Sunday, February 25, 2018

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COGFA Monthly Report

The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability: Illinois’ economy continues to lag the nation as well as surrounding states even as the current economic recovery, while comparatively long in historical terms, remains the weakest in the post WWII period.
Income tax receipts increased compared to last October thanks to the rate increase, though sales tax receipts were basically flat.

Illinois Economy is Growing, Still Below National Average

The University of Illinois Flash Economic Index is at its lowest level in five years. The October number clocked in at 103.9, down three-tenths of a point from September.

Think your property taxes are unfairly high? You’re right. – Belleville News-Democrat

Illinois’ median property tax rate is 2.67 percent, or about $1,000 on a $35,000 house. That is double the national median. So our O’Fallon...

Legislative Ethics Commission Reports ‘No Cases’ Despite Dozens of Complaints – WTTW

More than two dozen complaints – potential allegations of sexual harassment, ethical breeches, improper behavior, prohibited political activity or other possible violations of the state ethics act by state lawmakers and legislative staff – have been sitting in a binder for as long as three years,

Illinois lawmakers propose bill to regulate political ads on social media – Illinois Policy

State Sens. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, and Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, are co-sponsoring a bill to require political committees that pay for certain political and...

U of I parade halted, officer assaulted during protest – Video – Campus Reform

Video footage obtained by Campus Reform shows protesters shoving a police officer against the hood of a car during the demonstration against "Chief Illiniwek," a former mascot that many consider offensive.

Public employee pensions and collective bargaining rights: Evidence from state and local government finances – Brookings

From the study: "We find that collective bargaining requirements significantly and substantially increase government contributions to pensions, while reducing employee contributions, significantly increasing the overall generosity (and amount) of pension contributions and benefits."

Illinois bill backlog stands at nearly $16.4B – Illinois Policy

The state has embarked on a plan to sell more than $6 billion of bonds in order to reduce annual interest payments and help pay off the bill backlog.

About one of every four workers in the Illinois portion of the Greater St. Louis area crosses the Mississippi River to work. – Editorial – Belleville News Democrat

One in four workers from southwestern Illinois crosses the Mississippi River to work in Missouri. Far fewer Missourians come to Illinois for their jobs. About one of every four workers in the Illinois portion of the Greater St. Louis area crosses the Mississippi River to work. The total for our region is about 71,300 commuters to Missouri.

Illinois schools look to be shortchanged again by state – INN

The latest source of money that is not going to schools comes from the decades-old corporate personal property replacement tax. Illinois' Department of Revenue says there will be $300 million less for schools in the state this year.

What’s more toxic for Democrats: Their tax hikes or Berrios? – Editorial -Chicago Tribune

"If we were running for any county office, we’d focus voters on the grossly unfair property valuation system that Berrios oversees as county assessor. We’d focus voters on the Tribune series that, four months ago, detailed how that system disadvantages poor and often minority homeowners. We’d focus voters on the slow-mo review of Berrios’ unfair system — a review County Board President Toni Preckwinkle promised more than three months ago."

Peoria area sees lower unemployment but fewer jobs – JournalStar

As with the rest of the state, the Peoria area has seen a drop in the unemployment rate since last year, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. However, the number of local non-farm jobs went down, IDES said.  

Rockford City Council to confront deepening financial crisis – Rockford Register Star

Although the city’s revenue is growing, it cannot keep pace with its spending. The result is what Eklund calls a structural deficit. Sales tax revenues have rebounded, but have not returned to levels seen before The Great Recession and revenues overall are growing at about 2 percent a year. Meanwhile, pension and employee costs continue to climb and expenses are growing at about 3 percent annually.

Illinois budget woes among worst in nation -WQAD

Illinois finally ended a two-year-long budget stalemate last July, but despite borrowing $1.5 billion to try and pay down unpaid bills, it still ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of expenses outpacing revenues, according to a recently released study from Pew Charitable Trusts.

Illinois is the USA’s Top Pumpkin Producer – Mystateline

In your face, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa.

Taxpayers on the hook for canceled Chicago stadium show – Illinois Policy

The Illinois Sports Facility Authority paid $1.6 million for a September concert at Guaranteed Rate Field, featuring Diddy and Fat Joe, even though it had to cancel the event.

Illinois bulks up Obamacare website – Chicago Tribune

Illinois is adding more information to, its Obamacare website, on Wednesday, allowing consumers on the first day of open enrollment to look at and enroll in all individual plans both on and off the exchange. The state also has expanded the hours of its help line and established a phone number for consumers to talk to a licensed broker, for free, about gaining coverage. In recent years, the website hasn’t included information about all the plans or the ability to enroll in them or talk to licensed brokers.

State Lawmakers Speak Out on Sexual Harassment in Springfield – Video – WTTW

General Assembly members Gabel, Steans and Feingoltz on their experiences.

IL Gov. Rauner advances tech initiatives during first of five days in Israel – Nexstar

A new, first-of-its kind partnership between the University of Illinois and Tel Aviv University in Israel will advance groundbreaking engineering and technology initiatives and foster economic growth in Illinois and abroad, Gov. Bruce Rauner said today during a visit to the Middle Eastern nation.

Lawmaker scolded for proposing anti-Trump military spending measure – INN

A state resolution criticizing President Donald Trump’s military spending sparked a firestorm of criticism Thursday in Springfield. State Rep. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, proposed a resolution...

Illinois needs right-to-work – Opinion – JournalStar

More than 1,100 companies have “blacklisted” Illinois because it does not have right-to-work.

Ives mounts challenge to Rauner in Republican gubernatorial primary – Prairie State Wire

Petitions now out for signature. Rock Island-based former state representative and community college Prof. Rich Morthland will be Ives' running mate.

While Illinois courts Amazon, privacy litigation threatens tech firms, Illinois employers – Illinois Policy

The flood of biometric privacy litigation engulfing tech companies and employers should make the General Assembly think twice before passing new regulations that could increase costs and compliance burdens for companies.

Here’s how not to bring jobs to Illinois – Editorial – Crain’s

The right-to-work debate came to Springfield this month as Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner wrangled over a Democratic-sponsored measure that would forbid local governments from banning union-shop labor contracts within their borders. Rauner—as rabid a union critic as anyone reading this will ever meet—vetoed the measure. Madigan attempted to override the veto but fell one vote short, though observers on every side fully expect the speaker to twist more arms and try again.

For the sake of Illinois' economic competitiveness, here's hoping Madigan doesn't succeed.

Majority of Illinois metro areas lost jobs in September – Illinois Policy

The September metro jobs report follows statewide numbers that showed one of the worst months for payroll jobs since the Great Recession.

Illinois House approves warrantless wiretapping bill – Illinois Policy

A measure passed by the Illinois House of Representatives would extend the law that permits state’s attorneys to authorize wiretaps without a court-issued warrant.

Chicago suffers under fentanyl’s toll as president declares opioid emergency – Chicago Tribune

Between 2013 and 2016, as fentanyl and its analogues became more widespread, opioid overdoses in the six-county Chicago area nearly doubled from 687 to 1,321, state records show.

Illinois Completes $6 Billion Backlog Borrowing – The Civic Federation

The Comptroller will be able to apply nearly $6.5 billion of proceeds toward the repayment of outstanding vouchers.

University of Illinois receives its biggest gift ever—$150 million – Crain’s

Madison Industries founder and CEO Larry Gies and his wife, Beth Gies, who both graduated from U of I, made the donation, the school said in a statement today. The money will be used for scholarships, student programs and faculty recruitment and retention, said Jeffrey Brown, who is dean of what now is being called the Gies College of Business.

Springfield and Amazon: Do lawmakers value employers? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

What is Illinois’ plan to get this state on stable financial footing? If Amazon was watching the General Assembly Wednesday, they didn’t get an answer.

White privilege bolstered by teaching math, university professor says – Fox32

“School mathematics curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean Theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans," she says, according to Campus Reform. “On many levels, mathematics itself operates as whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as white,” she writes.

House fails to override Rauner’s veto of bill to create taxpayer-funded workers’ comp company – INN

“Why don’t we just go full out socialism in the state of Illinois,” Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said. “So we could have a work comp agency run by the state, a health insurance agency run by the state, homeowners insurance run by the state, business liability run by the state. Maybe we put State Farm Insurance out of business. Let’s just have the state insert itself in all other insurance."

The Lead Chicago Organizer Of The Fight For 15 Has Been Fired Amid A Harassment Investigation – Buzzfeed

The powerful Service Employees International Union is cleaning house amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of misconduct and abusive behavior among leaders of the campaign to increase the minimum wage. The union fired the top leader of its Fight for 15 campaign in Chicago, Caleb Jennings, as a result of the ongoing investigation, BuzzFeed News has learned, and placed the head of the campaign’s Detroit outpost, Mark Raleigh, on administrative leave.

Illinois’s Latest Criminals – Wall Street Journal

It’s not news that unions have long controlled the Illinois legislature, but the heavy-handedness in Springfield increasingly makes the Land of Lincoln look more like a thugocracy. Behold how Democrats are seeking to criminalize political opponents who support giving workers a choice not to join a union.

Is this any way to invest state funds? – Crain’s

-By Wirepoints' Mark Glennon

No end to Kankakee’s pension debt? – Kankakee Daily Journal

Comment: More retirees than active participants, no help from a booming stock market because the pensions are so underfunded and just not enough money to ever make it up. Those circumstances are being repeated in many towns and cities across Illinois.

Illinois Democrats, GOP Gov. Rauner Spar Again Over Vetoes – A.P.

On the first day of a special session called to address Rauner's vetoes of several bills, the Senate voted 42-13 to override him on union-friendly legislation he had staunchly opposed. The House still must pass the override on a three-fifths vote

Illinois Senate votes to criminalize local leaders who enact Right to Work – Illinois Policy

State lawmakers supporting Senate Bill 1905 aren’t just seeking to crush the idea of Right to Work – they are seeking to crush anyone who supports it.

Illinois governor enlists counterparts to attack Democrats in election ad – Reuters

Governors in the new ad include Missouri’s Eric Greitens, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Indiana’s Eric Holcomb - all Republicans like Rauner - thanking Rauner’s political foil, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, for blocking reforms, raising taxes and sending jobs to their states.

Gubernatorial candidates support $15 min. wage but don’t pay their interns – INN

Comment: As usual, that's for the other guys, not the morally anointed.

Bill calls for Springfield sexual harassment training – Politico

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and state Sen. Daniel Biss and running mate Litesa Wallace, a state representative, want to require those working in the statehouse to undergo sexual harassment training. Under a proposal they told Politico they would announce today, Biss and Wallace will sponsor legislation requiring legislators, legislative staff, and lobbyists receive sexual harassment training.

More Rauner, Democrat showdowns on tap in fall session – Associated Press

Legislative veto session starts today with some important issues to be decided.

Bill would criminalize actions of local leaders who enact Right to Work – Illinois Policy

Lawmakers supporting Illinois Senate Bill 1905 aren’t just seeking to crush the idea of worker freedom – they are seeking to harm anyone who supports it.

Jim Nowlan: Nobody speaks for me anymore – JournalStar

Jim Nowlan is a former legislator and senior fellow at the U of I’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Property taxes spike in Hardin County – WSIL

Comment: It's not just Chicagoland. Outraged homeowners in this southern IL county want answers after seeing their property taxes skyrocket.

Acevedo, Munoz police pension ‘sweetener’ leaves sour taste – Chicago Sun-Times

The bill by now-retired state Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo and current state Sen. Antonio “Tony” Munoz let them double dip by getting credits toward Chicago police pensions for every day they served in the Illinois Senate or House — even while they were getting credits toward legislative pensions for those same exact days.

Illinois returns with $4.5 billion test of investor appetite – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Illinois heads back into the market as soon as Monday with a $4.5 billion general obligation sale to wrap up its bill backlog borrowing with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s finance team pitching the state’s “improving” credit fundamentals and position as the Midwest “powerhouse.”

Rauner vows he’ll keep fighting corruption in re-election announcement – Chicago Sun-Times

Vowing he’ll continue a war against “corrupt career politicians,” Gov. Bruce Rauner formally announced his re-election bid Monday morning in a video.

‘The way due process is supposed to work’: IL Sup Ct decision reshapes Cook County’s legal landscape – Cook County Record

Three years after the U.S. Supreme Court moved to significantly limit general personal jurisdiction over corporations, the Illinois Supreme Court at last has used that precedent to perhaps achieve legal venue reforms long sought by business groups and reform proponents - and long ignored by state lawmakers.

Don’t strangle tech industry in Illinois – Opinion – Quad Cities Times

By Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

Local Governments Begin to Measure Effect of New Illinois Sales Tax Collection Fee – The Civic Federation

As part of the State budget approved by Illinois lawmakers on July 6, the state established a new 2.0% sales tax administrative fee that the State will retain from sales tax proceeds that otherwise would have gone to local governments.

What taxpayers should demand from next attorney general – Opinion – State Journal-Register

By Faisal Khan, CEO of Project Six, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group dedicated to investigating corruption in Illinois.

Palatine workers have right to strike, but that doesn’t include right to continued benefits – Illinois Policy

Under Illinois law, government employees can choose to walk out on strike – but it carries risks. Striking workers give up wages and benefit contributions – and maybe even their jobs – when they walk out.

State treasurer has a Facebook obsession – Shia Kapos

Comment: This is a far bigger and more important topic than Frerichs and Facebook. He is misusing that stash of $13 billion of taxpayer money that the Treasurer sits on. See our detailed, new look at this linked here.

This time, a white-collar firm is jumping the border to Indiana – Crain’s

"Chicago executives often threaten to take their businesses and flee what they call excessive Illinois taxes. Cortland's move shows white-collar work—Chicago's strength—can move just as easily as manufacturing. Is Cortland the start of a trend?"

Few Illinois congressmen show eagerness to aid Chicago Stock Exchange sale – Crain’s

But Gov. Rauner urged the Securities and Exchange Commission recently to approve the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to a group that includes Chinese buyers, though his support may be too little too late.

Illinois Designates 6 Sites as Statewide Enterprise Zones – A.P.

Comment: Instead of central planners picking particular localities, why not make the whole state an enterprise zone?

Balanced budget deep in the red – News-Gazette

Comment: Yet another article showing no understanding of how deeply in the red the real budget is.

Illinois Jobs Decline in September – IDES

Comment: 10,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost in just one month. That's the kind of loss rate you get in a deep recession, though it's only for one month and monthly numbers bounce around.

Young laborers needed for skilled trades in Illinois – INN

Comment: It's absolutely true and has become a very serious problem -- lots of good-paying jobs going unfilled that people won't take.

Little talk of school consolidation, overhead costs at first ISBE budget hearing – INN

Budget hearings have begun for the Illinois State Board of Education and, so far, most of the talk centered around additional funding, rather than ideas on how to control costs, such as consolidating districts or rolling back administrative expenses.

Chuck Sweeny: Illinois still lags in creation of manufacturing jobs – Register Star

Despite our superior location, workforce and assets, surrounding states lead Illinois in creating manufacturing jobs

Illinois loses Toyota/Mazda factory – Crain’s

Illinois is out of the running for a prized 4,000-job assembly plant that Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda are planning to open in the United States.

The apparent reasons: lack of shovel-ready sites and the state's failure to adopt a right-to-work law.

Mark Peterson, president and CEO of Intersect Illinois, the state's privately run economic development corporation, said in an interview and email that while no formal announcement has been made, his sources tell him Illinois is not among the three or four finalists for the $1.3 billion facility.

Bloat expands as enrollment drops, tuition spikes in Illinois higher education – Illinois Policy

Growth in administrative bloat is sucking up money that would otherwise go toward the classroom and tuition grants for low-income students in Illinois’ higher education system.

Opioid crisis: Kentucky’s reforms, Illinois’ problems and overprescription in workers’ comp – Illinois Policy

As opioid abuse ravages Illinois, lawmakers must take action to root out overprescription in the state’s workers’ compensation system.

How ending the state and local tax deduction puts Illinois’ economy at a crossroads – Illinois Policy

One change in federal tax code – and Illinois lawmakers’ response to it – could decide the economic trajectory of the state.

Why retail investors may vie for Illinois yields – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

The state will test the waters with its first tranche of $1.5 billion of bonds pricing in three series — each for $500 million — as part of a total of $6.75 billion of planned fixed-rate, tax-exempt GO borrowing, which included $6 billion to pay down a backlog of bills that currently stands at $15.4 billion.

Durbin warns Dems about being too far left – CNN

Comment: A touch late for that. The moonbats are in control.

Creditworthiness Of New York And Illinois: One Is Bankrupt – Seeking Alpha

"The State of Illinois, in my opinion, is past the point of no return. It does not have the ability to raise taxes or cut spending to the degree necessary to reduce the annual cost of bond and retiree benefits from 33% to a sustainable level.... The insolvency is not the result of too much bonded debt, but rather the government promising retirement and other post-employment benefits that aren’t affordable."

Illinois Sees Teen Traffic Deaths Drop by Half in Decade – A.P.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is crediting a graduated driver's license law with a 51 percent drop in teenage-driver deaths in the past decade.

Wave of local tax and fee increases sweeping Illinois – Illinois Policy

Cities and villages across the state are raising taxes or implementing new ones for a variety of functions, from attracting a fast-food restaurant to catching up on rising pension costs.

Democratic candidates for governor discuss “LaSalle St. tax;” LaSalle St. responds – INN

Comment: In the world of willful ignorance of economics in which progressives live, few ideas are as dumb as the transaction tax they lust for.

Mike Madigan’s new website

Comment: Don't you especially like the caption, "Standing Up for Our Values"? Heck, he could have saved the effort and just linked to this.

Opioid crisis: Kentucky’s reforms, Illinois’ problems and overprescription in workers’ comp – Illinois Policy

As opioid abuse ravages Illinois, lawmakers must take action to root out overprescription in the state’s workers’ compensation system.

Governor’s Report Shows $1.5 Billion Budget Deficit in FY2018 – The Civic Federation

Comment: The title of the report should be "Setting the problem aside, here's how things look." Like everybody else talking about government budgets, these numbers ignore growing pension unfunded liabilities. Those are insurmountable, but we'll continue to pretend they don't exist.

Illinois May Be The Weakest State, But Watch For Others – Forbes

Comment: This author sure doesn't understand how bad things were before the budget impasse. Yes, the impasse hurt badly, but the path to doom was already set.

Illinois’ new budget already falling apart – Illinois Policy

Comment: Read the specifics in this article and you'll see that the budget was one big fabrication. And not mentioned here is that the budget doesn't include losses in the pensions, which dwarf the imbalance.

Rauner brings in steady hand after shaky summer – Chicago Sun-Times

Patty Schuh will serve as Rauner’s deputy chief of staff for communications after having served as spokeswoman and press secretary for four Republican leaders, Senate President James “Pate” Philip and Senate Republican Leaders Frank Watson, Christine Radogno and Bill Brady.

Top labor leader rapped for ‘sexist mindset’ in fundraiser criticism – Chicago Sun-Times

Leaders of one of the most politically active labor unions in the state blasted the president of the Illinois AFL-CIO on Friday for what they called “unwarranted attacks” on a longtime Democratic consultant.

State taxpayers will be paying for CPS’ underutilized schools

Under Illinois’ new education funding formula, the wildly mismanaged Chicago school district won’t lose a dime in state funding, no matter how many students it loses.

Taxpayers should flex their muscle, pick their punches – Illinois Policy

If aggrieved taxpayers don’t also demand fixes to underlying spending problems, calls for additional tax hikes will return. And they’ll be stronger than ever.

The real reason Foxconn picked Wisconsin – Opinion – Crain’s

EPA While Foxconn might not share many details with the public about its reasons for choosing the site in Wisconsin it did, it stands to reason that access to water and the rules of the Great Lakes Compact were major factors in that decision. The company selected a place where it can source water with relative ease — though there's some construction ahead to physically get it to the factory — and where the compact-related environmental exemptions in the state's incentives package will help it the most.

CME, Linchpin of Chicago Finance, Says It’s Not Tied to the City – Bloomberg

CME Group Inc. has a message for Illinois legislators who see the $47 billion global derivatives trading giant as a piggy bank to help solve the state’s fiscal woes.

The Ticking Time Bomb Faced by Next NJ Governor – WYNC

Commented. Posted on the assumption that misery loves company. Lots that Illinois readers will find familiar in this article.

Billions in Illinois Bills Not Sent for Payment – Associated Press

Illinois is chasing a moving target as it tries to dig out of the nation's worst budget crisis, and $7.5 billion worth of unpaid bills hadn't even been sent to the official who writes the checks by the end of June.

Illinois Clings to Investment Grade Rating – Barron’s

With a $6 billion bond sale looming, S&P Global Ratings assigned a triple-B-minus rating to Illinois on Monday. That's the lowest rating before junk status. Illinois has by far the lowest credit rating of any U.S. state.

Decatur is Illinois’ fastest-shrinking city since 2010 – Illinois Policy

Decatur lost 3,400 residents from 2010 to 2016, or about 4.5 percent of its population.

School Districts and Property Taxes in Illinois – The Civic Federation

Lots of good data here, including this: Illinois has the third highest Census-reported number of school systems in the nation with a total of 905. Only California and Texas have a slightly higher number of school systems than Illinois, but the population of those states is more than double that of Illinois. Midwest states with similar populations, such as Michigan and Ohio, both have more than 200 fewer school systems than Illinois.

Democratic candidates for governor face off in progressive forum – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: It appears no questions of any real substance were asked about our fiscal crisis, which is no surprise since the moderator was Mary Ann Ahern.

Illinois small-business retirement plan faces resistance – Chicago Tribune

As Illinois moves toward becoming a national model in retirement savings for small-business workers, the designers of the state's new Secure Choice IRA plan were warned this week that if they don't get the plan right, it could be doomed from the start. At an Aspen Institute forum in Chicago, the state board planning the new program was warned repeatedly that the project could flop if small businesses are overwhelmed with bureaucratic paperwork and if low-income workers feel nervous about saving too much for retirement when paychecks already are stretched thin.

Rauner’s chief of staff out after 88 days, ‘turbulence,’ ‘wild times’ – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Note John Tillman's comment. He's a bit more subtle than we have been about a key problem -- Diana: “Regarding the governor’s office, organizational culture starts at the top and it is my hope that the governor reflects on the events of the last two years, is self accountable and finally has found a chief of staff that can work within the rather unusual dynamics he and his wife create,” Tillman wrote on Facebook.

Welcome to the dysfunction of Illinois government – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Diana Sroka Rickert reflects on her time working for the state. She formerly worked for the libertarian-to-conservative Illinois Policy Institute and recently headed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s communications team.

Governor Bruce Rauner Announces New Chief of Staff – NBC Chicago

See our quicktake on Rasumussen's departure linked here.

Soda Tax: The Budget Reckoning – Stump

The perspective of actuary and numbers wonk Mary Pat Campbell.

The racist roots of the right-wing agenda gripping Illinois – Chicago Reporter

Comment: Utter bullshit. It's beyond infuriating reading these charges of racism from the left, which has brought nothing but poverty and despair to racial minorities and stoked division with their identity politics.

Rauner boasts of education reform law; draws Dem complaints – Quad Cities Times

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's new television ad touting the state's education reform law drew complaints from Democrats on Thursday that the Republican governor is claiming credit for something he actually opposed for months. Comment: As well they should complain.

Berg: Lawmaker turned lobbyist turns the tables on taxpayers – INN

Brandon Phelps resigned from his Illinois House seat on Sept. 1. In a statement, he said he did so “in the interest of [his] personal health.” But on Sept. 14, Phelps registered as a lobbyist with the Illinois secretary of state’s office. He is risen, indeed.

How Unions Are Already Gearing Up for a Supreme Court Loss – Governing

Public-sector unions are already preparing for a potential exodus of members and a loss of revenue. Can they survive without charging mandatory fees?

ACLU of Illinois latest to sue for federal oversight of CPD – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Somebody needs to put together the total cost for Chicago of all its litigation.

Illinois public universities are in recovery mode – The Bond Buyer/Source Media

Illinois public universities face obstacles, from ongoing state political dysfunction to poor enrollment trends, as they begin the long slog back to what they hope is fiscal health after the end of the state’s historic budget impasse.

AFT’s Bleak Future – Droupout Nation

The American Federation of Teachers knows how to spend well. Especially on its leaders and staff.

Business groups: IL geolocations privacy bill ups lawsuit risk against ‘businesses of all sizes’ – Cook County Record

Already facing a surge of lawsuits under a state technology privacy law, business groups have expressed relief at Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto a new state technology privacy law regulating how and when smartphone apps and the businesses that develop and deploy them must notify users their physical locations are being logged – a law the business groups say will only offer the same trial lawyers another avenue to sue them.

Your state is probably facing a new dawn of public finance problems – Opinion – The Hill

Comment: The S&P Global Ratings guy says "We now see a profound shift unfolding in states such as Illinois, Kentucky, and New Jersey, whose pension systems are funded at distressed levels." My, what an insight.

Trump says Puerto Rico’s debt will have to be wiped out – CNBC

Comment: That should be obvious. It should be likewise obvious that Illinois is a lesser case of the same principle. Part of our debt, including a portion of unfunded pension liabilities, has to be wiped out.

Appeals panel: Chicago, Skokie OK to continue lawsuit vs Kankakee, Channahon over sales tax scheme – Cook County Record

A state appeals panel has reversed a Cook County judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit in which Chicago and Skokie claimed Kankakee and Channahon ran schemes to divert into their treasuries tax revenue from out-of-state retailers.

Dem leaders want state to pay for Obama Center-related road projects – Chicago Sun-Times

A source told the Sun-Times that over time, the state could be asked for more than $100 million for transportation improvement projects triggered by construction of the Center.

More than a third of Illinois’ largest cities shrinking in population – Illinois Policy

Twelve of the 29 Illinois cities with over 50,000 in population are losing residents.

Lincoln-Way superintendent’s indictment raises new fiscal concerns – INN

A former school district superintendent pleaded not guilty last week to multiple charges of using public funds for personal gain in a case that raises new questions about fiscal accountability in Illinois local governments

Illinois pumpkin crops make healthy return after shortage – Associated Press

Comment: The best we could come up with for good news on this sad day.

Governor Rauner Touts School Funding Law at Rockford Charter School – MyStateLine

Comment: Um Guv, I thought you line-item vetoed it, which got overridden. General Assembly and Guv, let us know when you identify where we get the $300 million each year for ten years to fund this.

How will fallout from Rauner’s abortion bill decision affect veto session? – INN

Potential vetoes that could be called for override votes in October include plenty of important issues.

Governor Reaches Out to Puerto Rico – Press Release

Rauner: "I am ready to send our Guardsmen on a mission to make sure the people of Puerto Rico are safe and healthy as...

Temp Workers Gain Protections Under New Act – NPR Illinois

Temp agencies must now give their workers information about equipment, protective clothing and training before sending them to a work place. And if the agency offers transportation to and from work, the service should be free of charge.

Conservatives threaten Rauner with primary over abortion law – Chicago Tribune

The new House Republican floor leader, Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard, called a primary "inevitable" after Rauner agreed Thursday to enhanced medical coverage for abortion, reversing the position he articulated months earlier. "This guy is done," Breen said Friday. "No matter that he writes big checks."

New legislation would provide assistance to Zion, other towns with nuclear waste – Daily Herald

In addition to providing compensation, the STRANDED Act would offer tax incentives to encourage private investment in the affected communities, according to Schneider's office. It also allows those towns to be eligible for New Markets tax credits.   Comment: So, taxpayers will have to cough up because of the deal Obama made to kill the Yucca Mountain waste facility in Nevada in exchange for Harry Reid's support for candidate Obama.

Rich Miller: Rauner’s credibility takes yet another hit – News Gazette

Comment: We rarely link to Rich Miller because we regard him as the most diabolic spin artist for union Dems in the Illinois press. But he's right on this. The blow to Rauner's credibility is irreparable. He lied to his own legislative caucus and to Cardinal Cupich on SB40. That loss of credibility just might be more damaging to him than the loss of his support over the substance of the bill.

New state employee pension plan coming, but not soon – JournalStar

Comment: But this article misses the real point, which is that the supposed budget savings of $500 million this year are phony. See our quicktake comments on this linked here. And the savings for next year are highly suspect, too.

Are gov hopeful Biss’s claims of math prowess pi in the sky? – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: I've talked to Biss about the budget and pensions a number of times. The problem isn't that he doesn't understand those things or the math. It's that he's a liar and a fraud. He knows full well the positions he advocates are quack demagoguery -- designed to exploit the economic ignorance and innumeracy of the far left.

Mark Janus: Workers should have the right to choose on union dues fees – Opinion – State Journal-Register

By the Illinois plaintiff about the case going to the United States Supreme Court.

Bruce Rauner was courageous — and right — when he signed the Illinois abortion bill – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Comment: The irony is that Rauner probably did act on conviction and not politics in signing the bill for taxpayer funded abortions, and that's his problem. Just one of his problems, actually. Socially moderate fiscal conservatives were already fed up with him.

Fed-up Illinois homeowners consider moving: ‘It’s not just the property taxes on my home; it’s all of them’ – Chicago Tribune

"The day after the Illinois legislature voted to raise the individual income tax rate from 3.75 to 4.95 percent, Northfield-based financial planner Ellen Rogin said she started getting phone calls from clients who are residents of Chicago with second homes in Florida."

Abortion bill fallout no picnic for ‘Benedict Rauner’ – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: The biggest part of this story are the comments about Rauner by John Tillman, head of Illinois Policy Institute, formerly Rauner's key ally....

Illinois lawmakers stampede for the exit – Illinois Policy

The most likely driver is pretty obvious to most Illinoisans: the rage of constituents.

U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Illinois’ forced union fees case – INN

In a decision announced Thursday morning, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in Janus vs. AFSCME, which challenges a 40-year-old precedent that has allowed state and local governments to require their employees to pay a portion of their salaries to a union whether they want to or not.

Illinois Issues: Coming Up In The Veto Session – NPR Illinois

When Illinois lawmakers return for their fall session next month, they, and by extension, taxpayers, will face tantalizing questions.

Pollution could increase as Rauner EPA moves to rescue coal plants – Chicago Tribune

Proposed amendments to state rules would scrap limits on the rate of pollution from a fleet of eight coal plants in central and southern Illinois owned by Dynegy Inc. Instead, the state would impose annual caps on tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emitted by the fleet — a subtle but significant change that could stall or reverse efforts to reduce Dynegy's contributions to smog, soot and acid rain

53rd (& 54th) Cranes Set Record Amid City Building Boom, Rahm Says – DNAinfo

Comment: The Tale of Two Cities Continues.

Peoria council approves employee buyout plan – JournalStar

The city of Peoria will try to trim its workforce through buyouts before implementing layoffs. Council members agreed on a 7-3 vote Tuesday night to an incentive plan that would offer non-police and firefighting employees $30,000 in continued city health care coverage to leave city employment.  

Kankakee County joins the “Amazon Headquarters” race – INN

Comment: "One of the main drawbacks of Illinois as a whole is our unfunded pension system," said their state rep. "This is something that, if we're going to move forward as a state, we have to fix." Why, yes, it would seem to be.

The Next Big Technology to Transform Government – Governing

May be bigger than the internet, some say. Illinois officials are acutely aware that theyare exploring unchartered territory. The upside, says Michael Wons, the state’s chief technology officer, is an opportunity to transact business seamlessly and for less money.

Gov. Rauner: Protesting NFL players are ‘disrespecting the foundations of our country’ – The Hill

Comment: Rauner finally gets balls off the fence on something.

New Illinois law could mean the nurse will see you now – NPR IL

A new Illinois law is expected to improve access to health care by giving nurses more authority.

New Accounting Reveals Another Empty Pension Promise – Palisades Hudson Fin. Group

Who pays pensioner healthcare and at what cost? Usually, the answers are A) local and state taxpayers and B) nobody really knows. But the answer to B, at least, is starting to change. When Aurora, Illinois, changed its budgeting to adhere to the new guideline, it recognized about $150 million in costs that had previously gone unreported. In New York state, reported health care liabilities will rise to about $72 billion, compared to $17 billion, once the new accounting standards are implemented.

Illinois state budget already in deficit despite record $5 billion tax hike – Illinois Policy

With the 2018 budget set to spend at least $1.3 billion more than it takes in, members of the General Assembly have hoodwinked Illinoisans once again.

Illinois plans to sell $6 billion for bill relief in October – The Bond Buyer/Source Media

But the new budget accounts for debt service payments on only $3 billion of borrowing in the form of a projected ending balance.

Rauner vetoes bill to restrict collection, use of geolocation data – Illinois Policy

The governor has vetoed a bill that opponents warned would encourage lawsuits, burden businesses and suppress innovation, without meaningfully strengthening privacy protections for mobile device users.

Gubernatorial policy team is re-arranging the seating chart – INN

They'll all report to Rauner's Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Michael Lucci.

Languishing contract negotiations show need for labor law reforms in Illinois – Illinois Policy

Government-worker unions can negotiate for months or even years without reaching a new contract, and can use negotiations to push for even cushier perks from pricier health insurance to paid time off for birthdays.

New forfeiture rules welcome – The News Gazette

"This country has a long history of limiting the authority of government to push people around. It's about time the state's forfeiture law recognized that important ingredient in maintaining liberty." A rare bipartisan victory.

Krug: FOIA lawsuits a threat to our democracy, insult to our time – Opinion – INN

"When I see stories such as the one published this week by The Associated Press about governments suing people who file Freedom of Information Act requests as a means of cloaking their activity, it sends shivers down my spine."

Watchdog group gets the story, media take the credit – Dupage Policy Journal

A pair of crusaders battling waste and fraud on the local government level have exposed dozens of corrupt officials and saved millions in taxpayer dollars, but they rarely get noticed in the press for their investigative work,

How Illinois is working toward a cleaner, more equitable energy future – Environmental Defense Fund

Comment: And never mind that neighboring states rejected legislation similar to our "Future Energy Jobs Act" because of the multi-billion dollar cost.

In Illinois, beware of pork disguised as ‘capital’ – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Kristen McQueary is exactly right on this, as usual. Any new capital bill must not repeat the last one in 2009, which had bipartisan support but was loaded with pork.

Barbara Flynn Currie to receive 6-figure pension after first year of retirement – Illinois Policy

The longtime House majority leader will benefit from a sweetener provision that grants massive pension spikes to career lawmakers after one year of retirement. Comment: Watch the video linked here of the infamous "ditto" performance by Barbara Flynn Currie and you'll understand her repulsive mix of arrogance and incompetence.

Kadner: A tale of two Madigans in Illinois – Chicago Sun-Times

Good perspective on what motivates the Speaker of the House.

Illinois submits big Obamacare rate increases to the feds – Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of thousands of Illinois consumers who buy health insurance on the state's Obamacare exchange will likely see average rates increase by 16 to 37 percent next year for the lowest-priced plans, according to a new analysis.

Daddy’s little girl won’t be there to look out for his interests – Madison – St. Clair Record

We took note, two years ago, when State Attorney General Lisa Madigan crossed one of those proverbial lines in the sand: She went to court to try to prevent state workers from receiving their paychecks during an expected government shutdown.

Tax Fund Reallocation Pinches Money From Illinois Public Schools – No Public Radio

One promise heard repeatedly during debate over the state's new school funding plan was that no schools would get less funding than before. But lawmakers siphoned $300 million from a fund that schools and local governments rely upon.

State’s economy teeters on edge – News Gazette

"Unfortunately, the Democratic-controlled Legislature, for political reasons, has no interest in hearing what a Republican governor has to say, particularly as the November 2018 election approaches."

New iPhone uses facial data that’s protected under Illinois law – INN

Last week's big iPhone X announcement included news that the phones will allow owners to unlock them by reading facial data when they're looked at. This new technology creates new questions in Illinois, a state with some of the strictest biometric laws in the nation.

States Need $645 Billion to Pay Full Health-Care Costs – Wall Street Journal

When Aurora, Ill., closed its books in December, about $150 million disappeared from the city’s bottom line. The Chicago suburb of 200,000 people hadn’t become poorer. Instead, for the first time it recorded on its balance sheet the full cost of health care promised to public employees once they retire. Commet: And in Illinois, this liability is constitutionally guarantied along with pension benefits thanks to the Kanerva decision by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Illinois Unpaid Vendor Backlog Hits A New Record At Over $16 Billion -ZeroHedge

The bill backlog is growing despite the enactment of a fiscal 2018 spending plan and income tax increase in July. “What is going to take this backlog down is the borrowing, said Abdon Pallasch, spokesman for Democratic state Comptroller Susana Mendoza. Rauner points out that there is a small problem with Mendoza's magical $6 billion debt cure-all, namely that there is no funding available to pay 12 years worth of interest payments.

Illinois, the nuclear waste state – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

The road from Illinois to the Nevada site has been blocked by an array of regulatory hurdles and lawsuits. Even more troublesome was another immovable obstacle: Nevada’s Sen. Harry Reid, the longtime Senate Democratic leader, who declared in 2006, “Yucca Mountain is dead. It’ll never happen.” He and fellow Senate Democrats kept it from happening, and President Barack Obama, who campaigned on a promise to stop it, was fully on board with them — a political reward for Reid’s fealty.

With Foxconn Coming, Wisconsin Gov. Walker Isn’t Eager To Share Economic Bounty With Illinois – Forbes

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has a message for Illinois: Finders, keepers; losers, weepers.

Why international trade matters for Illinois – Illinois Policy

Comment: Yes, trade is good for everybody, especially Illinois, but this author is dead wrong to understate the harm in chronic trade deficits, especially those that result from unfair trade terms. Every dollar of trade deficit results in a dollar increase in foreign ownership of some U.S. asset. And, on trade terms, we have been the world's dupe for decades.

Rauner to lawmakers: Help me balance the budget – JournalStar

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday continued to insist the recently passed state budget is wildly out of balance and called on state lawmakers to work with him to find cuts that will bring it into balance.

Governor Rauner Broadens Access to Child Care Assistance Program

The move fulfills an agreement made with the legislature in 2015 to raise the income eligibility criteria to 185% of the federal poverty level from 162%. It means 16,000 more children will receive child care each month, for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018.

Walker signs $3 billion Foxconn incentives bill – Associated Press

Comment: Lots of jobs for northern Illinoisans, too, who may or may not move.

Todd Maisch: Time for leaders to keep their promises on reform – Opinion – Daily Herald

Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce: "The business community finds it unacceptable that a 32 percent tax increase was implemented in early July without some much-needed reforms -- workers' compensation and property tax relief -- aimed to help bring jobs to Illinois and maintain the jobs already here."

Comment: Don't get your hopes up. Not with this General Assembly.

Pension Storm Warning – Mauldin Economics

Comment: We quantified the storm analogy for Illinois five years ago when we started here. See the article linked here.

Jim Dey: Did Madigan act under color of law? – News-Gazette

"Mike Madigan will leave Illinois politics, either in handcuffs or a coffin or I will beat him," said Gonzales.

Fed-Up Illinois Legislators Head for the Exit in Big Numbers – Associated Press

Illinois residents aren't the only ones throwing up their hands at the gridlock and increasingly polarized politics that have defined state government in recent years.

How Chicago can lure Amazon: Ban employment noncompete agreements – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Comment: This may not be sufficient to lure Amazon, but it's the right idea anyway, subject to certain exceptions.

AFSCME contract suit may not be heard until next year – JournalStar

It’s been so long now that some of you may have forgotten that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees still doesn’t have a new contract with the state to replace the one that expired in June 2015. The dispute was expected to have an appellate court hearing by now. It hasn’t, and it won’t for a while yet.  

Chuck Sweeny: ‘Against public safety’? Hogwash. For tax accountability – Rockford Reg. Star

Comment: He asks the eternal question for all Illinois. "What part of “We are running out of money” do they NEVER seem to understand?"

Rising public safety costs pose problems for Peoria budget – JournalStar

In 2014, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis joined 25 Illinois mayors in Chicago to call for a solution to the pension issue. “Soaring pension costs aren’t just a Chicago issue or a state issue. Fire and police pension systems are suffocating the budgets of every town, village and city in Illinois,” he said.

Illinois sees worst month for manufacturing jobs since 2009 – Illinois Policy

The state’s August jobs numbers were poor across the board, but especially sobering for manufacturing.

The stark reality is there are fewer of us, and we make less money – Belleville News Democrat

Illinois incomes were slightly higher than the rest of the nation in 2016, but those in Madison and St. Clair Counties were thousands of...

Kentucky governor pushes 401(k)s to help resolve Bluegrass pension crisis – Illinois Policy

Despite the smaller relative size of its burden, Kentucky is considering making far more comprehensive changes to its public sector retirement systems than Illinois ever has.

House ‘powerhouse’ Barbara Flynn Currie not seeking re-election – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Thank God! She's among the biggest frauds in Illinois. She has managed to maintain an image as some sort of high minded, Hyde Park progressive, which she was decades ago, but in fact a total sellout, and nothing more than Michael Madigan's chief lieutenant in the Illinois House.

Illinois job growth stuck in neutral – IDES

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate increased +0.2 percentage points to 5.0 percent in August and nonfarm payrolls decreased by 3,700 jobs over the month. July job growth was revised down to show an increase of 600 jobs rather than the preliminary estimate of 2,100 jobs.

New School Law Only ‘Down Payment’ Toward Closing Funding Gap – WBEZ

Comment: Exactly. The bill isn't just about fairly distributing state dollars, which is fine. It's a huge spending increase in a budget that is already unbalanced. See our more detailed comments in our quicktake on this linked here.

Governor Rauner Makes Significant Hire to Communications Team – NBC Chicago

Englehart has more than 30 years’ experience in public relations and teaches crisis communications at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He will continue to teach one class at the school while he works as a state employee. Comment: Excellent.

Video gaming pumping millions into region – Journal Courier

Over the past fiscal year, the state collected $300.5 million in tax revenue from 26,873 video gaming machines.

Berg: Illinois waits for Superman, does Amazon wear the cape? – INN

Clearly, Illinois and Chicago have a lot to sweep under the rug should Amazon come knocking. But lawmakers should know this: Efforts to reform the state’s business climate would be a win for residents regardless of whether the dot-com giant comes to town.

U.S. state pension liabilities hit $1.3 trln in FY 2016-Moody’s – Reuters

Illinois, which has been hindered by its state constitution from reducing retirement benefits to cut pension costs, had the biggest unfunded liability in fiscal 2016 equal to 487 percent of its revenue versus a median of 82 percent for all states. Alaska came in second at 443 percent of revenue, followed by Connecticut at 285 percent.

Some Illinois Public Universities See Decline in Enrollment – A.P.

Most public universities in Illinois have seen enrollment decreases this year as they recover from a two-year state budget impasse, but enrollment continues to increase at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Profits of Hate: The Southern Poverty Law Center Video Special – IL Family Inst.

Comment: The Illinois Family Institute is among those absurdly called a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center is the truly despicable hater and it's good to seem them finally exposed in many articles.

Suburbs could lose $100 million in business taxes to state – Daily Herald

Adding Chicago, Cook County, the five collar counties and hundreds of suburban local governments brings the loss to nearly $224 million compared to what was collected last year, according to a Daily Herald analysis of IDOR forecasts.

Rauner, Rahm joining forces in seeking fulfillment through Amazon – Sun-Times

The former friends turned political adversaries both say they are committed to helping bring Amazon’s second headquarters to Chicago. How much they plan to work together to achieve the No. 1 item on their wish list remains to be seen.

Illinois pension liabilities still loom large on its balance sheet – Fidelity Investments

Left unchecked the unfunded liabilities keep rising. They rose to $126.5 billion in fiscal 2016 from $112.9 billion a year earlier and the funded ratio deteriorated to 39.2% from 40.9%. They have ballooned by $86 billion since fiscal 2001.

More than 250 Peoria city employees receive over $150K in compensation – Illinois Policy

Lucrative compensation for government workers stands in stark contrast to the city’s budgetary struggles and a flagging local economy.

University of Chicago Is Only Midwest University To Make U.S. News’ Top 10 – DNAinfo

Comment: Personally, I don't think these rankings mean diddly, but I do like like how U of C has put the hammer on the snowflakes.

Illinois Town In Desperate Need Of Skunk Trappers – 96.7

Skunk in Backyard Patio
"Here’s an opportunity to help and make a little extra cash on the side." Dibs on this. Pays better than Google Adsense.

Kenosha drops out of hunt for Foxconn flat screen factory – JournalSentinel

The City of Kenosha is dropping its bid for an up to $10 billion flat screen factory, leaving Racine County as the most likely site for a Taiwanese company's plant that could eventually employ thousands.

Two more companies sued under Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act – Illinois Policy

Lettuce Entertain You and Speedway have been hit with lawsuits for allegedly violating Illinois’ biometric privacy law.

Blue Cross to small biz: We’re officially leaving Obamacare exchange – Crain’s

That leaves small employers looking for an exchange plan for 2018 with one option: downstate Health Alliance. Chicago-based Blue Cross, which has a dominating market share in Illinois among consumers and small businesses alike, still plans to woo small employers with plans off the exchange.

Rod Blagojevich Interview – Chicago Magazine

Comment: There's a pretty simple explanation for him, I always thought. Head case -- pathologically dishonest and corrupt.

The hidden bill: Each Chicago household on the hook for $82K in local government debt – Illinois Policy

Comment: Prof. Joshua Rauh of Stanford, a leading scholar on pensions, retweeted this saying it's a "great analysis though $82K is probably optimistic."

New Illinois laws take aim at pension excesses – Opinion – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Nibbling around the edges. And this is just plain stupid: "Illinois should be contributing more to its pension funds, not less."

Chicago teacher pensions should be part of state plan – Daily Journal

In the end, it turns out Chicago didn't get the $250 million. They got $430 million. Moreover, the promise is that they will get continuing pension payments every year. No matter how you look at this agreement, the precedent has been set. More state funds will be flowing their way. A state that can't find a rational way to pay for its pension obligations has just taken on a whole big, new burden.

Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt to Leave for Amazon – Government Tech.

Hardik is an exceptional talent and was a great asset for the state. Best of luck to him.

Is the State of Illinois’ FY2018 Budget Balanced? – The Civic Federation

Comment: No, and it's far worse than described here because budget numbers do not include growing debt in the pensions. That's where the losses get stuffed and they are off-budget.

Posner departure sets stage for potential political fight over future of Seventh Circuit – Cook County Record

After decades of relative stability, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago could soon undergo an extensive makeover, making the court potentially the next battleground in the fight for the future of the nation’s judiciary.

What’s next? A government to oversee the dead? Oh, wait. – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

If you’re keeping score at home, mark down a rare but encouraging win for taxpayers: McHenry County government consolidation efforts have notched a victory that should inspire citizens across Illinois. The Lake in the Hills Sanitary District has dropped its outrageous attempt to block a sensible merger with the village of Lake in the Hills.

State, federal lawmakers pave the way for self-driving cars in Illinois – Illinois Policy

As Illinois’ state government and the federal government move toward promoting the development of autonomous vehicles, Chicago aldermen are taking a combative stance against the budding industry.

Biss picks Rockford state rep after dropping running mate – Chicago Sun-TImes

Comment: What was that I called him before? Oh yes, doofus. Or maybe it was goofus.

Spotlight falls on city salaries as Peoria looks to cut budget – JournalStar

Using 2015 data published on the city’s website, Moore said there were 246 Peoria employees who received between $150,000 and $200,000 in compensation, a figure that includes salary, overtime pay, vacation leave, sick leave, health insurance and pension pay.

‘No more pretending.’ Kentucky issues dire warning on pensions to local governments – Lexington Herald-Leader

Comment: Now, there's a headline you've never seen in Illinois -- "No more pretending."

Why a Record Number of States Passed Budgets Late This Year (If at All) – Governing

"A big reason for states' continued money problems is that the growth of their fixed costs is outpacing their annual revenue growth. “Pensions and Medicaid dollars are growing quickly,” one analyst says “and not leaving much money to spend on the things you want to do.”

Following announced borrowing, state lawmaker wants bill backlog audit – INN

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said following the governor’s announcement, “of course we want a better interest rate, but if we’re going to bond out this debt, if we’re going to add more debt to pay off this debt, I want to know where this money is going.”

The march of the millennials – out of Illinois – Illinois Policy

Illinois lost as many as 37,000 millennials on net every year from 2011 through 2014 for a total net loss of as many as 148,000 millennials.

Illinois Governor Plans $6 Billion of Borrowing to Cut Bill Backlog – Bloomberg

The plan comes two months after lawmakers authorized the borrowing in a spending package enacted July 6 over Rauner’s veto.

Gov. Rauner takes budget actions – Press Release

Comment: Rauner will proceed with the $6 billion bond sale to pay down some of the unpaid bills. That's one credit card to another, but wise under the circumstances because it will be cheaper. Rauner is right to point out that the budget still isn't balanced and that the budget did not include servicing the new $6 billion in debt.

Student moms who breast-feed will get space at schools under new Illinois law – Chicago Tribune

As the school year begins, districts around the state face a new mandate: to reduce barriers for breast-feeding students and protect them from academic consequences for time spent during the school day pumping or breast-feeding.

Illinois joins 14 states, DC in lawsuit to stop Trump plan to end DACA – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: This case is utterly without merit. The issue is going to Congress where it should have been all along. And I predict they will codify DACA, as they should. This lawsuit is nothing more than political grandstanding at taxpayer expense.

Lawmakers warn school funding reform law will lead to future tax increase – INN

Comment: And each of their other criticisms is correct, too.

Who gets what not very simple when it comes to school funding – Daily Journal

"Of course, even these details could be wrong, or fuzzed. In Illinois, we count the votes in the legislature first, then try to figure out what it meant later.... The bad news is once again, we doubt we have heard the last of this."

State budget change takes another bite out of local government funds – JournalStar

Local governments in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Fulton, Knox, Marshall, Mason, Putnam and Stark counties can expect to get about $22 million less this year from a longstanding stream of state tax proceeds, according to data released by the state Department of Revenue.

Barbara Flynn Currie Op-Ed on School Funding – Hyde Park Herald

Comment: The worst of the worst, Madigan's chief lieutenant in the House, gives her perspective.

Why a later start to the school day could pump $1 billion into Illinois’ economy – Chicago Tribune

Illinois' economy would gain $1 billion within five years, according to a study by the Rand Corp. The state would benefit from fewer car crashes involving sleep-deprived adolescents, and from students performing better in school, going to college, and earning more in their careers, the study said.

Your labor gives Illinois leaders $50,000 shelter against winter winds – Belleville News-Democrat

We are national leaders in taxing districts, debt and kicking the cans down the road. Depending on which report you look at, in addition to mortgages, car payments, student loans and credit card bills, every household in Illinois is also on the hook for another $50,000 because of our state’s debt.

Baby step on public pensions – News Gazette

Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation that "prevents retired police officers from opting into the pension system a second time if they return to the force as police chief or join another municipality's force."

Illinois spent millions on stalled and canceled university construction projects – Chicago Tribune

Eight years after Illinois approved a massive capital plan for university campuses in the state, half of the largest new projects at state schools never began construction and are now canceled or indefinitely halted. Comment: Great piece by the Tribune. We wrote in 2014 about other garbage in the horrible "Jobs Now" bill passed in 2009 with bipartisan support.

Illinois Financial Literacy Standards Take Effect – Associated Press

Illinois schools will be required to teach financial literacy skills such as balancing a checkbook and putting money into a savings account this school year.

New school aid formula doesn’t mean the end of the funding issue – State Journal-Register

Comment: This article says what may be truly be the stupidest thing I've ever read about Illinois: "With the approval of the funding bill, it appears the General Assembly has resolved all of the known catastrophes pending in the state." And this author, Finke, calls himself "Statehouse Insider." God help us.

Illinois Government Pilots Blockchain Technology for Birth Certificate Digitization – Cointelegraph

By Marc Levine, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Investment overseeing $16 billion for state employees, judges and lawmakers.

Illinois Democrat Picks Democratic Socialist as Running Mate for Gubernatorial Run – The Intercept

Dan Biss announced that Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, would be his running mate.

Confused About New School Funding Reform Law? – Stand for Children

Consider this the left's summary of the bill, which is what Stand for Children is (and which is why there's no mention of the question about how it's going to be paid for).

Slow Growth for State Personal Income Persists in 2017 – Pew Charitable Trusts

Illinois and Nevada have had the weakest expansions since the start of the recession (each at 0.7 percent). But Nevada tied for the fourth-fastest growth over the year that ended in the first quarter of 2017 (2.8 percent), while the expansion in Illinois (0.3 percent) was the second-slowest.

Labor watchdog wants answers from ex-Teamsters boss on son’s deals – Chicago Sun-Times

Longtime Chicago Teamsters boss John T. Coli Sr. — who’s charged with extorting $100,000 from Chicago’s major TV and film studio — now also is facing scrutiny over union deals that have funneled millions of dollars to his son’s law firm, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Voters could seek lower property taxes under new school funding law – Chicago Tribune

The provision allows 10 percent of registered voters signing a petition to call for a referendum in April of odd numbered years requesting up to a 10 percent reduction in the property tax rate, provided the district is at "110 percent of adequacy."

School funding bill would offer scholarship tax credits. Where will the money come from? – Belleville News Democrat

Comment: It's not just the tax credits. There's no money there for any of the $350 million per year for ten years assumed under the bill.

New Math Deals Minnesota’s Pensions the Biggest Hit in the U.S. – Bloomberg

Because of changes in actuarial math, Minnesota in 2016 reported having just 53 percent of what it needed to cover promised benefits, down from 80 percent a year earlier, transforming it from one of the best funded state systems to the seventh worst, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Comment: Reality ultimately overtakes the lies in pension accounting. Prepare for further shocks as new rules on disclosure of retiree healthcare take effect next year.

In Kentucky’s Drastic Pension Reforms, No One Would Be Spared – Governing

Previous attempts to address the state's pension crisis haven't gone far enough. This time around, past, present and future employees could take a hit.