Wednesday, March 31, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 31, 2010

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 62,002 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 31, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not even his supporters Trust Mark Kirk

You can't trust Mark Kirk. Even the right-wing conservative Club for Growth doesn't trust Kirk:

Now the Club for Growth, the powerful, well-funded conservative group, is ripping into Kirk for his sudden indecision, and making it clear that they expect him to live up to his promise.

“He said that he’s going to do this,” Club for Growth spokesman Mike Connolly just said by phone. “We expect him to live up to his pledge.”

Kirk has signed on to the Club’s repeal pledge, which states: “I hereby pledge to the people of my state to sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government.”

“He’s made a promise to the people of Illinois,” Connolly continued. Asked if failing to follow through could cost Kirk the Club’s support in a general election, Connolly said: “We’ll have to see.”

The Club's concern comes after Mark Kirk "repeatedly" refused to say "whether he wants the legislation repealed."

Mark Kirk is campaigning for Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat with a Beltway Insider strategy. He doesn't talk to Illinois voters, or local media, although he continues to take calls (and get covered) by the New York Times and Washington Post. But they don't ask him tough questions (like would he really -- REALLY? -- follow through with his pledge to repeal universal coverage, or ending denial for pre-existing conditions, or the practice of recission and lifetime limits on health coverage.

Instead, Mark Kirk dodges questions by Illinois voters and local media.

Apparently, because Kirk believes he can. Kirk's strategy in this campaign has been to attack Alexi Giannoulias for whatever he can think of. Broadway Bank followed the advice of the Federal Reserve and U.S. Attorney General's office with regards to enticing members of organized crime into disclosure and participation in the (above ground) economy? Mark Kirk won't tell you that numerous mobsters have been convicted and sent to prison (eg, Al Capone) because of the disclosure statements they gave to bankers -- because that would make his personal attacks on Alexi seem, well, ridiculous.

Nor will Mark Kirk tell you if he really means it when he promises to take away health care insurance from kids, young adults and older Americans.

The question we should ask ourselves is this: if Mark Kirk's most adament supporters can't trust him, why should we?

The dilemma Illinois voters face in contemplating their vote for U.S. Senate is this: Mark Kirk has never demonstrated any type of political courage during his service in Congress. He didn't stand up George Bush or Donald Rumsfeld when they were making decisions to invade Iraq based on the greatest intelligence failure in my lifetime. He's never stood up to the conservative Republican leadership on a whipped vote (without their permission) since he's been in the U.S. House. And now he can't stand up and admit that he's taken a controversial decision, one that isn't supported by the electorate here in Illinois or stand up to the right wing conservative Club for Growth when they are demanding that Kirk stick to his pledge.

You just can't trust Mark Kirk. He's never given us reason to trust him, and now his supporters are starting to recognize Kirk's lack of fortitude. There's no reason for Illinois to send him to the Senate. These tough times demand someone who can help bring the country forward, out of the abyss into which George Bush has driven us...

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 30, 2010

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 61,939 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 30, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, March 29, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 29, 2010

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 61,896 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 29, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Who really runs the show, the Dems' choice for Lt Gov: Quincy Mayor John Spring only gets Durbin money and paid staffers

From NBC Chicago's Ward Room

But here's the thing: Simon, who teaches law school at Southern Illinois University's law school, was not on the original primary ballot. And she lost her last race (57% -43%), for Mayor of Carbondale, to Brad Cole. Cole finished 4th in the GOP's lite gov balloting. If that's any indication of how little clout Simon has downstate, Quinn gamble could be risky.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 28, 2010

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 61,849 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 28, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

via Email
"to ourselves and our posterity . . . "

Dear American, On March 21st, 219 House Democrats votes to trample the Constitution and compel you, under penalty of law, to buy government-approved health insurance. They raised your taxes and authorized 16,500 new IRS agents to compel you to comply with this bill’s mandate. They committed a naked power grab like none seen in our lifetimes.

You’ve marched and picketed. You’ve mailed letters to Congressmen. You’ve called local talk radio.You’ve fought the 21st Century’s fight for freedom, but Congress has ignored the will of the people and seized one-sixth of our economy. What we’ve done in the past won’t work any longer. It’s time to smack those socialists back to Chapter 4 of Das Kapital.

How Do You Respond?

There are dozens of organizations asking for your help to fire Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, but what are they really going to do about it? The best way to fire them is with your vote. Here at Ensuring Liberty, our single focus is the ballot box.

This means working with conservative candidates nation wide to build a strong group of Representatives that will stand for you and your voice – The Ensuring Liberty Caucus.

Please Join today to help us in this historic fight for this county’s future. Together we will make a difference.

click here to join the fight

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 27, 2010

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 61,791 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 27, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Nobody Asked Me, But...

How could public perception of the President's Health Care Bill change so dramatically since it was passed? Polls taken before the vote (eg, Bloomberg & CNN) showed less than 40 percent of those polled favored the legislation, while more than 50 percent opposed it. Yet right after the vote, the USA Today/Gallup Poll asked if respondents thought "it is a good thing or a bad thing that Congress passed this bill?" 49 percent said it was a good thing, while 40 percent thought it was a bad thing. that's a ten percent swing among results expressing favoring the bill, and almost a 20 percent swing among those who didn't (using the CNN results). How could that be?

Republican pollster Bill McInturff's analysis appears to have been right. McInturff told the Rothenberg Political Report that:

“People have a stunning amount of information about the fight over health care reform and Democratic efforts to pass a bill. There is the perception that there have been backroom deals — with Senators from Louisiana and Nebraska, and with labor unions — to get support for a bill that isn’t to the public’s advantage.”

“People have come to the conclusion that it must be a bad bill, since if it were a good one, Democratic leaders wouldn’t have had to do what they did to get the votes to pass it,” McInturff continued.

I'd alter McInturff's conclusion just a bit: People seemed to have concluded that it must have been a bad bill (especially in light of all the negatives out there on both sides of the political spectrum), because if it were a good bill, Democrats would have the votes to pass it. Once Democrats *did* have the votes, the electorate flipped in its opinion about the bill.

We love our winners.


I love Art Turner. I voted for Art Turner. But I don't want the state Democratic Central Committee to vote him in as our Democratic Lt. Governor nominee.

I'd like to be able to tell you that I voted for Art Turner because he was the most qualified candidate in the race. But that's not why I cast my vote for Art. Rather, I voted for him because he was the only candidate to have asked me (personally) for my vote. I was trying to get him to come down to speak to our Team Obama group here in Flossmoor, but he was having none of it. "But will you vote for me?" Art persisted. So I did.

Art has shown that same persistence in the run-up to today's vote by the Democratic Central Committee members down in Springfield. He is the only one I know who has kept his campaign machinery intact, and used it effectively. Having said that, I don't think Art is the right person for this slot.

When Art Turner was running in the February primaries, we had no idea what the November ticket would look like. Justin Oberman was pounding Robin Kelly on television, and Robin never had the resources to answer. Raja Krishnamoorthi was on television touting his connection to Barack Obama, and David Miller was just introducing himself to the state. Outside of Lisa Madigan and Jesse White, we had no idea who would be on the Democratic ticket this November.

Now we do. We now know that three of the six positions for state government will be represented by African American Democrats. This should make us proud! No one can argue that African Americans would be demoralized by choosing someone other than Art Turner to run with Governor Pat Quinn.

No one has asked me, but it seems to me that one overriding concern and two secondary concerns should dictate who the State Central Committee chooses as our Lt. Governor nominee. First of all, who gives us the best chance for winning in the fall? This has to be the primary factor in electing a replacement for a(nother) candidate who would just have embarrassed Democrats. But a number of candidates would help Democrats win. So secondary consideration should be given to who will best help Governor Quinn and who would best help the Democratic party in Illinois?

Here's the unique aspect to this place that Democrats in Illinois have found themselves in: No downstate Democrat (meaning, no Democrat outside of Cook County) is likely to win statewide office in a contested primary. Look at what happened to Paul Mangieri of Knox County in 2006 (with the Democratic endorsement and its money) and Terry Link of Lake County in 2010. Cook County represents such a huge portion of the Democratic primary vote that it is difficult, if not impossible, for someone outside of Cook to win in a contested primary.

But this isn't the primary. Now we are talking about the general election, where Cook County is, at best, a third of the likely vote. My issue with Art Turner's selection is that this would lock Quinn and Democrats into a Chicago-centric race with an exhausted, and perhaps even demoralized, political organization being expected to turn out the votes. No political strategist wants a single pathway to victory, partially because it makes one's strategy obvious to everyone. Republicans would be handed the initiative, the ability to choose among various political strategies by which to neutralize Gov. Quinn and the Democratic ticket.

If I had my druthers, I'd have wanted a candidate out of Will County, just because it would geographically have optimized all possible paths to victory. Of course, there isn't a candidate from Will County, and hypotheticals get us nowhere.

Choosing a candidate from downstate gives the Democratic ticket not only geographical diversity, but it also gives downstate Democrats a reason to stay engaged in the party. Downstate Democrats could hope to be the next U.S. Senator -- or the next Lt. Governor. Regional diversity is just as relevant as other forms of diversity, and we shouldn't ignore it. We should also realize that there are not that many opportunities to promote regional diversity, so we should take advantage of this one while it's here.

The fact is Democrats could lose this fall. Mark Kirk is perhaps the strongest Republican on the ballot in recent memory. Rod Blagojevich will rear his ugly head this summer. Judy Barr Topinka begins her "I told you so, Illinois" tour at the same time. Republicans have targeted Democratic seats here in the Congress, in the state Senate and in the state House.

Sure, we'll still have Toni Preckwinkle, and Democrats in Cook County could very well begin a new era of Reform and Renewal under her guidance.

What Democrats of all kinds have to accept is that the Democratic Party is a BIG, F*@king tent and we don't always agree (let alone get along). We are a multicultural entity, even as we are constantly fighting for our own to get ahead. Today is the day for that tradition -- that albatross, at times -- to persist...

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Friday, March 26, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 26, 2010

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 61,725 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 26, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two 'pillars' taking shape

By Jamey Dunn

Two major components of the five “pillars of recovery” proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn in his budget plan are headed to the governor. One, pension reform, passed both chambers in a single day.

Quinn's small business tax credit aimed at job creation passed in the Senate today.

Pieces of Quinn’s proposal finding such traction fairly early in the legislative session has Statehouse watchers wondering whether approval of an income tax increase before November is as “dead in the water” as it was pronounced by many after the governor’s budget address.

Quinn only briefly referred to the proposal at a news conference he held today. He characterized the tax increase as a “surcharge” for education in his budget address, saying after the address that all revenue generated would go to schools. However, today he mentioned the proposal as a possible solution to State Police layoffs and headquarters closures.

“In order to get the resources we’re going to have to be very creative, and part of that is of course what I talked about in our budget. And we’ll keep talking about it as we come back after Easter,” Quinn said. “If we could get the surcharge revenue that could help us in a lot of ways.”

Quinn said that yesterday’s pension reform was prompted, in part, by feedback he has received from voters.

“It’s very very important for state government to show in a crystal clear manner that the state of Illinois is ready to cut cost and take on very difficult assignments when it comes to restructuring the government,” he said.

Some House Republicans and union leaders were critical of how quickly the bill passed yesterday. Union representatives accused Democrats of using strong-arm tactics to force the bill through quickly, so the public would not have time for input. Henry Bayer, executive director of Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said that the legislature should have taken more time to “study the implications” of a proposal that is going to affect the future of tens of thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of our children and our grandchildren.”

“This is not the way to conduct policy. This is not the way the legislative process is supposed to work. This is no what they teach kids in school about the way the legislative process is supposed to work,” he said.

Quinn said that pension reform has been on the table for the past year. He mentioned the dozen of so public hearings of a pension task force and said interested parties have had time to give input.

“Ultimately, you have to make decisions in democracy. You cannot have a situation where it’s just all talk. The people elect us to roll up our sleeves and take bold and important action for the common good and the public interest. And that’s what happened yesterday”

Republicans have often included pension reform on the list of things they want to see done before they would consider a tax increase. Quinn did not say whether he thinks yesterday’s bill would improve the chances of putting some Republican votes on a tax increase, but did call the changes to the pension system “epic reform.”

“Anyone who wants cuts in government, you got them yesterday.”

Quinn has not signed SB 1946 but said he plans to soon.

Lieutenant governor

With the Democrat State Central Committee scheduled to vote on a replacement lieutenant governor candidate Saturday, Quinn said he plans to name his choice tomorrow.

Many are speculating that Quinn will choose Sen. Susan Garrett, a Democrat. Garrett, who did not run for the office in the primary, acknowledged earlier this week that she has talked with representatives of Quinn’s administration.

However, a group of House Democrats encouraged Quinn to support Chicago Democrat Rep. Art Turner, who came in second behind Scott Lee Cohen in the primary race. Cohen stepped down after allegations of violence in his past.

East Moline Rep. Mike Boland, who also ran for the office and is on the Democrats' current list of finalists, stepped aside and threw his support behind Turner.

“It’s almost an insult to the hundreds of thousands of people who went out in that cold February day to vote in that primary to all of a sudden just say, ‘Oh, well, none of you who ran in that matter. Instead we’re going to just pick somebody out of the blue.’”

The committee has the final say on who becomes the candidate. Check back Saturday for coverage of the vote.

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New hiring tax credit passes both chambers

By Rachel Wells

A bill heralded as a jobs creation measure heads to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk, following approval by the Senate this morning and the House on Wednesday.

The small business income tax credit, proposed by Quinn in his budget address, would give businesses with 50 or fewer employees a $2,500 credit for every new full-time job created in the next fiscal year. To be eligible, each new job would pay at least $13.75 per hour.

“Every new job that we create is the creation of a taxpayer, someone who is going to contribute to helping us balance our budget here in Illinois,” said bill sponsor Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat. “Balancing our budget is the one thing we can do … to attract business to Illinois.”

While SB1578 passed through both chambers without any opposing votes, not everyone thinks the measure would create that many new jobs.

“It sounds like a great idea to do this, but I really don’t believe at the end of the day businesses are going to hire people in order to get a $2,500 tax credit,” Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, a Lemont Republican, said last night. “What they really need are customers, and they need the businesses to do it, they need lower taxes, they need workers’ comp reform.”

The bill would cap the total credits at $50 million, which works out to 20,000 new hires. Credits would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Todd Maisch, Illinois Chamber of Commerce vice president of government affairs, said he’d be surprised if the number of tax credit applications neared the cap. “While we do appreciate the attention to small business, we believe the measure ... is simply not robust enough to make a big difference in the operation of small businesses.”

He added that the tax credit wouldn’t immediately help businesses. Under the measure, businesses couldn’t claim a credit until after the new job had been maintained for at least a year.

The National Federation of Independent Business in Illinois agreed that the bill, if signed by Quinn, might not do as much as lawmakers hope. “What our members tell us is that this type of tax credit is not going to cause them to hire people,” said NFIB in Illinois director Kim Clarke Maisch. “Now, if they’re already going to hire people, then it’s a nice benefit.” She said a $2,500 tax credit isn’t much compared with the costs of salary, Social Security and unemployment insurance that come with hiring a new employee.

“Only time will tell,” Noland said. “We’ll find out about a year from now after the qualifying period ends. So this is something that is going to be measured quantitatively moving forward.” He added that the bill is one of several jobs creation measures (Click the link at the bottom of the page for the list of Senate Democrats' bills) he hopes to see approved by the General Assembly and signed into law this spring.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 25, 2010

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 61,658 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 25, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pension reform bill passes both chambers

By Jamey Dunn

A pension reform bill to create a two-tiered benefits system for state retirement systems moved swiftly and successfully through both legislative chambers today with bipartisan support, propelled partly by a potential threat to Illinois' bond rating.

David Vaught, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget director, said he was concerned that Illinois’ bond rating, which determines the interest rate the state will have to pay on borrowed money, could be downgraded again when the state seeks to borrow about $1 billion in April to fund the capital construction plan.

Vaught said pension reform could help Illinois avoid a slip in its rating because it would show investors that the state is taking steps to address its structural deficit and “the straitjacket of skyrocketing pension costs.” The state’s total pension liability is $126.5, billion, $77.8 billion of which is unfunded.

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the state’s bond rating in December to the second lowest in the nation, just above California.

The changes to the pension system would only apply to newly hired employees and would not affect the benefits of anyone currently working for state entities.

State employees hired after the bill takes effect would have to wait until age 67 to get full benefits. They could start receiving benefits at age 62 with a 6 percent reduction for each year they draw their pension before 67.

An alternative formula, which lets employees retire at 60 after working for 20 years, would be limited only to Department of Corrections security workers, Illinois state police officers and state firefighters.

Benefits would be determined by averaging the highest paid consecutive eight years in an employee’s career. They are currently determined by the highest consecutive four years of the last 10 years. The amount benefits can be based on would be capped at $106,800, the threshold for Social Security benefits.

Survivor benefits, which vary throughout the different systems, would be set at 66.7 percent of the employee’s annuities.

One part of the bill does apply to current and past employees. If they leave one state job and go to another, they would not be allowed to collect pension benefits while getting a paycheck from Illinois. They would be able to collect both pensions once they retire.

“The General Assembly tonight took an important and vital step toward rescuing Illinois from fiscal calamity by passing public pension reform. The legislation approved by the General Assembly will stabilize the public pension system, protect current state employees and provide attractive pension benefits to future state workers,” Quinn said in a written statement. The governor backed a two-tiered plan that stalled last session.

The bill also exempts Chicago Public Schools from “ramp-up” of payments for the next three years. House Speaker Mike Madigan, who sponsored the bill in the House, said the school district asked the legislators to allow it to make smaller payments into its own pension fund and will use the extra cash to plug holes in its operating budget.

House Republicans opposed that part of the measure. Danville Republican Bill Black said it would set the system up for an “Armageddon-type situation.”

“I would really like to vote for this bill, but there’s one thing that the pension task force made very clear, that the most important thing you can do in pension reform is, you have to make the payments,” Black said.

Will Lovett, a lobbyist for the Illinois Education Association, said that raising the retirement age could drive talented teachers to neighboring states.

Henry Bayer, executive director of Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said that shorting pension fund payments in the past to shift money to other areas of the budget has landed the state in a crisis.

“The problem of our pensions is not a problem of rich benefits. The problem of our pensions is that we have not funded them year in and year out,” he said. “The solution to the crisis is to come up with the revenue to pay the $80 billion we already owe.”

Senate President John Cullerton, the sponsor of the bill, agreed that underfunding of the pension system is a big part of the problem, but added, “We are where we are.”

The changes in the proposal would not apply to local firefighters and police officers. Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, and Sen. Pam Althoff, a McHenry Republican, are in negotiations with both groups.

“Hopefully, we will see step one of that when we return from break,” Althoff said.

The bill that passed today rolled in a measure, passed unanimously by the House last week, which makes changes to the retirement benefits of future Illinois judges and General Assembly members. The proposal also requires judges and lawmakers to wait until age 67 if they want to collect full benefits.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 24, 2010

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 61,600 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 24, 2009 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

State police expect layoffs and closures

By Jamey Dunn

Budget cuts proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn would close five state police district headquarters throughout the state and could leave many who need a state trooper’s assistance waiting for hours.

Acting Illinois State Police director Jonathon Monken, who started the job one year ago today but has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, laid out the impact of a proposed $32 million budget cut before a Senate budgeting committee this evening.

“[State troopers would] be more fireman than police officers … they would just go from crash to crash or incident to incident.”

The five districts slated for closure are District 14 in Macomb, District 16 in Pecatonica, District 18 in Litchfield, District 19 in Carmi and the Chicago District, which is actually located in Des Plains.

There are currently 22 districts in Illinois.

Troopers from nearby headquarters would cover the areas that are slated for closings.
“Response time could take two to three hours just to get to a crash scene because of the distance of travel that’s required. It could be 80 or 100 miles just to get to something.”

Monken said local population, crime rates and municipal police forces’ ability to pick up slack were all factors in closure decisions.

While some troopers will be transferred from closed headquarters, Monken said his organization also plans to lay off 464 officers and to not replace 100 whom he expects to retire this year. Thirty officers are also transferring to the Illinois Gaming Board to assist in the rollout of legalized video poker, a funding mechanism for the capital construction plan.

Monken said those actions would bring the number of troopers down to about 1,450, the lowest in more than 40 years.

No new cadets will be trained year, and no class is planned for next year. Union agreements forbid a cadet class from being held when layoffs occur. With the lack of new cadets and the number of officers eligible for retirement in the next year, Monken said it was possible that numbers could drop below 1,000 officers.

Specialty units would be hit hard by the cuts. The Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center would lose more than half of its officers, and Monken said the State Police’s methamphetamine response team would be “all but eliminated.”

“Investigations will get hit pretty hard when we send people to the Illinois Gaming Board. Those are investigators that go over,” he said.

Monken said law enforcement layoffs on the county and city levels have led to increased demand for assistance with investigations. “They don’t have the resources to be able to dedicate a lot of people to investigations. … Investigations is going to get hurt, and you’re talking your most serious cases, homicide, sexual assaults big things like that.”

When asked if the scenario he described was exaggerated as an effort to pressure lawmakers for more funding or increased revenue, Monken said, “The cuts that we’ve outlined are the cuts that would be necessary if we don’t get that $32 million.”

Monken added it would take $22 million to avoid the layoffs and keep the districts open and an additional $3 million to start a new cadet class. The agency plans to start the steps necessary for closings and layoffs at the beginning of fiscal year 2011, on July 1.

Thomson sale
Department of Corrections director Michael Randle also testified before the committee. He said the department plans to close Thomson prison by April 1 in preparation for the planned sale of the facility to the federal government. President Obama’s administration planned to house former Guantanamo Bay detainees at Thomson but met strong congressional opposition. The administration since confirmed plans to buy the prison regardless of the outcome of the proposed Guantanamo closure.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 23, 2010

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 61,542 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 23, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Supreme Court keeps locks open

By Rachel Wells

The U.S. Supreme Court will not force immediate closure of two Chicago waterways locks.

Justices had denied a similar motion earlier this year, but Michigan renewed its request citing new evidence that Asian carp were nearing the Great Lakes. The invasive species has been moving up Illinois waterways for years, devastating other aquatic populations as it eats large quantities of plankton, the basis of the food chain.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said he expects the Supreme Court to consider taking up the remainder of the lawsuit – the issue of reopening a nearly 100-year-old case over Chicago’s diversion of Lake Michigan water – on April 16.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 22, 2010

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 61,501 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 22, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 21, 2010

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 61,460 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 21, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our President, in "Preacher Mode"



President Obama, in preacher mode before he returns to professor mode...

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 20, 2010

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 61,428 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 20, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, March 19, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 19, 2010

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 61,379 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 19, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cuts could hurt Race to the Top application

By Rachel Wells

A day after state officials presented their case in Washington, D.C., the state superintendent of schools said cuts to education could harm Illinois’ chances to obtain the $510 million it seeks from the federal Race to the Top grant program.

Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion education reform initiative with four key components: improving standards and assessments, developing student growth data systems, rewarding quality teachers and improving underachieving schools.

During yesterday’s interview, federal officials questioned Illinois’ capacity to provide services and its ability to sustain those services when Race to the Top funding ends, state Superintendent Chris Koch said.

“My understanding … is that all the states are being hit hard on [capacity and sustainability],” Koch said. “Keep in mind, some of the states that are hemorrhaging the worst – California, Michigan – aren’t even in the running for these funds. So I do think there could be an implication with reductions to our budget.”

Although the Illinois State Board of Education had sought nearly $1 billion of additional funding for Fiscal Year 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn last week proposed about $1.2 billion in education cuts. Quinn strongly suggested in his budget address that lawmakers approve a 1 percentage point income tax surcharge to benefit education. The proposed tax increase would provide an estimated $2.8 billion, according to Quinn’s budget director, David Vaught. The state cannot use Race to the Top funds to stabilize the budget, which is expected to show a deficit of more than $13 billion by the end of Fiscal Year 2010.

Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, an Aurora Democrat who worked on Race to the Top legislation passed earlier this year, said she’s still optimistic, considering other states’ financial difficulties during the current recession. But she’s still concerned that Illinois could be tossed out of the pool and that Illinois students will lose out on educational opportunities if cuts aren’t shifted and structural budget reform is not achieved.

“I’m hoping we come to a resolve before our next deadline for Race to the Top. If we do, it’s left to be seen,” Chapa LaVia said. She added that she doesn’t expect the General Assembly to vote on Quinn’s proposed tax increase this spring. “It’s a possible chance that if we don’t get the [Race to the Top] money, this will be put on the back burner just like education [funding] reform has been for the last 20 years.”

Regardless of whether Illinois’ application succeeds, the state will continue to pursue some elements included in its Race to the Top application plans. Those elements include a longitudinal data plan and raising teacher requirements, two items already in motion, Koch said.

Before applying, Illinois passed legislation raising the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, tying student growth to teacher evaluations and expanding alternative teacher certification programs.

Other reforms – such as a learning and performance management database shared by all Illinois districts and kindergarten readiness assessment measures – likely won’t happen without the federal reform funds, Koch said.

“It’s one thing to say we want everyone to be accountable and move forward, but that doesn’t happen without funding, unfortunately,” Koch said.

The federal government will announce phase one grant recipients two weeks from today, on April 1. If not selected at that time, Illinois officials plan to reapply for phase two after receiving feedback from federal officials.

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Nonprofit hospital not exempt from local tax

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling today that could affect nonprofit hospitals across the state and eventually lead to new legislation.

The court ruled that Provena Covenant Medical Center in Champaign County is not eligible for a local property tax exemption it applied for in 2002 based on the hospital’s status as charitable operation. Provena is exempt from paying federal income taxes under that status.

Provena’s request was previously rejected, and it appealed the decision. But the courts sided with the Illinois Department of Revenue, saying the hospital did not provide enough charity care.
The court ruled that Provena only offered charity care as a “last resort” and was critical of the health care provider for turning unpaid bills over to collection agencies.

“As a practical matter, there was little to distinguish the way in which Provena Hospitals dispensed its ‘charity’ from the way in which a for-profit institution would write off bad debt,” Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier’s opinion said.

Provena contends that its treatment of Medicaid and Medicare payments constitutes charity because reimbursements do not cover the cost of care. The justices did not agree, saying that hospitals have a choice whether to treat patients on those programs. The opinion said that state and federal dollars also provide Provena with a steady revenue stream.

The court’s opinion does note: “Treatment was offered to all who requested it, and no one was turned away by [Provena Covenant Medical Center] based on their inability to demonstrate how the cost of their care would be covered."

Democratic Justices Anne Burke and Charles Freeman disagreed with part of the ruling, saying the court does not have the power to set the standards for defining a charity.

“This can only cause confusion, speculation, and uncertainty for everyone: institutions, taxing bodies, and the courts. Because the [Illinois Supreme Court] imposes such a standard, without the authority to do so, I cannot agree with it,” Burke wrote in her dissent.

It is the possibility of confusion and speculation that concerns some legislators.

“I have a concern now that we are going to see a rush of local governments trying to go after other health facilities. Thinking that this is a way to get some quick revenue from property taxes … the government may get a few extra dollars in property taxes, but then government is going to have to start providing all those services that those health care facilities used to provide,” said Rockford Republican Sen. Dave Syverson, the minority spokesperson of the Senate Public Health Committee.

“Some legislative response is probably going to have to be made to protect those health care facilities,” he added.

Chicago Democratic Sen. William Delgado, the chairman of the Senate committee, agrees that lawmakers may have to address the issue. “[The ruling] triggers a legislative opportunity, they are sending you a message. … That’s a direct way of saying we’d better look at that from our perspective again.”

Justice Thomas Kilbride, a Democrat, and Justice Rita Garman, a Republican, did not participate in the decision.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 18, 2010

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 61,325 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 18, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Primary date moved back

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law today that moves the state primary election back to the third Tuesday in March.

The General Assembly moved the date up to the first Tuesday in February before the 2008 primary, when then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was running for president.

After low voter turnout in this year’s primary, a push began to move the election back to its original date. Quinn and Sen. Deanna Demuzio, a Carlinville Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said that county clerks and election official asked lawmakers to move the election back.

“I think it is back to the future. It’s much better to have a primary on the third Tuesday in March, and that’s what it’ll be in 2012, a presidential year,” Quinn said.

Supporters said voters will have more time to research candidates. Democrats may be hoping that giving constituents more time to vet candidates might prevent any repeats of a scandal such as the one that surrounded little-known pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen’s win in the lieutenant governor primary race. Cohen stepped aside after allegations of violence surfaced from his past. The Democrats plan to pick his replacement later this month.

The bill had bipartisan support. “It is important that we not have that election so close after the holidays,” Sen. Dale Risinger, a Peoria Republican said.

Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, said the date should never have been moved in the first place. Righter said the new law would correct “a mistake I think that was made three years ago and [get] us back on track.”

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Sen. Hutchinson: "We haven't been doing that for the last 25-30 years"



State Sen. Toi Hutchinson gave an impassioned speech yesterday for ending Illinois' budget crisis that has paralyzed Illinois' economy, paralyzed Illinois' social agencies, and paralyzed Illinois' future.

"We are in a crisis," Hutchinson says. "We're in a crisis right now."

Hutchinson's comment comes at a time when Illinois -- and the country -- is divided, and distrust of government is near all-time highs. But Sen. Hutchinson argues that Springfield is broken, and it's time to stand up, fix it, do the right thing and have the courage to lead.

This is not your father's Democrat.

Sen. Hutchinson is not risk-adverse. She believes in speaking the truth -- even when it's not what people want to hear (but we need to hear). Hutchinson is not only a newly-appointed state Senator (surviving a brutal nomination process), but she serves the 40th Senate District, which includes several of the most active Tea Party chapters in Illinois. A straight-shooter, Hutchinson previously wrote:

I remember all of the things I used to say about the General Assembly -- as a taxpayer, a voter, and a mom. I wanted representatives who believed in people, who could engage in meaningful and principled debate, and who weren’t afraid to fight for basic democratic principles. We need more from our legislators.

It’s a toxic political environment, which makes for pretty rough waters. But master sailors are never trained in calm seas. Leaders lead, regardless of the consequences.

That has not been the tradition in Illinois politics of late. While the 1990s saw the growth of "the Combine," the election of Rod Blagojevich toppled many of the prior assumptions in Springfield. Blagojevich's desperate need to be viewed as "top dog" (or should i say, the King) paralyzed Illinois state government long before the economy was paralyzed by the worst recession since the Great Depression.

But neither Blagojevich or his nemesis, Speaker Madigan, can be blamed for the ponzi-scheme financing that state governments undertook to achieve "balanced" budgets in the last decade or so. These accounting tricks and various sleights of hand were invented elsewhere, and utilized by all sides (Governor and legislature, Republicans and Democrats) in virtually every state to hide the true costs of government. In the 21st century, Americans expected to get everything for less, including government -- although we grumbled when that expectation effected our incomes.

That bubble has now burst. Governments at all levels have kicked the can down the road, borrowing against our futures to fund public services (like roads, public safety and education), and the bills are now coming due. More significantly, the Republican theory that charity, not government, could step in to provide the economic and social safety net that our unemployed, our poorest, our most disadvantaged citizens require has been proven wrong. Charities, non-profits and social agencies are critically threatened -- some even closing their doors -- due to the economic downturn, just as they are needed most. It doesn't help that the state is behind in its payments to the agencies that contracted with the state of Illinois to provide public services to people in need. But the economy has simply meant that fewer people are able to donate, and their donations, when they give, tend to be smaller.

Sen. Hutchinson understands. "We cannot afford to continue to do phantom economics and voodoo accounting," Hutchinson said, "and balance this budget on the backs of the people who need us most. Their backs are broken now."

Hutchinson lashed out at the Party of No that says "No to Families, No to Children, No to Social Services that keep our most vulnerable people safe, we are playing politics with people's lives."

No one wants to pay higher taxes -- everyone wants to get stuff (like services) for free. But our days of paying for government on credit or hiding its real costs have come to an end. As Sen. Hutchinson says, "Funding government is the right thing to do." Government has an important role in our society, and an important role to play in a healthy economy. Contrary to what some believe, a strong government is vital to a strong free market economy. Economies are transactional in character, amoral in nature, and require a perception among participants that those transactions are fair, transparent and above board. Weak governments tend to spawn oligarchic economies, where consumers are exploited, and socio-economic mobility is virtually unheard of. A global capitalist economy like ours requires a strong government with the ability to enforce its rules, not just here at home but abroad. There is no free market without a strong government.

For those who want to argue with examples like Hong Kong, and other free market economies that grew under the protection of the U.S. government, I merely note that, yes, we paid for their protection, too. That's what happens when one is a superpower. We're number one. But that has both costs and rewards. We must bear those costs to reap those rewards.

Illinois has fared worse than other large states because it was an anchor in our manufacturing base. Not as bad as Michigan, but bad nonetheless. So Illinois has to face the challenges of the worst economic downturn most of us have ever seen, a political paralysis that could have been a script to a Keystone Kops film, an economic engine (Chicago) that has had its own difficulties crawling into the 21st century, and a political/legislative system that has struggled to keep up with all these changes.

Sen. Hutchinson offers a vision for a better future for Illinois. Her challenge is for our political leaders to, well, lead:

I will continue to push for a solution that will result in Illinois getting back on solid financial ground because it is a fight worth fighting. There is a direct correlation between the taxes we pay and the services we provide. The state of Illinois has a responsibility to educate our children, ensure the safety of our residents, and care for our seniors and veterans. On top of all of that, and especially in this time of recession, we cannot cut services that vulnerable citizens rely on to get back on their feet. Fear, hunger, drug addiction, homelessness, aging, foreclosures, or unforeseen health challenges are all equal opportunity stressors for many people in our communities.

These are not Democrat or Republican issues. Just reality. I’m not fighting for taxes; I’m fighting for people.

That's the kind of politician we need in Springfield. A reality-based leader who isn't afraid to call a spade a spade, and brings a shovel when she comes to work. Because there is lots of work to do.

Hat tips to Progress Illinois and much appreciation for all the work they do!

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 17, 2010

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 61,247 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 17, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Conversation starters

By Jamey Dunn

A group of female lawmakers and social services leaders called on legislators and Gov. Pat Quinn today to raise revenues and stop cuts to education and social services, and a think tank released a plan that its representatives say will balance the budget without a tax increase.

Kathy Ryg, president of Voices for Illinois Children, said cuts in state funding disproportionately affect women and children. “Women and children are the primary beneficiaries of these programs, which we know are proven to work.”

Her group supports the tax increase the Senate passed last session. Ryg said the organization would discourage support for Quinn’s recent budget proposal because it would not fully fund social services or education. However, she said the group does not intend to directly oppose the plan. “Our goal is not to say [HB 174] is the only answer.”

Ryg added that the group wants encourage a dialogue about the budget and equitable taxes and school funding.

“What we are sacrificing is the vulnerable people of our state who need those services to live. What we are sacrificing is the children of our state, and what we are sacrificing is the future of our state,” said Ann Ford, executive director of the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living.

The Illinois Policy Institute is also trying to jump into the budget conversation. The research group, “dedicated to free market principles” released an alternative to Quinn’s budget that its leaders say will eliminate the deficit without a tax increase.

The priorities of the group’s budget are to pay the state’s pension obligation and the backlog of overdue bills. The plan proposes its biggest cuts in education, health care and human services.

John Tillman, chief operating officer of the Illinois Policy Institute, called on local governments to post their budgets online and said he is skeptical that schools laying off teachers could not make cuts elsewhere instead.

"We put teachers before administrators, roads before expansive rail proposals and public safety before public art. These are not easy decisions, but they must be made," Tillman said.

He encouraged citizens to use a spreadsheet on the organization's Web page to create a budget based on $27 billion in spending to gain perspective on how difficult the choices for cuts are.

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List of demands

By Jamey Dunn


Republicans have long been calling for cuts and reforms before they will consider a tax increase. House Republicans mapped out some of their ideas in a letter sent to Gov. Pat Quinn today. However, they are not going so far as committing support for a tax increase if these ideas are implemented.

Some of the suggestions to cut government operations include:

  • HB 5488 and HB 4800 would eliminate the state aircraft fleet.
  • HB 6625 would institute 12 furlough days for legislators.
  • HJRCA 36 would eliminate the lieutenant governor’s office.

Republicans also suggest the state:
  • Block legislative pay raises for fiscal year 2011.
  • Sell half the state automobile fleet.
  • Impose a hiring freeze and a freeze on state employees’ salaries.
  • Push for consolidation of K-12 schools.

Republicans propose cutting two programs that have been recent points of controversy:

A few other measures include:

Republicans also propose that Illinois create various grants and tax credits intended to encourage vocational training and hiring

What will probably be the most controversial suggestion from Republicans is the proposal to funnel $5 billion in funding for the capital construction plan into the operating budget.

Many of the ideas have been perennial suggestions to cut the budget and reform state government and have good deal of populist support. Many would also require changing laws, bargaining with unions and, in some cases, changing the state Constitution.

It is arguable how much they would do to solve a $13 billion dollar deficit. However, House Republicans do make the point that some of these proposals might improve public perception of state government. From the letter: “These measures would add up to hundreds of millions in savings and would demonstrate to the public that we are being responsible with their money.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 16, 2010

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 61,201 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 16, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Monday, March 15, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 15, 2010

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 61,172 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 15, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 14, 2010

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 61,144 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 14, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 13, 2010

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 61,106 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 13, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Legislative scholarship reforms head to governor

By Rachel Wells

A plan to reform the General Assembly scholarship program — which some call a political perk — is on its way to the governor’s desk.

The Illinois House today approved Senate Bill 365, which would restrict to whom General Assembly members can give state university tuition waivers. The program recently came under fire for alleged instances of members using the waivers to leverage campaign contributions.

The reforms bans students from accepting a waiver if that student or his or her family members had donated to the awarding lawmaker’s campaign fund in the preceding five years. Recipients would also have to repay the university if discovered that they failed to honestly report pertinent contributions.

Some lawmakers say the waivers are an unfunded mandate on universities, which are never reimbursed for the approximately $12.5 million in annual lost tuition. A proposal to eliminate the waivers remains in committee.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 12, 2010

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 61,049 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 12, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quinn takes his budget plan to school

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn is using his bully pulpit to try to get support for a tax increase that he says is needed to avoid deep cuts to education funding.

Quinn addressed students and teachers at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Springfield. He also visited James R. Lowell Elementary School in Chicago.

He called on voters to contact their legislators and ask them to support the 1 percentage point tax increase he proposed yesterday. “I think yesterday we made it pretty clear there’s a choice. There’s a fork in the road in Illinois. We’re going to take that particular road that leads to higher learning, better learning and children who succeed,” Quinn said at the Springfield school.

Quinn claims the new revenue is needed to replace about $1 billion in stimulus funds that will not be coming in next fiscal year.

“It was crystal clear that the votes are not there in the [U.S.] Congress to extend the federal stimulus for education. It’s not going to happen. … When I came back to Illinois [from Washington, D. C.], I told our budget people we can’t write that in. We will not have a billion dollars that was very helpful to us in the past fiscal year, the one we’re in now,” he said.

Quinn also called on Republican’s to support pension reforms that he claims will generate $300 million in savings next fiscal year. “We expect [House Minority] Leader [Tom] Cross to help us out there. He said he’s for it. Let’s put the votes on it.”

Quinn spokesperson, Robert Reed said that Quinn plans to fund education at the same levels as the current fiscal year if his proposed tax increase passes. If it doesn’t, he is proposing $1.3 billion in cuts to education. Some of the $2.8 billion that Quinn estimates the increase would produce would also go toward the approximately $850 million in bills the state owes schools, according to the State Board of Education. After education funding is restored and the bills paid off, about $650 million would be left over. Quinn is tight-lipped about where that money would go.

Yesterday Quinn’s budget director, David Vaught, said that all the revenue from the proposed tax increase would go to education. But, some are speculating that at least part of it may be used to avoid the controversial $300 million reduction in funds to local governments that Quinn proposed yesterday.

When asked about this possibility, Quinn would not give a direct answer. “When you look at yesterday’s budget, every entity would have to make sacrifices,” he said.

While Quinn says he is optimistic that his tax proposal can pass, legislators and some providers waiting on late payments from the state are not so sure.

Don Moss, coordinator of the Human Services Coalition, said he is not expecting a tax increase until at least November, and he is not certain that it will come even after the general election. He said the governor's proposed cuts on top of the state’s slow payment cycle would be more than many social services providers could bear.

“They could probably deal with the cuts. But coupled with the late payments, it will probably do a lot of them in,” he said.

He said borrowing is the only solution for now. “If somebody has got to borrow, it should be the state not providers,” Moss said. “It’s 1 percent [interest rate] versus 5 percent or 6 percent and lets the state be responsible.”

Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the State Board of Education, said schools have to start considering the possibility of cuts now. Teachers must be notified of layoffs 60 days before the end of this school year.

“If they’re going to reduce staff, they have to do it by the end of this month,” he said. Vanover added that teachers who have received layoff notices could be called back if the money is there for their jobs next school year.

Dave Comerford, a spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said the reality of possible education cuts will hit home for people once the layoff notices go out at the end of the month.

He said that he doesn't think Quinn's proposal is political gamesmanship, as many legislators have characterized it. He said that because education spending makes up such a large portion of the budget, Quinn doesn't have much option but to cut it. “It’s the largest chunk left that I think he could go after.”

He added that stimulus funds did protect schools from large cuts last year. Really the stimulus money did fill that hole."

Comerford said that education cannot bear the proposed cuts without some serious consequences, such as overcrowded classrooms. “The problem isn’t where you can cut. We’ve cut as far as we can cut…We need new revenue,” he said. “Right now instead of talking about what we can improve, we are talking about trying to hold on to what we have.”

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Green Party candidate outlines budget plan

By Rachel Wells

Green Party candidate Rich Whitney today said that if elected governor, he would fix the state’s $13 billion budget problem by creating a new tax – a sort of sin tax on the profits of speculative trading – and by pushing a tax increase plan that stalled in the General Assembly last spring.

A financial transactions tax, which the state would levy on securities traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Options Exchange at what Whitney called a “minuscule” rate, “not pennies on the dollar but pennies on the $100,” could potentially bring in enough funds to wipe out Illinois' budget deficit, he said. He added that he would seek only a tax rate high enough to bring in $4.5 billion.

“We should start looking to the financial services sector, and the speculators, and the predatory lenders and the same people who are responsible for this crisis to start paying their fair share to repair the damage,” Whitney said. In his position paper, Whitney said the speculative trading he wants to tax is “another form of gambling, one that is every bit as harmful as the other sin taxes, and far more voluminous.”

Whitney said he would also call on legislators to pass the same “comprehensive” plan outlined in Senate Bill 750, a tax and education funding reform bill previously sponsored by Sen. James Meeks, a Chicago Democrat. The measure called for an income tax increase of 2 percentage points, an expansion of the sales tax base to include some services and property tax relief. Whitney said the income tax plan could generate more than $7.3 billion. A version of Meeks’ bill passed in the Senate last session but was never called in the House.

Whitney said he hasn’t yet read Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn’s March 10 budget proposal in detail, but he said it wasn’t straightforward enough in calling for a tax increase to reduce the impact on education.

Quinn on Wednesday announced a plan – criticized by Republicans as a game – for $1.3 billion in primary and secondary education cuts, assuming lawmakers would not pass a tax increase this spring. Last year, Quinn actively pursued an 1.5 percentage point income tax increase.

“I think part of the problem is that when Pat Quinn advocated it, he just talked about an income tax increase in a vacuum, not the kind of comprehensive package that we’ve had with [SB] 750,” Whitney said. “I think the people are ready for it, if it’s presented as a complete package.”

Whitney agrees with Quinn that about $2 billion in spending cuts are needed. But Whitney said his plan – akin to former Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski’s proposal – for a citizen-guided forensic audit would leave education and human services intact. He also wants to redirect proceeds from the capital construction bill, eliminating funding for any “pork” projects.

Whitney, who is alone in calling for an expanded public sector and more state jobs, also opposes Quinn’s call for a two-tiered pension system. Whitney said his own plan for the creation of a state bank would bring in enough revenue to pay down the pension debt at an accelerated pace. Whitney did not provide an estimate of how much revenue a state bank would provide.

“There is no magic wand, let’s be clear about that, for any of this. And I’m not claiming that I have one,” Whitney said. “But what I am saying is that this is a much better proposal that allows us to minimize the immediate pain and the horrible consequences of the budget proposals of the other two candidates.”

Whitney would also like to legalize and tax cannabis, as well as implement a greenhouse gas fee and dividend system under which fees imposed on high pollution energy producers would benefit consumers until more environmentally friendly energy sources become more prevalent and less pricey.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - March 11, 2010

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 60,981 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the March 11, 2010 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com. Thanks

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Education cuts or a tax increase

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn proposed to increase the state income tax by 1 percentage point during his budget address today, saying the money would be needed to stave off drastic cuts to education.

Quinn said federal stimulus funds protected education from serious cuts this fiscal year, but with the end of about $1 billion of stimulus funds to education, a proposed cut of $1.3 billion will be necessary. Quinn’s logic is that the state does not have the money to shift from some other area to replace the federal funds.

By proposing either drastic cuts or a tax increase, which he called a “surcharge for education,” Quinn appears to be trying to force legislators to make a politically difficult choice between higher taxes or deep cuts to schools.

“I am making this cut [to education] with the greatest of reluctance and only because our current fiscal emergency leaves me no choice. These cuts are unavoidable. They’re the consequence of a bipartisan refusal year after year to confront fiscal reality,” Quinn said.

According to Quinn’s budget director, David Vaught, the increase would raise the personal income tax from 3 percent to 4 percent and the corporate from 4.8 percent to 5.8 percent. He said it would generate an estimated $2.8 billion, which Quinn intends to spend wholly on education. Vaught added it would defer cuts, as well as pay down overdue bills that Illinois owes to schools.

Last year, Quinn proposed an income tax increase that would have raised the rate to 4.5 percent for individuals and 7.2 percent for businesses.

This would be a smaller increase, and Quinn has given legislators some political cover: They could claim they were supporting education with a “yes” vote. However, this tax increase does not appear to be starting off with any more support than last year’s proposal.

Republicans said the differences between the governor’s budget this year and last year are not big enough.

“What’s disappointing is, he essentially proposes to do the same things as he did last year. Proposed cuts that we know he’s not going to make … record borrowing or a tax increase and no reform to the system … to the government that is fundamentally broken,” Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican.

Senate President John Cullerton said he would support Quinn’s tax increase, but because the Senate passed a tax increase last session, the effort would have to start in the House.

“The Republicans in the House … along with the Democrats have to take this issue up and lead the way, and the Senate will certainly follow. … It’s clearly now focused on education and avoiding draconian cuts to education,” he said.

Cullerton added he would support a temporary income tax increase, “so we can address this crisis that we have right now, the worst economic crisis in our lifetime.” But, he reiterated that the details would have to be mapped out in the House.

House Speaker Michael Madigan does not appear optimistic about the increase passing in his chamber. “[Quinn] called upon every member of the General Assembly to help him solve a severe budgetary problem. I sincerely hope that every member is prepared to cooperate; every member is prepared to do some heavy lifting. I have my doubts,” Madigan said today on the Illinois Lawmakers television program.

Cullerton said he plans to sponsor legislation to reform the state’s pension system, something that Republicans have been demanding before they would consider a tax increase. House Minority Leader Tom Cross said it will take more than that to get Republican votes on a tax increase.

Cross said he wants to see “fundamental reforms” to state government. He added that Republicans will have to invited to the bargaining table. He said they were cut out of the budget process last year.

“We’ve gone down this road with this guy before. A year ago, we were going to decimate the human services budget and the developmentally disabled community. It didn’t happen. Six months ago, we were going to take away and annihilate the map program for college kids. It didn’t happen,” Cross said. “This is a fellow and an individual and a politician that likes to hold people hostage. Last year, it was college kids and the developmentally disabled community. This year, it is K-12.”

Cross characterized Quinn’s proposal as purely political threats. “I would suggest to you at the end of the day this isn’t going to happen. … This is a scare tactic.”

Quinn’s Republican opponent for governor, Sen. Bill Brady, continues to stand by his plan to cut spending by 10 percent across the board. Brady, a Bloomington Republican, was critical of Quinn for proposing such a large cut to education. "It was ironic to me that Quinn didn't think 17 percent cuts to education were draconian," he said.


Brady added that his plan would more fairly spread cuts over all areas of government.


"I wouldn’t attack one area of state spending, like education. He attacked education, leaving other areas, in fact increasing Medicaid funding by over $500 million at the expense of our school children. I’ve said there has to be a shared responsibility in this solution.”

In his address, Quinn called across-the-board cuts, such as those Brady is proposing, “heartless and naïve.”

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