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  • Thursday, December 14, 2017
    Illinois lawmakers keep leash on their sexual harassment watchdog
    Candidates--Statewide (12) , Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a) , Sexual Harassment (96) Madigan, Michael--State House, 22
    The Republican woman who wants to be the next Illinois Attorney General was campaigning in the area recently, and she had some interesting things to say about government corruption, sexual harassment and the office’s potential for helping change the statehouse culture.

    It was an interesting juxtaposition, as news emerged that our state lawmakers allow themselves veto power on...   read more >
  • Thursday, December 14, 2017
    In spite of tax hike, ratings agency eyes change that could junk Illinois
    Bonds, Bonding, Borrowing, Debt, Credit Rating , Taxes, income (86) Harris, David--State House, 53
    Illinois could be on the fast track to a junk credit rating, despite lawmakers assuring that a tax hike in July would keep the state from the infamous designation.

    “If we don’t get this done we will become the first state in the history of the United States of America to be in junk bond status,” state Rep. Mike Unes, R-East Peoria, said this summer. He and several...   read more >
  • Thursday, December 14, 2017
    McCaleb: Lawmaker wants taxpayer-funded conferences to end
    Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a) , Local Government (60) Skillicorn, Allen--State House, 66
    A former village trustee, state Rep. Allen Skillicorn says he knows all too well the kind of training that municipal staff and elected officials get each year at the Illinois Municipal League's annual conference in Chicago.

    It's not the kind of training that can be viewed as beneficial to taxpayers.

    “I have known the IML. I have seen their publications and actually...   read more >
  • Thursday, December 14, 2017
    Paul Evans would be big improvement over Vincent Lopinot
    Candidates--Judicial (27b) , Courts (27) , Legal System (27) , Metro East (65)
    Four years ago, in the course of a single year, Katherine O’Malley, daughter of former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O’Malley, was charged with felony drug possession, shoplifting, and 14 traffic violations, but fined only $1,000 after pleading guilty to shoplifting, improper lane usage, and a seatbelt violation.

    An anonymous judge expunged the record of her fe...   read more >
  • Thursday, December 14, 2017
    Gauen: Logic lost in competing priorities among Illinois governments
    Local Government (60) , Taxes, property (87)
    It is a fix-up year at the Gauen mansion, addressing neglect and making improvements in a prioritized way.

    First came replacement of an exhausted old heating and air-conditioning system that long threatened — depending upon the season — to leave us freezing or sweltering. We made sure we could afford it before moving down the list to new gutters, which came ahead of int...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017
    AG says Illinois taxpayers to begin paying for elective abortions Jan. 1
    Abortion (1) , Attorney General (6)
    Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office says it will argue that the state will begin implementing a new law after the first of the year that allows the use of tax dollars to pay for elective abortions for those on state employee health insurance and eligible Medicaid recipients.

    The state arguing the effective date of House Bill 40 is Jan. 1 means plaintiffs in a laws...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017
    Employment professional: Illinois lawmakers raising taxes doesn’t address jobs problem
    Taxes, income (86) , Taxes, property (87) , Unemployment (93) , Workers' Compensation (97)
    Illinois’ unemployment rate may have gone down a tenth of a percent in October to 4.9, but that’s not the whole picture.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics has several classes of employment rates. The so-called U-6 number includes workers who are unemployed but who have given up looking for work and who have part-time jobs but would prefer full-time. That rate reflects the ...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017
    Illinois lawmakers allowed to pick which harassment cases their own ethics watchdog pursues
    Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a) , Legislature (56) , Sexual Harassment (96) Castro, Christina -- State Senate, 22
    Lawmakers in Springfield are able to tell their own watchdog whether she can pursue an investigation of one of their own. A newly selected member of that panel wants to remove that step.

    Legislative Inspector Julie Porter is tasked with investigating claims of ethical problems caused by state lawmakers. But she has to ask the Legislative Ethics Commission to even start an investiga...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017
    Illinois Drives People Away
    Demographics, Census, Statistics , Governor (44) , Political Parties (Incld Tea Party) (39a) , Taxes, income (86) , Taxes, misc. (89) , Taxes, property (87)
    The taxpayer migration continues from the Land of Ever Higher Taxes.

    If Republicans succeed in limiting the state-and-local tax deduction, one hope is that this could finally inspire a come-to-Jesus moment in prodigal high-tax states. Democrats in Illinois ought to be especially chastened by new IRS data showing an acceleration of out-migration.

    The Prairie State lost a ...   read more >
  • Saturday, December 9, 2017
    Illinois community college may lose 20 percent of faculty to new regulations
    Education--Higher (37)
    A central Illinois community college may be losing 20 percent of its faculty next month due to new regulations.

    Illinois Central College notified 91 of its 490 part-time instructors that they may not be eligible to teach this spring unless they can prove they meet new, stricter qualifications. The new regulation applies only to courses that transfer to four-year colleges, but it af...   read more >
  • Friday, December 8, 2017
    Political reformer: Interesting only Democrats want campaign contribution clarification
    Blagojevich, Rod , Ethics, Campaign Reform, Transparency (12a) , Governors, former (45) , Political Parties (Incld Tea Party) (39a)
    One of Illinois' leading political reformers says it's interesting that only Democrats in the state are asking for a clarification about rules surrounding campaign contributions and quid pro quo concerns.

    The laundry list of Illinois politicos and former politicos who are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify the rules as to when a request for a campaign contribution becomes ess...   read more >
  • Thursday, December 7, 2017
    Op-Ed: 'Gravy train' conference is abuse of taxpayers
    Local Government (60)
    Local tax dollars should not be spent on valet parking.

    They should not be spent on lavish hotels and expensive meals.

    And an annual training conference should not be treated like a three-day Super Bowl party funded by taxpayers.

    Unfortunately, not all elected officials agree with that sentiment.

    The Illinois News Network filed Freedom of Informati...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    GOP's Barickman Wants To Work Jointly With Democrats On Marijuana Bill
    Drugs (32) Barickman, Jason--State House, 105
    The issue of legalizing recreational use of marijuana is rising in profile this year. There are two bills in the General Assembly. Several Democratic candidates for governor have embraced the proposal, saying it would bring badly needed revenue to the state and reduce black market and gang control of an existing industry.

    Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, though, bluntly opposed the id...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    Bootleg alcohol in state prisons on the rise, guard says
    Corrections (74) , Prisons (74)

    The Illinois budget crisis could be driving inmates to drink, a prisons official said Tuesday.

    Corey Knop told lawmakers he's seen more bootleg alcohol at the prison in Sumner than at any time in his nearly two decades with the Department of Corrections.

    Knop blames a change in juice vendors necessitated by a 2½-year stalemate over a bu...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    'I’m going to lead the charge': Jeanne Ives, Rauner's GOP primary challenger, visits Southern Illinois
    Candidates--Statewide (12) , Governor (44) Ives, Jeanne--State House, 42
    MURPHYSBORO — State Rep. Jeanne Ives recently announced she will challenge Gov. Bruce Rauner in March's Republican primary.

    On Tuesday, she spent her day in Southern Illinois.

    Ives, R-Wheaton, represents the 42nd District, which includes all of parts of Wheaton, Warrenville, West Chicago, Winfield, Carol Stream, Lisle and Naperville.

    On Monday, after an ...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    College Illinois sales halted, program's future uncertain
    Education Funding (36a) , Education--Higher (37)
    For the second time in six years, the state has closed College Illinois to new investors while it sorts out the future of the financially troubled college savings program.

    The Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which administers College Illinois, is huddling with state lawmakers on how to fill a gap between the dollars in the investment fund backing the program and the family-...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    Hearing set for lawsuit seeking to halt expansion of taxpayer-funded abortions in Illinois
    Abortion (1) , Governor (44) Batinick, Mark--State House, 97 , Breen, Peter--State House, 48 , Fowler, Dale--State Senate, 59 , McCarter, Kyle--State Senate, 54 , McConchie, Dan--State Senate 26 , Reick, Steven--State House, 63 , Schimpf, Paul--State Senate, 58 , Wheeler, Barbara--State House, 64 , Wheeler, Keith--State House, 50
    A Sangamon County judge will hear arguments Dec. 28 in a taxpayer lawsuit that in part seeks to delay implementation of a measure that would allow for Illinois taxpayer dollars to be used to fund elective abortions in the state.

    At a scheduling hearing Wednesday, Sangamon County Associate Judge Jennifer M. Ascher set the hearing date for just a few days before Jan. 1, when House Bi...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    Downstate Republican senator: Illinois should legalize marijuana
    Budget--State (8) , Drugs (32) , Taxes, misc. (89) Barickman, Jason--State House, 105
    Add a Republican senator from Central Illinois to the growing list of Illinois lawmakers who say the state should legalize recreational marijuana.

    State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, says he is ready to support legal, recreational marijuana if the law is written correctly.

    "I think fiscal conservatives need to be in this debate," Barickman said Tuesday. "It is i...   read more >
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    Bost one of 20 Republicans targeted by national campaign-finance reform group
    Candidates--Federal (13)
    WASHINGTON • In another indication the St. Louis region will be central to which party controls Congress in 2019, the political action committee End Citizens United has put Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, on its list of 20 Republican House and Senate members it will try to defeat in next year’s elections.

    The group said Tuesday it will raise about $35 million to run ads ...   read more >
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017
    Illinois faces near-worst wage growth since Great Recession
    Economy (34) Syverson, Dave--State Senate, 35
    In the decade since the U.S. plunged into a recession, Illinoisans are making little more now than they did then.

    In ten years since December 2007, Illinois and Nevada have seen the lowest wage growth in the nation, based on data through June of this year. Illinoisans’ wage growth was 0.6 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis...   read more >
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017
    Madison County ranked seventh in Judicial Helholes report; St. Clair County not on the list
    Courts (27) , Legal System (27) , Tort Reform (27)
    Madison County and St. Louis were named as two of the worst jurisdictions in the nation according to the American Tort Reform Foundation’s annual Judicial Hellholes report.

    St. Clair County was not included on the list this year.

    The American Tort Reform Foundation’s Judicial Hellholes report identifies and documents “places where judges in civil cases ...   read more >
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017
    State affecting levy
    Budget--State (8) , Fire Marshal, fire, fire fighters (84) , Local Government (60) , Pensions (70) , Police (28)
    MT. VERNON — A proposed tax levy ordinance is subject to change after requirements for pension levies is received from the State.

    "We haven't received the amount of deposit we need to make from the state of Illinois for two of our largest funds, which is the Firefighter Pension Fund and the Police Pension Fund," explained City Manager Mary Ellen Bechtel. "Just know that we ar...   read more >
  • Monday, December 4, 2017
    Taxpayers spend tens of thousands on Illinois municipal conference
    Budgets--Local , Local Government (60) , Taxes, misc. (89)
    Quincy city officials billed taxpayers nearly $18,000 to attend a three-day municipal conference at the upscale Hilton Chicago hotel in late September.

    For Bourbounnais taxpayers, the cost was almost $11,000. And in Kankakee, it was about $10,000.

    Watchdog.org filed Freedom of Information Act requests with two dozen municipalities across the state seeking their expenses ...   read more >
  • Monday, December 4, 2017
    Lawmaker: State fee for local tax payments 'slipped by' during budget process
    Budget--State (8) , Local Government (60) , Taxes, sales (88) DeLuca, Anthony--State House, 80
    An Illinois lawmaker who wants to roll back the fee that the state charges local governments to collect taxes says it slipped by during the summer.

    State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, said that he knew the state was going to keep some tax dollars that used to go to local governments.  But, despite being in charge of a local government committee, he didn't know the n...   read more >
  • Monday, December 4, 2017
    New IRS data: Illinois sees record loss of people, income to other states
    Demographics, Census, Statistics , Taxes, misc. (89)
    Illinois’ problem with wealth flight isn’t just persisting, it’s getting worse. That’s the takeaway from new data released by the Internal Revenue Service on Nov. 30. In terms of both people and income, the Land of Lincoln saw a record-breaking exodus in the 2015 tax year (2015-2016).

    Illinois saw a net loss of nearly 42,000 tax returns to other states on th...   read more >