Sunday, June 28, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Between January 1, 2005 and June 29, 2009, GOPUSA ILLINOIS brought 47,661 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Don't emulate Illinois...

I found this op/ed at Instapundit that describes the current situation with the budget battles between Gov. Quinn and the General Assembly:

The governor's attempts to create political chaos by placing high-profile, "feel good" programs on the chopping block is disingenuous. By failing to address the state's fundamental spending and inefficiency problems, Quinn is setting up Illinois taxpayers for even greater future fiscal disasters.

While closing the state's budget deficit won't be a painless process and some programs should be cut, that need not mean doomsday cuts. Programs that are well intended or sound good on paper aren't necessarily effective or even valid functions of government.

Perhaps the biggest deception in Quinn's budget gambit, however, is his claim that he is trying to protect lower-income families and children. In fact, they're the ones who will be most harmed by his tax hikes. Raising taxes on small-business owners and workers will decrease the amount of money they can spend, invest, and hire workers with. Low-income and low-skilled workers will have to pay more in taxes and will typically be the first laid off when businesses have to cut costs.

Taking even more money out of the private sector, where it could be used to prevent job cuts, and instead putting it into Illinois' bureaucratic money pit is a blueprint for disaster.
The main link at Instapundit analyzes why three of our nation's largest and prosperous states (California, New York, and New Jersey) are now struggling because they have more of their general economic policies such as taxes, super minimum wages, powerful unions, or even government health care.

Another link offers a place that's doing well even in this current economic climate, Texas. Of course they're bouncing off of this aformentioned main link to the Wall Street Journal article.

Cross-posted at Mechanics!

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 27, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,556 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 27, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Governor signs bill to refinance debt

By Bethany Jaeger
Gov. Pat Quinn enacted one type of revenue source for the next fiscal year’s budget, which starts July 1. But there’s no budget in place to spend it.

The governor signed SB 1609, allowing the state to refinance debt. According to House Democrats, the plan would take advantage of a 4 percent interest rate and save $600 million next fiscal year. It would save $237 million over the life of the bonds.


The bill has been tied to the legislature’s version of a bare bones budget, which has been dubbed the “50 percent budget” because it would fund human services at half the level proposed by the governor.

But Quinn’s spokeswoman Libby White said this afternoon: “There’s no link between the two. This was our bill that was a part of the governor’s original budget proposal.”

She added, “The governor’s not in favor of the legislature’s 50 percent budget and is fighting to get his [budget] passed.”

Quinn is still campaigning for a temporary income tax increase, although he’s modified his original proposal in hopes of winning more votes from Democrats and Republicans. So far, Republicans have remained united against a tax increase without other longer-term reforms. The legislature isn’t scheduled to return to the Capitol until Monday and Tuesday, leaving little time to approve a balanced budget before the fiscal year begins.

But what it will take to balance the budget is debatable, as the size of the deficit and the consequences of not having a spending plan in place by Wednesday has widely varied. Yet, Quinn repeatedly has said thousands of state workers could lose their jobs and services would have to be reduced in July without a budget in place.

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Political Prison in Marion?

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging what Rachel Meeropol, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, describes as "political prisons", including one facility located within the federal prison in Marion, Illinois.

The facility is known as a Communications Management Unit (CMU) and is designed to severely restrict the ability of prisoners to make contact with friends, family, or the media. The ACLU alleges that the units were created in violation of federal law.

GreenIsTheNewRed.com has a description of the units, and makes the case that they are being used as part of a national Green Scare.

Democracy Now has also posted a televised interview with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist held in the CMU at Marion for five and a half months. Stepanian is believed to be the first prisoner to be released from a CMU and describes his experience while there.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 26, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,517 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 26, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Budget not the only thing in limbo

By Hilary Russell
Just as the state’s operating budget is in limbo with five days left in the fiscal year, many substantive bills were left in the lurch at the end of the regularly scheduled spring session. The following is a list of measures that Illinois Issues magazine covered in our monthly “legislative checklist” throughout the spring. See the full list in the July/August print edition. In the meantime, here is a list of bills that stalled but that could come up in this fall’s or next spring’s legislative sessions:



HJRCA 31 The constitutional amendment sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks, a Morengo Democrat, would give voters the option to remove a sitting governor from office. The resolution would require voters to decide whether they wanted to change the state’s Constitution to include a so-called “recall” provision. The bill passed the House, but it didn’t get called for a final vote in the Senate. Senate President John Cullerton recently said he would not call the measure for a vote until Gov. Pat Quinn signed another ethics reform measure, HB 7, which would cap the amount individuals, businesses and political organizations could contribute to candidates. Franks’ recall measure doesn’t have to be approved until May 2010, and he said he expects that it would pass without problems before then.

HB 2643, SB 1292 Newly hired state employees and teachers would receive less generous pension benefits than current employees. Quinn proposed the so-called two-tiered pension plan as a way to save the state money in the next fiscal year and to reduce the mounting pension liabilities in the long run. But public employee union members strongly oppose the idea and argue it ultimately won’t save the money projected by the governor’s office. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, an Orland Park Democrat, and Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, stalled in both chambers.

SB 1381 A bill allowing the limited use of medical marijuana, sponsored by Sen. Bill Haine, an Alton Democrat, narrowly passed in the Senate, marking the first time in Illinois’ legislative history that such a proposal won approval. The clock ran out before House sponsor Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, presented it to the full chamber. Lang said he didn’t have enough votes to pass it and that he plans to lobby for the bill and could call it in the future.

SB 744, sponsored by Sen. Terry Link, proposed opening new casinos in Chicago, Danville, Rockford and Waukegan, as well as adding gaming positions at existing riverboats and allowing slot machines at horse racing tracks. According to Link, a Waukegan Democrat, the gaming package could generate as much as $1 billion a year. While the Senate approved the measure, the House sponsor, Lang, said he chose not to call the bill and would like to make changes so the bill would not specify where the gaming facilities would have to be built.

HB 2234 would recognize civil unions and give same-sex partners some of the same legal rights, including power-of-attorney, as married couples. Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored the legislation. It narrowly passed out of committee but wasn’t called on the floor because, Harris said, he didn’t have enough votes to ensure passage. He added that new legislation in Iowa that now legitimizes same-sex marriage could help pave the way for passage of Illinois’ bill in the future; however, Harris’ civil unions measure would not be the same as same-sex marriage.

HB 397 redefines stalking. The measure amends the 1961 criminal code by defining stalking as a behavior intended to terrorize or endanger another person through intimidation or threats. Rep. Dan Brady, a Bloomington Republican, sponsored the measure. The bill stalled in the House. Brady said the measure is undergoing further negotiations between the state’s attorney’s office and the attorney general’s office. He expects to present it again during the 2010 spring session.

HB 2633, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Julie Hamos of Evanston, called for stricter rules to define how and when inmates in minimum- and maximum-security prisons were transferred to Tamms Correctional Center in Alexander County. Questions about the treatment and living conditions of the prisoners prompted Hamos to write the bill, which she said is on hold because a new director recently took over the center. She said she wants to wait to see what kind of changes will come about as a result.

HB 288 proposes that public schools could give students a few moments before class begins to observe a moment of reflection. The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat, and Sen. Bill Haine, an Alton Democrat. The moment of reflection would be determined on a school-by-school basis. Fritchey’s definition of a moment of reflection would replace the existing Student Reflection and Student Prayer Act, which requires every school to have a moment of silence during which students could either reflect on the day ahead or pray. Because the law lacked consequences for not observing the moment of silence, some schools observed it while others did not.

Controversy has surrounded the moment of silence issue because federal court deemed it unconstitutional to require public school students to pray during school hours.

The law invited a lawsuit. Fritchey, who voted against the original moment of silence bill, proposed the new version that would remove the “student prayer act” from the name and allow teachers to choose whether to honor the moment.

Haine said the role of the government is to encourage freedom of expression, not force it on individuals who may hold different beliefs, but he said he didn’t know if he could get enough votes for the bill to pass next session.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 25, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,471 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 25, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Everything in limbo

By Bethany Jaeger, with Jamey Dunn and Hilary Russell contributing
Illinois’ human service providers, as well as other state contractors, remain in limbo as to whether they’ll receive state funding after July 1. The General Assembly finished its special legislative session this afternoon without sending a spending plan to the governor. Lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return until Monday afternoon (the Senate won’t be back until Tuesday), which some providers said would be too late. Providers, many of whom rallied at the Capitol yesterday, anticipate having to close their doors or lay off employees without a state operating budget in place by then.



“What’s going on right now is cruel, it’s cynical and it doesn’t need to be happening. And it should have been addressed this week,” Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said after the legislature adjourned. She added: “There is a lack of clarity, a lack of leadership, in terms of what is going on. And in the meantime, people are dangling in the wind thinking that their lives are going to be inextricably altered.”

She proposed enacting a temporary budget to keep state services going, uninterrupted, and to give service providers more predictability.

Gov. Pat Quinn continues to publicly reject the idea of a temporary budget and said lawmakers still have time to enact a full-year balanced budget within six days. But he said balancing the budget, which he projects will carry a $9.2 billion deficit, will require a two-year income tax increase to generate $4.2 billion. (Comptroller Dan Hynes calculated the deficit at $7 billion.)

Legislative leaders of both political parties have cast doubt on the governor’s ability to gain enough votes in each chamber to approve a tax increase by July 1, although House Minority Leader Tom Cross said a few of his members are leaning toward a tax increase if they see action on other efficiencies and long-term spending reforms first.

Senate Democrats maintain that they approved a version of a permanent income tax increase in House Bill 174, which never got called for a vote in the House. According to Sen. James Meeks, the caucus doesn’t want to give up on the idea of offering property tax relief and increased education funding. Meeks said a temporary increase would result in a permanent increase in two years. “Temporary should scream out to everybody saying, ‘In two years, they’ll be back.’”

There could be more immediate support for a short-term borrowing scheme. A plan backed by Quinn would issue pension obligation notes rather than bonds, which typically are repaid over longer periods of time with higher interest costs. The House advanced the plan, Senate Bill 415, today. It would allow the state to make its full contribution into the public employee pension systems and free up $2.2 billion to help plug the deficit.

“If we get $2 billion to help close the deficit, that’s a good thing,” Quinn said after finishing a series of meetings with all four legislative caucuses. “We’re making progress, but we still have $7 billion to go.”

The governor and all four caucuses appear to agree one goal: to reduce spending by another $1 billion. But they might disagree on how to do that.

Quinn said his administration could save about $125 million by mandating 12 unpaid days off, or furlough days, for state employees, including unionized workers. Layoffs also could be considered, he said, although he added that he wouldn’t pursue layoffs until after he and the General Assembly settled on whether the state would generate new revenues first. “Under our contract, we can lay off employees if we don’t have the money to pay them,” he said.

Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, said union leaders already met with the administration last week and determined that furlough days and layoffs wouldn’t save significant amounts of money. Henry Bayer, Council 31 executive director, said last week that even if every state employee worked the entire year unpaid, the state would only save about $3 billion. Lindall added this afternoon, “Any number of furlough days would be an insignificant savings to the state but a very real reduction in services.”

Cross said his caucus agrees with the need to look for $1 billion in cuts and recommends moratoriums on programs, furlough days and salary freezes, as well as reduced travel budgets.

Capital and recall
Two other items on hold include the $29 billion capital construction program and a provision that would allow voters to decide whether they wanted to change the state Constitution so they could recall the sitting governor.

Quinn said he will not sign the construction program without an operating budget in place. Democratic Sens. Martin Sandoval of Chicago and John Sullivan of Rushville said the capital plan and the operating budget have nothing to do with one another. In a Statehouse news conference, they joined organized labor groups to say Quinn has fallen through on his promise to immediately put people to work. "People are falling off the edge, losing their homes, having a very difficult time making ends meet, and he’s decided to hold the jobs bill as a political football until he gets his tax hike,” Sandoval said, citing the state’s 10.1 percent unemployment rate.

On the other hand, the Senate Democrats have held one of Quinn’s initiatives, House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 31: a recall provision. Senate President John Cullerton said yesterday he would not call the provision for a vote until Quinn signed an ethics package that would limit the amount individuals, businesses and political organizations could donate to candidates. However, the Senate hasn’t even sent the measure, HB 7, to the governor’s desk.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 24, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,404 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 24, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pension plan delays tax hike vote, for now

By Bethany Jaeger, with Jamey Dunn and Hilary Russell contributing
The latest scheme for the General Assembly to get closer to a balanced budget is to borrow money to fully pay the state’s contribution into the public employee pension system and to free up about $2 billion to help stave off deep cuts to human services.


This on a day when more than 5,000 advocates, parents and children rallied at the Capitol with Gov. Pat Quinn to urge an income tax increase to help fight those cuts. Top Democratic legislators indicated today, however, that they would not vote for an income tax increase this week. And if they did, there wouldn’t be enough support among Democrats to approve it without Republican votes. The GOP remains united against a tax increase, at least, officially. Some Republican members in both chambers have privately said they could support a tax increase but have stuck with their caucuses.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said that Republicans are not ready to vote for an income tax increase and described the projected cuts to human services as a “cynical ploy,” adding that spending reductions could be spread fairly across all areas of state government.

The idea to issue pension obligation notes, which we wrote about earlier this week, poses a less politically risky option. The short-term borrowing plan would be repaid within five years and would fund the state’s $4 billion contribution into the public employee pension system for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

It’s generally agreed that the plan would free up about $2.2 billion, which the General Assembly would put into the general revenue fund and give the governor, essentially, a blank check. The ball would be in Quinn’s court, then, to cut or to plug where he saw fit.

“This is more discretion than we’ve ever given any other governor, simply because the times require it,” said Rep. Frank Mautino, assistant majority leader from Spring Valley.

He said the pension obligation notes would combine with previously approved authority to sweep extra money (Senate Bill 1433) out of dedicated funds and to refinance other state debt (SB 1609). All three revenue sources combined would allow the spending authority to come within $2 billion of the governor’s proposed budget. Quinn wanted authority to spend $28 billion. The latest plan would authorize about $26 billion, meaning he would still have to cut back spending.

The legislature could vote on the pension plan Wednesday, according to Mautino.

A vote on Quinn’s proposed two-year tax hike, however, would not happen until the governor provided a list of specific cuts he would make if he didn’t have new tax revenues to spend, according to several House Democrats. His temporary tax increase would generate about $4.5 billion. But there’s still debate about the size of the budget deficit, said Rep. Art Turner, deputy majority leader from Chicago.

“The biggest issue right now is just trying to put the bean counters together to come up with what’s the agreed number,” he said. “So then from there, we can … say, ‘What’s going to be the number that we have to use in terms of the cuts?’”

A Republican, Rep. Richard Myers of Colchester, said he’d be willing to look at a tax increase if he knew where the money was specifically going to be spent.

Comptroller Dan Hynes added to the debate with a letter to the governor. He wrote: “I believe that part of your difficulty in obtaining votes for an income tax increase is the fact that the public is confused about how much money is really needed to fix the deficit. Legislators are, therefore, understandably reluctant to vote for an ever-changing proposal for an ill-defined problem. In a sense, we have all been given a false choice: raise taxes by $4 [billion] to $5 billion or cut human services by the same amount.”

He proposed starting over, operating on a 60-day budget to keep services going while the legislature found more ways to cut spending. He cited across-the-board cuts to contracts, grants and agency spending. And then he suggested such new revenue sources as an expansion of the sales tax, building new casinos and increasing cigarette taxes. All of those proposals came up during the spring legislative session but failed to advance in both chambers.

Senate Democrats point to their version of an income tax increase, which also would offer property tax relief and an expansion of the sales tax. Senate President John Cullerton said his caucus already took the hard vote on House Bill 174 last month and that it’s up to the other caucuses to make the next move. “Anything is negotiable, as long as we keep the principles in mind that we need to balance our budget and not have these draconian cuts that all the people surrounding the capital are complaining about today.”

Cullerton added that his caucus would not vote on the governor’s desired “recall” provision until Quinn enacted campaign finance reforms approved by the legislature last month. The House already approved the recall provision, which would allow voters to decide whether to change the state Constitution so they could recall the governor at the time. The provision awaits final action in the Senate.

The rally
By Hilary Russell and Jamey Dunn, with Bethany Jaeger contributing
The secretary of state’s office confirmed that more than 5,000 people attended the rally coordinated by numerous social service providers and public employee unions. Police temporarily blocked more people from entering the Capitol out of safety concerns, said Henry Haupt, spokesman for the secretary of state.

The temperature rose as participants chanted, “People before politics,” “Do the people’s work,” and “No budget cuts.” Signs advocated for everything from substance abuse treatment services to early childhood education and autism. The anecdotes were endless.

For instance, Michelle Lefrere, who has epilepsy and volunteers with Springfield’s Epilepsy Resource Center, said without an income tax increase, the doors to the center would close June 30. Having used the center since the age of 9 and turning 40 next year, she said: “There will be no counseling, no recommendations to doctors, no job placement. There won’t be any help for people with epilepsy in Springfield or the certain communities. There won’t be any money for research.”

After the rally, Quinn remained optimistic that the legislature would vote on a tax increase by June 30, the end of the fiscal year. In any case, he said, “I am not going to preside over a dismantling of the fundamental human safety net that we are proud of in Illinois.”

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Philosophical vs Substantive Polling Questions

There’s often a disconnect between what public opinion survey results suggest and the public’s true position on an issue. To understand why survey results sometime imply one outcome and reality reveals another, the consumers of public opinion data need to learn the difference and identify philosophical position and substantive survey questions.

Philosophical survey questions, as philosophical questions in general, are not designed to arrive at a definitive answer about a specific issue. While most people could identify fundamental philosophical questions (What is the meaning of life? What is good/evil? What is beauty?), survey questions designed to evaluate philosophical positions are less easily distinguished.

Philosophical survey questions often ask respondents to evaluate the priority they place on various concepts or ideas, or to indicate whether they support or oppose a plan or idea in general terms. An example of philosophical position survey question may include a priority question about whether respondents feel adding air conditioning to existing schools without air condition is a high, medium, low, or not a priority. Another example could be when respondents are asked if they agree or disagree with the statement that the government should guarantee health insurance for all Americans. These questions do not discuss a specific plan, but rather probe how respondents generally feel about these topics.

Understanding the philosophical position of the voters is critical for developing a campaign’s strategy. If it is known, following our example, that voters are generally or highly supportive of adding air conditioning to schools where it currently does not exist, then the campaign for adding air conditioning has a starting point from where to understand their position. Supporters of adding air conditioning know that they are operating in an ‘environment’ that is ‘friendly’ to their cause. Supporters can focus their campaign on issues that will retain support, instead of trying to shift opinions in favor of adding air conditioning.

Philosophical opinions are often the poll results to which campaigns try to direct the public’s attention. They are the results about which campaigns generally want their issue debated, they focus on the big idea. Substantive questions, however, often reveal a schism in respondent opinion, and are less likely to be reported or the focus of a media release. Substantive questions, following our example, would ask survey responds if they supported or opposed adding air conditioning to schools in their district where it currently does not exist if they knew the proposal would require a bond costing thirteen million dollars. A substantive question injects the facts missing from a philosophical question and allows voters to make a more informed decision about their position on the issue, concept, or idea.

There are varying degrees of substantive questions. Respondents could be asking their opinions about an issue with only being presented the basic facts (Adding X number of air conditioners at Y cost). This type of question is often called an ‘initial ask’ or an ‘uninformed ask.’ It is generally asked in neutral language and, if the issue is about something likely to appear on a ballot, worded as closely as to the questions language on the ballot as possible. This sort of question gives a clear indication if the philosophical opinions of the respondents will differ with the reality.

Substantive questions may also be included to try to simulate the dynamics of an engaged debate about an issue (along with additional message testing techniques). Questions like these are typically called ‘informed asks.’ In an informed ask, balanced messages in support and opposition of an issue are cited after a statement of facts about the issue (Adding X number of air conditioners at Y cost, supporters say… opponents say…). Respondents are then asked, based on the information presented in the question, if they support or oppose the issue.

Through examining the differences between philosophical opinions and what respondents indicate through substantive questions is where strategy is developed. Campaigns need to know where the voters stand philosophically on their issue, idea, or concept and where support (or opposition) is lost (or gained) once additional information and messages are presented about the topic. Polling offers campaigns the ability to target demographic and attitudinal groups, discover where and among which respondents changes in opinions occur, and what needs to be done to keep or convert supporters to their cause.

To genuinely understand public opinion on an issue, more than the philosophical data needs to be presented. We have observed the philosophical fallacy in the current deluge of polling results presented in the media about healthcare reform. While the polls show wide appeal for change and reforming the system, specific plans, substantive questions, show a less consensus about how to fix the system. Consumers of healthcare survey data should be careful to seek out the results for substantive questions and not be clouded by reports based on the philosophical support of a plan.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 23, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,361 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 23, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Quinn: Won't cut human service funding in half

By Bethany Jaeger
Without a state budget in place eight days before a new fiscal year starts, Gov. Pat Quinn said in Springfield on Monday that he would not accept a budget proposal that would chop state funding for human services by half, as advanced by Democrats May 31.



“So I want to make that clear to our legislators this week that whatever has been concocted up to now is insufficient, and hopefully we can work together to repair the oversights in revenue,” he said, previewing Tuesday’s special legislative session. “You can’t have a balanced [budget] if you’re short billions of dollars.”

His office estimates an $11.6 billion deficit next fiscal year.

But just how he will work with the legislature to enact a balanced budget before July 1 is a mystery, despite Quinn’s optimism that a few legislators who rejected a temporary income tax increase last month would support it this month “under the circumstances.” If an income tax increase failed again, however, he said he would not support the idea of a so-called month-to-month budget to keep the state operating as long as money remained available.

He did not specify how he would prevent cuts to human services, only that even if the state increased the income tax for two years, Illinois would still have to accept a “no-frills, lean government.” But, he added, “That doesn’t mean that the most important things for the most vulnerable people are left behind.”

Quinn has campaigned since last month for a two-year tax hike to stave off deep budget cuts to human services. He even used Monday’s ceremony to honor Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants to seek support from parents in the audience, whom he asked to “invest in our future, even in hard times.” He’s scheduled to continue his campaign Tuesday morning during what’s expected to be a large rally in the Capitol before the legislative session starts.

But approving an income tax increase any time soon will be difficult, given that Democrats have said they don’t have enough votes without Republican support. And Republicans have said they won’t consider a tax increase without action on Medicaid and pension reforms, which could take months to compile and to gain momentum.

Democrats in both chambers approved a bare bones budget at the end of May, but they have prevented the legislation from going to the governor’s desk (see Senate Bill 1197 for the lump sum spending plan; SB 1433 for authority to sweep excess money from dedicated funds; SB 1609 for authority to refinance state debt).

In a light-hearted plea to legislators, Quinn quizzed national spelling bee contestants by asking them to spell such words as “whistleblower,” “gridlock” and “mudslinging.” He asked one student to spell out “fortitude,” which he later defined as “doing very hard things for the common good, worrying about people above and beyond yourself.”

Also Tuesday, Quinn said he hopes the legislature will take another try to approve a measure that would allow voters to decide whether to change the state Constitution so they could recall elected officials. House Joint Resolution 31 passed the House last month and awaits Senate action. And watch for a new short-term borrowing proposal that could help the state fund most of its $4 billion pension contribution next fiscal year.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 22, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,308 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 22, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Note a possible pension plan

By Bethany Jaeger
Watch for a new pension proposal that could help buy some time for the state to recover from the economic slump and free up about $2 billion during the next cash-strapped year.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration could propose issuing pension obligation notes, which differ from pension obligation bonds. A note is a form of short-term borrowing that would have to be repaid within five years. The state does short-term borrowing all the time. The notes could carry a lower interest rate than pension obligation bonds, which are repaid over much longer periods of time.



The idea was talked about at a recent meeting of a new pension reform task force. Rep. Roger Eddy, a Hutsonville Republican, serves on that panel of legislators, labor organizations, unions and business groups. “This has some hope,” he said.

The idea could come up this week, when the governor called legislators back to Springfield for a special legislative session.

The legislature is scheduled to return Tuesday, seven days before Illinois’ new fiscal year starts. Quinn’s special session proclamation says he urges the legislature to consider measures, particularly an income tax increase, that would result in a balanced budget, as well as measures needed to implement a major construction program and a constitutional amendment to allow voters to recall elected officials. Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton specifically mentioned House Bill 174, the education-funding bill formerly known as a “tax swap,” as a potential solution for the state to generate revenue and knock down some of the deficit and to provide some property tax relief.

House Democrats didn’t have enough votes needed at the end of May, which means it could be even harder to acquire an extra majority of votes needed now that the legislative session has stretched into June. An extra majority would require at least some Republicans. GOP leaders, however, have strongly opposed the idea of a tax increase until they see progress on government reforms, including cheaper models of Medicaid health insurance programs and ways to reduce the state’s long-term pension debt.

One of the largest pressure points on the state budget for the next fiscal year is the contribution to the public employee pension system. Illinois is supposed to pay about $4 billion. Quinn proposed skipping next year’s payment to free up about $2 billion to help fill what his office estimates will be an $11.6 billion deficit. The legislature rejected the idea of skipping the payment; however, the Democratic-approved budget only authorized $1.5 billion for the state’s contribution into the pension system. If enacted, money would have to be skimmed from other state programs to cover the full $4 billion payment, which is required by law.

The idea to issue pension notes could take some pressure off to find the extra money needed to make the full payment, according to Eddy.

With the $1.5 billion already approved, one idea would be to issue about $2.2 billion in pension notes. That would get the state to about $3.7 billion, leaving only about $300 million that the state needed to find to get all the way up to $4 billion.

Eddy added that once the economy recovered and revenue started flowing into the state again, the state would be better able to cope with the annual contributions.

Any money freed up by the pension notes could help ease some pressure to cut human services, as well as buy some more time for the pension reform task force and a separate Medicaid reform task force to recommend ways to save money. The pension panel is supposed to issue a report to the General Assembly November 1, which is just before the regularly scheduled fall veto session. The panel is scheduled to meet once a month through October, and all meetings are public and subject to the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act, which Eddy said prevents a 200-page report being dropped on legislators’ desks 15 minutes before they’re supposed to vote on it.

“This is not how we approached the problem before,” which is a good thing, he said, adding, “Any hint that we’re going to become serious about pension modernization, Medicaid reform, looking at job creation, all those are good signs that we’re really moving off the dime.”

The strategy of issuing pension notes differs from when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration issued an unprecedented $10 billion in pension obligation bonds in 2003. He and the legislature skipped that year’s payment and planned to use the interest earned on the investments to repay the debt. The strategy backfired when the economy tanked last fall. Pension notes, on the other hand, would be obligated directly to the state pension fund rather than to an investment bank.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 21, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,272 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 21, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

PAYING THE PRICE FOR CORRUPTION

The Chicago Citizen Newspapers has the first in a series of reports on the cost of corruption in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. The focus of this first article is about the effect of corruption on minority communities.

Instead of using funds appropriated by the state to pay for important social programs that help build communities, taxpayers are paying millions of dollars annually for the price of corruption.

A recent Chicago Sun-Times article pointed out that $2.7 million was reportedly wasted in state grants that could have gone towards helping communities with social programs including job training services for homeless men, youth services for African-Americans and literacy training for others.

While a Chicago Coalition for the Homeless report recently noted that Illinois should invest $2 million in transitional jobs programs with a therapy focus for people living in supportive housing facilities to help them move out of poverty and homelessness, Thomas J. Gradel, the coresearcher of a study entitled, Curing Corruption in Illinois: Anti-Corruption Report at the University of Illinois said, “You’re not only ripping off the taxpayers, but the homeless people that could have got the training. The people who were supposed to get the training, [didn’t receive] access to a job. The businesses would have benefited from the trained employees. So there’s a whole ripple effect caused by taking money to provide training and not providing it,” Gradel said. According to the Coalition’s report, less than one percent of the $270 million spent on workforce development in Chicago in 2004 targeted the homeless. The report pointed to another UIC study in 2001 on homelessness in the city and stated that of the 1,300 homeless adults in the collar counties, 19 percent were military veterans; 31.4 percent had been incarcerated, 46.3 percent were substance abusers and 13.8 percent were mentally ill.

In addition to groups like the homeless, it’s the children who end up paying the price through school dropouts and incarceration when funds fail to reach the people it was supposed to help, said Marrice Coverson, founder of the Institute for Positive Living, a non-profit organization that helps families solve educational, social and economic problems.

While 63 percent of Black male students in the Chicago Public Schools failed to graduate in 2005-2006 according to a study conducted by the Schott Foundation for Public Education based in Massachusetts, Coverson said, “We’re going to look up and we’re not going to have quality people to run our hospitals or banks.”
What about ethics reform is that the cure for all of our ills that includes corruption?
John Paul Jones, an Englewood community resident, said that ethics reform is not going to be a “quick fix” because the challenge lies in broadening the communication between elected officials and knowledge about how government works. “Those issues are not discussed in community settings. Until we get to that point where people can be comfortable talking about those things with their state officials without being blackballed, we’re going to have a disconnect of having state reform,” he said.
Go to the Chicago Citizen website and read the whole article!

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 20, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,224 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 20, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, June 19, 2009

No proof for perjury

By Jamey Dunn
U.S. Sen. Roland Burris will not face perjury charges in Sangamon County related to his testimony in January before the Illinois House committee that impeached then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Schmidt said in a press release today that there was not enough evidence to charge Burris with the crime. Schmidt launched an investigation after it was revealed that Burris did not tell the committee about conversations he had with Rob Blagojevich, the former governor’s brother, and other close Blagojevich associates about seeking an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. Burris said he sent an affidavit to the committee that provided that information after he realized he had forgotten to mention the conversations in his testimony.

In a letter to House Speaker Michael Madigan, Schmidt said that to charge Burris with perjury would require proof that he intentionally lied to the committee. “Some of his statements were vague, but vague statements cannot support a perjury charge,” Schmidt said. He added that as long as an individual clarifies previous statements before a tribunal such as the House investigation committee concludes, it’s not considered perjury. (Letter here; press release here.)

While he said Burris’ second affidavit confirmed that he did not intend to exclude information, Schmidt did not go as far as saying Burris’ affidavit told the whole truth. But the question was not whether Burris misled anyone, but whether he intentionally misled the committee by withholding information.

Burris said in a statement today that he cooperated with the investigation and maintained that he did not commit perjury or engage in pay-to-play politics to gain his Senate seat. “I am glad I can now put this matter behind me and get on with my work in the United States Senate serving the people of Illinois,” he said.

Burris is still the subject of a U.S. Senate Ethics Committee investigation.




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Foster care children at risk

By Hilary Russell
If July 1 turns into a "doomsday" for state-funded human services, thousands of children in foster care could lose their homes within three months, according to the Childcare Association of Illinois.


The advocacy group organized a standing-room only rally today in Chicago's James R. Thompson Center to propose severe funding cuts and to encourage lawmakers to find a better way to balance an out-of-whack state budget. Democrats approved a so-called bare bones budget May 31 that would fund human services at half the level proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn, who said he does not intend to sign the budget into law because it carries a $9.2 billion deficit and would require devastating cuts to services for the most vulnerable citizens.

The Childcare Association of Illinois said that within 90 days of the proposed budget taking effect, monthly state payments to foster parents would be cut in half.
CORRECTION: The state currently pays $384 per foster child in a home. When the fiscal year begins July 1, that payment would reduce to $192. Caretakers described the decrease as drastic and said it could require families to return the foster children to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Rhonda Hansen, who raises four foster children between ages 4 and 7, faces that possibility. She attended the rally and later said in a phone interview that she not only couldn't afford to care for the children on her part-time wages of $800 a month, but she also couldn't keep working if she lost her childcare services through DCFS.


Foster children cannot be left with a friend or relative unless the individual has gone through a background check and been approved by DCFS, she said.


She added that she worries about what would happen to the children if she gave them up. For instance, two of the children were removed from their original home, Hansen said, after findings of severe neglect and physical abuse by their mother, who is now serving time in prison. They also were removed from a second foster home because, she said, relatives also neglected them. They are both in therapy, another service Hansen said they stand to lose if the budget isn't changed.


“I can't bear thinking about making that call to someone telling them to come get them,” she said.


If Quinn signed the budget as approved by Democrats, about 9,000 foster parents could be affected, according to David Ormsby of the Childcare Association of Illinois.


Gladys Boyd, president of the association and a foster parent in Richton Park, said she, too, would have to return her children to DCFS if the state cuts reimbursement levels.


"These politicians should be ashamed of themselves," she said. "Completely ashamed."


The governor and legislative leaders have been meeting behind closed doors since June 1. Lawmakers are scheduled return to Springfield for a special session Tuesday, seven days before the new fiscal year starts without a budget in place. Quinn's goal is to approve a state income tax increase to avoid cutting or eliminating funding to human services. However, legislative leaders said yesterday that there doesn't appear to be enough support for an income tax increase as early as next week.


This is not the first time DCFS has experienced massive cuts. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the state's child welfare system was in chaos, Ormsby said. More than 50,000 children were in the system at that time, which prompted the state to house them in welfare agencies, where they slept on cots.


Today, there are about 16,000 foster care children in the system. Ormsby said more than half of them could face the same fate.

“This time, with so many cuts, they will be drawing out the pool of foster care parents to some degree,” he said. “Many of the agencies themselves will simply go out of business because of the enormity of the cuts.”



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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 19, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,171 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 19, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Merit pay tops panel's recommendations

By Jamey Dunn

A bipartisan reform group raised the concern today that the majority of Illinois high-school graduates are not prepared for college or the workforce.



According to Robin Steans, Advance Illinois executive director and sister of Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, one out of every four incoming high-school freshmen in Illinois will drop out. Two will not be prepared for college or work upon graduating, which leaves only one graduate out of the four prepared for the next step.



Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, Advance Illinois co-chair and brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, said that ensuring kids are ready for college or work would benefit Illinois businesses by creating a stronger workforce. “If we can close this gap of the number of students who are either college-ready or work-ready, it would have a tremendous impact on the economy of our state,” Daley said.



The group laid out some sweeping changes in it’s report, released today, which focused on three areas of reform:

Radically shift personnel policy.
Teachers' pay and tenure would be determined by student achievement, not by the number of years a teacher is on the job. Former Gov. Jim Edgar, co-chair of Advance Illinois, said that automatically giving teachers a pay increase for getting a master's degree should be reconsidered because, he said, there is no correlation between teachers who hold degrees and students who perform better in the classroom. Edgar said the money could be better spent on other training programs that prove more effective. 


Increase standards for test scores. Raising the standards for test scores and the requirements for high-school graduation would help ensure that Illinois is on par with the rest of the country and that students are prepared for life after high school.

Create a special fund to encourage innovative solutions. The “Race to the Top Fund” was inspired by a federal program and would allow schools to compete for grants for specific problems in their districts. Schools that received the money would have to illustrate that students improved before they could get renewed funding. 



Members of Advance Illinois, a non-profit organization funded by several philanthropic groups, set out in November of last year to tour the state and talk to parents, educators and interested groups. They also have been researching reform methods. Their report will be submitted to the General Assembly.



The report did not address school funding. Edgar said the group plans to take up that issue later. He said the next step is for members to rally support for these proposals. “It's going to take some major battles to get some of these things,” he said, adding that the current budget crisis will probably keep the legislature from taking up education reform until next year.



UPDATE: Gail Purkey, spokeswoman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said that rating educators on students' test scores alone does not consider all the traits needed to be a good teacher. “Test scores in a vacuum is not the best way to evaluate teachers,” she said. However, she added, the group's recommendations are in their earliest stages, and her organization wants to work with Advance Illinois to create viable reforms. “These are bullet points, and there’s going to be a lot of discussion.”


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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 18, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,101 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 18, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Little hope for compromise by July 1

By Bethany Jaeger
The General Assembly will return to the Capitol in a special legislative session Tuesday afternoon, seven days before a new fiscal year starts without a state budget in place. However, legislative leaders appear unlikely to agree on a way to avoid a budget plan that would cut at least $7 billion from state-funded services after July 1.

According to Senate President John Cullerton, legislators will return to Springfield to address technical problems with the $29 billion capital construction program approved last month, as well as some other bills that authorized limited spending. But Gov. Pat Quinn indicated he still does not intend to sign the infrastructure program into law without a balanced operating budget in place.


While Quinn emerged from a meeting with legislative leaders in Chicago this afternoon and said he hopes to achieve both next week with bipartisan support, none of the leaders mentioned income tax increases as part of next week's agenda. (Thanks to Capitol Fax Blog for providing video.)

“Unfortunately, it appears at this point in time that the Republicans are not ready to vote for any revenue increases," Cullerton said. "And that’s unfortunate.”

Democrats maintain that the state cannot cut its way out of what Quinn estimates to be a $9.2 billion deficit and that an income tax increase is the only way to prevent draconian cuts to human services to the most vulnerable citizens. Republicans repeat their call for government reforms first, which Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said could reveal savings that would offset some of the need to raise income taxes by as much as proposed by Democrats. “The Democrat proposal is to raise taxes now and we’ll figure out reforms maybe later, and we don’t accept that that’s a realistic way to approach this,” Radogno said.

She also described the state's budget situation as "manufactured." “I believe it is a manufactured crisis to the extent that we do not need to have those draconian cuts on July 1," she said, adding that the state could fund services for the first half of the fiscal year while legislators continued to negotiate. Quinn said it's irresponsible to begin a year by spending money that would run out halfway through.

Cullerton said before the meeting that a "reasonable solution" would be to enact the Senate-approved version of an income tax increase that also would relieve property taxes and expand the sales tax to some services. He said House Bill 174 would need Democratic and Republican votes to pass in the House. House Speaker Michael Madigan said that not enough members of his caucus, which has 70 members, are willing to vote for an income tax increase without GOP support. “There were a certain number of House Democrats who said quite flatly, ‘I’m not going to go on a roll call when it’s Democrats-only,’” Madigan said.

Any revenue-generating proposal would need 71 votes to pass now that the legislative session has extended beyond May 31, making it harder for enough legislators to get beyond politics and agree on a budget plan within seven days of the new fiscal year.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 17, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 47,038 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 17, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quinn: Legislature should return next week

By Bethany Jaeger, Jamey Dunn and Hilary Russell
Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration is starting a full-court press to pressure state lawmakers into approving an income tax increase to help avoid catastrophic cuts, highlighting cuts to human services. The General Assembly approved a bare bones budget at the end of May that would only fund community services by half and, according to the governor’s office, would still carry a $9.2 billion deficit. But the same question remains that loomed May 31: How will Quinn recruit nearly 30 more representatives to support a tax increase when they rejected the idea two weeks ago?

All four top Democratic and Republican leaders are scheduled to meet with Quinn in Chicago tomorrow, when they could talk about whether the General Assembly will be called back to Springfield next week, as Quinn urged. That would leave about one week before the new fiscal year starts and when an operating budget would need to be in place.




Quinn still urges the need to enact a state income tax increase. However, his proposal to temporarily increase the state income tax fell 18 votes short in the House May 31. He now needs to gain 29 more votes to get up to the supermajority needed after May 31.

While enough Democrats in the Senate approved two versions of an income tax increase last month, House Democrats have said they need Republican support before they’d be able to approve new revenue sources. Republicans, however, continue to demand major reforms to the state’s public employee pension system, Medicaid program and other efficiencies before they’ll consider a tax increase.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross’s spokeswoman, Sara Wojcicki, said the GOP Caucus has a series of reform measures (about 31 bills), most of which have been bottled up by Democratic leadership. For instance, House Republicans would target the practice of rolling over the current year’s bills to the next fiscal year, allowing officials to claim the budget is balanced when it actually doesn’t cover expenses. House Bill 4095 would require the state to set new accounting benchmarks before an operating budget could be deemed “balanced.” House Bill 4097 would ban the state from rolling over payments to Medicaid providers and state employee and retiree health benefits.

Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, says her caucus has proposed reforms during the past six years and hasn’t seen progress, including during the last few weeks of meetings between legislative leaders and the governor. “There have been long discussions. Other than that, we haven’t seen much.”

She adds that Radogno believes the cuts to human services highlighted by Quinn’s administration today would be “irresponsible” and that the budget should be looked at in its entirety, not just in one service delivery area.

The legislature has yet to send the so-called bare bones budget to the governor’s desk. But Quinn’s chief of staff, Jerry Stermer, said agencies and community service providers have to act as if the budget situation won’t change before July 1.

Stermer met with human service providers this morning in Chicago and said that the bare bones budget would still fall $9.2 billion short of normal spending levels. He said that would result in layoffs of more than 100,000 people working for community-based social services and up to 10,000 state workers.

State employee unions oppose the idea of laying off workers or asking them to take unpaid days off to help stave the severity of budget cuts. Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, said in Springfield today: “There is nothing that would alleviate the threat of layoffs short of a tax increase. We don’t have a tax increase, there will be substantial layoffs.” He said even if every state employee worked the entire year unpaid, the state would only save $3 billion, far short of the $9 billion deficit projected by the governor’s office. “That may make some people feel good to think they’re inflicting pain on somebody, but that is not a solution to the problem,” Bayer said. “There is only one solution to the problem.” He referred to tax increases.

Other possible consequences of the bare bones budget laid out by Quinn’s office include:

  • Giving foster parents half the money they currently receive to help care for foster children.
  • Eliminating daycare for more than 5,250 children of low-income working parents.
  • Tripling foster children case loads for Department of Children and Family Service workers.
  • Closing 15 DCFS field offices.
  • Ending addiction treatment for more than 20,800 clients.
  • Closing six state-run psychiatric hospitals.
  • Eliminating multiple preventative health care services such as vaccinations for children and cancer screening programs.
  • Cutting financial aid to college students by $275 million.

Quinn’s office also said Illinois would lose $2 billion in federal matching funds and some stimulus money.

In Springfield, a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union rallied outside the state Capitol in protest. Gail Hamilton, a home health aide, said if the cuts in human services went through, as many as 80,000 parents would have no place to take their children while they worked. And about 40,000 senior citizens would lose access to home health services and, potentially, end up in more costly nursing home care.

The group staked out offices of representatives who voted “no” on raising the income tax last month. Today, it was two Republicans from the Springfield area, Reps. Raymond Poe and Rich Brauer. On Monday, they targeted two downstate Democrats, Reps. Brandon Phelps and John Bradley, as well as Chicago suburban Republican Rep. Beth Coulson. Last week’s focus was all northern Illinois Democrats: Reps. James Brosnahan, Jack Franks, Michael Zalewski and Kevin McCarthy.

Hamilton said conversations with legislators have been “infuriating.”

“They’ll admit to us that they know we need a tax increase, but when it comes down to it, they don’t have the guts to go through with it.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 16, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 46,992 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 16, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, June 15, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 15, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 46,953 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 15, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 14, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 46,916 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 14, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 13, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 46,873 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 13, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, June 12, 2009

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 12, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 46,822 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 12, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Helping hands for the legal profession

By Hilary Russell

In the legal community, rates of mental illness, including depression and substance abuse —especially alcoholism — are rising, according to the National Law Journal. The economy is part of the problem, but demand for treatment also is increasing because more people are finding out about services that are available.

The nonprofit Lawyers’ Assistance Program, which offers interventions and support when someone in the legal community hits bottom, conducted a training session today in Springfield. Services range from counseling with a clinical director to one-on-one peer counseling or referrals. Interventions involve three trained volunteers, one of which is a judge.

This year marks the first time that psychological problems were more common than drug and alcohol abuse, according to the Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

“This is about the recovery part,” said former Cook County Judge Daniel Welter. Recovery, he said, doesn’t end when someone stops drinking. “I’m an alcoholic, and the important part is that I am recovering, not recovered.”

Welter said that his own experiences with alcoholism propelled him to get involved with the non-profit agency. The same is true for many of the volunteers, who often are from the legal community and are recovering from an addiction or illness.

James Faught, associate dean at Loyola Law School in Chicago, began volunteering with the Lawyers’ Assistance Program in the late 1980s.

“Often people come to us when their impairments or issues are not at the stage that requires intervention,” he said. “Sometimes, they’re just depressed. … And we’re able to provide a good ear from lawyers and judges who have been through the same thing in their own careers.”

The numbers have gone up regularly since early 2000, added Faught, in part because the program has been gaining publicity. “When we started getting funding from the [Illinois] Supreme Court and the lawyers’ fees, we started seeing more people coming to us for help.”

The program began in 1980 with a small group of judges and lawyers and funding from the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.


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Confusion over Island Lake Mayor's and Wife's Bail

by Cal Skinner

I can't begin to tell you why two Lake County jailers told me last night that former Mayor Tom Hyde's wife Sharon had posted 10% of a $400,000 bail--$40,000.

I wrote my story after a 5:30 contract with the first jailer.

A friend read it and the Daily Herald story, which said the woman had posted a $10,000 bail, so I called the jail again.

Again I was told Sharon Hyde's bail was $400,000 and that she had posted $40,000.

Today, I talked to Sgt. Chris Thompson, who is the Lake County Sheriff Department's public affairs officer.

He looked it up and found that Sharon Hyde's bail was $100,000, with $10,000 posted, while Thomas Hyde's was $50,000 and he had been released on his own recognizance.

The only explanation he could think of was that the jailers had read the computer wrong.

Oh, well.

For those just dipping in on this story, Hyde was the Democratic Party leader of Island Lake. He apparently voted to hire his wife to run the village day care center called Creative Playtime. More here.

She apparently got paid for work she didn't do.

Over $100,000 worth, the two Herald's report.

The pictures of Sharon and Tom Hyde are those taken when they were booked into the Lake County Jail on June 10th.

Posted first at McHenry County Blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - June 11, 2009

Articles of interest to Illinois Republicans recently posted by ABC7, NBC5, CBS2, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Daily Herald, Suburban Chicago News, Suburban Life, Pioneer Local, Southtown Star, Rockford Register Star, Bloomington Pantagraph, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal Register, Belleville News Democrat, Southern Illinoisan, Illinois Review, Public Affairs, Champion News, Illinois Family Institute, Americans For Truth, Chicago Daily Observer, Tom Roeser, Capitalfax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 46,764 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the June 11, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bail for Ex-Island Lake Democratic Party Mayor Tom Hyde's Wife $400,000

by Cal Skinner

Details are not forthcoming, but Sharon Hyde, wife of ex-Island Lake Mayor Tom Hyde, an active Democrat, has had her bail set at a whopping $400,000. (Here is a more complete article written earlier today.)

She has been charged with one count of official misconduct.

She runs the Creative Playtime, listed as a city department on the Island Lake web site.

Her husband, Thomas Hyde, has been charged with two counts of misconduct, but has had bail set at a comparatively low $25,000.

In Illinois, people are allowed to get out of jail, if they can come up with 10% of the bail amount.

The rumor mill is saying Mrs. Hyde turned in time sheets for numerous hours she did not work.

Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

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