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Political Rewind: November Election Issues Taking Shape

As we start a new week, it's always good to get caught up on state politics. Here's an easy guide to what happened last week.

Editor's Note: This article was created by aggregating news articles from Illinois Watchdog, formerly Illinois Statehouse News.

IL: Week in Review – November election issues taking shape

SPRINGFIELD – Voter purges and other campaign news began to take center stage in Illinois as September drew to a close and the November election looms.

Southern Illinois counties purge 4,000 from voter rolls

Two cash-strapped counties in far southern Illinois purged more than 4,000 names from the voter rolls ahead of the November presidential election.

Alexander and Massac counties at the southern tip of the state culled the voters from the rolls for reasons like death and relocation.

State elections officials say they are continuing efforts to clean up Illinois’ lists of registered voters.

“Having good, clean election rolls avoids any possibility of people attempting impersonation voting,” said Ken Menzel, an attorney with the Illinois State Board of Elections. “While it’s not a huge problem from what we can tell, keeping your rolls clean limits the opportunity for mischief along that line.”

Voter purges, which occur every other year in Illinois counties, also help keep down costs associated with running elections. Clean voter rolls mean precinct officials have a better idea of how many voters to expect, how many ballots to print, how many machines to have on hand and how many election judges to pay.

“If you can get a few hundred people out of your voter rolls, you can consolidate people tighter into precincts, so you’re only paying to serve people who are still there and might show up to vote,” Menzel said.

Three counties in far southern Illinois, AlexanderMassac and Pulaski, were unable to purge their voter rolls as frequently as other counties because of budget constraints, causing their voter-to-over-18-population percentages to get out of whack.

Purges had to be completed at least 90 days prior to the election. Pulaski County, which stands at about 115 percent, was unable to complete its purge by the Aug. 6 deadline but expects to finish after the election.

Testy 12th U.S. House race a toss-up heading into November

Money is pouring into the 12th District U.S. House race, a long-time Democratic stronghold in southern Illinois, where both major political parties are courting voters.

Jason Plummer, a 30-year-old Republican from a wealth lumber family, is running against 62-year-old Democrat William Enyart, a lawyer and retired adjutant general in the Illinois National Guard.

The New York Times identified the 12th as one of 22 most-competitive toss-up races in the country. The district, stretching from industrial Alton north ofSt. Louis to rural Cairo at the southern tip of the state, has been in Democratic hands for 20 years. U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello has had the seat since 1993 and is retiring at the end of his term.. Before Costello, Democrats Paul SimonKen Gray and Glenn Poshard represented the region from 1973 until 1993.

That kind of political longevity is contributing to the frenzy over the seat, said John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

“The important thing, beyond the national implications this year, is that once somebody’s in (that seat), they stay in until they die or retire. We keep them forever,” Jackson said. “So whoever wins will be the odds-on favorite to be our representative for southern Illinois for the next 20 or 25 years.”

Plummer ran for Illinois lieutenant governor in 2010 and lost. His family owns R.P. Lumber Co.

Enyart got a late start in the race,when he was nominated to replace Brad Harriman, who dropped out in May citing medical problems.

Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw is a 59-year-old nurse and activist from Carbondale.

Plummer and Enyart have spent a great deal of time during debates sparring over who has more wealth, who has more military experience, who did or didn’t release their tax returns and who is more like the presidential candidate of their own party. Both have flooded the southern Illinois airwaves with attack ads. Neither candidate has a political record for voters to reference because neither has ever held office.

Jimmy John’s owner moving some operations to Florida

The owner of the Jimmy John’s sandwich company revealed he intends to move to Florida and take the company’s licensing division with him – all because of Illinois’ corporate tax hike last year.

“I think you will see us out of Illinois in the next two to four years, and it will probably be Indiana or Austin, Texas, if I was to guess,” Jimmy John Liautaud said at a panel discussion sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute.

He said other states, such as Michigan, Indiana and Texas, have been courting him to headquarter his company elsewhere.

Liautaud said he doesn’t mind paying taxes.

“What I mind I show they spend the tax,” he said. “I would stay, but the way they spend thee tax is what’s really driving me away.”

Quinn visits Brazil on trade mission

Gov. Pat Quinn was in Brazil last week, promoting Illinois tourism and a plan to bring Brazilian students to study at the state’s universities.

Quinn’s campaign fund is picking up the cost of the trip, although additional expenses could be incurred by the state. Accompanying Quinn on the trip were state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago; officials from state colleges; and various executives from Illinois-based companies.

Quinn announced Tuesday an effort to bring more Brazilian college students to Illinois for one year to study science, technology, engineering and math in Brazil’s “Science Without Borders” program. His initiative includes scholarships and internships supplied by Illinois companies MotorolaIngredion and Tate & Lyle.

On Monday he urged Brazilians to visit Illinois and Chicago, saying, “Illinois offers Brazilians an authentic American experience.” He cited the Chicago lakefront, President Abraham Lincoln, the Mississippi River and historic Route 66.

Illinois had 56,000 Brazilian visitors in 2011, according to state figures.

Quinn also is meeting with various business leaders and industry groups in Brazil. He will be there for six days. His other overseas trips this year include Spain, Belgium and Canada.

— Jayette Bolinski

Edward Andrysiak October 01, 2012 at 11:08 PM
We talk about income tax overhaul because of unfairness but not too many talk about reform on property tax. Our businesses are drying up because they cannot afford the property taxes. As they perish, so do some jobs. Now, the argument is that a business property is more valuable than say residential property because it is income producing. Might we all be better off if property, all property, was simply taxed by the square foot. So much for building footage and so much for the land. All property taxed under that same square foot pricing rule without regard for "value." You could argue that business property pays fed and state taxes on their income and sales taxes...why should they pay a higher property tax because of their zoning as a business. Some generate a whopping amount of sales tax revenue for the Villages and State. The concept needs more thought and work but it might be a way to save our business community and the jobs that go with. Empty and/or abandoned buildings tend to pay zero taxes! Illinois as a State has the largest governmental internal structure of any State in the union...cuts need to be made there to live within budget. Crook County needs to wake up as well...soon!
John Tips October 02, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Edward, I agree with you that we need reform in this state, and that property taxes are way beyond the fair and equitable levels! I further agree with TeriDavisNewman as she summarized her opinion on the value of her home. Actually I had my property taxes lowered two years ago because I did some foot work! I went to my township assessors office and by providing them with a list of 3 sold homes as ours (baring foreclosures, and short sales) showed them that our value had dropped and asked for a reassessment! I had my property taxes dropped by almost $ 800.00 dollars. My taxes are still high, but better then before! The assessors office informed me that I was a part of only about 5% of all the people who take the time to ask for a reassessment! My wife and I own a small rental property in Jackson County, (downstate). Our tax bill for the property and the home (1000 Sq feet) is less than $1000.00 dollars. It is a small town, but Yes - we have a grade school, a couple of businesses, a bank, and a community center. Our fire department is volunteer. and our police is Jackson County! Our roads are paved, and we have city water/sewer. Our high school kids are bussed, just like here in Plainfield. What we don't have is Taj Mahal buildings for schools, city hall, police, or a school board out of control with spending!
Edward Andrysiak October 03, 2012 at 05:55 PM
The State has it's equalization factor which it is to apply when it proves out that certain areas have intentionally lowered their "real" values to lower their assesment and taxes. But, you guessed it...get your assesment lowered and the state will up the equalization factor so you pay the same tax or more anyway. I do believe that is what occured this last tax cycle. It's hard to beat the politicians. They not only have their hand in your pocket but they are playing with your you know whats as well.
Bruno Fontana October 03, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Your all spot on! Day after day there's the usual back & fourth "Obama vs. Romney" posts. And yet, when something really note worthy comes up (excessive property taxes), does anyone chime in? None but the brave. They’re too busy writing captions for a cartoon trying to make the other guy feel cheap. If all that "cleverness" was channeled into an intelligent dialogue then further channeled to our state legislators, now that would be something. But I digress. Besides hiring some tax lawyer who’s card you get in the mail, is there any recourse with regards to prop taxes? I’d really like to read anyone’s suggestions.
Sergey Kemskiy October 12, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I must confess that your writing on taxation is impressive. Issues regarding taxation and IRS are crucial for every business, that is why it is important to have a contact of a good tax lawyer. That is why I am trying to create the directory of the best US tax attorneys with detailed description of their legal practice. For example, look a category related to Illinois http://attorney-online.info/dir/tax/illinois/909 You must be a good tax attorney. If you are, you should submit your contacts to the directory.

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