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Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* Remember last year when I was deciding whether or not to leave iOS behind and move to Android Land? I ended up buying a Samsung Galaxy S5. It was a pretty darned good phone.

On Friday, however, a good friend bought a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. Whoa, man, it was cool. So I picked one up the next day. It feels perfect in my hand, looks great and works like a charm so far.

Highly recommended.

* The Question: Have you made any significant personal tech purchases recently? If so, what did you buy and are you happy with the purchase?

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


Proposed DHS rule changes slammed as horribly biased against the poor

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* Progress Illinois

The Illinois Department of Human Services is holding the second of two public hearings Wednesday over the Rauner administration’s proposals to toughen the appeals process for key benefits programs.

The Rauner administration’s proposed rule changes would impact Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), according to disability advocacy group Access Living.

The group says the Rauner administration is seeking to make the appeals process harder for people who are denied benefits or terminated from those programs.

The Rauner administration’s proposed rules “do not provide customers with due process, are unnecessarily complicated and confusing, and in some cases are in conflict with the federal statutes and regulations protecting the rights of those eligible for the various benefits programs,” Access Living’s advocacy director said in a posting on the group’s website.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois is also speaking out against the proposed changes.

“The Rauner administration is adding a blizzard of new barriers to access services as well as denying due process to the very poor in ways that conflict with existing statutes, regulations and court cases–not to mention Rauner’s own public statements that he is committed to preserving benefits for the vulnerable,” the union said in a media release. “Among the changes, the state would alter the entire premise for Illinois social services and place the burden of proof for aid on those who need help the most — a drastic departure from current conditions — and would move hearings when benefits are denied far away from access points for the poor.”

The proposed rule changes are here. Some criticisms are here.

* From today’s hearing…



Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Oy

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* Ugh.

…Adding… Yeesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   80 Comments      


Look at the fine print

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* Matt Dietrich

When the Independent Map Amendment anti-gerrymandering effort got under way this spring, I expected it would run into opposition. After all, this movement seeks to take away the most coveted prize in Illinois politics — a party’s ability to rig legislative maps in favor of its members.

But I thought the opposition would come in a court challenge in 2016 by lawyers for House Speaker Michael Madigan on behalf of the Illinois Democratic Party, of which Madigan is chairman. That’s what happened the last time a citizen initiative tried to pry the map-drawing tools away from the politicians.

This time, though, the opposition is early, organized and — judging from its first target mailer — willing to make outlandish claims to advance its fear-mongering campaign.

“Minority groups have worked tirelessly over many decades to ensure our voices are heard in the Illinois General Assembly,” reads a letter sent last week by People’s Map, a political committee registered last week with the Illinois Board of Elections. “The proposal to change the redistricting process would undo our effort and struggle, and if such an effort is successful, we will not soon forget it…

“We hope that you, as a community leader, will cease activities viewed by many as an attack on the progress minorities have made in Illinois,” the letter concludes.

The letter is here.

* Tom Kasich

The wordy, eight-paragraph amendment specifically states, supporters note, that the redistricting plan “shall not dilute or diminish the ability of a racial or language minority community to elect the candidates of its choice, including when voting in concert with other persons;” and that it “shall not either intentionally or unduly discriminate against or intentionally or unduly favor any political party, political group or particular person.”

Jim Bray, a spokesman for the Independent Map Group, said that the amendment “protects and strengthens minority-voting rights and embeds Voting Rights Act protections which are not” now in the Illinois Constitution. […]

“As with any change in government the status quo likes it the way it is and they’re going to fight to keep their power,” Bray said. “We knew there would be opposition and this time around it has created a committee. We take it seriously because their arguments are incorrect and the facts are on our side, and we want to be sure that our supporters and the people who haven’t thought about this amendment yet are aware that they are not telling the truth.”

“I think maybe (Democratic Party Chairman Michael) Madigan’s hearing the number that we’re up to 200,000 signatures already and maybe if we present the State Board of Elections with 600,000 signatures, it’s going to be harder for them to throw out 90 percent of them at times as they did with some of the sampling the last time,” said Shepard.

* Mark Brown

Count me among those who think it would be a good idea to shake up the political status quo in Illinois by changing the redistricting process. The way it stands now we allow incumbent legislators to pick the constituents most likely to re-elect them, instead of letting voters pick their representatives.

Just the same, I can’t totally discount the concerns that changing the system might inadvertently undercut certain protections for minority communities built into current law, although I am certain the main people pushing the Independent Maps Amendment aren’t intentionally seeking to dilute minority voting rights, contrary to what the opposition group is alleging.

* This is a classic case of “reformers can do no wrong.” The media always assumes that reformers are the good guys and anyone who questions them are bad people.

And I’m not saying they aren’t good guys in this case. I’ve been in favor of non-partisan map-making for as long as I can remember. And, setting aside the fact that no prominent African-American organization is backing this proposal, I do have a very specific complaint about this line

(T)he redistricting plan shall respect the geographic integrity of units of local government

* The line could easily be interpreted to mean that, for instance, Chicago legislators would all be corralled within city limits, which might very well result in a form of “packing”

(P)ushing as many minority voters as possible into a few super-concentrated districts, and draining the population’s voting power from anywhere else.

The current 17th Senate District runs from around 70th St. in Chicago all the way down to the northern border of Kankakee. Such a district would most certainly not “respect the geographic integrity of units of local government.” Abolish districts like that and you wind up with fewer black-majority districts. Period.

* Or, take the 96th House District, which includes predominantly black neighborhoods in Springfield and Decatur. Forbid that sort of intrusion into “geographical integrity” and you could possibly get “cracking”

(S)plintering minority populations into small pieces across several districts, so that a big group ends up with a very little chance to impact any single election.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


More progress as bills signed into law

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* Aside from the governor’s truly bone-headed, short-sighted and overly bean-counting veto of Medicaid funding for heroin treatment, this has been a tremendous year for criminal justice reform.

Yes, I know, we’ve talked about it several times before, but the signatures keep coming

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been on a crusade this year to keep some accused shoplifters and trespassers from having extended stays behind bars before trial.

Dart recently notched a bipartisan victory in that campaign when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the so-called “Rocket Docket” bill into law.

Rep. Mike Zalewski and Sen. Bill Cunningham, both Democrats, were the primary sponsors of the bill envisioned by Dart. Zalewski is from west suburban Riverside and Cunningham is from Chicago.

Rauner signed the bill late Friday, according to Dart’s office. It passed unanimously in the Senate and by a margin of 71-36 in the House.

“This is a good first step to rethinking how our criminal justice system works to punish and correct unlawful behavior,” Zalewski said.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has supported the measure. So has Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, who visited the jail in July.

* And

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation allowing immunity from prosecution to minors who call 911 to get help.

Rauner on Monday signed the bill sponsored by Legislative Democrats, Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood and Sen. Heather Steans. It provides legal protection for a person needing medical help and the person who called for him or her.

Police would have the authority to determine whether protection from legal discipline is appropriate.

The plan is modeled after a similar one addressing heroin overdoses. At least two dozen other states have similar laws.

* And

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) on Monday signed into law a sweeping reform of the state’s school discipline policies, putting Illinois at the forefront of the nationwide push to make school discipline less exclusionary and more effective.

Senate Bill 100 eliminates automatic “zero tolerance” suspensions and expulsions, and requires that schools exhaust all other means of intervention before expelling students or suspending them for more than three days. The bill also prohibits fines and fees for misbehavior, and requires schools to communicate with parents about why certain disciplinary measures are being used.

Under the new law, which goes into effect in September of 2016, students returning from suspension will be allowed to make up the school work they missed, and students suspended for more than four days will be offered access to support services, like academic counseling and mental health professionals. […]

According to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Illinois has one of the widest disparities in the nation between suspended black students and their white classmates. During the 2012-13 school year, Chicago Public Schools issued suspensions for 32 of every 100 black students, compared to just five of every 100 white students.

* Related…

* Black & White: Middle Schools Discipline With BIST Intentions

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


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Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Caption contest!

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* Heh…


* Close-up…

Have fun.

And if, perchance, the owner of that sign sees this, please contact me. I’d like to buy it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


*** UPDATED x4 *** State ordered to make payments

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* From the twitters…


*** UPDATE 1 *** The comptroller’s office says the above tweet is in error. There was no finding of contempt, just an order to make the payments. Consequently, the headline on this post has been changed.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Tony…

Hey Rich,

Rich Carter called me about the tweet after seeing it posted on the blog. I told him what I’ll tell you, just so you have it, and then you can do with it as you want, although I’m sure you don’t want to be in the middle of all the back-and-forth.

Did the judge say the state was in contempt? Not outright. She said not following the court order, and even not telling her that the order wasn’t going to be followed ahead of time, would put them in contempt.

Brent Stratton agreed with the judge that they didn’t tell the court on Friday that the comptroller wouldn’t be making payments that day.

So maybe for the purposes of twitter, I could’ve added more nuance to that tweet. But the judge defined what being in contempt looks like, and the AG agreed their actions fit that description. I tried to clarify that in a second tweet.

That’s what I got for you.

Hope you’re doing well in your recovery.

-Tony

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the comptroller…

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger released the following statement Wednesday in response to a Federal Court order involving the Ligas Consent Decree impacting services for people with developmental disabilities:

“I appreciate the Court’s recognition of the difficult challenge we face in making necessary payments in light of Illinois’ continued failure to pass a balanced budget.

“My priority remains to ensure that organizations serving our elderly, children and other most vulnerable residents take precedence when it comes to state payments. As a longtime volunteer and former Board member for an organization serving the intellectually and developmentally disabled, I know firsthand the hardship that is caused when payments don’t arrive as scheduled, and I will do everything in my power to lead the state in keeping its promises to those most in need.

“In the absence of a balanced budget for this fiscal year, my office will continue to work to meet the payment timelines set by the Courts despite the state’s limited resources.

“To be clear: taxpayers deserve better than government by Court Order. Ultimately, we can best serve Illinois families, businesses and organizations by passing a balanced budget that includes reforms that will allow us to become more competitive and grow our economy so we can put people back to work and fund critical services.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** Tribune

Coleman, who noted that she was not pleased to have been called back from vacation to hear the case, said the state risked being held in contempt of court and ordered that it provide an accounting of which bills have and have not been paid.

The judge also said she understood the comptroller’s predicament. Without a budget, state government has been spending at a rate billions of dollars beyond what it is set to take in, mostly because of a series of maneuvers by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature and a number of court orders requiring it to continue paying for services during the impasse.

William Choslovsky, a lawyer representing residents at Misericordia, was less forgiving. He suggested to Coleman that the Rauner administration and the comptroller’s office were willfully withholding the money.

For checks to go out, the Rauner-run Department of Human Services must first authorize the payments by sending a voucher to the comptroller, who then decides when to cut the check. But lawyers representing both the state and the comptroller could not provide answers as to which bills have and have not been paid.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Some background

Attorneys representing 10,000 Illinois residents with disabilities filed an emergency motion in federal court on Tuesday asking that the state be held “in civil contempt of court,” for failing to pay service providers’ bills. Some payments have been on hold since July 1.

“Many of these individuals cannot feed, clothe, or toilet themselves or administer critical medication needed on a daily basis,” plaintiffs’ attorneys, represented by Equip for Equality, wrote in the emergency motion.

Munger’s office says it couldn’t make payments on time because of a “severe cash shortage,” but Democrats don’t buy it.

“There’s cash coming in every day. There should be plenty of cash. They’ve been paying various vendors faster than they have for years,” Brown told the Sun-Times. “I’m afraid the comptroller’s office has been misleading the media and the courts.”

The motion is here.

The amount owed for July is about $120 million.

* More background from Ed McManus, with emphasis added…

Attorneys for Illinois residents with developmental disabilities filed an emergency motion in federal court today asking that state officials be ordered to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court for violating last week’s court order to immediately resume making payments to provider agencies.

A hearing Is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago.

Coleman last Tuesday ordered the state to make the payments by Friday, but only a few payments have been made. “It is inarguable that the situation is dire, as residents’ lives literally hang in the balance,” the attorneys said in their motion. It was filed by Barry Taylor and Laura Miller of Equip for Equality and Ben Wolf of the ACLU on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Ligas lawsuit and two attorneys for ICFDD residents, William Choslovsky and Scott Mendel. Named as defendants were Felicia Norwood, director of the Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services; James Dimas, secretary of the Dept. of Human Services; and Comptroller Leslie Munger.

Violation of order on expedited payments: Last week’s order required the state to make payments for FY16 services at a level no less than FY15 until a new state budget is adopted. The judge also ordered that “providers that were paid on an expedited basis during FY15 shall be paid on the same expedited basis for services rendered during FY16.” But the head of DHS’s expedited payment program said this morning in a letter to a provider that the expedited payment program was suspended.

A CILA provider in the south suburbs sent me the letter, and I have forwarded it to the lawyers. It appears to be in clear violation of Judge Coleman’s order. The letter, from Mary E. Collier, manager of the bureau of expenditure accounting in the DHS Office of Fiscal Services, says: “This letter is to inform you that the Illinois Office of the Comptroller is current in processing the FY15 vouchers for DHS. Therefore, the expedite program has been suspended. After the FY16 budget impasse has been resolved, the expedite program will be reevaluated for restarting expedited payments.”

NEEDED: ‘A DATE CERTAIN’ WHEN PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE . . .

In their emergency motion seeking immediate payment of all Medicaid bills, the attorneys said if the payments are not made, “numerous providers will immediately close their doors, and thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities will not receive services that are essential to their survival. . . . The state must account for its repeated and ongoing failure to comply with this court’s orders.” They asked that the three officials be directed to appear in court and provide an explanation for why they have failed to comply “and to provide a date certain in the immediate future when the state will comply before this court holds them in civil contempt of court.”

Despite the judge’s order on Aug. 18, the state did not make the required payments by Aug. 21, the motion said. “In fact, it is now Aug. 25, and all of the mandated payments still have not been paid.” (The Division of DD issued a statement yesterday saying that DHS had forwarded $120 million in vouchers to the comptroller last week and that the comptroller would begin paying a portion of them last night “and will continue working through the vouchers as funds are available. At this point, we cannot give you a specific time frame of how long it will take.”)

The attorneys said they contacted the lawyer representing the state in the Ligas case Friday and he acknowledged that the payments had not been paid. “He could not explain why, nor could he say when payments would be made.” They asked him to call them over the weekend or on Monday morning as he learned more information, but he did not. “Late Monday, counsel for the state finally called and advised that some of the payments for providers on the expedited payment program would begin that evening, but he could not say when all expedited payments would be made” or when payments to ICFDDs would be made.

The comptroller’s website showed that the comptroller paid bills totaling $243 million yesterday but did not pay the disability providers, and that the comptroller still had $70 million on hand at the end of the day.

Editorial comment: The state administration has really failed our disability community. Both the governor and the legislature share the blame for the budget mess, but while that stalemate drags on, it is inexcusable that Gov. Rauner and his staff are holding our providers–and the people they serve–hostage.

Judge Coleman first issued an order June 30 that all payments be made. But Secretary Dimas on July 23 notified providers that he was narrowly interpreting that order to apply only to the relatively few people actually receiving services through the Ligas consent decree. The plaintiffs’ attorneys challenged that in a motion for a new order Aug. 6, and the state’s lawyer told the judge that “the administration has changed its position” and that all Medicaid payments would be made. But “I can’t give you a specific date,” he said. A week later, he still couldn’t, and the judge finally ordered that it be done by Friday. But again, nothing on Friday.

Meanwhile, state employees are getting their paychecks on time, and the governor approved the appropriation to assure that all public schools will be paid.

DHS didn’t forward the July vouchers to the comptroller until last week?

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


Bost, Shimkus, Raja

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* The Post-Dispatch looks at the DCCC’s alleged problems recruiting a candidate against freshman US Rep. Mike Bost

In Illinois’ 12th Congressional district, national Democrats got a turndown earlier this summer when St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson decided not to run after being courted by the DCCC. The district covers part of the Metro East and Southern Illinois.

“It’s surprising that Democrats haven’t found a top recruit in the 12th District,” [Nathan Gonzales Editor & Publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report] said. “This is a district Democrats (in the Legislature) drew to elect a Democrat. They lost the seat in a terrible midterm election, but there shouldn’t be a lot of excuses as to why they can’t find someone to run in a presidential year.”

He said that Bost, 54, a longtime member of the Illinois House, is “easy to underestimate as a candidate.”

“It’s hard to see how Democrats get anywhere near a (U.S.) House majority without winning this seat,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales is absolutely right about the dangers of underestimating Bost as a candidate. The DCCC did that last year and got its clock cleaned.

But the reason that the DCCC is having “troubles” there is that it refuses to bow to the wishes of the St. Clair County Democrats, who have their own candidate - CJ Baricevic. The D-trip doesn’t want anything to do with Baricevic, but St. Clair will control that Democratic primary, so unless they have something really meaty on the guy, they should probably just back the heck off because they’re gonna lose. And if they do have something on him, then it’s oppo dump time. The filing process officially kicks off next week.

* And speaking of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report…

Illinois’ 15th District.

* State Sen. Kyle McCarter is openly talking about challenging Rep. John Shimkus in the GOP primary. McCarter discussed the possibility with fellow Republicans before and on the recent Family-PAC cruise on Lake Michigan. Local sources caution that there can be a large gap between what McCarter says and does, and he would need financial help from an outside, anti-establishment group, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. Shimkus had $1.2 million in the bank on June 30 and would have the support of GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner.

McCarter floated his name for lieutenant governor in the run-up to 2014. He doesn’t seem to enjoy being in the Illinois Senate, but a move against Shimkus would likely be futile.

* Moving northward

Villa Park Village President Deborah Bullwinkel announced plans Tuesday to run for the Democratic House nomination in the 8th Congressional District.

Bullwinkel joins Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and state Sen. Michael Noland of Elgin in trying to succeed U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth. The two-term congresswoman is vying for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mark Kirk, who is seeking re-election.

Bullwinkel, 47, is in her first term as village president of the DuPage County suburb after first being elected to the Village Board in 2009. In announcing her congressional bid, she stressed her gender while attacking the Republican-controlled House.

If she can raise some money, being the only woman in a three-person race could very well be a big help in a Dem primary. But Raja has raised a ton of money and has been solidifying his endorsements, so it ain’t gonna be easy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


This Is Illinois

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* Great. We’ve got our first approved store but there’s no product to sell

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional announced Tuesday the first registered [medical marijuana] dispensary is called Harbory. It’s located in the southern Illinois city of Marion.

Registration means the industry is one step closer to sales. But so far no growers have products to sell. Sales are expected later this year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Michael J. Mushroom

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* If you read this 2009 interview of House Speaker Michael Madigan regarding the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, you’ll see that Madigan did a long stint as an eager and unquestioning foot soldier before rising to power in his own right

[Daley] was the commander. He would give his orders and give his directions. And this is an important point with me—It’s because there was a group of people like myself, about the same age, that came in as ward committeemen in the early seventies. There was Alderman Burke, Ed Vrdolyak, Tom Hynes, Congressman Lipinski, Alderman Mel, and Ed Kelly. This was the group there that came along at about the same time, and if they were being honest with you, they would tell you that they would have trouble living under his methods.

So they were duly elected to whatever office they held. After a while, they would think, “Well, I ought to be part of the decision-making.” So they would be troubled by that. They would struggle with that. There would be complaints when he would make a decision and they didn’t like it. But with me, I had no trouble with that at all. That was because, to me, the mayor was just a carbon copy of my father. So I’m the only son. I have a sister. There were two children in our family. My father was very strong-willed. He was not inclined to change his opinions on things

* And

I got a call to come over and see [Daley] at city hall. We sat down, and he started into a negative conversation about [Gov. Dan Walker]. He said, “He did this wrong. He did that wrong. We’ve got to take that guy out of the governor’s office.” So I listened for a while. Then finally, I just said, “Mr. Mayor, you don’t have to convince me. I’m part of your team. If you want to be against this guy, fine. Sign me up. I’m ready.”

And so, in that election, in this ward, we defeated Walker sixteen thousand to eight thousand—two-to-one. So there are two points—There was his political genius in organizing that effort against Walker, and then there was my relationship where I was not going to disagree with him. Every once in a while, he’d ask for my opinion and I’d give him my opinion. But I was not going to make a cause out of it. I was very happy to be there.

He was just “happy to be there.” Very telling.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Huh?

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* These numbers just don’t seem to make sense

A total of 411,547 people visited the Illinois State Fair this year.

The fair announced the low turnout for the 11-day event Tuesday despite what it called near perfect weather conditions. Fair officials provided no immediate explanation for the figure that was less than half the 847,000 who attended the fair last year.

Fair organizers said $1,357,000 was collected in gate and parking revenue. Despite fewer people attending the fair this year, the gate and parking revenue was just $55,000 shy of last year’s amount.

Preliminary estimates show that one of the biggest contributors to the fair’s total revenue this year was Grandstand ticket sales, which at $1.9 million was the second-highest in state fair history. This year’s fair also ranks fifth in number of Grandstand ticket sales, with 51,420 being sold.

Gate and parking revenues are down only slightly, Grandstand ticket sales are second-highest in history, yet attendance was off by half?

Um, huh?

Are they counting noses differently than in the past?

The department of agriculture’s spokeswoman notes that parking and admission revenue is audited, while turnout is not.

In a statement, the fair’s new director says a strict methodology was used to tabulate attendance. He says he’s proud of the fair, and its strong grandstand sales.

Illinois’ fair date is set by statute; this year, a late Labor Day meant the fair was held when many students were already back in school.

So, maybe past attendance numbers were grossly inflated?

Either way, something’s not right here.

*** UPDATE *** SJ-R

The total attendance includes estimates to account for people who had free admission and children under 5. For instance, senior citizens had free admission on Senior Day, and veterans (and their families) had free admission on Veterans Day.

“There are several free days on the grounds, and we used US Census information (seniors) and data from the Department of Defense (veterans) to estimate attendance on those days,” [Department of Agriculture spokesperson Rebecca Clark] said in an e-mail.

A press release from the fair included the following comment from Buchen:

“We are very proud of the Illinois State Fair and what we were able to present to fairgoers. We have put together a methodology that is tried and true by event industry professionals nationwide because vendors, sponsors and Illinois taxpayers deserve an accurate depiction of who attended the fair.”

Looks like they drastically changed the head-counting procedure.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Illinois Mayors Know What’s Best For Their Communities

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Rauner admin blasts Dem moves on child care

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015

* AP

The House spent [Tuesday] working to reverse the Republican governor’s cuts to child care programs and to release $146 million in fuel-tax money to help cities fill potholes — four-tenths of 1 percent of what the state usually spends annually, and the governor lauded a $2.5 million sale of surplus aircraft.

Rauner’s spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said the Legislature’s piecemeal spending approach represents Democrats’ attempt to “claw their way to a massive tax hike by hamstringing the state with an unbalanced budget.”

* We’ll get back to that quote in a bit, but first, some more on the child care cuts

A key change put in place by the Department of Human Services includes tougher income requirements, which advocates say has shut out all but about 10 percent of families that previously qualified. Participants also face higher copays, and the state has frozen the intake of new clients.

DHS said the state is projected to save $47 million annually using higher copays and other measures, and an additional $5.3 million per month from freezing intakes to the program.

But critics say the short-term savings will be greatly outweighed by the harm to parents who will be forced to quit school or work because they no longer receive help caring for their children.

Lawmakers heard testimony from Chandra Ankoor, a single mother of three from Springfield who said she works seven days a week bartending, waitressing and cleaning office buildings to make ends meet. Without the program, Ankoor said she would not be able to make rent and pay for child care.

“For me, to lose this program would cause me to be homeless,” said Ankoor, who has testified in the past on the issue.

* The administration’s full response to yesterday’s House action…

Today’s action represents yet another week of Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls trying to claw their way to a massive tax hike by hamstringing the state with an unbalanced budget.

This amendment impacts state funds because it draws from the General Revenue Fund, and the state cannot afford near unlimited child care without a balanced budget.

Illinois needs the reforms proposed by the governor to free up resources to help the most vulnerable and to grow the economy. One of the governor’s first major actions as governor was to save child care funding from the Democrats purposefully underfunding it in the last fiscal year.

That last sentence is true. You’ll recall that the Democrats planted several time bombs in the 2015 budget, and underfunded child care was one of them. But now we’re talking an administrative rule which will prevent 90 percent of those previously eligible from qualifying.

* Meanwhile

The official overseeing the state’s child care program who was reassigned from her post by the Rauner administration has retired.

Linda Saterfield, a longtime associate director of the Office of Early Childhood, on Tuesday confirmed her departure.

Her retirement comes after she was reassigned after her testimony to lawmakers that Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cuts to child care assistance would be “devastating” for families who rely on it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      


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