SUPREME DECISION One member is a former Chicago Bear. Another is the wife of a
powerful Chicago alderman. What do you know about the Illinois Supreme Court?
Our guess is that most people don't know much -- even basic things like how
many justices are on the state's highest court. Soon this body will be making a
decision that could determine the state's financial future, as any pension
reform bill signed into law is assured of a challenge in court. Our infographic today gives
insight into the people who will be deciding the fate of pension reform (and by
extension, the fate of the state's finances). We think everyone should be aware
of the politics of the Illinois Supreme Court as this important chapter in
state history approaches. Check it out here.
- Ever wondered how Illinois turned a retirement system for its public employees into a $100 billion threat to the state's financial well-being? Our infographic maps out the timeline of bad decisions that got us here. Click here for a look at this perfect storm.
ILLINOIS: ROLE MODEL Illinois of late has not often been cited as a role model
for much of anything in the political arena. Which is why we take extra note
today of the bipartisan efforts of Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and his
Republican counterpart, Mark Kirk. While the federal government is enduring a
shutdown because of a partisan stalemate in Washington, Durbin took to the
Senate floor to praise Kirk for his plan to help avoid a major crisis by voting
to raise the U.S. debt ceiling with no demands attached. Yes, bipartisanship
exists and it comes from senators who respect their state's "Land of
Lincoln" motto. Reboot's Madeleine Doubek has
SOUND OFF Durbin and Kirk's cooperation is a refreshing break from
the hard-line partisanship that has made many people cynical about politics. Cynicism
isn't productive, but communicating with your legislators is. We created our Sound Off tool to make it
easy for you to send messages directly to your representatives in Springfield
on important state issues like taxes, pension reform, education and jobs. Sound
Off looks up your legislators and gives you the choice of sending an existing
message or one that you write on your own. Click here to see the issues we're
promoting and be sure to check back as we add more. Legislators really do
listen when they hear from their constituents. Click here and give Sound Off a try.
FRACKING FUTURE Hydraulic fracturing is more than just a new way to get
natural gas cheaply from new sources. It's an energy source that already is
having big, positive effects on the economy. So writes Tom Wolf, executive
director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce's Energy Council. "(A)s
you keep reading about the growth of hydraulic fracturing to recover natural
gas and encounter criticism of the industry, remember that increased supply
means lower prices, which in turns means lower heating bills, a competitive
energy market and more opportunities for Illinois companies," Wolf writes.
He cites numerous examples of Illinois companies moving to natural gas as fuel
for their truck fleets, which is just the start. Read it here.
TODAY'S HEADLINES Here's what's making news in Illinois today:
- 5. An analysis of health
insurance rates under the Affordable Care Act for three hypothetical
Illinois families. (Associated Press)
4. Workers’ compensation rates are set to drop in Illinois. (HR.BLR.com)
3. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning voted to reject the proposed Illiana Corridor. (Chicago Tribune)
2. Bill Brady believes he learned enough from his loss to Pat Quinn in 2010 to win the election for governor in 2014. (The Daily Journal)
1. Rahm Emanuel is not going to seek hikes in property, sales or gas taxes in his 2014 Chicago city budget. (Chicago Tribune)