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   Politics makes strange bedfellows, and that's certainly the case in the Illinois Governor's race.  

   Former East St. Louis mayor Carl Officer tells the Belleville News-Democrat that he's formed a SuperPAC to support Republican Bruce Rauner's challenge to Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. The group is called Democrats and Independents for Rauner.  

   SuperPACs emerged in 2010 and can raise and spend unlimited funds to campaign for or against candidates as long as the PAC doesn't coordinate their efforts with the candidates themselves.  

   Officer tells the paper he expects criticism from fellow Democrats, but he believes the state needs a totally different approach if everyone is to have a chance at the American Dream. 

Published in Local News
   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Another major credit-rating house says the next 50 days of Illinois state budget-making will be "pivotal" to the state's financial health.
   Standard & Poor's Ratings Services issued the statement Wednesday.
   Lawmakers must approve a budget for the coming year by the end of May. Gov. Pat Quinn proposed a budget last month that relies on making a temporary income tax increase permanent to avoid a $1.8 billion revenue hole.
   S&P says the plan could help the state's finances by preventing sharp spending reductions. But it noted the budget still leans on non-recurring revenue such as an inter-fund loan and reliance on Medicaid reform and other cost-containment.
   Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings issued similar outlooks last week.
   
 
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is calling for a "rainy day fund" in the Illinois state budget.
 
The Democratic governor made the proposal in his annual budget address Wednesday.
 
He says officials "need to build our reserves to protect taxpayers in the event of an economic downturn or an emergency down the road."
 
It's part of what Quinn says is a plan to provide "stability" in the long-term budget. He also called for "solid spending caps" to ensure the state doesn't defer its financial obligation.
 
He did not say how much money should be reserved in the rainy day fund.
Published in Local News
   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is set to present his state budget at a time when Illinois faces an expiring income tax increase and the massive budget shortfall that comes with it.
   The Wednesday speech also falls at the start of what's expected to be one of the toughest gubernatorial campaigns nationwide. Quinn's Republican challenger, businessman Bruce Rauner, has already blasted Quinn for a lack of leadership.
   However, Quinn says he has a five-year plan for Illinois' spending.
   The state's income tax increase expires in January, creating a roughly $1.6 billion hole. Illinois also has billions in unpaid bills.
   Quinn could propose extending the increase, which Republicans say they'll fight. He could also allow it to sunset and back other revenue-generating taxes. Or he could leave it up to the Legislature.
 
Published in Local News
   SPRINGFIELD, IL (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn's state budget address this week could be the most crucial of his political career.
   His pitch to lawmakers comes as Illinois grapples with a major financial dilemma: Whether to extend a temporary income tax increase. And Quinn is facing a serious re-election challenge from Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, who already refers to Quinn as "the worst governor in America."
   It's the first major fiscal issue since Rauner won the GOP nod.
   Quinn is expected to reveal plans for when the tax sunsets and leaves a roughly $1.6 billion revenue hole, making deep cuts likely. The speech in Springfield on Wednesday will also be his opportunity to deliver a message to critical groups, like unions, that've been displeased with him and that he'll need come November.
 
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has picked up a major labor endorsement for his re-election during a campaign that's already focused on union influence.
 
Service Employees International Union in Illinois said Monday it was backing the Chicago Democrat because of his stance on the minimum wage and integrity in Springfield.
 
Quinn faces what's expected to be a tough challenge from Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.
 
The Winnetka venture capitalist made fighting "government union bosses" a theme during the GOP primary. Unions also made the unusual move of endorsing a Republican in the primary: state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.
 
Quinn has traditionally enjoyed union support. However, public employee unions disagreed with his signing of a pension overhaul that cuts benefits for state employees and retirees.
 
SEIU represents roughly 170,000 workers in Illinois.
Published in Local News
   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is questioning his Republican gubernatorial rival's ethics, wealth and stance on minimum wage during his re-election bid.
   The Chicago Democrat raised the issues in a story published in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times.
   Quinn has already tried to differentiate himself from businessman Bruce Rauner by playing up the venture capitalist's wealth and views on minimum wage. Quinn wants to raise Illinois' rate. Rauner initially said he wanted to cut the rate, later saying he'd raise it under certain circumstances.
   Now Quinn is raising questions about Rauner's business dealings and possible links to Stuart Levine, who was convicted in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption scandal.
   Rauner's campaign says Quinn is playing "political games" and blasts his signing of a pension overhaul cutting benefits for state employees and retirees.
 
Published in Local News
   CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago's mayor and the governor of Illinois are among those celebrating the life of gay rights activist Vernita Gray, who died Tuesday at age 65.
   Gray and her partner, Patricia Ewert, wed in the state's first same-sex marriage in November. Her terminal cancer and her wish to marry convinced a federal judge to order an expedited marriage license. That allowed the couple to get married before the June 1 effective date of Illinois' new same-sex marriage law.
   Gray had worked for gay rights for decades.
   Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised Gray's work for equality and civil rights in a statement Wednesday, calling her "an inspiration to all who crossed her path."
   Gov. Pat Quinn says Gray "fought for what she believed in and made a difference for people across Illinois."
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - The chief strategist behind Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election campaign calls the Chicago Democrat a tough "street fighter" who knows how to win elections.
   
Bill Hyers told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that the race will boil down to a "clear contrast" between Quinn and Republican nominee Bruce Rauner.
 
Hyers most recently managed Bill de Blasio's successful campaign for New York mayor. In 2012 he managed President Barack Obama's Pennsylvania campaign operations. He also was Midwest director for Obama in 2008.
 
Hyers says Quinn shouldn't be underestimated and is ready for a tough fight. He says those who've dismissed Quinn before have been wrong. Quinn narrowly won a first full term in 2010.
 
Quinn's campaign has focused on Rauner's wealth and changing stance on raising the minimum wage.
Published in Local News
   The votes are in, and billionaire businessman Bruce Rauner has won the GOP nomination for Illinois governor.  Rauner overcame a late surge from State Senator Kirk Dillard to capture the nomination.  State Senator Bill Brady and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford had conceded defeat shortly after the polls closed.  
   If elected in November, Rauner has said he'll model his administration after Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, who championed anti-union legislation. 
   As expected, Rauner willl face incumbent Governor Pat Quinn who easily won the Democratic nomination over challenger Tio Hardiman.
   There were no real surprises in any of the local races Tuesday.
   U.S. Representative Rodney Davis turned back a nationally watched GOP challenge from former Miss America Erika Harold to remain his party's pick for the District 13 congressional seat.  The Taylorville Republican now faces a November showdown with former Madison County Judge Ann Callis in a race that's being heavily targeted by the National Democratic Party.  Callis defeated George Gollin and David Green for the Democratic nod.
 
   There were several other primary races for congressional seats:  
   In District 3, Sharon Brannigan took the Republican nomination over Diane Harris.
   In District 4, incumbent Democrat Luis Gutierrez easily beat challengers Alexandra Eidenberg and Jorge Zavala to retain the party's nomination.
   In District 8, Republican voters overwhelmingly picked Larry Kaifesh over Manju Goel.
   In District 9, Susanne Atanus edged David Earl Williams for the GOP nod.
   In District 11, Darlene Senger defeated three candidates for the Republican nomination, including strong challenges from Chris Balkema and Bert Miller. 
   In District 14, Democrat Dennis Anderson bested John Hosta for the nomination.
   In District 16, incumbent Republican Adam Kinzinger easily overcame a challenge from David Hale.
   In District 18, Darrel Miller won the Democratic nomination over Rob Mellon.
 
   Tom Cross defeated Bob Grogan for the GOP nomination for State Treasurer. Cross will take on Democratic state Sen. Michael Frerichs of Champaign in the November general election.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Published in Local News
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