Political News Roundup: Chicago and Illinois

TIF reform, speeding cameras, tax breaks, pension reform, Big Bellies, the money-purchase option, Sears, and more: it’s heavy legislative season.

Illinois capitol dome

 

With the city budget on the table and the veto session in Springfield progressing, there’s a lot to keep up with. Here’s a quick rundown:

* TIFs! Megan Cottrell has a description of the state TIF reform bill SB540 and how it got tied to the Sears tax-break extension.

* How the state will likely pay for Sears and the CME to stay in state.

* Oh, and other people, too:

Duffy made his comments after the revenue committee chairman, Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, asked if CME Group would be willing to hold off on a location decision if legislators needed more time to analyze what has ballooned into a complex, multifaceted bill that would provide a broad range of tax breaks to Illinois businesses. Bradley raised the prospect of a special session at the end of the month, but Duffy was not willing to commit to waiting beyond this week.

* Mayor Emanuel is in favor of the casino compromise bill. Speaking of which, a nice catch from the Daily Herald’s Animal Farm: what new casinos do to revenue at existing casinos.

* The speeding camera bill made it out of committee.

* The closest thing we have to an Ohio-like labor showdown is the pension reform bill. This is a nice touch:

Judges are not affected by the bill after Cross said he would add them last spring. Sponsors of the bill had initially not included them, believing that by not doing so, the state’s judiciary would be less likely to declare the bill unconstitutional.

The constitutional issue at stake is this: under the state constitution, pensions are “an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” So if you can’t diminish or impair the benefits, does that mean you can enforce higher contributions for the same benefits? It might not matter; Rich Miller thinks the bill is doomed anyway.

* Speaking of Miller, he has an intriguing post on the state’s budget history. I’m still puzzling it out.

* Diving deeper into pensions: the money-purchase option controversy and possible tax liability issues that might mean pension reform could cost more.

* I am always amazed at the things people are willing to advertise on:

“There’s also some real interest in those [400] Big Belly [solar trash compactors downtown] and selling the rights to advertise on those. That income stream is also the property of the city. And we’ve had encouraging conversations with ad agencies about electric light boxes that operate street lights.”

Then again, that placement works for lost pets, I guess; perhaps the city can take a cut of the reward.

 

Photograph: jglazer (CC by 2.0)

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