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Illinois Govt

Libertarians visit Jacksonville, plan for the debate circuit

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Last weekend most of the Libertarian statewide candidates came to Jacksonville for a meet and greet. Hosted by the Morgan County Libertarians, the event was a chance to meet with voters, as well as discuss their recent ballot access victory and the challenges of getting into the debate circuit.

As we reported last week, the main slate of Libertarian candidates did not face a ballot petition challenge. Comptroller candidate Claire Ball credited the behind the scenes workers who helped ensure that the approximately 48,000 signatures they submitted were valid. Not being challenged ensures that the full slate will show up on the November ballot.

The lack of a challenge also helps save resources for campaigning. Ball explained that in addition to the monetary fees, the largest cost of contesting a challenge is time. Getting volunteers to sit with the Board of Elections judges to sift through the signatures takes a huge number of man hours. For a smaller party like the Libertarians, sending volunteers to Springfield is a real burden. Additionally, fundraising during a challenge is more difficult. People are far more reluctant to donate when a candidate may not appear on the ballot.

Preparing for the debates

But the institutional struggles for the third parties are still not over. The next challenge is getting into the major debates. Traditionally, third parties get stuck in a coverage loop. Because they have less initial name recognition, they poll lower than candidates for the two major parties. Low poll numbers are used to justify keeping them out of the early debates. Without the exposure and credibility that those debates bring, their poll numbers remain low. This, in turn, is used to keep them out of later debates.

This year there are two third parties fielding candidates for governor. In addition to Kash Jackson from the Libertarians, State Senator Sam McCann is running with the Conservative Party. With two candidates having passed the initial hurdle to get on the ballot, it may be easier for both of them to get into the debate circuit. Democratic candidate JB Pritzker has already signaled his willingness to have McCann at the debates. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has not yet commented on if the third parties should be included.

Gubernatorial candidates aren’t the only ones trying to get into a debate. Comptroller candidate Claire Ball, Secretary of State candidate Steve Dutner, and Attorney General candidate Bubba Harsy also expressed interest in a formal debate with their established party counterparts. It isn’t clear if they will be invited to the debates, or if there will be debates for these offices.

You can learn more about all of the statewide candidates on our Campaign Headquarters page.

Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

2018 Election

McCann, Libertarians avoid petition objections

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Two of the major third party challengers in the race for governor cleared another hurdle yesterday, as the window to challenge a candidate’s petition signatures closed. Neither McCann of the Conservative Party nor Kash Jackson of the Libertarians will face a petition challenge. This ensures both new parties will show up on the ballot in November. Most of the Green, Libertarian, and Independent candidates for Congress or the General Assembly were not so fortunate.

Candidates are required to turn in a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. Because not every signature will pass muster, they are allowed to turn in two to three times as many as they need (depending on the office). Rivals will often challenge the petition signatures if they believe that a candidate failed to turn in enough valid signatures. After an investigation process, a candidate can be struck from the ballot if they lack the necessary number.

Even if a candidate is eventually vindicated, dealing with a challenge is both expensive and time consuming. Both Jackson and McCann took the same approach to avoid one, and turned in far more signatures than needed. An independent running for statewide office needs a minimum of 25,000 valid signatures. The Libertarians turned in nearly 48,000 signatures; McCann reportedly gathered some 65,000 signatures. Because they ran as a slate, all of the Libertarian statewide candidates also avoided a challenge.

To learn more about the candidates for governor, check out our Campaign Headquarters page.

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2018 Election

Third parties and independents file for ballot access

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Today was the last day for Libertarians, Greens, other new parties, and independent candidates to get on the general election ballot. In addition to filing later in the season, these candidates must gather substantially more signatures than their established party counterparts. But despite these hurdles, candidates from several new parties made their way to the Board of Elections to get on the ballot.

The Libertarian Party was the only new party to field a full slate. Led by gubernatorial candidate Grayson “Kash” Jackson, the Libertarians ran candidates for all of the statewide offices. Last year the party won a major legal victory to abolish the full-slate rules, which required new parties to run candidates for every office. However, cautious of a last-minute appeal, they chose to run as a slate.

One candidate of local note did choose to take advantage of the new rules. Sen. Sam McCann (I-50) filed for governor on the Conservative Party ticket. McCann was formerly a member of the Republican Party and caucus. A small number of Green, Libertarian, and independent candidates also filed in congressional and General Assembly races across the state.

While getting on the ballot today is hard enough, staying on the ballot can be another challenge. Petitions can be challenged by opponents. In addition to the normal issues with petitions being unreadable or having unregistered names, petitions for independents cannot be passed by anyone who passed a petition for an established party earlier in the election season. If enough petitions are ruled invalid, the candidate will be removed from the ballot. All of the candidates who filed today will likely be challenged.

You can learn more about the candidates on our Campaign Headquarters page. To see all the candidates who filed today, check out the Board of Elections website.

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Education

School district leaders ask Rauner to veto $40,000 teacher pay mandate

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A group of school district leaders is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto a bill that would require a $40,000 starting salary for teachers by 2022.

The Illinois School Management Alliance said the unfunded mandate would result in layoffs, dismissals and program cuts.

Senate Bill 2892 passed both chambers last month. State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, sponsored the bill.

“If we don’t guarantee a salary for a college graduate, we’re not going to get the right folks to go into the teaching profession in the first place,” he said.

Other supporters of the measure said the minimum salary will help attract teachers to Illinois, which some say has a shortage of qualified teachers. The bill would require schools to pay teachers an annual wage of at least $40,000 by the 2022-23 school year. Starting next year, the minimum salary would be $32,076. Once starting salaries hit $40,000 in the 2022-23 school year, the minimum salary rate would continue to increase yearly at the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, subject to review by the General Assembly.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers said on its website that the union “was a vocal advocate” of the bill’s passage.

In a letter sent to Rauner on Friday, the Illinois School Management Alliance asked the governor to veto the bill because it would be a costly mandate.

“Though the increase is phased in, it will be a substantial unfunded mandate on local school districts that will consume much or all of any new funding benefit school districts receive from the commitment to the new evidence-based funding formula,” Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance’s Deanna Sullivan said in the letter provided to Illinois News Network.

The Illinois School Management Alliance represents the state’s associations of School Administrators, School Business Officials, School Boards and Principals Association.

The statewide average salary for teachers in Illinois in 2017 was $64,516, according to the Illinois Report Card. Nationally, the average salary for public school teachers in 2015–16 was $58,064, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

While the bill wouldn’t affect many Chicago and suburban-area school districts, many in southern Illinois would have to increase pay for teachers. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, more than 500 schools would have to increase their beginning pay for teachers with a bachelor’s degree, some by more than $10,000 over the next four years.

Before voting against the bill last month, state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said the minimum salary requirement would force districts to cut other school offerings, like sports.

“Those are the choices that your school officials back home are going to have to deal with if we say, ‘By the way, you’re going to have to pay everyone at least $40,000,’” Righter said.

Sullivan’s letter to the governor echoed that sentiment.

“A top-down approach to mandate a minimum salary for one group of employees within the school setting, without fully funding the increases, will cause layoffs, dismissals, and program cuts across the board in Illinois schools,” the letter said. “Additionally, programs required to meet state and federal education standards will suffer as there will not be enough qualified staff or programming to meet student needs.”

Asked about the issue at two different events last week, Rauner said he wants to see teachers earn more but “get the mandates off from Springfield.”

“We have too many regulations, too many unfunded mandates, too many restrictions on how our teachers teach,” Rauner said in Belleville last week. “Get the mandates off. Get more local control and we’ll have the money to be able to pay our teachers more.”

At a stop in Urbana, Rauner said locally elected school boards should determine how much teachers are paid.

“Let schools run their districts as they see fit,” he said. “Get the mandates off and that will free up resources as well. That’s the way we’ll get more money.”

The bill could be sent to the governor’s desk by the end of this month. Once he has it, Rauner will have 60 days to either change the bill, veto it outright or sign it into law.

The measure passed the Senate with enough votes for a possible override, but didn’t pass the House with the required super majority needed for an override if Rauner were to veto the bill.

Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org 

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