Thursday, October 22, 2009

Health plans coping with state payment delays


Health Alliance Medical Plans will continue to pay medical bills for state workers, retirees and their dependents, even though Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration will stop paying the state’s share of monthly premiums for 3 1/2 months.
The state budget crisis prompted state officials to notify health-insurance companies this month about the delays, said Pat Frueh, acting chief of health-care purchasing for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
“We had to come up with a cash-shortfall plan,” she said.
Jocelyn Browning, spokeswoman for Health Alliance, said the state has never before failed to pay monthly premiums in the 30 years that Health Alliance has insured state workers.
At least for now, she said, “It shouldn’t affect our members. We’re still playing claims.”
Health Alliance covers 78,600 state employees, retirees and dependents. The state’s average monthly premium payment to Health Alliance was $33 million, Browning said. Health Alliance last received a payment from the state Aug. 26.
A spokeswoman for Chicago-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois wouldn’t say whether the premium delays will result in Blue Cross paying bills late or refusing to pay them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poll: Voters say cut, but don't cut or tax us


State policymakers looking for the least painful ways to fix a major budget problem won’t find much help from a new poll that shows many voters against both tax increases and spending cuts in major areas.

The poll of 800 registered voters, conducted between Sept. 9 and Oct. 8 for the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, lays out the tough choices lawmakers face to deal with a budget billions of dollars in the red.
The results largely mirror the fence-sitting seen a year ago when the institute first polled on these issues.
More than 56 percent polled believe spending cuts in government can fix the Illinois’ budget problems. Fewer than 10 percent think more revenue, such as through tax increases, is the answer. Another 27 percent say a combination of both more money and cuts are needed. The poll had a 3.4 percentage point error margin.
Despite that strong support for cuts, voters in large numbers object to scaling back spending on education, public safety and other major programs where cuts would be required to close the gap.

Attorney general, CUB oppose planned Verizon sale

BY KURT ERICKSON, The Southern Springfield Bureau

SPRINGFIELD - A number of government officials, consumer advocates and potential competitors raised red flags this week about Verizon's plan to sell off its local landline phone service in Illinois.
In the first round of testimony submitted Tuesday to state regulators, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Citizens Utility Board argue the proposed sale of Verizon's lines to Frontier Corp. could negatively affect nearly 600,000 customers.
"We recommend that the Commission reject the Frontier purchase of Verizon's telephone lines in Illinois because of serious concerns about Frontier's ability to manage these assets," noted a memo issued by Madigan's office Wednesday.
The opposition comes just a week after a spokesman for Connecticut-based Frontier said he hoped the sale wouldn't become a contentious fight in Illinois.
Full article....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Governor Pat Quinn Names New Members To Community Outreach Board

SPRINGFIELD – October 15, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today named 20 members to the Serve Illinois Commission. The Commission, supported by the Illinois Department of Human Services, enhances and supports community volunteerism and administers the AmeriCorps State program in Illinois.
Earlier this year, Governor Quinn announced $8.9 million in federal funds for Illinois’ AmeriCorps programs, including $2.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). AmeriCorps volunteers dedicate a year to improving education, human services, environmental quality, public health and public safety through the United States.
The members of the Serve Illinois Commission are appointed to three-year terms. For more information the Commission, please visit or call 1-800-592-9896.
Newly Appointed Serve Illinois Commission Members
Member -Hometown- Position
Lawrence Benito- Chicago - Deputy Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Merri Dee - Chicago - Owner, Merri Dee Communications
Alvin Goldfarb - Macomb - President, Western Illinois University
Nancy K. Jameson -Macomb - Director, West Central Illinois RSVP
Howard L. Lathan - Chicago - Associate Executive Director, Community Development & Organization, Chicago Area Project
Bob McCammon- Lake Villa - Executive Director, Youth Conservation Corps
Fred Nettles - Springfield - Director of Partners for Hope Program, Illinois Department of Human Services
Giraldo Rosales- Champaign - Assistant Dean of Students, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cynthia Sims - Carbondale - Assistant Professor, Department of Workforce Education and Development at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
John Sirek - Chicago - Citizenship Program Director, McCormick Foundation
Steven S. Wolfe - Glen Ellyn - Intern/Volunteer Coordinator, Probation & Court Services Department of the 18th Judicial Circuit, DuPage County
Gloria Verastegui - Gilberts - Youth Representative to the Commission, Loyola University Chicago Student
Non Voting Members
Member -Hometown- Position
Jane Angelis - Carbondale - Founder and Director, Intergenerational Initiative
Judy Donath - Springfield - Project Director, RSVP for Sangamon, Menard and Logan Counties
Kathy Engelken - Des Plaines - Executive Director, Illinois Campus Compact at DePaul University
Michael Mangan - Mt. Prospect - Director, Service-Learning Project at The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning
Arlan McClain - Dixon - Executive Director, Kreider Services
Judy Swinson - Centralia - Director, Volunteer Services at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Inc.
Genita Robinson - Chicago - Executive Director, Lawyers Lend a Hand to Youth Program
Barb Tubekis - Winetka - Chair, Volunteer Centers of Illinois

Partisan bickering closes first half of veto session


The Illinois House spent much of Friday bickering along partisan lines over separate proposals to delay the Democratic governor's yearly budget speech and change the way some top Republican officials are chosen.
In the end, both pieces of legislation stalled, failing to attract the 71 votes needed. They could resurface later.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, told House members she had no problem with granting Gov. Pat Quinn's request to delay his budget presentation until March 24, 2010, because he recently hired a new budget director, David Vaught.
"We want to give that guy as much time and as much information as he feels he needs," Currie said.
The governor is supposed to present his proposed budget by the third Wednesday in February.
Some Republicans complained the delay until late March appeared political because Quinn faces a tough February primary fight with Comptroller Dan Hynes for governor. They contended waiting that long for the governor's budget plan would hurt lawmakers' efforts to put together a budget by the end of next May.
Democrats said they simply were trying to give Quinn enough time to figure out this year's budget problems and make the best estimate possible for next year.
The vote on Currie's proposal, House Bill 1409, was 66-49.
The House also rebuffed a plan to change the selection process for members of the Republican state central committee.
Under Senate Bill 600, which the Senate already approved, voters from each congressional district would choose two members of the committee. At present, other GOP leaders select members of the state central committee.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross accused Democrats of interfering with the Republican party's inner workings.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang, disputed that assessment.
"This is not a Democratic plot to take over the world," said Lang, a Skokie Democrat
The House voted 59-47 for the bill.
Friday's political infighting capped the first half of the General Assembly's fall veto session.
The scheduled six-day session began Wednesday and picks up again on Oct. 28-30. After that, lawmakers aren't expected to return to the Capitol until January.
Members of the General Assembly made progress this week on some issues and left others unsettled.
Lawmakers gave Quinn an extra $205 million in spending authority for the Monetary Award Program, which provides assistance to needy college students. But it's not clear how those additional dollars will materialize.
The Illinois Senate approved a recall option for future Illinois governors. Because the proposal already passed in the House, voters will decide in the November 2010 election if they want the power to oust a sitting governor from office.
An Illinois House committee advanced an updated version of a campaign finance reform plan, crafted after Quinn vetoed a different proposal during the summer. Critics say the measure is flawed because it doesn't limit how much money political parties or legislative leaders can contribute to candidates.
Lawmakers also are still contending with Senate Bill 2090, which deals with how much they get paid. The Senate overrode Quinn's amendatory veto, sending the matter to the House.
The bill would require lawmakers to directly vote yes or no on a pay hike.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quinn, Hynes voice different plans for income-tax hike

By Tom Kacich
Monday, October 12, 2009 8:12 AM
CHAMPAIGN – Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes avoided mentioning each other by name, but they didn't avoid comparing each other's position on an income tax increase in an appearance before Champaign County Democrats on Sunday night.
The two main candidates in the Feb. 2, 2010, gubernatorial primary were among a dozen candidates to speak before more than 250 Democrats at the local party's fall dinner at the I Hotel and Conference Center. Other speakers included U.S. Senate candidate David Hoffman of Chicago and 15th District congressional hopeful David Gill of Normal.

Tax increases are needed, both candidates said. But they differ on how to enact an income tax hike.

Hynes suggested closing corporate tax loopholes, raising the cigarette tax by a dollar a pack, broadening the sales tax to include services and amending the Illinois Constitution to allow for a progressive income tax.

"It requires the Legislature to put it on the ballot and let the people decide. Remember 'Let the people decide and let the will of the people be the law of the land?'" Hynes said, echoing a frequent Quinn line. "We're one of seven states with a flat income tax, and it's time to change that. We can do it in November 2010 if we have the courage to do it. Anybody who says that it's too difficult and it will take too long and it's too complicated, I have three words from someone we all know very well: Yes we can."

Quinn, who spoke before Hynes, devoted most of his time to recounting his record in state government, and said little about the comptroller, except to point out the difference on the income-tax increase.
"There are people in my own party who don't want to deal with reality, and they're going to campaign against raising the income tax by statute. We've got to do it. We've got to do it in this coming fiscal year," he said. "There is one (Democratic) candidate who supports raising the income tax in a fair way, with tax relief for people who need it the most.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hynes Campaign Delivers Series of Calendars, Reminds Quinn It's 2009

Concerned that Governor Pat Quinn has lost track of time and is unaware that this is 2009, a year in which the only constant to his budget priorities has been to push for an income tax increase of 50 percent, the Dan Hynes for Governor campaign today sent the Governor a dozen 2009 wall calendars. The action was sparked by Quinn’s response to a Hynes campaign advertisement, in which he defended his unpopular move to raise taxes on middle class families by referencing his history of advocating a progressive tax prior to becoming Governor.
“We want to make sure Pat Quinn knows it’s the year 2009, and that he is in fact Governor,” Hynes communications director Matt McGrath said. “We appreciate his nostalgia for simpler times, before he actually had the position and authority to effect change, but the fact remains his only constant position as Governor has been to push for a 50 percent income tax increase.”

Quinn’s campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Austin responded by pointing out lawmakers have opposed Hynes’ plan in the past. She called Hynes’ calender bit a “stunt.”

2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner

President Barack Obama speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., after winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize."I will accept this award as a call to action, a call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century,'' Obama said in a Rose Garden appearance today. "This award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity.''

Thursday, October 8, 2009

First TV ad of campaign season: Hynes blasts Quinn on tax hike

Comptroller Dan Hynes fired the first major shot of the 2010 political TV ad wars tonight, assailing Gov. Pat Quinn’s tax-increase plans and telling voters he warned discredited ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich about overspending.The 30-second ad, which started airing in the Chicago and Springfield TV markets, reheats an increasingly contentious battle for the Feb. 2 Democratic primary nomination for governor between Quinn, who was elevated from lieutenant governor with Blagojevich’s ouster in January, and Hynes, the three-term state comptroller.“As state comptroller, I warned Gov. Blagojevich about overspending but he wouldn’t listen. That governor is gone, but our problems aren’t. And Pat Quinn thinks the answer is to pass a 50 percent tax increase on every Illinois family,” Hynes says in the ad, which aired in Chicago on "Wheel of Fortune" tonight.
“I’m running for governor because I have a better plan. We can balance the budget by cutting waste line by line and only raising income taxes on people making more than $200,000. We can fix this mess and protect the middle class,” Hynes says.
Hynes’ campaign aides would not give details on the size of the TV ad buy but said they plan to have a substantial broadcast presence through the primary campaign.
Hynes has the money for a sustained TV campaign having reported more than $3.5 million in his campaign fund at the start of July. Quinn reported having more than $700,000 in the bank in July but has stepped up his fundraising efforts.
In a response issued tonight, Quinn maintained he has long advocated tax fairness.

2009 Golf Outing

Congratulations to (L to R) Mike Porter, Roger Wycoff, Mark Stuckey, and John Feld winners of this years Effingham County Democrats Golf Outing.
Thank you very much to all who braved the cool and windy conditions to participate in our annual golf outing. It is a great opportunity to play golf and raise money for our local party. We had 42 players who eagerly golfed (some not as good as others) .
Special thanks also to all of our course sponsors, hole sponsors, and cart sponsors. Everyone was very generous with their donations to the outing.
There were so many people that contributed their time and money to our event, thank you everyone.

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