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Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Acting Director John J. Kim has issued a Seal Order to the Sterigenics U.S., LLC, facility located at 7775 South Quincy Street, in Willowbrook, DuPage County, to prevent the commencement of any new sterilization cycles using ethylene oxide to prevent emissions which present an imminent and substantial endangerment to residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community.
The Seal Order restricts access to the ethylene oxide storage vessels so as to preclude introduction of ethylene oxide into a sterilization chamber. Only persons authorized, in writing, by the Director of the Illinois EPA may access the sealed vessels to conduct activities within the scope of their specified authorization.
Following ambient air sampling by U.S. EPA in the spring of 2018, one of the conclusions of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) noted “if measured and modeled data represent typical ethylene oxide ambient concentrations in ambient air, an elevated cancer risk exists for residents and off-site workers in the Willowbrook community surrounding the Sterigenics facility. These elevated cancer risks present a public health hazard to these populations.”
The ATSDR used the highest residential area and commercial air sampling results (2.1 micrograms per meter3 and 9.1 micrograms per meter3, respectively) to reach its conclusion. Since that time, ambient air sampling conducted by U.S. EPA and the Village of Willowbrook has consistently found outdoor ambient levels of ethylene oxide in commercial and residential areas as high or higher than the levels used by the ATSDR.
The Illinois EPA and Illinois Attorney General’s Office have been in numerous discussions with Sterigenics to discuss how to further reduce ethylene oxide emissions. Recent elevated sampling results, along with Sterigenics’ refusal to voluntarily suspend operations, have resulted in the issuance of the Seal Order.
The Seal Order will remain in effect until it is rescinded by Acting Director Kim.
The controversial Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook “will be shut down” Friday evening following new test results showing emissions of “the highest levels of [ethylene oxide] recorded in the area,” the mayor of the suburban Chicago town said.
“As a result of Willowbrook’s new testing, I have been notified by the Illinois EPA that Sterigenics will be shut down this evening,” Mayor Frank Trilla said in a statement.
* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin…
Today’s Seal Order to the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook is welcome news. I appreciate the efforts of everyone who has worked together over the past year to finally bring safety and peace of mind back to our community. Sterigenics has failed our residents, and today’s action should put any other entity that threatens the health and safety of residents in Illinois on notice.
…Adding… Congressman Dan Lipinski…
After months of hard work calling on US and Illinois EPA to hold Sterigenics accountable and protect public health in the surrounding communities, the Illinois EPA has stepped in to stop the use of Ethylene Oxide at Sterigenics, effectively shutting it down. Five months ago I called on the EPA to shut Sterigenics down unless it could show it was not a public health threat. US EPA finally began conducting air tests in Willowbrook in November and the results have shown dangerously high levels of EtO, especially next to Sterigenics’ facilities. Based on these clear results, last week I led a bipartisan group of state and local officials, along with local residents, to the US EPA Region 5 headquarters to once again call for Stergenics to be shut down. I thank the Chicago Tribune for shining light on this issue including its editorial today calling on the EPA to heed my call to act. While the US EPA has continued to fail to act, I thank the Illinois EPA, Attorney General Raoul, and Governor Pritzker for acting today to protect the public. There is still work to be done to figure out long-term solutions, but Sterigenics needed to be shut down. The health, safety, and overall quality of life of the large population of people that live, work, and go to school near Sterigenics must always come first.
On Sterigenics seal order from IL EPA, Pritzker spokeswoman says gov's office worked with state EPA "because the U.S. EPA and the company have refused to take immediate action" on ethylene oxide emissions.
On behalf of our community, I want to thank the Illinois EPA, Governor Pritzker, Attorney General Kwame Rauol and DuPage County State Bob Berlin for the issuance of a Seal Order from the IEPA, which has shut the Sterigenics facility down tonight. And I want to thank the residents for their tireless efforts throughout this entire process.
* Before I go, I’d like to wish the best of luck to my old pal Mike Riopell, who is leaving the Chicago Tribune for another opportunity. There aren’t many experienced, quality state political reporters/editors working in Illinois these days, so we’re all gonna miss him. He’s also just a really good guy.
* Gov. Pritzker named Jaime Martinez to this post just a couple of weeks ago. Rep. Chapa LaVia was named Assistant House Majority Leader about a month ago…
Governor JB Pritzker announced a new appointment to lead the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, nominating Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia to head the agency.
“The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs has faced numerous challenges, and it’s a priority for my administration to ensure that our veterans are treated with dignity and get the care and opportunities they deserve,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Representative Chapa LaVia is a steadfast advocate and effective change-maker, and I appreciate her willingness to continue to serve.”
“As a veteran, I’m honored to step up and serve all the men and women who have served our nation,” said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia. “Illinois has much work to do to live up to our responsibilities to our veterans, and I am deeply committed to making Illinois the best state in the nation to be a veteran.”
Lieutenant Colonel (R) Jaime E. Martinez, the executive director of Illinois Joining Forces, asked the administration to remove his name from consideration to serve as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I appreciate Jaime Martinez’s dedicated and honorable service to our nation and to Illinois over many years and know that he will remain a champion for veterans and their families,” said Gov. Pritzker.
“I have asked Governor Pritzker to remove me from consideration for director at this time and want to personally thank him for his confidence in my leadership abilities and experience,” said Colonel Martinez. “This decision has not been made in haste, for those who know me I have always strived to serve my country and my state without recourse and will continue to follow that mission. I applaud the Governor for his leadership and for prioritizing the quality of life and safety of all Veterans and their families in Illinois.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel want Amazon.com Inc. to take another look at Chicago.
In the wake of Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) ditching plans to open an 8-million square foot campus in Long Island City in the borough of Queens after pushback from some of New York’s elected officials, the pair wrote a letter to the company saying Illinois and Chicago would welcome the tech giant and the thousands of jobs it would bring.
“Chicago and the State of Illinois remain focused on supporting business growth and innovation, and we are more ready than ever to do great things with Amazon HQ2. You should take another look at Chicago. We will be happy to bring you back,” the pair wrote in a letter.
In their letter, they suggested that Amazon should consider moving to Related Midwest’s proposed 62-acre development site called The 78, which is located in the South Loop just south of Roosevelt Road along the Chicago River. Amazon officials toured The 78 site in mid-August.
“We have also made substantial progress toward the launch of ‘The 78′ development, which has received strong support from the surrounding communities and received unanimous support from the Community Development Commission a 15-member board responsible for reviewing and approving Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funding for private redevelopment projects. ‘The 78′ development and corresponding infrastructure support from the City is scheduled to receive final legislative approval in April and will break ground shortly thereafter,” the letter, which can be seen here, read.
* The Question: Do you agree with this move by the governor? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…
The Democratic Party of Illinois today announced that Mary Morrissey has been named its new executive director.
Morrissey previously served as the Democratic Party’s chief operating officer, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization and helping to elect Democrats to office throughout Illinois in the 2018 general election.
“I am honored to be the new executive director of the Democratic Party in Illinois,” Morrissey said. “Illinois has so many passionate advocates who share the values of the Democratic Party, and I am committed to reaching out to them and people of all backgrounds and beliefs to make a better Illinois.”
Morrissey was unanimously recommended for the position by the four chairs of the search committee that was formed to name a new executive director, which includes all of the state central committeewomen representing the Democratic Party in Illinois. In their recommendation letter, the four committee chairs also recommended they work with the new executive director to help develop a structure and revised mission for the organization.
“I am very pleased that Mary Morrissey will be leading the effort in Illinois to support the policies of the Democratic Party to help improve peoples’ lives across our state,” said Karen Yarbrough, one of the four co-chairs of the executive director search committee. “Mary started at the Democratic Party of Illinois under challenging circumstances, kept operations running and led the party to a statewide sweep last November. She has the leadership we need to keep us moving forward.”
“As President of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association and a Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, I have worked with and seen the effort Mary Morrissey has done to increase collaboration between the state and local party organizations,” said Kristina Zahorik, State Central Committee member from the 14th Congressional District. “Our strong partnership between the two statewide organizations is incredibly important to better communicate and serve voters in communities across Illinois.”
“I am thrilled that Mary Morrissey will continue her work with the Democratic Party as executive director,” said Vivian Robinson, State Central Committee member from the 15th Congressional District. “Mary and I have worked closely together to enhance the reach of the Democratic Party in Southern Illinois, hosting candidate trainings and increasing visibility, and I look forward to working with her to recruit, train and support Democratic candidates and activists leading into the 2020 election.”
As chief operating officer of the Democratic Party, Morrissey increased the state party’s coordination and support for Democratic candidates running in local, legislative, statewide and Congressional campaigns throughout the state. Morrissey engaged and mobilized voters throughout the state against dangerous policies out of the White House, improved the Party’s communications and organized candidate trainings.
“Mary Morrissey brings a lifetime of work supporting and advocating for the principles and ideals of the Democratic Party,” said Michael J. Madigan, chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. “This appointment reflects a continued commitment to creating a stronger and better culture in the Democratic Party throughout Illinois.”
Morrissey was also recommended for the post by Deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell, who served as interim executive director of the organization in the lead up to the 2018 election.
“After working closely with Mary last year to strengthen the Democratic Party of Illinois and elect candidates statewide, I am confident she is the best choice to serve as the party’s new executive director,” Deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell said. “At the party and as a legislator, I witnessed firsthand Mary’s commitment to enacting the policies that reflect the values of the Democratic Party and look forward to seeing how she will continue advancing this important work as executive director.”
Prior to joining the Democratic Party of Illinois, Morrissey served for eight years as deputy chief of staff for policy and legislative affairs for former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. She led the attorney general’s legislative agenda in the General Assembly, including negotiating landmark laws to improve the response of Illinois law enforcement to sexual assault survivors.
Morrissey previously served as political director and campaign manager for former Attorney General Madigan’s 2010 successful re-election campaign. Morrissey also previously operated her own consulting firm developing advocacy campaigns for a variety of national and state organizations, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, Cover the Uninsured Week, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Pharmacists Association. Morrissey began her career in the Legislative Staff Internship Program and Illinois House Democratic staff and is a veteran of many county, legislative and statewide campaigns.
She is top notch without a doubt. But she’s also a solidly loyal Madigan person, so it seems MJM is regaining full control of the party apparatus.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker pledged that he would be transparent about using his personal fortune to double the state salaries of his top aides in the governor’s office, but the billionaire has yet to release payroll records for those employees. […]
Pritzker said his office is living up to that pledge even though it has yet to release pay records from East Jackson Street LLC.
“We’ve been transparent and we’ve responded to all the [Freedom of Information Act] requests that we’ve received,” Pritzker said.
That was after the nearly three weeks it took for his office to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request from Illinois News Network seeking the private pay records. In response to that request, Pritzker’s office provided state pay records, but said it doesn’t have any documents related to payments from the limited liability company.
“The Governor’s Office does not possess documents relating to the amounts paid by East Jackson Street LLC,” General Counsel Steven Roets wrote. “In January, the Governor’s transition office publicly released the details of the non-taxpayer staff compensation by East Jackson Street LLC State employees.”
The response said state salaries for deputy governor, senior advisor, deputy chief of staff, first assistant to deputy governor and press staff would get an equal amount from the LLC. There were no documents similar to the ones the office provided for the taxpayer-funded salaries.
* From the document distributed to reporters when this pay bump was announced…
Reporting Requirements – Staff
• In the interest of transparency, staff who receive the additional compensation will be required to publicly report it in line with other public disclosures, such as the Statement of Economic Interests.
• Additional compensation will also be reported at the time of hire.
• Staff will be required to sign paperwork reaffirming that their fiduciary duties as employees are to the state of Illinois, and their first and only obligation is to serve the residents of Illinois.
Statements of Economic Interests won’t be filed until May.
Meanwhile, Ideas Illinois also was launched last week. It is an initiative of the Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity, which like Think Big is a 501c4 not-for-profit group. It will advocate for “a stronger Illinois business climate,” and will argue against a progressive income tax, which it calls a jobs tax.
GREG BAISE, former CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and co-founder of the prosperity coalition, is chairman of Ideas Illinois. JASON HEFFLEY of Springfield, who was campaign manager for Republican ERIKA HAROLD’s run for attorney general and worked in the administration of then-Gov. BRUCE RAUNER in roles including policy adviser for energy and environment, is executive director of the new group.
Just Wednesday, Ideas Illinois issued a news release, based on speculation that there may be a move for a temporary income-tax increase, that any lawmaker should release full personal tax returns before supporting such a plan. […]
Baise said that while the jobs coalition will continue to not disclose donors, it advocates for issues, not candidates — like many other nonprofit groups.
A comprehensive legislative package of Medicaid managed care reform bills strongly backed by the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) and the hospital community has been introduced in the General Assembly to hold managed care organizations (MCOs) accountable to preserve and assure access to timely, quality healthcare for all Medicaid beneficiaries.
Since the introduction of mandatory managed care in Illinois in 2015, hospitals across the state have faced an overwhelming series of unnecessary administrative burdens, claim denials and long payment delays that jeopardize access to care for low-income and vulnerable communities in urban and rural areas of the state and that undermine the financial stability of hospitals, especially Safety Net and Critical Access Hospitals. Initial claim denial rates by MCOs are still unacceptably high – 26 percent – resulting in delayed payments to hospitals in the hundreds of millions of dollars for medically necessary services that were authorized and provided to Medicaid beneficiaries. Most of the denials are based on process and paperwork, not medical necessity.
SB 1167: This bill would create an adult vocational community college scholarship program starting in the 2020-2021 academic year. The scholarships would be for students over 30 years old who have been unemployed and are looking to earn a specific certificate or associate’s degree. The maximum scholarship would be $2,000 per year. Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed similar legislation in the House, HB 302.
SB 1342: This bill, filed by Rep. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, would create a state-run student loan refinancing program. College graduates who are Illinois residents can refinance their student loans with the state to receive the lowest possible interest rate. As long as the graduate remained a resident of Illinois, the lower interest rate would apply.
One Illinois lawmaker is again seeking a tax on each mile vehicle owners drive instead of a gas tax.
State Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, introduced House Bill 2864, which would create the per-mile road usage charge pilot program. Voluntary participants would pay a per-mile road usage charge is $0.021 per mile for metered use. This per-mile tax would replace the user’s 19-cent per gallon motor fuel tax. Illinois still applies its sales tax to motor fuel, something only a handful of other states do.
The plan has been introduced in previous years, but former Gov. Bruce Rauner had declared his opposition to it early on. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, however, has been warmer on the topic, saying on the campaign trail that it should be looked into as a way to pay for badly-needed infrastructure spending. […]
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, filed a similar proposal in 2016 that would have taxed drivers $0.0015 per mile using a metered device in passenger vehicles. The measure never progressed after opposition mounted.
…Adding… Forgot about this coverage of a subcommittee hearing…
A bill intended to rein in House Speaker Michael Madigan’s outsized role in state politics was rejected by Democrats in a House subcommittee Thursday.
The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, would have prohibited anyone who is the leader of a legislative chamber from serving simultaneously as a state party chairman.
Rivian Automotive on Friday announced an equity investment round of $700 million led by Amazon.
“This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility,” RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience.”
He added that “delivering on this vision requires the right partners, and we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible.”
The investment follows Rivian unveiling its all-electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show in November. Both vehicles will be produced at the company’s 2.6-million-square-foot manufacturing plant in Normal — the former Mitsubishi auto plant.
Customer deliveries are expected to begin in late 2020.
The fact that GM was not included in Friday morning’s announcement does not mean the Detroit automaker won’t subsequently take a stake in Rivian. GM issued a terse release earlier this week that notably sidestepped the question, only stating that “We admire Rivian’s contribution to a future of zero-emissions and an all-electric future.”
Until recently, few expected to see a competitive, battery-powered electric pickup because of the hefty demands owners place on those vehicles. But views have begun to shift as Tesla prepares to bring a truck to market and as analysts and potential buyers have gotten a look at the R1T pickup that Rivian unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November – along with the R1S sport-utility vehicle.
Rivian plans to launch its R1T pickup truck and R1S sport utility in the U.S. in 2020, and begin introducing them overseas in 2021. The company has modeled both vehicles on what it calls a “skateboard” platform, which it says it flexible enough to accommodate several different vehicle body styles.
Both, at least initially, will feature 180 kilowatt-hour battery packs, almost twice the size of the largest pack currently offered by Tesla. That will be more than enough to deliver a range of 400 miles under optimal conditions, according to Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe.
* Part of the synopsis for Rep. Dave McSweeney’s (R-Barrington Hills) HB348…
Provides that the board of trustees of any township located in McHenry County may submit a proposition to dissolve the township to the township electors or township electors may petition for a referendum to dissolve a township.
District 6 representative Jim Kearns also weighed in.
“Mr. McSweeney doesn’t give a [expletive] about McHenry County. I’m sorry, he doesn’t. … I have to be honest with you. I hate this with a passion. I hate this kind of government. This government that we have in Illinois has bankrupted every single citizen of this state. We are broke. And do we want to bring that to McHenry County with more poor legislation? No, we don’t. … Mr. McSweeney, I’m calling you out. It’s a bunch of garbage what you’ve been doing in Springfield,” Kearns said.
Um, the commissioner hates the sort of government that would allow voters to dissolve a township?
* We’re eventually gonna find out once and for all who’s right about this and who’s wrong…
During more than two hours of debate Thursday, Republicans, who have long criticized high costs on business in the form of workers’ compensation insurance and property taxes, complained the wage ramp would be another impediment to commerce. They argue it would cost jobs in a state where statistics show more than 60 percent of residents live within 40 miles of a state border.
“People vote with the dollars, and they vote with the feet,” said Rep. Randy Frese, a Republican from Paloma is west-central Illinois. “Our region may see economic growth, but the growth will be on the other side of the border, which doesn’t benefit Illinois.”
Guzzardi has repeatedly cited research showing no damaging economic effects where the minimum wage has increased. He said the only way to predict what will happen with an 82 percent wage hike in six years is to look at historical data.
“Raising the minimum wage has no net effect on employment, it doesn’t drive jobs out of the state,” Guzzardi said. “All it does is put money in people’s pockets who need it.”
* There are good arguments and bad arguments against the minimum wage bill. This one is not so good…
[Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville] even commented on the tax credits that are included in the bill for small businesses to help them adjust to the higher wage.
“Tax breaks only help if there is income — not when there is zero profit made,” Meier said.
The tax credits are based on the withholding amount. Employers keep 25 percent of the tax paid on the additional income. That works out to be a small amount of money and the percentage drops every year, but it’s not dependent upon profits.
“If we were to get a 5 percent raise annually, it would take 12 years to get to $15 an hour, and a 3 percent raise would take 20 years. It shows the five-year spread is not long enough.”
Another way of looking at this is it’s been nine years since the minimum wage was last increased in Illinois. The final step to $15 an hour happens in January of 2025. So, that’s 15 years to raise wages by $6.75 an hour, or about 45 cents per year.
* Here’s a strange argument made yesterday by Rep. CD Davidsmeyer…
Wait what did he just say? If someone is making 15.00/hour and we raise other people’s pay to 15.00/hour you are moving the first person out of middle class and moving them to lower class? #ilsb1#twillpic.twitter.com/hSjq6RS7zo
Karen Conn owns several businesses in central Illinois and told a House committee Wednesday the increase will be just one added cost on top of others that she’s worried about not being able to afford.
“But it will also be with my product vendors, my insurance companies, my taxes, my utilities, and my insurance rates will continue in the coming years,” Conn said.
The increased income becomes part of the entire business and consumer cost stream.
But she also said during a hearing this week that people could rent a nice two-bedroom apartment in downtown Springfield for $500 a month. Legislators who live downtown during session had a nice chuckle at that one.
“On behalf of the retail community, we are disappointed that a readily achievable compromise was not adopted on such an important matter. We thank the many employers who bravely came forward to share their concerns about the specific impacts of this legislation as they asked lawmakers to appreciate the economic diversity of our state,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “Still, we are hopeful that the failure to embrace genuine and achievable compromise on this legislation is not an indication of further things to come.”
Rob is always an optimist. I wonder how he’s gonna feel in four years.
A new Tulchin Research poll conducted February 6-10, 2019 finds Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle continues to lead a crowded field of candidates for Mayor of Chicago. Preckwinkle is well positioned to make the runoff election, as she currently runs ten points ahead of her closest challenger, and she leads both Bill Daley and Susana Mendoza in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups. […]
Toni Preckwinkle currently runs first among the field of mayoral candidates, attracting support from 21 percent of voters. Clustered together and statistically tied for second place are Willie Wilson (11%), Bill Daley (10%), Susana Mendoza (10%), Lori Lightfoot (9%), and Amara Enyia (8%) and 13 percent of voters remain undecided.
The largest number of undecideds are black voters (24 percent) and Hispanic voters (22 percent). The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4 percent. […]
Crime and drugs were listed by 21 percent of voters [as an issue important in determining their vote]; economy and jobs were listed by 19 percent; public corruption was listed by 11 percent, as was schools; and high taxes came in at 10 percent. […]
Nearly six out of 10 voters said the city is on the wrong track, again with more women than men disenchanted.
* Meanwhile, from last night…
The union and fund are not supporting any of the other 13 candidates in the race, just making clear that they support "anybody but Daley." The engineers backed Gery Chico in 2011 and Rahm Emanuel in 2015.
* So, despite the following article being labeled as a “scoop” this morning, it’s not. However, it does have some good info…
The attack ad focuses on Daley’s career as a banker. A voice says: “As president of SBC, Daley took a million-dollar bonus and then laid off 5,000 workers. Then as the chairman of a Wall Street bank, Daley took more than $15 million—the same year his bank admitted to illegally overcharging thousands of active duty troops and driving military families into foreclosure, forcing them out of their homes. Bill Daley—a Wall Street banker who got rich off working people.”
Fight Back Fund is connected to the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150—they share the same address and James Sweeney, the head of Local 150, is an officer with the PAC. The ad buy was made through Left Hook Communications, a left-leaning political strategy firm.
During the 2018 midterms, Fight Back played a huge role in funding conservative former state Sen. Sam McCann’s campaign for governor. McCann ultimately pulled votes away from Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner. Before that, the same independent expenditure PAC spent big money to oppose attorney general candidates Pat Quinn and Scott Drury (both Democrats) and Erika Harold (a Republican).
Other trade unions are helping fund the PAC, according to a source familiar with the organization. It appears Local 150 isn’t supporting any one candidate for mayor, but it knows which one it doesn’t want to win—that would be Daley.
Pritzker announced Monday that he was forming a task force to study the possibility of transferring state assets to the pension system, but Hynes’ speech Thursday offered a more detailed glimpse into what the administration is, and isn’t, considering.
When asked by an audience member what kinds of assets they were considering to sell, Hynes jokingly said, “Don’t say tollway; don’t say tollway; don’t say tollway.”
“I joke about the tollway, but like that’s what everyone’s going to think,” Hynes said, according to a video of the event that was posted online. “And you have the Lottery. Any kind of cash-generating asset is a logical place to think of. But it’s not that simple. Those are actually complex because there are bonds attached to it. There are stakeholders.”
More likely, he said, the administration would look at some of its office buildings and other real estate.
“The state of Illinois in 2000 had 80,000 employees. Today, we have 60,000 employees,” Hynes said. “So not only does that contribute to the whole unfunded problem because we have fewer people paying into the pension system, but from a capacity and utilization of our properties standpoint, it begs the question: What are we doing with this excess space? Has it been looked at? Have we consolidated office space? Have we sold buildings of the state that we don’t need? And that’s what we’re going to be looking at.”
At the time , it was estimated privatization of the tollway could generate as much as $24 billion for the state. Such a figure, even at the 2006 estimate, represents nearly 18 percent of the state’s current unfunded pension liability of about $134 billion.
The estimate, provided by Credit Suisse, said the lease or sale value would depend on such issues as raising toll rates. The finance firm said the state could raise $23.8 billion if it leased the tollway for 75 years, increased tolls by 50 percent every 20 years, and also hiked tolls 3 percent in all other years of the lease. […]
Privatization of the tollway system also could carry political ramifications. Much of the tollway is located in suburbs that have leaned Republican until recently, as well as in more rural GOP areas. When Blagojevich introduced the issue, Republican leaders warned him of the potential backlash from suburban drivers who might have little protection from seeing tolls boosted by a private operator.
Additionally, the 2008 privatization of Chicago’s parking meters by Daley for $1.15 billion, which the mayor rapidly spent down as parking rates escalated, has created negative public attitudes toward the leasing or selling of major public assets in the region.
Makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly possess an assault weapon 300 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act, except possession of weapons registered with the Department of State Police in the time provided. Provides exemptions and penalties.
Even if lawmakers pass a bill that bans assault weapons in Illinois, a state’s attorney in southern Illinois says he won’t enforce it.
Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti said state Sen. Julie Morrison’s bill to ban common firearms would turn law-abiding citizens in his county into felons.
“I can start naming people off on my hand and thinking of how many of these people have these types of weapons,” he said. “They’re going to be felons now?”
After reading the proposed law, the Johnston City Democrat attended a town hall and announced that he would use his discretion as an elected state’s attorney should the bill become law. He said he wouldn’t prosecute anyone with an otherwise clean record under the terms of Morrison’s bill. Prosecutors have wide latitude when it comes to bringing criminal charges. […]
Zanotti said he’s spoken with other state’s attorneys that plan to announce similar positions on the enforcing of the proposed ban.
He would, of course, be taking the risk that a formerly law-abiding gun owner in his county suddenly snaps and becomes a mass shooter.
Chicago’s pension crisis — its four funds’ average funding ratio is only 26 percent — is one reason this editorial board endorses former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley for mayor. He is the only leading candidate who supports loosening the Illinois Constitution’s overly rigorous pension clause. Amending that clause would allow the legislature to protect benefits already earned but modify benefits going forward. The next mayor, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and future legislatures need to take drastic steps to stabilize state and local pension systems, and protect rank-and-file taxpayers.
(U)nlike other candidates in the race, Daley is willing to push for the toughest path toward a cure for what ails Chicago: Taking a hard look not only at the need to boost revenue but the need to attack the cost side of the equation, and the greatest drivers of those costs are the employee pensions that are enriched each year with a built-in cost-of-living increase, even in an era when inflation has been tame. Cracking the pension cost problem would, of course, require a constitutional amendment, something Daley advocates and would likely press on if and when Gov. J.B. Pritzker makes a similar move for his progressive income tax proposal in Springfield.
As mayor, Daley would give the Tribune, Crain’s the Illinois Policy Institute and others the ammunition to claim a constitutional amendment is possible - even though it ignores the harsh political reality that Illinois isn’t Arizona. The unions aren’t coming to the table here the way they did there. Not to mention that Arizona’s judicial system hasn’t yet reviewed the state’s pension benefit reductions.