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*** UPDATED x1 *** A recipe for disaster?

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* From Aviva Bowen at the IFT…

As the Chicago area forecast shows several inches of snow and more bitter cold headed our way this weekend, I wanted to put this info back at the top of your inbox. These workers deal with dangerous conditions to keep us safe and will be putting in even more hours in the days ahead while unwisely understaffed.

* From a recent press release…

The recent winter storms that shut down roads in Illinois exposed a serious potential public safety and financial problem in Cook County. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) doesn’t have enough mechanics to keep snow plows running, so they had to call in 30 mechanics from the National Guard just to keep the fleet on the road recently.

“We can’t call in the military every time we have a snow storm,” said Tom Kosowski, President of the Illinois Federation of Public Employees (IFPE), IFT Local 4408. “We don’t have enough mechanics and shopkeepers to do the job. If we can’t keep plows running to clear the roads, they won’t be safe for anyone.”

Public employees have been on the front lines statewide, often working 21-hour days to keep up with recent storms while severely short-handed. Instead of hiring more IDOT workers, the state calls in military support, spends additional money to hire private companies, uses employees who aren’t trained mechanics, and forces their own mechanics to work large amounts of overtime.

These unqualified workers without the appropriate experience on state vehicles create a potential danger to motorists and more cost to taxpayers.

A $3-million study conducted for the state showed that maintaining the state’s vehicles in house is more efficient and saves taxpayer dollars. Maximus Fleet Management Consulting recommended that IDOT hire more mechanics to work on the fleet and more storekeepers to handle inventory.

“Hiring more IDOT mechanics will help keep people safe and save the state more money,” said Matt Emigholz, Vice President of Local 4408. “We don’t understand why IDOT won’t follow the advice they paid to receive.”

At the Rodenburg facility in Schaumburg alone, 15 of 22 plows are not working at this time. If the garages were properly staffed, the right amount of inventory would be stocked at the most efficient cost and mechanics could perform preventative maintenance to keep the fleet running longer.

That study referenced above is here on page 46.

*** UPDATE *** From IDOT…

Hello Rich,

In response your post today:

IDOT crews work diligently each and every day to ensure the safety of the motoring public.

During the height of the recent polar vortex, IDOT had 1,755 trucks assigned to snow duty across the state, and nearly 3,700 full- and part-time employees available to help ensure roads were clear and passable.

With the unprecedented statewide winter storm conditions of Jan. 4-8 and subsequent regional snowfall and bitter temperatures, IDOT crews were out working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable. These historic conditions did strain our vehicles, but at no point did we have an insufficient number to keep the roads cleared and salted. In District 1 (Cook County area), there were 440 trucks to cover 370 routes.

Safety is our number one priority and IDOT has consistently kept the necessary number of trucks on the road. That will continue through the winter.

No mechanics were approved to work 21 hours and the claim that IDOT lacks an adequate number of mechanics is absolutely false. And any outside mechanics we use are retained year-round and are highly-experienced and highly-qualified.

These weather conditions have not been experienced in over 20 years so utilizing National Guard personnel is not a common occurrence.

Thank you,
Jae Miller
Chief Communication Officer - IDOT

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


A somewhat odd proposal

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* Most everyone was caught by surprise when Gov. Pat Quinn said this during yesterday’s State of the State address

43 percent of all workers in Illinois – more than 2.5 million people – have no right to a single earned sick day. Among our low-wage workers – the problem is even worse: 80 percent of low-wage workers don’t receive any earned sick days.

We need to do something about this. We should provide at least two earned sick days for every worker in Illinois.

We need to help our workers — especially our single parents — avoid that awful choice: dragging themselves from a sick bed to work, or losing a day’s pay or even their job.

More than 70 years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

This, too, is about dignity and decency. Let’s get this job done for our working families.

But who is the “we” in the “we should provide at least two earned sick days” line? Is “we” the government? Is “we” the business owners? Is “we” some sort of combination?

What do you make of this?

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* “How are you gonna approach this thug who runs this state?” John Kass asked Bruce Rauner on his WLS radio show today about House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“One way to deal with Madigan I would think,” Kass continued, “is you tell your friends in the Republican Party, particularly the big guys who have a lot of money downtown and who own downtown real estate, ‘Hey, do you really want to hire Mike Madigan as your tax attorney?’ which basically subsidizes the Democratic machine. Isn’t it time the Republican money guys realize what they are doing?”

“You’re exactly right,” Rauner replied.

“I know where those Democrats make their money,” Rauner said, “I know what their alliances and their underlying pins, where Republicans businesses are underneath there helping out. I can go after that. I can leverage some power and drive a result.”

* Yesterday, Kass didn’t seem all that thrilled about Sen. Matt Murphy’s endorsement of former House Republican Leader Tom Cross for state treasurer.

“The Republican Party has basically been aligned with the Democrats,” Kass said. “They didn’t challenge Madigan very much. Tom Cross, the Speaker, the House Majority Leader, really didn’t bring the fight to Madigan… Tom Cross, I like him, nice fellow, really didn’t bring the fight to Madigan at all… What I wanted from the Republicans is a real fight, a real fight about what’s going on and I just didn’t see it from the establishment side.”

* The Question: Do you think the next governor, whoever he is, and the Republican Party, whatever happens in the gubernatorial election, ought to launch an all-out attack on Speaker Madigan? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


polls

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      


Not a monolithic partisan issue

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* As I told subscribers earlier this week, a large number of Downstate Democrats, particularly in the House, are against raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Lee Newspapers has more

“I don’t see that there’s a lot of support in my area for that currently,” [ Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion] said after the speech. […]

“I live on a border community. Workers on my side of the river are already making substantially more than those in Iowa,” said state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline. “I would much rather see this be dealt with on a national level so that there aren’t differences between two states.”

* And while the vast majority of Republicans are against the idea, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka favors it

“I think it’s the year for it because it hasn’t been raised for a while. People realize a family can’t live on that,” Topinka said. “You’re going to have better employees if you do this.”

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Rauner continues attacks, Trib wants everyone to chill

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* A guy who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates compares his Republican primary opponents to the Democratic governor. Wonder if anybody else will pick up on this irony. Illinois Review

The Rauner campaign took on ILGOP gubernatorial opponents in his response to Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State address Wednesday, dubbing them “Pat Quinn-Lite.”

“As Pat Quinn spends the afternoon attempting to deflect from his abysmal record on jobs, taxes and pensions at today’s State of the State address, Illinoisans may begin to recognize that his record looks a lot like those of the career politicians running to replace him,” Rauner said.

“Based on their record of raising taxes, increasing spending and enabling our pension problems, Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, and Dan Rutherford might as well be nicknamed Pat Quinn-Lite,” said Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for Bruce Rauner’s campaign. “The fact is all three candidates have spent more than twenty years in Springfield pushing a jobs-killing agenda with more taxes and increased spending.”

* Meanwhile, the Tribune editorial board wants the sniping to stop

For several months now, the four Republican candidates who want Gov. Pat Quinn’s job have campaigned across Illinois. Here’s the message that, as a group, they have projected and voters have absorbed: With the primary election less than seven weeks off, we absolutely delight in trashing one another. If we didn’t have each other to talk about, we wouldn’t have much of anything to talk about. Oh, and Illinois is still in bad shape.

Quinn, no doubt bemused by the Republicans’ intramural spitting match, isn’t waiting for them to stop: On Wednesday he wielded the considerable power of his incumbency, employing the governor’s annual State of the State address to make his case for re-election. […]

On Monday the Republicans are scheduled to meet as a foursome with the Tribune Editorial Board. That will be an important step in our endorsement process as the primary election approaches. Maybe the Republicans will explain exactly how they will make Illinois competitive in the hunt for jobs. Or maybe they’ll stick to their group obsession and keep criticizing one another.

We’ll see. This much we know now:

Pat Quinn is a formidable candidate for re-election. And unless the Republicans drive home to voters how Illinois can rebuild the competitiveness that long ago made this state great, he’ll be inaugurated next January for four more years as governor.

The back and forth is just natural politics. But they do need to start fleshing out their platitudes with some real ideas.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


A very good question

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* SJ-R

“What are [Gov. Pat Quinn’s] plans because he promised the 67 percent income tax hike would be temporary?” Dillard said. “What are his plans to roll that back? I’m more concerned about what he didn’t say than the perfume he put on the pig to cover up the fact we are rated 50th in economic outlook.”

“I wanted to hear his commitment to the tax cut,” said Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, another of the GOP contenders. “He failed to recommit to that.” […]

The fourth Republican seeking to replace Quinn, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, said he understood why Quinn wouldn’t discuss the income tax issue in a State of the State speech.

“A tax increase is not popular to talk about. I understand why he wouldn’t do it,” Rutherford said. “Today was a speech for him to give the positives.”

* WGEM

Bruce Rauner, was unable to speak directly [to the consequences of the sunsetting tax hike], but he didn’t hold back in his criticism of the governor’s speech. Rauner says Illinois is in an “economic death spiral” and Quinn “is trying to cover it up and put a rosy picture on it.”

* Quinn’s budget speech is next month, so we’ll hear more about the tax hike problem then. But they’re right that the governor has been almost completely silent about this issue.

By the governor’s own estimation, the expiration of the tax hike will most definitely create a huge hole in the state’s budget and he needs to be far more upfront about it.

And, of course, without a doubt Speaker Madigan ought to explain soon how his proposed 50 percent corporate income tax cut will be paid for.

* That being said, maybe I’ve just missed it, but when have any of the GOP candidates ever laid out any sort of real plan for dealing with the massive budget cuts that will be required by the tax hike sunset? They’re demanding something from Quinn that they won’t discuss themselves.

Also, “unable to speak directly” to the issue of the tax hike is a charitable way of saying that Rauner dodged the question.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Report: Emanuel wants property tax hike, but he wants the state to do it

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* Sun-Times

Last Friday, the mayor held a 2.5-hour meeting with the Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, to outline the magnitude of the problem and propose solutions.

Emanuel wants the General Assembly to impose annual property tax increases on Chicago homeowners and businesses, but put off the balloon payment to shore up police and fire pensions until 2023 to make the bitter pill easier to swallow.

He wants a General Assembly that has already solved the Chicago Park District’s pension problems to use that plan as a road map for other city unions.

And he wants lawmakers to impose the same pension reforms on Chicago teachers that they did on teachers in the suburbs and Downstate.

Emanuel wants the General Assembly to hike property taxes so he can avoid direct responsibility? That’s rich.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Tacking leftward

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* Yesterday’s State of the State address was aimed right at Gov. Pat Quinn’s base, as WUIS accurately points out

Quinn laid out a list of proposals that seem finely honed to appeal to Democratic voters: increasing the minimum wage, doubling a tax credit for the working poor, and requiring at least two days of sick time for all employees.

“We need to help our workers, especially our single parents, avoid that awful choice: dragging themselves from a sick bed to work, or losing a day’s pay — or maybe even their job,” Quinn says.

Quinn also called for a big expansion of the grants that help low-income people go to college. In recent years, Illinois has run out of money and had to stop giving out so-called MAP grants midway through the school year.

Then, there’s the “Birth to Five Initiative,” aimed at helping low-income children from the womb through kindergarten.

* Before he can gear up to defend himself against the eventual GOP nominee, Quinn needs to get his own base fired up. Remember these polls of mine from last year?

Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll of 1,394 likely Democratic primary voters on July 19 found that Quinn was leading Daley 38-33. In that poll, the governor was getting less than half — 47 percent — of the black vote, while Daley was getting 26 percent, which isn’t bad when you figure that another quarter of the black vote was still up for grabs. […]

[Another poll] I commissioned on Aug. 12, which found that 48 percent of 1,538 likely Democratic primary voters were dissatisfied with their choice between Quinn and Daley and 9 percent were unsure. So a clear 57 percent majority were either unhappy or ambivalent about the two announced candidates.

Among black Democrats, just 31 percent were satisfied and a huge 57 percent were dissatisfied with their two choices.

It’s pretty obvious that lots of Democrats want somebody else to run, and black Democrats are particularly eager to see another candidate get into the race.

And

Quinn is not overwhelmingly popular with black voters. Just 47 percent back Quinn against Daley, according to the July poll, and Quinn’s job approval rating in a June poll among black Democrats was a mere 28 percent, while 40 percent disapproved.

I seriously doubt he’s moved the needle much since then.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Rauner dumps another million into his campaign

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* Here we go again. A new A-1 was filed today by the Bruce Rauner campaign


That’s a total of $3 million of his own money, in case you’re keeping track. And that doesn’t include what he’s given to his term limits PAC.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


*** UPDATED x5 - Rutherford, Brady, Quinn, McSweeney, Franks respond - NFIB responds *** Madigan wants $1.5 billion corporate income tax cut

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* From the Illinois Observer

Illinois corporations will seek a 50 percent reduction in the state corporate income tax under legislation introduced today by House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago).

“For many years, we have listened to employers about the best manner to improve the business climate,” said Madigan.

“We have tackled worker compensation reform, reduced the estate tax and created an independent tax tribunal,” the speaker stated. “Cutting the corporate income tax rate is another step I am asking the legislature to consider.”

Under the plan, H.B. 4479, the corporate state income tax will be reduced from 7% to 3.5% on business profits. The move will see Illinois drop from 5th to 35th on the national income tax ranking of the states, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. The Personal Property Replacement Tax paid by business remains unchanged at 2.5% and results in a total rate of 6%.

“I am introducing this legislation so the Revenue & Finance and State Government Administration Committees’ joint hearings on tax policies can consider the impact this will have on business location and expansion plans,” Madigan noted.

The measure, which has a January 1, 2014 effective date, will provide an estimated $500 to $700 million business savings for FY 2014. The FY 2015 savings could exceed $1.5 billion.

“I am hopeful this legislation will encourage CEOs to grow their work forces with good paying jobs, “Madigan said.

In December, 2013 the Speaker called on the Illinois House committees to continue hearings on tax policy questions in the wake of a new wave of businesses calling for tax breaks as a condition for relocating to or remaining in Illinois.

At the time, Madigan argued “we should take a more long term approach to helping all job-creating businesses in Illinois thrive and succeed. This must include a thorough review of how we currently provide incentives to big corporations.

During the 2013 North Carolina corporate rate cut debate, Governor Pat McCrory argued the tax was “economically destructive” and a lower rate was “critical to putting residents back to work.” North Carolina cuts rates from 6.9 % to 6.0% this year and 5% in 2015.

“State tax policy can have a critical impact on multinational corporations especially when Congressional gridlock has stalled any meaningful action in Washington,” Madigan said.

The Speaker’s cuts will make Illinois rates less than or equal to the surrounding states. According to the Federation of Tax Administrators the surrounding state rates are: Kentucky, 6%; Indiana 7.5%; Iowa, 12.0%; Missouri, 6.25% and Wisconsin 7.90%.

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** An interesting retort from the NFIB

“We appreciate Speaker Madigan’s attempt to reduce the income tax burden in Illinois,” said Kim Clarke Maisch, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Unfortunately about 75% of small businesses, the true job creators, pay the personal income tax and not the corporate income tax. So while this is good for one-fourth of the businesses in Illinois, it does nothing to reduce the tax burden of the vast majority of small business owners in Illinois.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** We have a couple of state legislative responses. First up, GOP state Rep. Dave McSweeney…

I strongly support Speaker Madigan’s legislation that would cut the all-in corporate income tax rate from 9% to 6%. I also support cutting individual tax rates so that small businesses and families can benefit. Cutting tax rates will help encourage much needed economic growth and job creation.

And Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks…

“Following yesterday’s State of the State speech, the need for urgent action to improve the economic outlook in our state could not be more apparent. At a time when Illinois’ economy has been been pushed to the brink of disaster and taxpayers crave real, substantive reforms, the governor chose to give a pep talk with little in the way of policy proposals to help Illinoisans struggling to find jobs in a stagnant economy.

“Despite the rosy narrative laid out by Governor Quinn, Illinois’ credit rating is the worst in the United States and recent studies have ranked our state last in the nation in job creation. This would lead any serious observer to the conclusion that Illinois’ business climate is in desperate need of serious reform.

“House Bill 4479, introduced today, is exactly the type of targeted and specific action that will produce verifiable gains for hard-working families across Illinois. Reducing the tax burden on employers will free up capital for small-business owners to reinvest in their enterprises and hire more workers, while sending a signal to businesses across the country that Illinois is making serious efforts to restore our competitiveness and is once again open for business.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Sun-Times

The governor appears to have been blindsided by Madigan’s proposal, as others were at the Capitol, and offered no clear indication whether the speaker’s plan is something he’s prepared to embrace this spring.

“Building and protecting the middle class is our priority. That’s why the governor is proposing a bold commitment to early childhood,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’ll be working on our budget over the coming weeks, and we’ll take a look at the options.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** Sen. Bill Brady…

“I am glad to hear the Speaker talking about a tax cut rather than a tax increase. I believe his effort to create a better jobs climate in Illinois would be even better served if he included a cut in the personal income tax rate, which would benefit small businesses as well as Illinois families.”

*** UPDATE 5 *** Treasurer Dan Rutherford…

“I am glad to see that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has proposed reducing the state’s corporate income tax. Putting Illinoisans back to work must be a top priority, as is improving our business climate. Reducing the corporate state income tax to 3.5 percent sends a strong message to employers that Illinois is serious about becoming a better home for businesses.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


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Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

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“Death spiral” drama queens

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* I’m running late this morning because I had to wait on a call to finish a story for subscribers. So you can chew on this one for a bit.

Sun-Times

“This afternoon, we heard an election-year campaign speech from a governor who’s failing the people of Illinois. We’re one of the worst-run states in America,” said private equity investor Bruce Rauner, whose onslaught of early television advertising has positioned him as the frontrunner in the GOP gubernatorial field. “We’ve entered an economic death spiral, and Gov. Quinn is trying to cover it up and put a rosy picture on it.”

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, served up a similar view.

“Pat Quinn is a populist, and he’s going to give you pablum about Illinois moving in the right direction. That’s just not true,” Dillard said. “When you talk to people in this state, they believe Illinois, like I do, is in a downward death spiral, and, obviously, public-opinion polling shows most of the state believes we’re going in the wrong direction.”

* WEEK TV

“We’ve started our economic death spiral.” Dan Rutherford, GOP Candidate for Governor.

* The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia produces a monthly report of each state’s projected six-month growth rate

In addition to the coincident index, the models include other variables that lead the economy: state-level housing permits (1 to 4 units), state initial unemployment insurance claims, delivery times from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing survey, and the interest rate spread between the 10-year Treasury bond and the 3-month Treasury bill.

* Great Lakes states in the latest growth projections list

* Michigan: 3.86 percent

* Indiana: 2.85 percent

* Illinois: 2.67 percent

* [Overall US: 1.52 percent]

* Wisconsin: 1.24 percent

* Minnesota: 0.73 percent

* Ohio: 0.72 percent

* Six-month growth projections for the nation’s five most populous states

* Illinois: 2.67 percent

* Florida: 2.43 percent

* Texas: 2.32 percent

* New York: 2.18 percent

* [Overall US: 1.52 percent]

* California: 1.42 percent

* Do we have problems here in Illinois? Heck yes we do. Big ones. Huge ones, even. The pace of recovery has been just awful. Too many people are still horribly poor, too many people still don’t have jobs or any realistic hopes of getting decent jobs. And there is absolutely no doubt that inept mismanagement has been a significant factor here. Is progress being made? Maybe. The Philly Fed seems to think so. But even if they’re wrong, are we in a “death spiral”? C’mon.

[All emphasis added above.]

* Related…

* Moody’s revises Illinois’ worst in the nation job projections

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


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* The Janus decision was not to invite him.
* The sad state of the sandwich at Logan Square deli Rosie’s Sidekick
* Saba confronted grief and found joy in his Pitchfork set
* A police killing and a school firing. Some Monday morning questions.
* Chance the rapper.
* An efiling nightmare -- but with a happy ending
* Snoop, the barber.
* Keeping retirement real. Regressive taxation and living in the city.
* A guaranteed basic income in Chicago...


* THOMAS RHETT TO DELIVER ?UNFORGETTABLE' PERFORMANCE AT 2018 ILLINOIS STATE FAIR
* IDPH Investigation Continues As Foodborne Illnesses Increase
* Gov. Rauner signs HB 5611
* Summit for Success: IDOT providing tools, opportunity for disadvantaged businesses
* Illinois Payrolls Jump +18,100

  
* Price drop: Unlocked Google Pixel only $199.99
* All the updates, trailers, and commentary for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
* The first trailer for DC’s Aquaman shows off a war between the surface and the sea
* The first trailer for DC’s Shazam is like Big, but with superheroes
* Facebook is developing an internet satellite after shutting down drone project
* Weekly poll results: battery life and waterproofing make a good wearable
* Watch the first trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters

* MLB trade rumors: White Sox unlikely to deal Jose Abreu
* Mariners activate Hernandez to start versus White Sox
* White Sox's Avisail Garcia comes off disabled list
* Chicago White Sox Outfielder Avisail Garcia Activated From D...
* White Sox: Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech Need to Be Called Up...
* Rosas hits walk-off single in 10th, DSL White Sox beats DSL ...
* Value Survey: Game 95


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