Every debate has a winner & a loser. One side prevails as another does not. This concept also applies to the gay marriage bill in front of the Illinois General Assembly.  Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business points out that lawmakers are just a few votes shy of passage of gay marriage in the Illinois House. Hinz puts the number between 55 -57 votes in favor, just short of the 60 needed. A few months ago, I was informed that the Illinois House was at least 12 votes short of passage – so the opposition in the Illinois House is starting to falter. So who will be a winner & who will be a loser if gay marriage passes the Illinois House & is eventually passed on to Gov. Quinn to sign?

Winner – Dan Rutherford – Rutherford, if you recall, was the lone Republican Illinois Senator to vote in favor of civil unions during the lame duck session of the General Assembly in 2010 before taking office as Illinois Treasurer. If gay marriage is approved, then Rutherford is provided some cover for his vote & any opposition he faces in the primary will have lost a campaign issue against Rutherford.

Loser – Bruce Rauner – As a social liberal, Rauner was counting on pulling in the moderate & liberal votes in the Republican Primary for Governor. If gay marriage passes, then that issue is largely off the table which allows any of Rauner’s opponents to focus on his other social liberal stances be it gun control or Rauner’s pro-choice beliefs – both important issues to Republican Primary voters who generally trend conservative.

Winner – Pat Brady – The Captain always goes down with the ship. Brady put his reputation on the line by openly advocating for gay marriage passage earning him the ire of conservatives, including myself. Brady’s support of gay marriage, which violates the Illinois Republican Party platform, has paved the way for his resignation sometime in the future but Brady will find comfort with the other social liberal Republicans in the Loop & Beltway circles. Even after Brady decides to resign, I’m not sure we have heard the last of him (see Andy McKenna).

Winner – Gov. Pat Quinn – As a very unpopular incumbent Governor, Pat Quinn needs all the “good” press he can get going into what seems to be a very difficult potential Democrat Primary. Quinn will be able to show his liberal colors & appease some, but definitely not all, his critics on social issues. Quinn’s victory lap will be short lived however as SB1 will once again pit Quinn against the unions he double –crossed after he was reelected.

Loser – Lisa Madigan – The current Illinois Attorney General, wannabe Democrat Governor candidate, will have lost a campaign issue just as Bruce Rauner will have lost one against his nearest opponent. Quinn will be able to say that he actually did something about gay marriage whereas Lisa Madigan merely sat on the sidelines cheering him on. She also loses a campaign issue in the General Election if Rutherford (assuming it’s basically a Rutherford/Rauner two way battle) wins the Republican Primary. But she still carries the Madigan last name…which is & always shall be a loser in my book.

Winner – Trial Lawyers – Once again, trial lawyers win. How? Because of all the discrimination lawsuits that will follow after passage of gay marriage in Illinois. Florists, wedding reception halls & other businesses have been sued by gay “couples” because those businesses refused to offer their services to them as we have seen in other states that passed gay marriage. It’s only a matter of time before a lawsuit against churches denying services to gay “couples” also happens, despite assurances by gay marriage supporters/sponsors in the General Assembly that houses of worship are exempt from the gay marriage law.

Loser – Illinois residents – Once again, the Democrats in the General Assembly have decided to focus on the real issues like medicinal marijuana & gay marriage versus handling the soft, unimportant issues like pension reform, budget deficits, faltering state credit ratings, high unemployment, anti-business regulations/policies & taxes. Priorities, priorities.

Loser – Conservatism in Illinois – Conservatives will have failed to pressure a handful of Republicans actually left in office in the Illinois House from breaking the ranks & joining the Democrats in voting for gay marriage. Conservatives were thwarted from getting the required votes to oust Pat Brady as Illinois Republican Party Chair – surprisingly with help from other conservatives either tacitly or openly. Even medicinal marijuana passed with barely a whimper. Not only does the Illinois Republican Party need to do some soul searching over this summer but conservatives must also do the same.

Winner – Senator Mark Kirk – Kirk has successfully thrown away any semblance of conservatism that he barely showed when he ran in 2010. Putting Mark Kirk’s recent anti-gun, pro-immigration reform posturing aside, Kirk has openly supported Pat Brady & passage of gay marriage in Illinois. Kirk has shown himself, as the highest office holding Republican in Illinois, to be a force within the Illinois Republican Party. Kirk will enjoy many of the same campaign benefits in 2016 that Rutherford will enjoy in 2014.

Push – State Sen. Jason Barrickman & other Republican pro-gay marriage votes – I’m calling it push for right now for Barrickman, et. al. Time will only tell if there will be backlash against the Republicans that vote or voted for gay marriage. Barrickman is already doing damage control & others will be watching closely for any fallout from his decision. Some Republicans that vote for gay marriage might even find themselves with primary challengers. 2014 is a long time way still but in the world of politics 2014 might as well be tomorrow.

Losers – Dillard, Brady & Co. – Running to the right of anyone in the Republican Primary for Governor to win conservatives will be that much harder. Gay marriage isn’t like the abortion issue where laws can be passed to rollback or restrict abortions. Once gay marriage is passed, the other candidates that might jump in can certain say they are opposed to gay marriage but any hopes of overturning it or restricting will be solely in the wheelhouse of the Illinois Supreme Court – which leans liberal. Anti-gay marriage will be a rallying cry, but it’ll be as effective as Bruce Rauner calling for Illinois to be Right to Work state.

Winner – The Slippery Slope – Pandora’s Box will be opened if you will. It is only a matter of time before polygamy is approved, which support for such action has already begun. It’s also only a matter of time before religious organizations lose their non-profit, tax-exempt status because they will be openly “discriminating” against gay “couples” by refusing to engage in marrying gay “couples”. In a state as broke financially as Illinois, removing the tax-exempt status would fill the Illinois coffers, not unlike how Henry VIII figured out when he broke from the Catholic Church & founded the Church of England.

Just yesterday Governor Pat Quinn announced the possible layoffs of 1,900 state employees as well as the closing of seven state facilities around the state by January. The reason for this sort of announcement is because Illinois has no money and hasn’t had money my entire life. Governor Quinn was given a check from the general assembly this past fiscal year that allowed him to spend an overwhelming majority of the states income on whatever he saw fit. Apparently, Governor Quinn doesn’t know how to stretch a dollar like all of us have had to the last few years. Governor Quinn knew exactly how much money he was getting and how much he could spend. Why did he continue to spend at a rate that wasn’t sustainable for the entire year? Your guess is as good as mine.

Remember back this past January when Governor Quinn and the democrats passed the 66% tax increase? They promised it would bring increased revenue to the state. They were wrong. People and businesses moved out of the state and we saw no new revenue. Conservative and Tea Party groups from across the state tried to tell the Democrats that this would be a result, but they didn’t listen.

I believe that Governor Quinn’s “plan” is just a ploy. I know it is kind of a bold statement but here are some reasons. In September 2010 just days after he got the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal (50,000 State Employees are enrolled) Quinn announced a deal that guaranteed no layoffs for state employees until June 30th, 2012 in return he got concessions from the union. Of course, at the time this looked like a pay to play scheme by the Governor in the midst of a campaign. I do not really think that he will lay off 1900 state workers. That would upset not only the AFSCM but also other unions throughout the state because the governor went against the agreement. Governor Quinn will at all cost protect the union. Politically he has to; if he doesn’t then his political future would be over. Which it should be anyways.

Another reason why I believe this is a ploy is because Governor Quinn is looking to shut down a prison.
Obviously, all of us in Illinois know before the 2010 election Governor Quinn liked to let violent criminals out of prison early for no real reason. However, during the election cycle Quinn faced a lot of hard questions about the early release program and the program was stopped or should I say slowed down. Right now the state of Illinois has 27 prisons, our prisons were built to house 33,000 inmates. Overcrowding has struck our prison system and the current population is around 49,000 inmates. So, Governor Quinn’s plan of shutting down two prisons (Logan Correctional Center near Lincoln and the youth detention center in Murphysboro) is not only not smart, it is not safe. Quinn would be left with two options. Force more prisoners into already overcrowded prison or he could institute his early release program again. Both options leave us less safe.

I believe his ploy is simple. He was irresponsible with the money he was given by the general assembly, so he is going to pressure them with layoffs, closings, and anything else he can think of until he gets more money. Of course, Logan Correctional Center is in a Republican area this will allow him to put pressure on the GOP not to block any plan that the democrats come up with. Governor Quinn is asking for $316 million more to get him by. Conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans we had our chance to beat him in 2010. This is what socialism looks like. End result, the Illinois GOP will bend and Quinn will get more money which will send Illinois farther into debt.

He is like a 10 year old boy, his mom gave him $15 this week to buy his school lunches for the entire week BUT Tuesday comes around and he is already out of money. So he goes to his mom and threatens to not go to school in less she gives him money

Zachary S. Oltmanns
President of the Illinois Conservatives

OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman is one of the people trying to persuade Caterpillar to move the headquarters of its mining and construction equipment business out of Illinois.

Heineman’s spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that Nebraska was one of at least four states that contacted Caterpillar about uprooting its Peoria, Ill., headquarters after Illinois increased its income tax rate in January.

Heineman told Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman that Nebraska deals with its budget woes by cutting government spending, not raising taxes.

Oberhelman discussed the recruiting efforts in a letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The Pantagraph of Bloomington, Ill., reported that Texas and South Dakota also contacted Oberhelman.

Oberhelman says he wants to keep Caterpillar in Illinois, but he doesn’t like the direction of the state’s policies.

Source: State-Journal Register

SPRINGFIELD – For months, the once-a-decade process of redrawing the state’s political map has taken place mostly behind closed doors.

Today, however, the first in a series of public hearings on the contentious issue will take place in a state office building in Chicago.

The meeting will kick off what many expect to be a raucous battle that could decide the political future of dozens of lawmakers.

“It’s going to get cranked up,” said state Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton.

In all, the Illinois Senate Redistricting Committee plans to hold at least five hearings around the state on the map-making process. The current schedule includes an April 6 hearing in Springfield followed by sessions April 16 in Kankakee and Peoria and April 19 in Cicero.

The hearings are designed to give Illinoisans a chance to outline what they would like to see in a new legislative map, which is drawn every 10 years after the U.S. Census figures are released to account for shifts in the state’s population.

Democrats control state government, giving them the upper hand in determining how the new boundaries will look. Republicans argue there should be more than five hearings. And GOP lawmakers say those hearings should be held after a final map has been proposed, so that citizens can see what actually is being contemplated

GOP leaders last week sent letters to Gov. Pat Quinn and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon calling on them to urge state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, to hold more meetings in order to allow citizens to have input into the map-making process.

In particular, Simon was singled out because she was a member of the governor’s Reform Commission, which recommended at least five hearings around the state on the proposed new map, rather than hearings before the new map is completed. Those recommendations weren’t adopted into law.

“I would ask that you, in your role as Lieutenant Governor, re-emphasize your commitment to reform by calling on these leaders to increase the transparency and openness in the redistricting process,” the letter from House Minority Leader Tom Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

Raoul, who is heading up the redistricting panel, said last week there could be at least an additional five hearings in other areas of the state before the new boundaries are voted on by lawmakers.

“There definitely will be more,” Raoul said.

In addition to the Senate hearings, the House also is planning to hold hearings. Cross spokeswoman Sara Wojcicki said map-making is just getting started.

“We’ve distributed census information to our members and are just in the preliminary stages of drawing of maps,” Wojcicki said.

But Republicans acknowledge they largely will be relegated to the sidelines with Democrats holding all the power.

“In all likelihood, the Democratic majority has already drawn their maps,” said state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.

For individual lawmakers, changing the boundaries on the 59 seats in the Senate and 118 seats in the House is a significant issue.

Forby’s district in southern Illinois, for example, needs to pick up 8,000 additional residents. That means the boundaries of the 59th Senate District would have to expand north or west into territory currently represented by Republicans.

“It’s going to be a lot different,” Forby said.

State Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, is in a district that could grow by as many as 14,000 residents, meaning he, too, will have to squeeze territory now held by Republicans.

He acknowledged that GOP lawmakers likely are looking over their shoulders at what might become of their districts.

“There’s probably some apprehension on that,” Sullivan said.

Raoul agreed: “It’s going to be impossible to keep everybody happy.”

Righter, who is the ranking Republican on the redistricting committee, said he’ll be at each of the hearings over the next several weeks. He is not speculating on what the new districts will look like because Democrats could submit a map that is vastly different from the current one.

But he thinks the Democratic-led hearings are designed to merely reinforce what Democrats want to get out of the redistricting process.

“This is what happens when incumbent lawmakers get to draw their own boundaries,” Righter said.

By: Kurt Erickson
Source: QC Times

CARBONDALE, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon wants Illinois residents to know she can take a joke about a lack of definition in her job.

The first-term lieutenant governor, who appeared Saturday morning on the radio quiz show “Whad’Ya Know,“ said her only job constitutionally is to be ready to be governor.

Simon laughed when host Michael Feldman said her job is like a pitcher of warm spit. And when he asked if she spends time pretending to sign documents.

Simon later spoke about her education agenda and defended Gov. Pat Quinn for raising taxes.

The show was broadcast live from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. It’s the first time the show returned to the area since Simons’ father, former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, was a guest in 1998.

Source: State-Journal Register

SPRINGFIELD – While governors in other states are sparring with Big Labor, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is on a pro-union tour this week.

Against the backdrop of labor protests in Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and New Jersey, Quinn traveled to Detroit on Tuesday to deliver the opening speech at the United Auto Workers union convention.

“It is so important right now in this country that we emphasize that the … right to have dialogue, to have discussion, talking about the common good, for everyone,” the Detroit Free Press reported Quinn told the UAW crowd.

Quinn highlighted the union again in Chicago.

“We have a great number of auto workers in Illinois,” Quinn said, pointing to the Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in Bloomington-Normal and other carmakers as examples of the state’s unionized manufacturing base.

Today, the Chicago Democrat will travel to Bloomington for the Illinois Building Trades Council annual statewide meeting, where he’s expected to highlight a position similar to what he outlined in the Motor City.

The governor is set to speak at 10 a.m. He will be followed by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

While Republican governors in several other states have called for an end to collective bargaining rights for union workers in order to cut the cost of government, Quinn has largely argued that the Illinois Constitution prohibits him from trying to reduce benefits for current state workers.

The governor has, however, entered into negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union in an attempt to remove the union representation from some high-level state government managers.

Those talks remain under way.

By: Kurt Erickson
Source: QC Times

Illinois on Tuesday moved a step closer to becoming the 49th state to allow its citizens to carry concealed firearms.

“This is the best chance it’s had in a while,” the sponsor, Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said of the proposal, which he has introduced many times in his five terms as a state representative. “I’ve never had the grassroots or groundswell that this bill has right now. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us getting with the times.”

The measure, House Bill 148, was approved, 12-2, by the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee Tuesday. It would allow county sheriffs to issue concealed carry permits to people 21 and older who have undergone eight hours of training and passed criminal background and mental health checks.

The proposal failed in the past because it couldn’t muster the votes to get around a section of the Illinois Constitution requiring a 71-vote House supermajority for bills that overrule the rights of home rule municipalities, such as Chicago and Springfield.

Phelps said the number of representatives who have pledged to support concealed carry this year is close to that 71-vote mark.

“I haven’t seen the final totals. I haven’t talked to (National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde) about it,” Phelps said. However, Phelps said, “we’re over 66 votes right now.”

If the proposal passes both chambers of the General Assembly, it still faces a potential gubernatorial veto, which also would take a supermajority vote to override.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said previously he opposes concealed carry. However, a spokeswoman said the measure gets to him, Quinn will give it the same consideration he would give any other bill.

Proponents of the bill present at the committee hearing included private citizens, the Madison County state’s attorney, the Tazewell and Fulton County sheriffs and representatives of other police associations.

Other private citizens, representatives of the City of Chicago and the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence appeared in opposition to the measure.

Mark Walsh of the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the system to handle mental health background checks isn’t up to catching people who shouldn’t be eligible to own guns.

“In Illinois … there are approximately 120,000 records that should be input into the system,” Walsh said. “What that means is there’s people who should be prohibited purchasers who are not on the list and will come up as, quote-unquote, law-abiding citizens.”

Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, R-Morrisonville, voted to pass the proposal on to the entire House.

“I think it’s a right that’s afforded us by the Second Amendment,” Rosenthal said.

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only states that do not permit some form of concealed carry.

The committee also passed House Bill 3130, which would require Illinois to honor concealed carry permits issued in other states.

“If 148 (the Illinois concealed carry measure) passes, then we wouldn’t need that secondary bill,” Rosenthal said.

A concealed carry bill in the Senate was stalled on Tuesday when it was transferred to a subcommittee.

By: ANDY BROWNFIELD

Source: THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois abolished the death penalty today, more than a decade after the state imposed a moratorium on executions out of concern that innocent people could be put to death by a justice system that had wrongly condemned 13 men.

Gov. Pat Quinn also commuted the sentences of all 15 inmates remaining on death row. They will now serve life in prison with no hope of parole.

State lawmakers voted in January to abandon capital punishment, and Quinn spent two months reflecting on the issue, speaking with prosecutors, crime victims’ families, death penalty opponents and religious leaders. He called it the “most difficult decision” he has made as governor.

“We have found over and over again: Mistakes have been made. Innocent people have been freed. It’s not possible to create a perfect, mistake-free death penalty system,” Quinn said after signing the legislation.

Prosecutors and some victims’ families had urged Quinn to veto the measure.

The governor offered words of consolation to those who had lost loved ones to violence, saying that the “family of Illinois” was with them. He said he understands victims will never be healed.

Illinois’ moratorium goes back to 2000, when then-Republican Gov. George Ryan made international headlines by suspending executions. Ryan acted after years of growing doubts about the state’s capital-punishment system, which was famously called into question in the 1990s, after courts concluded that 13 men had been wrongly condemned.

Shortly before leaving office in 2003, Ryan also cleared death row, commuting the sentences of 167 inmates to life in prison. Illinois’ last execution was in 1999.

Quinn promised to commute the sentence of anyone else who might be condemned before the law takes effect on July 1. Illinois will join 15 other states that have done away with executions.

New York and New Jersey did so in 2007. New Mexico followed in 2009, although new Republican Gov. Susana Martinez wants to reinstate the death penalty.

The executive director of a national group that studies capital punishment called Quinn’s decision “a milestone” for the anti-death penalty movement throughout the United States.

Today’s repeal was more significant than when other states eliminated the death penalty because many of them had rarely used it, said Richard Dieter, of the Death Penalty Information Center, in Washington.

“Illinois stands out because it was a state that used it, reconsidered it and now rejected it,” Dieter said.

Anti-death penalty activists said other states have looked to Illinois as a leader on the issue ever since the moratorium began.

“This is a very significant action on the governor’s part,” said Mike Farrell, an actor widely known for his role on the hit television show “M(asterisk)A(asterisk)S(asterisk)H” and a longtime activist who is now the president of the board of directors of Death Penalty Focus in California.

“This is a domino in one sense, but it’s a significant one.”

Kristin Houle, executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, agreed, saying Illinois action “shows the national momentum towards repealing the death penalty.”

Quinn consulted with retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and met with Sister Helen Prejean, the inspiration for the movie “Dead Man Walking.”

A Chicago woman whose teenage son was gunned down in 2006 said she was disappointed in Quinn’s decision — a move, she said, that victims’ relatives tried to talk him out of a few weeks ago.

Pam Bosley said nobody is in custody in her son’s death, but whoever killed him does not deserve to live.

“I don’t want them to breathe the air that I breathe,” said Bosley, whose 18-year-old son, Terrell Bosley, was killed in front of a church on Chicago’s South Side.

Bill Sloop, a truck driver from Carthage, said he was saddened to think that taxpayers would have to continue feeding, clothing and care for Daniel Ramsey, the death row prisoner who killed his 12-year-old daughter and wounded her older sister in a 1996 shooting spree.

Quinn “shouldn’t have done what he did,” Sloop said.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan appealed directly to Quinn to veto the bill, as did several county prosecutors and victims’ families. They said safeguards, including videotaped interrogations and easier access to DNA evidence, were in place to prevent innocent people from being wrongly executed.

But death penalty opponents argued that there was still no guarantee that an innocent person couldn’t be put to death. Quinn’s lieutenant governor, Sheila Simon, herself a former prosecutor, urged him to sign the bill.

Illinois has executed 12 men since 1977, when the death penalty was reinstated. The last execution was Andrew Kokoraleis on March 17, 1999. At the time, the average length of stay on death row was 13 years.

Kokoraleis, convicted of mutilating and murdering a 21-year-old woman, was put to death by lethal injection.

SPRINGFIELD — Gun rights supporters think they have momentum on their side this year to allow Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons.
Opponents, however, say not enough has changed in the ongoing stalemate to signal any significant changes on the horizon.
That doesn’t mean the battle over gun rights isn’t going to heat up in the coming days.
Today, a House panel stocked with a number of downstate gun rights backers is expected to once again approve legislation that would make Illinois the 49th state to allow citizens with special training to carry guns in public.
On Thursday, thousands of gun activists are scheduled to descend on the Statehouse for an annual rally organized by the Illinois State Rifle Association.
Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said a combination of legal and political changes in the past year have pushed concealed carry legislation to the forefront.
“I’ve never had the groundswell or the grassroots effort that this bill is getting and attention that it’s getting right now,” Phelps said.
Opponents say there is still scant support among Chicago-area lawmakers for allowing concealed carry — meaning the issue may remain unresolved for at least another year.
Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, says downstate lawmakers should spend some time in Chicago to see the differences between a congested metropolitan area and a more rural downstate area.
“It’s a different atmosphere that we live in. People live in fear constantly about guns. We do not want to start the wild, wild West up by us,” Link said.
Despite that stance, gun rights supporters were energized by last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that tossed out Chicago’s controversial ban on handguns. In addition, the 2010 election saw gubernatorial candidate Republican Bill Brady winning throughout much of downstate.
Wisconsin — Illinois’ lone counterpart in banning concealed carry — also is considering legalizing the carrying of weapons in public.
“If Wisconsin passes concealed carry, Illinois will be the only state that does not allow any concealed carry permit process whatsoever. We’ll be the last state,” Phelps said.
After holding their noses and voting for an income tax hike in January, many downstate lawmakers who support concealed carry say they want something in return from Democrats and Gov. Pat Quinn.
Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said downstate lawmakers have asked Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, to call the measure for a vote.
“I think there is enough broad-based support to get the bill to the floor,” Jacobs said. “The people of this state deserve to have the rights of what people in almost every other state have.”
Downstate Republican lawmakers also say there is momentum this year for a vote.
“I think more and more people think there is an opportunity for concealed carry to be voted on this year,” said Sen. John Jones, R-Mount Vernon.
That message will be repeated throughout the Capitol on Thursday when gun owners rally in Springfield. Buses are departing from the Quad-Cities, Marion, Mount Vernon, Chenoa, Chester, Bloomington-Normal, Chicago and Danville.
Among the bills they will be talking about is Senate Bill 82, which is being sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. Gary Forby, D-Benton; Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon; Jones; Shane Cultra, R-Onarga; and Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.
Even if a concealed carry bill were to somehow make it through the Democrat-controlled legislature, Quinn remains a major obstacle.
“Our big problem is that Governor Quinn has repeatedly said he would veto it,” Jones said.
“The governor is fond of saying the will of the people should be the law of the land,” Jacobs said. “He should abide by that.”
Link said both sides of the fight need to just agree to disagree.
“I have never had an objection to anyone having a legitimate gun,” Link said. “But, when we see someone with a gun in my area, we know they’re not duck hunting.”

By: Kurt Erickson

Source: QC Times

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton today suggested the state should start taxing the retirement income of senior citizens who are able to afford it.

The state does not currently tax pensions or retirement funds such as 401(k) plans, but Cullerton told a City Club of Chicago luncheon that should take place as part of an overall look at what he said was Illinois’ “outdated” tax system.
“It would just be a matter of fairness,” said Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat.

Details are still being worked out, but Cullerton said the state could bring in could bring in upward of $1.6 billion a year. Cullerton said the money could be used to provide tax relief elsewhere, whether that be lowering the corporate income tax rate, reworking sales tax rates or some other idea. Cullerton also suggested a means-test to avoid taxing low-income seniors.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn today said he hadn’t seen details of Cullerton’s proposal, but indicated that it should be looked at as part of an effort to achieve tax “fairness.”

“I think it’s important that we always be open to reviewing the tax code,” Quinn said, restating his call for a commission to review the state’s tax laws with attention to fairness to “everyday taxpayers” and economic growth. “I think everything should be looked at. You know, how we go about it is obviously something we have to work together on.”

Imposing a tax on retirement incomes in Illinois could be a politically difficult prospect. Seniors make up a potent voting demographic in the state. Even the process to end free mass-transit rides for the elderly, a cost many seniors said they could afford, proved tough politically to get through the General Assembly.

Cullerton’s idea comes after lawmakers and Quinn raised the state income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent in January.

By: Monique Garcia and Rick Pearson
Source: Chicago Tribune Blog