the most fiscally conservative lawmakers would accept the compromise. When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) proposed about $35 billion of cuts earlier this year, conservatives in his caucus rebelled and forced House leaders to rewrite their plan, raising the level of cuts to $61 billion below 2010 levels.</p><p></blockquote> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1301554934?&gn=Democrats%2C+Republicans+Appear+To+Step+Back+From+Budget+Brink&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=Budget,federal+budget,Congress,It%27s+All+Politics,Around+the+Nation,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134996496&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110330&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=133744148,133093599,130215202,129828651&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 30 Mar 2011 22:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-03-30/democrats-republicans-appear-step-back-budget-brink-84523 Illinois senator says Congress close to budget deal http://www.wbez.org/story/business/illinois-senator-says-congress-close-budget-deal-83937 <p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says he thinks Congress is close to reaching a compromise over the federal budget.</p><p>Legislators have approved temporary budgets while they debate where to make cuts.</p><p>Kirk, a Republican, said he thinks this is the last temporary budget lawmakers will pass.</p><p>&quot;My expectation will be a funding mechanism which makes the final cuts and includes a defense department bill so that pay for the troops and other things go through,&quot; Kirk said.</p><p>Kirk said the next big challenge will be passing the budget for 2012 and limiting how much money the country is borrowing to pay its bills. The latest deadline for Congress and the White House to reach an agreement for 2011's budget is April 8th.</p></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/business/illinois-senator-says-congress-close-budget-deal-83937 Proposed House cuts may hurt Illinois residents http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-16/proposed-house-cuts-may-hurt-illinois-residents-83795 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-16/Capitol Building Getty Mark Wilson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives gave themselves another extension to cobble together a federal budget. Congress now has through April 8 to get its financial house in order. Otherwise the government will shut down.<br /><br />The latest extension proposes another $6 billion in cuts. Long term though Republicans want $61 billion gone from the federal budget.<br /><br /><em>Eight Forty Eight</em> spoke with <a target="_blank" href="http://www.povertylaw.org/news-and-events/misc/medicaid-lawsuit/bouman.pdf">John Bouman</a> about what these cuts could mean. Bouman is president of the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.povertylaw.org/">Shriver Center on Poverty Law</a>, and recently contributed to a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chn.org/pdf/2011/BetterBudget4AllReport.pdf">study</a> that looked at how the cuts would affect Illinois residents.</p></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-16/proposed-house-cuts-may-hurt-illinois-residents-83795 Durbin says another temporary budget likely http://www.wbez.org/story/corporation-public-broadcasting/durbin-says-another-temporary-budget-likely <p><p>U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said the political bickering over the federal budget isn't expected to end any time soon.</p><p>Durbin said Friday he thinks Congress will have to approve another temporary budget to avoid a government shut down. The federal budget is set to expire at the end of this week.</p><p>Republicans in the U.S. House have proposed cutting billions of dollars including to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which also contributes money to WBEZ.</p><p>&quot;It is an issue. And it's become a political issue,&quot;&nbsp;Durbin said. &quot;I got on the plane last night to fly back to Chicago and a man walked up to me and said, 'I have two words for you: de-fund NPR.' And I said, 'You gotta be kidding.'&quot;</p><p>Durbin said the government's funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has virtually no impact on the country's deficit. He said Republicans' other proposals are non-starters, too.</p><p>&quot;We need to move to a different level of negotiation,&quot;&nbsp;Durbin said.</p><p>House Republicans say the cuts are need to combat the country's estimated $1.5 trillion budget gap.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 14 Mar 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/corporation-public-broadcasting/durbin-says-another-temporary-budget-likely Legal experts weigh in on request to cancel Blagojevich retrial http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/legal-experts-weigh-request-cancel-blagojevich-retrial <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/103423498.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Legal observers around Chicago are dismissing attempts by Rod Blagojevich's attorneys to cancel his upcoming retrial.</p><p>Blagojevich's attorneys filed a motion saying a re-trial would be costly to taxpayers and they say since Congress is in the middle of a dispute over the federal budget, the judge should cancel the former governor's retrial. The attorneys also write that they haven't been paid by the government for their work.</p><p>Dan Cotter is a former U.S. prosecutor.</p><p>&quot;I give them points for originality, but I don't think it's much of an argument. I've certainly never heard it before,&quot;&nbsp;Cotter said.</p><p>Cotter says their motion could be useful in delaying the trial, which is scheduled to begin April 20.</p><p>Blagojevich's attorneys say he should be sentenced immediately for the one count he was found guilty of in his first trial: lying to the FBI.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Mar 2011 21:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/legal-experts-weigh-request-cancel-blagojevich-retrial