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Sanguinetti warns of GOP’s “extinction”

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Nick Vlahos

House Speaker-for-Life Mike Madigan was the object of much ire last week during the Peoria County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner. His long-term status as House and state Democratic Party leader — and as de facto leader of Illinois, in many ways — provided plenty of talking points.

The lieutenant governor, for one, sounded as if life as we know it from Mound City to East Dubuque would cease to exist if the Madigan-led Democrats ran the table in November.

“This is the election of a lifetime,” Evelyn Sanguinetti told the crowd at the Marriott Pere Marquette. “Right now, the extinction of our party is out there. And we have to fight.”


Close the FOID loophole

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Heritage Foundation on the Travis Reinking case

Clearly, there are questions about how this suspect managed to avoid a criminal or mental health history that would have disqualified him from firearm possession under federal law. There are also questions about whether the revocation of his state firearms permit should have been reported to the FBI background check database.

Yet, in many respects, Illinois law worked exactly as intended, and a mentally ill individual who posed a risk of danger to himself or others was disarmed.

The problem, of course, is that neither current law nor any more restrictive laws could have prevented the suspect’s father from returning the firearms to his son, or from procuring new ones for him.

Um, I can think of a new law that would’ve prevented the father from returning those guns to his son: Don’t let a relative or friend hold weapons for somebody whose FOID card has been revoked.

And the Illinois law most certainly did not work “exactly as intended” or Reinking’s guns would’ve been taken away from him long ago.

* Journal Times editorial

Reinking’s police record showed a history of recent aberrant behavior and the gun seizure recommended at the behest of federal authorities was clearly warranted.

Illinois lawmakers — and lawmakers in Wisconsin and elsewhere — should take note. Laws should be rewritten to require weapons in cases such as this be physically turned over to law enforcement, and released back to the owner only after a court determines that a thorough mental health evaluation has been done.

It should not be left to the judgment — or lack of judgment — of a family member or friend with a legitimate FOID card.

That law clearly failed the four victims of the Waffle House shooting. Close the loophole that allowed last week’s carnage.

* There’s also this idea from a Tribune editorial

Another measure pending in Springfield would allow police to seize the guns themselves, not just the FOID, if a judge determined the owner posed a threat to himself or others. Six states already have so-called red flag laws, and Illinois is among 18 others considering them.

The measure pushed by Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, would allow a family member or law enforcement officer to petition a court for a gun violence restraining order against a gun owner whose behavior demonstrates it is warranted. The judge would have to find that an actual threat existed, not just a suspicion or a sinking feeling. The guns could be seized for up to a year, though the person could seek to terminate the order by showing the court that the threat no longer existed.

Such a restraining order would apply narrowly to individuals whose behavior posed a clear threat. It also preserves those individuals’ due process rights.


Mendoza calls Rauner a “madman”

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Governing

After two ratings agencies dropped Illinois’ ratings to within one notch of junk bond status last year, Rauner said he “wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more ratings downgrades, there should be, because the majority in the General Assembly won’t get a balanced budget.” He also said, “Don’t listen to some Wall Street firm. That’s not what matters. Listen to the people of Illinois.”

Mendoza thinks Rauner wanted to create chaos with another downgrade, pointing to his support for federal legislation allowing states to seek bankruptcy-like protections to reduce their pension debts (they are not legally able to now) and his dismissive attitude toward the possibility of Illinois bonds being rated as junk.

“I think the governor, absolutely, on purpose, created this fiscal crisis. I say that without equivocation. Yes,” she says.

“On the very eve getting a budget passed, when we were teetering on the brink of going into junk bond status, here I am telling the markets, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to make the debt service payments no matter what.’ And then Gov. Rauner is saying, ‘Don’t listen to the markets! The people don’t want a tax increase. Don’t listen to Wall Street.’”

“I thought, oh my God, he is metaphorically giving them the finger,” she says. “This madman is running this state into the ground.”

It never ends with those two.


Canaries in the coal mine?

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Uh-oh

After a years-long stretch in which the city’s economy substantially outpaced that of the state, Illinois’ economic malaise appears to have spread inside the Chicago city limits.

New data indicate employment growth in the city has flatlined, with only 510 more private-sector jobs in the city than in the same period a year ago and the number of employed Chicagoans almost dead even.

That stands in contrast to previous data indicating that, after several years of solid growth that led the metropolitan region and the state, the total number of jobs in Chicago proper was at the highest level in decades, driven by 2-plus percent annual job growth in the booming central area of the city.

The new figures come from Illinois Department of Employment Security surveys of households and employers as crunched by World Business Chicago, the city’s private-public corporate recruitment agency. WBC is chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

* More

Seven metropolitan areas lost jobs over the month, with Chicago leading the way, dropping 3,700 jobs.

Following Chicago, Springfield shed 500 jobs (-0.4 percent); Peoria dropped 500 jobs (-0.3 percent); Decatur lost 300 jobs (-0.6 percent); Bloomington payrolls declined by 300 (-0.3 percent); Rockford dropped 200 jobs (-0.1 percent); and Davenport-Moline-Rock Island shed 200 jobs (-0.1 percent). Champaign-Urbana payrolls saw no change.

Fortunately, some areas of the Prairie State increased payrolls over the month. Lake-Kenosha County gained 700 jobs (+0.2 percent); Carbondale payrolls increased by 600 (+1.1 percent); Elgin added 600 jobs (+0.2 percent); Danville gained 100 jobs (+0.4 percent); and Kankakee added 100 jobs (+0.2 percent).

Although some areas experienced growth during the month of March, on net employment declined. Particularly concerning is the dip in Chicago area payrolls, as Chicago has been a catalyst in Illinois’ job recovery.

* Also

The last few winters haven’t been particularly cold. Natural gas remains historically cheap. Unemployment is low. Yet customer nonpayments to Peoples Gas, which heats Chicagoans’ homes, soared last year.

The amount Peoples reported as uncollectible in 2017 was $58.2 million, more than twice the $26.5 million it recorded in 2016, according to filings with the Illinois Commerce Commission. The 2017 figure was 5 percent of Peoples’ revenue for the year. It also was well above the $37 million in uncollectible bills at Peoples in 2014, the notorious “polar vortex” year, when heating bills spiked.​

To put 2017 in further context, uncollectible accounts at far larger Nicor Gas, which serves much of suburban Chicago, were just $11 million, less than 1 percent of its 2017 revenue.

…Adding… And then there’s this just around the corner…


Tillman: Uihlein “likes to give people a chance no one else would”

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Washington Post profile’s Dick Uihlein

“Dick does believe in the underdog and likes to give people a chance no one else would,” said John Tillman, a friend and chief executive of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank funded by Uihlein. “He believes in building mechanisms of accountability for lawmakers. And too often, that means holding Republicans accountable when they fail to put taxpayers first.” […]

Another Uihlein project has focused on creating conservative-leaning news sources.

One of his major charitable targets, Think Freely Media, funds websites and newspapers that mix local reporting with conservative political opinion. The sites have local names such as Lake County Gazette or McHenry Times.

As the Chicago Tribune reported, a separate political committee funded by Uihlein disclosed paying a group funded by Think Freely to republish “newspapers” with articles about the key candidates that could be mailed to targeted voters.

Tillman, who also founded Think Freely, said Uihlein is guided by his commitment to conservative principles and to effecting change through the candidates and causes he supports.

“He is pragmatic and realistic about every investment he makes, whether it’s in policy, politics or charitable giving,” Tillman said.

Dan Proft, for whatever reason, is not mentioned, even though he has spent millions of U-bucks on legislative and statewide races.


Blast from the past considers, then drops bid for governor on same day

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Al Salvi lost badly to Dick Durbin for US Senate way back in 1996 and then got creamed by Jesse White two years later. But he started musing about a comeback on Facebook yesterday morning

Regarding whether to run for Governor, here are my current thoughts:

This year will be historic.

The conventional wisdom might as well be thrown out.

My wins before were for the statewide nomination of one of the two major political parties.

This is different: to have a well known and serious candidate running on the ticket of a party that normally gets 1%?

It would be front page stuff.

Illinois law makes this a perfect storm: the key is to get a known and serious candidate to run as a 3rd party candidate.

In Illinois, you only need a plurality, and Pritzger/Rauner will split the leftist vote.

It’s always amazing when people think they’re remembered 20 years after their last race.

* Yep. Easy Peasy

If I run for Governor as a 3rd Party candidate, it would be a 3-person race. Possible

The more I think of this, the more I like it! Illinois’ laws are perfect for this.

Theoretically, it could end up 34-33-33.

Maybe he isn’t reading the newspapers. Does the name “Sam McCann” ring a bell? Also, as he’s about to find out, Illinois laws are not “perfect for this.”

* The savior

Conservatives have no reason to vote this Nov-which hurts us in all down-ballot races

We need Constitutional Conservatives to have a reason to go to the polls. It’ll save 100s of GOP down-ballot candidates.

* Welp

Apparently, June 25 is the deadline to file 25,000 good signatures to run as an “Independent.” People who circulated for another party in the primary cannot circulate for us.

So, Independent is out.

I could be put on the ballot by the “Libertarians,” but this guy, who had a run-in with a Circuit Judge at Lake County Court (my brother), would have to back-out. Not promising for me getting on the ballot (or for Illinois)…

The referenced story is here. Salvi’s brother and Kash Jackson are clashing in family court. I’m thinking Kash ain’t gonna play ball.

* An hour later, he enters the bargaining stage

Heavily funded write-in candidacy?

Is there enough disgust with ILLINOIS out there?

He does have some personal wealth as a trial lawyer, so that may be playing into this.

* After many commenters urge him to run

Leaning toward running.


* Back to the Kash Jackson idea

Okay: The only way for me to get on the ballot is for “Kash” to give me his spot on the ballot as Libertarian candidate for Governor, and serve as my Lt. Guv.
(Chad, my friend, you’d have to drop on your sword— But you will be forever remembered!!!)

Libertarians in Illinois have to stop just trying to get their 5% (which gives them a spot on the ballot next time with no signatures).

Fellow Libertarians: LET’S WIN THIS TIME. Kash: give me your spot on the ballot and we will WIN!

* And then he circles back to the independent candidacy idea

Election experts: Is it true, that an “Independent” needs 25,000 signatures in 45 days? What about the Libertarian nominated by the Libertarian Party?

* He certainly thinks highly of himself

You are the most important “Focus Group” in history!

* And, finally, after several hours of this, an acceptance of sorts

Looks like I would need to gather 25,000 signatures for an independent bid.
No other choice.

The third-party candidacies from last election didn’t get much more than 1% of the vote, so they have no standing. They need 25,000 signatures to get on the ballot also.

So, it’s run on my own, by gathering my own 25,000 signatures…or drop the whole thing. Unbelievable that the third-party candidates of the past have done so so poorly: if any of them just received 5% of the vote, they wouldn’t need to gather such a large number of signatures.

They thus can’t even GET ON THE the ballot in 2018 without gathering the same number of signatures as individuals running as independents!

In other words, these third parties are worthless. Nobody will contest their signatures, though, because nobody fears them.

When I was nominated by the GOP, I ignored the third-party candidates (even though the libertarian only campaigned by going to gun shows, taking only MY votes )…

I should have challenged his signatures and that would have easily knocked off the entire libertarian slate from the ballot.

I didn’t think it was worth my time.

They did not have the necessary number of signatures then to be on the ballot, but they were irrelevant, so we let them on the ballot and did not contest their woefully short number of signatures.

This year, they will not get the necessary signatures, but nobody will challenge them because they are irrelevant.

If I get on the ballot on their ticket, though, the two main parties will certainly both challenge the signatures: a Catch 22.

Tough call.

I am now leaning against a run for governor. The swamp of Illinois has rigged this game.
It’s a shame, because conservatives will have less reason to go to the polls – and that will hurt the down-ballot conservative candidates.

Let’s hope that the corruption of Illinois does not contribute to the corrupt impeachment of our president.


The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

For nearly a decade, Rod Blagojevich and his wife have aimed their message at the public, jurors and a collection of federal judges from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

As of this month, they are finally down to an audience of one: President Donald Trump.

But if they want to end the former governor’s 14-year prison sentence early, they’ll have to get Trump’s attention. To do so, Illinois’ former first lady and her husband’s supporters are already beginning to point toward two of Trump’s favorite targets:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey.

“This same cast of characters that did this to my family are out there trying to do it to the president,” Patti Blagojevich told the Chicago Sun-Times in a phone interview.

There’s more, including Patrick Fitzgerald, who prosecuted Blagojevich and Scooter Libby. Trump recently pardoned Libby.


Mission inflation?

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Politico

An Illinois news platform that launches Monday says its mission is to battle all forms of “fake news” and sites designed to stoke the angry American political divide.

One Illinois is in response to Breitbart News and the libertarian-oriented Illinois Policy Institute said Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, a onetime progressive Illinois gubernatorial candidate who serves as president and executive director.

“Our fundamental belief is people are good. The way you counter the IPI and Breitbart is you don’t fight fire with fire, you fight fire with water,” Pawar said. “Getting people angry is easy. But making people angry maintains the status quo.” […]

One Illinois’ debut story is about a small Mississippi River city near the Iowa border, Savanna, Illinois, which in 2016 overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump. The story describes newcomer Chris Lain, who moved into Savanna with his husband, not knowing whether they’d be accepted. Lain ran for mayor on the platform of downtown redevelopment and infrastructure investment, and was elected.

“This is a town that did go for Trump and then in April elected a gay liberal from Chicago,” Lain says in a video that posts on the site today.

If you go to the site you’ll see stories about former Quad Cities Democratic Senators Mike and Denny Jacobs, and then another story about rivers that quotes Denny, and then another about Savanna, which is right up the river from the QC’s, and then the aforementioned article about Savanna’s mayor, and then one entitled “From Togo to the Quad Cities,” and yet another one about eagles near the Quad Cities.

I don’t get it. How is this stuff supposed to counter Breitbart and the IPI?


Today’s number: 3,400 coal mining jobs

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Post-Dispatch

And, as Illinois data show, any rebounds in coal production don’t guarantee that jobs will follow, hand in hand — especially in an industry where automation has, for decades, eroded employment more aggressively than any perceived regulatory “war” on coal. Last year, for instance, coal production in the state was up 10 percent over 2016, according to Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association. Employment, though, actually decreased by about 200 workers — to about 3,400 overall — with two mines closing down.


Question of the day

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Finke

There have been efforts for a while to place a statue of Ronald Reagan on the Statehouse grounds to honor the 40th president. U.S. Rep. DARIN LaHOOD of Peoria championed the effort when he was was a state senator, but he’s been in Congress since 2015. There’s still no Reagan statue.

Enter Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, who has been very active in activities surrounding the Illinois bicentennial celebration. He was approached about the idea of finally doing that Reagan statue. He discussed the idea with some others who thought it would be fitting in this bicentennial year to have a statue of not only Reagan, but also of Barack Obama. That would mean all four presidents with ties to Illinois would be represented by statues at the Capitol. (In case you didn’t realize it, there is a statue of Ulysses S. Grant, but it is inside the rotunda). […]

Then the bill started moving through the legislative process. Butler said “it was suggested” another statue be added to the mix. This one would be of James Thompson, longest-serving Illinois governor.

Done yet? Nope. Next up was Reuben Soderstrom. Who, you may ask? He was a state representative who also was president of the Illinois State Federation of Labor and later the Illinois AFL-CIO.

But wait, there’s more. The next suggestion was to add a statue of former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. And why limit the selection to people born in the 20th century, especially when you might be able to swing a discount by ordering statues in bulk? Let’s add a statue of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, the first resident of Chicago.

* The Question: Your Statehouse statue suggestion(s)?


It’s just a bill

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Columbia Chronicle

During her senior year of high school, Amina Henderson-Redwan was leading a peace circle at Gage Park High School on Chicago’s Southwest Side when she felt an anxiety attack coming on.

As she tried to walk away, she said she got into a conflict with a school security guard and was arrested and detained for about five hours before being taken to a juvenile detention center.

Three years later, Henderson-Redawn is lobbying with the Voice of Youth in Chicago Education for legislation that will provide grants to fund mental health professionals in Illinois public schools. House Bill 4208 by state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Westchester, in December 2017, aims to do that.

“This bill is important because what I needed at that moment in time was a counselor. Someone who I could actually talk to, not be put in handcuffs while having an anxiety attack and feeling as though I couldn’t breathe,” Henderson-Redawn said. “I’m passionate about this bill because too many youth feel like their mental health is being ignored.”

Welch, a proponent of mental health services in schools, said the bill will create the Safe Schools Healthy Learning Environment grant for statewide schools to apply for and allocate funding where needed, whether it is school psychologists, social workers or after-school activities.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but something most definitely needs to change.

* More bills…

* Illinois debates effectiveness of racial-profile data: Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, said it’s time for the program to end. Individual departments can collect the data if they want, he said. “Originally, the traffic stop data was set up to be temporary, where we’d evaluate the data and see what needs to be changed,” he said. “Fourteen years later and we’ve kicked the can on (doing anything with) the study. What’s this data providing?” The 2016 report, the most recent one available, shows minorities statewide were 38 percent more likely to be stopped than whites. That’s up from the previous year, when minorities were 25 percent more likely to be stopped.

* Gun bills have seen mixed success in General Assembly

* Illinois moves closer to bump stock ban: Critics say it’s a redundancy of a federal law and could put people traveling through the state in prison.

* Illinois House approves required $40,000 salary for teachers

* Measure to allow state treasurer to use investment money to pay Illinois bill backlog advances to House

* Urban Farm Tax Credit Plan Gets Illinois House Approval


Enough with the games, please

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* DGA…

On Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner’s staff blew a deadline to deliver the legislature a plan on the future of the state-run Quincy Veterans’ Home. When Rauner first announced in January that his team would put together a plan, the fact that it was coming two-years into the Legionnaires’ crisis was not lost on the Chicago Tribune:

“More than 2 years after bacteria outbreak, Rauner proposes task force to figure out veterans home fixes.”

Four months and four more sick residents later, the administration missed the legislature’s deadline. But Rauner’s team did find time to finish a 35-page report pushing back against “misconceptions” about the state’s response to the crisis. The last “misconception” that needed “correction” was the argument “that the administration has not made this a top priority.”

“Bruce Rauner’s misplaced priorities and failed leadership are on display again at the state-run Quincy Veterans’ Home,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Two-and-a-half years and 13 deaths later, Rauner and his team are still more focused on covering-up their failures than ensuring the safety of Quincy residents.”

* WAND TV last week

Members of the Illinois House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees are urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to deliver a plan by Friday for remedying a Legionnaires’ disease crisis at the Quincy veterans home.

The letter dated Monday was signed by Democratic chairmen of the committees, Sen. Thomas Cullerton and Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia. Also signing were Sen. Sam McCann and Rep. David McSweeney, both Republicans. […]

Rauner adviser Michael Hoffman promised a final report by May 1. He agreed last week to aim for Friday. Lawmakers want to act before their May 31 adjournment.

The governor’s veterans affairs director resigned on Friday, which is probably one reason why there was a “delay.”

Look, Hoffman promised a report by May 1st, which is tomorrow. I’m not sure why those members thought it necessary to advance Hoffman’s deadline by a few days and then scream that their deadline wasn’t met, but putting gubernatorial candidate Sam McCann on that letter is a major hint that their demand was overtly political. The fact that the DGA is jumping on this so heavily is yet another tell.

I’m told Hoffman will meet his deadline. If he doesn’t, then we can pounce. If he does, maybe we can all focus on the substance of his report and not all this political process nonsense.

The object here should be to fix the Quincy facility for the benefit of the residents.


Pritzker calls lack of Democratic candidates a “failure, county by county”

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Bernie

Pritzker put out a video last week encouraging Democrats to run against unopposed Republicans.

“There are nearly 400 county-level Republicans running completely unopposed in November,” Pritzker says in the video. “If you’ve ever thought about running, now is the time. With failed leaders like (Governor) BRUCE RAUNER and Donald Trump, we need Democrats to win at every level.” […]

“I think this is a failure, county by county, to recruit enough people to run for those offices,” Pritzker said. “The Democratic Party should be encouraging people to run. … We should never let a GOP member of a county board or a state representative or a state senator go unchallenged.”

He also noted that many counties, including some in central and southern Illinois, have had Republican majorities, making Democrats doubt they can win.

“We have to have people running, and the people who run as Democrats, I think, will find in this year that there’s an opportunity, with a blue (Democratic) wave. … So I think we’re going to see a lot of people step up.”

* Here’s the video

* From the Illinois Democratic Chairs’ Association website

Across the United States, Democrats have been winning in districts that Republicans have historically held and that Donald Trump won by significant margins. A Blue Wave is coming! The IDCCA and its partners are looking to actively recruit candidates to fill down ballot County Wide and County Board races where we are not currently challenging Republicans.



Pharmacists say they’re being pushed out of business

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* SJ-R

Many owners of the state’s more than 500 independent pharmacies and smaller chains — including those in the Springfield area — are being paid less than the “acquisition cost,” or wholesale price, of the medicines they dispense to Medicaid patients.

[Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association] said pharmacies also have seen their per-prescription “dispensing fee” from Medicaid — designed to cover professional services — drop from $5.50 for generics and $2.40 for brand-name drugs under the previous “fee-for-service” system to the current 45 cents per prescription.

As a result, many pharmacy owners say their overall payments from Medicaid have dropped by half or more because of rate cuts instituted by companies known as pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs.

At least one of those PBMs, CVS Caremark, pharmacy benefit manager for the huge CVS Pharmacy chain, appears to be working with CVS Pharmacy to put smaller pharmacies out of business so CVS can acquire them, Reynolds said.

“It’s kind of a predatory market practice and misuse of state tax dollars,” he said.

* Many problems are surfacing about these pharmacy benefit managers. And it’s not confined to Illinois

Did you know that for every 60-mg caplet of duloxetine dispensed in Ohio through a Medicaid-contracted managed-care company, taxpayers pay a middleman $1.54, but the middleman passes only about 18 cents of that to the pharmacy that supplies the drug and pockets the $1.36 difference?

* Check this out

CVS’s benefit manager cut Medicaid reimbursements to local Ohio pharmacies this past fall, which some say put them in financial jeopardy. Then CVS’s “acquisition unit” sent letters to many of those same pharmacies, saying times are tough and asking whether they would be interested in selling their business.

That appears to be happening in Illinois as well.

* Illinois legislators are being flooded with calls from their local pharmacists who are worried they’re about to go out of business

Kate Gainer of the Iowa Pharmacy Association encouraged lawmakers to further investigate pharmacy benefit managers, saying they engage in unfair practices that go largely unregulated. Gainer blamed the contracts for the closure of dozens of pharmacies across Iowa.

More background is here.


Pritzker points to pot as possible capital bill funding source

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* JB Pritzker was in Decatur the other day

Pritzker said during and after the roundtable that he will make creating a capital bill a priority if elected in November.

How to pay for for those capital projects remains to be seen.

With President Donald Trump’s administration asking for an 80 percent match in local and state funds for infrastructure projects, Pritzker said state leaders will have to look at a number of revenue streams to pay for a capital bill, likely to cost more than $1 billion.

Options floated by Pritzker on Friday include paying with revenue from a graduated income tax he hopes to get approved once elected, revenue from legalizing and taxing marijuana and, when the state’s credit rating improves, borrowing.

Earlier this month, he seemed to say he’d use part of the pot of weed money to increase school funding, but that could’ve just been the way the reporter chose to write the report.

Either way, borrowing isn’t revenue. You have to find money to pay for that bonding.


*** UPDATED x2 *** Hearing today will look at why thousands were kicked off Medicaid

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Whoa…

Click here and scroll all the way to the bottom for January’s enrollment numbers. Now, click here and scroll to the bottom for March’s numbers. Enrollment fell by 178,883.

*** UPDATE 1 *** But of course…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…

State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, and members of a House budget committee shined a light on the human face of the technical issues plaguing a Rauner administration IT upgrade that had incorrectly blocked tens of thousands from receiving services during late 2017 at a hearing Monday.

“Governor Rauner’s mismanagement of state contracts has led to misery for medically fragile children, nursing home residents and people with disabilities,” said Harris. “It’s another example of how the governor is focused on handing out contracts to private consultants and ignoring the plight of those at the bottom of the economic ladder.”

During the hearing, advocates from local social service agencies and frontline Department of Human Service workers testified as to how the new Integrated Eligibility System (IES) had failed residents.

“As a single parent of an adult with disabilities whose livelihood depends on Medicaid, I feel that the systemic Medicaid issues occurring in Illinois threaten the life I have worked so hard to achieve these last forty-one years for my daughter and myself,” said Shirley Perez, whose serves as Program Director of the Ligas Family Advocate Program and Executive Director of the Family Support Network of Illinois, and whose adult daughter was almost recently cut off from her Medicaid coverage. “When her redetermination notice failed, my heart just sank, even with years of experience as a parent and as a professional in the disability field who talks to other families about their issues daily. Please know that the impact of this problem is far greater than it might seem because it is a threat to our very existence.”

In 2017, the Illinois Department of Human Services began rolling out the second phase of the IES to process enrollment for several different services. However, in late 2017, more than 40,000 households lost their food stamp benefits. The IES change also created a state backlog in processing identification numbers for Medicaid patients, blocking some patients from receiving treatment. In both cases, officials had to scramble as thousands went without critical health and food benefits that often serve as the difference between life and death.

In addition to having technical issues, IES has gone way beyond its initial price tag, leading to a $300 million project whose extensions and amendments will end up costing more than the project’s original budget.

“The countless stories from families across Illinois on the widespread failures of the state’s new Medicaid computer system would be disastrous on their own,” Harris continued. “Yet the fact that the cost overruns on this failed system total more than $150 million makes it doubly outrageous. Taxpayers should not be coughing up hundreds of millions of tax dollars to actually make things worse.”


*** UPDATED x1 *** CTBA says its graduated tax would cut taxes for 98 percent

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has a new report out about how a graduated income tax could be used to lower taxes for 98 percent of Illinoisans. Here’s the Tribune

Under one model, the state would keep its current 4.95 percent rate for income of up to $300,000. It would raise the rate to 7.5 percent for income between $300,000 and $400,000; hike it to 8 percent for income between $400,000 and $500,000; increase it to 9.25 percent for income between $500,000 and $1 million. Income above $1 million would be taxed at 9.85 percent. The top rate is what is used in Minnesota.

In that plan, a $300 credit would be applied to lower incomes, and that amount would get smaller as a taxpayer’s earnings got higher.

A second model from the group would levy a 4.5 percent tax on income up to $100,000; 4.95 percent on income between $100,000 and $300,000; 8 percent on income between $300,000 and $500,000; 9.25 percent on income between $500,000 and $1 million; and 9.85 percent on income of $1 million or more.

The group said under that model, anyone making under $314,000 of taxable income would see a tax cut of up to $450.

* CTBA press release…

· It is textbook capitalist policy that to be fair, a tax system should impose tax burden according to ability to pay—that is, it should impose higher tax burdens on affluent households than it does on low- and middle-income households, when tax burden is measured as a percentage of income. Illinois fails this basic standard of fairness, in large part because of its flat rate state income tax.

· Illinois’ unfair, flat rate income tax contributes to structural deficits. This is because a flat rate income tax cannot—by design—respond to the significant growth in income inequality that has occurred over the last three decades. This in turn has forced decision makers to underfund or cut the core public services of education, healthcare, human services, and public safety, which collectively account for over 90 percent of all General Fund spending on current services.

· Illinois’ unfair, flat rate income tax harms the private economy. Overtaxing low- and middle-income families, who are both good spenders and have flat to declining real incomes over time, reduces their consumer spending. The research shows that for every dollar the state cuts in General Fund spending on current services, the private sector loses an average of $1.36 in economic activity. Since most General Fund spending on core services covers the wages of the teachers, social workers, health care professionals, correctional officers, and other workers who provide public services, when Illinois’ structural deficit compels the state to reduce spending, it is for the most part cutting the earnings of these workers.

· Illinois’ flat income tax rate is out of the mainstream. Of the 41 US states that impose an individual income tax, Illinois is one of just eight that impose the same flat rate on the income of all earners, regardless of how much they make or their ability to pay.

I’d tell you more, but the group’s website was apparently hacked this morning. Not a good sign if you believe in omens.

…Adding… The full report was just sent via e-mail and is accessible online, so click here.

* The Tribune editorial board is, of course, dead set against a progressive income tax, profiling a suburban “chief revenue officer for a financial services company” who has “bought property in Florida and likely will move there” in its latest screed

Illinois is one of eight states with a flat income tax rate. Pritzker hasn’t disclosed his proposed income tax brackets, but the conversation has some Illinoisans looking at real estate websites.

The most recent Illinois Department of Revenue numbers for tax year 2016 show 1,111,515 filers reported adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or more, for a total of $262.8 billion.

Note to everyone else: These people pay a lot in Illinois taxes. Rank-and-file taxpayers should be trying to keep them rather than sending them to Texas, Nevada, Florida and other states that don’t tax income. High-income earners help pay for the state services that the General Assembly loves to approve but not fund.

…Adding… Greg Hinz

Similarly, the report disputes the notion that raising taxes to pay for needed services hurts the state’s economy, pointing to what happened in Kansas, which slashed taxes, and Minnesota, which raised them. When people earning more than $300,000 a year leave Illinois, they generally don’t go to low-tax states but higher-tax localities including New York and California, [CTBA research director Daniel Kay Hertz] told me. “In those income brackets, people leave for opportunity, not because of taxes.”

*** UPDATE *** Rauner campaign…

Remember when the Pritzker campaign said they had “detailed plans” back in early January? Those were great times.

Well, it’s been four months since that bold claim and JB Pritzker still won’t give a single detail about his plans for a graduated income tax.

Check out his impressive dodging in this interview with the Belleville News-Democrat.

* Pritzker did, however, give some hints in that video, saying people who make $40-60K a year shouldn’t “bear the brunt” of the need for revenue.

He also suggested that a “small increase” has “very little impact” on wealthier people. But, he said a decrease in taxes for those in the middle class and those trying to get there “has a big impact on their standard of living.” The video is here.

* I asked Galia Slayen at the Pritzker campaign for a response to the CTBA study…

JB believes we need a progressive income tax system that asks those who can afford it to pay more, while providing a tax cut for the middle class and those striving to get there. This study shows examples of how a progressive income tax can raise additional revenue and provide a tax break to almost all Illinoisans. It’s no surprise that Bruce Rauner is once again lying about a tax break for Illinois families after his failed leadership decimated our state’s economy.

…Adding… Illinois Policy Institute…

“The CTBA’s progressive income tax plan promises more tax revenue for a bloated state government in exchange for much weaker economic growth. From 2006 to 2016, states without a progressive income tax saw 36 percent more GDP growth than states with a progressive income tax, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Over the same time, employment grew 37 percent faster in states without a progressive income tax, and wages increased 21 percent more in states without a progressive income tax. Productivity (or output per worker) – a measure of the quality of jobs – increased 28 percent more in states without a progressive income tax.

“CTBA claims Illinois’ economy would see a boost under a progressive income tax because the proposal would stimulate consumption, but they are mistaken to believe consumption alone accounts for a truly strong economy. In reality, investment – in things like businesses and housing – does much more to strengthen a state economy than surface-level goods consumption. Tax hikes at any level are a huge deterrent to investment. From 2006 to 2016, states where a smaller share of household incomes went to consumption saw faster economic growth than states where households spent a larger share of their incomes on consumption, according to the BEA. Those latter states were more likely to be progressive tax states.

“In addition to proposing a plan that would tank the state’s economy, the CTBA also mistakenly assumes that Illinois politicians can be trusted not to go back to the well and hike the tax rates under a progressive income tax structure. That is a fatal error that could leave middle-class families in the lurch.

“The truth is Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. State government spending grew 25 percent faster than personal incomes from 2005 to 2015, which is unsustainable. The right way to get Illinois’ government spending problems under control while also encouraging economic growth is to cap state spending to what taxpayers can afford, a solution that has gained bipartisan support this legislative session and that can be adopted in principle immediately under the plan outlined in SJRCA 21 and HJRCA 38.”


When will the TV ads reappear?

Monday, Apr 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My Sun-Times column

Believe it or not, one of the questions I’m asked the most these days is: “When will Gov. Rauner and J.B. Pritzker start airing their general election TV ads?”

A few weeks ago, Chicago pundit Dick Simpson predicted to Crain’s Chicago Business that the new campaign TV ads would start “any minute.” He went on to say that both candidates will be worried about the other candidate getting out front.

Four years ago, I mistakenly believed candidate Bruce Rauner would take a page from Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s 2014 re-election playbook and immediately bury Gov. Pat Quinn under a mountain of negative advertising. Instead, Rauner waited until July 11 to air his first general election TV ad.

So, what’s it gonna be this year?

From what I can gather, I don’t think Pritzker wants the blame for being the first to go back up on TV. Pritzker spent tens of millions of dollars in television ads since May 2 of last year and TV-viewing voters aren’t eager for more. By waiting for Rauner to pull the trigger, Pritzker can say he had no choice but to go back on the air to counter whatever Rauner does.

Besides, private polling reportedly shows Pritzker with a substantial double-digit lead over Rauner in what’s still looking like a favorable year for Democrats, so there’s no immediate need for Pritzker to start running ads.

After checking around, I don’t think the governor’s campaign is all that eager to resume spending big bucks on TV right away, either.

What I didn’t consider in 2014 was that at least part of the reason Rauner went dark was to help him fade away from voters’ consciousness after the primary, which allowed him to introduce a new messaging campaign for the general election.

Most TV ads quickly lose their impact not long after they’re pulled off the air. If you go up with a message, you gotta stay up with that message or most of your spending was for naught. So, if you want to introduce a revamped, general election message, you sometimes need to give that earlier message time to expire. It’s kind of like a reboot.

After Rauner’s bitter, unexpectedly close GOP primary against state Rep. Jeanne Ives, it’s probably best to get out of the public’s face for a while and allow people time to forget and maybe forgive. One of the best things about having such an early primary, after all, is it gives the winners plenty of time to try to heal the wounds before November.

Plus, what’s the rush? Running ads in April of 2006 allowed Gov. Blagojevich to quickly push Judy Baar Topinka’s poll numbers down, which helped dry up her fundraising. The first post-primary poll had Topinka leading the incumbent, but that changed in a hurry after the Blagojevich ad attack, and Topinka couldn’t immediately fight back because she had drained her account to win the Republican primary.

The only way to dry up J.B. Pritzker’s money is to completely crash the world economy and send us all back to the Stone Age. TV ads can do a lot, but they can’t do that. Rauner knows that if he airs ads, Pritzker can easily afford to immediately respond.

And while Rauner has shown a willingness to spend his personal fortune to win elections, people who’ve been close to him over the years say he does become reluctant and grumpy when it comes time to actually write the checks.

Besides, TV watchers truly do need a break from the primary’s bottomless pit of negative TV ads (and you can bet that most of the TV ads we’ll eventually see ain’t gonna be about flowers and ponies).

But not everyone is getting a rest. Both campaigns are currently advertising online, through social media, Google searches, etc.

The effectiveness of online advertising is growing by the day because it can be so finely targeted and because so many people are spending so much time on their computers and smart phones. TV is still the best way to reach voters, but it’s slowly starting to lose its punch as viewership declines and splinters into a million different directions (witness the amount of money Pritzker and Rauner had to spend to win). And they can advertise online without much notice by the news media.

By the way, this comes with the usual caveat that the greatest beauty of politics is it can always change in a big hurry. I’m hearing the governor may be getting pressured by someone close to him to start spending money soon, so we’ll see.


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