November 01, 2014

Sparknotes For Illinois Voters

For voters who want a rundown of where Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner stand on major issues, here's some help.

Illinoisians have been casting votes in an election that could determine the future of our state… But many voters say that while they want to know more about Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner’s plans for Illinois - they can’t sift through the fog of negative ads. So Lauren Chooljian of Chicago public radio station WBEZ wrote up a questionnaire for both candidates on the top issues of this cycle… And she’s dug through their answers and put them into a sort of audio Sparknotes for Illinois voters.

Listen

Bruce Rauner
October 11, 2014

Rauner Releases 2013 Tax Returns

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has released his 2013 federal and Illinois income tax returns.  

The eight pages of tax forms show the multi-millionaire and his wife, Diana, earned nearly $61 million last year. He paid $17 million in federal and state taxes. That is a tax rate of about 27.5 percent.  

The returns also show the Rauners donated more than $5 million to charity. That includes $1 million to Red Cross relief efforts after the Washington, Illinois tornado.  

In releasing the returns late Friday, Rauner took an opportunity to take a shot at Gov. Pat Quinn. Rauner said he is independent of special interests, adding Quinn put self-dealing and cronyism ahead of the people.  

A spokeswoman for Quinn is calling Rauner's tax returns disclosure inadequate.  

In her statement, Quinn campaign spokeswoman Brooke Anderson called the information ``wholly insufficient and raises more questions than answers.'' Anderson questioned where Rauner's money comes from and ``what loopholes is he jumping through?''  

Quinn has long called on Rauner to release his tax returns.  

 
 


NFL Running Back Adrian Peterson
September 18, 2014

Quinn, Rauner Weigh In on NFL's Troubles

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the National Football League has been putting profits ahead of doing what’s right on domestic violence.  Bruce Rauner, a team minority owner, is also critical.

Quinn's campaign is trying to make it an issue in his bid for re-election.

The NFL and its commissioner are under fire for mishandling the situation around player Ray Rice who was caught on video assaulting his then-fiancee.

Quinn addressed the issue Wednesday outside a Women’s Empowerment Event at the McCormick Center in Chicago:

The efforts of the NFL so far have been woeful, and anyone who owns a team or part of a team has a duty, in my opinion, to do the right thing," he said.

He didn’t say his name - but that “part of a team” line was aimed squarely at Quinn’s Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, who's a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He was asked about it Wednesday.

"I am working here in Illinois to win an election and transform the government, that is 100 percent my focus," he said.

Later in the day, Rauner’s campaign sent out an email saying the candidate thinks what Ray Rice did was deplorable and the NFL has badly mishandled the situation.


Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Paul Vallas during a news conference in Savoy in July.
August 27, 2014

Vallas: Rauner Plan Would Cost Schools $4 Billion

Governor Pat Quinn's running mate is attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's budget plan for Illinois - this time targeting its impact on schools.

Democrat Paul Vallas says Rauner's promises to both put more money into schools while also cutting property taxes is unfeasible.

Rauner won the GOP nomination with a promise bring the state income tax down to three percent --- a move Vallas says will leave a $4 billion hole in the state's education budget.

Vallas produced a study that shows the sort of impact that will have on individual school districts.

Rauner has repeatedly said he wants Illinois to "grow its way" out of deficits; meaning that he believes building a more robust economy, not raising taxes, will bring in more revenue to pay for things like schools.

But Vallas says Rauner's vision is impossible.

"You're not going to grow to the tune of $8 billion in two years or even for that matter, three or four years ... You're talking about devastating local school budgets," he said.

Besides the state's contribution to schools, funded by the income tax, it's local property taxes that are schools' main source of funding.  And while Rauner says he will freeze property taxes, Vallas says a lower state income tax rate would actually force schools to hike property taxes.

Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf says the numbers Vallas uses "are just made up.''
 
He says even though Quinn raised the tax 67 percent in 2011, he cut school spending by $500 million.  He says Rauner will "fully fund our schools.''


Bruce Rauner
August 27, 2014

Rauner: Dept. Of Agriculture 'Full Of Cronyism'

GOP candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner says if elected he'd work to overhaul the state Department of Agriculture. 

Bruce Rauner is a Winnetka businessman. He told attendees at a forum in Bloomington Wednesday coordinated by the Illinois Farm Bureau that the agriculture department is "full of cronyism'' and has 'folks running things that generally don't have much expertise.'
 
Rauner has previously criticized agriculture department director Bob Flider  - a former Democratic state lawmaker - for not being a farmer.

He says he wants "farmers and farm experts running the Department of Agriculture.''   Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has defended Flider's work as well as the agency.
 
Along with Rauner, Quinn, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis are participating in the forum.  


Pat Quinn
August 26, 2014

Quinn: Agencies Must Follow Hiring Rules

Gov. Pat Quinn says it was up to his transportation secretary to follow employment rules even when hiring candidates the governor's office favored.

The Chicago Democrat said Tuesday his cabinet members "have a duty to make sure that they comply with the rules that I've set down'' and are accountable for that.
 
Quinn was responding to questions in Chicago about an investigative report released Friday by the Office of the Executive Inspector General.

It says the Illinois Department of Transportation circumvented rules to keep political clout out of job decisions and hired 250 people improperly in the past decade.
 
Former Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider responded to the report saying the "vast majority'' of hires were candidates recommended by Quinn's office.

She felt pressured to employ them. Schneider resigned in June.

UPDATE:   One of Gov. Pat Quinn's deputy chiefs of staff - whose responsibilities included the troubled Illinois Department of Transportation - is leaving the job.
 
Sean O'Shea of Chicago had duties that included oversight of IDOT for the governor. Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman confirmed that O'Shea's last day in the $130,000 job is Friday.
 
Klinzman says the 37-year-old O'Shea is taking a private-sector job and his departure has nothing to do with an investigative report released Friday about improper hiring at IDOT.


fracking
(Orlin Wagner/AP)
July 24, 2014

Business, Labor Leaders Urge Quinn Administration To Finish Fracking Rules

Business and labor leaders are urging Illinois' Department of Natural Resources to finish the rules for hydraulic fracturing. 

The coalition said it is left wondering if the governor's administration might be dragging the process for political reasons.

It has been more than 400 days since the General Assembly passed a law to allow hydraulic fracturing in Illinois. Proponents say the technique of drilling for natural gas deep in the ground will lead to job and revenue growth.

But the Department of Natural Resources has yet to finalize the rules that need to be in place before fracking can begin, leaving drillers to wait.

Mark Denzler, with the Illinois Manufacturer's Association, said that in conversations with Gov. Pat Quinn's administration, he got the sense it set a deadline for the rules for mid-November — after the election — on purpose.

"They've said there's more votes in the Chicago suburban area than there are downstate and so it's an electoral ballgame," he said.

The thought being that it could be to Quinn's political advantage to keep a controversial practice like fracking out of headlines — at least more so than creating job in downstate Illinois, where there are fewer voters.

According to one study from Illinois State University, the fracking industry could create up to 45,000 jobs in the next five years, something Illinois AFL-CIO president Mike Carrigan said the state can't pass up for unemployed workers in southern Illinois.

"When they go to work, there are paychecks on Friday," he said. "Paychecks go in the community banks, those members become consumers in their community and then the communities in the area benefit from the economic stimulus."

DNR spokesman Tim Schweizer said there is no political motivation, and that the agency is taking the time it needs to consider public comment.

"The department has been working on getting the rules in place since the day the legislation was signed into law," he said.

Schweizer said DNR is also on track to hire extra staff to enforce fracking rules once they go into effect, but that is also taken a bit of time.

But the coalition doesn't buy DNR's reasoning. Denzler points to Indiana, which shares the New Albany Oil Shale with Illinois, and already has a natural gas industry up and running. A few major companies have contracts secured in anticipation of fracking in Illinois, but instead of waiting, they're focusing their investments on Indiana.


Pat Quinn
(Seth Perlman/AP)
July 16, 2014

Illinois Gov. Quinn Facing Investigations

Illinois lawmakers have ended a daylong hearing on Gov. Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program without agreement on whether to push forward. 

Federal prosecutors asked the Legislative Audit Commission to wait 90 days before questioning former members of the Quinn administration over the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative begun in 2010. 

The bipartisan commission agreed to hold off. But lawmakers did not agree on how long to wait.

Republicans wanted to call witnesses in October. Democrats rejected that. 

The investigation has been a focus of Republicans looking to tarnish Quinn's reformer image. A state audit found poor program management and misused money. 

Republicans have alleged Quinn used the $55 million program as a political slush fund to secure votes. Quinn has denied that claim. 


July 09, 2014

Gov. Quinn Prepared To Send State Police To Address Chicago Violence

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is willing to provide back-up for the Chicago Police Department. More than 50 people were shot in Chicago over the long holiday weekend.  

Quinn said he is prepared to send the Illinois State Police to help address Chicago’s violence, but only if Mayor Rahm Emanuel asks for them.

“We are always ready to help in whatever district the city may request," Quinn said. "We’ve done that in many, many districts and I’m prepared to help the mayor and the police chief if they request it, wherever they need it.”

Quinn said the state police patrol the Metro East region on weekends, around East Saint Louis in Southern Illinois.


July 09, 2014

New Law Furthers Illinois Adoptees' Rights

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation aimed at allowing adoptees and birth family members to learn more about their family histories.

The bill will help people gain information about their biological family history including obtaining original birth records when one of their grandparents was adopted as a child. It's sponsored by two Chicago Democrats, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and Sen. Iris Martinez.  

In a Wednesday statement, Quinn says people have the right to know the first chapter of their lives. He says the information can be vital when determining inherited traits and medical history. 

Department of Children and Family Services Acting Director Bobbie Gregg notes nearly 17,000 children have been adopted in Illinois over the past decade. 


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