Our Pledge To You


Senate president: budgetary bleeding stopped, infusion still needed

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton speaks to the City Club of Chicago at Maggiano's, Thursday morning. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

It was bloody.

“It took two years and an insurrection to stop the bleeding,” Senate President John Cullerton told Sneed the day after a 700-plus day budget fiasco ended.

“The bleeding may have been stopped, but an infusion is still needed and the patient is still in the hospital dealing with the pain of debt.”

There’s more.

“And even though the patient finally has the stability to recover, its recovery is based on electing a new governor,” added Cullerton, who talks with Mayor Rahm Emanuel “at least fives times a day.” The budget battle ended the close friendship between Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner.


In a freewheeling phone interview, Cullerton — who hails from a Chicago political dynasty of Illinois public service going back to 1873 (“more than the Burkes and the Daleys”) — laid the mantle of heroism on the shoulders of former Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, “who stood up to the governor and did the right thing,” he said.

“Look, I’m a passive-aggressive guy who is the eldest of nine kids, which taught me how to negotiate and that staying away from conflict means you can get more done,” Cullerton said.

“I don’t care about the power; it’s policy and not being a foil for [House Speaker] Mike Madigan and Rauner.

“Radogno is the hero of the session as well as the Dem caucus and the Republicans who joined us . . . like Bill Hain who is on chemo for cancer and just got out of the hospital and came to Springfield to vote!

“Radogno worked with me from the start and in the face of Republican threats. She is the one who insisted the House and Senate leaders all meet. The governor didn’t want us to!

“I’m hoping the governor learns a lesson from that, because we have overridden four of his bills in the last week with Republican help!”

So did Cullerton celebrate after the Illinois House narrowly voted Thursday to override Rauner’s veto of a tax measure hiking the personal tax rate that ended the budget impasse?

Well . . . “Yes” and “No.”

• The “Yes” part: “My wife Pam and I have been married  since 1979 — my entire legislative career, so she has had to live through phone calls and trips to Springfield,” Cullerton said.

“So I spent Thursday night at home with my wife and she was happy to have me there.”

• The “No” part: “It is hard to toast or celebrate because of all the collateral damage done for years because of the budget stalemate caused primarily by the governor,” Cullerton said.

“We did what we had to do. We stopped the damage from accumulating.”

Then he added: “Listen, nobody called me to thank us when we got the personal income tax rate dropped from 5 percent to 3.75 percent a few years ago. And even though the revenue bill will now increase to 4.95 percent — it’s still less than 5 percent.”

Cullerton is now heading to Providence, Rhode Island, Sunday to attend a meeting of state senate presidents, “many of whom are friends,” he said.

“Pam and I always look forward to it and were worried we’d have to miss it if we didn’t override the tax veto.”

I guess that’s how a policy wonk relaxes.

President Donald Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Hamburg, Germany. | Getty Images

The tower of Trump . . . 

Lean and mean?

Or big and bad?

• To wit: President Donald Trump may have sounded like an adoring underling when he told Russian President Vladimir Putin it was “an honor” to be with him when they met at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Friday.

• Click. Click. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, consider the photograph of the tall, heavyweight Trumpster snapped next to the bantamweight Putin, which made the Donald look like a tower of power.


Sneed is told a recent tally of anecdotal polling by Dems leading up to the override of Rauner’s tax veto Thursday shows the Democrats beating Rauner in the gubernatorial election by 15 percent.

Sneedlings . . . 

Saturday’s birthdays: Jaden Smith, 19; Sophia Bush, 35; and Milo Ventimiglia, 40. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Tom Hanks, 61; Courtney Love, 53; and Kevin O’Leary, 63.