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Full text for Articles for Today, Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 4 Articles


Legislation would create school safety pilot program
Tuesday, January 23, 2018  |   Article  |   Anna Gazette Democrat
Candidates--Federal (13) , Education--Elementary and Secondary (36)
A bipartisan measure has been introduced by two members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois which is designed to establish a pilot program through the U.S. Department of Justice, DOJ, to make panic buttons more available to local school systems. 

The Securing Our Schools, SOS, Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike-Bost, R-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.

The Congressmen said in a news release that the legislation is supported by the National Sheriffs Association and the National Education Association.

“Response time is vitally important during emergency situations, and the SOS Act provides life-saving technology to contact first responders immediately when these incidents take place at schools,” Bost said.

“This serves as both a deterrent from and front-line response to situations that place children and educators in harm’s way. As a father and a grandfather, I’m working to ensure our nation’s children are provided with a safe environment to grow and learn.”

“Every parent should have the confidence when they send their child off to school that he or she will return safely home,” Schneider said.

“The bipartisan Securing Our Schools Act will improve the ability of educators to notify first responders in the event of an emergency to better protect the security of students, teachers, and faculty.

“I’m pleased to partner with Congressman Bost on this commonsense legislation to improve school safety and look forward to building support in the days ahead.”

“On behalf of more than 3,000 elected sheriffs, the National Sheriffs’ Association is proud to endorse the Securing Our Schools Act,” said Jonathan F. Thompson, the executive director and CEO of the organization.

“In a time when schools are vulnerable to threats, this bill helps law enforcement work effectively and efficiently to protect lives. I applaud the bipartisan efforts of Congressmen Bost and Schneider and look forward to working with them to ensure passage of this key legislation.”

The SOS Act would provide a more immediate method of notifying law enforcement and first responders in case of a medical emergency, active school shooter incident, or natural disaster.
The legislation would authorize the DOJ to offer grants to local school districts for buying and installing SOS buttons in classrooms.

Each grant awarded under the program would cover 75 percent of equipment purchase and installation costs (up to $200,000).

School districts would provide the remaining 25 percent in matching funds.

Rauner says he will propose income tax cut; 'wasteful spending' will curb deficit
Carbondale Southern Illinoisan
Tuesday, January 23, 2018  |   Article  |   JOHN O'CONNOR Associated Press
Budget--State (8) , Comptroller (21) , Governor (44)
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that he will propose rolling back last year's income tax increase in a "step-down" process over several years while also tackling a continuing deficit of billions of dollars.

The Republican, who will propose a budget outline next month, revealed his plan to pare down the tax increase — a $5 billion-a-year revenue boost — in response to a report that the state spent $2 billion that lawmakers never approved.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza's first-of-its-kind monthly review Monday detailed Illinois' $9 billion in overdue bills. Mendoza, a Democrat, pointed out that in addition to that pile, the state has $2.3 billion that it's obligated to pay, but which the General Assembly never appropriated.

Rauner, who's facing a tough re-election campaign this year, was asked about the deficit after a visit to a Skokie high school.

"It's going to take a few years, but we're going to step down the income tax increase and put more money in education, shrink the wasteful spending in government and close this deficit," he said. "We've had a deficit now for years and even after a tax hike, there are deficits."

Mendoza's review results from a law adopted in November. It also pointed out that the backlogged spending, which hit $16.7 billion in November before borrowing paid off a portion of it, carries with it a $1 billion late-payment surcharge run up since mid-2015, the beginning of a two-year budget deadlock between Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature.

It ended last summer when several House Republicans helped Democrats override Rauner's veto of an increase in the income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

Democrats have claimed that much of the unappropriated spending came from Rauner, who continued during the impasse to sign contracts with providers of good and services without a guarantee that the money would be approved to pay the bills.

Of the backlog — which stood at $8.8 billion Monday — Mendoza's report said $2.5 billion had not yet been sent to the comptroller for processing by the agencies that incurred them. Before now, agencies weren't required to report the amounts they were still holding. But knowing what is coming from the agencies is part of why Mendoza wanted the law.

"This report will be an effective cash-management tool for my office and provides a much greater level of transparency for taxpayers and policymakers," Mendoza said in a statement.

Eighty of 84 agencies complied on time, Mendoza's office said. The biggest of the four who failed is the Department of Children and Family Services. A spokesman for DCFS did not respond to a question as to why.

Morning Spin
Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, January 23, 2018  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Candidates--Statewide (12)

The Democratic governor candidates will take part in the first televised debate of the campaign at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

You can watch the hourlong event live on NBC-Ch. 5 and Telemundo, which will carry Spanish subtitles. It'll stream live online too.

The debate comes as Kenilworth businessman Chris Kennedy is trying to clarify his much-criticized remark from Friday that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner should be “applauded” for speaking truth to power. On Monday, Kennedy said the governor deserves credit for taking on Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and rival J.B. Pritzker. But Kennedy also said he has been an “absolute critic” of the GOP governor he wants to succeed and called Rauner “reprehensible” and “inhuman” in his treatment of state social programs.

Pritzker and Evanston state Sen. Daniel Biss have hit Kennedy over the remark. It was Pritzker who was at the center of an attack-filled forum Friday as Democratic governor rivals accused him of being an insider who benefited from property tax breaks and questioned his relationship with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

A live TV debate gives the candidates another opportunity to go after each other and a chance to get broadcast face time that they don't have to pay for. The platform also can amplify mistakes.

All six Democratic candidates are scheduled to appear, according to organizers. The station describes the event as having a "roundtable-conversation format" that will include audience questions. It will be moderated by NBC-Ch. 5 political editor Carol Marin.

Ahead of the televised forum, Pritzker will announce endorsements by four Democratic African-American elected officials: retiring state Sen. Donne Trotter of Chicago, and state Reps. Elgie Sims of Chicago and Al Riley of Olympia Fields, along with Chicago Ald. Howard Brookins.


What's on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will help open a company headquarters at noon, then later receive an award from Mobilitie.

*Gov. Rauner has no public events.


From the notebook

*CTU backs Raoul: State Sen. Kwame Raoul got the backing of the Chicago Teachers Union on Monday, prompting a bit of a scuffle between the Chicago Democrat and one of his rivals.

In backing Raoul, the CTU spurned former interim Chicago Public Schools CEO Jesse Ruiz, a lawyer who's also part of the crowded field vying to replace Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Raoul highlighted his support for one of the union’s cherished policy demands: replacing Emanuel’s appointed school board with an elected one.

“We need to come to consensus in both the House and Senate and get this elected school board bill on the governor’s desk,” Raoul said during an appearance at CTU headquarters. "Democracy should not be denied to the citizens of the city of Chicago."

Ruiz, who was the Chicago Board of Education vice president, fired back by repeating his own support for an elected board. He also accused Raoul of bragging "to me and to others that he was actually working to delay a pending bill" during a closed-door meeting in March.

“I am sorry that the Chicago Teachers Union has been deceived by Kwame Raoul’s empty rhetoric. Illinois voters don’t need a duplicitous, ethically challenged attorney general,” Ruiz said in a statement.

A Raoul campaign spokesman said in an email Monday that “Sen. Raoul denies that this action took place.”

For the CTU, the attorney general race showcases its interest in wielding influence over who is the state’s top legal officer.

Last year's school funding debate featured a CPS-led (and failed) lawsuit that challenged Madigan and state government over how money is distributed to public schools. Legal battles, labor disputes and civil rights concerns are a regular feature of how the city’s education policies play out.

“The attorney general actually has become an important office for us,” CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey told reporters while standing with Raoul at union headquarters. (Juan Perez Jr.)

*Nothing to see here?: The Rauner administration and Illinois Secretary of State's office put out an email late Monday saying that the Capitol complex water system tested positive for legionella bacteria. Testing was done out of an abundance of caution after a pipe burst. Unlike the Quincy Veterans Home, there aren't a bunch of showers at the Capitol (Legionnaire's disease can be contracted after inhaling the bacteria in water during a shower). Our Springfield reporter Monique Garcia tweeted about the situation.

*Endorsements: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle endorsed Ram Villivalam for Illinois Senate. He's running for the seat held by state Sen. Ira Silverstein. ... Citizens Action announced a slate of endorsements, including Pritzker for governor, Preckwinkle for board president and asset manager Fritz Kaegi for assessor. ... Biss announced endorsements from National Nurses United and Reclaim Chicago. ... And the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Service Employees International Union Illinois State Council are backing Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in the primary race to replace U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez in Congress.

*Quick spins: Democratic attorney general candidate Aaron Goldstein announced a first TV ad themed "Standing Next to You." ... Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, who is running for re-election, announced that her office no longer will charge a $1 fee to pay property taxes online. The first installment is due March 1. ... The Illinois Department of Revenue announced state income tax return filers can start doing so on Jan. 29. Here is way more detail than you need: Given the tax hike halfway through the year, the agency announced most filers "will use a blended rate of 4.3549 percent."


What we're writing

*Kennedy: Rauner social service cuts "inhuman," but praises his anti-Madigan stand.

*Federal workers in Chicago go home for the day, even as officials move to end the shutdown.

*Rauner takes new jab at Madigan on property tax appeals, but impact likely limited.

*Fumes and floods disrupt surgeries, emergency services at Jesse Brown VA.


What we're reading

*Campus pastor at North Park University suspended indefinitely for officiating gay wedding.

*John Coleman, former Chicago meteorologist and Weather Channel co-founder, dies at 83.

*Canada Goose sues alleged Chinese web counterfeiters, warns knockoff coats might not keep you warm.


Follow the money

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.


Beyond Chicago

*Shutdown ends as Trump signs stopgap measure into law. Why Democrats lost their nerve in the shutdown battle.

*How everyone voted on ending the shutdown.

*Liberals angry that an immigration plan wasn't part of the deal.

*Pence: U.S. Embassy will move to Jerusalem next year.

Ives vows cost-cutting—but says income tax hike to stay for now
Crain's Chicago Business
Tuesday, January 23, 2018  |   Column  |   Greg Hinz
Candidates--Statewide (12)

Even if she wins in November, the conservative lawmaker running against incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the March Republican primary says the income tax hike that was enacted on his watch will have to remain in place for at least two more years. And Chicago and Cook County taxpayers should be prepared to dig deeper if her state budget plans pan out.

That was the word from Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, in an appearance before Crain's Editorial Board yesterday, in which she vigorously made her case for dumping Rauner—effectively, he's lost the support of the GOP base, she said—while laying out an agenda that likely will thrill libertarians and some conservatives, but provoke the other end of the political spectrum.

Ives underlined that most of her career has been focused on budget and economic issues. Her core argument is that most of Illinois outside of Chicago has too much red tape and too high costs to compete with nearby states. The remedy from the West Point graduate and former Wheaton City Council member: Cut costs, adopt a business-friendly attitude and divert back to the state what she views as excess payments that Chicago Public Schools and Cook County's health system get from the state treasury.

Ives said she'd start by working to repeal the income tax hike that was approved over Rauner's veto. But "I wouldn't do that immediately," she said. "I suspect that, within two years, we could set that out as a goal."

Some of the reason for the delay is that the money is needed pay off short-term state IOUs, which ballooned to more than $12 billion while the budget stalemate raged, she said. Another reason: Realistically, it will take that long to get something through a General Assembly that, unless something changes in November, will be dominated by Democrats, she said.

But a state that "is not competitive" needs to do something, she said. That means reducing regulations that force up costs, she continued. And it means trimming the state budget so more money can go to local school districts, reducing reliance on local property taxes.

On her list for axing are hundreds of millions of dollars of year in new state funding that CPS got under terms of the fiscal 2018 state budget. Chicago, for purposes of the new aid formula, is considered a poor, Tier IV district, even though in reality the city economy is doing so well that Chicago actually is Tier 1, she said.

"You can't have it both ways, Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel," she said, noting the mayor's frequent bragging about a huge number of corporate relocations to the city and the record number of construction cranes operating around town. "Are you doing great? Or do you need state support?"

Ives would save another big chunk in the budget by eliminating the Obamacare expansion and making other cuts in Medicaid, even though the former has shifted hundreds of millions of dollars a year from Cook County taxpayers to the state and federal governments. "Chicago's got a lot more state support than they should," she said. And if that means local taxpayers will pay more to give relief to taxpayers outside of the city, "I don't have to win (Chicago and Cook County) to be elected, she said. "This is a 50-percent-plus-one race."

Cook County is home to about 5.2 million of the state's 12.8 million residents.

A third financial target of hers is government worker pensions.

New workers need to be shifted from a defined-benefit pension to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution model, perhaps with a "generous" inducement, she said. Old pension debt, roughly $120 billion just in the state retirement system, can be "renegotiated" with employee unions that have rejected such actions so far, but may come to the table as they realize some of the pension funds are "one (economic) downturn away from failing."

Ives said she's keeping on the table the $2.2 billion the state and city have offered in incentives to get Amazon to bring its second headquarters and promised 50,000 jobs here, but said she'd be reluctant to go so big in the future. "I'd love to have Amazon. But I'd love to have 500 companies with 100 workers each."

Though the discussion centered on economic issues, Ives made it clear that hot-button social issues are the fire in her uphill race.

By signing legislation to allow Medicaid funding of abortions here despite promising not to, and by approving of so-called "sanctuary cities" legislation, Rauner offended Republicans statewide, Ives said. "Rauner can plead he'll be elected in November. But he can't be. He'll be Mark Kirked out of office. . . .The base is not with him."

Ives' reference was to former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who lost his seat to Democrat Tammy Duckworth in 2016.

Her bottom line, aimed as much at some of the Democratic candidates as Rauner: "We've tried the millionaire/billionaire who's never been in office method, and it failed."