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Madigan introduces yet another constitutional amendment

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* With a big hat tip to a commenter, House Speaker Michael Madigan has introduced a new constitutional amendment

Proposes to amend the Suffrage and Elections Article of the Constitution. Provides that no person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, sex, sexual orientation, or income. Effective upon being declared adopted.

Driving turnout again?

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      


Harmon releases proposed tax rates

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Sen. Don Harmon unveiled his progressive tax proposal today…


Oy.

Cue the screamers.

* However, that’s not the rate people pay with standard deductions. Here’s the actual tax rates under the new plan and the supposed cuts

Top rate would be 6.9 percent.

* And speaking of screamers, I haven’t been a big fan of “A Better Illinois” for the way it handled the progressive tax rollout. But a group with ties to the Illinois Policy Institute has created a website to denounce the pro-tax group and uses fake mugshots to drive home its point.

Actually, I’m not sure what the point of the site is except to tell us what we already know. They’re a group of liberals with union ties and funding.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Payback is a drag, man

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Mess with the bull, get the horn

Lake County Circuit Court Clerk and Republican Committeeman for Precinct 205 Keith Brin announced he’s vying to oust Bob Cook as chairman of the Lake County Republican Party in next month’s election. […]

Brin has already received support in his bid for Chairman with endorsements from State Representative and Former Lake County Republican Party Chairman JoAnn Osmond, Lake Villa Township Supervisor and Former Lake County Republican Party Chairman Dan Venturi, Lake County Treasurer Bob Skidmore, Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor, State Representative Ed Sullivan, and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

The current chairman led an effort to oust Sullivan in last week’s GOP primary when he supported Bob Bednar, building up to a challenge for Cook’s spot.

Rep. Sullivan, who was opposed because he voted for the gay marriage bill, beat Bednar 59-41.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* There’s a big discussion about this topic on another post, so let’s make it the question

Two state senators say Illinois needs another Big Ten Conference school.

A bill has been introduced by Lisle Republican Michael Connelly and Palatine Republican Matt Murphy.

The two say their measure would study what’s needed for a public university in the state to join the conference that already includes Northwestern and the University of Illinois.

“The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has become highly competitive to the point where we are seeing students with excellent grades and test scores get shut out of attending our in-state, public Big Ten school,” Murphy said in a statement.

* More

The commission would comprise a variety of individuals, including Illinois students paying out-of-state tuition to an existing Big Ten school, students who have left the state for another conference university and higher education professionals.

The bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee March 19. A commission’s report would be presented to the General Assembly by the first of next year.

“We should make it easier for these students to stay in Illinois, not look for greener pastures across state lines,” Murphy said.

Connelly added: “It is my hope this commission can find a way to deliver a higher education system that gives our young people the opportunities they seek at a price they and their parents can afford.”

* The Question: Good idea or goofy? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


survey solutions

- Posted by Rich Miller   86 Comments      


Walking a squiggly line on term limits

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Umm

Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) says he has not yet signed the petition that calls for limiting members of the Illinois General Assembly to eight year terms. But he says that he would.

Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, says he also backs term limits for Congress, at least in concept.

But he says he will not set a self-imposed term limit on his time in Washington.

“Unfortunately, what’s happened is there have been so many good legislators that have had self-imposed term limits and they leave, or they break their pledge,” he said. “The problems in Washington are caused by those who have been there and have no intention of ever leaving.”

He’d sign Rauner’s petition, and he’s for term limits, but not for himself?

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Lighten up, Françoise

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* From a December 30th Wall Street Journal article on a Parisian tussle over the ride-sharing service Uber

Paris has been a fertile ground for the new app-based car-service companies, with more than more than 12,000 vehicles now available—compared with nearly zero in 2010. It is one of Uber’s two biggest markets outside the U.S., alongside London. Revenue at Chauffeur-Prive.com is growing 10% week to week, its founder says.

In response, French taxi companies lobbied heavily for new rules, saying that they had been put at a disadvantage since rules created in 2009 allowed a new class of cars to take reservations, but not street hails, with fewer certification requirements.

Taxi drivers say that the new online services, in which a taxi can be ordered via an app and arrive at your GPS coordinates at a prearranged price within five minutes, effectively compete for passengers who would otherwise be hailing taxis. Drivers and taxi companies buy expensive licenses for exclusive rights to offer street-hail trips.

* I was in Paris just days after that article appeared. We stayed at a little, out of the way (read: relatively inexpensive) hotel. No taxis milling about anywhere. Not close to a train.

I was told that a taxi reservation would cost me 5 Euros on top of the normal fare. The wait could be up to an hour.

So, for the first time ever, I tried Uber. It worked great from my hotel (we cabbed everywhere else) and, when you included that taxi reservation fee, it was about the same price as a cab. It was also quicker than ordering a taxi, even with Paris’ goofy regulation requiring at least a 15-minute wait before Uber could pick me up (if I was staying at a 4 or 5-star hotel, however, the mandatory wait would’ve been waived).

Taxi companies everywhere are fighting back against Uber. Some Parisian cab drivers even went on strike over the issue.

Uber isn’t for everyone or for every situation. Some of its “surge pricing” could be seen as downright scandalous. They charge what the market will bear, and that means an Uber “black car” ride from the United Center to the Loop can cost more than a hundred bucks after a game or concert.

* What we don’t want to do with regulation is to be worse than Paris. A new bill (HB 4075) seems to provide some reasonable requirements, but would step on some Uber business practices as well. From a press release…

House Bill 4075, named the Ridesharing Arrangements and Consumer Protection Act, would require commercial ridesharing companies to have adequate insurance, contract with drivers who are appropriately licensed, use vehicles that are inspected for safety and serve customers with disabilities and in underserved communities.

The statewide standards in House Bill 4075 also:

    · Close the insurance gap, requiring $500,000 combined commercial liability insurance;
    · Require chauffer licenses for all drivers;
    · Eliminate the use of waivers of liability by rideshare companies;
    · Require vehicle safety standards, including regular inspections;
    · Limit hours drivers can be on the road with a maximum 10 hour driving shift in a 24 hour period;
    · Prohibit price gouging;
    · Require accessible vehicles for passengers with disabilities;
    · Require compliance with local service standards, including service to low-income communities;
    · Require vehicle marking and clear posting of a phone number for customer complaints;
    · Allow communities to establish and enforce stricter oversight over rideshare companies, but not to ignore the statewide regulatory threshold established by the General Assembly

Requiring vehicle marking seems silly to me. And allowing cities to go all Paris on these companies at willl probably isn’t a great idea, either.

* Let’s go back to the press release…

The Illinois General Assembly passed the Ridesharing Arrangements Act in 1983 to permit carpooling and other similar activities. The legislation was narrowly crafted to prohibit alternative taxi services or “jitney cabs” from operating in the state. Despite the narrow allowance for for-profit ridesharing activities other than those specified in the Ridesharing Arrangements Act, UberX, Lyft and Sidecar have been openly operating in the City of Chicago and the city’s affluent suburbs without abiding by any regulations.

Pretty harsh tone, no?

And think about this for a second: Illinois had to actually change a law to permit carpooling in 1983?

Sheesh.

* And, from the bill, this is a bit silly

No person participating in a commercial ridesharing arrangement shall collect, and dispatchers shall not charge, any fare that is more than the highest per-mile rate charged by taxicabs within the unit of local government where the commercial ridesharing arrangement is conducted.

If people are willing to pay more and are told in advance of the rate, what’s the problem?

Why is everybody always so afraid of “the new”?

* This company is very aggressive and has fought on several fronts

“What we did in Chicago, what we do in all these cities, is reach out to all of our users and say, take action–email your councilperson; email the mayor,” Kalanick says. “Uber riders are the most affluent, influential people in their cities. When we get to a critical mass, it becomes impossible to shut us down.”

Denver is a more recent test of the playbook. In January, Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission proposed rules under which the company could be classified as a motor carrier–meaning it would be treated like a taxi company. This issue is at the core of many of Uber’s regulatory challenges. That’s because, city by city and state by state, transportation companies of all sorts–cab, sedan, limo–are heavily regulated in terms of the insurance they carry, the structure of their fares, the background screening of their drivers, and the condition of their vehicles.

Uber neither owns vehicles nor employs drivers; it makes the technology that connects a user to a driver, one who is ostensibly already abiding by all these local regulations. As Kalanick often says, “They need to decide whether we are Orbitz or American Airlines.”

To be classified as a transportation company would amputate from Uber the exact things that make it an exceptionally good business: its ability to scale fast, control how a rider pays, and not be bogged down by owning vehicles.

The future is here. Let’s not blow it.

*** UPDATE *** From ride-sharing company Lyft…

After weeks of working diligently with Mayor Emanuel, we have made significant progress on a proposed city ordinance that prioritizes public safety while protecting innovation. HB 4075 is a backdoor attempt by state legislators to undermine all the work that’s already been done to reach a solution on this issue, and ultimately kill peer-to-peer transportation. HB 4075 would effectively shut down new transportation options in Illinois and eliminate consumer choice for residents who depend on safe and affordable transportation alternatives like Lyft. While safety is often brought up as a reason to apply an old regulatory model to an innovative transportation solution, the truth is that new technology provides an opportunity to increase safety above and beyond what has been done previously, which is why Lyft’s safety criteria are far more strict than what is required of taxis and limos. These proposed regulations have no bearing on public safety, and the motivation behind their development was planned behind closed doors. We hope that the House Committee will listen to its constituents who want more transportation options and vote against HB 4075.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Today’s number: $480,000

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Ben Yount

The now former president of Illinois State University is getting almost a half million dollars to walk away from a job he may have been close to losing.

Tim Flanagan abruptly resigned Saturday, pocketing a $480,000 payout and three months of rent-free living at ISU’s presidential mansion.

“You don’t want to get into an argument about the terms of resignation,” ISU trustee Michael McCuskey said.

McCusky wouldn’t say how close the university was to firing Flanagan for his role in an alleged assault on a university groundskeeper. […]

ISU trustees were to meet Saturday to discuss “personnel matters,” but Flanagan resigned before any action was taken.

* Background

R. Patrick Murphy, a superintendent of grounds, has said his crew was aerating the lawn outside Flanagan’s home when the president rushed outside to confront him. Flanagan’s spit flew in Murphy’s face and clothes during the dustup, Murphy told police.

“He cuts loose on me. I’ve never seen such a thing happen. I was shocked,” Murphy told The Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington.

Murphy was fired five days after the incident and is seeking his job back, The Pantagraph reported.

University police have forwarded their case to McLean County prosecutors, who intend to ask a special prosecutor to investigation to avoid a potential conflict because a member of the state’s attorney’s family works at the school in Downstate Normal, according to The Pantagraph. […]

Flanagan was appointed in May to replace Al Bowman, president of the university for a decade. Flanagan received an annual salary of $350,000 plus benefits under his three-year contract. He previously was the president of Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** MJM on Rauner

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Speaker Madigan recently talked about how he came to know Bruce Rauner, and how he informed Rauner that quite a few House Republicans were on the other side of Rauner’s education reform push

“We’ve met over the years, it’s not that we’ve had a recent meeting. We’ve known each other for several years. The first meeting we had was concerned with education. We met concerning a group called Stand For Children which he was involved with, he was involved in fundraising for Stand for Children. When I learned of his interest in education and Stand for Children, I asked for a meeting with him. We had a very lengthy discussion about education, education funding.”

Bruce Rauner, the GOP’s 2014 gubernatorial candidate is credited with bringing the state chapter of Stand for Children to Illinois in 2010. Right away the group became actively involved in Illinois political campaigns. During the 2010 election cycle, the bipartisan group - funded by donors including members of the Lester Crowne family, the Pritzkers and the Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell - raised nearly $5 million, of which $110,000 went to Madigan-backed candidates. In 2011, the group gave $50,000 directly to the Illinois Democratic Party of Illinois, of which Madigan is chairman.

“I made an effort to explain that there were plenty of Republicans in the Illinois legislature that were interested in the positions of people in the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers. I gave him some documents showing that, so he was appreciative of the information,” Madigan said of his meeting with Rauner.

*** UPDATE *** I suppose this passes for informed comment at the Wall Street Journal

The speaker knows which switches and levers to pull and has grown accustomed to running the machine, even with Republican governors nominally at the helm. No Democratic legislator gets elected without his blessing.

Our sources say that Mr. Madigan is petrified that Mr. Rauner will usurp him. Since Mr. Rauner isn’t beholden to the Democratic boss or labor unions, he wouldn’t be afraid to use his veto pen or as disposed to cut deals. We’re also told that Mr. Rauner knows where the skeletons are buried in Springfield. And unlike past Republican nominees, Mr. Rauner isn’t afraid to play hard ball. While Democrats may portray the businessman as Mitt Romney in training, Mr. Rauner has sharper political instincts more akin to Scott Brown.

“No Democratic legislator gets elected without his blessing”? Maybe somebody should talk to Will Guzzardi.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Depressing Quinn’s base

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Sneed on a likely and important piece of Bruce Rauner’s Cook County strategy

“The black vote in Cook County is paramount for Rauner; especially if they don’t vote,” said a top political strategist. “The strategy is pretty clear. Rauner already blocked out Rev. James Meeks and every black who doesn’t turn out in the November election hurts Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Rauner’s strategists are smart enough to replicate what Republican Gov. Jim Edgar did to defeat Democrat Neil Hartigan by getting the black reverends on his side to make it look like [Edgar] got the base of black support,” the Dem source said.

“That ensured low black voter turnout, which would be disastrous for Pat Quinn.“

All true.

- Posted by Rich Miller   75 Comments      


Policy Institute claims that Madigan’s tax idea is really just a “Chicago bailout”

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* It’s no surprise that the Illinois Policy Institute hates Speaker Madigan’s proposed 3 percent tax surcharge on incomes above a million dollars. But the group has connected the dots to the Chicago Public Schools’ pension problems. The proposal would distributes the billion dollars in projected revenues equally to school districts based on student headcount. Since CPS has the most students, it gets the most money, which the Policy Institute claims is basically just a “Chicago bailout”

It just so happens that [Madigan’s] home school district is suffering from a collapsing pension fund and pension contributions that are set to triple in 2014.

Chicago Public Schools’ pension contribution spiked to $613 million in 2014, up from $208 million in 2013, and CPS doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

But rather than call for sensible pension reforms, Madigan would rather pour more state tax dollars into CPS’s pensions.

Nearly 20 percent of Madigan’s proposed tax, or $200 million per year, would go to CPS. With nearly 400,000 students, CPS makes up about one-fifth of the entire student population in Illinois.

Sure, all school districts in the state stand to receive more money from Madigan’s short-sighted plan (how much they’ll get depends on how many millionaires decide to leave); but it’s only CPS that’s dealing with such a large contribution spike.

Madigan’s plan makes his tax increase retroactive to January 2014. That means CPS would stand to gain a combined $400 million in new revenues for 2014 and 2015.

That money would help pay CPS’s increased pension contribution, but the district’s pension system is past the point of a quick fix. Which is what Madigan’s plan really is – a bailout with state tax dollars.

Madigan’s proposal can be read by clicking here.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


Credit Unions – “People Helping People” and their communities

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions exist to help people, not make a profit. With a goal to serve all members well - including those of modest means - every member counts. The movement’s “People Helping People” philosophy causes credit unions and their employees to volunteer in community charitable activities and worthwhile causes. Take for instance SIU Credit Union in Carbondale. They know all too well the damage natural disasters can cause, having seen the impact of tornadoes that have ravaged their nearby communities, including Harrisburg and Brookport. In the immediate wake of those storms, the credit union sent employees, already trained as members of a local Community Emergency Response Team, to assist in the emergency supply relief effort. In addition, the credit union donated numerous cases of water and hosted a pizza lunch for the community. It also utilized all of its branches as places where members could make monetary and other donations of needed items. Credit union members know their credit union will be there for them in bad times, as well as good. And they are fiercely loyal for this reason.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


A closer look at that Simon poll

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Let’s get back to that Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll, shall we? Respondents were asked

Do you favor or oppose a proposal to make permanent the temporary state income tax increase passed in 2011?

As we’ve already discussed, 60 percent opposed making the tax hike permanent, while a mere 26.5 percent favored making it permanent.

* So, a follow-up question was asked of respondents who said they were opposed to making the tax increase permanent

The Governor’s budget office estimates that if the temporary tax increase expires, it will add $2 billion dollars a year to the state’s budget deficit. If you were convinced this was the case, would you favor or oppose making permanent the temporary income tax increase?

Even with that information about a $2 billion hit to the budget, 74 percent still opposed making the tax hike permanent and just 17 percent changed their minds. 49 percent of Democrats still opposed making the tax hike permanent, versus just 38 percent who changed their minds and backed it. 47 percent of self-identified liberals remained opposed to making the tax hike permanent, compared to 41 percent who changed their minds.

* Moving along to pensions, respondents were asked

Last year the legislature passed and the governor signed a pension reform bill. It is designed to save Illinois’ under-funded public employee pension system $100 billion dollars over 30 years, and would eventually fully fund the system. It would decrease the amount workers’ pay into the program, but would also cut cost-of-living increases for state retirees. Generally speaking do you approve or disapprove of the new law?

47 percent approved of the law, while 39 percent disapproved of it. 48 percent of Democrats and Republicans approved of the new law, while 46 percent of independents approved.

Conservatives and Republicans were more likely to strongly disapprove of the new pension law (24 and 23, respectively) than liberals and Democrats (17 and 18). That’s quite an interesting result, considering the firestorm of controversy the bill ignited on the labor left end of the spectrum during the primary season.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


*** LIVE SESSION COVERAGE ***

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

* Lots and lots of bills in committee

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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