Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Items from today's Crain's

Blagojevich vows $2B in cuts unless Madigan caves

I should ask, why should Madigan cave? If there are cuts to be made, then make the cuts.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday threatened to veto $2 billion of state spending — affecting just about every area of state government except for local school aid — unless House leaders relent and pass additional revenue measures by July 9.

But there was no sign that the ultimatum will work.

In a Chicago news conference, Mr. Blagojevich, as he has for several weeks, charged that the Legislature passed him a fiscal 2009 state budget with a $2-billion hole. He again blamed House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has refused to sign off on plans backed by the Senate to privatize the state lottery, authorize three more casinos and tap unreserved state funds.

The governor said he is not inclined to veto the entire state budget, which would force lawmakers back to Springfield to start over on a new spending plan. Instead, he outlined $2 billion in cuts he said he “probably” will make unless Mr. Madigan changes his mind.

Topping the list is Medicaid, with the governor saying he may have to ax $600 million in proposed spending, an action that would lengthen from 70 to 90 days the typical period needed for the state to pay a physician, hospital or other provider.

Social service agencies around the state likely would suffer a $260 million cut, Mr. Blagojevich said, with spending on mass transit and economic development to drop $257 million.

The governor said he likely could cut $500 million out of the operation of state government in the form of across-the-board reductions. While aid to local and elementary schools still would rise $500 million next year, schools would likely lose $110 for construction projects, he said.

Mr. Madigan’s spokesman said there are “substantial defects” with each of the revenue measures favored by the governor. “Absent some effort to fix the defects, I can’t imagine the Legislature would go along.”

Mr. Blagojevich asserted that the $2-billion hole is the largest budget deficit ever sent to any Illinois governor by the General Assembly.
Higher costs gnaw at Taste vendors

It's that time of year again!!!
This year’s Taste of Chicago festival is taking a bite out of restaurant budgets.

Food and fuel costs have soared since January, when restaurants wanting to set up shop at the Taste submitted applications outlining their menu items, portion sizes and prices.

So, as they confront rising costs, the restaurants have to live with menu prices that are locked in.

Ron Ruffolo, owner of Hashbrowns on Maxwell Street and a first-time participant, estimates he will spend up to 20% more than he originally budgeted to produce the four items — including sweet potato hashbrowns and french toast sticks — he’s offering at this year’s 10-day food festival, which kicks off Friday in Grant Park.

“The portions have to stay where they were when you submitted your application,” Mr. Ruffolo said. Since then, he estimates his costs for wheat, potatoes and eggs have “probably doubled.” Still, he says, he won’t lose money on the week.

According to Taste requirements, the average price for a restaurant’s items must be $3.75, and no item can cost more than $5.

The price controls mean the 74 restaurants participating in the Taste, now in its 28th year, will see slimmer margins in exchange for getting their names in front of millions of people.
Nat'l Urban League returning to Chicago
Chicago will host the National Urban League’s 2009 annual convention, marking a return to the city after at least three decades.

The annual convention, which expects to draw more than 10,000 participants, is typically held in July. This year’s convention is in Orlando, Fla.; the 2007 convention was in St. Louis.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson and National Urban League President Marc Morial are scheduled to announce details of next year’s event at a Wednesday morning press conference.

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