Thursday, November 21, 2019

Note To Readers — A Couple New Features

By: Mark Glennon* Our readership continues to grow rapidly. Thank you. We've added a new section at the top right for our quicktakes on major daily...

Kudos to the IL Dem who saved Columbus Day in Illinois

It appears we have somebody to thank for saving Columbus Day in Illinois -- Rep. Tony DeLuca of Chicago Heights. See the article linked...

Huh? Martire is president of a school board that gives 100% pension pick-up — and hides it?

The thing about writing about Illinois government, particularly pensions, is that you're forever discovering new things that make your jaw drop. I only recently learned...

New Census Bureau data show Illinois income growth still lagging national average

The Census Bureau today released its numbers on household income for 2016. Nationwide, median household income increased a respectable 2.4%. For Illinois, the increase...

Why that municipal bond purchase by Illinois Treasurer makes me nervous

The Daily Herald reported today on Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs boasting about his purchase of a new issue of Kane County forest district bonds...

$350 million indeed just a ‘down payment’ on new school funding bill

Read Thursday's WBEZ article on what they correctly call the "down payment" we'll be making this year under the new school funding bill. Most people...

Limiting workplace noncompete clauses should get bipartisan support in Illinois

A movement is slowly forming around the country to ban or restrict noncompete clauses in employment contracts. Those clauses prohibit workers from joining a...

About that ‘whodunit’ on apparently false pension savings in new Illinois budget – UPDATED

UPDATE 10/1/17: TRS, which is over 60% of the state's pension system, now says they won't be able to implement Tier 3 changes until...

More lawmakers like this, please

Columnist Rich Miller wrote that he noticed Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) doesn’t have a legislative district office, which is unusual, so he asked her...

Detroit to Amazon: Forget Chicago, we’ve already been bankrupt.

"Unlike so many other communities, we've cleared our legacy costs," said Eric Larson, CEO of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. "You think about Chicago, which...

Why that U.S. Supreme Court announcement is crucial for Illinois

How have public-sector unions in Illinois managed to take over so much of our government? Their members represent just three percent of Illinois' population but...

Just ‘blah, blah, blah’: City Club panel on Illinois fiscal crisis

If Illinois had a buck for every time a panelist said "we'll have to live within our means" at a City Club of Chicago...

This face will appear prominently in the books about Rauner’s (and perhaps Illinois’) last gasp

Just a short and simple prediction, offered for now without the factual backup that exists: The overbearing role of Diana Rauner, a liberal Democrat, in...

Phony budget savings of $500 million from pension change now fully exposed

The JouralStar reported yesterday that the new Tier 3 pension plan can't be implemented before next fiscal year for TRS, the state teacher's pension...

Smack down: A village president unloads on an activist – Video

If you long to see a politician just say what he thinks to a lying activist, refresh yourself by watching the video linked here of Bob Bielinski, Village President of Wilmette at a board meeting last week.  

Rasmussen leaves as Rauner’s Chief of Staff. Who is Rauner? Critics will need new spin as head-scratching expands.

Kristina Rasmussen resigned today as Gov. Diana Bruce Rauner's Chief of Staff. Remember the claim a couple months ago by Dems and certain friends in...

My article in Crain’s

After all the shots I've taken at Crain's over the years, I have to say it was pretty big of them to ask me...

The split within the Illinois GOP over Rauner

We try to stick to policy instead of politics here, but if you want to get a quick sense of the huge debate going...

Dusting off the annual budget address Rahm should give

With Mayor Emanuel's annual budget address coming next week, just a few tweaks are needed to the shock-and-awe one we suggested two years ago....

Still no press on state’s largest pension report

It's no wonder so many Illinoisans remain in the dark on the severity of our pension crisis. On October 6 Illinois published its 900-page Biennial...

Welcoming Ted Dabrowski to Wirepoints

By: Mark Glennon* I'm very proud to have Ted Dabrowski joining Wirepoints as President. Our press release is linked here. Nobody has as comprehensive an understanding...

Tax increase not working. Illinois bill backlog hits record $16.3 billion.

Illinois' tax-increase-with-no-reforms would "save the state," some supporters told us. Others claimed the new tax increases would cap growth of the unpaid bill balance: "We've...

Fear him: Florida Governor Rick Scott in Chicago to poach employers

I got to know Scott quite well some years ago when we were law partners and worked together often on venture capital and corporate...

A typical Illinois pension editorial

Not having facts sure doesn't stop the press from editorializing on pensions. The latest is from the State Journal-Register. "We’re wondering why Rauner is pursuing...

Nice returns for the year at Illinois teachers’ pension, but….

TRS, the Illinois pension for teachers outside of Chicago, reported today that it generated a positive 12.6 percent rate of return, net of fees,...

Wow. Crain’s endorses local right-to-work for Illinois

How 'bout that! Crain's Chicago editorial board, which generally leans Democratic and liberal, just came out opposing further efforts to prohibit local ordinances creating...

Two of Illinois’ most fiscally reckless and dishonest lawmakers push resolution on federal spending priorities

Four Illinois House Democrats sponsored a resolution last week calling on the United States Congress to change its spending priorities. As reported by Illinois...

‘Yes,’ ‘no’ or ‘hell no’ on state money for the Obama Library?

Obama hasn't even said he needs Illinois taxpayer help for construction of his presidential library in Chicago! It's no surprise Chicago Democrats who run the...

A story I’m proud of and a promotion at the Chicago Sun-Times

By: Mark Glennon* Three years ago I wrote here taking a close look at a front page Chicago Sun-Times story I thought was dangerously unfair....

Debate on bankruptcy option for Illinois municipalities likely to heat up

For Illinois towns and cities to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, authorization must first come from the...

New York also grappling with constitutional impediments to pension reform

Crain's New York had a good piece yesterday on efforts in New York to amend its state constitutional pension protection clause. Our clause is...

‘Wishing for a storm’ validated

Two years ago Chicago Tribune editorial board member Kristen McQueary was savaged by liberal critics around the country for writing that she wished --...

Wisconsin looks to ‘kick Illinois a little harder’

Take a look at the piece linked here from The Badger Institute, a conservative Wisconsin think tank. It lays out how they figure Wisconsin can...

Bloomberg article echoes our warnings about Chicago’s cash-for-body-parts financing

Read yesterday's Bloomberg piece, "Bondholders Fret as Alchemy Turns Chicago's Junk to Gold." It's about Chicago's new sale of ownership to some of its future...

Are Chicago transplants trashing border states? – Quicktake

"These are people who grew up in a certain type of environment, and behave in a certain way. And not all of them have...

Wirepoints now in Crain’s as a regular column

I'll now have a regular, monthly column in the Government section of Crain's Chicago Business, both online and print editions. It will appear around...

Watch this speech and imagine it’s an Illinois Democratic newcomer – Quicktake

Somebody gave a remarkably good speech at the City Club of Chicago this month about our fiscal crisis that' s worth watching. Never mind...

Rahm’s big confession – Quicktake

In the Chicago City Council discussion Tuesday about the budget it passed, Mayor Emanuel was asked what the plan is to deal with big...

Since cities required to have balanced budgets, why is Chicago talking about its ‘structural deficit’? – Quicktake

Through tax hikes and other actions taken since Emanuel took office, Chicago has reduced its structural budget deficit from nearly $636 million to $114.2...

Rockford looks to Band-Aid of home rule, higher taxes while underlying causes in Springfield go unaddressed – Quicktake

Take a look at that INN story today on Rockford. There's a broader lesson being played out in many Illinois towns and cities. The city...

$750 million in new borrowing: Who will watch how it’s spent? – Quicktake

Governor Rauner today announced pricing on $750 million bond issue, mostly for capital expenditures. The full press release is below. Capital spending in Illinois is...

So near and yet so far: Wisconsin launches national ad campaign to find more workers – Quicktake

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today announced a national ad campaign to bring needed workers to his state. Walker said it was "critically important" to...

Pending federal tax bill could whack home values 2.4 trillion nationally, 53 billion in Chicago area – Quicktake

The numbers may be staggering, but the calculation is pretty straightforward. It's just a matter of multiplying publicly available total home values by the...

New IRS data on Illinois exodus should be on every front page – Quicktake

On November 30 the Internal Revenue Service released new data on the deterioration in Illinois' tax base. So far, Illinois Policy is the only...

What that Wall Street Journal article on Chicago’s new bond scheme left out – Quicktake

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The state is obligated not stick up for bondholders over other city stakeholders, and it's not just Chicago.

Stage is setting for GOP primary for governor, just not a debate stage – Quicktake

What we need most in the primary between Bruce Rauner and Jeanne Ives may not be in the cards: a debate. Rauner today would...

Why you should expect another budget impasse next year – Quicktake

A whopping $3 billion budget deficit looms next year despite the recent tax increase, and that's using the usual phony budget accounting that ignores...

Illinois prepaid college tuition program is $320 million short of what it needs, halts new investors – Quicktake

Crain's reported today that College Now, Illinois' prepaid tuition program for state higher education, has closed to new investors while it sorts its future....

Deluge of towns and cities across Illinois raising property and other taxes – Quicktake

Danville, Waukegan, Normal, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Lake Zurich,  Elgin, Peoria, Normal are just a few of many I've seen reported in the last two...

Texas vs Illinois: One glimpse at how Illinois’ stagnant economy hurts — local sales tax sharing – Quicktake

Texas, like Illinois, splits its sales tax collections with local governments. Unlike Illinois, its economy and tax base are growing. Result: Texas today announced it...

You knew Cook County property taxes were rigged, but read that new report – Quicktake

Even if you're already off-the-charts cynical about how things work in Cook County, Part 4 of that Chicago Tribune/ProPublica report on commercial property may...

Due process thrown under the truck: A Sun-times editorial to agree with – Quicktake

The Sun-Times editorial board finally wrote something everybody should agree with, linked here. "Do the time, then we’ll decide if you’ve done the crime." That's...

Teachers’ union to Rauner: Thanks for the money, now we’re endorsing your opponent – Updated – Quicktake

Still largely unnoticed is that the new school funding formula provides an additional $350 million for schools every year for ten years. Governor Rauner...

Major attention to Illinois emigration data from Wall Street Journal but nothing in Illinois press. What gives? – Quicktake

Read, if you have access to it, that Wall Street Journal editorial headlined "Illinois Drives People Away." The primary data it cites is this: The Prairie...

UPDATED: Update on impact of new tax law on Illinois home values and property tax burden – Quicktake

We now have the key provisions of the new tax bill likely to become law that relate to Illinois home values and our property...

Finally, a candidate for governor says something serious about pensions – Quicktake

State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), who is challenging Governor Rauner in the Republican primary, today announced how she'd like to tackle our pension crisis....

A Sun-Times editorial about ‘fake news’ that’s, well, fake – Quicktake

Governor Rauner on Tuesday accused WBEZ of discontinuing an “Ask the Governor” segment with him because “it’s really more of a Democrat station." The Chicago...

Finally, a college ranking that means something. Two extremes in IL – Quicktake

There's a beacon of light in the academic world. With political indoctrination replacing education on campuses, free-thinking professors resisted by founding the Heterodox Academy. "We share...

Nice graphics showing Illinois population loss, near-term and long-term – Quicktake

Check out the great display of state population trends in the Washington Post article linked here. It makes the point that the big population losers...

A short update on prepayment of property taxes – Quicktake

You'll find dozens of articles online today, for Illinois and nationally, about issues surrounding deductibility of prepaid of property taxes. You may even find...

A shameless election stunt but we’ll take it: LLC filing fees lowered – Quicktake

Lots of articles recently on the new law lowering the punitive fees Illinois charged for starting a new business by forming a limited liability...

Lackluster monthly report on state revenue from COGFA – Quicktake

The monthly report for December is out from Illinois' Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. It includes a comparison of state revenues for the fiscal...

Can Illinois Democrats’ two-faced campaign strategy continue? – Quicktake

Which is it? 1) The sky isn't falling and there's nothing a tax increase won't fix, or 2) The sky is falling but it's...

Sham panacea of progressive income tax starts getting exposed – Quicktake

There's a simple reason why Illinois Democratic candidates for governor don't get specific about the progressive income tax they all want: The numbers immediately...

Chris Kennedy’s appalling response to Jeanne Ives – Quicktake

"We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit...

Fire them: Illinois’ top educrats teach fiscal fantasy by proposing utterly impossible budget – Quicktake

Get real, ISBE. Last year's $5 billion tax increase wasn't close to enough, says ISBE, the Illinois State Board of Education. Schools need another $7.2...

New session will bring new efforts at pension reform? Ha! – Quicktake

Get this through your head, Illinois: The only ways to significantly reduce our state and local unfunded pension liabilities is through either 1) amending...

Leaked Outline of Territorial Debt Relief Act: Any relevance to Illinois and bankruptcy-for-states? – Quicktake

An outline of federal legislation to help Puerto Rico got leaked yesterday. It's linked here. Before you laugh at me for seriously discussing a potential...

Rauner attacks self in face-off with Jeanne Ives – Quicktake

Cold cash is great, but the currency of the realm in Springfield is something more. In yesterday's joint appearance before the Chicago Tribune's editorial board,...

Highlights of Rauner’s State of State speech. Hint: This is short. – Quicktake

Governor Rauner's fourth State of the State speech today was mostly a pep rally about Illinois' potential and a list of what he sees...

Get off it, Illinois Democrats. Your budget wasn’t balanced either. – Quicktake

Illinois Democrats are having a ball ridiculing Governor Rauner for claiming he always submitted balanced budgets and taunting him about balancing his upcoming new...

Jeanne Ives’ fiery description of how Chicago’s new bond scheme sold out pensioners and taxpayers – Quicktake

I've written constantly over the past year about dangerous, new legislation that authorized Illinois towns and cities to sell off body parts through a...

What could possibly go wrong with court-ordered tax increase for pensions? Bonds, says Moody’s – Quicktake

In August, we wrote here about an unprecedented appellate court decision affirming an order to an Illinois city to approve a property tax increase...

Rauner’s attack ads further undermine his credibility in General Assembly – Quicktake

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ― Alice in Wonderland Governor Rauner, your own party's legislators already think you're...

Oral arguments conclude in case that may shake a foundation of Illinois’ problems – Quicktake

Oral arguments in the United States Supreme Court this morning offered no additional clues about how the Janus case will be decided. At issue are...

The Sound of Silence: Smug progressives, Madigan and harassment – Quicktake

People talking without speaking People hearing without listening People writing songs that voices never share And no one dared Disturb the sound of silence -The Sound of Silence, Simon...

Venture capital is going strong in Illinois – Quicktake

It's not all bad news in Illinois. Among the things really working is venture capital and, with it, the entire startup ecosystem. Last year, total...

Don’t hold your breath for $500 million in savings from Tier III pension reform – Quicktake

There's more egg on the faces of last year's Tier III pension reform champions than we knew. You may remember that the current year's budget,...

Pensions: Progressives being regressive. Again. – Quicktake

Few things are as dear to Illinois Progressives as our public pension system. It provides fair and just retirement security for a key part...

New rankings show Illinois dead worst on total state and local tax burden – Quicktake

We now have the first study on total state and local tax burdens done since Illinois raised its income tax rate last year. Illinois...

Squeezy, we hardly knew ye. My monthly article in Crain’s – Quicktake

Backward. That's where we've gone on political will to address pensions. That was the topic in my monthly Crain's Chicago Business article this week, and this election for governor shows it.

Illinois bill backlog up over $9 billion again – Quicktake

You didn't really think the bond sale and tax increase would fix this, did you?

Beware Berrios as a lame duck – Quicktake

Just got an email from a reader who made a great point: Tribune is in fantasy land the way they end this article. They think...

Chicago Park District Pension Reform Goes Down In Flames – Quicktake

Remember when, in 2013, a reform plan passed by the Illinois General Assembly for the Chicago Park District's pension fund was held up by some as an example of a cooperative approach to fixing pensions? Silly you, if you believed it.

‘Beyond Appalling,’ Says U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner to Evanston School – My Crain’s Article – Quicktake

We got hold of a scorching letter sent to an Evanston school by a black member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Read it.

Illinois Treasurer playing activist shareholder again with stock not his; wants new Facebook chairman – Quicktakes

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs is getting national headlines today on a matter he has no business whatsoever dabbling in -- a matter on which he has no oversight and no accountability.

Don’t count on progressive tax to save Illinois — my Crain’s article – Quicktake

It's simple division. Divide the dollar size of our problems by the number of high earners. The numbers are preposterous.

Is Social Security a Good Investment? Study Provides Reminder of Basic Issue With Public Pensions – Quicktake

If you're not into economics or following our pension crisis, this is a primer on one key matter.

A Week in the Life of Springfield: What Are They Thinking? – Quicktake

You'd think Springfield is intent on a strategy of repetition inspired by a record of success.

Madigan’s video for progressive tax: Does anybody really believe this? – Quicktake

It's usually a mistake to question House Speaker Michael Madigan's political judgement, but that sure seems appropriate on this one. Below is a video...

Former Governor Edgar bragged about increasing state pension benefits when he left office – Updated – Quicktake

A bit of history to keep in mind when you see former Governor Jim Edgar pontificating about our fiscal and pension problems.

One million page views: Why such fuss about that foolish statewide property tax proposal? – Quicktake

Thank the authors of the study. They helped prove the case that the establishment that wrecked us can't fix us and that our problems are colossal.

How Illinois set itself up for that new $7.2 billion lawsuit filed against it by schools – Quicktake

Twenty-two school districts filed a lawsuit against the State of Illinois. They want $7.2 billion and they want it now.

No, Rush Limbaugh, that 1% statewide property tax in Illinois hasn’t happened – Quicktake

Rush Limbaugh has an article posted today saying the Federal Reserve in Chicago is instituting that new statewide property tax. Uh-uh.

State taxpayers whacked $172 million for Obamaland under new Illinois budget – Quicktake

A day of phone calls by Barack Obama to his Hollywood buddies. That's probably all it would have taken.

Funding for Kim Jong-un’s Hotel Found in Illinois Budget. U.S. – N. Korea Summit Back On. – Our suggestion for The Onion

WASHINGTON - The most recent obstacle to the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un in Singapore has been removed. As...

‘Perp Walk’: Hot Mic Catches Budget Candor – Quicktake

"On hot mic, @GovRauner asks House GOP leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) why he didn't carry the stack of budget docs out for him to sign. Durkin jokes that he didn't know if that'd be a "perp walk." They know. They all know. Republicans and Democrats alike.

Bankruptcy for Illinois comes up again: some background – Quicktake

For those unfamiliar with the concept, here is the basic background on bankruptcy-for-states.

Riverdale Will be Third Illinois Municipality to Sell Body Parts Under New ‘Securitization’ Law – Quicktake

Riverdale, Illinois is in line to sell off its share of state income tax coming from the state of Illinois as part of an...

J.B. Pritzker’s campaign workers: Where’s our $15/hour minimum wage? – Quicktake

"We demand that J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic candidate for governor of Illinois, pay his organizing fellows," says a petition circulated by a group called...

An important new paper by legal expert on potential for federal help with Illinois fiscal crisis – Quicktake

James Spiotto is a nationally recognized legal expert on insolvency. At an upcoming Brookings Institute conference on municipal finance, he will be delivering a...

Dear Trustee Jones and similar Wirepoints critics: Name-calling and censorship won’t protect you from numbers and facts – Quicktake

To you and others who offer nothing beyond name-calling, put up or shut up. And as for any call for us to be banned from township meetings or anywhere else, drop dead.

Attention plaintiffs’ lawyers: State of Illinois bonanza may be coming – Quicktake

A twenty-fold increase in the cap on tort claims against the state is on Rauner's desk.

Lawsuits on ‘Safe Roads Amendment’ Could Blow Big Hole in State Budget, Too – Quicktake

A lawsuit pending against Cook Country that could cost the county as much as $250 million might well set the precedent for similar exposure to the State of Illinois of $700 to $900 million.

Chicago dead last in Brookings Institute ranking of cities’ fiscal ability to deal with changing federal role – Quicktake

What cities are best positioned to shoulder additional responsibilities as federal leaders seek to cut the federal budget and workforce and reduce regulatory authority in Washington? Not Chicago, says Brookings.

Finally, a tough interview of an Illinois candidate for governor – Quicktake

For a break from the usual softball interviews, watch Mark Maxwell's 15-minute interview of Governor Bruce Rauner. His questions largely reflect arguments made against Rauner...

A ‘plan’ to make Chicago’s ‘bad pension borrowing’ good? Greg Hinz is mighty confused – Quicktake

We'd be so much better off if political reporters stuck to politics, which most of them understand, and stayed away from fiscal policy, which they don't.

Jim Edgar’s Outrageous Advice to J.B. Pritzker – Quicktake

Just let people vote blind, Edgar advises Pritzker.

Questions Deepen On Pritzker And 1871 – Quicktake

More to this than being reported.

Illinois Speech Police Have A New Bill Pending

How far has respect for freedom of speech sunk? How unaware are some Illinois lawmakers about constitutional protection for speech? House Bill 5977, now pending in the Illinois General Assembly, informs us.  

A Bit Of Good News For A Change: Illinois Revenues Improve – Quicktake

Comparing October tax revenue to October 2017 shows increases of 9.9%, 5% and 10.7% for the “big three,” respectively, the personal income tax, corporate income tax and sales tax.

Arizona Amends Its Constitutional Pension Protection Clause. World Doesn’t End. – Quicktake

It's inexcusable that Illinois hasn't acted to amend its pension clause, which our courts have interpreted as a suicide pact.

Is Illinois ‘Worth Fighting For’? – Quicktake

Whatever your answer, we're probably on the same page.

Seen properly, Illinois’ bill backlog is 1.2 billion worse since tax increase – Quicktake

It’s a bottomless pit without many drastic, structural reforms.

Another Dumb Fact-Check From The BGA – Quicktake

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is among the Illinois politicians I’m least inclined to defend, but she got a bum rap in the Better Government Association’s latest fact-check.      

The Personal Cost Of Illinois’ Depraved Priorities: A Week In Illinois – Quicktake

A constitutional right for union leaders to spike their taxpayer-guarantied pensions by working for their unions, while DNA evidence for 750 murders goes ignored for lack of 11 new workers who would surely cost less than the pensions. Illinois has its priorities.

Anecdotal But Reliable Evidence Says Illinois Exodus Will Accelerate – Quicktake

It’s particularly serious for high net worth people because they pay an outsize share of taxes in Illinois.  

Ed Burke’s Replacement on Finance Committee: ‘Absolute Contempt for the People They Govern’ – Quicktake

The new chairman's bio reads like a parody of Chicago politics for the 35 years he has been an alderman.

Illinois Going To The Dogs? Nope. – Quicktake

My ace research assistant sadly brought this to my attention.

Tee Up The Can For A Big Kick On Chicago Pensions – Quicktake

Borrowing to pay off debt is a "no-brainer," we're told.

A Bill To Prohibit Illinois Pension Investment In ‘Wall’ Contractors – Quicktake

It’s nice to know that some folks will feel good about themselves as Illinois’ pensions bleed dry.

Ed Burke Identifies The Foundation Of Chicago Corruption: Greedy Voters – Quicktake

Why would voters care if a candidate is taking all he can when they’re doing it, too?

Illinois tax revenue up nicely for fiscal year-to-date, though income tax receipts drop in January – Quicktake

The January report from Illinois Commission on Governmental Forecasting and Accountability says receipts from Illinois personal income, corporate income and sales taxes are "impressive...

UPDATED: Is The Sun-Times Violating Journalist’s Ethics Code On The Solis Affidavit? – Quicktake

Regardless of whether the Code technically applies, voting is going on now, and pertinent information is being withheld.

A little something special in a eulogy today – Quicktake

Abandoned by his mother, the baby boy — he was about 2 — ended up at an Indiana orphanage during the Great Depression. His luck...

$25/Hour Minimum Wage. Seriously(?) – Quicktake

A reader who asked to stay anonymous sent this image in of a shirt he had made. The joke backfired.

A Simple Chart From Civic Federation Shows Illinois’ Population Problem – Quicktake

Note, especially, the comparison to neighboring states for the last five years.