Midwest Memo: Rahm’s In Charge, Ohio Steel Bounces Back And We’re Hosting A Call-In Show

Tune in Today at 3 p.m. ET/2p.m CT, Changing Gears is hosting a live call in show on “Hidden Assets” of the Midwest economy. Michigan governor Rick Snyder will be joining us for the show, and we’ll have a live chat here at changinggears.info.

Rahm in charge Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won approval from City Council yesterday to move ahead with his $7.2 billion infrastructure plan. The vote wasn’t even close, which prompted the Chicago Tribune to say the mayor is “firmly in control.”

Mo’ money, mo’ physics Officials at Michigan State University are getting some good news. The state’s Senate delegation says MSU’s planned Facility for Rare Isotope Beams will get an extra $8 million in federal funds. The facility is expected to be a leader in the study of particle physics. The extra $8 million still puts the facility $25 million below what MSU leaders had hoped for from the government.

Real steel The New York Times reports on $1.5 billion worth of investment in Ohio’s steel industry. After a painful recession, the Times says Ohio’s still industry is bouncing back, thanks to the state’s booming natural gas market and increased demand for new vehicles.

Midwest Memo: Obama Stumps, Emanuel Delays And Michigan Teaches Online

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.

Midwest Memo: A Vote On Chicago’s Infrastructure Plan And Moviemakers Flock To Ohio But Avoid Michigan

Up for a vote Today, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces “his biggest City Council meeting to date,” according to the Chicago Tribune. The Council is scheduled to vote on Emanuel’s $7.2 infrastructure plan. A committee narrowly recommended approval at a meeting on Monday.

Tax bump Illinois income tax collections jumped almost 32 percent last year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The paper reports it was the second-highest jump in income tax collections in the country.

Making movies in Ohio Ohio legislators are considering a plan to double the cap on film industry tax incentives, from a $10 million cap on incentives to $20 million. A new study says for every dollar spent on Ohio’s incentives, $1.20 comes back to the state, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Meanwhile in Michigan … The Detroit Free Press reports Michigan’s scaled back film tax incentives plan is attracting far fewer projects. Just nine films applied for the new grants in the first quarter of the year. Those numbers are behind the pace set by 69 applications in the first half of last year.

Getting rid of a tax Partner station Michigan Radio reports Republican lawmakers are looking to phase out the state’s tax on industrial property. People behind the push say the tax drives away investment. Local leaders say the plan won’t fully replace the revenue that’s lost of the taxes go away.

Midwest Memo: No Oversight In Infrastructure Plan, Stimulus Funds To Closed Schools And Casino Competition

Infrastructure plan, examined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $7.2 billion infrastructure plan gets a hearing today at the City Council. The Chicago Tribune reports the plan would give a board of financiers the ability to approve multi-million dollar deals with almost no oversight. Some aren’t happy with the idea.

Stimulating failure The Dayton Daily News reports that nearly $5 million in federal stimulus funding went to charter schools in Ohio that have since closed their doors. Millions more went to schools that were accused of mishandling funds in the past, according to the paper.

Casino competition Indiana is expecting to lose $100 million in state revenue as new casinos open in Ohio. The new Ohio casinos are expected to take away customers from Indiana’s casinos according to the Herald Bulletin.

Empty buildings, full of danger The Detroit Free Press looks at the harrowing walk to school for many of Detroit’s children. The Freep has a twopart series at the dangers children face from the 33,000 vacant buildings near Detroit schools.

Parking lawsuit A deal to privatize four city-owned parking garages in downtown Chicago has led to a $200 million lawsuit, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Banking on land banks Partner station WCPN Ideastream says more Ohio counties are setting up land banks to deal with the problem of vacant property.

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: Powering Up Wind Projects On The Lakes, Chicago’s Debt And Detroit In Disagreement

Windmills on the Lakes? The AP reports the federal government will announce a new plan today to speed up development of offshore wind farms on the Great Lakes. The government has signed agreements with five of the eight Great Lakes states to clear up the regulatory requirements for wind power projects in the Lakes. Proposed projects have faced opposition from groups worried that wind turbines will spoil views on the Lakes. Three states have not signed on to the new plan: Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Chicago’s debt Yesterday, Chicago Mayor announced a $7.2 billion plan to update the city’s infrastructure, without raising taxes. Reuters reports the city will take on new debt to pay for the plan. Chicago already has a higher debt burden than Los Angeles or New York.

Skeptical city council Detroit City Council members got a look at a new proposal from the state to resolve the city’s financial crisis, and it didn’t go well, according to partner station Michigan Radio. The two sides have five days to reach a deal, before the governor is forced to impose a restructuring plan, which would likely include the appointment of an emergency manager. But as Michigan Radio reports, “it’s clear the two sides are still a long way apart.”

Yay! The Michigan economy is at a six-year high, according to the Detroit News.

NATO … more like “NO-DOUGH,” amiright? The Chicago Tribune reports that the federal government usually covers all of the security costs related to hosting a NATO summit. But in Chicago, the government is only covering half the cost. Corporate donors are picking up the rest of the tab.

Ready to flow Ohio is getting its first liquefied natural gas station.

Watch Live: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces $7 Billion Plan To Improve City’s Infrastructure

Big news out of Chicago this morning: mayor Rahm Emanuel is announcing a three-year, $7 billion plan to rebuild the city’s infrastructure. The Mayor’s office says the plan will create 30,000 jobs, and it won’t require a tax hike.

The mayor will deliver a speech to announce the plan coming up at 11 a.m. Central time. You can watch the speech live right here.

Midwest Memo: Chicago’s $7 Billion Plan, Appealing The Vatican And The Booms Are Back

That’s billion, with a “b” The New York Times reports on a new $7 billion plan to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure. The Times says Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announce the plan during a speech today. He says the improvements will be paid for without raising property or sales taxes. As many as 30,000 jobs could be created.

School shortfall Partner station WBEZ reports the Chicago Public Schools district is facing a $700 million dollar deficit this year. The deficit came about because of rising pension costs. Officials say they were able to avoid painful cuts in the past few years, but this year those cuts are coming.

Church appeal Cleveland’s Bishop may appeal a Vatican decision to keep open 13 Cleveland-area churches. The bishop’s spokesman tells partner station WCPN Ideastream that attendance has fallen, and the churches create a financial burden for the diocese. The Vatican sent an order two weeks ago to reopen the churches.

Not over yet The booms are back in Clintonville, Wisc.