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Question of the day

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011

* I guess I should do a question before I return to my sick bed.

The setup, from the Tribune

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has denied requests for public records that might shed light on his decisions to raise vehicle fees and water rates and to legalize speeding camera tickets that could hit drivers with $100 fines.

It’s the latest in a pattern of records denials from the mayor, who proclaimed a new commitment to transparency at City Hall under his leadership.

After Emanuel this fall proposed a series of fee increases to help balance his budget, the Tribune filed requests for any internal City Hall documents to show how Emanuel came up with his plans to charge homeowners and drivers more, including emails, memos and any relevant contacts with outside companies or interests.

To date, the only internal document provided by the city is a PowerPoint demonstration on the need for water rate hikes, which consists mostly of background on the city’s water system. Some slides were removed by the city, which cited a broad exemption for “deliberative materials” under the Freedom of Information Act.

Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said the city identified about 1,300 relevant emails each for the speed camera and water rate issues, and about 700 emails relevant to the vehicle sticker increases. But the Emanuel administration refused to produce them on the grounds that it would be too much trouble to remove any opinions or deliberations that they say they are allowed to withhold from the public under state law.

* The Question: Was Mayor Emanuel right to reject this FOIA request? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


*** All-Day ScribbleLive News Updates ***

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011

* I’m not feeling well, so I’m going to take the rest of the morning off. BlackBerry users click here, iPad and iPhone users remember to use the “two-finger” scrolling method. Enjoy…

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


A “temporary impasse”?

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011

* You most certainly know about yesterday’s spectacular defeat of the tax cut bill in the House

Illinois lawmakers went home Tuesday night after hitting an impasse over a $250 million package of tax relief designed to keep several high-profile companies from leaving the state.

The Legislature could convene again when negotiators come up with a new version of the package, but there was no hint of whether that would take days or weeks or even longer. Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, suggested action could be delayed until spring without any problem.

Coming up with a more palatable plan could be difficult. While the Senate approved the tax package Tuesday, it failed in the House on a stunning 8-99 vote.

More

In the Senate version, families would get about $110 million in tax relief.

The standard personal exemption on income taxes, now $2,000, would be bumped to $2,050 and then increase with the rate of inflation in future years. The state version of the earned-income tax credit for poor families would rise to 10 percent of the federal credit, up from 5 percent.

The House version, which never came to a vote, didn’t link the personal exemption to inflation and offered an EITC of just 7.5 percent.

More

“At this point in time, we’ve reached a temporary impasse. It’s not going to happen tonight,” a subdued Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), a lead negotiator in the tax-relief push, said before the House adjourned for the day.

* The spinning began in earnest shortly after the bill was killed by the House

Senate GOP leader Christine Radogno, of Lemont, said a deal was not reached because of a “failure of leadership” on the part of Quinn.

“He was nowhere to be seen today,” she said.

Quinn brushed aside the criticism and said, “I think everybody should probably take a step back and understand that if you’re going to have any kind of tax relief package, it must have significant relief for working families raising kids and working hard. Unless that happens, there won’t be any tax relief.”

He also dismissed concerns that a failure to act would force the exchanges and Sears to leave the state, saying “there is ample time” to reach a deal.

* And so did the damage control

Mr. Cullerton noted that the CME-CBOE-Sears breaks would not take effect until July 1, and suggested that gives lawmakers time to finish a deal.

Though the companies reportedly are being courted by other states dangling large incentive packages, “I would suggest to them they should not take a rash action,” Mr. Cullerton told reporters.

Mr. Cullerton noted the Senate version of the bill passed with 36 votes, and other sources suggested that further talks in coming days could yield a deal.

But the legislative stalemate tosses the ball squarely back to the companies — particularly CME chief Terrence Duffy, who had wanted a deal by now.

* CME Group had no comment, but Sears issued a terse statement…

We are disappointed that, today, the legislature was not able to reach agreement and pass a package that will help us remain an Illinois company. It is our hope that lawmakers will achieve a compromise very soon as our timeline for making a decision about our future by the end of the year has not changed. We sincerely appreciate the efforts of many members of the General Assembly over the last several months on our behalf.

* Interesting data

To offset the corporate tax cuts, the Senate bill included more tax relief for lower income individuals.

“It’s important that we acknowledge the 99%,” said Sen. Kwame Raoul, (D) Chicago.

“These mammoth companies, they want $150 million as a gift from the state of Illinois, that’s taxpayer money,” said Rep. Monique Davis, (D) Chicago.

But the Illinois Policy Institute says the controversial tax credit would amount to only $7.50 a year to the average family.

“Meanwhile, remember they took $1,500 from the average family with that income tax increase earlier this year,” said Kristina Rasmussen, Illinois Policy Institute.

* Related…

* Video: John Bradley on CME impasse

* Video: Roger Eddy on CME, Dem Tax Hike

* Illinois House tests CME Group, Sears bluff

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      


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