* Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon is in town the for the team’s 30th anniversary of its Super Bowl win. He talked to the Tribune about how medical marijuana helped him get off pills and ease his pain from multiple injuries…
Now 56, McMahon has been plagued by debilitating health problems following his 15-year career and multiple concussions in the National Football League. He has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and has severe headaches, depression, memory loss, and vision and speech problems. He also said he suffered a broken neck. […]
McMahon got his medical marijuana card in Arizona, where he lives, after it was approved by a voter referendum in 2010. Before that, he said, he’d been taking 100 Percocet pills a month for pain in his shoulders, neck and arms.
“They were doing more harm than good,” he said. “This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain — or thinking about it, anyway.” […]
His comments come as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner considers whether to approve eight more medical conditions to add to the list of about 40 that qualify for medical marijuana here. A state advisory board recommended adding the new conditions, including pain that doesn’t respond to conventional treatment.
The majority of patients in some other states that have legalized medical marijuana, like California and Colorado, qualify to use it to treat pain. But Illinois, which has perhaps the strictest law allowing medical marijuana in the nation, does not allow it for pain, as lawmakers have expressed concerns that the category is too broad and vague and would allow for abuse.
They should just legalize it, but an expansion to include pain in the interim would be a positive step forward.
There’s no sense arguing with the facts, although we might interpret them differently. Keeping and attracting jobs underlies most of Illinois’ problems.
“To bring good jobs to Illinois, we have to make Illinois a place where it is good to do business.”
True. To which I would add, it also helps to create a perception that this is a good place to do business, which hasn’t been Rauner’s approach.
I even agree with the governor that we should make a priority of doing something about fixing our workers compensation system to reduce costs to employers, although not in the manner Rauner insists.
Employers continue to cite workers comp costs as a major impediment to doing business here, despite changes to the law in 2011 that brought improvements. This requires a balancing act with the rights of workers, but if the jobs are leaving, something is out of balance.
* I could hear them from the gallery yesterday, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Here’s the SJ-R…
Protests and rallies at the Statehouse are usual during legislative sessions, and a big gathering in the rotunda Wednesday included hundreds of people chanting things like “budget first” even as Gov. BRUCE RAUNER delivered his State of the State address in the House chamber.
At least in the House gallery, some of the chants — muffled by the chamber’s closed doors — could be heard as the governor spoke.
Why that tactic?
“I think it was necessary so the governor understands and all the lawmakers understand that families and communities need a budget right now, and they need one that chooses revenue over cuts to veterans, seniors, those with disabilities,” said NEAL WALTMIRE, spokesman for the Responsible Budget Coalition.
The coalition includes about 250 groups, from statewide teacher unions to Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries and the Hope Institute for Children and Families.
“We were respectful of the instructions,” Waltmire said. “We just wanted to make sure that the governor heard our concerns. It was hard to ignore us.”
Land of Lincoln Credit Union, based in Decatur and serving citizens out of 12 central Illinois locations, has recently delivered a donation to the Decatur Macon County Senior Center. Credit union staff members worked throughout the year to raise funds for its annual Charity of the Year, and fundraising coordinators were proud to announce the Senior Center as the beneficiary of their 2015 efforts.
The Decatur Macon County Senior Center serves the senior citizens of Decatur and Macon County through various activities, programs and services that help promote independence, safety, mental and physical health. DMCSC serves over 6,500 seniors annually and 52% of their budget must be raised with community contributions.
“We are so thrilled and honored that LLCU employees chose the Senior Center to raise money for this past year,” stated DMCSC Executive Director Leslie Stanberry. “LLCU put in so much work on behalf of the community that it speaks well for LLCU and the employees to have such civic pride.”
Land of Lincoln Credit Union looks forward to providing another year of exceptional community support!
• In 2014, for 16 to 19 year olds in Chicago, 12.4 percent of Blacks, 15.0 percent of Hispanic or Latinos, and 24.4 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were employed. This compared to the national figure of 28.8 percent suggests that youth in Chicago are less likely to be employed.
• In Chicago, the jobless rate for Black 16 to 19 year olds was 88 percent. For Hispanic or Latinos 16 to 19 year olds, 85 percent were jobless in 2014.
• In Chicago, the percentage of Hispanic or Latino 16 to 19 year olds that was employed declined from 25.5 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2014, (reflecting a 42 percent drop). Employment for White (non-Hispanic or Latino) 16 to 19 year olds, although higher than either Black or Latino youth, also dropped during this period.
• The biggest decline of employment rates among 16 to 19 year olds in the U.S., Illinois and Chicago was among female Latinas in Chicago, with a 44 percent drop.
• In Illinois in 2014, 84 percent of Black 16 to 19 year olds and 72 percent of Hispanic or Latino 16 to 19 year olds were jobless. Employment rates decreased by 13 percent for Blacks and 20 percent for Hispanic or Latinos from 2005 to 2014.
• In the U.S. in 2014, 79 percent of Black 16 to 19 year olds and 74 percent of Hispanic or Latino 16 to 19 year olds were jobless. Employment rates decreased 14 percent for Blacks and 21 percent for Hispanic or Latinos from 2005 to 2014.
• Across all groups in Chicago, Illinois and the U.S., the percentages of 16 to 19 year olds employed have dropped from 2005 to 2014, suggesting a long-term downward trend for employment of teens.
• For 20 to 24 year olds in Chicago, joblessness in 2014 was 59 percent for Blacks, 37 percent for Hispanic or Latinos, and 27 percent for Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos).
• Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were the only group that had an increased employment rate in 2014 from 2005 for 20 to 24 year olds.
• Among 20 to 24 year olds, Chicago had a higher percentage of Blacks that were out of work than the U.S. and Illinois. 41 percent of Blacks in Chicago, 19 percent of Hispanic or Latinos and 7 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were out of school and out of work in 2014.
• In Chicago among 20 to 24 year olds, a higher percent of Hispanic or Latino were out of work and out of school than in Illinois by 2.7 percentage points and was 1.0 percentage point lower than the U.S.
• The largest gaps in out of school and out of work 20 to 24 populations between race/ethnic groups were in Chicago where there was 22.2 percentage points between Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) and Hispanic or Latinos and 34.2 percentage points between Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) and Blacks.
• In Chicago, the jobless and out of school rate for Black 20 to 24 year olds is more than 6 times higher than for White (non-Hispanic or Latino) 20 to 24 year olds.
• Among 20 to 24 year olds, Chicago had a higher percentage of Blacks and Hispanic or Latinos that were out of work than the U.S. and Illinois.
• Among 20 to 24 year olds, 59.2 percent of Blacks, 37 percent of Hispanic or Latinos and 26 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) were out of work in Chicago in 2014.
• For 20 to 24 year olds, Illinois, compared to the U.S., had a higher percentage of Blacks out of work and a lower percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latino) and Hispanics out of work.
• Among 20 to 24 year olds, the largest gaps in out of work between race/ethnic groups was in Chicago where there was 10.9 percentage points between Blacks and Hispanic or Latinos and 33.5 percentage points between Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos) and Blacks.
• In 2014, jobless rates for 20 to 24 year olds were highest on the South and West Sides of the city and were lowest on the North, Northwest and Southwest sides of the City.
• Areas with 40 percent to 60 percent and 60 percent to 80 percent of jobless individuals are consistent with the areas with the highest concentration of Black Individuals age 18 to 24 with over 90 percent Black populations.
• Higher percentages of 16 to 19 year olds were out of • work in 2014 compared to 20 to 24 year olds for all groups and geographies.
• In 2014, the rate of 18 percent of 16 to 24 year olds
in Chicago who are out of school and out of work is higher than the U.S., Illinois, New York City and Los • Angeles rates.
• The rate of Black 16 to 24 year olds that were out of school and out of work rate in 2014 in Chicago (31 percent) was higher than the rate for Blacks in the U.S., Illinois, New York City, and Los Angeles.
• 23.2 percentage points separate the out of school and out of work rates for Black and White (non- Hispanic or Latino) 16 to 24 year olds in 2014.
• In comparison to the U.S., Illinois, New York City and Los Angeles, Chicago had the highest percent of Black 16 to 19 year olds (14.3 percent) and 20 to 24 year olds (41 percent) that were out of work and out of school in 2014.
• A higher proportion of Black 16 to 19 year olds and 20 to 24 year olds were out of school and out of work in Illinois than in the U.S. Illinois had 3.3 percentage points more Black 16 to 19 year olds and 9.8 percentage points more 20 to 24 year olds that were out of work and out of school than the U.S.
* I told subscribers about this earlier in the week…
The Chicago lawmaker whose defection effectively cost Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan his ability to override gubernatorial vetoes has suddenly received some six-figure re-election help from a political action committee that some consider to be a front group for Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Reports filed yesterday show that IllinoisGo, a group run by Chicago political operative Greg Goldner, so far has spent $240,000 promoting the re-election of Rep. Ken Dunkin, a Near North Side Democrat. […]
According to the new disclosure, IllinoisGo has committed $140,705 for fieldwork on behalf of Dunkin and more than $72,000 for mail, the latter handled by Goldner’s firm, Resolute Consulting. Another $26,000-plus went for “media production,” presumably ads.
The money technically is an independent expenditure not coordinated with Dunkin. But it certainly will come in handy as he faces a union-backed candidate, Juliana Stratton.
The sky’s the limit for spending in the 50th Senate District primary between state Sen. SAM McCANN, R-Plainview, and challenger BRYCE BENTON of Springfield.
That’s because Liberty Principles PAC, the group that’s been running TV ads promoting Benton in and around Springfield, has already thrown more than $325,000 into trying to get Benton nominated. […]
Similarly, big spending by an independent expenditure committee on a particular race can remove caps — with $100,000 the threshold for a legislative seat. And that’s what’s happened in the 50th.
Liberty Principles PAC, run by WIND-AM radio host DAN PROFT of Chicago, reported spending $316,960 on Jan. 20 with Strategic Media Services, Arlington, Virginia, for the Benton campaign. Another $8,753 was reported on Jan. 21 as spent with Targeted Creative Communications, Alexandria, Virginia, for direct mail to help Benton. […]
Meanwhile, Benton’s campaign manager is JAMES ZENN, 26, who recently moved to Springfield from Chicago for the race. He’s a Park Ridge native who got a political science degree in 2011 from the University of Illinois at Urbana. He worked on Rauner’s campaign, and then got a $60,000-a-year job with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Zenn said the job was with the bureau of organization and management. He left that post this summer to join the Illinois Opportunity Project, which is “an independent research and public policy enterprise that promotes legislative solutions in advance of free markets and free minds,” according to its website. Proft is co-founder and a consultant to the Opportunity group, and is also a fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute.
Yeah, no Rauner ties at all. Benton’s campaign manager and the huge $1.818 million Turnaround Illinois contribution to Proft’s PAC the other day have left a very obvious trail.
One of our biggest taxpayer protection initiatives is to take on the compensation costs of our state government. Most of our state employees are terrific, hardworking public servants. They deserve to be well paid, and receive higher compensation in the future. But it should be based in part upon higher productivity, and shared benefits in taxpayer savings, rather than just seniority.
Unfortunately, the compensation demands being made by AFSCME leaders are out-of-touch with reality. Adjusted for the cost of living, we already have the highest paid state employees in America. Undeterred and unashamed, AFSCME is demanding $3 billion more in overall compensation. That $3 billion should go into our schools and human services, not into government bureaucracy.
Our state employees are paid almost 30% more than Illinois taxpayers are in their own jobs for the same work. That is just not fair – and it’s time we restore balance between taxpayers and state government.
It’s not just the eye-popping price tag on these easy-to-see costs that’s hurting us, taxpayers are also losing from the hidden costs of work rules buried in previous contracts.
Because of these work rules, state government has seen AFSCME file grievances against volunteer campground hosts for educating visitors about a state park; against volunteers at a Veterans home who answered calls in the reception area; against a supervisor who pitched in to eliminate a backlog of tax returns. That’s not right.
And unfair work rules have allowed state workers to manipulate overtime policies to boost their pay, costing taxpayers tens of millions.
We’ve paid $22 million in overtime for the 15-minute roll call that occurs at the beginning of shifts. Our former Auditor General also highlighted, as ripe for abuse, the practice of so-called shift-swapping, where workers use sick time for a regular shift, but then get paid overtime to work a later shift that same day.
We need to install common-sense into our union contracts!
Some of the union’s grievances are pretty silly. And while I think corrections workers ought to get paid for attending a roll call (it’s part of the job, after all), paying them overtime for it seems a bit much.
* AFSCME Council 31 executive director Roberta Lynch rebutted some, but not all of the governor’s arguments…
“Once again, Gov. Rauner falsely attacked public-service workers in state government and mischaracterized our union contract negotiations.
“The state employees Governor Rauner is obsessed with attacking keep communities safe, protect kids, care for veterans and more. Like all working people, they deserve affordable health care and wages that sustain a family, but the governor is trying to double their health care costs while freezing their pay for four years.
“His claims about state employee compensation and our union’s proposals at the bargaining table are simply false.
· With respect to the union’s proposals in contract negotiations—which don’t come close to the governor’s fictional $3 billion figure—AFSCME has modified our initial positions, including on wages, and we’ve made clear we’re prepared to negotiate further on wages, benefits and all other topics.
“AFSCME has consistently sought to find common ground, but the governor relentlessly seeks conflict. The people of Illinois need stability and solutions, but the governor has terminated contract negotiations and walked away from the table, trying to force confrontation and disruption.
“It’s past time for Governor Rauner to stop making blatantly false claims, return to bargaining and work with us to reach an agreement that is fair to all.”
Unfortunately, Illinois’ economy has been split in two, one part with modest growth, the other in decline. There are areas within 90 minutes of O’Hare Airport that compete with other expensive mega-cities around the world. Thanks to access to global transportation infrastructure, first class universities, and world class cultural amenities, white-collar communities in the Chicago area have mostly been able to overcome the financial mismanagement that is now strangling Chicago and Cook County.
But it’s difficult in the rest of the state: Harvey, Blue Island, Kankakee, Rockford, East Moline, Peoria, Decatur, Danville, Mt. Vernon, and Marion. Those communities have to compete with other states like Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina. And too often, we’ve been losing.
In recent years, we’ve lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs.
Many of you have argued that we shouldn’t try to compete with other states, because that would be a race to the bottom.
Well, the numbers prove otherwise.
Factory workers in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, and South Carolina, when you adjust for the cost of living, now make more than workers in Illinois. That’s unacceptable!
Factory workers in Texas are now making more than Illinois folks, even without adjusting for the cost of living.
That’s outrageous! We should be kicking Texas’ tail!
But the numbers don’t lie. We are losing the race for good paying jobs.
…Adding… The governor’s office sent along this chart, which it says is based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - “Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates” and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis…
*** UPDATE *** The Tribune fact checked his numbers…
Rauner: “Our average working family is making less than they were eight years ago.”
Fact check: Rauner bases this claim on the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, but that’s 2 years old: He’s actually comparing 2014 with 2006. In 2014 dollars, the average Illinois household income did fall from $57,150 in 2006 to $54,916 in 2014. But take that drop with a healthy pinch of salt — it’s well within the large margin of error built into the Census Bureau’s calculations. It’s entirely possible the average family made more in 2014 than it made in 2006 and that it’s making more now than it made in 2008.
According to slightly more recent data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the state’s average salary in early 2015 was $54,531, up from $45,961 in early 2007. Even allowing for total inflation of 15 percent over that period, that’s a 3 percent increase in the average Illinois wage over the last eight years. […]
Rauner: “In many cases, people are paying more in property taxes over the course of living in their home than the original purchase price.”
The right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute came up with this calculation. It adds up, if you assume the 2.32 percent effective property tax rate and, perhaps a little unrealistically in most cases, that a homebuyer will live in a home for at least 43 years
* We’re going to go through Gov. Rauner’s State of the State Address in a bit more detail today. Let’s start here…
We have ten long-term goals. This legislative session we will begin to:
1. Work closely with President Cullerton to significantly increase state support for education, focusing our additional resources more on low income and rural school districts so we can provide high quality classrooms in every community, without taking money away from any other districts.
2. Provide proper funding for early childhood education while setting rigorous benchmarks for program performance, so we can continue to be national leaders in this important work.
3. Give school districts more flexibility when it comes to bargaining, contracting, and bidding, to save taxpayers money, while enabling districts to pay higher teacher salaries.
4. Empower our universities and community colleges to reduce their administrative costs, work rules, pension liabilities and unfunded mandates, and then offer additional financial support to those schools that show real progress in putting more resources in the classroom.
5. Support more partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and local employers so that our young people who are not going to university, can receive the training to step into good paying careers beginning in their teenage years.
6. Develop a comprehensive, consistent, objective student growth measure, not necessarily based on the PARCC system, so we can track our students’ progress in each grade towards college or career, holding our schools accountable for results while eliminating unnecessary testing and bureaucratic mandates.
7. Support programs that create more quality school choice options for low income children stuck in failing schools.
8. Create new quality schools of choice for our disconnected youth as a way to get them back in school.
9. Consolidate the majority of our councils and task forces under the P20 and Early Learning Councils, in order to decrease bureaucracy, increase high-quality outcomes for our learners, and improve the coordination of these working groups.
10. Create a Cabinet on Children and Youth so we can better align our health and human services with our cradle to career education initiatives, in order to provide higher quality, fully integrated services for our young people.
* The Democrats started moving a MAP grant bill yesterday. The governor’s office doesn’t like it and is proposing an alternative, as well as calling out legislators who voted against the original appropriation last year…
From: Director Tim Nuding, Governor’s Office of Management and Budget
To: Members of the General Assembly
Date: January 28, 2016
Re: GOMB Analysis of SB 2043 and HB 4539/SB 2349
House Amendment 2 to SB 2043 would make appropriations of $721 million for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and community colleges programs. The funding levels for these programs are the same as those contained in last year’s General Assembly-passed unbalanced budget, which was opposed by Representatives Drury, Franks, Nekritz and Yingling along with all Republican legislators and which was vetoed by the Governor.
House Amendment 2 to SB 2043 provides no funding source to pay for the additional spending as it is not tied to spending reductions, revenue or cost-saving reforms. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget concludes that House Amendment 2 to SB 2043 would add $721 million to the deficit, increase the state’s bill backlog by the same and delay state payments to providers, vendors and contractors. Therefore, GOMB would recommend the Governor veto this legislation if it came to his desk.
HB 4539/SB 2349, on the other hand, would appropriate $1.6 billion dollars for all programs included in SB 2043 and Illinois’ public universities. The legislation is tied to another bill, HB 4521/SB 2338, which would grant the Governor authority to respond to an unbalanced budget by reallocating funds and reducing spending in various ways.
HB 4539/SB 2349’s approach is far more fiscally responsible than SB 2043 as it would help MAP students, community colleges and universities without exploding the deficit, skyrocketing the bill backlog or exacerbating the state’s cash flow crisis. Therefore, GOMB would recommend the Governor sign this legislation if it came to his desk with HB 4521/SB 2338.
Creates the Unbalanced Budget Response Act. Provides authority and procedures for the Governor to establish contingency reserves of previously appropriated funds, and to transfer balances between special funds in the State treasury and the General Revenue Fund. Describes the agencies and programs subject to this authority. Provides that designated agencies may adopt emergency rules to carry out the purposes of the Act. Defines terms. Provides that the Act is repealed on July 1, 2017. Amends the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act to make conforming changes. Amends the Illinois Public Aid Code. Adds actions taken under the Unbalanced Budget Response Act to a Section relating to applicability. Amends the State Mandates Act to require implementation without reimbursement by the State. Effective immediately.
The state’s Road Fund and some others would be exempt from the sweeps provision.
That bill gives the governor a whole lot of control, which the GA may not be inclined to do since the majority doesn’t actually trust him, but it would help him avoid a complete budgetary meltdown.
Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said the governor will veto the bill when it reached his desk. Ahead of the vote, Rauner’s budget chief sent a memo to lawmakers warning that if the measure became law, it would force the comptroller to put off payments for other services.
Democrats were not deterred, quickly passing the bill in both the House and Senate. Two Democrats voted against the bill, Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood and Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo. Eight Republicans voted “present,” a way to avoid looking like they voted against funding for schools without bucking Rauner. […]
While Democrats were able to pass the legislation, it’ll be a tougher battle to override a Rauner veto. On Wednesday, Madigan acknowledged he does not have a “working” supermajority, a reference to the difficulties he’s had in wrangling all 71 of his Democratic members to remain united to override vetoes.