Category: State Government


Sorry the start is a bit choppy, I was trying to get the tripod set up correctly.

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A Voice of Reason

Here in Illinois there is a voice of reason in the House. He’s a Democrat from Marengo (which is a bit west from where I live in the northeast corner of the state). His name is Jack D. Franks.

He wrote an Op-Ed in today’s Chicago Tribune:

Why are we in such dire straits? Too much spending.

Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. State revenue this year is at the third-highest level in the history of Illinois. We have more money than we had in 2007.

We have a labyrinth of pork projects. We have more than 1,700 state programs. All those programs make it difficult to run the vital and necessary state services. All those programs cost billions of dollars. We need to take a step back and remember that government is not self-perpetuating.

he ends with:

Illinois can pull itself out of this mess. We have to shrink the size of government through better accounting and restrained spending.

I urge Gov. Quinn and my fellow legislators to be innovative. To show leadership.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once said, “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”

We have to say no.

Read the rest.

via Dr. Wes via Instapundit

Illinois Statewide Offices

From the ballots for the primary elections, next Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010. * = incumbent (my endorsements at the end, fwiw)

Federal: United States Senator (for the open seat that was Barack Obama’s, now Roland Burris’. Dick Durbin is up for re-election in 2012.)

Democrat

Robert Marshall
David Hoffman
Jacob J. Meister
Alexander “Alexi” Giannoulias
Cheryle Jackson

Republican

Donald (Don) Lowery
Mark Steven Kirk
Andy Martin
Kathleen Thomas
John Arrington
Patrick J. Hughes

Green

LeAlan M. Jones

State Offices

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Gitmo North Just 125 Miles Away

Thomson Correctional has been chosen to be Gitmo North. It’s just 125 miles from my home. The prison is currently owned by the State of Illinois and is underused. It’s not underused because there aren’t enough state prisoners. It’s just underused. Sen Dick Durbin (D) and Governor Quinn (D) think this is a great idea to sell the prison to the Federal Government, upgrade it to a Federal Maximum Security Facility and hold trials there. They say it will bring in a lot of jobs to the area.

What a crock of sh*t. Wasn’t the original construction of the prison supposed to bring in a lot of jobs? It probably did for a while, while the construction was going on. Thomson, Illinois still only has a population of 600 souls.

The Illinois Times reported on November 25th that:

The IDOC Web site shows that 25 of Illinois’ 28 prisons are operating over capacity, with at least three prisons holding more than double their capacity of prisoners. Compiling the online data shows Illinois prisons hold about 44,000 inmates – almost 14,000 inmates over their combined capacity of about 30,000. Those numbers do not include the state’s adult transitional centers, some of which are overcrowded as well.

The prison was opened in 2006 at a cost of ~ $145 million. As of the 2008 Annual Report, it is a Min/Max Security facility that holds 0 maximum security prisoners and only 144 minimum security prisoners. The prison has 1600 max security beds and that section of the prison has never opened. The minimum security side has 200 beds. There are 15 buildings. There are the 1600 cells and eight housing units in addition to the 200 bed minimum security section. Total building space is 625,000 square feet on 146 acres.

Durbin was just re-elected again in 2008 so he’s safe for another 5 years. Quinn on the other hand will need to be elected in 2010 in order to hold on to the Governor’s seat he fell into when Blagojevich (D) was impeached earlier this year.

Illinois primaries will be held in February. Quinn, even though he is the “incumbent” has primary challengers. With a majority of Illinoisans against bringing Gitmo north, his Dem opponents in the primary would do well to play this up. If Quinn should win the primary, his Republican and Independent opponents would also do well to play this up. Hopefully Quinn will only have this partial term as governor under his belt.

Insurance Mandates

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, Jonathan Adler brings us a story about a retired couple in Mass who are quite happy with their insurance, but they’ve been told it is unacceptable under Mass rules and they’ve been fined. Go read the post and the comments.

This is comment that I left there today at 8:27 pm

Reading the comments it seems that many people equate using the emergency room with being un/under-insured.

On Monday night I had to take my soon to be 9-year-old son to the emergency room/acute care center. He had been running in the hall at school that evening (we were there for Cub Scouts) and he ran into a door. He smashed his left middle finger (distal phalanx), and when pulling his finger out from between the door edge and the wall, cut the pad of his finger pretty deeply. He required an x-ray of his finger to ensure he hadn’t broken it and four stitches to close the wound.

We have insurance and had to go to acute care since it was obvious that it couldn’t wait until the next day when I may have been able to get an appointment with his pediatrician.

There may be a lot of people that use the E/R as a primary care facility, but that is because of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). There also seems to be a misunderstanding of what treatment is required for those that are uninsured. EMTALA requires only that the patient be stabilized.

When I was a kid, my father had catastrophic insurance through the university he worked for. Regular old doctor visits and vaccines were paid for at the visit or in a couple of payments. Insurance kicked in when my sister fell on a two by four and got a puncture wound in her thigh after running through the yard next door where they were building a house and my Dad had to take my sister to the hospital.

When my husband had a tonsillectomy as a child, his parents made payments to the hospital until the bill was paid off.

Back then we knew what we were paying for our health care. Now we pay $300 a month and a $3,000 deductible for a PPO and we don’t reach our annual deductible in regular medical costs, even with a child with chronic illnesses. We still pay for our insurance in case of a catastrophic illness or injury.

My monthly premium is lower because of the relatively high deductible. It seems that Mass wouldn’t allow me that choice. How much of an increase would there be in my premiums for a lower deductible? How much of a tax fine? Up above some people seem to be saying that the tax fine that the Williams must pay amounts to “only” $80 a month. But that’s if the Commonwealth of Mass will take monthly payments. I’d not be surprised if the tax fine was due, in full, last week or face interest charges…

Being forced to pay for coverage that I don’t want or need is another story. That’s like going to the store for milk and eggs and being told you must also purchase and pay for oatmeal, salmon fillets, and fresh asparagus and beets. Oh, and by the way, that whole milk you wanted to buy? So sorry, it’s skim for you.

Congressional Term Limits

[cref congressional-term-limits Reposted] by request from November 2006…

I think it’s time to discuss congressional term limits once again.

There are way too many old fossils in the House and in the Senate in both* parties.

Terms were set by the Founders at two years for the House and six years for the Senate for some very good reasons.

The Founders wanted to minimize the disruption to a person’s life and livelihood while he (or she) served the people in the House of Representatives. They didn’t set a limit on the number of terms, but expected that citizen representatives would serve a term or two and go back to their regular lives.

The Senators were appointed by the states until 1913 when the 17th Amendment instituted direct election of Senators. The term has always been six years. This ensured some continuity. Each state had four continuous years of the same two Senators (barring death, impeachment, or resignation) and each Senator had six continuous years (to go with the two years for each House Representative).

The Twentieth Century brought with it career politicians. Gerrymandering districts aided re-election of incumbents. No one in Congress wants to give up their perks.

This is my new idea. Term limits, but they are only continuous.

It would work this way: A member could serve in the House of Representatives for no more than six continuous terms (12 years). Then he or she would be required to take at least one term off, at which point the (former) member could run for the post again.

In the Senate, the same 12 years would apply, but in this case it would be two continuous terms and he or she would have to take a break. The (former) Senator would have to take the entire six year term off – no fair running for the other Senator’s seat when it may come up…

Just my opinion, but getting some new blood in the House and Senate may help real things get done. Ethically it may help as well. If you can’t promise more than 12 years out…

Then, of course, there’s my wish that for every new law an old, obsolete law is actually repealed and taken off the books, but that’s another story…

***

Added February 2009…

Currently the succession for the Presidency is:

1. VP Joe Biden (served 6 [36 years] terms – would have started 7th if not VP)
2. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (currently serving her 11th term [20 years+])
3. Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd (91 years old – currently serving his 9th term – over 50 years in the Senate!)

According to Wikipedia (with all due caution) the top 3 (in years) for both House and Senate are as follows (Biden used to be 4th…):

*currently all the top fossils are in the Democrat party.

Senate House
Name Year Name Year
Robert Byrd (D-WV) 50+ John Dingell (D-MI) 53+
Ted Kennedy (D-MA) 46+ John Conyers (D-MI) 44+
Daniel Inouye (D-HI) 46+ David Obey (D-WI) 39+

Charlie Rangel (D-NY 38+ years = 19+ terms!) and Pete Stark (D-CA – 36+ years = 18+ terms!) round out the top 5 in the House. The list at Wikipedia lists all longtime congresscritters, not just the incumbent ones, and the Senate list only had 3 incumbents on it.

When our state and federal representatives make the laws that govern their districts’ composition and make laws that favor incumbency, it’s hard to see that there’s any Hope ™ for Change ™ at all, at all.

If Governor Paterson is going to appoint someone to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat, perhaps he should choose Charlie Rangel. That way Roland Burris won’t be alone in the Senate and we can get Charlie off the House Ways and Means Committee.

Have You Been Blagojeviched?

During the impeachment “debate” this morning, one of the speakers mentioned that people have been “Blagojeviched”. Have you?

The vote was 114-1.

Lone nay vote was Milt Patterson (D-32nd).

Senate trial could start as soon as Wednesday and could last two weeks according to Speaker Mike Madigan (D).

Impeachment

Rich Miller at Capitol Fax Blog is live blogging the debate.

Not much of what I’d call a “debate” it’s a lot of speechifying with bipartisan support of impeachment so far.

Rep. Mendoza(D), “It’s amazingly fitting that Governor Blagojevich face impeachment today of all days. On his self admitted hero Richard Nixon’s birthday. Their common bond of impeachment will unite them in history’s dark annals of corruption, but even Nixon displayed more integrity than Blagojevich by resigning before he was impeached.”