Daily dose -- Heat off local MTD driver, Rep. Johnson urges crossing the aisle, Local history, higher health care costs for state retirees?, tax burden on business overstated?, campaign disclosure update, Happy Cheeseheads

Daily dose -- Heat off local MTD driver, Rep. Johnson urges crossing the aisle, Local history, higher health care costs for state retirees?, tax burden on business overstated?, campaign disclosure update, Happy Cheeseheads

Another bus driver in trouble

A Detroit bus driver has been suspended for 30 days after a cell phone video emerged showing the driver operating the bus with a passenger sitting on his lap. The video, obtained by Fox 2, shows a woman seated on the lap of the driver, Timothy Carpenter.
"We realize that this is about as bad as it gets," Detroit Department of Transportation spokesman Terrence King told FOX 2.
"We're going through a lot of hard economic times. If you've got a good city job, you need to respect that good city job. Do the job that you get paid to do. If you don't, [Detroit] Mayor (Dave) Bing has made it very clear, you will lose that job."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/01/14/detroit-bus-driver-suspended-drivin...

Rep. Johnson urges bipartisanship

Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, is among four co-chairs of the Center Aisle Caucus in Congress who has urged members to sit across the aisle for Tuesday's State of the Union address ...

"One way we can lead by example is by convening as an undivided body for the State of the Union address. We plan to sit with our colleagues from across the aisle during the address, and we hope that many other members will join us. There is no better way to show that we are united as a country than to break the invisible barrier that has traditionally separated members of the two parties."

Local history

In 1911, Rep. Homer J. Tice of Chicago today introduced the woman suffrage bill which proposes to give women the right to vote on boards of equalization, assessors, sanitary districts trustees, officials of towns and cities and owns and townships, supervisors, clerks, assessors and highway commissioners.

In 1961, University of Illinois Professors Lowell Fisher and Peter Yankwich have announced they will be candidates for reelection to the Urbana school board. Mrs. Grant G. Brown said she will not seek another term.

State retirees to bear higher cost for health care?

From the Chicago Tribune ..

State lawmakers, fresh off of passing a major income tax increase, are turning toward a trio of other ideas as they try to capitalize on a newfound mood at the Capitol of dealing with long-festering budget problems.

The new push is a crackdown on the rising cost of health care for retired state workers. The program costs the state nearly $500 million a year, and more than 90 percent of the retirees and survivors pay no premiums.

The leftover plans are to raise the cigarette tax and borrow money to more quickly pay down a big backlog of bills, both of which could get new life now that the high-pressure political atmosphere surrounding the tax increase is done.

Of the three, the retiree health insurance issue is most likely to become the next rallying cry among a public weary of the cost of state government and the recent Democrat-led incursion into their wallets to pay for years of mismanagement.

The idea is to start charging the retirees who can afford to pay for their health care. And new state research shows some of the 84,100 retirees and survivors appear to possess the ability to pay — the average annual household income for a retired state worker younger than 65 was nearly $78,000.

The sizable rocking-chair income is the result of waves of state workers taking advantage of sweet early retirement plans that allowed them to walk out of government jobs in their 50s, start collecting pension benefits and still have time to start a second career.


Effect of Illinois tax increase on businesses is minor

From The State Journal-Register ...

Illinois’ recent income tax increase won’t cause a mass exodus of businesses from the state, experts agree.

“It’s definitely something the state should be concerned about, but I think it (the scope) is exaggerated a little bit,” University of Illinois economics professor Dan McMillen said.

“Businesses like to say that they leave states because of tax issues, but businesses are not actually all that mobile, and I think it’s a lot less common for businesses to leave from tax issues as is commonly believed.”

The types of businesses that are likely to leave because of the tax hike are those that were close to leaving anyway, such as manufacturers that were already considering moving operations overseas or highly mobile Internet or technology companies, McMillen said.

That isn’t to say that Illinois shouldn’t be worried about businesses fleeing. Illinois already had a $15 billion state budget deficit, and businesses don’t like the uncertainty in a large deficit, McMillen said.

“It’s not as though Illinois had a really attractive business climate, then it raised taxes and it no longer has an attractive business climate,” he said.


Campaign disclosure updates

From Sunday's N-G column ...

Barickman bucks. Even before he was sworn in as an appointed state representative on Jan. 10, Jason Barickman had raised $25,675 for his campaign fund.
Barickman, the Champaign attorney who is the new representative for the 105th House district, already has $25,272 on hand -- more than a year before the primary election. (Contrast that with the man he replaced, new state Sen. Shane Cultra, who has $95.78 in his depleted campaign fund).
Every contribution to Barickman -- and there are 52 itemized donations listed -- came in December, during the period when party chairmen were deciding whether to appoint him as Cultra’s replacement. If the goal was to prove his fundraising mettle, Barickman was successful.
His largest contribution was from $2,000 from the Illinois State Medical Society, but Barickman also got $1,000 donations from former Gov. Jim Edgar, his law partner Jason Bartell; developer Michael Hartman; local businesspersons Habeeb Habeeb, Lynn Ryle, John Reed and Jeff Wandell; and Chicago attorney Richard Stockton. He also had about 45 contributions in the $200 to $750 range, plus $2,625 in non-itemized donations.
Hays/Puhr finances
Campaign disclosure reports are in for the two candidates who sought to succeed retired Rep. Bill Black, <saxo:ch value="226 128 168"/>R-Danville, in the 104th House District. They show that the winner in the race, Republican Chad Hays, spent about three times as much as his Democratic opponent, Danville alderman Michael Puhr.
Over the course of the 18-month campaign, Hays raised $123,458 and spent $113,589. Puhr raised $39,772 and spent $38,870.
Hays has $9,868 left in his campaign fund. Puhr’s campaign is in the red; he owes himself $8,578.
In the last six months of 2010, Puhr’s largest campaign donation was $2,500 from the Illinois Laborers Legislative Committee in Springfield. Hays’ biggest donations were $2,000 each from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Ameren Illinois.
But he also received almost $11,000 in in-kind contributions from the Illinois Agricultural Association, most of which went to radio advertising in the Champaign and Danville markets.
Bottom line: Hays spent $5.55 for each of the 20,452 votes he received in the Nov. 2 election; Puhr spent $4.08 for each of the 9,513 votes he got.

They're pleased in the Land of Cheese











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