Monday, January 31, 2011

Quinn signs civil unions bill

By Jamey Dunn

Same-sex couples in Illinois will soon have the opportunity to seek protections under state law, thanks to a bill Gov. Pat Quinn signed today.

“We believe in civil rights, and we believe in civil unions,” Quinn said in Chicago as he signed the bill. “Many people … all over Illinois, worked so hard for not just in the last few days or weeks or months but literally, for many people, almost their entire lives.”

Starting in June, same-sex and heterosexual couples will be able to enter into civil unions. The unions will provide couples with the same rights that come with marriage under state law, such as shared property rights, hospital visitation and the ability to file joint state tax returns. Illinois will also recognize civil unions — or same-sex marriages, which will be considered civil unions — from other states. Civil unions are not recognized by the federal government.

The General Assembly passed the civil unions bill in December. During debate, opponents argued that giving same-sex couples rights equal to married couples would be morally wrong and a danger to heterosexual marriage. “The reason marriage exists is that sexual intercourse between men and women … produces children. If intercourse did not actually produce vulnerable children who add to the population of a country, neither society nor the government would have much reason, let alone a valid reason, to regulate people’s emotional unions,” said Sen. Chris Lauzen, an Aurora Republican.

While many from their party opposed the measure, Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Treasurer Dan Rutherford — who as a state senator cast the lone Republican vote in favor of the bill — were on hand at today’s bill signing.

Chicago Rep. Greg Harris said at the Chicago event that approval of the bill marked Illinois offering “basic equality and fairness” to all couples. But he added that more needs to be done to protect people’s civil rights regardless of sexual orientation, both in Illinois and around the world.

“But as great a victory as we celebrate here today, there’s more work to be done,”
Harris said. “Things can get better. … There are forces, powerful forces, who want to turn back the clock. Who still actively [em]brace intolerance and work to take away rights that generations of Americans have fought to protect and we, we must not let them succeed.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 31, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,955 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 31, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 30, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,889 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 30, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 29, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,815 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 29, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Friday, January 28, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 28, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82, 720 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 28, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Emanuel can remain in mayoral race

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that Rahm Emanuel is eligible to run for mayor of Chicago.

An appellate had ruled Tuesday that Emanuel did not meet the city’s residency requirements and therefore could not run in the February election.

The majority opinion said that the appellate court ignored precedent in its ruling to throw Emanuel off the ballot. “Our review of the appellate court’s decision in this case begins not where it should, with an assessment of whether the court accurately applied established Illinois law to the particular facts, but with an assessment of whether the appellate court was justified in tossing out 150 years of settled residency law in favor of its own preferred standard. We emphatically hold that it was not,” Justice Robert Thomas wrote in the opinion.

Thomas stated that residency is determined by intent. So as long as it was Emanuel’s intent to return to Chicago, it continued to be his city of residence. Intent could be determined by the circumstances of the situation — such as Emanuel continuing to own a house, pay taxes and vote in Chicago.

Justices Charles Freeman and Anne Burke agreed with the ruling but not the logic that led to it. “Suffice it to say, therefore, that this court has not always spoken clearly on what is meant by residency, and the majority should acknowledge this fact. This is why both sides in this dispute can contend that their respective positions are supported by decades of precedent. Indeed, contrary to the majority’s assertions, the only thing that is well-established in this case is the confusion that has existed on this subject,” said the justices in their own separate opinion.

The justices did not agree that intent to return necessarily proved residency. The opinion goes on to say: “We would answer the narrow question that was actually raised by the objectors in this case: Does a person lose his permanent abode if the abode is rented during the relevant residency period? To that question we answer “no.” For that reason alone, we join in the judgment of the majority.”

The differing opinion also warns that the ruling could allow others to make claims of residency based on intent and pave the way for challenges to residency in a wide variety of situations. “It should be noted that today’s decision will raise questions beyond the facts of this case. Because the court holds that residency has one settled meaning, and that meaning rests on a person’s intent, today’s decision will have implications for residency requirements for in-state tuition, residency requirements for municipal employees such as police officers and firefighters, residency requirements for school districts and other similar situations. This court should be prepared to address those issues as firmly and expeditiously as we have done today.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 27, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,639 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 27, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Court strikes down capital bill

By Jamey Dunn

An appellate court declared Illinois’ capital construction program unconstitutional today.

The 1st District Appellate Court in Chicago ruled the legislation that created the $31 billion program did not meet the “single subject” rule in the state Constitution, which requires that one piece of legislation can only deal with one topic.

“The single subject rule is designed to prevent the passage of legislation that, if standing alone, could not muster the necessary votes for enactment,” the opinion states, citing an Illinois Supreme Court ruling on a 2005 case. “The practice of bundling less popular legislation with more palatable bills so that the well-received bills would carry the unpopular ones to passage is known as ‘logrolling.’ In addition to preventing logrolling, the single subject rule also facilitates the enactment of bills through an orderly and informed legislative process.”

The state has a history of lawsuits based on the concept that legislators must stick to one topic when drafting a bill, and today’s ruling notes that the definition of what a single subject can be and what topics relate to that subject “generally is construed liberally in favor of the legislature.”
Encompassing several loosely related concepts into one bill under a general topic is by no means a new practice in the General Assembly. Often, such bills collapse under their own weight, end up being split into several pieces of legislation or never face a court challenge.

However, the court ruled that in the case of the bill that contains the funding mechanisms for the capital plan, there are just too many provision that are not related closely enough crammed into one piece of legislation.

The law increased sales taxes on a variety of hygiene products, candy, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. It also increased some licensing fees. The most controversial components of the bill allow video poker in bars and restaurants across the state and the leasing of the lottery to a private management firm.

“The subject of a bill may be as broad as the legislature chooses as long as the bill’s provisions have a natural and logical connection. … We find that the wide range of topics in Public Act 96-34 cannot be considered to posses a 'natural and logical connection,” the ruling stated.

Rockwell Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, as well as Wirtz Beverage, a liquor distribution company, filed the lawsuit against the state in the summer of 2009. At the time, Wirtz told the Chicago Tribune that he understood that the state needed revenues for capital projects, but he took issue with the way the plan was rushed through the legislature.

But a spokesperson for Wirtz plainly stated today that the motivation for the lawsuit was the increased taxes. “This lawsuit was always about how the legislature passed this bill and the discriminatory tax on wine and spirits. The decision affirms that, and we are gratified by it,” Julia Sznewajs told the Chicago Sun-Times. A message left for Wirtz’s attorney was not returned.

The court said the state’s defense — that all of the bill’s provisions related to “revenue” — did not hold up, citing a previous Illinois Supreme Court decisions (Johnson v. Edgar ). That ruling stated that allowing legislators to define the subject of a bill under a very broad topic — in the Johnson case it was “public safety” — would “‘essentially eliminate the single subject rule as a meaningful check on the legislature’s actions.’” The opinion went on to say that most proposals could be tied to revenue if they impacted the state’s economy in any way.

However, the ruling says a provision in the plan that commissions a University of Illinois study on the effects of the lottery on families and a provision that requires the governor’s office to report on capital spending fall outside of the subject of revenue.

The court’s decision applies to all parts of the legislation, whether they relate to revenue or not. The opinion again sites the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in the Johnson case: “[T]he single subject rule prohibits the enactment of bills that encompass more than one subject. Thus, a challenge that an act violates the single subject rule is by definition directed at the act in its entirety.” The court found that severability clauses — a provision sometimes inserted in legislation that states that if any part of a bill is found to be unconstitutional, the rest of the bill still stands — would not protect legislation under a single subject challenge.

The opinion goes on to say that although the entire bill would be struck down, the legislature has the power to reconsider all the components contained in it. But different issues would have to be broken up into different pieces of legislation. Since the other parts of the plan — including the spending bill that lays out the projects — are contingent on the funding sources, the court threw them out, as well.

The ruling essentially puts the brakes on capital construction and the funding mechanisms that are being used to back the borrowing for the projects. It calls into question the state’s recent contract with Northstar Group to manage the lottery for 10 years, as well as the video gaming expansion and a pilot program to sell lottery tickets online.

Kelly Kraft, a spokesperson for Gov. Pat Quinn’s Office of Management and Budget, said the state has sold $4 billion in capital bonds so far. Of that, about $2.2 billion in bonds would potentially be affected by the ruling because they are backed by the revenue streams in the bill. The other bonding is backed by other sources, such as gasoline tax revenues from the road fund. However, Kraft said the $2.2 billion is also supported by the “full faith and credit” of the state, so that means the bonds also have the safety net of the general revenue fund. However, if the revenue streams from the capital bill are not reinstated in some way, another source of cash would have to be found down the road to pay off the borrowing. It is long-term borrowing, so lawmakers would have some time to find a way to pay the debt.

When asked how the state will proceed in regard to collecting the increased sales tax, a spokesperson for the Department of Revenue referred inquiries to Gov. Quinn’s office. A spokesperson for Quinn did not answer questions but did issue a written statement from the governor saying that he plans to appeal the ruling and ask the Illinois Supreme Court to put an immediate hold on the case.

“The administration intends to appeal the Appellate Court’s decision and to seek an immediate stay from the Illinois Supreme Court. … While the administration’s request for a stay is pending with the Illinois Supreme Court, capital projects already in progress will continue as scheduled. We would expect the Supreme Court to rule on the request for a stay in the very near future,” Quinn said in a written statement.

If the court grants the hold and agrees to take the case, Quinn and the legislature would have some time to sort out possible solutions to what could be a potentially messy situation that could possibly halt or delay hundreds of construction projects.

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Senate to consider last session's appointments

By Jamey Dunn

Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled today that the Illinois Senate has to consider executive appointees it did not vote on during the last legislative session.

Senate President John Cullerton had sent a letter to Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka asking her to stop giving paychecks to state workers appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn who had not been confirmed by the Senate during the last two-year legislative session, which ended earlier this month. Cullerton said Quinn would have to reappoint those individuals, and the confirmation process would have to start over in the new legislative session because a new General Assembly could not act on matters presented to the old one.

Quinn maintained that the state Constitution requires the Senate to act on appointments after 60 session days but does not limit those days to the same legislative session.

Topinka asked Madigan to decide the issue, and Madigan agreed with Quinn. She said in a written opinion that the drafters of the Constitution did not include a “same-session” limitation on confirmations, though they did include such a limitation on other issues. She said to assume such a limitation on executive appointments would mean a “rewrite” of that section of the Constitution.

“Attorney General Madigan said today that essentially she agreed with the position we’ve held all along,” said Annie Thompson, a spokeswoman for Quinn. “Currently, we are reviewing her opinion and determining where we go next.”

Among the appointees the Senate did not consider last session was Quinn's controversial choice for director of the Illinois State Police, Jonathon Monken.

“Our opinion was based on 40 years of precedent followed by the attorney general's office, six prior governors and 21 prior General Assemblies regarding executive appointments. We are assessing how this impacts the legislative process, but we will comply with the opinion,”
Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Cullerton, said in a written statement.

She added that an Executive Appointments Committee hearing will be scheduled when the Senate is back in session next week.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 26, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,532 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 26, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quinn signs Medicaid reforms

By Lauren N. Johnson

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill today enacting comprehensive reforms to the Medicaid system in Illinois.

“It’s a very important day for health care in Illinois,” said Quinn, highlighting the measure’s passage during a challenging economic time for the state and the bipartisan effort put forth to approve the package in the last few weeks of session.

The governor said the measure is an “efficient” and “proper” response by lawmakers to remove waste and fraud from the state’s Medicaid system while saving taxpayers' money. He said the reforms also will help stabilize Illinois’ budget.

The legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, and Sen. Dale Righter a Mattoon Republican, and in the House by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, and Rep. Patricia Bellock, a Hinsdale Republican.

The state’s Medicaid system, which is administered by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, provides health coverage to 2.8 million low-income individuals and families, people with disabilities and older adults. Of those, 160,000 are in the state’s voluntary managed-care program.

Under the new law, the department will expand so-called coordinated care – focused on wellness and prevention – to cover at least 50 percent of recipients eligible for Medicaid by 2015. That and other reforms are expected to achieve savings of more than $624 million during the next five years.

“We are reforming the [health care provider] service delivery system at the same time that we are reforming the payment system,” said Julie Hamos, director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, “and the combination of those two will produce the kind of incentives we need to keep people healthier and ultimately cheaper to provide health care for.”

As part of the coordinated care, said Michelle Saddler, secretary of the Department of Human Services, the department aims to put all Medicaid enrollees into “medical homes,” where they will consistently see primary care physicians.

The new law also will allow the state to save on prescription drug costs by increasing co-payments, promoting 90-day maintenance prescriptions and controlling utilization, and reducing prompt payment interest rates for pharmacy bills from 2 percent to 1 percent.

Beginning in July, the department will enhance the eligibility process – subject to federal approval – by requiring participants to prove Illinois residency annually and verify their incomes. The stepped-up process will require a month’s worth of income information instead of a single pay stub. Annual redetermination of eligibility will begin October 1.

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Two ratings agencies tag Illinois with a 'negative' fiscal outlook

By Jamey Dunn

While one bond-rating agency upgraded Illinois status, two others held steady their ratings of the state’s ability to pay off its debt, reporting “negative” outlooks for the future.

Lenders look at Illinois’ bond ratings when deciding what interest rates to charge the state on its borrowing.

Moody’s Investor’s Services stuck with its A1 rating of Illinois state government. Standard & Poor’s extended its A+ rating and removed the state from a watch list for a potential downgrade, which Illinois had been on since March. However, both groups raised concerns about Illinois’ fiscal future. (Both groups' websites require registration to read the reports.)

Moody’s cited the state’s billions of dollars in overdue bills and the lack of an approved plan to pay them down as a primary reason for its negative outlook. “Legislation authorizing long-term debt to address past-due payments was not enacted at the end of the 96th General Assembly. Illinois' chronic failure to provide for structurally balanced operations over the years, and its reliance on payment deferral to manage operating fund cash, has fueled growth in past-due bills (those outstanding for more than 60 days). This practice has in turn hurt private providers of goods and services, as well as public-sector entities, such as transit agencies, universities and municipalities, that rely on state funding.”

Gov. Pat Quinn released three-year budget projections that include $8.75 billion in borrowing that would be used to pay down the backlog. That borrowing plan failed to pass in the General Assembly earlier this month, but Senate President John Cullerton reintroduced it at the beginning of the new legislative session. Moody’s report characterized the release of multi-year budget projections as a positive change for Illinois.

Both groups agreed that failing to make pension payments or taking on too much debt could cause Illinois’ rating to drop.

According to the Standard & Poor’s report: “The negative outlook reflect[s] our view of ongoing weakness in the state's pension funds and the possibility that the state might issue a significant amount of additional debt as part of its effort to address the large accumulated budget deficit. If the pension funding levels continue to deteriorate and debt levels increase significantly, which would pressure the state's near-term financial performance, we could lower the ratings. If pension funding levels stabilize and revenues meet the state's current projections, thereby stabilizing liquidity, we could revise the outlook to stable.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 25, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,437 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 25, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Bond rating upgrade may be good for Quinn's budget

By Jamey Dunn

In the wake of the state income tax increase, one bond-rating agency has upgraded Illinois’ rating, which indicates the state’s ability to pay back its borrowing.

Fitch Ratings gave Illinois an “A” for $3.7 billion in bonds, which will be used to make the state's pension payment for the current fiscal year and are expected to sell in February. It also upgraded Illinois from a “negative” outlook to a “stable” one on $24.5 billion worth of bonds already issued. The group cited the recent income tax increase and pension reforms as improvements to the state’s fiscal stability.

David Vaught, Quinn’s budget director, predicted in January that rating companies would downgrade the state’s bond rating to “junk” if legislators did not raise the income tax rate. Lawmakers voted later that same day to increase the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent and the corporate tax from 4.8 percent to 7 percent for four years.

“Following several years during which the state was unwilling to take action to restructure its budget to achieve balance and increased reliance on borrowing to close budget gaps, the tax increase and enacted spending limits close a significant portion of the structural gap in the state's budget through fiscal 2014,” Fitch’s researchers said in a written report.

A more favorable bond rating means lower interest rates on borrowing, which could be a positive for Gov. Pat Quinn. According to three-year projections released by his budgeting office, Quinn is still counting on the approval of $8.75 billion in loans to pay down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills. Legislators voted down the borrowing twice earlier this month. Sen. President John Cullerton has introduced a new borrowing bill, Senate Bill 3, and Republicans have expressed willingness to support some version of the plan. They say, however, that they want less borrowing and some reforms, such as changes to the state’s worker’s compensation system.

Quinn’s plan also includes a $1-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes, which failed to pass in the closing days of last legislative session, and revenues from the temporarily boosted income tax.

Fitch’s report predicts trouble on the horizon under the plan: “The Governor's projected spending plan, which incorporates the additional tax revenues and spending limits, continues to rely on borrowing for operations in fiscal 2012 to accommodate the loss of federal stimulus funds. Further, the tax increases are temporary and will begin to phase out in 2015. Even if the state has achieved budget balance by that point, it will once again be faced with a significant budget balancing decision to make severe expense reductions that it has been unwilling to make up to this point, identify new revenues, or make permanent the tax increases. In addition, the state's ability to reduce its accounts payable backlog in a meaningful way relies on debt issuance that has yet to be authorized.”


When asked if the governor's office has a backup plan if the legislature does not approve the borrowing or cigarette tax, Kelly Kraft, spokesperson for Quinn's Office of Management and Budget said in a written statement, "These projections, along with continued economic growth, represent the Governor's plan to address the state's fiscal challenges."

The group’s research found that Illinois’s current borrowing debt is 6.3 percent of 2009 personal income, which the authors describe as “moderate but above average.” Under Quinn’s plan, it would be nearly 9 percent of 2009 personal income, which is described as a “high level.” However, the report said, “The ability of the state to bring its payment obligations more current in a timely manner will be limited without the borrowing [in Quinn’s proposal].”

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Court: Emanuel ineligible for mayor's race

Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman and top member of President Barack Obama’s administration, was declared ineligible to run for mayor of Chicago by an appellate court today.

The court ruled 2-1 that Emanuel — who left Chicago to work for Obama in Washington, D.C., but continued to vote and own a residence in Chicago — does not meet the residency requirements to appear on the ballot in the February 22 election.

Emanuel is the front runner — over opponents Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William Walls — in recent polls, as well as campaign fund raising. He told reporters he plans to appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 24, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,396 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 24, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 23, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,344 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 23, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 22, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,262 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 22, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Friday, January 21, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,164 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 21, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Study: States don't need bankruptcy option

By Jamey Dunn

A new study says doom-and-gloom news stories predicting that states will default on their debts are overblown and draw attention away from the need for long-term reforms.

The report was released today by the Center on Budget in Policy Priorities (CBPP) — a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that studies state and federal fiscal decisions that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals. It acknowledges that many states and municipalities are struggling to overcome large deficits, partly because of falling revenues caused by the recent recession.

According to the center, states face a total shortfall of $125 billion for fiscal year 2012. The report says state governments are taking steps to address their deficits, such as often-unpopular cuts and tax increases. “While these deficits have caused severe problems, and states and localities are struggling to maintain needed services, this is a cyclical problem that ultimately will ease as the economy recovers.”

Iris Lav, one of the authors of the study, said states should be able to solve their budget problems without resorting to bankruptcy. “They have a lot of internal pressure [to make cost-saving changes]. They have resources, they have taxes, they have the potential for cutting spending if they need to.”

Lav, former deputy director of the CBPP and now a senior adviser to the organization, said the potential for bankruptcy might take pressure off of states to address some unpopular issues “The political process will be more difficult [with default as an option] … and there’s not evidence that it’s necessary.”

The report says lumping pension and borrowing debt into the immediate operating funds shortfall is the wrong approach because states have more time to solve such problems as under-funded pensions. “Unlike the projected operating deficits for fiscal year 2012, which require near-term solutions to meet states’ and localities’ balanced-budget requirements, longer-term issues related to bond indebtedness, pension obligations and retiree health insurance … can be addressed over the next several decades. It is not appropriate to add these longer-term costs to projected operating deficits.”

Lav said some media reports claiming that states have a total of $3 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities are are based on the notion that states will make nearly risk-free pension investments from now on, which she says is not the case. The study estimates the unfunded liability is “a more manageable (although still troubling)” $700 billion.

She added that many states, including Illinois, have taken steps to cut future pension costs, and more will likely follow suit. Lav thinks states will also start cutting some health benefits for employees or requiring them to pay more for their insurance coverage because health care costs are outpacing both the growth of the economy and state revenues.

The report's authors cite Illinois as an outlier state facing more extreme short- and long-term problems. “Illinois also has one of the worst structural deficits in the country,” said Nick Johnson, director of the State and Fiscal Project for the CBPP.

The study describes the pension systems of Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Kentucky, Kansas and California as “grossly underfunded.” While most states will have to increase average pension spending from 3.8 percent of their operating budgets to about 5 percent, the study says these states will likely have to take more drastic measures.

The study makes several recommendations for states seeking to get their budgets in order:


  • Expand the sales tax base to services to capture the economic shift from manufacturing to service industries.
  • Create a progressive tax system as opposed to a flat income tax rate.
  • Create five-year-plan budgets based on accurate revenue projections, so lawmakers can see the future impact of today’s choices.
  • Allow breaks for seniors only on a need basis instead of doling them out to all residents past a certain age.
The study cited Illinois as an “extreme example” of “failure” to address such fiscal and budgeting issues: "Because Illinois is chronically short of the revenues it needs to cover its expenses, it has engaged in a number of poor fiscal practices over the years. It has postponed payments to vendors, failed to make adequate pension contributions or borrowed money to make the contributions, securitized or sold assets, and taken other dubious actions. As a result, it has had a particularly difficult time coping with revenue declines during this recession, with a fiscal year 2012 deficit projected to equal half of its general fund budget, and has developed an large overhang of longer-term debt and unfunded liabilities."

Lav said Illinois lawmakers took a necessary step in passing an income tax increase. She said, however, that Illinois is “essentially paying the penalty for its failure to address its revenue situation over and over again for a number of years.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 82,068 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 20, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

State reaches deal on private lottery management

By Jamey Dunn

Illinois will hand over the reins of its lottery to a private firm next summer.

The state finalized its agreement let Northstar Lottery Group manage the Illinois Lottery for the next 10 years in return for the promise of more revenue. According to the Division of the Lottery, which operates under the Illinois Department of Revenue, Northstar plans to grow profits by about 10 percent over the next five years.

Northstar Group represents gaming vendors that have previously contracted with Illinois -- Rhode-Island-based GTECH Corp. and New-York-based Scientific Games Inc., along with marketing partner Chicago-Based Energy BBDO.

Northstar’s pledge to increase revenues by $1.1 billion over the next five years topped the proposal by the United Kingdom's lottery manager, the Camelot Group, by more than $500 million. “The state will benefit from [Northstar’s] familiarity,” Jodie Winnett, acting lottery superintendent, said when Gov. Pat Quinn announced the winner of the contract.

Camelot protested the decision, saying the state gave Northstar advantages in the bidding process because, in part, of the firm’s previous relationship with Illinois. The state denied protests from Camelot and the other failed bidder, Intralot S.A, a Greek firm.

If Northstar cannot reach its profit goal, it will have to pay the state half of its projections. It the firm cannot reach the numbers that the state estimates the Division of the Lottery could have achieved on its own, the firm must pay the entire difference. New revenues will go, in part, to help fund the state's capital construction plan, approved by the General Assembly in May, 2009. Plans to privatize the lottery and since-stalled efforts to sell lottery tickets online and allow video poker in bars restaurants across the state were all part of the original funding for new construction in Illinois.

Susan Hofer, a spokesperson for the Illinois Lottery, said Northstar has not changed its business plan from the original proposal pitched to the state last September.

According to the proposal, the firm plans to expand into so-called big-box stores, such as Walmart.

Hofer said the group is “using this time to gear up, so that they can hit the ground” at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2012 — when they are set to take over management in July.

“The lottery office at the Department of Revenue will do the state’s portion,” Hofer said. She said if lottery sales are expanded, it will be up to the state to investigate new vendors. The lottery division would also continue to investigate any alleged violations or fraud associated with lottery ticket sales.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 19, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,978 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 19, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Details of Saturday's Chicago Heights Meeting leak out

While I tried to attend Saturday's meeting at the Chicago Heights Country Club (I was told I could not enter, and then told that I'd have to leave the parking ), called by mayoral candidate Dave Gonzalez who mandated that all city employees attend or "face the consequences," I have gotten word back on some details.

City employees have been instructed to turn in contact sheets of 40 names by Friday. A vague threat was made about not turning them in, but Gonzalez is clearly trying to stay under the radar of the U.S. Attorney General's Public Integrity Section of its Criminal Division.

City Employees were told that they would be responsible for getting the names of their contact lists to the polls for Gonzalez, with a goal of perhaps half those names voting either by absentee or early vote.

Several Chicago Heights employees have complained to me about the stressful conditions they now work under. Gonzalez has placed apologists throughout the departments, and workers thought to be independent or non-partisan have received extra attention.

Again, it is illegal to condition employment at Chicago Heights' city hall upon political work for any candidate or party. It is interesting to me that while the County is moving away from openly violating Shakman, and I'd expect the city of Chicago to be less resistant to Shakman under a new mayor and city council, the South Suburbs is belatedly falling into a gray area -- openly violating Shakman and Rutan, but trying to obfuscate those violations. I'm not sure how the city -- well, the taxpayers -- of Chicago Heights can afford these corrupt practices, but until people stand up against the corruption, their tax bills will only get higher and higher.

If you are a Chicago Heights employee (or the employee of any city) who felt intimidated or forced to participate against your will, please call the Public Integrity Section at (202) 514-1412. You won't have to give your full name to express your concerns. They are eager to hear from you. I will follow up on this on Saturday, and afterwards...

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Both sides on tax hike agree more needs to be done

By Lauren N. Johnson and Jamey Dunn


While many teachers and social service providers disagree with the much of the business sector on the merits of Illinois’ income tax increase, representatives of both groups say legislators must do more to get the state budget in line.

A number of groups that represent Illinois businesses are not pleased with the income tax increase package that Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law last week because they say reforms were left out of the final legislation.

Todd Maisch, the vice president of government affairs for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said the state should focus on encouraging hiring because higher employment rates mean the personal income tax would bring in more revenue, even without an increase.

“Despite an awful lot of discussion about reforms, we didn’t get any reforms to accompany the income tax increase. We think that ought to be the No. 1 focus when the legislature returns,” Maisch says.

Jeff Mays, president of the Illinois Business Roundtable, said unless the state takes a step further to address spending and the backlog of overdue bills, the new tax increase would not solve Illinois’ budget problems. “If you just raise taxes and don’t change how you’re spending your money, you’re just going to be filling a hole while at the same time you’re digging it deeper,” Mays says.

Mays supports reforms made to the pension systems last spring, as well as recent changes in the Medicaid system, but he said those alone would not be enough to address the state’s $13 billion deficit. “The Medicaid reforms [passed during the lame-duck session] were modest but good,” Mays says. However, he says lawmakers need to work on changes to the health care system for state employees, as well as reforming they way the state budget is created. “If you just raise taxes and don’t change how you’re spending your money, you’re just going to be filling a hole while at the same time you’re digging it deeper,” Mays says.

Maisch says a number of commercial developers have watched pending projects canceled as a direct result of the higher income tax for Illinois businesses, which increased from 4.8 percent to 7 percent for the next four years.

“One [tax increase] is not going to create a stampede,” Mays says, referring to some Illinois companies' threat to leave the state.

Compared with other states' costs for employers, Mays says: “We’re way out of line on unemployment insurance, we’re way out of line on corporate taxes and we’re way out of line on litigation. It’s the cumulative effect of all those things that’s making employers ask, ‘Why invest in Illinois?’”

Representatives of teachers and social service providers say, however, that the income tax increase was necessary to address the state’s financial crisis. But they are concerned that schools and providers may not receive the money the state owes them quickly enough to prevent more layoffs and program cuts.

“I think from our perspective, we realize that that was a tough choice for lawmakers, but it was the right one. … From our perspective, there was no other choice,” says David Comerford, spokesperson for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

He said the failure of a proposed $1-dollar-a-pack cigarette tax increase, which would have brought it an estimated $370 million for schools, was a disappointing blow for education. Comerford says while there are reports of a last-minute agreement to funnel some money to underperforming schools, until such funding is officially approved, educators are operating under the assumption that there is no new money for education.

“At this point, it really doesn’t provide any new money for education. … Right now we’re just looking at flat funding for education. … Compared to the alternative of layoffs and massive cuts, it is a good thing.”

Don Moss, coordinator for the Illinois Human Services Coalition, agrees that the increase was the only option to address the budget crisis. However, he says lawmakers should approve a borrowing plan to pay off the backlog of overdue bills owed to schools, vendors and social service providers. A proposal to borrow $8.75 billion, which supporters said would have allowed the state to start sending checks out in March, failed to get the needed support to pass in tandem with the tax increase. However, Senate President John Cullerton introduced the plan for consideration in the new legislative session as Senate Bill 2.

Moss says that while the tax increase will help the state get its fiscal house in order, it will take time for Illinois to start seeing the new revenue. He says those owed money — some for months on end — need to be paid as soon as possible. “The nonprofit social service providers’ backs are against the wall. … {The state} need[s] to get as close to current as possible in the payment of [its] bills.”

Comerford says it is premature to try and predict how the tax increase would affect funding for different areas of the state budget because Quinn has not yet proposed spending for the next fiscal year. “We’re going to have to see what else the governor’s plan is [in February when he makes the budget address]. … As much as it sure felt like a budget was passed [last week], one hasn’t been.”

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 18, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,883 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 18, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Monday, January 17, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 17, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,794 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 17, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 16, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,730 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 16, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 15, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,642 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 15, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Friday, January 14, 2011

GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 14, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,511 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 14, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Chicago Heights' mayoral candidate Dave Gonzalez crossing the Shakman line

I got word yesterday that Dave Gonzalez, a current vendor (he has some kind of contract with the city) and candidate for mayor in Chicago Heights, has called a meeting for this Saturday of *all* department heads and employees who work for the city. Department heads made phone calls -- on city time, using city resources -- demanding that employees attend this "mandatory meeting." According to one source, they were told that there would be "consequences" for those who didn't show up.

This is, of course, illegal. Municipal employees are protected by both Shakman and Rutan, according to election law expert Richard Means. Means was the lawyer who had an election overturned in Gary, IN and literally wrote the book on election law in Illinois.

According to Means:

Of course it is illegal to condition future public employment on political work for a mayoral candidate regardless of whether he is an incumbent or aspirant. Depending on the precise facts and how the threat was communicated and by whom, it is likely both a federal and state crime and a civil violation of numerous federal and state civil rights laws.


Many people associate Shakman with the City of Chicago and Cook County. But it also applies to Chicago Heights. Shakman strictly prohibits politically-based hiring, firing, promotions and/or other job actions for municipal positions where political considerations are not expressly exempt. Virtually every Chicago Heights employee contacted on Wednesday or Thursday at the bequest of Dave Gonzalez falls under the protection of Shakman (and Rutan).

Department heads, because they used city resources and workday to demand employee's participation, are particularly at risk. One explanation of Shakman [PDF] says that it:

prohibits the conditioning, basing, or knowingly prejudicing or affecting any aspect of employment of any person as a Governmental Employee (other than Exempt Positions), upon or because of any political reason or factor including, without limitation, any Employee’s political affiliation, political support or activity, political financial contributions, promises of such political support, activity or financial contributions or such Employee’s political sponsorship or recommendation is prohibited.


Further, it prohibits any employee (exempt or not exempt):

from knowingly inducing, aiding, abetting, participating in, cooperating with the commission of, or threatening to condition, base or knowingly prejudice or affect the employment of any County employee or applicant based upon political factors.


It is not Gonzalez, of course, who is likely to bear the brunt of additional Shakman litigation. The city of Chicago Heights would do so -- both financially and, additionally, to it's reputation -- of the possible Shakman violations.

In Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, "The [U.S. Supreme] Court found for the petitioner, expanding the First Amendment protection against dismissal from low-level government positions based on party affiliation, which had been established in two earlier cases." In other words, municipal employees cannot be forced to participate in party activity.

I talked yesterday with people I know in the U.S. Attorney General's office about Saturday's meeting in Chicago Heights. Because of my involvement in the Obama campaign and the transition, I was aware that public corruption -- as seems to be manifesting itself with this week's incident in Chicago Heights -- is a key concern of the Obama Administration. I was referred to the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division within the department:

The Public Integrity Section (PIN) oversees the federal effort to combat corruption through the prosecution of elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government. The Section has exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of federal judges and also supervises the nationwide investigation and prosecution of election crimes. Section attorneys prosecute selected cases against federal, state, and local officials, and are available as a source of advice and expertise to other prosecutors and investigators.


I was specifically asked to relay their phone number to anyone who felt they had been forced to participate in political activity (such as the meeting called for Saturday by Dave Gonzalez). If you are a Chicago Heights employee (or the employee of any city) who felt intimidated or forced to participate against your will, please call the Public Integrity Section at (202) 514-1412. You won't have to give your full name to express your concerns. They are eager to hear from you. I will follow up on this on Saturday, and afterwards.

We need to stem the corruption here in the South Suburbs. We can no longer simply overlook corruption just because that's the way it's always been. We're better than that. We *deserve* better than that...

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quinn signs tax increase

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill today to increase Illinoisans' personal and corporate income tax rates.

Under the new personal rate, Chicago Democratic Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie estimated that a family of four with an income of $40,000 would pay roughly $800 more a year.

The personal income tax has increased from 3 percent to 5 percent, and the corporate tax has gone from 4.8 percent to 7 percent. Both rates are scheduled to drop after four years, to 3.75 percent for personal income tax and to 5.25 percent for the corporate income tax. The plan is expected to bring in roughly $6.5 billion in its first year.

The measure also includes spending caps for the next four fiscal years. The limits are: $36.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, $37.5 billion in FY 2013, $38.3 billion in FY 2014 and $39.1 billion in FY 2015. If the legislators spend more, the tax increases would be nullified. It is be up to the Illinois auditor general to determine whether the state has overspent.

Republicans did not support the tax increases, saying they will hurt businesses and chase jobs out of the state. The Democrats who supported the bill said the state could not get out of its current budget crisis without new revenues.

“This is a temporary income tax to deal with the immediate fiscal emergency our state faces. To pay the bills so we don’t have severe cutbacks in education, health care, public safety—important things that are absolutely vital to the lives of the citizens,” Quinn said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Quinn has yet to take action on another major piece of legislation passed in the final days of session: a measure to abolish the death penalty in Illinois. Quinn said during his campaign that Illinois should have capital punishment as an option for the worst crimes. He also supports the moratorium, which was put in place more than 10 years ago by former Gov. George Ryan. Quinn would not indicate his intentions for the bill. He said he will have to take it under careful review — by studying the history and seeking the opinions of people on both sides of the issue — because it is such a big decision.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 13, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,406 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 13, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Legislators sworn in as new session begins

By Jamey Dunn with Lauren Johnson contributing

After closing a two-year legislative session marked by the impeachment of a governor and a budget crisis, legislators reflected on the past as they welcomed the newly elected members to the 97th General Assembly.

During his speech at the House inauguration, held on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, Speaker Michael Madigan recalled three historic events that occurred during the 96th General Assembly: the election of President Barack Obama, the impeachment and removal from office of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the nation tumbling into an economic collapse. “Those three events, in the very beginning of the two-year period, greatly influenced the actions and considerations taken by the legislature,” Madigan said.

During a ceremony in the Senate chambers at the Capitol, Senate President John Cullerton congratulated his colleagues for addressing issues such as pension reform and new revenues during the previous session.

"I believe that we in the Senate have created a workplace of cooperation and bipartisanship in the last two years. Even though you may not agree with all that we’ve done, you would have to admit we’ve had the most productive session that Illinois has witnessed in decades,” Cullerton said.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said after the swearing-in ceremony that she was encouraged by the general attitude of cooperation in the Senate during the last legislative session and wants to continue an “atmosphere in the Senate” that is “conducive to problem solving.”

Although the relationship between Democratic and Republican leadership in the House cannot typically be described as friendly, House Minority Leader Tom Cross encouraged the newly sworn-in lawmakers to keep their discussions during the new session both “civil and respectful.”

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Iillinois tax hike ruminations



Because of the recklessness of Illinois Democrats, I am now hundreds of dollars poorer.
Even California is cutting back. Cut leave it to the spendthrifts in Illinois to bypass what they see as a passing fad.

My mind flashes back to the spring rally of public-sector union workers who chanted "Raise my taxes." What they meant was "Keep me in my un-fireable job."

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 12, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,287 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 12, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Legislators pass a tax increase in the final hours of session

By Jamey Dunn with Lauren Johnson contributing

Illinois lawmakers passed an income tax increase before adjourning their two-year legislative session but failed to approve other pieces of a budget plan intended to quickly pay down the state’s backlog of bills and funnel new funding to education.

Chicago Democratic Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie said the time to point fingers about the deficit has passed. “Illinois is in crisis — absolute financial crisis — and there is no way we can dig ourselves out of the crisis without enhanced revenues.”

Currie, sponsor of Senate Bill 2505 added: “This mess is a mess that is the responsibility of all of us. … It’s too late. It’s time for us to be adults, face the crisis and figure out together a solution.”

However, Rep. Roger Eddy, a Hutsonville Republican, said that GOP calls for spending cuts have been ignored for years. “The time to be adults was eight years ago, when we were expanding programs,” he said.

Currie said that without the tax increase, lawmakers would have to make “wholesale” cuts to state government.

Speaker Mike Madigan has vowed on multiple occasions that an income tax increase would not pass in the House without Republican support, but in the end, that is what happened. Senate Bill 2505 passed with the 60 required “yes” votes to 57 opposition votes.

“They're on the sidelines. They don't want to get on the field of play,” Madigan said about Republicans after the vote.

The personal income tax would increase from 3 percent to 5 percent, and the corporate tax would go from 4.8 percent to 7 percent. Under the legislation, both rates would drop after five years, to 3.75 percent for personal income tax and to 5.25 percent for the corporate income tax. The plan is expected to bring in roughly $6.5 billion in its first year.

Currie estimated that a family of four with an income of $40,000 would pay roughly $800 more a year under the initial increase.

The measure also includes spending caps for the next four fiscal years. The limits would be $36.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, $37.5 billion in FY 2013, $38.3 billion in FY 2014 and $39.1 billion in FY 2015. If the legislators spend more, the tax increases would be nullified. It would be up to the Illinois auditor general to determine if the state has overspent. House Democrats described that provision as the “hammer” that will keep future budgeting in line. Both legislative chambers changed their rules to require a three-fifths vote on legislation to approve the caps.

Democrats described those spending increases as lower than the rate of inflation. However, Republicans took issue with the Democrats' initial numbers, on which the structure is based.

Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, called the caps an “ill-fitting theater costume” used to dress up a tax increase to make it seem fiscally responsible.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross said he could not support locking in any increase to the future budget. He said Democrats should work with Republicans to find an appropriate spending level and stick to it while the state tries to make its way out of its budget hole. “Whatever that is, you need to stabilize that number — and that’s the point — instead of growing the number.”

Senate President John Cullerton said that without the tax increase, the future of Illinois and those waiting on state payments, such as human service providers, would be dire. “If we don’t do this … the people who would be waiting to be paid would wait for years to be paid, if they even continue to do business with us.”

Republican Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine said legislators who voted for the tax increase could no longer claim that job creation is their top priority. “Your number one priority is supporting state spending at or above the current level. … because there is no question there will be job loss with this tax increase.”

However, Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, said failing to approve new revenue to properly fund the state budget would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The Senate approved nearly $4 billion in borrowing — to be paid off over eight years — to cover the required payment to public employee pension systems for this fiscal year.

Righter questioned why Illinois needed to borrow after raising the income tax. Cullerton said borrowing was necessary so the state could afford to make the pension payment for this fiscal year. “The money that we raised with the income tax is going to start paying the pension payment for the next fiscal year.”

He added that the General Assembly also extended the emergency budget powers given to Gov. Pat Quinn as part of last spring’s budget bill. Those powers — originally granted for six months but now extended through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year — allowed Quinn to make cuts and allocate lump-sum appropriations the General Assembly sent him in lieu of a line-item budget.

“This bill effectively, for budget purposes, crowns the governor king,” Murphy said.

Currie removed from the bill a “property tax relief” provision that would have provided equal annual rebate checks to property tax payers across Illinois. Republicans complained that it was unfair to give someone who pays a higher level of property taxes the same amount of relief as someone who pays less. Cullerton estimated that the checks for next year would have been about $325.

Two other components to the overall proposed plan failed to clear the House.

Lawmakers in that chamber shot down a $1-a-pack cigarette tax that would have brought in an estimated $370 million for education. That caused a temporary hitch for the income tax increase in the Senate, where some Democrats were disappointed with the lack of new education funds.

Maywood Democratic Sen. Kimberly Lightford said those with concerns, including members of the Senate Black Caucus, we’re promised that the $250 million in revenues that will no longer be needed for property tax relief will go toward education.

She said after the potential revenue sources of the cigarette tax increase and a proposed gaming expansion failed to get support, “we felt like the commitment for education funding was not there.” Lightford said members of her caucus called on Democratic leadership and Gov. Pat Quinn to find money for schools. “You didn’t pass a cigarette tax; didn’t call gaming. You need to put that 250 to education,” she said.

Lightford said $250 million a year for the first four years of the tax increase would go into a fund that would specifically target underperforming schools. Quinn later said of the deal: “Many [of the Black Caucus members] are my friends, and we worked together in campaigns. We believe in working together on important things that help children.”

A plan to borrow $8.75 billion to pay down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills for this fiscal year also failed to get the 71 votes it needed to pass. The loan would have been repaid over 14 years. Spring Valley Democratic Rep. Frank Mautino, sponsor of SB 336, said if the measure had passed, the state could have started to send out checks to schools, providers and vendors in March.

Cross said he is still willing to negotiate with Democrats on a borrowing plan to pay off the bills but said it would have to be smaller and come in tandem with cuts and reforms, such as changes to workers’ compensation. The workers compensation efforts in the lame-duck legislative session fell short, but Cullerton called the issue a “top priority” for the new session, which begins later today.

Gaming expansion and medical marijuana measures that came up for votes in the waning days of the two-year session both died upon adjournment, along with the borrowing plan, workers’ compensation reform and the cigarette tax increase.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lawmakers vote to abolish death penalty

By Lauren Johnson

A repeal of Illinois’ death penalty passed today in the Senate after heated debate and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he supports capital punishment when it’s applied “carefully and fairly.” However, he has said he has no plans to lift the current moratorium on executions. A spokesperson for Quinn said today only that the governor plans to review the bill.

“The current moratorium gives the state an opportunity to reflect on the issue and create safeguards ensuring the death penalty is not being imposed improperly. “It is unconscionable that an innocent person could be put to death in Illinois,” Quinn said last year during his campaign for governor.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who opposes abolishing the death penalty, said changes that were enacted after then-Gov. George Ryan imposed the moratorium in 2000 have begun to improve the system. “In my office, the reforms are working,” Alvarez said.

During debate over the bill, its sponsor, Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, said Illinois “ought to be embarrassed” by its track record of wrongfully convicted individuals.

“This question is not about the people who we know did it,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, a Democrat from Olympia Fields. "It’s about the people who were convicted who didn’t. It’s about our system of justice that is actually predicated upon the protection of the innocent, and executing one innocent person is too high a price to pay.”

“What we have learned is that the system cannot be fixed,” said Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican. Twenty men previously on death row in Illinois were exonerated at the cost of taxpayers, he said.

“Seven out of 10 of those people on death row when Gov. Ryan commuted their sentences didn’t contest their own guilt,” said Sen. William Haine, a Democrat and former prosecutor from Alton. “People have not had a say as to whether these great crimes will no longer face just punishment.” He called for a constitutional amendment to be put to the voters instead of having the legislature decide the issue.

Raoul responded, “If you don’t want to take responsibility in making these hard decisions, then resign.”

Opponents of the legislation also voiced concerns about taking away law enforcement's ability to use the threat of the death penalty to obtain information from suspects. But proponents say the threat of death should not be a tool to push a plea bargain.

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New Education Money - Stand for Children Discloses Fundraising

Cross posted from ICPR's blog, The Race is On:

Stand for Children shocked political observers last fall when they started giving five-figure donations to candidates for the General Assembly. Total giving from the group reached $600K through election day. Observers were left wondering, what did they want? And would they last?

Stand for Children filed their D2 for the last half of 2010 today and it makes a definitive statement. They report raising a whopping $3,486,000.00 between their September creation and the end of the year, including several six-figure donation in December from a who's who of wealthy Chicagoans.

It's worth noting that those donations came in right before contribution limits took effect, so it will be difficult for a group like Stand for Children to replenish their funds once these are spent without a significant re-tooling of their fundraising methods. But whatever they choose to do, they have more than enough in the near-term to match any donations from the teachers' unions. Neither the IEA nor the IFT has filed yet for the last half of last year, but given past trends, it appears Stand for Children will be a financial equal to their efforts.

To comment, please visit ICPR's blog.

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GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - January 11, 2011

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, Capitol Fax, etc. Since January 1, 2005, GOPUSA ILLINOIS has brought 81,176 such articles and information on many upcoming events to its subscribers' attention each morning, free of charge, and without any advertising. To view the January 11, 2011 GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips, please visit www.gopillinois.com or www.gopusa.com/state-news/IL/. Thanks

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Quinn pledges fiscal solution but avoids tax talk

By Lauren Johnson


After he was sworn into office today, Gov. Pat Quinn vowed that the state will solve its budget crisis soon but avoided discussion of a proposed income tax increase.

During inauguration ceremonies at Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, he said he looks forward to serving Illinois along with the other five statewide officers who also officially assumed office: Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon; Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka; Treasurer Dan Rutherford and returning constitutional officers Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White.

“We have replaced a government of deals with a government of ideals,” Quinn said. He became governor in 2009 after the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and was elected to his own four-year term last November.

Topinka called on both parties to work together to help solve the state’s budget woes.
“Some of this is not going to be easy because the problems are huge. … We’re going to need to disagree sometimes without being disagreeable.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who attended the ceremonies, agreed. “Anything that’s done in Washington or Springfield will need more cooperation," he said. “It’s easy to play to draw, it’s easy to have a good press release, it’s easy to put off a tough decision, but we've got move beyond that.” To solve the large problems facing Illinois, lawmakers from both parties would have to work together, he added.

During his speech, Quinn identified jobs and education as top priorities. Jobs, he said, are the “best way to fight poverty, crime and to keep families together,” and “education is the strongest force in our land for equal opportunity.”

He added, “Our job is to make sure that we take care of our babies in every way we can, to make sure they have a decent future."

Quinn said Illinois “will pay our bills, we will stabilize our budget, we will strengthen our economy.” He said state spending obligations, such as contributions to employee pension systems, must be met to have a sound, balanced budget.

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Some state workers could lose union protection

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois House today passed a measure that would potentially bar state employees who work for executive officers and hold supervisory powers from joining unions and participating in collective bargaining.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the sponsor of Senate Bill 3644, said the percentage of state employees who are union members has grown from less than 80 percent in 2002 to almost 96 percent currently. According to Currie, there are about 1,600 petitions to join the union before the labor board, which would take the number up to almost 99 percent.

Currie said that is a problem because workers who deal primarily with policy decisions or supervise others need to be loyal to the governor instead of unions.

“My sense is that somewhere around 90 percent is probably reasonable and probably realistic,” she said. “I think that here has to be a balance between management and workers, and I think that we have unbalanced our work force in the state of Illinois.”

Opponents called on the Gov. Pat Quinn to work out the issue by negotiating with the unions.

Harrisburg Democratic Rep. Brandon Phelps, a former union organizer, said: “I’ve seen firsthand many employees that are getting passed for promotions, not being treated fairly by their boss or bosses. I’ve seen favoritism over one employee to another. That’s why a lot of these people have joined unions. … I believe this is a horrible precedent that we are setting here. I know that AFSCME and all the other unions are willing to negotiate this. “

Currie responded, “There have been negotiations that were not fruitful.”

Henry Bayer, executive director of Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), characterized the bill as “anti-union.” He said it is not specific enough about which workers would be included. While Currie said the bill is intended to cover fewer than 200 employees, union officials are concerned that future administrations could apply it to many more positions.

Currie said the Labor Relations Board would have the final say on who could be in the union and who could not, but her bill would allow the governor to ask the board to reconsider some job titles, something that she said cannot be achieved through negotiations. “The collective bargaining process never suggests that unions should voluntarily give up membership.”

Currie added, “Our managers are not managing state government.”

In other legislative action today, the Illinois Senate passed a measure that would eliminate a controversial program created by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The issue of whether the state should continue giving all senior citizens free rides on mass transit became a political hot potato during the regular legislative session. A compromise was reached in the Senate after longtime proponent of the program, Chicago Democratic Sen. Rickey Hendon, signed on, but then it stalled in the House.

The new measure, which the House passed yesterday, would limit free rides to only seniors whose income levels qualify for state assistance programs, such as a state pharmaceutical aid program. Seniors who do not qualify would get to ride for half price. No legislators spoke in opposition of SB3778 on either the House or Senate floors before each chamber took a vote.

“It’s about time,” said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, a Lamont Republican, who has been pushing to roll the program back.

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