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Political Rewind: Illinois Reacts to SCOTUS Ruling, Chicago NATO Costs Add Up

It's always good to be caught up on state politics. Here's an easy guide to what happened this week.

Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Statehouse News that were written by various Illinois Statehouse News reporters.

Week in Review: Illinois Reacts to SCOTUS Ruling, Chicago NATO Costs Add Up

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and a House legislative committee began looking at possible discipline against a colleague.

Quinn: Illinois will expand Medicaid under Affordable Care Act

Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday said he plans to carry out the full Affordable Care Act including expanding the Medicaid rolls in Illinois.

“The state of Illinois is going forward with the president of our country, President Barack Obama, to expand using Medicaid (to) those that would be covered under the Affordable Care Act,” Quinn said. “That is the law. We’re not backing down.”

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the national health-care law Thursday, but justices apparently left some wiggle room for cash-strapped states such as Illinois. The court said the federal government can’t take away Medicaid money states already are getting if they refuse to expand Medicaid programs, which the original law allowed.

But the court ruled the federal government can withhold money meant to help expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if states decide against expanding their programs under the national law.

Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka predicts Illinois will have to find $2.4 billion over the next six years if it allows into Medicaid anyone who makes less than 133 percent the federal poverty level, as outlined in the act.

“Illinois is a textbook example of what can happen if financial challenges are not proactively addressed,” Topinka said. “The state needs to learn from experience, and take steps today to address the increased Medicaid costs that will occur in coming months and years.”

Quinn said the federal assistance provided for the expansion would prevent the state’s Medicaid system from becoming too costly.

The Illinois Legislature and Quinn worked this spring to cut $1.6 billion in Medicaid spending for the coming fiscal year, including kicking some people out of the program and ending services for others. The cuts came amid worries of skyrocketing costs for the health-care program – overdue Medicaid bills, without any action, would have topped $21 billion by 2017.

Illinois has about 2 million residents without health insurance.

NATO costs still being tabulated in Chicago

Chicago officials continue to compile costs associated with hosting the 2012 NATO summit in the Windy City in May.

Chicago, hometown of U.S. President Barack Obama, is the only American city besides Washington, D.C., to host the summit, a gathering of international heads of state.

The 2012 event occurred May 20-21 at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago, leading to the temporary closure of some buildings, attractions, streets and rail lines, as officials prepared for the possibility of violence by protesters who descended on the city. Police officers from across Illinois and other U.S. cities helped provide security for the event.

Chicago officials estimate the cost of hosting the event at $55 million, although they say that will be covered by a combination of federal money and private donations. A nonprofit “host committee” — the Chicago NATO Host Committee — was established to handle much of the planning and organization. A report last week in the Chicago Tribune indicated the host committee raised about $33 million from corporate donors for the event.

Among the costs that have been reported in various media accounts: an as-yet unreleased figure for pay and overtime for 3,100 city of Chicago police officers assigned to NATO duty; about $13,600 for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to have representatives in the area to assist with possible emergencies; $5.8 million for insurance coverage for 46 days leading up to and after the summit; $117,000 in overtime and expenses for the Evanston Police Department; $800,000 for Metra, the city’s commuter rail system, for added security and lost revenue; and $65,000 in lost parking meter revenue.

Smith attorney says House discipline committee process not ‘fair’ or ‘deliberate’

Illinois House lawmakers and the attorney for indicted Rep. Derrick Smith disagreed Wednesday on how quickly a committee should move in determining whether Smith should be disciplined by his colleagues.

Smith, under federal indictment for one count of bribery in his role as a state representative, has not gone to trial, and he still is receiving discovery information from federal prosecutors about their evidence, the attorney, Victor Henderson, said.

But members of the House of Representatives’ bipartisan Select Committee on Discipline, charged with deliberating possible professional punishment for Smith, want to move forward as quickly as possible, saying they can be ready as early as Friday. The committee’s first meeting was Wednesday morning in Chicago.

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said no compelling reason exists to hold off on further hearings, because much of the evidence and the witnesses from the federal probe won’t be available to the committee.

“Much of what Mr. Henderson is referring to may be helpful to him in the criminal case but may not be useful to this committee and this proceeding,” Lang said.

Henderson countered: “Would you want a teacher to give you a grade before giving you a test?” and said moving forward that quickly would undermine the “fair” and “deliberate” manner in which the committee vowed to proceed.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, who leads the committee, said she would release a schedule for the committee in the coming days.

Sandusky-inspired legislation becomes law in Illinois

Legislation inspired by the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case at Penn State University became law in Illinois on Wednesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed House Bill 3887, which requires coaches and university employees to report to authorities any suspicions of sex abuse and other forms of child abuse. The law is effective immediately.

“Young people place their trust in coaches and university officials, and it is (the adults’) responsibility to report any suspected abuse,” Quinn said in a written statement. “This is an important law that will help us continue to protect our children and youth.”

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, and Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, requires coaches, university employees and others to report suspected abuse. It passed unanimously in both chambers of the General Assembly this spring before landing on the governor’s desk.

Sandusky, a popular, long-time football coach at Pennsylvania State University, was convicted June 22 on 45 counts of sexually abusing boys. The abuse, which occurred over at least a 15-year period, allegedly was known but ignored or covered up by numerous people in Sandusky’s circle, including other coaches, university staffers and family members.

Tuition hikes cause Illinois’ prepaid tuition program to lose money

Illinois’ prepaid college tuition program has lost $68 million in a year, mainly because of the higher cost of tuition statewide.

The fund dropped from $1.13 billion a year ago to $1.06 billion at the end of May, despite investments turning a profit.

College Illinois! paid out $92 million for tuition during the past year, while making just $25 million on its investments, according to a report presented at a Monday meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which oversees College Illinois!

The prepaid tuition program has been a source of consternation for legislators and parents because of controversial investment decisions and an unfunded liability of more than $500 million, or about 70 percent.

So far this year, investment returns are about 3 percent, much less than the 7.5 percent the fund predicted, according to John Samuels, spokesman for the student assistance commission. He attributed the underperformance to “the overall weakness of the market.”

College Illinois! will be undertaking an annual review of its assumptions at the end of its fiscal year, this month.

“It’s possible that we’ll be changing some of the assumptions in terms of what the market is showing,” Samuels said.

Additionally, tuition for a year at a state university has increased by an average of 12.5 percent annually during the past decade, outpacing any gains on investments.

— Jayette Bolinski

David J. Kelly July 02, 2012 at 03:13 PM
While my prior post is waiting to be approved, I just want to let the "sensors ", who make the approval know, I standby my previous post and statements, completely! David J. Kelly
Edward Andrysiak July 02, 2012 at 03:37 PM
David...you said Rahm "is an Israeli spy"...I hope you are right! There is a lot we can learn from them. He likely is spying and sending them info on what *not* to do. We're going broke, not them. Who knows, maybe someday we will get Maxwell Street operating again.......................Cheeeeeeez. (lol)
David J. Kelly July 02, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Hello Ed, Thank you for your response. Yes, I am very confident that Rahm is an Israeli spy and a criminal as well. As I said in my post, this is not a joke. You hope that I am right about Rahm being a spy. You must be an Israeli citizen, then I can understand your "hope", and as for the US going broke, yes it appears that way, the Wall Street " rip-off " , the " mortgage foreclosure scandal", then there is the two ill-conceived wars with no purpose other than to fatten the off-shore accounts of the Military Industrial complex , a select few billionaires , corrupt politicians and their enablers . And then there is ALL THAT FINANCIAL AID, LOAN GUARANTEES , MILITARY AID AND SUPPORT WE DOLL OUT TO NATIONS LIKE.......ISRAEL. YES THE UNITED STATES GIVING FINANCIAL AID AND SUPPORT TO ISRAEL, AND TO THINK ISRAEL HAS THINGS LIKE " NATIONAL HEALTH CARE", FOR IT'S CITIZENS AND THEN THERE IS ALL THAT " BLOOD AND TREASURE " THE UNITED STATES SACRIFICES ON BEHALF OF ISREAL. Yes Ed, if you think that the United States last two military forays and other ops, never spoke of, were not undertaken for any benefit of Israel and that Israel is some rock solid financial model for the world to admire, if thats what you think Ed, then you are very misinformed or just plain ignorant of the facts and reality. And I don't get the Maxwell Street comment?
Jim W July 02, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I "sense" you are mistaken.
Edward Andrysiak July 02, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Wow David...you have one hell of a lot on your plate! I can't be of much help other than answer you about Maxwell Street. Way before garage sales, flea markets and the like, the people of Chicago flocked to 12th Street/Maxwell Street and also known lovengly as JEW TOWN. A great place to spend a sunday shopping for great buys on just about everything you could imagine. My grandpa was so prowd of the great buy he got on a pair of tweed pants...that is until he got home and grandma looked at them and told him each leg was made from a different tweed. Ah...for the good old days. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to relive that story.

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