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Will Reynolds

Will Barack Obama Run For Governor of Illinois?

Will Reynolds | February 12, 2016 | Chicago
"I miss you guys," Obama said during an address in the Illinois statehouse on the anniversary of his Presidential campaign announcement. He returned to his frequent theme of bringing civility and compromise to politics.
Reboot Illinois

Civic Federation Proposes Painful Plan to Right Illinois' Financial Ship

Reboot Illinois | February 12, 2016 | Chicago
Tax increases, spending limits, tax on pension income among Civic Federation's recommendations A report released today by the Civic Federation lays out a number of recommendations -- including consideration in the near future of a progressive-rate income tax -- as part of a three-year plan to address the fiscal crisis...
Matthew Dietrich

Watch: Small Business Advocacy Council, Reboot Illinois Hold Budget Mobilization Town Hall

Matthew Dietrich | February 12, 2016 | Chicago
"I've been to Springfield and the line they always tell me is, 'You know, small business, you guys are the backbone of our economy. You're the backbone of our state. Well, you want to know something? Your backbone's broken. And in order to stand up and fix this, you guys gotta stand up, get together and start talking..." That statement from Victor Miceli, president of Des Plaines Office Equipment, pretty much summed up the feeling Wednesday at the Small Business Advocacy Council/Reboot Illinois mobilization town hall meeting at Roosevelt University. For 90 minutes, business leaders, SBAC members and representatives of college student and non-profits spoke about their frustration with the current state budget impasse and, more importantly, their determination to get a message to Springfield that the budget crisis is slowly crushing small businesses and non-profits. Notably absent from Wednesday's discussion was argument over the political issues that have kept Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic leaders of the general assembly -- House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton -- away from the bargaining table for eight months. Instead, we heard consensus on two points: Rauner and his Democratic counterparts have deep philosophical differences on how the state should right its finances and, in turn, its economy Regardless of who may be right or wrong, they need to work something out. Now. If you've been following the events in Springfield since May, you haven't heard those two points spoken of together. Instead, we've heard why they never can be spoken of together. Rauner says he won't negotiate any new taxes (which everyone in the room in Wednesday night agrees can't be avoided) until Democrats pass some items from his Turnaround Agenda. These include term limits, redistricting reform, lawsuit reform, workers' compensation reform and a freeze on property taxes. Democrats say those items are not related to the budget. They won't debate them as conditions of working out a budget. "This is ridiculous. Us as business owners we know," said Miceli. "We need to talk, we need to negotiate, we need to move forward. I wish our leaders in Springfield would take examples from us as business owners how to run a business and how to run a state." Neli Vazquez Rowland, who runs the Safe Haven Foundation in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood, which helps homeless people put their lives back together, described the domino effect she sees as other non-profits cut services because the state has stopped paying for them. Amara Enyia, executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce on Chicago's west side, said lack of state funding to non-profits and day-care providers created a ripple effect for the small businesses in the Austin neighborhood. A parent who loses affordable day care risks losing a job, which means less money to spend at local businesses. "It's not just the small businesses," she said. "There is an ecosystem that lives around the small businesses of which they are the core." Ideology wasn't foremost on participants' minds. A functioning government was. SBAC President Elliot Richardson made an impassioned plea for some hint of cooperation between the two sides in Springfield. The financial problems that grip Illinois didn't develop overnight, nor will they be solved in a single legislative session. But they'll never be addressed if the two sides don't speak. "They owe it to us and the business owners and the non-profits in this state to at least try and to realize that politics is not a game for the small business owner on Main Street. Politics closes their business. Politics is not a game for the non-profits that lose their funding. It puts them out of business," Richardson said. "And what we're going to demand and get more stringent about demanding is an end to the nonsense. We've got lots of ideas how to get that done but none of those ideas go anywhere unless you've got people who want to listen, who want to govern, compromise and lead, and it's time for that in Springfield." As frustrating as it is that Rauner, Madigan and Cullerton have refused to move from their oft-stated positions, it's even more frustrating to consider what they must confront whenever they do get around to budget-making. "Do not confuse the problem of not having a budget with 'The Problem,' which is that we don't have as much revenue as we have in expenses...," said Mark Glennon, managing director of Ninth Street Advisors who blogs about Illinois government and finance at "We are not remotely close to having a solution at hand... It's going to take radical changes to fix this. We fundamentally have a model of government that is broken. We are not producing the jobs, revenue, the growth that we need to meet the obligations that we've made." Currently, Illinois is on pace to spend about $6 billion more this year than the $32 billion it is expected to bring in. And that figure does not include higher education spending, which was $2 billion in FY 2015, and various other spending that has been on hold because there is no budget to authorize it. "This is not a problem that just happened this year in Illinois. We have structural problems in this state. But what we need to expect is for our political leaders and our politicians to try to solve them... What we want is to stop the nonsense and for our legislators to do what they were elected to do," Richardson said. "The time is now to fix Illinois. We can come back. Other states have done it. This is the time right now." NEXT ARTICLE: 10 sad things that have happened as a result of the Illinois budget standoff
Roger Germann

5 Ways to Love the Great Lakes This Valentine's Day

Roger Germann | February 12, 2016 | Green
There are a variety of ways to keep the lakes great this winter, even when our climate is changing.
Tom Tresser

The TIF Illumination Project at Three

Tom Tresser | February 12, 2016 | Chicago
On February 12 of 2013, the night of the State of the Union, a town meeting was held at the Chopin Theater in Chicago's Near West Side. The subject was tax increment financing. Despite the complexity of the topic and the competition from President Obama, some 230 people packed the...
Chicago Ideas

#IdeasDay Was Our Great Idea, Celebrate by Sharing Yours!

Chicago Ideas | February 11, 2016 | Chicago
Three years ago, Chicago Ideas had epiphany. With holidays for saints, parents, pizza and meteorologically-gifted groundhogs, somehow no one had dedicated a day to ideas. A light bulb lit up and we celebrated the first Ideas Day on Thomas Edison's February 11 birthday. Although Congress hasn't made...
Reboot Illinois

Top 10 Most Common Crimes Committed By Illinois' Inmates

Reboot Illinois | February 10, 2016 | Chicago
The Illinois Department of Corrections houses more than 45,000 inmates in 25 correctional facilities throughout the state. In Illinois, felonies, except for first-degree murder, are designated by class, ranging from Class 1 to Class 4 and Class X felonies, with the latter...
Matthew Dietrich

Existence of Illinois Public Colleges at Stake, Warns Moody's

Matthew Dietrich | February 10, 2016 | Chicago
Reports from credit ratings agencies on local governments don't normally make for thrilling reading, but a Feb. 5 report from Moody's Investors Service on Illinois' public colleges has the makings of a real-life cliffhanger. Though it contains the standard jargon you expect in...
Reboot Illinois

Report: Illinois Ended 2015 With a Shrinking Economy

Reboot Illinois | February 9, 2016 | Chicago
While most states capped off last year with growing economies, Illinois was one of seven that likely had its economy shrink during the last quarter of 2015, according to an analysis of the latest employment data. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia identifies trends and summarizes economic conditions in each...
Matthew Dietrich

How Obama, Rauner and Madigan Have More In Common Than You Think

Matthew Dietrich | February 9, 2016 | Chicago
Column by Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek President Obama, Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan. Three peas in a pod. Don't snort. They have more in common than you might realize. Obama returns home to Springfield Wednesday, nine years to the day he launched his White House...
Mona Shattell

With No State Budget, Community Mental Health in Crisis

Mona Shattell | February 9, 2016 | Chicago
Co-authored by Ann Fisher Raney, AM, LCSW, chief executive officer at Turning Point, Skokie, IL and Mona Shattell, PhD, RN, FAAN, member of the Board of Directors at Turning Point; and professor and chairperson of the department of community, systems, and mental health nursing at Rush University, Chicago, IL. No...
Matthew Dietrich

Watch: Rauner Starts New Year With New Focus

Matthew Dietrich | February 8, 2016 | Chicago
Gov. Bruce Rauner has started 2016 with a series of high-profile press events that seem geared to emphasize accomplishment rather than his ongoing standoff with Democrats over the state budget. The latest came Feb. 4 when he announced he is seeking a public-private partnership to widen the Stevenson...
Reboot Illinois

A Look at the 10 Ways Rauner Wants to Change, Improve Education in Illinois

Reboot Illinois | February 5, 2016 | Chicago
Illinois schools have hit a big rough patch this year, what with Chicago Public Schools' huge budget gap, continuing funding disparities throughout the state and public colleges struggling to make ends meet in the midst of the state budget impasse. Gov. Bruce Rauner, in his 2016 State of the State...
Matthew Dietrich

Rauner, Democrats Lay Out Plan for I-55 Expansion

Matthew Dietrich | February 5, 2016 | Chicago
A year ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner was on a barnstorming tour of Illinois to promote his Illinois Turnaround agenda in advance of the spring legislative and budget-making session. The was a prelude to what has become an eight-month standoff between Rauner and Democrats over the FY 2016 state budget, which...
Elysabeth Alfano

Seinfeld Writer Peter Mehlman on Life During and After Seinfeld and His Book, It Won't Always Be This Great

Elysabeth Alfano | February 4, 2016 | Entertainment
Writer and Co-Executive Producer of Seinfeld, Peter Mehlman, joined me in Los Angeles to discuss how he fell into writing for the show and what it was like being a part of what the Writers Guild of America called the second "Best Written TV Series of All Time."
Reboot Illinois

How Reliant is Illinois on the Firearms Industry?

Reboot Illinois | February 4, 2016 | Chicago
A new study by ranks states according to their dependence on the firearms and ammunition industry. The personal finance website said it conducted the analysis following President Barack Obama's proposed executive orders on gun control and recent changes to state gun laws. WalletHub compared states across three key dimensions:...
Matthew Dietrich

10 Mind-Numbing Facts About The Illinois Budget Deficit

Matthew Dietrich | February 4, 2016 | Chicago
Opinion by Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek Ready for an 8 percent income tax rate in Illinois? That's what all of us would have to live with, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says, to pay off the state's bills. That's more than twice what we're paying now because our elected officials refuse...
Dave Stieber

CPS -- A Petulant Child That Feigns Never Having Heard "No" Before

Dave Stieber | February 3, 2016 | Chicago
Yes, making sure a teacher is reasonably protected from the craziness that is CPS and paid fairly is still doing what is best for kids. A fair contract helps keep outstanding teachers from leaving this jacked up mayorally controlled undemocratic school system.
Elysabeth Alfano

Up-and-Coming Artists Dish on Breaking Into the Entertainment Business

Elysabeth Alfano | February 3, 2016 | Chicago
How do you break into the entertainment biz? Whether it is the silver screen or the rock 'n' roll stage, getting there is an incredibly hard journey and many more make the trip than those who arrive.
Matthew Dietrich

Illinois Super PAC Donations Already Changing Landscape of 2016 Legislative Races

Matthew Dietrich | February 3, 2016 | Chicago
In 2011, with the state reeling from campaign finance abuses exposed in the Rod Blagojevich scandal, Illinois enacted its first-ever limits on campaign contributions. Boiled down to its essentials, the law limits donations to political candidates to $5,400 from individuals, $10,800 from corporations, unions or trade associations and $53,900 from another candidate's political fund. (There's a lot more to it, of course. The complete law is here.) But that doesn't mean candidates can't get contributions bigger than those limits, nor are political candidates the only ones affected by the law. Committees controlled by the state's political parties, for example, can give unlimited amounts to candidates in general elections. And political party committees can receive unlimited donations from political candidate campaign committees. Thus, Bruce Rauner's Citizens for Rauner fund, which now holds $19.5 million, can easily be channeled to supported candidates through the Illinois Republican Party's committee. Likewise with the four committees controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan. But there also are circumstances in which contribution limit rules are nullified. If a candidate puts $250,000 of his or her own money into a statewide race or $100,000 into a legislative race, all limits come off for all candidates in that contest. Bruce Rauner's self-funding allowed the 2014 gubernatorial contest to become the most expensive in state history, as large donations poured into both his fund and that of Pat Quinn. And then there are so-called independent expenditure committees, which are subject to no limits, but are prohibited from coordinating their activities with or donating directly to a candidate. Commonly known as Super PACs, independent expenditure committees exist to support or oppose political candidates or other electoral efforts. Once an independent expenditure committee spends $250,000 for or against a candidate in a statewide race or $100,000 for or against a legislative candidate, all limits come off for all candidates in that race. In the 2016 primary election cycle, we've already seen limits dissolved in two races. The independent committee IllinoisGO in January spent $240,000 on behalf of Democratic Chicago State Rep. Ken Dunkin. That opened the door for a $500,000 donation on Feb. 1 to Dunkin's campaign from the conservative Illinois Opportunity Project. In southwest-central Illinois, an independent expenditure committee with ties to the Illinois Opportunity Project spent $325,000 in support of Bryce Benton, the challenger of Republican incumbent Sen. Sam McCann of rural Plainview in the March 15 primary. With contribution limits now off, we can expect unions to support McCann with donations well above the $10,800 to which they would have been limited had Liberty Principles PAC not broken the barrier. And this is only for the primary. The real money will get thrown into the Nov. 4 general election. Ever since his election, Rauner has vowed to use his resources to help elect Republicans to the General Assembly, where Democrats now hold three-fifths majorities in both the House and Senate. We can expect Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and the Democrats' traditional allies in organized labor and the trial bar to respond in kind. Get ready to see previous spending records in local legislative races fall in a barrage of campaign ads. NEXT ARTICLE: Illinois budget impasse projected to create $6.2 billion more in debt by June 30, Comptroller Munger says
All posts from 02.12.2016 < 02.11.2016