Posts Tagged: Illinois

Illinois and racial profiling

The ACLU is calling for the federal Department of Justice to investigate whether or not Illinois cops use racial bias in traffic stop searches, reports Patrick Yeagle of the Illinois Times. A new study produced by the Illinois Department of Transportation found a slight disparity between the number of minorities stopped and the number of minorities who live in Illinois. It looks like real claims of bias lie in specific communities like Springfield, where 41 percent of all drivers stopped in 2010 were minorities and just 15 percent of the Springfield population is minority.

Immigration reform dreams deferred

Pat Quinn

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the “DREAM Act” into law Monday, legislation that will create privately-funded scholarships for documented and undocumented immigrants to attend public and private colleges in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune’s Monique Garcia reports that Illinois DREAM Act supporters “will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform in Washington, noting the new state law is a small but important step forward.” But Washington can’t deal with the federal version of the DREAM Act, much less comprehensive immigration reform. (more…)

Waiting on a bipartisan panel

Rich Miller’s Illinois-focused Capital Fax blog looks at how the federal deficit ceiling deal will impact the budgets of Illinois and other states. And the answer is… We don’t really know. The details of cutting Medicaid, public works projects, and education funding will — like much of the rest of the debt-cutting plan — be left to a bipartisan congressional panel. The good news for Illinois is that their already shaky credit status will not be hurt in a default.

Illinois and the federal debt default

Paul Merrion of Crain’s Chicago Business got a jump Wednesday on an issue already generating a sub-genre of stories — how would a federal debt default impact local governments and communities? As has been diligently chronicled over the last months, the expiration of the debt ceiling would be devastating to the American economy. Illinois –  a state that already owes billions in interest payments — would have to start making good on major payments as the state’s credit rating could be lowered. Money to pay off the debt means less money for Medicaid, education, and everything else the state must pay for.

Conventional labor disputes

Chicago's McCormick Place

Even as both private and public sector unions lose power, labor is a powerful force in Chicago. But Illinois politicians — even Democrats who get union contributions — argue that AFL-CIO unions like the carpenters and the teamsters keep the city from seeing millions, maybe billions, of revenue at the McCormick Place convention center. But, like the dispute between Chicago-based Boeing and the machinist union, federal law has so far sided with labor.

As corn demand goes up, subsidies go down

The Wall Street Journal’s Scott Kilman visits Shelbyville, Illinois and reports that in “this typical Midwestern town” crop prices are now high enough that they no longer trigger billions of dollars in federal subsidies to farmers. Kilman’s narrative is a feel-good one for WSJ readers: the market has done what special-interest Washington politicians never could — cut farm subsidies in half during the last six years. The high crop prices are a result of both growing demand from consumers in developing countries like China and also the fact that each year millions of tons of corn is used to produce ethanol for auto fuel.

However, there are still egregious farm subsidies that ought to be eliminated from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture budget. For example, the federal government still doles out billions of dollars so farmers uphold their promise to not grow crops in highly erodible land.


Waiting For Thomson: Guantanamo Bay and an Illinois village held hostage

Thomson (IL) Correctional Facility

President Obama made many pledges during his campaign for president, and one of the most cut-and-dried was his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It hasn’t happened. “Gitmo” still houses 172 suspected terrorists.

In Thomson, Illinois, the fate of the prison in Guantanamo Bay is not the first thing on Jerry “Duke” Hebeler’s mind. Hebeler, village president of Thomson, oversees the town of about 600 that lies 90 miles west of Chicago. (more…)

Undercounting the long-term unemployed

Sara Murray and Phil Izzo of the Wall Street Journal report on the long-term unemployed in states like Illinois and Michigan: About 30 percent of those seeking work in Illinois and Michigan have been doing so for at least a year.

But even that statistic doesn’t do justice to the problem, because many of the really long-term unemployed have stopped looking for work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics does not include those not looking for work in their unemployment rate (which, right now, hovers around nine percent nationally). The Labor Dept. does however, count such people in a monthly “true” unemployment rate that also includes the underemployed and is typically closer to 16-17 percent.

Public employees win in Illinois

Pat Quinn

An arbitrator ruled that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn must pay raises promised to the state’s public employees under their collective bargaining agreement, Reuters reports. The 2.2 percent pay raises were not included in the 2012 fiscal budget that Quinn signed into law.  The Democratic governor’s standoff with public employees (unfairly) brought comparisons to Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Feds block Illinois’ money-saving Medicaid tweak

Here is what looks to be an unintended consequence of the federal health care reform law. The Chicago Sun-Times Abdon M. Pallasch reports that, “The federal government is refusing to allow a new process passed by bipartisan majorities in Illinois that requires medical patients here to show that they live in Illinois and earn little enough to qualify for Medicaid.” The federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services is saying no because (more…)