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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Michael Madigan's spokesman says the Illinois House speaker is withdrawing a plan to tax millionaires in the state.
   Steve Brown is the Chicago Democrat's spokesman. He said Wednesday that Madigan blames Republicans who wouldn't support the proposal. Brown says Republicans "prefer and protect millionaires over school children." Highwood Democratic state Rep. Scott Drury also expressed concerns about the plan.
   Madigan wanted to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would have added a 3 percent surcharge onto incomes over $1 million. He said it would raise an estimated $1 billion annually for schools. A House committee approved the plan Thursday.
   The proposal needed a three-fifths majority in both chambers to be placed on the general election ballot.
   Republicans said the tax would hurt small businesses and farmers.
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 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
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 02:22

Pension reform won't do much to curb IL debt

   A report being released Tuesday says Illinois' plan to save $160 billion ultimately won't make much of a dent in the state's growing deficits.  

   The University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs study says changes to the state's major public pension systems will eliminate their unfunded liability over the next 25 years, but the state's deficit will increase to $13 billion during that time.  Institute researchers projected a $14 billion deficit - a $1 billion difference - if the state had not implemented pension reform.  

   Institute Director Chris Mooney says the study was released as campaigns for the 2014 general election begin to heat up in order to make sure the state's fiscal crisis is talked about.

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' treasurer says he's monitoring the debt ceiling showdown in Washington and the impact it could have on the state's finances.

   Members of Congress continued late Tuesday to search for deal that would allow raising the country's cap to borrow more money in order to pay its bills. The government has been partially shut down for more than two weeks as Democrats and Republicans haggle over spending.

   Dan Rutherford's office says it utilizes U.S. Treasury securities as an important investment tool for the state's portfolios. The state holds $1.2 billion in U.S. Treasury bills that will mature over the next month.

   Rutherford says planning ahead for a possible short-term default will allow the state to meet its payments on bonds and interest on a short-term basis.

   

 
Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois officials say the state saved about $44 million in five months because of a vendor's work to scrub unentitled Illinois residents from the Medicaid rolls. Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos detailed the savings Tuesday at a legislative hearing in Chicago.

   The work by Reston, Va.-based Maximus resulted in the state canceling Medicaid for more than 125,000 people. Outsourcing that task will cost the state about $70 million over two years.

   Hamos says 40 percent of the people kicked off Medicaid had no medical costs in the past six months, resulting in lower than projected savings.

   She says Illinois officials still would like to complete the contract with Maximus and will appeal an arbitrator's ruling that would require the contract to be canceled Dec. 31.

 
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A bipartisan group of Illinois lawmakers tasked with pension reform will meet in Springfield on the day before a special legislative session is convened.

   Senate Democrats say the 10-member committee will meet Monday. The House and Senate are scheduled to convene Tuesday to consider Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto on concealed carry legislation.

   While Quinn originally called the Legislature back July 9 to deal with pensions, it is unlikely the issue will be voted on by that deadline.

   Committee members met last week in a grueling five-hour public session where little was resolved. They are scheduled to meet again Wednesday.  Members say they are hopeful progress is being made, but legislation has yet to be drafted.

   Illinois' worst-in-the-nation unfunded pension liability hovers around $100 billion.

 
Published in Local News
Friday, 05 April 2013 09:43

ESL Dist. 189 announces teacher lay offs

   Cuts in the classroom are coming to the East St. Louis School District. Teachers layoffs were announced  during Thursday night's packed school board meeting.  

   In all, 69 teachers in District 189 will lose their jobs.  Five elementary school principals and two middle school principals will also be cut.  

   East St. Louis is just the latest in a long list of metro-east school districts forced to make the cuts because of state and local budget issues.

Published in Local News
Friday, 22 March 2013 02:43

IL House passes pared down pension plan

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House has approved a stripped-down pension plan that could delay and reduce cost-of-living increases for retirees and future retirees.

The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan and comes out of a laborious process where lawmakers are addressing the pension problem piece by piece instead of a total overhaul at once. House members voted in favor 66-50 yesterday. It's the third scaled-back pension bill the House has recently approved.

Thursday's proposal says that no cost-of-living increases can be taken until retirees reach 67 years of age, or five years after retirement and applies COLAs only to the first $25,000 of an annual pension.

Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability because for years lawmakers either skipped or shorted payments.
Published in Local News
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