* As we discussed earlier today, Gov. Rauner just added $5 million to his campaign account and Comptroller Leslie Munger has spent pretty much all her available cash on a one-week statewide TV buy. But Rauner didn’t use his own money to replenish Munger’s coffers. The governor’s two most faithful and generous contributors stepped up instead…
A 91-year-old World War II veteran from Auburn says he is “absolutely outraged” that his political views were “completely” mischaracterized in campaign fliers put out by a union organization.
“They took advantage of an old man,” Vincent Speranza wrote in a letter distributed to area newspapers after he saw a flier, from Service Employees International Union Healthcare, that has him attacking state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove, and Gov. Bruce Rauner, over proposed cuts to funding for a home-care program.
The flier also backs Jimenez’s opponent in the 99th House District, Democrat Tony DelGiorno of Springfield.
Speranza said he received a call Friday morning from Jimenez. He said he backs her candidacy, and he offered to campaign with her.
“We had a nice chat,” Speranza said.
* Here’s the mailer…
* And here’s the resulting letter to the editor from Speranza…
* Meanwhile, check out the latest mailer sent by the ILGOP on behalf of Rep. Wojcicki Jimenez…
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) - the Illinois General Assembly’s independent budget analysts, projected that total state spending for the current fiscal year (FY2017) which began on July 1, will ultimately be $39.5 billion, but that revenue would only come in at $31.8 billion, leaving nearly a $7.8 billion deficit. On Wednesday, Rauner’s administration disagreed maintaining the budget deficit would be $5.4 billion. Budget Director Tim Nuding said the commission didn’t factor in several key sources of revenue, including the full amount of federal reimbursements to the state for Medicaid anticipated for FY2017.
What’s really troubling is that both of these projections of the General Fund deficit only compare anticipated, year-in, FY2017 spending to FY2017 revenues. Neither are factoring the accumulated deficit left over at the end of FY2016-and thus both COGFA and the Governor’s Budget Office understate the true General Fund deficit in Illinois. (The “General Fund” is the part of the state budget that pays for the services that affect most people-education, healthcare, public safety, and human services.)
At the end of FY2015, the state’s General Fund deficit was $5.97 billion. CTBA’s analysis shows that the accumulated deficit grew by some $3.13 billion over the course of FY2016, to a total of $9.1 billion.
In other words, Illinois began FY2017 with $9.1 billion in unpaid bills. That means that even if we balanced this year’s revenue with this year’s expenses, we’d still have a $9.1 billion deficit.
Of course, that means both deficit projections quoted in the Sun-Times article understate the true accumulated deficit by that $9.1 billion carry forward. After this carry forward deficit is included, the projected FY2017 General Fund deficit balloons to either $14.5 billion using the Governor’s estimates, or $16.9 billion using COGFA’s.
Another way to look at the General Fund deficit is as a percentage of General Fund service appropriations. CTBA analysis projects the state to spend $24.69 billion on General Fund services in FY2017. Using the Governor’s projected FY2017 deficit figures, 58.7 percent of all General Fund service appropriations aren’t paid for by FY2017 revenues. Since COGFA projects the FY2017 deficit to be even greater, using its numbers, that figure is 68.4 percent.
What does this all mean? The state’s financial condition continues to deteriorate due to a lack of revenue. Whether the General Fund deficit is $14.5 billion or $16.9 billion, it’s definitely unstainable. Between 59 percent and 68 percent of FY2017 spending is deficit spending. And Illinois will continue on this deficit spending path until it increases revenue. But in order to do that, the state needs to fix its flawed tax policy in order to generate additional revenue (see “It Is All About Revenue: A Common Sense Solution for Illinois’ Fiscal Solvency” for CTBA’s suggestions to fix the state’s revenue problems). Until then, the trend of growth in the accumulated deficit is likely to occur past FY2017.
The state of Illinois has abruptly changed the rules for providing vaccines to children from low-income families, putting tens of thousands of them at risk of potentially not getting their immunizations on time.
In late August the Illinois Department of Public Health told doctors that children covered by the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan for low-income families would no longer get their vaccines for free. Children covered by Medicaid can still get free vaccines, but for those 185,347 children covered by CHIP, doctors will have to privately order vaccines from suppliers and wait to be reimbursed by the state.
This new policy presents a sizable challenge for doctors and parents. And it goes into effect Oct. 1.
“This is an ill-advised change happening at far too fast a pace,” said Dr. Edward Pont, a pediatrician in Elmhurst. “What was the impetus to change this program? It seemed to be working extremely well. Illinois immunization rates were on a statewide level always fine. Now here we have this major change with very little fanfare, very little warning. Our concern is it is going to cause a severe disruption.”
If you read the entire article, you’ll see that this new policy was pushed by the Center for Disease Control. Several states have already done this, including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
Without this change, I’m told, IDPH would run the risk that the CDC won’t continue providing vaccines free of charge to the state.
* But, frankly, I don’t care who is responsible. This needs to get cleared up pronto…
I want to clarify some information in your post. First, I would like to provide information about the eight-week transition period. I’ve attached the letter we sent to providers.
Illinois is committed to every child being immunized. For parents or guardians of a child covered by Medicaid or by CHIP, their child’s eligibility for free vaccines has not changed. What has changed is the way doctors obtain and get paid for vaccines. Some providers may choose not to provide free vaccines to children covered by Medicaid or CHIP.
The change was required because, for years, many doctors had not been doing the necessary work of determining a child’s eligibility for a vaccine (e.g. do they qualify under the Vaccines For Children program or CHIP), and then submitting the proper paperwork to HFS (the entity that administers CHIP). Because many physicians were failing to provide this billing paperwork, HFS has not been able to channel the appropriate reimbursement for children in CHIP to the CDC. For good reason, the CDC has requested that Illinois, and many other states, alter their process to ensure that the proper reimbursement occurs. Without making such a change, IDPH runs the risk that the CDC will no longer continue to provide vaccines free of charge to the State for the VFC program.
Thank you for helping us get the correct information out to parents who are concerned about immunizations for their children.
Illinois Department of Public Health
Public Information Officer
Three Illinois state employees added to a lawsuit brought by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner challenging the legality of so-called “fair share” fees paid to public employee unions have been cleared by a federal judge to proceed with their litigation against the unions.
Rauner, however, lacks the standing to remain an official party to the lawsuit, the judge said.
Tuesday, May 19, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman dismissed Rauner’s action against the state worker unions, which included the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 and the AFL-CIO.
“In the instant case, the governor has no personal interest at stake,” Gettleman wrote in his opinion, released late Tuesday. “In effect, he seeks to represent the non-member employees subject to the fair share provisions of the collective bargaining agreements. He has no standing to do so. They must do it on their own.”
State employees who replaced Gov. Bruce Rauner as plaintiffs in a suit against unions have notified a federal judge that they challenge the constitutionality of compulsory union fees.
Mark Janus, Marie Quigley and Brian Trygg filed the notice on June 1, along with a complaint to replace one that Rauner filed in February.
For Janus and Quigley, the new complaint raises objections to policy positions of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Lawyer Joseph Torres of Chicago wrote that Janus “does not agree with what he views as the union’s one sided politicking for only its point of view.”
“Janus also believes that AFSCME’s behavior in bargaining does not appreciate the current fiscal crisis in Illinois and does not reflect his best interests or the interests of Illinois citizens,” Torres wrote.
Plaintiffs Mark Janus and Brian Trygg have brought a second amended complaint challenging the constitutionality of the compulsory collection of union fees under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (“IPLRA”), 52 ILCS 315/6. Defendants have moved to dismiss, arguing that the case is controlled by the Supreme Court’s decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), which upheld the constitutionality of such assessments. Plaintiffs brought the suit hoping that Abood would be reversed in a matter then pending before the Supreme Court in which the continued validity of Abood was challenged. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1083 (2016). In Friedrichs an equally divided Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding fair share fees based on the reasoning in Abood. Id. As a result, Abood remains valid and binding precedent.
Plaintiffs continue to argue that Abood was wrongly decided, but recognize that it remains controlling in the instant case. Consequently, defendants’ motion to dismiss (Doc. 146) is granted.
New affidavits from former employees in the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office claim employees have been harassed, forced to do political work and have been fired under questionable circumstances.
The two documents were filed Wednesday in Macon County Circuit Court as an attachment to the original petition to request a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of misconduct by Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott.
The affidavits go into greater detail of the alleged misconduct in the office, which includes electioneering within county offices, using county-owned property for personal use and providing a computer flash drive that contained pornographic material to a female state’s attorney employee that was accidentally shown to family members of a crime victim on a computer owned by the county. […]
Scott, a Democrat, is being challenged by Dan Hassinger, a Republican and Decatur-area lawyer. Scott defeated Hassinger in the 2012 election.
A Harrisburg doctor accused of murdering his wife is now charged with attempting to kidnap the Saline County State’s Attorney.
Charges of solicitation, conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping, and attempted aggravated kidnapping were filed against Brian Burns Wednesday.
Burns, 57, was arrested in March for the murder of his estranged wife Carla Burns. Investigators believe Burns shot his wife and burned her body near their rural Harrisburg home.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Saline County State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw said Burns had phone conversations with a detective who was acting as an undercover agent. In those conversations, Burns agreed to pay $1,000 to have Henshaw kidnapped.
Six years ago, then-U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from the Chicago suburbs, won what some considered an upset victory, defeating Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in a race for the U.S. Senate.
In 2016, now-Sen. Kirk is running uphill again, considered to be the underdog in his campaign for re-election against a strong Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Political handicappers have identified Kirk as the most vulnerable of Senate Republicans seeking re-election, mostly because Illinois is a solid Democratic state.
But Kirk has beaten long odds before. First, in his run for the U.S. House of Representative to succeed his boss, retiring U.S. Rep. John Porter, and later, in his 2000 Senate race, he demonstrated strong appeal to Democrats, Republicans and independents.
It’s our hope he’ll do so again this year. The News-Gazette is endorsing Kirk because of his solid academic background, vast experience, political independence and sound judgment. Duckworth offers a reasonable alternative to the Republican incumbent, but lacks the qualities that have made him an exemplary public official.
An Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital already under fire for excessive wait times, festering black mold and kitchen cockroaches faces a new shame – the bodies of dead patients left unclaimed in the morgue for up to two months without proper burial, whistleblower documents allege.
The whistleblower, whose identity is not being revealed for fear of retaliation, complained last month to the VA’s inspector general about the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital’s handling of veterans’ remains in cases where families have not come forward to claim the body. The complaint singled out Christopher Wirtjes, chief of Patient Administrative Services, saying “The Chief of PAS has the funds available, yet has no sense of urgency to lay the veteran to rest.”
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., whose office also received the complaint along with emails, is now calling for Wirtjes’ firing and in a statement, slammed the hospital – located in the Western suburbs of Chicago — over its recent history of controversies.
“Hines VA — the hospital that has been overrun with cockroaches and mold and left vets waiting for care for months on secret wait lists, has reached a new low in the treatment of our veterans,” Kirk told FoxNews.com. “We now have reports of bodies being left to decompose in the morgue for months on end.”
The whistleblower, who has spoken with Kirk’s office, described a “horrible issue” at the hospital in the letter to the IG: “Some veteran’s remains have been left in our hospital morgue for 45 days or more until they are stacked to capacity at times.”
…Johnson made it his top political priority to install a school voucher system (an effort that failed because of the legislature’s opposition). He also annulled public employees’ collective-bargaining rights, slashed funding for social programs, reduced taxes for the wealthy, implemented one of the country’s strictest welfare-reform programs, and pushed for harsher sentencing laws. […]
He rejected minimum-wage increases and backed “right-to-work” bills. And in 1999, when public employee unions’ right to collectively bargain was set to expire, Johnson vetoed a bill to extend it. Thanks to Johnson’s actions, AFSCME’s Carter Bundy told me, ten thousand government workers saw their wages frozen. “He was incredibly hostile to labor,” said Morty Simon, an attorney who represented labor groups in the ’90s. “We were just totally shut out of the Gary Johnson administration. No contact, no nothing.”
That’s pretty much the same agenda that tronc supports here. He’s a nearly perfect fit. He even reversed himself and opposed the death penalty.
When the clerk called Willie Mae Swansey’s case in a crowded courtroom last February, the 72-year-old approached the judge slowly, supporting herself with a four-pronged cane. It had been a busy afternoon in the Daley Center’s civil forfeiture courtroom, with more than a dozen quick hearings and a pair of trials preceding her own. The crush of defense lawyers and hopeful claimants had thinned by the time Swansey stepped up to the bench. She steadied herself beside a prosecutor and stood with a stately straightening of her back.
Swansey was here to reclaim her car. The Chicago Police Department had seized the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser two years prior, arresting the driver, Swansey’s son, and charging him with manufacturing or delivering 15 to 100 grams of heroin. The car had been impounded ever since. Swansey herself was never charged with a crime, and it was her name, not her son’s, on the title. All the same, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office had agreed with CPD that the vehicle, which the office valued at $1,400, was worth keeping for good.
Swansey was prepared to tell the court that her 53-year-old son, Vincent Turner, had taken her keys without her permission. She wanted to explain that she needed her car not only for basic needs like groceries and laundry, but also because she and her granddaughter, whom she cares for, make frequent trips to doctors’ offices and hospitals. Swansey suffers from congestive heart failure, while her granddaughter has cerebral palsy and experiences frequent seizures. She wanted also to stress she had no knowledge that her son had drugs in her car.
“Ain’t no way I’d let them take my car for drugs,” Swansey later said. “That’s not me. I’m not that kind of person.”
But at her February trial date, she wasn’t allowed to argue her case. The judge simply asked if her son’s criminal case had been resolved. It hadn’t, so by law, the judge was allowed to delay the civil litigation until after the criminal case was over. They would reconvene in two months, the judge said.
This was the ninth time Swansey had appeared in civil forfeiture court and the ninth time she was told she’d have to come back. A lawyer, had she been able to hire one, could have filed a hardship motion that would allow Swansey access to the car while she waited. A lawyer might have also convinced a judge to hear the case immediately, since Swansey didn’t plan to contest the allegations against her son.
But for the fixed-income retiree, hiring a lawyer was not an option.
“I’m a poor black woman,” Swansey says. “I don’t have no money for an attorney.” Instead, she continued to represent herself.
Drunken drivers with prior convictions for driving under the influence might consider driving expensive cars, given a recent ruling by an Illinois appellate court.
“That’s, essentially, the policy that’s being espoused by the Fifth District (Appellate Court),” said David Robinson, a state appellate prosecutor who came out on the losing end of a case in which the court reversed a trial judge and ordered a pricey motorcycle returned to its owner.
In a Sept. 22 ruling, the Fifth District Appellate Court reversed a ruling by Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Weber, who had upheld the seizure of a $35,000 Harley-Davidson trike from a woman who was a passenger when her husband was busted for driving under the influence. In reversing the forfeiture, the appellate court ruled that vehicle’s value was out of proportion with the misdeed, and so seizure was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, which bars excessive fines to punish wrongdoing.
In reversing the trial judge, the appellate court said that the financial circumstance of the trike’s owner didn’t matter – whether she was rich or poor, the vehicle’s value alone made the seizure a “harsh penalty” that was out of step with the gravity of the offense, the appellate court ruled.
So, that gives her, let’s say, about $600K on hand right now. Sources say her recent TV buy was $577K for a week, which is pretty much all the money she has on hand. She’s going to need more cash really soon.
* That’s why this development could turn out to be important…
Bruce Rauner adds $5 million of his own money to his campaign account, Citizens for Rauner. https://t.co/h0jP9EMVlW
I’d asked the Tribune’s editor, Bruce Dold, what he thought about his page-two columnist and editorial cartoonist showing up in Madigan’s partisan arena. He sent me a prepared statement, and in it he didn’t sound happy.
“Tribune journalists should not be involved in activities of outside organizations that could give the appearance of partisanship,” Dold wrote. “John and Scott understand that they should not have agreed to be interviewed for this film, even if they were expressing views they have published in the course of their work for the Tribune.”
An interesting wrinkle is that Rickert writes occasional op-ed columns for the Tribune; she’s a smart, pugnacious writer, and Dold began publishing her years ago when he was the Tribune’s editorial editor. Like Rickert, Stantis didn’t want me to interview him, but unlike Rickert he replied and said so. I wanted him to tell me whether he’d have any problem sharing his paper’s editorial pages with the spokesperson and chief defender of the outfit he accused of deceiving him.
Then again, will he go on sharing those pages? Will the Tribune have any problem with continuing to publish Rickert? That relationship is now under review.
The Republicans’ central Senate super PAC is plowing $21 million more into six key races in the coming weeks as the fight for control of the chamber moves to states more hospitable to GOP candidates.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that is part of the American Crossroads suite of GOP big-money groups, is expanding its television buys in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada and Pennsylvania, officials told The Washington Post. At the same time, the group is cutting back most of its planned spending in Ohio, where incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman has widened his lead over former governor Ted Strickland. […]
Altogether, the Senate Leadership Fund plans to spend $76 million in September and October — and the total could swell larger by Election Day, thanks to mega-donors such as Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, who gave the super PAC $20 million in August.
With less than 40 days until the election, Senator Mark Kirk is changing the traditional plans for debates in Chicago.
While Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth agreed to five debates, the incumbent does not agree. Kirk has turned down the SunTimes editorial board, ABC7 League of Women Voters and Univision debate and WTTW Public television debates. Those venues have been on candidates schedules for years, according to both campaigns.
Kirk will only do three debates. Kirk has agreed to the Chicago Tribune editorial board on Monday October 3 and a downstate debate in Springfield October 27, and a new Latino forum to be broadcast on WGN. The Duckworth campaign has not yet agreed to the Latino forum.
Kirk wants to speak Spanish during the WGN forum, even though it’s not actually supposed to be a Spanish language debate. Duckworth doesn’t speak Spanish.
* Press release…
Tammy Duckworth’s campaign for U.S. Senate released a new ad today, entitled “Disgraceful.” The 30-second spot features former U.S. Army Captain Emily Miller, who served two combat deployments in Afghanistan. Miller describes earning the Army’s Combat Action Badge during her two deployments, saying it’s not something one necessarily wants to receive, since it is awarded to Soldiers who come under enemy fire.
Meanwhile, media outlets have caught Duckworth’s opponent, Senator Mark Kirk, lying repeatedly about his military record, including falsely claiming to come under fire in Afghanistan despite never deploying there. Nevertheless, Kirk is often seen being driven in a car that includes an “I served in Afghanistan” bumper sticker.
“Republican Mark Kirk has lied repeatedly about his military record. He lied about being shot at. He lied about serving in combat in Afghanistan and in Kosovo. He lied about serving in both Iraq wars. He lied about an award he never earned and claimed a position he never held. Now in desperate political straits, he’s banking his re-election campaign on lying about Tammy Duckworth’s record and commitment to her fellow Veterans. As Captain Miller said, it’s disgraceful.” said campaign spokesman Matt McGrath.
CPT Emily Miller: I did two deployments to Afghanistan going on night raids with Special Operations. We were going after high-value terrorist targets; that’s how I earned the Combat Action Badge. It’s a badge that you don’t really want to get, and it’s certainly not something to lie about.
VO: Mark Kirk lied repeatedly about facing enemy fire and serving in combat.
CPT Miller: For Mark Kirk to attack another veteran, especially somebody like Tammy who’s done so much for veterans, it’s really just disgraceful.
For his sake, let’s hope the guy can generate some positive news today. I’ll post it on the blog if I see it.