Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Nancy Rotering: “I’ve always been raised to be an advocate”

Rick Pearson is joined by Highland Park Mayor and Democratic candidate for Attorney General Nancy Rotering. Nancy shares what prompted her entry into the race, her stance on the NRA, the importance of prioritizing public access to information, and more.

Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Nancy Rotering: “I’ve always been raised to be an advocate”

Democratic Attorney General Candidate Kwame Raoul: “I think we need to do more in terms of examining victim resources”

Rick Pearson is joined by State Senator and Democratic Attorney General Candidate Kwame Raoul. Kwame expresses how he’s been interested in the Democratic Attorney General position for years; his previous collaborations with Lisa Madigan; the importance of analyzing the diversity throughout the state, and more.

Democratic Attorney General Candidate Kwame Raoul: “I think we need to do more in terms of examining victim resources”

Census 2020: High stakes for Illinois

One of the federal government’s most vital functions is one of its most overlooked. Americans rarely think about the U.S. census, the once-a-decade exercise that has at its core something many of us have little patience for: a questionnaire.

Yet so much hinges on people’s answers to those questionnaires, and the wealth of data they yield. The 2020 census is two years away, but there’s a whole lot of cause for Illinoisans to be concerned. Interim metrics tell us that Illinois has been bleeding population at an alarming — and accelerating — rate. It’s critically important that Illinois limit the damage from that outflow by urging its residents to help provide a full, accurate count.

Census findings serve as the basis for nearly $20 billion in federal money that Illinois gets every year for a vast array of needs — from highways and housing to health care and foster care. This state appears sure to lose one of its 18 seats in the U.S. House but could lose two. As that number shrinks, so does Illinois’ voice in the Electoral College. What’s the basis for the boundaries of federal, state and local voting districts? The census. And businesses from Walgreens to Walmart, sensitive to population growth or decline, use census data to help decide where to open and close stores.

At this point, Washington should be deep into its prep work for the census. But it’s not. The Census Bureau had wanted to carry out three dry runs around the country that would test new technologies as well as outreach strategies to ensure accurate counts. Congress, however, has underfunded census preparations, forcing the cancellation of two dress rehearsals. Field testing is especially important with this census, since it will be the first time questionnaires largely will be administered online.

The Trump administration also has yet to appoint a director to lead the bureau. And its push to ask people about their citizenship status has fueled fears of a substantial undercount. If it makes it onto the questionnaire, that question could lead Latinos and members of other groups who are fearful of the administration’s hard-line immigration policies to ignore the census, which always counts citizens and noncitizens alike.

That would especially hurt Illinois. In 2017, Illinois lost a net 33,703 residents, marking the fourth consecutive year of population loss and dropping the state to sixth largest in the country, one rung below Pennsylvania. The last thing this state needs is a census undercount that magnifies its population plunge.

The federal to-do list: Appoint a director, provide the funding the census bureau needs to do its job, and shelve the citizenship question.

But there’s also a state and local government to-do list. Illinois shouldn’t just sit back and hope for an accurate count.

Springfield and locales statewide can minimize the potential for an undercount here through public awareness campaigns. The message? Census data is confidential information that won’t be relayed to law enforcement, data that’s vital to Illinois’ representation in Congress and its fair share of federal funds. Illinois nonprofits and community groups with links to population segments vulnerable to undercounting also can ensure participation. County governments and agricultural groups can work on rural areas, while Latino organizations can calm fears about the census in Hispanic neighborhoods.

The potential alternative is a flawed census that robs Illinois of its rightful share of federal funding, further weakens its political clout, and makes investment here by businesses less likely.

Yes, Illinois is losing people. Let’s make sure the government counts everyone who’s here.

Join the discussion on Twitter @Trib_Ed_Board and on Facebook.

Census 2020: High stakes for Illinois

Ralph Martire: ISBE’s provocative funding request


According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “provocative” means: “serving to arouse a needed stimulus for action.” It’s no secret the media is constantly on the hunt for provocative material. What’s also no secret is the media tends to focus on items that are provocative because they’re divisive, racist or otherwise polarizing. Which explains why they whiffed on covering the Illinois State Board of Education’s K-12 funding request for next year — which calls for the state to invest $13.9 billion in educating Illinois’ school children — or more than double what was passed into law for this year, FY2018.

Now that’s provocative. The media missed it, however, because it isn’t provocative due to its negativity or its capacity to polarize. Rather, ISBE’s funding request is provocative because of its inherent rationality and capacity “to stimulate action” for the common good.

Understanding why that’s the case requires a brief overview of the historic change to Illinois’ school funding formula that became law last August.

Known as the “Evidence Based Model” or “EBM,” Illinois’ new formula represents the best practice in school funding for one simple reason: It ties the amount taxpayers invest in schools to those educational practices that the research shows actually enhance student academic achievement.

As ISBE notes, the EBM creates an “Adequacy Target” of resources based on 34 cost factors, adjusted by formula to account for the individualized needs of school districts statewide — which is crucial, given the incredibly diverse student population they serve.

This represents a marked improvement over Illinois’ prior “foundation formula,” which wasn’t based on any evidence or any actual costs of educating students.

Instead, decision makers set an arbitrary, statewide dollar amount of per-student school funding, predicated not on what it takes to educate kids, but rather on what state government could afford. Given Illinois’ enormous fiscal problems, it’s no wonder the old system was woefully inadequate. Worse, consistently inadequate state funding over time pushed the primary obligation to fund schools down to local property taxes, creating one of the most inequitable systems in America.

Charged with making a funding recommendation under the new EBM for next year, ISBE engaged in an entirely rational, data-based analysis.

First, it calibrated how far from satisfying the evidenced-based Adequacy Target of each school district current K-12 funding levels are. Next, ISBE noted that the Evidence Based Model includes only state and local resources invested in K-12, not federal funding.

Since the feds cover around 10 percent of K-12 education costs, ISBE reduced what had to be funded under the EBM accordingly, to cover just 90 percent of the shortfall between what the evidence shows is needed and current funding levels.

Finally, ISBE cited Illinois’ consistent failure to fulfill the constitutional imperative that the state assume the “primary responsibility for financing the system of public education” as the core reason for the significant over-reliance on local property taxes that has created the highly inequitable system Illinois has today. How inequitable? Well, ISBE’s preliminary calculations show Illinois school districts range from having only 46 percent of the resources the evidence indicate are needed to educate the students they serve to having 284 percent.

That’s quite the gap, which ISBE correctly concludes can’t be filled equitably unless the state covers the difference.

And while the price tag is significant, the evidence also shows it’s worth it from an economic standpoint.

For instance, research shows that every dollar spent on education returns $5.37 to a state’s economy. Moreover, the Federal Reserve found states with the best high school graduation rates had the highest per capita incomes. Research further indicates gaining a 90 percent graduation rate for students of color could grow Illinois’ economy by $264 million more annually. Yep, ISBE’s recommendation is provocative alright — but hopefully it provides the impetus for lawmakers to fund the EBM fully — given it’s rational, based on the evidence of what works, and promotes the public good.

Ralph Martire is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a bipartisan fiscal policy think tank. He can be reached at

Ralph Martire: ISBE’s provocative funding request

Gov. Bruce Rauner visits annual Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber awards gala

LAKEWOOD – More than 100 members of the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce cheered as Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana Rauner, walked into the Chamber’s annual awards gala Saturday night at Turnberry Country Club, 9600 Turnberry Trail.

In his brief acknowledgment of the business awards finalists, Rauner said that Illinois has every reason to thrive, but he said high taxes and “lots of regulations” are holding back businesses in the state.

“My No. 1 priority is to make sure that we’re helping you thrive and build your business by rolling back the regulations and cutting the taxes so you can be prosperous and boom and grow, and create a lot of good-paying jobs in the state of Illinois,” Rauner said.

Rauner said the state has challenges, such as funding state pensions and education, but he told business community members that the state’s challenges can be overcome with strong economic growth.

“Higher family incomes, greater prosperity, [a] better future for our children and grandchildren … every challenge we face comes through greater economic opportunity,” Rauner said.

Rauner said he is committed to rolling income tax back to 3 percent and helping business owners bring down property taxes by reducing mandates in Springfield.

“You control your own governments – your city governments, your villages, your municipalities, your townships – you run them; don’t let Springfield tell you how to run them,” Rauner said. “You run them yourself, and we will give you the power through a simple referendum to control your property tax levy.”

Lake in the Hills Village President Russ Ruzanski said he appreciates that the Rauners stopped at the event when they easily could have been anywhere else on a Saturday evening.

“That shows respect for everybody that is here and, in turn, I think he earns a lot of respect from the people who are here,” Ruzanski said.

After his speech, Rauner said he makes a point to go out of his way to meet small business owners and do what he can to make sure they succeed and help Illinois succeed as a whole.

“What I do is listen to them,” Rauner said. “What regulations are getting in their way? What regulations can we get rid of so that it makes it easier for them to grow, and what taxes are the most difficult for them so we can try to cut those taxes to make them more competitive and grow?”

Rauner said he has a connection with McHenry County because his godparents live in Algonquin. He said he decided to stop by the event because he was attending an event in Rolling Meadows earlier in the day.

Katrina McGuire, executive director for the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber, said all state representatives and leaders in local government get an invite to the gala every year.

She said 1,300 public votes were cast for the awards for local businesses that are part of the Chamber.


New Chamber Member Business winner

Butcher on the Block

Club/Organization winner

​Algonquin Area Public Library

Hospitality/Food/Entertainment winner

​Scorched Earth Brewing Co.

Large Business winner

​Algonquin Bank and Trust

Home Office winner

​Crystal Lake Engraving – Dawn Gilman

Retail winner

​Costco Wholesale

Personal/Home Services winner

​Clarendale of Algonquin

Professional Services winner

​Diamond Physical Therapy

Volunteer of the Year

Rich Peril of RVG Real Estate Services

Board Member of the Year

Russell Farnum of the village of Algonquin

Gov. Bruce Rauner visits annual Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber awards gala

SWEET: Will Women’s March spur Democratic turnout in mid-term elections?

The bottom political line: Will the Women’s March in Chicago and other cities this weekend make a difference in this election year?

“I think people will be running to the polls in numbers like we’ve never seen,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told me when we talked behind the stage at the Grant Park rally that preceded a march to the Loop.

Madigan was with her teen daughter, Rebecca, who was holding a hand-painted sign that said “Resist” with three clenched fists.

I last saw the mother/daughter duo at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 – happier times for them – where they cheerfully posed in front of a Hillary Clinton sign.


The first Women’s March in 2017 was a surprising mass mobilization of women across the country demonstrating – somewhat unstructured – the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan marched with her daughter, Rebecca. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

The 2018 marches came on Trump’s first anniversary in office, hours after the start of a federal government shutdown and in the wake of the newly spawned “MeToo” movement calling attention to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Maybe Republicans in the Chicago area and across the nation are as motivated as Democrats right now; if they are, show me where they are marching.

The march in Chicago was a Democratic organizing exercise, with Democrats on stage. The goal was summarized in this pithy sign I spotted: “Grab ’em by the Midterms” — a play on Trump’s bragging that his celebrity allowed him to grab women “by the pussy.”

The bigger funders for Women’s March Chicago — disclosed on the group’s website — include Democratic-allied labor unions SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana; SEIU Local 73; SEIU Local 1; the Chicago Federation of Labor, and ATU Local 308. They also include Democratic gubernatorial primary contender J.B. Pritzker and the anti-Trump group “Need to Impeach,” bankrolled by Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic activist who was a speaker at the Chicago march. The CFL and SEIU Local 1 are among a group of labor unions which hold ownership stakes in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia talks to Tom Steyer, billionaire Democratic activist. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

Voting histories for both parties show voters drop-off in mid-term elections.

If Democrats in heavily blue Illinois can leverage the anti-Trump/sexual harassment outrage visible at the march, it spells trouble for Illinois Republicans in 2018.

I asked City Clerk Anna Valencia who the target demographic is. She replied: “a lot of millennials … Even my own Latinas. We have to get out there.”

Steyer said he planned to spend $30 million for mid-term turnout programs, focusing on non-voters, age 35-and-under.

Backstage, Steyer — who’s raising his profile to give himself a 2020 presidential option — told me: “We’re going to be organizing and engaging them to try and get them to turn out.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle told me when it comes to energizing mid-term voters, “I think we will see a lot of energy and enthusiasm among women and particularly people of color in this cycle.”

Cook County Commissioner Bridge Gainer. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

An important aspect of these women’s marches – something that crosses party lines – is the push to get more women into elected office.

Illinois has a lousy record. Only nine women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, have held statewide elected office in Illinois since it became a state in 1818. I’ll add to that the two females elected to the U.S. Senate.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told me when we chatted backstage that she hoped the march is “energizing women to assume seats of power because that is where the real long-lasting change will happen.”

Said Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, who founded the “Cause the Effect” political action committee to get more women to run: “Women like to feel encouraged and supported to run. They don’t want to feel like they are out there on their own.”

SWEET: Will Women’s March spur Democratic turnout in mid-term elections?