Few people thought that Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration could keep state operations running for a year without an actual state budget.

The Democrats got a bit of good news along with a load of bad news in a recent Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll. The news is particularly problematic for anyone who can be credibly connected to House Speaker Michael Madigan, whom voters overwhelming blame for the ongoing state-budget stalemate.

Muhammad Ali in 1966. Photo from the Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau.

As a nation, we have a tendency to sentimentalize cultural icons in death in a way that renders them nonthreatening, antiseptic, and easily digested by a society with an acute intolerance for anything controversial, politically incorrect, or marred by imperfection.

Near the top of any list of Illinois government’s many problems is that House Speaker Michael Madigan has made a decades-long game out of messing with the minds and agendas of our governors.

“12th Grade with Uncle Lar” is inspired by John DeLaPaz, a career educator who prepared thousands of youth for the real world with his straightforward manner.

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After what happened last week, it’s more clear than ever that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has no fear of what Governor Bruce Rauner could do to his members this fall. And Madigan has even less fear of what his members could do to him.

It has looked to me for a very long time that House Speaker Michael Madigan has been waiting for an existential state crisis to force Governor Bruce Rauner to back away from his anti-union, pro-business Turnaround Agenda so they can pass a “clean” state budget.

We saw some examples last week of why school-funding reform is so difficult to accomplish in Illinois.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin appeared with Governor Bruce Rauner at Lyons Township High School, which is in Durkin’s district. Durkin pointed out to reporters that the school would lose $1.9 million in state funding under the controversial school-funding-reform bill of Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

Leader Durkin also claimed that every school district in his House district would lose funding with Manar’s proposal. Chicago, he noted, would gain hundreds of millions of dollars. Durkin declared that he and his members could not and would not support a plan that shoveled big-time bucks at Chicago while cutting their own districts.

But that’s really the whole point of Manar’s plan. He wants to shift state funding from wealthier suburban districts such as those Durkin represents (14.2 percent of Lyons Township High School students are from low-income households) to districts that have high numbers of impoverished students (86 percent of Chicago Public Schools students are from low-income households). Manar wants a “hold harmless” provision to make sure no district loses money right away, but that’ll cost quite a bit of cash – which the state doesn’t currently have.

Durkin represents half of Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno’s district, so convincing both of those chamber leaders to sign off on a plan that takes state money away from their own schools is just as difficult as convincing the two Chicago Democrats who head up the House and Senate to agree to Rauner’s K-12 funding proposal that would reduce Chicago’s annual appropriation by $74 million.

Like I said, this ain’t easy.

With yet another poll showing plunging Downstate support for Governor Bruce Rauner in a Republican district and the intense Republican freakout over Donald Trump’s impending presidential nomination and its impact on independent suburban women, there appears to be a growing feeling among Democrats, particularly in the Illinois Senate, that they need to get out of the way to let the other party crash and burn.

The almost year-long state-government impasse is most definitely having an impact on Rauner’s poll numbers. Bernie Schoenburg reported in the State Journal-Register last week that a Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll of appointed Republican state Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’s Springfield-area district had Rauner upside down, with 37 percent approving of the way the governor is doing his job and 54 percent disapproving. Rauner won that district 58-37 in 2014, according to Illinois Election Data’s numbers. Basically Rauner’s numbers have flipped almost entirely.

Theresa Mah (D-Chicago) was never given much of a chance at winning the 2nd House District Democratic primary race on March 15 against a well-known political name who had a huge demographic advantage.

Mah was vying to be the first Asian-American legislator in state history. But the 2nd District was purposely drawn to include Chinatown to give Asian Americans only some “influence” in the district. In previous years, Chinatown and Asian-American neighborhoods were sliced up between several legislative districts, but the Democrats made a conscious decision to avoid a federal lawsuit against their map by creating an “influencer” district.

The census numbers show the 2nd has an Asian-American voting-age population of 23.5 percent, vastly smaller than the 53-percent Latino population. And the organization of Representative Eddie Acevedo (D-Chicago) had put another Asian American on the ballot to further muddy things on behalf of Acevedo’s son Alex, who was vying to replace him. But that put-up candidate was kicked off the ballot on February 1, and things went rapidly downhill from there.

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