But those in the Springfield bubble believe whatever is best for the 35,000 state workers in AFSCME, including the 37.5-hour work week, is best for their campaign coffers. They think they should set labor rates rather than the local market. They think schools and state colleges should be able to jack up the final years of teacher and administrator salaries to boost pensions because the state must make the contributions. They think more government is better government in this land of 6,968 taxing bodies.
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Thursday she will start issuing paychecks to state lawmakers, after a Cook County judge ruled that the law requires legislators get their paychecks even if there is no state budget.
Although the ruling allows not-for-profit hospitals in Illinois to breathe a sigh of relief, the law isn't safe yet. The Supreme Court didn't weigh in on the constitutionality of the property tax exemption law.
In just six years, the total debt Illinois households are on the hook for has jumped to $56,000, or 31 percent. That’s a $13,000 increase for each household. Total unfunded debt for state and local governments in Illinois now totals $267 billion.
Proposed legislation to commemorate former President Barack Obama’s birthday as a state holiday in Illinois would have cost taxpayers nearly $20 million in state personnel expenses and lost productivity.
"Ignorance toward local government issues is a plague that has the power to take down our country.... The reality is, while it may not be as exciting, Americans are more likely to feel the effects of changes made inside city halls than most bills passed by Congress."
During the long run-up to passage of the ratepayer-financed subsidies that will keep two money-losing Illinois nuclear plants open, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was one of the most vocal critics of the legislation.
Now her office is defending the law in federal court.
The plan would pool $900 million in existing state agency spending. It would also require $250 million to connect agency systems. Rauner says a cost-cutting pension overhaul could be one source of funding.
It's $530,000 behind in payments from state coffers for services, from adult protective services and senior services to aid to adults living with a disability who have been abused to domestic violence programs and preventative education programs.
The bill that advanced to the Senate floor would require vendors doing business with the state to pay their employees $16.36 an hour. Democrat sponsor Daniel Biss, who just announced he’s running for governor, said it’s a living wage act.
Comment: Looks like Sen. Biss will be playing for the far left progressives in his bid for governor.
Negotiations between government-worker unions and governing bodies are conducted behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny. And yet taxpayers are required to pay for whatever extravagant benefits the unions obtain. Recently a bill in the General Assembly would have brought more transparency – and accountability – to the process, but it failed to make it out of committee.
Two state of Illinois employees who do not want to pay dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union plan to take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday dismissed the lawsuit brought by Mark Janus and Brian Trygg, who argue that their First Amendment rights are being violated by being forced to pay dues to a union they don't want to be join.
While much of the US is working to piece together a patchwork of blockchain regulations, Illinois unveiled a sweeping plan yesterday that would see the state implement blockchain solutions across multiple government agencies.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's personal email accounts have served as a private avenue of influence where executives and investors sought favorable action from City Hall, raising questions about whether some of the messages crossed the line into lobbying and violated the city's ethics law, the Chicago Tribune has found.
A longstanding rule requiring AT&T to provide landline service to everyone in Illinois could be going away, but watchdogs say the proposal needs more safeguards to protect rural and low-income customers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of the jobs in some areas of downstate and central Illinois pay wages less than $15 an hour. One instance is the Carbondale-Marion area, where the median hourly wage is $13.85. That would require businesses to pay more in salaries to more than half of the 52,000 workers in those cities.
The 12 disparate measures comprising the grand bargain were cobbled together in an attempt to recharge stalled negotiations over a two-year budget stalemate that has fueled a multibillion-dollar budget deficit. An Associated Press analysis of Senate records shows nearly 4,700 witnesses wanting a say in at least one of the individual measures. Less than a fifth recorded support.
Through collective bargaining agreements with the state, government-worker unions require access to workers’ social security numbers – even if those workers are not members of the union. A bill protecting worker privacy recently failed to get enough votes to pass out of committee.
Rauner said Friday that his office has asked the high court to uphold a labor board ruling in his favor. That ruling last fall allowed Rauner to impose his preferred contract conditions on 38,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.
Comment: We're doing the opposite of what should be done. It should be repealed at the state level but kept in place at the federal level, subject to a large exemption and protections to avoid forced sales of family businesses.
One temporary employment firm owner says part of the problem with lawmakers in Springfield is that they don’t understand the real world. Case in point: new legislation aimed at protecting day laborers.
The Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credit, or EDGE credit, is a tool that the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity uses to incentivize businesses to locate or stay in Illinois. Lawmakers Thursday heard the DCEO’s proposal for a replacement that they say would be better for small businesses and more responsible with taxpayer dollars.
Despite Illinois’ billions in deficit spending and skyrocketing debt, the Illinois House of Representatives passed House Bill 278, which would transfer an additional $300 million per year of state income tax funds to local governments, continuing to prop up local overspending that fuels high property taxes.
Relaxing trade barriers between the U.S. and Cuba could unlock millions of dollars in exports for Illinois agriculture producers, estimates show, and industry advocates are optimistic such a change is coming.
As Illinois Democrats sound alarms, Republicans insist reform is needed because the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, isn't working. The Republican measure that advances Thursday to the House Budget Committee has come under fire from the political left and right.
The pension crisis in California is no longer just visible in actuarial projections; it is starting to show up in government workers’ reduced benefit checks, which the state pension fund can no longer afford to pay in full.
Comment: Yet in Illinois, where the numbers are worse, full payouts continue and grow absurdly thanks to automatic 3% annual "COLAs."
Beth Purvis said Wednesday the plan would provide $215 million for retirement accounts administered by Chicago schools. Purvis wants support for proposals by Republican senators Jil Tracy of Quincy and Michael Connelly of Lisle (LYL'). She says lawmakers could approve them quickly and Rauner would sign them.
Taxpayers are at risk of losing the progress made to improve the state government’s dated bookkeeping infrastructure, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office. Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced suspension of funding for the governor’s overhaul of the state’s Enterprise Resource Program across dozens of state agencies and departments.
Comment: Mendoza is a saboteur and she has the checkbook now, intent on wrecking the administrative branch of the state.
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is suspending funding for a technology initiative Gov. Bruce Rauner has said would save taxpayer money and promote efficiency, data security and transparency in state government.
Comment: Professor Skeel is among those advocating for changes in the federal Bankruptcy Code to allow states to file bankruptcy, which Illinois should be asking for, too. Too bad this forum is not being held in Illinois.
The lawsuit, filed in February in St. Clair County, accuses Northstar Lottery Group of manipulating the number of winning tickets available for purchase and discontinuing scratch-off games before large payouts, depriving customers from jackpots.
The House panel, which met for the first time Tuesday, aims to pick up where members say a previous commission convened by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner left off. That commission made funding recommendations last month but produced no legislation.
As the state's budget deficit, bill backlog, and unfunded pension obligations climb to record levels, some market participants and politicians are questioning how long Illinois can preserve investment-grade status.
"Entrepreneur and investor J.B. Pritzker moved a step closer to running for Illinois governor on Tuesday, with the announcement that he has started an exploratory committee with $200,000 in seed money."
Comment: Don't you love how his title is "entrepreneur and investor"? For Rauner, it was always "private equity billionaire" or the like.
“If you have a certain amount of capital investment you can make every year, you’re going to make it where you can get the best return on investment, and for a number of reasons Illinois is not that investment attractor right now.”
The move by Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza targets one of the governor's priorities and comes as Illinois faces a record $12.3 billion backlog of unpaid bills that has more than tripled in the 21 months the state has gone without a full operating budget.
Comment: Expect Mendoza to do all she can to sabotage the administrative branch.
Adding official injury to 21 months of insult, Moody’s issued a report on Illinois universities and community colleges. “Illinois will fare worse than its regional and national peers with decreasing numbers of high school students over the next 15 years. … Illinois is already a net exporter of high school graduates with net out migration of nearly 17,000 students in fall 2014, the second highest of any state in the country,” a release said.
Illinois once enjoyed an annual population boost from Michigan. But in Illinois’ downward economic spiral, migration between Illinois and Michigan has tipped to favor the faster-growing Wolverine State.
For a small but probably growing number of California’s government workers, the worst-case scenario is here: The failure to adequately fund public pensions is leading to devastating reductions in their promised retirement benefits. If the pension problem were a cloud of carbon monoxide, there would be no more need to wait for a canary to keel over.
Comment: And a top marginal tax rate over 13% hasn't avoided that.
A new bill to raise the Illinois minimum wage to $15 an hour is expected to be introduced in the state House this week as Democratic representatives revive a push they had largely abandoned over the past several years.
Excel is growing at a healthy clip. Rising demand for craft soda in the St. Louis market means they’ve run out of space and are gearing up to build a new distribution center. But it won’t be in the Land of Lincoln. Not if Illinois lawmakers pass the sugary drinks tax.
If you get your nails done at a salon or have your lawn mulched next spring, the service could be taxed under a plan Illinois lawmakers are considering to help fill a multibillion-dollar hole in the state budget.
Great article by Jim Nowlan: "The overriding, really complex challenge for the future is how to provide support for the increasing numbers among us for whom there will be little work because of the lightning-speed advances taking place in artificial intelligence. And at the same time, work with these folks to develop a sense of purpose for their lives."
The S&P report, issued Wednesday, looks at pension pressures facing the nation’s 15 largest cities. In addition to Indianapolis, those cities are Austin, Texas; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Houston; Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles; New York; Philadelphia; Phoenix; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and San Jose, California.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said it will submit a “request for information” next week, asking for a company to come in and build the long-stalled South Suburban Airport with private money.
Lawmakers wrapped up the week without acting on the so-called grand bargain in the state Senate. Leading Democrats say they’re waiting on Republicans to line up votes and accused the governor of meddling in the deal.
Rauner said earlier this week he didn’t peel anyone off. He said he told senators to get a reasonable compromise.
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked for the immediate resignation of 46 remaining U.S. attorneys that were appointed under the previous presidential administration.
That directive includes Zachary Fardon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who was sworn in under the Obama administration in 2013 after being nominated by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.
An Illinois appellate court ruled in favor of AFSCME March 1, but that isn’t the end of the court battle between the state and its largest government-worker union. The court’s order to prevent the governor from implementing his contract offer is temporary, and there is much more to come.
Illinois has not had a budget since June 2015, and court-ordered spending had the state government spending $8 billion more than it took in last year. In spite of that, the House passed a bill this week, in a party-line vote, that would pull another $300 million out of the state’s coffers annually, with little discussion on how to pay for it.
The threatened benefit cuts, which could impact 1.5 million retirees and workers, stem from deep financial problems affecting some multiemployer pension plans - traditional defined benefit plans jointly funded by groups of employers - typically in industries like construction, trucking, mining and food retailing.
More than 10 million U.S. workers and retirees are covered by 1,400 of these plans - many of them in Trump-supporting U.S. Rust Belt states like Ohio and Michigan.
"Basically if this bill passes, then a resident of Illinois could have his or her firearms confiscated if a family member alleges that the person in question is an immediate threat to himself or others. All they have to do is file a petition and report that allegation to the government. I say allegation, because under this bill, no real proof is required to take away someone’s firearms."
What state officials described as a "troubling" loss of 16,700 jobs in December turns out not to have been so bad after all.
In fact, Illinois gained 2,000 jobs in December, according to revised figures released Thursday with the state's January unemployment report. The state added another 1,700 jobs in January.
"We acknowledge it's a big revision, but the revisions don't change the fact that Illinois continues to lag behind many other states and is still playing catch up to jobs numbers from 17 years ago," said Bob Gough, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
On March 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Service Employees International Union in its dispute with a group of home-based providers of personal care for those with disabilities and child care providers, saying the union can serve as the state-recognized representative of those caregivers, against the care providers’ wishes.
The Senate’s “grand bargain” contains a one-year spending “cap” that won’t improve fiscal responsibility. A real cap must come with structural spending reforms to return spending to a level that taxpayers can afford.
Comment: This gets right to the point, and represents how I think most Illinoisans will react to the grand bargain: "Why should any taxpayer expect the General Assembly to get it right this time? Based on the out-migration rate of this state, the taxpayers understand this already and are leaving Illinois for surrounding states with lower tax burdens and cost of living."
Only in Illinois, the line makes a trick turn and shifts a large chunk of federal funds meant for poor children to pay down the state's pension debt in the teachers' retirement system — a loss of at least $59 million for school districts outside of Chicago.
Calling a one-year, $37.9 billion limit a “cap” on spending – especially when the Senate deal calls for a nearly $7 billion tax hike – is disingenuous. After just one year, lawmakers will be free to spend under the same old rules and policies that allowed them to create the budget crisis in the first place.
Comment: It has become entirely clear that the "grand bargain" is little more than a collection of gimmicks concocted to dress up a tax increase.
Rauner's comments came one day after his administration lost a court challenge to Comptroller Susana Mendoza over which state fund should be used to pay about 600 employees. The same day, Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the Illinois Supreme Court to stop workers' paychecks in the absence of a state budget. A judge in southwestern Illinois ruled against Madigan in that case last month.
Barring a block from the feds, the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program, a state-mandated IRA, is set for full implementation in June. It follows similar plans from equally frugal stewards of the people’s purse in other locales, most notably California. Apparently the introduction of state-run IRAs and 401ks like these, overseen by the same people, is the answer to our retirement woes.
In a state ranked at or near the bottom in most measures of school-funding inequality, federal funding can also be distributed inequitably — to pay down unfunded pension liability rather than to help children achieve academic success.
The Illinois balance sheet is based upon amounts at three different times. Most of the amounts are as of June 30, 2016, but the state’s largest liabilities, the unfunded pensions, are based upon June 30, 2015 valuations. The 2016 unfunded liabilities are at least $20 billion more than what was reported on the balance sheet. The unfunded retiree health care liability is based upon a June 30, 2014 valuation. I couldn’t find a new valuation on the web.
Without accurate and TIMELY financial data, how can Illinois citizens be active participants in their government’s financial decisions?
Comment: See our article linked here on the same subject.
Illinois could be $657 million short on revenue for the current fiscal year due to falling tax collections, according to a revised forecast released on Tuesday by a legislative commission.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) reported that revenue from personal and corporate income taxes and sales taxes was down 5 percent in the first eight months of fiscal 2017, compared with the same period in fiscal 2016.
Comment: The extreme problems caused by a freeze may be true, but the fact remains that rates are already suicidal in large parts of Illinois, threatening to make property "roach motels," as we wrote earlier.
Proft said if the budget passes the Senate and House, it leaves the governor with two hard choices: If he signs the budget, he betrays his campaign promises to provide tax relief to Illinois' long-suffering taxpayers. Signing the bill might even destroy his chances at re-election.
Comment: As one of our commenters pointed out, these numbers are not accurate for Illinois because they do not account for "pick-ups" -- local subsidies most teachers get to cover their portion of pension contributions. Thanks for being on the ball, Mike.
Dentists across the state, and around the country, who do work on patients with Illinois state employee insurance are forced to treat patients with minimal reimbursement for completed work – and they’re looking for a way out.
Site Selection magazine ranks Illinois as the third best state for new or expanding businesses, with 434 major projects coming to the state in 2017. Chicagoland is the best region in the country, with 424 of those projects.
That’s great news for the city and suburbs, but it’s terrible news for the rest of Illinois, southern Illinois lawmakers said.
Last week, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, did what he does best lately, he slammed the brakes on a genuine opportunity to attack one of the things holding our broken state back: An Illinois school funding structure that relies on wealth and geography to determine student success.
Comment: Yes, a very big threat. If the unions don't lose the "fair share" case pending in our Seventh Circuit US appellate court, they will probably lose in the US Supreme Court with a soon-to-be conservative majority.
A reckoning looms. an astonishing 1 in 4 Illinois residents — 3.14 million people — is now on this federal/state health program. Right now, Illinois picks up only a small percentage of the $3-billion-plus cost of this expansion. The feds pick up 95 percent of the tab this year. But soon the state could face a much ... much ... much bigger price tag.
AFSCME Executive Director Roberta Lynch announced Feb. 23 that union members voted to authorize a state worker strike. But state workers have another option. By becoming a fair share payer, state workers can report to work during a strike without facing union punishment. Here’s what state workers need to know about fair share status.
The federal government's extraordinary decision to seek and execute search warrants at the Caterpillar Inc. global headquarters this week indicates company officials have not been as forthcoming as previously claimed.
A state appeals court in Springfield has affirmed cities and other local governments have the right to modify workers’ employment and compensation agreements to prevent “pension spiking” without running afoul of the state constitution’s public worker pension protections.
Chase Bank’s annual Business Leader’s Outlook shows that executives for midsized businesses are more optimistic than they have been in the last seven years about how their businesses will fare in the coming year. Illinois’ business executives also think they’re going to do better. However, they think they’ll do it in spite of the state’s business climate. Forty-three percent are worried about Illinois’ red tape, far more than the rest of the nation.
Philadelphia's 1.5 cent beverage tax is already impacting jobs with both consumers and businesses suffering the consequences. Beverage sales have dropped 30 to 50 percent as consumers leave the City of Philadelphia to do their shopping.
Madigan sent letters to Indeed, Beyond.com, Ladders, Monster Worldwide and Vault as well as CareerBuilder requesting information about functions that appear to keep older people from building accurate resumes or profiles, according to a news release from her office.
Illinois had the highest black unemployment rate of any state at the end of 2016, holding that distinction for six consecutive quarters, according to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. The Land of Lincoln also has the largest gap between its white and black unemployment rates.
The Illinois Senate has adjourned without pushing its stalled budget compromise further.
But a Senate Democrat filed legislation Thursday spelling out services that could be subject to the state sales tax to battle a budget deficit. Olympia Fields Democratic Sen. Toi Hutchinson's legislation would extend the 6.25 percent sales tax to rented storage space, landscaping, pest control, body piercing and more.
Federal law enforcement officials searched three facilities of heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney Office for the Central District of Illinois said, prompting a sharp selloff in the company's stock.
The same scenarios are being played out along the state's borders with Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa. Instead, Illinois touts a few hundred Fortune 500 headquarter jobs settling in Chicago as economic development.
If the battle plan in Pleasant Prairie, WI is any indication, we're not only losing the economic development battle, we're being massacred.
The Senate voted 35-22 to approve the package, which would give $215 million to the pension fund in the current fiscal year ending June 30, and $221 million to the pension fund in fiscal year 2018.
Comment: This just might be the most odious element of the 'grand bargain.' All Illinois taxpayers would be forced to fund the pensions of the Chicago Teachers Union, a radically left organization that despises the economic system that it's supposed to be teaching kids to function in.
Key issues will face a roll call today after the Senate convenes. They include increasing the income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.99 percent and establishing a local property tax freeze. The property tax freeze is one issue Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has demanded as part of a budget deal during a two-year stalemate over an annual spending plan.
The legislation, aimed at cutting the state's pension costs by about $1 billion a year, is tied to several other bills, including appropriations for the remainder of the current fiscal year, that were negotiated by Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno in an effort to end Illinois' 20-month budget stalemate. All of the bills are tied to each other, so that if one were to fail to pass the entire package would go down.
Auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Senior Strategic Advisor and former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker says Illinois is ranked 48th out of 50 in their State Financial Position Index and Competitiveness Posture Report because of its massive pension liabilities and the high number of people leaving.
“People are voting with their feet,” Walker said. “If you look into the numbers, the first people to leave are the people of wealth and influence, who contribute disproportionately to revenues and disproportionately to charitable organizations.”
New Jersey will suffer financial collapse when its pension funds are depleted, beginning in 2021. The Court will decide whether hundreds of thousands of retired judges, teachers, and State employees lose their pensions and are impoverished or whether some $8 billion, one fourth of the State budget, will be taken from other, already underfunded purposes. As was true 20 years ago, most items have been covered in the press, but the frightening totality is still being ignored.
The Illinois Department of Revenue notes that, had the state grown at the national average from 2000 to 2015, it would not have had to increase taxes and would still have $19 billion more in revenues.
The biggest cause of Illinois’s budget woes is its personnel costs. Since 2000, pension and health insurance costs have more than tripled. In 2015, they alone soaked up more than a quarter (26.2 percent) of the entire budget. And it will get worse.
In Illinois, Lincoln's essential premise of "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" has been corrupted into "government of the casinos, by the casinos, and for the casinos" — as exemplified by the new casino legislation in Senate Bill 7.
Teachers, students, public employees and the public should be outraged at the diversion of taxpayer funds away from the Illinois Treasury to benefit gambling interests.
“I think a 40-hour work week is reasonable, not a 37 1/2 one that currently is in place, I think it’s reasonable to allow volunteers to help out in our state parks, I think it’s reasonable to pay people in state government based upon productivity and merit, not just seniority. These are reasonable proposals so rather than pushing for a strike, I hope that together we’ll collaborate and implement our proposed contract,” he said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner is planning a rare visit to Washington, D.C., this weekend for a gathering of Republican governors, but Rauner refuses to say whether he is ready to do something even more rare — meet with, or even acknowledge, President Donald Trump.
"I’m joking about “ILexit,” but less than you might think."
"Let’s face it, Illinois currently has only two things going for it: The Cubs, and the possibility that global warming has made the winters bearable. Beyond that, decades of dysfunctional government, public apathy, and lack of accountability have trapped the state in a death spiral."
The trial bar’s claim of profiteering is misdirection from the real issues. But if the trial bar wants more regulation of profit rates, it should begin with regulation of the profit rates of law firms that make their business on workers’ compensation cases.
Buried in the House rules lawmakers passed in January are a dozen new committees, bringing the total number of standing committees in the House to 45. Committee chairs receive a $10,326 stipend annually.
The Springfield economy has performed better than most in Illinois since the Great Recession, but the capital city is among areas with the most to lose from a budget deadlock dragging toward the end of its 20th month.
Southern Illinois and the surrounding area would take tens of billions of dollars in damage were an earthquake similar to what hit the area 205 years ago this month happen again. That’s the warning from the state’s emergency management agency.
Records from former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s divorce case show how he has been able to collect hefty benefit checks from the federal government after serving time in prison for looting hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign fund.
Illinois lawmakers need a new approach to budget-making – one that takes into account the state’s financial mess, shows respect for taxpayers, and prioritizes spending to meet the needs of the poorest and most disadvantaged residents.
Comment: One problem not mentioned here is that new teachers aren't offered anything close to reasonable retirement benefits. They are forced to pay in more than what's required to fund their own meager Tier 2 pensions for the purpose of subsidizing Tier 1s. And there's not nearly enough money in the system to pay those Tier 1s.
"This game, a degradation of democracy, could be disrupted by laws requiring more realistic expectations about returns on pension fund investments, or even by congressional hearings to highlight the problem. But too much of the political class has skin in the game."
The money in question comes from taxes on gasoline, phone bills, and gambling. It's collected by the state and passed along to local governments — that is, unless the powers that be never agree on a budget. One solution would be a continuing appropriation.
Comment: The problem is that most of that money will be mortgaged to bondholders in an ever-tightening noose. See our recent article on that linked here.
NBC5 Investigates found piles of cash unclaimed by the governments of Chicago, Cook County, even the state itself – much of it sitting around for decades.
Comment: Hmm. Is this part of the $13 billion sitting unused at Treasurer Frerichs' office, that nobody can properly explain? Hard to tell because nobody is competent enough to get on top of it. Frerichs' office sure didn't have the answer when we asked. See our earlier article linked here.
Executives with mid-sized businesses in Illinois are far more optimistic about their prospects in 2017, but they lag well behind similarly sized companies around the country in how they view their local economies.
A new survey of bosses of mid-sized businesses released today by JPMorgan Chase carries hopes for the economy in 2017. But it reflects the relatively sour mood prevalent among business owners about Illinois' economic environment.
With Illinois facing a "death spiral," noted economist Brian Wesbury cannot understand why Gov. Bruce Rauner hasn’t spoken out against recent talk of an added tax hike, which he believes would exacerbate the issue.
Illinois is among the five states at the bottom. The rankings are based on financial information contained in the audited financial statements for each state for Fiscal 2015 as summarized by the Institute for Truth in Accounting, and a composite ranking of each state’s competitive posture in 2016 based on independent assessments by CEO Magazine, CNBC and Forbes. The report also includes disclosure of whether each state had a net positive or negative migration for the period July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016 according to the US Census Bureau.
At issue are the programs approved by five states—California, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland and Connecticut—that require employers to automatically deduct as much as $5,500 a year from employees’ paychecks for deposit into an individual retirement account.
Large manufacturing companies no longer require general prosperity in the domestic market to succeed, a reality that is exacerbating Illinois' already dire economic situation, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow said during a recent radio talk show in Chicago.
Parties to lawsuits in Illinois are unwittingly subsidizing the legal representation of illegal aliens, including criminal aliens in deportation cases.
Through funds known as Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, or IOLTAs, the interest on client money in some attorney escrow accounts is not paid to the client; instead, it goes to a fund controlled by members of the Illinois Bar Association and is used to fund legal assistance organizations of its choosing.
Attacking foul-mouthed tenured radicals who try to turn their classrooms into indoctrination shops is politically popular, but comprehensively reforming public higher education systems so they do a better job for more students is more important.
State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, R-Calumet City, wants to bring them back. He has introduced a bill that would allow every legislator to give out four one-year scholarships and two four-year scholarships every year. The state’s universities, already reeling from vanishing funding, would eat the cost.
Two months since Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed off on a bailout bill they said was needed to ensure the viability of two Exelon nuclear electricity plants, two lawsuits filed in federal court have challenged the constitutionality of the legislation, alleging the law effectively rigs in Exelon’s favor wholesale electricity generation and supply markets, resulting in a windfall estimated to be worth at least hundreds of millions of dollar for Exelon over the next 10 years, paid for by Illinois businesses and households.
"Illinois should modernize its tax code to adapt to the changing economy. Illinois began charging a sales tax in the early 20th century when most of the economy was in the goods sector, not services. That's changed. Today, most sales are of services."
Lawmakers also have a constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget, something that the Democrat-controlled legislature has not done since well before Rauner became governor. In 2015, they passed a spending plan that was $4 billion out of balance, and they did not pass a budget at all in 2016.
"Illinois senators have put off a planned vote on the state’s nearly two-year budget stalemate until later this month at the earliest, but in the minds of concerned citizens opposed to the idea of any new taxes, the verdict on the so-called 'opportunity tax' has already been decided."
The state budget impasse didn’t stop newly elected Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza from purchasing a $32,000 used SUV as part of her department’s fleet — paid in full by public dollars to a central Illinois dealership.
All of Illinois’ neighboring states have at least ten times the rate of growth of single-family home construction than the Land of Lincoln. A home builder says property taxes and over-regulation are to blame.
Calling passage of a compromise budget plan a matter of "political will," Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner offered his support for an income tax increase and expanded sales tax as long as the deal permanently freezes local property taxes, caps spending, and overhauls worker's compensation.
Defined-benefit plans in most states actually operate as a financial penalty for the bulk of teachers, who need to contribute more than they will ever take out. The system primarily exists to benefit the minority of teachers who have spent their entire career in the same profession and the same state.
Comment: True in Illinois, too, as we've regularly documented.
An attorney who argued to the state’s high court that legislation must address one issue at a time said from what he’s gathered from the ‘grand bargain’ package working through the state Senate, it could violate the state Constitution’s single subject rule.
The budget process has been deeply flawed in Illinois for years, and one thing that doesn’t help this year is that the budget proposal deadline is once again arriving without a CAFR, an audited annual financial report, for the immediately preceding fiscal year.
Illinois is once again flying while blind. The latest year for which state leaders have an audited set of financials on which to plan upon ended June 30, 2015 – a year that ended 595 days ago. And it’s the Comptroller’s job to present a CAFR.
Comment: We've been linking to all major editorials on the budget, which have been all over the place, but they have one common denominator. They offer no specifics on how to genuinely balance the budget. That's because there is no solution to be had.
Comment: If misery loves company, be happy. And doesn't this sound familiar? Gov. Malloy is asking municipalities to help subsidize the state budget in return for fewer mandates on local government, including a modification of prevailing wage laws.
The question of whether to continue paying government workers during Illinois' budget stalemate will surface again this week as a court takes up the state attorney general's motion to halt payments and lawmakers consider a threat by Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto one of two proposals to keep them going.
Asked if he would support legislation to make it harder for federal authorities to access information about immigrants living in Illinois, Rauner didn't say yes or no, just that he is "very pro comprehensive immigration reform" and wants the state "to continue to be welcoming and diverse."
Comment: Taxpayers would put up $6 for every $1 dollar privately contributed!. Dan Biss (D-Evanston) knows exactly what he is doing. It will never get passed, but he knows the dopey progs in his district with think he's a hero.
Teachers in Illinois can roll two years worth of sick days into their total tenure of service to the state. This additional two years of service tacked on to the end of their career allows them to retire with an even bigger pension.
More than 73,000 teachers have taken advantage of this sick-leave perk as of 2015. That will cost taxpayers $3.39 billion throughout the next 30 years.
"Hundreds of billions of dollars have been poured into wildly expensive hedge funds with little understanding and abysmal results. That has proved to be a colossal mistake -- one that some states have been trying to rectify in the last few years."
Author Marc Levine is chairman of the Illinois State Board of Investment. He was co-founder of Chicago Asset Funding LLC.
"The financial crisis now facing Illinois citizens has been decades in the making. So let’s take a look back – specifically, at the retirement plans for Illinois state legislators and judges -- the government folks responsible for the law(s) that got us here today."
Secure Choice, which IL Treasurer Frerichs' office is in the process of launching, is supposed to be available to small-business employees in 2018. It would require small companies that employ more than 25 workers and don't offer 401(k)s or pension plans to make available individual retirement accounts that would be run by the state. Frerichs says pending federal regulatory changes jeopardize the program.
The long parade of state legislators who have accepted the heavily subsidized trips from the Gulen movement includes some influential figures. The man known as Illinois’ most powerful state politician, Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, traveled four times to Turkey on trips that nonprofit groups associated with Gulen’s Hizmet — or “service” — movement had sponsored.
"We aren't here to argue that Illinois should be the 29th right-to-work state. We're here instead to warn that while Illinois lawmakers deadlock on policy reforms that would attract more jobs here, including reforms struggling to get support in the Senate, the six surrounding states have positioned themselves to attract more jobs."
Despite the fact that the average AFSCME worker makes over $100,000 a year in total compensation, the union has made health care, salary and benefit demands that are out of line with what Illinois taxpayers can afford and would aggravate the state’s financial crisis.
A new report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability shows Illinois has experienced falling tax collections, which may indicate trouble in the state economy; spending reforms – not tax hikes – are what Illinois needs to right its fiscal ship and boost economic growth.
As speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Michael Madigan has outlasted five governors and is now on his sixth. This year, the Chicago Democrat will become longest-serving state or federal House speaker in the United States since at least the early 1800s.
Cullerton's warning came in a speech to the Chicago City Club Monday during which the Chicago Democrat laid out the case for the 13-bill legislative package known as the "Grand Bargain."
Comment: Cullerton, of course, has been assuring us for years that everything is fine in Illinois. That's been a standard talking point for him, and he's the one who made national headlines for saying there's "no crisis" with Illinois pensions.
Senate President John Cullerton said Monday that his Democratic lawmakers would be briefed Tuesday on the schools plan as part of the broader, 12-bill package that Cullerton and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno have been pushing as a way out of the state's 19-month budget impasse.
As the Illinois Senate prepares to possibly vote on parts of its "grand bargain" this week, Gov. Bruce Rauner Monday again insisted he is staying out of the debate on the bills aimed at ending the state's budget stalemate.
Challenging his foes to devise something better, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton today strongly defended the huge "grand budget deal" he and Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno have put together in a bid to finally end two years of deepening Springfield budget warfare.
Failure to embrace pending legislation in the Illinois Senate to address the state's longstanding budget problems would represent a "significant missed opportunity" and risk a credit rating downgrade and hurt economic growth prospects, S&P Global Ratings said on Monday.
Taxpayers need relief. They can’t pay more. But our human service providers do, in fact, need more.
It’s a dilemma with no solution in sight because Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his cronies refuse to admit it’s their failed leadership and kowtowing to unions that got the state in the mess it’s currently in.
And Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens suffer as a result.
Illinois legislators are proposing to boost immigrant protections statewide in response to President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration, a move advocates say would essentially give the state “sanctuary” status.
The editorial represents the collective opinion of editorial boards of the following papers owned by Lee Enterprises: The Pantagraph; Herald & Review, Decatur; The Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale; Quad-City Times; and Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier, Mattoon.
“Right now, in Illinois, everybody is saying, ‘We gotta have a budget, we need a balanced budget.’ It is simple math. If economic growth is slower than government spending growth, we don’t have balanced budgets,” he said.
Comment: The math on that is clear. The only deniers seem to be in the General Asssembly.
The framework would create funding targets for districts based on the needs of a student population, rather than the current system in which every district receives the same base level of per-student funding.
The group estimated it would cost an additional $3.5 billion to $6 billion to ensure each district has adequate funding.
Taking the cowardly way out, a commission tasked by Gov. Bruce Rauner with revising the state’s school funding formula decided not to recommend any specific legislation.
Instead, the 25-member bi-partisan panel reached the conclusion that school districts with the poorest students need more funding, a fact that has been almost universally acknowledged by education experts throughout the country over the past 30 years.
The University of Illinois Flash Index rose to 104.4 in January, the second straight increase after three months of declines. Author and U of I Economist Fred Giertz says he’s surprised, given Illinois’ ongoing budget impasse, and a change in the country’s leadership.
Worse in and around Chicago. Chicagoans, who pay the highest combined sales tax rate of any major U.S. city, just saw a tax on plastic bags go into effect Feb. 1, which will make shopping even more expensive. Residents of Cook County, including Chicagoans, will also pay a new tax on soda and other sweetened beverages starting in July, which disproportionately will harm lower-income people.
Property owners in Illinois are the hardest hit in the nation when it comes to taxes. And the property tax burden coupled with falling home values is crippling homeowners and leading many Illinois families to deduce that buying a home in Illinois just isn’t worth it.
Illinois is now the nation’s largest net exporter of freshmen to other states’ public colleges. Rising tuition in the University of Illinois system, uncertainty about financial aid, and aggressive recruiting from nearby states—it’s all contributing to the exodus.
"Structural change" is how Rauner has described his agenda, which includes changes to the state workers' compensation system, union collective bargaining rights and public worker pensions — issues affecting Democratic allies such as civil attorneys and unions. Rauner also is seeking a property-tax freeze, term limits for elected officials and a plan to remove much of the politics out of the every-decade redrawing of legislative district boundaries.
Sneed hears powerful Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-6th) has told some of his closest Senate colleagues he is so frustrated with the budget logjam, he is thinking about not running for re-election when his term is up in two years, according to two sources.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers and other officials reached agreement Wednesday on a plan to bring more equity to the way Illinois funds its schools, although enacting the blueprint could be tricky amid the state's budget stalemate.
Fitch Ratings on Wednesday downgraded Illinois ratings by one notch to BBB and said it remains on negative watch, meaning it could downgrade the state's debt rating again in the near term. The BBB rating is just two notches above speculative, or "junk," status.
Last year, a split between the steel giant and prominent Chicago developer Dan McCaffery killed a similarly ambitious plan to build a “new city” on the long-vacant lakefront site roughly between 83rd and 92nd streets and Lake Shore Drive and the lake.
Everybody, including state Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, knows members of the Democratic caucus of the Illinois House don't mess with Speaker Michael Madigan. But, in a display of principle-driven courage, Drury did it anyway. He "got clocked."
Among the Senate plan's many faults: It doesn't end Illinois' broken defined-benefit pension system. It brings no relief to local governments from expensive state mandates. It bails out Chicago Public Schools without requiring any reforms from the district. It makes no reforms to the state's largest and most expensive welfare program, Medicaid. And it includes a watered-down, two-year property tax freeze that does little to protect communities from higher tax burdens.
The vote -- which will continue for at least the next three weeks -- does not mean a strike will occur, but if it is approved, it would authorize the union's bargaining committee to call a strike in the future.
State Senator Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria, said the plan includes a spending cap of $38.5 billion. That’s almost four billion more than Illinois’ Comptroller said the state spent last year. Some of that new spending would go toward Illinois’ unpaid bills, but over a billion dollars in new spending in the bargain is unaccounted for.
Jim Schultz will be stepping down as chairman and CEO of Intersect Illinois, the year-old private development corporation that Rauner formed to try to jumpstart weak Illinois job creation. The departure—Schultz will remain as non-executive chairman—officially will take place as soon as the group finds and selects a successor in what it says will be a nationwide search.
As part of its compromise budget package, the Illinois Senate has proposed to borrow $7 billion to pay off a large portion of the existing backlog. "Given the enormity of the task of rebalancing the budget itself, the idea of borrowing to repay the accumulated backlog merits a reevaluation."
“We call it the job tax,” the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Todd Maisch explained. “For a state that lost 17-thousand jobs last month to come up with a response that says ‘Let’s put more taxes on jobs,’ is really problematic.”
"The Washington Post just reported that an ironworkers union in Ohio is doing the unthinkable: reducing benefits to its current pensioners, some by as much as 60%.... It's a good bet that Chicago will be the first major Democrat stronghold to default on its public-service union retirement commitments."
Comment: You'd think the press would wake up to the reality that the Illinois Treasurer is still sitting on on $13 billion in cash. This reporter, like so many others, got snowed by Treasurer Frerich's claim about lost interest. See our earlier story on that linked here.
That's why it will be fascinating to watch the 2018 gubernatorial election to see how the Democrats, who seethed over Gov. Bruce Rauner's wealth, will handle J.B. Pritzker as one of their candidates and a potential gubernatorial front-runner or nominee.
On Monday, state Treasurer Michael Frerichs will announce a new program. Illinois is forming a coalition with 13 other states to allow people with a disability or blindness and their families to open tax-deferred investment accounts to save money.
Comment: The State Journal-Register's hallmark is sucking up to state workers who comprise much of its readership in Springfield. That means they're usually siding with the Dems, but not when paychecks are on the line.
State law requires payments into the pension funds for teachers, university employees, state workers, lawmakers and judges regardless of whether there’s a budget.
The state paid $7.6 billion into the five systems last fiscal year and is expected to pay $7.9 billion for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.
Comment: Yet there's barely a word about pensions in the budget package aside from the trivial, fake policy "consideration" gimmick. Pensions are the lion's share of the budget crisis. Why isn't a constitutional amendment deleting the pension protection clause part of the Grand Bargain?
The state is now spending more money on retirement costs than on university operations. A decade ago, retirement costs made up only 20 percent of the state’s total higher education spending. Today, that percentage has ballooned to 53 percent. As spending on retirements rose from 2006 to 2015, state spending on higher education operations fell by over $150 million.
It appears that trust in government runs significantly higher, not lower, in “Right to Work” states. It runs lower, not higher, in states with a high share of the workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Comment: Think of this as another example of the fictional narrative dominant in the press. Her "aggressive economic reforms" would do nothing to promote economic growth and are the conventional list for Illinois Dems. Burke's a nice woman, by the way, who I know. (She's Southside Irish so she has to be nice). Just doesn't get the economy, however.
Rauner on Friday emailed state workers vowing to use “all available legal options” to continue employee pay — a day after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a motion seeking to halt paychecks if no budget deal is reached by the end of February.
"I intend to kill it all -- the entire package... I am 100 percent certain that if we raise taxes to the extent that they want to and without any major reform we are going to lose more businesses and the people who depend on those businesses for jobs."
Archer Daniels Midland finds itself in an unfamiliar position as Donald Trump's presidency begins. Accustomed to a close—and lucrative—relationship with national policymakers, the giant agricultural processor now faces a president who may not believe that what's good for ADM is always good for America. ADM stock tumbled 13 percent after Election Day on worries about potential conflicts with the Trump agenda on issues critical to its business.
The pressure from some labor groups was enough for the leaders to remove one of the 13 bills, a minimum wage bill which would have raised the Illinois minimum wage to $9 an hour beginning on July 1. it would increase by 50 cents until 2021 when it would reach $11. Some labor groups wanted the hike to reach $15, which halted the bill.
Comment: It's an utterly stupid tax on small business assessed irrespective of ability to pay. Since it's based on payroll, it would more properly be called an "employer fine." Our article on it is linked here.
Instead of giving Illinois residents the power to initiate referendums on local government consolidation, Senate Bill 3 vests this power in government officials, who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
The Illinois bill, called the Responsible Job Creation Act, would require that temp workers receive the same wages and benefits as employees hired directly by a company — a policy that’s common in most of the developed world, but unheard of in the United States.
Comment: ProPublica is a new publication that is coming to Illinois to focus on government here. We're hoping it will be balanced and without the progressive bias it's reputed to have. This is not a good start. This bill that they like looks like a dog that would stick a big regulatory burden on temp agencies.
Comment: The central point of this story happens to be true, which is that blacks are the ones most left behind. But the two primary sources in this story, Martire and Bruno, are quacks who politicize their research.
Comment: No need to read it because there is little of substance in it, except for this: endorsement by Rauner of the negotiation efforts for a budget deal going on in the Illinois Senate. One thing for sure is Rauner should fire his speechwriter and the rest of his messaging and communications team. They are dismal.
A plan to increase the income tax was adjusted upward slightly and a tax on services such as car repair and laundry surfaced Tuesday even as other parts of a monstrous Illinois Senate plan to end the nation's longest budget standoff ran into stiff opposition and skepticism grew about its success in a floor vote.
Comment: Respectfully disagree with Illinois Policy Inst. on this one, provided Rauner runs the program honestly. A far better solution would be a pact among states to refrain from these incentive programs, though that's unlikely.
Responding to a Tribune investigation that found drugstores frequently failed to warn customers about potentially dangerous drug interactions, Rauner is unveiling a major plan designed to improve public safety at pharmacies throughout the state. The administration's proposal would require pharmacists to counsel patients about risky drug combinations and other significant issues when buying a medication for the first time or when a prescription changes.
“We are very happy that the Senate is negotiating this,” said Benjamin Brockschmidt, executive director of the Infrastructure Council and vice president of policy for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. “There is no doubt that we need a budget. … But the package is not without its shortcomings.”
A letter sent by the Rauner administration to GOP Congressional leaders states Illinois leaders have significant concerns about the state’s ability to run a sustainable Medicaid program under proposed changes.
The Illinois Senate budget proposal merely puts off the state’s day of reckoning through more of the same: tax hikes, borrowing and spending, without the necessary reforms to put the state on a path to fiscal and economic health.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said Illinois doesn’t have $2 billion more for Medicaid.
“If the federal government cuts the amount that they’re paying for Medicaid to the states, that’d be a much bigger disaster to states like Illinois because we have such a large Medicaid population,” Syverson said.
A busy week awaits a fresh group of lawmakers in Springfield, where Illinois Senate leaders could try to push forward a massive budget package the same day Gov. Bruce Rauner gives his State of the State address.
They're scheduled to start trying Tuesday with committee hearings on the tax hikes, gambling expansion, state worker pension changes and other ideas that make up their effort to break Springfield's historically long budget gridlock. How those hearings go could suggest their fate before the full Senate later in the week, possibly Wednesday.
National School Choice Week begins today in Illinois and across the country. There are 874 events planned in the Prairie State to raise awareness about K-12 school choice, and 21,392 events nationwide.
Sales tax revenue is flat or declining in many places in Illinois Bloomington's finance director, Patty-Lynn Silva, told the council that the city expected to collect $1.5 million less in the fiscal year, even after it raised its sales tax rate by 1 percentage point to 8.75 percent last January.
Comment: Got that? Higher tax rates resulting in less tax revenue collected. Past the top of the curve as we've been warning, which progs have consistently ridiculed.
Farmers in Illinois are hoping that the new presidential administration will bring an economic boost to the agricultural industry and are speaking out on why the Trump administration makes them more optimistic about their future.
"Donald Trump has to earn my respect, has to earn my being reciprocal," the Illinois lawmaker told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "When he spoke yesterday and said 'America First,' did he include me? Did he include my grandsons?"
"We appreciate the political courage Cullerton and Radogno are displaying in putting the state's interests above their own, risking the political fallout from special interests and partisans."
Comment: "Courage" my ass. They are responding to the political pressure to "do something." There's no courage in responding to that with a plan that solves little, and in fact would speed the exodus from the state.
Comment: Note in particular the Tier 2 problems described towards the end. Same issue applies to almost all other state and local pensions in Illinois. The Tier 2 mess alone is sufficient to tank the system eventually. It forces Tier 2 employees to subsidize the higher benefits for Tier 1, it doesn't provide for adequate retirement security for Tier 2s and it's at high risk of eventually running afoul of Social Security exemption rules. The problem is being ignored.
Memo to my Senator, Dan Biss: How's that Tier 2 reform task force you are on coming? Still doing nothing? Still ignoring questions about it?
The state’s jobs crisis is spiraling out of control. The IDES report shows Illinois shed thousands of jobs across almost all sectors, with the largest losses coming in education and health services (-5,400); professional and business services (-3,600); and construction (-3,200). Manufacturing also continued a downward spiral in its labor force, dropping another 1,100 jobs on the month.
“Where in the business community or among taxpayers are you seeing any enthusiasm for this? It’s only Democrats and the media, which have been asleep at the switch on this crisis for year, who are cheering on this proposal.”
Comment: The Sun-Times doesn't have a shred of balance in its editorial and opinion pieces. And there's absolutely no way they know what all is in the extremely complex set of thirteen bills recently proposed by Cullerton and Radogno. Nobody does yet, except Cullerton.
The Illinois Senate’s proposed budget plan would raise the personal income tax rate to at least 4.95 percent with no real reforms to address the state’s skyrocketing debt and unsustainable spending. This proposal comes despite Illinois’ loss of $14 billion in annual income and hundreds of thousands of people in the wake of the 2011 income tax hike.
What has a three-quarter billion-dollar unfunded liability, is manually calculated on paper inside a Pennsylvania mountain, and costs taxpayers more money annually than the entire state budget of Florida? Answer: Federal employee pensions.
Even Illinois – where the state’s #1 manufactured product is corruption – has the courtesy to show taxpayers all of the gory details about pensions. The books are open on all 700,000 public retirees at every level of government.
"It's stunning to me to think you would pay more than 2 percent," said Marc Levine, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Investment, which has reduced its use of hedge funds. "That creates a huge hurdle to have the right alignment of interests."
Comment: ISBI under Levine has done great work getting expenses under control for the money it manages.
AFSCME members will vote between Jan. 30 and Feb. 19 on the strike-authorization question. If a majority votes "yes," AFSCME's bargaining committee will have the option of calling for a walkout that could cripple state government functions across Illinois' 102 counties.
A Chicago lawyer who has advised industrial businesses and governments on energy-related issues for more than two decades said the 503-page bailout bill, which rewrote major provisions of both the Illinois Public Utilities Act and the Illinois Power Agency Act, should have received a more thorough review before becoming law.
I respectfully disagree on this. Fix it by raising the exemptions so small businesses and farmers aren't hurt, but keep it for ultrawealthy. A permanent aristocracy of unearned wealth is not what America is about.
When Governor Bruce Rauner was a candidate he said he might have to deal with a strike and shut down the government in order to get change. Now that he's in charge, the Governor says he hopes AFSCME doesn't go on strike.
Rule 4 has stolen the authority of the state governor to veto bills since the bills are vetoed by the speaker. The governor can only sign or pass bills passed, not by the two chambers of the state legislature, but only those that the Speaker of the House allows to appear for a vote.
For cities, Chicago is likely to be the next Detroit with the city and its school system both showing signs of financial distress. Chicago is trying to stem the bleeding with a grab bag of tax and other revenue increases but in the long term this makes the overall position worse.
According to a 2014 Federal Reserve Paper, large financial institutions lost an average of $14 billion every year due to the Durbin Amendment. Meanwhile, a paper by George Mason University estimates that, as a direct result of the Durbin Amendment “there will be a transfer of $1 billion to $3 billion annually from low-income households to large retailers and their shareholders.”
"Well, it's frankly too early to do that on the Senate plan because it's not really baked," Rauner said during an appearance at Chicago State University. "They're negotiating, they're working, its fluid, and it's changing. … This is not done yet."
Comment: This deal stinks. It was negotiated by Christine Radogno, who has no idea what she is doing and gets eaten alive by John Cullerton. Most of Rauner's base will be furious if he accepts anything like this deal.
They’re not preaching to a small choir either. According to a recent poll by the Paul Simon Institute for Public Policy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, almost half of the thousand Illinoisans they asked would leave Illinois if they could.
"If you are upset about your property tax bill, then support the governor's efforts to reform the collective bargaining and pension systems that drive our expenses. Contrary to the propaganda promoted by the opposition, the governor's reforms are about protecting working families who pay our taxes."
If approved by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law, Senate Bill 9 would sharply raise the price consumers pay for packaged sodas, syrup-based coffee drinks and tea.
“This is certainly taxes on top of taxes. With more than five existing state and local taxes, a new state penny-per-ounce tax would impose 68 cents in new taxes on a typical 99-cent two-liter bottle – a 68 percent tax rate. Then state and local sales taxes must be added. In comparison, the state charges two cents in taxes for a 12-ounce beer and will charge 12 cents for a 12-ounce soda if this passes.”
Under President Barack Obama, food stamp usage expanded by 60 percent nationally and especially in Illinois. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 1 million Illinois households -- more than one in five -- now receive food stamps, which amount to $357 per month for a family of two, or $649 per month for a family of four.
GOP leaders in Congress would prefer "block granting" funding for the program to states, whose leaders could then design their own versions.
With such legislation already law in neighboring states including Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, and set to pass in Missouri under a new Republican governor -- some are wondering what impact the latest prospective changes in Kentucky could have economically on the Southern Illinois region that borders the Bluegrass State.
The changes would bring the targets in line with recent changes in Illinois' Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act. The new guidelines increased goals for businesses owned by minorities and women from 10 percent to 20 percent of total spending for construction projects, matching the 20 percent goal for non-construction contracts.
Comment: But a successful appeal is likely. If our 7th Circuit appeals court agrees with this trial judge, it would be in conflict with a recent ruling from the 6th Circuit. That means the case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the difference. With a new Trump appointee in place by then, tipping the balance of the Court conservatively, this trial court ruling probably won't survive.
In the past two years, the company has opened five fulfillment centers in Joliet, Romeoville and downstate Edwardsville, and announced four more under construction: two in Aurora, one in Waukegan and another in Monee, 35 miles south of Chicago. Once they're complete later this year, Amazon says, the sites will employ 7,000 full-timers. That doesn't count hundreds of employees at two smaller warehouses within the city—one on Goose Island on the North Side and the other in the South Side's Heart of Chicago neighborhood—that Amazon has opened since 2015.
At this pace, Amazon is likely creating jobs faster than any company in Illinois since Groupon went from seven employees to more than 1,000 in Chicago and 3,000 total in two years.
"Even if all the above, excruciating cuts are made, I don't see the total adding up to anything close to the $8 billion or so needed (a $13 billion gap at present between spending and revenue, minus say $5 billion in new revenues) to stabilize the fiscal situation."
Comment: Our view is that even those numbers are a bit optimistic. The real hole to fill is probably a couple billion more.
Illinois will receive $19.5 million from Moody’s Investors Service to resolve a federal investigation into its ratings of mortgage securities leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. The credit rating firm agreed to pay $864 million to settle with the U.S. Justice Department and 21 states that accused the company of inflating ratings on risky mortgage securities and contributing to the economic collapse.
Taxpayers were billed to lobby against a bill affecting school children in districts with consistently bad academic records. It would allow the state Board of Education to replace the school board members. But taxpayers were also paying for lobbyists from the Illinois Association of School Boards to oppose the same bill. In effect, they were paying twice for the same service.
The bill was introduced by state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago.
Comment: This is the other part of the bind rating agencies are in. On one hand you have fear of this, which encourages conservatism, but on the other hand you have Rahm and many others like him bullying for rosier ratings.
Insurance industry lobbying groups are speaking out against a proposed amendment to an Illinois statute that would give insurance regulators in that state more control over workers’ compensation rates.
The settlement would draw to a close a class action lawsuit brought against Chicago-based Northern Trust on behalf of retirement plans across the country who participated in a so-called “securities lending program” administered by Northern Trust.
Recent experience of some bankrupt cities, as well as much legal scholarship, casts doubt on the effectiveness of municipal bankruptcy. To strengthen government’s ability to address municipal insolvency, this report argues that federal bankruptcy and state intervention, which are often posed as alternative approaches, should be combined. We call this approach “intervention bankruptcy.
Comment: A property tax freeze is not intended to solve the school funding problem (insofar as there is one). It's purposes are to head off a collapse and contain what has become an immoral seizure of many hundreds of thousands of Illinoisan's life savings, as we recently wrote. Actually, come to think of it, maybe letting property taxes continue to rise would solve the school funding issue. Nobody will be here to go to school. By the way, the CTBA is not a "bipartisan fiscal policy think tank," as advertised. It's a union/pensioner advocacy operation.
A major new effort is being launched on a national level to end gerrymandering, which is the practice of state legislatures drawing voting district boundaries to guarantee election results in their favor. But the national effort seems somewhat focused on the evils of gerrymandering by Republicans.
The newly re-elected House speaker is pushing a new tax on businesses, an increase to the minimum wage and more spending, while doing nothing to address salient problems such as workers’ compensation and pension debt.
Comment: Madigan is the master of passing fake policy that the press and voters fall for. We'll have to see how his proposals really develop.
Lawmakers in Springfield are looking at a property tax freeze in the lame duck legislative session, but there’s plenty of opposition. A number of state lawmakers, not to mention local governments across the state, don’t want to see a cap on automatic property tax increases.
Venture capitalists invested $1.04 billion across 128 deals in Illinois in 2016, the third straight year the state has recorded over a billion in VC, according to the recent MoneyTree Report from PwC and CB Insights. However, total investment dollars were down year-over-year, behind 2015's $1.11 billion and 2014's $1.34 billion.
Perhaps the most long-lasting effect of the investigative work done by John Kraft and Kirk Allen with Edgar County Watchdogs isn’t the more than 200 officials they’ve chased out of office, but the viral impact they’ve had.
Others in Illinois have formed their own groups in Illinois to combat waste, fraud and abuse by public officials, including a coalition in Morgan County that has managed to bust several bureaucrats there.
Comment: These glowing comments aren't in accord with five or so people I know who worked with Obama when he was in Springfield. Summarized, they say he was a nice guy but a do-nothing. An over-rated empty suit who gave nice speeches but accomplished nothing. And he was clearly a cog in The Machine, which he never took on, so the headline on this story has some ironic truth.
The 99th edition of the Illinois General Assembly came to an end Tuesday without lawmakers ever approving a permanent budget during its two-year run, a first in the state's history.
The two-day lame-duck session came to a conclusion with the legislature passing a few bills to Gov. Bruce Rauner, but with no action on any of the contentious issues that have resulted in the gridlock that has gripped the state.
The controversial Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit for select Illinois businesses could be extended beyond its expiration if the governor signs on, but opponents say there’s no way to determine the program’s success.
Illinois Congressman John Shimkus (R-15) announced Monday that he will be leading the House's Environment Subcommittee for another six-year term. The subcommittee - a part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - oversees the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and will now have jurisdiction over the Clean Air Act in addition.
Comment: Remember as you read this that you're helping pay this guy's salary and pension -- a philosophy professor at a public university promoting a financial transactions tax and sharing other economic wisdom.
Illinois lawmakers have one of the sweetest retirement deals on planet earth. It’s supposed to be a ‘part-time’ job in the general assembly, but now taxpayer funded legislator pension costs exceed most base salaries. Last year, taxpayers paid a whopping $71,818 per legislator ($15.8 million in FY2015) to fund their ‘golden parachute’ retirement plans.
Right-to-Work will now be guaranteed by law across every Illinois border except Missouri’s. In recent years Indiana (2012), Michigan (2013), Wisconsin (2015) and now Kentucky have passed Right-to-Work laws. And the Show Me State likely will soon follow suit and enact its own Right-to-Work legislation.
She’s allowed felons to serve in municipal office; out-of-towners to serve as city alderman; many politicians to hold multiple – and conflicting – offices; a junior college to award more than $4 million in compensation to its president without a lawful board vote; and much more.
Lawmakers return to Springfield on Monday for a two-day lame-duck session. That’s traditionally a time when outgoing legislators can help push through controversial measures, such as a temporary income tax increase that was approved in 2011 and has since partially rolled back.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s control of legislation is unparallelled in the nation. On Wednesday lawmakers will decide whether to continue his reign. Even if they pick someone else, reducing the concentration of power will take longer.
Workshops and training seminars have been eliminated and, when the state does book local hotel rooms, bills go unpaid for months. At least one hotel project that was announced last fall has been put on hold until the market improves.
Comment: It's being negotiated primarily by Democrat John Cullerton and Republican Christine Radogno. Cullerton has been running circles around Radogno for years. Among other problems, she simply doesn't understand the pension system.
"I could not look at my wife, my daughters or my grandson in the eye if I sat there and attended as if everything that candidate Donald Trump had said about women, Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims ... is OK or erased from my memory," Luis Gutierrez said in a statement Thursday.
Memo to Mr. Gutierrez: Don't insult the guy who you'll be asking for money from.
A case set to go before the state Supreme Court on Thursday is challenging the law that allows Illinois' not-for-profit hospitals to skip paying property taxes.
Those challenging the law say many not-for-profit hospitals enjoy hefty profits and should have to contribute to their communities, just like any other business. Hospitals, however, argue they provide valuable charitable care and use the exemptions to fulfill their communities' health care needs.
Hundreds of millions of dollars — for hospitals, communities and taxpayers — are at stake. Meanwhile, applications for hospital property tax exemptions have been in limbo for about a year while the courts consider the issue.
“If he’s just playing the traditional game in the same way (as) less reform-minded, less transformational-inclined Republican governors in the past, like George Ryan, Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson…that doesn’t end well,” Proft said.
Comment: Lots of Rauner supporters are concerned that his staff isn't up to the challenge, particularly on communication and messaging.
Recent data from the Illinois Department of Human Services show nearly 2 million Illinois residents need government assistance to put food on the table this holiday season, as the state continues to hemorrhage manufacturing jobs and other blue-collar opportunities. Each year’s end is a time for reflection.
Illinois' premier jobs program could see new life under an amendment filed Friday by an Illinois House Democrat. The amendment seeks to extend the EDGE program, short for Economic Development for a Growing Economy, through the end of April. The program, which provides tax breaks for companies that promise to create jobs in Illinois, expired Dec. 31.ne.
It is no coincidence that the worst funded public pension systems (NJ, IL, CT, PR) all tried the POB gambit not because it made any fiscal sense but because they chose not to look at immediately unpleasant alternatives (i.e. cutting benefits or affording honest contribution amounts).
Decades ago, before pork-barrel spending became a pejorative term in American politics, earmarks helped build Southern Illinois. Today, this region's congressional representatives are advocating for their controversial return to the budgeting process in Washington.
Illinois Department of Agriculture numbers indicate that the state’s grain markets export more than $8 billion to other countries every year. Approximately 44 percent of the grain produced in Illinois is sold for export.
The state has also been unpopular with students since at least the start of the 21st century. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Illinois likely lost more than 150,000 students, on net, to other states from 2000 to 2014.
Of the state-to-state moves involving Illinois handled by suburban St. Louis-based United Van Lines in 2016, 62.9 percent of the moves were out of the state, while 37.1 percent were for moves into Illinois. The company said it handled 8,782 moves in Illinois last year, and 5,521 of them were for customers moving out of state.
"Not as bad as New Jersey," as our friend Mary Pat Campbell likes to say.
Democrats control both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. Though this majority will not be veto-proof in the 100th General Assembly, whose members will assume office in January 2017, it still allows Democratic politicians to easily pass their party’s legislation through the House and Senate – and to block any spending or economic reform Gov. Bruce Rauner proposes.
Nearly three-quarters of state plans and over half of local plans have made some kind of pension reform since 2009. Moreover, nearly one-quarter of plans have made changes that impact current employees. The most common change is to increase employee contributions, but reductions in COLAs and pushing out the age and tenure eligibility for retirement have been used as well.
For Illinoisans not willing to wait for reforms, Christofanelli has a message: “We’ve built a couple of beautiful bridges from Illinois to Missouri. You can just pack up your stuff.... We’ve got a lot of very nice houses, safe communities and good schools. I encourage everyone to just come on out.”
Illinois citizens - and particularly those living in Cook, Madison and St. Clair counties - need to change their voting habits to reduce the problems that landed them near the top of American Tort Reform Association's most recent "Judicial Hellholes" list, an ATRA spokesman said.
A pilot program the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is meant to provide job training for people who receive government food assistance, in order to help them become more self-sufficient and less reliant food stamps.
The loss of an estimated 37,508 people between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, is a big concern in its own right. It will be an even bigger deal when the state loses one seat in Congress during the next national reapportionment. One political analyst thinks the state might even lose two seats.
The 2017 law states people who work at the Illinois Association of Park Districts or the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and at other such entities aren’t entitled to pensions for their time there.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said taxpayers can accept paying for retirements for teachers or snow plow drivers. However, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for lobbyists’ pensions.
Despite going to prison, Finley’s government pension checks kept coming for decades, until his death in September at 91. Altogether, he collected nearly $2 million over the years, according to pension fund records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
And the pension checks continue, though at a reduced rate, even after his death: His widow gets survivor’s benefits starting at around $5,500 a month, pension records show.
A powerful pork company was planning a 20,000-hog confinement near the storied Spoon River in western Illinois, and a dozen neighbors were gathering to fight for their creeks, clear air, one-lane roads and rural way of life.
The Illinois Court of Appeals on Dec. 19 affirmed a circuit court judge's ruling that the village of North Riverside had no excuse for not funding its police and fire pensions adequately over the course of a decade.
Comment: We'll track down the court's opinion and take a closer look.
Comment: This is about the study we linked to before by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. It's the most realistic one yet and is certainly correct that it would take many elements to get us to stability and take years. However, it's not at all clear what assumptions they used about pensions and the authors are wrong to think stability can be achieved without pension benefit cuts. (You'll never see public university types endorsing that.) It does not appear to assume a shrinking population and tax base, which would probably worsen with the tax increases they assume. It does not address how badly insolvent many local units of government, which may require different sharing formulas for services and revenue. Finally, the authors are dead wrong to dismiss the importance of aggressive measures to grow the economy and tax base.
Students at Southern Illinois University (SIU) are now demanding a “sanctuary campus” policy that will shield not only students from federal immigration laws, but also “their families, and related community members,” according to a letter sent to the university’s administration.
Attending college is an act of faith. Students spend thousands of dollars today on tuition and housing, in the hope of landing a good-paying job later.
Some of those students — the ones receiving grants from Illinois' Monetary Award Program — are taking even bigger leaps. They are counting on the state reimbursing their colleges or universities a portion of their tuition.
Recent data from the Illinois Department of Human Services show nearly 2 million Illinois residents need government assistance to put food on the table this holiday season, as the state continues to hemorrhage manufacturing jobs and other blue-collar opportunities. Each year’s end is a time for reflection.
The dispute in Illinois over hospital tax exemptions has been going on for years. In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court handed down a decision that suggested nonprofit hospitals in the state that behave like for-profit businesses should not qualify for tax exemptions. Subsequently, the Illinois Department of Revenue denied tax exemptions to three hospitals.
Comment: The "80% funding myth" is the idea that pensions with an 80% funded level -- or even 90% -- are considered sound. That's fake news propagated by politicians trying to hide the mess they created and reporters too sloppy to catch it. Only 100% is generally considered sound. Author Mary Pat Campbell, an actuary, tracks the culprits.
Interest-rate hikes will help America's underfunded public pensions in 2017. Relief could be fleeting, however, especially if the U.S. economy falters. Illinois and Dallas, in particular, are canaries in a $1 trillion coal mine.
A major business group has started a lobbying, social-media and letter-writing campaign directed at legislators called LOL Illinois—a play on the Land of Lincoln and the idea that the state is becoming a laughingstock for its inability to solve its budget problems.
Comment: Our opinion remains that this is a lame, wasted use of resources because they have not endorsed a specific answer to the budget impasse. Put up or shut up. Absent that, vague calls to "do something" only entrench both sides further because both sides think they can ultimately prevail over the other.
"[Rauner] is right for blaming Madigan. But Rauner has done a poor job of messaging about why he is engaged in this struggle. I’ve covered every governor since James R. Thompson and this administration has done the worst job by far of sharing its vision for the state.
"Because of this, voters view this conflict as a personality clash between two egos rather than a conflict between divergent political philosophies.
East St. Louis Township exists solely to help some of the neediest people in the state. Now that its former supervisor, half the trustees and a paid consultant to the township face or have pleaded guilty to criminal charges, what will happen?
For each percentage point drop in the private sector’s share of the state economy, Illinois household incomes fall by over $3,000 on average. Unfortunately for Illinoisans, the private sector’s share of the Illinois economy has dwindled as government’s share – enabled through tax-funded spending – has risen to 25 percent.
The head of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, or IMRF, has dismissed calls for pension reform, disregarding the fact that pensions aren’t manageable, benefits aren’t affordable, and previous “reforms” propped up pensions on the backs of new workers.
Taxpayers are on the hook for the costly affects of AFSCME’s stall tactics. For each month the AFSCME contract is not in effect, Illinois is paying an additional $35 million to $40 million in health coverage costs alone. Over the course of the 18 months the state has been without a contract, that’s $630 million to $720 million.
As public pension debacles continue to unfold around the country threatening both public services and the retirement plans on which millions depend, there are two possible avenues their defenders can pursue. Option 1: work diligently and aggressively to understand the reasons and contributing causes to these current conditions and embark on necessary remedial actions and reforms. Option 2: flatly deny that any pension sustainability problem exists and blacklist any organization that has the temerity to suggest otherwise.
Introducing the architects of option 2: the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems or NCPERS, the self-proclaimed “Voice of Public Pensions.”
The Department of Insurance determined North Riverside had not contributed, as required by law, to the village's police and firefighter pension funds for several years prior to 2013. An administrative hearing was held, during which the village was given opportunity to show “good and sufficient cause,” per the Illinois Pension Code, why it should be given a pass on the lapses.
For millions of union workers, part of the attraction of paying union dues over a lifetime of work was the promise that a pension. Many of those pensions are so-called multiemployer plans, which cover workers for unrelated employers in the same industry. Now, as a result of years of mismanagement, bad investments or bad assumptions on returns, some funds are running out of money to keep their pension promises to union workers
The administration filed an unfair labor practice complaint Thursday with the Illinois Labor Relations Board saying the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is blocking its efforts to impose its contract terms.
"The property-tax freeze is an odd idea in some ways, especially in that it shifts the hard parts of making the state more competitive and attractive onto towns and cities, taking away a considerable degree of autonomy and local control. But in the specific matter of school funding, that might not be a bad thing for the state as a whole."
The Illinois Hospital Association says about a million people have gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. That's a million people who would be at risk of losing coverage without a replacement plan.
"Boss Madigan is beholden to the public-sector unions. Gov. Bruce Rauner appealed to the private sector. Yet he seems to be talking past many of those voters, unable or unwilling to connect with the worries and concerns of the people who put him in office."
By John Bury, an actuary: "Kill Defined Benefit plans. They do not work when run by governments. The main reason being that there are no funding rules so these plans all morph into pay-as-you-go arrangements at a level of benefits that taxpayers cannot possibly afford to pay so the participants suffer."
They often fall under the radar, but compacts are becoming a top tool for managing interstate issues.
Comment: Illinois should be leading the charge to form one to cease state relocation incentives to draw in employers. It's a zero sum game for the nation as a whole, but states will continue to do it unless others agree to stop.
LaHood: “I think in the first 100 days, you have to repeal Obamacare,” LaHood said. “I think that will be easy in some respects. What you put in place of that, and the timeframe to do it, is going to be a little more complicated.”
Comment: I respectfully disagree with the Illinois Policy Institute's blanket opposition to incentive programs. Yes, we'd all be better if no states did it and, yes, programs are often poorly designed and politically rigged. But we're stuck with a system in which states tax companies based partially on what they bring to the table, and total, unilateral disarmament would be a mistake.
Illinois’ top leaders aren’t meeting to discuss the state budget, but a group that includes rank-and-file lawmakers from both parties has been meeting more frequently in recent weeks to come up with a plan to overhaul the way the state funds public schools.
The BEST Coalition — whose name stands for Better Energy Solutions for Tomorrow — has touted itself as a “grassroots coalition created to advocate for smart energy policy in Illinois.” But a closer look at the roots of BEST suggests that interests beyond just the public good might have been foremost in mind when the seeds for the organization were planted and sprouted.
Comment: Everybody had a lobbying effort on the new energy bill except consumers. CUB, the Citizens Utility Board, is supposed to do that but didn't. They jumped in bed with the renewable energy industry and supported higher rates for Illinois consumers.
The conversations have been hushed and private, and in some circles considered preposterous. Would a Democrat in the Illinois House consider challenging 74-year-old Michael Madigan for the role of speaker? The vote is Jan. 11.
Comment: That's because of the new energy bill just signed into law. What is the cost to consumers of the renewable energy mandates in that new law -- just for that, segregated from other elements of the bill? Nobody has that study. Nobody cared. A blank check was signed.
"Consider the permanent loss of the combined populations of Illinois’ 10 largest cities outside of Chicago: Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield, Elgin, Waukegan, Champaign and Arlington Heights, along with Peoria. The loss of these 10 cities’ combined populations approximately equals Illinois’ net loss of population to other states since 2000. Illinois has lost some 1.22 million people, on net, over the past 16 years."
Comment: CTBA is basically a union operation and we've harshly criticized some of their reporting, but there has a least been some improvement lately. This piece is correct as far as it goes but doesn't mention that pension contributions are a huge part of the "autopilot" spending this article is about. Taxpayer pension contributions consume about 25% of the budget but are automatic, continuing appropriations.
This morning the U.S. Census released new data on national population trends and reported that over the last year, Illinois suffered the greatest population loss in the nation. From July 2015 to July of this year, Illinois lost 114,144 residents to other states, on net. This massive exodus to other states caused Illinois’ overall population to decline by 37,508 people, the U.S. Census reported.
“Picture the entire city of Peoria packing up and moving across state lines – that’s how severe Illinois’ out-migration was over the last year.”
The union has been filing lawsuits all over the state in an effort to force state taxpayers to heavily subsidize platinum-level health insurance for state workers and cover pay increases up to 29 percent.
The Illinois attorney general's office said Tuesday that David's Tea, Aeropostale, Disney, PacSun, Zumiez and Carter's have each ceased using this type of scheduling at their stores after discussions related to the probe -- a move that benefits some 50,000 employees.
It's about requiring workers to be on standby for being called in to work.
Job-hungry Illinois is getting a nifty holiday gift from Amazon: another 1,000 jobs, this time in Aurora. The move brings to 7,000 the number of full-time positions the internet behemoth has announced it's adding here in the past two years.
Comment: So many opinions on foreign trade miss the real point, which is whether our trading terms are fair to the United States. Yes, trade and trade agreements are good, but that doesn't mean they have been smartly negotiated. They haven't been.
A good defense of the college from somebody who was on the record about it before this election: It forces candidates to attract geographically dispersed support. Moving a swing state from 45% to 55% is much more important than moving a solid blue or solid red state from 75% to 85%.
"If you're thinking about moving to the Midwest, think twice before moving to Illinois. It might be difficult to succeed financially here. Due to a variety of factors - including its high unemployment rate - Illinois is one of the worst states for families who want to live a richer life."
In the latest casualty of Springfield's bitter budget wars, the state's Edge tax-credit program will expire on Dec. 31. Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders have not agreed on a plan to avoid an automatic year-end sunset for it.
In states like Illinois, New York and California, which lack right-to-work laws, if Janus prevails before the high court it would give government workers in all states the freedom to choose whether to give their money to a union.
Meanwhile, roadway fatalities have increased — most notably over the last two years, though there's no definitive proof the two statistics are closely tied.
Experts say there could be several reasons for the trends. The speed limit on many Illinois interstates increased 5 mph to 70 mph. Distracted drivers using cellphones could contribute to fatalities. And some experts say anecdotal accounts suggest state police are not patrolling for speeders as much.
Now — heresy of heresies — another House Democrat, Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood, reportedly is considering whether to challenge Madigan for the speakership. The move would deny Democrats all over Illinois their often-stated excuse of voting for Madigan because he's the only candidate.
After Illinois adopted a law regulating horizontal hydraulic fracturing, some in Southern Illinois had hoped the oil and gas industry would play a big role in creating those new opportunities. But so far, the economic promise of fracking has yet to materialize.
"We found Cook County animal-control officers making $105,000; suburban school administrators at $503,000; university doctors earning $1.3 million; and 72 small-town 'managers' out-earning every governor of all 50 states."
The News-Gazette reported that retiring Sixth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Dan Flannell will become the new "city administrator" in Sullivan for an initial salary of $92,500. But our cash-compensation calculation of Flannell's five-year contract reveals a total taxpayer cost estimate of $786,939.
Comment: Illinois' tech department, DoIT, is truly something to be proud of. It's led by what would be rock star management team in the private sector tech world -- they could all be making a fortune in the private sector but are doing public service instead. That team includes CIO Hardik Bhatt, CSO Marian Cook, CTO Mike Wons, General Counsel Mike Basil and others.
The Illinois Department of Corrections is making headway toward the goal of a 25 percent reduction in the state’s prison population by 2025, but continued partisan gridlock over the state budget could undermine that progress.
From a Republican IL state rep: "While I have felt almost every emotion from frustration to despair I never felt as disappointed as I did December 1, the day we passed a bill that places the profits of one company ahead of the needs of families, taxpayers and job creators in Illinois. Driving home from Springfield that evening I literally cried for my state."
Federal indictment charges against a Chicago alderman are the work of the city’s ex-inspector general, who says that type of corruption is likely all over the state, but there’s no one watching as closely.
In 2016, Chicago and Cook County officials approved new tax and fee hikes that will hit already overburdened residents. A taxpayer bill of rights could prevent politicians from constantly nickel-and-diming residents to make up for budget shortfalls..
Ives argued the strengthened wind and solar mandates within the legislation would drive up energy prices and wouldn’t improve the environment. As an example, she pointed to Germany, a country widely hailed as a world leader in renewable energy production.
Comment: We'd like to write about an analysis of how much the renewable energy mandates in this bill will cost consumers but haven't because there isn't one. Rauner and the General Assembly passed a bill with unknown costs to consumers.
Gov. Bruce Rauner shared the stage with Chicago Democrats Thursday as he signed a bipartisan criminal-justice bill aimed at reducing recidivism — but the partisan state budget crisis couldn’t help but loom over the feel-good event.
"The intrusions in House races in states including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina can be traced to tens of thousands of pages of documents taken from the D.C.C.C., which shares a Capitol Hill office building with the Democratic National Committee."
No details, however, on anything about Illinois candidates specifically.
Egggzellent, Boris. (I hope somebody still remembers the Bullwinkle show).
"I have nothing else to say and am not interested in hearing what you have to say at this point — carry that message back to your principals," AFSCME's chief negotiator said at the close of one bargaining session.
The Illinois Blockchain Initiative said last month that it will focus on how encrypted digital ledgers can help streamline internal and external government functions to make things more efficient and less expensive for taxpayers.
Comment: Blockchain is a huge deal in use of the internet, but don't expect to find a simple explanation if you're not into these things.
As Illinois enters a new period of heightened budget uncertainty, colleges and universities must again decide whether to front grant money to low-income students who are supposed to be receiving state aid. A new survey from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which administers the grants through the Monetary Award Program, suggests some schools that covered the grants in the fall aren’t making guarantees for the spring.
There is often no correlation between safety risks and licensing burdens. Illinois makes cosmetologists complete 350 days of education and training while Emergency Medical Technicians need to complete only 26 days of training.
Chief Investment Officer Ted Eliopoulos and two other executives with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System plan to propose next Tuesday that their board abandon a long-held goal of 7.5% annually.
From the co-directors of the Fiscal Futures Project at University of IL: "Our analysis demonstrates that only by doing all these things — cutting spending significantly, raising tax rates, broadening tax bases, growing the economy — can Illinois get its fiscal house in order. But it will take at least a decade of sustained fiscal discipline to do so."
Comment: Nice dose of reality. And to get that economic growth in the face of budget cuts and tax increases, there sure has to be an aggressive agenda of pro-growth reforms.
Comment: We've been reporting that Illinois revenue is actually declining, but evidently it's soft generally and some other states (mostly those dependent on the oil business) also have shrinkage. Odd, since national GDP has picked up -- third quarter grew at 3.2% annual rate.
A new utility tax, increasing what city employees pay for health insurance and a requirement that all businesses pay for a license were among ideas floated tonight to help close a projected $5 million 2017 city budget shortfall.
State lawmakers from both political parties are calling for an investigation of how the Illinois Lottery managed scratch-off games in response to a Tribune report showing the lottery didn't award many of the biggest prizes in the biggest games.
Comment: Yes, an investigation should be held to get to the bottom of this, but at this point the story is exaggerated and sensationalized. Only a few hundred emails were taken from the national GOP and IL GOP combined and they weren't about anything that would help or embarrass Trump. The charge that the Russians withheld those GOP emails to help Trump is therefore unfounded. Regarding the DNC emails leaked to Wikileaks, they certainly did help Trump, but Wikileaks is adamant that they did not get them from the Russians.
Hedge fund returns of large U.S. state pension funds continued the downward slide they began in 2015 with the performance of half of the portfolios lagging their benchmark returns for the year ended Sept. 30.
The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research calculates these numbers by tracking state and local pension debt. They measure what states owe based on debt minus what they have on hand and what they expect to get in investments.
Get this: The union argued that Rauner couldn’t impose the changes because the state labor board initially issued an oral opinion, and a written opinion was required. Well the written order came Dec. 5. LeChien was given a copy by the governor’s office, yet LeChien choose to ignore it and issued a temporary restraining order dated Dec. 5 — even though it surfaced the next day — based on the union’s argument that there was no written opinion.
Comment: This bill was a bipartisan blunder and this reporter got snowed. Note that there's no estimate of how much consumers will pay for the renewable energy mandates in it. That's because nobody even estimated how many billions of dollars that will be and, yes, it's probably in the billions. Both the process and outcome of this bill were disgraceful.
"Pension fund officers suggest there's a tension between fulfilling their fiduciary duty to seek top returns and meeting goals to hire women- and minority-owned firms. But others in the industry increasingly say there's no trade-off between returns and policy."
Comment: This is not the place for affirmative action. Anybody who meets the very demanding qualifications for these positions is almost certainly already well-to-do; it's just making the rich richer. Pensions should be managed to maximize returns.
If a budget deal isn’t reached before then, the state will lose spending authority for a variety of important services, like public colleges and universities and grants for health and social services. These are areas the state’s ongoing budget impasse has already adversely affected.