Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Corruption, power and money

I'm actually talking about my computer's hard drive, which has "major corruption." While my laptop is in the shop, I apologize if my blogging is rather light this week. I'm still crawling at a snail's pace, but enough sob stories. On to some news:

The newest twist to the already dynamic electricity rate debate: House Speaker Michael Madigan's brand new proposal to create the Illinois Power Authority, which would create a five-member state board to control power procurement, generation and distribution, as well as the creation of new power plants. More details and reaction later (I hope soon).

Deanese Williams-Harris contributed this observation of a committee hearing this morning
Several House committee members repeated a new slogan — GRT is DOA — coined by Rep. Roger Eddy, a Hutsonville Republican. GRT is the governor’s proposed gross receipts tax, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich says would generate a net $6.3 billion a year but hasn’t gained popularity just yet. Committee members asked the governor’s budget director, Ginger Ostro, if the administration had Plan B to fund education or other initiatives if the GRT fails.

Rep. Will Davis, vice-chair of the committee, asked if property tax relief was included in the governor's proposal. Ostro said no. Davis said he felt concerned and that something needed to be done about the “racist system” of relying on property taxes to fund education.

Rep. Jerry Mitchell, a Sterling Republican, wanted to hear the Plan B for leasing the state lottery and funding the state’s pension deficit. He said the governor’s unwillingness to consider other funding proposals is a disaster waiting to happen. He asked Ostro whether the governor would consider expanding gambling as a funding source for education, pension deficit and backlogged Medicaid bills. Ostro said the governor is willing to consider other proposals, but he definitely opposes hikes in income and sales taxes (i.e. HB/SB 750 to reform the way the state pays for education). Ostro said, “We think GRT is a viable way to fund education and provide tax fairness throughout the state.”

Sen. President Emil Jones Jr. has said he wouldn’t call the HB/SB 750 (called the tax swap proposal) and that he supports the governor’s GRT plan.

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