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Statewide Update—Feb. 17, 2011

Photo courtesy lilhelen/Flickr

State Journal RegisterPension changes likely to be decided by state Supreme Court, “It will be up to the Illinois Supreme Court to decide whether changes to pension benefits for current state employees are constitutional, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Wednesday.”

    • Bloomington PantagraphLawmakers: Quinn’s proposal mostly falls short, “Although most lawmakers found at least a little to like about the governor’s relatively brief, broadly themed speech, all agreed it will be tough to reach an agreement on how to pay a mountain of old bills while financing current programs.”
    • SouthtownStarEditorial: Better, but Quinn’s budget still falls short, “We wholeheartedly agree that Regional Offices of Education are a waste of money—we learned that firsthand when we uncovered the corruption taking place at the Suburban Cook County office under the beleaguered Charles Flowers, who is charged with stealing $376,000 in public funds.”
    • Daily HeraldIllinois EPA asks state to act against salt discharge in Bartlett, “The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released a statement saying Bluff City Materials Inc. stored as much as 50,000 tons of salt at one time at 1950 Vulcan Blvd. in Bartlett and asking the attorney general’s office to take steps to make sure the salt is stored in an environmentally safe way.”
    • Rockford Register StarRockford, Winnebago County leaders back school board review, “Mayor Larry Morrissey and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen said an independent review of the School District’s financial state could help settle the disagreement between the district’s money experts and its teachers union.”

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    Statewide Update—Feb. 11, 2011

    • Daily HeraldCook 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.”

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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. 25, 2011

    • Southtown Star—3 area men charged in ‘Cookie Jar’ probe, “A Tinley Park man, an Oak Forest man and a Burbank man, all of whom allegedly took part in a scheme to steal road salt from IDOT, were among seven people charged Monday in an ongoing crackdown on local public corruption.”
    • Trib Local (Evanston)—CTA considers chopping two Evanston stations, “As the Chicago Transit Authority seeks community input on potential improvements to the aging Purple and Red lines, three of the agency’s six options include eliminating the South Boulevard and Foster Street stations in Evanston — losses that city officials said would be a blow to commuters.”
    • Chicago Tribune—Editorial: Judicial arrogance, “With startling arrogance and audaciously twisted reasoning, two appellate judges ignored more than 100 years of legal precedent, invented a new definition of “residency” and ordered Rahm Emanuel off the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot.”
    • Rockford Register Star—Which School(s) could be closed? “Consolidating schools could help the district slash part of its $50 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2012.”
    • Daily Herald—East Dundee trustees discuss merits of PD merger, “Citing upcoming police contracts, a loss of autonomy, potential coverage issues and other reasons, several East Dundee trustees are balking at the idea of consolidating their police force with the ones in West Dundee and Sleepy Hollow.”
    • Rockford Register Star—Vehicles, EMS among Rockford outsourcing possibilities, “According to a report from Chicago-based Baker Tilly, the consulting firm hired last fall to assist in an outsourcing study, the city could realize up to $10.5 million is savings if it moved forward on five outsourcing and four service delivery suggestions.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Statewide Update—Jan. 24, 2011

    • Southtown Star—Worker’s compensation reform could delay borrowing, “Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) would consider it a “positive side benefit” if progress on worker’s comp makes Republicans more willing to consider borrowing money to pay bills, said spokesman John Patterson.”
    • Chicago Tribune—Plan would charge state retirees more for health care, “The new push is a crackdown on the rising cost of health care for retired state workers. The program costs the state nearly $500 million a year, and more than 90 percent of the retirees and survivors pay no premiums.”
    • State Journal-Register—Top aide leaving attorney general’s office, “Besides being deputy chief of staff for Madigan, Smith has served as the attorney general’s public access counselor for a year, since changes to the state Freedom of Information Act took effect that were aimed at increasing government transparency.”
    • Chicago Tribune—Editorial: Curb free rides, “Free rides, of course, aren’t free. The Regional Transportation Authority estimates they cost the transit system $38.5 million in 2009.”
    • State Journal-Register—Opinion: There’s a reason recall process is convoluted, “…it could be used to oust someone just because they made an unpopular decision. Trying to avoid that is one reason the recall process now part of the state constitution is as convoluted as it is.”

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    Statewide Update—Jan. 12, 2011

    • 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.”
    • Daily Herald—Lombard ballot to include term limits question, “A ‘yes’ vote will signal voters want the village board to consider a binding referendum to place limits on the number of consecutive terms officials can serve.”
    • 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.”

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    Statewide Update—Jan. 10, 2011

    • Chicago Sun-Times—State tax-hike plan fails to win over Dems, “…House members also moved to scale back the Blagojevich-era program that lets all senior citizens ride for free on public trains and buses.”
    • The Southern—State budget crisis fueled Medicaid reform efforts, “A long-awaited state Medicaid reform proposal, approved Friday in the Illinois Legislature with a House vote of 111-4, was likely fueled by the state’s financial crisis, said a local state lawmaker.”

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    Statewide Update—Dec. 23, 2010

    • Daily Herald—Preckwinkle gets support for 21% budget cuts“Preckwinkle has estimated that the county budget deficit is $487 million against last year’s spending figure of $3.5 billion. The 21 percent cuts reflect a 16 percent cut annually…”
    • State Journal Register—IDOT, railroads reach $1.1 billion deal on high-speed rail: “The Illinois Department of Transportation has reached agreement with Amtrak and the Union Pacific Railroad to allow $1.1 billion in improvements for high-speed passenger rail between St. Louis and Chicago.”
    • Southtown Star—District 227 concludes party probe“Those interviewed denied that a noose or an effigy of the principal was present, and no one could remember how the poster got into the fire.”

     

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    Statewide Update—Dec. 21, 2010

    • Naperville Sun—District 203 board approves tax levy: “Zager said the $3.5 million increase in property taxes will not be borne by current taxpayers, but is a redirection of the taxes already paid in that area. What used to go to the TIF district will now come to the school district.”
    • Daily Herald—Aurora to vote on budget Tuesday:Aldermen on the city council’s finance committee have reviewed the budget at four public meetings since receiving the more than 1,000-page document the week of Nov. 29.

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    Statewide Update—Dec. 20, 2010

    **SPECIAL EXTENDED POST-WEEKEND EDITION**

    Editor’s Note: The BGA Think Tank’s “Statewide Update” is a daily summary of policy and government news from around the state. Each morning we scan news outlets from Rockford to Belleville and bring you the headlines that influence policy makers across the state.

    Editorials

    State Journal Register—School reform shouldn’t be quick process: “The haste with which this committee was formed and last week’s hearings were arranged, coupled with the contentious atmosphere that seems to have built quickly around both, make us wonder if this is the correct path to these measures.”

    Bloomington Pantagraph—Airport liquor license decision makes no sense: “The decision was also yet another example of the apparent confusion or differences in interpretation of Bloomington’s liquor code among members of the liquor commission and city council.”

    Peoria Journal Star—No more delays fixing All Kids program flaws“Earlier this year, we wrote about a state audit that uncovered some pretty deep and expensive flaws in Illinois’ expanded All Kids health insurance program… After all this time, the lack of action is beyond embarrassing, even in a state that seems capable of goofing up the simplest things.”

    Rockford Register Star—Rockford police union provides budget help to city“Rockford residents should thank police union members for giving up pay and benefits in their current contract to help the city close its budget deficit.”

    State and Local Budgets

    (AP) State Journal-Register—Western Illinois University awaits state payments: “The state of Illinois allocated $53 million for WIU in its current budget, and $37 million of that should already be in the university officials’ hands.”

    State Journal-Register—Market study says Springfield resisted the recession“Springfield held up in the Great Recession better than the state of Illinois and the nation — and better than other Illinois communities with the exception of Bloomington-Normal — according to a just-completed analysis of the local economy and demographics.”

    Bloomington Pantagraph—Normal to consider capital investment plan“…town staff suggests budgeted money be used for maintenance work, including replacing lighting, fencing and playground equipment.”

    Education

    Southtown Star—Schools take on residency cheaters“District 135 officials allege that Gutierrez lied about where he lived and that his ex-girlfriend fudged a condominium lease so Gutierrez’s daughter could attend eighth grade at Orland Junior High School during the 2009-10 school year.”

    Politics

    Peoria Journal Star—Committee picks show party bias? “At least two Peoria County Board members are grumbling about committee assignments handed down last week by board chairman Tom O’Neill. Though the board consists of 10 Democrats and eight Republicans, only one of the eight board committees will be chaired by a Republican.”

    The Southern—Many vie for public offices in Du Quoin, Pinckneyville:  “Fourteen candidates have filed to run for mayor or commissioner in Pinckneyville, while seven have filed in Du Quoin. The deadline for candidates to file a petition in both towns is 5 p.m. Monday.”

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