It's been two years since the first gaming machines were turned on in bars and trucks stops across Illinois, and the jury remains out on whether there's been a surge in thefts and burglaries where gamblers spend their cash.
The Payroll Database includes salary information on nearly 650,000 public-sector employees throughout Illinois.
The Pension Outlook Database includes information on current and former government employees who stand to collect a taxpayer-subsidized pension some day.
Two schools databases include salary and other information on teachers and administrators in the Chicago region and beyond.
The Collective Bargaining Database includes information on labor contracts for municipal employees throughout the Chicago area.
In the span of a little over a month, U of I could see sweeping changes in its top leadership. Or maybe not. UI trustees hope to choose a new president for the state’s largest public university by late November.
The current regime's array of gimmicks and short-term stunts will have taxpayers' unpaid bills actually growing again. And this year's budget lays booby-traps sure to explode in taxpayers' faces later — the better to protect Quinn and the other statehouse incumbents who want to be re-elected in voting that starts Monday.
The Chicago Crime Commission formally launched its campaign against "sweepstakes" machines Thursday. It claims organized crime controls many of the devices, which offer gift coupons or wagering credits.
Comment: The Sun-Times earlier said it wouldn't be doing endorsements, perhaps embarrassed by its endorsement of Blago not once but twice, or perhaps because it doesn't want to offend its blue readership. This sure reads like a Rauner endorsement, however.
And their editorial writers sure don't understand the state's fiscal numbers. There's no "slow ascent" going on out of the state's fiscal predicament. Growth in unfunded pension liabilities, which aren't reported in budget numbers, dwarfs even the structural deficit that's in the budget, and year-to-date state revenue is down.
A right to work law would end mandatory payment of dues for workers in companies or government organizations with a union presence. Bruce Rauner has been on the record saying he would support "right to work" zones where a county or local municipality could decide for itself if it wished to implement the law.
Fewer students are graduating from the state’s high schools and many of them decide to attend college in another state, according to university officials. The combination of climbing college tuition and a struggling economy is also contributing to enrollment woes.
An Illinois legislative panel has put off voting on rules for high-volume oil and gas extraction until next month, as it grapples with how to ensure regulations are fair to industry while protecting the environment.
The Securities and Exchange Commission noted in 2013 when it charged Illinois with misleading investors about the condition of its pension system, that it had a funding schedule that didn't actually pay off debt but instead merely shifted the burden of pension costs to the future.
Comment: "Negative amortization" continues today in some of our pensions. Stay tuned.
Like last year, navigators who are paid by the state or the federal government will help educate uninsured people about what they qualify for and how they can enroll. But they’ll have half the time as last year to do this work.
The Better Government Association recently reported that a suburban waste processing company, Heartland Recycling, has contributed big bucks to political funds controlled by Cicero’s Town President, Larry Dominick.
Why should taxi drivers, unlike people in most other businesses, have to ask the city’s permission for change their prices? This disparity is exemplified in the departure of one major company from the U.S. altogether. Hailo, maker of a smartphone app that allows users to hail and pay for a taxi, announced it’s completely shutting down operations in North America citing a lack of profitability.
Emanuel is leaving no stone unturned in his search for revenue sources that could help pay down the city’s unfunded pension liabilities, over $25 billion. Complicating the search is the upcoming election; Emanuel has said he will not touch property, sales or fuel taxes, all of which are politically unpopular.
Two years ago, Emanuel’s administration banned Windy City Electric Company from getting any more city business over allegations it fraudulently landed millions of dollars in contracts set aside for companies owned by women. But the ban didn’t keep the politically connected contractor from getting more than $3 million in new work from the Chicago Public Schools.
To pay for fleet modernization, Metra has proposed a plan that would hit riders with 10.8 percent fare hikes starting Feb. 1, 2015; but Metra won’t actually provide any new train cars for two or more years.
You may be surprised to learn that fiscal year 2013’s full payment of about $6.0 billion was nearly $3.5 billion less than what was required to simply hold the end of fiscal year 2012 pension debt level where it was, even if all else went as expected. In other words, the “full” payment was less than 2/3rds of the payment necessary to maintain the debt status quo.
UPDATE: The author, Mr. Madiar, contacted me, very politely I would add, and suggested I review the more detailed version of his article, which is linked here, and it has a a much lengthier history of the underfunding as he sees it.