The Illinois Human Rights Commission is endorsing legislation that would require a statewide bullying-prevention policy.Commission chairman Martin Castro said Tuesday the panel also voted to join the Prevent School Violence Illinois Commission.
The legislation is sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy. It would require school districts to adopt guidelines to prevent bullying and cyberbullying by the start of school this fall.
It would require schools to regularly update the policies and require collection of data on bullying incidents.
* The Question: Were you ever bullied in school? Tell us the story.
* Will newfound money patch the budget hole? Maybe…
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn suggested Tuesday that better-than-expected sales-tax collections could be used to plug a hole in state school funding this year.
The budget that lawmakers and Quinn approved is about $230 million short for schools, and state education officials said Monday that they would likely not be able to make the final aid payment to school districts during the second half of June. The Illinois State Board of Education warned that a similar payment scheduled for the first half of June also will fall short.
Asked about the situation Tuesday, Quinn said he believed the money could be found within the already strapped budget because sales tax revenues are up. From July through December, Illinois brought in $4.312 billion in sales tax revenue — $239.1 million more than the same period the year before and $139.8 million more than initially projected, according to the Department of Revenue. […]
The governor added that he’d like to look at closing so-called “tax loopholes” to help the state make school aid payments next year, which could be more than $400 million short under a budget plan Quinn proposed last week.
Look, here’s the thing. School funding is remaining level for next fiscal year. But because of increased costs, etc. the per pupil funding level will be less. With the rest of the budget taking big hits and billions of dollars in overdue bills to struggling vendors, does it make sense to spend more money on schools? If you’re pro-school, you’ll say yes. Others might say no. But this does need to be honestly debated.
Also, closing tax loopholes to fund schools? Man, he must want to close a whole lot of loopholes because he used his recent budget address to outline some pretty big plans for that cash, and they didn’t include school funding…
That’s why I have instructed my Revenue Director, Brian Hamer, to meet with legislative leaders of both houses and both parties to identify and close unnecessary loopholes.
Part of the loophole revenue can be used to provide targeted tax relief for hard-working families and businesses across Illinois.
By taking on the loophole lobby, we can find the revenue to permanently abolish the natural gas utility tax. […]
Why not a moratorium on unfair loopholes in the tax code as an important way to pay the bills faster?
Funding for domestic violence shelters in Quinn’s budget would be cut by $2.3 million, from $18.8 million this year to $16.5 million.
Cutting aid to these shelters is like cutting funding to a local fire department, because people never know when they will need their help, said Vicky Smith, executive director for Illinois Commission Against Domestic Violence, a nonprofit that works against the abuse of women and children.
“They are emergency crisis-intervention services and need to be available when people need the assistance,” Smith said. Quinn’s cuts are “not good. This is a very, very high risk population that needs help immediately.”
In Illinois, there are 63 domestic violence shelters, and the proposed funding cut would shrink that number, Smith said.
Quinn’s budget also zeros out funding for youth substance and alcoholism abuse from the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Family and Community budget.
Eliminating the $2.6 million in prevention funding would cut services to more than 34,000 children, but it would be more than just the children affected, said Eric Foster, chief operating officer for the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association, a nonprofit lobbying group that represents drug and alcohol abuse centers statewide.
“Substance abuse prevention services affect every single aspect of the state — health care, law enforcement corrections, the courts,” Foster said.
* An Alternative Solution To The Illinois Budget Crisis: The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability released a report today touting the benefits of a graduated income tax. This is compared to the status quo where all residents – from Derrick Rose to your neighbor – pay five percent of their yearly income to the state.
* Earlier this week, I told you about how Congressman Adam Kinzinger grossly distorted a newspaper columnist’s words. Well, when called on it, Kinzinger attacked the newspaper columnist. I kid you not…
On Saturday, Chuck Sweeney of the Register Star wrote an article saying Kinzinger had been taking his words out of context and twisting them in his campaign literature to misrepresent the voting record of his challenger, incumbent Don Manzullo. Kinzinger claims Sweeney compared Manzullo to Barney Frank, but Sweeney says his words were taken wildly out of context.
16th Dist. Candidate Rep. Adam Kinzinger said, “Chuck has made it very obvious in all of his columns who he’s supporting in this race. He has an opinion. He has someone he’s backing. That’s not an independent columnist–that’s doing independent reporting for a column. That’s an opinion columnist.”
“All of his columns,” eh? Really? Well, how about this one…
The race for the Republican nomination in the 16th Congressional District came down Monday to a question of age and longevity in office: With 20 years of service, should 67-year-old U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo of Egan be retired by voters to give the new kid on the block a chance?
Dave Winters thinks so. The veteran Republican state representative from Shirland has endorsed Manzullo’s March 20 primary opponent, 33-year-old U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno. Winters is quitting his job after 18 years, and he believes Manzullo should have followed his example. Winters is 58. He wants voters to put Manzullo out to pasture.
The “I’m more conservative than you” campaign between U.S. Reps. Don Manzullo, R-Egan, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno, is boiling on the front burner. Manzullo, first elected in 1992, and freshman Kinzinger are vying for the GOP nomination in the 16th District.
Monday, the Illinois Tea Party endorsed Manzullo: “Don is the true fiscal conservative in this race,” said Barb Offill, president of the Iroquois County Tea Party. “Don is an ethical man and a passionate conservative who always votes in line with his values. His 19 years of experience in (promoting) manufacturing, creating jobs, cutting wasteful spending, and reducing the deficit in Washington is a strength.” […]
I asked Kinzinger spokeswoman Brook Hougesen for comment, and she said: “Congressman Kinzinger is proud of the strong support he’s received districtwide, including his endorsement from Rockford-area state Rep. Dave Winters, R-Shirland, who chose a fresh conservative voice over the status quo. We need a break from the past — no more bailouts, earmarks or Obama spending projects like Congressman Manzullo has supported. The new 16th District needs someone like Congressman Adam Kinzinger who will bring representation to the area and has the energy and drive to advocate for local concerns and needs.”
* Meanwhile, Manzullo whacks Kinzinger in a new TV ad. Rate it…
Believe it or not, the woman who yells: “She voted 88 times with the Republicans and 88 times against President Barack Obama? She’s crazy!!!” is Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL).
The full script…
[Jesse] President Obama and I are working together. Fighting for good jobs paying good wages.
Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior, fights every day for the people of Chicago and the Southland.
[Jesse] I sat in the Speaker’s chair, leading the fight to pass President Obama’s health care law. But I’ve also fought successfullyto hire more than a thousand nurses, and keep our hospitals open.Because we need jobs, and we need health care.
His opponent, Debbie Halvorson, has a different agenda. Halvorson voted with the Republicans, opposing President Obama and health care for all. And she voted with the Republicans and the NRA against stopping gun violence.
In fact, Halvorson voted with the Republicans and against President Obama 88 times!
[African-American male] How many?
She voted 88 times with the Republicans and 88 times against President Barack Obama? She’s crazy!
[Jesse] I’m Jesse Jackson, Junior, and I approved this ad.
88 times against President Obama is 88 times too many.I’m sticking with Jesse!
Jackson arrived at his number of “88 Times” by counting the number of votes on which he and Halvorson differed during Halvorson’s two years in Congress. Of those 133, Halvorson voted against the wishes of Congressional Democratic leaders 88 times.
But Halvorson said voting against House Democratic leaders is not voting against Obama. For instance, on ethics legislation to sanction Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, Halvorson voted with Republicans for tougher ethics standards. That was not a vote against Obama, she said.
Asked why Jackson’s ad presented that as a vote against Obama, Jackson spokesman Kevin Lampe said, “Democrats have got to stick together in Congress.”
In fact, Jackson voted against Obama twice as often as Halvorson, according to records compiled by Congressional Quarterly magazine.
Jackson voted against the president more than any other Democrat from Illinois except for Downstate Rep. Jerry Costello, who, like Jackson, voted against Obama 21 percent of the time, according to the CQ statistics for 2010.
In a list of the 88 votes supplied by the Jackson campaign, some were not votes against the president but were procedural in nature. Another vote cited by Jackson was a move by DemocraticRep. Dennis Kucinichof Ohio to immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2010, which was not on Obama’s agenda.
But Jackson’s campaign said Halvorson voted against the initial House version of Wall Street reforms and against steering $4 billion in Wall Street rescue money for low-interest loans to the unemployed and for neighborhood stabilization. The transfer of funds had been sought by the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Congresswoman Halvorson wants people to believe she’s a progressive Democrat, but she votes like a conservative Republican,” Jackson said in a statement. “She voted against us, the people of the 2nd District and President Obama, 88 times.”
Instead of lying about her voting record, I gotta wonder why they haven’t really played the gun card yet. Halvorson was a major NRA supporter, and the 2nd is not exactly a big NRA district. It sure beats linking her to “political demonic forces”…
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. on Monday touted the backing of more than 50 ministers, including one who said “political demonic forces” were driving the agenda of Democratic primary opponent Debbie Halvorson.
The congressman’s campaign aides refused to comment on whether they thought the remarks were appropriate. Halvorson called the comments the result of a “desperate” campaign.
* But I’d be careful about tempting fate, if I was Halvorson…
The president has endorsed Jackson in the race. Still, as Halvorson pointed out, the president himself hasn’t said the words publicly, instead relying on aides to confirm his support for the congressman.
* My photojournalist brother Devin is on his way to Harrisburg as I write this, so we may have more pics soon. But it looks bad…
A hospital administrator in the southern Illinois city of Harrisburg says at least three people were killed in a severe storm that swept through the region.
Harrisburg Medical Center CEO Vince Ashley says the three victims were pronounced dead on arrival at that hospital in Saline County after the storm hit at about 5 a.m. Wednesday.
He couldn’t immediately say how many other victims were being treated at the hospital. He says the hospital itself also sustained some damage in the storm that knocked out the 78-bed site’s heating and cooling system. Ashley says no one at the hospital was injured.
* By the looks of this video from local TV, at least part of Harrisburg appears to have been flattened. Buildings are gone, roads are indiscernible and stuff is just scattered everywhere .
* A friend forwarded some recent photos from Harrisburg…
* This is what’s left of St. Joseph’s Church…
*** UPDATE - 9:26 am *** I just spoke with Rep. Brandon Phelps who was heartbroken to discover minutes ago that the granddaughter of his district office employee was found dead this morning. Phelps is on his way to Harrisburg now and said he’s had reports of people missing and trapped in debris. The SJ-R is reporting that Springfield firefighters are heading south to help.
…Adding… I’m told this is what’s left of the apartment building where that young woman lived. Apparently, several residents were killed or injured…
*** UPDATE 2 - 9:43 am *** The Harrisburg death toll has reportedly risen to 10 [UPDATE: The death toll has been revised downward to 6.] Let’s plug in a new ScribbleLive feed. Blackberry users click here…
* The Senate is in at 11:45 and the House convenes at 12:30.
I’ve been meaning to thank LIS for finally abandoning those ancient Windows Media video streams and switching over to a much more modernized and embeddable streaming system. I’ve been hoping for that for years. Also, lots of Statehouse types are now using iPads and were having trouble with the old video format. This new format is much more iPad friendly. So, thanks, LIS.
Because of this, we’ll have an embeddable live video feed of today’s House Executive Committee. I’ll post it in the ScribbleLive thingamajig. The hearing begins at 11 am. But you can watch Room 114 committees all morning by clicking here. The Senate has yet to set up any of their committee hearing rooms to accommodate live feeds.
* Blackberry users click here, everybody else can just kick back and watch…
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In an action late Monday, Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who narrowly lost to Democrat Pat Quinn in the 2010 gubernatorial election, filed a resolution calling on Congress to overrule new insurance regulations issued by the Obama administration.
The resolution says the rules “would dramatically affect the ability of many religious-affiliated schools, universities, and health care facilities to continue to provide educational and health care services to their employees and families and to people of faith.”
The rules created a bit of a furor when first issued by the president because they would have ordered religious employers in almost all instances to provide and pay for contraceptive coverage in insurance policies.
Mr. Obama later partially backed off, saying that contraception still would have to be covered but the cost would be picked up by insurers, not religious employers.
WHEREAS, President Thomas Jefferson warned that “to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty”;
Just so we’re clear here, this is a federal rule that would require health insurance policies to cover contraception. Religious institutions wouldn’t have to pay for the extra coverage.
Controversial legislation that would require women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound or decline to do so in writing is working its way through the Illinois State House, and the American Civil Liberties Union says Illinois voters are not happy. […]
The measure in Illinois was approved by the Agricultural Committee in the House last week, sending the bill to the House floor for debate.
The ACLU released a poll Tuesday that showed only one in three Illinois voters support the bill. The poll also found the majority of both men (57 percent) and women (53 percent) were opposed to it.
* Former US Sen. Roland Burris will never accept reality: Burris said in an interview broadcast Friday on WBEZ that he was the victim of malicious journalists who owe him an apology. “It really impacted my family,” he said of the criticism, adding that “99.9 percent of it was totally unjustified. All I did was accept the appointment from the governor. Did nothing else.”
* Patti Blagojevich tells Rosie O’Donnell her husband is innocent: “I’m positive,” she says, adding, “I was there, and I’ve heard all the conversations. I know his heart. So much of this case was intent — what was his intent? And I know his heart.”
* Donald Trump thinks Blagojevich’s sentence is too harsh: “He doesn’t go down as Albert Einstein,” Trump said, “But people liked him. There was something about him that was nice. I just think that to be going away for years and you have killers walking the street that don’t get sentenced like that.”
* The Question: Which of these stories do you care about the least? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.
* The Chicago Tribune editorial board got all angry today at the University of Illinois for not giving them more information about college-bound kids whose parents or others asked legislators to make a call on their behalf…
(T)he U. of I. continues its long effort to keep secret its data on 800 applicants who got special treatment from 2005 to 2009. That secrecy keeps Tribune reporters from exploring connections between politicians and clouted applicants.
The university claims that federal privacy laws are an issue. The Tribune disagrees and is suing.
This has been a very contentious issue. Parents who struggle to get their kids into the U of I were not happy to learn that legislators and others may have “clouted” kids in ahead of them.
Among the politicians involved: Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. He made eight admission requests from 2005 to 2009; at least seven of the applicants were accepted. In one case, Cullerton asked about a relative of a real estate broker and lawyer who has attended Cullerton political fundraisers and is his former legal client.
The article quoted U. of I. official Terry McLennand asking then-Chancellor Richard Herman to help: “The (Senate) President thought this students scores seemed a little high for wait list and asked if we could intervene and admit the student at this time rather then waiting for the April decision date.” The student was admitted in April.
Um, huh? This is the big, unholy, outrageous, egregious politics-riddled, influence peddling violation?
1) Cullerton makes a call for a friend to see if a kid really has to be wait-listed.
2) The kid remains on the waiting list.
3) Tribune editorial board screams about a “protection racket”
* And in case you weren’t suitably outraged about this horrible non-scandal, the Trib tossed in some diversionary red meat…
Cullerton, recall, is a chronic protector of the tuition waiver program under which legislators have awarded free rides at state universities to children of their cronies and contributors. That program needs to end.
The state’s controversial “legislative scholarship” program carries a simple rule for Illinois lawmakers: They may award tuition waivers for state-sponsored schools only to students who reside in the lawmaker’s respective districts.
But since 1999, state Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) has awarded taxpayer-funded scholarships to at least 10 students who records show lived outside of her Far South Side district at the time they received free tuition, the Better Government Association has found.
State law says: “Each member of the General Assembly may nominate annually 2 persons of school age and otherwise eligible, from his district . . .”
Matt Vanover, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Education, which administers the scholarships, said “the statute is pretty clear . . . students nominated must be from the [lawmaker’s] district.”
* Reporters were taken on a rare tour yesterday of the Jacksonville Developmental Center, which Gov. Pat Quinn wants to close. The governor’s administration claims that the residents would be much better served in community settings, but some parents said they’d already tried that route. From Jacksonville’s WLDS radio…
Doctor David Iacono-Harris’ son Jonathan lives at JDC. He says his son has been in community settings twice. Both instances have yielded disastrous results.
“He has literally physically destroyed two group homes. He is not a candidate for the community,” says Iacono-Harris.
Janet Anderson’s daughter Elly Voth says she’s lived at JDC for 12 years. Anderson says the problems Elly has are best handled at JDC.
“She’s OCD. She tears her clothes. She’s incontinent. What she needs is a staff who can handle someone like that, who is educated,” says Anderson.
“She did live at a group home at Hope School in Springfield, and it was an absolute disaster. It was just hell every day. She always had a bruise on her. She had two black eyes that were swollen shut, and the eye doctor said it only had to come from a ball bat. She was overmedicated, ended up in the hospital for six weeks two different times, three weeks each,” she continues.
* Humans in general often don’t like change. But change can be even harder on the seriously developmentally disabled, so closing the facility will definitely have an impact at least for a while…
“Another transition, she’d go through hell,” said Anderson, voicing her concern over what will happen to her daughter if the center closes.
Many of the residents’ rooms are personalized with pictures and other objects. In one area, staff members were beginning to put up decorations for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Inside the building, we try to make it as homelike as possible,” Day said.
Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, said people sometimes picture JDC as a virtual dungeon for its residents.
“The impression this is a stale environment I don’t think is accurate,” said Watson who also toured the facility Monday. “You see these rooms are like dorm rooms. I would argue some of these folks here live better than a lot of our senior citizens who go to nursing homes.” […]
The boiler is so old replacement parts must be fabricated individually because they are no longer manufactured.
The trend toward deinstitutionalization of the developmentally disabled has steadily accelerated, following passage of home- and community-based service waivers under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
But Illinois is an outlier in that trend. It ranked sixth nationally in public and private institutionalization in 2006, with 63 per 100,000 developmentally disabled individuals living in institutions. It ranked last in the proportion of persons served in residential settings that support one-to-six people. […]
Community services spending in Indiana, adjusted for inflation, grew by 85 percent between 1999 and 2008, while institutional spending declined by 81 percent. In 2006, Indiana committed 88 percent of its total developmentally disabled resources to community services, compared with 64 percent in Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn likes to refer to himself as the “education governor,” but the state’s continued money problems are putting that moniker under intense pressure.
The state is short more than $230 million in aid to school districts in this year’s budget, and that figure could climb to more than $400 million in next year’s spending plan.
In the near term, the practical effect is that the state will fall short of making its 22nd and final annual payment to school districts. That’s usually made in the last half of June. The payment in the first half of June also will be slightly smaller, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
The situation has angered a key education supporter who called Quinn’s assertion last week that he was holding education spending flat next year “total baloney.”
Jim Edgar also did this back in the day in order to disguise an education funding cut.
Governor Quinn would see his salary jump $1,600 to $179,100 under the proposal.
Secretary of State Jesse White would see his salary jump $1,400 to $158,000.
Treasurer Dan Rutherford would see his salary jump $1,200 to $136,900.
Collectively, the members of the Illinois House would get a $73,200 raise. That breaks out to about $620 for each member.
For the Illinois Senate, members would get a collective raise of $37,200. That breaks out to $630 for each member.
When you add up all of the proposed raises, the total comes out to almost $250,000 more than what was spent on salaries in FY12.
It’s more than $968,000 higher than what was spent in FY11.
* ADDED: Hospitals, state unlikely to make Thursday deadline on charity-care tax-exemption talks - Sources say parties divided on key issues, but progress being made; stakeholders from Illinois Hospital Association, Gov. Quinn’s office, Department of Revenue, others plan last-ditch meeting Wednesday
* ADDED: Illinois coalition has hospital charity care plan
* ADDED: State Seeks To Settle Issue Of Nonprofit Hospitals, Property Tax Exemptions
* ADDED: Proposals arise for Illinois hospital charity care
* The Illinois Gaming Board claims that video poker will begin rolling out by September. But the system appears to be a mess. From the Tribune…
• The Illinois Gaming Board has completed its review of only 46 of 144 license applications received from manufacturers, distributors and “terminal operators” — the owners of the games who will place them in establishments.
• Gaming officials have yet to accept applications from thousands of bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal organizations that plan to offer the games, or to start investigations needed to approve those licenses.
• Game manufacturers have yet to be given final technical specifications from the state and still must have their games tested by independent laboratories to ensure they meet state law.
Complicating the work is the fact that the Gaming Board’s staff is more than one-third smaller than it should be, said board Chairman Aaron Jaffe, leaving him reluctant to offer a hard timeline for when video poker finally will start making the state money.
The General Assembly appropriated all the money the Board needs to hire staff. But the Board is taking six months to a year to hire employees, according to the article, and the governor’s office apparently isn’t releasing enough cash to ramp up the hiring. [Memo to Gov. Quinn: A little money spent now means more money can start flowing into state coffers soon.]
This is the same Gaming Board that screwed up the 2010 bidding for a central computer system. The contract was rebid and finally awarded last month.
And it’s still unclear whether the Board will allow some establishments to offer the games to their customers ahead of others…
“When you have got thousands of people to license, somebody is going to get theirs ahead of somebody else,” said Jaffe, the Gaming Board chief.