For the Good of Illinois maximizes resources and impact by taking a strategic approach to issue advocacy. Our strategic advocacy process identifies policy issues, targets (policymakers; key votes), pressure points, risk level, and metrics. Once these are in place, we engage, educate and activate our members to roll out a targeted strategy aimed at achieving a specific objective. We then evaluate the success or failure of our efforts in order to refine future strategies.
For the Good of Illinois evaluates policy issues on a case by case basis taking into account various dynamics such as current political pressures, lead sponsors, etc which have a direct impact on legislative outcomes to determine the risk level (probability of success).
For the Good of Illinois identifies targets – policymakers; key votes – by focusing on various data points relating to policymakers such as pubic statements, voting records, and funding sources in order to identify political pressure points. We use this data to develop a strategy aimed at securing votes.
Once our strategy is in place we engage our members; educate them on the issue, target, and strategy; and activate them to execute the strategy by making calls, writing letters, sending e-mails, appearing at townhall meetings, holding rallies, and visiting local political offices.
Given that policymakers are heavily influenced by media, we also deploy a variety of targeted marketing strategies including – state and local media outreach; paid television, print and radio advertising; e-mail, web and social media campaigns.
Inherent in For the Good of Illinois’ approach is a recognition that we will strategically choose to not get involved in certain policy issues. Our resources are not be limitless and we will utilize them where marginal value is the greatest. On issues where success is unlikely, risk is unknown or where we do not have the resources to play a decisive role, we will not become involved.
A forensic audit is a deep audit, an evidentiary audit. It’s an audit that follows the money and holds up in court.
“Forensic Audit” has changed the language of Illinois politics.
“Two Little Words” by John Kass, Chicago Tribune | October 6th, 2010
The reason- Mayor Daley didn’t run for re-election.
“The Mayor’s first f-bomb” by Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune | February 25, 2011
Credits our “bumper-sticker” demand for the idea floated by new Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
-March, 2011, Springfield-
Alongside Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon), we co-drafted a forensic audit of workers compensation (HR52). Speaker Michael Madigan embraced this audit (HR131) and it passed 111-00 in Illinois House in March, 2011. Inside the Menards prison, over 300 workers comp claims have been filed in a short period of time costing taxpayers over $10 million.
UPDATE: In early 2012, the Auditor General of Illinois is anticipated to bust the largest fraud and corruption scandal since the indictment of both governors.
HISTORY OF OUR WORK: In April of 2010, For The Good of Illinois spearheaded the concept of the forensic audit. Picking up the signature plank of Adam Andrzejewski’s gubernatorial campaign, we authored the Illinois Forensic Audit Act of 2010 (HR1057). After a state capitol, Blue Room press conference, a very successful public policy campaign was waged: 26 Republican co-sponsors, 50,000 “Open the Books” stickers, 300 media interviews over six months, collected 15,000 petition signatures, and volunteers sent thousands of phone calls and emails into state representatives. HR1057 was called for a role-call vote and failed along party lines.
In June of 2010, a forensic/recapture audit of Medicad (HB5242) passed the full legislature with no opposition and was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn. This massive audit covers Medicaid- a $13 billion program comprising roughly 25% of the state budget. The audit was estimated to curtail over $1 billion in fraud.
UPDATE: August, 2011- We issued the call to Governor Quinn: “Open Your Books!”. Quinn’s executive agency is unilaterally forestalling the unanimous will of the state legislature. Read our post here.
FUTURE LEGISLATION: Alongside State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon), we co-drafted the Illinois Pension Forensic Audit Act 2011 (HR31). Read our press release here.
“With the Illinois pension systems among the worst funded in the nation, retirees and current government workers deserve to know that their pensions are being administered properly and invested prudently,” said Kay. “Not only do the state employees deserve to know how their pensions are being administered, but so do the taxpayers.”
After Cellini, Levine, Blagojevich and the federal SEC probe, the people of Illinois deserve a forensic audit to preserve the efficacy of the pension systems.
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James Madison wrote, “all men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” In Illinois, our leaders have broken the trust of the people and we must hold them accountable and remain vigilant in order to prevent future abuses.
Illinois’ legacy of corruption dates back to the 1860’s when “pay to play” was introduced in Chicago. City aldermen and Cook County commissioners participated in a crooked contract to paint city hall. In 1909, the “Blond Boss” used bribery to purchase one of the US Senate seats in Illinois. Corruption did not stop there. Since then, six governors have been indicted, and four governors have been convicted of public corruption. Over the last forty years, more than 1500 individuals have been convicted in Illinois of various forms of public corruption.
Illinois’ culture of corruption recently hit the national stage when our 40th Governor, Rod Blagojevich, was indicted on corruption charges for attempting to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat. After Blago’s arrest, the FBI Special Agent in charge of the Blagojevich investigation, Robert Grant, said, “If Illinois is not the most corrupt state, it certainly is one hell of a competitor.”
The fallout from these scandals does not stop with our reputation as being the most corrupt state in the country – it is costing Illinois taxpayers millions each year. Researchers estimate that the “corruption tax” in Illinois is at least $500 million per year. This is based upon testimony before the Illinois Reform Commission that about 5% of state government contracts are given out to political cronies and campaign contributors. These estimates do not take into account the impact on job creation and economic growth caused by our reputation for cronyism and corruption, which discourages new business.
Ending public corruption is the first step in reestablishing trust and working toward an efficient and effective government. While media, think tanks, activists and advocacy groups focus their attention on Washington, the citizens of Illinois are left feeling as if they cannot fight city hall and that they are at the mercy of the political machines content on managing and profiting from the state’s demise. A recent Joyce Foundation public opinion poll shows more than 60% of Illinois residents name corruption as one of their top concerns – even more than the economy or jobs.
But there is hope. And there is help. For the Good of Illinois’ is working to dismantle the Illinois establishment by engaging, educating and empowering citizens to demand limited, accountable and transparent government.
- Shine the light on government by instituting statewide transparency on all public sector contracting, spending (including salaries and benefits), voting and public records.
- Enact strict ethics reform by ending conflicts of interest and nepotism, requiring personal finance disclosure for elected and appointed officials, restricting “gifts” from lobbyists, and increasing whistleblower protection.
- Reform campaign finance by requiring real time reporting for campaign contributions and restricting public sector contributions.
- Shift the balance of power from politicians to citizens by enacting term limits, empowering citizens to recall elected officials, and ending gerrymandering of legislative districts.
- Engage citizens in the political and legislative process at all levels of state and local government.
In The News
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Jobs & Growth
In 1824, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” Government in Illinois is breaking the backs of its citizens who currently work an average of 103 days out of the year to pay off their tax burden to state and federal government. What do we have to show for our hard work? Record deficits. And record unemployment. We must work to stop the flow of funds from the private sector to the public sector by demanding limited and accountable government in Illinois.
Illinois – with its nation-leading 7,000 units of government – ranks 48th in the nation in job creation and faces record high unemployment. Yet our legislators enjoy the 5th highest salaries in the nation at $68,000. Legislator salaries are 50% higher than the average Illinois resident who earns $46,000. When it comes to state spending, 1 out of every 4 general fund dollars goes toward public employee compensation. Politicians blame the current economic climate on the Great Recession and are asking Illinois taxpayers to pay an additional 67% in income taxes to pay for more government.
The truth is that Illinois’ fiscal mismanagement, runaway spending, unfunded obligations, high tax rates, and corruption have resulted in a hostile business environment that is unattractive to prospective employers. Over the last decade, Illinois has ranked 48th in job creation and has fewer jobs today than it did a decade ago. And our future isn’t any brighter, ALEC ranks Illinois’ economic outlook as 44th in the nation.
Illinois can’t spend its way back to prosperity. And the citizens of Illinois can no longer carry the burden of what Jefferson appropriately described as “parasites”. For the Good of Illinois is dedicated to a vital economic environment in Illinois and will empower citizens to break the shackles of state government.
- End our reputation of being a high-risk state by ending corruption and demanding fiscal responsibility.
- Place future generations on the path to prosperity and develop a highly educated workforce by reforming public education.
- Create a tax system that encourages job creation and economic growth by reducing income and property rates, and eliminating the estate tax.
- Lower the barriers of doing business by enacting legal reform, streamlining licensing, and reducing fees and regulations.
- Create job opportunities and increase the freedom and flexibility of workers by enacting “right to work” protections.
In The News
No blog entries.
Our vision, “a new day of liberty, opportunity and prosperity in Illinois that shines brighter for future generations,” begins with education reform.
Education is the foundation of a free, functioning and prosperous society. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day.” Therefore, we all have a vested interest in ensuring the success of future generations through a high-quality education.
Unfortunately, Illinois schools are failing to teach our children the basics. Only 32% of Illinois public elementary school students are reading at grade level. The number decreases to 30% by the end of middle school. By the time they reach the 12th grade, only 20% of public school students possess the skills needed to succeed in college. At least 25% of students in Illinois’s public high schools drop out of school altogether. This statewide failure imposes immeasurable costs on individual lives and our communities.
Illinois legislators continue to offer only one solution – increase government control. But decades of increased spending and increased government control have yielded little improvement in student performance. During the 2008-09 school year, real inflation adjusted per student spending in Illinois was at an all-time high, reaching $26 billion. According to the State Board of Education, combined spending in Illinois public schools totaled $12,363 per pupil.
For the Good of Illinois will work to reverse these trends by engaging, educating and empowering our members to demand real education reform.
- Provide every child in Illinois – regardless of address or household income – an opportunity to receive a high-quality education.
- Create competition and empower parents by giving them the ability to choose a safe and effective school for their children from a variety of options.
- Give taxpayers greater control over their investment in public education by making spending 100% transparent and assigning funding to individual students.
- Measure results by student and teacher performance, not by dollars spent.
In The News
FOX Chicago Sunday: Karen Lewis & Bruno Behrend: MyFoxCHICAGO.com
Illinois is in the midst of the worst financial crisis in state history. Fiscal mismanagement has pushed us to the brink of insolvency. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
Illinois government ended fiscal year 2010 facing a $13 billion deficit and a backlog of $5 billion in unpaid bills. What is more, Illinois has the worst funded pension system in the nation – roughly $130 billion in public sector retirement debt – according to a study conducted by the Pew Center on the States. The Commercial Club of Chicago estimates Illinois’ total debt at $160 billion for a grand total of $25,000 per household.
Contrary to the rhetoric of legislators – Illinois does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. Over the last decade, spending has increased 26% (adjusted for inflation). In 2009, the state spent an average of $12,000 per household – $5,000 per resident – while median household income was $56,000. In 2008, state government received a record amount of revenues—$30 billion—from Illinois taxpayers. Rather than paying down debt, state leaders spent every dime and borrowed billions more.
Democrats have recently proposed a 67% income tax hike to close the state’s budget gap. But increased tax and fee revenues won’t solve Illinois’ budget problems – they will only expand the size and scope of government and strengthen the very bureaucracies that created the state’s financial crisis.
For the Good of Illinois believes there’s still hope for our once great state, but we must act quickly to demand limited, accountable, and transparent government.
- Make all information connected to the expenditure of public funds 100% transparent, including all state spending and contracting.
- Conduct a forensic audit of state spending in order to identify waste, fraud and corruption.
- Limit the growth in future state spending to the rate of population growth plus inflation.
- Enact real pension reform by implementing employee-owned retirement programs for public sector workers.
- Limit the size and scope of state government by consolidating agencies and programs and reducing state labor costs.
In The News
April 22, 2010 Speaker Michael Madigan, Where Did the Money Go? Breitbart’s Big Government by Adam Andrzejewski “As Speaker, I […]