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Girding for battle *** Updated x5 ***

Friday, Mar 30, 2007

* I had a long talk with a staunchly pro-labor southern Illinois Democrat last night who was surprised to learn that one of his local lumber yards - which employs 50 people - has gross receipts of about $5 million a year. One of his car dealers, who is threatening to move out of state if the governor’s gross receipts tax passes, had gross revenues last year of about $4.7 million. Both businessmen are furious about the GRT plan. The legislator is not exactly overjoyed with the governor right now and won’t be around when Blagojevich breezes through the area on his statewide bus tour next week.

So, this statement by the Illinois Education Association’s spokesman might be a bit optimistic

McBarron said that the teachers unions have plans to step up their campaign for the gross receipts tax next week when legislators return from Springfield to their districts.

“They’re going to be hearing from their constituents, and we feel confident that by the time they return to Springfield, many of them will feel much better about supporting the gross receipts tax,” McBarron said.

* The editorial page editor of the Rockford Register-Star makes a connection today between the GRT and skyrocketing downstate electric bills in a column about the Illinois Press Association’s opposition to the tax hike…

Advertising representatives at smaller newspapers, especially those served by Ameren, are having a tough time selling ads. Business owners say they have enough trouble paying utility bills that have almost doubled; they can’t buy ads, too. Throw in a new tax and those small businesses, and the newspapers in their communities, will struggle to survive.

You may see a lot more of that logic during the governor’s statewide bus tour next week.

* The Tribune is now noticing dissension within the Senate Democratic ranks since Senate President Emil Jones issued a statement saying he will never call the tax swap for a vote…

Senators in Jones’ own caucus are showing signs of rebellion and are chafing under a process where legislative leaders call most of the major shots.

Meeks suggested rank-and-file lawmakers are weary of “sitting on the bus in full gear while other people play the game.”

Key Hispanic senators also released a statement criticizing the Blagojevich proposal and praising legislation to reduce reliance on local property taxes for schools.

The Tribune often drives coverage in other papers and media outlets, so watch for this meme to finally begin spreading.

* And Phil Kadner makes a good point about the significance of HB 750 moving out of a committee yesterday…

But it never would have passed out of committee without a green light from House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

* More tax and spend stories…

* Harriet Meyer: Governor’s budget plan a boost for healthcare, education

* Joseph Persky, professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers: GRT is best option for raising revenues

* Governor’s ‘drive for healthcare’ goes to Quincy

* Doug Whitley: Governor’s new tax is bad policy

*** UPDATE *** Unlike the teachers unions, the Illinois PTA is supporting HB 750 as the “best way to provide fairer funding for schools.” No mention of the gross receipts tax on the organization’s front page

You are urged to call your representativesand senator next week to express our continuing support for H/S 750, as the best way to provide fairer funding for schools, while providing additional money for state needs by the fairest method.

[Hat tip: YDD in comments.]

*** UPDATE 2 *** From a press release…

On Monday April 2, at 1:30 the Illinois Press Association will host a teleconference with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Taxpayers Federation to address Governor Blagojevich’s proposed Gross Receipts Tax (GRT). Both Doug Whitley of the Illinois Chamber and Tom Johnson of the Taxpayers Federation will offer remarks for a few minutes and then take questions from IPA members.

The IPA encourages all members – publishers, editors and reporters — with questions or concerns about the proposed GRT to take part in this conference.

*** UPDATE 3 *** The biz groups opposed to the GRT have a new television ad. Watch it below…

*** UPDATE 4 *** Blagojevich GRT advisor Doug Kane is our newest blogger at Illinoize. Check out his first post here

We have been told so often over the past several decades that a state has to have a good business tax climate in order for its economy to grow, that we have begun to accept it as the truth.

*** UPDATE 5 *** Tom Kacich at the Champaign News-Gazette has a great blog and a very good post this afternoon about the governor’s upcoming stop in Danville. He wonders which state legislators might show up and then writes

And state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, said today that she still hasn’t taken a position because she still hasn’t seen the GRT legislation. “I don’t really talk about hypothetical situations,” she said. “I haven’t even seen what the proposal is yet so I can’t take a position on something I haven’t seen.’

In addition, she wasn’t aware that Blagojevich was going to stop in Danville on Thursday. “What you’re telling me is something I haven’t been told.”

Nice advance work by the governor’s office, I’d say.

What the heck is this guy doing? More House and Senate Dems are peeling off this idea every day, the business groups are running effective TV ads against it (I even saw one on ESPN last night) and statewide Democratic officials have come out against it. It looks like the teachers unions and a few other groups are going to be stuck driving over the cliff with the governor on this initiative.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - GettingJonesed - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 8:50 am:

    Apparently Harriet did not notice GodRod flatlined higher ed and program spending so there won’t be enough medicos to treat all those newly insured.

  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 9:07 am:

    With 200,000 members across Illinois, the Illinois PTA is dissing the Gross Receipts Tax and is throwing its weight behind HB 750:

    “You are urged to call your representatives and senator next week to express our continuing support for H/S 750, as the best way to provide fairer funding for schools, while providing additional money for state needs by the fairest method.”

    At last count, nearly 30 State Senators supported HB 750. Six support the Governor’s plan. Considering that the Governor’s borrowing plans mean his budget will require a veto-proof majority in both chambers, just as HB 750 will given the Gov’s threats, HB 750 is clearly the only viable alternative at this point.

    Meanwhile, word is that State Rep. Jay Hoffman, (who if memory serves voted in favor of the Edgar Plan in 1997) was working the House Education committee hard to try to stop HB 750 from passing, as was the Governor’s staff. Hoffman’s district would see millions of property tax relief under 750, but none under the Emil Jones-Blagojevich plan because Emil has made it clear that any property tax relief should go only to low-income communities, and Hoffman’s district is solidly middle class.

  3. - Re:‘drive for healthcare’ goes to Quincy - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 9:18 am:

    My family and I don’t have health care because the Governor and his administration screwed me out of my job with the State of Illinois 4 years ago. Five people do my job now!
    We’ll be waiting for our free health insurance/prescription cards in the mail.

  4. - Team Sleep - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 9:32 am:

    Of course Hoffman doesn’t want HB750 to pass. He does nothing for that district and seems to go against everything the people want. The level of corruption in Madison County is just as bad as it is Cook County, although it’s a much, much smaller area. They are being squeezed so bad by property taxes that many of the “poorer” areas in the Metro East are starting to boom. Both the St. Clair and Madison County Boards have passed taxes and fees on every housing construction and consultation service. People are steamed and Hoffman does nothing. Nice.

  5. - zatoichi - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 9:32 am:

    I am shocked, shocked to learn that state reps are surprised that their local lumber yards and car dealerships might have $5M in sales. At $20,000 a car, any dealership that sells 50 new cars a year (or one a week) is over the $1M limit. That seems a long way from being a huge corporate fat cat.

  6. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 9:37 am:

    Can you imagine just how much money we would get if we taxed each million Blagojevich has spent promoting himself and his legacy since 2002?

  7. - Truthful James - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 10:04 am:

    In addition to an earlier letter on the GRT, the now more frugal Gov was kind enough to send me a postcard.

    I have yet to see any supporters of the wisdom of our Governor to indicate, suggest, or mention that there might be wasted money in the current budget or spent last year. I guess everything was a necessity.

    Thank God we had the increased sales and income taxes last year from the Bush tax cuts and from owner refinancing of their homes to fund all those necessaries.

    I have news for everybody. That gravy train is stalling.

    The whole subprime mortgage industry is falling apart, people are seeing their homes slide into negative equity (no new refincancing possible) and althoughs old 5 year arms are coming to a reset of the rate. It ain’t a pretty picture.

    GRT means increased retail prices. HB750 means increased prices to the users of services.

    And there is still no fat or pork in the Governor’s budget?

  8. - Number 8 - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 10:09 am:

    Professor Persky’s piece should be given a good read. Its time that we have a non-political academic perspective on the GRT proposal. Everybody agrees that more revenue is needed to make heakth care affordable and to make education effective. All other tax proposals fall short of achieving those goals, not to mention that they are regressive. The GRT is fair and predictable and will generat enough revenue to ensure that Illinois provides the best environment for children to be healthy and to learn the skills needed to succeed in a global eonomy.

  9. - Dooley Dudright - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 10:17 am:

    I’ve got it. Make the Guv’s GRT bus tour a lab experiment (of sorts).

    Make him demonstrate precisely how the tax will work and be paid. Let’s see — for openers, there will be a tax on chartering the bus, right?

  10. - Cry-me-a-river - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 10:46 am:

    With all of this talk about money for “education” I would like some details on how it would be spent. Are we talking about actually supporting school construction projects and renovating some of our poorest school districts? If so, I am all for it. I suspect the teacher’s union is looking at large increases for teacher salaries and administrators. I will admit that some of these salaries are low, but a lot of teachers in this state are making a very good salary. The administrators are doing very well also. The salaries are available online and they look pretty good to me. I hope this money for “education” will be spent where it is needed… The teacher’s union has put all of its eggs in one basket on this one and I suspect there is some major teeth grinding going on supporting this governor.

  11. - Number 8 - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 10:49 am:

    Cry me a River, is it more acceptble for the head of Boeing to make $28 million per year than it is to pay a techer or, God forbid, an administrator, a decent salary? Why do you want to demonize the teachers by insinuating that they are reaping a fiscal windfall in their chosen profession?

    My guess is that the teachers support the GRT because it provides a steady and adequate revenue stream for the education of our kids. Whats the problem here?

  12. - Squideshi - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 11:13 am:

    The Illinois Green Party continues to support House Bill 750 over Blagojevich’s GRT proposal.

  13. - RMW Stanford - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 11:16 am:

    I never understood the claim that the GRT is some how more progressive than the income tax or even the sales. Most of the tax cost is going to end up in the cost of goods and services in the state and consumer that spend all or most of their income on goods and service, read the poor, will see a higher percentage of their income going indirectly to this tax. For that matter how is it progressive that two companies with the similar revenues but with widely different profit margins because of the industry that they are in, would be paying the same amount of taxes? How competitive is Illinois going to be in the global economy when it cost more to do business here and when the price of every good and service is higher?

  14. - Anon - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 11:48 am:

    Number 8,

    The superintendent of our school district makes 134,000 plus bonus each year. This does not include a car and other perks that she gets..The average teacher salary in our district is 54,000 for 9 months of work, with 2 weeks off at Christmas, 10 days off for spring break, only works till 2:30 on Mondays … ‘tenure’ after three years of employment (i.e. cannot be fired).. not bad for someone with a B.S. degree and a teacher certficate.

    Now, consider that the average salary of a family practitioner is about 140,000… the teacher does not need to worry about the 20+% increase in malpractice insurance each year.. pay off 160,000 worth of medical school debt (40,000 a year)…. work 80-100 hours a week for 20,000 -25,000 for four years during internship/residency ….

    all this to be told you are a ‘fat cat’ not paying ‘your share’.. while we give the superintendent of district yet another perk and raise?

    The PROBLEM is that we consistently throw more and more money at ‘education’ without holding anyone accountable .. In the REAL working world everyone is held accountable for the salary they make .. but not government employees or teachers (same thing).

    For example, New York City spends the most money on public education per student in the USA, some 14,000 per student, yet has a 45% high school drop out rate… More money is the answer for poor schools?? Show me the evidence where these correlate much less prove causation? How is it that parochial and charter school can provide a much better education to children for a fraction of the cost of a public school…the spending at a private institution is now on par with what is spent at a public school… the bottom line is that there will never be enough ‘money’ to satisfy the public school unions.. they need to learn how to be more productive and live within their means like other businesses have.

  15. - Cassandra - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 12:27 pm:

    I’m not convinced that an expanded income tax tax credit will protect lower income residents from the effects of a 2 percent income tax increase in HB 750. It will depend on where they live. If they live in more affluent communities (many struggle and do so) and those communities do not benefit from extra school monies under 750, their residents’ property taxes will soon go up, not down. An income tax increase is forever, though, very unlikely to go back down in a blue state.

    Business have been quick to provide data on specifically how they believe GRT will affect them. We individual taxpayers need to develop similar caclulations, not depend on the promises of advocacy groups and politicians.

  16. - Truthful James - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 1:35 pm:

    No. 8

    The simple point is that Boeing is not in a monopoly business, that it must put out good products to survive and the executive salaries should reflect that. How many people would be out of a job if the products were uncompetitive. How many people rely on Boeing dividends or interest paid on their bonds. Is $23 Million the right number? somebody decided it was and it had to be that he delivered at least that much and more value to the Company — its employees and its owners, the shareholders.

    As for the Educationists, I doubt that anybody would object to whatever the District and the taxpayers felt was appropriate, provided that Value was added. The schools are underproductive.

    I devoutly wish that there was some way to change matters. It comes down to this. The Public Schools have a monopoly on public education money and the money never stops

    (I get the feeling that nobody is reading what other people write. So here we go again.)

    Before you toss money at any project in any field, please determine the proposed use and what the probable outcome would be.

    And you might also look at what the results of past money tossing were, as a predictor of future performance.

    The key objective would be to increase the quality of Education — the Value, if you will.

    To do that one has to set standards and measure performance. Regretfully, the standards are set with a rubber ruler by the very people who have a vested interest in the outcome.

    Week by week we are finding out that the ISBE, the supposed standards enforcer has gamed the testing system to make it appear as if higher quality is being delivered (dumbing down the tests and norming up the results.) It has also lowered the entry bar for incoming teachers in subject matter areas. Scarce improvement has been observed in spite of the fact that teachers actively teach the State exams rather than rely on the fruits of their labors.

    The Public education system is a Potemkin Village, great facades, but hovels behind.

    It is a great game played by the ISBE, the Teachers Unions, the Schools of Education and the legislature, which craves the monetary and voting support of the unions, as well as the ability of the teachers to affect the parents.

    The flim flam fools the parents. That result is sad. But it becomes worse when compared with permitting the shoddy output which our colleges and the work force are getting.

    Look at the remediation colleges are requiring entering high school graduates to take. Those extra hours are one reason — an an expensive reason it is — it takes more than the usual four years to get a B.A. or B.S.

    Look also at the ACT people this week tightening up on the supposed Advanced Placement Classes which are supposed to enable students to obtain college credits.

    And look at the international rankings of our AP curriculum as opposed to that of other countries. American high schools rank in the bottom percentiles — and that is using our best teachers.

    So on the one side we have the ISBE winking and nodding. On the other side we have the colleges, the businesses which hire high school graduates and the stiff international measuring stick. Which side do you take?

    How did it come to this?

    The system is a closed loop and needs to be busted open as Steve Jobs did when he threw the hammer and busted the Microsoft monopoly making way for Apple. Mr. Jobs, by the way, is a loud critic of public education, as is Mr. Gates

    More pertinently, in postwar America, our car companies had a monopoly of production. Over time, Quality took a rumble seat. We improved American car quality when foreign manufacturers built autos here.

    We have fallen well behind the world and all you can think is that more money to build new Potemkin Villages is the only answer. Rest assured, that is all the betterment more money will get.

    Look at the roster of teachers in your District. The records will show that very few majored in the subject they teach, let alone a joint degree in a subject area and in education. Look at how few have an advanced degree in that subject area, when it is much easier to take fifteen units of education courses each summer and get an automatic raise as well as a longevity raise.

    Subject matter mastery should come first. Most Districts rely on a term called Content mastery. Content refers to the textbook being used. as in keeping one chapter ahead of the students.

    The teachers, no matter how much love they have for their pupils, are underqualified. Cutting class sizes only creates a demand for more similarly underqualified union teachers. If we now employ the best, what of the rest?

    And what waste we have seen in the Education process.

    We took a good phonics system and junked it for ‘whole words’ and now we have had to put it back. It was simpler to teach whole words.

    We took a good math system and junked it, replacing it with fuzzy math. Now we are junking that, thank God.

    What Frankenstein change will we be making next, because it is easier for the teachers?

    We have created by our education system more than two generations of the underclass which does not believe now that Education was either an economic or a social good. They discourage their children and have not the ability present in most families to school the basics in their children before the formal school begins.

    We found that the advantages of Head Start can be lost over two years. Now we want to lower the education process to the three year old. There will be temporary gains, but against the backdrop of the parents described above and the street environment much will be lost once more.

    Anybody who starts and runs a business wants competency in their employess and is willing to train to get it. The schools have failed here too.

    Are parents getting Value for their money. To judge by the demand for charter schools and vouchers the answer is a resounding no. If that does not tell you that something is rotten in the Education system, nothing will.

    To solve the problem, do not build higher sides on the box to hold more money. Rather, open the box to competition from charter schools and even from other qualified private schools by using vouchers.

    The legislature argues about funding, the State hires Augenblick and Myers to do a regression analysis to show that $X will bring our students up to snuff. A&M have done this many times. Did the additional Title I money get better results? Or did it allow the Districts to balloon the salaries of teachers over the three years before retirement — maximizing the pensions which the State must pay? What improvements did the balloons bring, or are they so much hot air?

    Ask, A&M, the EFAB and the ISBE if the analysis uses teacher qualification as a variable or set of variables. I think you know what the answer will be.

    Forget about comparing Apples and Oranges. The only thing that counts is Value.

    And of course the General Assembly in its infinite wisdom does the local tax cap thing — but that is another matter — even as it raises the taxes which we all will pay, whther HB 750 or GRT. Has anybody thought this thing through?

  17. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 1:48 pm:

    Anon 11:48 -

    If you think teachers stop working just because the kids left the building, you should have your head examined. When do you think lesson plans and preparations take place? When do you think they grade homework? I don’t know of a teacher above the second grade level who doesn’t spend at least 3-4 hours every night preparing for the next day.

    As for superintendents’ salaries, I can understand people getting ticked off when their property taxes are rising 10% or more a year, then they learn that the superintendent is making $134,000 a year. On the otherhand, name a CEO of any sizeable organization who makes so little? “Non-profit” hospital CEO’s easily make $300K + a year.

    The bottom line is, if schools are going to compete with other public sector, non-profit, and private sector organizations for CEO’s the market will drive up their earnings.

    Maybe when the private sector stops piling millions onto its execs, that market pressure will come off.

    Of course, that shouldn’t stop us from firing bad school superintendents, and my bet is that doesn’t happen enough.

  18. - Doodles - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 2:41 pm:

    Some very good comments. Another question, should the state/taxpayers keep paying more and more for an education system that is largely controlled by local school boards? What guarantees are there that these local boards will wisely spend this largesse? Are superintendents’ salaries driven up because boards want to buy the best to worry about education so they occupy themselves with lesser matters? Any to those who always say, teachers work more than the school day — well lots of people work more than their official work day without more pay. So what?

  19. - 4% - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 2:53 pm:

    Simple statistics…

    Chicago Schools have received more than 1 billion in new money in the past decade.

    Today, for every 100 kids entering 9th grade in Chicago schools….

    Only 50 will graduate from HS

    Only 5 will graduate from college.

    More money is NOT the answer.

  20. - West of the Fox - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 2:54 pm:

    Looking for bad school superintendents you can start with Dr. Thomas D. Engler of Community Unit School District #115 of Yorkville, Illinois. Who is only interested in padding pension, abusing and short changing existing teachers.

  21. - RMW Stanford - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 3:06 pm:

    I agree money isnt the answer for all of the problems with the State’s educational system. While it might be the problem in some of the districts, there are many districts that have more than enough funds but are poorly managed and/or waste money. Some districts may need more money, but it is not a cure all, if the only answer anyone seems to come up with is just pumping more of it into the system we are going to end up doing the students of the state a disservice.

  22. - Truthful James - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 3:18 pm:

    RMW Stanford:

    Think of schooling as the three legged seat of knowledge on which the student sits. The legs are, the teachers, the parents, the taxpayers. It has to be balanced. See my comment about the parents who no longer believe in Education as the key to the future (an Economic Good) We are going to have to rescue them as well.

    What scares me is that without education, interclass mobility is a seldom thing.

    Is that Stanford for the University? FYI I am ‘53.

  23. - Arlington Hts. - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 3:27 pm:

    High paid school administrators are the problem, not the teachers, students.

  24. - Anon - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 4:23 pm:

    ydd 1:48 p.m.,

    I would expect all professionals to put in extra time after their workday fininshed, in fact that is the justification for the Monday ’short day’ in our district…and your point is…..

    I would like to see more competition placed in the elementary education field because the parochial schools, charter schools, and private schools provide a much better education (in terms of test results) with less funding. Yet the teachers’ salaries in these schools must be competitive with the public schools or they would not survive. However, everytime any competition is discussed for the elementary school marketplace it is quickly silenced by the teachers’ unions etc. If they really cared for the children, give them other educational choices …. but no … that would take away money from the teachers’ union coffer!

    Case in point is the bill recently introduced to limit the charter schools in the Chicago Public School system because they were becomming too popular!! These people cannot truly be concerned about children and education, but rather are more focused on power, money and control. It is sad.

  25. - Team Sleep - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 4:25 pm:

    I graduated from a very poor school, and I would bet it was one of the poorest districts overall in the state. However, we turned out a lot of college students and skilled tradesman. Why? Our parents were great and our teachers actually cared. Plus, other than the schoolboard and our super who made about $135K, a lot of the parents realized that more money and property taxes weren’t the answer. The answer was putting your nose the grind and suffering the consequences of failing your classes. If you had to take out a loan or go to a worse school than you wanted, you bit the bullet and went for it. That’s how you become a success.

    More money for schools only leads to more money for the teachers unions which in turn puts more money in the hands of the politicians.

    There, I solved it for you.

  26. - Gretchen L. McDowell - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 4:44 pm:

    ” Funding Our Public Schools”
    “The Illinois PTA will continue to seek legislative action that is designed to provide long-term, sustainable funding which fosters equity, respects local control, encourages improved teaching and learning, provides property tax relief, and addresses both the structural deficit and under-funded pension issues.”
    ” We will study the details of any plan that is presented to determne how it aligns with these principles, which are outlined in our Legislation Plantform, and take a position based on those principles. ”

    In a message dated 3/30/2007 12:40:57 PM Central Standard Time, BarbQuinnILPTA writes:
    Hi all,
    Thanks to John for giving us the head’s up on this. Perhaps we should post our statement saying (Gretchen had me read at BF4BS last week) citing our criteria for determining whether or not we support a particular plan. I would bet G. has that on her computer, and we can put that up with our support statement for 750.
    ” Funding Our Public Schools”
    “The Illinois PTA will continue to seek legislative action that is designed to provide long-term, sustainable funding which fosters equity, respects local control, encourages improved teaching and learning, provides property tax relief, and addresses both the structural deficit and under-funded pension issues.”
    ” We will study the details of any plan that is presented to determne how it aligns with these principles, which are outlined in our Legislation Platform, and take a position based on those principles. “

  27. - Gretchen L. McDowell - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 4:46 pm:

    ” Funding Our Public Schools”
    “The Illinois PTA will continue to seek legislative action that is designed to provide long-term, sustainable funding which fosters equity, respects local control, encourages improved teaching and learning, provides property tax relief, and addresses both the structural deficit and under-funded pension issues.”
    ” We will study the details of any plan that is presented to determne how it aligns with these principles, which are outlined in our Legislation Platform, and take a position based on those principles. ” This is the Illinois PTA shorthand statement on school funding. H/S 750 meets these criteria, and the Illinois PTA has supported this legislation since it was introduced.

  28. - bluedog demo - Friday, Mar 30, 07 @ 8:04 pm:

    Throwing more money at the schools in America is NOT the cure all answer. Parental and Guardian accountability is what is missing in today’s educational world. We have teachers spending way to much time addressing societal problems before they even get around to the 3 R’s. When school employees are always WRONG and the parents along with little Johnie and Suzie are always right then it is most difficult to make headway in the school house. Don’t believe the Chinese and Indians are spending the per pupil dollars that we do yet they are catching and passing us at every turn !

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        * County clerks prepare for Election Day - Saukva.....
        * A tale of two budgets - Jacksonville Journal-Co.....
        * Gov. Quinn says state EPA will block PCBs from .....

        * Giant ketchup bottle draws tourists in Illinois
        * Chicago police officer wins discrimination suit
        * Giant ketchup bottle draws tourists in Illinois
        * No bond for 2 Chicago men accused of shooting boy
        * APNewsBreak: Illinois: Doctor faked pot paperwork
        * Quinn says state EPA will block PCBs from landfill
        * Illinois fair managers fined for free beer tickets
        * Cool summer keeping West Nile in check in Illinois
        * Illinois communities scramble to find road salt
        * Illinois coal exports dip in 2013 after sharp rise

        * Illinois State Fair manager fined by ethics commission for accepting free beer tickets
        * Sangamon County on its own for road salt
        * Sangamon County on its own for winter road salt
        * Lawyers will push to speed up pension reform ruling
        * Quinn says state EPA will block PCBs from Clinton landfill
        * State appeals court upholds FutureGen power agreement
        * Concealed carry rules tough on out-of-state residents
        * Regulators say Illinois doctor faked pot paperwork
        * Quinn aide: Court rulings don’t jeopardize federal health-care subsidies
        * Illinois communities scramble to find road salt

        * Illinois Medicaid restricts who can get 'game-changing' hepatitis drug
        * Illinois regulators say suburban Chicago doctor faked pot paperwork
        * Quinn turns up the volume on corporate HQ inversions: Ban 'em
        * Road salt in July? Illinois towns scrambling now for winter supplies
        * Inspector General: Metra workers falsified time sheets

        * Watchdog needs independence
        * West Side alderman rips Emanuel for missing Shamiya Adams’ funeral
        * Architectural team for Lucas museum includes woman behind Aqua Tower
        * Despite DUI convictions, ex-deputy keeps job, could retire with full pension
        * State Police: Ald. Rey Colon pulled over on Ike, accused of DUI
        * City to pay $1.2M to family of prep sports star fatally shot by cop
        * Ethics panel raps fair directors for violating ban on gifts
        * Police marine unit plucks woman from lake after watercraft flips
        * Addison woman, 2 daughters shot during robbery in Hammond
        * $2 million bail for man charged in fatal shooting of cabdriver

        * Police: Teen shot on West Side, man wounded in South Side robbery
        * State watchdog faults Metra for falsifying work logs
        * State watchdog faults Metra for falsifying work logs
        * Father of boy who drowned at McKinley Park pool sues Chicago Park District
        * FOP seeks to halt release of internal police misconduct files
        * Jury acquits man in fatal shooting of former Simeon, Eastern Michigan football star
        * Motorcyclist, 23, dies during Schaumburg crash
        * Cops: Concealed carry permit holder shoots at armed robbery suspect
        * Man sentenced to 2 life terms for killing pregnant woman
        * Palatine man dies 10 days after altercation outside bar

        * State Fair Officials Fined For Violating Gift Ban...For Beer Tickets
        * Inspector General Finds Old Metra Practice Could Lead To Fatigued Conductors
        * Exoneree Diaries: "You've got anger issues, Dad."
        * Clout On The Business Side of Medical Marijuana
        * So, when is it Jane Byrne's turn?
        * State Police Cancels New Trooper Training, Citing Budget
        * Feds' Immigrant Numbers For Illinois May Not Tell Whole Story
        * Listen to State Week - July 25, 2014
        * Inspector General Discloses Political Hiring Investigation
        * Man Robbed By Fake Police On I-55

        * Sangamon County on its own for road salt
        * Illinois State Fair manager fined by ethics commission for accepting free beer tickets
        * Me Inc. offers plenty of dividends
        * Quinn says state EPA will block PCBs from Clinton landfill
        * Regulators say Illinois doctor faked pot paperwork
        * Illinois communities scramble to find road salt
        * New law expands state Holocaust Commission
        * Quinn, Rauner budget plans debatable
        * Angie Muhs: Who will be the next First Citizen?
        * Tony Leone: Put the ALPLM under federal control

        * Project will restore Moline wetlands
        * Judith Price
        * Charlotte Avchen
        * Richard Short
        * Elizabeth Black
        * Louise Henry
        * Coy Halfacer
        * Eva Stanton
        * Helen Waldron-Rowatt
        * Helen Johnston

        * White Sox second to none at first base
        * Competition gets Houston, Mills fired up
        * Cubs' Wada earns first big-league win
        * Cubs work out trade for Barney to Dodgers
        * Judge: Elgin Mental health escapee to get fitness test

        * Roskam 'doubling down' on fundraising - Ch...
        * Officials push for funds to finish West Ch...
        * DuPage leaders on W. Chicago thorium clean...
        * Rep. Roskam: IRS Budget Cuts Best Way to C...
        * ASK PETER: Building a 21st Century Workfor...
        * Bipartisan House Bill Would Boost Communit...
        * House approves measures to reform housing ...
        * Schock Calls for Investigation into Chicag...
        * Was Rauner consultant behind anti-Schock a...
        * Roskam 'doubling down' on fundraising - Ch...

        * Senators Disagree on Israel Response...
        * Senator Durbin: State of Illinois Takes De......
        * Senator Durbin: State of Illinois Takes De......
        * Senator Durbin: State of Illinois Takes De......
        * Senator Durbin: State of Illinois Takes De......

        * Kirk: Hamas must be defeated...

        * Never be late for a job interview...
        * New Progressive Political Group To Officially Launch In Chicago
        * Quinn To Participate In Minimum Wage Challenge
        * Poll: Madigan Slightly Ahead Of GOP Opponent In Attorney General Race
        * Meeting On Future Of Chicago's Dyett High School
        * Audience At Chicago Community Meeting On Future Of Dyett High School
        * Chicago Community Meeting On Future Of Dyett High School
        * Workers At Golan's Moving And Storage Company In Skokie Hit The Picket Lines For A New Contract
        * Report Says Surveillance Is Hampering Journalists
        * William McNary, of Citizen Action/Illinois, speaks Friday at a protest against Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner

        * Hoy Op-Ed on Immigration
        * Governor Quinn Reminds Drivers to Take Caution in Work Zones, Directs State Agencies to Redouble Efforts to Protect Public and Workers - Encourages Public to Increase Vigilance Following I-55 Tragedy
        * Governor Quinn's Statement on the Unpatriotic Corporate Tax Inversion Loophole
        * Governor Quinn Statement on Eid al-Fitr
        * Regulators Charge Chicago Area Doctor with Cannabis Violations

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