Sunday, March 29, 2020

What next for Illinois? – Wirepoints

The Coronavirus is a terrible crisis that threatens everyone, but the silver lining for many will be the clarity that only structural solutions can fix Illinois’ problems.

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Unacceptable: Illinois and Certain Other States Not Releasing COVID Hospitalization Numbers – Wirepoints – UPDATED

We need daily hospitalization numbers and we need them now, on both people currently in hospitals and those who have been released. There’s no excuse for not having them.

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State of Illinois provides first look at possible revenue impact from downturn – Quicktake

A revenue loss of $8 billion is a reasonable scenario – about 20% of the state budget – though it likely would be spread over several years.

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Senator Dick Durbin demanding direct federal bailouts for broke states and cities behind the scenes, says Senator Tom Cotton – Quicktake

You knew this was coming. Trying to use the crisis to bail out Illinois and Chicago for years of fiscal madness.

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Immoral: Paid Vacation for State and Local Workers; Pensioners Held Harmless as Taxpayers Face Ruin – Wirepoints

Illinois state and local governments have committed Illinois taxpayers essentially to holding harmless public sector workers from any loss. It's immoral.

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Focus On Chicago’s Immediate Crisis, Mayor Lightfoot, Not Political Grandstanding – Wirepoints

A month ago she brushed off the threat of the the coming health and financial crisis, claiming Chicago was fully prepared and the federal government was overreacting. Her latest message is that use of the term "Chinese virus" is false and racist.

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‘Act of God’: Illinois Teachers Get Full Pay, Pension Accrual While Schools Closed – Wirepoints

Millions of Illinois taxpayers who have been laid off or had their pay cut will pay for public work but see no shared sacrifice.

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Spend like you never have, if you can afford it, and do it smartly – Quicktake

Government can’t solve this crisis and we don’t know how long it will last. It’s up to us.

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“At what point will the human and economic toll of shutting down America, Illinois surpass the potential human toll of the virus?” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

Ted was on the Illinois Channel last week speaking to Jeff Berkowitz about the impact of the coronavirus and the toll it's taking on Illinois' economy, government and people.

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Wondering What Chicago’s Current Cash Situation Is? Good Luck Finding Anything. – Wirepoints

Is anybody even home at the office of the Chicago Treasurer?

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Will cabin fever eclipse Wuhan virus and undercut social distancing? – Quicktake

People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they trust.

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Will Recession Revive Discussion of Illinois Municipal Bankruptcy and Bankruptcy-for-States? – Wirepoints

Crisis and necessity haven't gotten action earlier, but maybe this time will be different.

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Expect the coronavirus to hit these parts of Chicago’s budget, jobs hardest – Wirepoints

Chicago's economy, budget and residents are in for a nasty shock. Altogether, at least half of the city’s revenues will be exposed directly to the impact of the coronavirus. If those budget lines alone suffer a 20 percent decline for the year, that will add another $500 million hole in the budget.

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Champaign, Illinois attempts to suspend constitutional rights and impose martial law – Quicktake

Do they have the slightest understanding of the United States Constitution?

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“The last decade has hidden all the cracks that exist in Illinois. The booming stock market, the national economy, those really helped Illinois hide from its problems. Now those problems are going to be exposed.” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

Ted discussed the impact of the Coronavirus on Illinois and Chicago's budgets, the effect of the market crash on Illinois' already crisis-level pension funds, and how these recent events make the push for a progressive tax all the more foolhardy.  

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Brace for reduced state and local revenues in Illinois – Quicktake

Even if things return to normal well before the end of the year, a big hole probably will be blown in Illinois' pending budget for 2021. And the deficit left for 2020 surely will be bigger than expected.

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Stock market meltdown, collapsing bond rates will wreak havoc on Illinois’ weakest pension plans – Wirepoints

Nobody is certain about the severity and duration of the market impact of the Coronavirus and the same goes for its impact on pension assets. What’s clear, however, is that taxpayers are on the hook for whatever shortfalls occur.

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‘I Gotta Get Outta Here’: Cook County Treasurer’s Further Comments on Spike in Delinquent Property Tax Bills – Wirepoints

Maria Pappas' further comment on the Cook County’s 42 percent spike in delinquent property tax payments and the causes thereof, which she earlier said were “beyond human imagination.”

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42% Jump in Property Tax Delinquencies as Cook County IL Treasurer Warns of Problems ‘Beyond Human Imagination’ – Wirepoints

Referring to the 57,515 Cook County tax-delinquent property owners facing a May 8 scavenger tax sale, Pappas said, “That is exactly 17,000 more than last year” at this time.

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As markets tank, Illinois prioritizes social justice for investing public money – Quicktake

Does it undermine the goal of maximizing returns? Yes, of course it does -- by definition.

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Are certain media elites math-challenged? Consider Exhibit A. – Quicktake

Aside from the math issue, they are apparently relying on Twitter for analysis.

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Pritzker Press Secretary’s Effort to Squelch a News Story Was Deceitful and Malicious – Wirepoints

And bravo to the Jacksonville Journal-Courier. They ignored Abudayyeh and let the article stand.

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The progressive tax panacea: What you need to know

Everyone should reject Pritzker's progressive tax. Not only are his rates not credible, but real home values in Illinois are falling. Residents are leaving in record numbers. Tax rates are already among the highest in the nation. And our politicians are the country's most corrupt. A multi-billion dollar tax hike will make every one of those things worse.

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Coronavirus could wreak additional havoc on Illinois – Wirepoints

Illinois has no financial reserves to weather a recession. The state had no plan to stop the state’s rapid fiscal decline even before the virus and it has no plans now. It’s impossible to know how the impact of the virus will play out and whether a recession is imminent or not. But one thing we do know. Illinoisans are totally exposed to the risks.

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Trees in the Wind: R.I.P., Jim Spiotto – Wirepoints

“The tree that does not bend in the wind is uprooted.”

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Chicago ranks 45th out of 53 largest metropolitan areas for job creation. Austin, Nashville top the list. – Wirepoints

Chicago’s Loop might be hot, but city politicians will want to look at two big cities down South to see what real job creation looks like. Austin and Nashville led the Wall Street Journal’s survey of the nation’s hottest job markets in 2020. Chicago, in contrast, ranked 45th.

Even some Cook County residents are looking for a new Illinois – Wirepoints

After looking at the pain of those in Palos Heights and the refusal of Illinois politicians to fix anything, it’s no wonder some residents are looking for a fresh start.

Proposed increases for Illinois’ ‘rainy day fund’ and pensions are piddly – Quicktake

It's not just radicals who apply the rule: "The moment one gets into the area of $25 million and above, let alone a billion, the listener is completely out of touch, no longer really interested, because the figures have gone above his experience and almost are meaningless. Millions of Americans do not know how many million dollars make up a billion."

Bernie Sanders leading Democratic pack in Illinois, too – Quicktake

Sanders ahead with Bloomberg in second, though the poll was taken before Bloomberg's disastrous debate performance.

Governor Pritzker, pension reform is not fantasy. Other states prove it. – Wirepoints

A plain English explanation of why Pritzker is wrong about a state constitutional amendment for pension reform.

Pritzker’s 2021 Illinois budget: Unbalanced. No reforms. More spending. And of course, more tax hikes – Wirepoints

Pritzker's 2021 budget accelerates Illinois' downward slide by embracing the same policies that have driven Illinoisans out for years, while rejecting the structural reforms Illinois needs.

UPDATE: Michael Bloomberg’s Insertion of Paid Lawyers Into State AG Offices is Dangerous and Must be Stopped – Wirepoints

All attorneys general, including Illinois' Kwame Raoul, should terminate the program and it cannot be allowed to become the norm.

“Pritzker’s budget doesn’t change the trajectory of Illinois, it’s not a budget for a nearly junk-rated state that’s losing people.” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

"The budget that Governor Pritzker just delivered isn't a budget for a nearly junk-rated state. It's not a budget for a state that's losing more people than every other place except New York. It's not a budget for where home values are some of the lowest in the nation and not rising here like they are everywhere else. It's not a budget for a state that has some of the highest taxes, and definitely the second highest property taxes in the nation."

It’s unethical for Pritzker to suggest his progressive tax plan can fix the deficit and offer both property and income tax relief. Simple math shows he can’t do it all. – Wirepoints

If you’ve listened to Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the past few weeks, you’ve heard him play games with words. We called him out on it recently and now he’s doing it again. If the progressive tax fixes the budget deficit and delivers a tax cut, then there will be no money for property tax relief.

Beware These Likely Gimmicks in Wednesday’s Budget Address – Wirepoints

Certain things we expect he will say that you should treat skeptically or reject entirely.

“The poor and rich are voting with their feet…people from every income group are leaving Illinois.” – Mark on WGN’s Roe Conn Show

Mark Glennon was on the Roe Conn Show talking about the mass annual exodus of people and their wealth from Illinois. The state's growing pension crisis, constant political corruption and the crushing impact of property taxes have driven over a million people out of the state since 2000.

Illinoisans overwhelmed by a ‘shadow mortgage’ of pension debts – Wirepoints

Illinois’ combined state and local pensioner debts have reached absurd levels. When divvied up between Illinois’ households, the “shadow mortgage” each one is on the hook for now totals hundreds of thousands of dollars per household, if not more, depending on who politicians target to repay those debts.

New IRS migration numbers confirm flight of Illinois’ wealthy – Our Monthly Crain’s Article

A summary of our recent series of stories taking a close look at what the IRS data say about Illinois -- loss of taxpayers and income, which income groups are moving and how other states compare.

Illinois lost $1.1 million per hour since 2001. Think about that. – Quicktake

With Governor JB Pritzker's annual budget address coming up next week, it's a good time to step back and look at the big picture.

Opportunity zones floundering in Chicago. No Surprise. – Quicktake

With Opportunity Zones, we got what looks like an attempt to reinforce the worst stereotypes of both parties – greedy Republicans handing a pointless tax break to the rich, and reality-challenged Democrats wasting money on a well-intentioned program for the poor likely to fail.

Kim Foxx’s reaction to new charges agains Jussie Smollett: Orange Man Bad – Quicktake

Is there anything in politics today that somebody somehow won't tie to Trump?

Global warming was blamed for evaporating the Great Lakes, now blamed for high water levels in Chicago’s ‘climate emergency’ – Quicktake

"What we are seeing in global warming is the evaporation of our Great Lakes." That was Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in 2013 when Lake Michigan was at a record low. You can find plenty of claims to the same effect from the time. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore chimed in around then, too, saying climate change caused evaporation, driving Great Lakes levels down.

Illinois politicians want to pile a municipal gas tax on top of the nation’s third-highest gas taxes – Wirepoints

Municipal gas taxes would pile on yet another layer on top of the state and federal gas taxes that already exist. The proposal comes less than a year after the state passed a record gas tax hike of 19 cents a gallon as part of the state’s massive $45 billion infrastructure plan. 

If the wealthy flee, ordinary Illinoisans will be left holding the progressive tax bag – Wirepoints

At the rate Illinois is losing people, it wouldn’t take long at all for Pritzker’s progressive tax hike to bleed away Illinois’ million-plus earners. There just aren’t that many of them to begin with. And faced with a 60-percent tax increase, the chances are higher they’ll leave.

Interim financial report shows Illinois lost another $3.7 billion in 2019 – Quicktake

Illinois' Total Primary Net Position worsened from negative $184.0 billion to  negative $187.7 billion at June 30, 2019 according to an interim report recently released by Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

While Ohio cuts health benefits to save pensions, Illinois’ crisis deepens – Wirepoints Original

Illinoisans will want to pay attention to how Ohio recently responded to its state retirement debt crisis. There, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System board (OPERS) voted to cut health-care benefits for its 500,000-plus members to ensure its retirement funds don’t collapse.

Biometric privacy law heating up Illinois’ ‘judicial hellholes’ – Quicktake

You may never have heard of it or even been harmed, but chances are good if you live in Illinois that you are a plaintiff in one of hundreds of class action lawsuits it has spawned.

Yes, the rich are fleeing Illinois and they’re taking billions with them – Wirepoints Original

We’re often told that Illinois is not losing its highly taxed residents. Don’t worry about lost income from the rich leaving, we’re supposed to believe. It’s just poorer folks fleeing. But that's simply not true.

Who will represent Illinois consumers as new energy bill takes form? – Quicktake

Brace yourselves to get snowed (but not literally).

Governor Pritzker, we’re still waiting for the proof you claimed on supposed savings from pension buyouts – Quicktake

C'mon, Governor. You either have it or you don't. Give it to us or admit you had no reasonable basis for your claim.

Illinoisans feel the pain of stagnant incomes and skyrocketing property tax bills

Illinoisans’ pain from punishing property tax burdens has been building for decades. Property taxes per household in Illinois increased by 109 percent since 2000 and household incomes have failed to keep up, rising just 37 percent over the same time period.

The Faceless Genius Behind Another Great Year for Venture Capital in Chicago

It wasn’t the vision of a central planner in City Hall, Springfield or Washington. Minimal taxpayer money went into the effort.

Illinoisans need reform, not Gov. Pritzker’s false optimism

With nothing to back him up, the governor is asking Illinoisans to simply ignore the reality they are living in – that taxes are too high, services are being crowded out, real home values continue to fall, and that residents are leaving at a record pace.

Don’t be fooled by claims that a progressive income tax for Illinois would mean property tax relief – Wirepoints Original

The progressive tax will reportedly bring in just $3.6 billion in new revenue, which would be swallowed immediately by the state’s billion-dollar budget deficit, pension costs and unpaid bills. That leaves nothing for property tax relief.

Stonewalled Again on Savings Claimed from Illinois Pension Buyout Program – Wirepoints Original

The latest in bipartisan baloney on Illinois pension buyouts.  

Who will want to be a millionaire in Illinois?

At the rate Illinois is losing people, it wouldn’t take long at all for Pritzker’s progressive tax hike to bleed away Illinois’ million-plus earners. There just aren’t that many of them to begin with. And faced with a 60-percent tax increase, the chances are higher they’ll leave.

Illinois spends 30 to 50 percent more than its neighbors on education, but results don’t budge

In a nutshell: Illinois spends far more than its neighbors on education and yet its politicians are committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars more every year. All to achieve student outcomes that haven’t improved in a decade and are, in most cases, worse than in neighboring states.

Why Nobody But Bond Buyers Should Like Chicago’s Latest Deal – Wirepoints Original

The toddlin’ continued for now, but the music can’t go on forever.

Wirepoints’ Monthly Crain’s Article: Chicago doubling down on dangerous ‘securitized bonds’

The losers in Chicago's bond scheme may end up being taxpayers, service recipients, public pensioners and everybody else except the muni bond community—bondholders, underwriters, bankers and lawyers.


WCIA TV: “A study by Wirepoints tracks population losses from 2010 to 2018, and Macon County ranked 4th out of 102 counties.”

WCIA Decatur used Wirepoints' report to tell its story on Macon County's loss of people. 93 counties in Illinois lost population between 2010 to 2018. Macon County suffered the 4th worst loss - over 6,000 people.

Illinois’ Early Move to Kill the Electoral College May Be Nearing Success

Survival of the Electoral College depends on how remaining states will vote on NPV and what the courts would do with it.

Why an aging and shrinking Illinois is a threat to public sector pensions

There’s a perfect demographic storm brewing in Illinois that threatens to take retirement security for government workers from bad to worse: Illinois’ boomer generation is hitting retirement age just as Illinoisans and their wealth are migrating out of the state at a record pace.

Quotes and No-Quotes from a Day in Springfield’s Unfolding Email Scandal – Quicktake

“Not knowing is foundational and fundamental to the entire design of the organization.”

“People move to states where there is opportunity, jobs, growth potential, affordable housing…people aren’t choosing Illinois, they’re leaving Illinois.” – Ted on WJPF NewsRadio

Ted was on WJPF radio this week talking to Tom Miller about Illinois' constant loss of people. "The people who are productive are leaving Illinois and going to places like Florida or Texas or Indiana..."

93 of Illinois’ 102 counties have lost population since 2010 – Wirepoints Original

If you’re wondering how widespread Illinois’ problems really are, look at county populations: 93 of the state’s 103 counties have shrunk since 2010. 

Illinois Comptroller Mendoza Exercises Her ‘Moral Authority’ – Wirepoints Original

Dare I say that Susana Mendoza is not the person to be exercising moral authority on use of state resources to victimize taxpayers?

New IRS data reveals winners and losers of wealth migration across 50 states – Wirepoints Original

The winners of the battle for people and their incomes included states like South Carolina, Arizona, Texas and Florida. On the other end of the competition are states that have become perennial losers. Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois and New York have experienced some of the nation’s biggest drain of people and their money.

Pathetic. Summary of the Draft Report by Illinois Property Tax Task Force – Wirepoints Original

It’s a hodgepodge of may-be-this-maybe-that non-conclusions and half-baked evasions from different subcommittees. It omits any quantification of the ideas it presents and offers no concrete recommendations whatsoever that can reasonably be expected to lower taxes meaningfully.

“Illinois is really sick and needs dramatic reforms, not the tax hikes, record spending and progressive tax threat we’ve got.” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

Ted was on the Illinois Channel last week taking a look at what happened to Illinois in 2019 and what the state needs to do to make 2020 a better year.

UPDATED: Report of Illinois Property Tax Relief Task Force Was Due at Year-End. Where is it? – Quicktake

Would it be too much to ask why it's late and when we can expect it? We've seen no answers from anybody.

New IRS data release: Record losses of taxable income and taxpayers for Illinois – Wirepoints Special Report

Illinois’ new decade is starting off with the same bad news the state struggled with throughout the 2010s – the increasing flight of Illinoisans to other states. The IRS has just released new domestic migration data and it shows Illinoisans left the state in record numbers.

Lieutenant Governor Stratton’s Shameful First Day With Legal Marijuana – Wirepoints Original

Instead of using Illinois’ first day of legalization to warn of marijuana’s undisputed dangers, she celebrated the event as if it were the end of prohibition of apple pie.

The Roaring Twenties Begin Again in Illinois. Well, Actually….

Let’s hope that by the end of this decade people of basic decency and common sense will have roared, giving future historians a different reason to call this decade, too, the Roaring Twenties.

Happy New Year? New Census data shows Illinois lost population for the sixth year in a row – Wirepoints Original

New U.S. Census data shows that Illinois’ population fell again in 2019, making this the sixth year in a row Illinois has shrunk.

Overreach in Illinois’ New Employer Mandate on Anti-Sexual Harassment Training

You’d think a state struggling to keep its tax base from fleeing would avoid passing a law that has a lot of employers “panicking.”

Searching for common sense, regulation reduction and cost cutting in Illinois’ 255 new laws

Finding a law that reduces regulation and cuts costs within Illinois’ 255 new laws wasn’t easy. But I found one.

250 new laws will greet Illinoisans January 1, but none slow the state’s steep decline

Do a quick scan of the 255 new laws taking effect in Illinois on January 1 and it won’t take you long to realize that Illinois pols have done nothing to fix the state’s broader mess. None of those laws stop Illinois’ deep fiscal dive and the record flight of its residents.

When JB Pritzker Was A Fiscal Conservative

Pritzker was at one time one of the big donors to the fiscally conservative Concord Coalition and a supporter of the organization’s goals.

Gov. Pritzker, don’t blame Wirepoints. The math diminishes your ‘monumental’ claims, not us.

Pritzker does Illinois no favors when he declares that Wirepoints’ fiscal realism is nothing more than pessimism. 

This One Chart From Moody’s Illustrates Chicago’s Fiscal Plight – Quicktake

Chicago has iron ball strapped to its back far bigger than most other cities have to carry.

Illinois enacting a progressive tax is like Sears attempting a turnaround by hiking prices

Imagine how ludicrous it would be if Sears announced a turnaround plan based on just one thing: price hikes. No operating reforms, no change in strategy, no improvement in products – just price hikes. Such a strategy might sound absurd, but it’s precisely the approach politicians are pushing in Illinois.

Our Monthly Crain’s Article: Changing the narrative isn’t a credible strategy, Governor

  He might as well designate Lt. Frank Drebin of “The Naked Gun” as his spokesman. “Nothing to see here, move along,” Drebin said as the world exploded behind him. A central strategy based on changing the narrative just isn’t credible. It’s a transparent attempt to substitute political spin for sorely needed action.

Why Illinois Property Taxes Won’t Drop Without Major Spending Reform – Wirepoints Original

Any meaningful property tax reduction, such as matching rates for neighboring states, would require reforms that our political establishment won't consider.

Illinois owes $68 billion in health benefits to government retirees. Politicians haven’t set aside a penny to pay for them – Wirepoints Special Report

Pensions get all the attention when it comes to Illinois’ collapsing finances. But there’s another government-worker benefit also wreaking fiscal havoc – free and heavily-subsidized health insurance for retired state workers, teachers and community college employees. Illinois owed more than $68 billion in retiree health benefits to state workers as of 2018.

Chicago, Detroit “least-prepared” for a recession, says new Moody’s report

Moody’s says 23 of the nation’s 25 largest cities are ready for a recession. Two aren’t: Detroit and Chicago.

“This is about as good as it gets when it comes to the economy and jobs. We’re at a 50-year low in unemployment. This is the moment to get people into meaningful work and off food stamps.” – Ted Dabrowski on Chicago Tonight

Ted appeared on Chicago Tonight this week, saying Illinois has lagged far behind the rest of the country in getting people off of food stamps and that the new federal rules provide a good opportunity to get able-bodied Illinoisans back into the workplace.

Trump’s new food stamp rules in Illinois: If not now, when?

It’s been nine years since the Great Recession. Stock markets are at all time highs. The national economy is booming. Minority unemployment is at record lows. Even Illinois is riding the nation’s coattails with a record low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. If Illinois can't help get single, childless, able-bodied Illinoisans back into meaningful work and off of food stamps now, then when?

World Turning Against Unchecked Green Energy Spending But 93 Programs Aren’t Nearly Enough For Illinois

Illinois spends blindly on what other nations and states increasingly protest, even violently.

“The debts aren’t going anywhere, but the people are.” – Ted Dabrowski on Newsradio WJPF

Ted talked with Tom Miller of WJPF Radio about all the tax and fee hikes that were a part of the 2020 budget state budget and the massive $45 billion infrastructure bill. Some of those hikes have been in place since July, but even more are going to be imposed come January 1st of next year.

Dismal 2019 numbers show why Illinois pensions will continue to fail

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s special pension report released this week shows yet again how strong markets and ever-more taxpayer funds can’t fix the flaws in the state’s politician-run pension system.

Expect property tax hikes to hit Chicago’s stagnant home prices hard

Don’t be surprised if Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ends up hiking property taxes multiple times during her term. That should scare Chicago homeowners. Chicago already sits at the bottom of the 20-city Case-Shiller Index – a leading measure of U.S. home prices – with only Cleveland and Detroit home values performing worse since 2000. 

Extra Time Testing Accommodation For Students Is A Scandal Spinning Out Of Control

Hey kids, want extra time on college entrance exams and tests in school? Just get an “accommodation.” It’s easy. But a rude shock awaits students and parents who’ve cheated or exploited the gray areas of disability. Our schools are enabling them.

A personal note of thanksgiving

My parents were just two of the many immigrants attracted to Illinois decades ago. I’m thankful for the opportunity they got, even though life for them was never easy. The ups and downs were many and real. But Illinois was the place where with deep faith and a strong work ethic, anyone could grit it out.

Success For Illinois’ Secure Choice Program? Better Check The Numbers.

The Illinois Treasurer is boasting about success of Illinois' new retirement program. His numbers actually show it's a failure.

Leaving Illinois for Alabama

Alabama is attracting many Illinoisans because parts of the state are booming in jobs, investment and population. More than 29,000 Illinoisans have moved to Alabama since 2010, according to U.S. Census data. In contrast, just 15,000 Alabamans moved to Illinois over that same time period. Illinois was the 2nd-highest net supplier of residents to Alabama over the period.

Pritzker’s Latest Pension Flimflam And Contradictions With Illinois Bond Documents

Pritzker should have added something else to what he thinks isn’t politically feasible in Illinois: honesty.

Governor of Illinois, home of nation’s worst fiscal crisis, slams door on pension reform

The argument that “nothing is going to happen in Illinois until things blow up” got a major boost this week. Pritzker once again rejected calls to put a pension amendment on the ballot in 2020.

“The consolidation bill went bad when politicians added changes that increase the cost of pensions” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

In concept, the asset consolidation bill is a good idea. But the legislation went from good to bad when lawmakers added unrelated benefit changes into the law. They stuffed piecemeal changes to Tier 2 into the bill and voted to pass it without any public analysis and little debate.

How Illinois’ police and fire pension consolidation bill went from good to bad

Politicians are once again doing pension reform on the cheap – stuffing piecemeal changes in an unrelated bill with no numbers and no debate. If Tier 2 is changed, it should be part of a dedicated pension reform bill that fixes all the funds at once, not snuck in as part of unrelated legislation.

US stock markets up 200%, yet Illinois pension hole deepens 75%

Despite a tripling in the value of the S&P 500 index since July 2009, Illinois’ pension shortfall has worsened by 75 percent during the same period. The warning this trend provides is stark: if pension debts in Illinois continue to grow during a period of remarkable stock market returns, imagine how those funds will fare when the next recession inevitably hits.

Chicago Public Schools offers CTU record contract even as enrollment shrinks by another 6,000 students

CPS says enrollment fell by another 6,000 students in 2019. How can Mayor Lightfoot and CPS grant the CTU what the mayor calls the “most generous contract” in the union’s history when the school district continues to shrink? 

New 2019 pension reports: Illinois’ shortfall worsens to record $137 billion, pension costs exceed $10 billion for the first time

Preliminary reports from Illinois’ state actuaries show the state’s pension shortfall worsened to a record $137 billion in 2019. The data also shows the state’s total pension costs in 2019 exceeded $10 billion, the first time in state history.

How Chicago Stiffed The Rest Of Illinois For Cost Of Its New Teacher Pension Giveaways

Illinoisans outside Chicago may be laughing at the city’s reckless new contract with its teachers, but the real joke is on them.

Chicago teachers contract costs a record $1.5 billion, and that doesn’t even include pension costs

Now that the strike is over, the cost of the contract is finally being tallied and it totals at least $1.5 billion over five years – money the junk-rated CPS simply doesn’t have. It’s the most costly teachers contract in CTU history.

“This contract will accelerate Chicago’s slide towards insolvency and its Chicagoans who will have to pay.” – Ted on with NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern

Ted was on NBC 5 talking to Mary Ann Ahern about the consequences of the teachers strike. He warned Chicagoans that the contract that Mayor Lightfoot and the CTU agreed to will only accelerate Chicago's decline towards insolvency.

The Dumbest Case Yet For Illinois’ ‘Fair Tax’ Is By A Nobel Economist

If you can't follow this economist's reasoning, it's not you.

Wirepoints’ speech to the City Club of Chicago: “By focusing on Chicago’s one-year budget, it’s like we’re treating an intensive care patient with an aspirin.”

We're here to talk about the city’s 2020 budget, but I’d argue that’s the wrong way to look at this crisis. By focusing on-one year budgets, it’s like we’re treating an intensive care patient with aspirin. Chicago’s problems are far larger than a one-year deficit. Its problems are multi-year, multi-government and structural. 

“What’s behind Chicago’s broken budget? – Ted on the Illinois Channel

Ted was on the Illinois Channel discussing the origins of Chicago's broken 2020 budget.

Leaving Illinois: Does anybody care about people like us? – Wirepoints Original – Video

When it was finally time to retire, Don and Paula decided “to come home.” In 2016, they left sunny Florida for a place in Poplar Grove, Illinois, just outside of Rockford. Now, three years later, they’re experiencing buyer’s regret. Not because of the weather, but because they don’t know if they can afford to stay in Illinois.

Where Hate Has A Home: Oak Park, Illinois – Videos

Despite national embarrassment from an initial incident earlier this month, many Oak Parkers are doubling down. They seem intent on making their town a national showcase for the manic intolerance of diversity of opinion into which identity politics have devolved.

No Conviction, No Charge, Not Even An Allegation, Yet Pritzker Blacklists Chicago City Club

Governor,  this is a good time to remember that you, your wife and brother-in-law are still under federal criminal investigation for that residential property tax appeal based on toilets removed so the property would be deemed uninhabitable. Should the state boycott all the companies you’re invested in?

Next time the CTU says Chicago teachers don’t get Social Security, show this graphic

Teachers in Chicago don’t get Social Security. They don’t pay into the fund and they don’t get the benefits. But what the CTU won’t tell you is that the average retired Chicago teacher gets far more in annual benefits than the average Chicago private sector worker gets under Social Security. 

Lightfoot’s budget won’t stop Chicago’s downward spiral

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has released her 2020 budget. Like her predecessors, she’s chosen to focus on plugging a one-year budget deficit largely with a one-off deal and a number of tax hikes. And also like her predecessors, she’s failed to attack the real sources of Chicago’s slide toward insolvency.

Illinois’ shrinking tax base: People of every age and income group are fleeing Illinois (Part 5)

According to migration data from the IRS, people of every sort are already leaving Illinois. Old and young, rich and poor, it doesn’t matter. Illinois has been a net loser of people to out-migration in every age and income group.

“Nobody is defending ordinary Chicagoans. These new taxes will be very punishing on them.” – Ted on Chicago Tonight

Ted appeared on Chicago Tonight to discuss the problems with Mayor Lori Lightfoot's upcoming 2020 budget proposal. He said that most pundits and politicians only talk about the taxes they say she'll need to close the city's $838 million budget gap. None of them are defending ordinary Chicagoans from more unaffordable hikes.

Chicago teachers strike: Why is no one talking about pensions?

Teacher pensions have not been a point of discussion during the recent Chicago Teachers Union strike, though they should be. After all, it’s pensions that are threatening the solvency of both the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools.   

Chicago’s Pitch For New Bond Refinancing Is Mighty Fishy

$200 million of savings to be booked in the first year on $1.3 billion bond refinancing in a highly controversial form.

The CTU’s Broader Agenda And The Circumvention Of Democratic Process

What they cannot accomplish legislatively or at the ballot box they seek to implement by holding students hostage.

Local pension investment consolidation is sensible but risky – Our monthly Crain’s article

Wirepoints' Mark Glennon: The biggest risk of the new plan is that it might pave the way for full consolidation of local pensions, with the state assuming liability. That would eliminate the key benefit of municipal bankruptcy, which is the power to adjust pensions, and authorization of municipal bankruptcy is probably inevitable.

Here’s A Comprehensive Solution For All Chicago School Financial Problems And The Teacher Strike

Do what Michigan did for Detroit schools. It's called "reconstitution" and it's a regular process in the private sector, often called "oldco/newco."

“Ordinary Chicagoans can’t afford either Lightfoot’s proposal or the CTU’s demands.” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

Ted appeared on the Illinois Channel TV to talk about the Chicago teachers strike. He told Illinoisans what they need to know: that all Chicagoans will lose no matter how the strike is resolved, that taxes will continue to go up, that property values will continue to stagnate, and that people will continue to leave the city.

The Chicago Teachers Union strike is on: 13 things that matter

Chicago teachers are striking for the third time in seven years. Here are 13 reasons why the strike spells trouble for Chicago. Point one? The simple fact is that Chicagoans can’t afford either the CTU’s demands or Lightfoot’s offer.

“It’s the politicians who give in, who benefit and who work with the CTU hand in hand” – Ted Dabrowski on with John Kass

Ted was on The Chicago Way with John Kass talking about the Chicago teachers contract fight and what it means for ordinary Chicagoans. Chicago politicians are to blame for the Chicago Teachers Union's militancy. When the CTU leadership throws a tantrum, politicians don't stand firm. Instead, they appease and enable the union.

Illinois strike laws prioritize Chicago Teachers Union over children

What gives the Chicago Teachers Union the power to strike – or threaten to strike – every time they don’t like a new contract proposal? One of the answers lies in the state’s collective bargaining rules. They are among the most anti-taxpayer labor laws in the country.

“The public should be worried that consolidation will deflate pressure for real pension reforms. Politicians are going to act as if they’ve really done something – and they haven’t.” – Ted Dabrowski on WTAD

This week on WTAD, Ted talked all about the release of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's state economic development plan and his pension consolidation task force's recommendations. He said "if you can make 1-2 percent more on your investments, you should do it. But don't call it a monumental action. It doesn't fix the pension problem, it doesn't get rid of all those 650 pension funds. It doesn't free cities from overbearing state control."

Consolidation of Illinois police and fire pensions: a good idea with limited impact and many risks

A Gov. J.B. Pritzker task force has recommended that the state’s 650 local public safety pension funds consolidate their assets into two funds solely for investment purposes. It’s a good idea. But will it be “a momentous achievement in state history?” Hardly.

Illinois’ shrinking tax base: State is a national outlier when it comes to losing wealthy residents (Part 4)

Though Illinois’ wealthy make up a relatively small share of the people lost to out-migration, they’re responsible for the largest share of income lost to other states. Illinois suffered a net $4.87 billion loss in AGI in 2016. More than 50 percent of that came from losing people who made $200,000 or more. 

Sham Solution to High Property Taxes Peddled by Cook County Assessor Kaegi and Others

Few things are as easy to debunk than the claim that the Fair Tax would materially reduce property taxes.

COGFA monthly report: Illinois personal and corporate income tax receipts up, sales tax flat – Quicktake

The report also includes discussion of Illinois' comparatively low consumer debt level.

Here is the list of benefits Mayor Lightfoot is offering to the teachers’ union and why it’s terrible for Chicagoans

If you were holding out for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to finally show her fiscal reform credentials, give up now. The new labor contract she’s offered to the Chicago Teachers’ Union will bring the district and the city another step closer to bankruptcy.

More crisis for East St. Louis: Police pension fund also demands Illinois Comptroller intercept

First, it was the trustees of the East St. Louis firefighter pension fund that asked the Illinois Comptroller to intercept city funds on its behalf. Now, it’s the police pension fund’s turn.

Puerto Rico Reviving Bankruptcy Debate for Illinois and Other Insolvent States

The discussion is returning and this time it will be informed and rational, if Friday’s New York Times article is an indication.

With Mayor Lightfoot Considering Gay Set-Asides, Chicago Is Running Out of People To Disfavor For City Contracts – Updated

Eighty-five percent of Chicagoans are in favored categories getting preference in city contracting. The remaining 15% — white males with no disability — are effectively disfavored.

Illinois cities are getting crushed by pension costs. Just look at Peoria, Illinois.

Peoria is no Harvey or East St. Louis, but it’s certainly in a downward spiral. Officials are adding new taxes and fees to deal with the city’s struggling budget and pension crisis. Their efforts to tax more are likely to be futile. The numbers justify those doubts.

“Cities are being forced to choose: Do they short pensions or do they fire public safety workers” – Ted on WTAD News Round Table

Will Illinois cities be forced to choose between making pension payments and ensuring the safety of their citizens? That was the question Quaid asked Ted on the WTAD News Round Table.

Third domino falls: Illinois Comptroller set to confiscate East St. Louis revenues to pay for city’s firefighter pensions

Harvey was the first domino to run afoul of Illinois’ pension intercept law. North Chicago was the second. Now it’s East St. Louis’ turn. 

Moody’s new report shows Illinois is nation’s extreme outlier when it comes to pension debts

Moody’s Investors Service has updated its state-by-state pension liability report and if there’s one key takeaway, it’s that Illinois is the nation’s extreme outlier when it comes to pension shortfalls.

Senator Heather Steans’ Empty Rhetoric Defines Springfield’s Failure on Illinois Pensions

In a recent talk at Chicago's City Club, Senator Steans managed to endorse most every piece of double talk, gimmickry and evasion of responsibility we’ve seen on pensions from the Illinois General Assembly.

August Snow Job: That’s what we’re seeing on Illinois finances. – Our monthly Crain’s article

Improvement, finally! That's no doubt how many Illinoisans reacted to news about Illinois' latest audited financial statements. Take a closer look, however, to get a major lesson on how misinformation about our financial crisis is spread.

Report: Nine Illinois cities among top 50 national housing markets “turning ugly”

Illinois homeowners: Is your city’s housing market is in danger of “turning ugly?” Peoria, Aurora, Elgin, Decatur, Joliet, Rockford, Champaign, Plainfield and Naperville are all in serious risk of trouble should a downturn occur.

Illinois Comptroller’s Office Doubles Down, Calls Wirepoints’ Critique “Fringe, Apocalyptic Ranting:” Our Response.

Calling us "fringe" indicates more about the perspective of Illinois' political establishment than it says about us.

Illinois Hit By Record $47 Billion Loss, Ignored by Regular Media. Why?

The State of Illinois recently reported its biggest annual financial loss ever. Instead of clear reporting on that, we’ve seen perhaps the most glaring example yet of how the state’s finances can be misunderstood, misreported and intentionally distorted.

“City workers are guaranteed benefits that ordinary workers have to pay for, even when they’re struggling” – Ted on The Chicago Way with John Kass

Ted was on with John Kass earlier this week discussing what Mayor Lightfoots' state of the city speech and what she should do to fix Chicago's problems.

Illinois’ financial decay spreads to cities across the state

Illinois’ finances aren’t just decaying at the top, they’re falling apart everywhere. Of the 630 downstate police and fire pension funds that reported data to the Illinois Department of Insurance in 2017, 57 percent had funded ratios lower than 60 percent.

“Lightfoot inherited the worst crisis in the state, so she needs to champion the state’s boldest reforms.” – Ted on AM560

Ted talked to Dan and Amy about the scope of Chicago's financial crisis and what Mayor Lightfoot should be doing about it. Chicagoans are burdened with more debt than they can ever pay and the only way to reduce that burden is through structural pension reform.

Why Chicago’s Lightfoot should push for a pension amendment, not tax hikes – Wirepoints Special Report

If reports of Lightfoot’s plans are true – that she wants to increase taxes and push debts off further into the future – then it’s clear she doesn’t intend to fix Chicago’s problems. If she did, she would instead push for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution’s pension protection clause and take a hard line on contract negotiations.

Wirepoints available for analysis, reaction to Mayor Lightfoot’s budget address

Experts on Chicago’s budget challenges are available for interviews to discuss Mayor Lightfoot’s first budget address.

Ominous Signs For All Chicago In Teachers Union Contract Negotiation

To many of us, some things seem obvious. When you’re so broke that your survival is threatened you don’t raise pay. You don’t keep facilities open that are half full. You don’t provide lavish retirement benefits. You expect employees to contribute to their own retirement. We think that way because we live in an alternate universe.

States Government’s Malfeasance Passes New Milestone As An Illinois City Fails To Deliver Essential Services

Failure to deliver essential service marks a milestone with statewide implications. It exposes just how long Illinois officeholders are willing to ignore the state’s fiscal crisis, and it has important legal implications as well.

Boiling Frogs, Brainless Frogs and Illinois – Our Monthly Crain’s Article

Why exactly doesn’t Illinois' political establishment recognize that only drastic policy changes will reverse the population outflow crippling the state?

Illinois’ shrinking tax base: $310 billion in accumulated losses from out-migration (Part 3)

The problem with Illinois’ chronic outflows is that one year’s losses don’t only affect the tax base the year they leave, but they also hurt all subsequent years. The losses pile up on top of each other, year after year, damaging the state's tax base.

The Chicago Teachers Union’s Venezuela solidarity trip: Salute to our tipster and certain teachers.

Thank you to our tipster for making this a national story and to teachers who know the difference between right and wrong.

Collapsing interest rates are devastating for Illinois’ troubled pensions

The world’s collapsing interest rates have made survival that much harder for Illinois’ pension funds.

Got a Problem With Hedge Fund Trying To Profit By Invalidating Certain Illinois Bonds? – UPDATED

An interesting debate has arisen on one particular aspect of the proceeding now pending in an Illinois court to invalidate certain state bonds.

Illinois’ shrinking tax base: Loss in income is one of nation’s worst (Part 2)

Illinois is an extreme outlier nationally when it comes to losing people to other states through domestic out-migration. Unsurprisingly, it’s also an outlier when it comes to losing the incomes those people take with them.

Opponents to TIF in New Trier Township shouldn’t assume all is lost

The Kenilworth Village Board may have voted for a TIF over the objection of its residents, but opponents of the TIF shouldn’t assume all is lost.

Illinois’ shrinking tax base: Residents are leaving and taking their incomes with them (Part 1)

Residents old and young, rich and poor are are leaving Illinois for warm states and cold states, big states and small states. And they're taking their taxable income with them, shrinking Illinois' tax base.

A tale of two manufacturing recoveries: Illinois vs. Michigan

Michigan has had the most successful recovery among the manufacturing states in the Midwest. In contrast, Illinois has had the worst recovery: over 88,000 manufacturing jobs are still missing.

Another major error in an op-ed on Illinois pensions – Quicktake

Those who write that a constitutional amendment to Illinois' pension protection clause are spreading a false, public union talking point.

Illinois finances: far from “stable”

Only in Illinois does a surprise increase in tax revenues and more pension debt equal “stability” for a state’s finances.

It’s not just property taxes Illinoisans should be worried about. It’s their home values, too.

Politicians obviously don’t care about how much damage they've already inflicted on Illinoisans property values. A review of median home values across the nation found that Illinois ranked 45th in median home value growth between 2005 and 2017.

Viva Maduro! The Chicago Teachers Union’s Solidarity Trip To Venezuela

You'd think this came from a parody site, but it didn't.

Event – Wirepoints at AFP on 7/31/19: Unbalancing Act: IL’s Busted Budget

Illinois' 2020 budget is an unbalanced mess. What does that mean for ordinary Illinoisans? Come and listen to Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski speak on July 31st at Americans For Prosperity in Rolling Meadows to hear the answer.

Progressive tax proponents say Illinois is a low-tax state, your tax bills say the opposite

Common sense says Illinois is a high tax state once all state and local taxes are added up. Analyses from a Chicago Fed economist to the Tax Foundation to personal-finance firm WalletHub all back that fact up.

Lawmakers Moving Towards Raising Property Taxes To Fund Affordable Housing

Raise property taxes for affordable housing. The madness never ends.

Chicago’s Lightfoot demands a state taxpayer bailout, then offers CTU a 5-year contract, 14% raise?

Just three weeks ago, Lightfoot was demanding a state taxpayer bailout of her city’s nearly bankrupt pension funds. Now she's offered the Chicago Teachers’ Union a five-year contract that will cost taxpayers $325 million.

Forever Behind: Unfunded Pensions as a Permanent Hindrance to Competitiveness

New research by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that the disparity between well-funded public pension systems and those that are fiscally strained has never been greater. 

Is the Lawsuit To Invalidate Certain Illinois Bonds Frivolous? An Education is at Hand. – Wirepoints Original

On the central issue important to Illinoisans – what the constitutional limits on state borrowing really are – bring it on. Let’s hear it.

Wirepoints’ Mark Glennon: This is why Illinois pols haven’t fixed our fiscal crisis – Crain’s


"They haven't had to figure it out because you voters haven't figured it out. Wake up. Tell Pritzker and Lightfoot that pretty much every financial reform you've heard about must be effectuated immediately."

Latest Fed Raid Should Have Madigan & Friends Sweating – Quicktake

Some of the arrows flying out of the massive federal corruption investigation centered in Chicago are now pointed in a new direction.

Kenilworth Trustees to use TIF as a runaround to home rule

Kenilworth has no business creating a TIF, but it’s an effective way for officials to evade residents’ wishes.

If lawsuit succeeds, Illinois politicians will get 4th-highest legislative pay in nation

If the assembly's wage freezes are reversed, state lawmakers could get years of back pay. In total, the additional back pay could cost taxpayers $13 million and much more in future pension costs.

Five reasons why New Trier Township residents should oppose TIFs in Kenilworth

This eblast is a follow up to Wirepoint's previous piece: Only in Illinois: Ultra-rich communities like Kenilworth want TIFs.

“Chicago and the state are running out of ways to kick the can on the pension crisis” – Ted Dabrowski on Newsradio WJPF

Ted talked with Tom Miller of WJPF Radio about Gov. Pritzker's rejection of Mayor Lightfoot's proposal for the state to take over Chicago's pension debt. Ted says there's some good news to take from that. It means state and Chicago politicians are running out of ways to kick the can on the pension crisis.

COGFA: Illinois tax revenue closes out fiscal year close to expectations – Quicktake

The June report for state revenue is out, which also provides totals for the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30. Comparing this June to...

With Pension Advice Like This, Chicago and Illinois Are Doomed – Wirepoints Original

Just keep doing what we've been doing, wrote Amanda Kass in a new op-ed.

Only in Illinois: Ultra-rich communities like Kenilworth want TIFs

In no sane world does AAA-rated Kenilworth need a TIF to redevelop its business area. But if Kenilworth can get away with creating a TIF anyway, then every community in the New Trier area can justify having one, too. That would have serious fiscal consequences for the funding of school districts and other governments down the line.

Lightfoot wants state taxpayer bailout of Chicago pension debts

It didn’t take long for new Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to propose a plan that would wash her hands of Chicago’s pension crisis altogether. Lightfoot wants the state to take over Chicago’s pension debts and merge them with the other pension plans throughout the state.

Expect anger at the pump as Illinoisans begin paying nation’s 3rd-highest gas tax – Wirepoints Original

Expect the doubling of Illinois gas taxes to anger Illinoisans this summer. Before the hike, Illinois’ combined gas taxes ranked 21st in the nation. After taking into account the 19 cent tax hike, Illinoisans will pay the 3rd-highest tax on gas.

Illinois State Rep. Guzzardi wants you to pay for his Brown University bills

State Rep. Will Guzzardi wants the government to pay off his and all other student loans debts. What he's really asking is for taxpayers to pay for universities' bloated administrations and outrageously compensated bureaucrats. Even the Senate Democratic Caucus agrees that Illinois higher education needs reform.

“Wealthy” Chicago households on the hook for up to $2 million in debt each under progressive approach to pension crisis 

The total amount of city, county and state retirement debt Chicagoans are on the hook for is $150 billion. That's nearly $145,000 per household. Most can’t afford to pay that debt. If politicians put the burden only households earning $200,000 or more, those Chicagoans will be on the hook for more than $2 million in government retirement debts each.  

Rationale For Politically Discriminatory Capital Spending Allocation Admitted: They felt like it. – Quicktake

Unprecedented and brazen political discrimination. If you don't like it, tough.

Rank Dishonesty on Pensions From AFSCME’s Executive Director

Our pension hole is already impossibly deep, but it deepens every day thanks, in part, to shameless dishonesty spread by public unions.

“Households in Chicago owe $150,000 in retirement debt. That’s an impossible number to pay off” – Ted on WJPF

Ted told WJPF all about how much retirement debt Illinois households are really on the hook for: downstate households owe $75,000 and Chicago households owe nearly $150,000. Those are impossible numbers for Illinoisans to pay.

Ignoring the elephant in the room: Sun-Times advice to Chicago Mayor Lightfoot skips pension reform – Wirepoints Original

The Sun-Times Editorial Board has recommended several reform ideas to Mayor Lightfoot. Unfortunately, the Sun-Times ignores the elephant in the room – structural pension reform. There’s no fixing Chicago’s problems until pension costs are addressed.

Leaving Illinois: One woman’s search for better opportunities in Atlanta

Taxes get a lot of the blame for the exodus of Illinoisans, but for many, it’s just the sheer lack of opportunity that drives them away. That was the case for Tanya Wellmaker, a beautician who left Collinsville, Illinois for Sandy Springs, Georgia.

Pritzker repeats Illinois politicians’ favorite lie – Our monthly Crain’s article

"Fully funded pensions" and "balanced budget." They're probably the most perniciously deceitful phrases used by Illinois politicians. If they were true, we'd have no fiscal crisis. The false narrative those phrases perpetuate is central to how Illinoisans allowed the state to snore into deep insolvency.

“Illinois did not end up with the nation’s worst pension debt by being honest about its budgets” – Ted on WTAD

Ted explained to Quaid of WTAD why Gov. Pritzker's claim of a "balanced" 2020 budget is bunk. Lawmakers are only contributing what they want, not what the state's actuaries say is the responsible amount.

Another budget surprise: Pritzker hits up middle-class Illinoisans for more AFSCME raises, stipends and bennies

Pritzker's new contract with AFSCME made it into the budget, and now Illinoisans are learning more about where their new tax dollars are going – to multi-year, guaranteed raises and potentially pensionable stipends for state workers who are already some of the highest paid government workers in the nation.

Rhode Island Supreme Court Shows Illinois The Way On Pension Reform

What’s clear is that, contrary to persistent claims by public unions, the Contract Clause does not spell doom for addressing our pension crisis through a constitutional amendment. Rhode Island indicates it would work.

Illinois governor disregards state actuaries to claim “balanced” budget

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says Illinois’ budget is balanced ”for the first time in decades.” That’s the claim he made upon signing Illinois’ $40 billion budget for 2020. Pritzker’s claim is simply not true. According to the state’s own actuarial calculations, his budget is billions in the red.

“Like every other year, this budget was a sham – debt untouched, property tax relief untouched” – Ted on The Chicago Way with John Kass

Ted was on the Chicago Way last week with John Kass discussing what the state's $40 billion budget and $45 billion capital bill mean for ordinary Illinoisans. Hint: It's about to get a lot more expensive to live, and especially drive, here. 

The audacity of TIFs: Even “blighted” Kenilworth wants one

Whatever proponents might say, TIFs don’t provide “free money” for development, nor are their benefits guaranteed.

Illinois pols sneak teacher-salary-spiking boost into 2020 budget

Unexpectedly tucked away in Illinois’ $40 billion 2020 budget was another giveaway to the state’s teachers unions. School districts are once again more free to spike end-of-career teacher salaries and pass-on the resulting pension costs to state taxpayers.

Illinois rating still teetering on edge of junk after budget, capital deals

Illinois’ “historic” legislative session was enough to keep the state’s credit rating stable, but it did nothing to move Illinois away from the cliff of a first-ever junk rating for a state.

Republican Jim Durkin’s Astonishing Statement On The Legislative Session

The most "consequential" legislative session in Illinois history, many are saying. Let's hope it's consequential for Durkin.

Illinois’ Reckless $45 Billion Capital Spending Binge

A spending binge so massive, prepared by proven incompetents and dumped on the General Assembly along with thousands of pages of other budget and spending matters inevitably will be loaded with pork and waste.

State budgets don’t matter. Illinois will run massive deficits anyway.

No matter what budget politicians might pass this time, it’s going to be a sham anyway. Passing yet another budget with more spending, more deficits and no reforms is not an accomplishment.

Want to Fix Illinois Teacher Shortage? End the Tier 2 Pension Rip-Off – Updated

Younger teachers be damned. We have a bigger priority: More pension spiking.

Big win for tax hikes, big trouble for the middle class

Politico Illinois described the House vote as "Pritzker's big win." The better way to describe it is "big trouble" for Illinois' middle class. But you wouldn't know that from what tax hike proponents say. Their rhetoric about protecting the middle class falls short once you look at the math behind the tax. 

IMRF strips elected township officials of control as backroom maneuvering reinstates pension in Maine Township

On May 17, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund Board voted to give itself the ability to override the decisions of local townships on pension eligibility for elected officials, stripping another element of local control from Illinois governments.

How Springfield Should Authorize Lightfoot To Negotiate With Chicago Teachers Union (But Won’t)

“You will drop all your demands and accept what we offer. If you so much as blink, we will start from scratch with a new school district and run it as it must be. The old school district will be gone, you with it.”

Shattered Confidence In Illinois Government May Doom Even a Good Capital Bill

Take a look at the long list of new taxes on the table for Joe and Mary Six-Pack to pay.

What Mayor Lightfoot needs to know to take on the Chicago Teachers Union

Expect the Chicago Teachers Union to try to bully new mayor Lori Lightfoot as teacher contract negotiations heat up. The problem is, Lightfoot has nothing to give. Windy City residents simply can’t afford the union’s new over-the-top demands, so Lightfoot must stand up to the CTU.

Illinoisans will be among nation’s hardest hit in next recession

Illinoisans have another reason to worry about their future – their state government is unprepared for the next recession. That means when the national economy finally slows, Illinoisans will get hit far harder than residents nationally.

Why some Illinois Republicans are making the wrong argument against a progressive income tax

Using a windfall revenue bump in a budget that's already phony solves nothing and misleads the public in the same ways they've always been misled.

If a decline in births is a problem nationally, it’s a full-on crisis in Illinois

Fewer young people could mean a shrinking population and a workforce too small to support the country’s ever-growing number of retirees. If that’s a problem nationally, then it’s a full-on crisis in Illinois.

Property tax pains in Maine Township, Illinois

In Park Ridge, and across Illinois, property values still haven’t recovered from the effects of the Great Recession. Yet local officials continue to tax more and more, especially to pay for schools and local pensions.

Illinoisans still waiting for home values to return to pre-recession levels

Average Illinois home prices are still 12 percent below their pre-Great Recession peak. That’s the 7th-worst recovery in the nation. In contrast, the average home prices in all of Illinois neighbors have surpassed their pre-recession peaks.

Despite nurse shortage, bill would mandate 20,000 more nurses – Quicktake

What’s worse than an unfunded mandate? An unfunded mandate worsening existing problems.

Mission Impossible: Moody’s requirements for a “credit positive” progressive tax scheme in Illinois

Look for lawmakers to paint Moody’s recent report on Illinois’ proposed progressive tax scheme as a positive endorsement. But the agency's requirements for a credit "positive" outcome for the tax are nearly impossible for Illinois to achieve. And if lawmakers fail to meet the agency’s requirements, the tax could even lead to more downgrades.

The CTBA’s Latest Deception To Promote The Graduated Income Tax – Quicktake

The folks so fond of saying Illinois has a revenue problem not a spending problem want you to think the new progressive tax would be the end of it.

Why Warren Buffett is right to warn about Illinois: The state’s true retirement costs now total 50% of annual budget.

Warren Buffett says he wouldn’t relocate a business to a state like Illinois. He doesn’t want to get stuck paying for its pension crisis. His concerns are actually an understatement considering just how bad Illinois' crisis is.

Pork Stew On The Menu In Springfield

The ingredients are lined in the remaining four weeks of this legislative session to cook up a particularly nasty dish.

Waking to the reality of teacher pension ‘inequity’ – Quicktake

Nice to see at least some in the education establishment acknowledging something we've long said.

Fake Property Tax Freeze And More Gimmicks: Illinois Senate Passes Tax Hike

It won't take long for most Illinoisans to see through this.

Bill introduced for Chicago Machine to repoliticize Cook County property assessments – Quicktake

Who would have the gall to introduce such a bill? Why, that would be a leading Machine politician -- one who happens to have a big tax appeal practice  Rep. Robert Martwick.

Toilets and skyscrapers: How Chicagoland’s elite push their property tax bills onto ordinary residents

Many of Chicagoland’s elite know exactly how to pass the property-tax buck. For decades they’ve been using their powerful connections to cut their property tax bills, pushing the costs onto other unsuspecting residents. And that’s left many lower-income homeowners footing ever-larger tax bills.

Loaves, Fishes and the Illinois Graduated Income Tax – Quicktake

Embracing essential reforms would be the true miracle.

A couple simple videos exposing phony pension accounting posted by a top economist – Quicktake

William F. Sharpe is a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Stanford University. He has long been critical of the phony way public pension numbers are...

There’s No Legal Reason Not To Pursue An Illinois Constitutional Amendment For Pension Reform

Reform opponents say it's a waste of time to pursue a constitutional amendment. They're wrong.

Chicago’s pension funds looking more like a collapsing Ponzi scheme

If you look at Chicago’s collapsing demographics and consider how they’re threatening the solvency of the city’s government-run pensions, you can’t help but call it a Ponzi scheme.

Sticker shock: Some New Trier residents stunned by property assessments

Some New Trier Township residents were stunned to see the assessed value of their homes jump by as much as 40, 60 or even 100 percent this year.

The Fine Art of Kicking the Pension Can Down the Road – Wirepoints Guest

Also see our related article linked here on the "town hall" meeting discussed herein.

Legislators’ ‘Town Hall’ Becomes Metaphor For Failing Illinois

Might as well have said, “If you have any questions about Illinois’ budget and pension crisis, buzz off and talk to the union guy.”

The Case For Illinois’ Graduated Income Tax Is Dishonest

The campaign for the Fair Tax – a graduated income tax in Illinois – is being made so dishonestly that a detailed look is in order.

“The progressive tax is being presented as nirvana…but it isn’t” – Ted on Fox 32 with Mike Flannery

Ted was on Fired Up with Mike Flannery last week debating Pritzker's progressive tax rates with two progressive tax supporters. Ted's message was simple, "Anyone who thinks tax hikes are the solution to Illinois' problems are just flat out wrong."

Massive borrowing binge on tap in Illinois

In yet one more snub to Illinoisans, state politicians are ready to go on another borrowing binge.

Every Illinoisan Must See These Two Charts

Illinois politicians may carry on in their alternate universe, but the national press is waking up.

Chicago’s south suburbs struggle under Springfield’s continuing neglect

Places like Harvey in Chicago's south suburbs no longer function for the residents that live there. Many blame local corruption and the nation’s manufacturing woes as the cause. They contributed, but the real problem is the failed public policies the state has imposed – the same ones that are hurting municipalities across the state.

Jobs, temporary jobs, renewable energy and bunk – Quicktake

The renewable energy industry needs to get its story straight.

Why California’s (and especially Illinois’) Pensions Only Deepen Inequality – Quicktake

But defenders of our pension system a the little guys' champions, right?

Is Lori Lightfoot ready for a potential Chicago teachers strike?

Rahm Emanuel caved to the Chicago Teachers Union early on in his first term. He was never the same after that. That's a lesson incoming Mayor Lori Lightfoot should heed. She needs to give as good as she gets from the union. Wirepoints has several facts about CPS that should help her during negotiations. 

Illinois Supreme Court Thumbs Nose At Balanced Budget Law

The manner in which it dismissed the case was exceptionally irresponsible, imperious and cowardly.

A New Call For Expanding ‘Racist’ Labelling By Reporters

Under new Associated Press guidelines, reporters should forget what it calls euphemisms like racially charged, racially divisive and racially tinged, and just say racism or racist.

Pritzker’s progressive tax push: A guide for the ordinary Illinoisan – Wirepoints Special Report

If you’re an ordinary Illinoisan, you may be tempted to support Gov. Pritzker’s plan to change Illinois’ flat tax structure to a progressive one. He’s promising to lower your taxes if you’ll support the switch. You should reject his offer. Simply put, the governor’s progressive tax numbers aren't credible, nor is his offer of tax breaks for the middle class. Illinoisans might think they’ll get a deal, but in reality, they’re setting themselves up to take a hit.

“Whoever becomes Chicago’s next mayor will face a host of financial crises” – Ted on The Chicago Way with John Kass

Talking about the Jussie Smollett scandal and having broader discussions about racial and identity politics in Chicago is important, but it's distracting from an even more pressing problem: The Windy City's impossible financial math.

CTU-backed bill would cancel some Chicago school reforms – Quicktake

Yes, Chicago Teachers Union, whatever you'd like.

Illinois’ Top Legal Officer Turns His Back On Jesse Smollett Issues

Then again, maybe we're better off if he says in hiding.

Kim Foxx’s Botched ‘Recusal’ Should Render Dismissal Of Smollett Charges Unlawful And Voidable

By not formally recusing herself, Foxx circumvented the law that probably would have taken the case out of her office's hands.

Neighbors improve on migration numbers while Illinois worsens

There’s nothing in the U.S. Census migration data to tell us what exactly Illinois’ neighbors have done to improve their migration demographics. But whatever it is, their numbers have become better over time, especially compared to Illinois.

“Illinois’ growing bills will fall on the next, shrinking generation” – Ted with Tom Miller on Newsradio WJPF

Ted talked with Tom Miller on Newsradio WJPF all about Illinois' demographic collapse earlier this week.

Pension charge added to Lake Forest utility bills – Quicktake

Another signal to residents that "they're coming for your money," as Warren Buffett recently said about Illinois and other states with severe pension crises.

Illinois Teachers’ Pension Slaps Pritzker Budget Proposal

Teachers: JB, don't you dare kick our pension can.

Illinois’ demographic collapse: fewer immigrants, fewer babies and fleeing residents – Wirepoints Special Report

Illinoisans are leaving in record numbers. Fewer people want to come here. Our birth rate is down significantly, as millennials are also fleeing. Even international immigration has dropped by half. All of the state’s woes are captured in one sad statistic: Illinois is shrinking.

Wirepoints’ Mark Glennon Interviewed on The Illinois Channel – Video

An extended interview on Illinois' state and local fiscal crisis.

OOBs: The next borrowing idea for Illinois politicians?

Don’t be surprised if Illinois politicians say they want to pursue yet another bad borrowing idea in the near future. This time the excuse won’t be to pay off pensions. Instead, it will be for health insurance benefits owed to government retirees.

Cook County Treasurer’s Blunt Debt Report – Quicktake

A report released this week by Cook Country Treasurer Maria Pappas isn’t getting the attention it deserves in the regular press.

Waiting For Pritzker Administration To Backward Solve For Its Revenue Claims – Quicktake

If they have an excuse for this, none is apparent, and we can’t think of one.

Oh, the places they’ll go: The impact of Pritzker’s progressive tax on wealthy Illinoisans

Oh, the places Illinois' wealthy will go. Under the governor’s new plan, everyone with incomes above $250,000 will get hit with tax rates of 7.75 percent or more. That’s higher than the top tax rates in 44 other states.

Maine Township $1.25 million tax abatement: Hard-fought tax relief for local residents

Maine Township, located in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, has agreed to give property owners a $1.25 million tax break. That’s thanks to the efforts of two trustees who fought to prove the township’s reserves were bloated and far higher than what the township needed.

Busted: Pritzker’s Mythical Revenue Panacea Fully Exposed

Contrary to his persistent claims that a progressive income tax is Illinois’ ticket to salvation, $3.4 billion isn’t remotely close to solving Illinois’ fiscal crisis, much less funding all the other promises he has made.

Who’s responsible for Illinois’ near-junk credit rating?

Don't forget: Illinois was downgraded 13 times by the big three rating agencies during the Gov. Pat Quinn years. And it was already the nation's worst-rated state by 2010. 

Radicals Positioning To Destroy Illinois If Its Fiscal Crisis Doesn’t

They probably comprise no more than 20% of the general population, but they’ve learned how to mau-mau Democratic Illinois moderates into compliance or silence and, unlike America as a whole, their party controls all of Illinois government.

Indiana keeps its AAA credit rating, Illinois is still stuck near junk – Quicktake

If Illinois politicians were to focus on the goal of becoming a competitive, AAA-rated state, their policy solutions would be the exact opposite of what they are today. All they have to do is look next door at Indiana for inspiration, which has maintained its AAA status for years.

Chicagoans, pensioners: Beware a stock market shock

Moody’s worries that major stock market drops, like the kind seen late last year, will damage pension funds' limited liquidity. Chicagoans should worry too. The city's pension funds can't afford another drop in assets.

Buyers’ remorse about Pritzker? Overwhelming opposition to his budget proposal? – Quicktake

It won’t get any better for Pritzker as reality and math sink in further, especially after he is forced, as we hope we will be, to get specific on his progressive tax panacea.

Warren Buffett, ‘The American Tailwind’ and Illinois – Quicktake

His new letter ends with humility and inspiration, but Illinois isn't helping.

Press Should Be Demanding New Pension Funding Schedule From Pritzker Administration – Quicktake

Huge consequences result longer term from Pritzker's can-kick on pensions, and he is hiding the ball.

Pritzker’s 2020 budget: A broken bridge to nowhere

Pritzker's 2020 “bridge” budget to his progressive income tax panacea is almost entirely comprised of exactly the kinds of measures that broke the state. And as usual, it’s only "balanced" under phony government budget accounting. 

Why Pritzker Must Finally Get Specific On Progressive Tax — Now

Wednesday's Budget address is time to put up or shut up..

“Politicians are running out of options on pensions. They’re desperate. Now they want to give state assets away” – Ted on WTAD

Ted was on WTAD with Quaid earlier this week talking about Gov. Pritzker's idea to transfer public assets, like the lottery or the tollways, into the state's pension funds. The plan is a financial trick on taxpayers.

4 reasons why Pritzker should abandon his progressive tax plan

Illinoisans shouldn’t fall for Pritzker's progressive tax push. The state is already too uncompetitive with its neighbors. It’s too much of an outlier on taxes. And it’s losing too many people.

Hey Gov. Pritzker, Illinois’s budget shortfall is more than $9 billion, not $3.2 billion

If Pritzker really wanted to break the cycle of fiscal dishonesty in Illinois, he’d tell the truth about how the big the real budget hole is for 2020: $9.4 billion.

Trifecta: Pritzker Administration’s Pension Plan For Illinois Will Center On Three Strokes Of Folly

Borrowing to pay off debt, kicking the can and gifting public assets to pensions.

‘Asset Transfers’ To Pensions: Be Afraid

Get ready for smoke and mirrors.

Civic Fed budget proposal: Another $3 billion from taxpayer wallets

The Civic Federation is back with its annual budget plan for the state. Rather than offer a reform-driven proposal, the group wants another $3 billion annually from Illinoisans’ wallets.  

Rewriting Illinois’ crisis: Deputy Gov. Hynes forgets his own words

Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes just authored a new report blaming Rauner for just about everything that’s wrong with Illinois. There’s one big problem with that, though. Hynes himself declared Illinois was already in crisis a decade ago. 

Illinois’ crisis: 20 facts Pritzker doesn’t want ordinary Illinoisans to know

There’s no argument that Illinois is a wreck. But read Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes’ new “budget” report and you might get the impression that former Gov. Bruce Rauner alone caused that wreck. However, Illinois was a fiscal and economic basket case long before 2015 and no amount of anti-Rauner rhetoric should let Illinoisans ignore that reality.

“Chicago’s civic titans would never invest their money into something so broken, so corrupt as Illinois’ government, yet they say taxpayers must” – Ted on the Morning Answer

Ted was on Chicago's Morning Answer talking about the Civic Committee's proposal to hit Illinoisans with $6 billion in new taxes - in part by taxing retirements and raising sales taxes on services.

Moody’s to Pritzker: “New taxes could threaten to increase the outflow of Illinois residents”

It appears the flight of Illinoisans has gotten so big that Moody’s can no longer ignore it. The agency has included outmigration among its top-three Illinois credit concerns for the first time.

Illinois Democrats’ Astounding Reversal On Pensions

Five years ago they told the public and the courts the opposite of what they say now.

Illinois education officials want half of state budget for K-12 education

The State Board of Education’s latest budget request calls for an 86 percent increase in state operating spending on education. With this request, education would consume more than 50 percent of the state’s current budget.

Some Illinois governments are hoarding taxpayer funds

It’s bad enough that Illinoisans are forced to pay the nation’s highest property taxes. It’s even worse if many of those dollars sit idly in the coffers of their local governments.

Irrational exuberance in a post-Rauner Illinois

Rauner’s exit might seem like a cause for celebration for many Illinoisans, but they’ll want to reconsider their exuberance. In their distaste for Rauner, they’ve forgotten how dysfunctional the state had become in the years before he took office.

“Pritzker gave state workers a raise as his first act, but he doesn’t know the cost, or won’t say it” – Ted with Tom Miller on WJPF

Ted talked with Tom Miller of WJPF this week about Gov. Pritzker's first act in office: he granted raises to state workers, worth hundreds of millions, before contract negotiations with AFSCME have even begun.

Illinois’ lethal combination: Rising property taxes and stagnant incomes

More and more of Illinoisans’ hard-earned incomes are going toward paying property taxes. In 2017, 6.73 percent of household incomes went toward property taxes. That's up 55 percent compared to 2000.

Chicago Teachers Union says ‘Tax the rich.’ More like ‘burden the poor.’

Tax the rich. That’s the extent of the CTU’s ideas. But their ideas don’t match their rhetoric. Not this time, anyway.

Illinoisans to Comptroller Mendoza: It’s not the weather…

If Mendoza was joking, then it’s yet another example of politicians not taking seriously Illinois’ increasing flight of residents. And if she wasn’t, then it’s an example of just how out of touch Illinois politicians really are.

Pritzker’s First Day Giveaway On Step Pay Will Cost $200 Million Per Year

Pritzker wouldn't provide the cost to reporters, but we have it.

The progressive tax rates Pritzker didn’t address

Newly-minted Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker boxed himself into a corner when he delivered his inaugural address on Monday. He promised to balance the budget, spend billions more on programs and spare Illinois’ middle class from an income tax hike – all while keeping the state’s core spending drivers intact. What he promised simply isn’t possible.

Illinois a national outlier when it comes to losing residents

Illinois residents are fleeing the state in record numbers. The most recent U.S. Census numbers showed Illinois netted a loss of 114,000 residents to other states in 2018. How does Illinois rank under an apples-to-apples comparison based on population? Illinois is the nation’s third-biggest loser.  

Huge ‘Opportunity Zone’ Program Coming. Will It Work In Illinois?

How might you reinforce the worst stereotypes of both parties – greedy Republicans handing a pointless tax break to the rich, and reality-challenged Democrats wasting money on a well-intentioned program for the poor likely to fail and perhaps backfire? Washington managed to find a way – with bipartisan support.

Moody’s vs. Illinois politicians: $100 billion difference in pension debts

Moody’s recently released what fiscal realists would say is the true estimate of Illinois’ unfunded state pension liability – $234 billion. The rating agency’s calculation dwarfs Illinois’ official shortfall estimate of $134 billion

Illinois Auditor General pension report: Everything’s fine (but not really)

The latest Illinois Auditor General report doesn’t read like something authorized by Springfield politicians. It criticizes much of the state’s pension reporting methodology while making valid recommendations to fix them. That's important, as Illinois politicians will never truly address the crisis as long as they can paper over it with their own numbers.

Coveting California? Beware Its Perverse Tax Envy.

While Illinois progressives envy California's income tax, California progressives are making headway steering their state a little more in Illinois’ direction with higher property taxes.

Seven reasons why Mayor Emanuel’s proposed pension plan fails

The good: Rahm Emanuel's new pension plan includes a call to amend the pension protection clause in Illinois’ constitution. The bad: other than that, Emanuel’s proposal is a litany of wrongs, many of which are the very ones that created the fiscal crisis that has crippled Illinois, Chicago and most of its municipalities.

New U.S. Census data: Shrinking Illinois loses population 5 years in a row

Blame whatever you want: pensions, corruption, property taxes or perpetual budget crises, but there’s no denying Illinoisans are fleeing the state. New U.S. Census data shows that Illinois’ population declined by 45,116 in 2018, a record loss for the state.

Emanuel’s call for a constitutional amendment shouldn’t be narrowly construed

Most of his speech was a disappointment, but kudos to Rahm Emanuel for embracing a constitutional amendment for pensions and highlighting the expensive cost of COLAs. However, it would be a mistake – as some may be tempted to do – to think that an Illinois fix is as simple as COLA reforms via a narrow, Arizona-style constitutional amendment.

Flashback to 1994 reveals Edgar’s ramp up of Illinois pension crisis

Former Gov. Jim Edgar is on Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker’s transition team, providing advice on how to "fix" the same problem he created. An old Daily Chronicle piece from 1994, sheds some additional light on the Edgar Ramp, the pension “reform” that helped unleash Illinois’ current pension crisis.

“Illinois true retirement costs would consume 50% of the budget. In most states, it’s 15%” – Ted on WJPF

Ted was on WJPF with Tom Miller last week discussing Illinois' other retirement debt: The $73 billion the state owes in retiree health insurance benefits to state workers. Increasing healthcare costs, coupled with even higher pension payments, will eat up even more of the state's budget in the future.

“Illinois has $73 billion in retiree health insurance debts, nobody talks about it, but it’s there, and it’s scary.” – Ted on Illinois Rising

Ted was on Illinois Rising earlier this week discussing Illinois' massive retirement crisis at the state and local level. Everybody wonders what to do about pensions, but the retirement problem is even bigger than that.

As markets warn of a recession, Illinois is nation’s least prepared

Wall Street's best predictor of a recession has reared its ugly head and Illinois is nowhere near ready for a slowdown. In fact, Illinois is the nation’s least-prepared state for an economic downturn. When that recession finally comes, Illinoisans should expect to get hit hard.

Beware Revenue Hopes From Expanded Gaming As Industry Cannibalizes Self

Recent evidence shows tax revenue from gambling in one form reduces revenue from other forms.

Illinois’ official pension shortfall worsens to $134 billion despite strong markets, increased contributions

COGFA says that the state’s unfunded pension debt grew to nearly $134 billion in 2018. Pension debts rose by more than $4 billion despite strong stock markets, a booming national economy and billions more in taxpayer contributions.

Illinois’ other debt disaster: $73 billion in unfunded state retiree health insurance benefits – Wirepoints Special Report

Illinois' $130 billion in official pension debt gets all the attention when it comes to Illinois’ collapsing finances. But there’s another government-worker benefit also wreaking fiscal havoc – free and heavily-subsidized retiree health insurance for state workers. Illinois owes another $73 billion in retiree health insurance debt and doesn't have a single dime set aside to pay it.

IL Supreme Ct. Reaffirms Constitutional Suicide Pact; Rules Union Work Is Pensionable Salary

Take time off to work for the union? Taxpayers will cover your pension based on higher union salary.

That Crazy Statewide Property Tax For Illinois Pensions Idea Is Alive

The longer it has life the more property values suffer, so kill it.

“AFSCME wants even more benefits even though Illinoisans can’t afford the burden they already bear” – Ted on WTAD

Ted was on WTAD earlier this week discussing Pritzker's upcoming negotiations with AFSCME over their stalled contract. With Rauner on his way out, the union will likely push for even more generous benefits.

Half of Illinois’ 650 public safety funds are less than 60 percent funded

The small Illinois village of Norridge just announced a municipal tax hike of 35 percent so it can make its required police pension payment. For residents, it’s another hit to their home values. Norridge’s pension problem is unfortunately the norm in Illinois. 335 of Illinois’ 650 public safety funds are less funded than Norridge’s police fund.

“Politicians’ pension ‘fixes’ will kick the can, pass the bill onto your children and grandchildren” – Ted on WJPF

Ted was on WJPF earlier this week with Tom Miller discussing the role Gov. Jim Edgar had in creating Illinois' pension crisis and the can-kick "solutions" politicians are going to promote in the coming months.

Six facts Pritzker can’t ignore when negotiating AFSCME’s contract

Pritzker can’t give in to AFSCME’s demands if he’s serious about putting dollars back in ordinary Illinoisans’ pockets. If he gives the union what they want, he’ll have to take dollars instead.

Despite $5B tax hike, Illinois forecasts billions in future deficits

GOMB has released its five-year budget projections. The forecast, not surprisingly, is alarming. Despite last year’s 32 percent tax hike, GOMB expects Illinois to maintain average budget deficits of about $3 billion over the next five years.

The only options for Illinois millennials: fight or flight

Kudos to the recent Crain’s opinion piece that called for Illinois millennials to wake up. If politicians have their way, millennials will shoulder the whole burden of the state's pension crisis. Millennials have two options, to fight or leave.

Gov. Jim Edgar’s starring role in Illinois’ pension crisis: It’s bigger than just the “Edgar Ramp”

Pritzker has included former Gov. Jim Edgar in his transition team to add bipartisan legitimacy to his upcoming policies. But Edgar’s reputation and legitimacy isn’t deserved when it comes to Illinois' biggest problem: pensions. The bipartisan compromises Edgar championed are responsible for turning the state’s pension problem into a full-blown nightmare.

Progressives Zero In On Exit Tax On Illinois Wealth

Think you’re going to sell your expensive home and move to Tennessee? Sorry, that will cost you.

Pritzker, the winner’s curse and Illinois’ fiscal reality

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker may have celebrated his win over incumbent Bruce Rauner, but his resulting hangover will last for his entire term. Pritzker's campaign promises for more spending and higher taxes will set him up for failure. Combine that with the mess Illinois is already in and Pritzker could see the state collapse around him. Call it the winner’s curse.

$125,000: The pension debt each Chicago household is really on the hook for

Originally posted August 15, 2018.  Officially, Chicagoans are on the hook for $70 billion in overlapping local and state pension debt. But Moody’s has the real number. They peg the total overlapping pension debt burden for Chicagoans at $130 billion, or $125,000 per household.

Bankruptcy by Billionaires – Wirepoints Guest

"Simply stated, the incumbent will solve the pension crisis by bankrupting the State while the challenger will solve the crisis by bankrupting the people in the State."

“Progressive tax schemes aren’t just hitting the rich, they hurt the middle class ” – Ted on WROK

Ted was on WROK Rockford this week talking about Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker's promises to spend billions more and enact a progressive income tax that only hits the wealthiest Illinoisans. Pritzker's promises are impossible to keep. The math says so.

Shut down Illinois lawmaker pensions (Part 3): Getting lawmakers on board

The hard part to ending legislative pensions will be getting lawmakers who are currently earning pension benefits on board. It will take lots of pressure from constituents to make that happen, but it’s not impossible. You can bet a bi-partisan public is fully behind ending legislative pensions.

Chicago Public Schools enrollment tanks, but state money keeps flowing

Illinois politicians are rewarding Chicago Public Schools for losing students and perpetuating the district’s failed brand of education. The new education funding formula protects the base amount CPS gets from the state even though the district lost another 10,000 students in 2018.

What Pritzker’s progressive tax rates will probably look like – Wirepoints Special Report

Reposted due to recent coverage in the Wall Street Journal editorial "Nickel-and-Diming Democrats." Based on the spending promises J.B. Pritzker made during his campaign, any realistic progressive tax rate structure will have to raise taxes on middle-income earners  

Illinois’ botched Tier 3 pension reform: Zombie legislation?

Tier 3 was a poorly-designed pension "reform" shoved into the state’s omnibus budget bill in July, 2017. It was one of the token gifts given to Republicans in exchange for their help in overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget veto. Now, nearly a year and a half later, the Tier 3 hybrid plan still hasn’t been implemented. 

Governor Rauner, Here’s The ‘Hail Mary’ Alternative I Hope You Will Consider

An Act of Contrition, not a Hail Mary. It will earn you at least some forgiveness and the state will be much better for it.

“We won’t get real pension reforms out of Springfield as long as politicians get big pensions themselves” – Ted on WTAX

Ted was on WTAX with Joe McLaughlin last week talking about Wirepoints' push to end lawmaker pensions in Illinois. 

How Wirepoints Helped Save Illinois Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars

Hundreds of millions of dollars saved. You're welcome, Springfield.

End this myth about public pensions

No, unfunded pension liabilities are not measured on the assumption that all workers retire today.

“Pritzker won’t name his progressive tax plan because it would reveal he’ll hit the middle class” – Ted on Illinois Rising

Ted was on Illinois Rising this week discussing progressive income taxes and J.B. Pritzker's refusal to put forth a specific tax proposal. The reason why is simple. Pritzker will have to hit the middle class with higher taxes to pay for all his promises.

Rahm’s Final Budget Address Summarized: Mission Accomplished

On behalf of his successor, thanks for nothing, Rahm.

If Emanuel won’t kill his $10 billion pension bond proposal, the markets might

Seems there’s very few willing to stand in the way of Mayor Emanuel’s hairbrained $10 billion pension bond idea. Fortunately, the market just might. Rising interest rates and a jittery stock market could kill Emanuel’s bad idea before it’s ever formally proposed.

“Madigan has been able to create a public sector middle class on the backs of ordinary Illinoisans” – Ted on Illinois Rising

Ted was on Illinois Rising this week discussing AFSCME's $768,000 campaign contribution to Mike Madigan and what it gets them. The average state AFSCME worker already gets $110,000 a year in total compensation, but the union wants even more out its next contract with the state.

Borrowing for pensions is a bad idea whether you’re in Chicago or Rochelle, Illinois  

Rochelle, Illinois, should drop the idea of borrowing money to fund its ailing public safety pensions. It's a bad idea in so many ways, most of all because a city can’t borrow its way out of a debt problem.

JP Morgan Expert: True Debt, Pension, Healthcare Payments Would Consume Half of Illinois Revenue, Bankruptcy Option Needed

"I think the expansion of Chapter 9 legislation for states makes sense, and I’m not the only one."

What AFSCME’s $768,000 contribution to Madigan just bought

AFSCME's record campaign contribution to Mike Madigan is more than just typical support. It’s insurance. AFSCME is making sure it will get extra benefits for state workers after years of deadlocked contract negotiations with Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

“This episode with Sen. Biss shows Illinois politicians think they can do anything they want and get away with it.” – Ted Dabrowski on AM 560

Ted tells AM 560 listeners about his recent encounter with State Sen. Dan Biss. It says a lot about Illinois politicians in general. They think they can get away with anything, from Biss insulting a constituent in a public place to Mayor Emanuel shoving a $10 billion borrowing down Chicagoans' throats.

Illinois Sen. Daniel Biss and the Maxine Waters playbook

Politics has moved from disagreement into rude, public attacks. When your own elected representative confronts you in public – as if taking cues from Sen. Maxine Water's political playbook – it becomes all the more outrageous.

Daily Herald wrong to oppose Lisle property tax relief efforts

Lisle residents are pushing for a referendum to lower their school property taxes by 10 percent. The Daily Herald opposes the idea because it cuts revenue, but the tax reduction isn’t about hurting classroom spending. It’s about making communities affordable and cutting the fat in Illinois’ education bureaucracy....and there’s plenty of fat to cut in Lisle.

Shut down Illinois lawmaker pensions (Part 1): They’re already bankrupt

There are plenty of reasons why Illinois politicians should give up their legislative pensions. First on the list is the fact that politicians have run the system into the ground. At just 15 percent funded, GARS is basically insolvent and requires an annual bailout by taxpayers to stay afloat.

Yes, middle-income Illinoisans would get “socked” under Minnesota’s progressive tax scheme

Rich Miller reposted a tweet that leaves unsuspecting readers thinking Minnesota’s progressive tax structure would be favorable to  individual “middle-income” Illinoisans. But it’s just not true. Most, if not all, individual middle-income Illinoisans would pay more in taxes.

Pension Intercept Comes To Chicago – Latest Dibs On Body Parts

Chicago firefighters' pension is the latest to intercept state money. Police pension may come next.

Chicago’s pension bond scheme: What an honest press conference with Rahm Emanuel might look like

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $10 billion pension bond idea deserves a brutal vetting. Since no real challenge will be made of the scheme by the Chicago media, I’ve decided to transcribe what an honest interview with Emanuel might look like. 

Chicago Lied To Court About Ongoing Obama Center Work, Plaintiffs Allege

Yet another chapter in the dishonest way the Obamaland is being rammed through.

A more likely reason Rahm Emanuel dropped out: the Chicago time bomb

We may never know why Rahm Emanuel decided to drop out of the Chicago mayoral race. But there’s a far more likely reason than the fear of losing. Chicago is a ticking time bomb and Emanuel is jumping ship just in case it goes off.

Chicago’s Pension Bond As Proposed Would Blow A Golden Opportunity For Pension Reform

If the bad idea proceeds, it it should be linked to reforms for Chicago's pensions that would reduce the unfunded liabilities crippling the city.

Rahm’s Exit Opens Chance To Crack Chicago Establishment’s Code Of Silence

The establishment business community's traditional excuses for not acting don't hold.

Botched Cook County Property Tax Relief Backfires On Working Class, Minorities

This one was so easy to see coming we can only say, “Duh,” instead of our usual “Told you so.”

Emanuel’s misleading pension bond presentation to Chicago aldermen

Wirepoints has obtained the handout Mayor Emanuel used to sell his $10 billion Pension Obligation Bond plan to Chicago Aldermen last week. It has no mention of the arbitrage risk. No stress tests. And no details of how “savings” are generated.

Liquidation Sale. That’s How To Think About Chicago’s Proposed Pension Bond

Chicago is looking around to hock whatever it has and borrow even more than $10 billion for its pensions.

“We’ll never get real pension reform as long as legislators are getting a pension” – Ted Dabrowski on WTAD

Ted Dabrowski was on WTAD earlier this week discussing Wirepoints' new initiative: calling on all Illinois legislative candidates to refuse a lawmaker pension if they are elected.

Illinoisans to pay $2.6B in “penalty interest” for state’s fiscal-deadbeat status

Illinois pays the highest "borrowing penalty" in the nation thanks to corruption and malgovernance. The state will pay some $2.6 billion in interest penalties on its $30.6 billion in general debt. That’s just wasted money.  

Emanuel’s real motivations for Chicago’s $10 billion pension bond plan

Pension obligation bonds are nothing more than gambling using taxpayer funds. But bad policy has never stopped a Chicago politician. The POB's are Emanuel's "solution" to his failed record on policing and as a property tax hiker.

Chicago CFO’s Stupendously Bad Timing On Her Last Pension Obligation Bond

August 2008. But the real lessons go beyond market timing.

Illinois Pension Actuary Defrocked. Finally.

Suspended for two years from the American Academy of Actuaries.

To all legislative candidates: Show leadership by refusing a legislative pension

Wirepoints has a new policy initiative: We call upon all legislative candidates and newly-elected legislators to pledge they will not to accept a legislative pension.

Pension Obligation Bonds Are Like Big, Fat, Dangerous Margin Loans For Stock

Pension obligation bonds like Chicago is considering violate the rationale behind the margin trading rules, making them unwise and unsafe for the very reasons we limit margin trading.

Illinois pensions sink during record bull market run

There’s little to cheer about in Illinois after the stock market’s decade-long rally just became the longest bull market run in U.S. history. Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities have worsened by more than $50 billion during the same period.

BGA’s Fact-Check Corrupts The Terms ‘Fact-Check’ And ‘Corrupt’

The latest, goofy "fact-check" is out from the Better Government Association through its partnership with the Chicago Sun-Times and PolitiFact.

Unbalanced Illinois…again and again and again

Illinois’ sham state budget is officially unbalanced yet again. The budget imbalance of $1.2 billion was confirmed to prospective investors in an upcoming bond offering. 

Latest On Obama Center Fiasco: Federal Funding, Our WSJ Article, A Court Win And More

The bottom line is pretty simple. The center should not be in Jackson Park and taxpayers shouldn't be contributing a dime.

“After another bailout, you’d expect humility. But CPS is spending $1B more, hiring more admin, building more schools” – Ted comments on CPS’ latest budget

Ted was on Illinois Rising earlier this week discussing how CPS took the latest bailout from the state without tightening its belt or getting its books in order. Instead, it wants to spend nearly 20 percent more this year, increase its number of school administrators and build new schools even as student enrollment declines.

“You’re just borrowing $10B to pay off pension debt, Chicagoans’ burden is the same” – Ted comments on Rahm’s $10B pension bond

Ted was on Illinois Rising earlier this week discussing the plan Rahm Emanuel has floated to issue $10 billion in pension bonds. It's a terrible idea. You can’t borrow your way out of a debt problem and it requires Chicago to sell parts of its financial future.

Don’t buy into the Pritzker progressive tax pitch

 J.B. Pritzker promises to use a progressive income tax to hit the rich while lowering taxes on the middle class. Don’t buy it. It’s an empty promise. He’ll end up taxing the middle class as well. The proof is in the tax rates of Illinois’ neighboring states. 

It’s the pension promises, stupid!

You can trust public pension apologists to deflect any critique that calls out the failure of defined benefit plans. But the apologists don’t disprove the core findings of our research: that unrestrained growth in pension promises is behind many state fiscal crises.

Highlights Of Chicago’s Annual Financial Snow Job

Last week, Chicago released its Annual Financial Analysis and held a major conference for the municipal bond community.

Rahm Emanuel’s latest can kick: Borrow $10 billion for Chicago pensions

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has floated a new $10 billion POB plan. It needs to be slapped down for two key reasons. First, it simply won’t work. Second, it requires Chicago to sell parts of its financial future. 

Illinois taxpayers bailed out Chicago Public Schools so the district could do what?

Illinoisans knew CPS wouldn’t do the right things if taxpayers were forced to bail the district out. They were right.  

Leaving Illinois: How simple math chased away a village mayor and his family

Illinois’ failed policies discriminate against no one. People are being forced to do what’s best for their families. And if that means leaving, they’re doing it. 

Why Illinois mayors have little control over pension costs

State lawmakers impose one-size-fits-all government benefits and local governments – meaning local residents – have no choice but to pay them. For some cities, that’s bringing on bankruptcy.

Illinois State Rep. Batinick aligns with CTBA’s no-reform pension plan

How Illinois State Rep. Mark Batinick – typically known as a reformer – ended up legitimizing a slick, kick-the-can pension repayment scheme sponsored by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability is baffling.

Rep. Batinick’s sham pension and property tax fix for Illinois

Batinick added distortions to an already phony pension plan offered by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. That's right, a Republican is using the union-backed CTBA as his foundation.

Overpromising has crippled public pensions: A 50-state survey – Wirepoints Special Report

Most reporting usually focuses on the underfunding of state plans and blames the crises on a lack of taxpayer dollars. But a Wirepoints analysis found that it’s the uncontrolled growth in pension promises that’s actually wreaking havoc on state budgets and taxpayers alike. Overpromising is the true cause of many state crises. Underfunding is often just a symptom of the underlying problem.

City, Chicago Public School finances “improve,” just in time for elections

After years of credit downgrades that pushed Chicago Public Schools' rating to B3, deep into junk territory, the district finally got a one-notch upgrade to B2 from Moody’s. Expect Mayor Rahm Emanuel to sell that as good news on the campaign trail, even if a B2 rating is still five notches into junk.  

Where Illinois’ skyrocketing pension promises came from – Wirepoints Original

Wirepoints' recent commentary on Illinois’ skyrocketing pension benefits left many readers questioning where that massive growth in pension promises came from. The answer is simple. The growth is due to overly generous benefits and more accurate reporting.

A ‘Nonlinear’ Life: R.I.P., Jeremy Gold

The leading figure in the effort to bring more honesty to actuarial reporting on pensions.

“Politicians consider it a badge of honor to put more Illinoisans on food stamps, Medicaid” – Ted Dabrowski on Upstream Ideas – Video

Ted was on Upstream Ideas last week discussing how millions of Illinois residents remain dependent on government through programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

Janus v AFSCME and the truth about Illinois pensions in one graphic – Wirepoints Original

One graphic perfectly captures the absurdity of Illinois pensions over the past three decades. It’s what Justice Samuel Alito described as Illinois’ “generous public-employee retirement packages” when writing for the majority in the Janus v. AFSCME decision.

Will History Record Illinois As A Failure Of Democracy? – Wirepoints Original

Yes, but don't blame the Founders or their vision of government.  

“The way public sector unions use their money is inherently political” – Ted Dabrowski on Upstream Ideas – Video

Ted was on Upstream Ideas last week discussing the Supreme Court's Janus v. AFSCME court decision and the positive implications it has for Illinois.

Surprise: All U.S. Taxpayers, Not Just Illinoisans, Will Cover Most Of The Public Funding For Obama Center Fiasco In Chicago – Wirepoints Original

Wirepoints has learned that at least $139 million -- 80% of the public funding for the center -- almost certainly will be reimbursed by the federal government.

Expect no near-term credit rating improvement for Illinois from Janus decision – Wirepoints Original

Don’t think that the Janus ruling by the Supreme Court will change how credit agencies rate Illinois. The decision, which allows public workers to opt out of union membership, didn’t fix any of Illinois’ problems overnight and the state is still on a trajectory towards a junk rating – now just one-notch away.

Illinois’ dysfunction made the Supreme Court’s Janus vs. AFSCME ruling inevitable – Wirepoints Original

Illinois’ dysfunction, in large part influenced by the power of Illinois’ unions, made the majority’s decision inevitable. They couldn’t help but find that forced dues violate free speech, considering the negative impact Illinois’ public sector unions have had on the state and its residents.

Illinois state pensions: Overpromised, not underfunded – Wirepoints Special Report

Justice Alito wrote in the Janus vs. AFSCME decision that "Illinois’ pension funds are underfunded by $129 billion as a result of generous public-employee retirement packages. He's right. Wirepoints found that Illinois promised pension benefits have grown 1,100 percent since 1987, multiple times more than the state budget, the economy and taxpayers ability to pay.

A Particularly Foolish Pension Article By Somebody Who Should Know Better – Wirepoints Original

Automatic annual tax increases in whatever-it-takes amounts to fund all our pensions? Good luck.

FAQ: Why communities like Wilmette should reject Cook County’s minimum wage mandates – Wirepoints Original

The Wilmette Village Board is voting for a second time on a Cook County ordinance that mandates higher minimum wages and more sick leave days. Over 80 percent of Cook communities have already said no to the county's overreaching ordinance. Wilmette should do the same.  

Illinois lags nation, neighbors in getting residents off food stamps – Wirepoints Original

Apologists for Illinois’ fiscal and economic dysfunction have yet another bad statistic to defend: A full 15 percent of all Illinoisans remain enrolled on food stamps. Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana have all cut their enrollment by about 20 percent since March 2010 while Illinois enrollment is 17 percent higher.  

Obamaland Fiasco Worsens, Story Goes National – Wirepoints Original

The center will be known forever as Obamaland, a monument to little more than misuse of government power, hubris and Chicago machine control over Illinois government. 

“We’ve been wondering why pension trustees haven’t been intercepting” – Quaid of WTAD breaks down Wirepoints’ article – Audio

Earlier this week, Quaid of WTAD's News Roundtable took a deep dive into Wirepoints' recent piece: The Harvey fallout: Are Illinois public safety pension trustees protecting police and firefighters? He considered the question: Why hasn't there been a rush by police and fire pension trustees to intercept the money cities owe the funds?

IMRF Enters The Pension Intercept Mess: Implications For Hundreds Of Illinois Towns And Cities – Wirepoints Original

Since the Illinois comptroller has concluded that IMRF, too, has the right to intercept state money, hundreds of Illinois muncipalities may have some of that money seized.

$400 million for AFSCME back-pay would crush lawmakers’ “balanced” budget claims – Wirepoints Original

AFSCME workers are on track to receive $400 million in back-pay from the state. That will knock another hole the 2019 budget. The budget wasn’t balanced before, but adding another $400 million in spending will demolish any politician's claims that revenues will match expenditures next year.

Magicians: How Illinois politicians made $1.2 billion in budget deficits disappear – Wirepoints Original

If you want to understand Illinois’ corrupt budget making process, look at how lawmakers just “cleaned up” some unaccounted-for budget deficits. In the blink of an eye, Illinois politicians made $1.2 billion in deficit spending disappear. There was no debate needed over how to fund it. In fact, pols didn’t need to find any actual cash to pay for it at all.

The Harvey fallout: Are Illinois public safety pension trustees protecting police and firefighters? – Wirepoints Original

You’d think a newly-implemented law that allows pension trustees to effectively garnish monies owed to their funds would be getting lots of use. But other than Harvey and North Chicago, no other trustees have taken the next step. There are several reasons why trustees are ignoring their fiduciary responsibility to the pensioners they represent.

“You can’t be a destination state with the worst credit rating and highest property taxes” – Ted Dabrowski on Illinois Rising with Dan Proft – Video

Passing a budget does nothing to change the fact that Illinois is on the wrong track. "We're one notch away from a junk bond rating. You can't be a destination state if you have the highest property taxes in the nation, losing a third of our manufacturing jobs since the turn of the century, shrinking population three years in a row."

Cullerton Renews Infamous ‘No Pension Crisis’ Claim In Interview Crammed With Dishonesty – Wirepoints Original

How much distortion, blather and pure dishonesty can somebody cram into a ten minute interview on the state budget and pensions? An astonishing amount if it's Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.

“This budget is ‘progress’ for the political elite only” – Ted Dabrowski on Illinois Rising with Dan Proft – Video

"For the political elite, this budget is a perfect sign of progress. They're all getting along. There are no fights. No impasse. No real debates over reforms. Everybody is lined up to do the exact same things we've been doing forever. The sad thing for Illinoisans is this budget is not good for them."

Administrators over kids: Seven ways Illinois’ education bureaucracy siphons money from classrooms – Wirepoints Special Report

Listen to Illinois education officials’ demands for more money and it’s easy to believe Illinois grossly underspends on K-12 education. But the truth is Illinois already spends more on education than any other Midwest state. It’s just that much of the money is going to all the wrong places. Billions of dollars are being siphoned away from the state’s poorest districts by the state’s burgeoning education bureaucracy.

Madigan’s mistake: Illinois Speaker lauds progressive tax schemes that hit middle-income earners – Wirepoints Original

Somebody should have told Madigan that if he wants to be “...cutting taxes on the middle class, putting more money in the pockets of working families,” then the last thing Illinois should do is copy its neighbors' progressive tax schemes.

“This budget perpetuates the same bad behavior, doesn’t change the downward trend” – Ted Dabrowski on AM Quad Cities – Audio

Ted was on AM Quad Cities this week discussing Illinois' FY 2019 budget and why Illinoisans should be angry about its passage. The budget was negotiated in secret, introduced and passed with no time to read it and contains none of the reforms the state needs to turn itself around.

A budget for lawmakers, not Illinoisans – Wirepoints Original

Expect a major celebration from both sides about the civility and the bipartisanship that created the new FY 2019 budget. But what about the budget itself? Just because they say it’s balanced, is it? And just because they have a budget, is it good for Illinoisans? And just because there was no impasse, will Illinois avoid a junk rating? The answer is no, no and no.

Latest on Harvey’s Pension Intercept and Why it Matters for All Illinois Towns and Cities – Wirepoints Original

Is precedent being set to force a race to intercept? And a "credit negative" warning for all Illinois towns and cities.

5 reasons why Wilmette should opt out of Cook County’s minimum wage, sick leave mandate – Wirepoints Original

The Wilmette Village Board is revisiting Cook County's minimum wage and sick leave mandate. The city originally joined more than 80 percent of communities in rejecting the county's ordinances last year. Nothing has changed since then. The mandates are still a bad idea for Wilmette and all communities across Cook County.

Will Illinois budget negotiations reverse the 10 trends dragging Illinois toward insolvency, or simply perpetuate them? – Wirepoints Original

The media is reporting that all is quiet on the negotiating front, which confirms no real reforms are being debated. The status quo will continue. But the decline in Illinois has gone on long enough – certainly long enough to know the status quo isn’t working. To demonstrate, we’ve put together a list of trends that capture much of Illinois’ collapse.

Illinois budget negotiations: Five reasons no news is bad news – Wirepoints Original

Illinois media is widely reporting that no news on Illinois’ budget negotiations is good news – that a quiet battleground in the statehouse means all is well. But if you are an ordinary Illinois resident, don’t buy the “no news is good news” pitch. It’s bunk for a bunch of reasons.

‘Just Blow It Up’: Will That $7.2 Billion School Funding Lawsuit Do It To Illinois? – Wirepoints Original

The lawsuit appears viable, thanks to the state's own admissions, but there's no way to pay it.

From What Planet Is IL School Superintendent? Wants Another $7.2 Billion In Upcoming Budget – Wirepoints Original

REPOSTED DUE TO RECENT EVENTS. Twenty-two school superintendents have filed a lawsuit against the state. Their demand is identical to the State Superintendent's budget request earlier this year. Illinois K-12 Superintendent Tony Smith says he wants $7.2 billion more in funding right now – not over ten years. His demand reveals the complete disconnect between Illinois’ education bureaucracy and the real world.  

Who does Illinois’ Civic Federation really champion? – Wirepoints Original

It’s surreal to read the Civic Fed’s 2019 recommended budget plan for Illinois. Year after year the group continues to ask Illinoisans to pour billions of dollars more into the corrupt and nearly-bankrupt corporation that is the state of Illinois – while demanding little to none of the hard hitting reforms its trustees would demand with their own money.

“It’s hypocrisy. State legislators made a mess of pensions yet refuse to do reforms for all these municipalities” – Ted Dabrowski on WJPF – Audio

Ted was on WJPF's Morning Newswatch this week discussing the continuing fallout from Harvey and the broader problem of state control over local Illinois governments. Illinois cities are trapped by the pension laws, the collective bargaining rules and the unfunded mandates set up by the state. 

Illinois pension trustees’ failure to request intercepts exposes ugly reality – Wirepoints Original

After trustees from the Harvey and North Chicago pension funds paved the way on how to use the 2011 intercept law, it’s been virtual crickets from the other funds. Why aren’t the pension trustees busting down the comptroller’s doors? Why aren’t public safety pensioners demanding action from their trustees? As usual, you’ll find the answer in math.

“Progressive taxes give false hope: Don’t fix problems, just tax the rich” – Ted Dabrowski on Illinois Rising with Dan Proft – Video

"The scary thing they don't want you to know is, if you look at progressive tax rates around the country, they're not on the rich, they're on the middle class and working class...when you start these progressive taxes, politicians realize they need more money, so they bring that higher and higher rate down into the middle income and working classes."

A note to readers: We’re getting our research spread and our viewpoint heard – Wirepoints Original

To you who think the establishment narrative about Illinois and its crisis is flawed, we have some good news. Our alternative viewpoint is being...

“Two hundred cities in Illinois could face garnishment” Wirepoints Press Conference, May 8, 2018 – Video

Wirepoints held a press conference on with Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) and Allen Skillicorn (R-Crystal Lake) after testifying in front of the Illinois House Cities and Villages Committee about Harvey, North Chicago, and the broader downstate pension crisis.

“Another $21 billion in debt is flying under the radar” – Ted Dabrowski on Illinois Rising with Dan Proft – Video

Ted was on Illinois Rising last week discussing the $21 billion in school district debt that most Illinoisans know nothing about. Illinois, with $10,400 in debt per student, has 70 percent more school debt than Wisconsin, 44 percent more than Iowa and 33 percent more than Missouri. Indiana’s debt load is just 2 percent more than Illinois’ own.

“Officials aren’t telling the truth about the severity of what’s happening” – Ted Dabrowski on WTAD with Quaid – Audio

Ted Dabrowski was on WTAD earlier this week discussing the implications of the downstate pension crisis and why Illinois politicians in Springfield don't seem to care about the financial stress hitting both community budgets and resident wallets across Illinois.

Three Chicago Fed Economists Say They Know How To Tax Fleeing Illinoisans

Over a million readers have now clicked on this story here and in various republications across the country.

Beyond Harvey: Many Illinois municipalities running out of options – Wirepoints Special Report

Wirepoints has performed an analysis of 180 Illinois cities with both a dedicated police and fire pension fund, examining their finances and their pensions. The findings, which will be released in a forthcoming paper, are alarming. Look at the numbers – at the collapsing funding ratios, broken budgets, and unsustainable tax burdens – and anyone can see that many cities aren’t far off from a breaking point.  

“Nobody is winning; everybody is losing” Wirepoints testifies before the House Committee on Cities and Villages – Video

Mark Glennon and Ted Dabrowski joined Rep. Jeanne Ives on May 8th, 2018 to testify in front of the Cities and Villages Committee of the Illinois House of Representatives.

“This crisis directly affects people’s lives, but its been hidden from them” – Ted Dabrowski on Illinois Rising with Dan Proft – Video

Ted was on Illinois Rising earlier this week. He and Dan Proft talked to State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) about the state's garnishment of...

Why a bankruptcy option for municipalities is essential – Wirepoints Testimony

Chapter 9 bankruptcy for municipalities is a last resort and a bad option. The question, however, is whether it is the only option offering any hope to Illinois’ most distressed communities. I am convinced that offering the option isn’t just the right thing to do, but any delay will doom some communities to circumstances not even bankruptcy can help.

The $21 billion debt most Illinoisans know nothing about – Wirepoints Original

Illinoisans hear plenty about the state’s ballooning pension debt, its billions in unpaid bills and rising bond debts. But most don’t know that the state’s 860 school districts have put Illinoisans on the hook for another $21 billion in debt. 

CTBA’s New Progressive Tax Proposal Makes Our Case Against it – Wirepoints Original

"If there ever was a wake-up call of how deep we are in the abyss, this is it."

Seizing innocents’ assets, personal bankruptcies and Chicago’s champions of the little guy – Wirepoints Original

Those who can least afford it are getting hammered to pay up for a broke city.

No, Comptroller Mendoza, the Budget Impasse Did Not Cause Late Fees – Wirepoints Original

During the impasse, tax revenue came in and bills were incurred just as they did when there was a budget. The impasse made no difference.

Rating agencies warn, Illinois flirts with junk – Wirepoints Original

Illinois’ brutal political campaigns may have distracted attention from the reality of the state’s crumbling finances, but an upcoming $500 million bond borrowing by the state will remind investors and Illinoisans alike how little has improved.

Second domino falls in Illinois: North Chicago revenues garnished for pensions – Wirepoints Original

Harvey was the first domino to fall in Illinois’ public safety pension crisis. Now North Chicago is the second. The state comptroller has begun to intercept the city’s revenues on behalf of its firefighter pension fund. Both cities are the vanguard of a much wider problem faced by municipalities across Illinois.

“No cash flow, no assets, no money, no choices” – Ted Dabrowski on WVON with Perri Small – Audio

Ted talked with Perri Small of WVON Radio on Wednesday about Harvey's lack of options. It's trapped by the one-size-fits-all state laws that rob every Illinois municipality of local control.

The Harvey crisis puts the Illinois machine in a bind – Wirepoints Original

Harvey has put the state political machine in a bind. If lawmakers allow garnishments to continue, a wave of intercepts could lead to struggling municipalities cutting pay and laying off public sector union workers across the state. On the other hand, if lawmakers reverse the garnishment law via legislation, they’ll reveal their unwillingness to defend public sector pensions.

“Communities are in straightjacket and being left to drown” – Ted Dabrowski on NBC Chicago – TV

Ted joined State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) in Harvey, Illinois on Monday to bring attention to the city's plight and discuss the solution it so desperately needs: bankruptcy.

“Harvey’s not alone with this kind of problem” – Ted Dabrowski on WJPF with Tom Miller – Audio

Ted talks with Tom Miller of WJPF Radio to discuss Harvey and the possibility that hundreds of other cities across the state could have their revenues garnished to pay their public safety pensions.

Harvey, the first domino in Illinois: Data shows nearly 400 other pension funds could trigger garnishment – Wirepoints Special Report

You’d be mistaken to think Harvey, Illinois has a unique pension crisis. The mess is everywhere, from East St. Louis to Rockford and from Quincy to DanvilleA review of Illinois Department of Insurance pension data shows that Harvey could be just the start of a flood of garnishments across the state.

It’s happening: The insanity in Harvey, Illinois – Wirepoints Original

Last year, the courts ordered nearly-bankrupt Harvey to hike its sky-high property taxes – even though they are already at confiscatory levels – to pay for pensions. Now the comptroller is confiscating the city’s local tax revenues to pay for them. One or both of those actions may accelerate what needs to happen in Harvey: bankruptcy.

A booming market can’t save Illinois pensions – Wirepoints Original

It's impossible to overstate how deep Illinois' pension crisis is. The market is experiencing remarkable returns and yet the state’s pension debts aren't improving. Imagine how the funds will collapse when the next recession inevitably hits.

Illinois’ Crashing Net Worth: Audio Interview with Wirepoints’ Mark Glennon – YouTube

Further into the abyss: $10 billion loss this year, $137 billion loss over the last ten years.

Illinois AFSCME: No contract, but higher pay anyway? – Wirepoints Original

It looks as if AFSCME will win yet another battle in its long-standing contract fight with the state. The state will have to back pay step increases to workers, costing taxpayers more than $400 million.

New Financial Statements: Illinois’ Net Worth Plummets Deeper Into The Red – Wirepoints Original

New financial statements released this month show actual results are far different than portrayed in budget negotiations and the press.

Math: The Biggest Loser in Illinois Election – Wirepoints Original

The speeches last night said most of what you need to know about the election.

Dog chasing tail? Legislation Proposed to Authorize Illinois Treasurer to Buy Receivables Owed by the State – Wirepoints Original

Are you overloaded with debt? Ever consider just buying the invoices you owe to your creditors? Lots of questions jump out about this.

Leaving Illinois: One family’s math – Wirepoints Original

Illinoisans don’t like how they’re being disrespected by their politicians – paying ever-higher taxes for ever-fewer services. So they leave. One of those people leaving is a North Shore neighbor of mine moving to Colorado. For him, the calculus was simple. Stay and pay more and more for a government he trusts less and less, or leave and save $1 million dollars.

“Taxpayers across the state are paying for those retirements” Ted Dabrowski on Newsradio WJPF – Audio

Ted talks to the Morning Newswatch about how the state's teacher pension funding scheme is regressive. Wealthy districts, with higher salaries and bigger bureaucracies, benefit most from state pension funding. Read on to compare your local school district’s pension subsidy to others around the state.

Florida focuses on tax base, Illinois on tax rate – Wirepoints Original

No, Illinois is no Florida. But we’d be dumb not take some lessons from their success. Illinois continues to grow its spending by borrowing, enacting massive tax hikes and growing its unpaid bills, even as its tax base shrinks. Florida, in contrast, has grown its spending by growing its economy and its tax base.

Illinois’ regressive pension funding scheme: wealthiest school districts benefit most – Wirepoints Special Report

The state's teacher pension funding scheme, where one unit of government doles out benefits while another one pays for them, has destroyed accountability and driven up taxes on struggling Illinoisans. And it’s regressive. Rep. McSweeney is wrong to ally himself with the IEA to block a pension cost shift.