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Feds OK safety net hospital plan

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* From the Governor’s Office…

Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced that the federal government has approved the state’s plan to protect safety net and rural hospitals while ensuring continued federal support for quality healthcare to more than three million Illinoisans.

“This is a critical step in the making sure our safety net and rural hospitals can keep their doors open in underserved communities,” Rauner said. “Our teams worked hard to build a more equitable model while making sure hospitals can offer more urgent and outpatient care in their communities.”

The plan was created with Senate Bill 1773, bipartisan legislation that Rauner signed in March. It ensures the state will continue to receive federal matching funds to offer services for Medicaid beneficiaries through the Hospital Assessment Program, which brings in $3.5 billion annually. The new program takes effect July 1.

A bipartisan group of legislators worked with the Illinois Health and Hospital Association and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to redesign the program, create a more equitable reimbursement process, and ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

“The Department is pleased that the federal government has approved this plan, which will mean that dollars follow services for Medicaid patients more closely,” said Teresa Hursey, Interim Director of HFS. “The new program reflects the reality that healthcare delivery has changed dramatically over the last ten years, and it draws down as much federal revenue as we believe is permissible.”

Prior to the new program, the state used old data sets, which were sometimes based on care that was provided as far back as 2005, to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid services. The new model applies updated data and also ensures that more of the reimbursements are based on actual services hospitals provide.

It also dedicates more than $260 million to help hospitals transform their operations to better serve their communities, such as offering more urgent and outpatient care.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   2 Comments      

Motion to place SIU’s Dunn on leave fails

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* SIU President Randy Dunn survived today’s vote to place him on administrative leave while an investigation of his conduct is performed, but the Board did vote to publicly disclose the content of these mysterious documents that supposedly reveal what would have prompted such a probe in the first place.

The Southern…

“I challenge this board to envision not what we once were, but what we are becoming: a premier institution in the Midwest. I challenge this board to augment our innovation and success with an appropriate funding structure that distinguishes our environment and needs from that of Carbondale,” Price-Williams said.

Kathleen Chwalisz, the SIUC faculty member who discovered the internal emails that led to the controversy, said Dunn has been “purposefully undermining” the Carbondale campus.

“At this time, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the Carbondale campus community to trust Dr. Dunn and his leadership,” Chwalisz said.

Anne Hunter, incoming president of the SIUE Staff Senate, said she has frequently seen SIUE painted as less important than Carbondale. She said Dunn simply stated the obvious by pointing out that SIUC receives a disproportionate share of appropriations.

The Trustees pushing Dunn’s leave knew going into today’s meeting they did not have the votes but called for it anyway. Weird.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   7 Comments      

On teacher salaries, Rauner says answer is mandate relief

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor<

* Gov. Rauner was on WJBC-AM this morning, and asked specifically by host Scott McLaughlin if he plans to veto the $40,000/year minimum wage bill that passed both chambers…

We’re talkin’ with all the school leaders around the state. I am in strong favor of our teachers makin’ more money, and I support that very much. But havin’ a mandate where every school district has to do a minimum like that is very tough because there are a lot of school districts that don’t have the money and can’t afford it. We’ve gotta come up with some creative solutions. We’re workin’ on that right now. You know, the real answer is to get the mandates off from Springfield so teachers can teach and principals can lead without costly regulations and restrictions on what they do.

He went on to say money could be saved for teacher salary increases if local governments and school districts were allowed to contract services and consolidate.

The bill cleared the veto-proof majority in the Senate, and had 65 yays in the House. It has not been sent to the Governor as of yet, according to records.

A coalition of school district and leadership groups actually cited in a recent letter the current bargaining process as a reason the Governor should veto the bill…

Coupled with the recently enacted law requiring schools boards to contribute the normal pension costs for any salary increase above 3% (PA 100-0587), enactment of this proposal would require local school districts to increase pay above 3%, then require the local school district to pay the normal pension cost because of the increase!

Illinois has a collective bargaining law that empowers local school boards, together with their teachers and support staff, to set salaries in consideration of the revenues available to run their schools. School leaders and staff must take into consideration all aspects of its budget and make very difficult decisions to provide an effective education program that meets the needs of all students, while considering the will and ability of their local taxpayers to pay these mandated increases. often bargaining sessions include items other than salary, such as health insurance costs and pension contributions.

From a WUIS piece this morning….

Chris Roegge said the legislative fixes are a good solution for the short-term, but they don’t address long-term needs. Roegge serves as the director of the University of Illinois’s Council on Teacher Education, and he’s seen a decline in the number of students enrolling in teacher preparation programs. A report from the non-profit Learning Policy Institute cites a 35 percent decrease nation-wide in teacher education enrollments between 2009 and 2014. Roegge attributes that in part to the narrative around the field.

“There’s been this swirl of negative press going back for more than five years around teaching, the conditions of teaching, the status of the job, the difficulty of the job – all of these things,” he said. “I think we’re starting to reap what’s been sown by that.”

Roegge points to the report from the Learning Policy Institute that identifies what attracts people to the field and what improves retention once they’re there. He said the four key ingredients are: compensation, preparation, induction and mentoring, and teaching conditions.

In many cases, improving these four areas requires more resources – whether that’s more money for teacher salaries and classroom materials or grants and scholarships for college students interested in the field.

The measures that have passed both chambers in the state’s General Assembly to specifically address the teacher shortage have revolved largely around decreasing bureaucratic hurdles instead of sending more money to local districts.

Here is Roegge in May…

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposed amendment to the state’s school code that would establish a minimum salary of $40,000 for full-time teachers. Is that salary threshold enough to attract more people to the profession despite the many other challenges teaches face, such as underresourced schools and standardized testing mandates?

I think the salary increase helps, in terms of perception as well as practice, especially given that the current minimum is $9,000.

I read a quote recently that sums up the situation pretty well, which said that it was generally acknowledged in the past that teachers and prospective teachers were willing to trade off low pay for job security, status – because it was a fairly high-status job – and pensions. Now, we’ve reached a situation where the salaries are still comparatively low, the status has decreased substantially and the benefits are under assault, too, so the two positives that outweighed the one negative are not so positive anymore.

But there are other factors also. I was at a statewide meeting of college of education leaders a few weeks ago and a colleague from another public institution in the state had just come from fact-finding sessions with school personnel in their area. They’d had several conversations about the teacher shortage and why more people aren’t entering the profession.

The audience came up with five p’s – pay, pressure, pensions, parents and policies – that discourage people from choosing teaching. Those issues speak to the educators’ interpretations of the context right now surrounding teaching as a profession.

What educational barriers discourage prospective students from entering teacher preparation programs?

The one that garners the most attention currently is the basic skills test requirement. Students can satisfy that requirement by either taking the actual test or by having a composite score of at least 22 on the ACT and the English/writing portion of the ACT, or by achieving a certain score on the SAT. Statewide, this is a significant hurdle for many prospective teacher education students.

This is a fraught issue because it speaks to perceptions of academic rigor, or lack thereof. But, there is little to no correlation between “basic skills proficiency” and success in teaching. So the question is how teacher education programs should ensure the academic quality of their students without unduly constricting the applicant pool.

Right now there is considerable discussion around this issue, and I believe that a reasonable alternative to the current requirement will be adopted sooner rather than later.

Student debt is a big issue in general, but especially so for graduates entering comparatively low-paying jobs. Institutions and state government need to work together on strategies to address the costs of entering teaching, including general college costs and those specifically associated with teacher preparation.

The concern essentially becomes one where it doesn’t hurt to increase teacher salaries, but there are also other factors at play. The districts say they do not know how to pay for them. In some cases, that is true. As we discussed in an earlier post today, some of these districts have smaller EAVs to work with, which means they have to have a higher levy to keep up with the wealthier areas that have a better tax base.

To the new funding formula…

The new evidence-based funding model draws upon research findings that show, for example, a 15-1 teacher-student ratio in third grade is optimal for best outcomes. If a district lacks money for such a ratio, that is figured into how much state support the school will receive.

If a district spends more for administrators than is considered best practice, the district is not rewarded for that spending with additional state money. And so on, across scores of indicators.

Since best practices generally cost more money, the formula will still, as before, attempt to provide increased money for property poor districts. Yet the funding will be based on what a model school district would look like.

In the past, state money has been allocated by Byzantine education politics into transportation, special education and other narrow buckets, unrelated to best practices.

To fund the formula fully will require about $7 billion annually in new money (above the present $70 billion in annual state “all funds” revenue). I estimate about two-thirds of that money will benefit Downstate school districts, where property wealth is low overall.


* Is CPS the most understaffed district in Illinois?

* Galesburg region battles drastic early childhood education cuts”

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   23 Comments      

Yingling launches targeted cable ad buy for Lake County Assessor bill

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

By Hannah Meisel

* In a highly unusual move, Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake) is launching a 10-day ad buy on CNN, MSNBC and FOX, urging viewers to call Gov. Rauner to pressure him to sign SB2544, Yingling’s bill that puts a referendum question on the Lake County ballot asking whether the Lake County Assessor should be elected.

The ad plays on last year’s revelations from a Tribune investigation that Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios had been unfairly assessing properties — either too high for low-income, minority neighborhoods or too low for whiter, higher-income areas. Berrios, of course, lost his primary in March.

* Transcript…

A corrupt Assessor. Pay to play politics.
Voters in Cook County took action to restore fairness.
But in Lake County where property taxes are the highest, we don’t have that power.
The Lake County Assessor is not popularly elected. Nor is the County Chairman who appoints them.
A bipartisan coalition of legislators voted to empower you, the voter, to elect our assessor.
But political insiders are pressuring the governor to veto your right to vote.
Call the governor and tell him to sign Senate Bill 2544.

* The $25,000 ad buy is paired with a $25,000 “patch-through” call campaign that I’m told is on pace to send over 3,000 calls to the Governor’s office before June 29, the same day the Senate is supposed to send the bill to Rauner.

Additionally, Yingling and interns will deliver a petition to Rauner on the same day the bill is released, which is expected to garner 1,000 signatures. He got 200 just yesterday, and I’m told that those who answered doors or encountered Yingling or petitioners said they had already gotten his letter or called the Governor’s office.

For those unfamiliar with the issue, Yingling has been pushing this for a while, as Lake County’s assessor is appointed by Lake County’s board chair, who is elected internally by the board and not by popular vote.

In November, local township assessors sued the Lake County assessor, but it was ultimately thrown out for lack of standing.

- Posted by Hannah Meisel   26 Comments      

Poll: Pritzker leads Rauner by nine points

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

According to a recent Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll, Democrat J.B. Pritzker leads Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by nine points, 36-27, with 26 percent choosing an unnamed third-party candidate and 11 percent undecided. In other words, slightly more people said they preferred third party and/or were undecided than supported the frontrunner, Pritzker.

The partisan breakdown of respondents was 41 percent Democratic, 34 percent Republican and 25 percent saying they were independent. So, the two candidates have a ways to go to even convince members of their own parties to stand with them.

A full 36 percent of Republicans were still either undecided (9 percent) or chose a third-party candidate (27 percent), while 27 percent of Democrats were either undecided (6) or say they are backing a third-party candidate (21).

It’s seems unlikely that a quarter of voters will wind up going third party on Election Day, but, hey, one never knows. Respondents who say they’re with an unnamed third-party candidate might be just temporarily parking themselves there before “coming home” in November. But these results also show deep dissatisfaction with both candidates, and that can’t be great news for the frontrunner Pritzker. Then again, I’d take his results over Rauner’s any day.

If you take a look at the attorney general candidates, you’ll see the exact same nine-point spread between the two. Sen. Kwame Raoul leads Republican Erika Harold 44-35. Pollster Gregg Durham said he considers these to be a generic ballot test. We didn’t poll a third-party candidate in that race.

According to the poll of 600 likely voters, 56 percent have an unfavorable opinion of President Donald Trump while 39 percent have a favorable view. That’s the exact same 56-39 split from the 2016 presidential results here.

So, why do these top of the ballot races have single-digit margins in a “wave” year like this? Do Rauner and Harold have a shot?

Pritzker has spent an absolute fortune, but it’s only June and he’s been hit with a lot of negatives since January. And keep in mind that a hobbled, unpopular Gov. Rod Blagojevich won by about 10 points during the last off-year “blue wave” in 2006 – which is right about where these races are.

One important Illinois-centric variable could be House Speaker Michael Madigan, who, it turns out, is just as or even more unpopular in Illinois as Trump. A very high 60 percent of likely Illinois voters have an unfavorable view of Madigan, while 39 percent have a favorable view.

A whopping 63 percent of independents or third-party voters have an unfavorable view of Madigan, which is higher than the 59 percent who had the same view of Trump. 56 percent of women and 62 percent of men have an unfavorable view of the House Speaker (Trump’s split was 60/51).

Back to the governor’s race, where 37 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Gov. Rauner, while a solid majority of 55 percent had an unfavorable view.

The poll taken June 9-11 with a margin of error of +/-3.99 percent found that 43 percent had a favorable opinion of J.B. Pritzker while 39 percent had an unfavorable view.

64 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Rauner, but 29 percent still have an unfavorable opinion of him and 8 percent were undecided, so the governor still has a ways to go after barely winning the March GOP primary.

The poll found that 67 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Pritzker, while 17 percent had an unfavorable view. Pritzker has a bit of catching up to do on his side.

Rauner is underwater with just about every demographic. 57 percent of collar county voters and 59 percent of suburban Cook County voters have an unfavorable opinion of the governor. It’s closer Downstate, where he’s underwater by two points, 44 to 46.

Pritzker leads Rauner everywhere except Downstate. Pritzker’s ahead 53-13 in Chicago (that’s actually not a horrible number for Rauner), he has about a 10-point lead in suburban Cook, and he’s up 33-28 in the collars. Rauner has just a three-point 33-30 lead Downstate, which is not great for him.

Rauner leads Pritzker by 2 points among the 65+ crowd, but Pritzker leads in all other age groups. Whites are with Pritzker 33-31 and men lean Pritzker 34-28, which is surprisingly good news for the Democrat.

Again, I’d much rather have Pritzker’s numbers than Rauner’s, but the governor is not totally out of it yet. Democrats have been spiking the ball ever since the primary. They need to get to work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Our sorry state

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* This WBEZ piece is really worth your time…

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said the Department of Corrections was following the law when it kept prisoners with disabilities in prison even after their release dates. But the governor has also indicated an openness to changing the law.

A WBEZ investigation found the Department of Corrections often struggles to house inmates leaving prison with disabilities. Instead of being released to halfway houses where they can serve out parole, or mandatory supervised release as it’s officially called, inmates with disabilities can end up spending extra time in prison.

“If these laws need to be changed, we’re open to having that conversation with the General Assembly as we continue to build on our efforts to reform the criminal justice system in Illinois,” Rauner said in a written statement.

The Illinois Department of Corrections admits it keeps inmates with disabilities locked up beyond their release dates, but the agency doesn’t know how often it happens and has refused months of requests to sit down for an interview with WBEZ that could shed light on the otherwise invisible problem — one that advocates say could be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The governor would not comment on IDOC’s admission that it does not track how often someone’s disability keeps them behind bars or IDOC’s refusal to grant an interview.

From the initial report in May, which explains how this is even possible

Ellis, who was convicted of theft, served almost two years in prison and was eligible to serve the rest of his sentence in the community on mandatory supervised release. But that didn’t happen.

Ellis said prison staff told him halfway houses would not take him because he had been diagnosed with major depressive order. So he served all his time, including the supposed supervised release, in prison. When he finally got out, he was immediately thrust into homelessness.

WBEZ obtained IDOC’s housing directory through the state’s open records laws. Most facilities on the list said they would not accept a person coming from prison who was deaf, blind, or had a psychiatric disability. After calling all 75 places, WBEZ was able to identify only 13 that would accommodate someone who used a wheelchair coming from prison — one of those facilities said they had only one wheelchair accessible room and another told us that their waiting list for an accessible bed was months long.

When I spoke with Rep. Ford earlier today he told me he hopes to bring leaders from some groups that provide re-entry services into the discussion with IDOC to find a solution with IDOC that does not involve legislation. If they can’t find a solution, he intends to sponsor a legislative fix during veto.

I guess those citizens who have paid their debt to society will have to pay a little more because they happen to have special characteristics beyond their control.

*bangs head against wall*

* On a somewhat related note…

An experimental court on Chicago’s West Side resolves cases with peace circles instead of judges and juries — and officials say it could expand into other communities.

The participant, victim, community members, and court staff come together for a confidential conversation in a peace circle to talk about the crime. The community members — not the judge — then work out a legal agreement called a “repair of harm agreement.” For example, the victim may ask the participant to paint over graffiti or volunteer at a neighborhood food drive to make amends for a crime.

The participant is connected with social service agencies to help them take GED classes or find a job, and stay crime free. The repair of harm agreement usually takes six months to a year to complete, at which point the participant’s charges are formally dropped with the potential to have their record expunged.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   16 Comments      

*** UPDATED 4x *** Illinois to benefit from Supreme Court ruling in online sales tax case

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

By Hannah Meisel

* Still no decision in Janus v. AFSCME today (though the justices will be back with more opinions tomorrow), but the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair opens the door for Illinois to collect sales taxes from more out-of-state online retailers.

Luckily, the General Assembly doesn’t have to wait for Veto Session to implement a law to capture the revenue; the language was already in the Budget Implementation bill that passed with overwhelming majorities and was already signed by Gov. Rauner earlier this month.

COGFA estimates the tax could bring in $150 million in FY19 — not an enormous windfall, but nothing to sniff at either.

The language in the BIMP expands the state’s 6.25 sales tax to out-of-state retailers who do $100,000 or more worth of business annually in Illinois (or 200 or more annual transactions here). If businesses reach that threshold, they are considered to be “maintaining a place of business in this State” and required to collect and remit the taxes.

A standalone bill aimed at capturing the revenue, SB 2577, passed the Senate 39-10 on April 17 — 2018’s Tax Day — but never got past First Reading in the House.

It’s important to note that about 80 percent of out-of-state retailers are already paying sales taxes here. But proponents say the BIMP bill language and the Wayfair decision will help Illinois capture the remaining 20 percent.

In 2011, lawmakers approved what became known as the “Amazon tax,” which taxed online retailers if they had marketing affiliates in Illinois that generated more than $10,000 in business annually in “click-through agreements.” But the law also forced retailers like Amazon to collect Illinois sales taxes even if the customer wasn’t an Illinois resident or if the affiliates site was not hosted on a server based in Illinois.

The Illinois Supreme Court struck down the law in 2013, finding it unfairly discriminated against electronic businesses under the federal Internet Tax Freedom Law because entities like newspapers or radio broadcasts were not likewise taxed.

* From today’s opinion, striking down a 1992 Supreme Court ruling in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota…

The Internet revolution has made Quill’s original error all the more egregious and harmful. The Quill Court did not have before it the present realities of the interstate marketplace, where the Internet’s prevalence and power have changed the dynamics of the national economy. The expansion of e-commerce has also increased the revenue shortfall faced by States seeking to collect their sales and use taxes, leading the South Dakota Legislature to declare an emergency. The argument, moreover, that the physical presence rule is clear and easy to apply is unsound, as attempts to apply the physical presence rule to online retail sales have proved unworkable.

* Reaction from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association CEO Rob Karr…

“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow states to collect internet sales tax. This ruling replaces the pre-Internet ruling that was determined by lower courts to prohibit states from requiring internet retailers to collect sales tax. As IRMA has long argued, regardless of where a sale occurs, a sale is a sale and sales tax should be applied. This ruling will ensure that main street retailers – who employ your neighbors, pay property tax and support local programs – are able to compete on a level playing field with out-of-state retailers that use our roadways and other services, but up until now, did not contribute anything to Illinois’ economy. This decision also protects Illinois consumers who have been liable for the sales taxes remote sellers refused to collect.”

* In the days after signing the budget, Gov. Rauner repeatedly touted the fact that the FY19 budget had “no new taxes.” I asked the Governor’s office whether the Wayfair ruling’s activation of the BIMP language throws a kink in that narrative.

*** UPDATE 1 ***

* Statement from Rep. Dave McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), one of a handful of lawmakers from both Chambers who didn’t vote for the budget.

“It’s bad enough that the Madigan-Rauner budget includes the revenues from the 32% tax increase in the income tax rate. We now find out that the budget includes a tax increase on Illinois citizens made possible by the Supreme Court online sales tax ruling. I’m glad that I voted against this unbalanced ‘budget’ that contains the status quo of high tax policies in Illinois.”

*** UPDATE 2 ***

* Heard back from the Governor’s office. They do not consider the BIMP bill language activated by the Wayfair ruling a “new tax,” as the sales tax has been on the books for years.

*** UPDATE 3 (by Barton) ***
From the Dept. of Revenue…

Director Beard is very pleased that the United States Supreme Court overturned the 1992 decision in Quill and recognized that the physical presence requirement of Quill does not reflect the 21st century marketplace. To be clear, this is not a new tax. Illinois residents are already obligated to pay a Use Tax on out-of-state purchases and this prudent decision will allow states the ability to enforce Use Tax laws that are already in existence, bringing in an estimated $200 million in new State revenue for Illinois annually. With this decision, we level the playing field for Illinois brick and mortar retailers.

Public Act 100-0587 Background:

Illinois Public Act 100-0587 adopts the same standards as South Dakota for out-of-state-retailers to collect Use Tax on sales to state purchasers. The Act provides that, beginning October 1, 2018, an out-of-state retailer making sales of tangible personal property to purchasers in Illinois will be required to collect Use Tax if its cumulative gross receipts to purchasers in Illinois are $100,000 or more; or the retailer enters into 200 or more separate transactions to purchasers in Illinois. This law is not retroactive.

The State of Illinois estimates this Public Act will bring in an additional $200 million annually ($140 million for FY19) from the 6.25% Use Tax that will be collected. Locals will receive their share of Use Tax collected.

The Illinois Department of Revenue is available to assist any out-of-state retailers in registering their business to ensure compliance with the new Public Act.

Current Law Background:

Currently, Illinois law requires an out-of-state retailer to have a physical presence in this State to establish nexus. The following activities establish nexus:

• Physical presence. This type of nexus is established when an out-of-state retailer has more than the slightest physical presence in Illinois. This could be an employee, an agent, an office, or other physical location.

• Click-thru nexus. This type of nexus is established when an out-of-state retailer contracts with a person in this State to refer potential customers to that retailer. The retailer tracks those referrals using a promotional code or other mechanism, pays a commission or other consideration based on sales to purchasers through such referrals, and meets a $10,000 threshold.

• Affiliate nexus. This type of nexus occurs when an out-of-state retailer sells the same or similar product as a person located in this State and does so using a similar name or trademark. In these arrangements, the out-of-state retailer provides a commission or other consideration based on sales of tangible personal property to purchasers in this State. A $10,000 threshold must be met.


* Fun *nougat* of information (hat tip Andy Maloney for that joke) from my former colleague at Law360. She says it’s from Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent today.

*** UPDATE 4 (by Barton) ***

Jack Lavin and the Chicagoland Chamber…

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is welcomed news for brick-and-mortar retailers along with state and local government. As one of the anchors of the Chicagoland economy, retail drives economic development, which supports infrastructure, job creating efforts and creates much needed sales tax revenue. Although some online retailers already collect and pay sales taxes, this ruling now places all retailers on equal footing,” Jack Lavin, president & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

- Posted by Hannah Meisel   56 Comments      

Rate the Ad: Pritzker’s “Silent Partner”

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* The latest digital spot from the Pritzker camp…


- Posted by Barton Lorimor   29 Comments      

*** UPDATED 1x - Pritzker responds *** Rauner up with “Pritzker Plumbing” billboards

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* Following a statewide, seven-figure ad buy that hits Pritzker for removing toilets from a property in the Gold Coast to take advantage of a property tax loophole, the Rauner cammpaign has announced it’s placing billboards for a dummy plumbing company bearing the Democratic candidate’s name and likeness…


A phone call placed to the “number” of “Pritzker Plumbing Inc.” answers with a recorded jingle that includes: “Pritzker Plumbing. Disconnect your toilets. Dodge your taxes,” followed by a toilet flush.

A narrator then says, “Thank you for calling Pritzker Plumbing. Our record of success dodging taxes in 2012” and goes on to recount the 2012 property tax break.

“This isn’t the first time that Pritzker has used his corrupt political connections for personal gain. Please leave a message or visit to learn more,” the narrator says.

Pritzker has not directly denied engaging in the practice, and has responded in the past to the issue by bringing up property tax appeals the Governor has filed on his properties.

*** UPDATE 1 ***From Galia Slayen of the Pritzker campaign…

“The Rauner team sticking a poster on a van and calling it campaigning is the equivilant of this governor sticking his name on a budget he had nothing to do with and calling it governing. It’s lazy, desperate, and a last resort play from a failed leader who has nothing better to run on.”

That still does not address the substance of the hit. End of update.

* The mansion that served as the backdrop for Rauner’s ad was also the subject of a “sizable reduction” in its Lake County property tax assessment, per Pearson…

Lake County records show that for the 2017 property tax year, the mansion used in the ad was appraised at more than $1.7 million for property tax purposes. But on appeal, the Lake County Board of Review lowered the assessment by nearly $188,000 to $1.5 million.

Another nearby mansion owned by the Brincats but not featured in the ad also received a lowered assessment on appeal, from $1.27 million to nearly $1.21 million, records showed.

Brincat did not respond to a request for comment at his Waukegan business.

Alex Browning, a spokesman for the Rauner campaign, contended the Brincats’ action was different than Pritzker’s.

“Mr. Brincat’s property tax reassessment is a standard appeal that many homeowners in Illinois file annually. Pritzker altered the structure and function of a home, made the argument that it was ‘uninhabitable,’ and used insider connections with (Cook County Assessor Joe) Berrios’ office to save $230,000 in taxes.”

* Speaking of Cook County property levies…

Average tax bills for single-family homes in the south suburbs were $247.39 higher in 2016 than in 2017 — an increase of about 5 percent — while those in the north suburbs went up around $213, or 3 percent, during that period, according to the Cook County clerk.

Cook County Clerk David Orr said the amount that municipalities asked for in property taxes increased by 16 percent over the last three years, and it’s a “trend that I’m concerned about.”

“If you want to look to the future, this is something we as a society — at the federal, state and county levels — could do something about,” Orr said.

The varying rates may be explained by inequity and “historic racial issues,” Orr said.

The wealthier areas, which have more industry and more commercial properties to levy taxes on, don’t have to ask for more in property taxes. But lower income areas, which may have fewer commercial spaces or other industries, ask for more in property taxes because they still need to govern, Orr said.

That isn’t confined to Cook County, of course. There are TIFs here in Springfield that have more EAV to work with than whole counties in the southernmost part of the state. it boggles my mind how those officials can govern and offer comparable services, like quality education, given those circumstances. Imagine in Cook, the kids in the poorer neighborhoods and subs are relying on those lesser funded systems to prepare them for the same opportunities those from the wealthier areas are also vying.

Money doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure doesn’t hurt your chances.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   45 Comments      

They’re here

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* It feels like just yesterday we were talking about what will happen when migrant children separated from their families at the Mexico-U.S. border arrive in Illinois. And whaddya know…

More from the Sun-Times through a partnership with Report for America…

In a statement, Heartland Alliance confirmed that it has “recently” provided “safe shelter and care for” children who have been separated from their families at the border in recent months. The statement goes on to read that Heartland Alliance’s “first priority is the safety and welfare of the children” in their care. Part of that mission involves “keeping their identities and details of their circumstances confidential.”

Heartland Alliance has not provided the total number of children separated from their families at the border currently held in its facilities.

Unaccompanied child migrants must stay in shelter care until they are released to an approved sponsor, such as a relative or family friend. According to Heartland Alliance, children remain in their custody for an average of 34 days and are almost always placed with a close family member.

I’m hoping to get a call back from Heartland’s media spokesperson to have more information. For that matter, I’m still waiting to hear back from the Governor and state agencies on what services they foresee being able to offer these children.

From the DGA…

“It’s been two days – has Bruce Rauner given any thought to deploying the Illinois’ National Guard on the border?” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner has done everything he can to avoid criticizing President Trump instead of fighting for Illinois families. Will Rauner finally take action or will his failed leadership continue?”

* Ounce of Prevention, of which the First Lady is President, took to the Twitter waves yesterday to express its concern over the child separation policy…

The letter, dated June 7, is addressed to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and is signed by hundreds of national and state organizations. Ounce is one of them. Responses are directed to the policy director at the National Defense Fund. It called on the administration to abandon its child separation policy. As far as we know, that’s as far as the Governor has gone as well, for all we know.

…adding…This. is not. going. away.


* Chicago activists decry Trump move that will keep families together but still in detention: “Make no mistake: the President is doubling down on his ‘zero tolerance’ policy,” Durbin said in a statement Wednesday. “His new Executive Order criminalizes asylum-seekers and seeks to indefinitely detain their children. Locking up whole families is no solution at all — the Trump Administration must reverse its policy of prosecuting vulnerable people fleeing three of the most dangerous countries on earth, who are attempting to seek safe haven in America.”

* Kadner: Stand up to people who would make us jailers of children

* Border Crossings Have Been Declining for Years, Despite Claims of a ‘Crisis of Illegal Immigration’

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   58 Comments      


Thursday, Jun 21, 2018

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* We’re still posting updates throughout the day in the ScribbleLive feed. Follow along

- Posted by Barton Lorimor   Comment      

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Question of the day
* School has kid slapped with felony eavesdropping charge
* AG Madigan to file lawsuit challenging "cruel and unconstitutional policy" at southern border
* Rep. Andersson tries a comeback
* CTU's Lewis to retire
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Rauner brags he's "dramatically" reduced Medicaid enrollment, but hit on "failing" computer system
* Fitch: "The enacted budget entails significant implementation risk"
* *** UPDATED x2 - Pritzker campaign calls comments "racist" *** After Black Caucus backlash, Gov. Rauner says he's "Not surprised they're sensitive because the black legislators really have not been serving their community very well"
* Rep. Chad Hays to resign
* The local news memory hole
* No Janus ruling today
* Police chiefs want Rauner to veto hemp bill
* *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner campaign responds *** New Pritzker TV ad blames Rauner for job losses to neighboring states
* Yesterday's stories

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* Police investigating possible murder-suicide in Orland Park

* Another whack at Illinois pension spiking. Good.
* Prosecutors cancel Stormy Daniels meeting in Michael Cohen investigation
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* Let the Trump team eat in peace
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