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Thomas Clatterbuck

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Should there be limits on how long someone can serve in office? For the Republicans the answer is a strong yes. The “People’s Pledge” lays out a commitment to limiting individuals to eight years in an executive office, and ten years in the General Assembly. Those who sign the pledge say they will work to get the question on a ballot for the voters to decide. Today, Rep. Tim Butler (R-87), along with local candidates Mike Murphy, Herman Senor, and Steve McClure all signed the pledge with Governor Rauner.

The signed pledges

This is not the first effort to get term limits on the ballot. In 2014, Rauner led a petition effort to get the term limit question on the ballot. Despite getting a substantial number of signatures, this effort was struck down by the courts. They ruled the proposed changes had to originate in the General Assembly.

Term limits are designed to create turnover in government. For supporters, this is a good thing because it brings in new people. Opponents agree it creates turnover, but point out no other industry seeks out employee turnover. However, the primary motivation in Illinois for term limits is Speaker Mike Madigan.

Madigan has dominated the Illinois House for decades. Rauner, who is a vocal opponent of Madigan, said that such a long tenure has led to corruption and other issues. The second half of the People’s Pledge is a vow to support anyone but Madigan for Speaker. The Republicans said they would like to retake the House and have a Republican Speaker, but they are willing to back any other Democrat that runs for Speaker.

You can watch the full remarks below, or the local candidate’s in the player above.

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

Congressional Candidate Junius Rodriguez w/ Thomas Clatterbuck

Thomas Clatterbuck

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In this episode of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show, we had congressional candidate Junius Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the Democratic challenger in the 18th Congressional District.

Rodriguez has held numerous town hall events this season. The feedback from these events drove much of our discussion. One of the major themes from these events was access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. In addition to costs, just keeping hospitals open in smaller communities is a serious concern. Rodriguez talked about how rollbacks in Medicare and Medicaid funding have restricted access to healthcare in the district.

Rodriguez is a college professor at Eureka College, and we spoke about the student loan crisis. He explained how easy access to loans from the government allowed colleges to expand “creature comforts” and other expenses. To help remedy the situation, he proposed various loan forgiveness programs based on public service.

Finally, we discussed the unpleasant issue of human trafficking. Rodriguez’s area of study is slavery, both historical and contemporary. He was able to explain the factors that drive trafficking, and some of what can be done to stop it.

We also touched on a number of other issues, including net neutrality, climate change, and tariffs. You can watch the full interview in the player.

To learn more about Junius Rodriguez, and the other candidates in the 18th, check out our Campaign Headquarters page.

You can see all the past episodes of the Thomas Clatterbuck Show on the Springfield Daily Radio page.

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2018 Election

Campaign contribution typo leads to online rumors around the 48th Senate District

Staff Contributor

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A local Republican candidate got an important reminder this week that the internet is fast, and the internet is forever. State Senate candidate Seth McMillan found this out the hard way after a typo in his A-1 campaign contribution filings. Shelly Grigoroff was reportedly paid $1,207,325 for work she had done. In reality, she was paid just $1,207.25. Once identified, this typo was quickly corrected by the McMilan team.

Not quickly, enough, however. The error was pointed out both by the Macoupin County Democrats, and by the news site Capitol Fax. Despite the fact that it was obviously a typo, commentators were able to both make an issue out of the erroneous filing. Given the comical level of pay the typo reported, it proved impossible to resist.

McMillan took the issue in stride. When asked for a statement, he said, “It’s amazing that this is all the opposition has to talk about!”

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2018 Election

Illinois Republicans voice opposition to mileage tax

Thomas Clatterbuck

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It is no secret that Illinois needs to improve its roads and bridges. Both Republicans and Democrats can agree that we need to invest in infrastructure development. But how we should pay for it is another matter. Most road projects are supported by the gas tax. While this tax worked well for many years, in recent years it has not generated sufficient revenue. Competing government objectives are partly to blame for the shortfalls. Government mandates for better fuel efficiency have reduced the amount of gas people need to buy. Now, the same amount of driving generates less gas tax revenue.

One idea to generate new revenue is a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) tax, or just a mileage tax. Conceptually, it is very simple: drivers pay a fee based on the number of miles they travel. In practice, there are significant issues in implementing such a tax. Mileage taxes have a unique infrastructure issue in addition to all of the normal political issues regarding new taxes.

The technology problem

Mileage taxes do not enjoy the same bureaucratic infrastructure that helps with normal taxation. There is already a record of every transaction for the gas tax or other sales tax. Property taxes have the assessment system to know how much a property is worth. But even though every car has an odometer, there is no centralized tracking of how many miles any particular vehicle has traveled.

Relying on individuals to report their mileage would likely prove unreliable and inconvenient.  Without some independent reading of the odometer, people might misreport how many miles they traveled, just as online sales tax long went under-reported. It would also be a huge pain for taxpayers. Annual or quarterly reporting would stick drivers with huge bills. More frequent reporting would result in smaller bills, but higher compliance costs.

Some technical solution would thus be necessary to ensure compliance. Only tracking the change in mileage could be done in a relatively nonintrusive way. But such a simple measure would not be sufficient. It is doubtful Illinois could levy a tax on miles driven in other states, or miles driven on privately owned roads. More sophisticated tracking would thus be necessary to tell when a vehicle traveled taxable miles. GPS tracking would be highly reliable for this, but raises major privacy concerns.

The political problems

Any mileage tax system would necessarily introduce some degree of increased government surveillance. The systems that would be legal to implement require high levels of GPS tracking. That alone would make a mileage tax politically toxic.

But there are other issues that make a mileage tax unpopular. Rural areas would be hit hardest due to the longer distances residents travel. Farmers would be hit particularly hard. And of course, any new tax is a tax increase, which historically is not popular. A VMT would raise the general tax burden in the state, which is already much higher than our neighbors.

Although Republicans from other states have expressed interest in the idea of a mileage tax, Illinois Republicans have come out strongly against the idea. Governor Bruce Rauner has repeatedly spoken out against the idea. He highlighted the technical necessity of a tracking device for any such scheme to work. State Representative Avery Bourne (R-95) also noted that the privacy was “another reason” to oppose a mileage tax. Congressman Rodney Davis (R13) said that he was “not as big a proponent of the VMT” as other revenue options. Davis said that the tracking issue would “impact” the ability to pass a mileage tax at the federal level.

Rauner and other Republicans have used the mileage tax issue in their attacks on the Democrats as well. Rauner has repeatedly claimed that JB Pritzker wants to implement a mileage tax. Although Pritzker has said the idea is “worth exploring,” Pritzker has denied having a plan to implement such a tax. Democrats have pushed mileage taxes in the past, but the effort was withdrawn in the face of stiff opposition. That plan had options for both GPS tracking and flat-fee options.

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