* Michael Randle is well on his way to being confirmed by the Senate…
Michael Randle, who was chosen by Gov. Pat Quinn in May to serve as director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, was on the hot seat Wednesday as members of the Illinois Senate Executive Appointments committee considered whether to recommend Randle to the $150,000-per-year post overseeing one of Illinois’ largest agencies.
State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, asked Randle about the results of an investigative report that accused Randle of not disclosing his personal relationship with college friend Keith Key when Randle was working in Ohio’s prison system.
The Ohio report notes Randle did not benefit financially from Key’s arrangement, but the deal cost taxpayers there about $40,000 in added costs. […]
“I would characterize it as not going a step further and actually reporting a relationship that started 25 years ago in college,” Randle told the panel.
The Executive Appointments Committee unanimously approved his nomination and sent it to the floor.
* Progress on mass transit funding…
State lawmakers today say they are negotiating a plan to cut back the blanket free ride privileges for seniors on Chicago area mass transit and replace it with a program that is restricted to people with lower incomes.
The proposal was outlined by Republican leaders following a morning meeting involving House and Senate leaders from both parties and Chicago transit officials. It has yet to be presented to rank and file lawmakers, but supports want to act on the plan this week during the remaining three days of the fall legislative session.
Under the proposal, the free ride program for all seniors would end March 1. After that, only seniors 65 and older who qualify for the state’s low-income Circuit Breaker program would be able to ride for free. For a single person, that translates to a maximum income of $22,218 a year.
The move is predicted to save the Regional Transit Authority an estimated $37 million, including $25 million for the Chicago Transit Authority, $10 million for Metra and $2 million for Pace. In addition, $8.5 million the Illinois Department of Transportation would have provided this year to offset the costs of the free rides would instead be used to help pay for paratransit, a door-to-door transit service for the disabled.
The House Executive Committee advanced the plan today, as well as this…
The House Executive Committee also approved a massive overhaul of state oversight of the cemetery industry. The 240-page bill was drafted in response to revelations that a Chicago-area cemetery dug up bodies and resold the grave sites.
The bill is drawing opposition from cemeteries owned by religious denominations, which said they will incur increased costs from the legislation while there is no evidence church-owned cemeteries have caused any problems.
Officials representing publicly owned cemeteries also expressed concerns about costs, including Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin.
* Most of us have known for many years now that Illinois is last or close to last in the number of state employees per capita. A new study by AFSCME shows we’re now just slightly behind Indiana…
What [AFSMCE] did is examine U.S. Census data on employment in the 50 states, and then compare it to the latest state population estimates. What he found is that Illinois, which has been reducing its employee headcount for several years and is threatening to do more cutting, actually ranks 49th in state employees per capita.
Yes, you read that right. Next to dead last, just above Indiana. In a country in which the average state employs 85 workers per 10,000 residents, Illinois has only 54, just a few tenths of a point ahead of cheapskate Indiana.
Moreover, according to the data, Illinois’ relative position has been dropping. The state ranked 47th in 2002, but since then has failed to replace a ton of workers who left in a 2002-03 early-retirement program.
* The Senate recessed to the call of the chair shortly after 1 o’clock. Both parties will caucus before committees meet. The House has delayed the scheduled noon session start until 2:30. Here are a couple of “Retweets” from my Twitter page…
@ILSenateGOP Sen. Righter will hold a press conference following the redistricting hearing this morning. [Presser] scheduled for 12:30
@melissahahn The Ill. Society of Civil Engineers was supposed to hold a news conf. here, but didn’t show up. Not very civil of them.
* Completely unrelated, but the Tribune is reporting that Chris Kelly died after injesting rat poison and a pain reliever.
* Compromise sought on STAR bonds: With a potential $200 million amusement park waiting in the wings, supporters of a major Metro East development now are banking on a compromise to get a key tax incentive plan through the Illinois Legislature. The issue is expected to come up in Springfield as early as today, the first day of the three-day veto session. Sources say parties are negotiating what is being dubbed the STAR Bonds Recapture Fund, a measure that would give Metro East communities a potential funding replacement for sales tax money lost with the implementation of a STAR bonds district.
* Durkin and Connelly move to overturn Quinn’s EO 09-15: Unless EO 09-15 is rescinded families who care for their seriously disabled family members in their own homes will be forced to ward off purple-t-shirted SEIU visitors and AFSCME phone calls every year. Despite the fact parents overwhelmingly voted against joining either union last Monday, Quinn’s EO 09-15 opens the way for a vote to be taken annually.
* The Immortal Managed Care Myth: The latest Republican official to predict gigantic cost savings without showing any support for the claim is State Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison), who suggested Monday on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight that Illinois could save “over $1 billion dollars” by moving patients into a private managed care network.
* Funeral directors may soon double as traffic cops
* Adobe is Bad for Open Government