Midwest Memo: Fracking In Michigan, Walker’s Jobs Problem And Water Rules In Ohio

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.

Midwest Memo: Gas Fuels Manufacturing Jobs, Preschool Gets Cut And Blagojevich’s Fiscal Legacy

Gassed up The New York Times reports that the boom in natural gas in the United States could lead to a ‘Manufacturing Renaissance’ in the country. The natural gas expansion is due mainly to the new, controversial drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “tracking.”

Preschool not a priority Ohio saw a big drop in public preschool enrollment over the past decade, and no other state cut more money from its preschool program during that time, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The numbers come from a report by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The report also has some negative news for Indiana and Illinois.

Still feeling it Forbes takes a look at the Rod Blagojevich legacy on fiscal issues in Ilinois, and tells the story of how the former governor could be to blame for a proposed rate hike from the Chicago Transit Authority.

Arsenal of research The U.S. Army is opening a new $60 million lab in the Detroit suburb of Warren. WDIV TV takes a tour of the new facility.

Nom nom nom Wisconsin will get three new cheese plants.

Midwest Memo: Fixes For The L, Strapped Schools In Indiana And Selling The State Fairgrounds

Loop repairs The Loop’s elevated rail in Chicago will get $39 million worth of repairs starting in April. The Chicago Tribune reports about half of the total track on The Loop will be replaced.

Property tax problem A cap on property taxes in Indiana is leaving some schools strapped for cash, even in well off communities. The AP reports towns that managed to attract business and industry are doing well.

Fracking lobbyists The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the state’s booming oil and gas industry is turning into a lobbying powerhouse in Columbus.

Fairgrounds for sale Partner station Michigan Radio reports Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation today that would allow the sale of the Michigan State Fairgrounds. The state fair ended its annual run in 2009 because of a lack of funds.

How to turn around a neighborhood Partner station WBEZ reports Chicago has received $169 million to help neighborhoods struggling with foreclosures, but turning those neighborhoods around has been more difficult than expected.

Midwest Memo: Detroit Assembles A Team, Indiana’s Accounting Errors And Chicago’s Tourism Offices

Detroit looking for accountants Detroit has a deal to avoid state takeover. Now, the Detroit Free Press reports leaders have to pick the members of the new panel that will oversee the city’s finances.

Whoopsie An error by the state of Indiana shortchanged county governments by $206 billion over the last year, according to the Indianapolis Star. The paper says it’s the second budget error announced by the state in the last four months. The two mistakes amount to half a billion dollars in accounting miscalculations.

Poised to strike Partner station WBEZ reports teachers at more than 150 Chicago schools are ready to go on strike, if contract negotiations with the Mayor’s office fail. Mayor Emanuel is pushing for a longer school day, a new calender and new teacher evaluations.

Appealing to tourists The city of Chicago will open new tourism offices in Brazil, Germany and Japan this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. Last year, the city launched tourism offices in London, Toronto and Mexico City.

It can happen anywhere WKSU found new oil and gas drilling happening in some unexpected places in Ohio. One of the sites for a new “fracking” operation in the state is right under a school.

Midwest Memo: Detroit Has A Deal, Chicago Has Crippling Debt And Ohio Has Bulldozers

Detroit’s deal Last night, the Detroit City Council voted to approve a consent agreement with the state to avoid takeover by an emergency manager. That means, as long as the governor signs the deal as expected and the courts don’t strike the deal down, Detroit finally has the first step in a plan to avoid bankruptcy. Partner station Michigan Radio reports on what it all means.

Chicago’s debt problem The Chicago Sun-Times went looking for reasons why Chicago would turn to private partnerships to fund its new multi-billion dollar plan to rebuild infrastructure. One major reason: the city’s staggering debt. Chicago can’t take out any more bonds to pay for improvements because the city spends almost 23 percent of its annual budget paying off the $7.3 billion in debt it already has.

Illinois’ turn Illinois is getting into the fracking game. Crain’s Chicago Business says the state could see a natural gas-drilling “boomlet” as companies explore southern Illinois for possible drilling.

Bulldozing blitz Partner station WCPN Ideastream had a story on NPR’s Morning Edition today that looks at the effort to tear down vacant houses in Ohio. The state set aside $75 million from its share of the $25 billion nationwide mortgage fraud settlement to pay for demolitions.

No more coal ash The Ludington Daily News reports the city’s historic car ferry has received a grant to convert its fuel source. Without the grant, the coal powered ferry would have been forced to shut down by the EPA. The historic vessel dumps about 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan every year.

#goodnewsforDetroit Twitter says it will open a new office in Detroit. Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra reported the news in tweet form. You have to hear it.

Midwest Memo: Still No Deal In Detroit, Indiana’s Welfare Woes And Ohio Gas Stats

Still no deal Partner station Michigan Radio reports the Detroit City Council decided not to vote last night on a proposed consent agreement with the state to resolve the city’s financial crisis. A judge has blocked any agreement from going forward. Michigan governor Rick Snyder is appealing that decision. If no deal is reached by the end of the day tomorrow, Detroit will likely face a takeover by an emergency manager.

Indiana in court The state of Indiana is facing off in court with IBM over who was at fault when a $1.4 billion deal to handle the state’s welfare caseload went bad. IBM says the state broke off the deal because of budget problems. A lawyer for the state says IBM failed to meet its obligations, according to the Associated Press. The Department of Labor lists Indiana as the worst state in the nation when it comes to improper payments for welfare assistance. The DoL says Indiana has a 44% improper payment rate. The state disputes that number.

Groupon’s bad week It’s been a rough couple of days for Chicago-based Groupon. The coupon website was forced to revise its previous financial statements, and admit it has “material weakness” in its accounting practices. The SEC is reportedly looking into the problems. And now, the Chicago Tribune says a shareholder has filed a class action lawsuit.

A big fat check Whirlpool will write the state of Indiana an $800,000 check, after deciding to move jobs out of the state.

2.6 billion cubic feet That’s how much natural gas Chesapeake Energy pumped from Ohio shale formations last year, according to BusinessWeek.

Midwest Memo: Detroit In Legal Limbo, Ohio Becomes Dumping Ground And Etch-A-Sketch Gets A Bump From Gaffe

It’s a mess, basically Efforts to avoid a financial meltdown in the city of Detroit are turning into a confusing legal situation. Partner station Michigan Radio reports a judge says the state can’t enter into its proposed consent agreement with the city until he decides whether the state’s review team broke open meetings laws. And there’s some disagreement over when the actual deadline is to reach a deal.

Wasteland BusinessWeek reports on how Ohio has become a dumping ground for the chemical-laced wastewater brine that’s a byproduct of new natural gas drilling in the U.S. BusinessWeek says Ohio has 176 storage wells for the “fracking” fluids. In comparison, Pennsylvania has just six such wells.

Romney is helping business The Toledo Blade reports on how an Ohio company has benefited from a political gaffe. Ohio Art Co., the maker of Etch-A-Sketch, has seen its stock more than double since a Mitt Romney aide referenced the toy in an interview on CNN. The statement has turned into one of the biggest gaffes of the GOP primary, but Ohio Art Co. isn’t complaining. Sales of Etch-A-Sketch toys are on the rise, and company executives are trying to manage requests for media interviews.

O-H-I Am Pandering President Obama visited Ohio State University yesterday. He promised to increase drilling in the United States, but he says he draws the line at drilling in Ohio Stadium. The President also made some hand signs that won’t play well in Ann Arbor.

Hogan out Partner station WBEZ reports on the resignation of University of Illinois president Michael Hogan.

Chicago secession? A landfill operator is trying to secede his 86 acres of property from the city of Chicago, and join the suburb of Dolton. The move is an attempt to get around the city’s ban on landfills.

Midwest Memo: A CDO Settlement, Kasich’s Plans On Hold And Primary Day In Illinois

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.

A Republican Governor’s Robin Hood Proposal: Take From Oil Companies, Give To Taxpayers

A hydraulic fracturing operation near Malvern, Ohio. Credit: flickr user Chiot's Run.

A “Mid-biennium Review” sounds like just about the least exciting thing in the world.

But Ohio governor John Kasich used his “Mid-biennium” budget talk yesterday for a ground-shaking announcement. Among a number of proposals unveiled, the governor announced new taxes for the many companies that are trying to extract natural gas and oil from Ohio shale.

If you haven’t heard by now, Ohio is sitting on an oil and gas bonanza. Up until a few years ago, no one could get at it, because it’s locked away in Ohio’s shale formations. But because of a new drilling procedure you’ve probably heard of called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” all that gas and oil is now available.

As our own Dan Bobkoff reported in December, there is no shortage of hype about the possibilites for fracking in Ohio. The industry says it will create, or sustain 200,000 jobs. $200 billion could be invested over the next twenty years.

Continue reading “A Republican Governor’s Robin Hood Proposal: Take From Oil Companies, Give To Taxpayers”

Midwest Memo: Tax, Baby Tax, Lollapalooza And A “War Of Words” In Detroit

Fracking taxes Ohio governor John Kasich unveiled a plan yesterday that would increase taxes, and regulations, on the growing number of oil and gas drilling projects in the state. BusinessWeek says the higher taxes would raise $1 billion in revenue by 2016. Partner station WCPN Ideastream says the new revenue will offset an income tax cut for Ohioans.

Lot o’ Lollapaloozas The Chicago Park District signed a new nine-year agreement with organizers of the Lollapalooza music festival, according to the Chicago Tribune. One park official says the deal will give the city a $1 billion boost over the next decade. But ticket prices for music fans will probably be going up.

No consent Tuesday, the State of Michigan offered leaders in Detroit a consent agreement to allow a new panel to solve the city’s budget crisis. Now, the Detroit Free Press reports the city is working on a counter-proposal, while the Associated Press says a “war of words” has broken out between the mayor and the governor.

Starting up startups The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Chicago’s growing scene for startups. But the paper finds Chicago still has a long way to go to compete with New York or Silicon Valley for startup money.

Keeping up with foreclosures Chicago foreclosure filings spiked upward in February, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Columbus Dispatch says filings were also up in Ohio, though they’re down quite a bit compared to a year ago. And partner station Michigan Radio reports foreclosure filings were down in Michigan for the month.

Prison time Rod Blagojevich reports to prison today. Partner station WBEZ has the story.