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Madigan says he has ‘overwhelming support to be re-elected speaker’

Topspin

House Speaker Michael Madigan said Monday that he has “overwhelming support to be re-elected speaker” despite repeated attacks from Republicans who have called on rank-and-file members to not elect him to another term.

Madigan, who has been speaker for all but two years since 1983, faces re-election Jan. 11, when new lawmakers are sworn in. While it’s historically been largely a symbolic vote cast along party lines, the Illinois Republican Party, largely funded by Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies, already have warned that votes to re-elect Madigan as speaker will be used against Democrats in 2018.

Rauner’s Republicans spent tens of millions of dollars targeting Madigan during the election, linking Democratic candidates to a speaker they blame for much of the state’s financial problems. While Republicans made a net gain of four House seats and two Senate seats, Madigan has noted he will hold on to his majority.

“As you probably know, I have been talking to the Democratic members of the House and I have overwhelming support to be re-elected as the speaker,” Madigan said after a closed-door meeting with the governor and other legislative leaders.

Still, Rauner has sought to build pressure on Democrats to break party ranks as he tries to leverage the budget-making process to put in place portions of the economic agenda he’s made a prerequisite to a larger budget deal. Madigan contends those issues should be considered separately from the spending plan.

A stopgap budget to keep government services afloat is set to expire at year’s end. Groups that rely on state funding are set to descend on the Capitol this week, including the Responsible Budget Coalition, which represents hundreds of organizations including social service providers and public employees’ unions.

The coalition is pushing for a fully funded state budget. But not only are the pieces missing to complete a state budget, the group’s announcement of a Tuesday news conference also needed some patching.

From the e-mailed announcement, which was updated later Monday:

“This budget crisis is not about Chicago vs. Downstate, or human services vs. education,” said XXX (sic). “Every person we serve is one in a million First dogs Bo and Sunny — but together, we are here One Illinois, and we are here today to demand a real, thoughtful, responsible, fully funded budget that works for all of us.

The group likely will be left to wait a little longer for a deal, as talks between Rauner and legislative leaders have so far failed to move the ball. That means the most action may take place on legislation backed by Exelon and ComEd, which have threatened to close nuclear plants in Downstate Clinton and the Quad Cities if the state government doesn’t help.

A hearing on a scaled-down version of that bill is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday. (Monique Garcia and Rick Pearson)

 

What’s on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to speak at a morning breakfast to benefit Special Olympics. The mayor turns 57 today.

*Gov. Rauner is scheduled to meet privately with legislative leaders at 10 a.m. today…after Monday’s meeting went so well.

*The Illinois General Assembly continues its fall session.

*Chicago airport workers plan a walkout today.

 

What we’re writing

*Republicans accuse Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton of playing “good cop, bad cop” on Rauner’s agenda.

*Five file to challenge Emanuel’s appointed 4th Ward alderman in February special election.

*Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock wants change of venue.

*Following grandson’s death, Rep. Danny Davis wants more spending on historically impoverished areas.

*Emanuel wins round in rush to get CTA money before Donald Trump takes over.

*ComEd, Exelon continue to pare back Springfield help they’re requesting.

*Illinois law enforcement takes in more than $319 million of forfeited property.

*Fourth fatal shooting by Chicago police in 10 days.

*Chicago’s Thanksgiving weekend violence toll: 8 killed, 62 wounded.

*Wealthy divorce case starkly different from average cases, especially with shift in Illinois laws.

What we’re reading

*Political insiders cashed in on failed O’Hare International Airport project.

*Strip club owner accused of paying to have associates beaten up.

*Sci-fi nerds already buying tickets for movie that doesn’t come out for weeks.

 

From the notebook

*CPS’ fingers still crossed on pension dough: Top Chicago school officials are still publicly betting that Springfield will pony up $215 million in assistance for the city’s cash-strapped schools, though there’s little indication at the Capitol that will end up happening.

The topic resurfaced Monday as Chicago Board of Education President Frank Clark spoke briefly about Chicago Public Schools’ continued expectations for state government to fill a massive hole in the district’s annual budget.

To recap: CPS has approved an operating budget that relies on at least two major assumptions.

One is that schools officials will be able to check off a list of $300 million worth of cuts, which will come from a list of areas that include carried-over cost savings from prior cuts, some accounting maneuvers and anticipated savings from changes to how CPS makes certain purchases. CPS has said its bean counters so far have found about a third of those cuts.

Second, the district assumes Rauner and lawmakers can reach an accord on a broader pension reform measure that will ultimately send $215 million to CPS to help ease the district’s ballooning pension bill. Extra money for the CPS bill was sent to the governor’s desk Nov. 7, but the temporary budget deal struck last summer at the Capitol held that the money was contingent upon a pension deal. So far, there’s been little public progress reported during the fall session.

Rauner was asked about it on ABC7 on Monday morning. “So far the speaker and the leaders in the majority in the General Assembly have not been willing to talk about pension reform, and they’ve said let’s just do the Chicago piece. That wasn’t our agreement,” he said.

Still, Clark, during a hearing on this year’s CPS budget, said he had “great hope” that would occur.

“If there’s a piece of this (budget) that’s got a question mark around it, I would say it’s the $215 million,” Clark said on Monday. “Although, again, I expect that Springfield will continue acting responsibly and meeting their obligation.”

The district’s budget now exceeds $5.5 billion, and must now be updated and reapproved to reflect $55 million of extra expenses linked to the latest Chicago Teachers Union contract.

CPS is paying for those contract costs with additional money from special city taxing districts promised by Mayor Emanuel. (Juan Perez Jr.)

*New mayoral press secretary: Matt McGrath is the new press secretary for Mayor Emanuel. He’s fresh off helping Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth defeat one-term Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in the Nov. 8 election. McGrath, son of the great former Chicago Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath, has a long resume of working on Democratic campaigns.

“After nearly 15 years of constant campaign life and 8-month stays in cities big and small all across this great land, I’m really happy to be able to stay in Chicago and settle in one place, at least for a little while,” he wrote in an email to journalists Monday night.

And here he is on Twitter.

*Dibs, D.C.-style: Democratic U.S. Reps.-elect Brad Schneider of Deerfield and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg resume the orientation program in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The orientation started Nov. 14-16, but the proverbial pause button was hit before Thanksgiving week.

This week, there are member-elect briefings on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday, the much-awaited “room lottery” is held. The number drawn determines the order in which the newcomers put dibs on space in either the Cannon, Longworth or Rayburn House Office buildings.

Predictably, the new members inhabit the least desirable offices — or those farthest from the House floor — as others move up in seniority.

Schneider, who served in the House from 2013-15, enjoyed a privilege afforded other returnees and scored an early pick. The congressman-elect put dibs on Room 1432 in the Longworth Building. The suite now is occupied by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., who is moving to a larger space down the hall, according to an aide.

Krishnamoorthi, though, has to wait until Friday to put dibs on his future digs. (Katherine Skiba)

*Christmas, White House-style: You still may be polishing off turkey leftovers (or calculating how much you dropped on cybersales), but, like clockwork, the elves in the Executive Mansion seem to waste no time on either.

On Tuesday, volunteers from around the U.S. will help unveil the elaborate holiday decorations that festoon the president’s house with a small forest of Christmas trees, glistening lights, shimmery ornaments and breathtaking floral bouquets.

For the last time in her husband’s term, first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday afternoon will welcome members of the military and their little ones to view the extravagantly decorated public rooms. Then the kids get a crack at making holiday crafts and treats with the first lady, executive chef Cris Comerford, executive pastry chef Susan Morrison and chief floral designer Hedieh Ghaffarian.

Spoiler alert: First dogs Bo and Sunny usually join in the merrymaking. (Katherine Skiba)

 

Follow the money 

*City Treasurer Kurt Summers reported more than $23,000 from 11 donors, including $5,000 from a laborers union fund and $2,500 from a carpenters union.

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

 

Beyond Chicago

*Trump, Mitt Romney reality show-style courtship  continues over secretary of state job.

*Ohio State student identified as attacker in rampage that hurt 11.

*Trump threatens to roll back Obama’s Cuba policy.

*“Doomsday” for rebel bastion Aleppo as Syria nears turning point.

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