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Today’s quotable: “I, I can’t answer that”

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* WILL Radio interviewed congressional hopeful Mary Miller

Mary Miller says her bid for Congress is a case of “an ordinary person that’s stepping into an extraordinary opportunity.”

Miller is the wife of first-term State Representative Chris Miller. Together, they run a grain and livestock farm outside of Oakland in Coles County. Mrs. Miller, who has a degree in elementary education, also teaches children through a network of home schools.

When comparing herself to Republican incumbent John Shimkus, Miller notes her support for term limits. Shimkus, who signed a term limits pledge when he first ran for Congress, later rejected the idea of self-imposed term limits, and is now completing his twelfth term in the U.S. House. But Miller said that because of her support for term limits, she doesn’t expect to have a long political career. […]

When asked about health care policy, Miller said she wanted to work for solutions to health care that many Americans find unaffordable. She cites the need for more transparency and competition in the health insurance marketplace, but opposes any “single payer” proposals. Miller said she couldn’t answer the question of whether the Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats during the Obama administration needed to be entirely repealed and replaced.

Her Affordable Care Act response was kinda weird. She actually whispered “I, I can’t answer that” like she’d get in trouble or something if she did answer the question. And then the interviewer moved on like nothing had happened.

* Her response is at the 3:48 mark in the above link, but Darren Duncan’s congressional campaign isolated it

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Mike Has The Steady And Experienced Leadership America Needs

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

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As the U.S. braces for the spread of the Coronavirus, President Trump’s reckless and paranoid leadership continues to put Americans at risk.

While Trump’s mouthpieces cry conspiracy, Trump has disbanded the National Security Council’s Office of Global Health Security and recommended cuts to the CDC’s funding.

Mike has the steady hand and leadership experience to manage a crisis, calm the markets, and save lives.

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Coronavirus roundup

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* Press release…

State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) says Illinois needs a point person to coordinate coronavirus containment efforts with the federal government.

“We need a person with a strong medical background who can serve as a liaison between Illinois and Washington D.C.,” McSweeney said. “Millions of people visit Chicago every year. The impact this coronavirus would have on our state could be severe. It is important that we work with the federal government and make sure all of our state agencies are taking the appropriate measures. Governor Pritzker should immediately appoint someone to coordinate these efforts.”

Illinois currently has two confirmed coronavirus cases both in Chicagoland area.

“The disease is already here,” McSweeney said. “The Governor should be proactive in protecting Illinois citizens from this potentially deadly virus.”

* I asked the governor’s office for a response…

The health and safety of Illinoisans is a top priority for Governor Pritzker that’s why our state agencies have been coordinating to protect our residents since day one. IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau manages all state emergencies and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who has decades of experience in public health, leads a team of qualified experts. IDPH has a team of seasoned epidemiologists who are working closely with other state agencies like IEMA as well as the CDC, CDPH and other public health partners to implement measures that have been able to successfully contain the virus to this point and they are now working diligently to prepare the state and keep our communities safe in the event of further spread.

As subscribers already know, the state’s head epidemiologist recently resigned.

* IDPH…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is working with local, state, and federal health partners to take all preventative steps available to limit the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). While COVID-19 is not spreading in communities in Illinois or the U.S., there is evidence of community spread in several countries around the world and IDPH is committed to working across local, state, and federal agencies to ensure Illinois is prepared.

IDPH is currently conducting hospital assessments to determine all available capacity in the event more people need medical care. IDPH is also assessing the availability of personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, and masks for health care workers. Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to provide COVID-19 testing in-state and IDPH is continuing to work on increasing capacity for testing to ensure rapid results.

“As additional cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed in an increasing number of countries, the Illinois Department of Public Health is working with health care providers and local public health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other state agencies to coordinate a robust response and take every possible step we can to prepare,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Illinois has already led the charge, becoming the first state to be able to test for COVID-19 at state laboratories. As we move forward, we are working across city, state, and federal agencies to identify all available resources and ensure we are using every tool to keep our communities safe.”

Since January 2020, IDPH has worked closely with local, state, and federal partners to successfully contain the virus in Illinois, with only two confirmed cases. Efforts have included:

* Implementing testing for COVID-19 in Illinois, becoming the first state to do so.
* Setting up a statewide hotline for questions about coronavirus
* Providing guidance and recommendations to local health departments, hospitals, EMS, clinicians, and other partners in a variety of areas:

    * Assessment for COVID-19 in patients based on risk due to travel or close contact to a confirmed case
    * Evaluation and reporting persons under investigation
    * Infection control practices
    * Precautions for schools, universities/colleges, and students
    * Isolation/quarantine
    * Prevention steps for caregivers and close contacts
    * Specimen submission and testing
    * Recommended strategies for personal protective equipment use
    * Emergency department call triage
    * Emergency Medical Services and 911 call center response

* Providing routine briefings to the General Assembly
* Communicating with the public by creating a coronavirus disease webpage, issuing news releases, hosting press conferences, conducting interviews, and providing information on social media.

While efforts to contain the number of COVID-19 cases will continue, Illinois will also utilize community mitigation strategies. Community mitigation aims to slow the spread of a novel virus in communities using nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) better known as “everyday preventive actions” including staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, frequent handwashing, and routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and objects.

In the absence of medications or vaccines, community mitigation measures are the first line of defense against highly transmissible infectious diseases. Preventative actions should be practiced by Illinoisans at all times, but especially as we continue to monitor potential spread of a new virus.

…Adding… Correct…


* Related…

* Coronavirus could lead to drug shortages in US: About 90% of the active ingredients used by U.S. companies in drug manufacturing come from China, which has prompted politicians and public health experts to express concern over potential shortages of common generics. To date, manufacturing disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, haven’t led to reported shortages in the U.S., but the Food and Drug Administration said it’s closely monitoring the situation. The FDA said earlier this week it was tracking about 20 drugs that are manufactured primarily in China. Depending on the drug, stockpiles lasting weeks, perhaps months, have been warehoused, according to supply chain experts.

* What the state is doing about coronavirus

* Illinois public health officials briefing state legislature on coronavirus developments: “IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike has held conference call briefings with legislators’ offices as new information becomes available,” said IDPH spokesperson Chris Martinez. “[The] director and IDPH staff have also been available to answer questions or to provide an update in person or via phone at any time.”

* Patient screened for coronavirus at Belleville Memorial Hospital: “Following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BJC HealthCare hospitals have processes in place to screen patients for risk of coronavirus, or COVID-19,” a statement from BJC Healthcare read. “Based on medical symptoms and travel history, patients may be referred for further laboratory testing. Memorial Hospital Belleville has referred one patient to the Illinois Department of Public Health for testing and is expecting results in the next few days.”

* Area health departments address increasing coronavirus risk: Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has entered what it calls “full pandemic preparedness mode.” They haven’t done that in more than a decade, since the H1N1 virus in 2009. They’re making plans on what to do if the virus comes to central Illinois. Part of that is by holding meeting with hospitals and doctors and communicating with the public on prevention. … A lot of people are wearing surgical masks as a precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, the CDC does not recommend this for a way to stop yourself from getting it. It is best used for those who are sick and want to keep from spreading whatever they have.

* America’s bad paid sick leave policy could make the coronavirus outbreak worse: There is no federal law guaranteeing paid time off for illness, and paid sick leave is comparatively rare for lower-wage workers. Just 63 percent of people working in service occupations have paid sick leave, versus more than 90 percent of people in management positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For people working part-time, just 43 percent can get sick leave from their employer.

* Japan cancels all school for a month, Saudi Arabia puts hajj on hold as coronavirus spreads

* Is the coronavirus a threat to Southern Illinois? Here are 5 things you should know: The deadliness of an outbreak is often measured by the case fatality rate, or the ratio of deaths to the total number of cases in a given area. Within China, the overall fatality rate is 2.3%. The older you are, the greater the risk, Chinese health officials determined in a study released earlier this month. For those younger than 50, the death rate was less than 1%, a number that increases to nearly 15% for people over 80.

* Stocks Fall Sharply As Concern Over Coronavirus Grows

* Pence Picks Top U.S. AIDS Official for Coronavirus Response: Investors anxious about the spread of the coronavirus from its origins in China have sought assurances that the Trump administration is prepared to confront a potential public health crisis. Trump, who in the past has called for budget cuts at the CDC and other health agencies, said Wednesday he would bring in officials from within the government to help with the virus response.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Gift Of Hope CEO Says Kidney Patients Need Support

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In Illinois, over 30,000 people suffer from end-stage renal disease (ESRD). This disease imposes a harsh physical, mental, and financial burden on them and their families. That’s why organizations, community groups, health professionals, and businesses from across Illinois founded The Illinois Kidney Care Alliance (IKCA).

Kevin Cmunt, CEO of Gift of Hope— a founding member of IKCA— recently sat down for an interview with Health News Illinois.

“There are tens of thousands of Illinoisans who suffer from end-stage renal disease. It’s really expensive. It’s cost our society and our state, and it’s just a really crummy disease,” Cmunt told HNI.

For dialysis patients fortunate enough to have insurance, ESRD can still be an annual out-of-pocket expense in excess of $7,000. And many patients with advanced kidney disease are low-income.

Read more of Kevin’s interview and learn more about IKCA, kidney care in Illinois, challenges faced by those with ESRD, and next steps for the Alliance here.

The Illinois Kidney Care Alliance is proud to have Kevin Cmunt and Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network advocate for those with ESRD. For more information visit our website.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Mazzochi to HDems: “You’ve done nothing” about corruption

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* I also told subscribers about this earlier today. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board’s executive director Brent Fischer testified at a House appropriations committee yesterday and was asked about Forrest Ashby. He was the guy Mike McClain was trying to protect when he vouched for him to two Pat Quinn administration officials. McClain said Ashby “kept his mouth shut on Jones’ ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items. He is loyal to the administration.”

Tony Arnold at WBEZ

“You’re saying that you paid Mr. Ashby $60,000 a year not to actually do the curriculum review and development but to just observe some classes and hire some interns?” Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, asked Fischer.

“Well I mean he could participate but it wasn’t like he was gonna be the ultimate decider as far as what the curriculum was,” Fischer responded.

“Right,” Mazzochi shot back. “So what’s his value add for $60,000?”

Fischer said he did not publicly post the contractual position, but instead offered it directly to Ashby since the two already had a rapport. Fischer testified that he knew Ashby because he had volunteered on one of Fischer’s own campaigns. But he added that nobody from Pritzker’s campaign, the governor’s office, the speaker’s office, or McClain recommended he hire Ashby on contract.

* Just before the House adjourned today, Rep. Mazzochi rose to say this

I would like to alert all the members of this chamber that back in January many of you were extremely upset about the fact that a man named Forrest Ashby was being given political insider privileges and perks in connection with potentially keeping his mouth shut about ghost-payrollers and covering up knowledge about a rape in Champaign.

Yesterday at the Public Appropriations Committee hearing meeting was the first time we have on our side of the aisle had an opportunity to actually ask someone from the administration, what was going on with that. And as it turned out, this same person was given a $60,000 a year, no-bid job, based on his personal connections to the executive director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board.

We have called for investigations, we have called for transparency, as to what this person did, what did he know, and more directly, what was Mike McClain doing. Who was he getting into these political positions. We don’t agree with ghost-payrolling and if you don’t think that this kind of thing isn’t ghost-payrolling, I don’t know what you think is.

We’ve called for investigations, and you’ve done nothing. You haven’t convened any committees, you haven’t done any investigations, you haven’t made sure that this is not happening throughout all levels of our government. And I would like this body, because you said you were upset, you said you were concerned, to actually do something.

This was two months ago, that you found out about this, and you’ve done nothing. It’s unacceptable, and I would really like to know when you’re going to finally tell your leadership that this kind of corrupt culture is not acceptable here in Springfield, and finally start doing something about it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Kim Foxx is not on Madigan’s 13th Ward palm card

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* Check it out…

* I asked the ward’s PR firm, Boyce Possley Communications, why the party-slated incumbent state’s attorney was not on the 13th Ward’s palm cards. Eileen Boyce…

We’ve weighed in on these races to date, and will continue to monitor all of the races.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** Looks like I stepped on Hannah. Sorry!…


Not a good look for the 13th Ward.

…Adding… Lightfoot and Preckwinkle actually agree on something…

With less than three weeks to go before Election Day, union members and labor leaders are joining together with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and President Toni Preckwinkle for a Labor Get Out The Vote Rally tomorrow, Feb. 28 at 11:30 a.m., in support of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The rally will be held at the headquarters of Painters District Council 14, 1456 W. Adams St. in Chicago, who will be announcing their endorsement of Kim Foxx. Speakers to include Painters District Council 14 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer John Spiros, Mayor Lightfoot, President Preckwinkle, and State’s Attorney Foxx.

WHO: Labor leaders and union members from the Painters District Council 14, SEIU, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Chicago Teachers Union, and other unions along with Mayor of the City of Chicago Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx
WHAT: Labor GOTV Rally for Kim Foxx
WHERE: Painters District Council 14 Headquarters

…Adding… Perhaps this 2019 story is why?

A Cook County grand jury has subpoenaed city election records related to 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn’s challenge to a college student’s nominating signatures during the last City Hall campaign, the Tribune has learned.

Quinn, the hand-picked alderman of House Speaker Michael Madigan, the 13th Ward’s Democratic committeeman for decades, soundly defeated David Krupa, a DePaul University student, in the Feb. 26 City Council race.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


New Senate Transportation chair promises break with the past

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* Press release…

State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), the newly appointed chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, sent a letter to his colleagues inviting them to reintroduce any legislation that Villivalam’s predecessor refused to give an open hearing.

“It has been widely reported that the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee from 2009 to October of 2019 conducted meetings and approached policy, as it relates to transportation issues, without making the public good and/or public policy his top priority,” Villivalam said. “As the new chair, I have vowed to create and implement an open, transparent and accountable process for legislation that will maintain and improve our transportation and infrastructure system in a data-driven, equitable way.”

Villivalam pledged to provide an open, fair and transparent process for all legislation assigned to the Transportation Committee this year. He also encouraged his colleagues in the General Assembly to notify him if a bill in the Transportation Committee was assigned to the committee in a previous year but never heard.

“I am committed to holding hearings throughout the state to enable local people to comment on the transportation issues that matter most to them,” Villivalam said. “The government works for the people, so it works best when everyone gets a chance to voice their opinions, and we legislators make the best, most informed decisions when we talk to both experts and the people whose everyday lives are effected by our decisions.”

The Senate Transportation Committee normally meets on Tuesdays at 5 p.m.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* SJ-R

The REACH Act would require all public schools to implement health curricula tailored for each grade level. Here’s the proposed breakdown:

    • Grades K-2: Personal safety, identifying trusted adults children can rely on for guidance and support, respecting others

    • Grades 3-5: Continues on personal safety and healthy relationships, discusses bullying, harassment and abuse, and covers topics such as anatomy, puberty, hygiene, body image, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

    • Grades 6-12: Builds on prior instruction about healthy relationships by covering issues like consent, sexual harassment, abuse, and interpersonal violence, provides additional information on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and covers the benefits of abstinence, behavioral changes, barrier methods like condoms, medication, contraception, and sexually transmitted infection prevention methods.

[…] The Illinois Association of School Boards plans to oppose the bill because the group is against all new curricular mandates, said Thomas Bertrand, IASB executive director.

The ACLU has a competing bill that would not be a state mandate. I’m hearing tensions are high between the two sides and that may prevent anything from passing this spring.

* Pete Janko, candidate for the Illinois House…

It used to be that millionaires and billionaires would just buy our politicians to do their bidding. But with so many special interests competing to buy favors from our elected officials, it’s becoming too much work for some of the rich to get the first in line spot with our elected officials. As the old saying goes, “If you want something done your way, you do it yourself,” right? So it looks like the rich are simply cutting out the middleman, spending huge amounts of money flooding the airwaves, the internet, and your mailbox with their propaganda, trying to buy elections.

No doubt we need to get Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo reversed. But, until that happens, I that the States should levy a so-called ‘sin tax’ on politicians, which I call the “Excessive Political Campaigns Tax” (EPC Tax).

How The Tax Work Would Work.

Every year, IRS Form 1040 asks taxpayers if they would like $3 to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. Let’s interpret $3 as the suggested value of a single voter. We take that $3 and multiply it by the number of registered voters that can vote for a specific candidate (district, county, city, etc.). That becomes the amount of money raised in the election cycle that would be exempt form the EPC Tax. Any money a campaign raises above that amount, including any of the candidate’s own money spent on the race, would be considered “excessive” and taxed – let’s say at 15%.

For example, a given district has 50,000 registered voters. Multiplied by $3 equals $150,000 that will be exempt from the EPC Tax. The last thing anyone wants to do is hinder in any way a grass-roots campaign or just a traditional campaign. But as we can see, the vast majority of campaign will not pay the EPC Tax .

* Hannah Meisel

Illinois’ solar industry is sounding the alarm on a dwindling source of state money that supports hundreds of solar energy projects, leading renewable energy advocates to warn of a solar energy “bust.”

The 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act provides approximately $235 million in grant funding annually for renewable energy projects including solar and wind. But that fund — fueled by fees paid by utility customers— has failed to keep up with demand for solar energy projects from both large-scale companies and homeowners.

Those pushing a bill referred to as the “Path to 100” are asking the state to gradually increase renewable energy fees from 2 percent to 4 percent by 2020. Advocates said the change would mean the average residential customer would pay approximately $1.75 per month to support solar and wind energy.

* Tribune

Earlier on Wednesday, the House Transportation Committee voted to send another red-light camera bill that would prohibit employees of red-light camera companies or employee-created PACs from contributing more than $500 to any political candidate in a given year to the full House for a vote.

* Press release…

State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) has filed a constitutional amendment to create retroactive term limits in Illinois. HJRCA44 provides that each General Assembly office is limited to 12 years and each executive branch office is limited to 8 years, specifically:

    · A State Senator may not be elected to office for more than 12 years
    · A State Representative may not be elected to office for more than 12 years
    · An individual can serve a combined 24 years in the General Assembly
    · No person can be elected to an Executive Branch office for more than 8 years
    · Time served prior to the adoption of this amendment would also be considered in the calculation of years of service

Batinick has long advocated for term limits in the General Assembly, but with the uptick in corruption plaguing the statehouse, the Representative deemed the retroactive addition necessary to firmly part with the status quo.

“No amount of laws will make us immune to corruption, but we can minimize the root cause,” said Rep. Batinick. “If we are serious about ethics reform, this is a strong start to prevent concentrated power—and the influence peddling that goes along with that. To part with the corruption that has become the norm for us and the disappointment of our taxpayers, we need change.”

The purpose of this legislation is to make retroactive term limits a constitutional amendment to be put on the ballot in the November 2020 election. Should HJRCA44 pass, those who currently exceed these term limits would be able to finish out their term, but cannot run for reelection.

“We need term limits in Illinois to move forward to responsible and transparent government,” continued Batinick. “Until that happens, we will continue to wade through the old ways of governing that made Illinois synonymous with corruption.”

As legislative session resumes, Representative Batinick will continue the push for ethics reform, including HJRCA44. Currently, the legislation is awaiting further consideration in the Rules Committee.

* Other stuff…

* Why Supreme Court’s denial of term-limit referendum is a big win for Elk Grove’s mayor: The unanimous decision reverses a Cook County judge’s Jan. 15 ruling that found a state law barring retroactive term-limit measures to be unconstitutional. Instead, the high court sided with Elk Grove’s electoral board — and ultimately Gov. J.B. Pritzker — which upheld an objection to the referendum question on the basis it violated the recently-enacted state law.

* Advocates rally to end cash bail in Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


The rest of the story

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* WCIA

Some voters in Champaign County are concerned after getting more than one ballot sent to them. They all chose to vote by mail. Now they’re worried other people may be able to vote more than once.

All of them have voted by mail at the same address more than once before. They never had any issues until now. We talked to three people: two who got two ballots and another who got three.

Janet Gravlin has lived at the same address in Urbana for 54 years. She has voted by mail for several years. This year, she got two ballots, each with a slightly different address. Sharon Petersson, on the other hand, got three ballots sent to her. All of them with the exact same address.

“When you stop and think how many people are getting duplicates that… maybe send them all back, I don’t know how they check if it does go back,” said Janet Gravlin.

What’s missing in the story is how mailed-in ballots are checked before they’re accepted at the county clerk level.

* I’ve never voted by mail, so I reached out to Matt Dietrich at the Illinois State Board of Elections…

The ballot is specifically for the voter who requests it and you return it in a special envelope with your signature, which is verified by an election judge just like if you get a ballot in a polling place.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Reading between the lines

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* Jason Meisner at the Tribune

Federal prosecutors are asking for a prison sentence of about three years for a Chicago lawyer accused of scheming with former Ald. Edward Vrdolyak to reap millions of dollars in legal fees from the state’s massive settlement with the tobacco companies despite having done no work on the case.

Daniel Soso, 67, pleaded guilty last year to one count of income tax evasion for his role in the scheme, which prosecutors said netted Soso and Vrdolyak at least a combined $10 million in illicit payments from the historic $9.3 billion settlement beginning in 1999.

Soso is scheduled to be sentenced next week by U.S. District Judge Robert Dow. Vrdolyak, 82, who also pleaded guilty, faces up to about 2½ years in prison when he is sentenced April 2.

In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors said that sparing Soso from a significant term behind bars would “contribute to the current climate of cynicism that well-heeled white collar criminal defendants and the politically connected are held to to a different standard than others.”

Gee, I wonder what white-collar, politically connected criminal recently in the news for being held to a different standard they might be referring to here? Any guesses?

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* The setup

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to take an epic trip to visit three or four of the states that have legalized cannabis, he told reporters in New York City on Thursday.

This trip is not the fulfillment of the governor’s tenth grade bucket list, however. Rather, the journey is to help him prepare for similar legislation in the state’s budget this year.

Cuomo said that he’ll be bringing his team to Massachusetts, Illinois and California or Colorado, “to meet with them, discuss what they’ve done, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked.

* The Question: Your suggested itinerary for Gov. Cuomo?

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Universities ask for more state funding

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* The Center Square

Officials from three of the state’s public universities went before a Senate committee on Wednesday to detail their funding requests, including one double-digit increase.

Public universities had a difficult during the two-year state budget impasse brought on by the stalemate between former Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratically-controlled General Assembly. With Democrats firmly in control of all levers of state government, some of the state’s universities are asking for more funding than they had received in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first state budget.

Representatives from Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, and the University of Illinois presented requests to the Senate Appropriations II Committee on Wednesday.

The University of Illinois system, which announced it would break a years-long tuition freeze this fall, requested a total of $657 million in the fiscal year beginning this July, a more than 12 percent increase in state funding from the current year, not including a $303 million request for capital project spending.

“We deferred upgrades during the budget impasse, we had to,” U of I President Timothy Killeen said of the steps the system was forced to take in recent years due to lack of state funding.

Higher education funding would remain level in Gov. Pritzker’s budget unless the graduated income tax is approved by voters in November.

* Capitol News Illinois

“Adjusted for inflation, this increase would still be below … our fiscal 2015 funding level,” said U of I System President Timothy Killeen. “And I want to remind you, we now have many thousands more students in our classrooms than we did back then.” […]

But some members of the committee were skeptical of the need for that large of an increase. Among those was Sen. Scott Bennett, a Champaign Democrat, who noted that U of I recently announced plans to raise tuition starting in the fall of 2020 after going five years with no tuition increases.

“When, by then, you had to increase tuition, it was at the same board (of trustees) meeting in which certain administrators also got increases,” Bennett said. […]

Killeen, however, noted that during the budget impasse, U of I eliminated about 300 higher-level administrative positions and that the school’s focus would be building up its teaching faculty by hiring 100 new faculty per year for the next five years.

The amount of ground lost by the state’s higher education system during the previous three administrations did incalculable harm. And the impasse darned near killed them off. Yes, I know this is a maintenance budget and there just isn’t a lot of money out there to be had. But the same Democrats who spent four years complaining about the damage done by Bruce Rauner should be stepping up now.

* Related…

* MAP is back - Increased funding to help low-income college students

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Suburban mayor calls legislators who voted for red-light cam ban bill “a bunch of idiots”

Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

* We discussed this yesterday, but let’s take a look at what reporters found when they asked around. First, Marni Pyke at the Daily Herald

The future of red-light cameras in non-home-rule municipalities is in question after the Illinois House passed legislation partially banning the devices Wednesday. […]

Democratic State Rep. Mark Walker of Arlington Heights voted no, saying the bill does not include Chicago or most of his district, where many suburbs have home-rule authority.

“It doesn’t cover any of the communities where corruption has been uncovered. There are better bills soon to come out of committee — to outlaw red light cameras across all counties and cities,” Walker said.

Democratic State Rep. Diane Pappas of Itasca voted no because the bill “takes away a safety tool and source of revenue from some of the communities that are most constrained in the state. It’s easy to pick on the little guys.”

* Jamie Munks at the Tribune

The House vote was 84-4 in favor of the legislation, but the measure will likely continue to face pushback in the suburbs and the Illinois Municipal League.

Rep. Diane Pappas, a suburban Democrat, said the measure is less a red-light camera issue and more a “local control issue.”

“What we’re doing by passing this bill is not banning evil red-light cameras, we are depriving non-home rule communities of rights that home rule communities will continue to have,” Pappas said. “People will continue to be ticketed for running red lights in home rule communities but not in non-home rule communities.”

* Neal Earley at the Sun-Times

Krzysztof Wasowicz, mayor of southwest suburban Justice, called the lawmakers who passed the bill “a bunch of idiots” who are unfairly punishing non-home rule municipalities such as his.

“The program could be administered better, things could be tweaked, things could be worked out differently,” Wasowicz said. “So why do you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater?” […]

“We don’t want to lay off people and cut services because of some rash decision by the House, [North Riverside Village President Hubert Hermanek Jr.] said. […]

“I think anybody who voted for this is more concerned about pandering to voters than the safety of residents,” [Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler] said.

* Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois

Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, suggested that taking away red light ticket revenue might cause affected municipalities to raise property taxes, but McSweeney said those communities should cut costs.

DeLuca said the red light camera program should be reformed rather than partially banned.

“I believe you’re doing this bill to create a headline, you’re not doing this bill to solve corruption,” Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, said.

Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, however, strongly supported the measure, saying red light cameras “have been a crux in the black and brown communities for years.”

* Dave Dahl

Sponsoring State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) is tying this to former State Sen. Martin Sandoval, who pleaded guilty in a scheme to protect red light vendors from a ban on their products.

“This is the bill I passed in 2015,” McSweeney said on the floor, “This is the bill that is so dangerous to the red-light camera companies that they acted to bribe a state senator. They have a roomful of lobbyists. This is a good first step.”

*** UPDATE *** Rep. McSweeney filed a motion to reconsider the vote on his red-light cam bill. I asked him why…

So that Team Durkin couldn’t do it. I’ll release it next week.

…Adding… Yep…


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Thursday, Feb 27, 2020

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* Question of the day
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* COVID-19 roundup
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* Organizations Call For Repeal of PNA
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