Thursday, April 09, 2009

Better than Carol Marin w/suburban mayors: Berkowitz w/ Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on the Quinn Tax Increase

Attorney General Lisa Madigan spoke yesterday at lunch to the City Club of Chicago about (1) Former Governor Blagojevich’s efforts to avoid Illinois’ Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act, Madigan’s efforts to enforce and strengthen those Acts and (2) Madigan’s efforts to curtail predatory mortgage lending and mortgage refinancing/scamming practices.

After her talk, the Attorney General answered questions submitted by the audience and read/screened by moderator Paul Green. The City Club of Chicago used to allow the audience to ask questions directly, but switched to the written question format during the last year.

A few of the questions pertained to the Attorney General’s potential run for Governor in 2010. The AG said she would decide “what I will do with my life in the next few months,” after jokingly commenting, “Did Julie Hamos submit that question.” State Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston) has indicated she will run in the AG Democratic Primary if Lisa decides to run for another office.

The last question read was from Berkowitz and then he followed up with a few after the program was completed.
Paul Green: The last question [of the program] is always a softball.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan: It’s Jeff’s.

Paul Green: Of course. The last time I did this, all Hell broke loose. [See here]. Not with [Lisa Madigan], of course. As usual, even when [Berkowitz] writes them out, they’re forty seconds long:

Do you support Governor Quinn’s proposal for an income tax increase? [The second part of Berkowitz’s submitted question, which Green chose not to ask, was: If no, how would you fix the State deficit].

AG Lisa Madigan [D-IL]: Okay, here’s my answer and it’s really reflective of what I said earlier. I think that, considering the economy that people are facing across this country and here in Illinois, it is very difficult when we see people who are struggling to stay in their homes, when we see thousands of people losing their jobs, to ask the people of the State of Illinois in that circumstance to pay higher taxes when we have not demonstrated to the public that the State of Illinois is being responsible with taxpayer dollars and that we have to show the people that we are decreasing spending, we are tightening our own belt like every family in the state has had to do —if we can demonstrate that and there is still a need, then I still think we have to look at an income tax increase as an absolute last resort

Paul Green:..Ladies and Gentlemen, we are adjourned.
Post-game Q and A:

Jeff Berkowitz: Following up on your answer about the Quinn Tax Increase, you said, as you said before, it is a last resort-- if you’ve shown you’ve done everything else—am I getting that right?

AG Lisa Madigan [D-IL]: Here’s what I believe. I believe that until government, state government can prove to the people of the State of Illinois that they are responsible with their tax dollars, that they’ve tightened their belt, that they’ve made spending cuts, that there’s no way that you’ll ever get public support for a tax increase—so that makes it very challenging to pass a tax increase. You know the problems that we are contending with here in Illinois, in addition to the fiscal crisis that we face, we have an integrity crisis, and part of that is the people of the state not trusting government, being legitimately very cynical, and so there is a lot of work that needs to be done by government to show the people of the state that are making real reforms and we are responsible with their tax dollars and until we do that, and until we’ve done absolutely everything else, I think it’s very difficult to pass a tax increase and I think it’s unfair in this economy—to put that on the backs of people who are losing their jobs and who are potentially losing their homes, as well.

Jeff Berkowitz: Pat Quinn, for this [fiscal] year, has proposed a 500 million dollar spending cut. For the next fiscal year, an 800 million dollar spending cut. Are you saying he really hasn’t done everything he could? He has to look further, there are further spending cuts he could make?

AG Lisa Madigan [D-IL]: We do, and it’s not just Pat Quinn. Everybody has to look for spending cuts, so we have talked to the Governor and people in the Governor’s office about you know, let’s look through, who did the former Governor hire and are those people doing any good work? Do those people need to go? Let’s look at the contracts that the former governor entered into. Is that a responsible use of our dollars? So, there are a lot of areas that need to be looked at—both for cost savings, as well as, I really think- [for] restoring integrity in government. Those things have to be done before we can ask the people of this state to give the State more money.

Jeff Berkowitz: State Rep. Mark Beaubien has suggested possible gaming revenue—expanded gaming that would give about two billion dollars more a year in revenue. Is that a path you would go down?

AG Lisa Madigan [D-IL]: You know that’s not my decision to make. The legislature will make a decision. I’ve heard some people out there talking about gaming. I don’t know how seriously it’s being talked about. My understanding is that the boats are making less money, not more money and I’ve always thought that it’s not a good way to raise revenue and I don’t think—I mean from what I recall, Pat Quinn doesn’t think that it’s a responsible way to raise revenue, either. So, it may be that Mark Beaubien’s idea is not a viable one, at this point.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include the fastest five minutes on the web- a New York Times video about Obama-Berkowitz, a show with State Senator and likely 2010 10th CD candidate Susan Garrett(D-Lake Forest) about hot topics in Illinois state government, a show with State Rep. Mark Beaubien (R-Wauconda) about hot topics in Illinois state government, a show with State Rep. Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago), a show with IL 5th CD Dem nominee--Cook County Cmsr. Mike Quigley (who is now extremely likely to win the April general election to decide who replaces Cong. Rahm Emanuel), the second fastest five minutes on the web- a segment of Bill O'Reilly with Berkowitz discussing a clip of Obama from 2002 on Blagojevich and many more shows. And, see here for very recent postings on our Youtube page.