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April 26th, 2012
Emergency Managers on watch A group opposed to Michigan’s emergency manager law appears to have gotten enough signatures to put the law to a voter referendum.
Jobs, jobs, jobs The Christian Science Monitor looks at one major obstacle for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker in his recall election: Over the last 12 months, Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in the country.
Border war A Chicago-based furniture maker is moving to northern Indiana, according to the Chicago Tribune. The paper says Selected Furniture will get a $425,000 tax credit from Indiana to make the move.
Water rules Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports the Ohio House has approved new legislation to limit the amount of water companies can take out of Lake Erie. It’s Ohio’s second attempt at such legislation. Other Great Lakes states have approved similar rules.
Fracking in MIchigan Partner station Michigan Radio reports that the debate over “fracking” has arrived in Lansing.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Mining Marijuana, A Gubernatorial Spat And To Export, Or Not To Export?
April 23rd, 2012
Underground marijuana farm The Detroit Free Press was granted “exclusive access” to a former mine in the Upper Peninsula where one company wants to grow enough medical marijuana to serve 131,000 Michigan residents. The marijuana would be grown a mile underground.
Whose economy is better? The Chicago Sun-Times tries to settle a debate between Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The two governors traded insults last week over which state is doing a better job of attracting businesses. The Sun-Times says Illinois is the winner on most points.
Peaceful place Nine Nobel Peace Prize winners will be in Chicago this week for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Natural gas Crain’s Cleveland Business considers the possibilities for exporting liquid natural gas made in Ohio. Exporting the fuel could lead to higher prices in the U.S., but those prices would help Ohio’s booming natural gas industry.
The Palisades problem NPR looks at the spotty safety record at the Palisades nuclear plant in Southwest Michigan. The story is reported by Lindsey Smith, of partner station Michigan Radio.
April 20th, 2012
A plan for Medicaid Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has a $2.7 billion plan to keep the state’s Medicaid program solvent. According to partner station WBEZ, the plan makes deep cuts in coverage and eligibility, and raises revenue by increasing the state’s cigarette tax.
Losing jobs Wisconsin lost 4,300 jobs in March. That could have an effect one other important job: Scott Walker’s. The Governor is facing a tough recall campaign, and the state is nowhere near reaching the 250,000 new jobs he promised by the end of his term.
Gaining jobs Illinois added 9,100 jobs in March, and the state unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
BP lawsuit Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is suing BP for $100 million, according to partner station WCPN Ideastream. DeWine says BP is responsible for a drop in its stock price after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Ohio pension system was an investor in BP at the time.
Starting over WCPN Ideastream also talks to people in their 50s, who are starting a career all over again.
Brain gain The University of Michigan will spend $163 million to build the state’s first hospital focused on neuroscience, according to the Detroit News.
April 19th, 2012
Stumping President Obama was in the Midwest yesterday. He talked about job training in Ohio, according to partner station WCPN Ideastream. At a stop in Dearborn, Mich., the president emphasized the importance of “making things,” according to Michigan Radio.
Delayed, not defeated Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has agreed to a six day delay on a vote for his $7.2 billion infrastructure plan, after getting more pushback than expected from City Council. The Chicago Tribune says the Mayor will probably still get approval, and “the brief nature of the pause suggested the maneuver was primarily tactical and designed to project the appearance of compromise.”
Fewer teachers The number of school teachers in Wisconsin dropped 2.3 percent last year, according to the AP. Despite the cuts, Gov. Scotte Walker’s spokesperson says his education reforms are working.
Internet instruction The University of Michigan is one of only three universities in the country that will try out a new, more interactive online learning program, according to Michigan Radio. The program was developed at Stanford.
Paying for pensions Chicago teachers are pushing to get support from the state to fund their pension plan. Partner station WBEZ reports that many public employee pension accounts in Illinois are underfunded.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Recall Race Ramps Up, Wage Gap Persists And Michigan Considers Less Oversight
April 17th, 2012
Recall fight The Wall Street Journal reports that what started out as a fight over collective bargaining has grown into a “high-stakes, high-dollar referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker and central elements of his party’s fiscal agenda.” And a new poll shows Walker has a slim lead in the June recall race.
Wage gap MLive reports on a new report that finds a persistent wage gap between men and women in America. Michigan has the 10th highest gap of all states, with women there making only 74 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Indiana has the 6th highest gap. There, women make 28 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
Not ready for college About 30 percent of Indiana students who enter college have to take “remedial” classes once they get there, according to a new report.
Rail expansion Norfolk Southern is planning a $160 million expansion of its rail yards in Bellevue, Ohio. The expansion is expected to create 275 jobs according to the AP.
Lower taxes The Dayton Daily News examines Ohio income taxes and finds that rates are at their lowest level in 30 years.
You’re on your own Michigan’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention is recommending that the state end oversight for 18 occupations and 9 boards. Partner station Michigan Radio has a full list of the recommendations.
April 2nd, 2012
Taking a chance A group in Michigan wants to change the state’s constitution to allow more casino gambling. According to the Detroit Free Press, the group is proposing new casinos in eight locations, including downtown Detroit and Grand Rapids.
Two politicians, two views of the economy Wisconsin primary voters head to the polls tomorrow. The Boston Herald has a look at one campaign event over the weekend that featured both Mitt Romney and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Though they shared a stage, they both offered different views on the state of our economy.
Still on strike It’s the eighth week of a strike for about 250 Red Cross Workers in Northern Ohio. The workers help run mobile blood collection units for the charity. Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports there’s still no sign of a deal in the strike that started in February.
Engineers in demand The Detroit Free Press reports on better job prospects for engineers. At a recent engineering conference in Metro Detroit, the paper reports open jobs outnumbered attendees nearly six to one.
Drill now, drill where? Some state-owned land in Michigan could be opened up for oil and gas drilling, according to partner station Michigan Radio.
Hello, tax revenue Bloomberg News reports cities in Michigan that collect income tax are seeing a windfall this year.
March 29th, 2012
The petition signatures have all been counted, and now it’s up to Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board to schedule recall elections.
That is likely to happen on Friday. The board meets at 9 am CT, and you can watch its deliberations live.
The board’s staff released signature tallies on Thursday on recall petitions for Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s lieutenant governor.
There were 931,053 signatures collected for Walker’s recall; 26,114 were discarded by the staff; 4,001 were found to be duplicates and 900,938 were declared valid. That’s far more than required to hold an election. Four state Senators also face recall elections.
If the elections are held, the staff recommended a primary take place on May 8 and the general election, if needed, on June 5.
Read all our coverage of Walker and the Wisconsin elections here.
March 20th, 2012
CDO woes no mo’ Five Wisconsin school districts have settled a lawsuit with an investment firm over the sale of collateralized debt obligations. The school districts say the firm sold them CDOs without disclosing the risks involved. The districts will get $22 million from the firm, according to the Wall Street Journal. And they won’t have to pay the $154 million they still owe the firm.
Et tu legislature? Ohio governor John Kasich’s plan to tax oil and gas companies seems to be stalled in the state legislature. Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports that Kasich’s own Republican colleagues are the reason for the holdup.
No protest permit Partner station WBEZ reports the city of Chicago has turned down a permit request from people who plan to protest the upcoming NATO summit. The city had previously approved a permit for the same protest route one day earlier. Protesters asked to switch the day after the G-8 summit was canceled in the city.
Gambling go-ahead Partner station Michigan Radio reports last night the Lansing city council voted to approve a new $245 million casino. The casino would be built in the city’s downtown. It still needs federal approval.
Not the Abba song, right? Wisconsin governor Scott Walker talked to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News last night. He said the recall against him is a “Waterloo” for unions.
So much for pancakes this year Maple syrup producers in Wisconsin say this is their worst year in memory, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Because of the warm weather, sap only ran for one day in some places. Usually, it runs for weeks.
Vote vote vote If you live in Illinois, it’s primary day. Here’s a guide, from partner station WBEZ.
March 16th, 2012
Wah Wah Shell has chosen Pittsburg for a new $2 billion plant to process natural gas. The Wall Street Journal says the plant is expected to create thousands of jobs. Ohio leaders were hoping the plant would be built in their state.
Whoopsie Two weeks ago, a state press release in Indiana promoted the MBC Group as an example how the state’s new Right to Work law is creating jobs. One problem: the president of the MBC Group says Right to Work played no role in his company’s decision to expand.
Big money The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the “staggering” amount of money being spent on the Scott Walker recall campaign. The amount is more than double the amount previously spent on any statewide campaign in Wisconsin.
Calling all angels The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that angel investing in Wisconsin reached over $61 million last year.
Immigrant entrepreneurs Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a series of workshops to help immigrants launch small businesses.
Primed for the primary Partner station WBEZ reports that Newt Gingrich was in Illinois yesterday. Other candidates will be in the state today, as the Illinois primary race gets going.
Damage done It’s only property A tornado ripped through the small Southeast Michigan village of Dexter yesterday. No one was hurt.
Dustin Dwyer · The Recall Effort Gets The Attention, But Scott Walker May Be Facing A Criminal Investigation Too
March 12th, 2012
But one story that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the ongoing criminal investigation involving a number of Scott Walker’s former staff members. The investigation is centered on Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee’s county executive. So far, a half dozen of Walker’s former staffers have been charged with various crimes related to the mishandling of funds.
Walker has mostly remained above the fray. But Friday, Walker announced that he’s started a legal defense fund.
A spokesman for Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the governor has been told “he is not a target of this investigation.”
But the paper’s watchdog columnist, Daniel Bice, reports that there are very clear restrictions on when elected officials are allowed to create legal defense funds.
From Bice’s column:
“The only way you can set that up is if you are under investigation or being prosecuted,” said Michael Maistelman, an election lawyer who is representing former Walker aide Tim Russell in the John Doe investigation. “One can only draw the conclusion that either one of those two things is happening.”
The prosecutor in the case is, not surprisingly, not commenting. But Bice says investigators have been looking into possible election law violations for 22 months. One former Walker staffer has already pleaded guilty. Another one was due in court today on embezzlement charges, but couldn’t make it because of an illness.
Walker is expected to meet with investigators later this month.