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.
A judge in Cook County has issued a temporary restraining order halting a labor board decision that would allow the state to implement its contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The delay costs Illinois taxpayers over $1 million more each day in state-worker health coverage costs.
Police officers entered the classroom of an African-American studies seminar in October to inquire about a stolen cell phone that had been tracked to the location, prompting the professor leading the course to exclaim after the fact that “lots of people on campus, lots of people of color, are scared.”
The professor, Erik McDuffie, even compared the incident to the numerous shootings of African-American men across the country, stating that “the incident terrified me and it terrified my students.”
What many Illinoisans may not know is that this broken system greatly affects the ability of Illinois governments to care for the people most in need of public services. It is indeed a budget issue. And it lays bare the perverse priorities of our state.
Comment: How Dallas, a city traditionally run well, could have allowed a pension to be run so stupidly is stunning. The central problem is DROP accounts, described in this Economist article. They essentially guaranty system members an 8% return yet allow for cash withdrawals on demand. The inevitable "run on the bank" broke the system.
State law requires students to complete 176 days of school to move on to the next grade. With the minimum calendar days of class being 185, 10 days missed would put a student’s grade level promotion in jeopardy. But according to information from the Federal Office of Civil Rights Data Collection, almost a quarter of Illinois’ teachers missed at least 10 days of school during the 2013 school year.
Rivian Automotive is in talks to buy the entire 2.4 million-square-foot plant and manufacture there, bringing 500 jobs by 2021 and 1,000 when at full production, according to a release from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Mitsubishi shut down production at the plant in November 2015 and laid off the last employees in May. The plant employed 1,200 before closing and about 3,000 at its peak.
A forty hour work week, workplace safety task forces, merit pay bonuses and other terms are on hold for state employees as the AFSCME union challenges Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “last, best and final offer.” One labor expert suggest the dispute may end at the state Supreme Court.
A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions on homes that are valued at least 25 percent under their outstanding mortgage debt reveals that more than 500,000, or nearly 20 percent, of homes in Illinois fit that description, only a couple points better than Nevada.
The U.S. Department of Energy grants will pay for a project to research the feasibility of commercial-scale underground storage of carbon dioxide. The work will build on a pre-existing project in the Mt. Simon Formation in Decatur.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and Republican leaders are delaying a planned legislative leaders meeting Thursday in Chicago, saying they’ll reconvene when Democratic leaders are prepared to present a budget proposal.
Only 25 percent of residents in debt-riddled and least-trusted Illinois expressed confidence in their state government, while 81 percent of residents in low-unemployment, most-trusted North Dakota expressed confidence in their state government, according to the Gallup survey of 500 people conducted over nine months in 2015.
While forfeiture (taking assets with no showing of guilt) is lucrative for law enforcement, it can be devastating to the people from whom property is taken. Motor vehicles, because of their high value, have become particularly popular targets of seizures. But losing a vehicle even temporarily can precipitate a cascade of negative consequences in a person’s life, including the inability to maintain employment or even to attend court proceedings to try to reclaim the seized property.
Comment: Of course it's not -- for Illinois or anywhere else. It's just a way to define away part of the problem from the get-go. It's one of the fraudulent means by which politicians pervert true pension liabilities, yet the press universally falls for it. We've written about this repeatedly here.
A repeal of the Affordable Care Act will have consequences far beyond the health exchanges that it set up and is best known for. Californians topped the list of states that benefited most by the eligibility expansion, with 3.5 million newly eligible people who enrolled in Medicaid in 2015. Illinois followed with about 650,000.
Exelon has had a great week in Illinois - first, it nabbed a $5.3 billion state government subsidy over ten years to keep two Illinois nuclear plants operating and the day before, the Illinois Commerce Commission granted Exelon's ComEd a 5.07% rate hike with little notice.
In addition to $235 million a year for Exelon to prop up nuclear plants in the Quad Cities and Clinton, the plan provides hundreds of millions of dollars in energy-efficiency programs and assistance to low-income energy users.
Comment: If Rauner had any justification for signing this he sure hasn't presented it.
One Illinois lawmaker on his way out of Springfield, Democrat Jack Franks of Marengo, is trying to change that. He’s introduced a constitutional amendment to protect taxpayers from unaccountable politicians during lame-duck legislative sessions.
Employers in the Land of Lincoln announced 650 mass layoffs in November, according to the November edition of the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, report. This report marks the first time since July 2015 that there wasn’t single mass-layoff announcement in the manufacturing sector.
Rep. Ives: Illinois should trust the free market to determine what energy is produced and at what price. Illinoisans deserve energy that is cheap, reliable and pollutant free. Politicians in state government continue to obscure the path toward those objectives in order to keep political insiders happy.
Comment: Setting aside the nuke elements of the bill, it also will impose huge costs on consumers for renewables. We don't know how much, but the Dems who are happy to sign blank checks for anything green are delighted with this bill, which makes us mighty worried.
“Higher wages for workers should be everybody’s goal. But the only sustainable way to really drive up wages is to fire up the economy so that employers have to compete for workers and workers have lots of choices."
Illinois has long been number two in the nation for a rather dubious distinction -- the net out-migration of college students. Now there’s a new program targeting Illinois high school students who want to attend a state flagship university, even if it’s not in Illinois.
The Village of Swansea is facing a $356,000 pension deficit for firefighters and police officers in the town. The State of Illinois has mandated that the village come up with 90 percent of that money by 2040, or the state will begin taking money from the village's general fund.
"The nuclear bailout is only the tip of the iceberg.... In order to get the legislation even considered, the bill’s proponents had to kowtow to left-wing activists in the state and green energy interests with a slew of sweetheart deals included in the legislation."
Memo to Gov. Rauner. Not sure what to think of this bill so, before you sign it, we want to know what the cost is to consumers for both the renewable energy provisions and the nuclear element, and why those costs make sense for consumers.
Chicago and Illinois have plenty of their own problems on the manufacturing front, with issues such as high property taxes and workers’ compensation costs driving production facilities to other states. But U.S. trade policy regarding sugar isn’t helping matters. For each one sugar growing and harvesting job saved through high U.S. sugar tariffs, nearly three confectionery manufacturing jobs are lost, according to the International Trade Administration.
AFSCME’S outrageous demands when negotiating for a new contract led to an impasse in negotiations. Now the union is suing to keep the state from implementing the contract – while ignoring that state workers will maintain many lavish perks unlike anything offered in the private sector.
“I see the tactic here is to stall, stall, stall, create a crisis and then force the state into another stopgap budget,” Radogno said. “I’m becoming increasingly suspicious that they’d like to run the clock out.”
Democratic leaders on Sunday said they need more information to formulate a comprehensive budget plan, including the potential effects of an incoming Donald Trump administration, but Republicans called the request a stall tactic aimed at creating financial havoc with a short-term state spending plan due to expire at month's end.
Comment: These fact-checkers have their own methodologies and biases that may or may not be right. Seems to us that taxpayers are smart enough to be looking at this on a broader, all-in basis not used here. That is, they also look at tax bills just stuck in a government drawer somewhere which will come later, such as pension and other debt. And they look at what they are getting in exchange for what they are paying.
In a nail-biter more reminiscent of overtime at the Super Bowl, the Illinois State Legislature passed The Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) with less than an hour remaining in the legislative session. The bi-partisan bill allows Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants to remain open, saving 4,200 jobs and over 22 billion kWhs of carbon-free power each year, more than all of the state’s renewables combined.
Comment: Take your pick among the different opinions on this. Impossible for us to tell.
Comment. All the "surprise" that the Springfield money for CPS never materialized is laughable. The deal for that money was contingent on Springfield Dems producing pension reforms worth $1 billion per year. That was never likely to happen.
The Rauner administration today announced a new data-driven push to encourage businesses to stay and expand here, and while it looks like the main focus will be downstate, it could bring jobs to a state that needs them everywhere.
Likening the effort to "a modern-age concierge service" for business, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Intersect Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner's new public-private economic development corporation, announced a new program called Core, which stands for Creating Opportunities for Retention and Expansion.
Comment: Discussion of the bill has pertained mostly to nukes, but advocates of other renewables are very pleased with the bill. It's impossible so far to separate out the cost to consumers of those other green elements of the bill (not that anybody ever seems to care about that.)
Welcome to the lame-duck session in Illinois' General Assembly. In this legislative purgatory, lawmakers already ousted by voters Nov. 8 can act with reckless abandon before leaving the statehouse. To make matters worse, after Jan. 1, it only takes a simple majority vote to pass a bill.
“I will formulate a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated, so important,” Trump said.
Rauner was asked last week about Trump’s proposal. He said he likes that idea, but that he’s been wanting to go a step further for a while.“I think what I said two years ago is that it should be three-to-one.”
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, has repeatedly implied that Illinois insurance companies are hoarding cost savings. However, this couldn't be happening unless insurance companies were colluding in violation of anti-trust laws, and there's no evidence they are. Illinois trial lawyers have echoed Brown's sentiments, but they don't seem to see evidence of anti-trust violations either given that they haven't brought lawsuits against insurance companies for violating federal anti-trust law.
AFSCME’s most recent ploy is a clear demonstration of its discard for the labor process. The union isn’t interested in fair negotiations and outcomes – it is only interested in skewing the process to serve its own goals.
Comment: This is mostly the usual straw man argument that trade agreements to reduce tariffs are good. Yes, they are, but the real question is whether TPP or any particular agreement results in something fair to the U.S. -- parity -- and is the best that could be done. I have seen no knowledgeable, reputable, impartial opinion on that. This is like Obamacare -- too big to understand. Whether Trump opposes trade deals in general or just poorly negotiated ones is an open question.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the Rauner administration said it had included the alcohol and drug testing policy in its last contract offer to state workers when talks with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees broke down last January.
For schools, the issue revolves around “categorical” payments for transportation and special education. Districts are mandated to spend money on those services, but the state is almost six months behind in paying for them.
“There is no cash flow on the categoricals at this time,” said Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools.
Comment: A refreshingly realistic look at Illinois fiscal problems, based on a new report from the Fiscal Futures Project, linked here. One thing unclear from that report is what assumptions were made regarding pension costs, which comprise the lion's share of the problem.
Backers say $600 million would be spent on the 120-mile stretch in Illinois, in the process creating construction jobs, stimulating the manufacturing sector, generating tax and other revenues for state and local governments, and providing low-cost, clean renewable energy to 1.4 million Midwest homes.
There's just one problem: The 300-member Illinois Landowners Alliance, the 80,000-member Illinois Farm Bureau and Commonwealth Edison have fought the project.
Announced today at Blockchain Conference Chicago, the Illinois Blockchain Initiative, a first-of-its-kind consortium comprised not just of companies – but of five government agencies, is a far-reaching measure aimed at not only making it easier for startups to innovate but removing barriers for the government to build with blockchain.
When you have a lot of people who are in a pension fund where it’s not their whole career, but only partly, then the overall average is going to be a lot less than the average for someone who works a full career in that particular system.
Comment: Public unions are consistently distort the numbers this way and our press falls for it.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan told reporters he has “overwhelming support” to be re-elected to his longtime post come January. Another two-year term would bring his total tenure as speaker of the House to 33 years.
Is pension math working anywhere? The Education Writers Association, reporting on teacher pension fund data released in 2015 by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), wrote, “Taxpayers contribute to state teacher pension systems, but most of those dollars are not being invested in the future retirement of current employees.” According to the NCTQ report, “An average of 70 cents of every dollar contributed to state teacher pension systems is paying off the ever-increasing pension debt.”
Comment: Full text of the bill is linked here. Note pages 17-18 and 44-45. They provide for city contributions to the Municipal and Laborers' pensions to more than double over the next five years and go up thereafter to a whatever-it-takes ARC-like amount. And if the city fails to make those contributions the pensions can force the Illinois Comptroller to seize what's due to the pensions out of payments that flow from the state to the city. In other words, contributions will go up to whatever is necessary to pay the pensions and other city needs be damned.
Illinoisans should watch their wallets as the Illinois General Assembly prepares for its Jan. 1-11, 2017, lame-duck session.
Elected officials who no longer have any accountability to taxpayers should not be allowed to vote on tax hikes. But without action, politicians who were voted out of office on Nov. 8 could do just that.
The Energy Committee voted 10-1 to send the legislation to benefit Exelon and two of its Illinois nuclear plants to the House floor.
The plan now would provide $235 million a year for Exelon for 13 years to reward the company because nuclear energy is produced without emitting damaging greenhouse gases. Exelon would use the money to shore up unprofitable nuclear plants in the Quad Cities and Clinton.
Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced today that he has co-filed a shareholder resolution with Connecticut State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier to require a change to Wells Fargo bylaws. The change would require the Chair of the Board of Directors to become an independent member of the board.
New nationwide accounting rules now require state and local governments to report all economic development incentives programs. In terms of transparency, the impact of this accounting shift will be seismic.
Regardless of what a new Congress does with Obamacare, states will start to pick up part of the cost for their ‘newly eligible’ Medicaid patients next year.
In Illinois, that means almost $100 million for almost 600,000 mostly-single, able-bodied men who enrolled in Medicaid because of Obamacare, according to Nic Horton with the Foundation for Government Accountability.
Republican leaders on Monday painted a picture of a divided Democratic leadership — portraying House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton as being at odds on whether to work with Gov. Rauner.
The five things Rauner wants some action on are workers’ compensation reform, a property tax freeze, local government consolidations, term limits and school funding reform. Rauner said these measures would send a signal to job creators that Illinois’ economy is ready to grow.
St. Clair County Board members, including Kern, cost taxpayers $510,494.69 last year for their Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and health insurance benefits. There were 27 of them expecting taxpayer contributions to their retirement and 26 expecting taxpayers to fund their health insurance in addition to their salary of $15,267 per member.
Workers flee banana republics for industrialized nations just like Illinoisans flee to Indiana and other neighboring states. A banana republic creates cronyism through law, just like Illinois allows politically connected doctors, lawyers and unions to get rich off a workers' compensation system that drives industry out of the state.
And how's this for a banana republic scheme: Some Illinois workers take home more pay when they are injured than when they are working. And some Illinois doctors profit handsomely from overprescribing dangerous opioids to workers' comp patients. You can't do that in Indiana.
“We know we’re under constant attack,” said Kirk Lonbom, chief information security officer for Illinois' Department of Innovation and Technology. “We know it is a constant cat-and-mouse game, and we’re doing everything we can to stay one step ahead of the attackers.”
Senate Bill 2196, also known as the Student Access to College and Career-Education for Statewide Success (ACCESS) Bill, would allow (though not require) four-year public universities in Illinois to offer institutional financial aid to all eligible recipients on a competitive basis, regardless of immigration status.
“I think it’s an embarrassing, silly proposal,” Glennon told Chicago News Wire. “First of all, the pensions should be honoring their fiduciary duties to maximize returns, and they shouldn’t be pursuing a political agenda like this.”
Three of the state's most financially vulnerable public universities are set to receive a combined $17 million in emergency funding to help support operations through the end of the year. Under the agreement, Western would receive about $8.4 million, Eastern about $5.6 million and Chicago State just more than $3 million. The money can be used only to pay down costs incurred before Dec. 31.
Illinois has a Medicaid crisis. With an Obamacare Medicaid expansion program that continues to spiral out of control, newly obtained data confirm fears that the expansion program would prioritize able-bodied adults over the state’s truly vulnerable residents.
Comment: I don't get that headline. The state has far, far bigger problems than those associated with the late payment fees and VSI program for vendors, which are the subject of this article. The real risk is for the private parties buying the receivables, who may get stiffed or delayed.
A far better question, still ignored by the press, is why the state is offering late payment penalties even while it sits indefinitely on $12 billion at the Treasurer's office, which we wrote about here.
The U.S. dollar has surged since the election, reaching a 13-year high on Nov. 18. That's bad news for American firms that do a lot of business overseas, including Abbott Laboratories, Boeing, McDonald's and Mondelez International.
Comment: That's true, but that spike in the dollar resulted mostly from higher growth expectations in the US under Trump, and the higher interest rates that go along with that. And the interests of multinational corporations simply are not the same as the interests of Americans.
"While half of American voters have stomped through the Garden of Progressive Delights, Illinois is ever more shackled by insider deal-making, special interests of the liberal kind, and an autocratic Democratic machine.... If there ever was a swamp in need of draining, Illinois is it."
State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, on Tuesday will announce a bill that would require state pension funds to divest investments in companies hired by the federal government to build a border wall. Guzzardi said he has the support of many Democratic colleagues and hopes for a vote on the bill when legislators return to Springfield next week.
Comment: It's a stunt that won't happen, but how embarrassing to have clowns like this in government.
With boundaries split between Cook and Lake counties, Barrington officials crafted an ordinance that lets all Barrington businesses honor state and federal-minimum wage laws, instead of an ordinance approved last month by the Cook County Board that increases minimum wage countywide to $13 an hour by July 2020.
Gov. Bruce Rauner last month established the Illinois Competitiveness Council, which will scrutinize occupational-licensing requirements and other regulations constraining economic growth. In targeting occupational licensing, Mr. Rauner has joined the Obama White House, several other governors, and commissions in states including Michigan, Virginia, Indiana and even regulation-happy California. But despite bipartisan support, licensing reform is likely to face ferocious opposition from members of licensed occupations.
A repeal of the federal death tax would put pressure on Illinois, the District of Columbia and the 16 other states that still have a version of the tax. Under the current system, state death taxes can be deducted against federal death taxes. Without the state deduction against federal taxes, the state-based death tax will become an even greater driver of wealth flight from states that still impose the tax.
The administration said the move was made possible by last week’s ruling of the Illinois Labor Relations Board that contract talks between the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are at an impasse, allowing the governor's office to impose its contract terms.
If the appellate court’s decision stands and Lincolnshire’s law is also upheld, then local governments will be able protect worker choice in states like Illinois where the state government has refused to do so. Furthermore, other Illinois communities, many desperate for economic growth, could then follow suit with Lincolnshire to put themselves back on the map for industrial investments.
Fifteen percent of the entire Dakota Access Pipeline runs through Illinois, and a company spokeswoman said this week that the construction portion of the project will soon be 100 percent complete in this state.
Members of the Clean Jobs Coalition who have negotiated together for many months over a massive Illinois energy bill have broken ranks after the bill’s introduction Tuesday, with some still supporting the bill, some opposing it, some hoping for pieces to be spun off and others remaining silent.
Illinois employers who try to boost their social media presence by having employees participate in their Facebook, Twitter and other online activities should reconsider that practice, a labor and employment attorney said during a recent interview.
In the first week of veto session, House Speaker Mike Madigan tried – and failed – to muster votes to override the governor’s vetoes of bills that would entail unaffordable spending in a state drowning in debt.
Over the course of a decade, Illinois and federal law enforcement took in more than $319 million and $404 million, respectively, from state residents who were merely suspected of having committed a crime, a new report has found.
While the pipeline originates in northwestern North Dakota, it eventually passes through twelve Illinois counties, including Hancock, Adams, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Scott, Morgan, Macoupin, Montgomery, Bond, Fayette and Marion.
Comment: Of course it's legal. And it should be kept legal. The question is whether it's inappropriate and stupid for business. It is. Employers should make it clear that all employees are free to do as they choose politically, without fear of retribution or hope for favoritism.
With all the talk about potential election fraud leading up to November 8th, the fact that the Illinois General Assembly is opening the door to more problems seems almost incomprehensible, but that's what's going on, says Senator Dan McConchie.
As hundreds of thousands of participants in the Central States Pension Fund brace for major pension cuts and millions of participants in other multiemployer plans don’t brace since they don’t grasp the depth of the funding problems facing union plans, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released their 2016 annual report which they ironically chose to subtitle “Keeping Our Commitment to America’s Workers."
The author is an actuary who writes about pensions.
An overwhelming majority of the Illinois State Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of automatic voter registration. If the House also passes the veto override bill, the state will add approximately two million more voters to the rolls in the state starting in 2018.
Comment: Illinois' coffin will be nailed shut if the House also votes to override the veto.
Rauner's administration said Wednesday it will start executing elements of his proposed contract for state employees, processing $1,000 bonuses for state workers and imposing new rules on overtime pay "as soon as operationally feasible."
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan suggested Tuesday that legislators should approve another short-term spending plan without giving in to any of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s demands, indicating the ideological divide behind the state’s epic budget stand persisted through the bruising election season.
The October foreclosure report by ATTOM Data Solutions shows the nation experienced a 27 percent increase in foreclosures, the largest jump since August of 2007, when the housing market began its slide. Illinois had one of the highest percentages in the nation with one out of every 704 homes in foreclosure.
More than 6,000 Illinois manufacturing jobs disappeared in 2015, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. And all signs point to things getting worse.
The most recent data from September show Illinois has lost 8,500 manufacturing jobs so far this year. In October, four Illinois manufacturers announced plans to shut down and move operations to another state.
The board that oversees the pensions of Illinois state workers voted Tuesday to pull $2.4 billion from managers that try to handpick winners and place that money with lower-cost funds that track market indexes.
An Illinois labor board declared Tuesday that Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state's largest employee union are at an impasse in negotiations, clearing the way for the Republican governor to attempt to impose his terms on a new contract.
Comment: Setting his politics entirely aside, I can tell you he's a helluva nice guy. He's done wonders to make Chicago's tech community what it is, and he and his family have been exceptionally philanthropic.
A nearly two-years-in-the-making labor dispute between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and the largest state worker union is set to come to a head Tuesday when the Illinois Labor Relations Board meets to weigh in on the issue.
"Quick message for the Brogressives: back off and let women grieve.... When you inflict your analysis on a woman who is devastated that Americans just elected a man who considers her subhuman, you are being sexist. Plain and simple."
Comment: Got that, bros? Don't muscle in on her grief fest or else you're a sexist. And if you're not grieving, of course, you're that and much worse.
IRS data reveal what happens when politicians choose short-term tax revenue gains over long-term stability. The short-term increase in tax revenue gained from higher tax rates is offset by the long-term loss of substantial portions of Illinois’ tax base.
Comment: Folks, we are in a death spiral. The tax increase that's likely coming will only speed up the flight of the tax base.
Comment: Check out the part about the Amish: "Our deal was they would get the wood for free if they removed it themselves. Instead of fighting the prevailing wage issue, we just decided to hire union laborers to do the job. All of that took time."
An in depth look at how AFSCME gets its bargaining power.
Illinois state workers are the highest-paid state workers in the nation when adjusted for cost of living. AFSCME workers receive platinum-level health care at low cost, and most get free health insurance at retirement. And then there are AFSCME perks – such as lax disciplinary procedures (no repercussions when a worker has 10 unauthorized absences) and overtime pay starting at 37.5 hours – that are unlike anything offered in the private sector.
The Department of Labor estimates that 193,930 workers in Illinois would be affected by the new threshold. Nearly 9,800 salaried state employees could be eligible for overtime. Illinois State University said it is expecting up to $2.2 million in new annual costs to get the pay of approximately 275 eligible employees into compliance. University of Illinois said it plans to spend up to $3 million on employee raises this month to get its workers’ pay into compliance.
But Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is not participating in the lawsuit.
The election of Donald Trump just knocked one of the key legs out from under the rhetorical chair supporting Exelon's bid for Illinois subsidies to keep open two nuclear plants that otherwise will close.
Rauner said Friday he hopes Illinois lawmakers resume work to end an epic budget standoff next week when they return to Springfield for a brief session and not just focus on trying to override his vetoes.
Illinois owes so much money to its bondholders, vendors and pension funds that it now spends more on paying off its loans than it does on its human services programs. Unless the state cuts back on its debt, social service providers and other state programs will continue to bear the brunt of Illinois’ fiscal mess.
Comment: That's the true bottom line in our budget crisis. Rauner's communications people need to get off their butts and explain that.
Rauner on Thursday invited the four top legislative leaders to a meeting on Monday ahead of the first veto session — but still no word on whether Madigan will show up. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown hadn’t returned calls for comment on Thursday.
A bipartisan bill that would guarantee five years of stable funding for the University of Illinois if it holds down tuition and meets other benchmarks could be a model for resolving the state's budget impasse, its legislative backers say.
Illinois is one of only eight states that do not enforce food-stamp work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents. But reinstating work requirements would benefit Illinois food-stamp enrollees as well as state and local economies.
Pointing to the election losses of several judges and legislators backed by vast sums of campaign funding from personal injury lawyers, Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW), a grassroots, non-partisan legal watchdog group, says voters have rendered their verdicts and shown they want judges and legislators who will stand up to the personal injury lawyers and stop lawsuit abuse in Illinois.
Comment: Moody's today said that the transportation fund lock box amendment passed yesterday by Illinois voters is credit negative for the state. Notice that constitutional amendments become law when unions are behind them in Illinois, as they were on this one. But never mind something like the fair map amendment. Oh, and Moody's, thanks for telling that to voters after they vote it in.
Someone took a picture of her face and Photoshopped it on to the naked body of another woman and mailed the phony image to people throughout her legislative district. It even reportedly arrived in the mailbox of her grandmother and great-grandmother.
The picture for Illinois' state employee pensions has become bleaker, with a $12 billion increase in unfunded liabilities and a $1 billion jump in the state's scheduled contributions next year.
The updated data comes from fiscal 2016 draft actuarial reports released by the state's five retirement funds and its preliminary contribution requests for fiscal 2018, which were approved by the system's boards at recent meetings.
Illinois voters Tuesday night approved the so-called “Safe Roads Amendment” that ensures billions of state dollars will be set aside for transportation projects — but according to opponents — could cause financial strain in the future.
Peoria Assistant City Manager Christopher Setti said the city has the option to buy out the water company every five years through a contractual provision between the city and Illinois American Water. The next opportunity to do so is in 2018. City water has been managed privately since 1889.
The state's large industrial and manufacturing companies would see significant increases in their electric bills to help bankroll a dramatic expansion of energy-efficiency programs run by Commonwealth Edison and downstate utility Ameren Illinois as part of a wide-ranging draft energy bill circulating in Springfield.
“There is no question that the increases in property taxes have hurt the real estate market here,” Vince Kolber told North Cook News. “Anybody looking at a new home in Chicago is going to say ‘well, you’re asking too much’ or ‘I’m just not going to buy’ because the tax rates go up.”
Comment: I happen to have run into Vince Kolber a couple weeks ago and talked to him at some length about the economy. He is running for Congress in Illinois' 5th District. He's exceptionally smart and energetic. Few people understand our economic problems better than him.
The district's precipitous financial decline offers a cautionary tale for taxpayers in Illinois, a state with limited oversight of school district finances. Roughly 60 percent of Illinois' more than 800 school districts reported deficit spending, the state reported in March.
Illinois taxpayers need to send a clear message to the General Assembly to work with the governor and tackle the state's trillions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities, the president of a government advisory group said during a recent radio interview.
Bob Williams, president of State Budget Solutions, said during a recent edition of Illinois Rising that this message to lawmakers should be a demand.
The campaign to pass the so-called “Safe Roads Amendment” is grounded in a rare, tacit truce between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, — a stark contrast to the battles the two are waging on other political fronts.
"Having lived in the Peoria area my entire life and spending most of my career in the real estate business, I was constantly asked the question by people moving into the Peoria area from all parts of the U.S., 'Why are your property taxes so high?.'"
At the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp.’s quarterly meeting at Bult Field on Friday, the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aviation’s interim director told a gathering of about 100 local officials and business people that the airport project is “still alive. It’s still a project.”
A paid holiday to go to the polls might not seem like a big deal. But it's a symptom of a larger problem. AFSCME members belong to a special, protected class in Illinois. The other 99.9 percent of the state's workforce? Not so much.
New IRS data show taxpayers who left had an average income of $77,000 per year, compared with taxpayers who entered Illinois, who had an average income of $57,000 per year.
Comment: Yes, money does walk. Illinois Policy Inst. has been doing a great job analyzing IRS data on migration of AGI. Naturally, our ace press corps ignores it. Others have complained about the Obama Administration stalling release of this data, their suspicion being that the flight of money from high tax, blue states is too embarrassing. The most recently released data are from 2014.
"In deference to too many readers’ implorations that a solution or two be proffered, begin by voting this coming Tuesday for those who will make changes. But don’t stop there. Vote out those who have failed to bring about change and who in your heart you know will continue to play along until we are reduced to the lowly status of any other corrupt banana republic."
"We are writing to express our deep concerns with reports that Facebook's 'Ethnic Affinities' advertising customization feature allows for advertisers to exclude specific racial and ethnic groups when placing housing advertisements," Kelly wrote in the letter to Zuckerberg.
In Illinois, insurance premiums under Obamacare will rise on average more than 40 percent for the lowest-tier plans. And plans offered on the exchange are dwindling.
While other states have grappled with big rate hikes, Illinois consumers are bearing the brunt of hikes along with insurance options that don’t suit their needs – or as Alexandra Eidenberg less charitably puts it, “garbage options.”
Comment: Ha! It will ease the housing cost burden alright. That's because it will accelerate the flight of employers and tax base from the state, leaving housing empty. Detroit has low housing costs, too. That's the model we are working towards.
Illinois’ year has been bad enough through September. Yet, a series of October announcements makes it clear that Illinois’ job situation in manufacturing will likely continue to get worse. Four manufacturers in October decided to shut down or relocate facilities to another state.
Illinois has become the first state ever to pass a law requiring that all licensed hairdressers receive training to recognize symptoms of domestic and sexual violence in their clients, according to local news channel WQAD. This law, which was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in August and takes effect on January 1, 2017, is unprecedented in the salon industry.
Most people expect Illinois law enforcement to defend the private property of Illinois residents. As long as you obey the law, your life, liberty and property should be secure from the law – or so common sense would suggest.
Small businesses across Illinois, just like the rest of the country, are looking toward the holidays with heightened anxiety and concern in the wake of re-worked overtime pay regulations.
A boost in the annual threshold under which salaried employees must be paid overtime goes into effect Dec. 1, lifting the cutoff for a majority of positions from $23,660 to $47,476 — or from $455 a week to $913.
The Teacher's Retirement System said of the projected $4.56 billion contribution, just $974 million is needed to pay the cost of pensions for that year. The remaining $3.5 billion is to go toward the amount owed from previous years.
While next year's contribution to the teachers' pensions is an eye-popping figure, it is far short of the actuaries' ceiling. Using the new accounting standards, the state's annual contribution should be $6.88 billion to catch up with its unfunded liability.
Palatine-area Community Consolidated School District 15 is once again a hotbed of debate, as the school board that recently tied taxpayers to a 10-year union contract has now approved a $130 million building referendum to be placed on the November ballot. Before voting, residents need to take into consideration the school board’s history of closed-door decision-making, as well as the substantial economic impact the referendum could have on local taxpayers.
In Moody's calculation, the net pension liability grew from $503 million in 2015 to $707 million in 2016. The agency knocked down the city's general fund two notches from A1 to A3 and its water fund from Aa2 to A1.
Comment: $700 million for a city of 117,000 is far beyond insurmountable.
Illinois' biggest public worker pension fund said on Friday its board gave initial approval to a state contribution of $4.56 billion in fiscal 2018, a 14.5 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
Comment: Still won't be close to enough. The unfunded liability will continue to grow.
The state’s ongoing budget crisis casts its shadow on Sauk Valley Community College and the Lee-Ogle Transportation System. The number of people personally affected by Illinois’ financial woes seems destined to increase.
Comment: When will journalists figure out that politicians' "intransigence," which this article blames, has little to do with the problem. Either side could give in completely and the problem still won't be solved. The numbers can't come close to being made to work.
Springfield officials had already shuttered a few library branches and reduced library personnel by 36 percent, largely due to overwhelming pension costs. Sworn police officers had been cut by 9 percent. Public works positions were reduced by 26 percent. Only through higher sales taxes had funding for sidewalk, sewer and street repairs been restored.
The seven metro areas with over-the-year unemployment increases include Bloomington, Carbondale-Marion, Champaign-Urbana, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Danville, Davenport-Moline-Rock Island and Peoria.
At least six individuals in Illinois are among nearly 60 people indicted in a call-center scam in which individuals posing as agents of the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies extorted a total of $300 million from 15,000 victims across the country, the federal government said Thursday.
The governments’ revenues aren’t keeping up with rising expenses, including for employee pensions, despite the thriving technology industry, home-price gains and rapid economic growth in much of the state.
The manufacturer would fill an 80,500-square-foot facility in the Salem Business Park that is being developed by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, the town of Salem and Kenosha County. The company plans to move from Lake Villa, Ill., in June 2017 and have 86 jobs within three years, including those that would move from Illinois. Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. announced the move Thursday.
“In the 1980s, Robyn Gabel was a regular contributor to Unity, the newspaper of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, a militant, pro-China Maoist organization,” notes Trevor Loudon, author of The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress.
Comment: Most of the public, however, never knew this to begin with. Gabel continues to receive media endorsements though NONE have reported her ugly background.
Not only was his pension ramp financially irresponsible at its core, but Edgar’s broader handling of pensions during his time in office laid the foundation for Illinois’ current financial and public pension crises.
New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Illinois’ professional and business services sector has fared better than the state’s manufacturing industry, which recorded 800 job losses in September.
Fresno is only one of seven cities or states nationwide with a pension surplus, according to a study by Fellner's organization and the group Wilshire Consulting. The rest are $6 trillion short, setting aside just 35 cents for every dollar promised.
The new Kenosha facility will be twice as large as the Lake Forest-Libertyville operation and will be Colbert Packaging’s largest facility to date. In addition to the 65 jobs taken from its Illinois operations, Colbert plans to add 40-45 new jobs at the Kenosha plant in the next two years.
The order introduces seven guidelines to ensure regulatory necessity, consistency and clarity, and to minimize needlessly burdensome requirements and prevent the processing delays that often accompany government regulations. The agencies have until May 1, 2017, to complete their comprehensive reviews, and current or proposed regulations that fail to meet the new criteria will be subject to revision or repeal at that time.
Traditional investing logic would indicate that the rally in bonds is overdue for a reversal, but investors may have to continue to wait for any such turn. They can thank or blame pension funds, depending on their perspective. These funds now oversee more than $18.6 trillion, a volume of assets that's bigger than annual U.S. economic output.And they're increasingly plowing their money into debt, including money newly raised through increased taxes.
Comment: A very interesting perspective on pensions' humongous debt appetite.
The city's finances are so dire that it might not be able to afford ammunition for the police department, but every employee is expected to get a raise in 2017, according to a new memo published Tuesday after a key financial vote by DeKalb City Council.
The DeKalb City Council has set a ceiling for its estimated annual property tax levy at nearly $13 million, a 10.8 percent percent increase over last year's levy as budget talks begin in earnest for 2017.
"Let’s be blunt: Democratic Party operative Robert Creamer used terror to wage war on honesty.... He’s a politically connected crook. His wife is Representative Janice “Jan” Schakowsky. Jan’s represented Illinois’ 9th congressional district since 1999."
The flurry of voter fraud and intimidation allegations and counter allegations swirling through Kankakee County has caught the attention of state and federal officials.
A day after Kankakee officials announced an investigation into voter fraud, including allegations that “individuals from Chicago” were offering gifts in exchange for votes, the top federal attorney for central Illinois and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan paid the city a visit.
In his little-known role as the state's librarian, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White maintains government archives, administers grants to local libraries, oversees literacy programs — and launders money to pay for House Speaker Michael Madigan's pet projects.
Comment: Truth is, Jesse White is almost comatose now, but not PC for the press to report that.
Three Illinois daily newspapers are hosting on-demand screenings of the "Madigan: Power. Privilege. Politics." video. The documentary will be available on the Northwest Herald (nwherald.com), Herald-News (theherald-news.com) and DeKalb Daily Chronicle (daily-chronicle.com) websites from 7 p.m. today until 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The alliance has partnered with 13 academic institutes and universities' schools of public administration or policy to work on the multi-year study. The groups will also collaborate with Municipal Market Analytics and with Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, special project consultants to the alliance.
Rauner announced that his administration would close down Stateville Correctional Center’s decrepit and dehumanizing F House in Crest Hill. It was a sensitive and forward-looking decision by the governor, who has set a goal of reducing the incarnation of nonviolent offenders.
Opposition donors included mostly Democratic-connected law firms and five labor unions: the Service Employees International Union, the Illinois Education Association, the state AFL-CIO, the Illinois Pipe Trades PAC and the Construction and General Laborers Council of Chicago.
In mind numbing disregard of reality, voters for the most part keep re-electing the perpetrators who gutted a once-thriving state.
Some of us continue to speculate how Illinois joined the ranks of oligarchies, plutocracies and kleptocracies that have destroyed democracies throughout history. Maybe these great thinkers can afford to stay and continue to offer unwanted solutions to a deaf electorate. The rest us are not so well-financed and dedicated. We are just trying to get out.
If re-electing an incumbent in your district means continuing to empower Madigan, think twice. If it means giving Madigan a supermajority that can ram through budgets that spend beyond Illinois' means, think thrice. If it means letting Madigan override gubernatorial vetoes to curry favor with special interest groups, think some more. If it means helping Madigan block reforms that even his own Democratic members support, think about sending a new representative to the Illinois House.
You won’t get a chance to vote on term limits for elected officials in Illinois in November or have an opportunity to reduce the power of state lawmakers to draw their own legislative districts.
But there is an amendment on the ballot to change the Illinois Constitution so that all money collected from the motor fuel tax, car registrations, licenses and on the toll roads must be spent on transportation projects.
Rauner’s administration said its Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force has already identified more than $270 million in savings from fraud, waste and abuse in the past six months, and even more savings for taxpayers are expected to be found.
Chris Kennedy writes that Rauner was wrong to suggest bankruptcy should be a permissible option for Illinois municipalities.
Comment: Utter nonsense. Denial has gotten us nowhere, and Kennedy is really just saying Rauner should pretend and deny the way we always have. Most importantly, he presents no alternative plan. To all who deny that bankruptcy is inevitable, put up or shut up.
“High school students do not have a constitutional right not to share restrooms or locker rooms with transgender students whose sex assigned at birth is different than theirs,” a federal magistrate wrote.
Comment: Forget Trump. Somebody needs to. Look at the Illinois law in this article about the elements of the crime and compare it to what's in the video, linked here. Sure looks like there's a case. In any event, inciting to violence is clearly illegal and that ought to be prosecuted.
And it's appalling how the media are ignoring the gravity of this.
Illinois Policy Institute analyses of hundreds of contracts across the state reveal a common and unaffordable perk: Most school districts "pick up" some or all of the pension contribution teachers are supposed to pay.
A newly released study that indicates higher-paid legislators spend more time fundraising than legislating prompted a conservative think-tank founder to ponder whether Illinois voters should consider reducing legislator pay.
The state has removed about 6,000 dependents from the State Employee Group Insurance Program for eligibility issues such as divorced spouses and adult children, which reaped $20 million in savings last fiscal year. The employee group insurance program covers most of the state's employees, their dependents and retirees and costs taxpayers about $3 billion a year.
Illinois truckers next year will face their third toll increase since 2014 and drivers will see seven new ramps with tolling points on the Jane Addams tollway under a tentative Illinois Tollway budget unveiled Wednesday.
For four decades, Robert Creamer has been part of the fabric of Illinois and national Democratic campaigns, from helping elect wife Jan Schakowsky to Congress and giving Mayor Rahm Emanuel his first post-college job to helping on Barack Obama's two presidential campaigns and working this time to elect Hillary Clinton.
The latest idea on how to pay for education in Illinois may not move the state’s schools off the property-tax funding model, but supporters said it could stop punishing schools because they don’t have a lot of expensive houses in their district.
A state senator from Chicago plans to use the General Assembly’s upcoming fall veto session to continue pushing legislation that Exelon Corp. says is essential to the future of its financially struggling Quad-Cities and Clinton nuclear power plants.
Sources in the Rauner administration said the governor will apply to renew a federal waiver that since 2009 has exempted Illinois from a federal requirement placing a time limit on some food stamp recipients.
A small bipartisan group of Downstate Illinois U.S. representatives are trying to build support in Congress for ending the Cuba embargo. Those efforts will kick into higher gear after the presidential election.
The first downstate mass transit district closed its doors over the weekend, as the buses in Jacksonville, Illinois, stopped running, and dozens of others said they may close as well if they don't receive more state money soon.
Most of the call-offs are being utilized under family-medical leave coverage. “Even if we suspect that someone maybe misusing that benefit, our only recourse is to send it back to the same doctors that certified them. So we have, the federal law is a problem.”
The referendum is heavily backed by those who would most directly benefit — asphalt companies, contractors, engineers, excavators, carpenters and labor unions whose members lift the shovels and lay the pavement. As of early October, Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding has raised $3.3 million to build support for the ballot initiative among the public, including a $1 million television ad buy.
Moody's introduced a new metric which they referred to as the "Tread Water" benchmark. The largest underfunded plans in Kentucky, Illinois and New Jersey would require an incremental 7 - 7.5% of annual state revenue for contributions in order to simply stop unfunded liabilities from growing further.
Romeoville, Illinois-based Outstanding Tradeshow Exhibit Services plans to spend $1.2 million to buy, renovate and equip a 74,000-square-foot facility. OTES founder and president Nan Wellman says that "fiscally, Indiana is a better fit" for her company. The company plans to transfer eight existing jobs to Indiana and create up to 15 new jobs by 2019.
Officials say the council will work to make sure regulations are up-to-date and language is easily understandable. It also is tasked with reducing unneeded requirements on businesses, social service providers and residents. Rauner's office says the council's goal is to save taxpayers at least $250 million over the next decade.
The Illinois State Board of Investment will shift $2.8 billion from active funds at companies including Fidelity Investments, Invesco Ltd. and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. into index funds managed by Vanguard and Northern Trust Corp. The board expects the switch to reduce fees to 0.09%, from 0.37%.
"The nature of defined benefit pensions in the hands of politicians will never change," wrote Rachel Greszler, a senior policy analyst in economics and entitlements at the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis. "There will always be pressure to shortchange pensions and pass the buck to future taxpayers."
Robert Creamer, husband of IL Rep. Jan Schakowsky, tells Project Veritas that his organization, Democracy Partners, has daily check-ins with the Clinton campaign in order to coordinate efforts. “I just had a call with the campaign and the DNC, every day at one o’clock,” says Creamer subordinate Zulema Rodriguez in the video.
A key Clinton operative is captured on camera saying, "It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherfucker."
Comment: Coordination between the Clinton campaign and Creamer's operation is illegal.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) came out with a report this week based on reviewing the latest available actuarial valuations of over 280 state-administered pension plans and adjusting the discount rate from an average of 7.37% to a ‘riskless’ rate of of 2.344%.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will be the only insurer offering PPO health insurance plans on the state's Obamacare exchange next year, according to information released Friday by the state Department of Insurance.
"We ask voters to sit out all uncontested legislative races — many already do, of course — as a collective statement of protest, on the principle that you cannot, in good conscience, participate in the sham of a democracy that Illinois has become."
AFSCME likes to depict itself as a defender of the middle class. But in reality, it is AFSCME launching an assault on the state’s taxpayers – and particularly on those Illinoisans who are less fortunate.
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his son are aiming to cash in on a federal program that offers green cards to wealthy foreigners with a deal that could bring their company $15 million, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.
Daley, more than anybody, bankrupted Chicago, and that miserable pig is still at the trough.
State public pension plans are now underfunded by nearly $5.6 trillion – an increase of almost $900 billion from State Budget Solutions’ (SBS) last comprehensive report in 2014. When state pension funds are examined through the lens of a more realistic valuation, pension funding gaps are revealed to be much larger than reported in official state financial documents.
Using more realistic numbers than those reported, ALEC puts Illinois pension funding ratio at just 24%. Full report linked here.
The state's so-called credit spread over Municipal Market Data's benchmark triple-A yield scale widened from 162 basis points before the sale to 200 basis points for bonds due in 10 years, according to MMD, a unit of Thomson Reuters.
The wider spread indicates growing investor unease over Illinois' ability to pass a balanced budget and address its huge unfunded pension liability.
Through this waiver, Illinois is requesting to use $2.7 billion in federal Medicaid funds that would not otherwise be offered. This money will be invested in early interventions and infrastructure over the next five years to improve the quality of care delivered while avoiding more costly admissions and treatment.
Supporters say the change is needed because money that's supposed to be earmarked for building roads has gone to other expenses over the years. But the amendment could allow some of those practices to continue, while endangering other popular programs.
The nation's fifth-largest state, which is limping through its second consecutive year without a complete budget, said it is possible that its five retirement systems may not receive payments when due because the state's general fund may be low on cash.
Comment: On Illinois and Chicago finance topics, the author of this article is one you can count on to get the story right -- Yvette Shields. We link to her stories whenever they are available to the public.
Raynor Garage Doors has battled back from the 2008 recession and unveiled a $1-million plant upgrade on Monday, but its chairman says Illinois can still do much more to help businesses like Raynor thrive.
About half of Illinoisans say they want to move. Most troubling, the young, especially, want out. Fifty-seven percent of millennials (under 35) want to leave the state while 58 percent of those between 35 and 50 want to leave. Taxes are the main reason.
A staggering 84% say state headed in wrong direction.
Illinois is reportedly over a year behind on payments to individuals who are owed money by the state through legal claims.
The individuals include those who have suffered injury or monetary damage as a result of the state’s actions and have won their cases against the State of Illinois in the Court of Claims, which serves any citizen with a claim of monetary damages or personal injury against a state agency or state employee.
Illinois is billions in debt, has billions in overdue bills and can't seem to remove itself from a budget morass, yet it's the nation's worst in reclaiming hundreds of millions of dollars in overpaid unemployment benefits, an Associated Press analysis of federal labor data found.
Comment: Note that the Civic Federation is now quoting numbers from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, which is horrifying. They are a hack union group that apparently chose a name to confuse itself with the Illinois Policy Institute. The former supports the road fund set-aside measure because unions support it.
What is the lockbox amendment? It's one of those scam proposals that has a surface appeal but actually is aimed at feathering the nests of members of an influential special interest group (the road-building lobby) who hand out big, fat campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans.
The Indiana and Illinois departments of transportation anticipate completing revisions to their Illiana Expressway plan this fall, in hopes of overcoming a federal court’s objections to their original effort.
75 percent of Illinois counties will have only one or two insurance companies selling coverage on the health law marketplace for 2017. In seven counties - McHenry, Lake, Kendall, Grundy, Madison, St. Clair and Monroe - Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only insurer selling marketplace policies.
Eighty-nine workers at Manteno's Merisant plant — which produces Equal, the artificial sweetener — were told Monday the location will be closing its doors in mid-December and moving to a southeastern state.
A federal judge is letting a high-profile lawsuit by an Illinois dealership against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV go forward, adding to the pressure on the auto maker over its sales reporting techniques.
The ruling, issued Tuesday, allows Napleton Automotive Group to pursue claims that Fiat Chrysler violated antitrust and dealer franchise laws when it allegedly pressured the Illinois retailer to manipulate monthly sales data. The judge, however, dismissed claims of fraud and racketeering.
Rauner, who called Illinois the “manufacturing heart of America for almost 200 years,” repeatedly stressed the need to cut regulations and tax burdens to encourage job growth and business relocation to the state.
Munger said the state is entering a particularly precarious financial period because tax receipts historically drop in October and November, meaning there is less money on hand to pay bills. While some expenses such as debt payments and those covered by court order automatically go out the door, there is more flexibility when it comes to making the pension payment.
"Once cities go into bankruptcy, all bets are off for public pensioners. So it’s not in the interest of public sector unions to squeeze every cent they can from local governments. If their employer goes belly-up, they may be left with far less than they first bargained for."
Comment: That obvious point is too late to make for Chicago and many other Illinois muncipalities. With pension benefits constitutionally guarantied and no way to pay them, bankruptcy, for better or worse, is inevitable.
The schools, on the South and West sides, boosted annual attendance rates by about 10 to 20 percentage points, allegedly through fraud. While the report discovered the fraud for different time periods at the schools, the earliest it found problems was the 2012-2013 school year, the latest 2015-2016.
The law, known as the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, will go into effect on Jan. 1 and will effectively prohibit the use of non-competes for employees who earn $13 an hour or less. Under the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, it any non-compete agreement in place with an employee of this nature will be considered illegal and void.
Altering the pension cuts, the judges said, would be a "drastic action" that "would unavoidably unravel the entire plan, likely force the city back into emergency oversight and require a wholesale recreation of the vast and complex web of negotiated settlements and agreements."
Comment: This ruling from the Sixth Circuit Federal Appeals Court basically marks the end to court challenges to the Detroit bankruptcy plan and its pension cuts.
The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, a big business group that says it has had it with a state government that now is into its second year without enacting a full budget. It's launching an ad campaign called "LOL Illinois." "Not having a budget is not a laughing matter. Springfield has stopped listening to Illinois citizens. We must make enough noise that they won't have a choice but to hear us."
Freedom of Information Act requests from Illinois News Network uncovered that some Article 19b projects not only don’t prove energy efficiency but also snowballed by as much as 66 times the original approved amount through change orders. In some cases, change orders occurred years after initial public approvals.
"Making a documentary about the most powerful politician in Illinois is not for the faint of heart."
"Interviewees feared for their livelihoods. Three in-state production companies wouldn’t take the job, saying they couldn’t risk reprisal. The crew that decided to make the film received death threats."
"Equality under the law does not end at the city limits. The Constitution guarantees equal voting rights to all United States citizens in Illinois, not simply those in counties that have the highest populations and have organizations such as those represented in Amicus Briefs to stand up for their enhanced voting rights," said U.S. Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan.
"Warning to college students and millennials still trying to recover from the Great Recession: About 44.5 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed after settling for jobs that typically don't require a college education."
When the time comes, and the time is coming soon, the state again will be asked to bail out Chicago. If and when this happens, it will add billions to our state’s already growing deficit. Chicago’s problems are our problems.
"This Obamacare experiment is a flop. Harken Health — billed as an "innovative" health insurer and started by America's biggest insurance company to appeal to Obamacare customers — will exit the only two government-run exchange markets where it was selling coverage after reportedly booking losses of about $70 million in the first half of this year."
Comment: Same ole same ole from Mr. Innumerate. Like all who say this, he doesn't say, and probably has no idea, how much that would cost and what kind of survivable tax increase could cover it. Nobody does that. Nobody can. Nobody will.
S&P Global Ratings dropped Illinois' credit rating one notch to BBB on Friday and warned it could fall further absent a long-term solution that deals with the state's chronic structural budget deficit and pension woes.
"The open spigot of tax dollars that pours into local school districts has made school superintendents and the consultants — who are hired to guide district spending, borrowing and referendums — far too comfortable."
Comment: Wish we had time to dig into many school districts, which are rife with incompetence and cover-up.
"Illinoisans should thank fellow citizen David Cooke for taking on a fight of biblical proportions. In a figurative David vs. Goliath contest, Mr. Cooke filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections over the irregularities in Auditor General Frank Mautino’s now closed campaign accounts."
Illinois lawmakers should support a statewide law that limits government business regulations to only those necessary and carefully tailored to serve a legitimate public health, safety or welfare purpose.
"Fitch expects to resolve the Rating Watch by the end of January based on the progress of the fiscal 2017 budget. Fitch expects to resolve the Rating Watch by the end of January following an assessment of the state's financial condition if and when it enacts a full budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2016. At that time, Fitch will assess state action to address the chronic and growing financial imbalance that has resulted from an unwillingness to make use of the significant gap-closing tools available to the state."
Comment: A meaningful resolution of the budget problems by then is very doubtful.
"Whether the General Fund deficit is $14.5 billion or $16.9 billion, it’s definitely unsustainable. Between 59 percent and 68 percent of spending FY2017 is deficit spending."
Comment: There's another piece the union-run CTBA didn't count here -- continuing losses in the pensions. Add another $3-3.5B at least. Of course, the CTBA says this is all a revenue problem. Good luck raising taxes by $14.5-$16.9B.
In the wake of a deadlock at the U.S. Supreme Court, letting stand a federal appeals court’s ruling that public unions can compel workers not represented by unions to pay so-called “fair share” fees in lieu of union dues, a Chicago federal judge has tossed a lawsuit brought by several Illinois state workers, similarly challenging the union’s payroll deductions.
Harken, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare, said Thursday it will not offer plans on the exchange next year. Insurers Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Land of Lincoln already have announced they won't offer plans on the exchange next year.
It’s little secret to commercial real estate pros who do business near the Illinois/Wisconsin border: There’s a war going on between the states to attract new industrial projects. It’s no secret, either, which side is winning most of these battles.
Comment: Lots of good information in here, but casting this as an issue of "not having a budget" misses the real issue. What would a budget look like that's truly balanced (that addresses all "three deficits," as it's put in the article. The tax burden to do that would be impossibly high (probably requiring a $16B increase). Not having a budget is the consequence of the problem, not the primary cause.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability — the Illinois General Assembly’s independent budget analysts – estimated total state spending for the 2017 fiscal year that began on July 1 at $39.5 billion, compared with revenues of $31.8 billion — leaving nearly a $7.8 billion deficit.
If the latest IRS data says anything, it’s that McDaniel is succeeding. Recent IRS Records showed that more than 10,000 people recently moved from Illinois to Texas, with net migration gains from 46 other states as well.
Rauner's office said the stopgap budget is on track to leave Illinois $5.4 billion in the red when the fiscal year ends on June 30 if nothing changes. A bipartisan legislative commission in July projected a $7.8 billion deficit.
Comment: Keep in mind those numbers do not include further losses in the state pensions, which would add another $3 - $3.5 billion.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed the lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics for its Subsys drug, which is intended to treat cancer patients. According to Madigan, Insys is allegedly improperly marketing the drug to doctors who prescribe high levels of opioid drugs, rather than oncologists who treat cancer patients.
Changes in assumed investment return rates at four of Illinois' five state employee pension funds, as well as other revised assumptions in areas like life expectancy, are raising pressure on the state to tackle pension reforms.
Pension funding looks great, but "our “Taxpayer Burden,” Wisconsin ranks nowhere near the top (only 24th)."
Other things equal, yes, pension funding matters. And Wisconsin’s plans may have some unique features worthy of learning about. But Wisconsin’s pensions may have succeeded in important part because they carved out an elevated position, relative to other state obligations.
It's about ballot access by a third party candidate: "To suggest, as the state did in federal court, that Illinois law on this subject is 'reasonable and non-discriminatory' is nonsense. It's clearly discriminatory against independents. It's only reasonable if you're among the favored in an Illinois that has made a mockery of every aspect of a government 'of the people, by the people, for the people.'"
According to the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association, and reports from the Illinois Gaming Board, video gaming has generated about $785 million in state and local tax revenues since the first machines went live in September 2012.
Comment: "It costs a lot more to fund a modern retirement. Employers, workers and governments are not prepared," says The Economist. They figured that out, did they? The private sector came to that conclusion 30 years ago when it ditched DB plans. It's too late now for Chicago, Illinois and many others.
“To keep its promise of adequate schools for all children, the state must rally more forcefully around troubled schools,” the judge wrote, later adding, “The distance between the rich and poor students in this state is great enough to remove any doubt about the importance of being careful to send money where it is most needed.”
Illinois candidates for state and federal office have received nearly $3 million in contributions from the makers of prescription painkillers since 2006. Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have soared since 2000, claiming the lives of 165,000 people in the U.S. In recent years.
Two new reports, one from a video gaming association and the other from a state economic-forecasting group, predicted the explosion of Illinois video gambling would inevitably level off. The popularity of it also has come at the expense of riverboat casinos and the horse-racing industry, according to the state analysis.
“I do not think many employers, especially ones operating without a robust human resources department, are necessarily aware that Illinois passed a law specifically about pregnancy discrimination and reasonable accommodations.” Illinois specifically enacted a law that became effective Jan. 1, 2015 – the Pregnancy Accommodation Act. Illinois was recently joined by Colorado in passing such legislation that went into effect Aug. 10.
Unemployment rates dropped in August in nearly all Illinois metro areas compared with the year before, but job growth was concentrated in northern parts of the state while much of downstate continued to limp along.
The August BLS jobs report shows Illinois is down 8,000 manufacturing jobs on the year, giving the state the worst manufacturing job losses in the region, and a summer workforce contraction totaling 100,000 people.
On Sept. 21, a three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court determined a Cook County judge was correct in determining the city of Chicago was not required under the so-called Pensions Clause in the state constitution to continue paying for much of the health insurance for former city workers who had retired after 1989 under the terms of an agreement, which had a defined end date in 2013.
It’s not every day you see a significant portion of Republican senators supporting a taxpayer bailout—especially for a private union pension plan.
But today, six of the 14 Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee joined with Democratic counterparts in favor of a multibillion-dollar bailout of the United Mine Workers of America’s pension and health care plans.
Still plagued by late and overcrowded school buses, McLean County Unit 5 may turn to National Guard members, police and firefighters as possible fill-in drivers and to Gov. Bruce Rauner and other officials for help streamlining the hiring process.
The Texas Economic Development Corporation announced a "recruitment mission" to Chicago to meet with businesses that might be interested in what Texas has to offer, as well as site selection consultants who play an outsized role in corporate location decisions. The delegation includes Texas companies like CenterPoint, BNSF, and Oncor as well as economic development groups from a range of cities, including Houston.
A state with 12 percent of our population now accounts for a fifth of all public companies.
Other states, meanwhile, are in decline. Ohio had 5.58 percent and Pennsylvania had 5.9 percent of public listings in the 1965-79 period. But from 2000 through 2013, Ohio had 2.58 percent and Pennsylvania 3.78 percent of public company headquarters.
Illinois’s decline was even starker, as it slid to 3.62 percent from 6.42 percent of public company headquarters.
From the executive director of Chicago's MEABF: “If markets are flat or negative in upcoming years, we will continue to lose principal at a double digit rate....The projected insolvency for the fund will escalate.”
Comment: Let's get real. This fund, like most large ones in Illinois, will continue to "lose principal" (that is, the unfunded liability will increase) even if return targets are met. We've documented that inside and out. Negative amortization is built in.
"Guzzardi, who is a Chicago Democrat, says if Illinois taxed wealthy people and profitable corporations at higher rates the state could bring in enough money to do this, while also erasing the deficit."
Comment: He formerly was an editor for Huffington Post Chicago and went to Brown University. Go figure.
The decision to provide bonuses to administrators already making huge salaries shows a disregard for taxpayers. It also suggests a disconnect between college leaders and the students and the people tasked with educating them.
Michigan has retooled its economy, brought down taxes and enacted a statewide Right-to-Work law. Those factors combined with a restructured auto industry helped Michigan bounce back and lower out-migration.
Illinois candidates for state and federal office have received nearly $3 million in contributions from the makers of prescription painkillers since 2006, according to a joint investigation by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity that looked at industry efforts nationally to help fight limits on their drugs.
State-based politicians and government officials are also struggling with transparency and accountability producing inaccurate financial reports and making downright false claims. These actions, taken as a whole, are leading us toward a significant, national crisis.
The worst offenders include New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and Kentucky.
"State and local governments are trying unconventional ways to fund their pension liabilities, such as offering lump-sum cash payments to employees."
For public plans, the first problem you'd have to overcome is taker bias. That is, those most likely to take a buyout would be cancer patients, heart attack survivors, AIDS victims, diabetics, overweight smokers, etc. You can't, as a practical matter, screen them out, which would doom the idea. Even if you could, if you start with the correct premise that, one way or another, only a portion of scheduled benefits will in fact be paid, the lump sum discount would have to be really huge to make the state better off.
How was this possible? State asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to take property they suspect is involved in a crime without proving it in court – or without even charging the property owner with a crime at all.
Miners risk their bodies in labyrinthine tunnels and on mineral-rich hillsides, and in exchange, they can earn $80,000 or more — wages far beyond anything else available in the area.
But this long-standing covenant could be reaching its end. Illinois mining companies have shed more than 1,200 jobs over the last year as strict new environmental regulations and cheap natural gas have encouraged utilities to drop their reliance on coal.
Enjoy Life Foods, a manufacturer of gluten-free and allergy-friendly foods, moved its production and distribution operations out of Chicago, then opened North America’s largest bakery of gluten-free and allergy-friendly goods in Jefferson, Indiana.
A study of the most recent IRS data shows that Illinois may be losing more people than nearly any other state and in nearly every demographic.
Center for Opportunity Urbanism Executive Director Joel Kotkin said his report on outmigration shows Illinois is hemorrhaging people of all ages and incomes, second only to New York. Kotkin said the common factors in where Illinoisans end up are the lower cost of living and jobs.
"We pile regulations on industry and expect them to capitulate because, as some politicians have told me, 'It is a privilege to do business in Illinois.' And I remind them that if that tale ever were true, it isn't true anymore."
The shift would dramatically reduce outside management fees paid plan-wide, dropping from more than $10 million annually to $1 million, Marc Levine, the board’s chairman, said in an interview. On a per-participant basis, it equates to fees being shaved to about one-fourth of the previously paid total.
A 2014 analysis of higher education funding by the Illinois Department of Insurance revealed that all of the money public universities get from the state essentially goes toward funding university retiree pensions.
"The decrease in Illinois’ unemployment rate is largely due to a decline in the labor force. Job growth is still below the national average, with Illinois -46,400 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000."
"In this 30-day snapshot, manufacturing losses were heavy, which contributed to more than half of the month’s decrease in nonfarm payroll jobs,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays.
Protests, lawsuits and vandalized construction equipment are among the difficulties being experienced by Energy Transfer Crude Oil Co. on the northern end of its $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline Project. But the scene couldn't be more different on the southern end of the project in Illinois.
Rauner has signed into law the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, which prohibits private employers from entering into non-compete agreements with “low-wage employees,” defined as $13.00 per hour or less. The law is designed to prevent abuses of non-competes against employees who pose no real threat to their employer.
Because they now assume a lower return, TRS actuaries estimate the state of Illinois will have to pony up hundreds of millions of dollars more, annually, to fund promised benefits, as required by law. That's on top of the $3 billion-plus the state has been pouring into the TRS plan each year recently.
Trouble is, these additional hundreds of millions of dollars are just a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed, given the decades of pension mismanagement by Illinois politicians.
“These are acts that are morally offensive to any decent society, where care to the ‘least of these’ should be the top priority.... The only thing he seems to care about are his billionaire buddies who benefit from the cuts he makes for those of us who do the heavy lifting to make our state work.”
Comment: He's worse than the 'basket of deplorables,' evidently. Look, if you want to do politics, then give up your tax exemption and do politics.
"After losses in 2008 and 2009, most U.S. state pension plans have not been able to recover to funded levels seen in the early 2000s," S&P said. "Investment returns in 2015 and 2016 are not going to make that path any easier."
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s current tax-and-spend policies and protection of special interests stand in contrast to the speaker’s past statements declaring the need for economic growth and opportunity.
Kentucky, New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania experienced the largest negative amortization, when adjusted by covered payroll. Plans in these states face significant challenges and have low funded ratios. And without the strong overall investment returns in 2014, net amortization shows that these states would have lost further ground. All four also fell short of paying what would have been the full ARC in 2014.
Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power generator and a frequent critic of its peers that burn coal, has floated a plan that would raise electricity prices in downstate Illinois and potentially keep open several coal-fired plants slated for closure.
Among their "demands": an end to its “system of tuition-peonage, abolishing “strongholds of male power," racial hiring and enrollment quotas, minimum wage hikes, no tuition hides and housing subsidies for LGBT students.
Over 60 percent of the districts in Illinois contain just 14 percent of the state's overall students. Put another way, the 511 school districts in question serve an average of 526 students. On the other hand, more than three-fourths of Illinois' 872 superintendents earn six-figure salaries, and 320 of Illinois school district administrators, mostly district superintendents, are awarded annual incomes of $200,000 or more.
Comment: Most readers here wouldn't find the content of the papers very interesting because it's highly academic. What's significant here is the effort by the establishment to fight the reformers who want more honest pension reporting.
For nearly 200,000 seniors across Illinois, as of Aug. 3, important choices now require another decision maker: The U.S. government. As the first state in the U.S. to be subject to a novel Medicare demonstration project, physicians across Illinois, who know best that Medicare home health would clinically benefit their patients, no longer have the final say in prescribing post-acute and chronic care management services that they have deemed medically necessary for their patients. Instead, a government Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) makes the final call.
Policy holders who bought from an insurance co-op in Illinois remain upset and confused about the future of their care more than a month after the debt-laden company was ordered to close by insurance regulators.
Many Illinois consumers will find fewer choices because major carriers fled this market. UnitedHealthcare bolted. So did Aetna. Land of Lincoln Health collapsed mid-year, leaving policy holders to scramble for coverage that could cost them plenty. In many places across Illinois and the nation, people will find drastically fewer choices of plans than they did last year.
Springfield Clinic officials now are discussing the possibility of taking the unprecedented step of asking patients covered by the State Employees Group Insurance Program to pay more of the cost of their care upfront or bill those patients for costs the state normally would pay, Kuhn said Friday.
Many of the "economic injury disaster loans" went to travel-related businesses whose futures were shaky after the terrorist attacks. But other, seemingly random businesses received them too — a downtown car wash, a North Michigan Avenue skin care center, and suburban restaurants.
The move cost Illinois 125 to 150 manufacturing jobs. “Overall, we look for the best place to locate for our manufacturing,” stated Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Joel Warady “Finding a manufacturing-friendly state was part of the process.”
You are not unique enough. A Chicago federal judge said so on Wednesday.
You deserve a lesser voice than Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and all of his special committees. That makes sense, because Madigan has so little opportunity to make his views known compared to you, right?
“The most important adverse effect of the minimum wage is a reduction in employment, most of it concentrated among the young, poor, least-skilled and minorities,” Kim Maish, Illinois state director at the National Federation of Independent Business, told the Sangamon Sun. “Minimum-wage increases do not help reduce poverty. While the few employees who earn a wage increase might benefit from a wage hike, those that lose their job are noticeably worse off.”
Mansfield’s move from the state is attracting quite a bit of attention. In addition to his letter being published in the Chicago Tribune, Mansfield's decision to move to Indiana also was featured on WBBM Channel 2 News. Mansfield is a senior vice president of W. R. Berkley Corp.
The waiver being sought, which wouldn’t expand eligibility or increase the amount of federal funding the state receives, would allow Illinois to test new ways of providing services to Medicaid recipients with mental illness and substance abuse problems. While those recipients make up about 25 percent of the 3.2 million Illinoisans receiving Medicaid, they account for 56 percent of spending in the $18 billion-per-year program.
Background checks in Illinois nearly doubled in August, compared to the year before, according to data from the FBI.
This is far greater than the nationwide rate, which shows that background checks increased 6% in August, compared to a year ago. That single-digit increase made August a record month for background checks nationally.
Illinois may have gained 43,000 jobs in the past 12 months, but Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability Chief Economist Edward Boss said the state’s labor-force participation rate is the lowest it’s been since the 1970s.
“You can’t expect much growth or much tax revenue if you don’t have people working and paying taxes if they’re out of the labor force.”