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52

State Representative Martin McLaughlin and Mary Morgan

The League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area will host the first in a series of upcoming nonpartisan candidate forums for Illinois House District 52 at 7 PM Monday, October 3rd.

The newly drawn 52nd District includes Algonquin, the Barrington area, Fox River Grove, Inverness, Island Lake, Volo, Wauconda, and western portions of Libertyville and Mundelein.

Incumbent Republican state Rep. Martin McLaughlin faces Democratic challenger Mary Morgan in the November 8th election.

To register in advance for Zoom link to view the forum, visit https://balibrary.librarycalendar.com/event/candidate-forum-illinois-house-52nd-district.

All candidate forums are run by trained moderators, who are members of the league and do not live or vote in the districts for which they are moderating the forum. Equal time is given to all candidates to answer each question. The candidates will have two minutes to present an opening statement, in turn, by number drawn. All LWPA Candidate Forums will be recorded and made available on its website for voters to view later.

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CC Taxes

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Property tax bills should land in mailboxes across Cook County around the same time as holiday cards, with second installment payments expected to come due before the end of the year, county officials said.

County board President Toni Preckwinkle in July announced second-installment bills, which for nearly a decade had arrived in August, would fall months late because of delays with the assessment process and a computer system upgrade.

With little over three months left in 2022, several steps in the multiagency process of tabulating and mailing out bills are as-yet incomplete. Still, the relay race of calculating, mailing and collecting bills was on pace to be complete by “the end of 2022,” Preckwinkle spokesman Nick Shields said Monday.

For the full story, visit chicago.suntimes.com.

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Election Illinois Voting

Passage of Amendment 1, on the November ballot, would put Illinoisans’ pocketbooks at risk of another hit during a time when it is already difficult to make ends meet.

You may wonder why anyone would be against the proposed change to the Illinois Constitution at the top of the Nov. 8 ballot that proponents call the “Workers’ Rights Amendment.”

Don’t ask me — ask Deb Cohorst.

Cohorst is a mother, grandmother, retiree and resident of Effingham, Illinois. For now. If the deceptively dubbed “Workers’ Rights Amendment,” or Amendment 1, passes, Cohorst might be forced to leave the state she has called home for almost 40 years.

“My husband and I really don’t want to leave, but we may not have a choice,” Cohorst said. “This amendment would be devastating to not only my family but any family.”

Why? Amendment 1 is a potential property tax hike in disguise that could hurt low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes. In a state that leads the nation in foreclosures, homeowners can’t afford higher costs.

Amendment 1 would allow government union bosses to collectively bargain over new, broad contract topics such as “economic welfare,” which could include anything from affordable housing to preventing advancements in technology. The more subjects available for government unions to bargain over and the longer negotiations take, the greater the potential cost to all Illinois workers — which would be reflected in higher property tax bills.

In Cook County, the median homeowner could pay at least an additional $2,935 in property taxes during the next four years if voters approve Amendment 1. In Cohorst’s home of Effingham County, property taxes on the typical home would rise by $743.

Property taxes already eat up approximately 7% of Cohorst’s fixed income. Increases make life in Illinois less feasible for her family.

“It scares me we may have to move,” she said. “I have friends in neighboring states, and they cannot believe what we’re paying in property taxes. I am paying more for the property tax on my half-acre lot than my three out-of-state friends’ property taxes combined.”

Read the full Chicago Sun*Times opinion here.

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Rebate

Must be election season

Called an election-year gimmick by some, tax rebate checks start going out to Illinois taxpayers Monday. Critics say permanent tax relief is needed in one of the highest taxes states in the country.

The money is being given back as part of the Illinois Relief Plan, a $1.8 billion aid package Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law in the spring.

To qualify, a person must have been an Illinois resident in 2021 with an adjusted gross income under $200,000 for individual tax filers and under $400,000 for those who filed as couples. 

Taxpayers who filed as a single person on their returns will be eligible to receive $50, and those who filed joint returns will receive $100. If you claimed dependents, you will receive an additional $100 per dependent with a maximum of $300.  

“Whether you had to pay or you got money back, it doesn’t matter,” Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza said. “Everyone who filed will be getting a tax rebate.” 

Illinois residents who paid state property taxes last year on a primary residence will be getting rebates as well. Adjusted gross income must be under $250,000 for single filers and under $500,000 for those who filed as couples. The amount of this rebate depends on the amount of property taxes paid.

State officials said the distribution of the checks should take about two months. 

State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, thinks the rebates are all about election year posturing.

“The plan has checks arrive just before the election and then tax reductions expire right after the election,” McConchie said.   

More here.

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Bears_ArlingtonHeights_SouthwestRendering_CreditHartHowertonChicagoBears

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS)– Thursday brought another step forward in the possibility that the Bears could leave Soldier Field and move to the suburbs.

The team hosted a meeting with the community in Arlington Heights Thursday night to talk about its ideas for redeveloping Arlington International Racecourse. The meeting was held in the gymnasium at John Hersey High School.

While fans got the chance to come face-to-face with the Bears front office, they weren’t allowed to address them directly at the meeting Thursday night. Instead, everyone was allowed to submit questions on cards.

The focus of the evening was more on the bigger picture of how the stadium project could transform Arlington heights.

The Bears laid out plans for their estimated $5 billion project just days after unveiling renderings of what their new Arlington Park home could look like.

“The Bears will seek no public funding for direct stadium structure,” said Bears Chairman George McCaskey.

But McCaskey said the team will need financial help to build out the entire site — which would include parks, fitness centers, hotels, housing, and a sports book for starters.

“We think development of the site – including a stadium – is a win for Bears fans, the Village of Arlington Heights, the surrounding communities, and the State of Illinois,” McCaskey said.

The Bears front office said they actually weren’t looking to leave Soldier Field. But with the closure of Arlington International Racecourse, leaders with Churchill Downs reached out to gauge the team’s interest.

“If we move forward, we have to get it right,” said Bears President and Chief Executive Officer Ted Phillips.

Phillips said the Bears are expected to close on the property in 2022 or 2023, but he stressed that even if the Bears close on the property, that does not mean they will develop it.

More here.

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Solar Panel Install

Edward Carrico, left, and Spencer Kearney, with Solar Service in Niles, install solar panels on a home in Lake Zurich in March 2017. (John Konstantaras/for the Chicago Tribune)

Wondering how you’re going to pay for a $25,000 rooftop solar system? Help is on the way.

Two historic climate laws — one state, one federal — offer incentives that cut the cost for residential solar by more than half, starting this week.

The Inflation Reduction Act, signed by President Joe Biden last month, includes a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of installing home solar, and the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act offers an incentive expected to save rooftop solar customers roughly 40% of their costs, starting Thursday.

That would bring the cost of a $25,000 system down to approximately $7,500.

“It’s a really big deal,” said Vito Greco, director of solar programs at the Chicago nonprofit Elevate, which supports clean and affordable energy. “If you’re in Illinois, this is such a great time to get solar.”

Those who don’t pay enough taxes to claim the 30% federal tax credit can now get the full amount anyway, via a check from the government, Greco said.

And residents of low and moderate-income communities can benefit from additional federal tax credits of 10% to 20% of the cost of their solar projects, with some details still being worked out.

The federal tax incentive for people with average or high incomes is straightforward: a credit that reduces what you owe in taxes, not a deduction, so you would get $7,500 back on a $25,000 system.

The federal solar tax credit — increased and extended 10 years under the Inflation Reduction Act — is retroactive through the beginning of 2022.

Read more here.

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JB Trust

The governor’s promises to divest his vast portfolio of state contractors has not extended to his so-called blind trust, which has the governor’s money in at least a dozen companies with billions in state business

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast investment portfolio includes interests in a dozen for-profit companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office in 2019, a Better Government Association investigation has found.

In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state’s chief executive held enormous sway over their contracts.

The intersection between Pritzker’s personal bottom line and his role as governor comes despite his 2019 promise to divest his personal fortune of investments in state contractors and to transfer his multibillion-dollar portfolio into what he called a “blind trust.”

A BGA investigation of Pritzker’s holdings — including an examination of his annual economic interest disclosures, thousands of pages of state contracts, corporate filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Illinois secretary of state and gubernatorial email communications — shows at least 12 cases large and small in which the governor’s office and the agencies he oversees took action that created a potential conflict of interest for Pritzker.

Authorities on trust law and government ethics told the BGA because Pritzker must disclose each year what is in his blind trust, his promise to avoid conflicts of interest by remaining blind to his investments was both impractical and oversold.

“The term ‘blind trust’ is being used here as a thin shield to conceal the governor’s pursuit of personal profits,” said Bridget J. Crawford, a professor at Pace University’s law school who reviewed the BGA reporting. “This is not a blind trust in any meaningful sense of the phrase.”

Pritzker declined a BGA request to be interviewed for this report.

Read the full BGA report here.

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Ipass

Illinois drivers whose I-PASS transponders have expired have been given a reprieve by state officials, with Tollway authorities extending the expiration date by two years.

According to a spokesperson for the Tollway, expiration dates that occur between 2020 and 2026 will be extended by two years, with those individuals receiving detailed instructions via mail on the procedure for replacing their devices.

Officials say that the move not only gives drivers an additional grace period, but also fits more in line with the life expectancy of the devices, which are expected to function properly for 10 or more years.

Tolls are now exclusively paid digitally in Illinois, and as a result officials are encouraging residents to switch to I-PASS accounts. Those drivers who sign up for the program will save 50% on all tolls within the Illinois Tollway system, and accounts automatically replenish when they get below a preset level.

Drivers who want to sign up for the program can order transponders online via the Tollway’s website, or they can visit I-PASS customer service centers, located in oases within the system. Jewel-Osco grocery stores also sell the devices, which can then be activated online.

Drivers can also sign up for E-ZPass, which is a program accepted in 19 different states.

Finally, drivers who don’t frequently use the Tollway can participate in the “Pay-by-Plate” program, which allows a grace period of 14 days to pay for missed tolls.

Source

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JBP

As the November election nears, campaign finance totals show Illinois Republican candidates lag behind state Democratic candidates as Gov. J.B. Pritzker continues his large spending.

According to campaign finance numbers collected by Illinoissunshine.org, Illinois Democrats are leading the way in funding their candidates with over $110 million.

Since his first campaign, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has given himself more than $303 million to fund his political ambitions.

This election cycle, Pritzker started the year with $90 million in his campaign fund and he added an additional $35 million in March. After spending millions during primary season, the billionaire has $61 million on hand. His opponent state, state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, has raised about $10 million.

Alisa Kaplan of Reform for Illinois said that having one wealthy candidate can help the rest of the party.

“The money raised can be transferred to other candidates, it can be transferred to party committees, the money that goes to party committees can be transferred into candidate committees, or it can be spent directly on messaging for the candidate,” Kaplan said.

The numbers also show a significant difference in the other November races.

Read more here.

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Facts

The so-called “Workers’ Rights Amendment” would lead to substantial tax increases for working Illinoisans and small business owners.

The No. 1 priority of Illinois’ government unions in 2022 is to pass an amendment to the Illinois Constitution in November. They’ve branded the constitutional question as the “Workers’ Rights Amendment,” and they’re spending millions of dollars on misleading TV ads to promote it.

But Illinois voters won’t see the words “Workers’ Rights Amendment” at the top of the ballot. Instead, they’ll see a question labeled “Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution.” That’s Amendment 1.

The plain text of Amendment 1 does four things:

  1. Creates a “fundamental right” for government workers to unionize and bargain, on par with the freedoms of speech and religion.
  2. Expands bargaining for government worker unions beyond wages and benefits to include broad new subjects, including “economic welfare.”
  3. Prohibits state and local lawmakers from passing taxpayer-friendly reforms, such as limits to the length of government union contracts or improved disciplinary measures for misconduct.
  4. Bans right to work, a policy that would prevent workers from being fired for refusing to pay money to a union.

Examined one by one, these elements show the amendment is much broader than proponents are claiming.

Illinois Policy Institute research shows, if approved, Amendment 1 would:

Here’s everything Illinoisans need to know about Amendment 1

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