MISSED OPPORTUNITY Last week the Civic Federation's Institute for Illinois'
Fiscal Sustainability released an extensive analysis of
the Illinois budget for fiscal year 2014. The news was not good, the main
"highlight" being the spending of 24.3 percent of state revenue on
pensions. But as Civic Federation President Laurence Msall explains in an interview today,
the real problem was lawmakers took no steps to prepare for the big hits to the
budget that arrive in FY2015, when state revenue will decline by $4.2 billion
as the income tax rate falls from 5 to 3.75 percent. And by "no
steps," Msall means primarily no change to the state's disaster-bound
pension system. Msall delivers as plainspoken an assessment of state finances
as you'll find anywhere. Don't miss this. Click here for the interview.
- FULL REPORT If you missed it last week, the Civic Federation's full report on the FY 2014 budget is here.
- SOUND OFF Our interview with Msall and the Civic Federation report (along with countless other documents) make it clear just how damaging the current pension situation is to the entire state budget. And the unstable tax picture the pension crisis is causing has created a business climate that is not welcoming to new or expanding business in Illinois. Thus we have the nation's second highest unemployment at 9.2 percent. Bad decisions over decades dug this hole, and we need tough decisions now to begin fixing things. Use our Sound Off tool to send this message to your lawmakers in Springfield, and to Gov. Pat Quinn and the four leaders of the General Assembly. It only takes a few clicks. You can send a pre-written message or create your own. You CAN make a difference. Click here and give it a try!
MEET CHARLES W. JOHNSON When Kwame Raoul announced last month that he wouldn't
seek the Democratic nomination for governor, it looked like any chance of
Illinois electing its first African-American governor would be postponed until
at least 2018. Then we came across a blog post from Chicago native Charles W.
Johnson. The title -- "Why I Should Be The First Black Governor Of
Illinois” -- said it all. You gotta like a candidate who vows to avoid state
airplanes and travel the state in his "personal 2011 Chevrolet Malibu with
67,000 miles on it whenever possible." He'd live in the Executive Mansion
and take a reduced salary. Johnson has plenty to say, and he does it in
entertaining fashion. Read more here.
REDUCE LLC FEES If you're a small business owner, you're probably aware
that Illinois charges more than twice the national average to register a
Limited Liability Corporation -- the preferred structure for small businesses
nationwide. It's just another example of Illinois fostering a
less-than-friendly environment for business and jobs and we think it ought to
change. You can find out more about this issue and tell your representatives in
Springfield to do something about it by using our Sound Off tool. We've got
background on the issue and a convenient way to send your message in one
easy-to-use location. Click here and Sound Off for small
VENTING ON VENTRA The rollout of the new fare card for CTA riders has been a
bit of a train wreck. Or as Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis sees it, a
bus wreck. See the whole cartoon here.
CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE Gov. Pat Quinn is appealing the recent court decision that
nullified his cancellation of lawmaker paychecks. Lost in the summer dust storm
over Quinn's veto of lawmaker salaries was the originator of the idea: freshman
Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville. No sooner had he been sworn into office in
January than Meier filed a bill to do the very thing that Quinn did with his
veto pen six months later. Quinn's effort to keep his action alive reminded us
of our encounter with Meier on Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair. He
wasn't bitter about Quinn stealing his idea. A month before lawmaker salaries
would be restored, Meier had a standing offer to any of his colleagues facing
hardship from missed paychecks. Here's the video.
TODAY'S HEADLINES Here's what's making news in Illinois today:
- 5. Bruce Rauner’s running mate
explains why she is qualified to step in as governor if needed. (Capitol Fax)
4. An investigation reveals that Pat Quinn was present in Springfield on just over 70 percent of the days lawmakers spent in session. (WICS NewsChannel 20)
3. A teachers union is urging state lawmakers not to give tax incentives to Archer Daniels Midland. (WBGZ)
2. The government shutdown has state workers in Illinois in limbo on whether they can work or not. (Chicago Tribune)
1. Opinion: Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle proves that a politician can fix a government mess with grit and determination. Were state lawmakers watching? (Chicago Tribune)