Gov. Bruce Rauner today issued an executive order declaring it impermissible for state legislators to represent clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which hears appeals of assessment decisions made in the state’s 102 counties.
Calling the practice a “clear conflict of interest that must end,” Rauner said the order, which is effective immediately, is a key step toward restoring public trust and motivating lawmakers to tackle meaningful property-tax reform.
“We have a deeply flawed and overly complicated property-tax system that recent investigations have shown results in inequitable, disproportionately high property-tax burdens on low-income residents — not to mention our property taxes overall are simply too high,” Rauner said. “For any legislator to profit from this system undercuts the public’s faith that they are in office to do what’s best for their constituents.
“Legislators who make money representing clients who are appealing their property-tax assessments have little incentive to do what’s right when it comes to property-tax reform,” Rauner continued. “Frankly, they have everything to gain from the status quo. The action I’m taking today marks the beginning of the end of a dubious era.”
Directs members of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board to prohibit state legislators from participating in appeals coming before them.
Directs the board to prohibit legislators from receiving any fee or compensation, directly or indirectly, through any interest in a partnership, limited liability corporation or other business entity representing clients before it.
Notes a State of Illinois Code of Personal Conduct requirement that government be conducted in a transparent, ethical, accountable and motivated manner.
Points out that state officials and employees “may not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with their official state duties and responsibilities,” according to the conduct code.
Directs the board to amend its rules and procedures to reflect the executive order.
The Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board hears about 30,000 appeals a year, approximately three-fourths of them from Cook County.
“Conflicts of interest clearly arise where legislators and regulators receive financial benefits by charging Illinois citizens and businesses through a morass of red tape those same officials created by passing complicated rules and establishing confusing and bureaucratic processes,” the executive order states.
Crippling taxes overall and an onerous property-tax system are eroding the state’s ability to thrive and driving homeowners and small businesses toward insolvency — and increasingly, toward the border.
While property taxes are cited frequently as a top reason for leaving Illinois, the state is duty-bound to take concrete steps to correct the system, Rauner said. He noted the state’s population declined by an estimated 33,700 in 2017, the greatest numeric population loss of any state, and the fourth year in a row that Illinois’ population dropped.
“Illinoisans are tired of a rigged system that allows lawmakers to profit at their expense,” Rauner said. “I’m here to fight on their behalf.”
* The gubernatorial candidates were asked today what rates they’d like to see on a progressive income tax. JB Pritzker dodged the question. Chris Kennedy answered…
I think that people are entitled to understand what the brackets might look like. I think we need to make it clear that Governor Rauner’s leadership and lack thereof make it very difficult to predict will we have a budget this year or will we not. Will he rack up more unpaid bills and how do we fund that? I don’t think the high end of the range of a progressive income tax should go above a number that starts with a five. That’s what I’d say. I think it has to be somewhere between five and six percent at the high end of the range.
But this is all for naught. I mean, truthfully, we’ll never move to a progressive income tax unless we ban elected officials from being property tax appeals lawyers.
I don’t know how you make that work. How do you provide real tax relief for some while still being able to balance the budget at a top rate of less than 6 percent?
But, hey, maybe he’ll explain it later.
Also, I’m not quite clear on how passing a progressive income tax will first require banning legislators from being property tax lawyers (or how that’s even legal), but that’s his schtick, so whatevs.
Craig Wall: Somebody said, he put it this way, that Bruce Rauner is almost becoming like a super PAC for you as he’s trying to undermine JB Pritzker.
Chris Kennedy: I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois. Now we may disagree on what that is, but his willingness to speak truth to power, to take on the powers that have been strangling our economy for decades in this state is something that I think he should be applauded for.
* As noted below, Daniel Biss and the JB Pritzker campaign have both taken Kennedy to task. Biss tweeted that Rauner “should not be ‘applauded’ for the lasting damage and harm that he’s done to the state” and the Pritzker campaign released this statement…
“The Worst Republican Governor in America unleashed devastation across this state and is standing in silence as the lives of immigrant families and healthcare for children hang in the balance, but don’t worry, because according to Chris Kennedy, Bruce Rauner is just speaking ‘truth to power,’” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “Throwing bombs and creating crisis is not speaking truth to power, but it’s clear that Chris Kennedy has failed to understand that throughout this campaign.”
…Adding… Another Kennedy campaign statement…
I’ve always been honest about Bruce Rauner’s broken leadership in our state. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, our state amassed $15 billion in unpaid bills. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, our state went two years without a budget — the longest budget impasse in U.S. history. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, 1 million people were cut off of social services.
I’m running because Bruce Rauner has left our state in shambles. He’s a failed governor and our state is desperate for radical change.
Taking my remarks out of context is a weak attempt from JB Pritzker to deflect from the pressure he’s under. JB is the poster child of play to pay politics in Illinois and the FBI wiretaps that feature him begging Rod Blagojevich for political favors prove it. He’s everything the Republicans want to run against.
I believe voters have a right to know what’s on those tapes and I agree that they should’ve been released.
* The Question: Fair hits or not? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.
“It’s important to recognize that if people who voted for Rod Blagojevich had known that he was engaging in the activities that he was, nobody would have voted for him, nobody would be supporting, nobody would have spoken with him, and hundreds of people did at the time,” Pritzker said.
“And I’ve not been accused of any wrongdoing. I have not done anything wrong. And I’ve been proud of the work I’ve done in public service for many, many years,” Pritzker added.
That prompted Biss to reply: “If that phone call is your definition of public service, you’re doing it wrong.”
After the forum, Kennedy backed Rauner’s ads highlighting the Pritkzer-Blagojevich recordings.
“I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois,” he said. “And we may disagree on what that is, but his willingness to speak truth to power, to take on the powers that have been strangling our economy for decades in this state is something that I think he should be applauded for.”
They’ve officially merged.
* From the Rauner campaign…
During today’s Chicago Tribune editorial board meeting with Democratic candidates for governor, JB Pritzker claimed that he has “not done anything wrong” regarding his conversations with Blagojevich.
The wiretaps tell a different story, as Pritzker was caught making shady deals with Blagojevich, and even called just 6 days before Blagojevich’s ultimate arrest.
You be the judge as to whether JB Pritzker did anything wrong in his conversations with Blagojevich. The full wiretaps are available HERE.
Pritzker lobbied Blagojevich to be appointed to the Treasurer’s seat
Pritzker advised Blagojevich to engage in a ‘morally repugnant’ quid pro quo with Mike Madigan
Pritzker does not “rebuff” Blagojevich’s suggestion of an appointment to Attorney General
Despite claiming that “nobody knew the FBI was investigating the man” just last week, Pritzker acknowledges Blagojevich needing to “get the legal thing behind” him.
Governor Rauner summed it up best yesterday: “Anyone who would use an excuse and say, ‘Well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing but I didn’t go to jail, so it’s OK.’ Are you kidding me?”
* Text from a pal…
Team Rauner laser-focused on becoming Kennedy’s super PAC effectively. Anti-Rahm, Blago tape and MJM prop tax lawyer stuff
…Adding… Some Twitter react…
*** UPDATE 1 *** Kennedy campaign…
Chris has been calling out Rauner for ever. Chris thinks JB is the poster child for what is wrong in Illinois. He’s the poster child for everything Rauner wants to run again. And when he agrees with someone, he says it. He agrees that these tapes should be out. He agrees that voters should know how JB Pritzker really operates.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…
Did Chris Kennedy Just Endorse Bruce Rauner?
Following the Chicago Tribune Editorial board session Chris Kennedy said: “I think Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois. And we may disagree on what that is, but his willingness to speak truth to power, to take on the powers that have been strangling our economy for decades in this state is something that I think he should be applauded for.”
As governor, Bruce Rauner is responsible for nearly 1 million people losing access to social services, vetoing a historic equitable school funding formula, holding funding for children and families hostage to his far-right, Koch brother funded agenda, standing by while Donald Trump attacks immigrant families in Illinois and health insurance for children and families, and just this week failing to call former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke a racist… or as Chris Kennedy sees it, speaking “truth to power.”
“The Worst Republican Governor in America unleashed devastation across this state and is standing in silence as the lives of immigrant families and healthcare for children hang in the balance, but don’t worry, because according to Chris Kennedy, Bruce Rauner is just speaking ‘truth to power,’” said Pritzker communications director Galia Slayen. “Throwing bombs and creating crisis is not speaking truth to power, but it’s clear that Chris Kennedy has failed to understand that throughout this campaign.”
* I told subscribers about this earlier today. I assume the press releases will start rolling in soon. The first is from Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady…
“While an aisle may have separated us politically, Sen. Donne Trotter and I shared a passion to serve the people of Illinois, and to make our state a better place. Throughout his tenure, Donne was always a voice of reason, which was befitting the stature of the august chamber that is the Illinois Senate. Now, as he closes this chapter on his Senate career, he will no doubt begin writing another that will undoubtedly make a difference in the lives of those he comes into contact with on a daily basis.”
I’ll update as necessary.
…Adding… Senate President John Cullerton…
Donne Trotter is a unique individual and he will be missed in the Illinois Senate.
I will miss his leadership, his counsel, his wisdom, his calm, his experience and to top it all, his fantastic sense of fashion. I wish him nothing but the best, and am honored to have worked with him and to consider him my friend.
* Mayor Rahm Emanuel…
“Senator Trotter’s vibrant personality and commitment to our state’s most pressing issues are matched only by his compassion for those he serves. Throughout his three decade career he has been a tireless advocate for the people of Chicago and the state of Illinois. From fighting to make quality care affordable and accessible to reforming a disproportionate and discriminatory state education funding formula, Senator Trotter has been voice for the vulnerable and a champion for hardworking families. His service in Springfield created a stronger city and state. I wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
* Sen. Kwame Raoul…
“I was lucky enough to call Senator Trotter not just my colleague, but also my mentor, my roommate and my friend. He supported me in replacing Barack Obama in the Senate when it was not popular in Springfield to do so, and I have benefited from his advice and support ever since. His intelligence, dedication and compassion will be sorely missed in the Senate.”
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Donne E. Trotter (D-Chicago) released the following statement today:
“It was truly a pleasure to serve my constituents in Springfield over the last 25 years in the Senate and four years in the House.”
“I cannot say when the best time is, but I feel this is the right time to go forward and search out different opportunities, and to more importantly give others the chance to serve.”
“Throughout my career, I have tried to pass along the wisdom I’ve gained over my years of service. My own career was never my only focus; I also wanted to ensure the success of those who I knew would follow in my footsteps someday.”
“I’m comfortable with the people who are still serving in the Senate. They have the knowledge and the work ethic to lead our state in the right direction, and I’m not standing in their way.”
“I’m proud of being a strong voice on health care, education and budget issues, which are all of great importance to people of the 17th District.”
“It’s a very diverse district, including urban and rural areas. We haven’t been able to accomplish everything, but we’ve certainly made a measurable difference in our communities and statewide.”
“I had the great privilege of being able to sit at the table during all policy negotiations, especially the budget. I’m thankful for the voices back home who helped me to articulate the needs of our district and the state at large.”
Trotter has held his Senate seat since 1993. The district encompasses parts of the City of Chicago, Will County and Kankakee County.
Trotter has also served as assistant majority leader since 2013. His resignation is effective immediately. […]
Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement regarding Senator Donne Trotter’s resignation from the Illinois State Senate:
“Senator Donne Trotter has been the consummate example of dedication to not only the citizens of the 17th District, but to the great people of this entire state. His 30 years as a member of the General Assembly, and specifically his 25 years as a member of the Illinois Senate have shown the Senator’s passion for public service.
“The Caucus will miss the Senator’s wealth of institutional knowledge and dedication to ensuring all Illinois residents have access to quality health care, education and general life wellness.
“Senator Trotter has stood fair and firm throughout his illustrious career. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus thanks him for his three decades of service, and wishes him nothing but the best during his retirement.”
Members of the caucus released individual statements below:
Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood): “It has a been an incredible journey working alongside my dear friend and colleague Leader Trotter for 20 of his 30 years of service. He was the seasoned appropriations chairman and public health enthusiast when I arrived and always showed me leadership, expertise and commitment. I will truly miss him, his support and his passion for serving people. He helped to lay the foundation for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and his legacy will continue on for generations to come.”
Senator Toi Hutchinson (D- Chicago Heights): “It is not easy to sum up a career in public service in just a few words. But my knowledge of the budget and revenue process was sharpened in a way that could have only happened with a teacher like Donne Trotter. From his impact on the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators to our statehouse, he challenged us to be better. And that means we as legislators are better for his service.”
Senator James F. Clayborne (D- Belleville): “Senator Trotter has been a public servant and champion of his community for his whole life. His knowledge of complex issues and ability to work across the aisle will be sorely missed.”
Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago): “I knew Senator Trotter long before I became a legislator. When I worked for the Human Resources Development Institute he was our go-to guy for legislation and funding purposes. When I later became a colleague, Sen. Trotter and I worked together on many issues to address behavioral health and other social services. He was a great advisor and his institutional knowledge will be greatly missed.”
Senator Kwame Raoul (D- Chicago): “I was lucky enough to call Senator Trotter not just my colleague, but also my mentor, my roommate and my friend. He supported me in replacing Barack Obama in the Senate when it was not popular in Springfield to do so, and I have benefited from his advice and support ever since. His intelligence, dedication and compassion will be sorely missed in the Senate.”
Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago): “I have had the honor and privilege of serving with Senator Trotter over the last 13 years. He’s a true gem and gentleman in the Illinois General Assembly. Donne is well-read, knowledgeable and a powerful advocate and voice for the children and families of the state. No one ever has to wonder what he’s thinking because his remarks can be both brilliant and biting. Sometimes a jester but always a drum major for justice. He’s a public servant with heart, who embodies character, courage, and compassion. Donne is a dapper man of distinction, dignity, and decency, and I will truly miss my colleague and friend.”
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 4.8 percent in December and nonfarm payrolls increased by +1,500 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. November jobs were revised up to show a slight gain (+3,100 jobs) rather than a slight loss as initially reported (-1,100 jobs).
December’s monthly payroll gain kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. While Illinois job growth has had its ups and downs since the beginning of the year, the 3-month trend shows average gains of +4,700 jobs per month from October to December. This reflects an improvement over the 3-month average gain of +1,500 from September to November.
“The unemployment rate dropped in December, even as the labor force increased in the final quarter of the year.” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Payrolls overall have now increased by about a half-percent over the year to date, which is an additional 29,600 jobs.”
“The fourth quarter trend is certainly promising,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy. “Illinois is beginning to see results from investments made in securing businesses by this administration.
In December, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Government (+4,100); Other Services (+2,600); and Construction (+2,200). The three industry sectors with the largest payroll declines were: Professional and Business Services (-3,100); Financial Activities (-2,600) and Education and Health Services (-2,300).
Over-the-year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +29,600 jobs with the largest gains in these industry sectors in December: Financial Activities (+8,700); Manufacturing (+7,700); and Education and Health Services (+6,600). The industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines include: Government (-4,100); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-2,900); Leisure and Hospitality (-1,400). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +0.5 percent over-the-year in sharp contrast to the nation’s +1.4 percent over-the-year gain in December.
The state’s unemployment rate is +0.7 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for December 2017, which held at 4.1 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.9 percentage points from a year ago when it was 5.7 percent. The Illinois jobless rate last stood at 4.8 percent in July.
“Mickey Straub isn’t a ‘proud Republican’ as he says. He’s a phony Republican who makes Mike Madigan proud. After missing three consecutive Republican primaries, Straub is teaming up with Mike Madigan’s union allies in an attempt to hijack the Republican Party and keep Madigan in power. Madigan Mickey doesn’t share our Republican values and can’t be trusted.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot
Mickey Straub says he’s “proud to be Republican,” but it’s all a ruse designed to trick voters and keep Mike Madigan in power.
This morning, Politico Illinois Playbook reported that Straub hasn’t voted in a single Republican primary since 2010 - not even one. There’ve been two consequential presidential primaries and a critical gubernatorial primary, yet “proud Republican” Mickey Straub was AWOL.
Now, an outside group backing Mickey Straub is running an ad featuring testimonials from “neighbors,” but their Republican credentials are just as spotty as Straub’s:
Jorie Peirce - voted in 2016 GOP primary, no other recent primary elections
Peter Smolka - voted in 2016 GOP primary, no other recent primary elections
Gail Demory - voted in 2012 GOP primary, no other recent primary elections (Liberty Principles PAC misspelled her name - Gail De Mory)
Keith Lutz - Chicago resident and voter (can’t vote for Straub); voted in 2010 and 2012 Dem primaries, 2014 and 2016 GOP primaries
That’s why it’s no surprise phony Republican Mickey Straub is teaming up with Mike Madigan’s union allies in an attempt to hijack the Republican Party. It’s all a coordinated effort to keep Madigan in power.
It’s clear - Madigan Mickey doesn’t share our Republican values and can’t be trusted.
A suburban community is taking on the Illinois Republican Party and state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
Campaign pieces on behalf of Durkin have been hitting mailboxes in Burr Ridge and other parts of the 82nd state House District, claiming that Burr Ridge has enacted “four unbalanced budgets,” “hiked property taxes 16 percent” and “raised fees to funnel money for a Chicago bailout.”
Burr Ridge has written a letter to the party and Durkin insisting that they “cease and desist from any further distribution of false information pertaining to the village of Burr Ridge and that you immediately provide a written correction and apology for false information.”
The village’s mayor, Mickey Straub, is challenging Durkin of Western Springs in the spring Republican Primary for his state House seat.
The mailers have linked House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, with Straub. The pieces have even pegged Straub as Mini-Me, the clone of Dr. Evil, Austin Powers’ nemesis, in the “Austin Powers” movies. Madigan is depicted as Dr. Evil in the mailers.
“I got sick over it,” Straub told the Chronicle, regarding the mailings that have been hitting southwest suburban homes for the past two months. “The lies about the village and me could not be further from the truth.”
* I asked the ILGOP for a response and this is from Aaron DeGroot…
Unfortunately the Cook County Chronicle did not reach out to the state party for comment. Contrary to what Mickey Straub told the reporter, a written and dated response was sent via email from the ILGOP’s general counsel to the Village of Burr Ridge this past Friday [letter attached], sufficiently rebutting the claims made in the Burr Ridge letter, which was written by taxpayer-funded village officials.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the Burr Ridge letter is yet another example of Madigan Mickey using public resources for political purposes. Mickey Straub should not be authorizing the use of taxpayer resources to prosecute his own personal political grudges.
This isn’t the first time Mickey Straub has misused taxpayer resources. As you know, Village records show Straub previously used taxpayer funds to attend political events. You reached out to him three times on that topic. Has he ever gotten back to you? My guess is he hasn’t.
It’s clear that “Madigan Mickey” Straub is just another politician playing the ultimate Madigan insiders game.
…Kennedy basically said he’s not dropping out because he expects to win. That his polling shows when people are “fully informed,” they choose Kennedy far above his opponents. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that “fully informed” isn’t on the table. “Fully informed,” like “perfect vacuum,” is a physical impossibility, an ideal dreamworld that doesn’t apply here. He’d do better polling people who are completely uninformed, because that’s basically who’ll find their way to the voting booths in March.
A lawsuit against Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services claims the state illegally withholds medically necessary services from children with severe mental health disorders. The case was settled in federal court this week.
Federal Medicaid law requires intensive home- or community-based services for children who need it. A class action lawsuit filed in 2011 claims Illinois violates that law.
Robert Farley, Jr., is the attorney on the suit. He says some Illinois families are so desperate to get treatment for their children, they bring them to a psychiatric hospital — and never come back for them.
“DCFS will then take custody of the child and then basically place the child residentially,” Farley said. “So you get residential services, but then you’ve given up custody of your child, which is, you know, barbaric. You have to give up your child to get something necessary.”
Data from the state shows some 18,000 children in Illinois have severe emotional or behavioral disorders. But only about 200 receive intensive treatment.
Farley estimates the changes could cost the state upwards of $400 million.
* Collins-Mandeville at the Illinois Collaboration on Youth explains…
The settlement requires the State “to design and implement a systemic approach through which Class Members will be provided with reasonable promptness the Medicaid-authorized, medically necessary intensive home- and community-based services, including residential services, that are needed to correct or ameliorate their mental health or behavior disorders.”
Even though the state had to pay court-ordered Medicaid services during the impasse, this new consent decree will actually require revamping the children’s behavioral health system and building up much needed service capacity, not just maintaining the status quo of Medicaid service delivery. As we all know, maintaining the status quo today compared to a status quo of two years ago will already be more expensive since the impasse toppled the community-based service system infrastructure.
The N.B. class is much larger than a variety of other consent decrees. It covers all Medicaid-eligible children under the age of 21 in the State of Illinois:
(1) who have been diagnosed with a mental health or behavioral disorder; and
(2) for whom a licensed practitioner of the healing arts has recommended intensive home- and community-based services to correct or ameliorate their disorders.
This settlement also comes on the heels of the Feds issuing a letter about pending and future 1115 waiver requests — something the Administration was counting on to draw down federal funds for services like those needed under the new consent decree.
Additionally, it should be noted that:
The federal court has increased oversight in the DCFS case (B.H. v. Walker), which now requires monthly status updates. Class counsel also filed a motion to enforce that consent decree alleging DCFS’ noncompliance (with clear cut, convincing evidence).
In October, the plaintiffs in Rash v. Baldwin (DOC consent decree) filed a motion to enforce their settlement agreement for timely and consistent mental health services. (The Administration agreed to that agreement and the court approved it in May 2016.)
Today, the JB Pritzker campaign released a new ad responding to desperate attempts by failed governor Bruce Rauner to meddle in the Democratic primary.
The ad highlights the growing list of blunders, missteps and failures that the Worst Republican Governor in America struggles to address as he launches an attack strategy that was recently called “prematurely desperate.” Just this week, Rauner created school funding uncertainly, thousands of Illinoisans saw their healthcare disrupted, an auto plant chose to break ground in Alabama instead of Illinois, and Rauner was forced to distance himself from embattled Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and couldn’t answer a simple question about former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke being racist.
“After coming up short on accomplishments and creating constant crisis, it’s clear that Bruce Rauner now believes inserting himself in the Democratic primary is his only chance to win re-election,” said Pritzker campaign communications director Galia Slayen. “Rauner has reached a new low in his attempt to distract from the countless failures of his governorship, but Illinoisans won’t forget the damage they’ve been forced to live through for the past three years.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner was joined by homeowners in south suburban Chicago Thursday as he took steps to end a property tax system he called immoral, unethical and something that should be illegal.
At the news conference, Rauner announced he signed an executive barring lawmakers from arguing cases in front of the Illinois State Tax Appeals Board. […]
In order to fight high property taxes under the current system, Rauner said homeowners have to hire politically connected law firms, like the one where longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan works.
“No one who sets tax policy, no one who has an influence to increase taxes on one hand should be in a position where they financially benefit from fighting about property taxes and try to get them reduced on the other hand,” Rauner said. […]
Rauner said the system to dispute high property taxes is rigged. In addition to signing the executive order barring lawmakers from arguing cases in front of the Illinois State Tax Appeals Board, he proposes a law to ban lawmakers from making money from property tax appeals.
“We also don’t let legislators argue cases in the Court of Claims. We should do the same thing for property tax appeals,” Rauner said. “It’s a conflict of interest. It’s unethical. It’s immoral. We should also make it illegal.”
OK, first of all, he didn’t sign an EO yesterday. He said he plans to sign one in the next few days. Secondly, not many regular homeowners are hiring politically connected property tax appeals attorneys. Thirdly, legislators have to specifically vote to appropriate money to fund Court of Claims rulings, so that would definitely be a direct conflict of interest. I’m not sure such a direct conflict exists with the state property tax appeals board.
The Property Tax Appeal Board shall consist of 5 members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall designate one of the members as Chairman. The Property Tax Appeal Board shall be totally independent of the Department [of Revenue].
That makes an EO pretty iffy.
* Meanwhile, the governor was asked yesterday about this recent analysis by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform which suggests that the Department of Revenue has some unused powers over Cook County, but he didn’t have an answer…
In Illinois, the Department of Revenue (DOR) only contributes to the final calculation of property values through an equalization assessment, and does not serve in an oversight role, as in other states. Illinois state law gives the Department of Revenue the authority to provide more oversight to county assessors, but this practice is not currently in place. Specifically, the DOR does not conduct the same equity studies that occur in Florida and Arizona, or audits similar to those in California. […]
Conduct COD (Coefficient of Dispersion) studies on assessments, used to measure equity and uniformity, and publish summary reports for each tax cycle
Perform audits of county assessment procedures every three years, and publish reports of recommended changes
Take a more proactive role in requiring assessors to produce evidence of internal controls and fair assessment practices when reviewing tax rolls
The goal of these recommendations is to ensure a more transparent and accountable assessment process across the state, and encourage oversight for this important responsibility.
* Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked about Chicago making the Amazon list yesterday…
Rauner referenced taxes and the perception of “a corrupt system” in the state. Speaking at an event in Country Club Hills to highlight property taxes in the south suburbs, Rauner said “The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, knows how bad taxes are, and … the state of Washington, where they’re coming from, does not have an income tax.”
“So what I think, we’ll have a better case to make to Amazon if we show that we’re disciplined about our own taxes, that we work to keep our taxes low and help bring our taxes down,” Rauner later added. “If we make progress on this, this will send a great message to Amazon that Illinois is not always just raising taxes with a corrupt system, that when they grow here and they bring their employees here and grow our economy. So I hope we can make these changes. It’ll help us bring Amazon here.” […]
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, told of the governor’s Amazon comments while speaking at a separate event Thursday, suggested “it would be helpful if the state was pulling with us.”
“The governor has some challenges, he has a campaign, he has a budget coming up,” Emanuel said. “But we have incredible strengths, and as I said, four years in a row the city of Chicago has been number one in both corporate relocations and direct foreign investment. And the only thing I would say to the governor is, we’ve done that in the face of pretty bad dysfunction in Springfield. Imagine if Springfield got its stuff together, how good it would be.”
Washington doesn’t have a state income tax, but it does have a corporate gross receipts tax.
Just hours after the city and state received the good news that Chicago has made the cut of 20 cities still in the running for its prized HQ2, sniping broke out between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner that can only imperil the city’s prospects. […]
Emanuel and Rauner had, until now, avoided just that kind of infighting, which a couple of years ago appeared to have been a factor in Chicago losing its bid to house the headquarters of GE. Their collective staffs were working well together, with World Business Chicago and Intersect Illinois in regular communication.
But today’s exchange may underline what outside experts have said is the weak point in Chicago’s bid: the perception that government here is more about quarreling and scoring points than getting things done.
In an email, Rauner communication director Patty Schuh rejected the mayor’s criticism.
“It’s BS,” she said. “It took bipartisan cooperation to make the bid. It will take bipartisan cooperation to get Amazon.”
Emanuel has known privately for weeks — through back-channel communication with Amazon — that Chicago would make the cut. What the mayor didn’t know was that Chicago would have so much company on that list.
“The range of cities in terms of where they are, what they are and their airport, transportation and higher ed capabilities, their cost of living, the size and depth of their workforce, their diversity is still so varied that it is hard to read too much into this list,” a mayoral confidant, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote in a text message to the Sun-Times.
“No city on the list is that surprising to see and nobody missing that you thought you were in real competition with,” the person continued. “They received over 200 applications. Had to spend time on all of them. The hard work begins now.”
Despite the heavy competition, Chicago “makes a ton of sense” for Amazon, Google, Apple or “any other fast-growing company looking for scale. … We will compete hard and show well. We are very strong when you dig deep into the data and analyze it,” the Emanuel confidant said.
…Adding… From the governor’s office…
There was a lot more to what the Governor said yesterday. He specifically said that Illinois has a very compelling case to make that’s not purely about tax incentives. He talked about how we’ve got hardworking people here, a good location and transportation network, a great education system and other assets that make Illinois’ bid attractive.
But there’s a time and a place for everything. And this is not the first time Rauner has soiled a corporate location pitch with a simultaneous counterargument.
It happened a couple of years ago, when talks with GE about moving its headquarters here failed in part because the governor couldn’t stop himself from about talking about the need for changes in Springfield that he would be unable to deliver. And it happened just last year, when the governor plugged the state’s shortcomings even as Illinois was trying to land a big, next-generation Toyota-Mazda plant.
If Rauner had a new plan to get some of his agenda through Springfield, I might cut him a break. But if he has, he sure has kept it secret.
If Rauner had limited his comments to something along the lines of “Illinois has a great bid and I’m working hard to make it better,” I might let it pass.
Instead, though, he appears to have shot off his mouth, impatient that Speaker Mike Madigan has not rolled over and given him his heart’s desire. Or, worse, he’s decided his path to re-election is to make Illinois truly a basket case by sabotaging the Amazon bid.
The pity is, at the staff level, the mayor’s people and the governor’s people appear to be working well together on this one. If there’s any friction, they’ve kept it quiet. Too bad their bosses can’t do the same.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is stepping up his efforts to influence the Democratic governor campaign, purchasing statewide TV time to air a 15-minute ad featuring secretly recorded FBI conversations between then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and businessman J.B. Pritzker, who is now a leading Democratic governor candidate.
Despite the much-hyped nature of Rauner’s move, his campaign is spending only about $11,900 to run it on six TV stations this weekend, said a media analyst who was not authorized to speak publicly about political ad buys. That’s a pittance compared to the $1 million a week Rauner and Pritzker each have spent at times to run political commercials across Illinois.
Rauner, however, is getting plenty of bang for his buck through the media coverage his unorthodox strategy is attracting. It’s unusual in Illinois for a candidate in one party to go to such lengths to try to steer the direction of the other political party’s primary campaign, and it’s rare to air a 15-minute ad. But Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor from Winnetka, has the money to do so.
Except during major sporting events or stuff like that, weekend TV ads are pretty cheap.
In response to the new ad, Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said: “Hundreds of people spoke to the governor at the time and whether Bruce Rauner chooses to buy a 60-second or even a 14-minute negative ad, the fact is JB Pritzker was accused of no wrongdoing. Bruce Rauner is desperately trying to interfere in the Democratic primary because he can’t defend his failed record and because he doesn’t want to face JB Pritzker in November.”
Though it had been known that Pritzker was one of the people Blagojevich considered for the Senate vacancy, the wiretaps showed Pritzker asked Blagojevich to appoint him as state treasurer instead.
“What you will not hear,” the latest ad intones, “is Pritzker rule out an appointment.”
The recordings had been obtained by the Chicago Tribune, which didn’t say how it obtained them.
* From the RGA…
Illinois Democrat candidate for governor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune J.B. Pritzker is facing embarrassing coverage over his weak response to his conduct on FBI wiretaps of conversations between himself and disgraced ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Pritzker was pressed hard by local media yesterday on his refusal to explain or even apologize for his actions on the tapes.
ABC 7 Chicago, Illinois’ most-watched television station, showed Pritzker’s weak response on camera last night, during which Pritzker would say that “Governor Blagojevich spoke with hundreds of people at that time, and bottom line is I was never accused of any wrongdoing.”
Governor Bruce Rauner blasted Pritzker’s response, “That shows how pathetic our system is, how broken. Anyone who would use an excuse, and say, well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing, but I didn’t go to jail. So it’s okay. Are you kidding me?”
Even fellow Democrats slammed Pritzker over the tapes. State Senator Daniel Biss called him a “flawed” candidate and declared that nominating him would be a “risk” for the Democrats. Chris Kennedy went further, saying that Pritzker is “the poster child for everything Republicans say is wrong about Democratic politicians.”
That J.B. Pritzker doesn’t seem to understand why engaging in pay-to-pay politics with the convicted Rod Blagojevich demonstrates exactly why he lacks the character and integrity to hold elected office.
* The Channel 7 piece was really rough. Here’s the video. Watch it all…
J.B. Pritzker is facing brutal press following yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times editorial board forum after refusing to call for Mike Madigan’s resignation or show remorse for his conduct on the Blagojevich FBI wiretaps. Pritzker was given multiple opportunities to distance himself from both controversial politicians. Instead, he chose to dodge and hedge in a transparent attempt to avoid casting blame on his longtime political allies and take responsibility for his actions.
Following the forum, NBC Chicago reported that Pritzker “will not speak critically of Madigan or Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.” Watch here.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times write-up of the forum focused on Pritzker’s ties to disgraced Governor Rod Blaogjevich.
“Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, has been hit hard as of late by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign over FBI wiretaps of Pritzker’s conversations with now imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.”
Pritzker was asked at the forum whether he had “close ties” to Blagojevich. Pritzker dodged that question, instead only saying that he regretted “the tone of portions of that conversation.” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown labeled Pritzker’s response a “limited” and “fuzzy defense,” calling the FBI tapes a “significant problem for Pritzker.”
“To the extent Pritzker ‘rebuffed’ Blagojevich, he did so rather gently, leading to the particularly unbecoming ‘I’d do it’ segment being used in the Rauner television commercials.”
J.B. Pritzker’s ties to Mike Madigan and Rod Blagojevich represent an existential threat to his candidacy.
…Adding… Rauner campaign…
Yesterday, Citizens for Rauner launched an extended television ad featuring the full, unedited FBI wiretap capturing the quid pro quo discussion between JB Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich. State and national media reported on the ad, describing it as “full throttle,” “taking off the gloves,” and “unprecedented.”
ABC 7: “Governor Bruce Rauner taking off the gloves in his attacks on chief Democratic rival, JB Pritzker. In fact, this weekend, the governor will be begin airing a 14-minute long commercial of a conversation between Pritzker and convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich.”
Chicago Sun-Times: “The latest ad — 14 minutes long — features what it says is the entire 11-minute chat Pritzker and Blagojevich had. This ad’s introduction notes that after the earlier commercial, ‘Pritzker didn’t deny the conversation — he complained what was released wasn’t the full conversation.’ In the latest volley, the campaign now is promising the ‘full, unedited, original wiretap recordings.’”
NBC 5: “This lengthy, unprecedented ad will play the FBI tapes of the phone call between JB Pritzker and disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich. … Governor Rauner defends the ad as a chance for the voters to hear the unedited version for themselves.”
Politico: “Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign is dipping deep into the campaign warchest for this one. After billionaire Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker complained that a new TV ad featured a “selectively edited” recording of a 2008 conversation between Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich, Rauner’s campaign decided to go full throttle. This weekend, the Rauner campaign bought airtime to play all 11 minutes of the FBI wiretap conversation between Pritzker and Blagojevich. The ad will appear in all major media markets in the state on Saturday and Sunday, according to the campaign.”
Associated Press: “Rauner’s campaign says the move is a response to Pritzker’s statements that an ad released last week was selectively edited. That ad included a portion of audio captured on FBI wiretaps in which Blagojevich and Pritzker discuss the possibility of Blagojevich appointing Pritzker attorney general. Pritzker is heard saying, ‘That’s a deal I would take.’ … ‘J.B. Pritzker is part of the corruption and cronyism that has plagued Illinois for decades,’ the Rauner campaign said in a statement. ‘The people of Illinois deserve better.’”
National Journal: “What to do with $55.6 million in the bank for your reelection bid? If you’re Illinois Governor @BruceRauner, you air a 14-MINUTE TV AD showing your likely Democratic opponent on an FBI wiretap with Blago.”
CBS 2: “Rauner, who seeks re-election and may face Pritzker in a general election, counters: ‘Anyone who would use an excuse and say, ‘Well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing but I didn’t go to jail, so it’s OK.’ Ae you kidding me?’ Pritzker tried to brush off the recorded wheeling and dealing.
‘At no time in that conversation did I do anything that is anything other than trying to do public service to make the state better,’ he says. Not so, say his Democratic opponents. ‘It just shows what a risk it would be for the Democratic Party to nominate a flawed candidate like J.B. Pritzker,’ Daniel Biss says. Chris Kennedy adds: ‘Who’s going to want to turn out, who’s going to want to work, who’s going to want to do the extra things needed to vote for somebody who’s playing footsie with Rod Blagojevich?’”
“Rauner’s campaign is dipping deep into the campaign warchest for this one.” Right. I think Rauner’s campaign is gonna pay a price for encouraging some reporters to write or convey such nonsense.
Access to quality, affordable health care is the most fundamental basis for quality of life. Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor, and his running mate, Ra Joy, released their health care plan today to put Illinois on a path to accessible, affordable health care.
“Illinois can play a major role in ensuring that every resident has access to health care and quality healthcare experiences at all stages of life,” Kennedy said. “No individual or family should suffer for lack of access to care, and no individual or family should suffer because they cannot afford health care.
“Our state thrives when our residents are healthy and able to contribute fully to society. We envision a state where high-quality health care is easily accessible, affordable, and delivered with compassion.”
The campaign’s plan highlights women’s healthcare. Protecting a woman’s right to chose, providing broader access to birth control, and standardizing the state’s sex education curriculum to be inclusive of women’s needs is imperative.
The standardization of the state’s sex education will include information about birth control, Plan B, abortion, sexual harassment, domestic violence, rape, and tools for survivors. The increase in information is vital to future of our state.
The campaign’s plan is inclusive and includes a path to a single-payer system that starts by creating a state-backed public option of large-scale, Illinois-based employers and pre-existing municipal insurance pools to allow them to aggregate together as one negotiating entity to drive down costs. This will reduce our reliance on costly, profit-driven insurance companies and provide modern, accessible, and just coverage to all.
The employer-backed option will be made available to anyone in the state—including undocumented immigrants—which will further drive down costs for plan holders and the overall healthcare market in Illinois.
The campaign’s healthcare plan also proposes a $15 minimum wage bill that will be a required base minimum pay for all caregivers and healthcare workers. License-exempt caregivers who are caring for our children—often the children of low-income families—should not be earning less than minimum wage. Some license-exempt providers are earning as little as $16.22 per day.
“This is unacceptable. No one who works a full-time job should be forced to live in poverty,” Kennedy said.
The plan also includes works a program to treat addiction. The opioid crisis is claiming lives across our state: in big cities like Chicago, which have long suffered from government indifference to issues of addiction—particularly in predominantly minority communities—and in rural areas, where addiction to opioids has exploded in recent years. A Kennedy/Joy administration will follow Vermont’s innovative lead by adopting a Hub and Spoke model to treat addiction.
On the Path to Single-Payer: A State-Backed Public Option
A Kennedy/Joy administration will put Illinois on a path to a single-payer system. We will start by creating a state-backed public option of large-scale, Illinois-based employers and pre-existing municipal insurance pools to allow them to aggregate together as one negotiating entity to drive down costs. This will reduce our reliance on costly, profit-driven insurance companies and provide modern, accessible, and just coverage to all.
These aggregated insurance pools will emerge as an economic and political force in the state with clout, leverage, and contacts to overcome the insurance lobby. By allowing the largest employers in the state to work together to negotiate the cost of health coverage and drug prices, existing insurance companies will become nothing more than benefits managers.
Once established, with a solid foundation of committed members and employers, the employer-backed option will be made available to anyone in the state—including undocumented immigrants—which will further drive down costs for plan holders and the overall health care market in Illinois. […]
Medicaid Buy-In Program
Every person in our state should have access to affordable, quality health insurance. However, for a family of four in Illinois, the federal government will only subsidize the cost of monthly premiums if that family’s net income is $98,400 or less. As premiums rise due to decisions by the republicans in Washington, but income levels stay the same, there will be a gap in coverage, a so-called “donut” of people, who do not qualify for Medicaid but whose premiums are too high to be affordable.
A Kennedy/Joy administration will create a Medicaid Buy-In Program to allow those families who cannot afford a plan on the Health Care Exchange but who also don’t qualify for Medicaid to pay a less expensive premium, based on their income, in order to receive Medicaid coverage.
The Governor’s Office is starting a new PolicyPOV blog intended to deliver points of view (POV) on policies, programs, issues and events of concern to Illinoisans. The first post addresses how the new federal tax reform act impacts Illinois families and businesses. The blog is being hosted at the governor’s website.
The inaugural post is pretty darned complimentary of the new federal tax law. Click here.
* From the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois’ Marvin Lindsey…
The launch of a new state computer system designed to create a “more efficient system” of registering Medicaid recipients to receive mental health care and addiction treatment services has had the opposite effect, according to advocates.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) new “Integrated Eligibility System” has failed to function as intended and has disrupted care for “thousands” of individuals with mental illness. The glitch has also stalled payment to providers as processing patient registration has ballooned to a 90-day delay in many cases, leading to “chaos and delay”, says the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois (CBHA), a statewide advocacy group.
“Since DHS’ new computer system went live in October 2017, we have been telling DHS that a computer glitch has unleashed chaos and delays for individuals in need of behavioral health services,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Now we’re in January 2018, and the problem remains unresolved and thousands are being affected as a result.”
DHS’ top official, Secretary James Dimas, acknowledged in a December 18, 2017 letter to the advocacy group that his agency’s new computer system has been hit by delays.
“As with any new technology system this large and complex, as we adjust to this new system IDHS has experienced some delays in the assignment and processing of Recipient Identification Numbers (RINs) which are required for billing and receiving payment for rendered services,” Dimas wrote. “[…] At the current time the backlog is between 10 and 12 days …”
CBHA’s Lindsey fired back in his own letter hotly disputing Dimas’ 10 to 12-day backlog claim after hearing an uproar from his member agencies, saying it’s closer to 60 days and in other cases more than 90.
“I would like to make a correction to your statement that the current time the backlog is between 10 and 12 days,” Lindsey wrote. “We have members who are still waiting on e-RINs to be processed from as far back as September. Most of our members are reporting delays from 30-60 days.”
Lindsey also warned Dimas that DHS’ computer system dysfunction was blocking access to care for those with “behavioral health illness.”
“Some of our members are reporting up to 350 people awaiting e-RINs, which, again, means there are 350 people who could not access treatment,” Lindsey said in his letter. “While the 350 clients are on the high end and cover delays of about 60 days, many of our members are reporting delays from 30-45 days, but, more importantly, consumers seeking help for their behavioral health illness are not able to access treatment.”
Lindsey said that his group has been working with the state agency but the problem remains unresolved.
“The seriousness of the problem has yet to break through to the department officials,” Lindsey said. “We need a fix. And we need it last week.”
The breakdown of DHS’ behavioral health patient registration system is the latest debacle linked to the state’s new computer system. In December, more than 40,000 Illinois families lost their food stamp benefits because of a glitch in the state’s new technology platform.
Helping individuals access mental health services in the community is a top priority for IDHS and our staff work tirelessly to ensure that we are facilitating the process of receiving those services. We are aware that the processing of Recipient Identification Numbers (RINs), which are required for billing and receiving payment for services, is behind. We believe this issue to be related to a series of retirements in this unit which reduced staff by more than half. We have implemented a temporary staffing plan that will more than quadruple the current staff dedicated to this issue and would eliminate the backlog in 2-3 months.
Contrary to Mr. Lindsey’s note to the press, department officials take this issue very seriously. We have been working collaboratively with the Illinois Association of Behavioral Health to explore different options to expedite the process. We welcome CBHA to engage with us in a similar discussion.
COMPTROLLER MENDOZA CALLS FOR REVIEW OF RAUNER ADMINISTRATION’S $100,000-A-DAY TOLLWAY DEAL
Deloitte Consulting to receive additional $9 million for 90 days of ‘emergency’ help on costly statewide tech overhaul
Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza on Tuesday called for further review by independent procurement officials of an $8.9 million, 90-day ‘emergency’ contract between the Illinois Toll Highway Authority and Deloitte Consulting for the ‘continuation of implementation services’ for the State’s Enterprise Resource Program (ERP), a state Information Technology upgrade project that has ballooned in cost under the Rauner Administration.
In a document published online on Jan. 11, Tollway officials said the additional dollars are needed because the funds assigned to the project through the State’s Department of Innovation Technology (DOIT) are depleted.
“Failing to properly estimate cost and overspending is not an emergency - it’s poor project management. This is part of a pattern of cost overruns, missed deadlines and contract mismanagement by Governor Bruce Rauner and, once again, taxpayers are footing the bill,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
State procurement practices by the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services were the topic of a series of recent hearings hosted by lawmakers. In December, the State’s Chief Procurement Officer determined the Rauner Administration had misapplied an exemption to award a $12 million consulting contract to McKinsey & Company. In an unprecedented step by the Chief Procurement Officer, the McKinsey contract with the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services (HFS) was invalidated.
Mendoza pointed to a $67.5 million sole source contract with the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) for additional work on another Deloitte project to provide food stamps and other benefits to Illinoisans as another recent example of contract mismanagement by the Rauner Administration. The cost of the Deloitte benefits contract has skyrocketed to $288 million—more than double the original $143 million budget approved in 2012.
The ‘emergency’ Tollway deal is not subject to competitive bidding or a public hearing. Unlike a sole source contract, there is no waiting period for it to take effect. It is not subject to review by the State’s independent Chief Procurement Officer or the State’s Procurement Policy Board. A contract bulletin posted last week provides no details as to how the $9 million will be spent.
Comptroller Mendoza has criticized the Rauner Administration for failing to publicly disclose information regarding ERP program goals, deadlines and costs. For nearly a year, DOIT has failed to answer basic questions from the Office of the Comptroller and lawmakers regarding the status of the ERP, program staffing and funding levels. Pending a response to repeated inquiries, the Office of the Comptroller has placed a hold on payment of certain ERP contracts, representing just two percent of the FY2017 DOIT budget.
Comptroller Mendoza said applying an emergency contract designation when it’s not merited sets an alarming precedent.
“Procurement rules should be a check on irresponsible spending. Those rules are being circumvented here and we would ask that the State’s independent procurement officials review the contract and determine if this is an appropriate use of an emergency contract. To me, the Tollway has failed to make a convincing case. This isn’t a broken water main that poses a danger to drivers on a state roadway. Before a cash-strapped state starts handing over $100,000 a day there should be vetting via an open and transparent process.” Comptroller Mendoza said.
By statute, the conditions under which emergency procurements can take place include a threat to public health or safety; protecting against further loss or damage to State property; preventing disruption in services that affect health, safety or the collection of substantial state revenues; or capitalizing on a discounted price to take advantage of cost savings.
…Adding… From the tollway…
The Illinois Tollway followed the instructions of the independent Chief Procurement Office to use a 90-day emergency procurement to continue work necessary to ensure there is no disruption in our process of implementing the Enterprise Resource Program (ERP).
The procurement will fund work over the next 12 months to complete Phase 1 of the Tollway’s ERP, which is replacing an outdated, costly and obsolete system with a new platform that will streamline administrative operations, provide greater transparency and enhance automated reporting while reducing or preventing audit issues.
These improvements will enable the Tollway to operate more efficiently.
Sr. Manager of Communications
Schools do better under current school funding formula than SB 444
Last year, Illinois lawmakers passed, and the Governor signed, historic school funding reform. Then, during the fall veto session, the General Assembly passed a trailer bill (Senate Bill 444) making two technical changes dealing with how Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is calculated in the new school funding formula. The trailer bill advanced so the modeling done by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for the new formula matched up with the bill that was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.
This is unprecedented in terms of school funding; where typically lawmakers get a model of the bill as it was enacted, rather than changing the enacted bill to match the modeling. Unfortunately, ISBE pointed out the discrepancy too late. However, as it turns out, Illinois school districts fare much better under the state’s historic new funding reform law (passed last summer) than they would under SB 444. It is also worth noting ISBE has told staff that “implementation of the new funding law will occur regardless of SB 444” and they will “allocate tier funding based on the law as written.”
According to the Senate Republicans, Chicago Public Schools would receive $45.5 million more under the SB444 trailer bill, which was proposed by the ISBE.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act creates a new wrinkle for 529 college savings plans, which are tax advantaged. The bill would allow parents to use them for K-12 expenses, including private school choice, as well as postsecondary costs. The bill puts a $10,000 cap on the money people can set aside for K-12 in these plans.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and others have applauded the move, although DeVos said Tuesday the move has limitations. But others argue it will mainly help wealthier parents who can afford to set money aside, and those already sending their children to private schools.
In a last-minute twist, the Senate parliamentarian on Tuesday ruled that the slice of this provision that allowed 529 plan dollars to be spent on home schooling violated the chamber’s rule. The Senate and then the House voted to approve the bill without this provision covering home schooling costs.
* But Treasurer Frerichs just sent out a warning…
Families that use their Bright Start or Bright Directions college savings accounts to pay for tuition, fees or other expenses at private or parochial schools, including Catholic schools, would violate Illinois’ tax code, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs cautioned today. Frerichs also emphasized that federal tax reform did not change any of the benefits for using Bright Start or Bright Directions to save or pay for higher education.
Illinois’ tax code specifically limits tax-free growth in Bright Start and Bright Directions accounts when used for qualified higher education expenses. As such, a distribution from a 529 plan for K-12 costs is not a qualified expense for Illinois tax purposes. Families who claim the deduction could face state tax penalties if caught by a state tax auditor.
“Our analysis concludes that families who use Bright Start or Bright Directions money on elementary or high school expenses and then cite those expenditures when seeking tax relief will be in conflict with state law and could incur tax penalties if audited by state authorities,” Frerichs said.
In Illinois, the 529 Bright Start and Bright Directions plans are managed by the state treasurer’s office. The recently passed federal tax package allows states to expand 529 programs to private and religious K‑12 tuition expenses in 2018 and beyond. The federal legislation took effect Jan. 1 and could affect tax filers in 2019.
Here is how the tax break works for Bright Start and Bright Directions college savers who are Illinois taxpayers: Contributions to the accounts reduce a taxpayer’s Illinois adjusted gross income up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for married couples filing jointly. At the federal level, the earnings generated within Bright Start and Bright Directions are not subject to federal income taxes while they accumulate. Also, distributions from these plans are not subject to federal or state income taxes when used for qualified higher education costs such as tuition, mandatory fees, certain room and board, computers and required supplies.
When former Chicago City Council Inspector General Faisal Khan launched his not-for-profit anti-corruption group close to two years ago, he insisted it was independent and nonpartisan.
At the time, Khan refused to disclose who was funding the organization, which he called Project Six — a reference to the group of civic leaders who led the fight against Al Capone during Prohibition. […]
The most recent federal tax filing for the Illinois Policy Institute shows it gave $623,789 to Project Six in 2016 — 98 percent of the group’s first-year budget. The records don’t reveal — and Project Six officials haven’t said — where the rest of its money comes from.
The Illinois Policy Institute, in turn, has received extensive support from foundations tied to some of the country’s biggest Republican contributors, including the Koch, Mercer and Uihlein families, as well as Gov. Bruce Rauner and first lady Diana Rauner’s charitable foundation. […]
In the interviews, Khan offered shifting accounts of Project Six’s financial support. He initially denied the Illinois Policy Institute was among his group’s primary funding sources.
“We’re not getting the money from IPI,” he said. “We get money from all sorts of donors, but we don’t release their names because they fear reprisal from the city of Chicago.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner says there is potential for “superstar” talent to join the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.
The Republican governor is tasked with filling the seats for three trustee terms that expired this month. Rauner said he is interviewing a number of high-caliber candidates.
“If we could land one or two of the individuals we are talking with, it would be national or international headlines,” Rauner said while on a visit to Champaign’s Franklin Middle School on Wednesday. He indicated the candidates care about the UI and already have connections to the school.
As the board prepares to elect new officers Thursday in Chicago, Gov. Bruce Rauner has yet to choose an appointee for the ninth statewide seat vacated last January.
“Our administration is still in the process of considering candidates for this vacancy,” Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold said Tuesday.
Last January, three members’ terms expired: Democrats Patricia Brown-Holmes and Ricardo Estrada and Republican Karen Hasara. At the time, the governor said he hoped to fill those vacancies with “superstar” talent.
“If we could land one or two of the individuals we are talking with,” he said 11 months ago, “it would be national or international headlines.”
Bold did not respond to questions about whether those individuals were still in the mix.
Amazon today announced that it has picked 20 metro areas “to move to the next phase of the process” as it looks for a home for a second headquarters. The 20 areas in alphabetical order:
Montgomery County, Md.
New York City
The list is a broad mix of cities big and small, ranging from Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis to Los Angeles and New York. It includes many of the early favorites, including Austin, Denver, Boston, Toronto and Washington, D.C. Three of the 20 finalists are near the nation’s capital, where Amazon has 2,500 employees.
Chicago was seen as a likely contender, based on Amazon’s criteria of wanting to be in an urban area with more than 1 million people within 45 minutes of an international airport and preferably have direct access to mass transit.
“Today we are announcing the communities that will proceed to the next step in the HQ2 process. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Amazon tweeted.
On its website, Amazon said, “In the coming months, Amazon will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information as necessary, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate our hiring plans as well as benefit our employees and the local community. We expect to make a decision in 2018.”
Illinois, Chicago and Cook County teamed up to offer more than $2 billion in incentives to Amazon, and offered 10 proposed sites. They are Lincoln Yards, a development along the Chicago River near Lincoln Park and Bucktown; the Downtown Gateway District, which includes space in Willis Tower and redevelopment of the old main post office and Union Station; City Center Campus, a proposed redevelopment of the state-owned Thompson Center in the Loop; the River District, a 37-acre development along the river and Halsted Street; the Burnham Lakefront, a Bronzeville development that includes the Michael Reese Hospital site; the 78, a development planned on 62 acres along the river between the South Loop and Chinatown; Fulton Market district properties controlled by multiple owners; Illinois Medical District redevelopment; the soon-to-be-vacated, 145-acre McDonald’s campus in Oak Brook, which the company will leave for Fulton Market; and more than 260 acres available for development on the longtime Motorola Solutions campus in Schaumburg, where Zurich North America recently built a new headquarters.
…Adding… Mayor Emanuel’s office…
Today’s news makes clear that Amazon recognizes Chicago’s great strengths - access to talent, transportation, higher education, affordability and quality of life, which are the keys to growth and prosperity.
As companies including GE Healthcare, ConAgra and McDonalds have concluded, Chicago offers unparalleled opportunities, and we are going to continue to work as a region to make the case to Amazon that Chicago is the ideal location for HQ2. We are prepared to compete at the next level and the next level after that.
Today, Citizens for Rauner is launching an extended television ad featuring all 11 minutes of the FBI wiretap between JB Pritzker and disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich. It will air in every major media market in Illinois on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21.
It is in response to JB Pritzker’s claim that last week’s ad featuring his conversation with Blagojevich, in which his insider dealings were exposed, was “selectively edited.” That ad highlighted 60 unedited seconds taken straight from the Chicago Tribune reporting of the FBI wiretaps.
JB Pritzker cannot simply dismiss his conversations with a convicted former governor in which he lobbied for his own appointment to statewide political office and encouraged him to engage in a quid pro quo — especially in light of their well-documented, decades-long, cozy political friendship. JB Pritzker is part of the corruption and cronyism that has plagued Illinois for decades. The people of Illinois deserve better.
As far as the Blagojevich tape making Pritzker unelectable, the evidence would indicate even Rauner doesn’t necessarily believe so.
If he did, why would he be trying so hard to blow up Pritzker’s candidacy at this early stage before Pritzker is even the Democratic nominee?
At the very least, though, the recording is a significant problem for Pritzker, one that he keeps trying to shrug off in the affable style that is nearly as responsible for his popularity with Democratic insiders as his very deep pockets.
In an otherwise strong presentation to the Sun-Times’ Editorial Board, Pritzker stuck to his usual talking points when asked about his relationship with Blagojevich.
“Gov. Blagojevich broke the trust with the people of the state of Illinois, and he’s in prison where he belongs,” Pritzker said. “Sadly, we have a government and once again a governor that’s focused on themselves and not on doing what’s right for the people of the state of Illinois. I’m proud about doing public service. Any conversations I had were about doing public service, and any suggestion by Gov. Blagojevich of any contribution I rebuffed.” […]
My own take is that it’s less damning in its entirety than portrayed, though hardly reassuring.
Today, Daniel Biss announced the endorsement of former United States Senator Adlai Stevenson III.
“Daniel is the only Democratic candidate for governor with legislative experience, having served with distinction in both the House and Senate,” said Adlai Stevenson. “He knows state government—its structure, its processes, and how to pass the policies he believes in. He’s a reformer and a unifier with unparalleled intelligence and integrity. He’s not a billionaire—but the people of Illinois want elections, not auctions. After years of following Daniel’s career, I know he’s the leader we need to get Illinois back on track, and that’s why I’m proud to endorse him today.”
“It’s an honor to receive Adlai’s endorsement,” said Daniel Biss. “A dedicated public servant, long-standing advocate of good government reforms, and expert on all things Illinois politics, Adlai is a trusted friend and advisor. I look forward to having him on our team and to drawing on his experience and ideas as we fight for our shared values in this election cycle and beyond.”
In endorsing Daniel Biss, Adlai Stevenson III joins other progressive leaders and organizations including U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, former Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, State Representatives Kelly Cassidy, Carol Ammons and Will Guzzardi, and many more.