Last year, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she would not seek reelection in 2018. With no obvious successor, the Democratic field was suddenly wide open. In all, eight candidates for a range of backgrounds began their quest for the nomination.
The Illinois Democratic County Chair’s Association brought all of the Democratic candidates to Springfield last night. Their forum, hosted in the Hoogland Center for the Arts, gave the candidate a chance to display both their political ideologies and personal qualifications for the office.
For most of the evening, the candidates took very similar stances to one another. They promised to stand up to President Trump on his immigration policies. They expressed support for the LGBTQ community, organized labor, and abortion. Flint, Michigan was the common example for ensuring environmental protections; and they saw open meetings as key for fighting public corruption. As Jesse Ruiz pointed out on several occasion, “we’re all Democrats up here.”
Candidate also lamented the under-funding of the Attorney General’s Office. They pointed out that the office is actually a revenue-generating office because of their successful lawsuits against white-collar criminals. After the forum, I asked Aaron Goldstein if the state could save money by allocating more resources to the courts and speeding up the legal process. He responded, “To ask that question is to answer it.” The costs of injustice, including wrongful conviction payouts, exceeds the costs of properly funding public defenders and courts from the outset.
Campaign finance was the one area where the candidates took different stances, and often attacked other candidates, initially subtly but increasingly directly as the evening went on. Mayor Rotering, Jesse Ruiz, and Governor Quinn stated that the donations they have accepted from energy companies and utilities would not impact their ability to advocate for the people. Rep. Drury, Aaron Goldstein, Sharon Fairley, and Renato Mariotti disagreed, saying the Attorney General should absolutely not take money from industries they know they will be overseeing in the future.
The weather was an issue for two of the candidates last night. Rep. Scott Drury arrived halfway through the forum. Kwame Raoul was unable to attend the forum at all, but did eventually arrive. You can watch his remarks here.
To learn more about the candidates for Attorney General, check out our Campaign Headquarters. The primary will be held March 20.
Rep. Jimenez’s Legislation to Move State Jobs Back to the Capital City Signed into Law
State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’s push to return state jobs to the capital city today culminated in the signing of a new law mandating that Sangamon County be the default location for state positions in agencies under the Governor. House Bill 4295 directs state agencies to set a geographic location for each job, and if there isn’t a geographic necessity for the state job, then it should be located in Sangamon County.
“For all of my time as state representative, I have made it a priority to push State agencies to identify positions within State government that can and should be located in Sangamon County. A recent report identified hundreds of jobs that could potentially be relocated to the capital city. By making Sangamon County the default location for state jobs in state law, it sends a clear signal that state jobs should be in the capital city, unless they need to be located somewhere else in the state to best serve our residents,” said State Representative Jimenez (R-Leland Grove), the legislation’s chief sponsor.
Rep. Jimenez previously spearheaded passage of a resolution urging agencies under the Governor to compile a report listing the number of state employees in each county, including justification for the location. The report released indicates the potential for nearly 400 jobs to move back to the capital city. The new preference contained in House Bill 4295 takes the next step in the process, requiring the Director of Central Management Services to relocate to Sangamon County all State employment positions under the Personnel Code that are not required by their nature or function to be located in another area. It also requires that all new positions created be located in the Capitol City unless required to be located in another specific location.
The relocation provisions will apply to currently vacant positions and as they become vacant in the future.
“The home of Illinois’ state government should also be home base for as many state government employees as possible. That will help streamline the process of providing services and also save taxpayer dollars in the long run – two improvements we need now more than ever,” Representative Jimenez said.
For more information and detail about this bill, previous efforts and the report from 2016, visit www.repsara.com.
New automatic voter registration law won’t slow efforts to reach out to potential new voters face-to-face
A new automatic voter registration law in Illinois won’t slow efforts to reach out to potential new voters in an old-fashioned way.
Sharon Alter is vice president of voter services and co-chair of voter service with the League of Women Voters of Illinois. She says in-person, face-to-face registration always will have a place of importance.
“People still like the personal contact,” Alter said. “And that contact is important not just with prospective older voters, but also prospective younger voters. During the course of the in-person voter registration, some voting questions can come up, so there’s an education process, especially for a first-time voter.”
The League of Women Voters of Illinois is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Portions of the automatic voter registration law have begun to roll out. Earlier this month, Illinois’ Department of Motor Vehicle employees began to check for a customer’s voter registration online and allow citizens to sign-up if they wish to “opt-in”. Eventually, any eligible resident interacting with the DMV automatically will be registered to vote.
“The League of Women Voters Illinois is part of a coalition that supported the passage of this legislation,” Alter said. “Obviously, what all of us have to do is an education campaign. And that education campaign for voters about the process and the alternative here is just beginning.”
Illinois previously opened up online and same-day registration as part of a sweeping change to election laws in 2014. Alter says that didn’t really slow the demand for in-person sign-ups.
“When online voter registration started, as lot of people thought in-person voter registration would die out, but it really hasn’t,” Alter said. “And I would say at least for a while, even with automatic voter registration, in-person voter registration will still continue.”
Alter says she’s noticed a recent increase in voting interest across the board, but particularly among younger citizens.
“There’s an undercurrent of activism and interest and that’s across the board in ages, but particularly among younger voters,” Alter said. “A number of organizations have increased their membership, certainly since the November 2016 election, including the League of Women Voters.
Meanwhile, as part of the state’s membership in a national voter database, Illinois is required to try to reach people who are eligible to vote but who aren’t registered.
That means the state soon will spend $240,000 to send letters to unregistered voters.
Article by Scot Bertram, for more news visit ILnews.org
Rauner says taxpayers could save $3.5 billion if consolidation recommendations enacted
Illinois taxpayers could save more than $3 billion a year from government consolidation and mandate relief, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Rauner signed House Bill 5123 Monday in DuPage County that allows for affected county clerks to absorb the county’s election commission, a move the governor’s office said will save $300,000, improve efficiency and streamline election reporting in DuPage County.
DuPage County had some election reporting problems on election night for this year’s March 20 primary. The Daily Herald reported elections officials with the county’s election commission failed to test ballot-like cards for it’s optical scan voting machines.
County Clerk Paul Hinds, who will be taking over elections operations for the county under the law Rauner signed, said Monday the consolidation will be good for taxpayers and voters.
“I look forward to a smooth transition moving the duties from the election commission to the county clerk’s office and I will work with the chairman and the county board to administer secure and accountable elections,” Hinds said.
County Chairman Dan Cronin said DuPage County has been a testing ground for consolidation for the past 6 years, saving taxpayers $120 million.
“We have focused on service and cost sharing, collaboration and working with our local and state partners to imagine new ways to deliver public services in the most efficient manner possible,” Cronin said.
Rauner said this needs to happen all over the state. If lawmakers passed all of Rauner’s proposed recommendations, he said taxpayers would save big.
“The estimate was we’d save Illinois taxpayers $3.5 billion per year,” Rauner said. “$3.5 billion per year if we actually implemented the 27 recommendations our task force laid out.”
The Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force created by a Rauner executive order issued a report in December 2015 that laid out ways “to reduce the heavy burden on Illinois taxpayers by empowering citizens and government officials to streamline local government through consolidation and eliminating unnecessary state mandates,” Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said in the report.
Among the 27 recommendations was a mix of ideas to consolidate and to reduce mandates.
For consolidation, recommendations included, among others, a moratorium on creating new local governments, expand DuPage County’s pilot program to all 102 counties, allow township consolidations with coterminous municipalities, incentivize school district consolidation, and encourage sharing of public equipment, facilities and other resources regionally.
Mandates to be repealed, the report suggested, included prevailing wage laws, providing third-party contract mandate relief for school districts, making collective bargaining permissive rather than mandatory, eliminating minimum manning from collective bargaining, merging downstate and suburban public safety pension funds into a single fund, and others.
“I do want to thank members of the General Assembly on a bipartisan basis, (House Bill 5123) got passed, also 10 other bills got passed that took small pieces of our recommendations and got them into law,” Rauner said. “All steps in the right direction. We need to keep working every day, every session, get more legislation passed to lift the mandates, allow consolidation of government, and bring more efficient, effective government to the people of Illinois.”
Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government, hundreds more than any other state, something Rauner said goes hand in hand with the state’s second-highest property tax burden.
“We suffer In Illinois from some of the highest property taxes in America and it is not a coincidence that we also have more units of local government that any state in America,” Rauner said.
But Rauner doesn’t just want to give consolidation power to local elected officials, he wants voters to have also have a say.
“People are outraged,” Rauner said. “If we give power to the people, give power to the homeowners and the voters, rather than only elected officials, we’ll see dramatic change and lower property taxes as a result.”
Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
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