VICTORY We may grumble about our government, but we Illinoisans love our government fiefdoms. All 7,000 of them. Townships, water districts, sewer districts, mosquito abatement districts... you name it, we've got a government body for it. They're often wasteful and unnecessary, duplicating services already done by county and municipal governments, but they provide lots of tasty political treats (jobs) for local bosses to hand out. Today we praise DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin for pushing a bill through the legislature that will let DuPage County eliminate numerous unnecessary taxing bodies that now spend $100 million a year. We'd love to see this spread across the state, but that won't be easy. Those micro-governments can get awfully protective. Read it here.
ILLINOIS AS SANTA CLAUS Illinois is about to give its schools a big lump of coal, chopping $400 million from its education budget, but it's got a $430 million bag of goodies for corporations who get three sizable tax breaks. They're supposed to encourage economic development, but they're nothing more than gifts the state can't afford, writes Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Read it and decide for yourself.
FROM THE CARTOON VAULT With lawmakers heading into the final days of this legislative session deadlocked over two competing approaches to tackling our $100 billion pension crisis, we thought of this cartoon from a few months back. Will our lawmakers prove cartoonist Scott Stantis wrong or make him a prophet?
REFORM EFFORT We think voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around. We're working with CHANGE Illinois! to fix the fix that's in on legislative map-making and create a more independent process for drawing them. Join us at a town hall at Bradley University in Peoria and read more about the map reform plan here.
TOP FIVE Top 5 most viewed posts on RebootIllinois.com this week:
1. Infographic: Comparison of pension bills from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton
2. Jim Nowlan op-ed: Political Illinois Supreme Court most likely to pass whatever pension bill Madigan supports
3. Reboot Illinois petition urging pension reform
4. Registration for Reboot Illinois/CHANGE Illinois! town hall meeting on grass-roots campaign to change the way Illinois draws its legislative map at Bradley University May 29.
5. Reboot Illinois editorial: Lawmakers must face the challenge; reject timid pension reform
DAILY TIP-OFF Chicago Magazine takes another look at an academic study from last year that said states with their capitals in small towns and away from urban centers suffer from more state government corruption. We're not so sure the equation Chicago + more government = less corruption, but who are we to argue with the scholars and their nifty chart?
Next week Chicago Public Schools is supposed to vote to formally adopt its plan to close 54 schools. It's the biggest such mass closure ever in the nation. But it seems every day now new reports arrive suggesting it might be too much, too suddenly. Today it comes from public radio station WBEZ and Chicago Catalyst magazine, who obtained documents that show thousands of classrooms in Chicago schools are overcrowded. There will be more such conditions when schools absorb students from closed schools.
Last month Moody's Investor Services issued a report that said Illinois' sluggish economy and lingering high unemployment are connected in part to the state's disastrous financial condition. The unemployment report for April shows Illinois continues to be plagued by high unemployment. The jobless rate for April was 9.3 percent, which is down from 9.5 percent the previous two months but above the 8.8. percent a year ago.
The bad state of Illinois' finances is driven by the pension crisis, which also is having a troubling effect on recruiting educators from out of state, reports the Chicago Tribune. "Illinois' pension issues have been pretty well-publicized nationally. It doesn't deter everyone, but certainly it's out there," says a suburban administrator.
Want more details? Find links to those Illinois news stories and others in the Daily Tip-Off section of our website.