Should hospitals pay property taxes?
The case of whether a downstate hospital can be exempt from property taxes could have a multimillion dollar impact on suburban hospitals and governments in a dispute that's been going on for years.
The Illinois Supreme Court this week agreed to hear arguments over a 2012 state law that allows hospitals to apply to be exempt from property taxes if they provide a certain amount of free care or subsidies to individual patients or governments.
The problem for the hospitals: An appellate court ruled this year the law is unconstitutional. After all, the court argued, not all the services provided in a hospital are for charity.
Exempt hospitals haven't had to pay property taxes while the case percolates.
A loss for hospitals, advocates say, could mean new, big tax bills for the health centers.
Of course, the other side is schools and other local governments might see more money for their operations as a result.
The case comes from Urbana and involves The Carle Foundation, which operates a hospital there, but a ruling could affect hospitals around the state.
No matter which way it goes, lawmakers could react by changing the law again. The law being challenged, which allows the property tax exemption, was created because of another Illinois Supreme Court ruling about hospitals and taxes.
Ad war starts
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will start running ads online trying to tie Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold to the GOP's presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.
Dold months ago denounced Trump over comments he made critical of Sen. John McCain's war record.
"We may not be able to count on that brand of leadership from either of the presumptive 2016 presidential nominees," Dold said of Trump's ability to unify after his opponents dropped out.
Still, Democrats appear to see Trump's views as an opportunity in swing districts like the north suburban 10th Congressional District, where Democrat Brad Schneider is in place for a rematch.
The 10th is one of 15 districts where the Democrats will try the strategy in their opening ad buy.
Stairway to ...
Republican state lawmakers gathered on an ornate Capitol staircase Wednesday evening to denounce Democrats who cut off a debate on controversial state budget plan and adjourned quickly afterward.
Before House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs made his opening comments to reporters, he motioned to state Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat who was in the crowd.
"Hey, Jack!" Durkin called out. "You want to join us?"
Franks, who has passed on a run for re-election in favor of a bid to be McHenry County Board chairman, declined Durkin's offer, saying he wanted to hear what the GOP had to say.