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Keeping my promise

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Somebody actually asked me to do this during yesterday’s Q&A…

* So, here he is…


AFL-CIO backs Dunkin opponent

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Illinois AFL-CIO…

State House Candidate Taking on Rauner-Ally Dunkin

The Illinois AFL-CIO Executive Board voted on Thursday to endorse Juliana Stratton for State Representative in the Democratic Primary Election for the 5th District. Stratton is taking on incumbent Ken Dunkin, who has sided with Gov. Bruce Rauner, casting controversial votes against the interests of working families.

Stratton has a strong background in community involvement and public policy, serving with organizations including as director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice at University of Illinois-Chicago, Cook County Justice for Children (CCJC), and the Cook County Justice Advisory Council. She also managed the criminal and juvenile justice reform agenda for the Office of the Cook County Board President.

She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from DePaul in 1992 and her undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign prior to that.

“She is a very strong candidate and an impressive person,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael T. Carrigan. “She will be a very powerful voice for the people of the 5th District.”

Her opponent is long-time incumbent Dunkin, who has not hidden his alliance with Rauner, whose anti-worker proposals are not moving in the General Assembly. On several occasions, Dunkin’s vote would have made the difference on issues including child care eligibility, funding for services for seniors and the disabled and an arbitration mechanism to keep state services functioning in the event of bargaining impasse.

“There needs to a change in the 5th District,” Carrigan said. “The voters will know that there is a person in this race that cares about her community and not political alliances. As she has been all of her life, she will be their voice.”
There are nearly 16,000 members of union families in the 5th House District.



Putting human faces on line items

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Issues

The state budget impasse could put more young people out on the streets this winter.

Corey Stewart became homeless when he was 18, after his mother died and he found himself struggling to pay rent for the family’s apartment on Chicago’s South Side. “I worked for a temp agency,” he says. “I had my steel-toe boots and I was working, but I just couldn’t swing it — that was too much money. I wasn’t going to school because too much was going on.” And his father, who had never been in his life, was nowhere to be found.

Like many Illinois teens who find themselves without a place to sleep, Stewart began staying at other people’s homes. “I was … trying to pay rent on other people’s cribs, and that didn’t work out,” he says. Other times, he slept on the streets.

“If I weren’t mentally stable, … I probably would have lost it,” he recalls. “I probably would be doing some time in jail or something like that. … It’s harsh out there. You’ve got to worry about bullets. The police. You know what I’m saying? The weather. There’s a lot of stuff you’ve got to worry about. … It ain’t no walk in the park.”

The fallout from the state’s current budget crisis could leave more young people like Stewart on the streets this winter.

Stewart, who is now 22, was staying recently at Ujima Village, a 24-bed shelter in Chicago’s Grand Crossing area for homeless people who are 18 to 24 years old. It’s where he went for a bed to sleep; dinner and breakfast; a place to shower; and advice on getting his life back on track. “The staff here, they cool,” he says. “I get along with them and … the program at Ujima is very informational. They give you information on a lot of things, and I take heed to it.”

But Unity Parenting & Counseling Inc., the nonprofit group that runs Ujima Village, hasn’t been getting state funding for the past half-year, because of the standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly. Like other nonprofits around the state that help homeless youths, Unity is uncertain how long it can continue providing the same level of services.

A. Anne Holcomb, supportive services supervisor for Unity Parenting & Counseling Inc., was once homeless herself.

“We almost had to close,” says A. Anne Holcomb, supportive services supervisor for Unity. “We actually had informed staff in August that we had no more funding as of September 1. … We tried to find other places for the youth to go in that event. But the reality is most of the emergency shelters are state-funded. And the transitional housing programs are too. So there wasn’t really any other place that was secure. We couldn’t find an option. … We only have 374 youth beds in the city.”

Go read the whole thing.

* When people have talked about the all too real long-term, permanent damage that’s being caused by this “short-term pain for long-term gain” impasse, these kids are just some of the folks who are in real danger.

As one commenter said this week, social service providers may go under and others may eventually take their place, but what about the permanent damage caused to those who can’t be served in the interim?


AARP poll: Taxing retirement income is a third rail

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* AARP IL commissioned a Precision Research poll of Illinoisans 50 and over. Click here to read it all. They’re not happy campers…

1. As you think about your finances, how anxious do you feel about having enough money to live comfortably through your retirement years? Are you… [READ EACH ANSWER CATEGORY]?

    N= 1000
    Very anxious 23.5%
    Somewhat anxious 33.8%
    Not very anxious 17.4%
    Not anxious at all 22.3%
    Not sure/ Don’t know [DO NOT READ] 2.0%
    Refused [DO NOT READ] 1.0%

2. Now, thinking about the state and local taxes you pay, not including federal taxes, how strongly do you agree or disagree that you get the services you need in return for the taxes you pay? Would you… [READ EACH ANSWER CATEGORY]?

    N= 1000
    Strongly agree 8.4%
    Somewhat agree 30.6%
    Somewhat disagree 21.7%
    Strongly disagree 35.0%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 3.8%
    Refused [DO NOT READ] 0.5%

3. How aware are you that the Illinois state government is now five months past its deadline to have a budget in place? Would you say you are… [READ EACH ANSWER CATEGORY]?

    N= 1000
    Very Aware 80.9%
    Somewhat aware 12.3%
    Not too aware 2.8%
    Not at all aware 3.4%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 0.4%
    Refused [DO NOT READ] 0.1%

4. I’m going to read you a list of issues. After I read each one, please tell me if you would describe that issue as a major problem, a minor problem, or not a problem at all in the State of Illinois. Do you think (INSERT ITEM) is a major problem, a minor problem, or not a problem at all? (RANDOMIZE ITEMS A-C)

a. Cuts in state funding for essential services that allow seniors to stay in their homes and communities as they age

    N= 1000
    Major problem 69.2%
    Minor problem 19.7%
    Not a problem at all 5.8%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 5.0%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.2%

b. Lack of cooperation among Illinois elected officials

    N= 1000
    Major problem 87.2%
    Minor problem 7.4%
    Not a problem at all 2.6%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 2.8%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.1%

c. The amount of state and local taxes residents have to pay

    N= 1000
    Major problem 66.3%
    Minor problem 24.2%
    Not a problem at all 7.3%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 2.0%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.3%

They are worried about state cuts, but they also don’t want higher state taxes.

* And they really, really, REALLY don’t want legislators to tax their retirement income

Thinking ahead to your retirement, if your retirement income were to be taxed, how much of an impact would that have on your ability to prepare for a secure retirement? Would you say it would be a [READ EACH ANSWER CATEGORY]

    N= 457
    Major impact 71.6%
    Minor impact 21.2%
    No impact 4.4%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 2.7%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) -

16. If lawmakers decide to tax retirement income, would you consider [READ EACH ANSWER CATEGORY] (RANDOMIZE ITEMS A-F)

    N= 902
    A. Moving to another state where there are tax friendly laws for retirees 59.6%
    B. Moving to another location in Illinois 21.1%
    C. Returning to the workforce 33.0%
    D. Reducing your household spending 69.2%
    E. Reducing spending on services such as hair salons, or lawn services 53.2%
    F. Something else (specify) _____________________________ 12.6%

Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the following? Would you be…[READ EACH ANSWER CATEGORY]? (RANDOMIZE ITEMS A-E)

a. Taxing retirement income

    N= 1000
    More likely 6.5%
    Less likely 84.3%
    Would not make a difference 6.8%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 2.3%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.2%

b. Increasing individual income taxes

    N= 1000
    More likely 10.5%
    Less likely 74.2%
    Would not make a difference 11.9%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 2.9%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.5%

c. Taxing services that are not currently taxed such as salons or lawn service

    N= 1000
    More likely 17.9%
    Less likely 52.7%
    Would not make a difference 24.9%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 4.3%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.2%

d. Increasing corporate taxes

    N= 1000
    More likely 41.0%
    Less likely 36.7%
    Would not make a difference 16.3%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 5.6%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.3%

e. Increasing property taxes

    N= 1000
    More likely 5.8%
    Less likely 83.6%
    Would not make a difference 8.3%
    Not sure (DO NOT READ) 2.1%
    Refused (DO NOT READ) 0.2%

Emphasis added for obvious reasons.

You get anywhere near 80 percent and the issue is guaranteed to move votes.

And now you know why one of newly appointed Democratic state Rep. Andrew Skoog’s first acts after being sworn in was signing on as a co-sponsor of Rep. Dave McSweeney’s anti retirement tax resolution.

…Adding… Right on cue comes the press release from a Tier 1 Senate target…

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) filed Senate Resolution 1325 today to stand up against taxing the retirement income of Illinois’ retirees.


Mostly “ups” I think

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Former Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider of Deerfield, trying to regain his 10th District House seat, has been facing several ups and downs in his campaign for the March 15 primary nomination against Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.

Already, former congressman, federal judge and White House counsel Abner Mikva has withdrawn his support for Schneider and moved to Rotering’s camp. So has former U.S. Sen. Adlai E. Stevenson III. In addition, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a member of the House Democratic leadership team, has pulled her endorsement of Schneider.

Schneider still has the backing of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, as well as seven of the 10 Democratic members of the Illinois congressional delegation and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And on Wednesday, his campaign announced it had been endorsed by the politically active Service Employees International Union Illinois State Council.

Schneider and Rotering are vying for the nomination to take on Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Dold of Kenilworth in the North Shore district. Dold won the seat in 2010, was ousted by Schneider in 2012, then defeated Schneider in 2014.

“Voters are ready for a strong, progressive leader with a principled track record of getting things done,” Rotering said in a statement, noting that the backing of Mikva and Stevenson came as a result of Schneider opposing the Iran nuclear deal backed by President Barack Obama.

Mikva and Stevenson’s withdrawal means almost next to nothing. I mean, how many Democratic primary voters are going to take their endorsements to heart? Schakowsky is different because in a Democratic primary she might carry a little bit of weight, particularly with liberals.

Rotering has done a very good job of publicizing her town’s efforts to enact an assault weapons ban ahead of a state deadline. That district is ground zero for gun control support, particularly in a Dem primary.

But independent-minded, somewhat hawkish Jewish voters are very influential in that district, so Schneider opposing the Iran nuke deal probably isn’t fatal and perhaps just the opposite. Then again, this is a primary race, not a general.

Schneider has the name rec and will have the money. Rotering is a fresh face and has a proven ability to get her name out there.

Am I missing anything? Your predictions?


A one-time shot in the arm for local governments

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a reader…


I was wondering if I can ask you for some advice? Almost two years ago I met with [redacted] to discuss a change to the way Illinois collects property that that would generate almost $30 billion in additional one-time revenues over time without increasing taxes. [Redacted] thought it was a really good idea and placed me in touch with [redacted]. I spoke with [redacted] and he also thought it was a very good idea. Needless to say, nothing ever happened. Do you have any suggestion as to how I might bring this idea to the attention of people with real authority? I am an attorney now involved in business and I think this idea would really help the State of Illinois.

Any suggestion you might offer would be greatly appreciated.

* I told him to send me the info…

Illinois collects property taxes in arrears. In 2015 Illinois collected 2014 property taxes and in 2016 Illinois will collect 2015 property taxes. At the end of the world, Illinois will still be behind one year in the collection of property taxes.

Based upon 2014 figures, Illinois can generate at least $27.7 billion[1] in additional property tax revenues over time if it could collect the prior year taxes and collect taxes in the current year to fund 2016 appropriations.

When real estate is sold in Illinois, the buyer and seller prorate property taxes. The seller gives a credit to the buyer for the unpaid taxes and the buyer agrees to assume liability for unpaid taxes. Property tax prorations cover both the prior tax year, if still unpaid, and the current tax year. Even when property is sold after the second installment of taxes has been paid, none of the current year taxes have been collected.

By transitioning the Illinois property tax system when property is sold, funds paid by the seller to the buyer for prior year and current year property taxes would be paid by the seller to the state to retire the prior year and outstanding current year property tax liability. After the closing, the new buyer will then pay its taxes in advance as is the practice is most sates. No property owner would pay more in property taxes as a result of the transition even though at least one additional year of property tax revenue would be collected.

In other words, rather than prorating property taxes between the buyer and seller, the seller would pay what would otherwise be the prorated amounts to the state and discharge the tax liability. No one would pay more in taxes, tax revenues would just be collected faster without any detriment to the current property owners. By implementing this change, approximately $27.7 billion of Illinois unfunded pension liabilities would be addressed over time in current dollars. The $27.7 billion in property taxes could be paid into the State of Illinois teachers’ pension system or the City of Chicago teachers’ pension system for property located in Chicago.

I note that Illinois is one of thirteen states that collect property taxes in arrears; other states include Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

[1] $27,706,994,500 in property taxes were extended in 2014 according to the Illinois Department of Revenue, 2014 Property Tax Statistics, Table 1.

The realtors would probably hate this idea because it would drive up the cost of some home sales, and it probably wouldn’t raise a huge amount of money every year, but it would give locals a boost.

Your thoughts?


Sticking it to the kids

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is crazy

This weekend, a 24-year-old woman from McHenry County will be among the graduates at Lewis University, but she won’t be getting a diploma, which she needs to enroll in air traffic controller training in March, according to her father.

Even though she has met all the requirements for a diploma, it’s being held up because Illinois hasn’t paid the $2,500 it owes for her Monetary Award Program grant due to the ongoing state budget impasse.

“The state needs to realize that there’s families like us that are living paycheck to paycheck,” said her father, Dan. “Our savings are very little money. Our tax bills are rising.”

Dan said the family might use its savings to pay the $2,500 so his daughter can get her diploma, but they had previously set that money aside for property taxes.

I suppose I can somewhat understand why Lewis University is doing this, but why punish this student for the state’s ineptitude?

Not to mention that the country supposedly has an air traffic controller shortage.


[Hat tip to a commenter.]


Today’s number: 72.1%

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Reboot Illinois

Searching the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2015 End of Year Discipline Report, we have put together a list of the 25 school districts that most often use out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. To avoid penalizing large districts that generally have more suspensions and expulsions due to high enrollment, we found the suspension and expulsion rates by dividing the number of incidents by district enrollment from the ISBE’s 2014-2015 Illinois Report Card.

* Top 5 schools for suspensions

5) East St. Louis SD 189

    Suspension rate: 55.7%
    Number of suspensions: 3,405
    Enrollment: 6,116

4) Venice CUSD 3

    Suspension rate: 57%
    Number of suspensions: 69
    Enrollment 121

3) Pekin CSD 303

    Suspension rate: 57.6%
    Number of suspensions: 1,169
    Enrollment: 2,030

2) Madison CUSD 12

    Suspension rate: 65.5%
    Number of suspensions: 508
    Enrollment: 775

1) Cahokia CUSD 187

    Suspension rate: 72.1%
    Number of suspensions: 2,533
    Enrollment: 3,512

That’s just mind-boggling.

While it would be fascinating to see an explanation of why they feel they have to use so many suspensions and if they’re over-using the punishments and whether there are any specific student demographic trends, anyone who wants to be a full-time, year-round teacher in those schools, please raise your hands.


How about in the anti-teachers’ union governor’s office?

Or maybe at the Illinois Policy Institute, which has a new “right to work” poster boy who complains about alleged minority and female preferences?



* See the rest here.


Adventures in procurement

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Brian Mackey interviews former Statehouse reporter Kurt Erickson

Even though much of Illinois government is operating without a budget, the state is still looking to spend money. Right now, on Illinois’ procurement website, there are dozens of notices. Reporter Kurt Erickson returns to State of the State for a procurement primer. […]

ERICKSON: “A couple of years ago, I just made it a point to start looking at all the different state websites, and I made a list of all these things I wanted to check out. And at the time, the state was putting a lot more things online, whether it’s meeting notices or the General Assembly. I came in at a time when that was all on paper. So when they started putting it up online, I just tried to make it sort of like a cop walks a beat. I’d go to each website and check in and see what was going on. The procurement website started to yield a lot of stories that nobody else was doing. So it made me look like I was getting big scoops when I was just reporting on something that was already out there.”

ERICKSON: “I’ve also learned a lot in checking out the procurement code. The state Department of Corrections makes hot dogs for all the inmates. And they ran out of hot dog spice, or wiener spice, as I called it. And they had to go out and try to find some in an emergency purchase. And in their explanation of why they had to go around the bidding process, they said if the hot dogs don’t taste right, the inmates could think they’re being poisoned, and it could cause a riot. And I thought that was really interesting that, here you’ve got this hot dog spices that are avoiding a potential riot. I don’t know if it would really get that bad, but that’s how they explained it.” […]

MACKEY: “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen procured? Or that the state had to put out a bid for?”

ERICKSON: “The most interesting one I saw — crazy, I don’t know — but the one that caught my eye was the flavored and colored condoms that the Department of Public Health was trying to purchase. And again, I learn things from these (notices): The reason they were trying to have colored and flavored condoms was because maybe it would promote more usage of this to combat STDs. In the end … after we did stories about it, they’re now just bidding out plain, regular old condoms.”


*** UPDATED x2 - Madigan a no-show *** Check back at 2 o’clock for leaders’ meeting deets

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

It’s Thursday, Dec. 17, the day Gov. Bruce Rauner will host a third meeting in as many weeks with legislative leaders regarding the budget impasse.

The 2 p.m. meeting will be held at the governor’s office in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Democratic Senate President John Cullerton and Republican House and Senate leaders Jim Durkin and Christine Radogno are confirmed attendees, according to their offices. A spokesman for Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan did not return a call asking whether the House leader would be there.

The spate of meetings started after pressure from good government groups who criticized a lack of progress on a spending plan as the state is in its sixth month without a complete budget. Before the meetings began on Dec. 1, Rauner and the four leaders hadn’t been in the same room since May.

The closed-door gathering isn’t expected to bring about an agreement any time soon, however.

Madigan’s spokesman told me yesterday that as far as he knew the Speaker would attend.

I’ll post a ScribbleLive thingy here if warranted.

*** UPDATE *** Well, that does it then…

*** UPDATE 2 *** It should be noted that Madigan’s daughter just had a baby. I assume that played into this absence.


*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2015 Emily Miller Golden Horseshoe Award for Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist was an easy pick

Josh Evans, Vice President of Government Relations at IARF. He is a tireless champion for community-based, health reform and has the most extensive knowledge of rules, procedures, and policies out of anyone I have ever known. Josh knows that if we don’t hold government accountable for serving its most vulnerable citizens, we will be taken back to living in a Dickensian era. Community providers are lucky to have him fighting in their corner.


* Now, on to today’s categories…

* Best Statewide Officeholder

* Best Illinois Congresscritter

As always, do your very best to nominate in both categories and make sure to explain your vote, or it won’t count. Thanks!

*** UPDATE *** Oops! I already did the statewide award. I guess I’m still tired from yesterday’s trip. Sorry!

Let’s try this one instead…

* The Mike McClain Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse Insider


Reboot’s top ten list

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Many thanks for the props. Click here.


Not quite what’s being portrayed

Thursday, Dec 17, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Politico

POLITICO Illinois Playbook: Students heckle EMANUEL with ‘16 shots’ chant

* Sun-Times

A normally friendly forum for Mayor Rahm Emanuel turned hostile Wednesday when student protesters chanting “16 shots” interrupted a ceremony called to jump-start a “citywide strategy” aimed at providing expanded opportunities for “every child and young man of color” in Chicago.

Emanuel announced creation of a “My Brother’s Keeper Cabinet” at Urban Prep Academies, 6201 S. Stewart. It’s a charter school that boasts of sending 100 percent of its African-American male graduates to college.

That’s a point of pride with Emanuel, who regularly attends Urban Prep’s “tie ceremony” celebrating the accomplishment and gets a warm reception.

But these are not normal times for the mayor.

He’s fending off demands for his resignation and fighting to restore public trust damaged by his decision to keep the Laquan McDonald shooting video under wraps for more than a year and wait until a week after the April 7 mayoral runoff to settle the case for $5 million, before the McDonald family had even filed a lawsuit.

* Tribune

Emanuel greeted by ‘16 shots’ chant about Laquan McDonald at Urban Prep event

Mayor Rahm Emanuel re-emerged publicly Wednesday, and the reception he got illustrates the challenge he faces governing the city day to day while responding to the still-developing fallout from the Laquan McDonald shooting and how his administration handled it.

The mayor spoke at what’s normally a friendly venue for him, the Urban Prep campus in Englewood, a school he often cites as a success story for its high percentage of students who attend college. But after Emanuel made brief remarks, the principal prepared to lead the crowd reciting the school’s creed when students instead started a chant of “16 shots!”

* Mike Flannery

The students waited politely until he departed, but then Urban Prep students expressed their continuing anger about the McDonald case and the issues it highlights.

“16 Shots! 16 Shots!” they chanted.

Emphasis added.

The city’s media has turned almost completely hostile to the mayor.


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Afternoon roundup
* Bears dangle possible move to Naperville
* Pritzker suggests changing Invest in Kids tax credit
* Question of the day
* Fentanyl overdose deaths have fallen 42 percent in Chicago this year compared to 2022
* Crowds ease at Mexican border, but will that lead to fewer asylum-seekers in Chicago?
* Pritzker, other Dem governors warn school textbook publishers: "Sanitizing our educational texts for the mercurial comfort of a few today ultimately limits the next generation’s ability to make informed decisions for themselves"
* Justice Jesse Reyes announces second bid for state's top court
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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