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Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer will play us out

Won’t you help to sing

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Caption contest!

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* From a recent event at the Standard Club…

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Promises, promises

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* JB Pritzker is on a three-day “Unite for the Middle Class” tour. He stopped in Rockford and East Moline yesterday

As governor, Mr. Pritzker said he also will work to pass a capital bill to fund infrastructure across the state.

“Illinois has gone almost a decade without infrastructure investment,” Mr. Pritzker said. “It’s past time we had a capital bill in the state and we built up our infrastructure again. We are the supply-chain hub of the nation. We can only maintain that status if we invest in our roads, bridges and waterways.

“We are going to continue to build on that when I’m governor. We’ve got to have a capital bill that’s going to rebuild our infrastructure to a place where people want to come back to Illinois and build up jobs.”

* I asked the Pritzker campaign how he intends to pay for his plan. I was referred to Pritzker’s website where I found this

My plan will leverage as much federal money as possible to bring significant investment to our surface, rail, water, broadband and community infrastructure. It is time to imagine what Illinois can be in the 21st century and get this done.

Um, isn’t President Trump demanding an 80 percent state and local match for his mythical infrastructure plan?

* So, I suppose it’s back to Pritzker’s only revenue proposal: a progressive income tax. Considering all the spending promises he’s making, that’ll have to be huge.

Candidate Rauner touted his support of infrastructure spending without identifying a funding source. And Gov. Rauner has since talked often about passing a capital bill and hasn’t really ever said how he’ll pay for it.

George Ryan promised he’d do a capital bill without a tax hike during his campaign. He passed a capital bill, but he paid for it by hiking liquor taxes and vehicle license fees. Gov. Quinn passed a capital bill not long after being sworn into office, and taxes were imposed on candy to pay for part of that program.

Putting a progressive income tax on the ballot is not going to be easy because of GOP opposition and some Democratic reluctance. Passing it won’t be a simple matter, either. Infrastructure upgrades cost real money. And they have to be paid for with real money. Magic fairy dust doesn’t actually exist. /rant

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Rauner dodges Illinois “death spiral” question, claims European trade trip will net “tens of thousands” of jobs

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Tribune

Asked by a reporter how he could sell Illinois to overseas investment after repeatedly saying the state was in a “death spiral,” Rauner said, “We sell all the advantages we have to sell — people, location, transportation, education, agriculture, heart of manufacturing, heart of American economy in the Midwest.”

Asked if Illinois was in a “death spiral,” Rauner declined to use the term but said Illinois has been “uncompetitive on our regulation and taxes for decades,” which has stunted the state’s economic growth.

* Meanwhile, as Illinois Working Together pointed out, this is what the Rauner folks were saying after the governor’s Asia trade trip last September

The head of the state’s economic development arm expects good things—hundreds of new jobs here, possibly thousands—in the wake of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s big trade mission to Japan and China last week. […]

But the overall news is good, he said, involving everything from a Chinese sovereign wealth unit to a Michigan Avenue retailer and investments in the state’s growing biotech business. The trip “absolutely” will pay dividends within the next year, he said. “My guess, it will be in the hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs” in Illinois.

I haven’t seen any announcement trumpeting those “hundreds, if not thousands” of new jobs. But that was “only” seven months ago.

* And this is what the governor said yesterday about his European trade mission

When pressed on the number of jobs, the governor said there would be more than a couple of thousand jobs.

“Many thousands, over time it will be tens of thousands,” Rauner said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

Hey, everybody! Stop the games and get to work

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Press release…

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) filed joint resolutions today to adopt a revenue estimate in order to begin the budgeting process for fiscal year 2019.

“It is our constitutional duty to taxpayers across Illinois to spend within our means – something we have not done in decades here at the Capitol,” Durkin said. “The rejection of certifying a revenue estimate in Springfield is not acceptable and is legislative malpractice. We owe it to Illinois taxpayers to take this first step in finally balancing the state’s checkbook and putting Illinois on the right track towards fiscal stability.”

House Joint Resolution 124 adopts a revenue estimate of $37.672 billion for fiscal year 2019, based on the estimate provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

* I might take them more seriously if the Senate President’s office hadn’t been told of their idea by a reporter

Cullerton’s spokesperson said he welcomes the Republican leaders’ interest in being part of the budget process and he’s even more optimistic we’ll have an on-time budget deal. He adds the estimate is the first Cullerton had heard of it.

* I’m hearing that the budgeteers haven’t even gotten to a revenue estimate for next fiscal year because the administration wants to focus the talks on a supplemental approp for this fiscal year

“Gov. Rauner has made his priorities clear on behalf of the people of Illinois, we need a balanced, full-year budget with no tax increases,” Rauner spokesperson Rachel Bold said in an email. “The governor presented a balanced budget to the General Assembly. It’s time for the General Assembly to work with us – acknowledge what revenue is available and control spending.”

Durkin said if House Speaker Mike Madigan doesn’t advance a revenue estimate resolution, his members will work to slow things down.

“We’ve shown this week and the last two weeks that when the Democrats are not going to be fair with us, that we could make the process not so easy,” Durkin said. “But the point of this is it is a damn state law that we do not follow.”

This is all so goofy. Yes, they should eventually pass a revenue estimate, but the GOGFA and GOMB estimates are nearly identical - less than 0.3 percent apart. They’re kicking all this dust in the air over what’s basically a premature process argument.

And, yeah, I get it. They’re the minority party. So, that’s what they do. But for once I’d like to see the Republican leadership triumvirate in this state actually negotiate in good faith on a budget without all the press conference nonsense. Former Leader Radogno did that last year, but the other two did not.

* And here’s an interesting little angle

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said a revenue estimate is required, but “the only revenue estimate I will support, the only one, is one that repeals the Madigan-Rauner tax hike.”

Rep. McSweeney is not alone. Some are claiming that any Republicans who vote for a revenue estimate bill are essentially endorsing last year’s tax hike. It’s just silly political gamesmanship, but it might be something that Durkin’s co-sponsors who are also targets (*cough*Parkhurst, Long, McAuliffe*cough*) might want to consider.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

After remaining neutral in the primary, AFSCME endorses Pritzker

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Press release…

AFSCME Council 31, the largest union of public service workers in Illinois, today endorsed J.B. Pritzker for governor and Juliana Stratton for lieutenant governor.

“Bruce Rauner has caused conflict, refused to compromise and can’t be trusted. Working families are unquestionably worse off now than when he took office,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said.

“Repairing the damage done by Rauner is a big job. Illinois needs leaders like J.B. and Juliana who will bring people together and who care about working families,” Lynch said. “They’ve taken the time to travel the state and to listen to working people. They know the importance of public services and they value the women and men who provide those services in our communities every day. We look forward to working with J.B. and Juliana to rebuild our state.”

The Pritzker endorsement was made today in Springfield at a meeting of the executive committee of the union’s political program, known as AFSCME PEOPLE (Public Employees Organized to Promote Legislative Equality). The committee is comprised of rank-and-file union members from every part of Illinois.

Union members on the committee shared why they unanimously support Pritzker and Stratton.

“Everybody who works for a living has been harmed by Bruce Rauner. We need someone who will sit down with everyone and come up with solutions that are fair,” said Garry Cacciapaglia, a water plant operator in Rockford. “J.B. has already gone out and built bonds with many different groups all over the state. We’re excited to stand together to beat Bruce Rauner.”

“For working people tired of the last three-plus years of Bruce Rauner attacking us and never being on our side, J.B. Pritzker will bring dramatic and welcome change. For state employees, I believe J.B. will be someone who’s open and willing to work together and treat us fairly,” said Stephen Mittons, a child protective investigator in Chicago. “J.B. has a progressive platform to raise the revenue Illinois needs from those who can afford it.”

“Bruce Rauner starved universities, doing incalculable damage to university employees and the students we serve. We need a governor who will prioritize higher education,” said Ellen Larrimore, an archivist at Northeastern Illinois University. “I know that J.B. Pritzker believes in funding public higher education and understands the important role it plays in our state.”

“Under Rauner we’ve had to fight just to get a living wage. He doesn’t understand the work we do and never walked in our shoes,” said Yolanda Woods, a caregiver for children with disabilities in Springfield. “We need someone like J.B. Pritzker who’s compassionate enough to take the time and understand a single mother who works two jobs and still can’t make ends meet. We need someone who’s willing to stand up for what’s right and get the job done.”

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 represents some 100,000 active and retired employees of city, county and state governments, public universities, school districts and not-for-profit agencies statewide.


…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

“I’m honored to have the support of AFSCME and the tens of thousands of workers it represents in Illinois,” said JB Pritzker. “While Bruce Rauner undercuts our workers and attacks their families at every chance, I will restore the respect our public sector workers deserve. I will defend collective bargaining rights for our unions and protect hard earned pensions. With the support of AFSCME members throughout Illinois, we will build on our statewide, grassroots campaign that is ready to put Springfield back on the side of working families and get our state back on track.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Embattled Veterans’ Affairs director quits

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney

The head of the agency that oversees the state-run veterans’ home that’s been plagued by Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks is resigning, according to an email obtained Friday by WBEZ.

Erica Jeffries, who was Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pick to lead the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, has been at the helm of the agency during a series of Legionnaires’ outbreaks that have resulted in 13 deaths since 2015.

Troy Culbertson, a senior administrator with IDVA, told colleagues via email that Jeffries had accepted a new position and her final day leading the agency would be May 18. Culbertson told staff that Jeffries was leaving for a job with Johnson and Johnson, and that assistant director Harry Sawyer would become interim director.

Representatives from the IDVA and the governor’s office did not immediately confirm news of Jeffries’ departure.

*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…

Director Jeffries has indicated to the Governor that she is accepting an offer in the private sector. We thank her for her tremendous service to the State of Illinois and will be vetting appropriate successors in the coming weeks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

The perils of Medicaid managed care

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* AP

Health care advocates are urging Illinois legislators to reverse some of the policies enacted as part of a massive shift of Medicaid clients into managed care.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, was dated Monday and addressed to key lawmakers who have their own questions about the state’s transfer of 800,000 people to the HealthChoice Illinois system of managed care organizations. MCOs coordinate health care and a focus on prevention, aiming to cut medical costs.

* From the letter

HealthChoice Illinois is the State’s largest public procurement, and it aims to place up to 80% of Illinois’s Medicaid population in managed care. Though HealthChoice Illinois is in its infancy, we already have concerns that HFS is abdicating its role as regulator. Indeed, a recent Illinois Auditor General report demonstrated that HFS lacks the data it needs to oversee the managed care program.

Media reports, House Appropriations-Human Services Committee hearings, and the Illinois Auditor General have already exposed numerous critical issues with HealthChoice Illinois. For example:

    ● The Department of Children and Family Services does not have an adequate plan for coverage for children who are Medically Fragile;

    ● Narrow provider networks will force beneficiaries to travel long distances for routine care;

    ● Cuts to already low reimbursement rates for medically-necessary supplies and equipment such as diabetes equipment, breast pumps, nutrition supplies, and oxygen equipment will hurt patient access and choice, as well as potentially diminish the quality of the medical supplies themselves;

    ● Poorly-written contracts between MCOs and nursing homes may violate state and federal regulations; and

    ● Deficiencies in HFS’s data collection processes impede the Department’s ability to oversee the managed care program.

Given the risks to patients, as well as our overall healthcare system, we call upon you, as leaders who understand the needs of the chronically ill and disabled, to impose new transparency and accountability guidelines on HealthChoice Illinois. Absent a significant improvement in HFS’s efforts, we believe that the General Assembly must act to hold MCOs accountable to guarantee our state’s most vulnerable citizens receive the quality care they deserve. We specifically request that any new MCO regulations take into account the reforms currently being considered by the General Assembly, including HB 4736, which would remove children who are Medically-Fragile from HealthChoice Illinois, and SB 2262, which would require MCOs to use the state fee schedule for medical supplies and equipment.

* Back to the AP

Andrea Durbin, CEO of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, which represents young people under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services, more generally bemoaned that “there’s not enough information and almost no substantial planning.”

“All of these children have trauma,” Durbin said. “They have specialized needs, and who is caring for them? Who is reporting to courts on their progress? Who is making sure there’s coordinated care between children and perhaps the biological family?”

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Sen. Tom Cullerton’s SJRCA21

Proposes to amend the Finance Article of the Illinois Constitution. Provides that in no fiscal year shall the rate of growth of General Revenue Fund appropriations over the preceding fiscal year exceed the rate of growth of the Illinois economy.

Provides that if the General Assembly by adoption of a resolution approved by a record vote of a majority of the members of each house finds that an emergency exists and identifies the nature of the emergency, the General Assembly may provide for appropriations in excess of the amount authorized.

Rate of economic growth is defined as the “average annual growth rate of per capita gross domestic product in the State over the preceding ten calendar years, using data reported by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, or its successor agency, before December 31 immediately preceding the beginning of the fiscal year.”

* The DuPage County Democrat has been working with the Illinois Policy Institute on his proposal

Illinois Policy Institute’s Adam Schuster said changing the constitution to cap state spending to the rate of growth in Illinois’ economy is needed.

“We see this from states ranging from California, to Texas, to Florida, so you could see that this is not a partisan measure, it’s not an ideological measure,” Schuster said. “It’s a good government, common sense way to control the rate of spending.”

* The Question: Should the state limit budgetary spending increases to the state’s rate of economic growth? Don’t forget to explain your answer in comments, please.

*** UPDATE *** The poll is being Freeped so I deleted it…

Continue on in comments, however.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Illinois Legislators: Make Health Coverage Fair by Supporting HB 4146

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Did you know that health plans are changing Illinois families’ benefits while consumers are locked into their plans for the year? People in Illinois, especially those living with chronic conditions, carefully shop for a health plan which covers the treatments they need at prices they can afford. But health plans aren’t delivering the benefits they have marketed and sold to Illinois consumers.

House Bill 4146 Fixes the Health Plan Bait-and-Switch

House Bill 4146 would simply prevent insurers from making unfair – and potentially unsafe – benefit changes while Illinoisans are locked into the plan. The legislation, however, would still allow insurers to utilize generics, add treatments to their formularies and also remove them for safety reasons.

Insurers need to deliver on the policies they sell. The Illinois Legislature should support HB 4146 to make health coverage fair.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Who ruined Illinois?

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Governing has published a long piece by my old buddy Dan Vock entitled “Who Ruined Illinois?”

However bad you think government might be,” Bruce Rauner tells an audience, “it’s worse.” Rauner, a Republican governor seeking reelection, has plenty of reasons to portray his state as fundamentally broken. It’s a way to explain why he hasn’t been able to make the big changes in Illinois he promised when he ran four years ago. But it’s also a great line for a knowing audience, and the crowd of call center workers in Moline, on the Mississippi River, laughs appreciatively.

Illinois voters have endured a lot from their state government. It hasn’t been just one recession or one administration that’s done the damage, either. It’s been nearly a generation of political upheaval and dysfunction at the state Capitol. “Springfield has not been working for them, and I think voters, residents of Illinois are frustrated and angry. They should be,” Rauner tells me after his Moline event. “Always unbalanced budgets. Not paying pensions. Not growing the economy and creating good-paying jobs. Massive corruption, cronyism and patronage. And four of my nine predecessors have gone to prison. It’s a broken system.”

Nearly everyone agrees with Rauner that the system is broken, but there’s no consensus about why the system is failing. Pick your favorite culprit — legislators, unions, pensions — and you may have a case. But the one thing that current and former elected officials, academics and Springfield insiders cite most is perhaps the most painfully obvious: “Illinois government did work,” says former Gov. Jim Edgar, a Republican who presided over what now looks to be the state’s heyday in the 1990s. “But then we had bad luck with a couple of governors.”

Illinois governors are powerful. They have many executive tools at their disposal that their counterparts in other states don’t possess. As chief executives, they have the biggest say on the state’s financial situation and the biggest platform to tend to the state’s economy. But over the last two decades, public confidence, financial stability and economic growth in Illinois have all suffered.

During that time, Illinois has had four governors: two Republicans and two Democrats. George Ryan came first, starting in 1999, and despite substantial achievements in Springfield, erased the public’s trust in state government with a corruption scandal that landed him in prison. Rod Blagojevich swept into power in the wake of Ryan’s scandal, promising reform and renewal, but exited in disgrace after an FBI arrest and subsequent impeachment trial, leaving a state woefully unprepared for the Great Recession. Illinoisans breathed a sigh of relief when Pat Quinn stepped in, but the relief died quickly, as a major tax increase failed to steady Illinois’ finances, and low-level patronage scandals undercut his reputation as a reformer. Rauner capitalized on Quinn’s unpopularity and defeated him in 2014. But Rauner saw his own standing collapse last year when rank-and-file GOP lawmakers abandoned his cause after a two-year budget standoff.

* It’s most definitely worth a read, but our troubles started far earlier than 1998.

Four crucial decisions were made during Gov. Jim Thompson’s tenure that we’re still feeling today: 1) 3 percent compounded pension COLA; 2) Exemption of retirement income from the state income tax; 3) Exemption of food and medicine from the state sales tax; 4) Reduced overall state support for K-12.

We vastly widened our spending base while greatly narrowing our revenue base. And by not adequately funding K-12 (because of that widening/narrowing), property taxes were forced up (which legislators responded to by approving exemptions, which made everyone else pay more). Not to mention that as the state was beginning to transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service economy, services were not (and still aren’t) taxed.

* I happen to admire Gov. Thompson very much and hindsight is 20/20, as they say. Way too many state pensioners in those days were dirt poor, so that 3 percent compounded interest was a lifesaver to many. Helping senior citizens every way possible was all the rage everywhere back then and they weren’t nearly the percentage of the population they are now, so the income tax exemption wasn’t as big a budget issue as it is today. Sen. Richard M. Daley fought hard for those very popular sales tax exemptions and overrode Thompson’s veto ahead of his first mayoral bid. And the state just didn’t have the money (until it approved a temporary tax hike) to adequately fund K-12.

Gov. Jim Edgar passed a bill to make the pension payments, but he backloaded the schedule until after he was safely out of office. Edgar famously left George Ryan with a billion-dollar surplus instead of putting that into the pension funds. Ryan spent that billion dollars almost before he finished taking the oath of office.

And none of the three governors since Ryan have managed to get a handle on our stark fiscal and economic problems.

- Posted by Rich Miller   76 Comments      

Circular firing squad: State GOP committeeman vote disputed

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* From one of Dan Proft’s papers a few days ago

Sources have told Prairie State Wire that Bob Winchester has retained counsel to challenge the voting procedures used in his race for Republican State Central Committee in the 15th Congressional District, which the Illinois Republican Party claims was won by Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).

The first step in the legal action is expected to be an appeal to the Illinois State Board of Elections, which under law, must certify the votes in party elections. Among other charges, Winchester is expected to challenge the use of votes by acclamation in some counties — a move that gives the candidate with more than half of the votes the entire final tally, which violates party rules and may violate state law. […]

“Just because the party said Chapin won doesn’t mean he won,” [Mark Shaw, Lake County Republican chairman and central committeeman in the 10th Congressional District] said. “Until May 19, there is no party governing board, and Chaplin can’t just show up on that day and act like he’s a committeeman. The results have to be certified first, and I expect the board will find a lot of irregularities in the voting process.” […]

Results of the election show that Winchester received zero votes in nine of 33 counties, including four of the 10 most populated, a result that Shaw and others said would be impossible. […]

In all, 22 of 33 counties voted by acclamation, representing 63 percent of Rose’s vote and 59 percent of Winchester’s.

* Politico today

Why is this all significant? The outcome of the 15th district race could determine the next statewide chairman and likely the direction of a party that nearly threw out its incumbent governor in March. Enter the newly-elected Republican State Central Committeemen, who are to meet May 19th to vote on the next chairman. Each of the votes is weighted. The district with the greatest weighted vote? The one under dispute in the 15th. While Rose supports Schneider, Winchester had pledged his support to challenger Mark Shaw, who is Lake County’s GOP Chairman. GOP sources tell us that the unofficial breakdown is pretty closely divided between Schneider and Shaw, making the 15th district outcome all that more impactful.

Disunity: If Schneider cannot hold onto power, that’s a direct reflection on Rauner’s weakened grasp of his his party. That’s a particularly stinging rebuke since Rauner has almost single-handedly funded the Illinois Republican Party apparatus. Even if Schneider wins another term, this latest turmoil only shows there’s a long road to repairing the rift in the party.

* As it stands now, the opposition believes incumbent chairman Schneider has a 51.5-48.5 lead over Lake County’s Shaw if Sen. Rose is declared the victor and former party chairman Jack Dorgan votes for Schneider as well (and that’ll be an interesting moment if Rauner’s chairman is saved by a - gasp - Statehouse lobbyist).

But Rose’s district appears to have enough weighted votes that Shaw will likely beat Schneider if Winchester is seated (barring any flippers).

Winchester is being represented by a lawyer at Tony Peraica’s law firm. His letter to the state party is here. The attorney’s letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

McCann threatens to sue after staff services yanked

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady claims Sen. Sam McCann resigned from the SGOP caucus the day he announced his gubernatorial candidacy. McCann flatly denies he did that, so now we get this

State Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, who last week announced he’s running a third-party campaign for governor, said Thursday that he is being denied regular services provided by Senate staff, and he may file a lawsuit to fight that denial on his constituents’ behalf.

“It’s totally unconstitutional,” McCann said. “I think the taxpayers need to know that … currently, in the 50th District, you are enduring taxation without representation.”

McCann said that services he’s talking about range from use of staff photographers to communications, to help in writing bills and coordinating their movement through committees.

“I had a group of Girl Scouts here this morning,” McCann said, but a staff photographer would not take a picture.

It appears that McCann’s legislative website has been taken offline as well.

…Adding… It should probably be pointed out that McCann still has access to his district office allotment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Madigan files resolution supporting progressive income tax

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* This arrived late yesterday afternoon…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan, House Democrats and advocates for the middle class are calling out Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republicans for refusing to consider fair tax reform that would provide relief for the middle class while making the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.

Madigan and Democratic lawmakers from across the state introduced House Resolution 1025 Wednesday, challenging Republican lawmakers to stop protecting millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations and instead work with Democrats to enact a fair system that cuts taxes on middle-class and low-income taxpayers. Rauner and legislative Republicans are defending a status quo that allows Rauner to pay at least $5 million less than he would in a state like Iowa.

“Governor Rauner is willfully misleading taxpayers because he doesn’t want anyone to see that he’s blocking tax relief for the middle class, all in an effort to protect a special deal for millionaires and billionaires like himself,” Madigan said. “Today, we set the record straight: A fair tax for Illinois is about putting more money in the pockets of middle-class families. If our Republican colleagues are serious about cutting taxes, creating jobs, and strengthening our economy, they will join us in creating a fair tax system that rewards families who work hard and play by the rules, instead of one that benefits Bruce Rauner, Donald Trump and their billionaire friends.”

Madigan’s resolution cites findings from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that Illinois’ constitutionally mandated “flat tax” is one of the most regressive tax structures in the country, forcing low- and middle-income residents to pay a larger share of their incomes in taxes than the very wealthy. A taxpayer earning less than $19,000 pays 13.2 percent of their income in state taxes, while those with an income of $498,000 pay only 4.6 percent of their income in taxes.

House Democrats are calling for a progressive tax like those currently in place in 33 other states—including Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana—which would put more money in working families’ pockets, allowing them to reinvest in local economies and stimulate business growth and economic development.

“There’s no excuse for the current tax system that forces struggling families to pay more than the very wealthy,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of AFSCME Council 31. “Illinois working families need fair tax reform. By standing in the way, Governor Rauner and the politicians who follow him are protecting a status quo full of loopholes for those who are already at the top.”

“Last year Democrats and Republicans stood together because they knew we cannot continue to follow Bruce Rauner’s agenda of slashing critical services for our communities so his billionaire and millionaire buddies can get a tax cut,” said Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “Their votes to end the Rauner budget crisis were votes to put middle-class families ahead of the ultra-wealthy. Now we need a tax system that reflects this same value. I applaud House Democrats’ stand for a fairer system, and we look forward to working with them to get a progressive income tax passed in the future.”

“Throughout our state, parents who want their children to receive a world-class education and homeowners who want relief from rising property taxes can agree on one thing: the system is unfair and needs to change,” said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and a high school English teacher. “This is the change we need, and this is the opportunity for all who claim they’re on the side of taxpayers and educators to prove it.”

“As Donald Trump stacks the deck even more in favor of the ultra-wealthy, Governor Rauner and his allies can no longer pretend to stand with the middle class while also protecting a tax system that so clearly reinforces inequality,” said Clem Balanoff, chair of Our Revolution Illinois. “If they are ready to build an Illinois that works for everyone instead of just the top 1 percent, they will stand with us to enact a fair tax system that reflects that.”

The resolution is here. It picked up a bunch of co-sponsors this morning, including a couple of semi-targets (Marty Moylan, who is always an anti-taxer, and Deb Conroy).

* Rauner campaign’s react yesterday…

“The Pritzker-Madigan ticket has officially endorsed a graduated income tax hike because they want to take more money out of the pockets of hardworking Illinoisans. A vote for JB Pritzker is a vote to give Mike Madigan total control of the state and to raise taxes yet again.” -Will Allison, Rauner campaign spokesman

* Rauner campaign this morning…

The Pritzker-Madigan ticket has formally announced its support for a graduated income tax hike after Mike Madigan issued a statement supporting the policy yesterday. This follows months of JB Pritzker campaigning on a tax hike – even stating that it would be a central theme of his campaign.

But the Pritzker-Madigan ticket still doesn’t want to say how high taxes will go. Pritzker has repeatedly dodged on specifics and Madigan responded with a firm “NO” when asked if he had any rates in mind.

How can Illinois families trust Pritzker and Madigan when they have provided no details for their plans?

* Attached video

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      

Harvey back in hot water after Supreme Court ruling

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* Daily Southtown

Harvey won’t be getting its hands on more than $1.4 million in tax revenues withheld by the state over pension funding failures any time soon, it appears.

On Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered that an earlier appellate court ruling in Harvey’s favor be vacated and sent the case back to the circuit court for a hearing, “at the earliest possible time.” […]

The comptroller’s office, which since February has garnished more than $1.4 million in city tax revenues at the request of the police pension fund, will continue intercepting those funds and holding them unless directed by the court to do otherwise, spokesman Abdon Pallasch said.

Because the comptroller’s office never had a chance to implement the appellate court order directing it to return the withheld funds to Harvey and refrain from garnishing any more, Thursday’s Supreme Court order will not change anything on their end, he said.

* Cook County Record

In neither the Supreme Court’s order, nor in the First District court’s order, did any justice offer an explanation or basis for their court’s respective rulings.

However, after the appellate court issued its ruling, lawyers for the Harvey Police Pension Fund intervened in the case, petitioning the Illinois Supreme Court to step in and vacate the appellate court’s ruling. In its briefs filed with the state high court, the Harvey pension fund attorneys asserted the appellate court had overstepped its authority, saying they believed the appellate justices had issued a ruling which had no basis in law to order the comptroller to turn over the funds demanded by Harvey.

“The appellate court’s Order is stunning in its breadth and was entered without explanation because there is no explanation that supports the Order,” the pension fund’s attorneys wrote.

“…Summarily reversing the trial court, and then directing the court to grant all the final relief the City seeks, without explanation why such relief is warranted, or why the trial court abused its discretion in denying the City’s emergency motion in the first instance, is not only wrong it is fundamentally unfair.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

SJ-R: “Shame on party members for not having the guts” to oust Madigan

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* SJ-R editorial

Thumbs Down: To Democrats for again electing Michael Madigan as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Madigan, D-Chicago, has been speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983. He’s been elected chairman of the state party since 1998 by the Democratic State Central Committee. His most recent re-election to that post was Monday by the 36-member committee, which consists of a man and a woman from each of the state’s 18 congressional districts. There was only one no vote.

Being both House Speaker and party chairman has given Madigan unprecedented control for decades over the Democratic Party. In the House, he decides which elected members get chairmanships and whose bills get called. As party chairman, he decides which campaigns to help with staff and funding. His ability to punish or reward is unchecked. Those who have tried to push back are either made irrelevant in the House or given party-backed primary challengers.

This doesn’t happen elsewhere in the country, because most people realize one person should not hold that much power. Yet Illinois Democrats continually refuse to provide checks and balances on Madigan’s power. Shame on party members for not having the guts to give voters the change they both want and need.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Friday, Apr 27, 2018

* The Senate left town yesterday, but the House is in today. Watch the action with ScribbleLive

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Friday, Apr 27, 2018

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* Question of the day
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* Senate votes to repeal Parental Notification of Abortion law, bill moves to House
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