March 22, 2014



Chicago Tribune: Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme

Illinois Democrats went all-in Thursday with their election-year class warfare theme as Speaker Michael Madigan pitched the idea of asking voters to raise taxes on millionaires, Senate President John Cullerton advanced a minimum-wage increase and Gov. Pat Quinn compared wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner to TV villain Mr. Burns.

The moves continued a Democratic push to highlight income inequity that started Tuesday night before Rauner had even claimed his narrow victory in the Republican primary for governor. Rauner and Republican legislative leaders have countered by accusing Democrats of being tax happy and trying to drive a wedge between the rich and poor.

The newest front in the campaign battle came as Madigan held a rare news conference to announce he wants lawmakers to put a question on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters whether the state should raise the income tax by 3 percentage points on those who make more than $1 million a year.

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WirePoints: Illinois hiding from data essential to considering Madigan’s surcharge on the rich

How much of the new revenue that would come from higher taxes on Illinois’ rich would be cancelled out because they leave or change their residence? While anecdotal evidence is overwhelming, don’t expect your lawmakers to have the most obvious empirical data they should have to answer.

House Speaker Michael Madigan yesterday proposed a referendum to authorize a 3% surcharge on incomes over $1 million, which he claims will raise $1 billion per year. More generally, progressives in Illinois want a graduated income tax placing a higher burden on the rich.

Astonishingly, nobody in Illinois government has attempted to determine how many of the rich are already fleeing, or whether that flight accelerated after the 2010 ‘temporary’ income tax increase. That information would be key to any valid prediction of the yield on new taxes on the rich, but Illinois has has no data, no study, no clue — even though the most useful data would be easy to collect.

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 Chicago Sun Times: D’oh: Quinn’s ‘Simpsons’ ad blocked ‘on copyright grounds’

Gov. Pat Quinn and his Democratic allies in Springfield unleashed a multi-pronged, precision strike Thursday against Republican Bruce Rauner and his immense wealth, but at least some of their messaging got tripped up in a way sure to elicit a ‘D’oh!’ from Homer Simpson.

Taking a page out of President Obama’s playbook, Quinn visited a Gap clothing store in the Loop, where he spent $77 on three new sweaters, renewed his call for an increase in the state’s $8.25-an-hour minimum wage and pounded Rauner for, at one time, calling for a rollback in how much employers must pay their lowest-earning workers.

“The very idea that that kind of a person, with nine mansions, as well as all this money that he has, would then call upon taking away money from minimum-wage workers by cutting their minimum wage, well that’s not right,” Quinn said, referring to Rauner. “Everybody knows that’s not right. That really is heartless, and I think everybody in Illinois knows that.”

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Chicago Tribune: CPS test change irks Catholic schools chief

Changes in the standardized testing that Chicago Public Schools is requiring for entry to selective-enrollment high schools puts Catholic school students at a distinct disadvantage, the superintendent of the city’s Catholic schools says in a letter sent to the district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

CPS officials last month informed district parents that the results from the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress exam taken by seventh-graders this spring will be used for admissions at the city’s best campuses for the 2015-16 school year. Previously, district students’ performance on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test was used.

Many district parents were furious about the switch. Among the objections was that their children would be at a disadvantage because private school students applying to selective-enrollment schools would be taking the same test from previous years.

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Daily Herald: Chicago to sell $1 lots in South Side neighborhood

Residents in one of Chicago’s most distressed neighborhoods will be able to buy vacant lots for a dollar as part of a city redevelopment plan.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday the sale of city-owned land will be open to homeowners, block clubs and nonprofit groups in the South Side Englewood neighborhood.

He says it’s part of a five-year housing plan meant to revitalize neighborhoods.

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Daily Herald: With health law, workers ponder the I-Quit option

For uninsured people, the nation’s new health care law may offer an escape from worry about unexpected, astronomical medical bills. But for Stephanie Payne of St. Louis, who already had good insurance, the law could offer another kind of escape: the chance to quit her job.

At 62, Payne has worked for three decades as a nurse, most recently traveling house to house caring for 30 elderly and disabled patients. But she’s ready to leave that behind, including the job-based health benefits, to move to Oregon and promote her self-published book. She envisions herself blogging, doing radio interviews and speaking to seniors groups.

“I want the freedom to fit that into my day without squeezing it into my day,” she said.

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CNN: Got Obamacare, can’t find doctors

Terri Durheim and her family now have health insurance, thanks to Obamacare. What they don’t have are local doctors and hospitals who will take it.

This worries the Enid, Okla., resident since she has a teenage son with a serious heart condition. They now have to find a pediatric cardiologist in Oklahoma City, more than an hour away.

And if there’s an emergency … “obviously we’d have to pay out of pocket and go here in town, but that defeats the purpose of insurance. I’m truly grateful we have insurance. It’s reasonable and affordable, but it’s not doing me a lot of good,” said Durheim, who just had to drive 90 minutes to Stillwater, Okla., for a CAT scan for herself. “It’s so frustrating.”

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AP: Illinois lawmakers face off over 2015 budget

The fight over Illinois’ next budget ramped up Friday, as the heads of several state agencies said they’d be forced to lay off staff, close facilities and slash services if spending is cut as projected, and Republicans accused Democrats of putting on a “dog and pony show” to justify another tax increase.

The tussle came during a Senate hearing just days before Gov. Pat Quinn is set to unveil his proposed 2015 budget. The Chicago Democrat is expected to say for the first time Wednesday whether he wants to extend Illinois’ temporary income tax increase or approve some other form of revenue to deal with the budget crisis.

Democrats estimate Illinois will have a $3 billion budget gap next year – about $1.6 billion of which is because the temporary income tax increase Democrats approved in 2011 is scheduled to be rolled back in January. Senate Democrats say that would lead to cuts in discretionary spending of about 20 percent, and asked agency leaders to spell out for lawmakers Friday what such a decrease would mean.

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