WBEZ | Gov. Pat Quinn http://www.wbez.org/tags/gov-pat-quinn Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Labor unions celebrate judge's ruling against Illinois pension law http://www.wbez.org/news/labor-unions-celebrate-judges-ruling-against-illinois-pension-law-111148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/springfield_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois judge has ruled unconstitutional a controversial plan to reduce state employees&rsquo; retirement benefits.<br /><br />Labor groups sued the State of Illinois for passing a bill reducing their members&rsquo; pension benefits. The unions representing downstate and suburban teachers, university employees and most other state workers argued the state constitution says, specifically, that retirement benefits can&rsquo;t be diminished. On Friday, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz agreed.</p><p>Belz quoted directly from the state constitution in his six-page decision, citing the passage that states retirement benefits &ldquo;shall not be diminished or repaired.&rdquo; He singled out components of the bill that narrowly passed the state legislature last year to explain why he was ruling against the state. For instance, the law changed cost-of-living increases certain employees receive in retirement, and put a cap on some employees&rsquo; pensionable salary.</p><p>&ldquo;The State of Illinois made a constitutionally protected promise to its employees concerning their pension benefits,&rdquo; Belz wrote in his decision. &ldquo;Under established and uncontroverted Illinois law, the State of Illinois cannot break this promise.&rdquo;</p><p>Labor unions representing employees who are in those retirement systems celebrated the decision.</p><p>&ldquo;The court granted us everything. The court saw it our way,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. &ldquo;This is an unambiguous, unequivocal victory for the constitution and for working people.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Retirees who earned their modest security in retirement, they always paid their share. And they should not be punished for the failures of politicians,&rdquo; said Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the We Are One Coalition, a group of labor unions.</p><p>Attorneys who defended the bill acknowledged that it reduced benefits, but argued it is needed to deal with a $105 billion unfunded pension liability. Studies have shown that massive debt tied to Illinois&rsquo; retirement payments is the worst of any state in the country.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn, and those who supported the legislation, argue basic functions of state government are in danger if the pension law is found to be unconstitutional.</p><p>&ldquo;This historic pension reform law eliminates the state&rsquo;s unfunded liability and fully stabilizes the systems to ensure retirement security for employees who have faithfully contributed to them,&rdquo; Quinn said in a statement.</p><p>The Democratic governor was defeated in this month&rsquo;s election by Republican Bruce Rauner, who also released a statement asking the state&rsquo;s Supreme Court to take up the case as soon as possible.</p><p>The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is defending the law in court. Her office said Friday that it will ask the state Supreme Court to expedite an appeal &ldquo;given the significant impact that a final decision in this case will have on the state&rsquo;s fiscal condition.&rdquo;</p><p>Meantime, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton is considering a plan, in case the state Supreme Court agrees with Judge Belz and throws out the law. Cullerton had pushed for a separate pension proposal that would ask employees to choose between earning state-funded health care coverage in retirement or receiving pay increases.</p><p>&ldquo;If they throw it out, we&rsquo;ll be back to square one and then we go back again to the alternative that already passed the Senate and when that passes, save some money that we can then pass on to education funding and whatever else we want to utilize that savings,&rdquo; Cullerton said Friday.</p><p>Legislators would have to re-visit Cullerton&rsquo;s proposal in a new General Assembly, after January&rsquo;s inauguration.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/labor-unions-celebrate-judges-ruling-against-illinois-pension-law-111148 Quinn appoints new director of Illinois child welfare system http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-appoints-new-director-illinois-child-welfare-system-110097 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chi-bobbie-gregg-20140429.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn has chosen a former law school classmate who once worked at Chicago City Hall as the next director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.</p><p>Bobbie M. Gregg, 58, has been interim director of the state child welfare agency since February.</p><p>On Tuesday, Quinn named Gregg acting DCFS director, pending Senate confirmation of her appointment.</p><p>Quinn initially tapped Gregg to head DCFS following the resignation of the governor&rsquo;s previous pick for the post after only a month on the job. Arthur Bishop resigned following <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> and WBEZ reports that he had a theft conviction and paternity case in his past.</p><p>The top DCFS post, which pays $150,228 a year, has been a revolving door in recent months. In November. Richard Calica, who&rsquo;d been appointed following a 2011 contracting scandal, resigned as he battled cancer. He died in December. Denise Gonzales, who&rsquo;d been Calica&rsquo;s chief of staff, was interim director before Bishop&rsquo;s appointment in January.</p><p>Gregg spent four years as a lawyer for Mayor Richard M. Daley&#39;s administration in the 1990s and, before that, two years as a federal prosecutor in Chicago. She worked for corporate giants JPMorgan Chase and Aon before returning to school in 2009 and getting her master&rsquo;s degree in social work from Loyola University.</p><p>&ldquo;After working as a federal prosecutor and a long career in the private sector, she felt a strong desire to use her legal expertise and administrative experience to serve children and families,&rdquo; DCFS spokeswoman Karen Hawkins said.</p><p>Quinn attended Northwestern University&rsquo;s law school with Gregg, graduating with her in 1980.</p><p>&ldquo;They graduated in the same class at Northwestern but did not know each other well,&rdquo; said Katie Hickey, a Quinn spokeswoman.</p><p>Quinn called Gregg a &ldquo;problem-solver who brings a fresh perspective to DCFS.&rdquo;</p><p>She was chosen after a national search.</p><p>&ldquo;Numerous candidates submitted their resumes,&rdquo; Hickey said. &ldquo;Five candidates were interviewed and vetted, several of which were from out-of-state.&rdquo;</p><p>Gregg was deputy chief of DCFS&rsquo; Bureau of Operations before being named interim director in February. She had worked for the agency for about a year. She previously was an assistant director of the DuPage County Health Department.</p><p><em>Chris Fusco is a Sun-Times staff reporter. Tony Arnold is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 11:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-appoints-new-director-illinois-child-welfare-system-110097 Illinois state income tax could help city pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-state-income-tax-could-help-city-pensions-110088 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP319847883196.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn says he favors giving Illinois cities a larger share of income tax revenues to help solve the municipal pension problem.</p><p>The idea previewed Monday before the City Club of Chicago is part of the Chicago Democrat&#39;s pitch to extend the 2011 income tax increase. It rolls back in January, leaving an estimated $1.6 billion revenue hole. Quinn&#39;s budget plan proposes an extension to avoid budget cuts.</p><p>Municipalities statewide have pushed for legislative help for underfunded pensions. Mayors say costs have risen, pension obligations are crowding out spending for other services and raising property taxes may be the answer. Quinn&#39;s against raising property taxes.</p><p>Lawmakers approved a plan for two Chicago pension systems that indirectly could mean a property tax increase. Quinn won&#39;t say if he&#39;ll sign it.</p></p> Mon, 28 Apr 2014 16:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-state-income-tax-could-help-city-pensions-110088 Quinn predicts radical budget cuts without revenue http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-predicts-radical-budget-cuts-without-revenue-109918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/quinn_budget.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn wants to make the state&#39;s temporary income tax increase permanent to prevent &quot;extreme and &quot;radical&quot; budget cuts.</p><p>The Chicago Democrat also said during his annual budget speech Wednesday he wants to give homeowners a $500 annual property tax refund.</p><p>The speech comes as the state faces dire financial problems and Quinn embarks on what&#39;s anticipated to be a difficult re-election bid against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.</p><p>Quinn proposed maintaining the state&#39;s income tax increase, saying that it&#39;ll be a &quot;real challenge.&quot; The increase rolls back next year, leaving a $1.6 billion revenue dip.</p><p>Quinn says extending the increase is a better long-term solution.</p><p>Illinois has billions in unpaid bills, a low credit rating and uncertainty with its pension debt.</p></p> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-predicts-radical-budget-cuts-without-revenue-109918 Illinois DCFS director to resign due to illness http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-dcfs-director-resign-due-illness-109166 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP676641252874.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The head of&nbsp; the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services resigned his position Friday afternoon. A press release from Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office says Director Richard Calica has been diagnosed with cancer.</p><p>In a statement, Quinn wrote that Calica has taken DCFS in the right direction in his two-year tenure as head of the department.</p><p>&ldquo;My prayers are with Director Calica and his family during this very difficult time,&rdquo; Quinn wrote. &ldquo;Director Calica has taken this agency in the right direction and he always put the safety of our most vulnerable children first. We are deeply grateful for his dedicated public service, which has saved countless lives.&rdquo;</p><p>The governor credits Calica for adding 138 DCFS investigators to check in on families. He also says Calica helped reduce the caseloads for workers, from as high as 20 to nine.</p><p>&ldquo;This has been the most exciting and rewarding time of my career in child welfare,&rdquo; Calica wrote in the governor&rsquo;s press release. &ldquo;The reforms that we&rsquo;ve put in place will maximize this agency&rsquo;s ability to ensure the safety of children who are at risk of abuse and neglect for years to come.&rdquo;</p><p>Calica&rsquo;s resignation comes on the heels of recent media reports on the quality of investigations DCFS case workers conduct when there&rsquo;s a report of abuse or neglect. Even though Calica had recently had surgery, he still sat down with WBEZ and the <em>Chicago Sun-Times </em>for an interview as part of our investigation into child deaths in Illinois. That report found<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-losing-more-children-child-abuse-and-neglect-any-time-last-30-years-109155" target="_blank"> more kids have died even though DCFS had been in contact with their families</a>.</p><p>DCFS has had several directors in recent years. Calica replaced Erwin McEwen in 2011, after allegations that McEwen&rsquo;s friend was awarded $18 million in state grants, but did little to no work for the money.</p><p>The current chief-of-staff at DCFS, Denise Gonzales, will serve as acting director of the agency.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics at WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-dcfs-director-resign-due-illness-109166 Morning Shift: Music to make you work http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-11/morning-shift-music-make-you-work-108023 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Work-Flickr-mturnage.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>8th District Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth checks in from The Capitol with the latest on immigration talks and legislation around student loan interest rates. On the heels of former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason&#39;s album of work songs, we play songs about the daily grind.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-24.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-24" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Music to make you work" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 08:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-11/morning-shift-music-make-you-work-108023 Morning Shift: Photos, vets and violence http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-10/morning-shift-photos-vets-and-violence-108009 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Guns-Flickr- tdub303.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hiring Our Heroes works to get Vets back into the job force. Senior Director Ross Cohen explains challenges vets face with employment. Also, photographer Richard Renaldi&#39;s new project &quot;Touching Strangers&quot; explores our connection to each other.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-23.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-23" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Photos, vets and violence" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 08:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-10/morning-shift-photos-vets-and-violence-108009 Gov. Pat Quinn open to Great Lakes, Mississippi basin separation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/gov-pat-quinn-open-great-lakes-mississippi-basin-separation-107523 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Conceptual-rendering-of-a-physical-barrier-%28HDR%2C-Inc.%29.jpg" title="A conceptual rendering of a physical barrier and cargo transport station. Though initially costly, such a system would prevent economic turmoil from invasive species and create other benefits, proponents say. (HDR, Inc.)" /></div><p>In <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/asian-carp-might-have-entered-lakes-so-what-106613" target="_blank">the perennial battle to keep Asian carp and other riverborne invaders out of the Great Lakes</a>, one intervention is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-12/un-reversing-chicago-river-88976" target="_blank">often proposed as the only long-term solution</a>: separate the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds.</p><p>Or, put another way: <a href="http://www.glc.org/caws/reportimages/CAWS-historicflowca1900-800pxw.jpg" target="_blank">restore the divide</a> that existed until <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-12/postcard-historical-glimpse-reversal-chicago-river-89000" target="_blank">engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River during the 19th century</a>, a feat that earned Chicago its can-do reputation and paved the way for the city&rsquo;s explosive growth.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GREAT_LAKES_GOVERNORS?SITE=AP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">took the appreciable and unexpected step of endorsing, to some extent, the &quot;ultimate solution&quot;</a> of basin separation during a conference of the Council of Great Lakes Governors last week. It&rsquo;s a controversial position, as creating a system of physical barriers in the Chicago Area Waterway System would cost billions of dollars.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAWS-allbarriers-750pxw.jpg" style="height: 490px; width: 610px;" title="Possible points of intervention. The study group that produced this map determined the Mid-System alternative provides the best bang for the buck — $4.27 billion bucks, to be exact. (Great Lakes Commission)" /></div><p>Critics say physical separation would cost communities along the industrial corridor that surrounds the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Blocking shipping lanes, for example, would disrupt barge traffic. Although it is a fraction of what it once was, shipping on the canal would need to change significantly, perhaps transferring cargo to freight trains.</p><p>And some worry even a physical barrier would do little to interrupt the most important vector of invasive species: human transport. <a href="http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/RVivFUwWAidsIA7P6zAV/full/10.1146/annurev-marine-120710-100952" target="_blank">A recent survey of Great Lakes invaders since 1936</a> found only two species, the alewife and sea lamprey, made their way into the Great Lakes by swimming. The vast majority were &ldquo;unintentionally transported or released.&rdquo;</p><p>But others argue separation will generate significant benefits beyond stopping the spread of Asian carp. Waste from Chicago winds its way down the Mississippi, ending up in the Gulf of Mexico. Barrier locations could also house water treatment equipment, and returning some of that flow to Lake Michigan might even slightly <a href="http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/a-dutch-approach-to-flood-and-drought-management-takes-root-in-st.-louis?fb_action_ids=10101031603390335&amp;fb_action_types=og.likes&amp;fb_source=aggregation&amp;fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582" target="_blank">ease flooding downstream</a>.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.studiogang.net/publication/2011/reverse_effect" target="_blank">Reverse Effect</a></em>, a project by Chicago architects Studio Gang, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard University&rsquo;s Graduate School of Design, investigated how a barrier in the Chicago River&rsquo;s south branch could &ldquo;connect and recharge surrounding neighborhoods&rdquo; both culturally and economically.</p><p>Quinn and several governors <a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/2013/06/03/can-snyder-and-quinn-revive-dormant-great-lakes-governors/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+greatlakesecho%2Fall+%28Great+Lakes+Echo+%28All%29%29" target="_blank">met in Mackinac Island, Mich. to discuss a range of Great Lakes economic and environmental issues</a> &mdash; the first time so many Great Lakes governors convened around the topic in eight years. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence maintained his state&rsquo;s opposition to separating the basins, citing economic concerns.</p><p>With Asian carp <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/asian-carp-might-have-entered-lakes-so-what-106613" target="_blank">on Lake Michigan&#39;s doorstep already</a>, many ecologists say now is the time to act. Next year the Army Corps of Engineers will make a recommendation on Asian carp, and separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi will be among the options. Quinn&rsquo;s unexpected remarks Saturday encouraged those in favor of separation, but belied a divided group of Great Lakes governors.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 12:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/gov-pat-quinn-open-great-lakes-mississippi-basin-separation-107523 Mayor Emanuel warns pension crisis could thrash city budget http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-emanuel-warns-pension-crisis-could-thrash-city-budget-103923 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6689_Mayor Emanuel Presser (3)-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Following Governor Pat Quinn&rsquo;s launch of a new online campaign about pension reform, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel echoed Quinn&rsquo;s urgent calls for action.</p><p>On Sunday the governor launched a <a href="http://thisismyillinois.com/">website</a> that attempts to explains pension reform to kids and their families. The initiative, which features a snake called &ldquo;Squeezy the Python&rdquo; squeezing the state&rsquo;s budget, was immediately mocked as <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-18/news/ct-met-governor-quinn-pension-reform-20121119_1_pension-reform-pension-overhaul-pension-crisis’">&ldquo;juvenile&rdquo; and &ldquo;corny.&rdquo;</a></p><p>In an unrelated press conference Monday, Mayor Emanuel didn&rsquo;t comment on the cartoon snake, but he agreed with Quinn that the issue is in need of urgent discussion and action.</p><p>&ldquo;Whether it&rsquo;s on a website or whatever, you have to engage the public in a serious discussion about the choices involved,&rdquo; said Mayor Emanuel. &ldquo;If we do nothing at all, you have to raise property taxes by 150 percent, and I will not do that.&rdquo;</p><p>The Mayor said that after passing a balanced city budget last week, the next steps need to come from Springfield &ndash; or the city will face major budget problems down the road.<br /><br />&ldquo;You&rsquo;ll have to make a set of choices about policing, investments in parts of the city whether that&rsquo;s in garbage collection, recycling, tree-trimming, rodent control, graffiti removal, that are unsustainable for a great city,&rdquo; he warned.</p><p>The Mayor&rsquo;s own <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2012/may_2012/mayor_emanuel_announcesroadmaptoretirementsecurity.html">proposed reforms</a> would increase city employee contributions to the pension fund and raise retirement ages by five years. They would also suspend cost of living increases. Legislators in Springfield are considering similar measures, but lawmakers have dragged their feet on actually passing legislation.</p><p>Mayor Emanuel said he was hopeful that the reforms can come to a vote this January.</p><p>&ldquo;I do believe we&rsquo;re going to work on pensions in the lame duck session, and get it done,&rdquo; he said.</p></p> Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-emanuel-warns-pension-crisis-could-thrash-city-budget-103923 Quinn plays down rejection of pension amendment http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-plays-down-rejection-pension-amendment-103736 <p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn played down voters&#39; rejection of a proposed amendment to the Illinois constitution that would have made it harder to expand public employee retirement benefits.</p><p>A day after the elections, Quinn says he remains optimistic he can get lawmakers to agree on a plan for bringing down spiraling costs of pensions for government and other public sector workers.</p><p>The governor sought to separate the two, saying the proposed amendment was not focused on the wholesale overhaul of the pension system that he has sought.</p><p>Quinn says a complete overhaul is a necessary sacrifice in order to balance the state&#39;s books and ensure public funds keep flowing to essential services like schools and police departments.</p><p>Quinn told reporters Wednesday he&#39;ll be &quot;working on that issue night and day.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 16:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-plays-down-rejection-pension-amendment-103736