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Probes put Quinn in bull's-eye

Rauner not shy about attacking the governor

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 11:35 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – You have to say one thing about Republican Bruce Rauner's campaign operation: It doesn’t miss opportunities to strike out at Gov. Pat Quinn.

Last week, stories unfolded about various investigations into the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the $50 million anti-violence program launched by Quinn’s administration in 2010 during the midst of his election campaign.

Money flooded into Chicago neighborhoods under the premise it would be used to combat violence there.

Almost from the beginning, critics complained it was little more than a vote-buying effort by the administration. Then a few weeks ago, Auditor General William Holland released a scathing audit that found, among other things, that large amounts of the money could not be accounted for.

Last week, there were reports first that the Cook County state’s attorney’s office was looking into the program, and then that federal prosecutors were also doing a probe. Rauner’s campaign issued no fewer than seven press releases over about 2 days on the investigations and Rauner’s statements about them.

And that’s not including the one about the Quinn Corruption Hotline, the phone line the campaign set up for people to report dirt they know about Quinn.

We’ll see whether the Rauner campaign keeps up the pace for the next 6 months.

Quinn's idea doesn't add up

Quinn came up with a new idea to help local governments with their pension costs. Namely, send some more state income tax money their way.

For Quinn, it made perfect sense. One of his big themes this year is the evil of property taxes. And local governments from Chicago on down have said skyrocketing pension costs – particularly for police and firefighters – will trigger property tax increases unless something is done.

Here comes Quinn to the rescue. Instead of raising property taxes, Quinn dangles the idea that more income tax money can be shoveled to the cities. Since the income tax was first imposed, revenue has been shared between the state and local governments, although obviously the state gets the lion’s share.

Let’s do some basic arithmetic. If a pot of money is split between the state and locals, and the locals are suddenly given a larger share of the pot, what happens to the state’s share? Can you say, it shrinks?

The state would have to find a way to make up the money, or cuts would have to be made to the budget. We haven’t yet heard Quinn explain how he would make up the money.

So in review, the income tax increase needs to stay in place to avoid budget cuts, but the state should look at keeping less of that money by giving more of it to local governments.

Guess nobody said this stuff had to add up.

Obama's library and the GOP

Republicans are not excited about committing $100 million in state funds to construction of a presidential library for Barack Obama. Nothing against the guy, of course, just that the money could better be used elsewhere.

They raise a valid point that all modern presidential libraries have been built with private donations and then turned over to the feds to keep operating. And Obama has proved himself to be very, very adept at raising money.

Still, the GOP doesn’t want to stand totally idle. Thus, state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has introduced a bill adding the Obama library to the list of charities to which Illinois income tax filers can make contributions. It would join the other options for charitable contributions like breast cancer research, diabetes research, military family relief, child abuse prevention, and others.

Construction of the library wouldn’t hinge entirely on the tax check-off. That’s good. Last year, the top charity on the tax form brought in about $153,000. At that pace, it would take only about 653 years to raise $100 million for the library.

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