Sunday, May 31, 2009

House says 'No' to temporary tax hike

SPRINGFIELD—Democrats in the Illinois House led the rejection tonight of a $4.5 billion plan to boost income taxes by 50 percent for the next two years, with a midnight deadline approaching to fund a new state budget.
The House action came after Democrats decided in a closed-door meeting that they also didn’t have the votes for a higher, permanent tax plan passed by the Senate.
The House voted 42-74 for the measure, which required 60 votes for approval to go on to the Senate. There were two "present" votes. Here's the roll call: House Temporary Tax Vote.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hard times at Tamms: Corrections chief to review prisoner treatment

ST. LOUIS — Tamms Correctional Center’s first warden made no apologies for christening the tough southwest Illinois prison a home for a “very unhappy inmate population.” Critics wasted no time dubbing it an inhumane endeavor.Eleven years later, the debate over the lockup where the worst offenders spend 23 hours per day in their cells remains unchanged, but Gov. Pat Quinn expects a newly minted Department of Corrections chief to take a long look at the super maximum-security prison where inmates are meant to serve hard time.Quinn has tapped Michael Randle, second in command of Ohio’s prison system, as Illinois’ new department head. The Chicago-born Randle won’t start his new job until next month, but Quinn already has made clear one assignment will be to examine prisoner treatment at Tamms.“I’m going to ask Director Randle to meet with all of those who are concerned about the issue of Tamms in deep southern Illinois in Alexander County,” Quinn said. “It is an issue we have to listen to everyone on, but Director Randle will make the final decision on what is best and recommend that to me.”Those who question the humaneness of typically giving Tamms’ populace no more than an hour a day outside 7-by-12-foot cells square off against the prison’s backers who call the segregation essential to safely containing the most dangerous of a 45,500-inmate, 28-prison state system.“We have a very unhappy inmate population,” Tamms’ first warden, George Welborn, proudly declared in 1998.State Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat whose district includes the prison and its 242 inmates in long-suffering Alexander County, argued this week that Tamms “doesn’t have to be messed with.”

Full Article....

Historic Announcement

U.S. President Barack Obama announces United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor (right) of New York as his Supreme Court nominee as Vice President Joe Biden watches in the East Room of the White House May 26, 2009 in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice in the nation’s history, replacing Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slash and Burn


May 18, 2009

Dear Illinois citizen,
Within the next two weeks, the General Assembly will approve a new state budget - a crucial decision that will determine Illinois’ fate for many years. On March 18, I presented lawmakers a proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 that will rescue our state from financial ruin while protecting its most needy citizens.
To date, my budget remains the only comprehensive and balanced budget plan before the General Assembly. It calls for: paying off a more than $7 billion deficit in fiscal year 2010; investing in education and healthcare; protecting vital social services; providing tax fairness and relief to nearly five million taxpayers; and making over $1 billion in spending cuts.
My proposed budget also recognizes the hard economic fact that state revenues are falling while demand for services is dramatically increasing.
Most important, it speaks honestly and directly to the people of Illinois about the tough choices we must confront. However, some critics and opponents reject my realistic solution. Instead they want to slash away at the budget, hurting our children, students, working families, elderly, veterans and many other citizens.
I am not a proponent of a Doomsday approach. As I said in my March 18 address to lawmakers, a budget that only offers mean-spirited tactics like these hurts all of our citizens and damages the economy.
When it comes to passing a budget, we need to make tough choices not bad choices.
However, as Governor I have a responsibility to inform Illinois citizens about the dire consequences that would follow should the General Assembly pass a "slash and burn" budget. This list illustrates the awful human toll that a Doomsday scenario will have on the Land of Lincoln and why it is not the right course for Illinois.
Pat Quinn

Source: Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, May 18, 2009

"Slash and Burn" Budget Consequences

Balancing the fiscal year 2010 budget by using only a "slash and burn" approach will take a significant toll on the people of Illinois. In this grim budget scenario, Illinois meets requirements to tap American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and provides limited state money necessary to attract other federal matching funds.
What follows are some of the dire consequences should this scorched-earth, cuts-only, approach be used to close the deficit:
Education – $1.5 billion cut – Over 14,300 teachers laid off
• Cut school aid by $568 million, causing more than 9,300 teachers to lose their jobs.
• Eliminate preschool for 100,000 children, causing more than 5,000 teachers to lose their jobs.
Higher Education – $554 million cut – Over 400,000 students affected
• Eliminate all state scholarships, including MAP grants, making college less affordable for 400,000 students.
Healthcare – $1.2 billion cut – Over 650,000 people lose healthcare
• Eliminate healthcare for 300,000 children and 175,000 parents, and Rx assistance for 172,000 seniors.
• Eliminate all healthcare subsidies for 78,000 retired teachers, university and state employees.
Seniors – $368 million cut – Over 271,000 seniors affected
• Cut Community Care program in half - 26,000 seniors would not receive services to help remain in their homes.
• Eliminate Elder Abuse and Neglect program - 11,000 cases would not be investigated.
• Eliminate Circuit Breaker program, cutting property tax relief for 271,000 seniors.
Veterans – $27 million cut – Over 150,000 veterans affected and 1,000 kicked out of veterans’ homes
• Close all four Illinois veterans’ homes, leaving over 1,000 veterans without critical care.
• Eliminate Traumatic Brain Injury & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder counseling and assistance program.
Public Safety – $294 million cut – Nearly 1,000 State Troopers laid off and 6,000 inmates released early
• Lay off nearly 1,000 State Troopers -50 percent of the force - and eliminate the 2010 class of 100 cadets.
• Release over 6,000 inmates early and close the Sheridan and Southwestern Drug Treatment facilities.
• Close four Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and release over 500 juveniles early.
Human Services – $769 million cut – Over 100,000 people affected
• Eliminate home services for 5,000 people with disabilities.
• Eliminate addiction treatment and prevention for 45,000 people.
• Close one out of every five Illinois Department of Human Services offices.
• Eliminate child care for 1,000 kids and increase co-pays for remaining children.
Economic Development – $549 million cut – Every mass transit district affected
• Eliminate all state funding for public transit and AMTRAK.
Agriculture and Natural Resources – $98 million cut – 60 parks and every museum closed
• Shut down half of the state parks and lay off one-third of frontline park staff, and close state museums.
• Eliminate state funding for Springfield and Du Quoin state fairs, 4-H and county fairs.
Local Government – $1 billion cut
• Eliminate state funding for local governments, reducing their ability to fund core services like law enforcement, fire service and garbage collection and offices like public defenders, county treasurers and state’s attorneys.
Additional– $1.1 billion cut
• Require additional deep reductions in agency services, eliminate support for numerous specialized programs and eliminate dozens of state boards, offices, commissions and agencies.
Source: Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, May 18, 2009

"Slash and Burn" Budget Explanation

$11.6 billion deficit
ARRA Revenue
$4.1 billion
Slash & Burn Cuts
$7.5 billion
$0 deficit
• The two-year deficit from fiscal years 2009 and 2010 is $11.6 billion.
• Of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that Illinois is receiving, $4.1 billion can be applied towards closing the $11.6 billion deficit.
• In this "Slash and Burn" budget scenario, the remaining deficit is closed with $7.5 billion in cuts that hurt the citizens of Illinois and further damage the economy.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lisa Madigan proposes FOIA rewrite

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office on Tuesday released a revised version of state’s Freedom of Information Act, hoping to strengthen a law that has been criticized as weak and full of loopholes.
Advocates say Madigan’s proposed rewrite adds some much-needed teeth to the law, which is designed to open government records to public scrutiny. But critics say it’s too complicated and might create more problems than it solves.Both sides still have some concerns they want addressed.
Cara Smith, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff, said the goal was to “dramatically cut down the potential for abuse.”
One loophole the new law would close is an excuse sometimes used by public agencies that fail to respond to a FOIA request -- saying that releasing a document would be “unduly burdensome.”Under the rewrite, agencies would have five days, instead of the current seven, to respond to a FOIA request, with the possibility of a five-day extension. If the agency fails to respond, it would not be allowed to treat the request as burdensome.

Quinn wants to scale back firings plan

A week after a plan to fire state workers created shockwaves, Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday he wants to scale back such a broad “fumigation” of government’s ranks and thinks other issues should take top priority.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, announced a push for House Bill 4450 to clear out an estimated 3,000 people hired or appointed by criminally troubled Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, part of a public showing that state government is distancing itself from corruption.Quinn has said he supports the idea as part of his effort to “fumigate” state government after Blagojevich’s impeachment. But he revealed Thursday that he’s not comfortable with targeting so many workers.

Full Article....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Illinois General Assembly

Hannig and Ribley Confirmed by Senate

The Illinois Senate confirmed two key appointees to Governor Quinn’s cabinet. Former State
Representative Gary Hannig was confirmed, on a vote of 56-0, as the head of the Illinois Department of
Transportation (IDOT). Hannig testified before the Senate Executive Appointments Committee that one of his
top priorities as Secretary of IDOT is to pass a capital construction bill for road and bridge projects.
Warren Ribley was confirmed by the Senate with an identical 56-0 vote. He will take over as Director of the
Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Director Ribley also testified before the Senate
Executive Appointments Committee and pledged his support for a capital bill to be passed this year.

The Illinois General Assembly will return on Tuesday, May 12. Both Chambers will convene at noon.
The House and Senate will now have two weeks to pass substantive bills. The last week following
Memorial Day will be used to consider the budget for Fiscal Year 2010.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING HARTMARX...I visited the Hartmarx factory in Des Plaines yesterday to show my support for its workers and management. For those of you who may not know, Hartmarx is a longtime Illinois-based company that produces high quality clothing, including suits for President Obama. While Hartmarx is currently in bankruptcy, there are at least two prospective buyers willing to purchase it and protect the jobs of its 1,000 workers. Despite these offers, Wells Fargo, Hartmarx's lender, is leaning toward liquidating the company. We expect companies that get state and federal taxpayer money to invest it in American jobs and American workers, not destroy American companies that still have a chance to succeed. When the banking industry faltered, Wells Fargo received $25 billion in taxpayer money and may seek more. Additionally, it holds a contract for custodial services in relation to the Illinois State Portfolio. With that in mind, I sent a letter to Wells Fargo, strongly urging a reconsideration of the company's course in dealing with Hartmarx and asking for its help in saving these 1,000 jobs. Wells Fargo has a choice: they can save these 1,000 Illinois jobs or lose their business with the state. It's that simple.After all of the help that Wells Fargo received, it would be wrong for it to contribute to the further hardship of Illinois workers. Not one, but two responsible buyers see a bright future for Hartmarx. As I see it, the only problem here is Wells Fargo.
To view a copy of my letter to Wells Fargo click here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Madigan proposes firing Ryan, Blagojevich appointees

Saying Gov. Pat Quinn must move quicker to “fumigate” state government, House Speaker Michael Madigan proposed legislation Thursday that could oust 3,000 state workers and board members from their positions within two months.
At a rare Statehouse news conference, Madigan said his plan would clear out anyone appointed to a state board or commission or hired into a Rutan-exempt, at-will job by former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. It would be up to Quinn to review the job performance of all 3,000 people within a 60-day period and determine if they should be allowed to keep their jobs or should be fired. After 60 days, anyone not kept on would automatically be out of work.
Madigan insisted he is simply trying to help Quinn, who early in his administration said state government needed to be fumigated.
“From the very beginning, my advice was to fumigate the government, get the Ryan and Blagojevich people out of there,” Madigan said. “I’m not satisfied with the pace of change. I think we have to move faster and we have to move more dramatically.”
Madigan said it was the General Assembly that ousted Blagojevich and allowed Quinn to become governor, so it’s reasonable that the General Assembly should be involved with executive branch operations.
Under Madigan’s plan, once House Bill 4450 is passed and signed into law, the 60-day clock will start ticking for Quinn to review the performances of the targeted state workers and board appointees.

Full Article.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Madigan Kills Push To Expand Illinois Gambling

Expansion Would Have Brought More Gambling Across Illinois


Earlier Tuesday, sources told CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery about a new push to expand gambling across the state, but House Speaker Michael Madigan now says it will not be coming to a vote in his chamber.The deal for gambling expansion would have included a land-based casino for Chicago, and a new casino in Waukegan, sources told Flannery.The gambling expansion would also have brought slot machines to horse race tracks. The deal still may pass the state Senate, but Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Tuesday read a statement from the House Speaker saying he was killing the bill in the House."I learned from the process of killing the Blagojevich gambling proposals that gambling is not a wholesome activity," Madigan said in the statement, "and we're not going to deal with that this year."Currently, there are 10 casino licenses in Illinois. One of them has been the subject of contention and controversy in recent years, after Emerald Casino won the license to build a facility in Rosemont, then lost it in a protracted court battle when the Illinois Gaming Board discovered that its developers were tied to organized crime.

Courtesy CBS 2 Chicago

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Creating Jobs

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Serious Materials, formerly Republic Windows and Doors during a press conference with Mayor Richard Daley and Serious' CEO Kevin Surace (right), to discuss how the America Recovery and Investment Act is creating jobs."This is a story about how we inspire a better tomorrow," Biden said at the Goose Island business that was formerly the home of Republic Windows and Doors. The previous company declared bankruptcy in December, leaving more than 260 people unemployed and triggering a sit-in protest by former employees. Serious Materials acquired the factory in February and announced its intention in early March to reopen the factory and rehire 250 union employees because of new federal spending.

Gov. Quinn Addresses Steelworkers

Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn speaks at a rally at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago to protest the shutdown of the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Hennepin, Ill. Despite a $48 million profit last year, the Hennepin steel mill has been idle since December 2008, laying off 300 steelworkers.

Democrat Elected Officials

  • Effingham County Board Distric G-Doug McCain
  • Effingham County Treasurer - Steve Dasenbrock
  • Effingham County Board District C - Karen Luchtefeld

Effingham County Democrats Officers

  • Chairman - Audrey Griffith
  • First Vice Chairman - Dan Niebrugge
  • Second Vice Chairman - Allen Wente
  • Secretary - James Hammer
  • Treasurer - Shirley McEvers