WBEZ | Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn http://www.wbez.org/tags/illinois-gov-pat-quinn Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Digging up political dirt? That's their job http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/165886306&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Brace yourself, citizens: September is the unofficial start of campaign season.</p><p>You&rsquo;re about to be spun by dueling poll numbers, attack ads and conflicting messages in multiple guises.</p><p>This week, WBEZ is taking you behind the scenes to meet the practitioners of politics&rsquo; dark arts - the folks whose job it is to craft the messages and media that bombard voters during election years.</p><p>Often, this work begins with opposition research - or &ldquo;oppo,&rdquo; as it&rsquo;s known to politicos.</p><p>Oppo researchers are a low-profile group of men and women whose job it is to dig up dirt on the other guy - and on their own clients.</p><p>This year&rsquo;s contentious Illinois&rsquo; governor&rsquo;s race has spawned a rare living, breathing example of opposition research at work: Quinnocchio, a hybrid caricature dreamed up by Republican Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s campaign.</p><p>Quinnocchio is an unnamed Rauner staffer: part Governor Quinn, with his balding gray wig; part cartoon Pinocchio, with royal blue lederhosen and a long, fake nose.</p><p>His job is to hound Gov. Quinn at public events to accuse him of lying about various policies.</p><p>(Rauner&rsquo;s campaign declined to name the staffer, and when confronted at a recent press conference, he only gave his name as Quinnocchio and declined to answer further questions.)</p><p>Quinnocchio is opposition research embodied.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the job of opposition researchers to unearth the facts that back up these kinds of attacks - all those embarrassing quotes or regrettable votes your political opponent won&rsquo;t let you forget. The researchers are often ex-political operatives, lawyers or former journalists.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Quinnochio-WBEZ-Alex-Keefe.jpg" style="height: 321px; width: 250px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="'Quinnocchio,' an invention of Republican Bruce Rauner’s campaign to hound Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn at public events, is a living example of opposition research at work. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" /><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Sexy and seamy? Not so much</span></strong></p><p>And if this all sounds like seamy, dumpster-diving, meet-me-in-the-parking-garage kinda work - think again.</p><p>&ldquo;What I do is not very sexy,&rdquo; said Brett Di Resta a Democratic opposition researcher based in Washington, D.C. &ldquo;If you want the limelight, I would say that this career is not the one to choose.&rdquo;</p><p>Di Resta considers himself less a &ldquo;ninja character assassin&rdquo; and more of a librarian. Instead of hunting down secret mistresses, he spends his days at a computer, poring over public records: court documents, property tax filings, campaign finance disclosures and thousands upon thousands of news articles.</p><p>&ldquo;When you see an attack ad...and they say someone voted to raise taxes 21 times, someone has to figure out what those 21 times are, and that someone is me,&rdquo; Di Resta explains.</p><p>Di Resta says about half his job is actually researching the candidates he&rsquo;s working for - looking for vulnerabilities to head off future attacks. All of this information is then organized, prioritized, fact-checked, sourced and condensed into an internal campaign document that usually never meets the public eye - a document oppo researchers simply call &ldquo;the book.&rdquo;</p><p>Recently, Republican opposition researcher John Pearman flipped through a hefty red binder, some 170 pages thick. This was the book - actually, one of several - that he and his partner, GOP strategist Dan Curry, put together while working for Republican Jim Ryan&rsquo;s gubernatorial campaign in 2002.</p><p>The target: Democrat Rod Blagojevich, the former governor now in prison for corruption.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve done opposition research for 25 years. Maybe there&rsquo;s one other individual that we&rsquo;ve done research on that was as rich as this one, but this was - everywhere you looked, there was something,&rdquo; Pearman said.</p><p>Pearman said people called him all the time with Blagojevich dirt - even people who worked for Blagojevich. The fish were jumping into the boat.</p><p>One common thread that emerged from Curry&rsquo;s and Pearman&rsquo;s tips and research: Blagojevich&rsquo;s alleged ties to organized crime figures - a connection the men thought would be devastating to Democrats if only they could prove it.</p><p>So in the fall of 2002, with his candidate low on money and behind in the polls, Pearman holed himself up in a warehouse near Midway Airport along with boxes upon boxes of court documents from federal mob cases, looking for some scrap of confirmation to convince news outlets to run the story.</p><p>Pearman said he spent six days reading through legal documents, watched over by a guard.</p><p>&ldquo;And not one mention of Blagojevich by name,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Desperate, Pearman actually tracked down one of the mob figures and went to confront the guy at his kid&rsquo;s football practice, to ask him in person about whether he&rsquo;d worked with Blagojevich.</p><p>It did not go well.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;Get the expletive away from me. I better not see you again,&rsquo;&rdquo; Pearman said, recalling the encounter. &ldquo;Obviously we never got a second source on it and nobody ever did the story.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Seeking the silver bullet</span></strong></p><p>Pearman acknowledges he was going after a silver bullet in an industry where small, repeated attacks against a candidate are usually more effective. Opposition researchers say those silver bullets are rare, though many pointed to one example that worked all too well.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDsE20pZIpg">This attack ad</a> from the 2002 Montana U-S Senate race features the Republican challenger - a guy named Mike Taylor - sporting a leisure suit, shirt unbuttoned, massaging lotion into another man&rsquo;s cheekbones.</p><p>An oppo researcher exhumed the video from these late night TV ads Taylor ran for his cosmetics company in the 1980s. Democrats then found a soundtrack that could have come out from Behind the Green Door and they ran with it. The ad closes with the phrase: &ldquo;Mike Taylor: Not the way we do business in Montana.&rdquo;</p><p>The voiceover in the ad attacks Taylor&rsquo;s company for running into trouble with its student loan process. But focusing on the video, critics nationwide pounced at the ad for suggesting Taylor - a married man - was gay. Whatever the message, it seemed to work: Taylor <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/11/us/montana-candidate-citing-smear-campaign-ends-senate-bid.html">decried the ad</a> but dropped out of the race less than a week later.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t win races by just telling people what a wonderful person you are,&rdquo; said Dennis Gragert, a veteran Democratic opposition researcher based in Chicago.</p><p>Gragert and several other opposition researchers say they abide by the rules and ethics of what&rsquo;s fair game. Most important, they say attacks against a candidate must be verifiably true, and they can&rsquo;t be too personal or you could face a backlash, like with the hairdresser ad. Every oppo researcher contacted for this story said they had turned down work that required &nbsp;them to dig up information about an opponent they thought was too personal.</p><p>All in all, the opposition researchers who spoke with WBEZ say they sleep just fine at night, because all those negative ads actually work, even if voters say they hate them.</p><p>Still, even Gragert does betray a moment of empathy.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes I think about, if that was me on the other end, would I like that?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;All right, that&rsquo;s not for me to like, it is - it is reality. It&rsquo;s not something where you say, well that shouldn&rsquo;t be the case. That is the case.&rdquo;</p><p>As it should be, Gragert said, in any peaceful republic where political contests are settled not with revolutions, but with words.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a>&nbsp;is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731 Quinn supporter links Republicans to KKK http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/quinn-supporter-links-republicans-kkk-110337 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP080515057216.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/154102584&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Updated 9:17 a.m. Friday</em></p><p>An outspoken Chicago pastor connected Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan and suggested that GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner stands for &ldquo;evil,&rdquo; as he appeared next to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday to give the Democrat his endorsement.</p><p>The governor remained silent as the Rev. Walter &ldquo;Slim&rdquo; Coleman, a long-time left-wing activist, spoke at his side during a press event where Quinn accepted the endorsement of several mostly African-American clergy members.</p><p>When Coleman took the lectern, he talked about the importance of registering voters to support Quinn, especially &ldquo;unlikely voters&rdquo; who may feel isolated from the political process.</p><p>But as his voice rose in a crescendo and the audience began to cheer, Coleman also warned against another type of unlikely voter.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s an unlikely voter that began way back in 1961 and &rsquo;62 with the Ku Klux Klan, that grew up through the militias, that came outta the militias and, and, and &ndash; came in to call themselves conservatives, and then came in to call themselves Republican,&rdquo; Coleman said.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a movement that brings an evil that we have got to stop,&rdquo; Coleman said, as the crowd began to clap. &ldquo;Our fight &ndash; our fight is not &ndash; our fight is not with flesh and blood. Our fight is with powers and principalities. And there&rsquo;s an evil &ndash; there&rsquo;s an evil that a candidate may seem that he&rsquo;s harmless is gonna raise up in this state and we&rsquo;re not gonna let it happen!&rdquo;</p><p>Shortly after speeches concluded, Quinn disappeared out the back door of the Chicago Lakeshore Hotel, where the endorsement event was held, without taking questions from reporters. Following inquiries from WBEZ, the governor&rsquo;s re-election campaign sought to distance itself from Coleman&rsquo;s comments on Thursday.</p><p>Spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told WBEZ that Coleman was invited to speak at the event by another minister, not by the campaign. In a statement Anderson said &nbsp;the governor does not support Coleman&rsquo;s statements.</p><p>&ldquo;We couldn&#39;t disagree more strongly, and the Governor believes this rhetoric has no place in politics,&rdquo; Anderson wrote in an email.</p><p>A spokesman for Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s campaign declined to comment.</p><p>Reached by phone after Thursday&rsquo;s event, Coleman told WBEZ he does not believe Rauner is evil. He said he was referring instead to the &ldquo;hatred and prejudice and white supremacy&rdquo; he believes are represented by the conservative Tea Party movement, which he said gets political cover from the GOP.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not suggesting that Rauner is a member of the Klan or that there were any Klansmen involved in his campaign or anything like that,&rdquo; Coleman said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. &ldquo;We were just saying that the forces that are unleashed by the - the current day Republican Party are very dangerous forces and very racist forces, and that we don&rsquo;t want them to take over in Illinois.&rdquo;</p><p>Coleman <a href="about:blank">made headlines</a> in 2006 when he offered sanctuary in his Adalberto United Methodist Church to Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant who was trying to avoid being deported by U.S. immigration authorities.</p><p>In an emailed statement Friday morning, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider blasted the Quinn camp&#39;s response to the incident.</p><p>&quot;It is unacceptable and outrageous for a sitting governor to stand by silently and condone comparisons to the Ku Klux Klan,&quot; Schneider said. &quot;Governor Quinn owes the people of Illinois an explanation for why he stood by and said nothing.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe" id="docs-internal-guid-62d48251-91c9-5a37-3ee3-6cf38766dbb3">Alex Keefe</a> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/quinn-supporter-links-republicans-kkk-110337 Chicago community groups protest child care cuts http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-community-groups-protest-child-care-cuts-107161 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/preschool_130514_LW.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>At a demonstration against child care cuts in Pilsen Tuesday, there were more kids than adults. The kids yelled &ldquo;we need childcare&rdquo; and tried to stay still while adults representing Chicago community groups spoke out in favor of restoring Illinois&rsquo; early childhood programs to previous funding levels.</p><p>The state of Illinois cut $25 million from early childhood education grants in FY2013, and also raised co-pays, and lowered eligibility requirements for subsidized child care services.</p><p>&ldquo;I went from paying around $100 a month, to paying now $200 a month,&rdquo; said Lorraine Bahena, who has a 4-year-old in a nearby preschool. &ldquo;I actually have the means to pay, thank god, but if not for that I would have had to have pulled my daughter out.&rdquo;</p><p>Another parent, Maria Zuno, said she&rsquo;s taken a pay cut so that her kids remain eligible.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t make too much money because then they get kicked out,&rdquo; Zuno said. &ldquo;And I can&rsquo;t make too little because then I can&rsquo;t make ends meet.&rdquo;</p><p>Organizers representing nine community groups in Chicago, mostly childcare and early education providers, said 100 people will travel to Springfield to attend a special hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education Wednesday. That committee is responsible for the $25 million in cuts to Early Childhood Block Grants meant to support Illinois preschool programs. That budget has been slashed by $80 million over four years.</p><p>Committee Chairman Rep. Will Davis (D-30), who set up the hearing with advocates, nonetheless says it will be a challenge to keep next year&rsquo;s Block Grant funding at this year&rsquo;s levels.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a matter of opposition,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just resources. That committee will have to make some very tough decisions as to how they spend those resources.&rdquo;</p><p>Since 2009, the number of kids in Illinois&rsquo; early childhood programs has dropped by an estimated 22,000 due to budget cuts.</p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn&rsquo;s proposed budget for 2014 wouldn&rsquo;t restore early childhood funding to previous levels, but it would hold the line on early childhood programs.</p><p>&ldquo;The budget cuts are largely driven by the pension problems,&rdquo; said Illinois Assistant Budget Director Abdon Pallasch. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a real fight to maintain funding for these programs and that&rsquo;s what the governor&rsquo;s office is trying to do.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants" target="_blank">@lewispants</a></em></p></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 15:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-community-groups-protest-child-care-cuts-107161 Amtrak receives grant to upgrade train yard http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation/amtrak-receives-grant-upgrade-train-yard-98466 <p><p>The Chicago-based Amtrak station is getting an eco-friendly upgrade.</p><p>State officials have awarded Amtrak with a $300,000 energy efficiency grant to assist the agency in updating its train yard in Chicago.</p><p>State officials say the grant will reduce Amtrak's natural gas consumption and help the rail company save millions of dollars annually.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn's office says the grant is funded through the Illinois Energy Now program, which provides millions of dollars in rebates to public facilities that make large-scale equipment improvements to their electric and natural gas systems.</p><p>State officials say the energy efficient investments will help in the future by keeping the cost of business low.</p></p> Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation/amtrak-receives-grant-upgrade-train-yard-98466 Southern Illinois eligible for SBA loans after storms http://www.wbez.org/story/southern-illinois-eligible-sba-loans-after-storms-97563 <p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn says nine southern Illinois counties struck by deadly storms are eligible for U.S. Small Business Administration aid.</p><p>Quinn's announcement came Thursday, a day after the state's appeal for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was denied. Hundreds of homes in southern Illinois counties were damaged or destroyed by the Feb. 29 storms that killed seven people in Harrisburg, a town of 9,000 in Saline County.</p><p>The declaration makes low-interest loans available to homeowners, renters and businesses. Eligible counties include: Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Johnson, Pope, Saline, White and Williamson.</p></p> Fri, 23 Mar 2012 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/southern-illinois-eligible-sba-loans-after-storms-97563 Abdul-Jabbar talks education with Illinois governor http://www.wbez.org/story/abdul-jabbar-talks-education-illinois-governor-97423 <p><p>NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is pushing students on Chicago's South Side to become scientists and engineers while perfecting their jump shots.</p><p>Abdul-Jabbar joined Gov. Pat Quinn at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School on Sunday to encourage more students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.</p><p>About 300 students attended the event. They also received copies of Abdul-Jabbar's book on African American inventors.</p><p>Abdul-Jabbar has been involved in education and social justice issues since retiring from the NBA in 1989. His Skyhook Foundation works to improve children's lives through education and sports.</p><p>Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA career scoring leader and a Hall of Famer.</p><p>The former UCLA star scored 38,387 points during his 20-year NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.</p></p> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 14:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/abdul-jabbar-talks-education-illinois-governor-97423 Illinois governor asks for federal assistance for tornado-stricken areas http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-governor-asks-federal-assistance-tornado-stricken-areas-97085 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-08/AP120229034646.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn is asking President Barack Obama to declare five southern Illinois counties major disaster areas so local residents and businesses hurt by recent tornadoes can receive federal aid.</p><p>Federal assistance is being sought for Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union and Williamson counties.</p><p>In Saline County, six people were killed when a tornado swept through Harrisburg. The National Weather Service has given the tornado an EF4 rating, the second-highest rating. The rating is assigned to storms based on damage they cause.</p><p>In Wednesday's request, Quinn says the state needs federal aid to help communities damaged by the Feb. 29 storms.</p><p>If the federal government grants Quinn's request, residents and businesses in the counties can apply for grants and low-interest Small Business Administration loans.</p></p> Thu, 08 Mar 2012 15:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-governor-asks-federal-assistance-tornado-stricken-areas-97085 Illinois budget inspires confusing, misleading claims http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-budget-inspires-confusing-misleading-claims-96759 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-27/AP120222115160.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-27/AP120222115160.jpg" title="Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delivers the State of the Budget Address to a join session of the General Assembly in the House chambers Wednesday, Feb. 22. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)" width="512" height="338"></p><p>A state budget, like the one Gov. Pat Quinn proposed last week, practically guarantees a flood of confusing, misleading and surprising statements. After all, it's an incredibly complex document that can stir up anger over both policy and politics.</p><p>Here's a closer look at what Illinois officials have said about spending, prison overcrowding and political leadership.</p><p><strong>Spending: Up or down?</strong></p><p>In his budget address, Quinn said his proposed budget "calls for $425 million less in agency spending than last year's budget." Background material from his office says agencies would spend $901 million less than they did five years ago, a 3.5 percent drop.</p><p>Meanwhile, Republicans insist Quinn's budget actually would increase spending by $50 million from last year and a whopping $3.4 billion from five years ago.</p><p>Who's right? Both sides are, depending on what kind of spending you count.</p><p>Quinn is counting the dollars that he has the most ability to control — money for salaries or rent, for instance. He calls it "agency spending," meaning the money spent by the agencies he oversees.</p><p>He chooses not to count certain kinds of spending that increase more or less automatically. Mostly, that's pension costs, which are set by state law, and interest on debts. The governor and Legislature have taken some steps to limit pension expenses, and Quinn is now proposing more, but it's a far more complex task than routine budget-cutting.</p><p>Republicans consider Quinn's approach to be misleading. If you want an accurate view of state spending, they say, you have to include everything, even the difficult parts of the budget and the cost of borrowing money.</p><p>Independent budget experts are split on the best way to measure Quinn's budget-cutting progress.</p><p>The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability called Quinn's approach "quite honest." Chicago's Civic Federation said it doesn't make sense to look at state spending without counting Medicaid and pensions.</p><p><strong>Prison population declining?</strong></p><p>Illinois prisons are overcrowded — dangerously so, according to the union that represents guards. The most recent Corrections Department report shows 48,620 inmates crammed into space designed for 33,704.</p><p>So when Quinn proposed closing two prisons and six halfway houses, a natural question was how the remaining institutions could absorb those people.</p><p>"The prison population is actually declining," Quinn's chief of staff, Jack Lavin, told reporters. "We'll continue to work on that, but the trend right now is that it has declined somewhat."</p><p>Actually, Corrections Department statistics show population has increased pretty steadily for the past decade. At the end of November, it was 2.3 percent above the 2010 level and 6.6 percent above 2001. Annual reports don't reveal any significant drop in population since 2002.</p><p>To support Lavin's claim of a downward trend, the Corrections Department offered newer numbers showing a drop of 725 prisoners, or 1.5 percent, in the last five months. In addition, the department projects a drop of 2,746 in the next budget year.</p><p>Why does the department expect such a dramatic decline? That's not entirely clear.</p><p>A spokeswoman said it's based on plans to close those six halfway houses for inmates nearing the end of their sentences. The logic seems to be: The department can close some facilities because the population will drop, and the population will drop partly because the department is closing some facilities.</p><p>But releasing everyone in those halfway houses, known as adult transition centers, would account for less than half the drop that Corrections is predicting.</p><p>Also, closing the centers wouldn't change conditions for inmates and guards inside actual prisons, which are overcrowded now by nearly 15,000 people. Closing two maximum-security prisons will make the remaining prisons even more crowded unless the governor comes up with something unexpected.</p><p><strong>Pension leadership</strong></p><p>In advance of Quinn's budget address, two Republican officials spoke to reporters about their concerns with the governor's past performance. Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria both accused Quinn of failing to lead on the issue of controlling pension costs.</p><p>"Gov. Quinn's only solution to date has been to appoint a commission to study the issue," Brady said. Schock complained of an "unwillingness to lead."</p><p>Brady and Schock may wish that Quinn had done more, but it's not accurate to say the governor hasn't led at all.</p><p>Quinn was a vocal advocate for a pension overhaul that passed in early 2010 with overwhelming support from both parties. The legislation took a step toward limiting future pension costs by cutting benefits for new government employees.</p><p>The change meant that new employees must wait until age 67, instead of 60, to retire with full benefits. Cost-of-living adjustments are more limited. Pension checks are based a broader picture of employee salaries, so that a sudden raise at the end of a career doesn't have so much weight.</p><p>Brady implied that Quinn hasn't been more aggressive on pensions because he's too friendly with labor. "Is he going to stand up to his union backers and support a plan to reduce state pensions or is he going to back down?" Brady asked.</p><p>But Quinn supported the 2010 pension changes despite opposition from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. And he has blocked union raises, tried to cut jobs and pushed to shut down state facilities even when AFSCME objected.</p></p> Mon, 27 Feb 2012 15:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-budget-inspires-confusing-misleading-claims-96759 Quinn report: State won't get much money from gambling expansion http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-report-state-wont-get-much-money-gambling-expansion-94269 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-01/Casino Slot Machines_Getty_Christopher Furlong.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn's office touted a new report Monday that concludes Illinois wouldn't get much extra money through a massive expansion of gambling, a finding that seems to support the governor's call for a more restrained approach.</p><p>The report says an initial gambling&nbsp;expansion bill passed by lawmakers would bring in about $160 million in new annual gaming revenue for the state and not the extra $1 billion they say some have claimed. That bill was never sent to Quinn, who threatened to veto it because it included slots at racetracks, which he opposes. It did include five new casinos, including the first one in Chicago. Illinois currently has 10 casinos.</p><p>Chicago also would benefit more from gambling&nbsp;expansion if casino-style gambling with slot machines at race tracks isn't allowed, said a summary of the report by the New Orleans-based Innovation Group.</p><p>"A lot of these racetracks with casinos are going to be on top of other casinos. They will dilute the amount of gaming, so that will cause lower amounts for other casinos," said Jack Lavin, Quinn's chief of staff.</p><p>The Illinois horse-racing industry has said it needs slots at tracks to survive and compete with other states.</p><p>The report studied not only the original gambling bill also two other scenarios that excluded slots at tracks and had fewer gaming positions at the casinos. Quinn's office said the report was commissioned in September and cost less than $20,000.</p><p>Democratic Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, a sponsor of the gambling&nbsp;expansion measure, said estimates can be low when it comes to gaming revenues. But even if the governor's report underestimates how much money a gambling&nbsp;expansion would bring in, it's still new money for the state, even if it's less than proponents have suggested.</p><p>"Who else is proposing $160 million new dollars to the state of Illinois," Lang said, adding that opening casinos would also create new jobs.</p><p>Lang said he's unsure whether lawmakers will try again to advance a gambling&nbsp;expansion bill when they return to Springfield on Nov. 29. Lawmakers are due back in session to try to hash out a tax incentive deal to try to keep several big companies that are threatening to leave the state and at the same time offer broader tax relief to Illinoisans.</p><p>If gambling does some up, Lang said he feels confident he has the votes to pass a bill despite failing earlier this month to pass an improved version of the original expansion bill that was never sent to Quinn.</p><p>Lang said he remains hopeful that Quinn, who has laid out a framework for the kind of gambling bill he might accept, will sit down and negotiate with lawmakers.</p><p>"My door is open, my phone rings, I'm prepared to meet, I'm prepared to do it right," he said.</p><p>Lavin said the new study gives the sides a place to start in negotiations.</p><p>"We need to look at the whole picture of what are the real numbers," he said.</p></p> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 13:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-report-state-wont-get-much-money-gambling-expansion-94269 Quinn vetoes power grid bill, praises electric cars http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-vetoes-power-grid-bill-praises-electric-cars-91089 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/Nissan leaf electric car_Flickr_Mariordo59.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn praised Nissan for beginning to sell its all-electric car in Illinois and at the same time again vowed to veto a power grid bill.</p><p>The bill would let electric companies raise their rates to help pay for modernizing the state's power grid.</p><p>Quinn said Thursday that vetoing the bill won't impact the rollout of more electric cars. He has criticized it for raising rates. He says the measure needs improvement, something that can be worked out after he vetoes what lawmakers passed.</p><p>Quinn made his comments at a news conference to announce Nissan would begin delivering its new car, called the Leaf, to people from Illinois who ordered them by the fall. The car already has been released in some American and global markets.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-vetoes-power-grid-bill-praises-electric-cars-91089