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Madigan: Reinstate EDGE credit that was already temporarily reinistated

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Press release…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago, is directing the House Revenue committee to take up a Democratic Caucus proposal to reinstate a key tax credit for employers who create jobs in Illinois.

In a letter to state Rep. Michael Zalewski, chairman of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, Madigan requested the panel begin work to reinstate the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credit, a key component of the Democratic Caucus’ economic growth agenda.

“House Democrats know that Illinois must take serious steps to improve the business climate and create job opportunities, and we continue working on a reform agenda that promotes job growth without disadvantaging the people who work in those jobs every day,” Madigan said. “Businesses deserve the certainty of knowing that the state will stand with them as they work to create new jobs here in Illinois. By investing in businesses that invest in Illinois, the EDGE Tax Credit is essential to improving our business climate.”

The EDGE Tax Credit provides an incentive for employers who create a significant number of jobs in Illinois. The renewal of the tax credit was recently cited by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce as a key reform Illinois could undertake to help revitalize the economy.

“The House Democratic Caucus believes that it is possible to provide good jobs for working families while also passing policies that help businesses grow,” Madigan said. “These ideas are not mutually exclusive; in fact they’re both critical to the future of our state.”

The governor and the GA let the program expire at the end of last year and then reinstated it for a few months earlier this month. If this was the plan all along, they could’ve just made it permanent earlier.

Seems like make-work to me, but whatevs.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From the synopsis of SB 690

Amends the State Designations Act. Repeals the following State designations: State bird; State insect; official language; State mineral; State tree and flower; State animal; State fish; State prairie grass; State vegetable; State fruit; State fossil; State artifact; State folk dance; State theatre; State soil; State snackfood; State amphibian; State reptile; State tartan; and State pie.

* The Question: Your thoughts on this proposed legislation?

- Posted by Rich Miller   108 Comments      


AFSCME calls JT allegations “misinformation”

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Yet another e-mail to state employees…

Dear Colleagues,

As AFSCME leadership conducts its campaign for strike authorization, we will continue to provide accurate information and clarify any confusion that employees bring to our attention.

On that note, we learned yesterday of what appears to be a troublesome attempt to discourage voting by those who are inclined to vote against a strike. We learned that some union representatives were telling employees that not participating in the strike vote would be the equivalent of a “no” vote. However, a week ago AFSCME’s spokesperson said, “a vote of more than 50 percent of those voting would grant the bargaining committee the authorization to call a strike if necessary.”

Based on that statement, what the reps were saying yesterday is wrong. We hope the union confirms that by not voting, you have no say in the strike authorization decision.

The decision to vote is yours and yours alone, and we will respect your choice either way. Our obligation is to make sure you have accurate information. To that end, please continue to reach out with questions and concerns and refer to the Labor Relations link on team.illinois.gov.

Sincerely,

JT
John Terranova
Deputy Director
CMS Office of Labor Relations ​

Emphasis added because that’s a pretty serious allegation.

* From Anders Lindall at AFSCME Council 31…

The truth is plain and simple: We want every AFSCME member to vote, and they’re doing so by the thousands right now.

If the Rauner administration would seek compromise instead of spreading misinformation, we’d be at the bargaining table.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Rauner: Send power back to the states

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From the annual Koch brothers summit

The government needs to move quickly, [Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley] told a large gathering of wealthy conservative and libertarian donors gathered in California, to send power back to the states and deregulate the economy. The problem is how slowly Washington, D.C. moves, and how the administration is tied up in bureaucracy. But if states, which know which regulations affect them hardest, sue, that would give the feds the power to simply settle and withdraw the reg.

“If a state would bring a suit against a regulation, it gives the federal government the opportunity to withdraw that regulation.”

This, he told donors and reporters, “will give the government the ability to move quickly on deregulation.” […]

“I like President [George W.] Bush but… look, they screwed it up,” Rauner told attendees, echoing a common center-right gripe that Bush did not do enough to decentralize government. “Send power back to the states.”

OK, but what are you gonna do with that power, governor? I mean, dude, you can’t even pass a budget with your reforms.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Unclear on the particulars

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Check out the caption on this Bloomington Pantagraph photo

Tom Cullerton? Majority speaker of the Senate? Did Dan Proft buy that paper, too? /snark

* As I told you yesterday, the Pantagraph’s parent company just shut down its Statehouse bureau. I’m assuming we’ll see lots more oopsies like these in the coming weeks and months, if they even bother covering the Statehouse at all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


CPD suicide rate far higher than elsewhere

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Sun-Times

Buried among the facts and figures in the Justice Department’s recent book-length report on the failings of the Chicago Police Department was a telling statistic: The rate of suicide among CPD officers is 60 percent higher than other departments across the U.S.

Among the ranks of the nearly 10,000 patrol officers of the CPD, an average of three officers will take their own lives each year, according to life insurance claims information from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the union representing the bulk of the department’s sworn officers.

In the past decade, 13 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Nearly twice as many officers died by their own hand during the same span.

Ron Rufo was a peer support counselor for most of his 21 years as a patrolman in the 9th District, volunteering to talk to his fellow officers at any scene where an officer was killed or injured. Rufo, who retired a little more than a year ago, estimates the number of his former peers who kill themselves each year could be double the FOP figure.

“There is a problem, and nobody’s doing anything about it,” Rufo said. “Supervisors don’t talk about it. The rank-and-file don’t talk about it. And it’s like the administration does not want to admit it’s a problem.”

Go read the whole thing before commenting, please. Massively depressing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Because… Madigan!

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From a Republican pal regarding the fight over Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s legal motion to stop paying employees without a formal appropriation…

I’m not sure I buy the theory that this is going to take away Rauner’s leverage… I think he’d rather not shut it down, but if it has to be done, he’ll let it happen and blame Speaker Madigan for it.

He’ll certainly try.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Rate the new ILGOP ad: “Drop the Mike”

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* From the ILGOP

After House Democrats ignored the will of the people by electing Mike Madigan to a 17th term as Speaker, it’s clear the only way we will stop the Madigan Machine is by ousting the politicians that give Madigan his power.

This means taking the case directly to the voters.

That’s why today, the Illinois Republican Party is launching the first phase of its “Drop the Mike” campaign, highlighting how Madigan and his prospective Gubernatorial candidates are working for the Chicago machine and against the people.

Watch the ad here.

And sign the petition at BossMadigan.com/Drop-The-Mike

The Madigan Machine is running on borrowed time.

* Rate the ad

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Illinois Policy Institute: Slash funding for local governments, universities, schools, Medicaid

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* The Illinois Policy Institute has a new budget plan. I’m still going through it, but it wants a five-year property tax freeze while also taking away billions from local governments and schools

» Revenue-sharing agreements that fuel excessive local spending, such as the Local Government Distributive Fund – for counties and cities with populations above 5,000 – and the Downstate Transit Fund. (Savings: $1.75 billion)

» State pension subsidies that allow districts and universities to dole out higher pay, end-of-career salary hikes and pensionable perks. Going forward, local school districts and universities should be responsible for paying the annual (normal) cost of pensions. (Savings: higher education: $450 million; K-12: $970 million)

» Special carve-outs in the state’s education funding formula that grant subsidies to a select few school districts affected by local property tax caps and special economic zones. (Savings: $250 million)

So, whack the LDF, transfer pension costs to schools and universities and cut Chicago’s school funding.

* But it does give locals this

Reform costly state mandates imposed on local governments such as prevailing wage requirements and collective bargaining rules. Ease the process for government consolidation and other cost-saving measures. (Local government savings: $2 billion-$3 billion)

Right. Yeah.

* It also wants a 10 percent reduction in the number of state employees and implementation of Gov. Rauner’s contract terms, for a claimed savings of $500 million for each point.

The group wants to cut higher education spending by $500 million a year. It would cut Medicaid spending by $415 million.

* Its pension proposal looks like it revamps the ramp

» Phases in the costs of any pension funds’ actuarial changes over a five-year period. This will reduce the required $800 million increase in state contributions by nearly $650 million in 2018.

» Creates a new contribution schedule with a 2018 payment that is $1 billion less than baseline contributions. That will protect overburdened Illinoisans from
tax hikes and allow the state to prioritize funding for social services.

* Its chart…

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* But it’s long overdue…

As her first act on the Senate Government Reform Committee, Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) introduced legislation to close the revolving door between state government employees, officials and lobbying firms.

“It is high time that we strengthen ethics laws in Illinois and tighten regulations on the revolving door,” Steans said. “The General Assembly last passed revolving door reforms nearly 10 years ago. While those acts were undoubtedly progress, elected officials and state employees should not be able to immediately translate relationships built on state time into lobbying connections upon leaving public service.”

Senate Bill 615 requires employees and officials to wait one year after leaving a position with the state before accepting a position or compensation for lobbying state government. The legislation also bans state employees and officials from negotiating employment terms or compensation from lobbying entities while employed or serving as an appointee of the state.

“SB 615 restricts legislators and state employees from lobbying for at least one year after their departure from state government, bringing Illinois in line with a majority of other states who restrict this kind of activity,” said Sarah Brune, executive director of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “This legislation is an important step in closing the revolving door of state government in Illinois and encouraging openness and transparency in the political process.”

* As defined in the lobbyist registration act, “state official” means

(1) the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and State Comptroller;
(2) Chiefs of Staff for officials described in item (1);
(3) Cabinet members of any elected constitutional officer, including Directors, Assistant Directors and Chief Legal Counsel or General Counsel;
(4) Members of the General Assembly; and
(5) Members of any board, commission, authority, or task force of the State authorized or created by State law or by executive order of the Governor.

Legislators in particular should not be allowed to negotiate employment terms with lobbying entities while in office. It defies common sense.

…Adding… It probably should be noted that the governor’s executive order from 2015 did some of this as well. But Rauner didn’t bar his people from working for lobbying entities for a year, like this proposal does. He just barred them from actively lobbying the governor’s part of the executive branch.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Cat moving HQ to Chicago area

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Whoa

Caterpillar Inc. has scrapped plans to build a new office complex in Downtown Peoria and will move its global headquarters to the Chicago area by the end of the year.

The upper echelon of executives, including newly installed CEO Jim Umpleby, will begin relocating later this year, with up to 100 employees total moving by year’s end. About 300 employees will work in the new office at an as-yet undecided location once the transition is complete. […]

The [company’s restructuring] contributed to $2.3 billion in savings in 2016, but sales and revenue for last year still were more than 40 percent below peak levels of 2012. Umpleby said that decline is a fundamental reason the company’s Board of Directors opted to move global headquarters to an area where the global marketplace is in easier reach. […]

“I understand it is a big deal, and it is not a decision that we made lightly. As we step back and looked at what is most important, what’s most important for us is to get Caterpillar growing again and for us to make the company successful,” Umpleby said. “And I clearly recognize it will be disappointing, it will be tough. This is not easy. I clearly recognize that. But again I think it’s the right thing for Caterpillar to do in the long term.”

* The same thing happened with ADM not too long ago. Execs want to live in or next to a big city, with big city amenities and access to transportation hubs. From the Peoria paper’s interview with the CEO

We have decided to locate a small, lean headquarters team, a team of senior executives, in the Chicago area to have better access to flights. About two-thirds of our business over the last five years has come from outside the United States. We see a lot of growth coming in the international markets, and we believe that speed and agility for our senior leadership team to be able to travel around the globe is very important. I do want to emphasize that the vast majority of our employees in Peoria will not be relocated. And again, both of these decisions, although they seem related, are independent decisions. They’re very much focused on allowing Caterpillar to grow and prosper again. […]

I suspect we’ll start with 100 employees, probably less by the end of the year. And when this new office is up and running, it will probably be around approximately 300 employees. One thing I want to make clear is we’re not moving the top 300 people to Chicago. That’s not happening. Many officers will continue to be in Peoria. We’re talking about the executive office, maybe a couple of the vice presidents. It will be a small group, and then, as with any lean headquarters, there will be support staff around, including a few key finance functions, human resources and members from the legal department. […]

There will be more vice presidents in the Peoria area than there will be in our new location. We have over 12,000 employees in the Peoria area, and we’ll still consider Peoria our hometown. This is where we grew up, this is where our employees are. We’ll be here a lot, so you’ll see us knocking around town. It won’t be a situation where we’re gone. We’re not looking for a building the size of AB (the current Downtown Peoria headquarters) to fill up. We’re not going to build a building. We’re going to lease space in an existing building.

* Crain’s

Caterpillar already has a footprint in the Chicago area. There are operations in LaGrange, Joliet and Aurora, though the company is considering ending manufacturing in Aurora.​

The company also houses its digital and analytics team in the Merchandise Mart. But the new headquarters will not be at any of those locations, and the employees at the Merchandise Mart will not be moved to the new headquarters, wherever it is situated.

Caterpillar has 12,000 employees in Peoria, Potts said, “and that’s not going to change.” The central Illinois city “is still our hometown.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Maybe it’s time to consider consolidating villages?

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* When we think of local government consolidation, we often think of schools or townships. But Illinois also has 1,299 incorporated cities, towns and villages

Former police chief Craig Kennedy said Monday he wasn’t surprised and has no hard feelings about being laid off by the village of Jerome.

As part of cost reductions necessitated by a budget shortfall, Village President Mike Lopez said the police chief was let go Friday. Kennedy was paid $55,000 per year.

“I attend 99 percent of the village board meetings and watched the downturn in sales tax revenue and figured I would be the first to go,” said Kennedy, 57, who spent the past 15 years with the Jerome Police Department, including three as chief. […]

Earlier this month, The State Journal-Register reported that police officers in nearby Leland Grove had been covering shifts in Jerome due to what village officials described as a temporary manpower shortage.

The 2015 Census estimate puts Jerome’s population at 1,651.

* From earlier this month

Lopez said that village coffers have been hurt by late payments from the state on monies owed. For example, the village in December received checks from the state to pay for officers who participated last spring in seatbelt emphasis patrols, he said. […]

Sales tax revenue in Jerome is also down, Lopez said. While the opening of Hy-Vee on MacArthur Boulevard might have been good news for the City of Springfield, it has reduced spending at Shop ’n Save, one of the largest businesses in the village. On the other hand, gambling revenue has soared to as much as $7,000 a month, he said, but that money will likely tail off due to the number of video gaming machines that have been installed throughout the area. […]

The village this month ceased paying a portion of health care premiums for dependents of village employees, which will save nearly $23,000, Lopez said, and Jerome residents can expect other cutbacks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      


More on the strike authorization vote

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Finke on AFSCME’s strike authorization vote, which began yesterday

But as [AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall] said, only members who are eligible to strike are eligible to vote. AFSCME represents about 38,000 state workers in Illinois. Of those, roughly 30,000 can strike. The others work security jobs at the Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice and are forbidden from striking. […]

Actual voting will take place at 700 work sites around the state, Lindall said. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to vote for as many members as possible.

“We’re trying to give people multiple opportunities (to vote),” he said. “We are putting a tremendous effort into the access to vote and also for the integrity of the vote. We are following federal labor board processes for security votes similar to a union-authorization election.”

Although votes can be cast at hundreds of locations, they will be counted at a central location, Lindall said. None of the votes will be counted until after the election is concluded. Voting is scheduled through Feb. 19, although union officials have said it could be extended a bit if necessary to accommodate all voters.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      


Durbin calls AG Madigan filing a “bold move”

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017

* Tina Sfondeles at the Sun-Times

Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday called Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion to halt state employee pay without a budget a “bold move” that will force Gov. Bruce Rauner’s hand.

Durbin — who last year opted not to run for governor — told the Sun-Times the budget impasse, which he said has shredded a safety net and cut off care for the most disadvantaged, hasn’t been enough to create a force for compromise.

“I think what she’s saying is ‘Let’s face the reality.’ The [Illinois] Constitution says you can’t appropriate it. You can’t spend it unless it’s appropriated. And if she tests that, and it comes through, it’s going to force the hand of the governor as to whether or not that the things he’s insisting on are so important that it would create an even worse situation in our state,” Durbin said. […]

“It’s no surprise that Dick Durbin is spinning like a career politician,” state Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said in an email. “Durbin knows ridiculous political attacks by Mike Madigan and the money men who fund his machine don’t work, but exposing the failure of Madigan’s decades of rule in Springfield does. Dick Durbin is unwilling and afraid to stand up to Mike Madigan. It’s why Durbin chose not to run.”

Discuss.

* Meanwhile, Jim Dey’s take is right out of “Mad Men”

Jim Dey: Is Lisa Madigan rescuing ‘Dadigan’?

Little Lisa is making a big splash.

The Diminutive Daughter of the Diminutive Don of Illinois politics shook things up big time last week when she inserted herself into the 19-month-old state budget battle between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and her father, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Wow. Words fail me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


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