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Republican lawmakers blast Gov. Rauner after abortion decision

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Republican lawmakers’ response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to sign a controversial abortion bill was swift and harsh.

“I’m just sickened by his decision to sign House Bill 40,” state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, said Thursday. “He personally told me he was not going to [sign the bill] so I feel like he either lied to me or maybe he changed his mind, and thought this was a better strategic [political] tactic. I don’t know, but I literally feel sick to my stomach and I’m on the verge of tears.”

HB40 allows for taxpayer dollars to be used to fund elective abortions through Medicaid and state employee health insurance. It passed the General Assembly in May with no Republican support. Rauner said in April he would veto it, but he announced Thursday he now will sign it.

Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, issued a lengthy statement after Rauner’s announcement, and said he could no longer support the Republican governor.

“I’ve had a front row seat to watch the performance and ability of Bruce Rauner over these past three years,” Breen, the House Republican floor leader, said. “I personally observed him badly botch negotiations with the General Assembly on a variety of subjects, finally getting to the point where Governor Rauner couldn’t even be in the same room as House Speaker Mike Madigan. Madigan is the one guy who Rauner promised to stand up to, but he can’t or won’t even enter the arena for that fight.”

Breen claimed Rauner lied when he promised in April to veto HB40.

“I’ve heard Rauner promise the people of Illinois that he had ‘no social agenda’ and as such firmly commit to legislators, the public, and even to Chicago’s Cardinal Blaise Cupich, that he would veto taxpayer funding of abortions,” Breen said. “But he has now broken that commitment.”

Breen said he no longer can support Rauner.

“In the face of overwhelming evidence of Rauner’s inability to competently administer the Illinois government, inability to stand up to Mike Madigan effectively, and inability to keep his word and his commitments, I can no longer support him,” he said. “And whether or not they are able to agree publicly, I know hundreds of elected Republicans, along with hundreds of thousands of Republican voters, who feel the same way I do.”

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said Rauner’s decision was “beyond disappointing.”

“Illinois is still facing a financial crisis. Not only can taxpayers not afford this, but polls show that the majority of people in our country don’t want their tax dollars funding abortion,” Rezin said. “As a mother of four, I am pro-life and will continue to stand up for the unborn and taxpayers.”

State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said polls show taxpayers are overwhelmingly opposed to tax dollars being used to pay for abortions.

“It’s a sad day for Illinois, for the voiceless, and Illinois taxpayers,” Righter said.

Sen. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said she felt betrayed.
“It’s incomprehensible to any Republican that you would have a Republican governor sign such a egregious bill,” Ives said. “I told him we would be the laughingstock of the Republican party if he signed such a bill as the governor.”

Ives said she’s already gotten messages all around from people who say Rauner has lost their support.

“They will not be voting for him,” she said. “I don’t think he will regain his base … people will stay home. They will not vote for him. And at the top of the ticket he endangers everyone else, every other Republican who is on that ticket.”

“I won’t be supporting him,” she said when asked if he should not seek re-election.

State Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, was less harsh.

“I did not support the measure, but I am not surprised he signed the bill,” Althoff said. “Throughout this entire issue I have been very clear about my personal position and that is I am a pro-choice candidate. But I’ve always drawn the line at utilizing taxpayer dollars for abortion when this state is still almost 50 percent divided on this issue on whether it’s appropriate or inappropriate.”

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, called Rauner “a failed governor who lied to the people of Illinois.”

“On April 14, he announced that he would veto HB40,” McSweeney said. “Rauner looked the other way on the 32 percent increase in the income tax rate, made Illinois a sanctuary state and is primarily responsible for Illinois’ $16 billion backlog of unpaid bills.”

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said this issue couldn’t affect next year’s race for governor.

“While I am frustrated and saddened, I also know that Speaker Madigan and the Democrats are trying to use this issue to divide our party and elect a Madigan-backed candidate for governor,” Schneider said. “As chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, I will not let that happen. Our state faces great challenges, and we are focused on the issues that unite us as Republicans and as Illinoisans. There is no daylight between Governor Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party and we will continue working hard to ensure his re-election and finally defeat Mike Madigan once and for all.”

By Dan McCaleb and Greg Bishop | Illinois News Network | Dan McCaleb is news director of Illinois News Network and the digital hub ILNews.org. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@ilnews.org.

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Illinois News Network, publisher of ILNews.org, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in the state of Illinois. INN is Illinois’ pioneering non-profit news brand, offering content from the statehouse and beyond to Illinoisans through their local media of choice and from their digital hub at ILNews.org. Springfield Daily was granted republishing permission by INN.

Illinois Govt

Illinois pot legalization splits both parties in House, but is poised for governor’s signature after passage

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Illinois lawmakers celebrate after Illinois House approved a bill to legalize recreational marijuana at the State Capitol

A bill to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use in Illinois is on to the governor despite there being bipartisan opposition.

Sponsors of the measure say allowing adults to legally buy from state licensed sellers and possess up to 30 grams of marijuana is not just about revenue for the state, it’s about reversing the impacts of the War on Drugs.

“I have said repeatedly, however, this is not about the money,” said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago. “It can’t be about the money. States that have passed legalization and have gone about it as if it’s a magic ATM machine have failed doubly. They have not cut into their illicit marketplace and they’ve gotten less revenue.”

Cassidy said the tax rates have been set at the lower end of what other states tax. With all the taxes for cannabis in House Bill 1438, from the state excise tax, cultivation privilege tax and even local tax on top of the state sales tax, the most THC potent form of the product will have a 41 percent tax.

The measure found support from state Rep. David Welter, R-Morris. He said the provisions for local control over sales and the ability for businesses to do random drug testing were good provisions.

“I’m a father of three from a rural district and I’m standing before you supporting this bill because I do not believe the current policy that we have out there right now is working,” Welter said. “Prohibition doesn’t work and we see that. Putting safeguards in place, taxing, regulating it I believe provides a better market and a safer market for our state.”

Many other Republicans, however, stood in opposition to the bill, citing various statistics of increased psychosis, traffic fatalities and youth access in states that have legalized it. Supporters of the bill said correlation doesn’t mean causation, but opponents said it’s an area that should be investigated further.

House Democrats were also split on the measure.

State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, talked about the negative health effects of the drug. He brought out props to the House floor: An egg and a pan.

“This is your brain,” DeLuca said as he cracked an egg into a frying pan. “There it is folks. This is your brain on drugs. So today for my family, for my children, for your family, of your children, and especially for African American and Hispanic communities, vote no.”

State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, immediately stood in support of the measure and to “refute some of the what I call nonsense that we heard including wasting eggs that should have been used to make a souffle or something instead of making a ridiculous point that has been outdated for over 30 years.”

The House Black Caucus was split on the issue with some speaking in favor, others in oppositions.

State Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, said he at first didn’t trust the process, but now he does.

“This is so important to me,” Evans said. “I’ve seen what happens when an individual is restricted. I’ve seen the men cry when they lose their jobs because they didn’t want to put on there they had a felony conviction. I’ve seen the young folks who were rejected for financial aid because they have a background because they had possession of marijuana and I’ve seen the destruction that’s caused to a generation.”

He said he’s happy to join others in rolling back the War on Drugs.

State Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, opposed the bill.

“Our community is still being used for people to make a profit and to get rich and give nothing back to the community,” Flowers said.

The measure passed 66 to 47. It passed the Senate previously and will now be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker called the bill a historic step for the state.

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation,” the governor said in a statement Friday afternoon. “This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance. In the interest of equity and criminal justice reform, I look forward to signing this monumental legislation.”

The governor also praised the sponsors of the bill and others who worked to get the legislation passed.

 

Article by Greg Bishop with The Center Square. For more TCS visit https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois

 

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Pritzker guarantees Illinois lawmakers pay increase with biggest budget in state history

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While Illinoisans will be paying higher taxes, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he’s going to give state lawmakers at least a $1,600 pay increase because they’re hard workers.

Pritzker said he’ll sign the budget bills being sent his way, despite the ire from taxpayers that lawmakers gave themselves a raise while doubling the state’s gas tax.

Pritzker was asked multiple times in Chicago Tuesday if he’d line-item veto more than $280,000 in lawmaker pay increases when he gets the budget that was passed in overtime session.

“Look, this was a highly negotiated budget,” Pritzker said. “We had the Republicans and Democrats coming to the table back and forth on this and so I’m going to sign the budget that we put forward.”

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said if the budget was highly negotiated, why was the Senate unanimous in wanting to keep their pay flat? He said in the House there were Republicans and Democrats ready to vote to freeze their pay.

“Effectively the will of the people and the legislators want to forego raises,” Skillicorn said.

Illinois lawmakers are the highest paid state legislators in the region, making a base pay of $67,836 with a $111 a day per diem. That’s going to go up.

The measure to keep lawmaker pay flat passed the Senate late Friday but when the bill got to the House, state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, put a non-concur motion on it, holding the measure from a floor vote. He hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment.

Multiple lawmakers have called on the governor to line-item veto the pay raises. Pritzker was insistent he’s going to sign the budget as is. He even defended lawmakers.

“They’re working night and day, Republicans and Democrats, I credit them all,” Pritzker said. “Many of them are taking on much more than people expect. They’re also away from their families for days, sometimes a week at a time.”

Skillicorn said said taxpayers shouldn’t have sympathy for lawmakers.

“We haven’t had a balanced budget in over a decade,” Skillicorn said. “We have over $6 billion in backed bills. Clearly the legislators haven’t done a good job.”

Illinois’ backlog of bills isn’t the only debt. Illinois also has $136 billion of unfunded pension liability, among the worst credit rating in the country, the second-highest property taxes and more problems.

Before leaving town, lawmakers approved the biggest spending budget in Illinois state history without addressing some of the main cost drivers like the increased pension debt.

 

Article by Greg Bishop with The Center Square. For more TCS visit https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois

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Gambling expansion pieces still coming together, but supporters bet on passage

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Sponsors of a measure to expand gambling in Illinois said Tuesday that they’re confident a package that includes new casinos, sports wagering and increased taxes for video gambling will be approved by Friday’s deadline.

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Indian Creek, said allowing more gambling in Illinois is a win for taxpayers.

“It’s a user fee,” Link said. “If you want to go in and you want to gamble, you pay. But all the residents of Illinois gain from it without a tax increase.”

Supporters said the expansion bill to be filed for Senate Bill 516 will include more casinos, sports betting and increased taxes on video gambling. They said they didn’t how much those taxes would be increased.

Jimmy Centers, spokesman for the Bet on Main Street coalition opposed to higher taxes for video gambling, said there’s a lot of talk about fair taxing in Illinois, but video gambling operators already pay 30 percent tax.

“[Gambling machine operators] keep main streets vibrant, they create jobs, they reinvest in their community, all of which is going to be jeopardized if a massive video gaming tax increase is passed here at the end of Illinois’ legislative session.”

On the sports betting component, there’s discussion still going on about a “penalty box” provision that organizations like fantasy sports operators FanDuel and DraftKings have opposed. A “penalty box” provision could keep FanDuel and DraftKings from taking part in sports betting for a period of time. Matt King with FanDuel has said the penalty box is an effort by wealthy and connected casino operators to protect their turf.

“If we don’t pass something, we’ll all be in the penalty box,” said state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford.

The measure will also include new casinos for Rockford, Walker’s Bluff and other locations, but not Springfield.

AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said it’s time to act on creating new casino because it will create construction jobs.

“Gaming expansion has been discussed over and over and over again here at the statehouse,” he said. “The pros vastly outweigh the cons in getting this done.”

Syverson said the effort underway is about more than just jobs, it’s also about positioning Illinois to be ahead of neighboring states.

“[This] will help the state retain some of the $1.5 billion that leaves Illinois and goes to our five surrounding states every year,” he said. “Now we know that Wisconsin and Indiana are planning major casinos right on the border as well.”

Supporters said they anticipate getting the gambling measure approved by the end of the week.

 

Article by Greg Bishop with The Center Square. For more TCS visit https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois

 

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