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Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* I need a little time off, campers, so I’m shutting down for a few extra days. I’ll probably be back next Wednesday, but I may wait until Thursday.

As is our tradition, the late, great Merle Haggard will play us out for Labor Day weekend

But I go back working

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Rauner signs school funding reform bill

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* The governor’s campaign put out a quickie video

* Speaker Madigan…

“Today is a victory for our schools, our students and our communities. It’s also a victory for compromise that I hope we continue to build on. By working together and in good faith, even when we do not totally agree, Democrats and Republicans have created a plan where every school district wins.

“There is more work to be done. As we move forward, it will be vitally important that the Legislature remain vigilant in protecting the funding mechanism passed. We’ll continue to find much common ground, but we will also undoubtedly face disagreements. Those disagreements do not need to be roadblocks. By continuing to work together, we can ensure all students throughout the state are receiving the support they need to be successful.”

* State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith…

“The Illinois State Board of Education is proud to have supported the historic work of the General Assembly and the Governor’s funding reform commission. Our Board Chairman, James Meeks, deserves special recognition for his years of relentless leadership and advocacy that set the foundation for this new agreement. I would like to thank my staff for working through the multiple proposed models to produce the numbers that made approving a more equitable funding formula possible.

“Illinois’ educators and local educational leaders have shown remarkable resourcefulness and dedication to their students and communities throughout this process. We are celebrating progress today. The evidence-based funding formula takes a historic step toward equity and ensuring every student gets the resources they need for academic excellence and postsecondary success. When the students in the greatest need receive the most support, the entire state benefits. I believe equity in education funding in Illinois is an important step to ensuring our long-term economic and civic success.”

* Senate President John Cullerton…

“This is a historic but long overdue first step. Today, this law ensures schools across Illinois open and stay open for the school year. Going forward, it declares our commitment to fairness and equity in funding public education across our great state.”

* DGA…

“Today’s bill signing should not overshadow the fact that Bruce Rauner threatened schools’ ability to stay open with his reckless amendatory veto and political games. During this entire process Governor Rauner divided the state and once again pushed the state into crisis for political gain. But Rauner’s cynical tactics never received any support from state education leaders and Republicans refused to support his amendatory veto. In the end Rauner’s failed leadership only created more financial turmoil for school districts already suffering from his manufactured and destructive budget crisis.”

* Stand for Children Illinois…

“While today is historic and an important moment to celebrate, we must not let this bill signing be the end of the story or the end of the progress we’ve made on education funding reform,” said Mimi Rodman, Executive Director of Stand for Children Illinois. “The signing of this bill should be a call to action: school funding must be equitable, adequate, and, equally important, spent wisely during the implementation of this bill over the next many years. That is the next chapter and the challenge facing us moving forward. We must ensure our schools are safe, teachers are supported, and parents are engaged. We as a state must stay unified and focused on giving every child the resources and support they need to be successful.”

* Part of Gov. Rauner’s release that’s not already posted above…

Flanked by school children and legislative leaders, Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed historic school funding legislation that puts children first and makes lasting changes that will help generations of children to come.

“The passing of this historic legislation was no easy feat, but it’s a reminder of the good things we can accomplish when we put politics aside and focus on what’s important: our children and our future,” Gov. Rauner said. “I am proud to sign this bill, which will bring more money to school districts based on the needs of the children, guaranteeing that all Illinois students have access to adequate education funding.” […]

Under the compromise legislation, the majority of education funds will go to those districts that have the largest gap between their adequacy targets and available local resources. The legislation also provides school-choice protection for parents who want the best education possible for their children. This is accomplished by ensuring that district-authorized charter schools receive equal funding and by offering families with limited financial resources better access to private schools through a tax credit scholarship program.

“This new school funding law, born of bipartisan collaboration and compromise, is exactly what Illinois schools need and deserve,” said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington). “I want to commend Governor Rauner, who recognized that if we’re going to improve our schools and ensure every student gets a quality education, then we needed to work together to ensure all 852 school districts in Illinois are treated fairly and equitably.”

This compromise also provides much-needed mandate relief for school districts and presents avenues for property tax relief to homeowners.

“I’ve said for the past two-and-a-half years that we can make progress on the major issues facing our state as long as both sides respect the priorities of the other, and that’s precisely what happened,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). “This compromise ensures that all Illinois children will have access to an education that is funded fairly and equitably. It also provides flexibility to school districts and relief to homeowners through lower property taxes and expands opportunities for school choice for children from low-income families. My hope is that, moving forward, this will serve as an example of what can happen when we put partisan bickering aside and negotiate in good faith to get things done for the families of Illinois.”

“This new law finally gives equitable education funding to all students regardless of where they live, making the dreams of our students more possible,” said state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), a chief co-sponsor of the bill. “Our teachers and students will gain critical new resources, which will provide for more opportunities. The mandate relief will give better flexibility for school districts. There is also a mechanism to lower property taxes in districts that are overtaxed. This new law is a win for every student now and for future generations.”

“In addition to this law ensuring that new state funding goes first to the poorest kids who need it most across the state, it ensures that no district loses funding and begins to put tools into the hands of property tax payers in those districts that are overfunded to seek relief,” said state Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), who was a member of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. “This is an important step in providing both equity in school funding and relief from our fundamentally broken system.”

“For an entire generation of students, we have perpetuated an education funding system that does not send our state dollars to the schools who need it most first,” said state Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), who was a member of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. “Getting school funding right is the most important thing we can do for our children, for their future and for Illinois’ future. This is a good compromise that fixes the formula and gives the next generation of Illinoisans better opportunities for a high quality education.”

“This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make our public school funding system adequate and equitable,” said state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), who was a member of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. “I am delighted that we in Springfield stepped up to the challenge.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Heart Association warns of PE provisions in school funding reform bill

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* From the American Heart Association…

“Recent actions from Illinois lawmakers to reduce the amount of physical education kids receive will have a detrimental impact on our children,” said Dr. Karen Larimer, president of the American Heart Association’s Chicago Board of Directors. “Research has proven that fit kids learn better. They perform better in school and have fewer behavioral issues. Physical education not only provides a way for kids to be active every day, but it teaches them lifelong lessons about how to live a healthy lifestyle. Eliminating daily physical education and allowing P.E. three days per week instead of five days a week, while also allowing additional grades to opt-out of P.E. using waivers, puts kids’ health last in Illinois. At a time when one in three children in America are obese and are suffering from conditions like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, it should be of the utmost importance.”

Point of information: The bill allows school districts to cut PE back to three days per week from five, and allows student athletes to opt out of PE class in grades 7-10. Currently, student athletes who are juniors and seniors can opt out.

And from WGN

Illinois officials have bragged that the state was the first nationwide to require daily PE classes under a decades-old law, something educators argue is more critical than ever with widespread anti-obesity efforts. However, the Illinois State Board of Education says most districts offer only four days a week on average. Schools say they often don’t have staff or facilities.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Get ready for another intra-party rumble

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Greg Hinz

Just six weeks after hitching his political future and much of his government to a group of hard-line conservatives, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the newcomers are headed to couples counseling and potentially a quickie divorce.

At issue in the separation, which involves not only political control but a reported $30 million in promised campaign donations, is whether Rauner will return to the sometimes moderate style he displayed when his inner circle was compromised of veterans of former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s office or instead follow the more confrontational advice of arch-conservative consultant and operative Dan Proft and of the Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian Chicago think tank.

Already, a deal in which Proft and donors closely connected to him were to have big influence in GOP legislative races next year has hit complications, with a top Proft associate stepping down as chief strategist of the governor’s re-election campaign. And some top IPI staffers who went to work for the governor’s office were fired or quit, with others rumored to be on the way out.

Meanwhile, things could heat up even more if Rauner signs a pending bill to guarantee abortion coverage for women on Medicaid and state employees. Doing so might infuriate much of the political right, but that didn’t stop the governor from recently signing an almost-as-controversial “motor voter” registration measure and a bill limiting the ability of local police to arrest illegal immigrants.

The marriage “is over. That relationship is gone,” says one top GOP insider who asked not to be named. “I think (Rauner) quickly realized the error of his ways.” […]

What hasn’t been reported is that around that time Proft and top donors, including industrialist Dick Uihlein, offered to sharply step up activity on Rauner’s behalf.

One source says they agreed to raise up to $30 million for legislative races, something that would allow Rauner to focus his own resources on his own re-election, in which he may end up running against Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker. Another source says there was an explicit understanding that, in exchange, Proft would pretty much run the legislative races and IPI staffers would come into senior government jobs. A third source says the $30 million offer wasn’t made until after the July staff shakeup.

Go read the whole thing.

I’ve heard the $30 million number, too. Heaven help the governor, because the US Attorney won’t, if there was even an “understanding” that the initial round of staff firings was in any way tied to a $30 million campaign contribution.

Also, Proft called House GOP Leader Jim Durkin a “pansy” on his radio show yesterday. So, things aren’t going well.

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Pete Spitler, the managing editor of the Randolph County Herald Tribune, took this pic last weekend during the Illinois bicentennial countdown kickoff on Kaskaskia Island, the location of our first state capital…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Republicans file TRUST Act repeal bills while Rauner dodges questions

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Illinois Review

Two Illinois Republican state reps are very concerned about the immigration law enforcement measure Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Monday.

State Reps. John Cabello (R-Rockford) and David McSweeney (R-Barrington) filed a measure Wednesday that would repeal a new law banning law enforcement in Illinois from stopping persons suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

“I swore to uphold the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions when I became a legislator,” Cabello told Illinois Review Wednesday. “As a member of law enforcement, I took a vow to uphold the law. I believe and trust in those oaths, and intend to do all I can to keep them.” […]

Only one Republican House member - Bob Pritchard - voted in support of SB 31 on the House floor. Five Republicans - Althoff, McConchie, McConnaughay, Nybo and Radogno - supported it in the Illinois Senate.

Cabello and McSweeney’s repeal bill is HB 4091.

UPDATE 8.31. 2017 - Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter and former sheriff Senator Tim Bivins reportedly have filed an identical bill in the Senate. More to come…

Those aren’t going anywhere, of course, but filing legislation does make them look good to their constituencies.

* Gov. Rauner was asked about GOP legislator criticism about the TRUST Act yesterday, but he refused to answer because, Rauner said, it was an “off-topic” question and he was only taking questions about the school funding bill

Less than a minute later, however, the governor answered a different off-topic question.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Rate Bloomberg’s new pop tax TV ad

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Tribune

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending another $3 million to air a new TV ad backing the controversial penny-an-ounce Cook County tax on sweetened beverages.

The $3 million is on top of $2 million Bloomberg already plowed into a different ad supporting the tax, which went into effect Aug. 1.

Meanwhile, the beverage industry continues an effort to push back. Their Can the Tax Coalition on Thursday took its campaign to Chicago’s Little Village, where the group joined retailers and the local Chamber of Commerce to advocate for repeal of the tax. The event was in the heart of the district represented by Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who voted for the tax.

A showdown of sorts is set for Sept. 13, when a vote on repealing the tax is expected to take place at a County Board meeting. But passing a repeal and getting it to stick is a tall order.

Board President Toni Preckwinkle in November broke a rare tie vote to approve the pop tax, following an 8-8 tie vote. The late Commissioner Robert Steele was hospitalized and unable to attend that meeting.

* The new ad

* Script…

Dr. Javette C. Orgain, MD, MPH, FAAFP: Imagine how you would feel if you saw a young child under the age of five so obese that they can barely walk. Soda companies are targeting our children and every day I see the results.

Obesity leads to heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes. It makes me angry and it should make you angry too.

The soda tax will mean healthier kids, healthier families, healthier communities.

If we don’t protect our kids – who will?

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Illinois, and Gov. Rauner, get some props in NYT editorial

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* New York Times editorial

Illinois made the right choice this week, becoming the 10th state, along with the District of Columbia, to enact automatic voter registration. The bill, which could add as many as one million voters to the state’s rolls, was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who had vetoed similar legislation last year.

Under the new law, all eligible voters will be registered to vote when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agencies. If they do not want to be registered, they may opt out.

“The right to vote is foundational for the rights of Americans in our democracy,” Mr. Rauner said at a bill-signing ceremony on Monday. “We as a people need to do everything we can to knock down barriers, remove hurdles for all those who are eligible to vote, to be able to vote.”

These are incontestable propositions, and yet for most officials from Mr. Rauner’s party, showing even mild support for them is apostasy. […]

What’s really outrageous is the brazenness with which Republican lawmakers continue to hawk their antivoter laws, and their bogus claims of widespread fraud, pretending to care about electoral integrity when what they’re really after is a smaller, whiter electorate that they believe is their ticket to eternal victory.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Ameren consultant says customers too poor and uneducated to benefit from program

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Background from the Peorial Journal Star

An Ameren Illinois energy efficiency plan that consumer advocates criticized for falling short on conservation and job goals now faces an uncertain future after being rejected in an early stage of the approval process.

An administrative law judge this week denied the utility company’s request to lower efficiency targets outlined in the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), but a final decision ultimately rests with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

That regulatory agency is expected to render a final decision in September.

“We have put forth the right plan to help working families in our territory to save energy, and we look forward to making our case with the Illinois Commerce Commission,” said Ameren spokesman Tucker Kennedy.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a consortium of consumer and energy conservation advocates that challenged Ameren’s plan, praised the proposed order and urged the full commission to adopt the same stance.

* WTTW, with emphasis added

Approval of Ameren’s plan would cost downstate residents nearly 30 percent in savings on utility bills and also jeopardize 7,000 jobs that could be created by the new law, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But Ameren says that without a lower target, it would need to spend 44 percent more per kilowatt hour of energy saved than ComEd because of “unique circumstances” of Ameren’s service territory, which covers much of rural Illinois.

“Ameren Illinois customers are quite different from Northern Illinois customers: they are more spread out, reside in multiple media markets, have less discretionary funding for energy efficiency and lower education levels,” said Ingrid Rohmund of consultant Applied Energy Group in testimony filed on behalf of Ameren. “The combination of these differences makes recruiting for program participation more difficult and more expensive. Less program participation derives fewer savings and therefore makes achieving the current unmodified savings goals on the aggregate that much more unrealistic.” […]

“Ameren casts itself as a principled advocate for social welfare, accusing the intervenors of wanting to ‘deny measures to those customers who need access to energy efficiency the most,’” the [NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund and Citizens’ Utility Board] wrote in a brief filed with the commission. “In reality, however, Ameren is needlessly diminishing the quantity of savings benefits that could otherwise be made available to low-income customers.”

Great move.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Biss to lurch further leftward with running mate pick

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Sen. Daniel Biss has moved from being a liberal wonk with some centrists leanings who worked to cut government pension benefits to apparently choosing a Democratic Socialist running mate

Democratic candidate for Illinois governor State Sen. Daniel Biss is expected to name Chicago Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa to be his running mate Thursday, according to multiple sources. […]

Ramirez-Rosa was first elected to Chicago City Council in 2015 at age 26, making him the youngest current alderman and one of the youngest ever elected in Chicago.

Representing the 35th Ward on the Northwest Side, Ramirez-Rosa is also the first openly gay Latino to serve on the city council. After running as a political outsider, Ramirez-Rosa joined the council’s Progressive Caucus and was elected as a delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

He has since changed parties to join the Democratic Socialists of America, and as a former community organizer with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Ramirez-Rosa has made issues surrounding immigration, as well as higher taxes on the wealthy, central to his own platform.

* From CNN’s coverage of the DSA convention in Chicago earlier this month

“I’m serious about winning,” said Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the 28-year-old alderman from Chicago’s 35th ward, who joined DSA and served as a Sanders delegate to the DNC. “I’m not dogmatic and I’m extremely pragmatic. We need to assess how it is that we can win and elect Democratic Socialist values and that’s going to take different forms in different places. In the end, the Democratic Party is not an end unto itself, nor is a third party an end unto itself, a party whether it be the Democratic Party of a third party, is a means to an end.”

Beyond that, however, the alderman is a staunch ally of the Chicago Teachers Union. And CTU’s endorsement is seen by many as a big prize in the Democratic primary.

- Posted by Rich Miller   119 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - ILGOP responds *** CTU may sue to block school funding reform law over tax credits

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* The Chicago Teachers Union is considering some very risky legal options

If the union successfully challenged the tax credits, the entire school funding measure would be “invalid” under a provision lawmakers inserted into the legislation. That would include the new money authorized for CPS.

Previously, an Illinois Appellate Court in 2001 upheld a state income tax credit of up to $500 for parents for paying “qualified educational expenses” that exceed $250 for the education of children in K-12 private schools.

The credit was challenged based on the state constitution prohibiting government money for religious purposes, including a ban on spending to “aid” or “to help support or sustain any school” that is “controlled by any church or sectarian denomination.”

In its 2001 ruling, the Appellate Court noted that a tax credit “does not constitute public funds” received by the government. Instead, “it merely allows people to keep more of their own money.”

So, if the CTU does file a lawsuit and it’s successful (which seems doubtful, but whatever), then the entire evidence based model would be enjoined and $7 billion in state school funding would be halted.

Over a $75 million pilot project.

*** UPDATE ***  ILGOP…

“The Chicago Teachers Union has a long history of brinkmanship and intransigence, and their refusal to accept the bipartisan school funding compromise is no different. CTU’s opposition to a five-year, $75 million tax credit scholarship pilot program is not only unreasonable, it puts the education of millions of Illinois schoolchildren at risk. We implore them to try something different for a change - be reasonable and support compromise.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

The Chicago Teacher’s Union is threatening legal action over the new evidence-based school funding formula that received bipartisan support just because it contains Illinois’ first-ever school choice pilot program.

If successful, their latest temper tantrum would block Illinois schools from receiving over $7 billion dollars in state funding all in the name of brinkmanship and refusal to compromise.

Democrat gubernatorial candidates are already jumping on board with Chicago Teachers Union in yet another example of Chicago Democrats kowtowing to CTU regardless of how unreasonable they’re position is.

Daniel Biss and Pritzker-running mate Julianna Stratton actually voted against the school funding compromise, opting instead to protect the status quo and their own political interests.

J.B. Pritzker himself has said he would’ve voted no, and Chris Kennedy’s campaign has even been fundraising on taking educational opportunities away from underprivileged kids.

Once again, the Chicago Teachers Union says jump, and the Democrats ask ‘how high,’ all to the detriment of Illinois schoolchildren.

* Related…

* Bernard Schoenburg: Sen. Manar pushed school funding changes for years: But Manar had known of the problem for a much longer time. It was when he was in college, in the mid-1990s, he recalls, that he accompanied his mentor, the late state Sen. VINCE DEMUZIO, D-Carlinville, to hear a speech on the need for school funding changes from then-Gov. JIM EDGAR, a Republican. It was in 1997 that the last major revision to school funding in the state was passed, Manar said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Rauner hires new chief legal counsel

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* From the governor’s office last Thursday, August 24th…

General Counsel Dennis Murashko will leave the Administration at the end of August to pursue opportunities in the private sector. As part of the legal team’s succession planning, Kenton Skarin will assume the role of Acting General Counsel to the Governor. He currently is serving as the Governor’s Deputy General Counsel and is responsible for managing all aspects of legal operations within the Administration.

* From last Friday, August 25th…


* From late yesterday afternoon…

Lise T. Spacapan has been appointed General Counsel to the Governor to serve as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s top legal adviser. She had been serving the state as General Counsel for the Department of Children and Family Services. Her time at DCFS included a stint as Interim Director last June.

“Lise brings a wealth of legal experience and knowledge to the Governor’s Office,” Gov. Rauner said. “She will bring a fresh perspective to the Office, and she is dedicated to serving Illinois. I always have been committed to bringing top talent into the Office, and Lise fits the bill.”

Spacapan joined DCFS in 2015. Before that, she was a partner at three national law firms, including Kirkland and Ellis (1984-1997), Jenner & Block (1997-2013) and Husch Blackwell (2013-2015). She handled complex commercial litigation and product liability cases for Fortune 100 clients throughout the country. At DCFS, Spacapan managed a law department of nearly 100 employees across the state, and she served as a member of the Executive Staff, advising an agency of more than 2,500 people. In that role, she had regular interaction with the Governor’s Office.

* A text from a friend last night…

Um, so Rauner’s new general counsel was general counsel at DCFS when Sheldon was incentivizing caseworkers to clear their cases quickly with gift cards and making weird insider deals.

She was also interviewed by the OEIG on this topic. Click here and scroll down to page 14.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Drury claims “efforts to silence our campaign have reached new heights”

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* From a Scott Drury fundraising appeal…

Subject: We will not be silenced

David - Last week, we put out a call to action for our August fundraising deadline tonight at midnight, and the response has been truly humbling.

In recent weeks, the efforts to silence our campaign have reached new heights. On an almost daily basis, we learn of attempts to exclude our voice from Democratic forums. What are they scared of? For the first time in decades, there is a campaign that seeks to blow up the status quo and replace it with a government that works for us.

Next week is the unofficial start of campaign season. Help us send the strong message that our voice will not be silenced by those intent on clinging to power. Step up and support our campaign before midnight tonight.

If you stand with us and are ready to seize upon this opportunity, now is the time to act. Our campaign only succeeds when everyday Democrats across the state reject our broken system and make a contribution to our campaign:

www.scottdrury.org/donate

Thank you,

Scott Drury
Democratic Candidate for Governor

Drury’s last A-1 was filed in July and he reported receiving $1,000 from a Wilmette resident.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Letter reveals ultimate goal of the Illinois Policy Institute’s national network

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* The Guardian

Rightwing activists across the US have launched a nationwide campaign to undermine progressive politicians by depriving them of a major source of support and funding – public sector unions.

A network of conservative thinktanks with outposts in all 50 states has embarked on a “breakthrough” campaign designed to strike a “mortal blow” against the American left. The aim is to “defund and defang” unions representing government employees as the first step towards ensuring the permanent collapse of progressive politics. […]

The new assault is being spearheaded by the State Policy Network (SPN), an alliance of 66 state-based thinktanks, or “ideas factories” as it calls them, with a combined annual budget of $80m. As suggested by its slogan – “State solutions. National impact” – the group outlines an aim to construct a rightwing hegemony throughout the US, working from the bottom up.

To do that, it first has to sweep aside the public sector unions and their historic ties to Democratic and progressive politicians. In a 10-page fundraising letter, part of a set of documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and published by the Guardian today for the first time, SPN sets out its mission in frank language that does not disguise its partisan ambitions. […]

The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions”. The long-term objective is to “deal a major blow to the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels. I’m talking about permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle” (emphasis in original).

SPN will be discussing its anti-union and anti-left agenda on Wednesday at its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Its morning session will look at how “labor reform” can be pursued with renewed vigor under the Trump administration.

A few points.

1) The Illinois Policy Institute is part of the State Policy Network. The Heartland Institute and the Institute for Truth in Accounting are also part of the network.

2) The group’s fundraising letter includes several references to Gov. Rauner.

3) Here are photos of the front and back of what I’m told are a hotel key card used at the Texas conference

The front of that card is a depiction of the Institute’s John Tillman.

…Adding… I really figured some of y’all would catch on to it, but since nobody has I’ll do it for you. Do you not notice the similarity between the depiction of Tillman on that key card and the Lincoln Memorial in DC?

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      


Harvey’s rain would cover all of Illinois with 2 feet of water

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* Wow…


- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Wall St. Journal praises Rauner, but calls school bill a Chicago “bailout”

Thursday, Aug 31, 2017

* From the WSJ editorial board

Illinois residents have watched for years as their taxes go up while public services and schools deteriorate. But GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner will deliver Prairie Staters some good news Thursday by signing into law an inaugural state private-school choice program.

The Democratic legislature this week approved a $100 million tax-credit scholarship program along with a new school funding formula that provides an additional $450 million for the insolvent Chicago Public Schools. The Governor earlier this summer vetoed legislation that appropriated $300 million more for Chicago schools, but Democrats lacked the votes to override him.

Mr. Rauner demanded a private school tax-credit scholarship program in return for his signature, and Democrats ultimately conceded despite union protests. Illinois businesses and individuals will receive a 75% tax credit for donations that support scholarships for low-income kids to attend private schools. […]

As for Chicago, most of the state bailout will go toward propping up the teachers’ pension fund, which is 50% funded.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Beiser won’t run again

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* This has been expected for months

State Rep. Dan Beiser of Alton is not running for another term next year so he can enjoy his retirement, he told The Telegraph on Wednesday.

“I notified the Democratic party, both on the local and state levels, in March that I was seriously considering not running again,” said the 61-year-old Democrat. “I was sitting down and contemplating it in June with my wife, and we made the decision. It was a big decision. I want to enjoy my wife’s retirement with her and I want to enjoy my retirement. It is not because of anybody who’s running against me. I made this decision prior to anybody declaring their interest in running against me.” […]

Also Wednesday, a Republican who tried to unseat Beiser in the General Election last Nov. 8, announced he would make another run for representative of the 111th District in the Nov. 6, 2018 election. Mike Babcock, Wood River Township supervisor, drew 22,285 votes —47.4 percent — against Beiser’s 24,708 votes, or 52.6 percent.

“It’s only been nine months since the election, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Beiser said of Babcock’s announcement. “But he is not going to run against me because I’m not going to run again.”

* The tally…


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Rep. Bourne disputes Gov. Rauner’s account

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) was at the governor’s Springfield press conference today. Dusty Rhodes had some questions

So after [Rauner’s] victory speech, I had a question for Bourne — what would she say was the governor’s main contribution to getting this done?

“You know, I want to commend him for saying: Get a deal,” she said. “And I think that was the charge of the governor’s office.”

When reporters asked Rauner about the most controversial item in the compromise — a new tax credit program for private school scholarship donors — he said the idea had come out of his reform commission, where, he said, it had been a big topic of discussion.

Bourne, who served on that commission, disputed that claim. She said what finally got this contentious issue solved was moving Chicago pension costs into the statewide system, and offering some property tax relief for wealthy districts.

“I think those have been the governor’s priorities, but I think that these negotiations really took place in the legislature,” she said, indicating credit should go to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate — Republicans Jim Durkin and Bill Brady, and Democrats John Cullerton and Michael Madigan.

Yikes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Salon: Rauner “provides an unlikely road map for Republican resistance”

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* Salon’s deputy politics editor who resides in DC likes what she sees in Gov. Rauner

One of just five blue-state Republican governors, and the first Republican governor of Illinois in more than a decade, Bruce Rauner finds himself in a precarious political situation. A billionaire with no previous political experience, Rauner might sound at first like a tailor-made perfect political ally for President Donald Trump. Instead, Rauner has managed to avoid even uttering Trump’s name for months — finally breaking his silence following the president’s disdainful response to racist violence in Charlottesville. Now Rauner is moving beyond pushing back on Trump’s rhetoric. He has signed several pieces of legislation that stand in direct contradiction to Trump’s agenda. In so doing, at least arguably, he provides a road map for fellow Republicans desperate to ditch a sinking ship.

At Mi Tierra restaurant in Chicago on Monday, Rauner signed into law a controversial bill that bans local law enforcement from stopping, arresting, searching or detaining anyone based solely on immigration status. Hours later, Trump was defending his controversial pre-sentencing pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, found guilty of contempt of court by a federal judge after he failed to end racial profiling of people suspecting of being undocumented immigrants. […]

Rauner signed another bill on Monday that is fundamentally at odds with the aims of the Trump administration. After recently vetoing a previous version, Rauner signed one of the farthest-reaching voter access laws in the country. […]

Hours before Trump delivered his directives to dismiss all transgender service members from the U.S. military on Friday, Rauner signed a bill that would make it easier for transgender people to change the sex designation on their birth certificates.

Rauner’s approach probably can’t be understood as a rebuke of Trump rooted in moral principle. More likely it reflects his efforts to walk the line between his conservative base in downstate Illinois and the more moderate Chicagoland constituencies he will need in order to win reelection in 2018. But Rauner still offers Republican lawmakers a pathway out of the mess in which Donald Trump has left their party.

Republicans in blue states are, of course, highly vulnerable to Trump backlash. If unenthused Republicans stay home and angry Democrats come out in larger than expected numbers in 2018, it could spell nationwide disaster for the GOP. While Trump continues to play to the hardcore base with his policies and rhetoric, Rauner’s turn toward moderation may provide Republicans with a workable alternative model — at least for now.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Pritzker would’ve voted “No” on school bill *** Brown takes a close look at the new tax credit

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* Mark Brown has an interesting column with some details of the new private (and out of district public) school scholarship income tax credit program

To qualify for a scholarship, a student’s family income can’t exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $73,800 for a family of four.

But students from the same size household whose family income is $45,000 or less will get first crack at the scholarship money.

Students in that lowest income category will each be eligible for the maximum scholarship, which will be calculated as the lesser of the statewide average operational expense per public school student — currently about $12,280 — or the actual tuition and fees of the school they choose to attend. […]

The tax credits are to be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis but will be limited by the proportion of private school students in a given geographic area, the details of which remain to be determined.

This provision was intended to prevent the Chicago area from hogging all the tax credits — and consequently all the scholarships.

You really should go read the whole thing.

*** UPDATE ***  Greg Hinz

Pritzker’s campaign confirms to me that, had he been in the General Assembly, he would have voted against [the school funding reform bill] because the measure included a controversial provision providing $75 million a year in tax credits for donors to private and parochial school scholarships. […]

The question: Would the candidate really have risked shutting schools statewide over a $75 million program in a $7 billion bill?

Good question. I’ve asked the campaign.

* Related…

* Zorn: After the rush job to use public money on private schools, now we wait

* Agudath Israel Of Illinois Applauds New School Choice Program

* School funding reform, with private school scholarships, heads to Rauner’s desk

* Illinois will likely become the largest blue state to offer private school choice

* East Moline superintendent “elated” by school funding bill passage

* Editorial: New education funding formula will benefit Illinois’ children

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Illinois Policy Institute calls school funding bill “Chicago bailout”

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* They’re sticking to their guns

SB 1947 retains elements of SB 1 that, taken together, constitute a Chicago bailout. Largely through eliminating subsidies for economic development zones and property tax caps, the governor’s amendatory veto of SB 1 would have brought additional dollars to 97 percent of Illinois school districts by restoring more fairness to the education funding formula.

The fact that there would be so many winners under the amendatory veto – 831 school districts would receive more state funds – revealed how much districts across the state have been subsidizing Chicago for more than a decade.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* Feder

Dave McKinney, former Springfield bureau chief and political writer for the Sun-Times, is joining Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5 to cover state politics. He most recently has been working for the Midwest bureau of Thomson Reuters. “Many news organizations have scaled back their Springfield coverage when more information – not less – is vital,” said McKinney, who starts September 18. “WBEZ’s desire to shine a brighter light on state government shows great commitment to our community, and it’s an endeavor I’m thrilled to join.” In 2014 McKinney quit the Sun-Times after 19 years, citing alleged pressure from management over his coverage of Bruce Rauner, then Republican candidate for governor.

* He’s such a good guy and an old (and I do mean old) buddy of mine and I wish him nothing but the best…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


Governor pressed on whether school funding bill is a Chicago “bailout”

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* From this morning’s press conference…


* Video

* Related…

* Rauner visits schools to celebrate funding compromise

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Biss to unveil running mate, Kennedy holds fundraiser, Pritzker on the bus

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* Daniel Biss’ campaign has been teasing a big announcement…


I’m told by someone close to the campaign that he’s planning to unveil his running mate.

* Our pal Kyle Hillman throws out some names…


I heard it was Carlos Rosa yesterday, but that’s just gossip and I can’t vouch for it.

* Sneed

Ka-ching! Haul out the abacus: Actor Keegan-Michael Key, who starred in the Comedy Central sketch series “Key & Peele” and co-stars in the USA Network comedy series “Playing House,” is hitting the hustings to help fill the campaign coffers for Dem gubernatorial hopeful Chris Kennedy. A Second City alum and friend of Chris and the Kennedy family — having spent weekends with the family in Hyannis Port and who operated as former President Barack Obama’s hysterical alter-ego at a White House Correspondent’s Dinner — Key will headline the 5:30 to 7 p.m. Kennedy reception Sept. 8 at the Hubbard Inn.

For Kennedy’s sake, I hope he raises some big bucks at that event. In the past two weeks he’s reported just $1,000. And that little contribution was made by the wife of Bill Daley, his campaign finance chairman who was brought in to make some rain.

* JB Pritzker is on a bus tour this week. Here’s the ILGOP’s take…

J.B. Pritzker Kicks Off “Think Big” Bus Tour with Mike Madigan in the Driver’s Seat
Pritzker “thinks big” by supporting Madigan’s big 32% tax hike and other taxes on Illinois families

“If J.B. Pritzker were an honest politician, he would dub his upcoming road trip the ‘Tax Hike’ tour, but he only has snake oil to sell to Illinois families. Even before Pritzker and Madigan got their 32% tax hike enacted into law, Pritzker supported other big tax hikes on Illinois families. With tax hikes like these, it’s clear Madigan is in the driver’s seat on the Pritzker campaign bus.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot

Today, Madigan ally and Democrat candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker plans to kick off his “Think Big” bus tour across Illinois. Just how exactly does Pritzker think big? By supporting Mike Madigan’s big 32% tax hike, of course.

When Pritzker isn’t “[throwing] rose petals in Madigan’s path,” he’s pushing Madigan’s tax hikes and his “pro-Chicago,” no reform agenda,

But even before Pritzker got his big, Madigan-backed, 32% tax hike enacted into law, he supported other big tax hikes.

This past April, Pritzker made it clear that he supports a substantial increase in the state income taxes and said the state income tax should be increased to at least 5 percent, perhaps higher.

Later in May, Pritzker’s campaign backed a plan to “tax all federally-taxable retirement income.”

And while J.B. Pritzker has been pushing tax hikes on Illinois families, he’s cutting deals with crooked Cook County insiders to get his own property taxes lowered, even as he opposes a property tax freeze.

With tax hikes like these, it’s clear Madigan is in the driver’s seat on the Pritzker campaign bus.

Here’s a live look at Madigan and Pritzker departing Chicago:

…Adding… Team Pritzker responded…


* Related…

* As Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls campaign in Cairo, Poshard urges them to gain a deeper understanding: Poshard said he has cautioned all of them to be mindful of the city’s complex history, and to sacrifice political expediency in exchange for a willingness to take a detailed and honest look at the specific issues facing Cairo. Poshard said the attention on the small community of less than 2,500 can be a good thing, but only if the spotlight prompts honest conversation.

* Q and A With Gubernatorial Candidate Ameya Pawar’s Running Mate: Tyrone Coleman

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


Asked about credit for his chief, Rauner instead praises legislators, self

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* WCIA’s Mark Maxwell never did get an answer to the question he posed to Gov. Rauner today. Or did he?

MAXWELL: Your chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen of the Illinois Policy Institute has long advocated school choice. How much credit does she get for any of this? Was she instrumental in this process down the stretch?

RAUNER: Um, this is, was done by the legislators in, um, the General Assembly, negotiated on a bipartisan basis. And certainly I personally have been very involved in this for, since I became governor I’ve been an advocate for more school choice since I became governor. But what I mostly strongly advocated is for more equitable funding. And more funding overall. I’ve pushed for more state support since I became governor because we inadequately funded our schools for years and that we’ve inequitably funded. Before I became governor, um, the school funding from the state had been cut four times in the prior ten years* before I became governor. I asked it to be increased every year that I’ve been governor. And I formed, the bipartisan commission was formed at my request to take on the challenge of coming up with a new formula. And I want to compliment the legislators who came together to work out this bill. It’s very challenging. Folks in Illinois have tried to change or fix our funding formula for decades. And this has been achieved now and I think it’s a wonderful achievement for the General Assembly and everyone who advocates for high quality education.

*That claim has been rated “Mostly False” by Politifact.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


“You’re not going to change the demographic and political culture of Illinois just by changing the lines”

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* The Better Government Association has really upped its game lately, smashing or at least challenging some commonly held notions rather than reinforcing them with click-bait pieces. Its latest is a must-read

In one of those perverse twists of politics, Illinois Republicans hoping to whittle away at Democratic control of Springfield are looking for salvation in an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case that could undermine GOP might in Wisconsin.

At issue is what could shape up to be a landmark decision on political gerrymandering, a widespread practice dating to the early 19th century in which powerbrokers draw the boundaries of election districts to manipulate the outcome of legislative races.

But a BGA analysis of the statistical underpinnings of the Wisconsin case suggests the Republican minority in Illinois may want to hold off on breaking out the champagne, even if the high court rules against their brethren to the north.

In short, the Justices are being asked to sign off on a lower court ruling that the GOP-controlled Republican legislature in Wisconsin diluted Democratic voting power with surgical precision in drawing a map of new legislative districts after the 2010 Census.

The same calculus used to make that argument for Wisconsin suggests gerrymandering in Illinois is tepid by comparison.

That conclusion flies in the face of the deeply held conviction among many Republicans that mapmaking foul play is the prime reason why powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and fellow Democrats have for years remained firmly in control of both the Illinois House and Senate.

To be sure, the analysis of Illinois voting data in no way suggests that majority Democrats who drew the latest legislative maps here did so without putting a thumb on the scale. But the data points to the prime motivation being the protection of incumbents, be they Democrats or Republicans, and a variant of manipulation that the Supreme Court is not being asked to weigh in on.

In recent election cycles, more than 90 percent of races for the Illinois House were either uncontested or involved only token challenges to an incumbent. That phenomenon benefits Democrats in the Chicago area, where the bulk of the state’s population resides, and Republicans Downstate.

“Illinois is really screwed up, but it’s not as screwed up as Wisconsin,” said Cynthia Canary, the former executive director of Change Illinois, which pushed to get a redistricting reform proposal on the November 2016 ballot, only to see it blocked by the Illinois Supreme Court. “There’s a multitude of factors that come into play.”

One of those factors also lies at the heart of the Wisconsin case before the Supreme Court. It is a mathematical formula known as the “efficiency gap,” a measurement of vote distribution developed by Nicholas Stephanopoulos, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and Eric McGhee, a research fellow at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

Designed to determine whether gerrymandering has enabled one political party to unduly extend its power, the formula compares the difference in so-called wasted votes—either those cast for a losing candidate or those cast for the victor in excess of what was needed to win. The election favors the party with fewer wasted votes, Stephanopoulos and McGhee wrote.

Because each legislative district represents roughly the same number of voters, the calculation can be simplified: The efficiency gap is the difference between the share of seats a party actually wins and the share it should be projected to win based on the average district vote in such contests.

Or mathematically expressed: Efficiency Gap = Actual Seat Share - Projected Seat Share, where Projected Seat Share = 0.5 + 2 × (Vote Share - 0.5)

For example, if the vote math projects that Republicans should win 50 seats in a 100 seat chamber and in reality they snag 57, the efficiency gap is then 7 percent.

Simon Jackman, a professor of political science at Stanford University, analyzed the Wisconsin legislative districts. In his 2015 report, a copy of which was submitted into evidence in the court case, Jackman said the state’s plan drawn by majority Republicans “presents overwhelming evidence of being a pro-Republican gerrymander.”

The efficiency gap for the 2012 and 2014 elections in Wisconsin, the first carried out under the new Republican drawn map, was far greater than the efficiency gap measured in Illinois over the same period.

Prior to the remap, the 99-seat Wisconsin Assembly had 52 Republicans and 47 Democrats. After the remap in 2012, the Republican edge grew to 60 to 38, with one independent.

A host of variables can affect the outcome of individual political races—money, media strategy, name recognition, issues and personalities. In virtually every election there will be some divergence between the share of legislative seats a party wins and the share its collective vote totals indicate it should win.

So Stephanopoulous and McGhee propose an efficiency gap threshold of 8 percent for state house plans. Any map beyond that threshold deserves close scrutiny—including the 2012 maps for Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, but not Illinois, according to BGA analysis.

While the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Wisconsin case has raised hopes that it might provide some legal guidance or clarity in legislative map-making, history suggests there are good reasons to keep expectations in check. The court has shown itself to be more comfortable dealing with racial and voting rights challenges to redistricting, but reluctant to venture into the tricky waters of gerrymandering for purely political ends.

However the ruling comes out, it is likely to attract attention far beyond the political map in Wisconsin. A recent analysis by the Associated Press of the effects of redistricting in hundreds of congressional and state legislative races showed Republicans had a clear advantage in traditional battleground states such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, where political districts were drawn by Republicans after the 2010 census.

If the decision is upheld, that could directly affect the drawing of individual state political boundaries after the 2020 Census is completed—or not. It’s difficult to speculate on the possible impact of the Supreme Court’s decision, Canary said, stressing that it could be crafted to apply broadly or written narrowly to just impact Wisconsin. And there’s always the possibility as well that the court could overturn the lower court ruling, effectively siding with the status quo and giving the green light to politically motivated gerrymanders.

Whatever the court rules will be thrust, for Illinois, into the political reality of Democratic Party dominance, especially in the metropolitan Chicago area. The party’s advantage may have less to do with lines on a map than with voter behavior that increasingly defines the state as a Democratic Party behemoth in the mold of New York and California.

“You’re not going to change the demographic and political culture of Illinois just by changing the lines,” said David Yepsen, the former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

While all the Midwestern states surrounding Illinois went for Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election—some by double-digit margins—Hillary Clinton carried the Prairie State by almost 17 percentage points.

Clinton prevailed in all but one of the six counties that make up metro Chicago, grabbing 58 percent of the combined vote. Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth trounced Republican incumbent Mark Kirk by 15 percentage points.

The political might of Chicago and the surrounding counties holds huge sway over the remainder of Illinois. Sixty-three percent of the votes cast in the 2016 election came from metro Chicago. No other Midwestern state in the area has a metropolitan area with comparable political influence, and the Chicago region—not just the city itself—is tacking ever more Democratic.

That reflects a national urban-rural divide, where Democratic candidates draw from major population centers while Republicans like Trump, draw from rural and small town America.

The disadvantage to Illinois Republicans is that the vast majority of Downstate counties are losing population while Chicago and its environs become a “super urban metro area,” said Charles Franklin, a professor of law and public policy at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee.

“It’s hard to design districts that break into that urban bloc, that shatter that large population,” Franklin said.

The degree of the partisan benefit from district maps is in dispute. Jackman found that President Obama won 53.5 percent of the two-party Wisconsin presidential vote in 2012, yet Democrats won only 39.4 percent of that state’s 99-seat legislature.

By contrast in Illinois, the share of state house seats won by Democrats roughly mirrored the share of the presidential vote that Obama got that year. Obama captured nearly 58 percent of the Illinois vote in 2012 and Democrats won 60 percent of house seats.

By the 2014 elections, according to a study done by Canary and University of Illinois Springfield political scientist Kent Redfield, “partisan bias” in the legislative maps was more clearly benefiting Democrats.

All 118 seats in the house were up for election that year and the combined votes cast in those races was almost evenly split between Republican and Democratic candidates, Redfield and Canary noted in a report released in 2015. Even so, Democrats won 71 house seats to 47 for Republicans.

Political partisans—usually those out of power—have complained about gerrymandering since the early 19th century, after a salamander-shaped district was part of a mapping plan approved by then Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry. Complaints have been remarkably consistent.

“It is an elaborate and rigged system that is failing the people of Illinois. It only works for the political insiders,” complained Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose agenda has run into a brick wall of resistance from legislative Democrats.

What redistricting has clearly done in Illinois is preserve the careers of incumbents of both parties. That report by Canary and Redfield found that from 1992 through 2014 the percentage of uncontested or non-competitive primaries in both parties ranged between 85 percent to 95 percent in state House races.

“The problem is we’re not looking at maps drawn to represent neighborhoods or communities but to protect incumbents and still be in compliance with the Voting Rights Act,” Canary said. “Protecting incumbency has been the dominant imperative.”

For Illinois Republicans, a decision in the Wisconsin case holds the potential of being unsatisfactory, regardless of the outcome.

If the high court affirms the federal panel’s decision, it could have a significant impact on Wisconsin, and perhaps several other states with maps skewed to favor Republicans, while leaving Illinois unaffected. That would be because Illinois maps appear less partisan according to the standard under court review.

And if the court decides to leave the Wisconsin map in place, the status quo would also be preserved in Illinois.

“There are a lot of expectations, but this is not likely to be a solution necessarily writ large across the board,” Canary said. Depending on the outcome of the case, she said, it could encourage lawsuits in other states alleging improper political gerrymandering.

“But it won’t turn Democrats into Republicans and Republicans into Democrats,” Canary said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Frerichs blasts Rauner’s AV

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* Treasurer Frerichs’ office has some big problems with the governor’s amendatory veto of Frerichs’ life insurance bill, HB302…

* When trying to prohibit the use of contingent fee auditors by the Treasurer, the Governor proposes to amend the wrong Act.

    * The existing unclaimed property law is scheduled to be repealed and replace by a new law on January 1, 2018. HB 302 would also become effective on January 1, 2018.

    * So, the Governor is proposing to amend a law that will no longer exist.

* In support of his amendment to shorten the period that insurers must review to see if they owe benefits because their insured died, the Governor relies on 1) an Illinois insurance regulation; 2) a US Supreme Court case; 3) the unfairness of distinguishing between insurers

    * The insurance regulation was put in place in 2016 by the Rauner administration in order to help insurers destroy records; but, the underlying portion of the Insurance Code still provides for criminal penalties for insurers that destroy records. Further, the regulation still requires maintaining records with “legal or fiscal” value.

    * The US Supreme Court case cited does not say that you cannot distinguish between companies based on the condition of their records. The case is about artists who unsuccessfully challenged the NEA’s community standards for grants. It is about First Amendment rights – not due process rights. And, the government actually won the case by an 8 to 1 margin.

    * Further, the bill the Governor signed last year actually allows his Department of Insurance to differentiate between insurers based on their electronically searchable records. So, this wasn’t an issue for him last year.

Oops. BTIA™.

If you click here you’ll see the governor’s full AV language with commentary by the treasurer’s office. Click here for raw audio of Frerichs’ press conference.

* From Treasurer Frerichs’ press release

Currently, some life insurance companies do not pay death benefits when they know, or should have known, a customer died. Between 2011 and 2015, treasurer office audits found more than $550 million in death benefits that were not paid to grieving families in Illinois. Nationally, the figure is more than $7.4 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rauner’s veto outlaws the audits. Without this enforcement tool, life insurers can act with impunity. “This is clear evidence that Gov. Rauner is lining corporate pockets with this veto,” Frerichs said.

There are three commonsense reasons why Rauner’s veto is wrong and his focus on contingency-fee auditors is misplaced.

    1) Rauner’s amendatory veto makes Illinois the only state in the country to prohibit contingency-fee auditors and eliminates any hope that an unscrupulous company will pay 100 percent of what they owe to Illinois residents.
    2) Audits would not be necessary if life insurance companies made it a priority to pay death benefits when they know or should have known that a customer has died.
    3) Signing the legislation and requiring life insurance companies to review their records would move compliance away from the treasurer and into the Governor’s Department of Insurance, which has stronger enforcement tools, including the ability to suspend a company’s license to do business in Illinois. […]

Using contingency-fee auditors is a best-practice approach because it leverages expertise to maximize efficiency. Families receive every cent they are owed. Without the audits, insurance companies keep 100 percent of the death benefits.

“Rauner vetoed this bill because he wants to stop auditors who have successfully found hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid life insurance benefits. However, auditors never get a penny of your loved one’s life insurance policy,” Frerichs said. “All Rauner did was take away the tool that allowed us to return $550 million to grieving families.”

More is at stake than just unpaid life insurance policies.

For example, without a veto override, the treasurer’s office would lose its ability to effectively look at the books of large banks, such as Wells Fargo, to confirm it did not inappropriately keep funds from bank customers. Or the ability to look at Sprint and Radio Shack to confirm each has paid out all rebate checks issued as an incentive to make a purchase.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Manufacturing woes continue here

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* This IMA graphic shows manufacturing job growth from August, 2016-July, 2017…

Oof.

* Press release…

– Illinois has passed a budget which includes tax hikes on job creators and yet, it is not balanced. Illinois has passed so-called education reforms that do not include property tax reform, comprehensive mandate relief or any effort to address the ever-increasing pension debt our state faces. But, when it comes to pro-growth plans to secure the economic future of our state’s middle class, Springfield has failed. Today, August 30, 2017, marks exactly one year since Greg Baise, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association addressed the City Club of Chicago and made a passionate call to Illinois lawmakers. In that address, he warned that Illinois government is closing business one day at a time. Baise spoke to the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs in Illinois – more than 300,000 jobs lost since 2000.

Baise’s message one year ago was clear: the revitalization of our middle class and manufacturing job economy directly correlates to public policy that encourages pro-growth policies, a stable economy and creating a more friendly business climate. Yet, lawmakers failed to heed this warning or enact reforms. Despite repeated calls for compromise, Illinois lawmakers passed a massive $5 billion tax hike that failed to include any meaningful reforms that could revitalize the economy and send a strong signal that Illinois is a good place to do business. Every major business group labeled the 2017 legislative session as one of the worst for employers.

It comes as no surprise that the failure of the legislature to act has resulted in Illinois continuing to lag behind neighboring states. From August 2016 to July 2017, Illinois has only added 600 manufacturing jobs while neighboring states have added: 9,900 in Wisconsin, 5,600 in Michigan, 6,000 in Indiana, 5,800 in Missouri and 1,800 in Iowa.

“Illinois lawmakers failed job creators again while continuing to protect wealthy trial lawyers and labor union bosses. Since last year, the General Assembly imposed a massive $5 billion tax hike while threatening a whopping 82 percent spike in the minimum wage and a new paid leave mandate on every Illinois business. We trail nearly every state in key indicators such as unemployment rate, GDP growth, and manufacturing job loss not to mention leading the country in the outmigration of residents who are fleeing our state,” said Baise. “At what point will legislators wake up to the reality that is looking them in the mirror? Lawmakers need to stop passing job crushing taxes and regulations to stop the bleeding and start restoring stability and predictability. Economic reforms must be a number one priority during veto session or we will continue to see manufacturing job numbers that pale in comparison to our neighbors and a middle class population that continues to struggle without well-paying manufacturing jobs.”

The IMA will continue to champion the immediate and long-term solutions put forward in the Middle Class Manufacturing Agenda which includes meaningful and permanent workers compensation reform, tax code reform, fiscal reform, property tax reform, and a strengthened education and workforce development system.

The IMA urges lawmakers to prioritize a manufacturing rebirth in Illinois in order to revitalize the middle-class and help jumpstart the state’s economy.

Not one mention of the governor.

*** UPDATE ***  Wordslinger ran the numbers for this year and found a far different result…

I understand IMAs cherry picking short-term stats for propaganda, but you can take the very same BLS stats and write a press release and design a graphic with this headline:

“Manufacturing Giant Illinois Leads Midwest in New Jobs in 2017″

Total new manufacturing jobs since Jan. 2017 and overall totals, according to BLS.

    IL — 6,600/ 574,400

    MO — 5,900 / 269,300

    WI — 4,400 / 473,500

    IA — 4,000 / 215,200

    MN — 3,400 / 320,400

    IN — 900 / 528,000

    KY — 300 / 253,000

    MI — 200 / 604,400

You’re kidding yourself if you think long-term manufacturing trends are being decided in state capitals — or with corporate welfare handouts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


McCann explains his vote

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* From Sen. Sam McCann…

“There have been many pieces of legislation that have advanced over the last several years in the Illinois General Assembly that sought to bring equity and balance to the way in which we fund our schools and I have voted for most of them. I didn’t vote for them because I thought they were perfect bills, but because I knew how important the subject matter was. And because I knew it would take years for it all to come together, I wanted to be a part of advancing the conversation and the cause,” said State Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview).

Senate Bill 1947 not only includes what many refer to as a “Chicago Bailout,” it also now introduces a brand new tax credit for the wealthy who donate to scholarship funds for private schools. It is not a voucher system, but it is rather more of a pay-to-play opportunity for the state’s most well-connected. Sen. McCann is concerned that this compromise was crafted over a matter of a few days with only four members of the General Assembly in the room, and not all 177 members of the House and Senate at the table voicing the concerns of their constituents.

“I voted for a measure a couple of weeks ago that would have accomplished more at less cost to the taxpayer. When I took that vote, I admitted that the bill wasn’t perfect, but it was a bridge to get us where we need to go. But this new bill is simply a bridge too far,” Sen. McCann stated.

The amendment to Senate Bill 1947 (Amendment 5) that passed the House of Representatives yesterday and the Senate today had no public hearings and legislators were given little time to digest the contents of the bill. Worse yet, there was no legitimate amount of time or opportunity for the public to learn about the bill and weigh in with their elected representatives.

“This bill represents one of the worst aspects of the Illinois lawmaking process. Something this important deserved sunlight, instead, it was cobbled together in the back room by a handful of people and pushed down the throats of the rank-and-file legislators,” said Sen. McCann.

“The people didn’t send me here to be a part of the status quo. They have entrusted me to use wisdom and discernment when voting on their behalf, and voting yes on a bill that spends money that we don’t have, institutes a tax credit that could very easily become abused and doing that all without any public hearings is continuing the failures of the past. We have to stop repeating these same failures over and over. I felt I had to vote No,” said Sen. McCann.

Senate Bill 1947 passed the Senate and House and now awaits the Governor’s signature. The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law in Chicago on Wednesday.

Um, he calls it a “Chicago Bailout” even though he voted to override the governor’s veto of SB1, which provided almost the same amount of state cash for CPS.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Sun-Times has a tax hike freak-out

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* The adults need to intervene at the Sun-Times. Check out this lede

Tapped-out Chicago property owners would face yet another tax hit for teacher pensions — but their aldermen would escape another difficult vote — under a historic new statewide school funding deal now headed to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.

Tapped-out? Right. Chicagoans should ask their suburban and Downstate friends about their property tax bills.

* The screaming front page…

* Thankfully, the editorial board put things into perspective

But it is not unexpected news. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had hinted all along that another tax hike for the city’s public schools was likely, once he finished squeezing Springfield for more school money. And, regrettably, the hike is largely necessary. It is the price Chicago must pay for decades of past financial mismanagement. It is the price the city must pay for its future.

As unwelcome as higher taxes are, worse yet for Chicago and its public schools has been the damage done by constant borrowing and allowing unpaid pension obligations to pile up. A city that borrows to pay basic bills — spending money on interest payments instead of hiring cops or teachers — is a city living on borrowed time.

Mayor Daley and, for his first term Rahm Emanuel, allowed Chicagoans to live in a fantasy world where they didn’t have to pay for the services they received. And they were enabled by the city’s media and, particularly, its editorial boards which endorsed those guys at every turn.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      


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Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

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Rauner’s education funding reform victory lap begins

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* Usually, when daily public schedules are silent about media availability it means the governor will be taking questions…

Daily Public Schedule: Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What: Gov. Rauner speaks with students at Springfield Ball Charter School
Where: 2530 E. Ash St., Springfield
Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Time: 8:40 a.m.

What: Gov. Rauner speaks with students at Ida J. Russell Elementary School
Where: 705 N. Jefferson St., Litchfield
Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m.​

What: Gov. Rauner speaks with students at Mater Dei Catholic High School
Where: 900 Mater Dei Dr., Breese
Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Time: 1:30 p.m.

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      


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