By Emily Miller
Emily is the BGA’s Policy and Government Affairs Coordinator. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @EJMill.
The Illinois House today passed HB3810, which calls for the elimination of the decades-old legislative scholarship program. The BGA has been at the forefront of a movement to end a program, that’s been the topic of BGA investigations and other media reports documenting how lawmakers have used the scholarships to pay back cronies, political backers and supporters.
“This is an important first step in ending this long-abused and misused program,” said Andy Shaw, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Better Government Association. “Now it is up to the Illinois Senate, and Senate President John Cullerton, to have a floor vote, which we believe will mirror the House vote and send the bill to the governor’s desk for his promised signature.
“Scholarships should not be doled out by legislators, nor should they be used as a way to pay back cronies, political supporters or friends. Scholarships should be granted by state universities that have the expertise to accomplish this important task, not politicians.”
- Chicago Tribune—Park District taking over “Taste;” no ‘big musical acts’, “This year’s Taste of Chicago will be run by the Chicago Park District and will go without ‘big musical acts,’ instead incorporating music from four of the city’s smaller niche festivals, officials announced today.”
- Daily Herald—Cook Co. state’s attorney agrees to budget cuts, “Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and county board President Toni Preckwinkle made peace with a brokered budget compromise Thursday, as Alvarez agreed to a 10 percent cut for her office while taking on additional county business.”
- State Journal-Register—Senate approves end to death penalty; bill headed to Quinn, “Ten years after Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois and nearly eight years after then-state Sen. Barack Obama sponsored reforms to the system, a bill abolishing capital punishment is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk.”
- Southtown Star—Senate President: More work ahead, “Senate President John Cullerton says fixing the state’s finances will require hard work even after lawmakers passed a massive tax increase.”
- Rockford Register Star—Rockford School District presents $51 million cuts plan to public, “The committee came up with proposals to cut $51 million — or 12.6 percent — from the district’s $404 million budget to use for fiscal 2012, which begins July 1. The committee presented its recommendations Tuesday at the School Board meeting.”
- Bloomington Pantagraph—Normal mayor suggests form-based code optional, “Mayor Chris Koos is suggesting making the controversial form-based code an option — not a requirement — for developers of properties along the Main Street Corridor in Normal.”
- Chicago Sun-Times—Better Government Association sues Chicago Police Department, “The BGA, a not-for-profit corporation, claims the Chicago police refuses to release documents about the protection and transportation of Burke (14th) as requested in an Aug. 24, 2010, Freedom of Information Act request, according to the complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court.”
- State Journal-Register—2 percentage point income tax hike on table for state leaders, “Legislative leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn will meet today to discuss boosting Illinois’ income tax rate from the current 3 percent to 5 percent as part of a package that also could include pension borrowing, a moratorium on new state programs, no new spending and property tax relief.”
- Bloomington Pantagraph—Illinois Senate approves Medicaid reform, “With the clock ticking on the lame-duck legislative session, the Illinois Senate unanimously approved a plan Wednesday to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program.”
- State Journal-Register—Tenaska bill falls short in Senate, “A bill authorizing construction of a $3.5 billion clean coal technology plant in Taylorville failed in a vote in the Illinois Senate Wednesday.”
- Belleville News Democrat—Insurance fraud investigators begin probe into workers’ comp claims at Menard, “State insurance fraud investigators have opened an official probe of the Menard Correctional Center, where hundreds of guards and others have filed for or received taxpayer-funded settlements for “repetitive trauma” they say was mainly caused by operating heavy cell locking mechanisms.”
- Southtown Star—U.S. House welcomes five from Illinois, “The Illinois congressional delegation has the biggest freshman class in more than a decade — five new House members and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk were sworn in to full terms on Wednesday, all Republicans.”
- Southtown Star, Editorial—Unfair election process taints suburban hearings, “Whenever suburban elections approach, dozens of poor slobs find themselves caught up in a process designed to stop outsiders from threatening the people in power.”
- Chicago Tribune, Editorial: Reform—or eyewash? “Springfield is buzzing with reform talk in the final frantic days of this brief, few-days conclusion to a 2010 legislative session.”