Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered a mostly predictable State of the State address Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to work together to fix Illinois’ many fiscal issues while also pushing familiar policies that target his nemesis in the General Assembly, House Speaker Michael Madigan.
In front of a joint session of the legislature, the governor received a Bronx cheer when he said he planned to introduce a balanced budget in the coming weeks. While Rauner has claimed to submit balanced budgets in the past, Democrats and some Republicans say that’s not true.
“This year, I hope you guys will pass it instead of ignoring it,” Rauner said in response to the mock ovation, which quickly turned to groans.
Rauner said leaders from both parties worked together in the fall to pitch Chicago to online retail giant Amazon. Chicago is among the finalists hoping to land Amazon’s second North American headquarters.
“Governor, mayor, General Assembly, city council, businesses and nonprofits, Republicans and Democrats collaborated to compete for 15 years of growth, with 168,000 potential jobs and $129 billion in cumulative new GDP,” he said.
There are more opportunities to pursue, Rauner said, but to be successful, political opponents will have to work together.
“It takes a collaborative effort, a forget-about-the-politics-and-roll-up-our-sleeves kind of approach,” he said. “It requires a laser-like focus on economic development and job creation and a bipartisan dedication to restore public trust.”
Rauner spent much of his address on familiar themes: The need for substantive economic reforms to help grow jobs, and property tax relief to help overly burdened homeowners and businesses.
“Home values in some parts of our state are half what they were 10 years ago, yet property taxes are twice as high,” Rauner said. “Small businesses often have to cut staff to pay their taxes. Elderly couples on fixed incomes are too often pushed out of their homes because they cannot afford their property taxes.”
Targeting Madigan, who has been House speaker for all but two years since 1983, the governor again called for term limits.
“Eighty percent of the state’s voters want term limits,” Rauner said. “The other 20 percent, it seems, are seated in this chamber and in elected Illinois courts. It is past time to make this good governance move. Put term limits on the ballot and let the people decide.”
Rauner also referenced an executive order he signed two weeks ago that prevents elected legislators from practicing before the state property tax appeal board. Both Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton are tax attorneys.
On jobs, Rauner said the state has “planted the seeds of growth in our economy.”
“We’ve put 120,000 people to work. We’ve brought and kept business here: Amazon, General Mills, Nucor Steel, Brandt Industries and many more,” he said.
In response, Wirepoints.com founder Mark Glennon, a former venture capitalist, disagreed with the governor.
“Our job growth has been horribly underperforming compared to other states,” Glennon said. “We haven’t planted seeds. We haven’t even taken that first step. … Unfortunately, I’m not terribly optimistic based on what I heard today.”
Illinois has had slow jobs growth and a higher unemployment rate than the national average. One example is manufacturing jobs. President Donald Trump touted 200,000 new manufacturing jobs added across the county in all of 2017 during his Tuesday State of the Union address, but Illinois snagged only 7,700 of those manufacturing jobs while neighboring states’ gains outpaced Illinois’.
Just as Rauner didn’t offer much new, Democrats’ response also was largely predictable.
State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, delivered House Democrats’ official response, critizing the governor for not working with the General Assembly and for the state’s fiscal woes.
“Time and again the governor has refused to work with us to pass a balanced budget,” Lang said. “He forced the state into budgetary chaos for more than 700 days,” referencing a two-year standoff between Rauner and the General Assembly that led to last summer’s $5 billion income tax increase over the governor’s veto.
Calling Rauner an absentee governor, Lang said he has a choice.
“He can choose to continue down his path of destruction. He can abdicate his constitutional responsibilities,” Lang said. “If that is his choice, the General Assembly will continue to move forward without him.”
At a news conference, Cullerton’s comments echoed those of Lang.
“We haven’t had a leaders’ meeting with the governor in more than a year. At the end of the day, I don’t care if he’s a lone wolf or a head cheerleader, what the state needs is a governor to take charge engage and do the job, and that just hasn’t happened.”
Wednesday’s address, Rauner’s fourth, comes amid a divisive gubernatorial campaign in which the first-term governor faces a primary challenge from a former supporter.
Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, decided to run in the March 20 Republican primary after she says Rauner abandoned his own party over issues such as spending, immigration and taxpayer-funded abortions. On the Democrats’ side, billionaire J.B Pritzker has launched an expensive ad campaign that targets Rauner even though Pritzker has several primary opponents.
During his address, Rauner acknowledged the #MeToo movement that swept the country last fall in the wake of allegations of rampant sexual harassment in Hollywood, the media and Springfield. He announced he will sign an executive order that will strengthen the policies that ensure all government employees under his jurisdiction have reliable and responsive outlets for reporting acts of sexual misconduct.
“The order creates a chief compliance office in the executive branch; stipulates reviews of allegations in 10 days or less; and requires training on best investigation practices by the end of this year, and every two years thereafter,” Rauner said. “These are powerful protections that the legislature should emulate.”
Many lawmakers and staff wore black Wednesday in a show of support for women at the capitol and across Illinois who have been victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
Rauner’s executive order announcement comes a week after a newly appointed legislative inspector general all but cleared a state senator of sexual harassment allegations leveled during a dramatic House committee hearing last fall.
Rauner is scheduled to deliver his budget address in front of both chambers on Feb. 14. The only hints he gave on what would be in his budget were some of the same reforms he’s pushed for in the past.
“I don’t know anyone in this chamber, or in this state, who isn’t frustrated when we spend beyond our means, or borrow to cover deficits, or let pension issues go unresolved,” Rauner said.
Despite last year’s tax increase, Illinois’ current budget is more than $2 billion out of whack. The state’s pension systems are underfunded by more than $130 billion and Illinois has the highest workers’ compensation costs in the Midwest.
“Rhode Island reformed its pensions. California enacted term limits,” Rauner said. “Massachusetts changed its group health plans and lowered workers’ comp rates. We have the power to take similar steps. The question is whether we have the will to take them.”
Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants, sided with Rauner’s reform efforts in his response to the State of the State address.
“Retailers are a critical economic engine for the state, but our industry continues to operate on razor thin margins as regulations, mandates and taxes continue to squeeze Main Street retailers,” Karr said. “We share the governor’s belief that more business reforms are needed to lift up our state, which will only bolster productivity, economic growth and wages.”
Glennon wasn’t optimistic that the budget Rauner proposes will truly be balanced.
“I can only imagine that it’s going to have a bunch of phony savings in it, and it’s not going to be balanced,” Glennon said.
Article By Dan McCaleb and Greg Bishop. For more Illinois News Network content, visit ILNews.org – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his fourth State of the State address Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2018. Image courtesy of BlueRoomStream.
Gov. Rauner’s death penalty, public safety proposals to get House hearing Monday
An Illinois House hearing Monday afternoon in Springfield will tackle reinstating the death penalty for cop killers and mass murderers, and other issues that are part of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s latest public safety push.
Rauner injected the death penalty idea into the conversation when he changed a bill lawmakers sent to his desk. The bill, House Bill 1468, would have put a 72 hour, rather than 24 hour, waiting period for certain semi-automatic rifles. Rauner changed that to include all guns. But he also put in language that would reinstate the death penalty in Illinois for specific crimes like mass murder or killing a police officer.
Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011 after several people were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die.
The sponsor of HB1468, state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Buffalo Grove, filed a motion to accept Rauner’s amendatory veto.
The Illinois State Rifle Association issued a bulletin Thursday that said the veto should be sustained.
“Now we have to make every effort to prevent the amendatory veto from being overridden,” ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson said in an email. “We need phone calls to the members of the Illinois House asking legislators to support the governor’s veto.”
Rauner said his package of ideas is intended to bring about what he called important public safety measures. Those ideas include bringing back the death penalty, putting a 72-hour waiting period in place for all firearm purchases, banning bump stocks and trigger cranks, authorizing restraining orders to disarm dangerous people and requiring judges and prosecutors to explain why charges are reduced in plea agreements for violent offenders in gun cases.
House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said Rauner’s move is pure politics.
“[Rauner] handed a bunch of things to people who are less interested in guns and he handed a bunch of things to people who are more interested in guns and hard line on criminal law,” Lang said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is promoting an amendment to Senate Bill 2580 filed by Carroll to bring Rauner’s ideas up for a hearing at 2 p.m. Monday in the Judiciary-Criminal Committee.
“The issues the governor raised … deserve a full hearing and consideration before the House,” Madigan said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing from stakeholders and continuing our effort to keep our children, our schools and our communities safe from senseless gun violence.”
Rauner said Friday’s deadly mass shooting at a Texas school was another reminder there needs to be common sense policies in place to protect children. He said his proposals would free up resources for armed school resource officers at public schools.
“Just like the hero in Dixon [Illinois] who stopped a shooter in his tracks effectively in Dixon,” Rauner said. “We need that in every school that would like it and we also need mental health professionals, and I’ve proposed ways that we can fund that for each school to keep the schools safer.”
Rauner said local sales taxes should be freed up to hire more school resource officers.
On Wednesday in Dixon, school resource officer Mark Dallas shot and wounded Matthew Milby, a 19-year-old former student of Dixon High School, when Milby allegedly opened fire with a rifle. There were no other injuries.
Given that Rauner has been in office for more than three years, during which there were multiple mass shootings across the country, the gun proposals seem like a last-minute effort, Lang said.
“We haven’t heard all that much from him,” Lang said. “And now in the 11th hour he wants to be a person who wants to talk about guns and guns safety, and try to pander to both sides.”
Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
Video Credit: State of Illinois, Greg Bishop | Illinois News Network. Gov. Bruce Rauner in Chicago Friday talks about his public safety proposals, House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says Rauner’s playing politics
Supreme Court Ruling Overturns Ban On Sports Betting
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in the case that was formerly known as Chris Christie vs. NCAA (Christie’s name has been supplanted by Phil Murphy, the state’s new governor), striking down a 25-year old federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that largely outlawed sports betting outside of Nevada.
The court overruled a decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, saying PASPA violates the state’s 10th Amendment rights, thereby creating a path for New Jersey and other states to offer sports betting.
“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own,” the opinion reads. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”
What happens next?
New Jersey has been preparing in earnest for legalized sports wagering since 2012, and many locations are ready to move quickly. Monmouth Park — a racetrack on the Jersey Shore — says it could open betting windows within the next two weeks.
It could take other states weeks, or even months, to follow New Jersey’s blueprint, if they choose. One exception is Delaware, said Daniel Wallach, a sports gaming law expert and attorney at Becker & Poliakof, noting that the state already as infrastructure in place and doesn’t require any legislative tweaks.
Which states will be next?
Many state legislatures have been working on bills in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and many were waiting to see whether the court would strike down PASPA entirely. Many places have already concluded their 2018 legislative sessions, which could mean state lawmakers can’t address the matter until next year.
While New Jersey and Delaware could have betting windows open soon, states such as West Virginia and Mississippi are also poised to move quickly. States such as Pennsylvania and Connecticut could be racing to get in the game, as well. Nearly 20 states have introduced bills that could legalize sports betting, and a 2017 report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that as many as 32 states could offer legal sports betting within the next five years.
What sports will I be able bet on?
The Supreme Court opinion means states can offer the same betting options as any other sports books, including college and professional sports, horse racing, golf, combat sports and non-American sporting events.
Is there anything I won’t be able to bet on?
Some sports leagues have urged states to ban some prop bets, primarily the situational variety that can be easily impacted by a single player or decision without necessarily altering the game’s outcome. For example, the leagues don’t want to see betting lines offered on which player will commit the first foul of a game, or whether the first pitch of a game is a ball or strike.
Most sports books are likely to offer single-game bets, over-under bets, prop betting, teaser bets and parlays, as Nevada sports books do.
Will mobile and online betting be available?
Many bills are encouraging mobile and online betting options. Without these options, gambling advocates warn that bettors will still turn to offshore accounts and illegal bookmakers.
New Jersey sports books will be able to take bets via phone or computer, but not right away. There will be a licensing process that could take weeks — possibly a few months — before books will be able to take bets remotely. Even then, only intrastate wagers will be permitted.
Can I place in-game wagers?
Like many of the details, in the absence of federal legislation, this ultimately could vary from state to state. Some of the proposed bills specifically allow for in-game betting, such as those in West Virginia and New York.
I already have accounts with DraftKings and FanDuel. Will they offer sports betting?
A: Many expect both these companies — the two giants in the world of daily fantasy sports — to quickly jump into this space and offer a large menu of sports betting options. They already have much of the infrastructure in place, and a long list of users familiar with their platforms.
In the meantime, those companies could still partner with specific casinos or venues, particularly on the mobile and online side of the business.
Are the pro sports leagues happy about this?
In 2012, the five biggest sports entities in the United States sued to prevent New Jersey from entering the sports gaming business. But since then, some have altered their stance. The NBA and Major League Baseball have both said some form of legal sports gambling seems inevitable, and have teamed together to urge states to pass bills that would help protect the integrity of their sports – while also directing some profits in the direction of the leagues.
While all of the leagues will likely take on added costs – education, monitoring and investigations, for example – they could also stand to make plenty of money through new partnerships and business opportunities.
What about the NCAA?
The world of college sports, relying on amateur student-athletes, has been resolute in its opposition of sports wagering.
There has been talk that the leagues will want a percentage of the money wagered? Is that happening? Does it impact bettors?
Major League Baseball and the NBA have proposed states mandate a 1 percent kickback to the leagues for assuming added risk. They liken to this to an “integrity fee,” or a “royalty to the league.” Some states have balked and the leagues have expressed a willingness to take less than 1 percent.
Some gambling advocates say cutting into sports books’ profits with such fees could force them to offer tighter odds, which could push bettors back to the illegal markets to make their wagers.
How big is the sports gambling industry?
While it’s probably impossible to accurately estimate, experts suggest that illegal betting in the United States is a $50-150 billion business – perhaps significantly more.
According to research by UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, legal sports betting in Nevada totaled nearly $5 billion last year, led by football — both college and professional — which accounted for $1.76 billion.
A 2017 report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that legal sports gambling could be a $6 billion industry — perhaps as much $16 billion if more states eventually get onboard.
Could this lead to corruption or scandals?
That has certainly been the big fear, which has prompted the leagues to dig in their heels on this issue for so long. The leagues know they’ll have to take on added costs to educate players and monitor betting trends to guard against any suspect activity.
But gambling advocates are quick to point out that sports gambling already takes place on a massive scale, meaning the leagues are already vulnerable to corruption.
What happens to that federal law that largely banned sports betting outside of Las Vegas?
Even with PASPA struck down, Congress could still move to establish federal guidelines that would produce uniformity from state to state.
On Dec. 7 — the same day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case — Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., introduced the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or GAME Act. His proposal doesn’t set federal guidelines, per se, but it does aim to remove obstacles and provide the legal framework for states to adopt sports betting.
What will Illinois do? Is there a plan and desire to allow for sports gambling in this state?
The gambling industry wants to capitalize on what’s long been a valuable black-market industry. They contend strict state regulations and high taxes could keep legal businesses from being able to compete with illegal bookkeepers, saying they already have incentive to make sure games stay clean to preserve their own bottom line.
Will Green, an official of the American Gaming Association, said high taxes could “burden a legal sports book with unnecessary costs” and make legal businesses unable to meet the higher payouts of illegal companies that currently operate offshore.
“It will cut the legs off of legal sports betting, quite honestly, before it has the chance to walk,” he said.
Opponents, though, say expanded gambling does more harm than the potential tax money could do good. Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, said online gambling is a “gateway” that could get kids hooked, saying children are already “bombarded with gambling ads” on social media.
Gambling industry officials estimated sports betting could net the state about $85 million in taxes.
Illinois is was not the only state betting on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal ban. Similar legislation to regulate and tax sports betting has been proposed in at least a dozen states across the country, including Indiana, Missouri, California and Massachusetts. State legislatures in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Mississippi also passed laws in recent months.
Nonprofit pushing Illinois to lower voting age to 16 for local elections
While Illinois lawmakers and local officials are considering raising the legal age to smoke and own firearms, a push to lower the voting age is gaining steam.
Vote 16 Illinois is a chapter of Vote 16 USA, a nonprofit with a goal to lower the legal voting age requirements for local elections. The group is working with state lawmakers to start the conversation about getting 16-year-olds the right to vote.
Brandon Klugman, with Vote 16’s national chapter, said that voting at 16 sets the tone for civic participation in later years.
“When people vote in the first election they’re eligible for, they’re much more likely to continue voting in subsequent elections,” he said.
Perhaps more compelling to detractors of allowing a 16-year-old to vote in local elections: If they’re already working and paying taxes, shouldn’t they have a say in that process?
“Young people who are working and paying taxes are definitely aware of that fact,” Klugman said.
When asked why it’s acceptable for a young person to vote five years before they can buy cigarettes, as was approved by the Illinois Senate in April, Klugman said the timelines aren’t comparable.
“Each age line should be set at what makes the most sense in that particular behavior and that particular activity,” he said.
Allowing local votes at 16 would require changing the state’s constitution. The Illinois Constitution would have to be amended to allow only home-rule municipalities the option to lower their age requirement. It’s not impossible. It was changed via referendum in 1988 to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, where it stands now.
Eighteen would still be the age limit for elections with federal consequences.
Article by the Cole Lauterbach, for more INN News visit ILnews.org
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