Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Kudos to Chicago on its new broadband program — ‘Chicago Connect’ – Quicktake

Best of all, the city was able to cobble together a diverse coalition of private sector donors and philanthropists to pay for at least the first two years of the program.

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Chicago restored to financial stability? No. – Quicktake

Come on, PNC. Financially smart people will read your release. They know.

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UPDATED: Public Forums and the First Amendment: Can Streets be Painted with Black Lives Matter Messaging? – Wirepoints

First Amendment rights are unclear, but policy is a different matter.

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Illinois pension costs will devour a quarter of state budget for 25 more years, and that’s the rosy scenario – Wirepoints

The state projects that pension costs will devour more than a quarter of the budget for the next 25 years. The problem is, Illinois’ pension crisis is far worse than even the state’s official numbers show. In reality, the state needs to devote half its budget to retirements just to get the crisis under control.

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On This Independence Day, Commit Never to Kneel Before the Looming Tyranny – Wirepoints

Stay silent no longer.

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Chicago home prices at the bottom of the barrel nationally – Wirepoints

The short-term data for Chicago home prices is bleak, and the longer-term picture captures just how badly the Windy City area has done since the new Millennium.

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Mayor Lightfoot Returns to Ol’ Standby Slush Funds to Help Pay Bills – TIFs – Wirepoints

It’s not often that we’re on the same page with Tom Tresser of CivicLab and Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader. But on the central problem with tax increment financing in Chicago – their abysmal lack of transparency -- we’re on common ground, along with most everybody else.

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A mortgage-sized bill of pension debts awaits anyone who moves to Illinois – Wirepoints

The state is drowning in public pension debt and anyone living here will be forced to pay that debt down over the next two to three decades. For many considering a move, that’d be reason enough to avoid this state.

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What’s Illinois’ true COVID-19 fatality rate? – Wirepoints

Antibody testing results from around the country are showing the actual lethality of the virus is far lower than originally feared. CDC findings suggest that the true number of U.S. cases total 24 million, not the 2.4 million reported officially. That would drop the virus fatality rate to 0.5 percent from the known-case death rate of 4.9 percent.

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Illinois homeowners beware, COVID-19 means even higher property taxes – Wirepoints

Illinois homeowners should count on higher property taxes next year to be one of the many negative outcomes of COVID-19. As commercial property assessments drop due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus, residential property owners will be forced to pick up the slack and pay a larger share of local government tax bills.

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Pritzker Says Masks ‘Turned the Corner’ on COVID-19; Data Say Otherwise – Wirepoints

Does he assume (as he probably can) that nobody in the press will question him?

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Where’s the Omelet? Black Lives Matter Chicago Answers George Orwell’s Question – Wirepoints

If the two-thirds of Americans who believe all lives matter continue to remain silent, expect more violence from many causes.

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“It’s not just the poor. It’s not just the rich. It’s everybody leaving the state. You just can’t tax your way out of this.” – Ted on Capitol Connection with Mark Maxwell

Ted was on Capitol Connection last week talking with Mark Maxwell about the impact of COVID-19 on downstate Illinois and how a progressive tax is a terrible idea, especially when Illinois faces the worst economic crisis since the 1930's.

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New North Carolina antibody study shows far more people infected with COVID-19 than official numbers show – Quicktake

It's inexcusable for Illinois to be ignoring antibody testing.

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Illinois downstaters had it right all along. COVID-19 data shows Pritzker should have reopened downstate weeks ago. – Wirepoints

Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s own COVID-19 metrics, Illinois’ downstate regions should have entered Phase 4 of his reopening plan weeks ago. The data supporting that claim is overwhelming, especially when the downstate numbers are compared with those of the Chicagoland region.

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Lesson from Wisconsin: Reopening didn’t doom its coronavirus efforts – by Wirepoints’ Mark Glennon – Chicago Tribune

Linda, 72, eats ice cream next to her husband Joe, 76, as a pedestrian walks by on May 14, 2020, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Most people acted sensibly even though their governor wasn’t micromanaging their lives.

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Pritzker’s Latest Data Blather and a Broader Look at His COVID-19 Shutdown Order – Wirepoints

Ironically, Illinois actually does have genuinely good news to report on the virus, but it may convey a different lesson, so it’s a good time to consider a broader perspective on Illinois’ shutdown rule.

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Progressive tax states lose people, income to flat and zero income tax states – Wirepoints

Flat and no-income tax states are beating out progressive tax states in the contest for people and their incomes. The nation's seventeen flat and no income tax states won a net 1.9 million residents and $120 billion in Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from progressive tax states during the 2000-2018 period.

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Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Bows to the Mob – Wirepoints

If you are among the two-thirds of Americans opposing calls by Black Lives Matter to defund the police, think twice about saying so in public.

New study finds ‘no evidence’ of COVID outbreak in Wisconsin after lockdown order voided; other metrics continue to improve – Quicktake

Most people, it turned out, behave responsibly even when their governor isn't micromanaging their lives.

Pritzker has no excuse to extend his shutdown of Illinois. His own data says reopen. – Wirepoints

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s justifications for maintaining one of the strictest reopening schedules in the country are falling by the wayside. Even his own science and data are working against him. 

“The 2021 budget sends the message to Illinoisans that the political elite don’t consider them a priority.” – Video

This is by far the most irresponsible budget ever passed by an Illinois legislature. It’s no wonder that the words bankruptcy and Illinois increasingly go hand-in-hand.

Blistering Take-Down of Gov. Pritzker’s COVID-19 Order by a Suburban Mayor – UPDATED – Video

If you have any interest at all in Gov. J.B. Pritzker's shutdown order, the video by Village of Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau is a must-watch.

Facebook event: Join Ted at 6 pm today as he breaks down Illinois’ budget with Brian Costin of AFP-Illinois.

Tuesday, June 9th: Come listen in at 6 pm today as Ted breaks down Illinois' budget with Brian Costin, Deputy State Director for AFP-Illinois. Illinois' 2021 budget is the latest failure out of Springfield. It runs a $6 billion deficit, has no cuts, no reforms, and is dependent on a federal bailout

COVID-19 Peaked In April in Illinois Just When Pritzker Changed ‘Science and Data’ To Say Otherwise – Wirepoints

The bottom line is clear: The virus peaked even before Pritzker claimed the science and data had changed to say it would peak later. And that was just when Pritzker needed to build up his case for extending his stay-at-home order and his reopening plan, which has been rated the harshest in the nation, a plan that makes no sense on its face.

Call Rioting What It Is: Moral Depravity. And Hold Its Enablers Accountable – Wirepoints

Justice of some form will only come if those in positions of influence and power who condoned and even encouraged violence start getting the blame they’ve earned. Remember their names. Hold them accountable. This is about moral depravity and they are culprits.

Mismanaged Illinois becomes first state to borrow from new Federal Reserve facility – Wirepoints

Illinois has abandoned hopes of affordably raising $1.2 billion from the bond market and has turned, instead, to a new Federal Reserve lending facility known as the Municipal Liquidity Facility. Illinois will be the first state to tap the Fed, which is meant to be a lender of last resort

S&P’s nine biggest criticisms of Illinois finances – Wirepoints Original

S&P Global Ratings just released its analysis of Illinois’ 2021 budget. When all their criticisms are highlighted, it’s a pretty scathing list.

The Social Contract Between Government and People Is Unraveling – Quicktake

Numbers, budgets, charts and graphs about government finances. That’s what we do here. We try to understand where public money should be spent and what it accomplishes. Through that lens, it’s difficult to know where to begin on what has befallen the Chicago area and most of the country.

“The longer the economy is shut, the worse Illinois’ revenues and deficits will be. Politicians expect jobless Illinoisans to pay for those deficits.” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

"You've got one million Illinoisans unemployed, nobody knows what's happening with the economy, we're only now starting to open up. And yet the government passed a record spending budget – the biggest ever – with no cuts, no furloughs, no kind of savings whatsoever to give relief to Illinoisans that have to pay for that government."

Pritzker Wilts Hours Before United States Supreme Court Review, Double-Talks About-Face on Churches – Wirepoints

Was it because his “science and data” somehow changed? Or was it because he feared having his vast emergency powers challenged in the United States Supreme Court?

Illinois government jobs protected, private sector jobs decimated during COVID-19 shutdown – Wirepoints

Two months and more than 800,000 lost jobs later, we now know which job sectors are the shutdown's biggest losers. The least impacted sector in Illinois? State government. 

No cuts, record spending, and hoping for a bailout. Eight things you need to know about Illinois’ 2021 budget. – Wirepoints

The Illinois General Assembly has finally passed an emergency budget for 2021  Tax revenues have taken a severe hit due to the impact of the shutdown in response to COVID-19, yet that hasn’t stopped lawmakers’ spending priorities. The state will spend a record $42.9 billion while bringing in just $36.8 billion. 

Never mind the courts, says Pritzker. Only his views of the ‘science and data’ matter. – Wirepoints

Pritzker is now out of touch -- oblivious to the firestorm surrounding his order, disdainful of the rule of law and confident he can dismiss all critics as political grandstanders and much worse.

Big raises for Chicago Teachers Union, state’s AFSCME shows where federal aid to Illinois will end up – Wirepoints

Public payrolls are getting slashed around the country to keep government more affordable for the devastated private sector, but not in Illinois. Quite the opposite.  Pritzker and Lightfoot are doling out raises while saying Illinois’ financial problems can’t be solved without help from the federal government.

COVID-19 Appears to Have Peaked and be Declining in Illinois – For Now – Quicktake

The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Illinois has dropped below 4,000 and is now lower than April 9.

Our Rebuttal to BGA’s David Greising’s Defense of Pritzker’s Emergency Order – Wirepoints

A more classic straw man case could barely be made, nor a more shallow treatment of the opposition to Governor JB Pritzkers emergency COVID-19 order.

Illinois No.1: The Harshest Cornoavirus Lockdown Restrictions in America – WalletHub – Quicktake

Illinois is worst on the list, ranking 51st among states and DC for least restrictive.

COVID-19 spreads to half of all Chicagoland retirement homes. How did this happen? – Wirepoints

When this crisis is finally over, Illinoisans will look back at the failure to protect the vulnerable residents of retirement homes as one of the worst tragedies of the COVID-19 crisis. The fact that cases and deaths have been so widespread means there was a systemic failure in protecting the elderly.

“People are waking up. Overwhelmingly people are indignant about this emergency rule.” – Mark Glennon with Steve Cortes

“Something is happening here. People are waking up. Overwhelmingly people are indignant about this emergency rule. People are starting to understand the danger of the precedent that would be set here if indefinite powers, like Gov. Pritzker claims he has, are allowed to stand.”

Trading at junk levels: Illinois borrowing costs 5 times higher than AAA-rated states – Wirepoints

To see how punitive borrowing has become for Illinois, look at the interest rates the state is paying on its 10-year bonds. At 5.65 percent, Illinois’ rate is now five times higher than the 1.13 percent rate it costs AAA-rated states to borrow.

Morning Parking Ban to Crush Chicago Churchgoers: Entire Neighborhood Gets No Parking/Tow Warning – Updated – Wirepoints

A travesty on many levels. Just don't call it a police state because cops around Illinois are standing up as civil libertarians.

Pritzker Criminalizes Violators of His Shutdown Order Using His Own Rule-Making Power – Wirepoints

The new rule effectively directs county state’s attorneys and other officials to enforce the governor's emergency order, making violations punishable by fines up to $2500 and/or imprisonment.

Illlinois’ overly-restrictive shutdown rules make it a national outlier – Quicktake

Thirty-one states are already reopening, while 11 other states are reopening on a regional basis. Six additional states – Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont – are set to reopen next week. Notably, Illinois was one of the first to shut down and it will be one of the last to reopen.

Illinois eying loan from Fed, but who would certify state is solvent? – Quicktake

We've been trying to envision the meeting among Pritzker Administration officers and staff when they found that requirement in the paperwork.

Illinois teachers’ union is quite pleased by radical opportunities they would have in an economic depression – Quicktake

Hoping that a "millennial-led militance" will use a depression to make palpable gains for the radical left.

Two Articles About Wirepoints by Greg Hinz in Crain’s Chicago Business

Greg Hinz has long been among the most prominent of Illinois' reporters and commentators on Illinois government given his position as such at Crain's Chicago Business. Here are his two recent articles directed to us at Wirepoints. We reproduce them in full with no further comment, for now, except to highlight the portions pertaining to Wirepoints, and to ask our regular readers to consider in light of what we've actually written.

COVID-19 deaths and pre-existing conditions. What Illinois’ data says about who’s at risk. – Part 2 – Wirepoints

Not all Americans with one or more pre-existing conditions are at serious risk of death from COVID-19. Illinois’ fatality data shows that the virus has had a limited impact on younger demographics.

Facing Growing Defiance, Pritzker Thumbs Nose at AG Opinion, Insults and Threatens Dissidents – Updated – Wirepoints

Nobody should be surprised. Pritzker is responding to dissent exactly as we should always fear when czarlike powers are challenged – with vengeance, claims to superior knowledge and assertion of still more power.

Mayor Lightfoot, why stop with GrubHub on your demand for disclosure? – Quicktake

“Hey, Hostess company, my Twinkies cost too damn much. Tell us how much you are charging Jewel for them so I can judge if that’s fair.”

“Illinois politicians can keep playing games as long as the market keeps bailing out the state. But when the market stops, the choice is chaos or reforms.” – Ted on AM 560 Chicago’s Morning Answer

Ted talked about the impact of Illinois delaying its latest bond offering and the fact that nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in Illinois are linked to retirement homes. "As long as the market or federal government keeps bailing out Illinois, politicians can keep playing games. But when that stops, the choice is chaos or reforms."

Half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths linked to retirement homes. Five key facts you should know. – Wirepoints

In all, half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths are linked to long-term care facilities, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That percentage has been rising since IDPH began posting retirement home deaths on April 19.

Wirepoints analysis reveals 92 percent of Cook County COVID-19 victims had pre-existing conditions – Part 1 – Wirepoints

A Wirepoints analysis of COVID-19 deaths from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office reveals that 92 percent of victims from the virus had pre-existing medical conditions.

Who’s most at risk for COVID-19 and why isn’t Illinois publishing that data? – Wirepoints

You’d think with more than 3,200 deaths, Illinois’ Department of Public Health would share how many of those deaths had underlying causes. It doesn’t. But it should.

With New FDA Action, Gov. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike Have No Excuse for Further Stonewalling Antibody Testing – Updated and Corrected – Wirepoints

One provider in Illinois is finding a stunning 60% of those tested have antibodies, which is potentially great news. Illinois never did have a good excuse for not collecting and publishing antibody testing. Now it has none.

Pritzker’s top-down reopen strategy will fail large parts of Illinois: He should expect pushback – Wirepoints

It only takes a glance at Illinois’ statewide COVID-19 data to realize what a big difference there is between Chicagoland and the rest of the state.

Governor Pritzker’s Plan to Reopen Illinois Makes No Sense – Wirepoints

Extension of the plan’s logic would mean that countless activities we routinely engage in despite some level of risk should be banned until the risk is eliminated.

Illinois delays $1.2 billion bond issue. Will it tap new Federal Reserve program? – Wirepoints

Illinois has postponed a planned $1.2 billion short-term bond issue. If Illinois can’t access the financial markets, it may eventually end up going to the Federal Reserve. Implications are twofold: it would increase the state’s borrowing costs further and signal Illinois’ further distress to the market.

April State of Illinois Revenues Tank, Special Funds Raided – Quicktake

Base revenues for the State of Illinois for April sank by 46% from compared to April of last year, a $2.7 billion drop.

JP Morgan’s Cembalest: COVID-19 shutdown drives Illinois’ true retirement costs to 60 percent of budget – Wirepoints

Illinois was in a mess long before the COVID-19 crisis came along. Now the shutdown will make things worse. Overall, Illinois’ true retirement costs would consume a bit less than 60 percent of the state’s budget after taking the shutdown into account.

Illinois lets Fair Maps amendment deadline expire. Gerrymandering will continue. – Quicktake

Remember Governor JB Pritzker's promises to end gerrymandering in Illinois? Maybe you were among the nearly 600,000 people who signed the petition to end it. Polls have long showed overwhelming, bipartisan support. Well, forget it.

Indifference to Illegality of Illinois Stay-at-Home Order is Frightening – Wirepoints

Pity us if the arguments made to defend Governor Pritzker's emergency order are accepted and become precedent. From Cicero to Star Wars, the challenge remains the same.

Open Illinois’ economy: Recessions and depressions kill – Wirepoints

Recessions and depressions kill. We don’t need models to know that, just past experience. It’s not a trivial concern to be dismissed out of hand. But dismiss is exactly what Crains’ Chicago columnist Greg Hinz did.

Now A Government Official is Arguing in Federal Court that Pritzker’s Emergency Order is Unconstitutional – Quicktake

The plaintiffs caused their own problem, the answer basically says, because they were foolish enough to take Pritzker’s order seriously.

Section 1983 grants ordinary Illinoisans the power to sue Pritzker for constitutional violations – Mark on the Steve Cortes Show

Mark was on the Steve Cortes Show this week discussing the various lawsuits that have sprung up challenging Pritzker's stay-at-home order.

IL pols are out of can-kicks but reject reforms. Americans won’t bail out Illinois. Bankruptcy might be the only option left. – Ted on The Chicago Way with John Kass

Ted was on with John Kass last week to discuss what bankruptcy could look like for Illinois and Chicago. Now that Illinois Senator President Don Harmon has breached the subject of a bailout and Senator Mitch McConnell opened up the possibility of bankruptcy, Illinois' fiscal mismanagement is in the national spotlight.  

Will Pritzker’s Attack on State Rep Who Blocked Stay-at-Home Order Trigger Section 1983 Lawsuits? – Wirepoints

Governor JB Pritzker’s tirade against State Rep. Darren Bailey may be turn out to be as self-destructive as it was improper, encouraging more lawsuits including damage claims and assertions of personal liability.

COVID-19: Seven facts that tell us Illinoisans can and must get back to work – Wirepoints

For many ordinary Illinoisans, fear over the killer virus is now morphing into a fear of survival without a job or income. The health data from the past month bolsters their desire to get back to work, while worsening economic data supports their urgency to do so.

COVID-19 pushes nation’s weakest public pension plans closer to the brink: A 50-state survey – Wirepoints Special Report

The nation’s weakest public pension funds may soon be among the casualties of COVID-19. Many were facing insolvency even before the virus hit and the stock market meltdown will only accelerate their decline. In 2018, the most recent year with comparable nationwide data, some of those funds had assets equal to just a few years’ worth of benefit payouts.

Governor Pritzker Should Collect and Publish Critical Antibody Testing – Wirepoints

Illinois should be collecting and publishing antibody test results just as other states are. Scrubbing hands is good. But scrubbing key data is abuse of power.

‘Contract’ is no excuse for upcoming pay raise for Illinois unionized state workers – Quicktake

Contracts can be adjusted when a crisis such as this makes full contract performance unreasonable. Where's the "shared sacrifice?"

Reopen the Economy While Protecting Those Truly at Risk or Face Another Great Depression – Wirepoints

If you don't think we are facing a severe economic depression, read up.

“Illinois Senate Democrats have asked the federal government for what New York Times calls a bailout.” – Ted with Tom Miller on Newsradio WJPF

Ted was on this week with Tom Miller of Newsradio WJPF. He talked about how Illinois Senate Democrats have asked the federal government for what New York Times and others call a "bailout". The response: "No, you can’t use the pandemic as a cover to try to get funding for previous problems."

Huge Flaw in Federal Guidelines Feeds Wrongheaded Thinking on ‘Opening Up’ – Wirepoints

Poverty kills. Recessions kill. Depressions kill tens of millions. Can we at least approach this rationally?

Illinois Republican Congressional Delegation Responds to Request for Federal Bailout – Wirepoints Original

On Friday, Wirepoints published a letter from the Illinois Senate President to the Illinois Congressional delegation. The letter, sent on behalf of Illinois Senate Democrats, requested a large federal bailout of Illinois pensions and other shortfalls the state is facing. Here is response sent by Republican members of the Illinois Congressional delegation.

Purchaser of Illinois’ Late Payment Obligations Says They Are Getting Illegally Shorted by the State – Wirepoints

Here’s another chapter in the mess that is unfolding as the State of Illinois’ revenue collapses.

Illinois enacting a progressive tax hike is like Sears attempting a turnaround by hiking prices. COVID-19 only makes it more absurd. – Wirepoints

Wirepoints published a version of this article last year. We’ve updated it to reflect the new reality of the COVID-19 crisis.

Illinois Senate Democrats Seek Massive Federal Bailout for State, Going Far Beyond Coronavirus Impact – Wirepoints

Wirepoints has obtained a copy of letter detailing a federal bailout request sent by Illinois Senate President Don Harmon.

Crises demand maximum scrutiny of government. Illinois is failing. – Our Monthly Crain’s Article

"In war and in all crises as swiftly moving as this pandemic, leaders acquire enormous latitude. There is no time for fact checks, court challenges, FOIA, legislative hearings, elections and all the rest. The opportunity for deceit, political manipulation of news and suppression of basic rights is at its apex. Vigilance in the watch over government, too, therefore must be at its apex."

Fitch downgrades Illinois to one notch above junk, warns state will be challenged to maintain investment-grade rating – Wirepoints

Fitch Ratings has downgraded Illinois’ credit rating to BBB-, one notch above junk, in response to the continued negative impact of the Coronavirus and Illinois’ already-tenuous financial position. It also assigned a negative outlook to the state, meaning another downgrade is likely as the pandemic continues.

Bond market trades Illinois like it’s already junk – Wirepoints

The bond markets are already trading Illinois bonds as if they were junk rated. As deficits and pension debts pile up in Illinois, let’s see how long it takes for the rating agencies to catch up. 

Note to Wirepoints Readers

We're going strong.

Illinois pension plans were running out of cash long before the Coronavirus hit – Wirepoints

Many pension funds across Illinois were running out of cash even before the Coronavirus reared its ugly head. The proof is in the collapsing asset-to-payout ratios of most Illinois pensions. Illinois’ worst-off funds only had two to five year’s worth of payouts left in 2018. 

“There are projections of unemployment of up to 30 percent. That’s about 2 million Illinoisans unemployed.” – Ted on the Illinois Channel

"What’s the impact on the economy and the people in the economy? There may be up to 2 million Illinoisans unemployed. If the economy stays closed for too long, we can have more opioid deaths, more suicides, more mental health issues, more domestic violence, much more poverty...all these need to be weighed against the risks of the virus."

Pritzker Still Stonewalling What Illinois Department of Public Health Says is ‘Most Important Information’ – Wirepoints

Pritzker has effectively been saying, “Just trust us. Never mind the numbers behind the curtain.” He has been stage managing the facts and data since the crisis started. These are not matters we should blindly entrust to any government.

Illinois’ expected deaths, hospital resource needs drop dramatically under IHME’s latest COVID-19 forecast – Wirepoints

IHME projections show Illinois has already passed its peak resource needs for hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators. As the curve flattens and the economic damage grows, Pritzker won’t be able to keep shrugging off questions about the models and the data he’s using to make the state’s big health and economic decisions.

Here are the details on COVID-19 hospitalization numbers Illinois should have collected and published weeks ago – Wirepoints

For more than a month now, Illinois' public has largely been in the dark about the state health care system’s capacity to handle the Coronavirus crisis. The state finally began collecting and releasing hospitalization data on April 3rd.

California Governor Gavin Newsom vs. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker: You Decide Who is Right – Wirepoints

Illinois Governor Pritzker has accused effectively accused the White House of nothing less than reckless homicide. California Governor Newsom has a different view and a different philosophy. Take your pick.

Federal Government, Too, Has Been Derelict on Key Coronavirus Hospitalization Numbers – Updated – Quicktake

Without real time updates on current capacity and utilization, projections almost certainly will be wrong. Both the federal government and State of Illinois failed.

With Not a Dime of Spending Cuts Anywhere, Illinois Banking on Federal Bailout – Quicktake

We expect Congress, especially the Senate, will say "cut spending, make reforms or drop dead." Illinois is banking on a fairy tale.

“It’s time for shared sacrifice in Illinois” – Ted Dabrowski on the Illinois Channel

It's time for shared sacrifice in Illinois. It's not fair for the private sector, which is getting crushed – up to 2 million Illinoisans may lose their jobs – to pay for a public sector that continues untouched, protected by long-term contracts and guaranteed pensions. It's not fair to ordinary Illinoisans.

Illinois had one hour’s worth of rainy day funds before the Coronavirus hit – Wirepoints

Illinois had just $4 million of rainy day funds before the Coronavirus hit. That was enough to cover just one hour’s worth of the state’s $40 billion operating budget.

The COVID-19 crisis: “If this goes on for another six weeks, we’d be destroyed.” – Wirepoints

Tony Duncan is just one of the millions of small business owners across America who will have to permanently close their doors if the shutdown continues much longer. As testing ramps up and COVID-19 data becomes more robust, the federal government and states must urgently begin to address both the public health and economic crises simultaneously.

Parroting Replaces Reporting: Pritzker’s Daily Coronavirus Briefings – Quicktake

Reporters, here are a few questions you should be asking and writing about.

Illinois Finally Starts Collecting Key Coronavirus Hospitalization Info. The Backstory is Shameful. – Wirepoints

Until April 3, Illinois failed to collect daily information critical to assessing and managing the COVID-19 crisis. It began doing so only under pressure, in which Wirepoints played no small role. Now the state is bragging about the simple step it should have taken long ago, citing it as an example of its prowess in science and data, and using it for a political jab.

Join Wirepoints for an online event on Monday, April 6, 2020 – “COVID-19 and the Illinois Pension Emergency: A $300 billion problem?”

Join Wirepoints on Monday, April 6, 2020 at 12 p.m. for an online event hosted by Americans For Prosperity Illinois. Ted Dabrowski will take participants through the impacts of the Coronavirus on Illinois' people, economy and government finances.

Illinois’ near-insolvent unemployment trust fund can’t handle surge in unemployment claims, will need to tap federal loans – Wirepoints

Illinois' unemployment trust fund is one of the nation’s most insolvent. Pritzker says Illinois will have to borrow money from the federal government to help make payments to the 178,000 Illinoisans who applied for jobless benefits last week.

Mayor Lightfoot’s Astonishing Denial of Chicago’s Fiscal Crisis – Wirepoints

We cheered Lori Lightfoot for defeating The Machine, for her triumphs over personal hardship and for her genuine commitment to ethics reform, but she’s clearly incapable of dealing with this crisis. The notion that tax revenues crash when the economy crashes seems beyond her. She has no concept of the scope of the crisis at hand.

Ten lessons from an old friend that just survived an ugly bout with Covid-19 – Wirepoints

An old friend of mine from my childhood years in Georgia just survived an ugly bout with Covid-19. He recently wrote about his experience with the virus and I want to share it with you. It’s a smart, inspiring piece that everyone should read. 

Why is Mayor Lightfoot talking about 40,000 Chicago hospitalizations when projections for all Illinois show just 9,300 at the peak? – Quicktake

Isn't it time for reporters to start asking why Illinois doesn't provide hospitalization numbers as other states do?

Coronavirus impact may push Illinois state pension debt to over $300 billion – Wirepoints

If you thought Illinois was already up to its neck in pension debts, just wait until the impact of the Coronavirus is tallied up. The state's shortfall will jump to over $310 billion in 2020 if conditions hold through June.

UPDATED: Illinois Still Not Providing Essential Covid-19 Hospitalization Numbers It Promised – Wirepoints

Illinois either doesn't have the most important numbers or isn’t providing them. Governor JB Pritzker, when asked for them last week, said his staff would be working on it over the weekend. We still don’t have them and there is no excuse.

As the crisis deepens, keep an eye on Illinois’ unpaid bills – Wirepoints

The full financial and economic impact the Coronavirus will have on Illinois is impossible to predict. For now, Illinoisans can keep an eye on the state’s $7.5 billion unpaid bill backlog to see how the state's finances are holding up.

Wirepoints: Don’t Let States Rob COVID-19 Funds to Bail Out Pensions – RealClear Politics

https://assets.realclear.com/images/50/505702_6_.jpg From Wirepoints' Ted Dabrowski and Mark Glennon, "Illinois is a perfect example of a state that shouldn’t be bailed out at the expense of fiscally responsible governments. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the state legislature and Chicago Mayor Lightfoot all reject structural pension reforms that would fix Illinois’ problems."

Bad Public Pension Bailout Ideas Now Surfacing – Wirepoints

The first specific proposal we’ve seen would be a three-fer, piling wrong on top of wrong on top of wrong. It’s from the Rockefeller Institute’s Liz Farmer, published nationally and in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Pending $2 trillion federal aid bill would single out Chicago from other Illinois towns and cities to get certain aid – Quicktake

The Illinois Municipal League is angry, as they should be, about federal bailout money for Chicago as the only Illinois town or city to get federal aid.

Who Are the Real ‘Covidiots,’ Rich Miller? – Wirepoints – UPDATED

ProPublica was right to ask for hospitalization numbers, and so were we.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

‘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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

“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.  

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.

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.

‘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.”

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.