You might have heard about a recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll that found that Governor Bruce Rauner’s job disapproval ratings have almost doubled in the past two years, from 31 percent in March 2015 to 58 percent this month. According to the poll, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s current disapproval rating is 61 percent, about the same as his 63-percent disapproval rating last October. Rauner’s disapproval rating last October was 55 percent.

During this long governmental impasse, Madigan has championed the cause of unions and working people against the governor’s attempts to take rights and benefits away from them. But the Democrat is actually underwater with union members. According to the Simon poll, 55 percent of respondents who said they belong to a union disapprove of Madigan’s job performance, including 38 percent who strongly disapprove. Just 34 percent of union members approve of his job performance, while only 12 percent strongly approve. All this pain and they still don’t like him.

But union members dislike the governor far more. The poll found that 72 percent of union members disapprove of Rauner’s job performance, and half of union members strongly disapprove. Only 24 percent approve. On Rauner, anyway, the union message has gotten out.

Question the timing all you want, but last week’s legal filing by Attorney General Lisa Madigan to stop paying state-employee wages without an official appropriation is long overdue and is completely consistent with a 2016 Illinois Supreme Court ruling and with her (and the governor’s) opposition to a lawsuit brought by social-service providers.

If I had to choose a word to describe the Democrats’ nominating speeches for House Speaker Michael Madigan’s re-election last week, it would be either “defensive” or “joyless.”

The speeches seemed directly aimed at Madigan’s toughest critics – and there are plenty of those out there. The nominators at times angrily justified their own votes for Madigan and their continued willingness to support him while under siege by a hostile kabillionaire governor and much of the state’s media. They literally cannot go anywhere without being asked about why they continue to back Madigan.

Governor Bruce Rauner was asked last month by a Chicago TV reporter if he planned to run for re-election. Rauner said he wasn’t focused on such things.

Three days later, Rauner contributed $50-million to his own campaign fund.

Top folks in the governor’s office said they didn’t quite understand last week why the Senate Democrats and the spokesperson for House Speaker Michael Madigan were so upset with them about canceling last Thursday’s leaders meeting to discuss ending the long Statehouse impasse and finishing up a budget.

I think on August 19 a new and brief window of opportunity opened that might finally help wrap up this long and drawn-out state-legislative overtime session.

But that window will only be open for 15 calendar days - the time the state Constitution gives each legislative chamber to vote on a veto override.

Allow me to explain.

I spoke with some Rauner folks last week and, man, are they ever on the warpath about the Senate's August 19 override of the governor's veto of the AFSCME bill - legislation that would prevent a strike by or lockout of state workers and would instead require binding arbitration after an impasse is reached. The House has 15 days from that date to take its own action.

Even though AFSCME has never invoked its binding-arbitration power with state corrections officers (who cannot strike by law), the governor and his people clearly see this bill as an intrusion on executive-branch powers.

House Speaker Michael Madigan told reporters earlier this month that he'd had a "frank discussion" with Governor Bruce Rauner, "and I gave him good, solid advice."

Word is that advice had two parts.

First, the governor needs to find a way to get himself out of this long overtime-session, no-state-budget mess.

Second, if the governor thinks he can get himself out of this mess by somehow breaking the speaker's will, he's mistaken.

But the governor isn't giving up. In fact, he's doubled down.

The Illinois Education Association (IEA) has always leaned more Republican than its Illinois Federation of Teachers counterpart, but the IEA's endorsement of one GOP candidate raised a few eyebrows this year.

Conservative state Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) was endorsed by the IEA last month. The Illinois AFL-CIO assigns the Metro East legislator a rating of 36 percent so far this session. The Illinois Federation of Teachers, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, endorsed Kay's Democratic opponent, Cullen L. Cullen. The IEA is not an AFL-CIO union.

The Kay endorsement is not what you'd call an everyday occurrence. Yes, the IEA endorses a fair number of Republicans, but it's well-documented that Kay was on friendly terms with the Tea Party when he was first elected in 2010, and the IEA is not enamored with that bunch.

Some recent Chicago Tribune poll results appear to indicate that support for raising the minimum wage in the state's largest city may be enough to increase voter turnout for a non-binding November ballot referendum.

The poll found that 84 percent of registered Chicago voters support a city-task-force recommendation to increase the minimum wage to $13 per hour over the next three years. According to the poll, 78 percent of whites and 92 percent of African Americans and even 71 percent of Chicagoans making more than $100,000 a year back the plan.

Democrats have been hoping to use the referendum - which asks about raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour - as a tool to help spur turnout in what is rapidly developing into a big Republican year. And with the Tribune's numbers backing a much higher minimum wage, it does seem likely that the issue can be effective, particularly among African Americans. Support above 70 to 80 percent is generally seen as having a ballot impact. Get above 90 and it's sure to drive votes. Then again, the comparatively "stingy" state-ballot proposal, when compared to the Chicago proposal, might garner less enthusiasm.

The rich irony of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan denouncing somebody for attempting to be a "king-maker" is so obvious and laughable that I can't help but wonder why a guy who's been a take-no-prisoners king-maker himself for so long in this state would ever think of saying such a thing.

You may already know the story. The Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun-Times took a look at some of Madigan's campaign petition-passers to see if they had government jobs.

What they found wasn't surprising at all. Seventeen of 30 people who passed Madigan's nominating petitions worked for the government. Another 12 had at one time worked for the government.

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