Today candidate Chris Kennedy held a political event trying to anoint himself as an ‘outsider’ and fighter against a broken property tax assessment system. But for years as a businessman and private citizen, Chris Kennedy personally hired what he now calls a ‘well connected law firm’ to lower his own home’s property taxes and used that same firm to lower the value on two business projects by nearly $9 million dollars. It’s laughable that millionaire Chris Kennedy is now railing against the exact same system he used to try and save millions.
Illinois’ property tax system needs to change, which is why months ago JB made it clear that he favors a progressive income tax to help the state provide more support to local schools, and bring down local property taxes.
Not to nitpick or anything, but Kennedy didn’t remove any toilets from his house or the Merchandise Mart to lower his property taxes by making them uninhabitable. Kind of a difference there.
* From Sen. Daniel Biss…
“We have to do right by our children and allow local communities the flexibility to meet the needs of their schools. The best way to do that is to be less reliant on property taxes to meet those needs in the first place. We must instead fix the school funding formula and ensure the state meets its obligations to local communities so they can replace property tax dollars directed at schools with much-needed state resources.
“At the same time, Illinois families need property tax relief. The best way to provide Illinois families with the property tax relief they need is to end the shell game between assessors, property tax lawyers and county boards of review. The self-dealing racket they’ve created enriches their bank accounts and campaign coffers, and the rest of us pay the price. We were reminded of how broken the system is by the news that my two ultra-rich opponents in this primary each got six figure tax breaks by using politically connected law firms. It’s not hard to see who this system benefits.”
* And from Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios’ office…
The Cook County Assessor’s Office assesses property and processes appeals with integrity and fairness, based on analysis of sale prices and real estate market conditions.
It is ludicrous to suggest that the Assessor’s Office led by Joseph Berrios treats properties in lower-market areas differently than those in other areas.
No elected official in Cook County has championed equality for minorities more than Assessor Berrios, who is the first Hispanic-American to serve as Assessor and was the first Hispanic-American to serve in the Illinois General Assembly. This Office assesses property, not people. It does so accurately and equally.
*** UPDATE *** Mic drop…
@KennedyforIL Yes Chris—IL property taxes help the rich and hurt the rest of us, so will you return the $130K prop tax break Madigan’s law firm got you?
Democrat J.B. Pritzker said he believes the only way to resolve the budget standoff in Springfield is to get Governor Bruce Rauner out of office. He said the Republican incumbent does not seem to really want a budget.
“Of course, to break the stalemate we need to defeat Governor Rauner,” Pritzker said. “Right now, he seems to be holding up this right wing agenda and saying I won’t give you a budget, unless you give me my right wing agenda, which has nothing to do with that budget. So, at the moment, it is hard to tell what it is that this Governor will do next.”
Pritzker said the Governor apparently does not really want a budget since he opposes even legislation that includes things he favors.
Would Pritzker support the democratic budget passed by the Senate? He said it has some challenges and he wants to see what the House does with it. Asked about rival democrat Chris Kennedy outlining his vision for Illinois, Pritzker sidestepped a comparison.
“While the important thing I think for both of us is to focus on the failures of Bruce Rauner and how we might improve the state over what Bruce Rauner is doing. Personally, I think Bruce Rauner in every action has failed this state.”
On the topic of Chicago violence, Pritzker draws the problem straight back to Rauner and the state’s budget standoff.
“People who lose hope are people who become desperate, and it’s desperate people who become violent so we need to help people,” Pritzker said. That means with support for social service organizations and mental health agencies. “When we close down all those facilities or take away all those services for people whose lives are not yet stable, who don’t have a place to live or don’t have clothing or food and certainly don’t have a job, then we are leaving them with nothing and they are hopeless,” Pritzker said.
The first step in reducing the city’s violence, then, is solving the economic crisis. Pritzker said the next step is getting illegal guns off the streets through new protections and penalties.
* The last scheduled day of spring session is tomorrow. The end of the fiscal year is June 30th. On what date do you think the General Assembly will vote on a budget (complete or partial) that can then be sent to Gov. Rauner?
At a speech today on the South Side of Chicago, Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for Governor unveiled his agenda for the state of Illinois, declaring that it is time for “radical change” in Illinois.
“We need change—not just incremental change, but radical change. That radical change must start with changing out the governor,” said Kennedy. “But changing the governor is not enough. If we are going to keep the promise of the American Dream and restore the potential of our state.”
Kennedy said that our state needs to go much further and change the way we fund schools, tax our citizens and restore confidence in our Government. Kennedy’s plan includes:
· Radically altering the regressive property tax system where the wealthy and insiders benefit and the poor and middle class pay more.
· Enacting a progressive tax to end the unfair way we have a single flat tax rate for all citizens, where the middle class and even the poor are taxed at the same rate as the wealthy.
· Passing comprehensive ethics reforms to restore faith in state government and politics, including a ban on property tax lawyers making contributions to local assessors or to the assessors’ political organizations or political parties; a ban on the revolving door that allows employees of the assessor’s office to go into private practice and lobby that same office; ban having family members act as lobbyists and agents before the assessor; and, end the practice of elected officials acting as property tax lawyers and, in effect, taking on a role that is adverse to the state’s interests.
“I contend that, for millions of families, the system is broken. Governor Rauner says he wants to freeze property taxes; I want to lower them. He wants to preserve the system; I want to abandon it,” Kennedy added. “The political establishment in Springfield will oppose me with everything they’ve got because they know I’m not afraid to tell the truth, to take on the status quo, and to change the system.”
“If we don’t stop politicians and parties from making money off the property tax system, they won’t ever let us change the system. If we don’t move away from property taxes, we won’t embrace a progressive income tax. If we don’t embrace a progressive income tax, we will never fund schools properly or restore community safety or rid our cities of the scourge of gun violence.
“If we don’t fund schools properly, we will never educate our kids to be economically self-sufficient. If the next generation is not self-sufficient, then we cannot restore the American Dream. If we don’t restore the American Dream, we put the very future of our state and of our country at risk,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy concluded with a call for accountability pledging that if he didn’t balance the budget in his first term he wouldn’t seek re-election.
“We need integrity in our institutions and we need accountability from our elected politicians. As a candidate, I can tell you that if I am successful in becoming our governor, and if I don’t balance the budget, I won’t run for re-election, nor should I. That’s a level of accountability and honesty that’s sorely missing in Springfield.” [Emphasis added.]
I’ve been arguing strenuously for weeks that Kennedy needs to forcefully take up the property tax issue. It is at the very heart of why so many people believe this state is messed up. The taxes are too high and aren’t based on the ability to pay, so they hurt the poor and working class the most; the assessment system is rigged to favor the rich and politically powerful; and the taxes pervert the school funding system by funding much better public schools for the upper classes while poor districts struggle just to get by.
Not to mention that the issue comes handily gift-wrapped with a Speaker Madigan bow. And while Gov. Rauner’s poll numbers are lousy, Madigan’s are much worse. So that bit about preventing elected officials from doing property tax law is pretty big stuff.
“Our ability to legitimize government as an agent of change is being crippled because so many people see the system as evidence of political insider abuse - where a billionaire can have a million-dollar mansion reclassified as dilapidated on the most expensive block, on the most expensive street, in the most expensive neighborhood in one of the most expensive cities in the world and all he needed was the right lawyers to avoid paying his fair share.”
Kennedy would make it illegal for state lawmakers or other elected officials to work as property tax lawyers, and to prevent local property-tax assessors from collecting campaign donations from property-tax lawyers or allowing their former staffers to practice before them as paid lobbyists.
The proposal seems aimed directly at Illinois House Speaker and state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan, who is a property-tax lawyer, and Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, who chairs the Cook County Democratic Party and has accepted millions of dollars from property-tax lawyers. While officially neutral, both are actively trying to help Pritzker, the Kennedy camp believes and some insiders confirm. Even without their help, Pritzker’s personal wealth and heavy spending has helped give him early momentum in the Democratic race. […]
One bit of truth, as Kennedy sees it, are signs that Berrios’ office assesses properties in minority areas at higher rates than in white areas, putting a heavier burden on minority taxpayers. I’ve seen some of Kennedy’s research on the subject and I’d call it interesting, though preliminary.
* The two things missing from the speech were any mention of how he hoped to rid the state of the property tax system and what that could mean for schools and local governments. He did mention some incremental steps like using existing studies and “acquisition-based assessments.”
But, if you judge this speech based on defining a huge problem, Kennedy did very well.
“Everyone, everywhere should be able to wake up on a hot, sunny summer day and look forward to it, rather than see that gift of nature instead as a dark omen of the violent night to come.”
* Senate approves property tax freeze: Illinois senators Tuesday approved a two-year property tax freeze that applies to school districts and local governments. The Senate approved the freeze for school districts on a 37-11 vote with nine lawmakers voting “present.” The bill that freezes taxes for other units of local government was approved on a 38-11 vote, again with nine senators voting “present.”
Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley following passage today in the Illinois House of Representatives of Senate Bill 81, to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022:
“While corporations are enjoying record profits, workers in Illinois are suffering. Today, the House of Representatives took a historic step to reversing this course and building our economy from the bottom-up, instead of placing our faith in the misguided hope that prosperity will trickle down.
“Senate Bill 81 represents a major advance for Illinois and is the answer to so many of the pressing questions facing our state. Growing inequality. Revenue problems and the related cuts to services. Population loss. The manufactured budget crisis. On behalf of our workers, I congratulate the representatives who chose to act boldly for our future.
“Opponents of raising the wage during today’s debate used the same old stale and discredited scare claims about automation and job loss. But we know, as our allies do, that nonpartisan, peer-reviewed research shows that raising the wage does NOT lead to significant relocation or unemployment. Its MAIN effect is giving workers a living wage.
“Now, as the legislative session comes to a close, we ask our allies in the Senate to pass this legislation that will help 2.3 million workers, grow our economy and give Illinois a much-needed raise.”
* Press release…
Statement attributable to Illinois Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Todd Maisch on increasing the minimum wage:
“Raising the minimum wage would be a devastating blow to job creators throughout Illinois. This proposal would raise the Illinois minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. Meanwhile, neighboring states including Missouri and Iowa have a minimum wage of nearly half that amount.
This is unacceptable.
If anyone wonders why jobs, economic opportunity and population keep leaving Illinois for other states, look no further than those state lawmakers who are legislating Illinois into a second-tier state for competitiveness.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has faith in Illinois’ economic outlook, but state polices cannot continue to make the climate ever tougher on our job creators.”
* Press release…
Members of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage representing a range of industries across Illinois commented in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2022.
Dan Sherry, Owner, Kennedy’s Creative Awards, Waukegan: “Gradually raising Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 is the smart thing to do for our state, our businesses and our people. We start our employees now at $12 an hour and treat them well in order to retain quality staff. And it works. Our staff turnover is low, which results in fantastic customer service and repeat customers. That’s what it takes to have a strong business. When more businesses pay higher wages and workers have more money to spend, it will create a stronger Illinois business climate.”
Robert Olson, Owner, Olson & Associates in Springfield, Washington and Lombard: “Every day I see hardworking men and women who want to protect their families with insurance, but are struggling just to get by on low wages. Raising the minimum wage is a kind of insurance for both businesses and workers. It will enable workers to make ends meet and it will boost the consumer spending that drives business and strengthens the economy.”
David Borris, Owner, Hel’s Kitchen Catering, Northbrook: “Raising the minimum wage is pro-business. Local small businesses have a deeply personal interest in the financial health of the communities we do business in. The wellbeing of our customer base and our workforce shows in our bottom line. A healthy economy needs money circulating widely in a virtuous cycle of rising wages, consumer demand and job creation. That’s a recipe for success.”
Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, CEO of Earth Friendly Products, which just celebrated 50 years of manufacturing in Addison: “Having manufactured in Illinois for 50 years, we know that raising the minimum wage to $15 will help businesses and employees thrive. Paying a living wage has improved our bottom line. We start employees at $17 and provide great benefits while selling our products at competitive prices. Our voluntary turnover rate is extremely low, our productivity has increased, and our profits continue to grow. Our ECOS brand is sold in 60 countries. And our employees are our greatest brand ambassadors.”
Tim Frick, Owner, Mightybytes, Chicago: “Raising our state’s minimum wage to $15 is smart business and smart policy to jump-start our economy now and strengthen it over the long term. Illinois businesses need customers with more money to buy our products and services. Workers at one business are customers at another. We can’t grow the economy by paying wages that workers can’t live on and then bemoaning weak consumer demand. It’s why I strongly support legislation that would raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 by 2022.”
Michelle Knox, Owner, WindSolarUSA, Springfield: “No one working full-time should have to live in poverty, but Illinois’ current minimum wage isn’t enough for people to afford even the basics. That needs to change. We know from experience with our own current entry wage of about $13, that a higher minimum wage results in more productive and loyal employees. And when the minimum wage goes up across the state, workers turn around and spend their hard-earned dollars at local businesses, which boosts revenues. A higher wage floor is a win-win for workers and businesses.”
Scott Pfeiffer, Partner, Threshold Acoustics, Chicago: “The current state minimum wage doesn’t allow working people to meet their basic needs, which is bad for business and our economy. When employees earn more, they spend it on goods and services they couldn’t afford before. This boost in consumer spending helps businesses grow and create more jobs – including the businesses that form our client base. A gradual increase in Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 by 2022 will strengthen our communities, boost businesses’ bottom lines and help reduce the strain on our social safety net – all of which will bolster our economy.”
* Press release…
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) issued the following statement regarding the passing of the minimum wage bill out of the Illinois House that seeks to increase the minimum wage in Illinois to $15.00 per hour by 2022:
“The political campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour has already resulted in reduced hours and eliminated positions in major cities where this has been enacted, including the City of Chicago. In fact, we have seen automation and self-service alternatives replace jobs due to continued efforts to artificially increase wages through government actions instead of working with employers. Quite simply, the state cannot bear another proposal that eliminates what little opportunity exists in Illinois. We urge lawmakers to show more restraint when making decisions that significantly and negatively impacts a business’ bottom line.”
Facts about the minimum wage:
Illinois’ minimum wage is already the highest in the Midwest. Illinois is poised to add another anti-competitive burden to retailers’ ability to compete with retailers in border states.
Raising the minimum wage will continue to keep people, especially teens, out of jobs. According to a January 2016 report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute, only 12.4 percent of African Americans, 15 percent of Hispanic or Latinos and 24.4 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos), ages 16 to 19 years old, are employed in Chicago. This destroys what little opportunity exists.
Minimum wage salaries are a floor, not a ceiling. Workers are not locked into minimum wage jobs, they have the ability to garner the necessary skills to advance and earn higher wages. Retail ranks are filled with those who started in minimum wage jobs.
Penalizes brick-and-mortar retailers over internet retailers. The minimum wage hike will not impact internet retailers, but penalize those retailers that invest in a physical property, workforce, pay property and sales taxes, etc.
…Adding… Ameya Pawar…
Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward alderman and Democratic candidate for Illinois governor, issued the following statement today following passage of Senate Bill 81 in the Illinois House of Representatives, to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour:
“A New Deal for Illinois means a $15 minimum wage. This will help more than 40 percent of all workers from across a wide range of industries and in every corner of the state. It will benefit almost half of all African-American and female workers, and more than 60 percent of Latino workers. I applaud the members of the Illinois House of Representatives for taking this historic step today by passing Senate Bill 81. Now, I urge the members of the Illinois Senate to pass, and Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign, this common-sense bill into law.
“Low wages drive income inequality and stifle economic growth. I’ve seen it first-hand, as co-chair of the Working Families Task Force, which helped raise the minimum wage in Chicago. But the problem persists across Illinois. As I’ve toured the state in my campaign for governor, I’ve witnessed how low wages affect the lives of everyone.
“Over 2.3 million full-time workers earn so little they qualify for public assistance in the form of food stamps, housing subsidies for example. It’s immoral, and it shifts the costs of social responsibility from wealthy corporations to the taxpayer. Low pay costs Illinois taxpayers more than $5 billion a year in public assistance support. If families don’t have to scrape by each month, they can spend money in small businesses across the state, with rippling effects across every supply chain. Fairly-paid employees become good customers.
“I will remain committed to a $15 minimum wage for the Illinois. It will help generate revenue, end the subsidization of corporations who fail to pay a living wage and, more importantly, help the working families of Illinois who suffer in this rigged economy.”
…Adding… Another one…
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce issued the following statement following the passing of SB 81 out of the Illinois House, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022:
“Over the last several years Chicagoland businesses have seen taxes, fees and mandates that have totaled over $2 billion. The business community cannot withstand further costs from a $15 an hour minimum wage, which places undue burden on our state’s employers and further inhibits business development and job growth in Chicago. We need to do the hard work of investing in our citizens’ workforce development, including vocational training, community college, and the trades. Not a politically expedient raise in the starting wage that does nothing to ensure that people are uplifted out of poverty over the long term. Should the Senate concur, we strongly urge the Governor to stand up for the business community by vetoing SB 81,” said Theresa E. Mintle, president & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
Democrat lawmakers in Springfield continue to impose new and costly mandates on Illinois employers.
Minutes ago, the Illinois House of Representatives narrowly passed a $15 per hour minimum wage that would apply to every business regardless of size. SB 81 passed on a vote of 61-53-2 and now heads to the Senate for consideration where Senate President John Cullerton has pledged a vote today or tomorrow before the spring session concludes. This represents a whopping 82 percent spike in the state’s minimum wage and would make it the highest in the nation when fully phased in after five years.
Additionally, the Senate voted 31-17-0 this afternoon to impose a new paid leave mandate on all Illinois businesses. HB 2771 mandates that every employer provide up to 5 paid days of leave to every employee annually and it now moves back to the House of Representatives for concurrence in the next two days.
These bills are politically-motivated measures designed to create a wedge issue in the coming 2018 gubernatorial election because they anticipate that Governor Bruce Rauner will veto these bills. Between 2013-2016, Democrats occupied the Governor’s mansion and held veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly but did not pass this type of legislation. Rather than voting on a minimum wage bill, Speaker Michael J. Madigan put a minimum wage referendum on the statewide ballot in an unsuccessful effort to drive voter turnout.
Illinois continues to lose manufacturing jobs while our neighboring states are recovering from the recession and adding tens of thousands of new jobs. For three years in a row, Illinois has had the dubious distinction of losing the largest number of residents who are fleeing Illinois for other locales.
The IMA strongly opposes both SB 81 and HB 2771 and will request a veto if they land on the Governor’s desk. In the meantime, IMA members are requested to contact their lawmakers immediately to request NO votes on these bills.
Today, JB Pritzker released the following statement in response to the Illinois House passing a $15 minimum wage bill:
“I’m thrilled to see the House pass a $15 minimum wage and will continue to stand with working families across our state to see this bill signed into law,” said JB Pritzker. “The fact is, working families and our most vulnerable communities continue to get left behind and raising the minimum wage to $15 moves our state in the right direction. This bill will help ensure that Illinois workers have the resources they need to support themselves and their families. While Bruce Rauner stands with special interests to oppose a minimum wage, I will always stand with Illinois’ working families in the fight to make this a reality for our state.”
…Adding… Senate President Cullerton…
“The Senate has been waiting a long time for this. I hope that my assurances that this will get a vote in the Senate helped give the House members the courage to do the right thing. The Senate is ready to take this up if the House can get the paperwork over to us.”
I’ve asked for clarification about that last bit on whether the House can submit its paperwork in a timely manner.
And subscribers will get the snark about “courage.”
The House on Monday did advance two other “reforms” desired by Rauner. A House committee advanced a plan (Senate Bill 886) to allow Rauner to begin the process of selling the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, and the full House passed changes to the state’s procurement code (Senate Bill 8).
However, the Rauner spokesperson says House Speaker Michael Madigan “hijacked” the Thompson Center measure “to steer $50 million to the city of Chicago while putting the interests of a close friend and lobbyist ahead of Illinois taxpayers.”
One of the building’s retail tenants is represented by Madigan ally, attorney Mike Kasper.
The governor has predicted the Thompson Center will sell for $300 million dollars. The sale would take a zoning change from the Chicago City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has expressed concern about the cost of relocating the CTA Lake Street station located inside the Thompson.
A spokesperson for Madigan said the comments from the governor’s office “make no sense,” noting the bill was approved in a House committee Monday night.
“There were extensive negotiations,” Steve Brown said in a statement. “And there were some of the ‘blank check’ ideas from the governor that are not part of the legislation. The state will get their loophole in the Surplus Property Act so they can proceed with the sale.”
The guy cannot ever seem to take a win.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…
Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement Tuesday after the House voted to pass Senate Bill 886, which would advance Gov. Bruce Rauner’s requested sale of the Thompson Center:
“Governor Rauner has prioritized the sale of the Thompson Center and today’s action moves us toward that sale. House Democrats have again demonstrated our willingness to work with the governor to achieve his goals, while ensuring—as is our duty—that these goals are achieved in the best interest of the people we represent. No negotiation can be one sided, and I urge the governor to now join House Democrats in resolving the most important issue facing our state, which is passing a state budget.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** House Republican Leader Jim Durkin…
“The Democratic bill to sell the James R. Thompson Center is another attempted money grab by the City of Chicago and a bad deal for the taxpayers of Illinois. The James R. Thompson Center was built with state taxpayer money and is owned by the State of Illinois – not the City of Chicago. Our first obligation should be to negotiate a deal that maximizes proceeds to benefit the State of Illinois. The bill that passed the House tonight takes care of Chicago at the expense of all other Illinois taxpayers.”
Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool today called on Governor Rauner and leaders in Springfield to fund Chicago students equally, saying the State’s racially discriminatory funding is a cancer on the school system that jeopardizes years of academic gains and the future of hundreds of thousands of school children.
Chicago’s children are 20 percent of the state’s enrollment but they receive only 15 percent of the state’s spending on education.
“This racially discriminatory state funding is a cancer upon CPS. In the past two years, our cuts, management reforms, and enhanced revenues have been mere radiation treatments, slowing down and postponing the cancer’s advance. But no homegrown remedies will ultimately stop its deadly reach. Only the removal of the cancer – by either Springfield or by the courts – will cure the patient…. All our efforts will be in vain if the State is allowed to continue to discriminate on the basis of race in distributing education dollars. Whether our victory comes in the courts or in the political arena, it must come, if we are to protect what we most cherish – the quality of the futures of our children, and everything that means for the future of this great City.”
Claypool pointed to the Board of Education’s continuing lawsuit against the State of Illinois.
“As noted by lawyers representing CPS and five parent plaintiffs in the ongoing civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the State: “Although the State has not installed signs on schoolhouse doors that say ‘Whites Only’ and ‘Colored,’ the State has used its checkbook to accomplish exactly that.’”
Even more frustrating, these budget challenges come at a time of unparalleled academic success for Chicago children.
“These are inspiring stories, tributes to the American ideal that, armed with a quality education, you can rise above adversity and accomplish anything. That is a dream that should be available to all children, regardless of where they live, what their parents earn, or the color of their skin. It’s a dream worth fighting for. To do anything else would be surrendering to the most inconvenient truth of all: our indifference in the face of injustice.”
The full speech is here. I’ve asked the governor’s office for a response.
*** UPDATE *** From Eleni Demertzis in the governor’s office…
A Cook County judge already debunked all of Forrest Claypool’s propaganda. This is just another stunt.
Bruce Rauner ran for governor pledging to “shake up Springfield,” but with more than two years of leadership under his belt Illinois government is more shaky than shaken up and the rookie governor appears moving to downsize expectations ahead of his reelection bid next year.
With Springfield mired in an epic budget gridlock, the mantra from Rauner has turned minimalist. “On things that we can control, I would give us an A,” Rauner declared in a recent public television interview.
Unstated, of course, is that Rauner has found that there is an awful lot about steering Illinois government he has been unable to control as his pro-business, anti-union agenda hit a wall of defiance from Democrats who run the Legislature. And that has left him with a less than blazing record of accomplishment to campaign on.
To Kent Redfield, a veteran political scientist at the University of Illinois-Springfield, Rauner’s downscaled revisionism smacks of a cop-out.
“It’s like the baseball coach with the losing record,” Redfield said. “‘I’m making really good decisions but people keep getting hurt and my relievers keep throwing gopher balls in the bottom of the ninth.”
RE: Northeastern to cut 180 positions; Town Hall at 3 p.m. today
I writing to inform Northeastern’s faculty and staff that the University will begin the implementation of layoffs as a result of a two-year state budget impasse that has deprived us of both an FY16 and FY17 appropriation.
The University has a $10.8 million projected cash flow shortfall through September 30. To address this and the lack of a state appropriation, Northeastern will be eliminating at least 50 Administrative and Professional (A&P) positions and approximately 130 Civil Service positions, which account for about 25 percent of each of these employee groups. In total, that is about 180 positions. Layoff notification and the Civil Service bumping process begin immediately and will take place during the next several weeks.
This is difficult news to share and also difficult to communicate completely through one email. You can get more information in an FAQ document that our Office of Human Resources has posted in the new “Furloughs and Layoffs” channel of NEIUport.
I invite all employees to join me at a Town Hall meeting that I will host in Alumni Hall today at 3 p.m. This event will not be livestreamed. During the meeting, there will be an opportunity to ask questions.
*** UPDATE *** DGA…
“Today more Illinois residents lost their jobs and the state’s university system took another hit thanks to Bruce Rauner,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Thriving state universities and colleges have the potential to lift a state’s economy and secure a family’s future, but under Bruce Rauner these institutions are on life support and families are struggling to send their children to school. NEIU’s announcement should be a wakeup call for Governor Rauner to show real leadership and pass a budget.”
McSweeney rarely attends [House Republican] caucus meetings at all.
“The governor doesn’t need to tell me what to do. And that’s what the Republican caucus is, getting marching orders from the governor’s office,” said McSweeney, an investment specialist.
Instead, McSweeney spends his time trying to drum up votes for the bills he hopes to pass and dining with Democratic lawmakers and close confidants of Madigan. He’s made a habit of inviting members of the black caucus, including Democratic state Rep. Christian Mitchell of Chicago, to town hall meetings in his Northwest suburban district.
Unlike Drury’s experience, where many of his bills have died in committee, McSweeney said he hasn’t been retaliated upon by the GOP, and his bills — which also depend on Democratic leaders calling them for a vote — have tended to pass by wide, bipartisan margins. They include legislation that prohibits local government officials from using taxpayer money for entertainment expenses and limits their travel and meal allowances. A push for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the office of lieutenant governor passed the House in 2013 and 2016, but it hasn’t moved further.
McSweeney says he admired the relationship between Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill during the 1980s.
“My mindset down here is to build relationships,” McSweeney said. “This political war between the governor and the Democrats, that is not what my constituents want.”
Rep. McSweeney recognized early on that even though he was against all tax hikes and was very socially conservative, he had to make friends on the other side of the aisle. That very real effort and his independence from his chamber’s party leader and the governor have prompted the Democrats to help/allow him succeed. His bills fly partly as a ding to the Republican Party. But, the dude also really knows how to work a roll call. You can’t help but like the man, although he does come in for lots of criticism from his own side of the aisle.
* News-Gazette editorial: Downsizing government?: The General Assembly remains awash in acrimony, Democrats and Republicans disagreeing on virtually every issue. Even when they say they agree, they disagree. So give state Rep. David McSweeney, a Republican from Barrington Hills, some credit for hanging in as he continues to push legislation that, at least from the outside, doesn’t look like it has much chance of passage.
* EDGE Tax Credit Expires: Critics of the incentives, such as state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, have said EDGE has the government pick winners and losers and instead, taxes should be decreased across the board for everyone.
* News-Gazette editorial: Let’s look under the rock: Illinois taxpayers recently took another unnecessary financial beating in a questionable leasing deal for which they paid far too much in exchange for far too little. The questions surrounding the deal are these: Is this government corruption as usual? Or is it government incompetence as usual? With any luck, answers will be forthcoming. Two legislators — Democratic state Sen. Tom Cullerton and Republican state Rep. David McSweeney — have asked the Legislative Audit Commission to look into the deal and report back.
* I sent this question to all of the active Democratic gubernatorial candidates the other day…
How would you best sum up your campaign’s major theme at this moment in time? Please limit your answer to one or two sentences.
* The responses in the order they were received. From Ameya Pawar’s campaign…
Unity - Bringing together black, brown, and white communities around a new deal that is fair, just, and equal. Rejecting wealth worship and a plutocracy that pits the rest of us against each other to fight over scraps.
* Bob Daiber’s campaign…
The Daiber campaign focuses on supporting the rights of working men and women in All of Illinois. For this reason, we have signed a pledge to say No to right-to-work in Illinois.
* JB Prizker’s campaign…
Bruce Rauner is a complete failure as Governor. JB Pritzker has been guided by his progressive values throughout his career in business and work in the community. His record of bringing people together and ability to get things done make JB the right leader to get Illinois back on track.
* Chris Kennedy campaign…
Radical change. Chris Kennedy knows that electing a new governor is only a first step to getting Illinois on the right track. Our state needs to go much further - change the way we fund schools, tax our citizens, and restore confidence in our government.
* Sen. Daniel Biss…
Springfield has looked out for the rich and well-connected, and the rest of us are paying the price. As a former math professor, not a millionaire, I’m going to solve our problems the right way — by making sure that millionaires and billionaires finally pay their fair share to support an economy that creates opportunity in all communities across the state.
The justices have agreed to consider whether Wisconsin’s State Assembly map violates the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause because it was drawn to neutralize the votes of Democrats, depriving them of representation.
The standard proffered by a bipartisan group of voting advocates is a straightforward mathematical calculation. It tallies the number of votes that are “wasted,” or assigned to a district in which they could not affect the outcome of an election. A handful of Democrats carved into a Republican stronghold, for example, or the redundant Republicans crowded into a district where half as many would have constituted a majority.
A map drawn without bias would “waste” about the same number of Republican and Democratic votes. The difference, or the “efficiency gap,” is a measure of partisan imbalance. The larger the gap, the harder it would be for mapmakers to convince a court that the lines weren’t drawn to disenfranchise the opposing party.
That makes sense to us. It made sense to the panel of federal judges whose decision is now before the Supreme Court. We hope the justices are impressed as well.
The editorial implies that Illinois’ map-making process is so political that it would be struck down if the Supreme Court whacks Wisconsin’s law.
(A)ccording to Nick Stephanopolous, a law professor and lawyer for Wisconsin Democrats, it would leave Madigan’s partisan cartography undisturbed.
“At this point, no, (the Wisconsin case would not affect Illinois), simply because the ‘efficiency gap’ isn’t big enough for Illinois,” he said.
That’s a measure the Wisconsin judges embraced as a means of determining the political unfairness of the Wisconsin districts.
The judges considered total votes cast statewide in legislative races and used those totals to determine how many individual districts each party would have won if the elections were held on a statewide basis.
If you click here and scroll down, you’ll find an explanation of the “efficiency gap.” And if you click here, you’ll see a list of the 15 state legislative maps which the researches say show significant partisan bias one way or another. Illinois isn’t one of them.
In 2012, [Illinois] Democratic House candidates got 52 percent of the vote statewide but captured 60 percent of the seats, report political scientist Kent Redfield of the University of Illinois at Springfield and policy consultant Cynthia Canary. In 2014, Democrats got 50.5 percent of the vote and 60 percent of the seats. This year, Madigan’s party again won 60 percent of the races.
That’s why Illinois Republicans may side with Wisconsin Democrats on one issue: partisan gerrymandering. On Nov. 21, a federal district court struck down Wisconsin’s legislative map on the ground that it unfairly favors Republicans, who dominate the Legislature. It had been more than three decades since a federal court invalidated a reapportionment plan for partisan bias.
The Supreme Court ultimately overruled that decision, upholding an Indiana redistricting plan. But the justices affirmed that a gerrymander could be so biased toward one party as to violate the Constitution. The district court said the Wisconsin plan fits the bill.
A few months ago, I attempted to referee this topic between Redfield and the Wisconsin folks. I never really did get to the bottom of it, however. Long story short, they’re looking at the same problem in slightly different ways. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.
ILGOP Releases Robocalls Ahead of House Tax Hike Decision
Will House Democrats Back the Madigan Tax Hike Plan?
Over the weekend, NBC Chicago reported that 46 of Mike Madigan’s House Democrats plan to vote for a 32 percent income tax hike without reform.
That’s a massive pay cut for working families without any property tax relief.
Today, the Illinois Republican Party released robocalls into 19 House districts, highlighting that Madigan’s members have a critical choice to make in the coming days. Will they stand up for taxpayers, or do Mike Madigan’s bidding and pass a tax hike without reform?
Subscribers know what may happen here, but the one thing you can probably bet on is they won’t move that House-crafted tax hike plan to the floor if only 46 Dems support it.
HD 15 – John D’Amico
HD 17 – Laura Fine
HD 18 – Robyn Gabel
HD 43 – Anna Moeller
HD 44 – Fred Crespo
HD46 – Deb Conroy
HD 55 – Marty Moylan
HD 56 – Michelle Mussman
HD 57 – Elaine Nekritz
HD 59 – Carol Sente
HD 62 – Sam Yingling
HD 72 – Mike Halpin
HD 84 – Stephanie Kifowit
HD 98 – Natalie Manley
HD 96 – Sue Scherer
HD 111 – Dan Beiser
HD 112 – Katie Stuart
HD 116 – Jerry Costello
HD 118 – Brandon Phelps
Hi, this is Rachel with a Tax Alert update.
Over the weekend, NBC news reported that 46 Democrats in the Illinois House are committed to voting for a 32 percent income tax increase with no reforms to grow jobs or deliver property tax relief.
House Speaker Mike Madigan’s plan to force higher taxes without reforms will be one of the largest tax hikes in state history.
Call Representative Marty Moylan and tell him to oppose the Madigan tax-and-spend plan without reforms.
Tell Representative Moylan, we deserve a balanced budget with a property tax freeze - not another Madigan spending spree aimed at forcing taxes higher without reform.
Illinois House Democrats still don’t have enough support to pass a Senate revenue bill that includes an income tax hike, or their own tax proposals — and a June 30 budget deadline appears to be a new goal line for a budget plan with just two days left in the regular session calendar.
While adjournment is scheduled for Wednesday at midnight, the new fiscal year begins on July 1. The state hasn’t had a full budget since July 1, 2015, amid a political war between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. And a partial budget expired on Jan. 1, leaving public universities and social service agencies struggling to survive.
“The first of July is the real deadline for having a budget in place so the state can continue to operate,” said State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, who is serving as Madigan’s chief budget negotiator.
It becomes more difficult to pass legislation on June 1 when a three-fifths majority is needed. The governor has criticized the Senate revenue plan, and there aren’t enough Democrats to override him if he vetoed it.
When the House Dems start talking about June 30th, pay attention. It could be a long summer.
Illinois, which hasn’t had an annual budget since summer 2015 - the longest of any state in modern history - is running a deficit of as much as $6 billion and sitting on a $14.5 billion pile of overdue bills.
As negotiations continued late into the evening Monday, questions remain about whether the House will choose to take up an annual budget at all, or if there will be a repeat of last year when the chambers couldn’t agree on a plan to send to Rauner. Negotiations continued throughout June, resulting in a temporary budget that ensured schools opened on time and universities and social services were funded for six months.
“What good is it to pass a budget that doesn’t go anywhere?” said Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, who serves as an appropriations chairman. “Really the endgame should be, ‘How do we keep government running to help the people we are supposed to help?’ Whether it’s at 100 percent, it’s at 80 percent, it’s at 50 percent. To me, that’s the fundamental question that we are losing sight of. We are spending a lot of time on a budget that might not happen.”
Crespo noted that even if Democrats did pass a budget, they would not be able to override a possible Rauner veto. That would take 71 votes, but there are just 67 Democratic members. He said if lawmakers blow past the Wednesday deadline, it’d put pressure on Republicans to cut a deal.
Rep. Greg Harris, who serves as a budget point man for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said Democrats will “cross that bridge as we come to it.”
“The governor, as he has shown, has no concern about just vetoing any budget and driving the state further into ruin. That’s what he’s done in the past, but we can’t fail to do our jobs and send him a responsible budget,” Harris said.
Keep in mind that Gov. Rauner has repeatedly said he will veto a stopgap unless he gets a permanent property tax freeze. Maybe they’ll just wind up calling it something else. As noted above, it could be a while before we know.
Democrats and Republicans did find a few areas of agreement Monday. They teamed up to overwhelmingly approve legislation that would bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, and members of both parties voted in favor of a measure that would allow judges to give repeat gun offenders longer sentences.
The measure is backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, and was negotiated with the help of House Republican leader Jim Durkin and Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul. Instead of a range of three to 14 years, judges would hand out sentences in the range of seven to 14 years. If they wanted to depart from that guideline, they would have to explain why.
Opponents, including members of the Black Caucus, argued there is no proof tougher sentences do anything to drive down crime, saying the proposal would lead to a spike in arrests of African-American and Latino men. Durkin sought to address the concerns of some lawmakers by offering changes that establish a trial program for first-time, nonviolent offenders charged with certain weapons crimes that is focused on rehabilitation and keeping them out of the prison system. He also changed the bill so it would expire in five years, at which point lawmakers would have to review its effectiveness.
While the legislation passed on a vote of 70-41, Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, used a procedural maneuver to keep the legislation from going back to the Senate for final approval. Durkin said he hopes to overturn that motion Tuesday.
* Here’s the relevant rule…
Chicago’s gun penalty bill passed the House, but an opponent used a “motion to reconsider” to block it. Here’s the relevant House Rule: pic.twitter.com/0dOjLq12KI
According to State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, the motion was filed to allow for further negotiation on the bill. Ford, who voted yes for the bill, said Jones wants a trailer bill attached, with additional criminal justice reforms that were discussed in negotiations. […]
Durkin said additional requests aren’t a condition of the bill as passed.
“The bill has already been vetted, super vetted in committee and also on the floor, and this is a priority right now for the city of Chicago, the mayor and the superintendent,” Durkin said. “But this is the kind of stuff we expect, unfortunately, in the weaning hours of the Legislature. It’s just gamesmanship.”
“We believe this bill is incomplete in its current formation. We are seeking to work on a holistic solution that includes revenue to impacted communities that will fully fund violence prevention programs, enhance public educational opportunities, job programs while also allowing police officers the tools needed to properly identify gun offenders,” Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, said in a statement. “We believe gun violence should be declared a public health crisis and we will review the timetable on the hold and will work for a better solution. This bill does not provide that solution.” […]
In a bid to make the measure more palatable to critics who say that it will drive up the state’s prison population at a time the state can ill-afford it (and as Gov. Bruce Rauner is seeking to reduce the inmate population by 25 percent by 2025), the plan reduces the felony charge for non-violent vehicle burglary, and – at prosecutors’ discretion – allows first-time, non-violent offenders under the age of 20 to enter a diversion program instead of prison.
Black Caucus members fought stridently against the plan during the lengthy, and sometimes contentious, debate on Senate Bill 1722: Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said that it’s the wrong time given a federal investigation that showed a pattern of excessive force by CPD, Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, challenged why the measure applies statewide if it’s aimed at Chicago crime and Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, said that the focus should instead be on resources to hire more police who can catch shooters as “if people are certain they are not going to be caught … they will run amok.”
“It just goes to show you how racist all of this is,” said Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, as she argued that Chicago’s violence stems from systemic racism that has kept African-Americans in a cycle of poverty.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson did himself no favors by over-promising during recent House committee testimony. Johnson pledged that the legislation would cut violent crime in half. Black Caucus members noted that six gun crime penalty enhancements passed in recent years haven’t stemmed the tide.
Despite more than 1,000 cases pending with an average wait time of four years to hear a discrimination case, the Illinois House voted [yesterday] to block the consolidation of the Illinois Human Rights Commission (HRC) into the Illinois Department of Human Rights (DHR).
“Madigan’s legislators have once again put politics ahead of policy blocking this consolidation,” Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said. “Justice delayed is justice denied, and Madigan’s legislators want to maintain the current broken system that can delay justice for years.”
Governor Rauner issued Executive Order 17-02 to expedite anti-discrimination cases brought to the HRC. The commission currently has a backlog of more than 1,000 cases. Due to the current structure, the average case takes more than four years from the initial filing to case resolution, with some languishing for more than seven years.
“The Illinois Human Rights Commission has a pending caseload of 1,000 Requests for Review with some serious cases lasting as long as 7 years within our system,” said HRC Chair Rose Mary Bombela-Tobias. “By blocking the Executive Order, the General Assembly has blocked a plan that would have allowed us to effectively utilize our shared resources by eliminating administrative redundancies between the Department and Commission, focusing resources on the backlog while keeping the independence and integrity of the system.”
The two agencies will be able to both investigate and address legal proceedings more quickly through consolidation. The consolidation would also preserve the independent appellate process set by the current statute by maintaining the functions of the Senate-confirmed HRC Commissioners. The City of Chicago, New York City, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota all use a similar structure. Additionally, this consolidation will save taxpayers half a million dollars in the first year alone.
“Blocking the Governor’s consolidation of DHR and HRC will continue to delay the independent investigative and adjudicatory process under the Illinois Human Rights Act and fails to offer any solutions to reduce the unacceptable backlog at the Commission,” said IDHR Acting Director Janice Glenn. “Maintaining the status quo of backlog and inefficiencies is a disservice to those who are seeking timely justice from unlawful discrimination.”
The Rauner Administration shared its intent to consolidate HRC into DHR with all four legislative caucuses, including the House Democrat Caucus, for feedback before issuing the Executive Order. House Democrats never addressed any concerns the caucus has now raised.