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2014: Daley officially in for governor

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DALEY OFFICIALLY IN Maybe it was a foregone conclusion, but Bill Daley today made his run for governor official, filing paperwork with the Illinois State Board of Elections to remove the "exploratory" label from his campaign committee. "The response I've gotten from people throughout the state has been very positive, and one of the things I want to bring is a different way and an openness to Springfield that hasn't been there," Daley says in a video on his campaign website. Check out the video and some analysis on how the Daley vs. Pat Quinn race is shaping up in its early stage here.

2014: BUZZ-METER In his press release announcing his official candidacy, Daley notes that his campaign raised $800,000 in its first three weeks and also that he has attracted "nearly 1,700 likes on Facebook and ... over 600 Twitter followers." In the Obama era, social media success is an important metric in determining a candidate's strength. We're tracking it for all the candidates for Illinois governor on our 2014 Buzz-Meter. Daley has made gains in social media in the past month (he barely registered on our first Buzz-Meter), but he still trails Pat Quinn by a long shot. See how the candidates are connecting with social media here.

DETROIT... CHICAGO... ILLINOIS... First things first: Chicago is not Detroit, and states can't declare bankruptcy, so Illinois can't be "the next Detroit." But we're heading in a pretty scary direction as our public pension system drains the state budget and state government's backlog of unpaid bills heads back toward an expected $7 billion next month. As The Economist put it recently: "The hole in Illinois's pension pot is equivalent to 241 percent of its annual tax revenues." That's among the enlightening, and frightening, quotes in Madeleine Doubek's blog post today on Detroit as it relates to Illinois. Illinois may not be "the next Detroit," but there's plenty we can learn from it. Click here.

PENSION DRAIN Nearly one-fourth of our tax dollars go into keeping our failing state pension systems afloat. And it only will get worse. Help us keep the pressure on our lawmakers to reform the pension system and protect Illinois' economy, its state budget and the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of public workers and retirees. Click here to make a difference and to see a timeline of how this disaster unfolded.

TANTRUM VIDEO V.2 Who can forget the famous video from May 2012 of State Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, blowing a gasket on the House floor over a pension bill that had been handed hastily to Republicans just before it was to be called for a vote. Well, some people who don't want Bost elected to Congress haven't forgotten it, nor have they forgotten various other, similar outbursts by Bost. Bost announced Monday he's running to represent Illinois' 12th Congressional District in 2014. Our question: Bost's famous outburst earned him fame, but will his fiery demeanor hurt or help him with southern Illinois voters next year? Video of Bost's 2012 rant, his mention by David Letterman and a best-of-Bost video compilation are on our website for your review.

TAX TALK Bill Daley is firmly on record in support of Illinois adopting a progressive income tax, in which the wealthy pay a higher tax rate. But is the progressive tax movement a tax increase movement in disguise? How did Illinois go from a $1.1 billion budget surplus in 1998 to billions in debt in a few short years? Those are just a few of the questions that will be discussed by two prominent experts on Illinois' financial state at our Aug. 15 tax forum in Springfield. Reboot Illinois and the Citizens Club of Springfield will host progressive tax advocate Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and opponent Ted Dabrowski of the Illinois Policy Institute for a discussion of Illinois' income tax future. We hope you'll join us. Find out more here.

MAKE IT FAIR We trace the roots of scandals like the Metra affair to a system that lets politicians put themselves into office for life -- as long as their party wins the right to draw up the state's legislative maps. We want to stop the gerrymandering that has set the tone of Illinois politics and driven the state into the financial abyss, but this promises to be a Herculean effort. We need your help. Find out more about the Yes for Independent Maps effort and how you can get involved. It's the biggest reform of all in Illinois government and we can't expect any help from lawmakers making it happen. Join us!


MORE METRA An investigation by the Better Government Association raises questions about a political donation from the Metra executive who may be in line to succeed Alex Clifford, whose ouster from the suburban commuter railroad has cause controversy on many levels of government in the past month. It's here.

TOP 5 Here are links to the 5 news and opinion items you should be aware of today. You'll find links to and summaries of many more in the Daily Tip-Off section of our website.
• 5. Once again, the backlog of unpaid state bills is on the rise. (State Journal-Register)
4. Most of the additional school funds handed out by Chicago Public Schools went to North Side schools. (Chicago Sun-Times)
3. Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran illegally received a salary from the village of Orland Park while on the Metra board. (Chicago Tribune)
2. Opinion: The heat needs to be kept on 'Nepotism Joe' Berrios. (Chicago Sun-Times)
1. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has fired the county ethics official who was the whistleblower on Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios. (Chicago Sun-Times)