* You don’t usually see Speaker Madigan issue long press releases about legislation, but he did it today…
Pointing to the need for greater assistance for schools across Illinois, House Speaker Michael J. Madigan on Wednesday released a statement on his plan to increase state funding for elementary and high schools:
“With the rollback of the temporary income tax increase on January 1, we are facing new budget-making obstacles. According to the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the rollback is expected to result in a loss of nearly $5 billion in state revenue each year. With lower revenues, many state services will be in very precarious financial positions.
“Schools in Illinois need greater financial support to ensure our children can compete in a global economy. This is why I am renewing my call for a constitutional amendment requiring a 3 percent surcharge on income over $1 million, with the extra revenue devoted to schools across the state on a per-pupil basis. This change, filed as House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 26, would result in about $1 billion in additional funding for Illinois students, or about $530 in additional funding per student, per year.
“When this question was put to voters in a referendum last November, the results on Election Day were clear. Statewide, nearly 64 percent of all those voting on the referendum believed this surcharge should be implemented. Across Illinois, from Cook County to the collar counties, from northern Illinois to our southern-most counties, voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of requiring a 3 percent surcharge on millionaires. More than 40 counties supported the referendum with at least 60 percent of the vote, and 100 counties supported the measure with at least 50 percent of the vote.
“When I first offered this proposal in 2014, we knew then that Illinois schools needed greater financial support. The tax increase rollback has amplified our schools’ financial shortcomings. As tough as budget decisions have been for many years, they are now much more difficult. This proposal is not a complete solution to our education funding issues, but it is a fair and equitable way to help make sure Illinois schools receive needed funding to help prevent higher property taxes, teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and the loss of scholastic programs and classes.”
* The release followed a press conference by school groups…
A coalition of statewide education advocates on Wednesday called on state legislators to support House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 26, a proposal that would require a 3 percent surcharge on income over $1 million, to direct needed additional funding for K-12 schools. The members released the following statements:
“Every Illinoisan has a stake in ensuring that more investment goes to the classroom, so students get the support they need from their teachers and schools can offer the world-class opportunities that we know can change lives,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, a statewide union of over 100,000 teachers and public employees. “Rather than ask more from those who can least afford it, it’s time that the wealthiest Illinoisans contribute their fair share to fund education. Although this amendment isn’t the entire solution to the greater revenue crisis in Illinois, it is an important element for improving one of the worst school investment records in the nation. Last November, Illinois voters overwhelmingly approved this proposal and today, we call on all legislators to put the actual policy up for a vote.”
“The state’s Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) has determined that the cost of providing every student an adequate education is $8,899 per pupil, yet the Rauner budget proposes $5,782 per pupil,” said Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association. “It is illogical to believe we can allow revenue sources to disappear and continue to provide a quality education to our students. That’s bad math. Our children are being cheated out of their birthright – the opportunity to receive a high quality education. The Illinois Education Association strongly supports this amendment because it is a step toward ending the inequality that occurs when the support a school receives is determined by a student’s ZIP code.”
“Since 2009, state revenue funds for K-12 education have decreased by nearly $1 billion,” said Matt Brue, superintendent of Porta Community Unit School District #202 in Petersburg. “We appreciate the priority placed on K-12 education in the recent budget discussions, but are supportive of a comprehensive, long-term fiscal and tax policy plan. A component of this plan should include an additional tax imposed on the highest income earners.”
“We commend this proposal’s focus on increasing investment in education,” said Jessica Handy, Government Affairs Director for Stand for Children Illinois. “Schools have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the last five years, which hurts the education that our children receive and the professionals in the classroom. Stand for Children supports increased early childhood education opportunities, equitable funding, and support and accountability for all types of public schools – but these strategic investments at their core depend on having adequate funding for our education system.”
“This proposal is an important first step toward restoring the millions that have been cut from K-12 education in recent years,” said Robin Steans, Executive Director of Advance Illinois. “While not a complete solution to our education funding concerns, this proposal can start to move our students and schools toward an adequate base level of funding. Money alone will not improve education or close achievement gaps, however, money matters. Illinois ranks as one of the most regressive states nationwide in how it distributes state funds to schools. We also suffer from some of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between low-income students and their peers. A more equitable funding formula, in tandem with the proposal in HJRCA 26 for increased revenue, would begin to open the doors of opportunity for all Illinois students.”
“Our districts, like others throughout the state, are struggling to maintain a high level of education, while experiencing ongoing proration of General State Aid and multiple-year cuts to their budgets,” said Diane Rutledge, Executive Director of the Large Unit District Association, which represents 55 of the largest school districts in the state. “More than two-thirds of the school districts in Illinois are in deficit spending. Although we do not believe HJRCA 26 is the sole solution to education funding, we do appreciate this effort to identify new revenues for education. This is one piece to the school-funding puzzle. As educators, we will continue to work towards adequate funding and equitable distribution for all of the students in our state in order to complete the puzzle.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner is asking farmers to help him go after troublesome lawmakers and protect those who support his agenda for reshaping Illinois.
The Republican governor told attendees at an Illinois Farm Bureau conference on Wednesday that lawmakers who oppose reform create enemies among farmers and within the business community.
Rauner wants famers to help him “protect the good ones and go after the bad ones” as he pushes for legislation in line with his agenda over the coming months. His plans for Illinois include freezing property taxes, hiring more prison guards, increasing school funding and cutting billions in state spending.
He also said “We’ve got some corrupt politicians and some government unions bosses and some inside lobbyists that run the government for their benefit, not for your benefit, and I’m gonna break up that system.” He closed by saying “If we don’t get involved together, the bad guys stay in charge.”
* The governor also issued a long, full-throated defense of his “right to work” plans. Have a listen…
Rep. Aaron Schock has hired two prominent Washington defense attorneys and a public relations firm to respond to the swirling controversy and a potential ethics probe over how he has financed his lavish lifestyle.
The move by the embattled Illinois Republican comes amid continuing questions about his use of campaign and office accounts to pay for pricey travel and accommodations. His office has refused to respond to specific questions from POLITICO, including issues raised over the past week about a trip he took to London nearly four years ago as part of an annual event featuring Prince Charles.
Schock has hired William McGinley and Don McGahn of the Washington law firm Jones Day to lead his legal team. Veteran GOP communications operatives Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh are helping manage his response, according to sources close to the matter. […]
The trip, which included events organized by the nonprofit Prince of Wales Foundation, was not an official government trip and was not reported as a gift. Schock’s office would not say whether he paid for it. If he personally covered the cost of the trip, Schock would not be required to disclose it.
The London trip was discovered as part of a cache of documents obtained by POLITICO detailing several years of Schock’s personal, political and governmental travel.
* And if the AP really did come up with this idea and spent the time necessary to do the research all on its own, then good for the AP. But being on the receiving end of some pretty clever oppo over the years, and knowing the existence of a “cache” of travel-related oppo, I am a tiny bit skeptical that this was a purely original concept…
Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, a rising Republican star already facing an ethics inquiry, has spent taxpayer and campaign funds on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his key donors, The Associated Press has found. There also have been other expensive travel and entertainment charges, including for a massage company and music concerts.
The expenses highlight the relationships that lawmakers sometimes have with donors who fund their political ambitions, an unwelcome message for a congressman billed as a fresh face of the GOP. The AP identified at least one dozen flights worth more than $40,000 on donors’ planes since mid-2011.
The AP tracked Schock’s reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman’s penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock’s office and campaign records. […]
The AP found that Green’s plane traveled to at least eight cities last October in the Midwest and East Coast, cities where Schock met with political candidates ahead of the midterm elections. His Instagram account’s location data and information from the service FlightAware even pinpointed Schock’s location on a stretch of road near one airport before Green’s plane departed.
* And then right on cue comes the liberal-leaning CREW outfit…
Under scrutiny for lavish spending, Rep. Aaron Schock R-Ill. has been hit with a third ethics complaint on Wednesday from CREW — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — a watchdog group whose concerns often trigger further investigative inquiries.
The complaint comes a day after Schock asked his lawyers to conduct an internal audit of spending from his government and political accounts.
In a release, CREW said it “asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate whether Rep. Schock broke House rules in light of new evidence that the congressman improperly used taxpayer money and campaign funds to rent private, non-charter flights for travel.
So is this just some DC-style harassment “fun,” or is it something more? It could be either one or even both, but it’s probably not too difficult to use your imagination to see the ultimate hit that could be coming here. The Democrats could very well be working up to something, or at least churning the waters until that something is finally pried loose and Schock is forced out or so badly damaged that the wildly successful fundraiser and GOP media star is rendered ineffective.
Or, maybe it’s just “good government.”
Yeah, right. DC is so all about the good government thing.
* Before closing, I should say that strict compliance with our comment code will be enforced on this post. Don’t get yourself banned for life. It ain’t worth it.
The cable industry is asking lawmakers to place a NEW 5% tax on satellite TV service. The satellite tax is not about fairness, equity or parity – it’s a tax increase on the 1.3 million Illinois families and businesses who subscribe to satellite TV.
Satellite Tax Will Hurt Illinois Families and Small Businesses
• Satellite TV subscribers will see their monthly bills go up 5%.
• This tax will impact every bar, restaurant and hotel that subscribes to satellite TV service, which will translate into higher prices, decreased revenues, and fewer jobs.
• Rural Illinois has no choice: In many parts of Illinois, cable refuses to provide TV service to rural communities. Satellite TV is their only option.
Satellite Tax Is Not About Parity or Fairness
• Cable’s claim that this discriminatory tax is justified because satellite TV doesn’t pay local franchise fees could not be further from the truth. Cable pays those fees to local towns and cities in exchange for the right to bury cables in the public rights of way—a right that cable companies value in the tens of billions of dollars in their SEC filings.
• Satellite companies don’t pay franchise fees for one simple reason: We use satellites—unlike cable, we don’t need to dig up streets and sidewalks to deliver our TV service.
• Making satellite subscribers pay franchise fees—or, in this case, an equivalent amount in taxes—would be like taxing the air. It’s no different than making airline passengers pay a fee for laying railroad tracks. They don’t use; they shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Two months after it passed the General Assembly, a bill has finally been sent to the governor that gives electric utilities, including Ameren, two additional years to recover costs of upgrading delivery systems.
The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Bruce Rauner who has until early April to decide whether to sign or veto the bill that provides rate increases to Ameren and Commonwealth Edison for installing smart-grid technology.
Rauner’s office issued a statement Tuesday saying only that the bill is under review.
The bill extends until 2019 a law that allows the two utilities to raise rates according to a formula. An original version of the bill called for the legislation to expire in 2017 which would have required the utilities to make a case for why it should be continued.
This is the first bill to reach Rauner, who has never before held elected office, and it’s hard to tell what he might do with it. Proponents of the measure say an updated, high-tech “smart grid” will make the state more attractive to businesses. Utilities ComEd and Ameren are also powerful lobbies. But a new governor — particular one who has advocated for lowering taxes — may also not want the first piece of legislation he signs into law to be one that consumers could view as an electric rate hike.
Not to mention the potential legal issues, given the measure’s carryover from the 98th General Assembly to the 99th.
“It’s pretty much unprecedented, the situation that we’re in now. I think it’s very much a legal gray area. Maybe even a dark gray area,” says Citizens Utility Board director David Kolata. He says that CUB may consider legal action should Rauner sign the extension into law.
That most certainly does pose an interesting question. Can a governor sign a bill that was passed during a previous General Assembly under a previous governor?
Community leaders have added their voices to the debate over the future of the nuclear power station in Clinton and two sister plants which face the risk of closure according to their owner, Exelon Nuclear.
Clinton Mayor Carolyn Peters joined the mayors of Morris, Oregon, East Moline, Braceville and Marseilles in letters sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner and top legislators like House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, stressing the importance of the plants to their cities and towns.
In their letter to Rauner, they warn of the economic fallout that would follow the closure of Clinton or the other plants in Ogle County and Rock Island.
“Illinois nuclear facilities provide thousands of good jobs; the kind of jobs you can support a family on…,” the mayors say in a letter dated Feb. 4. “Part of the upcoming debate in Springfield should focus on what these plants mean to their host communities. From our firsthand perspective, we can tell you that Illinois’ nuclear facilities are essential to helping our communities thrive.”
There’s no doubt that these are good jobs. There’s also no doubt that those communities depend on the taxes generated by the nuke plants.
But the question is whether the GA ought to be stepping in here. I’m not convinced either way yet.
My name is Donna Harnett. My eldest son’s life was destroyed the moment it began as a result of a medical error.
Martin’s disabilities were severe. He was a quadriplegic. He didn’t walk and was unable to talk. He wore diapers.
The doctor who delivered Martin was a teaching physician at a prominent hospital in Cook County. My case against him was not the first; there were several others with similarly disastrous outcomes. Despite the other lawsuits, the doctor retained his license to practice and was not listed on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website as ever being disciplined.
Let me tell you about this lawsuit lottery winner’s life. Martin had at least one doctor appointment per week. He received physical therapy, not only at home but also at school every week. He was unable to socialize with others. He couldn’t run or play with his brothers. His existence consisted of laying or sitting in a wheelchair, completely helpless.
Martin passed away at the age of 14. I would give it all back if I could just have had my son as he should have been.
The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association fights to ensure all citizens get equal footing in the courtroom. To learn more about Martin, click here.
* Gov. Bruce Rauner barnstormed Illinois for days after delivering his State of the State address. That hasn’t happened since the budget address. He just hasn’t been out there stumping and he’s not making himself available to the media.
He’s changing that up a bit today with a safe audience speech, a public appearance and a cabinet meeting. But there will be no talking to reporters. Here’s today’s official schedule…
Daily Public Schedule: Wednesday, February 25, 2015
What: Governor Addresses Illinois Farm Bureau
Where: Crowne Plaza Springfield
3000 S. Dirksen Pkwy., Springfield
Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Note: No additional media availability.
What: Governor Attends IDOT’s Today’s Challenge Tomorrow’s Reward Conference
Where: President Abraham Lincoln Springfield DoubleTree Hotel
701 E. Adams St., Springfield
Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Note: No additional media availability.
What: Governor Holds Cabinet Meeting
Where: State Capitol, Room 212
Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Time: Requested Media Arrival – 12:45 p.m.
Meeting Begins - 1:00 p.m.
Note: Only Governor Rauner’s remarks will be open to the media. No additional media availability.
* The governor is beginning to push back against critics today, however, by showcasing some horribly ill-informed or deliberately misinforming (cough*Tribune*cough) editorials…
Governor Rauner’s Budget Proposal: What They’re Saying
One week ago, Governor Rauner delivered his budget address as part of his Turnaround Plan for Illinois. Below see what some of Illinois’ leading voices have had to say:
* A budget is not “honest” or “courageous” or “fiscally responsible” if a huge portion of its immediate savings is based on constitutionally dubious “reforms.”
I’m also not sure how much “waste and inefficiencies” he’s really targeted with that budget. For example, he complained bitterly about the state’s airplane fleet during the campaign and many of those above editorial boards praised him for it. But except for zeroing out his own office, Rauner is maintaining funding for the shuttle service to and from Chicago.
* And what’s with the complete and deliberate refusal by these editorial boards to even discuss one or two of his human service cuts? Here’s an informative piece about the impact on the social service not-for-profit sector by the Donor’s Forum…
What is at stake is a valuable contributor to our state’s socio-economic engine. Consider these facts:
The philanthropic and nonprofit sector in Illinois employs half a million people. (Approximately 523,000 according to recent census data, available at BuildingStrongerIL.com) About 1 in 10 people with jobs in Illinois work for a nonprofit organization. Whether education, healthcare, arts and culture, the environment, human services, or research, our workforce contributes daily to this state’s competitive edge.
The nonprofit workforce in Illinois generates nearly $20 billion in payroll. Contrary to popular belief, working in a nonprofit does not mean that one is working for “good feelings.” Our $19 billion payroll represents our sector’s spending power within communities. And the taxes we pay on that payroll amounts to $1.5 billion.
Our philanthropic institutions invested $2.8 billion in grantmaking to communities in Illinois. This grantmaking compliments the $29 – $35 billion investments government makes in arts and culture, education, health and healthcare, and public safety. It cannot replace government cuts. It cannot achieve the scale government can. It is a vital resource that works in tandem with government funding.
When for-profit employers consider relocation, they take into account quality of life, education for their children, and opportunities to thrive. These qualities are enabled by the work our philanthropic and social impact community perform together – with government as a partner. When a state deliberately sets out to dismantle the social good, that state’s competitiveness and attraction plummets.
* From the Illinois Alcoholism Drug Dependence Association…
[Gov. Bruce Rauner] is aiming to slice $27.6 million out of the $127 million budget of the Illinois Department of Human Service’s Division of Alcohol Substance Abuse for alcohol and drug treatment, a 22% cut.
A cut of that magnitude would eliminate addiction healthcare treatment for 7,871 individuals next year out of the 47,000 currently receiving care this year or a 17% overall decrease, according to Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association Vice President for Substance Abuse Policy Eric Foster, who noted that funding for addiction health care has been cut 24% since fiscal year 2009.
“Tossing 7,871 people out of treatment means tossing them out of any meaningful opportunity to get a job,” said Foster. “Any good, modern businessman, especially a small businessman, knows that healthy employees are productive employees. It’s economics 101.”
According to 2014 data from the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, 35% of individuals entering treatment outpatient services are employed at admission, and that number grows to 42.6% employed at discharge. For those who receive treatment at Halfway House Recovery Homes 13.3% employed at admission and a whopping 38.7% employed at discharge. […]
“Since 2009, the state has slashed $39.7 million from treatment, denying care to 8,941 individuals in order to solve annual, chronic budget problems,” said Foster. “The cutting of addiction health care by Governor Rauner is just Springfield business as usual. There’s no ’shaking up Springfield. Simple-minded cutting is what Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn did each year.” […]
“A 2005 study by Bloomington-based Chestnut Health Systems of more than 800 Illinois adults reported that treatment produced a 58% decrease in drug and alcohol use and a 69% increase in employment engagement,” said Foster. “Cutting programs that deliver results and that help low-income workers, minorities, and women is not “thinkin’ anew”, it’s just the same old Springfield playbook.” […]
“A 2006 study of prisoners completing the Illinois Sheridan reentry prison treatment program revealed that 21% were less likely to be re-arrested for a new crime and 44% were less likely to return to prison,” said Foster. “The creation of the Sheridan program was a symbol of innovation, and the Rauner Administration needs to expand treatment for offenders if it is serious about reducing Illinois’ prisoner population.”
Last year, 296 towns imposed a sales tax on top of the state’s 6.25 percent, Illinois Department of Revenue data show. That’s up from 185 towns eight years ago. And elected officials in 173 of those towns have the authority to raise sales tax rates without asking voters for permission. […]
Increasing the sales tax rate is a much “easier sell” than raising property taxes because sales taxes are charged to nonresidents as well, Sagona said. That’s why municipal sales taxes have become increasingly popular and local governments haven’t been shy about increasing rates.
Money raised by municipal sales taxes has risen 51.8 percent since 2006, while the amount all Illinois towns receive from a separate 1 percent share of the state’s sales tax has increased just 11.9 percent, according to the revenue department figures.
The extra municipal sales taxes represent 22 percent of the $4.7 billion in total sales taxes paid to counties, all Illinois municipalities, the Regional Transportation Authority and a few other local government entities in 2014. […]
From 2006 to 2014, the number of towns charging home-rule sales taxes increased from 134 to 173. But the highest growth came in the form of voter-approved municipal sales taxes, which were charged in 123 towns last year, up from 51 in 2006.
The point of the story is some local governments may look at that sales tax as a way to cushion the blow of the governor’s proposed budget cuts. Then again, plenty of towns are already maxing out on the tax.
Emanuel’s failure to close the deal in the first round of voting despite such edges could stand as a rare humbling experience for a longtime Washington insider not known for humility.
The results also were an embarrassment for Obama, who used a trip home in the final days of the campaign to shower praise on his former White House chief of staff in remarks that were then quickly turned into an Emanuel campaign commercial. […]
If nothing else, the Emanuel-Garcia faceoff affords liberal critics of the mayor an opportunity to coalesce around a single challenger instead of carving up their support among several. Emanuel’s big fundraising edge is unlikely to disappear over the coming weeks, but Garcia also may gain a clearer platform to sell himself as a progressive alternative in the mold of his political mentor, the late Mayor Harold Washington, who remains an icon to many on left.
Emanuel’s political beating was capped off by the fact that one incumbent alderman was defeated outright and nine others backed by the mayor’s super PAC were forced into runoffs. Even Patrick Daley Thompson, the nephew of Emanuel’s political mentor, was forced into a runoff in spite of support from Chicago Forward.
During an animated impromptu press conference, Frank Avila Jr., an attorney for Willie Wilson, claimed credit for the mayoral runoff.
“Without Willie Wilson in the race, Rahm Emanuel . . . would have been re-elected tonight,” Avila shouted. “Willie Wilson took it to Rahm Emanuel at his base with African-Americans and said Rahm was lying. At least a portion of those African-Americans listened to us.”
Even in the 13th Ward, where powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan is the ward committeeman who worked hard for Emanuel, the mayor got just 50.9 percent to 36.7 percent for Garcia. In the 19th Ward, another one of the handful of strong Democratic ward organizations, Emanuel got just 41.3 percent to 36.4 percent for Garcia.
Trying to win more than 50 percent of the vote against four challengers is a tall order. It was particularly challenging for a polarizing figure such as Rahm Emanuel.
“I think that a lot of support will flow to Rahm and some will flow to Chuy as a result of that. At the end of the day, I think Rahm wins that choice,” said David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s former chief advisor.
“You had a multi-candidate race - a vigorous campaign. Each candidate had a constituency or constituencies. It’s hard to pull together an absolute majority in a situation like that,” Axelrod said.
Part of the reason for the runoff, is a very low voter turnout. In 2011, Emanuel got more 326,000 votes. This year, that number dropped off by nearly a third, to about 210,000 votes. That’s almost equal to the number of people who stayed home this year, compared to four years ago.
Emanuel spent over $10 million dollars and had major endorsers, including President Obama. But he isn’t wasting any time back on the campaign trail.
“We will get back out there, talking to friends and family and neighbors, as they make a critical choice,” Emanuel said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pick to replace former Ald. Sandi Jackson appeared Tuesday to be headed for an April runoff.
Ald. Natashia Holmes held a slim lead over her nearest challenger in the 7th Ward, Gregory Mitchell. But Holmes’ 25 percent of the vote with 93 percent of precincts reporting fell far short of the 50-percent-plus-one threshold needed to end her campaign in February. […]
Holmes will not be alone in the runoffs. Support from Emanuel’s Super PAC could not help some other incumbents on the far South Side end their campaigns Tuesday.
Ald. Lona Lane was nearly tied with Derrick Curtis in the 18th Ward, where both had 30 percent of the vote with 98 percent of precincts reporting.
In the 10th Ward, Ald. John Pope appeared to be headed into a runoff with Susan Sadlowski Garza. Pope had 44 percent of the vote with 97 percent of precincts reporting. Garza had 24 percent of the vote.
And in the 17th Ward, Emanuel’s super PAC backed Glenda Franklin. But David Moore led with 53 percent of the vote with 98 percent of precincts reporting.
First, he needs to change the narrative immediately. To win decisively on April 7, Emanuel must make this race about a choice between two candidates – not a referendum on his last four years.
This runoff allows both candidates to appeal to the broader electorate. There will be more debates, more substance, and more scrutiny as to who is better prepared to lead the city for the next four years.
Making this election about a choice also means that we should expect the Emanuel campaign to aggressively amp up their efforts to define Garcia. (I’ll be surprised if they don’t have new attack ads up before the weekend.)
Second, eating some humble pie right now could do the mayor some good.
Fairly or not, there’s a perception out there — advocated by his critics — that the mayor doesn’t listen to the concerns of everyday people. Those flames get fanned when his supporters bankroll a Super PAC to snuff out any opposition to his agenda or when he blows off media questions in the days leading up to the election (Opinion leaders and many in the media energetically rooted for a run-off).
Moody’s has issued a short comment (attached) regarding Governor Rauner’s initial proposal to close a projected 21% budget gap for the State of Illinois (rated A3/negative outlook) in the coming fiscal year. Rather than raising revenue, the proposed budget would cut pensions and employee health insurance spending, local government subsidies, Medicaid and other services, and rely on spending restraint that, given political and legal challenges, will prove hard to implement. Many of the Republican governor’s proposals, we believe, will face strong opposition from Democrats, who retain control over both legislative chambers. To the extent they are enacted, however, the funding reductions would shift fiscal pressure from the state to local units of government, public universities, healthcare providers and other entities that rely on state funding.
The proposed funding reductions to local governments, public universities and healthcare providers would all require approval in the legislature, where Democrats control both chambers by veto-proof majorities. This political landscape may make it difficult to enact even a few key elements of the governor’s proposal, much less the entire plan to achieve balance without raising revenues. The governor has indicated a willingness to discuss tax reform and increasing revenue by broadening the sales tax base to include services.
Under the fiscal 2016 budget proposal, local governments would see their state-shared income tax distributions cut in half, to $600 million. Among Moody’s-rated Illinois cities, income tax receipts accounted for a median 10% percent of operating revenues in fiscal 2013. The ability of local governments to offset a cut in income taxes with other tax increases varies widely. While home-rule cities have wide revenue-raising flexibility, some non-home-rule municipalities are subject to tax caps under the Illinois Property Tax Extension Law Limit.
Of the proposed fiscal 2016 savings, almost half, or $2.9 billion, would come from retirement benefit cuts. These consist mainly of pension reforms that Rauner’s team believes are more likely to withstand legal challenges than the state’s 2013 reforms now being challenged in court.
Is [Drew Peterson], who is serving a 38-year prison sentence for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio — and the prime suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson — the victim of a setup on recent charges that he plotted to have his prosecutor, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, murdered?
Sneed has learned that Joel Brodsky, who was Peterson’s lead attorney in the Savio murder trial, has sent a letter to Randolph County Public Defender James W. Kelley, claiming he recently received two letters from an Illinois Department of Corrections inmate “that would indicate that Mr. Peterson was the victim of a setup, and was entrapped into committing the offense of solicitation of murder.” […]
Brodsky withdrew from Drew Peterson’s murder case following a public feud with his co-attorney Steve Greenberg, who is now part of a panel of attorneys representing Peterson on appeal.
* This Brodsky gentleman is quite, um, interesting. After Peterson was charged with the alleged plot on Glasgow, Brodsky sent out a statement to the media, which was forwarded to me by CBS 2…
If the allegations against Mr. Peterson are true, and they are only allegations at this time, it is an expression of Mr. Peterson’s frustration with the representation he is receiving in his appeal by his appellate attorney Steven Greenberg. If Mr. Peterson believed in his appeal, he wouldn’t commit such an act, if he did what he is alleged to have done. When I represented Drew, we may have done things that were controversial, but we always discussed everything and there was a reason for everything we did. When he was in jail prior to his trial, I kept in frequent contact with him so that he knew I was constantly working on his behalf.
If the current allegations against Mr. Peterson are true, in my opinion, the actions are a result of Attorney Steve Greenberg’s failure to control his client, and his failure to keep his client informed and focused on his legal options, his appeal, and other post-conviction remedies. In my opinion, if Mr. Peterson committed the acts he is accused of, it is a result of his frustration at not being well represented by Attorney Steve Greenberg.
[Rep. Frank Mautino] is backing legislation to protect victims of sexual abuse by expanding prosecutors’ ability to file charges against alleged rapists.
The measure calls for lengthening the statute of limitations in rape cases. Currently, the statute of limitations begins once the crime is committed. Under the bill Mautino supports, the clock on the statute of limitations would not begin until the evidence from the rape is collected, transmitted and analyzed by the Illinois State Police.
“Sexual assaults are hideous crimes that can leave victims traumatized for the rest for their lives. Their emotional pain is made worse when their attackers can’t even be arrested and held accountable,” Mautino said. “Victims must be given every opportunity to see their attackers brought to justice.”
* Again, that’s all well and good, but first you gotta get prosecutors to bring charges. The Belleville News-Democrat looked at the 32-county southern Illinois region and found some shocking stats…
(T)housands of women, teenage girls and children in a 32-county area of Southern Illinois told police they were sexually violated by someone they trusted: a friend, an ex-boyfriend or a family member.
Authorities did not prosecute seven out of 10 of these sex crime suspects from 2005-13, even though victims were able to identify their attackers 95 percent of the time, according to a Belleville News-Democrat investigation.
While national attention has focused on rape on college campuses and in the military, a review of more than 1,000 police reports and 15,000 pages of court records showed that failure to bring sex crime suspects to court was widespread throughout Southern Illinois during the nine-year period ending in 2013, the latest figures available. […]
• Of 6,744 felony sex crimes reported to police across the region, 70 percent, or 4,721 cases, never made it to a courtroom. […]
• The overall chance that a felony sex crime suspect would go to prison was one in 10. When suspects were prosecuted, the conviction rates generally ranged from 55 to 85 percent.
• Some cities with the largest police departments and most investigators had the highest number of felony sex crimes reported but some of the lowest prosecution rates: East St. Louis, 7 percent, Carbondale, 8 percent and Belleville, 18 percent.
• Women 18 or older accounted for 31 percent of sex crime victims, according to a review of 1,070 felony police investigative reports. But an analysis of court records showed that adults accounted for only 17 percent of sex crime prosecutions.
• The prosecution rate of felony sex crimes in Madison County was more than double that in St. Clair County — 38 to 18 percent, respectively — even though they border one another and are nearly identical in population.
(C)onviction rates overall were relatively high for the cases that were prosecuted. Some experts suggest that means prosecutors are taking only cases they’re sure they can win.
“They do their work on a case-by-case basis — and their biases about what is a winnable case plays out over and over again, and the number of cases that don’t move forward just keep adding up,” said Rebecca Campbell, a professor at Michigan State University’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence.
Thomas W. Smith drove too fast, didn’t wear his seat belt and beat his wife. Details of his convictions for the traffic offenses and domestic battery are available at the Union County Courthouse for anyone to examine.
But a county judge ruled that his conviction in 2008 for raping an 11-year-old girl should be kept secret, despite provisions in the Illinois Constitution that generally protect juveniles but require court records to be open for adults charged or convicted of crimes.
In Union County, that wasn’t always the case.
At least 39 felony cases, most involving sex crimes, were removed from 2007-13 by court order. Even the circuit clerk’s computerized records, known as a manifest, that include the case number, defendant’s name and description of the crime were hidden from the public.
Campus police investigated 41 complaints of criminal sexual assault, or rape, and 11 allegations of felony sexual abuse from 2005-13 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which has an enrollment of about 18,000 students.
Yet, only five of these 52 reported felony sex crimes, or 10 percent, ended up in a courtroom.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
* Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
* Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
* Shackling for prolonged periods.
* Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
* Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. […]
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.
“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
As financial cooperatives, credit unions function as economic democracies. Every customer is both a member and an owner. Each member has the opportunity to vote in electing board members and members also run for election to the board. A credit union’s board of directors consists of unpaid volunteers, elected by and from the membership – everyday people like you.
Unlike most other financial institutions, credit unions do not issue stock or pay dividends to outside stockholders. Instead, earnings are returned to members in the form of lower loan rates, higher interest on deposits, and lower fees. Board members serve voluntarily.
Speaking of volunteering, the credit union “People Helping People” philosophy motivates credit unions to get involved in countless community charitable activities and worthwhile causes. A credit union’s goal is to serve all members well, including those of modest means - every member counts.
Credit unions exist solely for this reason, not to make a profit. Members know their credit union will be there for them in challenging times, as well as good – which is the reason why members are so fiercely loyal.
A measure introduced in the Illinois legislature would make students pay back certain tuition breaks from the state if they leave Illinois within five years of graduation.
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reported the legislation would affect the Monetary Award Program, which serves about 140,000 lower income students. It’s part of a package of legislation sponsored by state Sen. Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet.
Under the proposal, students receiving grants through the program would also have to graduate within four years and wouldn’t be able to get a grant the year after they flunk out.
“I hope that it’s not too drastic or draconian,” Rose said. “I hope it would serve as an incentive.”
I dunno. I guess I see the point here, but it seems a bit over the top. Your thoughts?
An Illinois State Senator is sponsoring a bill that would tighten the rules for parents who wish to exempt their children from vaccination requirements due to medical reasons or religious beliefs.
State Senator John Mulroe says the legislation is being pushed in response to a recent measles outbreak. Under the measure, parents seeking a medical exemption must file an objection form with the signature of the child’s medical provider.
For parents seeking exemption due to religious beliefs, they must submit an objection form with a religious official’s notarized “religious exemption statement.” Under the state’s current law, parents only need to submit a statement that details their religious objection.
If you’re gonna have a religious exemption, I’m not sure you can require such a statement, but I could be wrong.
* In other news, Sen. Daniel Biss is sponsoring some ACLU legislation. From a press release…
An effort to place modest regulations around the use of powerful automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) in Illinois began with the filing of Senate Bill 1753 by State Senator Daniel Biss. ALPR systems consist of cameras mounted on police cars or a pole, where the cameras scan and “read” the license plate number of every car that passes. The plate number is recorded and stored with the precise location. The plate number is then compared against police and other government databases.
ALPR systems allow police and other government agencies to create a record of where a particular car has been at a particular moment, over an extended period of time. Today, this power is completed unregulated in Illinois.
Currently, there are no regulations governing the use of or retention of data from ALPRs in Illinois. The devices were recently embroiled in controversy when it was revealed that the two federal agencies were working together to gather information about every person who attended (and drove their automobiles) to firearm shows in Arizona. The ACLU of Illinois reported two years ago that the technology was being used in a growing number of communities across Illinois – again, without any regulation.
“ALPRs can play an important role for law enforcement,” said Senator Biss in announcing the filing of the bill. “But like any tool, it must not be used in an unchecked fashion. This measure proposes modest guidelines that will ensure that this law enforcement tool does not evolve into a broad surveillance system.”
Senate Bill 1753 would regulate ALPRS to prevent abuse in the following ways:
• Limit the purposes for which ALPRs can be used to enforcing the collection of tolls, traffic violations and parking, controlling access to secure areas and conducting on-going criminal investigations;
• ALPRs also would be allowed for identifying vehicles that are reported stolen, unregistered or relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation, or identifying persons who are missing or the subject of a warrant.
• Data collected by ALPRs must be destroyed after 30 days unless there is a need to keep the information and it cannot be shared with other government agencies unless there is a court order;
• Regulates the use of private ALPR data by law enforcement; and,
• Requires police agencies with ALPR systems to adopt and post policies, notifying the public about how they are working to ensure privacy.
Recent reports indicate that several law enforcement agencies, including the DEA and the ATF, have begun to use ALPRs widely. In response, a number of states have enacted legislation to regulate the use of this technology.
llinois state senators are being asked to “put patients first,” protecting the health care needs of patients across the State. Senate Bill 1564, sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss, modifies a current Illinois law that permits doctors, nurses and other health care providers to deny information and health care based on the providers’ religious beliefs. A recent poll of Illinois voters reveals that a strong majority want the law to be changed.
“Patients facing an array of health care needs suffer when doctors or hospitals refuse to provide information or health care based on the providers’ religious beliefs,” said Lorie Chaiten with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois in announcing support for the legislation. “Unfortunately, current state law protects this practice, and it is time for that to change.”
The ACLU notes that the law in question is the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, a measure adopted in the 1970s. Three years ago, an Illinois appellate court ruled that under this law, the religious beliefs of a health care provider trumped the medical needs of patients. That decision came in the case of a handful of pharmacists who objected to dispensing certain contraceptives on religious grounds. But the law has other, real world consequences.
Religious restrictions that limit patient care are often applied to rape victims in need of emergency contraception, women facing difficult pregnancies and families facing end-of-life decisions. For example, the ACLU has heard from women in Illinois who have sought treatment at religiously-affiliated hospitals while miscarrying. These women are not only denied treatment because of religious restrictions, but are often deprived of the information they need to understand how best to protect their health and future fertility and where they can go to get the care the religious hospital is refusing to provide.
“When I treat my patients, my medical training and ethics require that I put my patients first — not my own views,” said Maura Quinlan, MD, an obstetrician gynecologist in the Chicago suburbs and Chair of the Illinois Section of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Denying information based on one’s own religious beliefs turns basic medical ethics on its head. This is very dangerous.” added Dr. Quinlan.
Under Senate Bill 1564, health care providers can assert religious objections to providing care and information, but must put in place protocols designed to ensure that the patient gets the information needed to make an informed medical decision. The protocols must address how the provider will ensure that the patient is informed about their treatment options and where to get the needed care, and that the patient’s health is not impaired as a result of the provider’s objection.
State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) has introduced legislation (SB0037) that would give all state and local candidates in Illinois two hours of free campaign air time in the month before any election on public broadcast and educational channels. Biss told WCIA that “If everyone’s already on TV for a couple of hours, that becomes a baseline that reduces the value of all the other time that’s put in and all the other funds that are raised.”
In a nice little file posted on its website, Voices for Illinois Children, a Chicago-based advocacy group, combined state records with Rauner’s proposal to detail—town by town, county by county and city by city—just how much each of 1,400 local governments stands to lose in the year that begins July 1 if lawmakers adopt the governor’s proposal.
As previously reported, the total, $634 million, is impressive enough. But for those familiar with municipal budgets, the breakdown is meaningful.
For instance, though Chicago leads the list as expected with a potential $133.2 million hole punched in its budget, dozens of Chicago suburbs stand to lose more than $1 million each.
Algonquin would lose $1.5 million, Arlington Heights $3.7 million, Batavia $1.3 million and Berwyn $2.8 million. Bolingbrook would take a $3.6 million hit, Glenview $2.2 million, Hanover Park $1.9 million, Woodstock $1.2 million, Evanston $3.7 million, Oak Park $2.6 million, Schaumburg $3.7 million and Naperville $7 million.
At the county level, Cook would lose $5.2 million, DuPage $4.8 million, Kane $3.0 million, Lake $4.1 million and Will $5.2 million.
And if you want to watch a really harsh Daily Herald video editorial about the proposal, click here. Wow.
…Adding… Just for fun, you might wanna click here and read a resolution passed by the Downers Grove village board in 2011 blasting a proposal to slash municipal revenue sharing. The village’s mayor at the time was Ron Sandack, who is now one of Gov. Rauner’s fiercest fiscal defenders.