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Rep. Ives pre-files for Senate tax hike sponsorship

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* In a rather unusual and pretty darned humorous twist, anti-tax state Rep. Jeannie Ives (R-Wheaton) has filed the requisite paperwork to be the House sponsor of Senate Bill 9.

SB 9 is the bill the Senate Democrats passed today which raises income taxes and expands the sales tax to services.

Rep. Ives told me she believes the bill “needs work.”

From a Senate Democratic operative…

So Jeanne Ives is the sponsor of a tax hike? Maybe we did coordinate this with Madigan.


…Adding… From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

“I prefiled for the bill so I could control it in the House,” Ives told Illinois News Network. “I think that there’s a bigger conversation that needs to be had before we do a tax increase. … I thought the best way to have a voice in that discussion would be to control the bill in the House.”

Ives acknowledged that there are procedural ways for Democrats to take the bill away from her, but she hopes that doesn’t happen.

“There are a lot of tax increases in here that we shouldn’t even be having a conversation about until we’ve talked about cutting spending and doing more for the business community rather than making them the highest taxes in the United States,” she said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Radogno responds - Madigan responds - ILGOP responds, blames Madigan *** Senate passes tax hike bill

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* The Senate has approved SB 9, which is the tax hike and revenue bill. The bill received 32 votes - all Democrats. Follow along with our live coverage post by clicking here.

…Adding… SB 6, which is the omnibus appropriations bill, has passed with 33 votes and no debate.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  ILGOP…

“Senate Democrats’ decision to ram through multiple tax hikes outside a comprehensive jobs and reform package confirms that the entire Democratic Party’s position is to raise taxes while protecting the status quo. First Mike Madigan made clear real reform is not an option, then Democratic candidates for governor began campaigning on raising taxes without reform, and now the Senate Democrats are falling in line. The Democrats moved forward an agenda today that raises income taxes, expands the sales tax and ensures property taxes keep rising.” – Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe

In 2015, Mike Madigan stated his desire to raise the income tax to 5 percent without reform.

In 2016, Democrats refused to even send Gov. Rauner a balanced budget or pass reforms that voters from both sides support.

And in 2017, Democratic candidates for Governor latched onto the Madigan position – tax hikes without reform.

The News-Gazette notes, J.B. Pritzker “supports a substantial increase in the state income taxes… Pritzker recently told a group of party members that the state income tax should be increased to at least 5 percent, perhaps higher.”

Pritzker now says he opposes a property tax freeze.

Chris Kennedy called reforms to fix Illinois “Bullsh#t” and “stood with Speaker Madigan” against a balanced budget with spending caps and reform.

Daniel Biss, who ran Mike Madigan’s Super PAC, even said he’s open to the idea of taxing retirement income.

And Ameya Pawar believes that “most people will tell you they’re willing to pay more taxes.”

Democratic candidates for Governor support tax hikes without reform. Now, the Senate is following suit.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…

Speaker Michael J. Madigan issued the following statement Tuesday regarding budget bills passed by the Senate:

“The appropriations measures passed by the Senate will be thoughtfully considered by the House Democratic Budget Working Group headed by Representative Greg Harris. Since the beginning of the session, a working group made up of Representatives Harris, Carol Ammons, Kelly Burke, Kelly Cassidy, Fred Crespo, Will Davis, Robyn Gabel, Will Guzzardi, Lisa Hernandez, Elaine Nekritz, Elgie Sims and Michael Zalewski has worked diligently on state budget issues, including passage of a Lifeline Budget. They will thoroughly review the Senate’s proposal and consider it as part of our efforts to pass a full-year balanced budget that will end the budget impasse.”

…Adding… Rauner…

*** UPDATE 3 *** SGOP Leader Christine Radogno…

My Caucus and I cannot support the Senate Democrats’ budget and revenue package in its current form.

I truly wish we would have been able to come together on a comprehensive solution to the state’s challenges. My biggest concern has always been for the state and its people. I want to avoid further downgrades and fiscal meltdown. I want to help put Illinois on a path to stability.
We need a balanced budget. We need property tax relief. We need significant reforms to reach our goals.

If this package moves to the House, I hope they can approach it in a bipartisan manner and make further progress in all those areas.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

The least of the House’s problems

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* WCIA TV this morning

Since most eyes are on the Senate while waiting for a budget solution, not much is being heard from the House. One reason could be because not much is happening.

The House has spent little more than five hours in session during all of May. Monday, the day’s session began around 3:30 and the House adjourned about 4 pm, to head off to committees. It’s the unfortunate time card Representatives are clocking in this month.

The House took a week off this month and attacking that break is completely fair game because it’s almost unheard of and was really a foolish idea considering the times we’re in. That break didn’t make it into the story, however.

Anyway, because of that unusual recess, the House faced a narrow two-week deadline to deal with Senate bills in committee, which ended last week. Click here to see the 21-page list of bills the Senate sent to the House.

* Also, that WCIA piece was not an original story. The Illinois Policy Institute published this last Friday

Illinois state lawmakers are taking paychecks despite not passing a budget for nearly 700 days. One might assume they’d be working around the clock to earn them.

But Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has called the House into session for less than six hours in the entire month of May.

At least the author mentioned the committee angle

While the full House has been in session for less than a single workday in May, members have been holding committee meetings throughout the month.

But I’m not sure if this is all that relevant

But House appropriations committees – where lawmakers should be forging a new budget – have seen relatively little action in 2017.

The Appropriations General Services Committee has held two meetings in the last 20 days.

And with all the talk Illinoisans have heard from lawmakers about how the state funds public education, the Appropriations Elementary and Secondary Education Committee has met only twice in nearly 50 days.

There are currently no Senate appropriations bills in the House.

Beyond that, those approp committees tend to take testimony from agencies and various stakeholders, then craft proposals behind the scenes and then vote on them in public. The House Democrats are working on a budget. They invited the Republicans, but were rebuffed.

* There are plenty of reasons to criticize the House - so many that I couldn’t count them all. And while they could’ve voted on Senate bills as they trickled out of committee, that would’ve given them less time to deal with those bills in committee. So, six of one, half dozen of the other.

All that being said, this session does appear designed to keep House members scurrying around so they don’t have much time to cause trouble. Speaker Madigan freed just about every bill from Rules Committee earlier this spring, which flooded committees and kept his people pinned down in hearings and negotiations. And then came the May break, which caused more intense committee activity to deal with Senate bills.

But, hey, “Less than 6 hours!” is an easy thing to understand by a public that’s already disgusted with Springfield - even though it doesn’t really mean anything.

* Meanwhile, from a Rockford country music station

Boy, it must be nice to get paid a lot of money by the taxpayers of Illinois, and goof around on the job. Leave it to your elected representatives.

Last time I checked, the state of Illinois did not have a budget and social service agencies and state vendors are waiting to paid. So, what was one of Rockford’s representatives to the Illinois House of Representatives doing? Working? Nope! She helping to planning a softball game on taxpayer time.

Yes, in the Illinois House, last week, representatives were caught on video wasting precious time to discuss the upcoming House vs. Senate softball game and basketball game.

Um, the offending video was from last year, not last week. Oops. That video was indeed from last week.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Fitch looks to June 30, not May 31 for action deadline as Rauner demands property tax relief

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* Oddly enough, I made the same case to subscribers this morning. From Fitch…


Fitch Ratings-New York-23 May 2017: As the state of Illinois approaches the end of an unprecedented second fiscal year without having enacted a full-year general revenue fund budget, attention turns to the budget process for fiscal 2018, which begins on July 1, 2017, says Fitch Ratings.

Much is being made of the rapidly approaching May 31st end of the regular legislative session, after which state law requires super-majority approval of any tax increases. Prior to that date, a tax increase, which all parties seem to acknowledge must be a part of comprehensive budget agreement, can move forward with a simple majority vote.

Fitch does not view Illinois’ voting requirements as the main obstacle to passing a budget. Illinois’ budget crisis and related deterioration in credit quality is the result of a political impasse between the Governor and the legislature. All parties - legislative and executive, Republican and Democratic, House and Senate - have reported on-going negotiations throughout the fiscal impasse. At times these negotiations have seemed to be approaching a positive conclusion, incorporating a “grand bargain” of tax increases and spending controls designed to both close the annual budget gap and to address the rapidly accumulating accounts payable backlog. It seems clear that a budget will not be enacted until a compromise is reached. As a result, Fitch does not view the super-majority voting requirement that will arise after May 31st as the greater hurdle to enacting a balanced budget by the start of the fiscal year.

Fitch downgraded Illinois’ rating to ‘BBB’ on Feb. 1, 2017 and maintained the rating on Rating Watch Negative. At that time, we indicated that the Rating Watch would be resolved within six months based on an assessment of the state’s fiscal trajectory as it starts fiscal 2018 and that failure to enact a balanced budget for fiscal 2018 would result in a further downgrade. The timing of that review is unchanged.

Your thoughts?

* Meanwhile…

As Senate Democrats prepare to vote on a bill to permanently increase income taxes, Governor Bruce Rauner today announced in a video on his Facebook page that he will not sign off on any budget agreement that increases taxes without real property tax relief.

“The biggest issue that now stands in the way of us reaching an agreement is resistance to freezing your property taxes, and giving you the ability to control whether your property taxes go up or down in the future,” Governor Rauner said. “We will always stand on the side of taxpayers and homeowners and make sure we get an agreement that is fair to you.”

Property taxes have emerged as the biggest issue in negotiating a balanced budget.

Property taxes in Illinois are the highest in the country, and the Governor has long advocated for a freeze to provide homeowners relief. He believes if state lawmakers are going to ask for more in income taxes, then homeowners deserve relief from rising property taxes. In January, the House of Representatives passed a property tax freeze that granted local voters the ability to control increasing or decreasing their property taxes.

View the video here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Suburbs raking in red-light cam bucks

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* I know people hate red-light cams, but if they take a little pressure off taxation, then it’s kinda tough to argue against them

Red-light cameras brought in nearly $67 million last year for 86 Chicago suburbs and the companies that operate the devices, an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC7 Chicago’s I-Team has found.

Fines collected from drivers accused of running red lights in the suburbs now far surpass the amount of money reaped by the city of Chicago’s extensive and unpopular network, the Sun-Times and ABC7 found.

Between the start of 2014 and the end of last year, cameras in the suburbs brought in a total of nearly $170 million, according to records obtained from suburban governments throughout the area.

And the Sun-Times/ABC7 analysis of those documents shows suburban red-light revenues are rising sharply every year, as more and more local governments install cameras at intersections. The total collected from cameras in the suburbs increased almost 50 percent between 2014 and 2016.

* But then you see stuff like this

About 95 percent of suburbanites getting tickets are accused of making illegal right turns against a red light, Wallace estimates. Bertuca, the Berwyn attorney, agrees that about 95 percent of the cases he sees in traffic court involve drivers turning right. […]

Although a federal study in 2010 found that right turns were factors in just 1.2 percent of crashes, red-light camera operators and municipal officials say the cameras are about safety first, not money.

They’re about the money. C’mon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Gov. Word Salad

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* A question posted by Edward Hadnott during Gov. Rauner’s Facebook Live event today

What happened to the art of compromise? I know its not perfect but I feel that you, Madigan and Cullerton should work out a budget where the people win. I feel that you, Madigan and Cullerton let your ego’s get in the way of progress. Remember you, Madigan and Cullerton were elected by the people. Serve the people period.

Not a bad question.

* The governor’s response is at about the 9:30 mark of the video

Next question, this is from Edward Headnott – or Hadnott – from Chicago, and Edward asks: What happened to the art of compromise? [Laughs]

Edward, great question. What happened to the art of compromise? So let’s talk about that.

You know, in order to compromise you need two sides who are willing to compromise, who want to come to a middle ground, and the tragedy in Illinois — we’ve had people who’ve controlled our system, and who’ve controlled our General Assembly, and who’ve controlled our Democratic Party, they’ve been in power for 35 years.

And, they created the system and they have no interest in changing it, not even a little bit, because that would admit that they have failed, that would admit that they needed to change, and they don’t want to acknowledge that. That’s our fundamental challenge, but we’ve just got to stay persistent. We’ve got to find common ground, and compromise so we can move forward.

Let me give you some examples about this. So, I’ve said — term limits, hugely popular among Democrats and Republicans. Good policy. It’ll change the culture inside state government very quickly, and we’ll have people in government who are there for the right reasons. So far, the members in the House, in the majority, the House Democrats, have said: No term limits, won’t talk about it, take it off the table. So, that’s, they’re not willing to compromise at all. And over in the Senate, they’ve said: well we’ll talk about term limits, maybe we’ll consider them for legislative leaders, but for nobody else. And I said: How about as a compromise on term limits, how about if we have you and the General Assembly won’t put term limits on yourselves, out of your own self interest — I don’t agree with you, I think that’s wrong — but how about put term limits on me, all governors, lieutenant governors, attorneys general, comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state, and also legislative leaders? How about that as a compromise — don’t put it on yourselves as legislators, but put it on everybody else? That’s a compromise. So far they’ve said no.

Similarly on property taxes. I’ve said: Give the people of Illinois the ability to control their own property taxes, let’s freeze them were they’re at, and let the people through a voter referendum and voter control decide if property taxes go up or down or stay flat. It’s a reasonable thing. So far, the House Democrats under Speaker Madigan have said no, won’t talk about it, take it off the table, refuse. And over in the Senate, they’ve said well, we’ll consider it, maybe we’d do a two year property tax freeze, but no real local control. A two year property tax freeze? That’s nothing. Your property taxes will go through the roof in the third year. That’s a phony reform. That’s just a headline. That’s not real change.

So there’s not real compromise going on. There’s not real change to the system. We’ve got to get compromise, we need to find common ground, meet in the middle and we can come up with solutions so we’ll have balanced budgets and get good things done for the people of Illinois. Especially property tax relief, and especially growing more jobs across the state. We’ve just got to stay persistent. I hope the members of the General Assembly, especially in the Senate, where they’re at least a little more open to compromise, I hope they’ll keep working, and we’ll get to a good place for everybody with a truly balanced budget.

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      

It’s just a bill

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* Greg Hinz

A proposal to begin a limited system of public financing of races for state office has quietly picked up some momentum in Springfield. It still faces some big potential roadblocks, but I wouldn’t sell its prospects short at a time when voters perhaps are getting tired of watching millionaires and billionaires snatch top slots. […]

Now, normally I’d say the idea is a nonstarter over in the House, where Speaker Mike Madigan likes to keep his members close by supplying much of their campaign money.

But these are odd times, and as lawmakers race toward a scheduled May 30 adjournment, the speaker—interestingly—has assigned the bill not to some burial-ground study panel but to the House Executive Committee.

“If it’s in exec, it’s not being held,” says Madigan spokesman Steve Brown. Pressed further, Brown says only, “I’ve not heard much discussion about it.”

Its sponsor, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, says she’s hopeful.

“I can see reasons why the speaker would lean either way,” Cassidy told me. “The opportunity to contrast small donors with (Madigan nemesis) Gov. (Bruce) Rauner is a good one.”

* Press release…

State Representative Will Guzzardi, the legislative leader of the Tuition Free Illinois campaign, joined fellow representatives Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) to announce plans for a new College Affordability Grant for Illinois students on Tuesday.

The grant will target students and families who can’t afford to pay for college out of pocket and who don’t receive enough federal or state aid to cover the costs of tuition. It will make tuition and fees completely free for most community college students and around half of university students. The remainder will see considerable cost reductions.

“No student should be denied a chance at a higher education because they can’t afford it,” said Rep. Guzzardi. “This new program is a vital first step to reducing the crushing burden of student debt on low- and middle-income families.”

The College Affordability Grant is part of a broader package aimed at revitalizing public higher education in Illinois. The legislation also creates a pilot program to help alumni with existing college debt. It will refinance high-interest private student loans, purchasing the debt and lending it back to students at 0% interest.

Additionally, the program will create a fund for the recruitment and retention of top faculty, and will double the amount of work-study funding currently available.

* Sun-Times editorial

On the other end of the political spectrum, there are three bills in the Illinois Legislature that would tweak existing laws to help bolster the rights of LGBTQ folks. They are entirely sensible bills backed by the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Illinois that we hope will make it to the governor’s desk. He should sign them without hesitation.

A look at the bills:

Vital Records Act amendment: Proposed by Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago, it would allow transgender people to change their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity without going through sexual reassignment surgery. It would be enough if a health-care professional signed a declaration affirming the person has gone through “clinically appropriate” treatment, or a doctor identifies an intersex condition. […]

Elimination of the gay panic defense: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Biss of Chicago, would explicitly prohibit defendants charged with first- or second-degree murder from using a “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense. These cases do not come along often but shock the senses when they do. Defendants will blame the victims, alleging that a flirtation by a gay or transgender person or the discovery of a person’s sexual orientation drove them to react violently. […]

Gubernatorial Boards and Commissions Act amendment: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign, also has drawn support from Republicans. It would add a box that could be checked if LGBTQ people want to self-identify as such when applying to serve on boards and commissions under the governor. Providing the information would be voluntary.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* From an e-mail…

Rich, turnout for my stair caucus has been a bit light, would you mind posting this on the blog? I will share the link wide and far…

Every Wednesday in May the Stair Caucus will be meeting at 7:30AM!

As we all know May in Springfield can be stressful and we will be spending a lot time here. Let’s climb some stairs together every week to vent some steam and sweat! It doesn’t matter if you are in good shape or just a shape. Beginners are welcome, honestly I get winded after just a few flights myself.

For this Wednesday May 24 at 7:30AM, we will meet at the ground floor stair case at the South end of the Stratton Building. As a bipartisan caucus, every week we will switch sides.

Legislators that sweat together, work together…

Representative Allen Skillicorn

Years ago, a buddy of mine told me he’d lost 25 pounds by simply taking the stairs at the Statehouse and the Stratton. He insisted he made no diet adjustments and did no other exercise.

* I asked Skillicorn if he had some pics…

The best I have is the pic after I lost 28lbs earlier this session. So far I’ve lost about 35lbs since December.

* The “after” pic…

* Skillicorn last December…

* The Question: What’s the most effective thing you’ve done to lose weight?

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      

Our sorry state

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* Illinois Policy Institute

Illinois had the nation’s highest black unemployment rate in 2016, according to annual unemployment data released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. Only 51 percent of black adults reported having some form of work in Illinois, highlighting an economic crisis that far too few political leaders are talking about. The BLS data support the conclusions in recent quarterly reports from the Economic Policy Institute, which have pointed to Illinois as having the nation’s highest black unemployment.

Illinois’ weak job creation has a significant effect on the black community, especially due to manufacturing job losses in the Chicago area and a lack of construction job opportunities. Illinois’ black unemployment rate was 12.7 percent in 2016, compared with 6.7 percent for Latinos and 5 percent for whites.

Illinois’ 12.7 percent black jobless rate is the highest in the U.S., tied with Nevada. However, Illinois’ black population is seven times as large as Nevada’s, meaning Illinois’ crisis is playing out on a much larger scale. Illinois’ neighboring states achieved much lower black jobless rates than Illinois in 2016. (BLS does not calculate a black unemployment rate for Iowa, however, because the state’s black population does not constitute a sample large enough to be included in the BLS survey.)

The weighted average black jobless rate for all other states is 8.1 percent, and the weighted average among Illinois’ border states is 8.9 percent.

Perhaps equally telling is Illinois’ black employment rate – the percentage of black adults who are engaged in some form of work. Illinois’ black employment rate is only 51.2 percent, meaning that just over half of Illinois’ adult black residents have some form of work. Michigan is the only state with a lower black employment rate than Illinois.

The weighted average black employment rate for other states is 56.8 percent, and the weighted average among Illinois’ border states is 59.2 percent.

Black men in Illinois had a 14.2 percent unemployment rate, the second-worst in the nation after Nevada’s 15.5 percent rate. Black women in Illinois had an 11.3 percent unemployment rate, also the second-worst in the nation, better only than Pennsylvania’s 12.6 percent rate.

Black employment in Illinois fell by 18,000 people from 2015 to 2016, and the number of black workers in Illinois’ labor force shrank by 16,000. Despite the shrinking workforce, the black unemployment rate increased to 12.7 percent from 12.2 percent year over year.

The number of black people working in Illinois has been in decline since the turn of the century. There were 77,000 fewer blacks working in Illinois in 2016 compared with 2000, a shocking 10 percent decline in total employment. By comparison, Illinois’ combined white and Latino employment is actually up by 272,000 since 2000, according to the BLS’ annual average data.

Similarly, the recovery in black employment over the Great Recession era lags that of the rest of the state. Black employment is still down 5.1 percent compared with its pre-recession high.

* Related…

* Paper: State of Illinois’ middle class shrinking: A new report from a University of Illinois expert in urban development and local economies found that the share of middle-income households in the state of Illinois has fallen steadily from nearly 60 percent in 1970 to below 50 percent in the current, post-Great Recession period.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

Unsolicited advice

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* We discussed this a bit yesterday is a new website from the creators of Pritzker’s Democratic team for governor, featuring a “count-up” clock tracking the length of Illinois’ historic budget impasse.

While the website’s opening day on Monday was pretty spartan, Pritzker’s camp said there will be new information posted every day as part of a “multimedia campaign” to “highlight the budget crisis of Bruce Rauner’s own making and the families, schools, and social service agencies that continue to pay the price.”

For example, the Pritzker campaign said it will use the site to promote what it calls a link between President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget and the state’s failure to enact a comprehensive full-year budget under Rauner. They say Illinois has been a “testing ground” for “Trump-Rauner” budget policies.

“When Donald Trump proposes gutting funding for the programs that provide opportunity for working families, allow low-income students to go to college, and support survivors of domestic violence, Illinoisans know how this plays out. Bruce Rauner did it all first,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.

* The site’s Twitter feed is pretty heavy-handed. An example…

* As far as anti-Rauner tweets go, I much prefer the Illinois Working Together account…

Informative, snarky and biting. Those folks get Twitter.

* On the other side, the ILGOP does Twitter pretty well…


…Adding… This is more like it…

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

“What we are being asked to do is cut off vital organs”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* From Channel 5

“In fiscal year ’16 we had a 70% cut in appropriation. And for fiscal year ’17, the year that we are in, we had a 50% cut in appropriation,” said [Elaine Maimon, president of Governor’s State University]. “There is no fat at all,” she said. “And in fact we are beyond muscle and bone. What we are being asked to do is cut off vital organs.”

“It’s pretty dire,” admitted Tom Cross, who heads the Illinois Board of Higher Education and said administrators have reached a watershed.

“They’ve made changes, they’ve made cuts,” said Cross a former Illinois House Minority Leader. “We are at that point now where they have run out of options.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

GOP gearing up for 2018

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


According to sources with knowledge of these discussions, Rauner’s chief political strategist Mike Zolnierowicz is actively recruiting and meeting with candidates who may show potential to upstage some of the governor’s political rivals in a statewide election. […]

Former Comptroller Leslie Munger is rumored to be angling for a chance to regain her seat in 2018, but party leaders have privately expressed concerns about her electability after losing a rough election last fall. Although he did not respond to requests for comment, Zolnierowicz continues to explore other options for the high stakes Comptroller race.

After losing to Mendoza last November, Munger was awarded a pay raise to a salary of $138,000 as one of two deputy governors in the Rauner administration. When asked about her plans to run [in 2018], she replied, “No comment.”

Republicans openly admit they are gearing up for a broader campaign to overtake a majority in the House, which would effectively demote reigning Speaker Michael Madigan. The party would need to pick up 9 seats to unseat Madigan. It only managed to gain 4 seats during the 2016 election, narrowly escaping the Democratic supermajority. Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) acknowledges unseating Madigan is a long shot, but he contends Democrats have several vulnerable candidates in districts where he believes the GOP can compete.

Defeating Madigan’s daughter may prove to be the tougher task. Zolnierowicz, who left his post as Rauner’s chief of staff to become the party’s top strategist last summer, is said to have come down to a short list of candidates to oppose Madigan, yet concerns about name recognition and credentials prolong the decision.

Any suggestions?

* Related…

* Tribune Editorial: Lisa Madigan, Illinois’ incomplete attorney general: But she is compromised. She is incomplete. She cannot maximize the role of attorney general, as others have across the country, because she, her family, her supporters and her brand are interwoven with the fabric of clout that envelops this state. There is no way, or no willingness on her part, to pluck apart the fibers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Kennedy can’t or won’t explain misleading property tax claim

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* Remember that somewhat odd Chris Kennedy video about property taxes yesterday? It outlined a problem, but offered no solution and wasn’t all that easy to watch, either.

Rick Pearson tried to follow up on a misleading aspect of the Kennedy video

Kennedy’s statement that “because they pay less, we pay more” is arguably correct since a decline in property assessments on one property shifts the tax burden onto other property owners.

But Kennedy’s statement “because they pay less, our kids get less” isn’t true because schools have a fixed levy of money they request from property taxes. A decline in a property assessment doesn’t mean a decline in money that a school district will collect.

Asked about the misstatement, the Kennedy campaign offered a statement that did not address the question.

That campaign continually puzzles me.

*** UPDATE ***  From the Kennedy campaign…

Sharing with you this comment that didn’t make it in morning spin, so for the record, we did address his question.

    Chris Kennedy has been talking about how the property tax system is broken since before he was a candidate. It’s a prime example of Illinois’s regressive tax structure. The wealthy can catch breaks, which places a bigger tax burden on low-income and middle-class citizens. He knows this system doesn’t work for the vast majority of citizens and he’s the candidate who’s going to change it.

    According to the Education Trust, Illinois school districts with the highest percentage of poor students received nearly 20 percent less funding than their more affluent peers. Meanwhile, poor and middle-class workers are paying more than their fair share. In fact, a WalletHub study reported that Illinois’s tax system receives more money from low-income and middle-class households than almost any other state in the country. We take more money from low-income and middle-class pockets and spend less on educating students from those same homes.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* And since Kennedy is complaining about property tax assessment appeals (including in a fundraising e-mail this morning), taking a look at his own appeals is fair game. But this one appears to be legit. Here’s Greg Hinz

At issue is what the tax value should be on the 48-story apartment tower built on Wolf Point, the first of three large structures that are planned.

The tower opened for business early in 2016, and its value for tax purposes was initially set at $13.736 million by Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios—enough to pull in almost $3 million a year for local taxing bodies, primarily Chicago Public Schools. Kennedy and associates appealed, using the law firm of former Cook County Assessor Tom Tully, and the final value ended up being set at $5.109 million, a cut of almost 63 percent.

In an interview, Berrios’ top aide, Deputy Assessor for Valuation & Appeals Tom Jaconetty, not only defends the cut but suggests, in so many words, that the Kennedy group would have been fools not to seek it.

When a new building like this comes online, the assessor assumes that it is 100 percent occupied and producing a full revenue stream, Berrios said. In fact, that’s rarely the case, Jaconetty said, but it’s up to the owners to appeal. […]

In the case of the Wolf Point building, it had only 6 percent of its units rented and producing income in January when it opened, according to data collected by Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago consulting company. The figure jumped to 62.1 percent by July and kept climbing later in the year.

For tax year 2016, the county ended up settling on an average 33.8 percent occupancy figure. That change, combined with one internal math error, explains the 62 percent cut, Jaconetty said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

69 percent say Illinois on wrong track, 69 percent say budget is most important issue

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* I’ve hesitated to use this poll for two reasons. First, it’s from an advertiser. Second, it’s an online poll. So, I’ll leave it up to you if it’s worthy of discussion

1. Generally speaking, do you feel that things in Illinois are headed in the right direction?

    • Yes 17%
    • No 69%
    • Unsure 14%

2. Of the following issues, which do you think are the most important to the state of Illinois?

    • Budget 69%
    • Health Care 21%
    • Recreational Marijuana 5%
    • Internet Privacy 3%
    • Other 3%

* Methodology

May 12-15, 2017. Total sample of 613 likely Illinois voters, aged 18 years old and older. Margin of error is +/- 4% 5-minute online survey hosted on Morar Consulting’s proprietary online research platform.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

New Poll Shows 76% of Illinois Voters Oppose Increased Data Collection Legislation

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

A new statewide poll shows that 76% of Illinois voters oppose increased data collection on consumers and business. SB1502 and HB 3449 would require Illinois businesses to create massive troves of personal data for any transaction or interaction online. This would expose Illinois consumers to heightened risk of identity theft, and come at massive cost to small businesses.

The survey of 613 likely voters show that of those who had an opinion:

    • 90% do not support a new law that would require websites to link their name with their browsing history, and retain that history for a longer period of time.
    • 77% do not support a law that would prevent them from using anonymous accounts for email and apps.
    • 77% would not support an increase of data privacy regulations if these new polices were created by a special interest group that would profit directly from lawsuits.

“The ‘Right to Know’ bill sounds good in theory – but once Illinois voters know what’s actually in it, they are clearly against the provisions,” said Todd Maisch, President and CEO, Illinois Chamber of Commerce. “Forcing businesses into collecting more data for longer about their customers and exposing residents’ private browsing is a step backward for our state.”

The Choice is Clear – Vote NO on SB1502 and HB3449.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Another hostage warns of imminent demise

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* From the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health

As the Illinois legislature struggles to craft a budget by its May 31 adjournment deadline, the Schuyler County Mental Health Center is adding itself to the list of behavioral health centers across the state that is in danger of closing within the next 10 days.

“We have been waiting for multiple payments from the State of Illinois for multiple months and have been unable to consistently meet payroll,” said Executive Director Trent Chockley. “And we’re not only waiting for payment for mental health and substance abuse treatment services, but we also have unpaid bills from the Illinois Department on Aging.”

The agency provides services to nearly 60 people, over the age of 60, every month and the state owes Schuyler a total of $64,000 for just the services provided under the Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program.

“The State of Illinois continues to add deserving clients to their list that we need to serve, but has no willingness to pay the bills,” said Chockley. “We are dangerously close to shutting our doors for good without payment by June 1.”

A top behavioral health advocate group warned lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner that the collapse of the Schuyler County Center will be their responsibility if they fail to agree to a fiscal year 2018 budget by the end of May.

“Governor Rauner and lawmakers will bear the responsibility of Schuyler shutting down if they fail to agree, once again, to a budget by May 31,” said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health C.E.O. Sara Howe. “Their failure to enact a budget after more than two years mocks their repeated talking points about the purported priority of behavioral health in Illinois.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

HDems say they want to work in “good faith” with Rauner

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* All 67 House Democrats signed this letter last week

Dear Governor Rauner:

We believe there is no more important issue facing our state than the passage of a full, responsible budget. As you have continually held items unrelated to the budget as preconditions to your cooperation in resolving this impasse, members of the House Democratic leadership team have requested to work with you to find common ground on your agenda. We ask that you begin work with them immediately.

The people of Illinois need a resolution to this budget crisis. On behalf of the people we are together committed to serve, we urge you to accept this good faith offer of cooperation, so we can again resume working to end this destructive impasse.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

Senate Dems try to go it alone with their own budget plan

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* As I write this, the two Senate approp committees are debating the spending and cutting aspects of this legislation

Senate Democrats on Tuesday plan to push ahead with a new budget proposal that includes an income tax hike and an expansion of the state sales tax, saying they are no longer willing to wait for a broader deal with Republicans. […]

“We recognize the future of this state is at stake, and we are increasingly willing to govern notwithstanding the political costs of doing so,” said Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. “I think we have reached the point where citizens of Illinois are more willing to tolerate a revenue increase than they are continued inaction in the face of a crisis.” […]

Democrats spent the weekend tweaking the spending plan, and unveiled an updated proposal late Monday. It calls for spending $37.3 billion after raising about $5 billion through the tax hikes; a floor vote is expected Tuesday, said Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat and key budget negotiator. […]

The blueprint relies on the passage of companion legislation that would raise the personal income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent, which is just below the 5 percent rate in place before Rauner took office. The corporate income tax rate would be hiked from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.

Meanwhile, the state’s share of the 6.25 percent sales tax would be extended to various services not currently covered, such as dry cleaning. The proposal also calls for ending three corporate tax breaks, including requiring companies that drill on the outer continental shelf and do business in Illinois to pay income taxes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Broken promises, broken state cause bond downgrade in Quincy

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

* The Quincy School District’s bond rating was recently lowered and the culprit appears clear

S&P Global Ratings downgraded the district’s rating from A- to BBB+ “due to a fiscal imbalance that has resulted in a substantial drop in available cash reserves,” according to an analysis presented at Monday’s Finance Committee meeting.

“What has occurred is not necessarily the fault of the district,” said Bob Lewis, senior vice president and managing director of PMA Securities, Inc., which is working with the district on the bond sale.

Last year’s deficit was primarily caused by an unexpected drop in the personal property replacement tax, and “this year’s deficit is going to be primarily caused by delayed categorical payments. None of that is your fault, and ratings analysts recognize that, but they still have to evaluate your credit for investors,” Lewis said.

The district also faces “the Illinois premium” because of the state’s continued financial issues.

“It means your borrowing costs are higher because of what the state does. If the state continues to get downgraded, the Illinois premium will continue to widen,” Lewis said. “We anticipate an additional .1 to .15 percent to the borrowing rate because of that.”

Wait. I thought the state had increased funding for K-12.

Oh, yeah. There’s not enough money to keep those promises. Silly me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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* Pritzker, Biss respond to Senate budget votes
* In her dreams
* Support High-Performing Charter Schools
* "I’m a big believer in win-win"
* Unkind headlines
* Modernize the Vital Records Act - Support HB 1785
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* Budget showdown: Senate Dems approve $5B tax increase
* Red-light cameras rake in millions for Chicago suburbs
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* Budget showdown: House Democrats call on Rauner to negotiate
* Illinois Senate plans to vote on budget today
* Museums team up for reflection on former Gov. James Thompson
* Workers' comp changes could face Illinois Senate vote

* DeVry parent changes name
* Health insurers stiffed by budgetless Illinois take plea to federal court
* Top Chicago investment bankers exit
* Duchossois family donates $100 million for new U of C wellness institute
* Next month's electricity price hike is just the start

* Masked man in orange construction suit tries to rob South Side bank
* Serena Williams accepts a new challenge – in Silicon Valley
* 60-year-old woman charged with prostitution at Lake Villa spa
* Same-sex couple says Southwest discriminated against them
* Parent company of DeVry University changing its name
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* More arrests in Manchester bombing; London tourist sites protected
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* Rock bass big enough for Illinois record: Reasons why not worth seeing

* All aboard: Joliet Rocket steamin' into town
* Cheap out: Five fun things to do for free
* Quigley says Russia probe is 'in its infancy'
* Victims of Manchester concert bombing: Who they were
* Trump to pope: 'Thank you, I won't forget what you said'
* Cubs' David Ross said he's 'in' if there's a 'Magic Mike' sequel
* Prosecutors: Hinsdale defendant used GPS, bought ammo before man's slaying
* Man allegedly tossed poodles from Oak Lawn garage after claiming them as his on Facebook
* Man, 69, fights off carjackers on Southwest Side, stabbing one of them
* 'The Voice' finale: The unusual way that winner Chris Blue made show history

» How Would Trump’s Budget Affect Illinois?
» Illinois Democrats Pass Budget Proposal in Senate
» Illinois Senate Approves Tax Hike, $37B Budget Plan
» Chicago Teachers Give Schools Chief No Confidence Vote
» Palatine Transgender Student To Graduate, But Locker Room Debate Continues
» Unusual Suspects: Who Supports Stricter Punishment For Illinois’ Repeat Gun Offenders
» Springfield Developer, Lobbyist Pitch Downtown Casino
» Cook County Board President To Seek Third Term Next Year
» 2 More Leaks Found Along Dakota Access Pipeline
» Springfield Casino? A Businessman Likes The Odds

* Sounding the Alarm: Unacceptable
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* Senate Dems approve $5.4B tax increase; budget fight continues
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* Byron York: At this rate, it won't matter if Trump colluded with Russia
* Guest Column: Innovation key to improved public works infrastructure
* Catherine Rampell: To see how Trumpcare would work, look to Iowa
* Michael Gerson: Trump's house of betrayal
* Budget showdown: Senate Dems approve $5.4B tax increase
* Budget showdown: Senate Dems approve $5B tax increase

* Midwest Members Credit Union announces $1,000 scholarship winner
* Car seat safety tips: How to choose the right seat
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* Graco recalls 25,494 car seats
* NOW: Open Line with Jim Turpin
* Police confiscate drugs, handgun after search of East Alton home
* Floodgates going up Friday in Clinton
* What’s the best thing on every Main Street in the metro-east?
* Mahomet man injured in I-74 crash
* State series split ends girls lacrosse season at 10-6

* Northwest suburban police blotter
* A hearty walk opens your mind, spirit to God
* Downtown gazebo named in honor of 'Mr. Barrington'
* Parent company of DeVry University changing its name
* Report: McDonald's workers rally for higher wages, close streets near HQ

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* Meet Chicago's American Writers Museum
* The [Wednesday] Papers
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* A remarkably clear explanation of Illinois public pension issues.
* Some corporations and LLCs still need to reinstate non-renewed real estate licenses
* VIDEO: April Housing Report
* JB Pritzker calls on Congress to initiate Trump impeachment proceedings
* Illinois Democrats pander to Rauner’s foolish bargain.
* Illinois considers adding more casinos to help fill budget gap
* ROTY Banquet tickets on sale until May 30

* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

* Facebook doubles down on live video with two new features
* Security & Privacy: Do You Need Mobile Antivirus Apps?
* LG V10 scores Android 7.0 Nougat a little sooner than expected, at least in Korea
* Robotic toymaker Sphero unveils Ultimate Lightning McQueen — a chatty, smartphone-controlled car
* Deal: 1TB of Zoolz Dual Cloud Storage is just $29.99 for life
* Apple Said to Aim for Trial Production of Micro-LED Displays by End of 2017
* T-Mobile Will Pay Off Your iPhone If You Switch From Verizon

* Quintana looks to avoid another no-decision
* Renteria uses NL maneuvers to guide club
* Trio of HRs not enough as White Sox fall in desert
* Keeping it 100: Abreu hits milestone homer
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* Trio of HRs not enough as White Sox fall in desert
* Quintana looks to avoid another no-decision

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