Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Statehouse News that were written by various Illinois Statehouse News reporters.
Republican legislative leaders in Illinois filed a lawsuit Wednesday attempting to prevent the recently passed redistricting map from taking effect.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont, Republican Assembly Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, and several black and Hispanic residents.
The lawsuit focuses on blacks and Hispanics not being given adequate input into how the new map was crafted, making the new map askew of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Every 10 years, the majority party in the General Assembly redraws the state’s political lines to reflect population changes outlined by the U.S. census.
“We are optimistic that the court will agree with us and will help give our residents a fair map that accurately reflects our population, especially our growing Latino population,” Cross said.
A group of 12 county recorders in Illinois are providing documents to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan for her investigation into an illicit practice relating to the national real estate and subsequent foreclosure crises, known as "robo-signing."
“Robo-signing is actually a variety of practices. It can be mortgages individuals signing a document that they have no idea of what’s contained within the document and without verifying the information,” said Champaign County Record Barb Frasca. “It can mean someone forging an executive signature on a document or using their own name on the document with a fake title.”
Madigan launched her investigation earlier this year into Lender Processing Services and Nationwide Title Clearing, two of the largest loan servicing companies in the country.
County recorders, one for each of the state’s 102 counties, are stewards of deeds and other documents relating to real estate ownership, and often receive paperwork from loan servicing and other mortgage processing companies.
“They gave us a sample of documents that may be related to our investigation, and they are gathering more documents to provide,” attorney general spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said. “We’re reviewing the information they provided.”
Ziegler would not identify the documents provided or comment on whether the initial sampling will help in Madigan’s investigation, because it is ongoing.
Less than a year after increasing Illinois’ corporate income tax rate, lawmakers are taking on the state’s business tax code.
The first of four hearings brought lawmakers, business leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration together Tuesday in Chicago.State Rep John Bradley, D-Marion, who is overseeing the hearings for the House, said Illinois has long been called “bad for business.”
“We know that we have issues. We know that the corporate tax system has been problematic,” Bradley said. “We’re going to attempt to look at it and come up with comprehensive solutions.”
Bradley and other lawmakers would not say if one of those solutions would be to lower the corporate income tax rate.
In January, Illinois’ corporate tax rate jumped more than 45 percent, from 4.8 percent to 7 percent. Instead, Bradley said he supported a “revenue neutral” solution.
An arbitrator blocked Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to deny 30,000 state workers salary increases set to start at the beginning of this month, saying Quinn’s decision violated a 2008 contract between the state and workers’ union.
Quinn’s office said the state denied the $75 million in higher wages to employees in 14 state agencies, because the Legislature didn’t appropriate enough money.
“Funding these raises would mean that these agencies would not be able to make payroll for the entire year, disrupting core services for the people of Illinois, including children, the elderly and those with special needs,” Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson said. “We will be appealing the arbitrator’s decision.”
Illinois' recently hiked corporate income tax is likely to stay where it is. But lawmakers say they want to see what the state can do to shed Illinois' bad for business reputation.
A group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers kicked off a series of hearings to look at Illinois' business climate, including taxes and tax incentives, in Chicago Tuesday.
The hearing rehashed arguments familiar to lawmakers. Republican State Representative David Harris says Illinois' tax code is out of touch and out of date.
The federal government says Illinois cannot ask Medicaid recipients to prove how much they earn or where they live.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMMS, which manage these programs, told Illinois’ Medicaid managers in June that two of 15 reforms violate federal rules that prohibit states from changing criteria for those seeking Medicaid.
The reforms, passed earlier this year and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, require Medicaid recipients to prove that they are earning within 300 percent of the federal poverty level — $67,050 for a family of four — and live in Illinois.
The nation’s top banker is watching Illinois and California with a keen eye on their unfunded obligations and unpaid debts.
“We watch those (states) very carefully,” said Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. “We also look at exposures of banks and other institutions to those states. We don’t see any immediate risk there.”
Bernanke spoke Thursday in Washington, D.C., during a State Banking Committee hearing on the U.S. debt ceiling and Europe’s shaky economies. He was answering questions from U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who said he wanted to know that the federal government was not just watching potential problems abroad.
“As Greece has ruined the bond market of Europe, so could Illinois and California ruin the bond market of the United States,” Kirk said.
Bernanke said no U.S. states are quite in the desperate financial situation of some European countries, at least not yet.
“A number of states do need to be thinking about their longer-term sustainability, given the unfunded liabilities they may have in state pensions and in some cases health-care programs,” said Bernanke.
A 2010 study from the Pew Center says that Illinois’ five public pension programs are short by more than $54 billion. But the government watchdog website, Sunshine Review, puts Illinois’ unfunded pension liability closer to $80 billion.