Tag Archives: gov. pat quinn

Sorry, Seniors — We Were All Taken For A Ride

By Andy Shaw, BGA President & CEO

Photo courtesy Salim Virji/Flickr

The BGA loves seniors. In fact, some of us watchdogs wear the gray mantle proudly.

But the old saying that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” actually rings true in this daunting and sometimes frightening era of massive government deficits, bloated bureaucracies, unaffordable services and benefits, and intolerable patronage. So the BGA is proud to have waged a successful campaign to eliminate the unaffordable aspects of the “Seniors Ride Free” transit program. The freebie was an ill-advised political stunt by our disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich, and it proved to be a mismanaged, abuse-ridden boondoggle, as we demonstrated in an investigative series with FOX Chicago News that we titled “Riding While Dead.” More than a third of the free rides were taken by seniors with incomes above $55,000 a year, at a time when the state is billions of dollars in the red.

So we applaud the Illinois lawmakers who followed our stories and approved legislation that restricts the program to the neediest seniors, those taking home less than $25,000 a year. And we appreciate Gov. Pat Quinn signing a measure he opposed until recently. There are, sadly, still far too many “free lunches” permeating government. That’s a big part of the public sector fiscal crisis. Ending free rides for seniors won’t end the free lunch mentality, but it’ll take a few fries off the plate. Now we’ll go after the budget-busting burgers.

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Statewide Update—Jan. 31, 2011

  • The Southern—Public takes advantage of changes to open government laws, “Instead of filing a lawsuit, members of the public can ask the Public Access Bureau in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to review withheld documents or meetings complaints, to make sure government bodies are not violating the Freedom of Information Act or the Open Meetings Act.”
  • (AP) Rockford Register Star—Pat Quinn to sign historic civil unions legislation, “Five states already allow civil unions or their equivalent, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Five other states and Washington, D.C., let gay couples marry outright, as do countries including Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands.”
  • State Journal-Register—Lawmakers seeking more money from state retirees for health care, “The legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability will meet Wednesday to talk with two Quinn administration officials about how the state can craft an income-based formula for how much retirees will have to pay.”
  • Daily Herald—Law firm donates to DuPage board members, wins contract, “Nine of the 15 DuPage County Board members who approved a no-bid contract for an Itasca law firm to help redraw the county’s electoral boundaries have accepted campaign contributions from the group or its attorneys, a review by the Daily Herald and the Better Government Association shows.”
  • Chicago Tribune—CTA puts brakes on talk of closing Red Line stations, “The agency is in the early stages of soliciting feedback for an overhaul of the north branch of the Red Line and the Purple Line, from about Belmont north through Evanston and to Linden in Wilmette.”
  • Rockford Register Star—Lawsuit for Harlem Township records nears its end, “The township also has called the Freedom of Information Act requests by Mullins unduly burdensome and argues that some of the records she requested simply are not on file at the township.”

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Statewide Update—Jan. 26, 2011

  • Daily Herald—DuPage hires remap consultant, spikes confidentiality clause, “Schirott, Luetkehans and Garner, P.C. will be paid up to $125,000 to serve as a consultant to the county board committee charged with configuring the future legislative map.  However, the firm won’t need to comply with a confidentiality clause that had DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin raising concerns about lack of transparency.”
  • Southtown Star—Quinn signs Medicaid reform into law, “Gov. Pat Quinn signed major reforms to Medicaid into Illinois law Tuesday, calling it a “landmark achievement” as he was flanked by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who said the changes aim to reduce costs, pay bills sooner and target fraud.”
  • (AP) State Journal-Register—Illinois Supreme Court will hear Rahm Emanuel appeal, “About the only thing abundantly clear after a chaotic and unprecedented day at the Chicago Board of Elections: Voters only get to vote once, even if their ballots are wrong.”
  • Trib Local (Arlington Heights)—Taxpayers organize to influence politics, “Fed up with rising tax bills, residents have organized a watchdog group to  try and influence local politics and keep taxes down.”
  • (AP) Peoria Journal Star—SEC reviewing Illinois pension predictions, “The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing the Illinois pension systems and state officials’ statements about how much future savings the state will get from reforms enacted last spring, Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration said Tuesday.”
  • Rockford Register Star—Sheffields savings ideas: Close 8 Rockford schools, reduce staff, “Eight schools will close, gifted and several other programs will relocate to other schools, and kindergarten will shrink to a half-day program if the Rockford School Board adopts cost-cutting recommendations from Superintendent LaVonne Sheffield.”

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Statewide Update—Jan. 19, 2011

  • Chicago Sun-Times—Preckwinkle warns: Cut Cook County budget—or I will, “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle issued a warning Tuesday to Sheriff Tom Dart and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez — and anyone else balking at the looming budget cuts: help her swing the budget ax, or she’ll propose the cuts herself.”
  • Daily Herald—RTA awaits word on end of free rides for seniors, “The Regional Transportation Authority has had no word on whether Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a bill to limit free rides for senior citizens, but nevertheless is trying to calculate the revenue boost the agency would get if it does become law.”
  • Daily Herald—Des Plaines may update water meters, resulting in rate hike, “Des Plaines residents may see a rise in water rates starting next year if officials decide to eventually replace the city’s roughly 13,000 analog water meters with a new digital automated meter reading system.”
  • Southtown Star—Kaupas names cousin deputy police chief, “Kaupas, who is the second cousin of Sheriff Paul Kaupas, was hired as the spokesman in December at a salary of $75,000. He said he will perform the duties of both positions, replacing two people who retired, at a net savings to the sheriff’s department.”

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Statewide Update—Jan. 18, 2011

  • State Journal-Register—Thousands hired in Illinois ahead of new pension system, “Thanks to the eight-month span between Gov. Pat Quinn’s approval of a pension reform bill last spring and its implementation Jan. 1, any public worker hired in Illinois as late as Dec. 31 was enrolled in a far more lucrative pension plan than those hired after that date.”
  • (Gatehouse News Service) Peoria Journal Star—State Comptroller informed that 38 appointees not confirmed, “The Senate of the 96th General Assembly did not confirm any of the listed persons… With their nominations no longer valid, I am unaware of any legal authority permitting the formal nominees to continue to draw a salary or receive expense reimbursements.”
  • Peoria Journal Star—Durbin changes stance on death penalty, “U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking member of the U.S. Senate, said Monday he has come to believe that states should not impose the death penalty.”
  • Daily Herald—LeBlanc off ballot in Campton Hills but still in race, “Kristin LeBlanc plans to run as a write-in candidate for Campton Hills village president after the village clerk declined to put her on the April ballot because her nominating petitions were incomplete.”

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Statewide Update—Jan. 14, 2011

  • (AP) State Journal-Register—Quinn signs tax increase, Dems point to spending caps, “Illinois taxpayers will have to fork over a lot more money now that Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a major tax increase, but Democratic leaders want them to take comfort in knowing that new spending limits will ensure their dollars are handled carefully.”
  • Chicago Sun-Times—Opinion: How tax increases will affect state, “Elections have consequences. You Illinois taxpayers who are outraged over the reduced paychecks you’ll soon see should remember that more than half of you voted for Gov. Quinn, and he campaigned to raise your taxes.”
  • Southtown Star—Lawmakers plan to revive gambling legislation in 2011, “Southland lawmakers vowed Thursday to revive a plan that would drastically expand gambling in Illinois, just days after outgoing lawmakers allowed the proposal to stall during the closing hours of the previous General Assembly.”
  • Peoria Journal Star—Opinion: Luciano: Taxman, peek at pensions, “Rather than just jamming people with a brutal income tax, our lawmakers could’ve taken a hard look at one of the state’s most glaring trouble spots: Pensions.”
  • Daily Herald—Aurora laborers union agrees to 7 furlough days, “Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1514 reached an agreement this week with Aurora to take the equivalent of seven unpaid furlough days in 2011 to save the city money.”
  • Daily Herald—District 300 may need $19 million loan, “Late payments from the state and looming expenses will likely force Community Unit District 300 to take out a $19 million loan in the next few months to cover general operating costs, including payroll.”

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Statewide Update—Jan. 13, 2011

  • Southtown Star—Will lawmakers pay for tax hike? No way. “Voting in favor of the state’s largest income tax increase won’t make outgoing state Rep. Mike Carberry popular on his Oak Lawn block. But the vote was needed, he and other Southland Democrats said Wednesday, to avoid state insolvency.”
  • Bloomington Pantagraph—Central Illinois debates income tax increases, “It was a debate taking place across Central Illinois on Wednesday after the General Assembly worked into the early morning to send Gov. Pat Quinn a controversial tax increase bill.”
  • Daily Herald—West Chicago, Warrenville chambers merge, “The two chambers merged, effective Jan. 1, into the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce. The new chamber will serve more than 400 members in the two communities.”

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