Tag Archives: Bruce Rauner

Pritzker Names Second Veterans Affairs Director In 2 Weeks

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has appointed a state lawmaker as director of the state’s Veterans Affairs department after his first choice stepped down.

The Democrat on Friday named state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia. The former Army officer was named in place of Army Lt. Col. Jaime Martinez.

Pritzker tabbed Martinez for the job Jan. 31 . The governor’s office did not say why Martinez withdrew from consideration.

The 52-year-old Chapa LaVia joined the House of Representatives in 2003. She was the first Latina outside Chicago to be elected.

Since 2009 she has been House Veterans Affairs Committee chairwoman. She was a vocal critic of former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration for the way it handled a deadly Legionnaire’s disease crisis at the Quincy veterans’ home.

LaVia’s appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.

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Family Speaks Out After Gov. Rauner Grants First Posthumous Exoneration In State History

CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois made history Tuesday by making things “right” for a wrongfully convicted man who died in prison. Just days before leaving office Gov. Bruce Rauner granted clemency to a man who was wrongfully convicted of a 1981 murder.

Grover Thompson went from taking a nap on a bench to sleeping behind bars for the rest of his life when he was arrested in 1981, and shocking allegations came out against him.

“My Uncle Grover was a very good man,” Thompson’s nephew S.T. Jamison said. “It was so depressing, so chilling. He taught us right from wrong. He was a hard worker. He was extremely funny.”

But police zeroed in on other qualities, and Thompson landed in Menard Correctional Center after reports that a black man stabbed and attempted to rape a white woman. The 46-year-old wasn’t wearing the same clothes as the suspect and had been taking a nap at the time of the attack. Prison wore on Thompson, who ended up in a wheelchair only 12 years after his arrest.

“You can’t help but look at these images and feel sorry for what happened. It truly was injustice,” said retired Carbondale Police Lieutenant Paul Echols.

Echols cracked Thompson’s case while investigating serial killer Tim Krajcir.

“He was offered a deal to avoid the death penalty to tell all, and that’s what he did,” Echols said. “That’s how we got to where we are today.”

But the confession by the real criminal came too late. Thompson died behind bars in 1996.

“Let’s be honest. This wrongful conviction was essentially a death sentence for him,” said John Hanlon with the Illinois Innocence Project. “We found that, not surprisingly, that there were extremely unreliable identification procedures that were utilized that led to Grover Thompson’s arrest.”

Their eight year investigation ended with Grover’s conviction tossed.

“We cannot bring this beautiful man back, whom we love so much, but we can clear his name,” Jamison said. “This is so momentous for me and for my family.”

Rauner initially denied the request in 2015 but changed course as one of his last moves as Illinois’ leader.

Echols, who helped right this wrongful conviction, says he uses Thompson’s case to teach new officers and detectives about where things can go wrong.

The serial killer who confessed to Thompson’s crime never faced time for that one but he’s behind bars for other murders.

 

Rauner Grants Posthumous Clemency In Stabbing Case Days Before He Left Office

(AP) — Just days before he left office, former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner granted posthumous clemency to a man imprisoned for a stabbing that a serial killer later confessed to committing.

The Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois in Springfield said Grover Thompson received the first posthumous exoneration in state history.

Illinois Prisoner Review Board spokesman Jason Sweat said Tuesday that Rauner granted Thompson executive clemency on Friday.

The Innocence Project planned a 2:00 p.m. news conference Tuesday which Thompson’s nephew is expected to attend.

Thompson died in 1996 while serving a 40-year sentence for the attempted 1981 murder of 72-year-old Ida White in Mount Vernon. In 2007 serial killer Timothy Krajcir confessed to stabbing White.

Rauner denied Thompson clemency in 2015.

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JB Pritzker Takes Oath As Governor, Vows ‘Democrats And Republicans Will Work Together’

CHICAGO (CBS) — After taking the oath of office in Springfield, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker vowed to work with Republicans to pass a balanced budget, and took a veiled shot at his predecessor, Republican Bruce Rauner, stating “our abdication of responsibility must end.”

“Democrats and Republicans will work together, and we must begin with our most basic responsibilities. We will propose, debate, and pass a balanced budget this year,” Pritzker said.

Rauner, by comparison, oversaw a two-year budget stalemate that ended only when a handful of Republican lawmakers joined with Democrats in the House and Senate to approve an income tax hike in 2017, bucking Rauner’s demands for anti-union and pro-business changes in legislation.

Thousands of eager spectators – mostly Democrats – packed the Bank of Springfield Convention Center for Pritzker’s inauguration, enthusiastic about the change they’re hoping he brings to Illinois.

Pritzker acknowledged passing a balanced budget won’t be easy, but said the state must “confront this challenge with honesty.”

Without mentioning Rauner by name, or specifically alluding to the two-year budget standoff, the newly elected governor said the impasse “decimated” healthcare programs and other services that rely on state funding.

“Our obligations as a state outmatch our resources, our fiscal situation right now is challenging, and the solution requires a collective commitment to embracing hard choices,” he said. “I won’t balance the budget on the backs of the starving, the sick, and the suffering. I won’t hollow out the functions of government to achieve an ideological agenda. I won’t make government the enemy and government employees the scapegoats. Responsible fiscal management is a marriage of numbers and values.”

Pritzker also laid out his agenda for Illinois, including passage of a graduated income tax; approving a capital program to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, and mass transit; providing high-speed broadband Internet service for all Illinois students; increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour; and legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

“We want better roads, better schools, better wages – but we vilify anyone who dares suggest a workable path to those things,” he said. “Our abdication of responsibility must end. That starts with leadership that abandons single-minded arrogant notions. No, no, everything is not broken.”

A longtime government watchdog and House Speaker Michael Madigan’s top lieutenant both had more sober evaluations about the challengers Pritzker now faces as he takes the mantle of power from Republican Bruce Rauner.

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center For Tax & Budget Accountability, said the change in governors means “first and foremost, functional government.”

“That’s something Illinois hasn’t had for years. I mean, even under Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn, there were a lot of battles between the General Assembly and the governor’s office, I think, that were unnecessary and counterproductive,” he said. “I think JB Pritzker has shown, look, he gets he’s got to work with legislators to have an agenda move forward.”

House Majority Leader Greg Harris said Pritzker and state lawmakers have a “pretty large hole” they must fill in the state budget this year.

“I don’t think any one method is going to solve it all. We have to be more efficient, we have to trim back waste, we have to look for things that we’re doing that we can do better, and we’re going to have to frankly look for some more revenue,” he said.

After the inauguration ceremony, the attention shifts to Monday night’s inaugural ball at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, where rumors of a surprise musical guest has piqued everyone’s curiosity. Pritzker representatives said they cannot discuss the musical lineup.

J.B. Pritzker To Be Sworn In As Illinois Governor Monday

Chicago (CBS) — When billionaire J.B. Pritzker takes the oath of office Monday, he will become not just the richest governor, but the richest elected official in the nation. His personal wealth was no small factor in his successful campaign for governor.

Pritzker spent $171 million of his own money to get elected.

“The people of Illinois are worth it,” Pritzker said. “We need to change the direction of the state.”

Pritzker says the biggest problem facing the state right now is instability.

“We need a balanced budget in our state, and we need people to have their faith restored in state government,” Pritzker said.

That faith was shattered during Gov. Bruce Rauner’s political tug of war with House Speaker Mike Madigan that left Illinois without a budget for two years. Now, Democrats will have bigger majorities in both the House and Senate with voters focused on results.

Pritzker’s goals for his first six months in office include balancing the budget, raising the minimum wage and legalizing recreational marijuana.

He backed a graduated income tax but stopped short of supporting a gas tax hike to fix roads and bridges.

“You’ve got to look for ways to pay for infrastructure, but it doesn’t have to be one particular source,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker says he expects to have a good working relationship with powerful Madigan, who some say considers himself Illinois’ real governor.

“There’s going to be disagreements along the way, no doubt about it,” Pritzker said. “That happens between the executive branch and the legislative branch, but the fact is that we won on a set of principles. I believe the legislature won on that as well, so there’s a lot that we can get done. If we can lift up working families, that’s what’s good for our economy, that’s what’s good for the people of Illinois and that’s what I’ll be fighting for.”

Pritzker is worth more than $3 billion and his personal fortune is already impacting state government. He is doubling the salaries of some 20 top staffers, including his three deputy governors, with money from his own pocket.

Pritzker To Use Own Money To Increase Staff Pay

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on Illinois incoming governor J.B. Pritzker as he approaches inauguration day (all times local):

10:40 a.m.

Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker plans to pay his own money to double the salaries of several key staffers.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Pritzker created East Jackson Street LLC to personally compensate staffers in addition to their government salaries. Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh says the governor elect “is committed to recruiting top talent to state government to best address the challenges Illinois faces.”

Pritzker’s chief of staff, three deputy governors and their special assistants, deputy chiefs of staff and other high-level employees will receive the double salaries. Overall it will apply to 20 positions, some that have not been filled. With the extra pay Pritzker chief of staff Anne Caprara’s salary would be almost $300,000.

Staffers who received the additional pay must report it along with other public disclosures.


10:15 a.m.

Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker filled more Cabinet positions ahead of his inauguration, and his choices include several women and show a bipartisan approach.

The State Journal-Register reports that Democrat J.B. Pritzker announced his picks Thursday to lead multiple state agencies, including the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Department of Central Management Services and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Pritzker also showed a bipartisan approach by asking two of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agency directors to stay in their jobs. Heidi Mueller will remain the director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, and Matt Perez will stay the state Fire Marshal.

The governor-elect also filled three roles in his executive office: deputy chief of staff for communications, press secretary and deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs.

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Gov. Rauner Seeks Aid For Businesses Hit By Recent Tornadoes

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is seeking federal aid for residents and businesses in four counties recovering from a rare December tornado outbreak.

Rauner said he’s asked the U.S. Small Business Administration for a disaster declaration that would open up low-interest loans for eligible residents and businesses in Christian, Macon, Montgomery and Sangamon counties.

The governor submitted his request after state emergency management officials found that 33 homes and one business sustained major damage in central Illinois’ Christian County.

The county seat of Taylorville and neighboring Hewittville were hardest-hit by the December 1 storms that unleashed at least 23 tornadoes in Illinois.

The National Weather Service says an EF-3 tornado with winds up to 155 mph caused more than $4 million residential and commercial losses in Christian County.

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Michigan Governor Wants Illinois’ Help With Asian Carp Plan

(AP) — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is urging his Illinois counterpart to help pay for a project to keep invasive carp establishing themselves in the Great Lakes.

Snyder sent a letter Tuesday to fellow outgoing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, seeking support in fortifying a waterway. Snyder says Michigan would provide up to $8 million for upgrading the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois.

Experts consider that a good location to block movement of Asian carp that have infested the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

Several states bordering the lakes, including Michigan and Illinois, agreed previously to discuss cost-sharing. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently said the project would cost $778 million — three times more than previously thought.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment from Rauner’s office.

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Pritzker Accuses Rauner Of Profiting From Separating Families

CHICAGO (CBS) — The border crisis is now turning up in the governor’s race.

A new campaign ad from J.B. Pritzker says that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is profiting from the separation of families. But is it true?

CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley looks behind the allegation.

It may be J.B. Pritzker’s most highly-charged allegation yet.

That Rauner is making money off the separation of families.

“It’s disgusting. It’s as morally reprehensible as it gets,” said Illinois State Treasurer Susanna Mendoza. “But it’s par for the course for Bruce Rauner.”

Fact is, the ad is highly misleading at best.

“The company is in the business of health care. They are not in the business of separating families. So this commercial is untrue on so many levels,” said Illinois Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.

The company is called Correct Care Solutions. It’s at least partially-owned by Rauner’s former private equity firm GTCR. And it does provide medical care to detainees.

“He could right now say I’m so morally disgusted by the knowledge that this company has anything to do with this,” said Mendoza. “And I’m immediately instructing my staff to discard it from my portfolio.”

But Rauner’s camp insists the governor couldn’t do that even if he wanted to. Because since his election, he’s isolated himself from his investments.

“He has no control over the investment. It’s in a blind trust,” said Sanguinetti. “But he has always maintained that any monies that come from the blind trust that he will give that to charity.”

Both Pritzker and Rauner have hundreds of millions invested in blind trusts and what’s going on inside them is nearly impossible to know.

Rauner Pledges Quick Action On Rancor-Free, $38B Budget Plan

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner, the Republican who arrived in town three years ago and fought established Democrats so hard the state was thrust into fiscal crisis, gave his blessing Thursday to a bipartisan budget plan that lawmakers OK’d and prepared to send his way.

The $38.5 billion spending plan, approved on lopsided bipartisan votes by a General Assembly accustomed to late-May fiscal clashes, won House approval 97-18 Thursday and heads to Rauner.

“We worked together to provide a budget to the people of Illinois that can be balanced with hard work and continued bipartisan effort to deliver on the promises it makes,” Rauner said in a statement in which he promised quick action to enact the plan for the year that begins July 1.

The lopsided House vote, following a similarly overwhelming 56-2 tally in the Senate the previous night, represented a marked departure from the rancor that has enveloped the state Capitol the last three years, in which a bitter political feud between Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly left the two sides stalemated on a budget plan for more than two years, longer than any state in U.S. history since at least the Depression.

But it also showed the limited options Democrats and Republicans, but especially Rauner, have in a tough election year. Leaving Springfield without a budget deal would be a particular blow to Rauner in his re-election campaign against Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

“We have a solution that meets the critical needs of the state, understanding that it’s not a perfect solution and that it requires us to continue to work together,” said Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon, a Republican budget negotiator. “This is a realistic, workable plan.”

Several Republicans, including Wheaton Rep. Jeanne Ives, who narrowly lost a March primary election challenge to Rauner, disputed negotiators’ claims that the budget is balanced and decried the continually secretive way in which a handful of legislative leaders determine the fiscal priorities for 13 million Illinois taxpayers. And Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, lashed out at Rauner for accepting a budget flush with revenue from a $5 billion income tax increase lawmakers enacted over Rauner’s objections last summer to finally break the impasse.

“The taxpayers of this state are getting killed, and this budget continues the carnage,” McSweeney cried, imploring Rauner to make good on his promise to roll back the tax increase from 4.95 percent to its previous 3 percent.

Elementary and secondary education gets about a $350 million increase, and lawmakers pointed out that less-flashy, but critical, expenditures were fully funded, including pension obligations and $4 billion for state-employee health insurance. Spending increases by less than 3 percent, about the rate of inflation, and many spending lines are held flat.

Grease to the wheels this year was Rauner’s sudden abandonment of business-friendly, anti-union revamps he demanded the last three years in exchange for a budget. Rauner was notably silent this spring on his long-held demands for a statewide property-tax freeze, workers’ compensation program restrictions, and term limits for politicians. Even the cost-saving initiatives he proposed in the budget plan he put forward in February — requiring local school districts to pick up the employer costs for teacher pensions and steep cost-reductions in employee health care — disappeared.

But past injuries were not forgotten by Pritzker, who released a statement highlighting how Rauner “forced our state into a historic 736 days without a budget.”

“Three-and-a-half years into his term, I urge Bruce Rauner to resist his heartless instincts to play politics with people’s lives and sign a full budget for the first time,” Pritzker said.

The plan does not solve Illinois problems. While negotiators said it covers payments for ongoing bond indebtedness, it offers just token help for a yawning, $130 billion pension program shortfall. Included are buyout programs that offer state employees and others with state pensions lump sum payouts now in exchange for later retirement increases, designed to save $445 million.

And it has no direct impact on $6.6 billion in overdue bills, although that pile is down $10 billion from a year ago.

“It will take a long time to reduce that,” Democratic state Comptroller Susana Mendoza said in a statement. “We can’t breathe easy yet, but having this stability and predictability will at least allow us to breathe.”

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