EDITORIAL: Lawmakers’ pension ‘sweetener’ leaves sour taste

http://ift.tt/2gyb71L

Illinois has crushing government pension debt partly because a steady stream of “sweeteners” has been added over the years to boost benefits for select groups of people, while adding no revenue to pay for them.

But we’re not sure we’ve seen a slicker sweetener than the one reported by Tim Novak in Sunday’s Sun-Times. In that case, two legislators 16 years ago co-sponsored a pension sweetener that ultimately benefitted . . . themselves.

EDITORIAL

The bill by now-retired state Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo and current state Sen. Antonio “Tony” Munoz let them double dip by getting credits toward Chicago police pensions for every day they served in the Illinois Senate or House — even while they were getting credits toward legislative pensions for those same exact days.

Their bill, which was a simple tweak to an earlier law, technically also will benefit any future Chicago cops who also serve in the Legislature. But so far the benefits have gone into just two pockets: those of Acevedo and Munoz.

Ordinary citizens who don’t get to tweak laws to their benefit can only shake their heads in amazement — as they shake their wallets for money to help Illinois dig out from under its huge mound of unfunded pension obligations. The state’s unfunded pensions are well north of $100 billion, and just on Monday Chicago taxpayers found out they’re about to get hit with yet another property tax increase for police and fire pensions in 2020.

It’s long past time for lawmakers to start focusing on ensuring pensions are properly funded instead of figuring out how to raid them for just a little bit more.

Acevedo and Munoz both worked for the Chicago Police Department, but neither was there for the 10 years needed to qualify for a pension because they took leaves of absence to serve in the Legislature. Neither appears to have particularly distinguished himself while working for the police department. They were investigated by the department’s internal affairs bureau, which recommended firing both of them. Instead, Acevedo got a reprimand and Munoz got a 10-day suspension.

Neither Acevedo nor Munoz pocketed a huge windfall with their pension change. Acevedo gets $4,572 more per year from his police pension, which will be on top of his state pension of more than $64,000 a year once he starts collecting the state pension. Munoz gets an extra $6,802 a year, which also will be on on top of his state pension of more than $64,000 a year.

Those extra dollars come from people who in all likelihood will never see sweeteners like that in their retirement funds.

Sixteen years ago, Acevedo and Munoz were enterprising in taking care of their own futures. Too bad they didn’t put their skills toward figuring out a solution to the pension mess for everyone else.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

Advertisements
EDITORIAL: Lawmakers’ pension ‘sweetener’ leaves sour taste

EDITORIAL: Banning ‘bump stocks’ would make us safer

http://ift.tt/2y0QLcA

After a gunman killed 58 people and wounded more than 540 using “bump stocks” that essentially turned his firearms into machine guns, some Republican members of Congress said they would support a ban on bump stocks.

EDITORIAL

Now, though, congressional Republicans are backing away from such a ban. Because Congress appears unlikely to act, many state lawmakers around the country are taking up the issue. In Illinois, state Rep. Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines, has introduced a bill that would ban bump stocks, along with assault weapons, large-capacity magazines and large-caliber rifles. It’s an idea the Legislature should get behind.

Bump stocks have no legitimate purpose and deserve no defense from lawmakers, even in districts where hunting is popular. By using them, Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock was able to kill and wound more people than he could have with weapons that were only semiautomatic. The only function of bump stocks is to quickly kill as many people as possible.

Critics of a ban point out that getting rid of bump stocks would have no effect on the many types of gun crimes that don’t involve firing from semiautomatic or automatic weapons. But that’s not a reason not to do it. Why not try to save as many lives as possible from the next mass-murdering gunman?

A bill with a broader sweep that also will come up in the Legislature’s veto session, which starts Tuesday, would require state licensing of gun shops, similar to a law on the books in Chicago. By reining in the few gun shops that are a source for many of the weapons that turn up on crime scenes, that bill would help reduce the day-to-day gunfire on the streets of Chicago. It also deserves to become law.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

EDITORIAL: Banning ‘bump stocks’ would make us safer

Democratic attorneys general unite against concealed-carry gun law

http://ift.tt/2yKXXZE

NEW YORK — Democratic attorneys general from 17 states, including Illinois’ Lisa Madigan, are calling on Congress to abandon legislation backed by the National Rifle Association that would allow concealed-carry gun permits issued in one state to be valid in all states.

The top prosecutors from states that also include New York, Pennsylvania, Iowa and California sent a letter to congressional leaders in both parties on Sunday warning that federal reciprocity proposals being debated on Capitol Hill “will lead to the death of police officers and civilians, the proliferation of gun traffickers, and acts of terrorism and other mass violence.”

“With the worst shooting in American history fresh in our memory, we urge you and your colleagues to reject these ill-conceived bills,” write the attorneys general in a letter organized by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The fresh warning comes as the gun lobby, emboldened by complete Republican control of Washington, continues to press for looser gun restrictions in the weeks after an attack in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds more wounded. It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Already, momentum appears to be slowing for a federal measure that would outlaw devices, known as “bump stocks,” that allowed the Las Vegas shooter’s semi-automatic weapons to mimic fully automatic guns. The National Rifle Association insists that the recent shooting has not softened its support for any its 2017 legislative priorities, which include legislation that would make it easier to buy gun silencers.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which already has more than 200 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, “remains the NRA’s top legislative priority,” said Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the NRA’s lobbying arm. The measure, if approved by Congress, would allow people with concealed-carry gun permits in one state to bring their guns into any other, regardless of whether that state has tougher requirements for obtaining permits.

Baker said the current “patchwork of state and local laws” creates confusion that “often leads to law-abiding gun owners running afoul of the law when they exercise their right to self-protection while traveling or temporarily living away from home.”

Supporters argue, for example, that the legislation would help protect truck drivers and women traveling across state lines alone at night.

Beyond the Democratic attorneys general, the critics also include gun control groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, which is backed by billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and vowed earlier in the year to spend “what it takes” to defeat the legislation.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last week found that 61 percent of Americans believe the nation’s gun laws should be more tough, while 27 percent want them to stay the same and another 11 percent want them less strict.

The answers were divided sharply along ideological lines. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, but just a third of Republicans, want to see gun laws made stricter.

The Democratic attorney generals argue that concealed-carry reciprocity would empower gun traffickers, terrorists and other criminals. And they say it would help criminals avoid permit requirements altogether should they assert residence in one of the 12 states that allow gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

“After each tragedy we lament the loopholes in our federal gun laws. It’s vital that we not create another one,” Schneiderman said.

The letters’ authors also include attorneys general from Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Connecticut, New Mexico, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

Democratic attorneys general unite against concealed-carry gun law

Selle: Pop tax defeat in Cook County should embolden timid voters

http://ift.tt/2yIZwa3

That loud sound you hear is the grinding and gnashing by elected officials across Illinois since Cook County residents chalked up a victory on behalf of taxpayers everywhere.

The Cook County’s controversial “sweetened” beverage tax was repealed after a taxpayer revolt the size few have ever witnessed in the Land of Lincoln. Usually, citizens just accept new taxes, suck it up and merely gripe about how expensive it is to live in Illinois.

But this time, normally timorous taxpayers stood their ground and said they weren’t going to take it anymore. The Cook County tax rebellion should be a cautionary tale for public bodies across the region.

Perhaps it was the blatant falsehood that the pop tax was enacted for health reasons. Or maybe Cook County residents have suffered long enough with what political scientists call “tax fatigue,” paying some of the highest taxes in the state.

Cook County taxes may be high, but of course the Illinois county with the highest property taxes is Lake County, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Lake County property taxes — with a median of nearly $7,000 annually — rank 21st highest in the U.S., and tops in the Midwest.

That ranking doesn’t consider the other various taxes we pay to make it through a normal day. In comparison, Cook County residents face a median of about $4,500 annually to live in their homes.

On the other hand, they have all sorts of growing add-on taxes. Like a wheel tax on vehicles, a 10.25 percent sales tax — one of the highest in the U.S. — and other levies. For a few months, they had that “sweetened” beverage tax.

While prodded by the beverage industry — which Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unsuccessfully tried to label “Big Soda,” like big government is the little guy — potential voters did the one thing that scares elected officials: They started writing, emailing, faxing and calling their county commissioners to express dissatisfaction with the pop tax. They started shopping in neighboring counties.

It wasn’t only pop drinkers from tony North Shore communities. Nope, consumers from across Cook County pummeled their commissioners into repealing the tax. And they didn’t care that urging officials to renege on the tax means there’s a $200 million hole in the Cook County budget.

With one anti-tax win notched, will Cook County taxpayers pour over the other sin taxes and fees they pay? One can only hope.

Just days after the pop tax revolt was sorted out, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed hiking the city’s amusement tax on large venues and increasing the city’s tax on cell phones and landlines. These guys just don’t get it.

Not that officials in Lake County are less tax happy.

Nearly every Lake County community has a litany of add-on taxes and fees residents pay little attention to because most are buried in the fine print of their monthly bills.

For instance, there’s city and village excise taxes on cell phones, internet access, cable usage. There’s amusement and entertainment taxes on theater, movie tickets and, in Gurnee, an admission tax to Six Flags Great America.

Some officials in home=rule communities have hiked sales taxes on top of the federal gasoline and regional mass transit taxes we pay at the pump. Of course, the state hasn’t been shy about those “hidden” taxes, either.

Illinois is only one of seven states in the U.S. that charges sales tax on gasoline. There’s telecomm taxes, a state 9-1-1 tax on phone bills; liquor and cigarette taxes; state taxes on electricity and natural gas usage, along with a state gas revenue tax on suppliers of natural gas, who pass that charge along to consumers.

With off-presidential elections next year, voters need to stop being timid and hold candidates’ accountable for the taxes they’ve supported in the past. They need to question their elected representatives about their future taxing plans. You know they have them.

Charles Selle is a former News-Sun reporter, political editor and editor.

sellenews@gmail.com

Twitter @sellenews

Selle: Pop tax defeat in Cook County should embolden timid voters

Child deaths spike after DCFS privatizes ‘intact family services’

http://ift.tt/2xgEEUE

The 5-year-old girl was found dead in the bathtub with shallow water framing her cherubic face and open eyes.

The state Department of Children and Family Services had conducted two abuse investigations into Verna Tobicoe’s Southeast Side home in the months before her death in May 2015. The agency also had hired a nonprofit group to make frequent visits and conduct safety checks on Verna and two siblings.

Even as Verna was hospitalized with a broken arm and her older brother repeatedly appeared at hospital emergency rooms or doctors’ offices with suspicious lacerations and bruises, a caseworker for the nonprofit organization filed cheerful reports saying the kids were safe.

And then 44-pound Verna became part of a growing pattern of similar fatalities: She was one of 15 Illinois children to die of abuse or neglect from 2012 through last year in homes receiving “intact family services” from organizations hired by DCFS, a Tribune investigation found.

There was only one such child death under the intact family services program during the previous five years from 2007 through 2011, according to DCFS records released to the Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act.

The mission of intact family services, which roughly 2,700 children are receiving statewide, is to offer counseling, resources and oversight to keep families together, instead of putting children through another trauma by removing them from the home and placing them with strangers.

The spike in deaths began in 2012 after DCFS completely privatized the program, putting the care of families in the hands of nonprofit groups but doing little to evaluate the quality of their work, give them guidance and resources, or hold them accountable when children were hurt or put at risk, the Tribune found.

Verna Tobicoe was one of 15 Illinois children to die of abuse or neglect from 2012 through 2016 in h

The girlfriend of Verna’s father is now awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges in the girl’s death. Authorities found lacerations in Verna’s liver and intestines as well as a skull fracture and bruises across her body from repeated blows. Lisamarie Villasana, 29, has pleaded not guilty and told police that Verna hit her head after slipping on spilled Gatorade.

The agency was rattled by a similar death in April, when 17-month-old Semaj Crosby was found dead in her Joliet Township home after DCFS had conducted more than 10 abuse investigations into the family and used the intact family services program to send a caseworker for periodic visits.

Illinois’ new child welfare director, Beverly “B.J.” Walker, said she was alarmed by the Tribune’s finding on the surge of child fatalities in intact family services cases as well as by a sharply critical report from the DCFS Inspector General on Verna’s death.

Walker recently asked her staff to provide reports on the abuse or neglect of any child in the intact services program and said she was shocked to discover that at least 10 percent of children were reportedly mistreated while receiving those services. “That’s very high. … I can tell you this, it happens too much,” Walker told the Tribune.

The Inspector General’s report, which has not been made public but was examined by the Tribune, determined that DCFS conducted cursory and ineffective investigations into a series of abuse allegations in the months before Verna’s death. DCFS also inexplicably failed to evaluate whether the father’s girlfriend, Villasana, needed therapy or assistance — even though she was serving as the children’s primary caretaker. And DCFS did not consider her as a possible perpetrator when children were hurt, although she often was the only adult in the home.

Kathy Grzelak, the new chief of Kaleidoscope 4 Kids, the group that served Verna’s family, keeps a laminated prayer card from the girl’s funeral pinned to her office bulletin board — a reminder of her organization’s painful failures.

The wake was crowded with family, Grzelak recalled, and the girl in the tiny open casket was dressed in a glittering blue dress to resemble the fearless princess Elsa from her favorite movie, “Frozen.” Grzelak said only faint traces of Verna’s bruises could be seen through the mortician’s makeup.

Injury after injury

The story of Verna’s short life is told in confidential child welfare case files, the DCFS Inspector General’s report, separate police and court records and interviews with several of her relatives.

Following two separate investigations into squalor and neglect of her home — one unfounded and the other confirmed — Verna’s parents split up, and DCFS placed the children with their father, Villasana and their new baby in 2014. In August of that year, DCFS referred the children to Kaleidoscope for intact family services. At the time, Verna was 4 years old, her brother was 6 and her sister was 9.

The state agency directed Kaleidoscope to ensure the children got proper medical care; to help their father access Medicaid, food stamps and government cash assistance; to refer him to parenting classes and other programs, and also to help the children’s biological mother — even though she had only minimal contact with the children after they left her home.

Kaleidoscope did a lot for the children. The caseworker brought them winter coats, provided a $70 gift card to buy treatments for their head lice, and tapped state funds for $1,350 when their father fell behind on his rent, records show. When Verna’s older sister was not allowed to attend school because her immunizations were out of date, Kaleidoscope took her to the doctor.

The DCFS Inspector General’s report, which has not been made public but was examined by the Tr

But one crucial omission threatened to doom the arrangement from the start: DCFS failed to include the father’s girlfriend, Villasana, in its service plan. She was the children’s primary caretaker while the father worked night shifts at a local pharmacy and some days on construction sites, according to the Inspector General’s report and interviews with officials and relatives. But Villasana was never put on the Kaleidoscope caseworker’s radar, according to those records and interviews.

“My plan was not even constructed to serve her. There was no information leading up to Lisa being the caretaker,” the former Kaleidoscope caseworker, Stephanie Lynell Ivey, told the Tribune in an interview. She subsequently left the agency and now works as a special education classroom assistant.

Suspicious injuries to the children began almost immediately, records show. That August, Verna was taken to a hospital with a broken arm — a “spiral fracture” that often indicates abuse by twisting.

DCFS opened an abuse investigation after being notified by the hospital. But even though Villasana was the only caretaker in the home at the time, she was not investigated as a potential perpetrator. Instead, the DCFS investigation focused on the father. And because he was at work when Verna was injured, DCFS termed the abuse allegation “unfounded” and closed the case.

State officials also did not tell Kaleidoscope about the hotline call regarding Verna’s broken arm. Ivey did subsequently file a note saying Verna was wearing a cast, but she accepted Villasana’s explanation that Verna had fallen.

Ivey told the Tribune she was operating under the assumption that DCFS had evaluated the home where the children were placed and that it was safe.

Then, starting in October 2014, educators, relatives and medical professionals began notifying DCFS of a series of injuries to Verna’s brother, along with their suspicions the children were being mistreated.

Kindergarten teacher April Palacios called the DCFS hotline that month to report that Verna’s brother “came to school today with bruising all over his arm that looked like a hand print,” DCFS records show. She emailed photographs of the injuries to DCFS and also reported a separate laceration on the boy’s face.

Children and adults in the home gave sharply divergent accounts of how the boy was bruised, with some saying he fell while climbing a closet door frame like Spider-Man, and others that he tripped over his sister’s princess slipper and hit a dresser drawer, according to DCFS and police records.

Palacios felt her concerns were never taken seriously, she told the Tribune. “It was so unfair,” she said. “This was preventable.”

Ivey, of Kaleidoscope, did take the boy to a doctor after Palacios reported the bruise on his arm and a cut on his face to DCFS, but the caseworker did not tell the doctor about Palacios’ hotline call, and the doctor was unaware of any suspicions of abuse, records show.

Over the next several weeks, the boy’s father notified Ivey several times that the boy had new head gashes or bruises after slips and falls around the house. But her checkups typically came days later, after the injuries had faded.

As she wrote in one brief report: “Upon seeing the children there were no signs of abuse or neglect. All the children appeared to be happy and healthy.”

Ivey says today: “There was no sign of any physical abuse. I never observed it or witnessed it.”

DCFS did open an investigation, but it was cursory — and again targeted the father and not the main caretaker, Villasana. The DCFS investigators interviewed all three siblings, their father and Villasana in less than an hour at the family home, one case note shows.

In finding allegations of abuse against the father to be unfounded, the DCFS supervisor wrote: “Minor denied he was injured by his father. Father reported that he was at work at the time of the injury.”

Because DCFS and Kaleidoscope never recognized Villasana as the primary caregiver, they never learned that Villasana felt overwhelmed by her new child care responsibilities, according to subsequent DCFS reports and interviews with her relatives.

Lisamarie Villasana, 29, girlfriend of Verna Tobicoe’s father, is awaiting trial on first-degr

Before Verna and her siblings arrived, Villasana had been caring only for her own newborn. Now she had three additional youngsters who were extraordinarily demanding. Two showed signs of learning and developmental disabilities, records shows, and all had been raised until then in a chaotic home with little adult supervision.

Just days before Verna’s death, Villasana temporarily left the home because of the stress, according to a police report and relatives. She also had attempted suicide in recent months by taking pills and drinking bleach.

“It was just too much for one person to take care of those four kids,” said Villasana’s stepfather, Juan Bautista.

Checking a box

DCFS officials completely privatized the intact program in 2012 amid a deep financial crisis as well as persistent government management problems — families were getting services for three and four years without seeing any real improvement, for example.

But as the state agency’s role shifted from providing direct services to overseeing and managing nonprofit contractors, DCFS simply failed at its new task, agency director Walker told the Tribune.

“When we did that privatization, we … more or less just sent cases over and we didn’t have any expectations — or any good expectations — about what (the nonprofits) were going to do,” said Walker, who took the helm of DCFS in June as its 10th director or acting director since 2011.

DCFS does send monitors to the nonprofits’ offices four times a year — but Grzelak, of Kaleidoscope, said they only look at paperwork to make sure files are complete and rarely try to gauge the quality or impact of the agency’s work.

“We can check a box and say, ‘We did our three home visits.’ But what did we do in that visit? What did we accomplish?” Grzelak said.

Kaleidoscope also never learns what the DCFS monitors find in those inspections, Grzelak said. “There is nothing in writing. There is no accountability. When are we going to get a more robust conversation about how we are doing?” she said. “There should be no secretiveness.”

Walker said she has begun reforming the program by hiring more child protective staff and increasing DCFS’s oversight and supervision of the nonprofits. “We are laser-beam focused. We’re following up to make sure that our actions are leading to improvements.”

She also said she is looking for additional financial resources for the intact services program. The rate paid to agencies such as Kaleidoscope has not increased for at least five years, according to providers. Last year, Gzelak said, Kaleidoscope had to supplement the $730,000 it received from DCFS with $98,000 from other sources to cover basic costs related to intact services.

Caseworkers, meanwhile, are often poorly trained, underpaid and burdened with overwhelming caseloads.

“We have young workers who are not adequately trained who are surviving and doing what is in front of them every day,” Grzelak said.

The job can be “scary, heartbreaking and stressful,” Ivey said.

Assigned to assist both of Verna’s biological parents, Ivey was carrying 17 other cases at the time, nearly double the average of 10 recommended in the DCFS contract, according to Grzelak and Ivey.

The DCFS Inspector General determined that Ivey did not seem to understand the family or know how to counsel and assist them. Ivey disputed that.

“My role was to stabilize the family and make sure they had their basic needs met, and that’s what I did. Sometimes I would visit that home twice a week. I even gave them some of my own daughter’s hand-me-downs,” Ivey told the Tribune. “Intact is a short-term fix, and in that short time all you’re praying for as a worker is that nobody dies while this baby is on your watch.”

DCFS generally expects the nonprofits to close intact services cases within six months, and the agency’s contracts start to reduce payments at that point, even though Grzelak and other providers say families often still need help.

In the sixth month of Verna’s case, in January 2015, Kaleidoscope closed its file. “There are no concerns regarding the safety and well-being of the children,” a Kaleidoscope supervisor wrote.

Four months later, Verna was found in the bathtub dead.

Palacios, the teacher, said she was shattered by the news. “I started crying,” Palacios recalled. “What I feared most could happen, happened. I was very angry at DCFS because they had an investigation going on. They had visited the family.”

DCFS had conducted two abuse investigations into Verna Tobicoe’s home on Chicago’s South

Only after Verna’s death did DCFS investigators conduct forensic interviews with her siblings — taking them outside the home to question them separately about mistreatment, instead of interviewing them for a few minutes at home with their parents nearby.

In these sessions, the children readily described being whipped, kicked and abused by Villasana and other adults, records show.

On the way to one interview, Verna’s brother asked a DCFS investigator if Verna was ever coming back, according to confidential DCFS case notes. The investigator told the boy that Verna “is in his heart and all he had to do is think about her and close his eyes and he would see her.”

Verna’s older brother and sister now live with a foster family out of state.

dyjackson@chicagotribune.com

gmarx@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @Poolcar4

Child deaths spike after DCFS privatizes ‘intact family services’

Rauner vows he’ll keep fighting corruption in re-election announcement

http://ift.tt/2xeuVOv

Vowing he’ll continue a war against “corrupt career politicians,” Gov. Bruce Rauner formally announced his re-election bid Monday morning in a video.

Rauner is the narrator of the two-minute YouTube video, dubbed “I Choose To Fight,” which features the leather clad Republican governor on his Harley Davidson, driving through Illinois.

“Now we have a choice. We can throw in the towel, walk away and leave our future to the same corrupt career politicians, or we can fight,” Rauner says. “I choose to fight.”

In the video, Rauner — wearing a biker patch that reads “governor”— says he took on property taxes, education criminal justice and ethics during his first-term.

“We’ve won some and we’ve lost some. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy,” Rauner says while outlining goals for his re-election campaign: fighting for property tax relief, “real term limits” and “a budget that won’t bankrupt or break us.”

Rauner of course mentions the “Madigan machine,” while vowing to fight against “a corrupt culture of permanent political failure.”

In an email to supporters, Rauner’s campaign also listed a goal of fighting to “rollback the Madigan 32 percent income tax hike.” The Illinois Republican Party for months has blamed the powerful speaker on the tax hike, although Democrats have pointed out that Republicans had agreed to the number — 4.95 percent — during negotiations. Rauner, too, said he’d approve a tax hike, but with reforms attached.

Rauner’s campaign said the video will air solely on the Internet, for now. The governor is already running TV campaign ads, with the most recent ads crediting him for signing the school funding bill.

The official campaign announcement comes nearly a month after Rauner bucked ultra-conservative Republicans by signing into law a bill to expand taxpayer-funded abortions.

After signing HB40 on Sept. 28, there was speculation the Republican governor might not run. He’s considered a vulnerable incumbent Republican governor, and he’s also faced criticism this year from conservatives over his signing of a bill that protects illegal immigrants from being detained solely based on their immigration status.

The video announcement, however, squashes those doubts. And he’ll have plenty of cash in his campaign war chest to strengthen his re-election bid. Rauner’s campaign had a hefty $65.5 million cash on hand on Oct. 1, with $50 million of the $70.9 million he raised coming from his own pockets.

Multiple sources confirmed Rauner would announce his campaign in a video Monday morning. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment Sunday evening.

Rauner in April kicked off a campaign-funded, two-day tour of the state, all the while denying that he was kicking off his re-election or that the 10 stops were campaign-related.

“Are you running or are you not?” a reporter asked the governor.

“This is nothing to do with the election,” Rauner said April 11.

He declined to answer that question definitively for months, although his campaign had confirmed he was running, and nominating petitions are being circulated. The re-election bid comes on the heels of a tough budget and tax override and a rough summer in which he ousted several members of his inner circle, with others resigning in protest — followed by a series of public gaffes.

Throughout that time, he also faced constant attacks from Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates, including J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and state Sen. Daniel Biss.

Rauner faces no serious Republican challengers at this point in the March primary, though some are mulling a run, including state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton.

Ives was among the governor’s most vocal critics following the signing of the abortion bill. In an interview with a downstate radio station on Friday, Ives accused the governor of betraying his party in signing the measure. She also confirmed she’s exploring a run and doesn’t believe Rauner will be re-elected next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rauner vows he’ll keep fighting corruption in re-election announcement

Rauner Expected to Announce Re-Election Bid Monday

http://ift.tt/2hXL4S7

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hasn’t officially announced that he will run for re-election in 2018, but that is expected to change on Monday.

Rauner, who has been running new TV campaign ads touting progress on issues such as education reform, is expected to announce Monday that he will be running for re-election. The announcement comes the day before the General Assembly begins its Veto Session in Springfield.

Rauner has already raised $70 million for his re-election bid, $50 million of which he donated to his own campaign.

The governor has played his cards close to the vest when it comes to his re-election bid.

“I will never give up on working to protect Illinois, (or on) working to create a better future for the people of Illinois,” he said earlier this month when asked about his intentions.

With Rauner’s expected entry into the race, Republicans will be left deciding whether to challenge him in the primary after his controversial decision to sign House Bill 40, a bill that expanded abortion coverage for women on Medicaid in the state.

That decision has a coalition of conservative anti-abortion groups to seek an alternative candidate, and one of those potential contenders is State Representative Jeanne Ives of suburban Wheaton. 

The deadline to turn in petitions to run in the primaries is set for December, so candidates will have to act quickly if they intend to take Rauner on. 

Rauner Expected to Announce Re-Election Bid Monday