You beat the ‘fair tax,’ big business. Now what’s your politically doable alternative? – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times
"Illinois business and civic groups led the fight to kill a proposal for a graduated income tax. How now would they avert a state budget crisis? Let’s have no more ducking."
Illinois No. 1.
Comment: This is frightening in light of Durbin's complete indifference to censorship by big tech, which this committee is charged with overseeing. See our new article on that here.
Illinois Republicans, it’s time to show bold leadership for working families – Opinion – Chicago Sun-Times
State Rep. Blaine Wilhour: "Let’s be perfectly clear: The defeat of the progressive income tax is a repudiation of the entire political class. Voters in Illinois are tired of paying the price for the reckless spending of career politicians of both political parties.... We need a specific agenda for anti-corruption reform, pension reform, spending reform and tax reform. We need policies that are geared towards revitalizing both the inner city and rural areas that too often are neglected and left behind."
Rise in COVID-19 statewide leading to alarming surge in nursing home cases and deaths, health officials say – Chicago Tribune
The devastating wave of deaths at nursing homes in the spring was blamed in part on a lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as masks, gloves and gowns, along with a shortage of workers and a lack of COVID tests. Since then, health officials and facility administrators say they have worked to ensure a better supply of equipment and tests. Unfortunately, research by University of Chicago professor Tamara Konetzka found that the changes don’t appear to have stopped recent increases in COVID among the general population from spreading to nursing homes again.
Nearly one-third of the cell phone bills in Illinois are taxes.
Ezike used the sudden change in available hospital beds earlier in the news conference to exhibit how quickly COVID-19 resource scarcity could hit the medical industry.
The state’s highest court has struck down a southern Illinois city’s policy that partly evaluates police officers on the number of citations officers issue, finding it violates an Illinois law prohibiting ticket quotas.
Mark Konkol: "To define Hooker by his connection to the ComEd scheme alone would sell short the clouted journey of a West Side nobody who became a trusted friend of the Chicago Democrat Machine's corrupt status quo."
Illinois Sees New Spike In Unemployment Fraud Cases, With Benefit To Scammers Unclear As Victims Are Receiving Debit Cards – CBS2 (Chicago)
“This is a very leaky ship and nobody has figured out how to plug all the holes in it yet,” one victim said.
"We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state," said IHSA Executive director Craig Anderson.
"Prosecutors may not get higher on the food chain as they investigate corruption in the ComEd case and others. As Lausch said during his news conference last year, corruption is a 'stubborn problem.' But the pressure from the public to hold them accountable, and to understand how favors and influence help those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom, also is part of this unfolding scandal."
Pritzker didn’t say if he’d call a special session but unprompted said Thursday the pay-to-play conduct outlined in the indictments is “unspeakably wrong” and Madigan must answer questions.
"At no time has the CDC suggested school should be closed... All school should remain open. It is the safest place for children to be..... It is counterproductive to close schools."
Column: Ousting Madigan not child’s play, but this ComEd bombshell could jolt Democrats to start acting like adults – Chicago Sun-Times*
"But now federal prosecutors have raised the stakes by charging individuals, an act that threatens not just their reputations but their freedom. And in doing so, they have taken a major step toward securing something that charging the corporation could not give them: potential witnesses who might be able to help them lock in a case against Madigan himself."
State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said from his count, there are fifteen House Democrats that now publicly committed not to vote for Madigan. “That only leaves 58 Democrats,” Guzzardi said on Twitter. “It’s time to start talking about who can get to 60.”
"If there was credible evidence that I had engaged in criminal misconduct, which I most certainly did not, I would be charged with a crime. But I have not, and with good reason because there is nothing wrong or illegal about making job recommendations, regardless of what people inside ComEd may have hoped to achieve from hiring some of the people who were recommended."
Mike Madigan confidant and ex-ComEd CEO charged with bribery in lobbying scheme; speaker denies wrongdoing – ABC7 (Chicago)
Madigan has not been charged with any crimes. He said in a statement Thursday, "The indictment returned Wednesday does not allege any criminal misconduct on my part. I have not been accused of or charged with any wrongdoing."
"If Illinois is going to make a clean break from the speaker’s decades of corruption, it needs to break the institutional structures that have propped him up for so long."
Madigan opposition hits critical mass as his confidant, 3 others charged in ComEd bribery scandal – Illinois Policy
The indictments are the closest yet to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s inner circle. Now enough Democrats are pledging they won’t support him to cost him the speaker’s gavel.
Over 46,000 Unemployment Claims Filed In Illinois For Week Of Nov. 9, Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS2 (Chicago)
There were 67,158 new unemployment claims filed across the state last week, the week of Nov. 1, and 53,138 new unemployment claims filed during the week of Oct. 19 in Illinois.
The fifty-page indictment spans nine years of alleged wrongdoing by ComEd’s four representatives, shedding new light on actions first alleged in a deferred prosecution agreement against ComEd itself filed in July.
What’s publicly known about federal efforts related to speaker’s political operation stretches back to at least May 2019. Subpoenas or raids have touched lobbyists, legislators, private companies and members of Madigan’s political operation.
John Kass: Lockdown pols making ‘rules for thee but not for me’ should look to a mayor who didn’t ‘act big’ – Chicago Tribune*
"We’re all struggling with the pandemic about what to do and how to be safe, how to keep others safe. But the arrogance of the political class that flouts lockdown rules is galling. It encourages the rest of us to flout them too. And it causes me to think of a very different kind of politician."
Local lawmakers say the fact that the agency that handles employment and job placement cannot find employees is not only ironic, but absurd. "IDES knows where to find people that are unemployed,” State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said. “The fact that they can't fill these positions when there has got to be thousands of people that want to take these jobs is ridiculous."
Proposed Illinois teacher standards: ’embrace and encourage progressive viewpoints’ – The College Fix
The Illinois Pro-Family Alliance and Thomas More Society contend the “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards for all Illinois Educators” are “unconstitutionally vague” and “amount to a form of ‘compelled speech.’”
Jim Dey: "That’s been the pattern across the state, where trial judges have responded to lawsuits challenging Pritzker’s unpopular restrictions with favorable decisions don’t last long on appeal."
The Supreme Court’s order brings a total of 19 cases involving legal challenges to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 related restrictions, all brought by restaurants with indoor dining service, that are now consolidated in Sangamon County Court before Judge Raylene Grischow. All of the cases raise the same question about the governor’s authority to issue multiple, successive disaster proclamations under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act.
Mark Konkol: "What the governor described was truly awful, but it had nothing to do with his bumbling public refusal to rule out joining them in Florida for Thanksgiving. His scripted plea for privacy might have made more sense if the governor had expressed it when the fake news broke — a week ago."
COVID-19 Causes Hospital Bed Shortage, But Temporary Care Facilities Have Been Dismantled – CBS2 (Chicago)
Four sites were set up and ready to be used in April at an estimated cost of at least $15 million each. Illinois’ public health director said only one, Metro South, might be used. “We want to hold off on our alternate care facilities until we are at that dire point,” Ezike said.
State Rep. Blaine Wilhour: "Let’s be perfectly clear: The defeat of the progressive income tax is a repudiation of the entire political class. Voters in Illinois are tired of paying the price for the reckless spending of career politicians of both parties. The people of Illinois want fiscal sanity, real solutions to the state’s economic issues and a vision for the future that gives hope to all 'classes' of people."
“As we’ve done follow ups, we’ve received a lot of voluntary compliance so we haven’t had to issue any violations on a grand scale,” Executive Director Chima Enyia said.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch released details of criminal charges Wednesday against four former ComEd employees, including John McClain, a former state lawmaker-turned lobbyist. In the indictment, McClain consistently refers to Madigan as “our Friend” in communications with others in ComEd. The charges also note the group would hide payments from the utility by falsifying records.
A junior Cabinet position for Emanuel would invert a power dynamic that has long complicated the relationship between the hard-charging Emanuel and President-elect Joe Biden.
Another Illinois Democratic state lawmaker urging more oversight of Pritzker’s COVID-19 response – Center Square
State Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, said the governor has the authority to act as an executive short term, “but long term policies should be set out by the General Assembly, that’s our role. So, yeah, we absolutely should be having hearings and discussions and we should be playing a role in this process.”
Illinois retailers brace for COVID-19 capacity restrictions in time for Black Friday shopping – Center Square
“It has justified what we have contended even back in March,” said Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association Executive Director Rob Karr, “that you don’t need to drive distinctions between essential and nonessential retail, there’s no reason that a bookstore, or an apparel store or a craft store can’t be open under the same operating conditions as a grocery store.”
Illinois COVID-19 orders: A legal look at Gov. Pritzker’s 10th disaster declaration – ABC7 (Chicago)
Some states require the legislature to authorize disaster proclamations, others allow the legislature to end them. In Illinois, there are no such strings attached.
Jim Dey: "'Like all government budgets, these new projections are only about cash going in and out. They ignore growing debt, including growing unfunded pension liabilities, which are Illinois’ biggest problem. Illinois may fill its budget deficit as it usually does, but its true books haven’t been balanced since 2001,' warns Wirepoints financial analyst Mark Glennon."
The IHSA's stance toward these mitigations is a pivot from the late-October announcement that the IHSA board was defying Pritzker's desire for basketball to be played in the spring, instead allowing individual school districts and leadership groups to choose whether or not their teams would compete.
"These are all impossible decisions. We stepped back from a full stay-at-home order," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "I hope everybody sees how much we're trying to give some people something while trying to make sure that we protect the health and safety of the people of Illinois."
"That’s another solid reason for the Legislature to approve remote voting and get back to work, as we urged last week. A safe reopening of our public schools — once the pandemic is under control — must be among our state’s top priorities."
IHSA puts winter sports on pause, signals basketball won’t start before January – Chicago Sun-Times*
Bowling, cheer, dance and boy’s swimming and diving are suspended until further notice. The statement also referenced “creating participation opportunities in the new year for student athletes,” so it appears the IHSA will not push to start basketball before January.
Pritzker says school shutdown is ‘not something we are doing’ right now as 63 percent are already remote – Center Square
Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools Executive Director Mark Klaisner said school officials know more than they did in the spring. “We do know that schools are not the Petri dishes that people were afraid of. The schools are not the places the kids are getting sick. That’s true, factual, scientific. However, whatever is happening out in the community then comes into school and some students that back home to communities.”
The back-bench revolt against longtime Speaker Mike Madigan is nearing critical mass, with four more members of the embattled Democrat's caucus today calling for him to give up his job running the Illinois House.The four—Reps. Deb Conroy of Villa Park, Robyn Gabel of Evanston, Anna Moeller of Elgin and Ann Williams of Chicago—are confirming they sent Madigan a letter saying they'd like to see someone else assume the post he’s held for all but two years since 1983.
On Tuesday, the governor said he will be in Chicago with his son for Thanksgiving;His wife and daughter are in Florida. Pritzker said they will stay in Florida after propaganda publications made false accusations about his daughter. “I’m the governor. I’m willing to make the hard decisions that sometimes bring on vitriol from political opponents, but my children shouldn't come under attack.”
Illinois Republicans call for legislature to return amid rising COVID-19 cases, new restrictions – WGNTV (Chicago)
"We need this. The public needs this and deserves this. We need hearings. We need audits. And we need formal legislative input,” said State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield).
All five governors said they plan to spend Thanksgiving at home with their own immediate families.
Four Sangamon Co. restaurants ordered closed temporarily for violating COVID-19 mitigations – Capitol News IL
After issuing the fines and citations, the Sangamon County health department suspended the restaurants’ food services licenses, but they continued to operate without licenses. Sangamon County State’s Attorney Daniel Wright asked the court to find that the restaurants violated the county code requiring food licenses, and to issue a temporary restraining order to keep them from operating.
Audit of Illinois Department of Corrections reveals misuse of overtime, employee sick leave – Center Square
The Legislative Audit Commission, reviewing data from two years ending in 2018, also found numerous instances of an employee using a full day leave the same day the employee worked overtime.
Jim Edgar shepherded the state through another budget crisis in the 1990s. But he says this one is much bigger - and will force lawmakers to choose between things like education, heathcare, and public safety. "Nobody's going to want to cut those, but if you don't cut those, you can't really begin to make up this deficit with out a tax increase - and a pretty good tax increase."
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Announces More Statewide Restrictions As COVID-19 Spreads – WBEZ (Chicago)
The plan is not expected to shut the door on in-person attendance in public and private schools, impose travel restrictions or put the brakes on elective surgeries on a statewide basis, the source said.
Sangamon county judge consolidates case challenging Pritzker’s orders with other consolidated cases – Center Square
Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grishow Monday ruled against a challenge of public health guidelines being imposed on local school districts. And Judge Gail Noll Tuesday combined the case brought by several Springfield restaurants and bars with cases where DeVore is the lead counsel.
The requirements mirror that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction moratorium requirements.
Political writer and columnist Bernard Schoenburg and statehouse reporter Doug Finke have accepted buyouts and will be departing the paper on Dec. 1.
Illinois teachers union calls on Gov. Pritzker to close school buildings again due to COVID-19 surge – Bloomington Pantagraph
Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers said, "There are plenty of superintendents and school boards that would like to call it, but they’re worried about the public’s reaction. I think the majority of people want to do what’s right, and having clear metrics can be an inducement.”
The allegations are based on the experiences of two students at the university. They point to the defacement of religious ornaments, depictions of swastikas drawn on campus property and tense interactions between Jewish students and a student group advocating for liberation and self-determination of the Palestinian people.
Mark Konkol: "Still, let's commend the governor for telling the truth: He's comfortable with his hypocrisy, even amid a global public health crisis."
Suburban Restaurants Could Be Criminally Charged For Defying Governor’s Indoor Dining Ban – CBS2 (Chicago)
“It’s impossible for us to do what we think is the best for our community and for our folks,” said Woodstock Mayor Dr. Brian Sager.
Commentary: Pritzker, Lightfoot show Illinois style of hypocrisy with COVID-19 restrictions – Chicago Tribune*
Patrick J. Hughes, Liberty Justice Center: "Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was equally joyous after the media reported Biden’s victory, working the teeming crowd of flag-waving enthusiasts. When it was a 'Reopen Illinois' rally, however, Lightfoot was tweeting a different tune...That is, no one should violate Pritzker’s orders unless Lightfoot supports their cause. If you are gathering to protest racial injustice or celebrate the election results, party on."
"We’ve all been pretty clear about where we are with regard to winter sports. ... We relied upon the best experts we could to come up with a plan for the winter. And, by the way, since then COVID’s gotten a lot worse," Pritzker said.
“Sizeable deficits in the general funds budget are projected for fiscal years 2022 through 2026, ranging from $4.8 billion in fiscal year 2022 and falling to $4.2 billion by fiscal year 2026,” the report stated. The report does not actually predict that those deficits will occur. Instead, it is intended to show what would happen under the state’s current revenue structure and spending obligations.
“This court’s opinion that was issued on August 18 has not changed,” Judge Raylene Grischow said in court Monday. “The court is still of the opinion that the governor has the authority to issue executive orders, successive executive orders, along with guidance to the agency to help promulgate those executive orders.”
Illinois officials call for ‘virtual’ Thanksgiving gatherings as COVID-19 spread increases – Center Square
When asked if he would abide by Chicago's travel rules, the governor said he wasn't sure about the policies. "I don't know what that says exactly and I don't know exactly what my plans will be." He was also vague about if planned to stay in Illinois for Thanksgiving. "That is my hope, but I will let you know."
Pritzker says budget cuts come first without across-the-board agreement on tax increases – Center Square
The governor said there’s no agreement across the board for other solutions, but he continues to work with statehouse leaders on options. He said he’s also in communication with leaders in the U.S. Congress. “Not just in Illinois, but the speaker of the House and the Senate minority leader as well as a few others to encourage, you know, moving forward as quickly as possible with a stimulus plan that would include local and state governments."
The Sun-Times first identified See Wong as an informant in January 2019. They learned he had secretly record Solis and Madigan in 2014; A federal affidavit alleges Solis had agreed to take action in his position as alderman to privately benefit Madigan.
Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole said it’s time for the legislature to engage instead of settling with top-down direction. “I’ve heard from communities from Metropolis to Bloomington and north that they really don’t have the support by either the county or the state to do the enforcement."
"In Lake County, yet another business announced this month it is leaving its longtime location and heading north to Kenosha County. (RealChem Mfg.) officials surely aren’t leaving because of the rising COVID-19 cases because Wisconsin is in similar straits as Illinois... I used to keep a log of the companies that have left the county for Wisconsin, but it’s hard to keep track when a trickle becomes a tidal wave."
Here’s What Gov. Pritzker Has Said About Another Stay-at-Home Order for Illinois as Coronavirus Metrics Rise – NBC5 (Chicago)
Speaking one day after the Illinois Department of Public Health issued new guidance urging residents to stay home and leave only for essential activities, Pritzker said "we are running out of time, and we are running out of options."
The requirement to again allow large events like concerts, conventions and widely-attended sporting events is “a vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available” but one expert says the effect of treatment could be muted by widespread refusal to take the vaccine.
Column: Life after an iron-grip House speaker? New York found a way; Illinois can too. – Chicago Tribune*
David Greising, of the Better Government Association: "Madigan has held his job longer than any state speaker in U.S. history, so it must be hard for House members to imagine Springfield without him. Perhaps the lawmakers in Albany felt that way, also, but they met and acted."
Sports betting has generated about $3 million in tax revenue for Illinois in its first three full months. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office has suggested it could eventually generate more than $100 million in revenues.
Five members of the committee — including a congresswoman and a newly elected countywide official — are openly calling for Madigan to step down. Four others — including the Cook County clerk — see no need for new leadership. What the other 27 are thinking is a mystery, since they didn’t respond to the Sun-Times’ requests for comment.
Jim Dey: "As a general rule, the turnover won’t make a lot of difference in terms of the court’s work. It rules on cases and controversies, most of which are very important to the litigants but of little interest to the public. Where the high court will make news over the next two years is in redistricting, not legislative redistricting but redistricting of judicial districts by highly partisan Democratic legislators."
The new data sheds more light on the debate over closing indoor service at bars and restaurants, but also comes with limitations.
Pritzker downplays special session powers while COVID-19 orders continue, dismisses calls for public oversight hearings – Center Square
“I just want to point out that just because you call a special session, in an environment like this where COVID is rampant, does not mean that members will actually show up and especially because the members have apparently chosen not to,” Pritzker said.
There's trouble when the attitude evolves from authoritative to authoritarian. Pritzker led wisely at the first strike of COVID-19. But much has been learned in the eight months since. The key balance that needs to be struck is one between the economy and public health. If we're going to side with the governor, he needs to pull back the curtain on his decision making. When cities acknowledge they don't have the personnel or the inclination to follow the governor's orders, all government bodies are left open to doubt. Pritzker needs to re-think his strategies.
“Millions of dollars funneled into CUB from ComEd have neutered CUB, turning it from a statutorily mandated utility watchdog into ComEd’s lapdog, failing to so much as growl in response to defendants’ rampant bribery scheme and the corrupt regulations and exploitation of Illinois citizens arising therefrom,” according to a brief filed today in Cook County Circuit Court by attorneys handling the litigation in state court. “The public’s trust in this state’s utility operations has been rightfully shaken and CUB’s intentions must be evaluated with scrutiny.”
Eight months into an unprecedented public health crisis and accompanying economic downturn, much of the nation has slowly but surely been adding jobs and lowering unemployment. Yet Illinois just last week saw the largest increase in the number of unemployment claims of any state in the nation. Illinois' employment picture deteriorated as other states saw their labor markets improve.
"Many of the state’s most vital programs already have been cut close to the bone because of the pension crisis. Inflation-adjusted spending on the state’s pension systems grew 501 percent from fiscal year 2000 to 2020...Higher taxes were accompanied by disinvestment in public safety, public-health programs, higher-education spending, and services for the poor and disadvantaged."
There was a lot of frustration on display there and he didn’t ease up when he concluded with the idea that hospitals will get filled up and the sick and dying will have nowhere to go. “I promise you, while you’ve failed to take responsibility for your city and your county, that day is coming closer and it will be on you,” he said.
Rising COVID-19 rates statewide prompt reopening delays, setbacks among Illinois’ largest school districts – Chalkbeat Chicago
Among Illinois’ 10 largest school districts, eight have paused plans to reopen school buildings or reverted to virtual learning amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Commentary: Gov. Pritzker, let the legislature work with you on COVID-19 surge, tanking economy – Chicago Tribune*
State Sen. Don DeWitte and State Rep. Dan Ugaste: "Illinois can be a leader in its response to the pandemic, but only if Gov. Pritzker embraces a decision-making process that brings together diverse ideas and disparate viewpoints. Instead, his continued refusal to allow legislators in the process has proved to have catastrophic impacts."
In the court’s 17-page opinion, Judge Adam Giganti wrote the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate how Pritzker’s administration giving losing firms a second chance would cause irreparable harm, and that “the public interest favors allowing (IDFPR’s) administrative process, including its announced supplemental process, to proceed.”
‘Pessimistic’ budget projections has Pritzker looking for business ‘tax adjustments’ – Center Square
“The Governor will work with the legislature to identify corporate and business tax loopholes that can be closed and tax adjustments that can be made that will minimize the impact to lower- and middle-class families while ensuring that Illinois can meet its financial responsibilities,” the report said.
Secretary of State shutting down in-person services at Illinois’ driver facilities again – Center Square
Commercial Driver License facilities will remain open for written and road exams. “Commercial truck drivers provide essential services by ensuring goods can be transported safely and efficiently throughout the state and country during this pandemic,” Jesse White said.
Frustrated restaurant owners say Illinois health officials can’t prove they’re the problem while losses continue amid COVID-19 restrictions – Center Square
“For border counties, I would think that the economic effects would be even stronger,” University of Illinois Springfield Professor Kenneth Kriz said. “People have alternatives. They can go across state boundaries and participate in activities they couldn't otherwise here.”
By law the process should take 30 days. But ISP said the average wait time has ballooned to 122. “No one would wait 160 days for the Comcast guy to come to your house,” one applicant said.
At his daily coronavirus news briefing, the governor explained the extension will only cover renters who have earned no more than $90,000 in annual income - or $198,000 for joint filers - during the calendar year.
Identity theft crimes surge in Illinois and across nation, along with persistent unemployment benefits fraud complaints – ABC7 (Chicago)
"We know from the data that Illinois is being targeted especially Chicago, Illinois ranks 13th in the nation as states, as far as identity theft," said Bryan Lewis, CEO of Intellicheck.
Restaurants make up 10-15% of Springfield’s sales tax revenue, so this closure could end up hurting the city budget, but City Budget Director Bill McCarty said he’s also worried it will hurt the city’s character. “Our local businesses, that’s the heart and soul of our community. That’s what makes us unique, so it’s heartbreaking any time we see one of those depart."
"Although the reasons for counties reaching a warning level varies, some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with university and college parties as well as college sports teams, large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, family gatherings, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools, and cases among the community at large, especially people in their 20s," the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement.
“As a public, we’re running scared because all we hear is this massive increase of cases,” Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said. “You’ll never hear the governor talk about how the fatality rate has collapsed, and that’s an important thing for people to know.”
"We get a lot of phone calls from people in Illinois asking if our dining room is open,” said restaurant owner Sam Yfantis said. “We probably get more than a dozen phone calls a day...We want them to come in and enjoy their meal. We’re taking as many precautions as we can."
Jim Dey: "Madigan rules through the use of a carrot and stick. Cooperate with him, and he’ll take care of you. Don’t cooperate with him and — well, he’ll take care of you. He needs 60 votes to be re-elected speaker in January, and has 72 House Democrats."
Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said the math is getting closer to where it would make sense to address one of the state’s largest costs, but the relationship between Illinois’ political class and public-sector unions largely precludes the possibility.
Bipartisan demand for leaders to call hearings over Pritzker’s handling of pandemic response – Center Square
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said eight months into the pandemic, it’s beyond time to hold hearings. “To us, it is long past time that legislators, as well as the millions of Illinois residents, get the answers we deserve,” the co-signed letter said.
COVID-19 to cost University of Illinois campuses $270M this year, budget projects – Chicago Sun-Times*
The university system plans to use $121.3 million in reserve funds to address some of the COVID-19 costs.
More than 150 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, including 82 residents as of Thursday. The LaSalle facility currently has 121 residents and 230 active employees.
Pritzker, who has once again placed restrictions on bars and restaurants, blamed Illinois’ neighbors for the spike in coronavirus cases and the closure of businesses. “The massive surge of cases in our neighboring states will continue to have a spillover effect. There is no easy fix for the effects of this virus on our economy and on our public health.”
“Those who have flat out told the businesses in their communities to ignore what their local and state public health departments are telling them, what is it going to take to get you to be part of the solution?” Pritzker asked.
The state can better align its tax structure with its current priorities by revising three crucial tax policy parameters: the flat tax rate, individual exemption values and the income tax base. Broadening the tax base will keep rates lower than they otherwise would be, limiting efficiency distortions but raising needed revenues, while increasing exemptions will improve system fairness.
Wisconsin hurtling toward ‘tipping point’ when hospitals won’t be able to save everyone who is sick, health officials warn – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A lot of people in the population don't perceive themselves to be at high risk of severe COVID-19, but we are truly all at risk if we have hospitals and health systems that aren't able to be there for us when we need them," said Ryan Westergaard, state Department of Health Services chief medical officer.
Over 67,000 Unemployment Claims Filed In Illinois For Week Of Nov. 2, Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS2 (Chicago)
The most recent claims represent a nearly 9% decrease from the prior week when 73,515 unemployment claims were filed in Illinois, but a 510% increase over the 11,015 claims filed during the same week of 2019.
Illinois reports more than 12,000 new coronavirus cases, setting record for third straight day – WGNTV (Chicago)
Illinois’ current 7-day average is around 11,600 new COVID-19 cases, five times the level it was at in early October. The state’s 7-day average of deaths is now around 63 after officials reported the biggest single-day increase since late May Wednesday.
Pension reform key to protecting Illinois services, taxpayers after ‘fair tax’ rejection – Illinois Policy
Many of the programs hardest hit by pension crowd-out over the past decade overlap with areas Pritzker is now warning may be targeted for further cuts, including public safety and various family and parenting services.
The governor said he couldn’t provide an exact number of layoffs, but said it would be thousands. “Five percent is not a small number,” he said, urging Congress and President Donald Trump to take action.
Without graduated income tax, Illinois state universities brace for ‘almost inevitable’ budget cuts ‘because there’s just nothing left’ – Chicago Tribune*
Jennifer Delaney, associate professor of higher education at UIUC, paints a darker picture. Because higher education spending is the largest non-discretionary portion of Illinois' budget, it is often the most vulnerable when cuts are required, Delaney said. Her research shows that higher education funding is more volatile than other spending categories and closely tied to economic conditions; the pandemic-related recession exacerbates the situation this year.
“(W)e know a lot more about this virus than we did six months ago. Touching is not a huge aspect of it even though we encourage washing your hands and using alcohol rents, but really it’s droplet and airborne,” Dr. Vishnu Chundi, infectious disease expert and chairman Chicago Medical Society COVID-19 Taskforce, said. “The gym actually increased their air turnover in each space to 20 turnover of air in an hour. Which far exceeds your supermarket or your office."
Lake Forest billionaires Liz and Dick Uihlein have contracted the coronavirus, they told employees at their Wisconsin-based shipping and packaging company Wednesday.
Justin Penrod, commander of the Rantoul VFW post, said for some veterans, the canteen being closed means more than just losing a familiar place to have a beer. “There’s no camaraderie. A lot of the older veterans look forward to that trip (to the canteen) every day just to say hi. And that’s being taken away.”
As of the end of October, there were more than 157,000 unpaid pandemic unemployment assistance claims. Of those, over 69,000 were being held up because of identity issues.
IHSA invites Gov. Pritzker’s office, IDPH and others to meet as survey indicates few schools ready to play basketball – Chicago Tribune*
Chicago Christian boys basketball coach Kevin Pittman is skeptical about the possibility of games being played Nov. 30. “I feel like they just keep kicking the can down the road. It’s better than them coming out and saying there won’t be a season. But there’s an opportunity for us to play right now by adhering to the safety guidelines. Let us do that.”
Said Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani, chief medical officer at NorthShore University HealthSystem, “I’m very concerned. The numbers we saw in the spring, they look like a little hill compared to the mountain we’re seeing now.”
Illinois state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, has for years filed a bill to allow for proportional allocation of those votes based on the state’s 18 congressional districts. The two at large votes would be weighted to the candidate that won the state’s popular vote.
Editorial: Canceling veto session, canceling the work, canceling voters’ best interests – Chicago Tribune*
"It is one of many levers Madigan can pull, and has pulled many times, to one-up the executive branch: Cancel session days, adjourn without doing the hard work or leave it to the governor to make unpopular spending cuts to rightsize budgets."
Pritzker: Work on state budget cuts will continue despite no veto session – State Journal-Register* (Springfield)
“I’ve been assured by the leaders that we’ll get right at it as soon as we can in January,” Pritzker said.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, representing the State’s Attorneys Association, told lawmakers the fact that officers can leave a department due to misconduct and join a new one makes it difficult for prosecutors to obtain information on that officer’s history in subsequent investigations if the officer engages in further misconduct.
State Sen. Heather Steans said term limits must be included in ethics legislation. “Obviously we have a speaker here who has been the longest speaker of any state in the country in the history of the United States. It leads to a natural consolidation of power that I think is very problematic.”
“Borrowing is already included in the enacted budget, but additional debt without mitigating structural measures could compound pressures on Illinois’ IDR of ’BBB-’ with a Negative Rating Outlook,” Fitch said. “Budget cuts are likely, but the state may also raise revenues, such as choosing to increase the flat income tax rate.”
"I agree with President Harmon and Speaker Madigan that the risk is too high to convene at this time,” said Lightford, chair of the ILBC. “While we will not be able to pass legislation as soon as we hoped, the urgency to bring an end to systemic racism remains.”
How to make income taxes more fair in Illinois — even after the demise of the ‘Fair Tax’ – Chicago Sun-Times*
Samuel D. Brunson, a professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law: "While it may not seem intuitive, a flat tax combined with a flat cash grant effectively creates a progressive income tax and can be designed in a way that roughly mirrors the goals of Fair Tax proponents."
Many city officials are worried for businesses, like bars and restaurants, that are now forced to only offer take-out because of the cold weather and restrictions to indoor dining.
The poll of 1,317 members, or about 1 percent of the 135,000 educators and staff who make the IEA the state’s largest education union, found that — just when asked about the school environment this year in the pandemic — 22 percent said they are considering quitting, with 12 percent saying they don’t want to be a teacher anymore, and 10 percent saying they’re considering early retirement.
"We ask employers to make accommodation for this," IDPH said. "Our goal is to reduce transmission as we head into the holidays so businesses and schools can remain open."
State Urges All Illinoisans To Stay At Home Again As 145 More Coronavirus Deaths Reported, The Most In Months – Block Club Chicago
This outbreak could prove even worse than what was seen in the spring because the surge is happening just as winter is hitting, and there might not be enough health care workers to care for all the people who will soon become ill, officials warned Tuesday.
"As of Sept. 30, 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said 6.8% of Illinois’ adult population are veterans, (nationally it’s 6.6%). That worked out to 628,254 people...To serve that population there are four inpatient care sites housing more than 800. You might’ve heard of the Quincy home, source of a persistent Legionnaire’s disease outbreak that stained Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration, or the one in La Salle, where 62 residents (about 34%) and 69 employees had positive COVID-19 tests as of Friday. A 200-bed Chicago facility, started in 2014, is done but unopened because of staffing issues."
Workers Are ‘Dropping Like Flies’ Amid COVID-19 Outbreak At IDES North Aurora Office, Employees Say – CBS2 (Chicago)
Workers said IDES didn’t choose to close right away. “They haven’t been forthcoming with us regarding information,” the worker said. As more and more people tested positive, the worker said they were told to keep coming to the office. “They only thing we were told is: ‘You must report to work. You’re not affected,’” another worker said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said he was disappointed. “We have so much work to do in Springfield, there’s no doubt. With regard to the budget in particular, we have major efforts underway that will require the legislatures engagement.”
Legislators cancel fall session over pandemic as Pritzker calls for meeting with leaders to address $4 billion budget shortfall – Chicago Tribune*
“Passing a budget based on hypothetical revenue and false promises from a now-failed tax increase was unconstitutional and totally disingenuous to the citizens of our state who depend on government services," Rep. Jim Durkin said in a letter to Pritzker. He urged Pritzker to use his authority to make unilateral cuts to bring the budget into balance. “I suggest you begin with the 6.5% cuts your office directed agencies to identify in 2019."
A total of $0 has gone out as small business relief. Perhaps most surprising is that there is no application available to apply for the funds.
Illinois Supreme Court draws Republican criticism for picking interim replacement for Justice Kilbride, who lost bruising retention effort – Chicago Tribune*
Former 3rd District Appellate Court Justice Kent Slater, a former Republican legislator from Macomb, said Carter had been Kilbride’s choice to hold an appointed seat on the appellate for several years.
Jim Dey: "'We are going to do what it takes here to balance our budget and to begin the journey here of fixing the structural problems of the state,' Pritzker has vowed. But what does that mean? The word 'balanced budget' doesn’t mean much in Illinois."
According to WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) notices issued Oct. 31, these include more than 80 additional layoffs at companies previously hit by job cuts. Most of the cuts involve Chicago-area restaurants.
New Trier High School returns to partial in-person learning, Lincoln-Way return to remote instruction – ABC7 (Chicago)
Christophe Gsell sent his daughter to a local grade school and said so far, the school's plan to keep kids in class and safe has worked for them. "They implemented all of the procedures. We check the kids every morning before they go to school, and if they are safe to go we send them to school, and they have limited number of kids in the bus as well, so it feels safe for now."
Bar For What Conduct Warrants Decertifying Police Officers Is Too High, Says Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul – CBS2 (Chicago)
Any changes to the decertification process would require legislative action. “Not every police chief or sheriff will have the same appetite to regulate conduct becoming unbecoming of an officer, and so that’s why it’s critical to have a mechanism at the state level,” Raoul said.
The Illinois Medical Professionals Action Collaborative Team, a group of more than 30 doctors and health care workers in the state, directed Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to take "immediate action" to flatten the curve and help slow what the group said is a "dangerous trend" statewide.
Changing Course, Sangamon County To Close Indoor Service At Bars, Restaurants As COVID-19 Surges – NPR Illinois
Local officials argued the delay in implementing the full mitigations would give businesses a “lifeline”. But it drew criticism from Pritzker and others, who said it would contribute to the ongoing surge.
Specifically, they point to language in the proposed standards that call on educators to, “Embrace and encourage progressive viewpoints and perspectives that leverage asset thinking toward traditionally marginalized populations."
Pritzker has said cuts will be needed, but he has been largely silent on the possibility of pushing for tax increases. Illinois is among 11 states the group Multistate considers at “significant risk” for increased business taxes.
"But you know who else is hurting? Landlords, many of whom own only a few properties and depend on rental payments to cover their own bills. Pritzker’s orders treat them as a public resource to be tapped at will, without much regard for their own needs."
Many others in office are still against him. Said state Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, “I fail to understand how a man who has been a state rep for 50 years can be in touch with the priorities of the modern-day Democratic Party. In fact, in recent years there have been some pretty high profile examples of things that have happened in the speaker's office that suggest he’s radically out of step with the priorities of my Democratic colleagues.”
The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday it unanimously picked Justice Robert L. Carter of the 3rd District Appellate Court to join the bench next month. Kilbride did not take part in the vote.
New Illinois Department of Public Health data reveals that suburban Cook County is reaching the smallest percentage of COVID-19 cases statewide --only 9% of positive cases were interviewed by contact tracers between August 1 and October 24. Successful case contact varies widely across the Chicago area from Will County at 53%, McHenry at 67%, Lake at 74%, and Kane at 73%.
"In the not-so-distance past, it would have been unthinkable that Madigan’s power was in question. A freshman legislator made news two years ago when she voted “present” — that is, not for, but also not against — another term for Madigan as speaker."
Treasury and the IRS have previously issued guidance to block a different type of state workaround to the SALT deduction cap that was aimed at converting state and local taxes to charitable contributions.
Some Parents In Barrington Parents Say E-Learning Is Not Working And They Want Kids Back In School, And Court May Be Next Step – CBS2 (Chicago)
The district had started hybrid learning in October. But three days after the return to the classroom, it halted hybrid learning due to cases in the county.
‘Mitigations Are Only Effective If They Are Followed,’ Pritzker Says as 3 Regions Enter Tier 2 – NBC5 (Chicago)
"Pritzker said. 'Some elected leaders are allowing this continued rise in positivity to balloon out of control while taking no action. These mayors and city councils and county boards need to take some responsibility for keeping their constituents safe. I promise them: that responsibility pales in comparison to what could come when the hospitals in your area are filling up and there aren’t enough nurses or doctors to save their constituents’ lives.'"
FoxFire restaurant in Geneva will take its fight against indoor dining ban to Illinois Supreme Court – Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake)
Friday, Illinois' 2nd District Appellate Court ordered a reversal of Kane County Judge Kevin Busch's decision to grant a temporary restraining order to prevent the enforcement of a state-ordered indoor dining ban at restaurants in Kane and DuPage counties.
It remains unclear when exactly the governor might make such a decision on another stay-at-home order, but he did note which metrics he's watching. "I guess I one thing I look at every day is are we are we bending the curve as we, back in the spring, we were doing - are we bending the curve?"
Commentary: Fixing Illinois’ fiscal mess is possible, but we might need Michael Madigan to do it – Chicago Tribune*
Jim Nowlan, a former president of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois: "Think of the revenue side of state and local finance as a four-legged stool. The legs are the income, sales and local property taxes plus fees, hundreds of them. In Illinois, the property tax leg is way too long; the sales tax peg is skinny and short; our present income tax leg is, we contend, about the right length and, last time we looked, Illinois license and fee revenue was less than in most states."
Cannabis industry analyst Andy Seeger says October’s sale figures do not rise to the market’s potential. He says Illinois should be on pace to sell around $1.2 billion in weed this year.
Election failures could push Michael Madigan closer to an exit. Here’s why. – Journal Gazette Times Courier (Mattoon)
Kent Redfield, retired political scientist at the University of Illinois Springfield, said his sense is that voter dislike of Madigan was a "huge factor" in Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride failing in his retention bid, had an indirect influence on the tax amendment's failure and was "some blame" in suburban legislative races. But he said the key is to follow the money.
“We’ve done everything that the Republicans have asked us to do since Day 1, just not as fast as they would like,” Committee Chair Chris Welch said. “Because they would like to play politics with it.” It’s unclear when the committee will next meet.
“While we recognize this virus that’s out there, we also recognize that there is a flip side to it and that is that these businesses need to survive and they need to strive and so does this town,” Sherman Mayor Trevor Clatfelter.
Group raises questions over proposed rule to require teachers in Illinois to promote progressive views – Center Square
The rule from the Illinois State Board of Education published in the Illinois Register on Sept. 11 lays out “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards for all Illinois Educators” on page 176. “The culturally responsive teacher and leader will,” among other things, “Assess how their biases and perceptions affect their teaching practice and how they access tools to mitigate their own behavior (racism, sexism, homophobia, unearned privilege, Eurocentrism, etc.).”
The goal of the RFP is to award a contract Nov. 30. As to the cost, the request calls for a “fair price.”
Ballot measures fail in Alaska, California, and Illinois. Colorado even passed a tax reduction. In fiscally strapped Illinois, one of nine states with a flat income tax, Gov. J.B. Pritzker led a campaign for a constitutional amendment to allow a graduated or progressive tax. Mr. Pritzker promised it would hit only the rich and threatened voters with budget cuts and other broad-based tax increases. Illinoisans called his bluff, voting 55% to 45% against the tax hike.
Mark Konkol: "His Saturday sidewalk parade has only further eroded the credibility of his pandemic leadership, and those 'not scientifically founded' metrics guiding his coronavirus response and his political future. It's just the latest example that our governor lacks the self-awareness and commonsense to see how dangerous it is to tell the people he serves to do as he says, regardless of his own actions."
While the national labor market has been steadily recovering since April, adding jobs and dropping the unemployment rate since then, Illinois’ recovery has begun to falter in recent months.
In Chicago, most voters were supportive of the measure with more than 71% voting “yes.” The greatest support came from the city’s majority-Black wards, where more than 82% voted for the graduated income tax, according to an analysis of tallies as of Thursday.
"The best way out of the state’s corner is to pass real pension reform and a program for economic growth to make the measures less biting. If a constitutional amendment is necessary to get around existing provisions in the state constitution, so be it. "
"Could Illinois residents finally be saying enough is enough? Could powerful politicians finally get the idea we don’t trust them any further than we can throw them? Could Republicans in Springfield, all but confined to cold storage the last couple of years, actually begin to exert some legislative muscle?"
It’s not just a handful of lower-ranking or freshman members of the House who are planning to not support the speaker for another term.
Rich Miller: "A narrow loss would’ve been one thing. But after voters overwhelmingly rejected taxing a relatively few upper-income people, it’s going to be hugely difficult to convince Democratic state legislators to make up for those billions in lost revenues by increasing the state’s flat tax on everyone."
Moline offers $5,000 to bars and restaurants that comply with new mitigation efforts – WQAD (Moline)
Mayor Stephanie Acri told News 8 that this grant budget came from leftover funding allocated for businesses affected by I-74 bridge construction and traffic, as well as from money procured from the CARES Act. "I found small businesses to be pretty tenacious. If there's a way, they're gonna figure it out. But we need to be there with them on the journey of trying to figure it out."
Editorial: Pritzker has budget options that don’t include draconian tax hikes or a machete – Chicago Tribune*
"Pritzker is frustrated because hiking taxes through graduated rates would have been easier than the budget reforms he now must confront. And the 2.8 million voters who rejected the amendment need to stay the course and keep pushing for discipline."
Pandemic, lack of trust in government and Madigan effect help send graduated tax amendment to defeat – Chicago Tribune*
Both sides agreed that the anti-amendment side did a better job of putting real “faces” behind their cause, including a man standing outside his home doorway and declaring, “That’s crap.”
But counting will continue in Lake County and elsewhere, and more updates are expected over the next nine to 10 days.
Voters approved the creation of a new town in southwestern Illinois. Now what happens? – Belleville News-Democrat
A consultant did tell voters before the election that residents would save about $430 in their annual property taxes each year when Centreville Township is eliminated as part of the longer term plan. However, that was the only financial detail residents received about how the merger would affect them.
Jim Dey: "Democrats don’t really care about Madigan’s ethically marginal approach to government and politics. They do care when Democrats start losing elections, results for which Madigan’s shady reputation is largely responsible. That they cannot forgive."
It’s not just businesses that could be on the hook for grant dollars. In Springfield, Alderman Andrew Proctor worried about what would happen if the city codified restrictions that differed from the governor’s.
"The challenge of designing a plan now, of course, is that there's so much about the vaccines that we don't know," Pritzker said during a news conference. "The most defining characteristic of this plan is that it's adjustable as we go forward and learn more."
Small Business Says State Of Illinois Did Nothing To Stop Fraudsters From Taking $37,000 In Unemployment In Its Staffers’ Names – CBS2 (Chicago)
“They’re not even remotely doing their due diligence on this,” one victim of fraud said. "The state is just sending our money in the easiest of fashion without even picking up the phone call and calling to see if anyone was terminated...To me, they are not honoring their obligations to watch over our money."
Gov. Pritzker, Staff Members Test Negative for Coronavirus After Exposure, Office Says – NBC5 (Chicago)
The governor and his staff will not be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Said Jesus Solorio, chairman of the Illinois Republican Hispanic Assembly, "Democrats should be terrified of what they are seeing on a national level, it might take a little longer in Illinois, but I know we are going to persuade more Hispanics to vote Republican."
Dan Coffey, of Re/Max Harbor Country, said the surge is at least partially the result of Chicago residents buying second homes to flee the pandemic before it worsens. “If they live downtown, they’ve had vandalism for the first time in years. They are still making money, and, by moving to Northwest Indiana, they can spend it going out to restaurants without getting sick.”
Illinois' Republican National Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte reached out to Illinois Review Saturday afternoon with an urgent message for Trump supporters in Illinois. After talking to her RNC contacts, DeMonte says the information Illinois Trump supporters are getting is not sufficient. The media will not help - even Fox News.