Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Blagojevich Beachhead Budgeting and Speaker Mike

As the Governor was exiting via a long hallway at Robert Healy Elementary School yesterday, which he had used as a pol friendly platform to promote his new Supplemental Education Funding program, a few of the media [including me] tried to play that fun game: walk backwards at a brisk pace [like a Chicago Bears DB] so you can face the Governor as he walks out, video-tape the Governor and ask a few questions face to face [with one of the Governor’s nattily dressed security guys trying to muscle me out of the line of sight of the Governor, doing the old chest/shoulder bump routine. The move by the security guy probably should have drawn a flag, as he was more than five yards past where the play started].

But, it was clear that the Governor wanted to answer a few questions from me. What can I say—Doggone it, people like me. At the end of the hallway, instead of proceeding directly outside, Governor Blagojevich stopped, turned to me and we had this brief exchange [For a good summary of the Education Funding Plan that focuses in its commentary on the disappearance of the lottery pay-out funds to the State in 2025, see here]:
Jeff Berkowitz: Governor, you lose a billion dollars [as an education revenue source] in year five [FY-2011]. What do you do to replace that?

Governor Rod Blagojevich: We are going to get you more details on the plan, but just recognize what we have to do first and foremost is pass this bill and to do that we have a lot of stuff that has to happen before that. But--

Jeff Berkowitz: And you needed Rev. Meeks [working with you and for you] to stay elected?

Governor Rod Blagojevich: Let me say a couple of things.

Jeff Berkowitz: Is that right, though?

Governor Rod Blagojevich: One thing is very important; one thing actually that you should know. When you establish a beachhead in budgets and they are for good purposes and when you put more money for schools, you are essentially challenging future leaders and future general assemblies to keep building on that success. It’s awfully hard as a practical matter for them to then roll that back, especially when it comes to education funding.
Rich Miller, in today’s hard copy of Capitolfax, also notes that the revenue source for a billion dollars of education spending disappears, under the Governor’s Plan, in FY2011. Miller notes that whoever is Governor in that year would have to “somehow make up the difference,” making that probably “the biggest campaign issue is 2010, when [AG] Lisa Madigan, the Speaker’s daughter, is a likely candidate [for Governor].”

Rich Miller notes this in the context of Speaker Mike Madigan, who said yesterday, thru a spokesman, that he wants more information on the Plan before he takes a position. This is in contrast to Senate President Emil Jones, who was with the Governor yesterday, as a cheerleader, program speaker and supporter of the Plan.

Now, many seem to assume that Rod will not seek a second term, assuming he wins re-election, that is. They think perhaps he gets a VP nod in 2008, or maybe a 2009 Clinton Administration spot [Secretary of Education], or maybe he cashes out by joining the private sector. Me, I think maybe he seeks a third term. So, maybe it is an interesting Democratic Primary for Governor in 2010 between Lisa and Rod.

Rich Miller notes- Speaker Mike is thinking the Plan over. As the members of Chicago’s Democratic Royal Families, e.g., Daleys, Madigans, Hyneses, Lipinskis, Strogers, Jacksons, Burkes and Mell-Blago are all quick to say- if it were your daughter, wouldn’t you?
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at