QUINN LOSES... SO DO TAXPAYERS You probably know by now that Gov. Pat Quinn lost his attempt to cancel paychecks for lawmakers. Cook County Circuit Judge Neil Cohen sided with House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton in their lawsuit against Quinn. Cohen ordered that lawmakers receive back pay plus interest (you'll pay for that). Quinn is planning to appeal (you'll pay for that too) but Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka already has issued the back pay, so this could get a bit complicated. Find Cohen's full decision and the latest reaction and developments here.
BACK TO PENSIONS You have to give Quinn credit for one thing: His cancellation of lawmaker paychecks kept pension reform high in the news cycle through the summer. But it didn't have its intended effect of speeding up the work of the General Assembly's special conference committee on pension reform. We hear a finished bill from the committee is imminent but we're concerned whether the compromise they've forged sufficiently addresses the scale of the pension crisis. Use our Sound Off tool to keep the pressure on for a pension reform bill that will both get the state out of its financial quagmire and keep pension systems solvent. Sound Off lets you notify your legislators plus Gov.Pat Quinn and the four legislative leaders in a few easy clicks. Use the message already or create your own. Give it a try!
FIXING EAST ST. LOUIS Last month we featured a St. Louis Magazine interview with East St. Louis native and activist Matt Hawkins, who is collecting signatures to get a referendum on the 2014 ballot to dissolve his chronically troubled hometown as a legal entity. We call this the ultimate reboot. Response to the piece was tremendous. Now Hawkins has taken another step in his effort by filing a federal lawsuit that seeks to strip East St. Louis' election commission of authority to conduct elections and register voters. This is a commission that recently reported more registered voters than East St. Louis has residents of voting age. Eat your heart out, Chicago. Find out more here.
TAX PAIN One of the biggest complaints about Illinois' tax policy is our heavy reliance on property taxes to fund schools. Ever wondered which counties have the highest property tax bills? Today's Top 25 list has your answer. Check it out and see what the average annual tax bills are in these counties. Click here.
SOUND OFF ON TAXES With the second highest unemployment in the nation, an unresolved pension crisis and businesses complaining about a hostile tax and regulatory climate, the last thing Illinois needs in 2015 is a tax increase. That's the message you can send using our Sound Off tool. Use our message or tailor one to your liking. And if you don't know who your senator and representative are, Sound Off will tell you. Let your legislators in Springfield know you're watching. Click here and Sound Off!
CORPORATE CONTROVERSY A bill in the General Assembly would force publicly traded corporations in Illinois to make public their corporate tax returns. Supporters say wealthy corporations aren't paying their fair share of taxes and this law would hold them accountable. Opponents say it's an unfair effort that will be used to selectively punish individual companies. Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Doug Whitley is in the latter camp. He says Illinois ought to revise its tax code if lawmakers are so concerned about whether corporations are paying what they owe. Read Whitley's view here.
FIVE FOR FRIDAY Here's what's making news in Illinois today as we head into the weekend:
5. State Sen. Jim Oberweis says he supports term limits but that doesn't necessarily mean he will back Bruce Rauner for governor. (Chicago Sun-Times)
4. Senate President John Cullerton says now that Gov. Quinn's suspension of legislator salaries has been overturned, lawmakers can really focus on pension reform. (Associated Press)
3. The city of Dixon is blaming phony invoices and lax auditors for not catching Rita Crundwell's embezzlement of funds. (Chicago Tribune)
2. Opinion: Chicago's pension crisis is here and needs to be dealt with now, not years in the future. (Chicago Sun-Times)
1. Gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady says he will live in the Executive Mansion if elected governor. Meanwhile, all four GOP candidates weigh in on the future possibility of an income tax increase. (State Journal-Register)