Saturday, March 23, 2013
Watch a brief video rundown of recent action in Springfield that could have an impact on your tax bill and money for local schools.
What's happening in Springfield now regarding the state pension crisis will have a long-term impact on your tax bills and the money the state government can afford to send to local schools. Teachers and bus drivers in the suburbs are getting layoff notices and schools are closing in the city of Chicago as the governor projects a cut of $300 million from the state education budget. This week, the Illinois House passed a bill that would trim cost-of-living payments for public retirees. The House previously passed a bill that raises the state employee retirement age incrementally. It's unlikely those measures will pass the Senate, leaving the pension crisis unresolved. Our friends at Reboot Illinois, a non-partisan news and advocacy website…
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The House Republican joined Democrat Elaine Nekritz at a press conference Wednesday to introduce new legislation.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) joined Northbrook Democrat Elaine Nekritz at a Wednesday morning press conference to unveil a new bill they say is the answer to Illinois' state pension woes. “This legislation is the most complete, fairest bill we could come up with that will solve our pension crisis. When it passes and becomes law, it will also loosen the pension squeeze on our state budget,” Cross said of House Bill 3411 in a statement. “We’ve filed and supported many bills and concepts along the way, but we believe this is the answer.” The bill includes the following new provisions for Tier I state employees, or those hired before 2011: Click here to read the full text of the bill. Related stories:
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Despite 2011's 67 percent state income tax hike — which took a week's pay away from you — the state's financial problems have worsened.
Illinois now has the lowest credit rating of all 50 states. Standard & Poor’s rating services downgraded Illinois’ credit rating last week to A-, with a negative outlook. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who blamed the negative rating on inaction on the public pension system by Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly, said Illinois is headed for "fiscal disaster." He said the lower rating will force the state to fork over more money on interest payments. This will affect state universities, road construction and other public institutions because more will go to interest than principal as these projects are paid for. “If you went out to borrow $500 because you have such bad credit, it will cost $95 more in interest than better-rated states…
Saturday, January 19, 2013
State government grows in the dark, like a fungus. • Bill Daley has an idea to take the party out of state elections. • Time magazine mourns for Illinois.
When Gov. Pat Quinn took office in 2009, he promised to take aim at state boards and commissions stocked with politically connected folks drawing large salaries with little oversight into their activities. He would pare down those panels and save you money. Better Government Association investigative reporter Barbara Rose this month looked into whether Quinn delivered: "... more than three years into Quinn’s watch little has changed, except the number of such units is growing. As troubling, many don’t comply with the Illinois Open Meetings Act, according to a report last year by state Auditor General William Holland." In fact, the governor's office is having a hard time keeping up with it all. "With over 322 boards and commissions, …
Saturday, December 15, 2012
The representatives and senators leaving office in January 2013 will see millions of dollars in pension payments, figures far more sizable than they would've seen in the private sector.
Are you worried about your own retirement? With the downturn in the economy, did your 401k and savings take a big hit? If so, you're like millions of other Americans forced to confront a dramatically different outlook for their post-work years. But one group of pensioners is largely insulated from such concerns — outgoing Illinois lawmakers. The retirement benefits Illinois legislators receive are far more generous than those most of their constituents could collect working full-time jobs, reports Scott Reeder of the Reeder Report, using data from an Illinois Policy Institute analysis in a piece published on Watchdog.org. The anticipated pension benefits of the 34 lawmakers who will depart the state legislature in January show these …
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Proposal would phase in additional costs to local districts over a period of years, increase retirement age for younger workers.
A new pension reform plan introduced Wednesday would alleviate the state’s $95 billion liability by requiring local school districts to pay more for teachers’ retirement benefits while increasing employee contributions. Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) unveiled the proposal on Wednesday, saying the plan would pay for the state’s entire unfunded liability. But in Plainfield, at least one local official doesn’t think the proposal will find enough support to become a reality. Sign up for the Plainfield Patch newsletter. “We have to have a pension that we can afford,” District 202 school board member Mike Kelly said. “Some of this has to happen.” But, he said, “This would be just another … unfunded mandate,” noting that while local school …
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Jim Edgar tells Reboot Illinois that tax hikes, program cuts and leadership are desperately needed in Springfield. And Pat Quinn brings you Squeezy the Python.
With Democrats now holding a supermajority in the Illinois House and Senate as well as the governor's office, one might suppose a Democratic agenda would be a slam dunk in Springfield. As recent years have shown, however, single-party control doesn't guarantee the wheels of government grind smoothly. And former Gov. Jim Edgar, who served from 1991 to 1999, suggests that probably won't change anytime soon. In a wide-ranging interview with the new website Reboot Illinois, Edgar says Springfield is less dysfunctional when the two parties share power. "More times than not I think split government works pretty well. The reason is to make the tough decisions you need both parties. It’s hard to get one party to put up all the votes and take all …
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Pension-related amendment to state constitution on Nov. 6 ballot is confusing, catastrophic and fake reform, say foes and legal experts. What you need to know before you vote.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
By Jayette Bolinski, Illinois Watchdog SPRINGFIELD — Opposition to a proposed pension-related constitutional amendment that will go before Illinois voters Nov. 6 is creating strange bedfellows — from public employee unions to good-government groups that agree the question is not worthy of a change to the state’s constitution and does nothing to address the pension crisis. Groups opposed to the amendment are numerous and come from all walks of life. It’s no surprise that public-employee unions are opposed to the amendment, which requires a three-fifths majority vote before any public body can approve a pension benefit increase. Good-government groups, such as the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and the Illinois Policy Institute, …
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
District 202 Superintendent John Harper's first monthly column of the 2012-13 school year.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
We start the 2012-13 school year with same high hopes and expectations for great teaching and learning for all of our students that makes our schools so strong and vibrant. However we also begin the year with the same financial challenge which has plagued us for the last several years: unreliable state funding. Unfortunately to make matters worse Governor Quinn wants to shift teacher pension payments, which the state now pays, to local school districts to help clean up the state’s own financial mess. Shifting teacher pensions to local districts would cost District 202 $10 million or more each year. District 202 is doing everything we can to keep this from happening. In July, a group of suburban educators and elected officials including …
Thursday, August 30, 2012
State Rep. Tom Cross, State Sen. Christine Radogno and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford release statements on Wednesday's downgrade announcement.
Standard and Poor’s has lowered their rating on bonds issued by the state of Illinois. Home of the worst-funded pension system, Illinois had the rating on its general- obligation debt cut one level by Standard & Poor’s and may face more downgrades, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Illinois was dropped from an A+ rating to an A rating, including a warning from S&P analysts that Illinois has a negative outlook. State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, and State Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, issued a joint statement reacting to the downgrade: When the Democrats adjourned the special session on pensions two weeks ago, we stood together and said we should not leave Springfield until we pass comprehensive pension reform to address our crisis. We …