The week that was in Illinois politics and government (March 26 - March 30).
City and County News
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel laid out in a speech Thursday $7.2 billion worth of infrastructure projects to be done over the next four years, including another new runway for O’Hare and the refurbishing of half the city’ s CTA stations.
Celeste Meiffren, of Illinois Public Interest Research group, wrote an op-ed stating that Emanuel must be more forthcoming in how he will finance all these projects.
We covered the unfolding saga this week between the Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda, or CANG8, and the city of Chicago over a permit to march against the NATO summit, on the summit’s May 20th opening day.
CANG8 had a hearing Tuesday on their formal appeal of a permit denial. Administrative Law Judge Raymond ruled Thursday that the city was right to deny the permit, as the parade would significantly interfere with NATO-related traffic.
CANG8 announced today that are working again with the city on an alternate route. Coalition members met with city Department of Transportation officials on a proposed march from Grant Park to McCormick Place convention center, where the summit will be held.
The Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union agreed Wednesday that CPS will give additional compensation to teachers at the 13 schools that participated in the CPS longer school day pioneer program.
Chicago Public Schools officials projected at a school board meeting Wednesday that the district has a $600 million to $700 million budget shortfall for 2013.
We reported that state lawmakers, not the Chicago Board of Education, might represent the best check against Chicago Public School’s power to close and turn around schools. A bill in Springfield would put a moratorium on school actions in 2012-13.
PI looked Tuesday at a report from the Woodstock Institute that more Chicagoland homeowners in communities of color are underwater compared to those in predominantly white neighborhoods.
Chicago area janitors will take a strike authorization vote Saturday, which would let their collective bargaining committe call a strike, if necessary.
Home prices in the Chicagoland area continued their decline in January, reaching an 11-year low.
The Sunshine Review, a national non-profit that "brings state and local government to light" this week honored the city of Chicago's Web site as one of the most transparent government Web sites in the nation.
We reported on a Wednesday rally outside the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where groups like Chicago Adapt simultaneously decried state cuts in health services – and state tax incentives to CME Group, Inc. owner of the Mercantile Exchange.
An idea for reducing Illinois' health care costs is off the table for now. An Illinois Senate subcommittee rejected last week Sen. Carole Pankau's (R-Itasca) plan to bar undocumented immigrant children from accessing the state's All Kids health care program.
We looked at a report Wednesday by a UCLA law school think tank which revealed that Illinois' economy could generate at least $39 million if the state legalized same sex marriage.
There is a growing movement in Springfield to ban legislative scholarships – college tuition waivers that lawmakers can provide to constituents. Senate President John Cullerton – the most powerful person in Springfield opposed to banning legislative scholarships – indicated Monday that he wouldn’t stand in the way of a vote on the ban.
The Illinois House began its investigative hearings on State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) Monday after his arrest earlier this month on bribery charges.
We reported on Chicago-area religious and community leaders who staged a rally last Friday in the Rogers Parking neighborhood, urging Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to help provide financial relief to Illinois homeowners affected by the 2008 housing crisis.
Tammy Duckworth’s primary victory in last week’s 8th Congressional District primary race sets up a showdown with U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-McHenry), a national Tea Party leader. We looked Thursday at the nationally-watched race – Duckworth told Progress Illinois that her prominence would enable her to help 8th District voters immediately.
On Monday, we looked at an obscure but important tax break – the federal renewable energy production tax credit – that has contributed to the wind energy industry’s rapid growth in recent years, even as the overall economy has been a mess. The tax credit expires at the end of this year, and its renewal is up in the air.
We posted an op-ed by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago) on Wednesday that touted the virtues of the Abraham Lincoln National Airport, the Chicago area’s potential 3rd Airport. Jackson specifically trumpeted the airport commission’s financing plan, and detailed problems the commission had with the board of Will County, where the airport would be built.
The Republican-controlled U.S. House voted Thursday to simply extend the country's current surface transportation bill – a bill that normally provides five year's worth of funding for highway and mass transit projects – for 90 days. This drew the ire of Illinois’ Regional Transportation Authority’s head, who fears the loss of federal funds for mass transit projects.
The U.S. Supreme Court might invalidate the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), after three days of oral arguments. The five politically conservative justices' opposition centers around the individual mandate to buy health insurance, but the justices also look to be against ACA making states expand Medicaid.
In an op-ed Tuesday, Jim Duffet, executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care, called the health care reform issue a philosophical, not policy, debate. Duffet wrote that past Supreme Court precedents should make the justices uphold the health care law.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) was escorted off the House floor Wednesday after wearing a hoodie in protest of the slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved forward Tuesday with plans to impose limits to the amount of carbon pollution emitted by new power plants.
A proposal introduced by U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) and supported by President Barack Obama hikes the minimum rent on those who live in federal public housing, a plan that could hurt almost 20,000 Illinois families. Biggert is in a highly-competitive race against Democratic challenger Bill Foster for 11th District Representative.