The same utility company that is pressuring Illinois legislators for more than eight billion dollars in ratepayer subsidies illegally avoided paying more than $1.4 billion in federal taxes and penalties.
Meanwhile, Exelon just announced higher than expected 3rd quarter profits of $841 million and bragged to their investors about how successful they’ve been this year. In fact, they’ve made more than $2 BILLION IN PROFITS in the last twelve months.
Why on Earth should Illinois ratepayers be forced to pay billions more for nuclear plants we don’t need while EXELON CAN’T EVEN BE TRUSTED TO PAY ITS TAXES?
JUST SAY NO TO THE EXELON BAILOUT
BEST Coalition is a 501C4 nonprofit group of dozens of business, consumer and government groups, as well as large and small businesses. Visit www.noexelonbailout.com.
In Moody’s calculation, the net pension liability grew from $503 million in 2015 to $707 million in 2016. The agency knocked down the city’s general fund two notches from A1 to A3 and its water fund from Aa2 to A1.
“We’ve been aware of and discussing this liability for years, which is why we’ve worked diligently to eliminate pension spiking, tie wage growth to the (consumer pricing index), and change our city’s health insurance benefit matrix in order to mitigate growth and future liability,” said budget director Bill McCarty in a release Friday.
The city noted the agency recognized Springfield’s “satisfactory financial operations,” which it says is because of the city’s efforts to control costs.
Suburban Cook County’s minimum wage is set to increase to $13 an hour under legislation approved Wednesday by the board of commissioners.
The hourly minimum wage will gradually increase from $8.25 to $13 by 2020. The city of Chicago has already approved an increase in the minimum wage, which will grow to $13 by 2019.
The People’s Lobby was among the groups pushing for a Cook County minimum wage hike.
“Today’s vote is a tremendous victory for working people,” said Pascal Brixel with The People’s Lobby. “It will give 200,000 people a desperately needed raise, and, when fully implemented, it will put almost $10,000 more dollars a year in the pockets of full-time, minimum wage workers.
Leaders of several Northwest suburbs said they’ll consider opting out of a measure gradually increasing the minimum wage in Cook County to $13 an hour by 2020. […]
Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said that as the local government overseeing the nation’s largest industrial park, his village board intends to thoroughly consider both the minimum-wage law and another recently passed measure requiring most private employers throughout the county offer at least five days of paid sick leave a year to all employees.
Municipalities have until next July to decide whether to opt out.
How to solve a problem if you really care about the outcome:
Talk to the main players, build consensus, and go with an approach that’s effective and that most can live with.
How to approach a problem if you only care about how you look, not whether anyone’s actually helped:
Ignore the other players, push through a plan most of them oppose, claim credit for taking action, and make the others use time and money to undo what you’ve forced upon them.
The Cook County Board led by Toni Preckwinkle followed the second route in passing its policy requiring sick leave for all workers, with the likely result that few workers will get helped, more lawyers will make more money, and the Cook County Democrats who control the board will make political hay at the expense of the suburbs.
The county board followed the same pattern again on Wednesday when it voted to raise the minimum wage for the county. Once again, suburbs can opt out, potentially creating a wage patchwork across the county and possibly resulting in no actual minimum wage increase, except in scattered unincorporated areas.
A new draft version of the bill, obtained by Crain’s, sets forth a different way to calculate subsidies for Exelon’s two at-risk nukes than previous versions, incorporating a social cost of carbon pollution as the baseline for rewarding the nukes for their lack of emissions and then making adjustments based on market conditions. But, like a version from last spring, the subsidy would be capped at $265 million per year. […]
More additional ratepayer charges would support wind and solar energy development in Illinois, made possible by state-negotiated power purchase contracts. The measure calls for more than 4,000 megawatts of new wind and solar over the next 14 years, funded by a charge on the delivery portion of customers’ electric bills. That charge would supplant the current system of requiring power suppliers to pay to meet required renewable energy usage and then passing those costs along to customers.
In addition, steeper charges on electric bills would support much more ambitious utility efforts to reduce power consumption. But, for the first time, utilities like ComEd would be allowed to earn a profit from their administration of these energy efficiency programs. Currently, utilities recoup their administrative costs from ratepayers, but aren’t permitted to charge extra to earn a return.
Missing so far from the bill are provisions Dynegy is seeking to funnel more revenue to its struggling coal fleet in Southern Illinois. Exelon and Dynegy have talked about having the state take over from the regional grid manager for downstate Illinois the responsibility of buying “capacity,” or the obligation to deliver when power demand is highest, from power generators. That would boost the revenue Dynegy’s coal plants receive from downstate ratepayers and allow the company to keep open facilities it’s announced it will close. […]
Ratepayer-funded help for Dynegy is likely to be added to win downstate votes for the package. But that will put environmentalists who’ve lobbied for the bill’s clean energy and efficiency programs in the difficult position of endorsing actions to keep open polluting power plants that otherwise would close.
And, of course, ComEd’s plan to charge people based on their highest usage time is still in there.
The State of Illinois has found a way to make back payments to a Wisconsin agency serving Illinois residents with developmental disabilities.
Chrishaven, a small agency in the La Crosse area, has confirmed that they have now been paid for all 12 months of Fiscal Year 2016 for the five individuals they were serving. The payments add up to approximately $200,000.
Chrishaven took over care of the individuals—four men and a woman—more than two decades ago because no agencies could be identified in Illinois to take them. The Chicago Sun-Times disclosed in February that no payments had been made for their care since Illinois’ budget impasse began in July 2015. Chrishaven had been scraping by, nearly depleting their reserves. Lynn Kay, who runs the agency, said Illinois finally recommended that she notify the individuals and their families that she could no longer serve them. In an interview for a newsletter published by McManus Consulting, a Wilmette-based practice serving disability providers, she said: “That day was one of the worst days of my life. It was horrible that we had to put everyone through such pain.”
The Sun-Times said at the time that there were 44 Illinois residents altogether who fell into this category and had been sent to various agencies in other states; it is not known whether any of those agencies have been paid.
Consultant Ed McManus praised the Rauner administration for coming through with the money. “The governor and the legislature both are responsible for allowing the impasse to drag on for so long,” he said. “But the administration deserves big credit for doing the right thing for the sake of these individuals, and it’s great that Chrishaven is staying afloat. But what a shame that these families had to go through this nightmare. It’s a disgrace that we have no budget, and that our most vulnerable citizens have been treated so shabbily!”
The individuals were given until March 31 to move out, but none of them was ready, and the Department of Human Services persuaded Chrishaven to delay the discharges. The families were offered funding if the individuals returned to Illinois, but that meant identifying Illinois agencies able and willing to serve them, not an easy task—not to mention the issue of uprooting them after all these years.
And then, finally, the funding came through. It is not known where the money is coming from. Comptroller Leslie Munger said previously she could not make the payments without authorization from DHS. DHS cannot issue a voucher unless there is an appropriation passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. In-state developmental disability providers are being paid under a court order, but that doesn’t cover individuals out of state.
Before the funding came through, the parents of one of the individuals, Keith Drazner, 39, of Highland Park, were able to find an Illinois agency to serve him—Clearbrook in Arlington Heights—and he has now moved back, but it has been difficult for him to adjust.
“This whole thing should not have happened,” said his mother, Sharon Drazner. “Keith was happy. The people who took care of him were excellent. The state had no cohesive plan to bring him back. He was like a movable chess piece—‘here’s a spot, let’s put him there.’ No one really cared. What a strange journey this has been. I hope it works out.”
Colleges and universities have been starved for state funding through the ongoing budget impasse. The interim provost at the flagship campus of the University of Illinois recently presented faculty and staff with a blunt accounting of the school’s financial situation.
As one of the top administrators at the U of I, Edward Feser’s academic specialty is in regional economics. In short, he’s a numbers guy. So when he decided to give the campus community an update on the school’s response to the budget problems, his talk included a big dose of digits. But that’s not all there is to it.
“We wanted to explain how we were dealing with the state funding shortfall. So from fiscal ‘16, from the stop-gap allocation that was provided, if we account for the amount of money that was directed to the university, and we also account for the permanent spending reductions that we implemented of $49 million annually — after you account for those two things, in fiscal ‘16, we remain $140 million short. If we look at fiscal ‘17, we applied additional spending reductions of about $18 million. And then if we take account of the second round of stop-gap funding that was provided, we’re in the hole for fiscal ‘17 by $50 million.
“So if you look at the last two fiscal years in which we’ve had no budget, and instead stop-gap allocations, we are short $190 million from those two years. And that’s after we reduced spending by about $68 or $69 million. And to give you a sense of the magnitude of that reduction — $69 million — it’s important to realize that in fiscal ‘15, we received about $236 million in general revenue funding. So in two years, we’ve made a substantial revenue reduction in our spending, and we’re still $190 million short from those two years. We wanted to explain that to the campus, to help faculty understand it, and to explain how we were addressing that near-term shortfall.”
While several other Democratic House candidates did not return calls seeking comment, a Madigan spokesman said the GOP is simply looking for a message to distract from controversial presidential nominee Donald Trump leading the ticket. Spokesman Steve Brown contended Republicans “will say anything” to shift the conversation.
“This has been done before, and it’s unclear what effect more spending will have,” Brown said. “They figured out, probably too late, that Rauner and Trump are two anchors around their candidates’ necks, and they are trying to unwrap those anchors.” […]
The Republican operative suggested the anti-Madigan strategy has negated any damage Trump has done. The GOP has labeled Madigan “the great equalizer,” saying he’s helped the GOP remain competitive during a presidential election year, which usually favors Democrats. […]
“When we started this, it was less about building unfavorables and more about letting people know who he is and how Springfield actually works,” said Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party who launched a “Fire Madigan” campaign four years ago. “Now they are trying to take that and win seats with it, and I think they are going to have success.”
“It’s ‘Fire Madigan’ on steroids because they have the resources and the funding and a lot of very smart people running these campaigns. It’s a lot more well thought out and a stronger strategy than we’ve ever had,” Brady said. “We are in a state that has been dysfunctional for so long that they are looking for someone to blame, and the speaker is an easy target. If we can get across the point that a vote for an individual Democrat is a vote for Madigan, I think that’s very effective.”
The federal super political action committee running TV ads attempting to link controversial Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner has raised $5.7 million this month, federal campaign finance records show.
The super PAC is known as LIFT, an acronym for Leading Illinois For Tomorrow, and is headed by state Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat. It’s an attempt to counter Republican legislative ads backed by Rauner that try to link Democratic candidates to veteran Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The disclosure of money from Oct. 1-20 shows the group’s largest donors include $2.5 million from Michael Sacks, a wealthy asset management CEO and confidant of Mayor Rahm Emanuel; $1 million from veteran Democratic megadonor Fred Eychaner; and $950,000 from longtime Democratic contributor J.B. Pritzker and the Jabodon PT Co. he co-founded.
In addition, unions have given more than $1 million. That includes $400,000 from the Construction & General Laborers District Council of Chicago, $250,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, $200,000 from the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and $100,000 from the American Federation of Teachers Solidarity independent expenditure fund. The AFT is the umbrella organization for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which includes the Chicago Teachers Union.
* More from the release, but this time without the hyperlinks because I want to move on to other stuff…
Meanwhile, on Twitter…
Kellyanne Conway @KellyannePolls: The same Mark Kirk that unendorsed his party’s presidential nominee and called him out in paid ads? Gotcha. Good luck.
Deadspin @Deadspin: Senator Mark Kirk mocks disabled Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth in debate for her mixed-race heritage: deadsp.in/Pz454FH”
Jake Tapper @jaketapper: Kirk was already almost certainly going to lose. This is the opposite of a graceful exit.
Soledad O’Brien @soledadobrien: Sigh. For shame Mr. Kirk.
Steve Kornacki @SteveKornacki: His attack on Duckworth tonight is not the first bizarre/offensive thing Kirk has blurted out in the past few years chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/z…
Taegan Goddard @politicalwire: Wow, Sen. Mark Kirk really flubbed his debate tonight with Tammy Duckworth politicalwire.com/2016/10/27/dum…
Matt Viser @mviser: The definition of a bad debate moment youtu.be/icc0NXOdJQg
Mike DeBonis @mikedebonis: Here’s video of that Duckworth/Kirk exchange. It’s as bad as it sounds.
Manu Raju @mkraju: Mark Kirk always had an uphill climb for reelection but his comment about Duckworth’s ethnic heritage probably sealed his fate. #ilsen
Larry Handlin @archpundit: That was awkward and inappropriate.
Kim Janssen @kimjnews: The strange things people believe rarely surprise me but holy mackerel why would Mark Kirk say that out loud?
Chris Cillizza @TheFix: This really is stunning “@washingtonpost Sen. Mark Kirk questions opponent’s American heritage in Illinois debate wapo.st/2e2D3dO”
Rich Miller @capitolfax: That remark by @markkirkhq about @TammyforIL’s ancestry is about the lowest thing I’ve seen in a debate
Shane Goldmacher @ShaneGoldmacher: This Kirk-Duckworth exchange is going viral in 3…2…1… m.youtube.com/watch?v=icc0NX…
Daniel Nichanian @Taniel: Senator Mark Kirk may have said the most racist thing in a year headlined by Donald Trump. via @BFriedmanDC: pic.twitter.com/gHOkJwMosO
Harry Enten @ForecasterEnten: You can see why the Chicago Tribune endorsed Duckworth…
Eric Garcia @EricMGarcia: What. The. Hell? “@BFriedmanDC Wow. In debate, @MarkKirk says to Tammy Duckworth: “I had forgotten your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.””
Eric Bradner @ericbradner: Just seeing this and WOW is it racist. If #ILSen wasn’t in the bag for Democrats by now… “@mikedebonis Here’s video of that Duckworth/Kirk exchange. It’s as bad as it sounds. youtu.be/icc0NXOdJQg”
David Catanese @davecatanese: This clip is unreal. Wtf was he thinking.
Matthew Yglesias @mattyglesias: See, she was born in Thailand so it’s not possible her dad’s a Marine from a longstanding military family.
Greg Pollowitz @GPollowitz: The thing is Sen. Kirk has held himself out as morally superior to Trump for months, and then he says this? Goodbye Sen. majority
Andrew Kaczynski @KFILE: Oof, the Kirk comment did fall as flat as people said.
Kellyanne Conway, by the way, is Donald Trump’s campaign manager. No lifeline there.