Politics and Government | WGLT

Politics and Government

Municipal Residency Requirements Not A Priority

Oct 19, 2015
Ivo Shandor / Wikimedia Commons

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner says he can see why Springfield's mayor is saying he wants people who get a city check to live in the city. Nearly a third of capitol city employees don't.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin appears reluctant to boost American military aid to Ukraine too much. Speaking to reporters after a trip to the eastern European nation, Durbin acknowledged that the Ukrainians are crying out for American Javelin anti-tank missiles to combat Russian armor. But, Durbin says the Obama administration does not believe those would make a difference. Durbin says the U.S. does not want to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a pretext to escalate.

Governor Bruce Rauner had $58.3 million dollars in income last year. The Republican has released tax returns for 2014, showing he paid more than $18 million in federal and state taxes.

His effective Federal tax rate was about 26%. His overall effective rate was 31%

The Rauner family foundation also gave more than $3.3 million to charity.
 

Congressman Rodney Davis says he approves of President Obama's decision to slow withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Afghanistan. Speaking to reporters on a conference call, the Republican Davis said keeping 9,800 troops there until late next year is in the country's interests.

"I think the disastrous results of what we saw from his drawdown in Iraq may have prompted this and I gotta give him kudos for making a decision that philosophically he never thought he would make when he was running for that office."

If former Congressman Aaron Schock keeps spending money on lawyers at this rate, his campaign fund will be out of money by the next quarterly filing period. The most recend Federal Election Commission report shows the Peoria Republican spent $900,000 in legal fees in the third quarter and still owes $747,000. He has less than $1.2 million cash on hand. Since Schock resigned under an ethics cloud and a grand jury investigation into his personal and campaign financial dealings, Schock has spent nearly $2.7 million on lawyers.

Illinois candidates for U.S. Senate in 2016 are reporting millions of dollars in campaign money raised in the third quarter. Democrat Tammy Duckworth's campaign said Wednesday it raised $1.46 million. Aides say the congresswoman has $2.8 million in the bank. Duckworth is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge first-term Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.  

Kirk reported contributions of $1.05 million since June.  His campaign says he has $3.62 million on hand.  

Both campaigns say the expansion of their donor bases suggested wide, grassroots support.  

Illinois wants insurance companies in the small group market to submit changes to their small business policies as quickly as possible following a bipartisan adjustment to the nation's health care law. President Barack Obama signed legislation last week that gives states flexibility about whether to change the definition of ``small business'' under the law.  

In an Oct. 9 memo to insurers, the Illinois Department of Insurance says it will keep defining ``small'' as employers with 1 to 50 employees.  

DFmagazine Licensed under Creative Commons

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says the large amounts of humanitarian aid the U.S. is sending to help Syrian refugees is not enough. During a conference call with reporters, the Illinois Democrat said people he met during a trip to  the Greek island of Lesbos convinced him this country should take in 100,000 refugees from the conflict.

Durbin says in four years of the Syrian war the U.S. has so far taken about 2,000 refugees from that country even though the nation accepts 70,000 refugees a year in total.

Crowd Gathers, Dan Brady Not Present

Oct 14, 2015

Members of Illinois Public Action and others want politicians to know what they think about the Clean Power Plan, and other bills before the Illinois legislature.

Staff / WGLT

East Peoria Developer Jeff Giebelhausen will meet with the Bloomington City Council next week to present another proposal for the Front and Center building in Downtown Bloomington. Downtown property owner David Bentley will also present to the Committee of the Whole meeting regarding a proposal to turn the Pantagraph building into a boutique hotel. During Sound Ideas, Mike McCurdy talked with Mayor Tari Renner about  downtown redevelopment plans, police body cams, an uptick in city revenue, and solid waste services.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner wants to hold a public auction to sell the James R. Thompson Center, which houses state government offices in downtown Chicago.

Illinois lawmakers are increasingly trying to make it easier for residents to be involved in politics -- there'll be a hearing Tuesday in Chicago on automatic voter registration. Another proposal goes in the opposite direction. You can currently register on the day of the election. Republican Rep. Mark Batinick of Plainfield says that's expensive; judging by how many took advantage of a trial run last year.

Batinick doesn't want to do away with same-day voter registration. He proposes scaling it back to set places on election day.

182nd Airlift Wing / Wikimedia Commons

It's the 100th day Illinois has been without a budget. The state has without a budget before -- but going this long is unprecedented.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says the standoff over a state budget "could go on for a while" but his administration is prepared to continue managing state finances without one. The Republican spoke Friday following a manufacturing expo in Effingham.  

He says he remains committed to getting Democrats to approve some of his pro-business agenda. He repeated that if Democrats don't want to work with him they can balance the budget _ by passing a tax increase _ without his support.  

Nobel Prize Winner: Iran Deal Makes Sense

Sep 30, 2015
Michael Hill / WGLT

The main focus of a visit to Bloomington/Normal by Nobel Prize Winner Mohamed ElBaradei surrounds the idea of "Preventing a Nuclear Nightmare." He won the 2005 Nobel Prize for his efforts in preventing military use of nuclear energy, and supports a potential nuclear deal between the United States and Iran.

ElBaradei says the Iran deal makes sense.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

If the early look at Bloomington Aldermen is a guide, outsourcing golf courses and recovering costs from the downtown police hireback program for high volume nights in the bar district will be priority items as the city cuts its budget. Whether or how to fund the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts also came up as a potential cut during an informal discussion of prioritizing budget task force recommendations. Alderman Scott Black says it's important to look at the BCPA early in process even it it makes it more likely to be cut.

The search for Illinois' next Auditor General has been narrowed to a field of four. That includes a pair of state lawmakers --- both Democratic members of the Illinois House: Frank Mautino of Spring Valley and Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook. A legislative commission will endorse one of the finalists ... and forward that name to the full General Assembly ... which gets to vote on the final choice. The current state auditor is retiring at the end of the year.
 

Flickr user Donnie Ray Jones via Creative Commons

The owners of Illinois' horse race tracks say the industry is struggling to survive, but key players diverge on how to salvage the industry. As Amanda Vinicky reports ... decisions by a state board Tuesday could determine tracks' fate.

EIU President David Glassman says layoffs and furloughs have helped the school cut its budget deficit from $13 million to $1 million. Glassman said during his state of the university address that the cost-cutting isn't over but any additional layoffs would be small. EIU doesn't have a state appropriation because GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic leaders in the Illinois Legislature haven't settled on a state budget for the current fiscal year.

Redbirds For Bernie Blame Media Neglect

Sep 28, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders supporters in Bloomington Normal have chips on their shoulders over what they see as media neglect of the candidate. Along with several ISU students on the bridge above College Avenue, was retired teacher Bill Smith. He says he joined the Redbirds for Bernie demonstration to get people to give serious thought to voting in the Democratic primary.

Students at the University of Chicago Monday cheered on Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders during a brief campaign stop. Sanders, a Senator from Vermont, bemoaned low voter turnout and encouraged students to get involved in the political process.  

Sanders said the Supreme Court decision eliminating contribution caps with the idea that spending equals free speech hurts the nation.

Critics say Sanders is too liberal ... but he's gaining in polls against presumed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Hastert Plea Deal Under Negotiation

Sep 28, 2015

Prosecutors and defense attorneys for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert have told a federal judge they're talking about a possible plea deal in the Republican's hush-money case. The disclosure came during a hearing in federal court in Chicago for the 73-year-old Republican. Details weren't immediately released. The one-time teacher and wrestling coach has pleaded not guilty to violating banking laws and lying to the FBI.  A May indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone, identified only as ``Individual A,'' to hide past misconduct.

SIU Details Budget Cuts

Sep 28, 2015

Southern Illinois University officials have detailed $13.5 million in budget cuts, saying they will affect student-worker positions, research resources and on-campus events. The cuts affect a large cross-section of university departments. SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith says the cuts were unavoidable because of a state budget stalemate and a funding reduction for the school because of lower enrollment this year.  

License Renewal Notifications To End

Sep 28, 2015

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says his office will suspend mailing reminder notices on renewing motor vehicle registrations because there's still no state budget. White said Monday that interrupting the mailing service will save about $450,000 a month. White sent Gov. Bruce Rauner a letter last week warning of potential major problems at government facilities related to the budget standoff. He says vendors aren't being paid and are threatening to suspend services. He also worries that utilities could be shut off at the state Capitol in Springfield.  

Mike McCurdy / WGLT

The community budget task force has presented its final recommendations to Aldermen and the community. Aldermen also took action on one of the funding recommendations in the task force presentation - a one-percent sales tax increase. WGLT's Mike McCurdy talked with two members of the task force during Sound Ideas.

A resolution asking the Public Building Commission to proceed with McLean County jail renovation and expansion served as a skirmishing point for the mental health service debate. Board member Chuck Erickson voted for measure, but expressed reservations, saying mental illness is not a legitimate reason to expand the jail, protecting the public is.

Erickson, who is also the chair of the County Republican Party, says he fears some are trying to hijack the initiative into more than it really ought to be.

City of Bloomington

A key piece of funding that could go a long way to help solve the City of Bloomington structural deficit and help fund other initiatives is being discussed by Bloomington Aldermen. Mayor Tari Renner joined WGLT's Mike McCurdy during Sound Ideas.

A federal judge has given lawyers for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert more time to file pre-trial motions in his hush-money case. Attorneys for the Illinois Republican and federal prosecutors filed a joint motion Thursday asking for a two-week extension of Monday's filing deadline.

The two sides say they've been discussing issues Hastert's lawyers may raise. They say the extension may give them time to address those issues so the motions won't be necessary. U. S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin granted the motion Friday without comment.

Schock Appears

Sep 11, 2015

Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has made a rare public appearance since resigning from his congressional seat earlier this year amid an intensifying spending scandal.  
 

Crain's Chicago Business reports the Republican attended a Navy Seal Foundation fundraiser Wednesday at a Chicago hotel with other high-profile guests. His appearance came on the eve of a special election to replace him, won by Republican State Senator Darin LaHood.  

Wisconsin Republican Governor and Presidential Candidate Scott Walker stopped in Eureka to unveiled his "on day one" campaign platform at President Ronald Reagan's alma mater. IPR's Cass Herrington reports.

Walker spoke from the stage where the 40th president gave his first political speech as a college freshman. Walker likened himself to Reagan who he calls a fighter for small government and American values.

Pages