NEW LEADER The Illinois
Republican Party is a bit of a train wreck these days. The 2012 election saw
its membership in both chambers of the General Assembly fall to all-time lows.
There's a major rift between the conservative and moderate segments of the
party, with each blaming the other's views on social issues as the cause of the
party's fate. But Republicans are hopeful that 2014 can be the year they
reverse their fortunes both in the legislature and by winning back the
governorship. All of that made yesterday's meeting of House Republicans in
Springfield to choose a new leader especially important. And dramatic, at least
until the meeting started and Jim Durkin of Western Springs was selected by
acclamation. This is a case where fake Twitter accounts cut through the
niceties to give the real context. We tell the story through tweets
real and fake.
RAOUL WON'T RUN Until Thursday,
there seemed a strong chance that we'd have three major candidates vying for
the Democratic nomination for governor. That changed when Sen. Kwame Raoul,
D-Chicago, announced via Facebook that he won't run. Raoul, who has Barack
Obama's former Senate seat, said he didn't want to create division in the party
by entering the race and wants to focus on pension reform. Find out why Raoul's announcement is
good news for Gov. Pat Quinn.
MAKE IT FAIR Speaking of 2014, we
want to make Election Day 2014 the day that Illinois voters get the chance to
approve a system that takes officially sanctioned gerrymandering out of the
Illinois Constitution. We've teamed with the Yes for Independent Maps movement to
gather the more than 300,000 signatures of registered voters it will take to
accomplish this. Actually, it would be a lot simpler if the General Assembly
would simply put it on the ballot on its own, but we know that will never
happen. The power to draw legislative maps and create "safe"
districts for their members is too big a prize for the parties to give up
voluntarily. We need you to be part of this effort to implement the biggest
reform in all of Illinois government. Find out how you can help here.
SING IT! Like me, you probably
knew Illinois had an official state song. Every state does. But do you know
what it is or how it goes? Working for an entity founded to restore state pride
through better government, I'm ashamed to admit I had no clue what the state
song was when the subject came up in our office this week. I do now, and you
can too. Click here to hear it. The
lyrics are there too, in case you want to entertain your coworkers, family or
passers-by by singing along. Come on, satisfy your
FLAT VS. PROGRESSIVE Jan. 1, 2015, is the day the Illinois personal income tax rate is scheduled to fall from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. Many people believe that will wreak havoc on the already fragile state budget. Others believe it's the best thing that can happen. And others think it's time to stop arguing about it and scrap the flat-rate income tax system entirely for a graduated rate system in which your tax rate goes up with your income. Progressive tax supporter Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and opponent Ted Dabrowski of the Illinois Policy Institute will debate the issue Sept. 9 in a forum co-sponsored by Reboot Illinois and the Naperville Chamber of Commerce. We did the same forum in Springfield two weeks ago and it was a lively and informative discussion. Please join us if you can. Information and advance registration is here.
SHOW YOUR PRIDE Now that we've got you singing the state song, you're probably
thinking about what you love most about your home state. Don't let that thought
drift idly by. Take a picture of the people, place or thing you think makes
Illinois great and enter it in our "Why Illinois Is Great" photo
contest. You could win one of three Visa gift cards, and all entries are placed
in our gallery for everyone to see. It's fun and easy and all the details are here,
along with entries you can vote on.
NEWS BRIEFING Pressed for time to stay informed on Illinois news? No worries. Just read these five and you're set.
- 5. Opinion: Gov. Quinn’s
reappointment of two members of the Illinois Gaming Board is putting
integrity first. (Chicago Tribune)
4. Another Metra board member is in hot water. (Chicago Tribune)
3. Chicago Public Schools say first-day school attendance was higher than last year. (Chicago Sun-Times)
2. Rep. Jim Durkin was named the new House GOP leader, replacing Tom Cross. (State Journal-Register)
1. Kwame Raoul officially announced he is not going to run for governor. (Chicago Tribune)