Illinois Public Media News
Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes formally announced his campaign for governor Wednesdayby saying he would try to raise state income taxes on the wealthy as a way to address the state's budget crisis.
Hynes will probably face incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn in next year's Democratic primary.
At a news conference in Chicago, Hynes described a new progressive tax --- which taxes higher-income earners at higher rates --- as the cornerstone of his plan to put the state's financial house in order. He said his plan would spare 97 percent of Illinois residents from paying more.
Hynes contrasted his call for a progressive tax with proposals this year from Quinn to raise the existing flat-income tax rate by 50 percent on everyone. Only a few states use a flat income tax, which taxes everyone at the same rate.
But Quinn says a progressive tax is the kind of thing he pushed for five years ago but that Hynes then opposed. And Quinn characterized Hynes as a professional naysayer who's refused to work with him on anything.
Quinn didn't directly say he wants a progressive tax. But he did say he believes taxes should be paid according to one's ability to pay.
Quinn's original tax hike proposal in March included a tripling of the personal tax exemption, which he said would actually lower state income tax payments for about half of Illinois taxpayers.
When he announced last week that he wouldn't run for another term as state representative, Bill Black (R - Danville) predicted a front-runner would emerge quickly in the race to succeed him in the 104th House District. On Wednesday, Black made it clear who he thinks the front-runner should be, by endorsing the former mayor of Catlin, Chad Hays.
At a news conference in Catlin kicking off the Hays campaign, Bill Black said Chad Hays had earned his unqualified endorsement. He told a crowd of supporters and schoolchildren that Hays had "a proven record", and was "a hard worker, an honest man who would not let Springfield change that". Black's introduction of Hays was greeted with applause from the gathering assembled in the bleachers at the Catlin Recreation Complex's football and track field. Hays co-chaired the committee that led efforts to build the Complex. Construction of the all-weather track with the help of volunteers earned Catlin a Governor's Home Town Award in 2003.
When it came his turn to speak, Hays pointed to his leadership role on the committee that oversaw construction of the complex as one of his qualifications for the legislature. He says if elected to the Illinois House, he'll be a hard worker and a consensus builder. Hays, who served two terms as mayor of Catlin in the 1990s, says Illinois faces serious problems, "but we must have the courage to reinvent Illinois as a place that is ready and open for business". He continued, "We must invite and encourage a new generation of leadership. We must embrace the change and articulate a vision for the future, that ensures that all parts of this state get a fair shake and an equal opportunity."
Hays is vice-president of Development and Mission Services at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville. He describes himself as a fiscal conservative, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, but ready to consider a casino for Danville, if it brings jobs to the area.
Former State Senator Judith Myers also endorsed Hays at the news conference.
Chad Hays is the first to announce his candidacy for the 104th District seat in the Illinois House. Vermilion County Recorder of Deeds Barb Young has also been mentioned as a possible Republican contender.
Laws banning the placement of handbills on the windshields of parked cars and on the doorknobs of people's homes have been lifted in Champaign.
The Champaign City Council voted 8 to 1 lTuesday night to repeal its ban on distributing handbills on cars and as doorhangers in residential areas. City officials say recent federal court decisions indicate that the bans are likely unconstitutional.
City Councilman and attorney Tom Bruno says he's heard from residents who want to see the bans on doorhangers and windshield handbills continue in Champaign. But he says if they did so, they would be impossible to enforce.
"We would never our city attorney or expect the (county) state's attorney to prosecute somebody for an invalid law", says Bruno, "so, as much as you might wish we left this ordinance on the books, it's already unenforceable --- legally unenforceable."
City officials say there may still be options --- such as licensing and the city's litter ordinance --- for limiting the use of doorhangers and windshield handbills. But for now, Councilman Bruno says you can legally forbid doorhangers at your home by posting "No Trespassing" or "No Soliciting" signs. He says it might be even more effective to complain to the advertisers involved. And Councilwoman Karen Foster suggests complaining to the owners of parking lots that allow windshield handbilling.
It will soon cost you more in Champaign, any time your car gets towed by the city.
Starting in October, the city of Champaign will charge a 25 dollar fee whenever they initiate a tow. That's on top of the fee charged by the tow truck operators the city hires --- and that fee will be going up five dollars as well.
Police Chief R-T Finney says the new fee will cover the cost to the city of handling the paperwork on each city-initiated tow.
"Every tow that occurs in the city that's a relocation tow off of private property, or a city-initiated tow from a traffic accident, any type of initiated tow that the police department or Public Works or Parking would initiate, that all has to be processed by the police department," explains Finney.
The fee will NOT apply to private towing --- such as when your car breaks down, and you hire a tow-truck to take it to a mechanic.
The towing administrative fee is one of several new and increased fees the Champaign City Council approved last June to help balance the city budget. Council members approved the specifics of the towing fee Tuesday night.
Tow truck operators resisted the new fee, which they have to collect on behalf of the city. The five-dollar increase in their own fee came as a result of negotiations between the operators and Champaign city officials.
It will be two more weeks before the Academic Senate at the University of Illinois's Urbana campus votes on a resolution calling for changes in leadership.
The body made up of 200 faculty and 50 students met in closed session for about an hour Monday to consider an advisory resolution aimed at Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman and President Joseph White - calling for them to step down in the wake of the U of I admissions scandal. Then the panel voted 91 to 66 to postpone the vote to September 14th.
Before Senators considered the resolution... both administrators addressed the standing-room only crowd. Chancellor Herman again apologized for his role in improper admissions, saying he realized that people were in 'genuine pain' as a result of clout's involvement.
"I still believe", said Herman, "that for the hundreds of inquiries from well-connected people over many years, only a small percentage ended up being mishandled. But even one case is too many."
Herman said he considered resigning... but believes his accomplishments should outweigh the mistakes.
Meanwhile, White told the faculty-student body that said he was unaware of the Category I list of politically connected applicants until news reports of about the list first surfaced:
"I assure you that had I known about these practices, I would have challenged them", White said.
Both White and Herman say they want to stay in their jobs to help guide reforms of the admissions process.
Senate Executive Committee Chair Joyce Tolliver says now the Senators can take their time to discuss the resolution with fellow faculty and students, most of whom have just returned to campus. But Tolliver points out a new U of I Board of Trustees could take action on the administrators ---- before the Senate meets again. Governor Pat Quinn still has to fill five vacancies on the Board prior to a September 10th trustees meeting in Urbana.
The faculty-student Senate at the University of Illinois Urbana campus is calling on Governor Pat Quinn to create a task force to advise him on selecting new members of the U of I Board of Trustees. A resolution passed by the Academic Senate Monday also recommends that chairs of the Senates at each campus be among the members of the panel. It also calls for the eventual appointment of faculty to the U of I Board itself.
Business professor and Academic Senator Mark Roszkowski says having faculty representation at the top level of university governance would ensure real shared governance between the university's administration and its faculty. "So I think this vaults the (Academic) Senate into its proper position as the protectors of the academic mission of the university", he added.
Roszkowski says if faculty serve as U of I trustees, they might have to recuse themselves from voting on certain matters to avoid conflicts of interest, as student trustees now do. But he says that even in those cases, a faculty voice during board discussions would be good for the university.
Roszkowski says a delegation from the Academic Senate is to meet with Governor Quinn on the proposal, before he appoints any additional trustees. Quinn has said he plans to appoint more trustees on Friday.
Passage of the resolution on faculty participation in choosing and serving as trustees came at the same meeting where senators agreed to postpone a vote on a resolution recommending that U of I President B. Joseph White and Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman step down.
The faculty-student Senate at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus voted 91 to 66 Monday to postpone for two weeks a vote on an advisory resolution calling for President Joseph White and Chancellor Richard Herman to step down --- due to the admissions scandal.
The delay means the Senate won't take up the non-binding resolution until September 14th --- four days after the U of I Board of Trustees' scheduled September 10th meeting, when trustees might discuss the issue themselves.
The postponement was sought by Joyce Tolliver, chair of the Executive Committee which approved the resolution last week. Tolliver's move to postpone the vote was rejected by a boisterous voice vote at the start of the meeting, but was accepted after a lengthy discussion in closed session.
"By the time we come back in two weeks, we're not rushed", explained Tolliver. "We don't have to hammer out some of the details and ambiguities on the floor."
Both White and Herman spoke to the Senate Monday afternoon to argue for staying on, so they can reform the admissions process.
White told the Urbana campus Academic Senate that he had no knowledge at the time that there was a "Category I" list of under qualified applicants backed by trustees, politicians and others --- he says he would have challenged it if he had known.
Herman said he had come to realize the pain he had caused to citizens, students and parents by his role in the admissions scandal, and had considered resigning. But he told the Faculty-Student that he wanted the opportunity to help build a firewall to protect the university admissions process from future political pressure.
NOTE: This story has been revised and updated.
Health officials say a 50-something person in southwestern Illinois is the state's first human case of West Nile virus for 2009.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says the St. Clair County Health Department reported the case recently. Last year, there were 20 human cases of the mosquito-borne virus statewide, with one death.
Public Health Director Damon Arnold says cooler temperatures this summer have blunted the frequency of the virus, but he says Illinois' first human case should remind residents that the threat remains.
So far this year, two dozen Illinois counties have reported mosquito batches or birds testing positive for the virus.
Only about 20 percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito will get sick. The illness is usually mild but can be serious or fatal.
Illinois consumers will pay more for toiletries, candy, soft drinks and liquor starting Tuesday as lawmakers raise cash to pay for a statewide construction program.
Most candy _ currently carrying a 1 percent sales tax _ will be taxed at 6.25 percent. And it'll be the same for shampoos and toothpastes that until now were considered "medicated.''
Bottled soft drinks with added sweetener or flavoring, such as iced tea, will be taxed more. And liquor distributors will pay more for alcohol. In many cases, the cost will be passed on to consumers.
All told, the changes should raise about $150 million a year toward a $30 billion roads-and-schools building plan. The program also includes hundreds of millions of dollars for local pet projects of lawmakers.
Health officials in Champaign County saw only a handful of H1N1 or swine flu cases over the summer. But now that students are back at the University of Illinois Urbana campus, they're bringing a steady flow of suspected flu cases with them.
Dr. Robert Palinkas, director of the McKinley Health Center on campus, says suspected H1N1 cases have been coming in at the rate of 5 or 6 a day. He says most of the students are sent home to their parents, where they can be relatively isolated until they are no longer contagious. But for those who can't go home --- or who already live in the area --- Palinkas says they've been finding ways to keep infected students away from other people as much as possible.
"Sometimes, it means having a roommate change a room", says Palinkas. "Sometimes, it means a housing entity --- not necessarily University Housing --- find temporary accomodations for five to seven days. So far, each of those arrangements has been, really, pretty successful."
There is no definitive diagnosis of H1N1 flu virus in most of these cases, because state officials are limiting how many cases they test. McKinley Health Center doctors are basing their diagnosis on a rapid flu test plus their own clinical judgment.
Palinkas says he expects suspected H1N1 flu cases to continue among U of I students --- and even increase, as the virus spreads throughout the campus. He says common-sense prevention methods can limit the flu's increase. Those methods include frequent handwashing, covering coughs with a sleeve, and not sharing materials from one mouth to another.
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