STATE & NATIONAL NEWS

On Tax Day, Mitchell warns against even higher taxes

With the April 15th tax deadline here, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) is warning Illinois working families that even higher taxes may be on the horizon.
Governor Pat Quinn and his Chicago allies have unveiled multiple tax hike proposals in recent weeks. Representative Mitchell opposes the Democrats’ tax schemes.
“The old saying is ‘Buyer Beware,’ but in this case it’s ‘Taxpayers Beware,’” Mitchell said. “Three years after passing the largest tax increase in Illinois history, the Chicago politicians want to take even more money out of the pockets of hardworking taxpayers. On Tax Day, it’s important to warn folks about the very real possibility of another tax increase.”
Governor Quinn wants to make the “temporary” 67% income tax increase permanent – a move supported by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. The 2011 “temporary” tax hike was sold to Illinois taxpayers as a way to pay off old bills and balance the State’s budget.
The reality is quite different. In 2011, Illinois had an $8.5 billion backlog of unpaid bills. In the same year, Democrats passed a 67% tax hike, costing taxpayers an extra $31 billion. But in 2014, Illinois still has $7 billion in unpaid bills and $127 billion in debt.
Illinois’ 8.7% unemployment rate is the second-worst jobless rate among the 50 states. High taxes are driving families and jobs out of Illinois, which has the second-highest record of out-migration of any state. Nearly 278,000 people left the state in 2012.
“The Democrats’ tax increase failed to do what they said it would,” Mitchell said. “It failed to pay off old bills. It failed to balance the budget and worst of all, it failed to get our economy back on track. We can’t tax our way into prosperity.”
In his budget address last month, Governor Quinn claimed that state spending has decreased since Fiscal Year 2008. In fact, just the opposite is true. According to the Governor’s own budget books, GRF spending in FY08 totaled $30.3 billion. For FY15, the Governor has proposed GRF spending of $38.1 billion, an increase of nearly $8 billion (26%).
“Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. Hardworking taxpayers can’t afford another tax increase,” Mitchell added.

Senator Manar introduces measure
to overhaul school funding system




Earlier this year, a bipartisan State Senate committee, created by State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill), issued a report acknowledging Illinois’ outdated school funding system and recommending changes be made to the system to better reflect students’ needs.
On Wednesday, Manar, along with other Senate Democrats, introduced the School Funding Reform Act of 2014, a proposal to streamline the current hodgepodge of funding sources into one funding formula that would account for school districts’ funding needs.
“Illinois has the second‐most inequitable school funding system in the nation. Our current funding system is doing a disservice to taxpayers, school districts and, most importantly, our children,” Manar said. “The funding system we are proposing will better address student needs, such as socio‐economic background, language ability or special learning needs, while also accounting for a school district’s ability to raise funds locally.”
The current funding formula, unchanged since 1997, only distributes 44 cents for every $1 invested in education on the basis of district need. The other 56 cents is distributed to schools through archaic and complicated grants, not based on need.
Under the new funding system, 92 cents of every $1 invested by the State in the K‐12 education system, with the exception of funds for early childhood education, construction projects and high‐cost special education, would flow through a single funding formula that provides a simple, straight‐forward and equitable means to distribute education funds for Illinois school districts.
According to Manar, the new formula would also increase stability and transparency regarding how much state money is provided, how it gets to school districts and how it is spent.
“Parents, teachers, school administrators and even lawmakers have acknowledged that we must dedicate more resources to education. However, our efforts will be in vain until we fix an outdated and inequitable funding system,” Manar said.
“Every budget year there is an appropriate sense of urgency concerning the level of funding for education, but it’s time for lawmakers to start considering appropriateness of the funding formulas we use,” Senate President John Cullerton said. “I want to commend the members on
the Education Funding Advisory Committee for dedicating their time to studying systemic shortfalls and providing a bipartisan framework for addressing the issues.”
“Our schools need both more funding and smarter funding,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D‐Maywood), who successfully negotiated several of Illinois’ most meaningful education reform laws in recent years. “We haven’t fully funded education – breaking our own laws – for years. However, this proposal is a solid step that will make sure that the money we do send to local school districts goes where it’s needed most.”
“Every student in Illinois has a right to an equitable public education ‐ based on fair funding, not their zip code,” State Senator Melinda Bush (D–Grayslake) said. “This new formula provides equality for students and funding stability for school districts.”
“This is a plan to make the state's school funding structure more responsive to the needs of school districts," State Senator Michael Noland (D–Elgin) said. "There's more work to be done, especially in making sure we are budgeting enough money for our schools. But this is a significant first step toward public education that meets the needs of students, teachers and schools alike.”





Rep. Rodney Davis

Rep. Rodney Davis:  He Keeps Winning

By Paul Osborne
Decatur Tribune Editor


Freshman Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Illinois) has not had an easy road in winning and holding on to his 13th Congressional District seat.
Macon County is in his district and Decatur has been an important factor in his campaigns.
Two years ago, Davis was one of several candidates that GOP county chairmen in the district considered to appoint to take the place of long-time Congressman Tim Johnson on the ballot.
Johnson had won the primary, but decided to retire before the general election and the county chairmen had the responsibility to select someone to place on the ballot for the November, 2012 election.
The chairmen selected Davis. Had he not been chosen, former Miss America, Harvard Law School graduate and practicing attorney Erika Harold probably would have been appointed.
Not a few Republicans felt that Harold should have been appointed instead of Davis, but Davis beat Democrat Dr. David Gill in the fall election and is serving his first term.
Not long after Davis was sworn into office Democrat Nancy Pelosi and national Democratic leaders put a target on Davis, believing that the 13th District seat could be won by a Democrat -- since Davis didn’t beat Dr. Gill by that many votes.
The Democrats picked former Madison County Judge Ann Callis as their candidate to carry the banner in the general election in November of 2014.
Meanwhile, Erika Harold, was back in Davis’ political life because she declared herself a candidate against Davis for last Tuesday’s Primary Election.  Michael Firsching became a third candidate in the race
Callis also picked up two opponents in the Democratic primary race in George Gollin and David Green.
Davis and Callis won their primaries and now the two candidates who were expected to face off until election day -- are facing off.
I sat down with Davis in the conference room at the Tribune for a closer look at his feelings about the campaign a few days after he won the primary and some of the issues that will become important parts of the 13th Congressional District Race.


Does Davis Feel Vindicated That He Was The Right Choice?


During the primary campaign, Erika Harold repeatedly stated that county chairmen in the district had selected Davis and not the people.
She felt the voters should have made that choice.
Now that the voters gave him the victory over Harold last week, I asked Davis if he felt a certain “vindication” because he was the choice of the voters last Tuesday.
“I never took the county chairmen appointing me as an accurate criticism,” said Davis.  It is one thing to not be a part of that selection process and complain about the process, but it is wholly different to be a part of the process and then use it as a political issue as you move forward -- which is what it was in my opponent’s case,
“The voters spoke and I’m glad they agreed with the decision that was made by the county chairmen slightly over two years ago.”
Davis added that Tuesday’s vote shows that the Republicans are happy with the job that he is doing and wanted him to carry the Republican banner into the November election.
As far as his relationship with Erika Harold, Davis said that she called him Tuesday night when it was apparent that he had won and “she was very gracious.  I have a great deal of respect for my Republican opponents and, also, those who ran on the Democrat side in the Primary Election.”
Davis said the concern of some Republicans that he didn’t debate his opponents “won’t be the last time someone brings that issue up.  It’s a debate over debates and it allows a challenger something to talk to the media about.  I understand that.
“Frankly, I spend three weeks out of every month out in Washington D.C. doing the job I was elected to do. I represent both Republicans and Democrats in Washington, and I think we’ve been doing a good job of working for what’s best for the residents in my district.
“I’m happy to debate the issues, whether it is with Republicans or Democrats and I do that every single day.”
Davis said that he had appeared before Republicans with his opposition numerous times during the selection process.


Will He Debate Ann Callis?


When asked if he would debate his Democratic challenger, Ann Callis, between now and election day, Davis said, “I look forward to every oppotunity to talk about my vision for America, the Republican vision for America, versus my opponent’s vision for America and the Democrats’ vision for America.
“I will take virtually every opportunity I can to do that.  I’m sure we will have debates.  I will consider every opportunity to debate my opponent in the general election.”


Job Situation In Macon County


Davis said that he is frustrated with people in the Decatur area not being able to get better jobs for area residents.
“It frustrates me when I see great companies like ADM and Tate & Lyle not being able to expand because the policies in Washington are stopping our ability to manufacture the products that are made by companies here in Macon County and Central Illinois,” said Davis.  “Caterpillar is a good example.  There is an attack on coal in this country by this administration which, through rules and regulations, is trying to shut down existing coal-fired power plants.
“Caterpillar builds mining trucks. If we don’t have coal being mined, we can’t sell mining trucks and that means Caterpillar can’t employ people and hire more people.”
Davis said that’s the message he gives UAW workers that come to his office that, the policies of this administration in attacking coal has a direct impact on their ability to have members in Decatur build the trucks.
Davis said, the frustrating part for him, is that the policies that are negatively affecting jobs in Decatur, are put in place by those who are considered “Labor-friendly”.


Obamacare Will Be ‘Hot Issue’ In Campaign


Davis said that Obamacare will be a “hot issue” in the 13th Congressional District campaign.
“If it is not number 1, it will be 1A,” he said.  “Obamacare is a disaster.  Even Democrats understand that now.  We were promised as Americans that the average family would save $2,600 per year.  I haven’t met a single family that is saving $2,600 a year.  I don’t and I am on Obamacare.  The law requires me to be on Obamacare as a member of Congress.
“I went through the same process that everyone is going through.  I am paying more in premiums.  I am paying more in deductibles and I am paying more in out-of-pocket costs.
“Remember, my wife is a 15-year cancer survivor.  I have to make sure the plan I pick has the doctor she has been seeing.
“That’s what I think frustrates families the most.  The healthcare debate in this country is less about the doctor/patient relationship and more about the government telling you what you can and cannot do.”
Davis said that he is also frustrated that healthcare decisions are dependent on being able to log in to a website that has cost taxpayers almost a billion dollars -- and it still doesn’t work properly.
“I shake my head and wonder why the American people haven’t risen up and said ‘enough is enough’,” he said.  “I think they will this election and that’s why I believe it will be such a large issue.  But it is still costing taxpayers trillions of dollars.”
A lot of the problems, according to Davis, are being compounded by President Obama and his executive orders making changes.
“Can you imagine what we would have if Obamacare was implemented in the way it was written?” asked Davis.  “It would cost Americans even more and more Americans would lose their healthcare coverage.”


Foreign Policy Issues


“I think this administration has failed miserably on numerous foreign policy issues,” said Davis, adding that he believes the people that President Obama has put in charge of our foreign policy are “just as culpable” as the President when it comes to the disasterous results from dealing with other nations.
“Then, to roll out a budget like he did where the majority of the cuts are on the back of our military,” said Davis.  “That shows you what this administration’s priorities are.
“Now I want to cut spending the way everybody else does.  The way we do that is not on the backs of our military, but by getting back to our constitutional appropriations process, which we’ve done.  We’ve gotten off of the continuing resolutions and we’re back to where an individual member of Congress like me can have a say regarding our spending.  We need to make some tough decisions.”


Hard Road Between Now And The General Election


While there will be a lot of debate on the issues in the coming months leading up to the November General Election, the Democrats are wasting no time in attacking Davis
In fact, they were attacking him in the campaign heading into the Republican Primary Election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee started a campaign bashing Davis with a series of what they claim is “13 Broken Promises”  running for 13 days.
The introduction to the series states: “Since Congressman Rodney Davis was elected to Congress, he’s broken numerous promises that he made to get elected – and now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is holding him accountable for deceiving the voters with a paid online campaign to highlight 13 of his most egregious broken promises.”
Following her victory last week, Callis said: “I’m looking forward to continuing my conversation with voters about my record of working with Democrats and Republicans to bring people together to get results, like creating the first Veterans' Court in Illinois and helping protect middle-class homeowners in Illinois.
“Illinois voters will have a clear choice between my record of protecting middle class families and Congressman Davis, who voted during his first year in Congress to end the guarantee of Medicare and raise Medicare costs on Illinois families.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) wasted no time in going after Callis, even before all the results of last week’s Primary Election had been announced stating: “National Demo-crats might have been able to get their handpicked candidate over the finish line in this cycle’s primary, but Callis is seen as a flawed candidate with a judicial history which will be carefully scrutinized over the next eight months.
“The primary challenge from Gollin has left Callis very wounded with attack ads airing on TV hitting her for being a “political insider” who wants to “cut Social Security.” Callis has also been criticized by local newspapers for her inability to discuss the issues and explain where she stands.”
With a national focus on the race in the 13th Congressional District, the race between Davis and Callis will be one of the most interesting in the nation.
If Davis wins, it should put to rest any nagging doubts some Republicans have about his ability to hold the office.

 

Reprinted from 3/26/2014 Decatur Tribune Print Edition









Decatur Police Department Releases Results Of March Seatbelt Enforcement/Cell Phone Operations

The Decatur Police Department conducted numerous seatbelt enforcement and cell phone operations in March. 
These increased traffic enforcement efforts directly relating to occupant protection and illegal cell phone usage produced 38 traffic stops. 
The Seat Belt Enforcement Zone operations and Saturation Patrols were conducted citywide.
The following types of citations were issued: seatbelt violations 12; child restraint violations  2; cellphone violations 8; DUI arrests 1; suspended/revoked driver's license 6; no insurance violations 14; speeding 4; other traffic violations 12; warrant arrest; 1; drug arrest 1 .
These operations were conducted in an effort to reduce traffic related fatalities and serious injuries.
The Seatbelt Enforcement Zone Operations and Saturation Patrols were funded by the Department’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The officers of the Decatur Police Department remain committed in their efforts to reduce fatal and serious injury accidents by aggressively enforcing the Fatal Four (driving under the influence, seatbelt usage, speeding, and distracted driving).




Decatur YMCA officials welcomed to the Capitol


Two Decatur Family YMCA officials were welcomed to the Illinois State Capitol on March 20 by State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
Melissa Watson; President of the Decatur Family YMCA and Paul Stanzioni; Director of the Decatur Family YMCA are pictured with Senator Rose (at left).


Illinois Chamber Announces Todd Maisch as New CEO

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to appoint Todd C. Maisch the new CEO of the Illinois Chamber. His term will begin on July 1.
As executive vice president, Maisch oversees the Business Services Division, Government Affairs and the Membership and Marketing Department of the Illinois Chamber. Maisch also is responsible for the overall development and implementation of the Chamber’s government affairs program.
“I am honored to lead an institution I have been part of for the past 20 years,” said Maisch, 48. “I believe in the Chamber’s mission to serve as the unifying voice of the Illinois business community. And I am eager to build on the foundation of previous leaders who supported the success of our members and Illinois businesses.”
Current Illinois Chamber CEO Douglas L. Whitley, 64, announced his retirement in September 2013, effective June 30, 2014. At that time, the Board of Directors committed to a timeline that would allow three months of transition for the new CEO.
“We conducted a nationwide search, and Todd rose to the top as the candidate who was most prepared to lead the Chamber well into the future,” said Ray Drake, chairman of the Board and vice president of state government affairs for UPS. “We look forward to working with him to develop innovative services for Illinois businesses that will strengthen their success and in turn promote prosperity for the citizens of Illinois.”
Maisch holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Illinois State University. Prior to joining the Chamber in 1994, Maisch worked for the General Assembly as a research analyst for the House Republican staff.


ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT ANNOUNCES CHANGES
IN WHERE MOTIONS ARE FILED


The Illinois Supreme Court has announced changes to Supreme Court Rules 361, 381, and 383 dealing with where attorneys or parties file motions with the Court.
If a case arises out of the Second, Third, Fourth, or Fifth Judicial Districts and is a motion to be heard by the full Court, an original and eight copies shall be filed with the Clerk's office in Springfield. If the mo- tion may be heard by a single Justice, an original and one copy shall be filed with the Clerk's office in Springfield, directed to the Justice from the Judicial District where the case originated. Responses to mo- tions shall be filed within the allowed time frames in the same manner along with the requisite copies.
In cases arising out of the First Judicial District (Cook County), motions for a single Justice will continue to be filed, along with one copy, in the Clerk's satellite office in Chicago. If the motion in a case from the First District is a matter for the full Court, the changes require an original and eight copies to be filed with the Clerk's Chicago office. Responses to motions shall be filed within the allowed timeframes in the same manner along with the requisite copies.
This applies whether motions and responses are filed electronically or not.
Originally, motions in cases arising out of the Second, Third, Fourth, or Fifth Districts that can only be decided by the full Court required an original and one copy to be filed in the Clerk's Springfield office, as well as a copy of the motion mailed to each Justice at his or her district chambers. Full Court motions arising out of the First Judicial District required an original and five copies to be filed in the Clerk's Chi- cago satellite office, as well as a copy of the motion mailed to each Justice in the Second, Third, Fourth or Fifth District at his or her district chambers. Copies of single Justice motions in cases arising out of the Second, Third, Fourth, or Fifth Districts were also mailed to the respective Justice at his or her district chambers.


Military Personnel Need to Beware of Fraudulent Website.

Peoria, IL - Members of the U.S. Army and their families are the targets of a new scam using a website to collect service members Army Knowledge Online (AKO) email account and password information, according to the Central Illinois BBB.

The website called "My Army Benefits" is a fraudulent site, it falsely claims: "The US military has granted access to unclaimed and accumulated army benefits for the under listed active duty soldiers. Benefits not claimed within the stipulated period will be available for claims after 60 months." The website is not affiliated or endorsed by the U.S. Army according to the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CIC).

 

This website scam is using a name close to the Army's official website of "MyArmyBenefits", the fraudulent site contains an .org domain name. "Official military websites will all have the .mil domain name," notes BBB Military Line director Brenda Linnington. "Any other domain extension should be a red flag." Other red flags include unsolicited emails/text messages, spelling/punctuation and grammar errors.

 

The Army's CIC provided the following advice for anyone who has received correspondence from the fraudulent My Army Benefits website or provided information through it:

 

· Do not log in to the website

 

· Do not respond to any emails

 

· Stop all contact if you have previously responded to any emails

 

· Immediately contact your local Information Assurance (IA) office if you accessed the website from a government computer or system.

 

The BBB Military Line was formed in 2004 to provide free resources in the areas of financial literacy and consumer protection to U.S. military communities through local BBBs across the U.S. and at bbb.org/military.



This Winter was the 4th Coldest on Record in Illinois


  The average statewide temperature for the three core winter months of December, January, and February was 20.8 degrees. It was 8.2 degrees below average and the fourth coldest December-February period on record, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.
This winter was in a three-way tie with 1917-1918 and 1976-1977. The coldest winter was 1977-1978 at a statewide average temperature of 19.6 degrees. The winter of 1978-1979 was in second place at 19.9 degrees.
The Illinois statewide temperature for February was 18.7 degrees, or 12.1 degrees below the long-term average.  It was the seventh coldest February on record.
The snowfall for February was above average across the state. The total snowfall ranged from 4 inches in far southern Illinois to 15 to 20 inches in north-central Illinois. The snowfall departures from average ranged from 1 to 5 inches south of Interstate 70 and between 10 and 18 inches between Interstates 70 and 80.
The statewide precipitation for February was 2.28 inches, which is 0.17 inches above average. Precipitation includes both rain events along with the water content of any snowfall. The result in February was that the above-average snowfall did not translate to above-average precipitation because several of those snowfall events occurred in colder conditions when the snow density was lower (i.e., fluffier snow).
Snowfall this winter so far has been above average across the state. Snowfall totals ranged from 10 inches in the southernmost counties of the state to over 60 inches in the northeast. Some of the largest snowfall totals this entire winter were in the Chicago area and included Lincolnwood with 79.8 inches and Oak Park with 78.6 inches.
“This winter was comparable to the winters in the late 1970s in terms of the cold weather and snow,” concludes Angel.


Senator Rose greets area SWCDs



 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) from across Illinois descended on the State Capitol for their annual legislative day on February 25 and many local SWCD officials met with State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
Senator Rose (left) is pictured with Butch Fisher; Piatt County SWCD, Megan Bakerville; Macon County SWCD, Randy Dean; DeWitt County SWCD;  Jonah Cooley; Piatt County SWCD, Sondra Baker; DeWitt County SWCD and Myron Kirby, DeWitt County SWCD.




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Young people at the World War II Memorial in front of the Decatur Civic Center.

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