So where does five equal nine?
In the Illinois General Assembly, naturally.
Or at least in a corner of it occupied by a certain House committee.
Last week, the House Executive Committee approved a bill authorizing the state to spend $100 million on a Barack Obama presidential library. Both Hawaii and New York also covet the library, so authorizing money for it is seen by some as crucial to keeping Illinois in the running.
The committee vote was 9-0. That’s kind of odd, since executive committees in both chambers are about as partisan as they come. Not a single Republican wanted to vote against this as either a waste of money the state doesn’t have or as a general anti-Obama statement?
It was also kind of odd because there were only five lawmakers, all Democrats, at the hearing.
The Democrats running the show came up with a neat little maneuver to “help” things along. They used something called an “attendance roll call” vote to come up with nine votes in favor of the bill when only five people were there.
Using an attendance roll call is not uncommon in committees. It’s usually employed on non-controversial bills when it is obvious all members will vote in favor of something.
The committee chair will ask whether there is permission to use an attendance roll call on a bill. If the top minority party member says it is OK, all the people on the committee that day will be listed as voting in favor of that bill, rather than calling each person by name.
It’s a way to save a little time on days when a lot of bills need to be considered.
The House Executive Committee put a new spin on the process. It didn’t use the attendance from the Thursday meeting on the Obama library bill (which was five), but the attendance from the committee meeting on Wednesday when nine people were present. The Wednesday committee hearing was an all-day affair on gambling expansion, an altogether more interesting topic.
Thus, the bill authorizing money for the Obama library was approved. At least two Republicans listed as voting for the bill were furious and issued statements expressing their outrage, since neither was at the meeting.
House Democrats just shrugged and said if it would make everyone happy to have another vote on the bill, they might think about it. Why not? The committee is tightly controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, so there’s no question a bill he wants is going to fly out of it.
Since the end result will be the same, you have to wonder why the Democrats had to play a silly political game in the process.
raise big bucks
This is going to be a monumentally expensive campaign for governor this year. Just look at the most recent campaign disclosure reports filed by Gov. Pat Quinn and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.
The reports cover fundraising and spending from January through March of this year.
The good news for Quinn was that he had $8.8 million available to spend at the end of March. Rauner had just less than $1.4 million left to spend.
This isn’t surprising. Rauner was involved in a four-way primary for the Republican nomination. Quinn could save his money because he had a single opponent who didn’t require much effort or expense to sweep away.
Here’s the bad news for Quinn. During that 3-month period, Rauner reported raising about $9.2 million. Of that, $5.3 million came out of his own pocket. During the same reporting period, Quinn said he raised about $4.9 million.
In other words, Quinn raised less money than Rauner put into his own campaign out of his own deep pockets. And those Rauner contributions to himself probably put barely a dent in his personal finances.