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Esmeralda Aguilar, 24, is charged with four felony counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer but released thanks to a new state law abolishing cash bail. (Chicago Police Department)

A woman accused of attacking four Chicago police officers has been released from custody after a new state law went into effect abolishing cash bail.

Esmeralda Aguilar, 24, a resident of the Chicago suburb of Cicero, is charged with four counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer over the incident that allegedly occurred over the weekend.

Aguilar was arrested moments after the alleged attack in the downtown area. However, she was released Monday, the same day the Pretrial Fairness Act, which is part of the SAFE-T Act, went into effect.

“Reports that on the very first day of no cash bail, a violent offender arrested for attacking four Chicago Police Officers, sending two of them to the hospital, was immediately released because the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office didn’t even bother to file a motion to seek detaining the accused are problematic,”  Illinois state Sen. John Curran, said in a statement to FOX Chicago.

“This highlights the misplaced priorities of Illinois’ criminal justice system when the prosecutor prioritizes the freedom of a violent offender over the safety of those police officers dedicated to protecting and serving our communities,” Curran added.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office told Fox News Digital it could not comment on Aguilar’s case. Fox News Digital also reached out to the Chicago Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Read more here.

Related:There is no longer cash bail in Illinois.  What happens now?

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McLaughlin

Illinois state Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills | Greg Bishop – The Center Square

(The Center Square) – A member of the Illinois House Personnel and Pensions Committee is suggesting lawmakers may need to look at other options if they hope to solve the state’s pension crisis.

Illinois currently spends more than $10 billion a year on public pensions, and the state’s five systems have an unfunded liability of at least $140 billion.

House Bill 4098, which has been the center of conversation during the House Personnel and Pensions Committee hearings over the past few months, would allow the Illinois Treasurer and Comptroller to transfer $500 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Pension Unfunded Liability Reduction Fund each fiscal year. Those funds would then be used to make payments into the state’s pension systems.

The committee’s chair, state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, said this is the right way to fix the pension crisis.

“This is the first time ever we have had a bill that discusses Tier 2 to this depth,” Kifowit told The Center Square in July. “This truly is momentum going in the right direction.”

Tier 2 pensions are for state employees hired after 2011. Stakeholders say the fewer benefits compared to Tier 1 are problematic and could run afoul of Social Security rules.

New to the House committee, state Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, believes HB4098 goes after the taxpayers instead of addressing the unfunded liabilities.

“Twenty-eight percent of our budget now goes to pensions when most states are at 8%,” McLaughlin told The Center Square. “What is our solution? Move Tier 2 to Tier 1 and give them even more. So our solution is to go after the taxpayers’ wallet.”

Private pensions restructured their pensions years ago, an approach McLaughlin said legislators should consider but won’t.

“They restructured their pensions 10 or 15 years ago. They restructured them because they knew they were going to make sure they were going to get paid is to keep underlying business solvent,” McLaughlin said. “The public pension plans have never, and they will not allow that negotiation to take place. Their job [pension fund stakeholders] is to make sure we can stay solvent, and the only way they believe they can solve it is to constantly tax us. That is a recipe for disaster, which is why everyone is leaving the state.”

Read more here.

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SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans who own weapons that can no longer be purchased or sold in the state under its new assault weapons ban will soon be able to register those weapons so they can legally keep them.

The law, officially known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, bans the sale and possession of firearms defined as “assault weapons” as well as assault weapon attachments, .50 caliber rifles, .50 caliber cartridges and high-capacity magazines.

However, the law provides an exception for Illinoisans who already owned such items before it went into effect. Those people are required to submit an endorsement affidavit through their Firearm Owner’s Identification Card account before Jan. 1, 2024.

The Illinois State Police filed emergency rules with the secretary of state on Monday to implement that portion of the assault weapons ban beginning next month.

State agencies have authority to issue emergency rules in certain circumstances. Those rules can only remain in place for up to 150 days, after which they must be replaced by permanent rules or repealed. Permanent rules are subject to a public comment period and review by the legislative Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

ISP will begin accepting affidavits online starting Oct. 1. Affidavits must be submitted online through a FOID Card account, which can be accessed through ISP’s Firearms Services Bureau website or by going directly to www.ispfsb.com/Public/Login.aspx.

More here.

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How Illinois public school measures fail to add up

Contradictory metrics statewide point to poor accountability and grade promotion standards in Illinois. Low-income parents seeking alternatives are hamstrung as lawmakers weigh ending Illinois’ only school choice program.

In 2021, just 33% of Illinois’ 11th grade students could read at grade level. Only 29% could perform math proficiently.

One school year later in spring 2022, 87.3% of that cohort of students graduated. Illinois also celebrated its highest graduation rate in a decade.

Something is wrong here.

Illinois public schools continue to receive more funding despite producing poorer academic proficiency among its students. That as poor school accountability allows record graduation rates despite dismal proficiency rates.

Illinois parents frustrated by the academic failures of public schools deserve options. But Illinois’ only school choice program, which allows low-income families the choice to send their children to private schools on donor-funded scholarships, is set to end at the end of 2023, unless state lawmakers move to save it during their fall veto session.

Contradicting metrics for Illinois’ class of 2022

The four-year graduation rate in Illinois hit a decade high in 2022 at 87.3%. That doesn’t mean student performance was at a decade high.

The final state test administered to the graduating class of 2022 was the SAT in spring 2021 during their 11th-grade academic year. On that exam, only 33% could read at grade level and 29% could perform math proficiently.

The first year Illinois implemented the SAT to measure 11th-grade student proficiency was in 2017 when almost 40% of students scored at proficiency in reading and over 36% in math. Proficiency among high school juniors has declined each year since then, in 2022 resulting in the lowest percentage of students proficient since the SAT became the standard.

Record-low proficiency. Record-high graduations.

Adding to poor proficiency measures, many students in the class of 2022 missed 10% or more of their school days during their senior year. Nearly 44% of the graduating class of 2022 were labeled chronically absent during the 2021-2022 school year.

Read more here.

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A pile of challenged books appear at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City on Dec. 16, 2021. Attempted book bannings and restrictions at school and public libraries continue to surge, according to a new report from the American Library Association. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Officials from Illinois’ major political parties are making clear one issue they’ll be taking sides on heading into the 2024 election cycle.

Illinois still has a primary to get through in March. But, heading into November next year, things are expected to heat up. One issue Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias put in the national spotlight during testimony to a U.S. Senate committee this week was that of access to controversial books.

“Tragically, our libraries have become the thunder domes of controversy and strife across our nation, the likes of which we’ve never seen before,” Giannoulias said.

The Democratic statewide official promoted the Illinois measure he spearheaded to withhold taxpayer-funded grants to public and school libraries that he said “ban books.”

“This right to read legislation will help remove the pressure that librarians have tragically had to endure over the last couple of years,” he said.

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Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias during a U.S. Senate committee hearing

Giannoulias was read obscene materials* some say should be allowed in school, which he acknowledged was offensive.

Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy said he was baffled by the Democrat’s position.

Read more here.

*Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana did not hold back during today’s Senate Judiciary Committee in which there was a hearing on so-called ‘book bans.’

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IL Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Gotion High-Tech Chairman Li Zhen at the Sept. 8 announcement of The Illinois – Gotion deal

Some politicians are taking notice of the absurdity of subsidizing a Chinese technology company, Gotion. The electric vehicle battery maker is linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and it recently inked a deal with the State of Illinois to build a $2 billion plant in Illinois.

However, the insane size of the subsidies being granted remains to be recognized.

On Wednesday, two members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, imploring her and Congress to take immediate action to stop the CCP from exploiting U.S. taxpayer dollars.

The letter from committee Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) specifically addressed a very similar Gotion battery production project in Michigan, and the same issues apply to the Illinois project.

The letter documents connections between Gotion and the CCP:

Gotion High-Tech Co. is a PRC company that has direct ties to the CCP and state-owned financial institutions. Gotion has been an active participant in the PRC-based version of the “Thousands Talent Program,” a program the FBI itself says encourages theft of trade secrets and economic espionage. Gotion has established multiple “Communist Party Units” within its operations and has publicly sought PRC provincial government support for its desire to expand its operations overseas. Even when courting major Western investment, Gotion has been adamant about retaining PRC-based control, including requiring that Volkswagen give up part of its voting rights, despite Volkswagen acquiring over 25 percent of the company. [Footnotes omitted.]

“It is perplexing,” says the letter, that the U.S. government would perpetuate China’s domination of key technology “by actively supporting CCP-backed companies expanding their foothold in the U.S. market, especially in a crucial sector such as lithium-ion battery manufacturing.”

Perplexing, indeed.

Read more here.

Related: Federal taxpayers will fund billions more than actual cost of Illinois battery plant to be owned by Chinese company with alleged CCP ties,” “Hefty Illinois tax incentive package helps lure Chinese EV battery plant

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Allied

A new study reveals that the exodus from Illinois continues.

Clever Real Estate teamed up with moving company Allied Van Lines and found that Illinois has had more outbound moves than any other state in the past six months.

The study contradicts claims by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that Illinois is gaining population.

“It makes sense when we analyze the data. Illinois in the past few years passed a really big tax increase so people said they are moving because of that and there is a slightly higher than average violent crime rate,” said Jaime Seale, author of the study.

The study showed that respondents said a desirable place to live would have a low crime rate (46%), affordable homes (43%) and a low cost of living (41%).

Predictably, baby boomers care more about tax rates when picking a place to live. The Clever Real Estate study found that 42% say low taxes are one of the most important things in a city or state, compared to just 23% of millennials.

From Jan. 1 to June 30, 2023, Chicago had more outbound moves than any other city, while Phoenix had the most inbound moves, according to Allied Van Lines.

More here.

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JB China

State of Illinois tax incentives exceeding half a billion dollars are a comparatively small part of taxpayer money that will go to Gotion, Inc. for an electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in Illinois.

Through federal tax credits alone, which so far are going mostly unreported, Gotion will be paid billions more than its construction costs.

In other words, taxpayers will be paying many times over the cost of a new factory they will not own.

It will be owned, instead, by Gotion, and Gotion is widely reported to have close connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Here are the details:

Governor JB Pritzker announced the state’s deal with Gotion on Friday for construction of the project in Manteno, southwest of Chicago. The plant is expected to cost $2 billion and employ 2,600 workers. Gotion’s total incentive package from the State of Illinois is valued at $536 million, according to Pritzker’s announcement. In addition, Kankakee County agreed to cap property taxes paid on the approximately 150-acre property at $2 million per year for the next 30 years.

The state incentive package alone, exceeding $206,000 per worker, is exceptionally high in comparison to typical plant-siting location incentives around the nation other than battery factories. “The average incentive deal in the U.S. might be around US$50,000 per job,” although it’s not unusual for highly capital-intensive projects to receive incentives of over US$100,000 per job.” That’s according to senior economist at the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, quoted in the Financial Times.

However, those subsidies are dwarfed by huge federal tax credits now being lavished on new battery producers under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which devoted $783 billion to global warming and green energy spending. President Biden recently admitted that the act was not about inflation reduction. It has been heavily criticized as climate extremism.

Under that law, owners of new EV battery plants get tax credits based on the production capacity of the plant, and those credits have been massive, often in the billions of dollars per plant.

One group closely researching the subsidies is GJF, Good Jobs First, a worker-oriented policy group in Washington, D.C. Their July report details the credits for recent battery plant announcements.

The tax “credit alone is large enough to cover each facility’s initial capital investment cost and wage bill for the first several years of production,” the group found.

Read much more here.

Related:Illinois lands Chinese EV battery plant as Pritzker, Duckworth seek more deals with Asian companies,” “Hefty Illinois tax incentive package helps lure Chinese EV battery plant

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Unclaimed

Check your mailbox: More than 60,000 people in Illinois are in line to automatically receive checks for as much as $5,000 in unclaimed property. Are you one of them?

Illinois’ Unclaimed Property Program, or I-Cash — one of several ways Illinois residents can find unclaimed money owed to them — previously required that residents file a claim in order to collect any outstanding funds. However, new enhancements to the program allowed the state to mail a check out with no claim needed, a recent release from State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs said.

According to the release, checks worth up to $5,000 will automatically be mailed to more than 66,000 people who are owed money but have not claimed it. Prior to the changes, the automatic payment cap was $2,000.

The enhancement, part of the state’s “Money Match” program, crossmatches state data with the treasurer’s unclaimed property database, the release said.

“When a matching name and mailing address is identified and confirmed, the unclaimed property owner will receive a letter from the Treasurer’s Office that describes the amount and source of the money,” the release continued.

After an additionally security step is completed, Frerichs’ office will then issue a check to the owner, the release said.

“All they have have to do is watch for the mail,” the release added.

More here.

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GQ

The books being made available to children in public schools and libraries was the topic of a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, with an Illinois law thrust into the spotlight.

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias testified before the committee to explain the legislation. Beginning next year, Illinois will withhold tax dollars from public libraries that limit what types of books are available.

“This legislation is important because both the concept and practice of banning books contradicts the very essence of what our country stands for and what our democracy was founded on,” Giannoulias said.

Republicans have taken issue with the definition of book bans adopted by Pen America, which said books being pulled off the shelves in schools for review constitutes a ban.

“This is not a ban. This is about schools deciding what’s appropriate for school children, and sexually explicit and obscene, pornographic material isn’t appropriate,” U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said.

The hearing took a racy turn when U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, read passages from a couple books, including a profane paragraph from “Gender Queer,” which has appeared on Pen America’s banned book list.

“No one is advocating for sexually explicit content to be available in an elementary school library or in the children’s section of the library,” said committee chair U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. “That is a distraction from the real challenge.”

Read more and view the video here.

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