For Joe Berrios, Illinois Government is a Family Business

Government is a family business for Joe Berrios, the Cook County Assessor and chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party. Thirteen members of the Berrios family have government jobs, the Sun-Times reported Sunday. Berrios has ignored fines from the Cook County Ethics Board and calls that he remove family members from county employment.

 

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Indicted State Rep Derrick Smith will Serve Through a Full Legislative Session While Awaiting Trial

Indicted, expelled and now reelected former State Rep. Derrick Smith will serve through a full legislative session as he awaits trial on federal bribery charges. His trial for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe has been set for October 2013. His House colleagues could kick him out again, but they can’t do it a second time on the bribery charges.

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Chicago Civic Committee: Illinois Pension Can’t Be Fixed

Yesterday we posted that Gov. Pat Quinn’s office now says the state’s pension liability is $95 billion. One group that has been advocating long and hard for pension reform now says the system can’t be fixed. Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has a four-point plan: eliminate all cost of living increases, impose a salary cap at which pensions are calculated, raise the retirement age to 67 and shift all pension costs to local bodies (translation: school districts) over 12 years.

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Will Super-Majority Gen Assembly Override Quinn’s Veto?

It’s taking a while for Statehouse observers to fully appreciate (or fear) the concept of an all-powerful, Democrat-controlled Legislature. With two-thirds majorities in the Illinois House and Senate, that’s what we have in Springfield. Democrats, led by Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan, can impose their will on Republicans (who hold one-third or fewer seats in each chamber) and if Gov. Pat Quinn tries to stop them with his veto pen, they can override him. The question is: Will they? (via Chicagoist)

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Grayslake Pension Loophole Means Taxpayers Owe $500k more over 20 years

While lawmakers devise reforms for the state’s pension system, they should address loopholes that turn the system into a goldmine for a few select employees. Grayslake taxpayers will pay an extra $500,000 over the next 20 years thanks to a state pension law loophole that will benefit just a single former police sergeant, who is entitled to not just one annual 3 percent cost-of-living pension increase, but two, a judge ruled.

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Unfunded Pension Liability up to $95B from $83B

Breaking news!
The governor’s office has updated its pension numbers over the past week. With the state’s largest retirement system expecting to earn less on its investments, the state’s unfunded pension liability now stands at $95 billion. That’s up from the previous figure of $83 billion. And it will only grow without significant reform to the current pension system.

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Disability Pays… Unless the Sun Times Catches You

Convicted of a felony, a Chicago firefighter filed an injury claim that blocked his firing and now pays him  $38,619 a year in tax-free disability pay. The title of the Chicago Sun-Times series in which this was revealed says it all: “Disability Pays.” For some public employees, disability claims have become sources of easy, long-term pay as they move on to new careers. And taxpayers foot the bill.

 
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More Politicians Demand Jesse Jackson Jr. Explanation

Political allies who mostly stayed quiet about U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. as he sought mental health treatment and stayed out of public view are speaking up about the congressman’s future.

Word of a pending plea bargain on corruption allegations has changed the outlook on Jackson. “The fact is, if this is honest and accurate, then it raises some serious questions about his continued service in Congress,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Jackson needs to talk to the people who reelected him last week about what’s going on. http://cbsloc.al/STuGgM (via CBS Chicago)

 

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Illinois is marching to the edge of its own financial cliff

Illinois is marching to the edge of its own financial cliff by failing to control its ever-growing pension costs, says the leader of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. When the market collapsed in 2008, so did the bottom lines of the state’s pensions. “While the nation went through the worst recession in modern history, Illinois’ public pension funds still were projecting healthy returns with their heads firmly in the sand,” writes Doug Whitley. http://bit.ly/STkLId
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The Educational State We’re In Isn’t a Good One

Only a third of Illinois students are proficient in reading after fourth grade. Only a third enter high school academically prepared. More than a quarter of Illinois students who enter high school won’t graduate. Those are among the facts noted in education reform group Advance Illinois’ new study, “The State We’re In,” which says education reform is moving at a glacial pace.

 

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