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Madigan, Cullerton say they back making tax hike permanent by end of May

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* House Speaker Michael Madigan told Jak Tichenor today that he admires Gov. Quinn for his courage in proposing to make the income tax hike permanent.

Madigan also said he supports the governor’s plan and said he hopes to try and pass it by the end of the spring session on May 31st. Watch

A spring session income tax vote would be a rarity in Springfield. It almost never happens.

* Senate President John Cullerton said after he talked to Tichenor today that he “fully” supports the governor’s plan to keep the tax hike permanent. He said during the Illinois Lawmakers program after the governor’s speech that he wants the House to vote on the tax hike first, just to make sure it passes. Watch

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno also spoke with Tichenor. This video was processing when I wrote this, so give it a few and it should work

- Posted by Rich Miller   136 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* Your as it happens react to the Governor’s budget address?

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      

Mental Health Patients Deserve the Same Quality of Care as Everyone Else

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In any discussion about treatment of mental illness, the interests of the patients and their families should come first. But Senate Bill 2187 – sometimes called “RxP” – would create a lower-tier health system for people with mental illness.

SB 2187 would allow psychologists who have no medical training to prescribe powerful medications to patients. Current Illinois law allows only people who have medical training – doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants – to prescribe drugs.

Why does medical training matter? Physical illnesses and mental disorders are often intertwined. Additionally, psychiatric medication, such as drugs for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can interact negatively with medication for chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure. Finally, psychiatric drugs are powerful and can create risky side effects. To understand these intricacies, psychiatrists go through four years of medical school plus at least four years of residency. They learn to treat the whole patient – not just the brain.

Maybe that is why the pre-eminent advocacy group for patients and their families – the National Alliance on Mental Illness – opposes this legislation. In announcing its opposition to SB 2187 last year, NAMI’s Illinois chapter said that in treating mental illness, “the best medical expertise must be brought to bear.”

Psychologists who want to prescribe can follow the route taken by nurse practitioners, physician assistants and doctors. They can obtain medical training – instead of insisting on a law that would lower the standard of care. To become involved, join the Coalition for Patient Safety,

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Blatantly using government to protect an entrenched special interest

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* “Taxis want these guys out of business,” one of the sponsors of the ride-sharing regulatory bill told me yesterday.

The play here is obvious. Taxi companies in Chicago, like pretty much everywhere else in the world, want to put Uber and other companies like it out of business. Period. That’s all that this is about. The companies have tough lobbyists and a pile of cash and they want the government to protect them from a new-age competitor.

* It’s not too hard to read between the lines here

Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, chief sponsor of the legislation in Springfield, said putting in safety mandates on the new companies that can be summoned with a few keystrokes on a smartphone is an “urgent matter.”

“It’s our opinion, and the opinion of those who focus on consumer protection, that in fact regulatory vacuums are not healthy for Illinois citizens,” Zalewski said. “We don’t condone unlicensed, unregulated activity, and in fact it’s our duty to protect the public safety of our constituents.”

If only they’d tackled the budget with the same vigor.

Some of the safety mandates do make sense. For instance, making sure that the vehicles are subjected to safety inspections is a good idea.

* But, I mean, what the heck

No commercial ridesharing arrangement shall pick up or discharge a passenger at any airport that serves as a base for commercial flights open to the general public, to any convention center

This is all about stifling competition. Pure and simple.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      

Two decrim bills advance

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* A couple of good ideas were advanced out of committee yesterday. But, considering the fact that the medical marijuana law hasn’t even been fully implemented, I don’t expect much movement the rest of the year

“The war on drugs has not worked,” said Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Our jails are overcrowded. We need to get smarter on crime, not tougher. Drug addiction is a public health problem, not a public safety problem.”

Under Mitchell’s House Bill 4299, which passed 6-0 in committee, instead of getting a misdemeanor for possessing up to 30 grams — about an ounce — of marijuana, violators would get a fine of no more than $100 with a “petty offense” on their record. […]

Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, passed another pot-ticketing bill 5-2 in committee that would decriminalize marijuana.

Under her legislation, House Bill 5708, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana would be a “regulatory offense” that would still include a fine of $100 but not exist on someone’s record.

* Anita Bedell is a nice person and she means well, but she always goes so over the top on stuff that she loses credibility

But Anita Bedell, with Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, opposed Cassidy’s and Mitchell’s bills. She said she’s worried about the message that lowering marijuana penalties sends to young people. […]

Bedell said the Legislature is “rushing” down the road of legalizing marijuana completely, an outcome that she said would be “disastrous” to the state.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Rauner gets “fact checked” over job loss numbers

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* looks at a claim made in a recent Bruce Rauner TV ad

Republican Bruce Rauner claims in TV ads that Illinois has lost 90,000 jobs in five years under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. But Illinois has lost 3,400 jobs in five years — not 90,000 — by the standard definition of “jobs” used by practically all economists and journalists. […]

But the campaign is using BLS data that are not commonly used to measure jobs gained or lost. Rauner bases his figure on surveys of people in households, rather than on a much larger survey of millions of actual payroll records.

BLS has two sets of monthly employment data: the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program, which is based on the Current Population Survey (commonly known as the household survey), and the Current Employment Statistics program, which is based on payroll surveys of establishments and government agencies (known as the payroll survey). Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Rauner campaign, said the claim is based on the household survey. Quinn took office on Jan. 29, 2009. The household survey data show there were 6,067,701 jobs in January 2009 and 5,982,030 as of January 2014 — a decline of nearly 86,000 jobs.

But the payroll survey — not the household survey — is used by practically all economists, journalists and politicians when measuring jobs. It’s what journalists use when writing stories about job gains or losses and what BLS posts prominently on its website as the prime indicator of job growth or loss. By that measure, Illinois has lost only 3,400 jobs under Quinn, with total nonfarm employment declining from 5,803,600 in January 2009 to 5,800,200 in January 2014.

What’s the difference between household and payroll surveys?

Both are monthly surveys. But the payroll data — technically called “total nonfarm employment, seasonally adjusted” — is projected from payroll records at 144,000 establishments and government agencies at 554,000 work sites nationwide. By contrast, the household survey uses a much smaller sample — about 60,000 households. The household survey is used to calculate the unemployment rate, but the payroll data is “considered to be the more accurate employment indicator,” as the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco explains in a Q&A about why the Fed uses payroll data to analyze employment trends. […]

Rauner’s larger point about the performance of the state’s economy is accurate. Illinois has lost jobs under Quinn, even though the U.S. has seen a net gain of 3.7 million jobs since January 2009. The state’s unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, up from 8 percent in January 2009, while the U.S. rate has declined from 7.8 percent to 6.7 percent. But the state’s job losses may not be as large as the Rauner campaign claims.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

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Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

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Quinn’s broken promises vs. Rauner’s “draconian” cuts

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* Bruce Rauner released an Internet video yesterday blasting Gov. Pat Quinn. Rate it

* Sun-Times

The minute-long piece, titled “Truth,” juxtaposes statements Quinn made at previous press conferences and public appearances with data that seemingly contradicts the governor’s own words.

“When you hear Pat Quinn’s promise, remember the ones he broke,” the narrator says.

The commercial opens with Quinn vowing to lower taxes, particularly for families with household income of $60,000 or less, and notes how in 2011 he signed off on a 67-percent increase in the state income tax. It goes on to feature Quinn talking in 2011 about the need for a “restraint of spending” but highlights the state’s $6 billion backlog of unpaid bills.

* The Quinn campaign kinda responded today…

Billionaire Bruce Rauner’s Brutal Budget Would Slash Education by More Than $2 Billion

Rauner’s Draconian Cuts Would Lay Off One in Every Six Teachers Across the State, Drastically Hike Property Taxes

CHICAGO - Billionaire Bruce Rauner’s FY2015 brutal budget would decimate education, raise property taxes and stall economic growth. Under Rauner’s plan to “run Illinois like a business” with a 3% tax rate, he would decimate education funding by an estimated $2 billion this year – hitting K-12 schools especially hard. These catastrophic cuts would force local school districts to lay off an estimated one in every six teachers (22,100), crowd our classrooms and rob Illinois’ children of valuable educational opportunities. Property taxes across the state would also skyrocket just to keep schools open.

“Rauner’s sales pitch to run Illinois like a business would run our state straight into the ground,” Deputy Press Secretary Izabela Miltko said. “It’s clear his plan would take a sledgehammer to education, lay off tens of thousands of teachers and leave Illinois’ students at a huge disadvantage. His inability to provide real solutions for our state makes it clear he can’t be trusted to run Illinois.”

According to recent legislative testimony by Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Chris Koch, if the current tax plan was rolled back to the original 3.75%, the potential cuts would mean $967 million less for education, leading to 13,400 teacher layoffs, increased class sizes and cuts to key extra-curricular programs. (”Agency directors describe severity of proposed state budget cuts,” Associated Press, 3/21/14).

If you think these cuts are dangerously deep, Rauner is advocating for a 3% tax rate that would slash education even further, resulting in the lay-off of 22,100 teachers.

With much of Illinois already divided into “have” and “have not” school districts as a result of public education being primarily financed by property taxes, Rauner’s cuts would force districts to raise property taxes just to survive. (Kadner: State board eyes special ed changes,” Southtown Star, 1/20/14)

While Bruce Rauner will do whatever it takes to help himself and his campaign, by contrast Governor Quinn tackles the tough issues and does the right thing to get the job done, even when it’s not politically expedient.

The 2012 election results show that proposed budget cuts were far scarier to voters than the very real income tax hike. But 2014 won’t be as favorable for Quinn as 2012 was to the down-ballot Dems, who also had the benefit of a favorable map.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

“Conversion therapy” bill advances

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* From a press release…

Equality Illinois is calling on the Illinois House of Representatives to protect minors by passing the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act this spring after the House Human Services Committee approved it today by a 9 to 6 vote.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, said so-called “conversion therapies” for youths pretend to supposedly “cure” people of being gay, but have actually proven to be very harmful and are actively opposed by leading mental health and medical professional groups.

“This bill would ensure that the most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, are not targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate,” Cherkasov said.

The measure would prohibit mental health providers from engaging in any effort to change the sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18. The bill’s chief House sponsor is state Rep. Kelly Cassidy.

* An August, 2013 Sun-Times editorial also endorsed the concept

Conversion therapy — trying to turn gay teenagers straight — is awful in three ways:

◆ It does not work.

◆ It can do considerable harm.

◆ It is unnecessary.

On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill banning gay conversion therapy in the Garden State, to which we can only say “hallelujah.”

Now when will Illinois do the same?

* The Illinois Family Institute, however, is staunchly opposed…

Lesbian state representative and activist for all things homosexual, Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) has introduced yet another terrible piece of legislation that ultimately redounds to the detriment of children.

Rep. Cassidy has proposed “The Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act” (HB 5569), which would prohibit all licensed mental health providers in Illinois from helping minors change their unwanted same-sex attraction. For those who have been paying attention, this is the same kind of pernicious legislation that passed in California and New Jersey but was stopped in Virginia. […]

Here are just a few of the serious problems with this legislation:

    It would prevent those children and teens who experience unwanted same-sex attraction as a result of sexual abuse from getting counseling to overcome these unwanted feelings. Some “progressives” argue that homosexuality is not a choice and, therefore, attempts to change one’s “orientation” are exercises in futility and damaging. But arguing that same-sex attraction is not chosen does not mean its cause is benign or the feelings desirable. Some adults experience same-sex attraction because of childhood molestation. For them, same-sex attraction is neither chosen nor wanted.

    Several years ago, Oprah Winfrey had a compelling two-part program in which her audience was composed of 200 men who had been sexually molested as children. One of her guests was Dr. Howard Fradkin, a homosexual licensed psychologist who treats clients for sexual orientation confusion resulting from childhood molestation. He stated on the program that children who are sexually molested can, indeed, experience “sexual orientation confusion” as a result. If this legislation passes, children traumatized by abuse will no longer be allowed to receive counseling for unwanted same-sex attraction.

    This proposed law is utterly inconsistent with the “progressive” view that children and teens should be allowed to pursue medical means to change their sex if they don’t like it. How do those who claim children and teens should be able to change their unwanted biological sex (i.e., bodies) then argue that children and teens should not be allowed to change their unwanted “sexual orientation”? What, other than hypocrisy and crass political ends, can account for the Left’s sudden lack of respect for teen autonomy? Any minor who experiences unwanted same-sex attraction should be free with their parents’ consent to undergo counseling to change these feelings.

    This legislation presumes that same-sex attraction is fixed, a presumption for which the proponents of this kind of legislation provide no evidence and which is disputed by both “Queer Theory” and research. There is research that provides evidence that “sexual orientation” is fluid, particularly among adolescents. If sexual orientation is not fixed and if minors want to receive counseling to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction, they should be free with their parents’ consent to receive such counseling.

    This legislation presumes without evidence that sexual orientation change efforts for unwanted same-sex attraction in adolescence are damaging. There are no outcome-based studies on adolescents undergoing sexual orientation change effort therapy. It is indefensible to ban forms of therapy for which there is no evidence of harm.

    This legislation presumes without evidence that homosexuality is biologically determined. The entire “born gay” foundation, dismissed by many homosexual scholars, is crumbling. In a must-read article, David Benkof explains that never in the history of mankind prior to about 150 years ago, was there such a thing as a homosexual person, a claim that even homosexual scholars acknowledge […]

Cassidy’s proposed legislation is destructive, unethical, and dishonest. It depends on unproven, non-factual, non-evidence-based assumptions that even homosexual scholars reject but the public continues to buy hook, line, and sinker. The ultimate motivation behind this legislation is to promote the Leftist assumptions of adult homosexuals who seek to wipe disapproval of homosexual acts from the face of the planet even if doing requires deception, harms children, undermines parental rights, and corrodes fundamental First Amendment speech and religious liberty.

Whew. The world appears to be ending, according to that group.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

Oberweis reacts to Kirk’s Durbin comment

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* Sen. Mark Kirk, you will recall, said this the other day when asked whether he’d be campaigning for fellow Republican Jim Oberweis’ US Senate bid

“I’m going to be protecting my relationship with Dick [Durbin] and not launching into a partisan jihad that hurts our partnership to both pull together for Illinois”

* Oberweis reacts

“Look, Mark is a Republican senator. He’s said he’ll support the entire Republican ticket, and I accept that,” the Sugar Grove Republican told the Chicago Sun-Times during a brief break in the Illinois Senate.

“I think the media was trying to make a lot more out of this than exists,” Oberweis said.

Oberweis insisted he was not disappointed by Kirk publicly distancing himself from the state senator.

“Look, I serve here in the Illinois Senate, and I understand the desire to not irritate people that you’re going to have to work with in the future,” Oberweis said. “But again, I also emphasize he said he’ll support the entire Republican ticket.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* It’s budget address day

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Report: Quinn wants tax hike made permanent

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* Give him credit for taking a very risky stand

Gov. Pat Quinn has prepared an election-year spending proposal that would make permanent the 67 percent income tax increase set to expire in 2015 and couple it with property tax relief for homeowners, sources familiar with the plan said Tuesday.

Quinn planned to tell lawmakers in his Wednesday budget address that the temporary tax increase he signed into law in 2011 is needed to fund education, said one of the sources who was briefed on his plan but not authorized to reveal the details in advance of the noon speech.

The property tax relief would take the form of a $500 refund, sources said. One source said it would be an annual refund as part of a restructuring of the current property tax break for income tax filers.

Quinn was also expected to tell lawmakers that the alternative is to drop the 5 percent income tax rate to 3.75 as scheduled on Jan. 1, but that would make state programs unsustainable, sources said.

*** UPDATE *** The Sun-Times now has more details

Quinn’s plan would reconfigure how Illinois homeowners deduct their property taxes by setting up a system in which they would get an automatic $500 tax credit. That change will roughly double the state’s outlay on property tax relief from approximately $650 million to $1.25 billion.

Now, they can deduct 5 percent of their property taxes, which one source called “regressive” because homeowners with more expensive properties get to deduct more than those living in more modest homes.

Since they wouldn’t qualify for the property-tax rebate, low-income renters would draw some benefit from the doubling of the state’s earned income tax credit during the next four years, as Quinn will propose, sources said.

* Related…

* Quinn to tout fiscal successes in budget address: On Tuesday, aides distributed a checklist of upbeat fiscal news Quinn is expected to highlight to a joint session of the House and Senate at noon. Included are reductions in the state’s backlog of bills and cuts in the state’s operating budget because of changes to the Medicaid program, the closure of prisons and savings in state office leases.

* Quinn’s budget may make income tax increase permanent

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      

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Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

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* Andy Shaw to step down from BGA top job
* Donne Trotter's legacy
* Ives calls Rauner property tax EO "pandering, ineffective"
* Illinois is one of the least affected states during federal shutdown
* *** UPDATED x2 - Raoul responds without addressing the charge - Ruiz claims Raoul bragged about delaying a bill to elect Chicago school board *** CTU backs Raoul, NNU backs Biss
* Mendoza releases first "debt transparency report"
* RGA rips Pritzker over Blagojevich coverage
* Madigan tells audience he rejected a 2015 deal proposed by Rauner
* Today's number: 11 Illinois women in 200 years
* Mark Brown and Eric Zorn on Chris Kennedy
* Citizen Action backs Pritzker, Evanston backs Biss, Kennedy to unveil property tax reform plan
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