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Mom testifies about how the impasse almost killed her baby

Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

* Remember the story last month about a state employee whose infant son required on oxygen machine to live, but the state insurance program didn’t pay the provider and the county sheriffs showed up to repossess the machine? The machine wasn’t repossessed (I’m told the deputies called in to headquarters and were told to get the heck out of there) and a new oxygen machine provider was found.

Anyway, that mom, Kenea Williams, testified yesterday at a House committee hearing and she brought her little son Kobe with her. Jordan Abudayyeh filed this report

Lawmakers in the House appropriation committee heard requests Wednesday from state agencies focusing on numbers and cents.

But for the people stuck in the middle of the budget crisis, the politics are personal.

Kobe Williams is 15-months-old and has a condition that leaves him unable to breathe without his oxygen tank.
“Kobe has bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which he needs and requires treatment of oxygen supplementation,” Kenea Williams, Kobe’s mother, said.

Kobe’s mother is a state worker who covers his medical expenses under her state healthcare plan.

“I pay my premiums,” Williams said. “I do my part. Now I feel like the state needs to do their part. They need to pay their bills.”

Without a budget, the state can’t pay all of its bills on time and companies are cutting off patients on the state health plan.

After pleading by Kenea, she says they left the equipment until she could get everything from another provider.

But that provider is 50 miles away from her home and she said she fears the same thing will happen again.

“Eventually, with them losing payment we will lose them also, and I’m out of options,” Williams said.

* More from WCIA

Williams did not have a lot of options. Hundreds of providers around the state leave notices on doors telling customers they cannot accept some payments or they have to pay up-front.

It’s making people, like Williams, scramble for solutions.

“A struggle. I mean, it was an embarrassment.”

Williams eventually found another company to help her son continue to breathe, but the fear of this happening again, haunts her.

Williams and her son made the trip to the Capitol Wednesday to share their story with lawmakers. She says she hopes she made an impact to speed up the process for others in similar situations.

I hope so, too, but I really doubt it.

* Our good friend Dave Dahl was also at the hearing yesterday and he graciously sent me this raw audio of Ms. Williams’ testimony

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

Rauner says terror attack here “just a matter of time” so “we’ve got to be ready”

Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

* CBS 2

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday that an attack by terrorists in the state is “just a matter of time.”

Rauner made his remarks a few hours after the rampage outside Parliament in London, which killed four and injured nearly two dozen. British authorities believe that attack was an act of terrorism.

“My view? It’s just a matter of time,” Rauner said at a meeting of the Illinois Terror Task Force in Springfield. “There’s a lot of bad people around. And we’ve got to be ready. And that’s what you guys do, and I want to say, thank you.” […]

Past plots involving Chicago include the aborted attack on the Willis Tower; the explosive copier cartridges destined for Chicago but intercepted in Yemen; and the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who flew to Detroit on Christmas 2009, because airfares to Chicago were too high.

* More

“There is no domestic correlation or link to Chicago as of yet but we are continuing to monitor the situation,” Chicago Police Department.

“No credible threats on the local level,” Cook County Homeland Security.

“FBI Chicago has no credible threats to the Chicago area at this time. We continue to work with our local, state, and Federal partners to address any potential, credible threat to the area.”

“Cook County Courthouses were placed on heightened security today and will remain in place for the foreseeable future,” Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Be vigilant, be safe.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Illinois ranks in the middle of the pack on “innovation”

Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

* From Diana Popa at WalletHub…

Hi Rich,

With President Donald Trump proposing the deepest budget cuts to federal research and development in history for FY 2018, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Most & Least Innovative States.

In order to give credit to the states that have contributed the most to America’s innovative success, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 18 key metrics. The data set ranges from share of STEM professionals to R&D spending per capita to average Internet speed.

Innovation in Illinois (1=Most Innovative, 25=Avg.):

    26th – Share of STEM Professionals
    27th – Projected STEM-Job Demand by 2020
    36th – Eighth-Grade Math & Science Performance
    31st – Share of Science & Engineering Graduates Aged 25+
    13th – Share of Technology Companies
    19th – R&D Spending per Capita
    22nd – Avg. Internet Speed
    13th – Venture-Capital Funding per Capita

We can most easily do something about that internet speed issue. Some of the other problems, like science and engineering graduates, are more long-term issues, but they can and should be addressed as well. Also, the state’s R&D tax credit ought to be made permanent. But, you know, we’re gonna need a real budget first.

The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

More CPS finger-pointing

Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

* Sun-Times

As the stalemate over Chicago Public Schools funding persists, Wednesday’s CPS board meeting saw more rhetoric, with the school district and the state continuing to lay blame at each other’s feet.

“Yesterday, Governor [Bruce] Rauner, in a statement of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ absurdity, blamed the city for the immediate financial crisis that threatens to close our school doors early,” CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said.

Claypool has said CPS may have to close on June 1, as opposed to June 20, unless the district receives more money from the state to fill a $215 million budget hole.

Rauner’s administration fired right back.

* Tribune

Claypool said the district’s latest fiscal emergency was caused solely by Rauner’s veto of a measure that would have provided the $215 million.

“He is only threatening to take away critical school days for CPS students. He is only threatening to take away textbooks and after school programs for children of color in the state’s largest school district.”

State Education Secretary Beth Purvis, in a statement, continued to urge Claypool to get behind a legislative effort promoted by the governor to both overhaul state pension systems and secure funding for the district. The governor has said he vetoed the measure to aid to CPS because it was not tied to broader pension reform.

“Look in the mirror, Mr. Claypool. You presented a budget to your board knowing that it spent $215 million more than the General Assembly appropriated,” Purvis said. “As CEO, you knew that the additional money was dependent on the passage of statewide pension reform.”

It’s like watching a tennis match. Kinda tiring, too.

* ABC 7

Some teachers, union members and parents that don’t want Chicago schools to close early this year voiced their opinions.

“I’m not here to say who is right or wrong, knock it off, get these kids educated, keep Chicago Public Schools Open,” Diane Palmer, SEIU, said. […]

“What are we doing? We need to make plans. Are we having school in June or not?” Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teacher’s Union vice president, said.

At Wednesday’s school board meeting, Claypool gave no indication about his plans.

* Related…

* Cash-Strapped CPS Green-Lights Nearly $300 Million In School Construction Projects

* Chicago Teachers Having ‘Hard Discussion’ Before Upcoming Strike Vote

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

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Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

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Pritzker oppo dump goes back 30 years

Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

* Politico

Billionaire J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotel empire and who was named one of the wealthiest people in the world this week, once pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of writing a “worthless check.” […]

The check was written in June of 1986 for the amount of $60.46.

Two years later, he was charged with writing a bad check for an even smaller figure: $17.72, records show. The charge involving the second check, written to Big Star, a grocery story chain at the time, was dismissed. The second charge came in 1988, but records show the check was written in July of 1985. […]

An official with Pritzker’s exploratory committee for governor said Pritzker, then a college student, had written the check and later closed his bank account. The check was cashed after the account closed, the official said.

The documents are here.

The Republicans, by the way, flatly denied to me this morning that they leaked this. I’ve been hearing whispers for weeks from both parties that there was something “obvious” in Pritzker’s oppo file.

* There are two ways of looking at this. 1) A guy screwed up when he was in college thirty long years ago and got prosecuted over an incredibly minor thing; or 2) An heir to a billion-dollar fortune kited checks, so how trustworthy can he be?

Also remember that Speaker Madigan often pointed out the felony and misdemeanor record of his vanquished 2016 primary opponent Jason Gonzalez, who’d received a full gubernatorial pardon from Pat Quinn.

* Meanwhile, this is from the other day

J.B. Pritzker has hired Anne Caprara - who served as executive director of Priorities USA, the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC - to help lead Pritzker’s exploratory efforts for governor. Caprara would move to campaign manager if he decides to run, a Pritzker source confirmed.

“She managed a multi million-dollar budget and a professional political staff focused on the 2016 Presidential election,” Caprara’s bio on Huffington Post says. “Before coming to Priorities, Anne served as the Vice President of Campaigns at EMILY’s List. In 2014, Anne was political director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, helping to oversee Senate races in 33 states. In 2011 and 2012, Anne served as the DSCC’s Deputy Political Director, covering all Senate races east of Wisconsin.”

TAKEAWAY - The billionaire (named by Forbes just Monday as among the wealthiest in Illinois - and the world) is looking in and outside of Illinois to recruit who the top campaign strategists in the nation. But is Pritzker already moving too slowly in this race? While Pritzker announced an exploratory committee last week via an email statement, he’s remained quiet. Each week, another candidate either enters the fray or trumpets a populist platform that threatens to steal his thunder. The danger he faces is becoming viewed as too Clintonesque, presuming that because of his access to money, the race is his.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

* Today’s post is sponsored by the American Heart Association of Illinois. Follow along in real time with ScribbleLive

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Thursday, Mar 23, 2017

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* Mom testifies about how the impasse almost killed her baby
* Rauner says terror attack here "just a matter of time" so "we've got to be ready"
* Illinois ranks in the middle of the pack on "innovation"
* More CPS finger-pointing
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* Pritzker oppo dump goes back 30 years
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

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