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Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Was really busy today and completely spaced out about a question and now it’s after 4 o’clock and I got nothing. I’m therefore declaring an open thread. Keep it Illinois-centric, please. Thanks.


Nice try, Mark

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sigh…


Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This state does this all the time and we never seem to learn. We need to narrow the spending base and broaden the tax base. Instead, we broaden the spending base while constantly narrowing the tax base. It’s lunacy

When state lawmakers pushed through a trio of tax breaks in spring 2017, the idea was to ease some of the financial pain caused by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s series of major property tax hikes on Chicago homeowners, especially senior citizens.

The changes, however, also had an unintended consequence: Thousands of homes in south suburbs such as Harvey and Park Forest fell off the tax rolls, meaning those homeowners no longer pay any property taxes at all, and an even greater number are paying less.

While that’s good news for many, it’s also resulted in tens of millions of dollars in property taxes being shifted onto remaining homeowners and businesses. They are now being hit with even higher bills in an impoverished, long-struggling, largely African-American region where an outsized property tax burden already made it difficult to attract the retail shops and industry needed to reverse economic woes made worse by the Great Recession.

Adding to the economic challenge is an impending change to a business tax break that was a prime development tool for the area. As of Saturday, Cook County will require businesses that get the job-creation perk to pay prevailing wages, which could increase labor costs. South suburban mayors say that will lead some businesses to avoid setting up shop in their towns, and also further a trend of companies crossing borders to northwest Indiana or Will County to escape high property taxes.

How could they possibly not know the consequences? When one person pays less, somebody else is gonna have to pay more. This phenomenon is much slower-moving with income and sales taxes, but, eventually, the revenue base becomes so narrow that the rates have to go up. Property taxes, however, produce a near-instant reaction because of the levy. Somebody always has to pick up the slack almost right away.

This is not some advanced economic theory, people. It’s elementary school-level math.


Our sorry state

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Brian Mackey takes a look at regional jealousy and the debate over how to pay for things

“Do we get our cut of the pie?” asks John Jackson, a professor of political science at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

“It’s probably a more explosive question in Illinois because we have such a long-standing, divisive debate about regionalism. And that debate takes the form of Chicago/Cook County versus Downstate. … And Downstate that resonates because we firmly believe that we’re not getting our fair share,” he says.

* He brings up Paul Simon Public Policy Institute polling which always shows that Illinoisans demand state budget cuts, but not to schools, universities, public safety, anti-poverty programs and programs for people with disabilities

Jackson says political scientists call that disconnect “symbolic conservatives and operational liberals.” Such people want government programs, especially if it benefits them directly, “but they want to get rid of somebody else’s waste and fraud. And that’s the way the legislature has essentially acted, and government in the state has acted.”

The idea of symbolic conservatives and operational liberals calls to mind something a state senator told me years ago. It was Jeff Schoenberg, a Democrat from Evanston who’s since left the legislature. Then-Gov. Pat Quinn had proposed closing a few state facilities Downstate, and local legislators were resisting.

“They talk a good game about being fiscally conservative, but when it comes to closing a public facility that’s under-utilized or not cost efficient, they’re like New Deal Democrats,” Schoenberg said in 2012.

Yep. Remember this story?

An effort to give lawmakers the power to block Gov. Pat Quinn from closing large state facilities fell one vote short of passage in the Senate Wednesday. … In addition to Forby, those supporting the idea included state Sens. Mike Jacobs of East Moline, John Jones of Mount Vernon and Kyle McCarter of Lebanon.

The year before Sen. McCarter tried to block Quinn from shuttering a facility in his district, he did this

State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon… conducted a Statehouse news conference just now to accuse Democrats of not taking the budget crisis seriously. McCarter and other GOPs called for a $30 billion ceiling on the budget (it’s a little over that now), with cuts and reforms designed to get rid of the major new income tax hike that went into effect this year. […]

McCarter delivered the message standing next to a 125-pound roasted pig that a butcher in his district had had shipped in to dramatize the pork-laden state budget.

Gov. Rauner, by the way, pledged to keep that facility open during the 2014 campaign.

* Mackey also made the same observation I did on Monday evening when Metra melted down for the second week in a row

Remember earlier today when several suburban Republican legislators were screaming about the prospect of more government spending? One even called increased spending “evil.” I wonder if any of them took the Metra home after their press conference.

* And that brings us to yesterday, when Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti was asked how the governor planned to cut taxes

Chris Kaergard: What’s your plan to reduce the tax hike? Speaking of plans that need fleshing out what’s your administration’s plan to reduce the tax hike?

LG Sanguinetti: Well our administration’s plan over the course of the four years that we’ve been in leadership, in going forward, is to [cross talk]. Well of course because there will be another term because I firmly believe that after the voters do their homework they will find that Bruce Rauner is, is the leader in Illinois that will make Illinois a wonderful place to have businesses, to grow your families here, to grow your businesses here. Why? Because over the course of time we will be less punitive to businesses, which is something that we’ve always fought for. We’ve seen it with the Angel Investment Tax Credit and the fact that we resuscitated it. We saw that with the LLC fees and the fact that Bruce Rauner took it back to the tune of 70%. Why? So that our small farmers could decide to open up their businesses. Other businesses could come here and take a leap rather than doing it in our neighboring states where it was so much cheaper in the past. This is the sort of governor that you will have in Bruce Rauner. One that will not be punitive to businesses and one who is truly a leader. Not an individual that was anointed by Mike Madigan who has been in office since I was a mere 3 months of age. Thank you.


Pritzker’s trick box

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mark Maxwell at WCIA

A company owned by J.B. Pritzker is warning its employees not to join a union, according to a letter one of its employees posted to Facebook.

“There’s only one way to guarantee that you can avoid the problems a union could possibly cause. Just SAY NO!” the letter reads.

Billy Dean, an employee for SeaDog Ventures, which is an Entertainment Cruises company, posted the letter to his Facebook page. Dean claims he started pushing to form a union after his employer increased his workload up to “12-15 hour days with no break.”

Entertainment Cruises is owned by The Pritzker Group, which is owned by Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and his brother Tony Pritzker.

“What is real interesting about this is I work for JB Pritzker, “pro-union” gubernatorial candidate for Illinois,” Dean wrote. “Right now his progressive rhetoric doesn’t match his action.”

* The Facebook post

Hey friends, I know I haven't seen you in a while, and there is a reason for that: My job expanded our hours. I used to…

Posted by Billy Dean on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

* Pritzker campaign…

As JB has said throughout the campaign, he supports workers’ right to organize and he believes the process should be fair, open, and free of intimidation. JB also believes in workers’ rights to collectively bargain as an important tool toward raising wages. JB has stepped away from Pritzker Group and is no longer involved in the management of the company. He believes that all employers should respect those rights of workers and unions. JB is proud to have the support of the Illinois AFLCIO and dozens of unions across the state and as governor, he will continue to fight for the tools working families need to thrive.

* OK, but just this week, the Pritzker campaign tied Rauner to a company that he retired from years ago

Days after the U.S. EPA slammed a company tied to Bruce Rauner for toxic air pollution that could cause cancer, Rauner and former lobbyist turned IEPA Director Alec Messina are holding a press conference on the Volkswagen settlement.

* But, on the other hand, Pritzker has said he’s pulled back from running his companies. So, if he stays true to his word then he can’t go back in and do something about this union situation.

To mix metaphors, he’s in a trick box here, but he’s picked his lane and has to stay in it.


The symbolism is strong in this one

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* With the recent departure of Monique Garcia from the Tribune (and no word yet on whether she’ll be replaced), the Statehouse press room is darned near empty. This video taken near the press room yesterday pretty much sums up the situation

I guess we could consider this an open thread about the state of journalism today.


*** UPDATED x2 - Roskam responds - ILGOP: “Repugnant and disqualifying” *** Casten “regrets” saying President Trump has “tremendous amount in common” with Osama Bin Laden

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First it was “I view abortion as a medical procedure like a gall bladder surgery” and now this

Democratic congressional hopeful Sean Casten said he thought President Donald Trump had a “tremendous amount in common” with al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, the man responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

“In many ways—and I don’t mean to sound overly, I don’t know, hyperbolic on this—Trump and Osama Bin Laden have a tremendous amount in common,” Casten said, according to audio of a February meeting with voters that was obtained by the Free Beacon […]

Casten, a “clean energy entrepreneur” who emerged on top of a tight primary in Illinois’ sixth district in March, made the bizarre comparison after he was asked by a voter for his plans to advance gun-control legislation if he were elected. The comment was part of Casten’s explanation that gun-control opponents, whom he appears to be comparing to al Qaeda supporters, are what will keep gun-control legislation from advancing to the House floor.

“They have both figured out how to use the bully pulpit to activate marginalized young men,” Casten said. “Every demagogue has done this—find a group of angry people and give them something to be angry at.”

Raw audio is here. Here’s the snippet

* I reached out to the Casten campaign for a response…

Sean’s words were poorly chosen, and he regrets them. Even prior to this election, Donald Trump’s politics of disparagement and division have been exacerbating the bonds that hold our diverse nation together. And Sean believes that Donald Trump has gone out of his way to divide Americans for his own personal gain rather than bringing us together to solve issues like gun violence.

*** UPDATE 1 *** ILGOP…

Democrat Sean Casten’s recent comparison of President Donald Trump to Osama Bin Laden is disrespectful, repugnant, and disqualifying” Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Travis Sterling said. “In this era of deep partisanship this type of harmful rhetoric shows that he is out of touch with the communities in Sixth district.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From Roskam’s communications director Veronica L. Vera…

Sean Casten has called Republicans pedophiles, likened abortion to gallbladder surgery and called Republican Party donors ‘a bunch of morons.’ Our communities need a solutions-oriented Representative who can bring people together to get things done. This kind of hateful, vicious language is exactly the wrong approach.


Rauner campaign trolls Pritzker ahead of Indivisible Chicago event

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From August 21…

Today, Indivisible Illinois endorsed JB Pritzker and Juliana Stratton for governor and lieutenant governor. The statewide coalition is made up of over 50 local chapters spanning every congressional district in Illinois, and their endorsement follows Indivisible Chicago’s from after the primary election.

* Rauner campaign…

Snapchat Filter Highlights Pritzker Insult of Bernie Sanders at Indivisible Event

Today, JB Pritzker will be holding an event with Indivisible Chicago – a group that strongly supports Bernie Sanders.

But in 2016, Pritzker called Bernie Sanders a “Yutz” on Twitter. The term “Yutz” is Yiddish for a foolish, annoying, or socially inept person. The tweet has never been deleted.

To remind voters of Pritzker’s attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of voters, the Rauner campaign is launching a Snapchat filter geo-targeted to the Indivisible event featuring Pritzker’s old comment.

View the filter below:

* JB even included a handy link to the Urban Dictionary definition…

…Adding… Zing!…


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition and an events calendar

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

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“Rauner immigration talk, then and now”

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Bernie’s latest piece is well-done and just has too much in it to do it justice with a few excerpts here. So, go read the whole thing and then report back in comments.


*** UPDATED x1 - McCann responds *** Rauner floats capital plan for umpteenth time, but again won’t say how we’ll pay for it

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Rauner in June of this year

We’re gonna be investing billions of dollars into our roads and bridges this year and every year.

And I’m gonna do a big capital bill here in the next six months to invest even tens of billions more on top of that.

* April of 2017

Rauner suggests doing a capital bill before fixing the budget

* January of 2017

I’d like to get a balanced budget and a capital bill with a balanced budget, and put a lot of resources into our universities across the state, but especially U of I… The U of I is a major economic engine for this state and I want to take them to a whole other level… We need a budget to do it, we need a capital plan to do it…

* December of 2014

Rauner again vows support for capital bill

* Yesterday

On Wednesday, Rauner dangled the potential of a capital bill after the Nov. 6 election, though he declined to say what funding sources would be used to finance bonds to enact a massive infrastructure plan.

“I hope and believe that shortly after the election in November, we will come together. I’ve had some indications from members of the General Assembly that we’ll all come together and get done promptly a large capital bill,” Rauner said at Union Station, the site of recent problems involving Metra delays to suburban commuters. […]

As for new revenue to finance a capital program, Rauner said the state should “make the structural changes in our economy so we’re growing more, reduce the regulatory burden on our businesses, reduce the … income tax burden on our businesses, so that we can bring more businesses here, grow our tax base.” As a result, Rauner said, “We will have more than enough revenue to fund a large capital program.”

But those “structural changes” also have included Rauner’s push to eliminate a requirement that prevailing regional union wages be paid to construction workers on public projects, and other efforts to weaken private and public sector collective bargaining.

Capital plans cost money, even with “structural changes.” You need a funding source. If he’s gonna keep talking about it, then he should tell us how he plans to pay for it. After all, he and his surrogates have repeatedly demanded that JB Pritzker detail his progressive income tax proposal.

* From today’s Peoria Journal Star

Area Republican legislators gathered Wednesday to demand Democratic governor candidate JB Pritzker more clearly detail his tax proposals.

Flanking Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti at Peoria County GOP headquarters, each asserted that voters deserve to know the details of Pritzker’s graduated income tax proposal — a topic on which he has avoided releasing any specifics.

“We think that Mr. Pritzker needs to come clean with the public about the specifics of his plan before they cast a vote in November or in early voting,” state Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington said of the concept that would impose different tax rates on different levels of income rather than Illinois’ current system in which everyone pays the same rate.

Lack of information on such a major policy proposal is “intellectually dishonest,” state Rep. Ryan Spain of Peoria said. He called on Pritzker to “have the guts to tell you what that looks like.”

That’s a legit hit. But I also want to see how Rauner will pay for a capital plan. And while he’s at it he could toss in his specific ideas for how he intends to lower taxes.

…Adding… No surprise here…

*** UPDATE *** Sen. Sam McCann…

Governor Rauner continues his legacy of broken promises as a failed administration attempts another stunt to shadow four years of incompetency. You don’t raid the road fund every year of your administration, requiring the Constitution to be amended to stop the bleeding, and then credibly make a call to repair our roads and bridges. You don’t raid downstate road districts of their funding by spending money on the Obama library project in Chicago, and then make a call to increase transportation and infrastructure investment because our competitiveness and job creation is faltering. What you do is lead. You lead every day of an administration, not just attempt to during the weeks leading up to an election. You don’t wait to veto endless Bills after failing to work with the legislature, you work with the legislature to curb the need to veto Bills. There is no doubt that we need a Capital Bill. We have a $4.6B annual shortfall in transportation and infrastructure needs in the State of Illinois, and that number continues to grow every day. If you want to grow an economy invest in it.


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Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Thursday, Aug 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* Uber Partners With Cities To Expand Urban Transportation
* Yes on operations and capital spending, No on revenues to pay for it
* Giannoulias on House floor while bill goes down
* Some budget react
* Governor rebuffs Rep. Crespo’s worries of future fiscal cliff
* Coverage roundup: House sends $53.1 billion FY25 budget to the governor
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Live coverage
* Welch: 'No one's ever said the House is boring'
* House passes budget 65-45 - BIMP passes 62-46 - Grocery tax elimination sails 86-20 - Revenue omnibus put on postponed consideration - Motion to reconsider passes - But big problem and Dems will have to suspend the rules - Concurrence motion finally passes as GOP gives up
* Yesterday's stories

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