Saturday, August 19, 2017

Moody’s warns delay of state funding for Illinois schools a ‘credit negative’ – Illinois Policy

School funding is locked up due to the current fight in Springfield over the state’s new education funding formula and the bailout of Chicago Public Schools it contains.

Durkin says House mocked education needs with sham vote – North Cook News

Comment: You wouldn't know that from many irresponsible headlines who reported the vote as if it was meaningful and not theater. We'll have our own story up on that shortly.

Drury pushes fiscal fixes in governor campaign – Pantagraph

Comment: An Illinois Dem who stood up to Madigan and asks how much things cost? Oh, the humanity.

One way short of bankruptcy to stabilize Chicago’s schools – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Comment: The Trib's idea is a Local Government Protection Authority that "would be a quasi-judicial body ... to assist the CPS board and administration in finding solutions to stabilize the district's finances." But with no legal power to adjust debt, including pension obligations, that new LGPA wouldn't be able to get the job done. The answer short of bankruptcy is to reconstitute CPS, as Detroit did with their school system. Have that LGPA run the new entity. All the benefits of bankruptcy but easier. See our earlier article on that linked here.

End pensions for part-time county work – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Will County Board is debating pension eligibility for all nine countywide elected officials.

Illinois Democrats want to spike Rauner’s Medicaid reboot – Crain’s

While much of the attention in Springfield is focused on the school funding fight, a bill that aims to unwind Gov. Bruce Rauner's Medicaid reboot has quietly passed through the Illinois General Assembly.

The bill—which would essentially scuttle what could be the state's largest procurement ever—is now making its way to the governor, whose approval is a long shot.

Another GOP lawmaker who voted for tax hike announces retirement from GA – INN

Republican state Rep. Steve Andersson, whose vote last month to increase Illinoisans' taxes by $5 billion drew criticism from many in his own party, announced Thursday that we will not seek re-election next year.

Former Illinois lawmakers powered by energy interests – Illinois Policy

Since 2000, at least two dozen former lawmakers have worked as lobbyists for ComEd or its parent company, Exelon, alone. A majority of those lawmakers served on their chamber’s energy or public utilities committees. Some even chaired those committees.

Lobbyist registrations surge after fines tied to Emanuel emails – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Chicago's lobbyist registration rules are exceptionally broad. Even casual, innocent communications can be covered.

Mayor Emanuel Blasts Illinois Policy Institute Cartoon As ‘Racist’ – CBS-Chicago

Comment: Yes, the caricature of the school kid was bad, but the caricature of the fat, rich, selfish, old white guy in the same cartoon isn't very flattering, either.

Phelps’ choice: $5M more for local schools or a Chicago bailout? – Illinois Policy

Defenders of Senate Bill 1 are putting a bailout of Chicago Public Schools ahead of their own local school districts.

No veto override vote today in House as Dems float bill GOP calls a ‘sham’ – INN

Comment: House Democrats don't have the votes to override Rauner's amendatory veto, which is the real issue at hand, so theater will have to suffice.

First lady Diana Rauner’s emails focus on Madigan, messaging, media – Chicago Sun-Times

A detailed look at her involvement in the administration.

Lawsuit demands IL pay schools based on ‘evidence-based’ funding plan called for in state budget – Cook County Record

Parents of Illinois public school students have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to secure what they consider adequate funding for the coming school year.

More Borrowers Are Defaulting on Their ‘Green’ PACE Loans – Wall Street Journal

Comment: Unfortunately, Illinois legislature passed and Gov. Rauner just signed the PACE bill for Illinois. Our earlier article criticizing it is linked here. In PACE programs, private companies make loans for renewable energy equipment and the balances are placed on a homeowner’s property tax bill. Local governments are responsible for collecting the payments and, in the event of a default, potentially seizing the home to recoup the loan amount.

It takes awhile, but Rauner says Va. violence is ‘domestic terrorism’ – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Rauner was right to be hesitant at first, as explained in the article linked here by the Sun-Times' Mark Brown.

Rauner administration blocks request for first lady’s state emails – Politico

"Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner has long acted as a public face in her husband's political campaign — but over the last year she has taken on an additional, behind-the-scenes role in Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration, cranking up her own involvement outside of public view." Comment: She's forceful, very smart and a liberal Democrat. Does she account for the contradictions and confusion often apparent in the Rauner administration?

Former Miss America wants to unseat Lisa Madigan as attorney general – INN

Former Miss America Erika Harold announced Tuesday that she plans to seek the GOP nomination for Illinois attorney general with hopes of taking on Lisa Madigan next fall.

New laws make it easier to dissolve local governmental units – INN

Comment: It's mostly voluntary, however. We needed widespread, forced consolidation long ago.

Rauner decries Senate school funding override, vows compromise – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: With override of Rauner's veto by the House doubtful, seems the Dems should be the ones asking for a compromise. The new ISBE data blow the case against Rauner's amendatory veto out of the water.

Analysis: Illinois public school spending grew 12 times faster than enrollment – Chicago City Wire

"It grew 12 times faster than the system’s student population, which rose just six percent over the same period.... All spending numbers are inflation-adjusted."

Jim Nowlan: High taxes, low services? It’s pension albatross – QCOnline

Comment: Nowlan is right that pensions are our biggest problem, but this solution is wacky: "I think we should continue to build the trust funds [pension assets], but more slowly, and consider them as rainy-day funds to be drawn upon only in the event of a major Depression." First, we're not building them, we are depleting them. And reducing contributions to them only kicks the liability down the road, moving us towards a pay-as-you-go system which will be many times more expensive than a normal retirement benefit and would ensure that Illinois remains permanently crippled.

Rep. Reick: The Pension Shift Buried in the Illinois Budget

"This is a prime example of how bad legislation gets passed. We wait until the last moment to vote on something none of us has seen, and then we spend months figuring out what we did and how to fix it. There has to be a better way of doing this."

School funding: How new numbers could nudge Dems to compromise with Rauner’s Republicans – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Distilling Republicans' points to their essence: Why should we send this much money to a Chicago district that already spends twice as much per pupil as our children's schools can spend? Why not uphold Rauner's veto and bring more money to our districts? His plan would give CPS millions more than it's getting now. Expect House Republicans and Democrats outside Chicago to hear similar challenges from their constituents between now and Wednesday.

Cook County Democrats Endorse J.B. Pritzker for Governor – NBC Chicago

Translation: He's The Machine's guy.

ISBE: Nearly all Illinois school districts would receive more state funding under Rauner reform plan – INN

CPS receives $242 million less under Rauner's plan than SB1, but still would get $28 million more in state funding under Rauner's plan than it did last year. ISBE's analysis says CPS would receive about $463 million less, but the governor's office clarified that to say the state would pay about $220 million a year more to Chicago teacher pensions in separate legislation, which would make up the difference.

U.S. judge orders Illinois to boost disabled care – Reuters

The state had argued that advocates for the disabled living outside of institutions were seeking as much as an additional $1 billion annually - an amount Illinois could not afford.

A rare shot for school choice in Illinois – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

One element of a proposed compromise that could attract the votes of reluctant Republican lawmakers is the scholarship program. It would encourage individuals and corporations to donate money toward a state-supported fund to help low- and middle-income families move their children to a participating private or public school. "Don't fall for the scare tactics. Reject threats from union groups. Do what's right. Extend the same school choice many of you have to Illinois' struggling families."

The state’s most important job-creating program is about to be revived – Crain’s

It looks like Illinois is finally getting back its most important job-creating incentives tool. More than three months after Edge program—Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits—expired, caught up in the partisan warfare over the state budget, lawmakers on Aug. 13 are set to take final action to restore the program.

Madigan’s rules kill reform efforts – Illinois Policy

A post-mortem on Illinois’ 2017 regular legislative session shows missed opportunities for taxpayer savings.

More than 2 years later, AFSCME still fighting state on new contract – Illinois Policy

Since the expiration of AFSCME’s contract with the state of Illinois on July 1, 2015, the union has ignored the state’s financial plight, sticking to its demands and refusing reasonable contract provisions offered by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Illinois pension cost shift could bring ‘financial ruin’ to local school districts – JournalStar

Comment: This cost shift to local school districts is still being overlooked by most of the rest of the press.

Boss of the House – Editorial – News Gazette

"It's time to give the devil his due, even though the real devil bitterly resents being compared to Speaker Madigan."

They kicked the can down the road – again – Editorial – Northwest Herald

"This budget is a start, but it does little to fix any of our real problems. People will continue to leave the state, business will continue to set up shop elsewhere, and the burdens placed on Illinois taxpayers will get more and more unbearable until the whole 'House of Cards' comes falling down with catastrophic consequences."

McQueary: Lawmakers, reject Gov. Rauner’s changes on school funding – Chicago Tribune

"Rauner botched this one.... I would have liked to get behind Rauner's changes, if they were delivered via scalpel and with explanation. But even he can't seem to defend them." Comment: Hard to argue with that. Rauner let this beast incubate over many months with no oversight. Of course, the bill's supporters haven't put up credible numbers, either. Nobody, in our view, has laid out a realistic projection for how the 4-tier pecking order will shake out over the coming years as the funding assumed under the bill doesn't materialize. Shame on all sides for this monstrosity of unknown dimensions, as we've called it.

Wheeler files bill to prohibit governments from retaliation lawsuits – IL Review

The bill filing comes in response to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s damage claim against those who challenged the beverage tax.

Mattoon’s GE Lighting plant to have its final day of production – Illinois Policy

The factory that once employed 1,800 will close its doors after more than 70 years of making lighting components.

Pension Trustees Must Stop Pretending They Know How To Choose Money Managers – Forbes

"For this reason, the board that oversees the Illinois State Board of Investment (ISBI) pension fund has moved to indexing about 70% of its $21 billion in assets. We have increased expected returns, lowered costs and simplified our portfolio."

Illinois’ July WARN report shows nearly 1,500 mass layoffs – Illinois Policy

The collar counties were hit hardest by mass layoffs in July.

From Illinois’ woes to the state of credit: Jamie Dimon lets loose – Crain’s

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and former Chicagoan on our fiscal mess: "It's a train coming down the tracks at 60 miles an hour, and it will be really bad if it's not fixed. We know that, and we've seen this before. We've seen this with companies, we've seen it with Detroit, we've seen it with Puerto Rico. And, honestly, the sooner you act, the better. There's no question in my mind that it will affect companies and individuals...."

Fired Googler with ties to Illinois faces headwinds making legal case he’s the victim – Chicago Tribune

Google fired an engineer with suburban Chicago roots after he wrote a missive arguing that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions, but legal experts say his threats to sue may not get far in court.

13 Illinois companies make Forbes list of largest private firms – Sun-Times

Yet you've probably never heard of most of them.

Indiana Port to Get Major Expansion – Associated Press

Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper says the expansion would help attract new companies and meet the anticipated future demand at the port.

A debt affordability study sounds wonky. But Illinois needs one, pronto. – Opinion – Crain’s

What is a debt affordability study? It is a document that describes all of the state's outstanding debt by type.

Senate back in Springfield Sunday, gearing up for veto override – Chicago Sun-Times

With the state on the path to blowing a Thursday deadline to deliver funds to schools across Illinois, the state Senate is bringing lawmakers back to Springfield on Sunday in an effort to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of an education funding measure.

Illinois GOP says school funding bill may be unconstitutional if veto overridden – ABC Chicago

The Illinois Attorney General is being asked to weigh in on the school funding fight in the state, and the outcome could delay the new school funding model from being implemented until next year.

Madigan breaks record as longest-serving House speaker in modern history – Illinois Policy

The speaker’s prowess for political longevity is unmatched in modern America.

Income tax revenue from suburbs is growing. Do we get our fair share back? – Daily Herald

A growing portion of Illinois' income tax revenue is coming from Chicago and the suburbs, new data from the Illinois Department of Revenue shows. But are they getting their fair share back?

How TIFs and PTELL warp fairness in school funding – Illinois Policy

"Chicago is taking money out of its left pocket and putting it into its right pocket, then complaining that its left pocket has less money."

McCaleb: Madigan, Democrats spread false narrative about Rauner’s willingness to compromise – Opinion – INN

If anything, Rauner's been too willing to compromise to the point where he abandoned his opposition to a massive tax increase – one that’s certain to only add to Illinois’ multitude of problems – if he could get just some small part of his reform agenda approved.

Illinois bumbles while horse racing crumbles – Daily Herald

What was once a billion-dollar industry in Illinois -- encompassing the tracks, breeders, horsemen and agribusiness that supports racing in so many ways -- is shrinking by the day as neighboring states take advantage of the disaster that is Illinois politics.

Gov’s SB1 Veto Surprises Some In His Party – NPR IL

"At the moment he issued his amendatory veto, the governor was missing some vital information: He didn't know how many votes he would need to enact his changes, he didn’t know how his changes would impact dollars going to each school, nor did he know how long it would take the State Board of Education to do all that complicated math." Comment: True.

Rauner appoints former Rep. Senger of Naperville as a deputy chief of staff – Daily Herald

Gov. Bruce Rauner has named former state Rep. Darlene Senger, a Naperville Republican, as deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs. In her new role, Senger will coordinate liaisons and advise on legislative affairs, according to a news release from Rauner's office Monday.

Comment: She has a solid pension background, having formerly worked for a private sector pension consulting firm.

Cards Against Humanity contributes to Illinois marijuana legalization effort – Illinois Policy

Cards Against Humanity, LLC, creators of the popular adult game of the same name, has donated $70,000 to the Marijuana Policy Project, or MPP, a D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to working toward non-punitive marijuana policies across the country.

State legislators deemed indifferent to business woes – Chicago City Wire

Members of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association are dumbfounded by the lack of business reform progress by the General Assembly, the group's president and CEO Greg Baise said in a radio interview with "Illinois Rising" recently.

Illinois spends $1 to hand out every 83 cents in taxes for arts – Editorial – Belleville News Dem

Shirley Madigan, chairman of the Illinois Arts Council Agency since 1983 and wife of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, left, in 2014. "Let’s eliminate the Illinois Arts Council Agency from the state budget. They must have taken lessons on government efficiency from our local townships, spending $1 million on staff and overhead in 2016 to hand out $834,900 in grants. The council is chaired by Shirley Madigan, who has been in that position since 1983. Funny, her husband, Mike, has been Illinois House Speaker since then, too."

New Illinois Tax-Collection Fee to Affect Local Reserves – A.P.

Illinois' new budget contains a new tax-collection fee. This means that 2 percent of certain local tax dollars collected by the state on behalf of municipalities and counties will be transferred to state funds, the News-Gazette reported.

Chicago At Center of Funding Argument – Alton Daily News

Comment: Read Rep. Reick's comments about the bill. He's got it right.

Al Gore grateful for Rahm Emanuel support on Paris climate pact – Chicago Sun-TImes

And thank you, Al. We'd have no Wirepoints had you not invented the internet.

SB1 is fair; override governor’s veto – Opinion – Rockford Register Star

Comment: It's by the President of the Illinois League of Women Voters. 'Nuff said.

With Foxconn in Wisconsin, Illinois wins – Editorial – Crain’s

Comment: Crain's is right to question the price tag for Wisconsin, but this article has just the kind of employer-unfriendly tone that's killing Illinois. It's illogical on it's face to gloat  about the spillover benefits in Illinois from having Foxconn in Wisconsin, while at the same time slamming them for being such a horrible presence in their other locations.

Wisconsin Foxconn factory’s supply chain won’t benefit Illinois – Crain’s

llinois, hoping to capitalize on Wisconsin's prize of a $10 billionFoxconn factory, should forget about the contract manufacturer's supply chain, at least for now. That's the message from experts and industry executives who understand the business of making liquid crystal displays.

Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition – Podcast – Cato Institute

Comment: Nothing to see here, folks. Just right wing crazies again talking about how bad Illinois is. Move along.

In Weary Wisconsin Town, a Billionaire-Fueled Revival – The New York Times

A fascinating, little-known story about the second richest woman in America and an Illinois border town, Beloit.

Nearly 1,500 mass layoffs in Illinois in July, dominated by manufacturing – Chicago Tribune

Medical device manufacturer Medtronic plans to lay off 185 people as it closes its Joliet distribution center, the largest mass layoff among nearly 1,500 upcoming job cuts Illinois employers reported to the state last month. Manufacturing employers drove many of the 1,482 layoffs reported in July to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Many of the announced layoffs affect union jobs.

New school funding plan could cost taxpayers billions over a decade or longer – Chicago Tribune

An ambitious plan to reform the way Illinois distributes money for schools comes with laudable goals, myriad complexities and a fluctuating price tag that has so far spanned from $3.5 billion to $7.5 billion, state records show. Those amounts, likely spread over a decade or longer, would be on top of the usual billions spent on public education every school year. Whether taxpayers and state officials are willing to invest that extra cash in public schools is one of the major challenges of a new funding formula that has been at the center of a political fight in Springfield, according to educators, lawmakers and policy experts.
Comment: Great article on some of what's being overlooked in this very complex debate. Not addressed here is how the formula for Tier 1 is rigged in favor of Chicago so that, in the likely event that most of this new money does not materialize, Chicago gets first dibs on what does get added.

Could this court be the future of criminal justice in Illinois? – Illinois Policy

The West Side Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale will play host to the Land of Lincoln’s first step into the world of restorative justice. The Restorative Justice Community Court will host face-to-face meetings between nonviolent offenders and their victims, with a judge overseeing the proceedings, aiming at better outcomes for both sides.

Kadner: Rauner uses school children as political pawns – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Let's see if we got this straight. Chicago Dems boobytrap the budget to kill all school funding unless their special level of funding for Chicago becomes law, yet Rauner is the one "using children as pawns."

Rauner: Once analysis of his school funding plan is done, it will ‘carry the day’ – Chicago Tribune

Memo to Guv: Woulda been nice if you'd have had ISBE do this analysis earlier so you'd look like you know what you've been talking about.

Seattle’s minimum wage lesson for Illinois – State Journal-Register

"A minimum wage increase that reduces wages? That’s the conclusion of a major new University of Washington minimum wage study, conducted by a research team funded by the City of Seattle.... For Illinois, whose economy currently lags far behind Seattle’s, a $15 minimum wage would likely do even more harm."

Illinois fights potential hike in disabled care funding – Reuters

Brent Stratton, chief deputy Illinois Attorney General, told the judge the fiscal 2018 budget allocated $53 million for the first rate increase for developmentally disabled services since 2008. He said Illinois is in "substantial compliance" with the decree and that the funding boost should be allowed to play out.

Without Trump, Pritzker and Rahm would be lonely, sad and a bit lost – John Kass – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Indeed. In fact, Twitter's usefulness finding real news stories is impaired because of the clutter of TDS repetition by Dem candidates -- as well as their blame-Rauner-for-everything theme.

State Rep. Scott Drury announces plan to combat ‘corrupt’ state government – ABC Chicago

Drury is one of eight Democratic candidates running for governor. He said what sets him apart is his willingness to address what he calls the "Madigan problem."

The “Pension Crisis” is a Myth, Part Three – NPPC

Comment: Good God. It's depressing to see this kind of bunk continuing to be written and believed by many.

On Mike Madigan’s watch…Rep. Lou Lang’s Thoughts – Chicago Tribune

Lang Homeowner Property Tax Cut Legislation Approved by Illinois House Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was happy to defend House Speaker Michael Madigan when contacted by the Tribune's Eric Zorn. Lang's full response is reprinted here, which includes this: "On Mike Madigan’s watch, Illinois has advanced investments that have directly benefited working families; reformed Illinois ethics and campaign finance laws; and approved far-reaching social changes applauded by progressives."

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on SB1 veto: Make school funding fair for the whole state – Northwest Herald

Rauner, who met Thursday morning with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board, said he believes that lawmakers instead are waiting out time until school starts to generate pressure to pass the bill without the amendments, which he said would take billions of dollars from schools around Illinois and give it to Chicago Public Schools.

Illinois Republicans Pushing For School-Choice System – Northern Public Radio

Comment: Heaven forbid that the poor be given the means to choose alternatives like the rest of us have.

Employers are latest target of lawsuits under Illinois privacy law – Illinois Policy

Lawsuits by employees over the use of fingerprint time clocks could cost companies millions in damages.

Chicago Public Schools’ latest $500 million borrowing: More evidence it doesn’t deserve a bailout – Illinois Policy

Comment: Keep in mind that state money flowing to Chicago is mortgaged to the hilt to secure bondholders. So, we'll be bailing them out, too.

Some say good riddance to controversial EDGE tax credit that expired months ago – INN

Comment: We respectfully disagree with those who oppose all forms of relocation incentives. Taxing based on what companies bring to the table is part of the fabric of state and local taxation around the country. Unilateral disarmament is a mistake. Yes, past programs have been administered politically and incompetently, but objective, enforceable formulas are available.

Gov. Rauner again seeks to pit Chicago against rest of Illinois – Associated Press

Comment: The Associated Press, if you don't already know, is hardly a model of balance and objectivity, as you will see in this piece.

GOP lawmakers: CPS receives preferential treatment in school funding bill – INN

"The moment that the City of Chicago was given control of their own pensions, it stopped making payments into the plan," he said. "I have a hard time telling my constituents with a straight face that it's now our job to bail them out of what they did in the past."

Public Pension Returns Barely Broke Even in Fiscal Year 2016 – Bloomberg

Public pension fund investments returned only 0.6 percent on average in fiscal year 2016, according to a report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, far lower than their 7.6 percent average target rate.

Pension Plans Had a Great Year, But Retirees Likely Won’t Benefit From It – Governing

"n 2016, low investment earnings prompted the average funding ratio of pension plans -- which refers to how much money is set aside to meet obligations to retirees -- to slide down 5 points to 68 percent funded, according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. Meanwhile, the positive returns this year have the center projecting an average funding increase of only 3 percentage points."

‘Solar for All’: Can Illinois energy bill live up to ambitious promises? – Midwest Energy News

Comment: We still never saw any estimate of cost to consumers of the Illinois' Future Energy Jobs Act that became law last year -- from either the Rauner Administration or some of the bill's sponsors, whom we asked. Neighboring states rejected similar laws because of the multi-billion dollar price tags. Here, price doesn't matter if it's green.

Rahm’s 2018 Budget: More taxes on the way? – Illinois Policy

In the wake of the city’s 2018 preliminary budget report, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is playing it close to the vest about whether to raise taxes.

Rep. Ives: Hidden budget items have ‘fed the beast’ of Illinois fiscal crisis – INN

"The 583-page state budget bill that most legislators were only given 45 minutes or so to read before having to vote on it contains several 'hidden' provisions that will cost taxpayers and local communities millions of dollars above and beyond the income tax hike that was passed the same day in a separate bill," Ives wrote recently. Among the items Ives references are a two percent collection fee on municipalities, a repeal of a tax exemption on ethanol that will lead to gas price increases and a provision that incentivizes municipal borrowing that could lead to more local tax increases.

PolitiFact fumbles fact-check: Education funding proposal is a CPS bailout – Illinois Policy

Comment: Matt Deitrich, who wrote the "fact check" piece for Politifiact, which is now affiliated with the BGA, is among the most biased columnists in the state and his article was hack job nonsense.

How Exelon will keep getting bailout money in Illinois—whether it needs it or not – Crain’s

"If future power prices do enable the plants to stand on their own two feet, the subsidies likely will remain at high levels." Comment: The Future Energy Jobs Act passed last year was yet another law passed with little understanding -- respecting renewables, too.

How not taxing retirees’ income costs Illinois – Daily Herald

llinois is one of 41 states with an income tax. However, it is just one of three states, along with Mississippi and Pennsylvania, that exclude retirement income from that tax.

Illinois state politics fueled by the privately-educated – Sangamon Sun

If one aspires to become a politician in Illinois, there's one tried and tested route. Attend private elementary and high schools.

Chicago sitting on solution to school funding debate: TIFs – Opinion – Crain’s

Chris Lentino is the manager of Chicago outreach at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Health Insurance Exchange Rates in Illinois See Steep Hikes – Associated Press

Illinois consumers who buy coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchange could see prices increase by as much as 43 percent next year.

McCaleb: Adios Illinois; more consider fleeing tax unfriendly Illinois – INN

"Since last month's tax increase, I've sadly heard from too many others who say they either are definitely leaving or considering leaving because of the tax burden."

Comment: Same here.

Sorry Illinois politicians, PolitiFact is back – PoltiFact

Comment: Sorry indeed. It's partisan and error-ridden. See their first story since teaming up with the Better Government Association linked here. It's about the pending school funding bill and it's garbage.

Illinois’ first restorative justice court will save money, improve outcomes – Illinois Policy

Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood will host a program that brings defendants in contact with their victims and allow the victims to set the compensation for the crime.

Tax increases will cost back-to-school shoppers in Illinois – Illinois Policy

Illinois parents will pay the Midwest’s highest sales taxes on back-to-school shopping.

Illinois school funding at risk as negotiations break down – A.P.

Talks broke down Monday as Illinois lawmakers tried to negotiate a new plan for doling out money to schools, setting up another showdown between the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Republican governor and putting money for all of the state's roughly 850 districts at risk. A bipartisan group of lawmakers met over the weekend and again Monday to try to work out a deal, after Gov. Bruce Rauner gave Democrats a Monday deadline to send him a plan they approved in May. He said he would immediately use his veto powers to remove some additional funding for Chicago Public Schools.

Pritzker says he’ll lead Illinois as resistance state to Trump – Chicago Tribune

In addition to health care and immigration, Pritzker vowed programs that would lead to universal preschool and adhering to international carbon standards rejected by the Trump administration.

Illinois Inspector General blasts Sheldon over Tallahassee deals – Tallahassee Democrat

A scathing report by the Illinois Governor’s Office’s Inspector General found George Sheldon mismanaged the state’s child welfare agency during his tenure as director and ran afoul of ethics rules in his dealings with an assortment of friends from Tallahassee.

Sheldon, a well-known figure in Florida politics and Democratic Party circles, took over Illinois’ troubled Department of Children and Family Services in 2015 but left on May 31 to serve as CEO of the Miami-based nonprofit Our Kids.

Wisconsin to consider $3 billion Foxconn incentive package – Reuters

The Wisconsin governor ordered the state legislature back into special session on Tuesday to consider an incentive package that would award Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn $3 billion over 15 years in mostly cash incentives and waive several state environmental reviews

A New Blue-State Experiment with School Reform – National Review

"Governor Rauner has an opportunity to craft a compromise solution that provides the key to better education for all kids and ensures that schools open on time. The grand bargain would be simple: He agrees to Democrats’ demands if they include a tax-credit scholarship program in the education-funding-formula legislation. It would not only unite parents and children who have been clamoring for better learning opportunities, but set the city on a course to economic solvency. And with a balanced economy, all have the opportunity to participate in the American dream." Comment: Time is short. Probably too late to try that.

Illinois schools need at least 1,000 teachers – INN

Students across Illinois are ready to come back to school next month, but there may not be enough teachers in some areas to greet them.

New Health Care Fraud Unit targets violators scamming the state – INN

Joel Levin, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, recently announced the creation of a Health Care Fraud Unit to tackle criminal fraud in the state's health care industry.

The fraud unit of five attorneys will take on fraud allegation cases ranging from billing scams to unnecessary medical treatments undertaken in order to get more money from systems like Medicare and Medicaid.

Dear Illinois parents: You’re being played by Democrats in Springfield – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Democrats and a handful of Republicans supported a budget in early July that tied money for schools to a controversial rewrite of the school funding formula, which they had approved May 31. On top of that gamble, the Senate refused to send the rewrite package to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk. Two months have passed with no action, only dueling press conferences and noisy insults.

How an obscure procedural move became latest flashpoint for Rauner, Democrats – Chicago Tribune

Democrats currently have holds on the education funding bill, legislation dealing with abortion access, a measure allowing the sale of the Thompson Center, and a proposal to limit state oversight of charter schools. They've also declined to send the governor a bill backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to shore up the city's municipal and laborers' pension funds after Rauner vetoed a similar measure. In that case, the changes became law anyway after Democrats inserted them into the budget package lawmakers put in place over Rauner's objections earlier this month. Using a procedural hold on those bills means Democrats can plop a controversial measure on Rauner's desk when it would benefit them most. For instance, they could send the bills closer to the November 2018 general election to boost support for a Democrat candidate who favors the legislation.

Illinois’ jobs growth worse than every neighboring state – Illinois Policy

Illinois’ jobs growth over the past year was 40 percent slower than the national average, and lagged even further behind the average of neighboring states.

Illinois has 63,000 government workers making over $100K – Illinois Policy

High-priced government workers cost taxpayers in Illinois $10 billion a year.

Illinois Tax Increase Hits Home for Wisconsinites – Door County Pulse

llinois’ 32 percent increase in the state income tax is having trickle-down effects on Wisconsin, with a fiscal analysis finding an increase of $51 million in payments to our southern neighbor due to an income tax agreement. Wisconsin is hoping to capitalize on expected migration out of Illinois following the tax increase.

Special Session Day 3: Education funding bill sets up another tax increase, lawmaker warns – INN

"In 10 years, Senate Bill 1 will have the state spending $3.5 billion more annually without any spending reform."

Ruling bars pension boost to substitute teacher for a day – A.P.

A former lobbyist for an Illinois teachers union has lost his battle to retain an enhanced pension benefit obtained through a 2007 law that allowed him to count past years as a union employee toward a teacher pension.

Masich: Losing Foxconn should be a wakeup call for Illinois – Opinion – Crain’s

Todd Maisch is CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. Comment: Illinois hung up on that call years ago.

‘Cullerton’s School Crisis’ ©2017 – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

APphoto_Illinois School Funding Instead of doing what's right, Cullerton and Madigan thumbed their noses at Rauner's special sessions, yanking the plug on any legitimate business that could have taken place. Cullerton's ever-subservient Senate on Thursday waited for Madigan's House to adjourn before playing copycat.

What Illinois stands to gain from losing huge Foxconn factory – Crain’s

The Kenosha area is so near that there's a lot of potential for Illinois job-seekers and suppliers.

And the benefits Illinois derives from Wisconsin's deal comes without having to pay out a reported $3 billion in incentives.

"When you need that many people and a company ramps up as fast as Foxconn intends, it will be difficult for Wisconsin to meet all of their needs," Peterson said. "The reality is, it's a pretty short trip for people (who live) in Lake and McHenry counties, or even Cook. We have a lot of people that can benefit."

Lawmakers quickly adjourn 2nd day of school funding session – Associated Press

Comment: Senate President John Cullerton says he won't send the school funding bill to Rauner for his amendatory veto, which will have to be negotiated and voted on, until Monday. Why not now? Because.

ISBE Supplied Staffers DIY School Funding Simulator – NPR IL

Comment: Almost nobody knows where the dogs are buried in this bill, a monstrosity of unknown proportions, as we called it in our own article linked here. The few who may know can't be trusted.

America and the Foxconn Dream – Bloomberg

"Wisconsin is about to shell out as much as $3 billion for the privilege of luring Foxconn Technology Group. At $519 per citizen, it would have been cheaper to buy an iPhone for every man, woman and child in the midwestern state."

Berg: Illinois’ political machine is still humming – Illinois Policy

Madigan, Martwick and Mautino are cogs in a well-oiled political machine that continues to enrich Illinois' political class at the expense of taxpayers.

Foxconn To Get $230,000 In Incentives For Every Wisconsin Job Created – ZeroHedge

"Besides one's view on incentives - which ultimately have to be funded somehow by taxpayers - there is another potential problem: this is not the first time Foxconn has come out with bombastic promises to create US jobs, only to quietly reneg on its pledge."

Illinois colleges receive credit rating upgrade, but structural problems remain – Illinois Policy

Many reforms are still needed in Illinois higher education system despite credit rating affirmations and upgrades to seven Illinois universities.

Illinois General Assembly passes bill to restrict collection, use of geolocation data – Illinois Policy

Whether a new bill would actually strengthen privacy protections, or merely encourage lawsuits, burden businesses and suppress innovation are open questions.

No movement on 1st day of special session on school funding – A.P.

Comment: Expect that to continue. General Assembly leadership says "bailout Chicago or no school for kids everywhere."

Mr. Madigan, Mr. Cullerton, Wisconsin thanks you for blocking Illinois reforms – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"We hope Michael Madigan and John Cullerton realize they've delivered more for the governor of Wisconsin than for the people of Illinois."

Taxes hiked, Democrats blamed, but how much will Republicans be boosted in 2018? – Cook County Record

“Mike Madigan can’t be defeated in his home district no matter how many negative ads the Republicans run,” Dick Simpson said. “They may be able to pick up a couple of seats in the House or Senate, but they can’t win a majority in either house because of gerrymandered districts.”

Foxconn announces $10 billion investment in Wisconsin and up to 13,000 jobs – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The project could reshape the economy of southeastern Wisconsin and involve not just a large factory but a virtual village, with housing, stores and service businesses — spread over at least 1,000 acres. That acreage, an area totaling more than 1.5 square miles and could potentially could be assembled from parcels that initially weren’t contiguous, the source said.

At 20 million square feet, the factory would be three times the size of the Pentagon, making it one of the largest manufacturing campuses in the nation. It would initially employ 3,000 workers making an average of $53,900 a year.

Car dealer, manufacturer legislation awaits Rauner’s signature – IL Business Daily

Under the law, manufacturers would not be able to force dealers to "substantially alter" the dealership twice within a decade, according to a press release. Alternations under the bill do not include maintenance and work to keep the dealership presentable.

Invitation: Trump to Announce Foxconn Plant in Wisconsin – Associated Press

Comment: Nothing in or about Illinois made it unfit to get this, except the corrupt, incompetent government that's hostile to business and duly elected by Illinoisans.

Here’s why one of America’s largest systems (Illinois) just ditched all its hedge funds – Video – CNBC

Marc Levine, chairman of Illinois State Board of Investment, discusses why he divested out of all hedge funds after becoming chair of the Illinois State Board. Comment: Public pensioners, unions and Democrats should be cheering what this administration has done to clean up Illinois investment habits -- eliminating the crony capitalists and hedge funds they often ridicule. They don't because it conflicts with their theme of Rauner as a Wall Street vulture capitalist.

Foxconn Expected to Announce Wisconsin Plant today – TheStreet

Comment: This is huge. Billions of dollars and perhaps as many as 10,000 jobs for southeastern Wisconsin.

Speaker Madigan: Special Session Is Political Theater – WIBQ

The puppet master speaks.

Can millennials afford a future in Illinois? – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

"If I saw the state and city taking big steps to reform pension funding and curb bad borrowing habits, I'd consider staying. For now, though, that seems to be the pet project of policy think tanks and newspaper editorial boards, not legislators."

Illinois and Connecticut Face Pension Collapse – ValueWalk

"It’s shocking to see the budget horror stories coming out of two of the nation’s leading states. Illinois and Connecticut are in fiscal freefall, and their leaders are taking the exact wrong approach in their misguided efforts to turn things around. If they were smart, they would look to the example of states like Florida to discover how to weather fiscal storms."

Budget won’t pull IL out of financial straits; Residents can ‘look forward’ to more taxes, U of C prof says – Cook County Record

Illinois ended its two-year budget hiatus earlier this month, but the state's financial plan still lacks the essentials needed to sustain it over the long term, according to a University of Chicago professor.

Woe to Illinois as Gov. Rauner throws in with the ideologues – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: "Rauner seems to really believe, says the Sun-Times, that "his opponents are motivated for the most part by base self-interest, doing the well-rewarded bidding of greedy trial lawyers and rapacious public unions." Um, that's whey he got elected. One thing's for sure. The Sun-Times' new union owners won't need to make any changes in the editorial staff.

Mike Madigan doesn’t care – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Comment: This is true. This is what it's all about.

Gov Presses School Funding Fight – NPR Illinois

Comment: Nobody knows what's in this flee-bitten dog of a bill. More on that coming shortly.

Don’t let politics block schools – Editorial – The Southern

"We believe the solution is to take the Chicago pension funding off the table to expedite the signing of the bill and deal with it as a separate issue. Amazingly, that seems to be acceptable to both the governor and the General Assembly."

Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks – Counterpunch

Comment: The concept here is for the Fed to bailout Illinois by buying it's bonds. Won't happen -- the uproar would be too strong. And a state bank for Illinois -- letting the establishment that did this to us run a state bank? Please.

Why Foxconn should invest in Illinois. And why it probably won’t. – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Foxconn wants to produce LCD display panels and other gear in the U.S. in partnership with Sharp, which Foxconn owns. $10 billion to spend and as many as 10,000 jobs to fill ... somewhere. A handful of states are on his short list, including Illinois, according to several reports. That's great news! We'd love to sell Mr. Gou on Illinois, high-tech capital of the Midwest. Unfortunately, southeast Wisconsin is said to be Foxconn's top pick, and we can guess why: Wisconsin isn't a disaster area for employers and other taxpayers. In fact, every other state on Foxconn's list looks better than Illinois by the basic measures of financial stability and pro-growth economies. Whoops, let's amend that: Just about every state in the Union appears better off than jobs-unfriendly Illinois.

Gas prices likely to rise after state budget strips tax exemption on ethanol – INN

An advocate for gasoline wholesalers says they've been betrayed by the newest Illinois budget and could see a shift away from ethanol-mixed fuel because of it.

Terri Bryant & Dave Severin: We support Rauner’s fix to SB1 – Opinion – The Southern

Comment: Yes, SB1 is rigged to bailout Chicago. More on that is coming.

Joe Berrios’ property tax debacle – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Ousting Berrios is only a first step. The next assessor has to be someone whose behavior in office justifies local governments' heavy reliance on the property tax. Voters, remember what Cook County and its current pols don't give you: a system that's accurate, transparent and fair.

AFSCME pressuring Cook County Commissioners to raise sales, alcohol, parking, cigarette taxes and more to save county government jobs – Illinois Policy

AFSCME officials proposed seven tax increases for Cook County as a way to save union jobs, including an increase in the county sales tax, a new head tax and doubling the amusement tax to 6 percent, despite the county’s local tax burden already being among the highest in the nation.

Public pension reform still key to Illinois’ recovery – Editorial – JournalStar

"Ultimately, we know this: Public pensions are what’s driving Illinois’ decline." Comment: And the courts have made clear there are only two ways to materially reduce unfunded pension liabilities -- 1) a state constitutional amendment, which may not work anyway because of federal constitutional issues, or 2) bankruptcy.

The “Pension Crisis” is a Myth, Part One – NPPC

Comment: From the John Cullerton School of Economics. (He famously assured us in 2013 that Illinois pensions are "not a crisis.") Part 2 of this masterpiece of economics is linked here.

Illinois steel company proposes $35M move to Indiana – Indianapolis Business Journal

An Illinois-based steel company has submitted a proposal to Indiana redevelopment officials for a $35 million relocation project that would move its suburban Chicago plant to northwest Indiana. The Gary Redevelopment Commission is expected to vote Aug. 2 on Alliance Steel Corp.'s $925,000 bid for 25 acres in Gary, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana.

Illinois gerrymandering an abuse of power – Editorial – Herald & Review

"The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the topic of legislative redistricting, which on the surface might seem interesting only to policy wonks and editorial boards. But hear us out: A decision from the high court could cause waves in Illinois – and after what we’ve seen this session in Springfield, we hope it does."

Stand for Children pushes for Rauner to sign education funding bill – Illinois Review

Comment: Stand for Children is run by Mimi Rodman who, I can attest from the New Trier Seminar Day controversy, is a hypocritical rat.

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds in wake of change – Chicago Tribune

A change in the administrator running Illinois' Bright Start 529 college savings plans has left some families unable to access their college savings quickly at a time when they need the funds to cover fall tuition bills.

State tax hike means Harrisburg’s richest get richer – SE IL News

This year, they spent part of their summer vacation successfully lobbying for a state income tax hike. Angella and her husband, both public school employees, pulled in more than $220,000 from taxpayers last year.

Chicago Public Schools’ Debt Exceeds $17 Billion; Suburban Taxpayers Teed Up to Bail Them Out with SB1 – Rep. Ives Press Release

Comment: Rep. Ives is among the few lawmakers taking a close look at the pending school finance bill. We'll have our own article on this soon.

Think recent banking regulations are helping Illinois? Think again. – Opinion – The Southern

Since the passage of Dodd-Frank, traditional banks have been forced to spend countless millions of dollars in time, new employees, consultants and expensive computer systems just to decipher the new laws and comply with them. As a direct result, there are community banks that have been forced to stop offering mortgages and small dollar loans altogether, and many others have curbed other banking services to lessen their risks and remain in compliance.

When We Can No Longer Tell The Truth… ZeroHedge

Read this thinking about Illinois and Chicago. It fits so beautifully.

Free-market group targeting lawmakers who voted for tax increase – INN

Americans for Prosperity's Illinois chapter announced Thursday that it will be launching an "accountability effort" against 16 representatives, five Republican and 11 Democrat, who voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto on Senate Bill 9.

Another blow for heartland workers: Slashed pensions – CBS News

"Unfortunately, this is only a glimpse into the future awaiting at least a million pensioners in the Rust Belt and elsewhere.... In the meantime, several states' public pension funds are running dry, including Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut."

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is set to lead a multimillion-dollar research center devoted to the future of biofuels – Chicago Inno

This week the Department of Energy announced that UIUC will lead the $104M Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation.

The Prairie State’s Nuclear Waste Conundrum – NPR IL

Radioactive waste – tens of thousands of tons of it – is sitting in temporary storage at dozens of current and former nuclear power sites all over the country, as it has been for decades. The largest portion of it is divided among seven sites that dot the nation’s fifth-largest state: Illinois. Comment: Thanks to a political deal cut between Sen. Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Big state pension takes a hatchet to hedge funds – Crain’s

The Illinois State Board of Investment, one of the state's biggest pension funds, soon will have jettisoned all but its best performing hedge funds because of low returns and high fees.

Over the past 18 months the pension fund has fired 65 hedge fund managers, and it will cut some of the remaining 17 as well, leaving it with just the best-performing funds that are reclassified by their strategies, such as stock investing.

"Hedge funds have not generated returns justifying the fees," said ISBI Board Chairman Marc Levine, who has overseen the near elimination of $1 billion invested by ISBI in hedge funds. Comment: Well, well, well. It looks like those evil vulture capitalists and bankers in the Rauner Administration are the ones draining the swamp to help pensioners at the expense of hedge funds. The thanks from pensioners and unions are deafening, eh?

Demand our leaders choose children over politics – Editorial – QCOnline

"Among the devilish details in the 583-page Illinois budget...lurks a potentially dangerous phrase requiring school funding to be given out via an evidence-based system."

Jim Nowlan: Someone needs to call out the IPI

Comment: Respectfully disagree with Nowlan on this. I don't think he fully understood the IPI budget proposal because the IPI didn't fully communicate it. See our article on that linked here.

The Big Myth of Health Care. Busted – Illinois Review

Comment: Cost containment is indeed what has been ignored.

Replace Shirley Madigan on the Illinois Arts Council – Forbes

"The Illinois Arts Council – led by the matriarch of the most powerful political family in Illinois – conferred grants without official meetings, ignored rampant conflicts of interest, and funneled millions of taxpayer dollars to asset-rich organizations – including media outlets – which don’t need public money."

New Illinois bond law offers locals a road to higher ratings – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Comment: It offers a road to a disastrous, assetless bankruptcy. See our article linked here.

Illinois has a budget, why aren’t we getting paid? – KFVS

Illinois' budget impasse has ended, but the financial fallout from the two year stand-off continues.

Fitch agrees: Chicago hit mini-jackpot in new state budget – Greg Hinz – Crain’s

Comment: Poor Greg. He'll never understand anything about finance. See the article above and our comment on it.

Observer: Madigan historically kills amendatorily vetoed bills – INN

It’s certain that when state Democrats' evidence-based school funding reform measure gets to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk, he’ll sign an amendatory veto to remove about $300 million a year in additional funding that he says bails out Chicago Public Schools' failing pension system. It’s just unclear what happens then.

Gov. Rauner signs bill addressing teacher shortage in IL – KFVS

The bill streamlines the licensing requirements for various endorsement areas, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE) and school psychologist, and makes other related changes. More than 1,000 teaching positions statewide are unfilled, according to data collected from school districts in October 2016. The majority, approximately 67 percent, of school districts in Illinois have 100 or fewer faculty members, according to the same data.

Illinois is on the verge of reforming its inequitable school funding system – CTBA

Comment: More misleading propaganda from the union-backed CTBA. For starters, Chicago schools get much more funding per student than the state average, even adjusting for the pension double-charge. The CTBA is reporting only state dollars, but you have to look at state, local and federal. We'll be writing more about that soon.

LaHood: Federal budget cuts are a must, just not Peoria USDA lab – INN

Republican Congressman Darin LaHood said the federal government absolutely must cut spending, just not the spending for Peoria's USDA laboratory.

Republican who broke ranks on budget undecided on school bill – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: It would be nice if reporters would start reporting on what's actually in the school funding bill, instead of just putting "bailout" in quotes as did this author. The bill provides vastly disproportionate money for Chicago than other poor districts.

Send S.B. 1 to governor – Editorial – News-Gazette

"Democrats are certainly correct that the longer they hold S.B. 1, the greater the chances that chaos will ensue and Gov Rauner will be blamed."

Illinois school finance bill bails out Chicago – Illinois Policy

And it bails out the CPS pension, too. Statewide taxpayers will be expected to pay up to cover the nearly ten-year pension contribution holiday CPS took.

Economics prof: Credit ratings crushing, pensions punishing Illinois – Chicago City Wire

"A Chicago bankruptcy is likely unavoidable, as even the Obama Administration and Democratic Congress made clear that no bailout was in the cards," he wrote. "The shear human cost of a failed city is profound, and we should all be worried that about half of all 18 year olds in Chicago graduate into a lifetime of poverty each year. These folks live next to us, and their failure or success will label the Midwest for decades … The time for jokes about Illinois has passed.”

Holding Your Ground Against Austerity: Lessons from the Illinois Budget Deal – In These Times

Comment: "We’ve made important strides toward a bold vision," say these lunatics. Indeed they have.

Seventh Circuit: Wisconsin copy of Indiana right to work law constitutional – Cook County Record

Comment: Illinois is surrounded by states with labor policies dismissed here as radical and right wing.

Quigley Offers Amendment to Redirect Border Wall Funds to Essential Homeland Security Grants – Congressman Mike Quigley

Comment: Congress won't give a hoot about his proposal, of course, but virtue signalling is what counts with the open borders crowd.

Illinois’ $21 billion in school debt pushes up property taxes – Illinois Policy

School districts across Illinois owe nearly $21 billion in long-term debt. That’s an increase of over 67 percent since 2002, when debt equaled $12.3 billion. School debt grew at nearly double the rate of inflation over the 2002-2015 period.

Nuclear Competitors Handed Decisive Court Loss In Illinois – Forbes

On Friday, District Court Judge Manish Shah, U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois, handed a decisive victory to nuclear energy supporters and plant owners in a case that challenged Illinois's right to choose the mix of fuels used to produce power inside its borders.

Senator: Non-Chicago schools are falling for school funding ‘nonsense’ – INN

"What's amazing to me is how many downstate school superintendents are falling for this," Rose said. "They are being led by the architect of their own demise. It's the worst case of Stockholm syndrome I've seen since Stockholm."

Comptroller Mendoza Op-Ed: Urge Governor Rauner to sign Senate Bill 1 – The Telegraph

Comment: Few who voted for this horrible bill, and certainly not the public, know what's in it. Expect the specifics to start coming out. It's a bailout for Chicago written by Chicago Dems.

State overpays Kankakee $800k, wants money back – INN

Oops: Kankakee City Comptroller Elisabeth Kubal said the Illinois Department of Revenue contacted the city saying the state overpaid Kankakee by $824,000 in sales taxes. DOR told the city it would begin withholding sales tax allocations either this month or the next.

Rep. Peter Breen: Democrat’s school funding bill latest in series of “blackmail” bills – INN

State Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, said Senate Bill 1 is a Chicago Public Schools bailout and another of what he called “blackmail bills,” where lawmakers are pressured at the last minute to support things that aren’t good for taxpayers.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Summer Springfield Shakeup – Chicago Sun-TImes

So far, Gov. Bruce Rauner has fired nine members of his senior staff this month. Another 11 have voluntarily resigned, many in protest, although one wound up taking another job in the administration.

Don’t expect state to change nature of over-spending – Editorial – The Telegraph

Comment: A particularly good editorial on the scorpion and the frog.

Illinois governor to block Chicago schools’ funding boost – Reuters

Rauner said on Monday he intends to block money earmarked for Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) teacher pensions under recent legislation because he feels it is too much of a "bailout" for a badly managed system.

Gov. Rauner: “Send me that education funding bill now” – Fox Illinois

Rauner called on Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) Monday to send him Senate Bill 1. Once it hits his desk, Rauner said he plans to issue in amendatory veto.

Fitch eases pressure on Illinois – The Bond Buyer-SourceMedia

Illinois got bond rating relief relief from a second agency following passage of a fiscal 2018 budget with $5 billion of tax increases.

Illinois bill would legalize sale, production of hemp – Illinois Policy

Senate Bill 1294 creates the Industrial Hemp Act, which would require licensing for “any person desiring to grow, process, cultivate, harvest, process, possess, sell, or purchase industrial hemp or industrial hemp related products must be licensed by the Department of Agriculture.”

Federal judge dismisses challenge to Illinois nuke subsidies – Utility Drive

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last week dismissed challenges to an Illinois program aimed at supporting nuclear generation, finding opponents lacked standing and had not exhausted their options in front of federal regulators.

Bulk Of Illinois Tax Increase Aimed at Tackling Pension Crisis – Alton Daily News

Comment: That headline isn't really fair since money is fungible and state contributions to the pensions are going down, further underfunding them.

Illinois: Land of still unfunded pension obligations – Editorial – Crain’s

Comment: "The budget calls for a $1.5 billion cut in state contributions to pension plans, the single largest spending cut in the budget by far. That's true. "Rauner has warned that more tax increases are to come.... Maybe the pension funds will earn outsize returns. But if they don't, Rauner will be right, because sooner or later, these obligations have to be paid." Not a chance that outsized returns can fix this. They won't be paid. Crain's editorial people just don't understand.

Rauner goes full-bore ideologue with ruthless staff purge – Rich Miller – Crain’s

Comment: Rich Miller is probably the most influential political reporter in the state, and certainly the most perniciously biased. He and other Dems are going totally ape shit over the Illinois Policy people joining the Rauner administration. Don't try to challenge Miller on his site about any facts -- he'll block you has he has done to me. As for the "extreme" politics of those Illinois Policy people, I'd like to see their core positions put to a direct vote in Illinois. Most would win overwhelmingly.

If Foxconn brings 10,000 jobs to southeastern Wisconsin, Illinois stands to benefit – Chicago Tribune

Southeastern Wisconsin is in the running to land a behemoth electronics manufacturing facility that could bring 10,000 jobs, a potential game-changer for the region if the deal goes through. Illinois stands to benefit if the plant is just across the Wisconsin border, as O'Hare Airport could get more traffic, workers living in Lake County could make the hourlong commute and small businesses could step up to cater to workers' needs.

Pharmaceutical Reps Must Get Licensed To Work In Chicago Now – DNAinfo Chicago

Comment: Ridiculous to be having states and cities sticking their fingers into all these things. What ever happened to the Commerce Clause? The U.S. Supreme Court needs to start shooting these things down.

Rauner Promises Schools Will Open in Time – WMAY

Comment: Seems like a foolish thing to promise since he still has to negotiate the school funding bill to eliminate the Chicago bailout.

Illinois “Budget Deal” Is Likely The Death Knell For The State’s $130 Billion Underfunded Pensions – ZeroHedge

Comment: They've been doomed for years, and the delay in real reform is compounding the loss for pensioners and taxpayers alike.

Michigan an example for pension reform – Opinion – Detroit Free Press

By Dan Liljenquist, former Utah state senator, president of the Retirement Security Initiative.

Illinois Budget That Saved It From Brink May Add to Pension Debt – Bloomberg

Comment: It's the "just don't fund the damn things" solution with a different label. It's inevitable that pension contributions by state and most local pensions will drop. The money just isn't there and isn't going to be.

Surprise hit to local agencies tucked into the budget – Crain’s

Another day, another surprise found in the budget that few had a chance to read: a 2 percent "collection fee" on sales taxes gathered for the locals by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The handling charge will apply to sales taxes levied by local governments, including not only obvious targets such the city, Cook County, Schaumburg, Evanston, et al., but also the Regional Transportation Authority and levies by the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority on automobile rentals and hotels, according to an analysis by the Illinois Municipal League.

Illinois’ latest pension changes can’t touch state’s pension debt – INN

Illinois lawmakers agreed to almost a dozen new pension laws this year. But none of them will address the state's biggest pension problem: The costs.

Realtor specializing in Illinois expats says the tax hike helped business – INN

A realtor brandishing the slogan "Get Out of Illinois" has seen an explosion of new business since the state legislature voted to raise income taxes

The next big Illinois tax increase is waiting in the wings – ChicagoNow

Comment: "I can't explain the reluctance to ask these obvious and simple questions of Madigan," writes Dennis Byrne. Nor can we, Dennis. Nor can we.

Right-to-Work Law Survives Legal Challenge in Wisconsin – Governing

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Wisconsin's law that bars collective bargaining agreements requiring workers to pay union fees.

Former Daily Herald paperboy now state elections chief – Daily Herald

Comment: Congrats to Bill Cadigan on this new position. Cadigan is the real thing -- honest and dedicated.

Some new hires, like Rauner, challenge public unions – State Journal-Register

Comment: Isn't that among the things Illinois elected Rauner to do?

Illinois gets bond rating relief – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Illinois dodged a rating bullet Wednesday when S&P Global Ratings affirmed its BBB-minus rating and removed it from CreditWatch. Action by two other rating agencies still looms.

Illinois still is kicking pension crisis down the road – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Yes, Illinois is. But the Sun-Times editors still don't understand how bad it is, how long this has persisted and how unfixable it is.

Gas tax hike hidden in Illinois budget – ABC Chicago

Now that Illinois has a budget, people are taking a closer look at some of the hidden costs associated with this deal.

Dem leader: Credit rating agency news validates budget vote – Chicago Sun-Times

“The point of this balanced budget was to end the chaos and move the state toward the stability it desperately needs,” said Cullerton spokesman John Patterson. Comment: I'd write now about that "balanced budget" except more surprises are popping up so fast about the crap that was hidden in it.

The Secret Tax In the Illinois Budget No One is Talking About – Q98.5

Comment: The latest installment on things in the new budget nobody read. Yes, a gas tax increase of 5 cents a gallon. This one amounts to a whopping $95 million dollars.

 

How Governor Rauner is weaponizing the Illinois tax hike – Chicago Reader

Comment: Giving equal time to the progs, here. "I'm cheering because government raised my taxes," he says.

Time for Gov. Rauner to pursue a new direction – Editorial – State Journal-Register

Comment: From the folks who suck up to Springfield government employees who comprise most of their readership.

Wisconsin’s Budget Picture Worsens Due to Illinois Tax Hike – Associated Press

The hit to Wisconsin comes because of higher income tax credits that people who live in Wisconsin and work in Illinois will be able to file, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said. Wisconsin will also have to make higher payments to Illinois under an income tax reciprocity deal, the Fiscal Bureau said. Comment: The Feds will take a hit, too, because Illinois income taxes are deductible from federal income tax calculation.  

Millennials could be key to Illinois’ housing recovery – but they are fleeing the state – Illinois Policy

Illinois loses more millennial taxpayers and dependents to other states than any state except New York; this means Illinois’ distressed housing market is losing a big contingent of first-time homebuyers.

Gov. Bruce Rauner Shakes Up Staff – WTTW

Comment: Note that Mike Lucci is in as Policy Director. You've seen many of his articles here. An outstanding choice.

Rating agencies made Illinois lawmakers take notice – The Bond Buyer-SourceMedia

Comment: Yes, they did, which is a pretty sorry statement since rating agencies look out for bondholders. Would have been nice if they'd taken notice earlier of what service recipients and taxpayers have been saying.

New budget threatens to deepen pension debt – Crain’s

State contributions to pension plans will decline $1.5 billion in fiscal 2018, by far the largest single spending cut in the budget. They did that -- and this is another secret that was buried in the budget -- by delaying lowered discount rate assumptions. A schedule will phase them in. Expect a huge spike in unfunded liabilities.

Kudos to Joe Cahill at Crain's for finding this.

Treasurer Frerichs urges Gov. Rauner to champion budget, tax hikes he vetoed – INN

Comment: Hey Ferichs, you're the Treasurer. Why don't you go to New York and try to sell this phony budget?

State budget deal contains a junk-free sweetener for Chicago – Crain’s

Comment: Outrageous. See our own article on this in the right column.

Illinois reaps market reward for break in gridlock – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

The end of a two-year-old budget logjam drove a sharp narrowing of Illinois’ spread penalties last week as the market looked favorably on passage of a spending plan with $5 billion in tax hikes.

Illinois’s concocted budget crisis a red flag for all pension holders – The Hill

These types of giveaways and over-spending argue that since the 1990s, Illinois has not had a genuine budget crisis, but instead, seriatim manufactured budget crises. These budget crises have grown in length and intensity as they have succeeded in advancing Speaker Madigan’s political agendas.

Illinois using hybrid 401(k)s to stop pension hemorrhaging – BenefitsPro

Budget deal claims it will save $500 million annually, but some have their doubts.

Illinois’ $21 billion in school debt pushes up property taxes – Illinois Policy

  School districts across Illinois owe nearly $21 billion in long-term debt. That’s an increase of over 67 percent since 2002, when debt equaled $12.3 billion. School debt grew at nearly double the rate of inflation over the 2002-2015 period.

Fresh from budget deal, Illinois awaits fate of credit ratings – Reuters

A decision on whether Illinois becomes the first U.S. state whose bond ratings tip into junk was not imminent on Monday as credit rating agencies said they were still reviewing the state's newly enacted budget and tax package.

With new chief of staff pick, Rauner signals war – Greg Hinz – Crain’s

Comment: The left despises the Illinois Policy Institute, from which the new chief of staff comes.

Moody’s downgrades Rockford’s rating – WREX

The city announced that Moody’s Investors Service recently downgraded the rating on Rockford’s general obligation debt to A2 from A1. They also assigned the city a negative outlook.

Illinois tax increase welcome in Wisconsin – INN

Southern Wisconsin State Rep. Todd Novak's district has has a 2.2 percent jobless rate. Novak says there are 100,000 jobs open in Wisconsin. He says Illinois' economic refugees are welcome to apply.

Rauner replaces Chief of Staff Goldberg with Illinois Policy’s Rasmussen – Sangamon Sun

Comment: Boom. Better late than never, and a great choice on the replacement.

Big financial woes linger in Illinois’ new budget – Reuters

Comment: The absurdity of claims this budget is "balanced" should be apparent.

The missing ingredient in Rauner’s Medicaid Rx – Crain’s

Monica Puente, a community health worker for Cook County Health & Hospitals System, canvasses the Englewood neighborhood to find Medicaid managed care members. - John R. Boehm
 

The trouble stems from the state's efforts to shift the bulk of its Medicaid population—about two-thirds of Illinois' 3.2 million Medicaid recipients—to managed care plans run by private insurers. But the insurers the state has hired are doing a lousy job of tracking down and working with Medicaid recipients who chose them or were assigned to them—though the insurers say the state's far-from-flawless record-keeping doesn't help matters. The state pays them regardless of whether they find people, but Illinois officials do withhold some money that insurers can earn back by hitting certain quality benchmarks.

Illinois: A State In Crisis – Forbes

Change here must come by force through financial distress since there is slim hope it will ever come through the political process. That is the solution being implemented in Puerto Rico and it is the eventual solution for Illinois.

School funding equity loses out to Chicago greed – Editorial – Daily Herald

"What lacks principled support is the blatant political money grab of Senate Bill 1, which would reform school funding all right, but would do so purely to reward the Chicago Public Schools system for its mismanagement."

A budget? Sort of. – News-Gazette

Madigan got what he wanted — a $5 billion increase in the state's personal income and corporate taxes — and beat back what he didn't want — the economic reforms Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner sought to jump-start the state's lagging economy. Even sweeter for Madigan, he did all this after splintering GOP opposition to the Democratic position.

Illinois has a budget, so when will ‘stability’ start? – INN

"It's a fallacy that this budget will increase stability," Skillicorn said Friday, a day after lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled House voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of more than $5 billion in tax hikes and a $36.5 billion budget. "The state is still in a cash flow crisis. The state is still in a debt crisis. And a credit downgrade still looms over the state."

How Illinois Courts Are Bankrupting The State – Forbes

The irresponsible pension obligations have become so massive that they obscure another big cost—the phenomenally high rate by which Illinois employees seem to get injured and file workers’ compensation claims. Here, the problem lies primarily with Illinois courts.

Gov. Rauner Op-Ed: Here’s how the new budget fails Illinois – Crain’s

Comment: Rauner's first priority now should be firing his communications people and most of the rest of his staff.

Illinois budget implements pension reforms for certain state, Chicago plans – Pensions&Investments

"The state has yet to release an actuarial analysis on the changes and expected savings, but the changes are not expected to dramatically reduce the state's unfunded pension liabilities."   Translation: Faux "reform."  

Senate president: budgetary bleeding stopped, infusion still needed – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: But, but but Senator Cullerton, you just said two days ago you "saved the state," and most who voted with you have been making similar claims.

Sabotaging Illinois: Legislators’ tax-hike budget won’t stanch the exodus of jobs and people – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"Legislators who imposed this year's increase despite Gov. Bruce Rauner's opposition hope that by next year's elections you'll once again forget. Forget that they voted to raise your taxes before they passed major reforms. Forget how they set this state to shrivel as its neighbors thrive. Forget how they sabotaged Illinois. Don't forget."

Illinois moves into the top 20 personal income tax states – Sun-Times

Comment: More meaningful is the total state and local tax burden per capita. Rankings their generally put us from first to fourth highest.

Free Lights Program to save Illinois taxpayers millions in energy costs | Economy | ilnews.org

Two Illinois state offices are partnering with Grainger Industrial Supply to reduce waste and save taxpayer money by making state facilities more energy efficient through the Free Lights Program.

Taxation Without Reformation – City Journal

Considering that situation, bold reforms were necessary. What Illinois did, instead, was the least that it could do to avoid getting its bond rating dropped to junk status. You have to wonder how much deeper the crisis has to become to get the state’s leaders to act decisively, and whether they’ll miscalculate and run out of time before they have that chance.

Why Illinois budget Armageddon will spread to other states – CNBC

"In the case of Illinois, a new villain has come onto the scene in guise of the sober, supposedly truth-telling entities known as the ratings agencies."

Sales tax hikes take effect in 50 Illinois taxing districts – Illinois Policy

More than 50 Illinois counties, municipalities and business districts started imposing sales tax increases ranging from 0.25-1.5 percent as of July 1.

Letter: Public employees already paying for problem they didn’t create – Northwest Herald

TRS head Dick Ingram is right about this. The Tier 2 "reforms" are a disaster in themselves.

Illinois spending bill still higher than average – Daily Herald

The $36 billion spending package voted on Thursday by Illinois legislators is less than what the state is estimated to have spent in the last fiscal year when there was no budget, but more than the average over the last decade.

Even With A State Budget, Illinois Education Money Could Be Trapped – WBEZ

Comment: If you thought the budget debate was over, you didn't know about the booby-trap on school funding Madigan stuck in. And much worse will come.

Cullerton Warns Of “Dire Consequences” If House Doesn’t Override Budget Veto – CBS Chicago

Cmment: "We saved the state," said Culerton regarding the budget and tax increase the Senate voted for. Ahahahahahah.

Fake News on loss of accreditation due to no budget – Edgar County Watchdogs

"It took a while, but we eventually succeeded in obtaining the alleged letter from the Higher Learning Commission being touted as the death to Illinois universities. People always “quoted” it, but could never produce it, now we know why."

Aetna threatens to exit Illinois Medicaid over budget crisis – Crain’s

It plans to terminate its Medicaid contracts, Aetna spokesman T.J. Crawford wrote today in an email. Aetna's exit would be the latest casualty of a chaotic state budget standoff that has left $14.7 billion in overdue bills. Universities have laid off thousands of people. Roadwork has stalled. Nonprofits are cutting back services or closing.

For Illinois Medicaid, the loss of a big insurer would mean a major shift. The roughly 235,000 low-income and disabled recipients Aetna covers would have to be moved to another health plan that might not have the same network of doctors and hospitals.

‘HookyGate’ at the Illinois House: Why are dozens of lawmakers no-shows? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Comment: "Only 54 of 118 members were on the House floor reporting to work Tuesday. Only 59 members were recorded at the start of the workday on Wednesday. While some probably stayed away from the show trial in protest, this is very fishy respecting the other. It's now about simple dereliction. Some must have wanted to ensure a quorum wasn't met so the vote would be delayed.

Illinois lawmakers face budget rage – Politico

Comment: When even this author writes about the rage you know it must be real. That's Natasha Korecki, the most biased and incompetent reporter in the Springfield press corps. And, to all budget critics, no violence or threats of violence. Knock it off.

A look at the Illinois budget – WAND

Comment: Some of the specifics listed here, but not how they say, without questioning, that the new budget would save $1.5 billion on pensions. Don't accept that. It has never been documented and the press never asks for any validation.

Moody’s warns Illinois budget proposal may not be enough to avoid junk rating – Illinois Policy

Moody’s Investors Service said simply passing a budget won’t be enough to avoid junk because it doesn’t address Illinois’ many crises.

Even With A State Budget, Illinois Education Money Could Be Trapped – WBEZ

Thanks to a booby trap that Madigan stuck in the 650 page spending plan that was popped on the House just hours before it had to vote.

Tax, Budget Vote May Be Too Late for Illinois to Escape ‘Junk’ Status – WTTW

Comment: That would be the hat trick Madigan wants. Tax increase, no reforms and downgrade so he can use the "Governor Junk" theme against Rauner.

Illinois Budget Deal Would Leave Many Problems Unaddressed – Fox Business

This same article ran in the Wall Street Journal.

Illinois Bonds Rally as State Moves Toward Ending Record Impasse – Bloomberg

Our prediction. They'll drop hard again. Hard to say when, but certainly within a year or two.

Income tax hike a necessary evil in quest to fix state’s woes – Editorial – The Southern

Comment: Well, at least they acknowledged that the crisis isn't over, in contrast to so many lawmakers lying about the results.

Blue State Budget Breakdowns$ – Opinion – WSJ

"Budget showdowns cast a pall over the holiday weekend in Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of politicians. While all dysfunctional governments are dysfunctional in their own way, the three blue states are hitting the same progressive dead end."

Fracking Might Come to Illinois – Alton Daily News

Lone GOP Senate vote: ‘My district told me’ to support budget package – Sun-TImes

The only Illinois Senate Republican who voted with Democrats to approve a budget package says he did so because “in the end, you vote your district.”

Don’t Count on Pension Plans for Your Retirement – Newsmax

As the old adage goes, you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Just like you don’t want to invest all of your money in a single stock, you shouldn’t place all of your hope in your company or agency pension plan. If the plan goes under, you will be the one losing out.

Illinois House, be careful with this tax hike. Where are all those reforms? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"If you can boast of real reforms, you'll have an answer when all those taxpaying constituents look you in the eye and ask: 'A 32-percent price increase — for what?'"

Suburban lawmaker criticizes budget earmarks, calls out GOP colleague for his vote – INN

Comment: People are starting to take a look at what's in the bills just passed.

Illinois Senate overrides Rauner vetoes of budget package – Sun-Times

The House will vote on the override on Thursday, apparently. The text of Rauner's veto messages is linked here.

Rauner, Schneider say Madigan broke good faith with tax hike measure – Sangamon Sun

IL GOP Chairman Schneider: "Madigan broke away from good faith budget negotiations with the intent of pushing his own plan to protect the broken status quo. Today, Madigan then introduced his massive 1,241-page tax-and-spend plan and gave lawmakers only hours to read, debate, and vote on the package.”

Kadner: 20 years of political failure in Illinois – Opinion – Sun-Times

Twenty years ago a freshman Republican state senator cast a vote that killed a plan to cut property taxes. She went on to become the first woman to hold a caucus leadership position in the Illinois Legislature, even though property taxes skyrocketed during her years in office.

Senate Dems to try to go it alone on budget, tax votes – Sun-Times

Illinois Senate Democrats appear ready to go it alone on voting Tuesday for a spending and revenue package that passed with bipartisan support in the House — with House Speaker Michael Madigan on Monday accusing Gov. Bruce Rauner of “intimidation” of legislators and declaring he’ll move to override his vowed vetoes.

Senate adjourns with no tax hike, budget votes – INN

But Senate President Cullerton now says he will call the budget vote tomorrow.

Tech start-ups head to Midwest, spurred by Trump victory – USA Today

Comment: Attributing the trend to the presidential election is unsupported.

Business leaders decry tax hike with no reforms – INN

"After yesterday's activities and votes on the tax hike, this has truly become the worst legislative session for employers in this state."

McSweeney: New bill would repeal Madigan tax increase – INN

"The tax hike bill passed last night is an absolute outrage," McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said. "If it's enacted, it would drive more people out of the state. It would be final nail in the coffin of Illinois."

Why Rauner should veto a $15 minimum wage – Opinion – Chicago Sun-Times

By Ed Rensi is the former president and CEO of McDonald’s and a member of the Job Creators Network.

Despite veto threat, credit agency calls budget progress ‘concrete’ – Sun-TImes

Comment: Just remember that credit rating agencies don't care about the interests of service recipients or taxpayers. They care about bondholders (and they stink at that).

Illinois governor promises tax-hike veto – A.P.

Since this had to pass with a supermajority, the veto almost certainly will be overridden.

Will Illinois fight Trump panel drive for personal voter data? – Chicago Sun-Times

The Illinois State Board of Elections has a board meeting on Monday with a sizzling issue suddenly landing from the White House: Will the state of Illinois turn over personal information about Illinois voters to President Donald Trump’s new “election integrity” commission?

Illinois Financial Disaster: Clean Up Your Own Damn Mess – Stump

Comment: I like disagreement from people I respect, as Mary Pat Campbell does here. However, she didn't answer the challenge at the end of my article, which is to describe a solution that doesn't include bankruptcy. Further, I've always made clear bankruptcy is a bad option. That's not the question. It's about whether it's the only option. As for whether the rest of the country should support bankruptcy for Illinois, I'm fine with letting them vote in their own self-interest. Illinois is a drag on the national economy and on safety net programs. What's going to cost the country less?

Gov Rauner vows to veto Speaker Madigan’s $5 billion tax increase, $36.5 billion spending plan – INN

Almost certainly will be overridden because passage of the bills today took a supermajority vote.

TAX INCREASE PASSES. HERE’S THE ROLL CALL.

Senate all but certain to pass, too. Rauner says he will veto it, but since this had to pass with a supermajority, the veto almost certainly will be overridden.

Madigan’s $5 billion tax hike – Eric Allie Cartoon

video
https://www.illinoispolicy.org/daily-comics/madigans-5-billion-tax-hike/

Illinois Republicans abandon term limits – Illinois Policy

"Virtually every reform Rauner and legislative Republicans once sought is gone or watered-down to the point of uselessness. Collective bargaining reforms: Gone. Lowering income tax rates to 3 percent: Gone. Stand-alone 401(k)-style plans for new state workers: Gone. And term limits? Gone."

Here’s One Record Illinois Doesn’t Want to Attain: QuickTake Q&A – Bloomberg

Comment: In our view, Bloomberg is dead wrong to say bankruptcy-for-states is "extremely unlikely."

As frustrations mount, Speaker Madigan says budget bills aren’t ready – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Make sure Illinois is downgraded so Dems can run on the "Governor Junk" Rauner theme they've already been rolling out, while still pretending he's trying to get a budget past. Classic Madigan. UPDATE: Now Madigan has changed tunes and issued a statement saying the tax increases will be voted on Sunday.

“From Horrific To Catastrophic”: Court Ruling Sends Illinois Into Financial Abyss – ZeroHedge

Friday’s court ruling, which meant that the near-insolvent state must pay an additional $593 million per month, may have been the straw that finally broke the Illinois camel's back.

Illinois Republicans abandon term limits – Illinois Policy

Term limits were once a key component of GOP plans to dismantle Illinois’ corrupt political machine, but Republicans in Springfield have thrown in the towel on this reform.

Fed tax plan could cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars – INN

The interest deduction is used by farmers in nearly every aspect of their operation. Land, equipment, even seed to plant are typically financed by loans. There's discussion of getting rid of that deduction in Washington in order to raise revenue that would offset tax cuts.

Rule change sends some local government balance sheets into red – INN

A new change regarding what a local government has to list in their annual ledgers is sending balances from black to red across the nation. It could affect whether the next big employer decides to move into town.

Illinois lawmakers return after missing key budget deadline – Associated Press

Illinois lawmakers are returning to work Saturday after missing a key deadline to prevent the state from starting an unprecedented third consecutive fiscal year without a budget, which means the state is entering dangerous territory.

Judge Orders Illinois to Start Paying Medicaid Backlog – Bloomberg

Friday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court takes the state’s finances from horrific to catastrophic,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, said in an emailed statement after the ruling. “Payments to the state’s pension funds; state payroll including legislator pay; General State Aid to schools and payments to local governments -- in some combination -- will likely have to be cut.” She added that bond payments will continue “uninterrupted.”

Ignore naysayers and pass a state budget right now – Editorial – Sun-Times

Comment: Just giving equal times to the wackos at the Sun-Times editorial board, who've never had the slightest understanding of our fiscal crisis.

Illinois Races to Cobble Budget Deal as Downgrade to Junk Looms – Bloomberg

Comment: No, House Speaker Mike Madigan isn't racing for a solution and he calls the shots. His goal is a worsened crisis so he can use the "Governor Junk Bond" theme which Illinois Dems are already rolling out against Rauner.

Lawmakers question leases and building purchase – WAND

The state is months late on lease payments for buildings and being evicted from others. Despite those issues lawmakers want to know why Illinois is leasing certain buildings while exercising an option to purchase another effective July first.

Are Illinois taxpayers finally waking up? – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

"There simply isn't enough taxpayer tolerance, or union cooperation, to bridge these systems to recovery. It's too late."

Cash-strapped Northeastern Illinois U paid big for speakers despite ‘optics’ – Sun-Times

Cash-strapped Northeastern Illinois University — which came under fire for agreeing to pay former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett a fat fee to speak at graduation last month — has paid more than $260,000 to 28 other speakers since 2005, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Madigan has steered Illinois into crisis – Editorial – Northwest Herald

"His leadership has brought us here, and so long as Democrats continue to meekly follow where he leads, we have little hope for real improvement in our state’s fortunes."

Madigan’s goal is to protect his enablers. They don’t deserve it. – Editorial – Chicago Tribune.

"Madigan's math isn't about tax policy. His game is blame-spreading. Madigan wants the forever-in-the-minority Republican lawmakers to own the state's financial catastrophe."

5 things Illinoisans need to know about House Democrats’ budget

Much like other plans in the General Assembly before it, the House Democrats’ budget plan does nothing to structurally reform state government and bring down costs, but instead increases the burden on Illinois taxpayers.

Illinois Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno will resign Saturday – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Nice woman but just not up to the job, as we've written bluntly before. Expect a very sincere statement of regret from her Dem counterpart, Senate President John Cullerton.

How Illinois became America’s most messed-up state – CNN Money

Comment: Nice to see some reporters, like this one, starting to use a more accurate number for unfunded pensions -- $251 billion. That's Moody's estimate, and far different from the officially reported $130 billion still commonly cited.

llinois is in deep trouble: What investors need to know – Wall Street Journal

WSJ is the source here, reprinted by Fox.

Madigan’s spending plan is unreasonable

Like the “grand bargain,” the Brady plan and the Illinois Senate Democrats’ budget before it, the Illinois House Democrats’ plan relies on more than $5 billion in new tax revenues because it includes no significant structural spending reforms.

Boilermakers offer template for change in Illinois universities, analyst says – Opinion – Chicago City Wire

Indiana's Purdue University offers a great economics class -- not so much for students, but for every comparable Illinois school, a policy analyst said on a Chicago-based talk show recently.

Budget Hopes Dim as Illinois House Property Tax Freeze Fails – Associated Press

A property tax freeze critical to ending Illinois' historic budget jam failed in the House Wednesday and the Republican governor who is demanding the freeze threatened to keep lawmakers in session over the July 4 holiday unless there is an agreement on a spending plan by the end of Friday.

IL Property Tax Freeze fails in House; local educators respond – KFVS

Comment: This bill, SB 484, was a fake freeze anyway -- full of whopping holes and exceptions. Details linked here.

Illinois’ so-called ‘property tax freeze’ legislation exempts Chicago Public Schools and city of Chicago

And it's full of other whopping holes. That gimmick bills like this get any attention from the regular press is a scandal unto itself.

Rule change sends some local government balance sheets into red – INN

Comment: Keep in mind that even these new standards haven't gotten to the truth and Chicago proves it. See details in our earlier article linked here.

Illinois Republican spending plan includes millions of dollars for suburban projects – Illinois Policy

Affluent communities would receive millions in grants under a Republican spending plan.

Illinois cities, towns, villages trapped paying ‘Illinois Penalty’ because of state’s poor credit rating | Statewide | ilnews.org

Even without being downgraded to junk status, as is expected if the state enters the next fiscal year without a budget, the Land of Lincoln is already in some bad company, and it’s towns, villages, and cities are trapped paying an “Illinois Penalty.” Comment: Dozens of them will be in bankruptcy, including Chicago, as we told you long ago.

Illinois Is Back in Court Over Medicaid Bills – Bloomberg

Illinois is bracing for another hit to its finances if a judge forces the state to immediately accelerate payments on its $2.8 billion backlog of Medicaid bills as a June 30 deadline to pass a budget approaches. UPDATE: The judge has given until Friday to negotiate the payment.

Democrats’ fake property tax freeze won’t save Illinois’ underwater housing market – Illinois Policy

A four-year freeze riddled with exceptions won’t help Illinois homeowners. Illinoisans need a long-term freeze on local property tax levies and a cap on the tax burden for individual homeowners.

Supreme Court ruling could mean more litigation against religiously affiliated hospitals over pensions, expert says – Cook County Record

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow religiously affiliated hospitals to be included in the religious exemption of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) may lead to further litigation against such organizations in the future.

Illinois Is in a $6 Billion Budget Hole and Flirting With Junk – Bloomberg

Comment: Just our usual reminder that the true deficit is two or three times that "$6 billion." Bloomberg is usually more accurate than this.

Illinois House Democrats propose 4-year property tax freeze – A.P.

Comment: It's just a political stunt -- riddled with holes and exceptions. More on that coming.

Speaker Madigan unveils House budget plan that also relies on massive tax hike – INN

The $36.5 billion budget bill proposed by the House spends about half a billion dollars more than Republican leaders' plan and will rely on at least $5 billion in tax increases, as both the Republicans' and Senate Democrats' plans do.

Budget crisis could snatch solar cash – Crain’s

Recent legislation introduced by Senate Republicans in Springfield with the governor's backing would divert for general uses up to $160 million from ratepayer-generated funds the law allocated to develop solar power in low-income neighborhoods.

Will Illinois Need a Federal Bailout? – Weekly Standard

Comment: It won't get one.

Rauner’s reform demands: From 44 to 0 – Illinois Policy

Gov. Bruce Rauner has compromised over and over to strike a deal, to the point of abandoning every reform he once demanded. But no matter how much Rauner gave, House Speaker Mike Madigan never budged.

Talks over boosting Illinois Medicaid payments fail – Reuters

A U.S. judge should order Illinois to pay Medicaid providers about $1 billion a month to ensure medical care continues for the three million recipients of the health program after talks with the state reached an impasse, according to a court filing on Monday.

Madigan Introduces New Set of Demands as Preconditions for Budget Deal – WTTW

“Only because the governor wants to impose that on people who depend upon public schools to education children, OK? It’s part of the extreme right agenda,” Madigan said of Rauner insistence on a property tax freeze.

Day 4: Illinois House and Senate adjourn special session after only 16 minutes – Illinois Policy

Four days of special session have cost Illinois taxpayers an additional $200,000 for less than 80 minutes of work.

Alcohol border sales trouble brewing between Illinois and Indiana – INN

With high alcohol taxes in Illinois and neighboring Indiana showing an interest in relaxing strict alcohol regulations, Illinois distributors fear alcohol sales could move out of state.

What Rauner really walked into – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"Has state government's fiscal condition worsened under Rauner? Yes, it has, largely because he won't go along with budget gimmicks and because he wants reforms that would give employers confidence in Illinois' economic climate and future governance. Was Springfield a Utopia of comity and balanced budgets in the decades before voters elected him to shake up the town? That's the fiction some rival politicians now peddle."

Illinois Woman to Intern in City Where She Was Found as Baby – Associated Press

A woman known as baby "Crystal Hope" after she was rescued as an infant from freezing to death in an eastern Illinois cemetery has returned to the same city 21 years later to intern at a church.

House looks at school funding, but not budget – JournalStar

Day four of the General Assembly’s special sessions Saturday focused on school funding reform while any deal to actually pay through education next year through a state budget remained out of sight.

5 years in, video gaming ringing up huge numbers – Pantagraph

A total of $44.4 billion has been played on machines, with the state netting $882 million and municipalities $176 million.

Madigan, Durkin Issue Statements on Budget Stalemate – NBC Chicago

Comment: Blah, blah, blah. Not worth reading.

Medicaid expansion could end early in Illinois under Senate Obamacare replacement bill – Chicago Tribune

Many low-income adults across the nation could lose Medicaid expansion coverage under the Senate's Obamacare replacement bill — but in Illinois those losses could come three years earlier because of a state law.

Judge’s ruling in trade secrets case indicates ‘inevitable disclosure’ doctrine still applies in IL – Cook County Record

Important to those of you who have or deal with non-compete agreements.

Democratic gov candidates upbraid Rauner for ‘racist’ campaign tactics – Chicago Sun-TImes

Comment: Of course they did. SOP for the today's left.

Metra inks $2.7M in contracts to lobbyist firms – Illinois Policy

Comment: We respectfully disagree that this is unwise spending, PROVIDED the lobbyists are good at the federal level, and assuming you look at this from a selfish perspective for Illinois. Billions of dollars can be had for millions properly spent. Sad, but that's the way Washington works if Illinois wants to get its fair share.

Madigan and the Do-Littles – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Day Two of the Illinois General Assembly's special session wound down Thursday without passage of a state budget. Surprised? Only 24 of the Senate's 37 Democrats showed up. Seventeen House lawmakers missed the day altogether. Rep. Cynthia Soto, D-Chicago, wasn't in Springfield because she was presenting her credentials to the Cook County Democratic Party. She'd rather be a commissioner on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and she wants the party's endorsement.

Day 2: Illinois House and Senate adjourn special session after only 23 minutes

Less than 43 minutes of work over two days has cost Illinois taxpayers $100,000.

Illinois legislators meet for 2nd day of budget session – NWI Times

Comment: And they did nothing but some virtue signalling and grandstanding -- voting on a bunch on nonbinding resolutions unrelated to the budget.

Illinois’ fiscal mess is all too familiar to Californians – Orange County Register

"If we don’t get a handle on our debts, without bleeding employers and individual taxpayers dry in the process, Illinois could be our future as well."

Black exodus accelerates in Cook County, census shows – Chicago Tribune

Between 2015 and 2016, more than 12,000 black residents left Cook County, an increase from the previous year when about 9,000 residents left. The greater Chicago area, which for the census includes parts of Indiana and Wisconsin, has lost nearly 46,000 black residents since 2010. That exodus is larger than in any other metropolitan area in the country.

$50,000 for 7 minutes of work today for Illinois House – Illinois Policy

The Illinois House of Representatives met for seven minutes and 30 seconds on June 21 before adjourning, failing to consider any budget proposals – and costing Illinois taxpayers $50,000 for less than 10 minutes of work.

Backlog of human rights cases expected to continue after lawmakers block Rauner executive order – INN

Before leaving town last month, lawmakers didn’t give Gov. Bruce Rauner spending authority to pay down the backlog of bills the state owes. However, they did take action to block the governor from addressing the the backlog of human rights cases.

Lucci: Forget the unemployment rate, Illinois is in a depression – Opinion – INN

Illinois economic activity has grown at a slower rate than what occurred during the worst decade of America’s Great Depression, from 1930-1939.

In this part of the Midwest, the problem isn’t China. It’s too many jobs. – The Washington Post

In Kosciusko County, Indiana, the lack of laborers not only threatens to stunt the growth of these companies, experts warn, but it could also force them to decamp their home town in search of workers.

The Illinois Capitulation – Wall Street Journal

"Gov. Bruce Rauner cries uncle on taxes and economic reform."  

Puerto Rico And The Mess To Come – Daily Caller

"Why should you care about what happens to the economy of an island you’ll probably never visit? Because...the problems in Puerto Rico may well visit a state near you soon...."