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  #681  
Old 02-14-2018, 10:17 AM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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http://www.chicagobusiness.com/artic...180213#new_tab

Quote:
Here's what Illinois needs to avoid utter collapse
Spoiler:
Important as this year's state budget is, it's a sideshow compared to the epic production we need—a multiyear, credible plan that would make Illinois competitive again.

The emphasis is on "credible" because the jig is up. Gov. Bruce Rauner, who will present his fiscal 2019 budget tomorrow, can talk all he wants about job growth during his term. Democrats can forever blame our problems on the earlier budget impasse they pin on Rauner. Others can keep quibbling about the numbers and denying even that Illinois is losing its population and tax base.

But they're asking Illinoisans to ignore what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears. A genuinely historic collapse is proceeding unchecked. All levels of government most everywhere in the state are in extraordinary trouble, and it's worsening. Not everybody knows that, but enough do to ensure that population, employment and investments will continue to disappear, feeding the collapse.

There's no immediate way to break that cycle, but a full solution needn't be immediate. Moving is a decision that takes years to make and execute. Investments are forward-looking. A credible five- or seven-year plan would be enough to cause many to say, "OK, I can stick it out through that." Some may even look forward to catching the bottom in a place with all the assets it needs to boom.


Nothing remotely close to such a plan is being discussed in this election. Rauner seems to have given up on all but a few of what initially were over 40 items in his Turnaround Agenda. Democrats offer nothing concrete except a progressive tax increase and, even there, provide no numbers.

The entire state seems to have tied a bow around the biggest of all our problems—pensions—and set it aside for now. Reform proposals being discussed just piddle around the edges. Their impact is exaggerated, speculative and unverified.

A credible five- or seven-year plan would have to be drastic and comprehensive. It would have to encompass local fiscal issues because our crisis is consolidated and driven heavily by formulas that share funding. Unquestionably, that means a plan should include authorization for municipal bankruptcy if needed. On that, ask this simple question: What possible scenario is there that returns us to financial stability that doesn't include cutting outstanding debt? Nobody will answer that because there is none. Only bankruptcy can cut debt equitably.

Beyond that, pretty much every reform ever proposed, implemented as quickly as possible, would have to be included in a credible plan.

But there's no chance the General Assembly would ever authorize such a plan, right? Rauner would certainly say that and he'd be correct. Fine. But then be honest. Say, "Either you give me a new Legislature that will do this or it's hopeless." That would be a big step toward restoring his credibility.

It's probably still naive to think a credible long-term plan could ever be passed into law. But isn't it also naive to pretend one isn't essential? Is it too much to ask for that point to be made?

And even if one were passed into law, there's a darn good case to be made that it's too late—that the numbers and problems are insurmountable. Maybe congressional authorization for state bankruptcy is inevitable. That doesn't mean that nothing matters. Instead, think of a plan as disaster mitigation, and maybe the first draft of a bankruptcy plan.

If all this seems harsh, it's because the prevailing formula just isn't working, which is "Don't scare the children." Instead we need credible, straight talk. Get on with it.

Mark Glennon is executive editor and founder of Wirepoints, a news aggregation, research and commentary firm.



http://wvik.org/post/even-without-bu...pends#stream/0

Quote:
Even Without A Budget, Illinois Spends And Spends
Spoiler:
Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to unveil his fourth budget proposal Wednesday in a speech to the General Assembly.

Illinois lawmakers have only enacted budgets for one of the three years he’s been in office.



That led to service cuts and some layoffs, but the state didn’t collapse. For most people, life went on as normal.

So we asked Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey: Does it really matter if Illinois has a budget?

The short answer is: Yes.

Without a budget, taxpayers don’t get a say in how Illinois spends money. But they still have to pay for it.

That was not always obvious. Back in summer 2015, when the budget stalemate began, most people thought state government would be paralyzed.

News report montage:
“Illinois is going to run out of money 26 hours from now.”
“The state will be without the authority to spend new money for at least a week."
“No one can be paid until the Republican governor and the Democrat(ic) majority in the legislature reach a budget deal.”

Except ... that’s not at all what happened.

Illinois government would go for more than two years without enacting a real budget.

But not having a budget is not the same thing as not spending money.

And spend Illinois did.

In the arid language of state bond disclosure documents, it's called “Spending in Absence of a Budget.”

And today we’re going to break that down and add it up.

There are four categories of this kind of spending:

The first is called debt service and statutory transfers — that includes paying off the state’s bond holders.

Altogether, that adds up to nearly $4.5 billion — all without a budget.

Next are continuing appropriations — automatic pension payments and funding for the courts and General Assembly. That’s another almost $3.5 billion — again, all without a budget.

Next are the things everyone did agree to spend money on — mainly schools — for another $11 billion dollars.

Finally, there was spending ordered by the courts. With state employees being told to show up to work, a trial judge said they had to be paid. And federal courts mandated spending on certain social services, adding up to $12.4 billion dollars — all without a budget.

When you add it all up — spending for Fiscal Year 2016 totaled $31 billion (not counting another $3 billion the state signed contracts to spend before it had the legal appropriations).

And that was just the first year of the stalemate. The second year, we did it again, and actually increased spending by another $three billion.

Over two years, Illinois spent or obligated $71 billion — all in the absence of a budget.

So not only did we not save money during the impasse — we went deeper in debt.

That’s because the stalemate began not long after an automatic tax cut, leaving a budget deficit of roughly $11 billion dollars over those two years.

The impasse was finally broken last summer, when more than a dozen Republicans turned on Rauner and worked with Democrats to pass a tax increase and a real budget for the first time in two years.

Which brings us up to now.

Rauner has said his budget address will “propose a process to begin to roll back the tax hike that was passed over my veto list summer."

Gov. Rauner says Illinois doesn’t need all that money. But that is not a widely held view.

"Absolutely not," says Steve Andersson, a Republican state representative from Geneva. He was one of the ringleaders of last summer’s revolt against the governor.

“We cut $3 billion out of the budget last year. But to continually find more and more of that, it’s no longer cutting the fat, so to speak, now you’re into the bone and the marrow."

Regardless of what the governor proposes in his budget address — or what legislators come up with on their own — the biggest question about the Illinois budget is not how much will be spent on what programs — it’s whether there will be a budget at all.


Illinois Newsroom is a regional journalism collaborative (RJC) focused on expanding coverage of education, state politics, health, and the environment. The collaborative includes Illinois Public Media in Urbana, NPR Illinois in Springfield, WSIU in Carbondale, WVIK in the Quad Cities, Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, and Harvest Public Media. Funding comes from the stations and a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).


http://cgfa.ilga.gov/Upload/2018Mood...st.pdf#new_tab

Quote:
State of Illinois Forecast Report
Prepared for the State of Illinois Commission on
Government Forecasting and Accountability

Summary
Illinois’ economy is staking out modest gains, and the passage of the first state budget in
more than two years signifies a vital achievement. August 2017 marked the first month since
September 2015 that no Illinois metro area was in recession, according to the Moody’s Analytics
business cycle tracker, which combines employment, factory output, homebuilding and
house prices into a single indicator. While single-family housing is sluggish, with weak construction
activity and subpar price growth, the apartment market is on a tear.

Still, Illinois does not measure up to the rest of the country in most gauges of economic
performance. Employment is increasing more slowly than the Midwest and U.S. averages, the
labor force has fallen to its lowest point in more than 10 years, and the weak job market and
worsening population trends have set personal income back. Several private service industries
are slowly advancing and manufacturing has recouped some jobs, but construction and the
public sector are stuck in the mud. Weaker consumer demand than in other states is generating
less growth in population-dependent industries such as retail and leisure/hospitality.

Longer term, Illinois has a lot of what businesses need to thrive—talent, access to customers
and capital, transportation hubs—but painful fiscal reforms are needed before it can fully
capitalize on these strengths. To be a solid performer longer term, the state must navigate its
fiscal challenges without doing lasting damage to its business climate. The state’s demographics
present it with another challenge, as an aging population coupled with a trend toward fewer
workers hampers job and income gains, which are forecast to be below average over the extended
forecast horizon.
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  #682  
Old 02-14-2018, 01:23 PM
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https://www.ilnews.org/news/state_po...21f920264.html

Quote:
Fiscal watchdog: Budget address will be just words, must judge actions
Spoiler:
With Gov. Bruce Rauner preparing to deliver his budget address in Springfield Wednesday for the coming fiscal 2019 budget, government finance watchdog Truth In Accounting Director of Research Bill Bergman said the address will just be words. The actions thereafter are what’s important.

“Illinois historically has been among the biggest miscreants in, for instance, not delivering revenue ahead of expenses and thereby balancing its budgets in the past,” Bergman said.

That’s the reality when matching up the most recent audited financials of fiscal 2016 with the budget address for that year.


“What happened in that fiscal 2016 results? The total expenses reported for the state of Illinois exceeded total revenue by about $6 billion,” Bergman said, “[That's] a bigger gap than the year before despite the fact that we got the message that we were going to be reducing or eliminate the ‘structural deficit.’

“We had a significant increase in the actual debt, the unfunded debt, including the unfunded retirement benefits in the pension systems, and the medical care benefit system and borrowing effectively rose significantly,” Bergman said.

The current budget imposed over the governor’s veto last summer appropriated $36 billion. Even with a $5 billion tax increase, the budget was still out of balance. That followed more than two years of lawmakers not passing a full budget.

Bergman said the fiscal 2018 budget, which included that $5 billion income tax increase, dismissed another reality, and that’s continued outmigration.

“Whether or not that tax base will be there next year or the year after that is the uncertainty related to migration trends and is not in our favor,” he said.


Illinois lost more than 33,000 people from 2015 to 2016, following a trend of thousands fleeing the state each year.

Bergman said the state needs more timely audited annual financial reports to help plan for future budget years.

“One step going forward is to do our best to deliver reliable and audited financial statements sooner rather than later in the planning process,” Bergman said. “In addition, going forward, our belief is budget accounting itself needs to be transformed and moved a world away from a largely cash-based accounting into a full accrual accounting of budgeting and calculating costs on an accrual basis as opposed to simple cash calculations.”

That would include all the state’s unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities. TIA has in the past put Illinois' unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities at more than $200 billion.

Rauner has indicated he wants to decrease the income tax to 3 percent over time but said he does plan on increasing funding for education. The speech is at noon Wednesday.
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  #683  
Old 02-15-2018, 05:33 PM
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BUDGET

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-i...KCN1FY36I?il=0

Quote:
Illinois governor takes aim at pensions, healthcare costs in budget

Spoiler:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a $75 billion fiscal 2019 budget on Wednesday that would be balanced if lawmakers agree to push some big-ticket costs onto local school districts and universities.

FILE PHOTO: Illinois Gov-elect Bruce Rauner speaks to the media after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and other Governor-elects from seven U.S. states at the White House in Washington, DC on December 5, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo
The budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, which includes $37.6 billion in general fund spending, would save money by phasing out state funding for certain pension costs.

It also seeks to cut $470 million from employee healthcare costs by removing that benefit from collective bargaining with unions. With health coverage and pensions accounting for 25 percent of state spending, the Republican governor said Illinois needs to make changes.

“If we don‘t, our finances will continue to deteriorate, our economy will remain sluggish and our tax burdens will stay high and keep rising,” he said in his fourth budget address to the legislature.

Illinois’ credit ratings have fallen to the lowest level among the states due to a huge $129 billion unfunded pension liability and an unpaid bill backlog that ballooned to more than $16 billion during a budget impasse.

The stalemate, which left Illinois without complete budgets for an unprecedented two straight fiscal years, ended last July when the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted a fiscal 2018 spending plan and $5 billion income tax hike over Rauner’s vetoes.

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said some of Rauner’s proposed spending cuts face opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.

“We’ve totaled about $1.5 billion in cuts that won’t pass because his own members won’t want to do it,” Cullerton said in a public television interview.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin applauded Rauner for proposing “a fair, reasonable and balanced budget.”

The budget envisions shifting certain education-related pension costs to schools and universities by 25 percent annually over a four-year period.

The shift would cost school districts $490 million in fiscal 2019, with a $228 million hit to the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools. The Illinois Association of School Boards said this would revoke the promise of higher funding under a school financing law enacted last year.

“With the new pension burden, hundreds of school districts will be receiving a cut in education funding under the governor’s budget plan,” the group said in a statement.

Universities would incur $206 million in higher pension and healthcare costs, which Rauner’s office said would be offset by a boost in state funding.

Timothy Killeen, president of the University of Illinois System, said while a pension cost shift had been expected, its pace was a concern.

“Four years to me seems to be an awfully rapid shift,” he said.

The office of Illinois’ Democratic comptroller, Susana Mendoza, said the governor’s budget fails to address the current $8.9 billion bill backlog and $950 million in late payment penalties the state owed vendors and service providers as of the end of January.

Credit rating agency officials have said they will be looking for signs of fiscal improvements to prevent Illinois’s credit ratings from sliding into junk.


https://www.ilnews.org/news/state_po...9.html#new_tab

Quote:
Statehouse leaders react to Rauner’s budget address, blasting pension cost shift proposal
Spoiler:
Critics of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget address say the proposal to shift the cost of pensions to school districts and universities will bring about a massive property tax increase.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said Wednesday’s budget address was the worst proposal to date because it uses the tax increase imposed on taxpayers last year.

“He allegedly opposed the [Speaker Michael] Madigan tax increase but he’s using the revenues,” McSweeney said. “It proves that he was for it.”


Rauner did propose reducing the recent $5 billion tax increase, but only by $1 billion.

Rauner also proposed phasing in over several years the cost of pensions back to local school districts and public universities.

Treasurer Michael Frerichs said the governor’s proposed pension cost shift would bring about the largest property tax increase in state history.

“The governor has talked about cutting income taxes and cutting property taxes, but what I heard [Wednesday] was a budget that spends just about every dollar of the last income tax increase while also shifting burdens to local school districts,” Frerichs said.

McSweeney also criticized the pension cost shift as a “massive property tax increase … and a cut in education spending and no real reform, no real pension reform.”


http://www.wirepoints.com/governor-r...sal-quicktake/

Quote:
Governor Rauner's New Budget Proposal - Wirepoints Original
Spoiler:
To be fair, no mortal could propose a budget today for Illinois that purports to be balanced unless it contained either suicidally huge tax increases, cuts that voters aren’t prepared to accept or a truckload of baloney.

But, man, there’s so much to question, criticize or presume won’t happen in Governor Rauner’s new budget proposal.

This is not an overview of everything in it. There’s more described in other articles we are linking to (a good one is linked here), but a nice summary of key numbers is copied at the bottom of this piece. These are just the big issues that jump out:

• A four-year phase-in shifting some pension costs to schools will be a key controversy, though it’s had significant bipartisan support in the past. About $490 million in savings is anticipated from that in the coming year, but Rauner also proposed boosting funding for education by $556 million, about $350 million of which is under the new funding formula that was enacted last year. Rauner emphasized that schools will be able to make up the difference in future years through reforms in unfunded mandates that drive up their costs. (That point, by the way, is being ignored by the media and critics.) That’s the right idea but Democrats want to keep those mandates because they’re sacred to public unions.

• How can you give a budget address in Illinois today and not even mention property taxes? That’s where are our crisis is burning white hot and is a humanitarian disaster in many Illinois communities, especially south Cook County. Property taxes are a state issue and not just local because so much controversy surrounds shared revenues and responsibilities, particularly schools. If cost savings from eliminating unfunded mandates don’t materialize, property taxes would spike up.

• It assumes $900 million per year in savings from a pension reform proposal based on the “consideration model,” but unions are certain to challenge that in Illinois courts, where they are batting 1.000 on pensions. It will be in court for years. And nobody has ever backed up savings claims on the consideration model with credible analysis or numbers, so you shouldn’t believe one dollar of savings will actually result from it if it’s upheld. Rauner absurdly called it “comprehensive” pension reform. It’s not.

• It would cut $228 million in pension help that CPS got in last year’s budget that bailed out Chicago, over Rauner’s veto. If he couldn’t get the votes last year how will he this year?

• It assumes savings of $470 million in employee healthcare cost by removing that from collective bargaining. Good idea, but those saving seem speculative, and Democrats and unions probably will be resolute in their opposition.

• It relies on $600 million in inter-fund borrowing and transfers — basically, raids on the piggy bank. It also counts money from sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago that they think will fetch $240 million.

• It would cut the income tax rate by .25%, which would be $917 million. However, that cut is apparently dependent on passage of the pension reform proposal.

In all, the proposed budget supposedly would produce a surplus of $334 million

Democrats, predictably, puked on the budget, with their most hypocritical criticism being that it’s not really balanced. They assume, probably correctly, that Illinois voters don’t know that the current budget they passed over Rauner’s veto, which they said “saved the state,” isn’t balanced, either.

It’s hard to see how we can avoid another protracted budget fight unless one side or the other caves mightily.

Most importantly, keep in mind that all these budget numbers have little to do with whether the state will really balance its books. Budget accounting is phony, as we’ve explained repeatedly. Just in the last then years the state’s net loss, as shown in actual, audited financial statements, totaled over a mind-boggling $120 billion, even though the budgets for each of those years were “balanced.”

The full 554-page budget proposal is linked here.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.


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  #684  
Old 02-20-2018, 03:33 PM
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https://www.ilnews.org/news/state_po...7.html#new_tab

Quote:
S&P eyeing Illinois for junk status if no progress on Rauner budget

Spoiler:
A major ratings agency says Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget is a fiscal high-wire balancing act that relies on lawmakers to enact changes in a contentious political year.

In a report titled “Illinois Embarks On A Fiscal High-Wire Act In New Budget Proposal,” S&P Global Ratings provides a top level view of Rauner’s budget.

“State spending from all funds would total $75 billion, with $37.6 billion from the general funds under the governor's fiscal 2019 plan,” the report says. “The governor also put forward a supplemental fiscal 2018 budget request for $1.1 billion that would allow agencies to submit to the comptroller vouchers for already incurred Medicaid expenses and other costs that lack appropriation authority.”


“According to the Governor's Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), Illinois' general funds will run a $590 million deficit in fiscal 2018 but would turn a modest $351 million surplus in fiscal 2019,” the report said.

S&P Managing Director of Public Finance Gabe Petek said Rauner’s proposed budget does not have a lot of room for error, especially given the state’s large unpaid bill backlog and enormous long term retiree pension and healthcare liabilities.

As in previous budget proposals, Rauner’s plan for the coming fiscal year relies on several different reforms the legislature must enact.

Those reforms include proposed $490 million in savings from a pension cost shift to school districts and universities, something critics have already said will likely increase Illinois’ highest-in-the-nation property taxes.

The budget proposal also relies on state employee group health insurance savings by decreasing taxpayer costs and increasing employee contributions, and shifts health costs back to universities and ends subsidies for retired teachers and community college employees healthcare.


“Together, these initiatives would reduce general funds' spending by $1.3 billion within these programs in fiscal 2019 relative to the current trajectory,” the S&P report said.

Then there’s the proposed income tax reduction from 4.95 percent to 4.7 percent for individuals, but that’s contingent on the legislature enacting a plan to give state employees an option of different benefit choices in an attempt to lower the state’s highest-in-the-nation pension liabilities.

“We believe it's likely that any such change to the pension benefits would attract legal challenge,” the report said.

Petek said the reforms are a big ask from the state legislature.

“That just opens up a lot of uncertainty in our mind in the ability for the plan to get enacted as proposed, at least,” Petek said.

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And don’t forget, this year is also an election year.

“Usually, election years do not make difficult budget negotiations easier,” Petek said. “So it just might be one more challenge that state policy makers will have to overcome.”

Not much budget action is expected until after the March 20 primary, which puts the state that much closer to the July 1 start of the next fiscal year.

Petek said if the legislature doesn't want to go along with Rauner, “they need to hammer out some other kind of an arrangement and other policy adjustments that would bring the state into some kind of balanced position.”

Petek said ratings agencies will be watching closely.


“We’ve been pretty clear that we would be taking a close look at the rating if there’s not progress made,” he said.

Fitch Ratings also released a report on the proposed budget, saying in its current form it’s “unlikely to garner legislative support,” and a continued “political stalemate over time could trigger a rating downgrade.”

Illinois’ credit rating is already the worst in the country, at one notch above junk status. That didn’t change even after the current budget and tax increase was imposed by lawmakers last summer.

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Old 02-20-2018, 03:33 PM
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http://www.whig.com/20180217/rauners...ting-to-qps#//

Quote:
Rauner's pension shift proposal 'financially devastating' to QPS

Spoiler:
QUINCY -- Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb says a proposal by Gov. Bruce Rauner to shift pension costs to local schools would be "financially devastating" to the district.

"It's not in our budget at all. It's not projected to be in our budget at all," Webb said. "It would be very tough for Quincy Public Schools to try to take that on."

The Republican governor proposed a $694 million savings to the state's bank account by shifting the employer portion of teachers' pension contributions to local districts over four years. Generally, employees pay 9 percent of their salaries, and this year, the state is paying 10 percent of what's owed for the year.

The amount paid by the state varies each year based on the number of TRS employees in each district. "Last fiscal year the amount the state paid on behalf of QPS for TRS pensions was $9,014,272," Chief of Business Operations Ryan Whicker said.

Schools argue that picking up the tab would have devastating effects and worsen inequity, which last year's funding change aimed to end.

"That was one step forward. This would be 10 steps back," Webb said.

QPS expects $400,000 in new money -- although final figures still are not available -- from the $350 million earmarked statewide for the evidence-based funding model, which gives needier districts extra money for educational services.

"The cost of the pension shift would be significantly more than that increase," Webb said. "That state of Illinois has a problem with pensions. They need to address that problem and solve it, not just hand it off to the local communities."

The plan is part of a $1.3 billion spending cut Rauner suggested, supplemented by $470 million in savings from dictating state health insurance terms, instead of allowing employee unions to negotiate them. Neither plan has much support in a Democrat-controlled General Assembly, and school leaders statewide argue that the shift would lead to tax increases and cuts.

"This would be virtually impossible for the district to absorb without some sort of additional funding stream," Whicker said.

Rauners' justification for the shift is that if pension costs were paid by local governments, they'd have incentive to reduce the burden.

But Webb said it's unfair to expect local school boards to pick up the cost of something that was put into the School Code by legislators and state government.

The state's Teachers' Retirement System gives retirees with full benefits 75 percent of their salary and guaranteed 3 percent increases after that – "all things that make it a great pension system but an expensive pension system," Webb said.

Phasing in the shift over four years would be especially devastating to school districts' bottom lines.

"Past plans had it phased in over 12 years, 15 years, which still would be tough to swallow," Webb said. "They need to address that problem and solve it, not just hand it off to the local communities."

Webb plans to reach out to state Rep. Randy Frese and state Sen. Jil Tracy with his concerns about the proposal and work with the Illinois Association of School Administrators and the Illinois School Board Association.

Beyond that, he'd like to see the governor, legislators, the associations and the unions work together to address the pension issue.

"It's one of the benefits that teachers and school officials work for, but it's not sustainable," Webb said. "Something has to be done."




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Old 02-23-2018, 05:35 PM
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http://www.wirepoints.com/rauners-fa...points-report/

Quote:
Why Rauner’s failures justify a reform agenda in Illinois – Wirepoints Original
[spoiler]Rauner’s failed record: The best case for a reform agenda in Illinois

By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

Download a PDF of the report

Introduction

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s leadership failures have deflated the political pressure for spending and economic reforms in Illinois.

For three years, he couldn’t convince the legislature to pursue his reform agenda. He made things worse when he abandoned those reforms over time. Contradictions and outright falsehoods also damaged his credibility. As a result, the end of the two-year budget impasse left Illinoisans with no reforms and a 32 percent income tax hike. Now, in his latest budget address, Rauner has willingly embraced the tax hike he opposed just months ago. Gone is the reformer who would turn around Illinois.

But while Rauner deserves his share of the blame for Illinois’ disastrous results – record outmigration, a shrinking population and a near-junk credit rating – the reform policies he initially espoused can’t be blamed. They were never implemented. They were blocked at every turn.



Instead, Illinois continued – and continues – to be run by the same failed status-quo policies that have wrecked Illinois for nearly three decades. The same fake budget process. The same punishing workers’ comp laws. The same restrictive labor laws. Growing pension promises. More borrowing. And ever-increasing property and income tax burdens.

Yes, Rauner contributed to Illinois’ mess. But his inability to change anything, ironically, only strengthens the case for structural reforms. The longer Illinois’ status quo policies remain in place, the more this state will continue to decline.

Rauner’s three years

Every statistic that could have gone against Rauner during his term did. The state’s working-class job base shrank, even as every one of Illinois’ neighbors added tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

The state’s pension shortfall rose by $25 billion and hit an all-time high of $130 billion. Unpaid bills spiked to a record $16 billion, up from just $6.6 billion when he took office.

The state’s credit rating also suffered eight downgrades from the three major rating agencies. The threat of a junk rating is now a real possibility – the state is just one notch away. Both S&P and Fitch have warned Illinois cannot withstand another budget fight despite the tax hike passed last year.

And people continue to flee Illinois in record numbers. As a result, the state’s population has shrunk every year Rauner’s been in office – a distinction only shared with West Virginia.

The net result has been pain for everyone. Taxpayers face higher burdens. Illinois’ most vulnerable have seen social services cut. And state workers’ retirement security has worsened.

But none of the above is directly due to Rauner’s reform policies. Other than a major increase in funding for K-12 education – which effectively guaranteed Illinoisans a tax hike – Rauner’s proposals were constantly rejected by House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Even the negative effects of the budget impasse didn’t come from anything Rauner got passed. The stalemate – and a government that spent recklessly while on autopilot – simply exposed all the dysfunction in Illinois, making things a whole lot worse a whole lot faster.

The reality is that Illinois has worsened due to the status-quo agenda set by Madigan and its former governors, from Jim Edgar to Pat Quinn. It’s their pension, spending and borrowing policies that are still locked in place.

That’s not to say Rauner is blameless. Far from it. As governor, Rauner never made the case for why his agenda was essential and continuously whittling down his own proposals.

Few people knew where he stood, including his own caucus. As a result, he lost the 2018 budget battle. His unwillingness to engage in policy and negotiations contributed to his loss.

Today, though he still talks sporadically about term limits, fair maps and perhaps a partial property tax freeze, Rauner has abandoned most of his previous campaign’s 44-point reform agenda. He even used every dollar of the new tax hike to craft his record-spending $38 billion budget proposal for 2019.

The result: Rauner has made it easy for lawmakers to divert the failures of the status quo – most of them decades old – onto him and, more importantly, his attempts at change.

That may doom Illinois to many years without any new efforts to pass comprehensive reforms.

Anyone honestly seeking a balanced picture of why reforms are so urgent – and an understanding of why the status quo has to change immediately – should examine the facts before and during Rauner’s term. Illinois’ destructive status quo will become quite apparent.

Manufacturing jobs

Critics blame Illinois’ manufacturing woes on Rauner and his constant complaints of Illinois’ economic dysfunction.



However, Illinois manufacturing lagged that of its Midwest peers long before Rauner took office. Since 2000, Illinois has lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs, or nearly a third of its manufacturing base, to other states and countries. Over 98 percent of those losses happened before Rauner’s term.

Job creators have long been forced to struggle with the state’s high property taxes, punitive workers’ comp costs and a growing debt burden.

Rauner isn’t responsible for that. His opposition is. They blocked his workers’ comp reforms. They stifled every labor reform he proposed. They kept the status quo in place. They – and not Rauner – should own the continuing collapse in manufacturing.

Worse, Illinois is falling behind just by standing still. All of its neighbors have enacted reforms to attract more manufacturing to them.

Every neighboring state has reformed their labor laws or restricted collective bargaining to some extent. Some like Indiana, have cut taxes. And all have passed right-to-work laws.

The results of their reforms couldn’t be clearer. Most of Illinois’ neighbors have recovered significantly since the Great Recession. Illinois hasn’t.

Since January 2010, Illinois has regained just 24,000 manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has recovered over 56,000 jobs. Indiana, half Illinois’ size, has added nearly 100,000 jobs. And Michigan has recovered 150,000 jobs.



The decline in Illinois manufacturing isn’t a Rauner problem, it’s a status quo problem. Every day lawmakers refuse to pass common-sense workers’ comp and labor reforms is another day Illinois becomes less competitive. And that means fewer jobs for Illinoisans.

Unpaid bills

Opponents also pin Illinois’ massive increase in unpaid bills squarely on Gov. Rauner.

The budget impasse, with its continuing appropriations, court orders and consent decrees propelled spending, and consequently, the state’s backlog, to a record $16 billion.



Ironically, even without a budget, the state spent more than it ever had before. The impasse only helped to reveal the dysfunction that defines Illinois.

But on top of that, the impasse backlog was made worse by the unpaid bills that had been building since at least 2001, the last year that Illinois had a balanced budget.

Illinois’ backlog has been a chronic problem every year since then. Unpaid bills had already reached as high as $9 billion in 2013, two years before Rauner took office.

Lawmakers who let those bills accumulate in 2001 and every year after are just as much to blame for Illinois’ backlog as Rauner is.

Credit rating

Illinois was downgraded eight times during Rauner’s first three years in office. Those downgrades have left the state’s credit rating just one notch above junk.

Critics pin those downgrades on Illinois’ two-year budget impasse, which they attribute entirely to Rauner. But just like the fall in manufacturing, Illinois’ credit rating was already in freefall long before the budget impasse.



In fact, Illinois was the worst-rated state in the nation by 2010, five years before Rauner took office.

The impasse simply extended the financial gimmicks and accounting tricks that lawmakers have perpetuated for years.

Illinois hasn’t balanced its budget since 2001. Those unbalanced budgets and Illinois’ growing pension liabilities led to 13 credit downgrades between 2009 and 2013, all under Gov. Quinn’s watch.

Critics also blame the 2015 expiration of the 2011 temporary tax hike for the initial downgrades that occurred under Rauner. The loss of revenue, they say, made downgrades inevitable.

But their criticism ignores the five downgrades that occurred during the 2011-2014 tax hike. Even the $32 billion in new money from the hike failed to quell the rating agencies’ concerns about Illinois’ fiscal mess. They were right to be concerned. Lawmakers took the money and spent it without reforming anything. That left Illinois at the edge of a fiscal cliff in 2015.

Illinois’ politicians have learned nothing since then. An unbalanced 2018 budget and a $5 billion tax hike have also failed to satisfy the rating agencies. Illinois is still very much in danger of falling into junk, according to both S&P and Fitch.

If lawmakers continue to use accounting tricks instead of passing real reforms, Illinois will be the first state ever to be given a junk rating.

Pension crisis

The state’s pension debt is another problem that’s grown over the years, regardless of the governor in office.

In 2000, the shortfall in the state’s pension funds was $16 billion. By the time Rauner was elected in 2014, it had already ballooned to $105 billion.



Politicians during those years made the crisis worse by not tackling the growth in the promises they made to workers.

Instead, their “fixes” resorted to borrowing – three pension obligation bond issues in 2003, 2009 and 2010 – and tax increases (2011-2014).

That was a mistake. More funding only fueled an increase in out-of-control pension benefits owed to state workers and retirees.

Illinois had the 3rd-fastest benefit growth in the nation from 2003-2015, according to a Wirepoints’ analysis of Pew pension data. Only New Jersey and New Hampshire grew their pension benefits faster.

In the heat of Illinois’ pension crisis, Illinois politicians let benefits grow at an incredible 7.5 percent annual pace.

In contrast, neighboring states like Michigan and Wisconsin grew their pension benefits at more reasonable annual rates of 3.3 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.

If Illinois benefits had grown at the same pace as Wisconsin’s over that time period, Illinois’ pension shortfall would be a more manageable $45 billion today, not $129 billion.

Madigan and former governors Blagojevich and Quinn handed Rauner a mess. Not only did they ignore pension benefit growth, their funding actions damaged the Illinois economy and sapped taxpayers.

The pension obligation bonds increased Illinois’ borrowings by nearly $25 billion. And the 2011-2014 tax hike sucked nearly $32 billion in new taxes from the economy and Illinois residents.

Their irresponsible actions left Rauner in an impossible position: about a fourth of his budgets were consumed by pension costs.

And according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, that’s going to be the case for every budget for the next 25 years at least.



With so much money going to retirements rather than services, Illinoisans clearly have a case to demand the boldest pension reforms in the nation from their lawmakers.

Outmigration

What best captures Illinois’ dysfunction is, arguably, the number of people fleeing Illinois.

In 2016 and 2017, Illinois netted record domestic outmigration losses of 110,000 and 115,000, respectively.



The number of people leaving has reached such a high level that births and international immigration are no longer able to offset those losses. Illinois’ total population has actually shrunk four years in a row, a sad distinction shared only with West Virginia.

Critics blame the budget impasse and Rauner’s drive for reforms for the flight of Illinoisans, but once again, they ignore the fact that people were fleeing Illinois long before Rauner took office.

From 2000-2014, Illinois lost a net of more than one million people to other states. That’s the equivalent of wiping Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield, Peoria, Elgin and Waukegan off the map.



Finally changing the status quo

There’s no question that Rauner’s failure to lead and his abandonment of reforms have left Illinois worse off. But the economic and fiscal declines of his term aren’t due to any reform agenda. They’re the result of the underlying problem in Illinois: the policies that make up the state’s destructive status quo.

This report could include far more indicators of Illinois’ long decline. Both Medicaid enrollment and costs have spiked. Property taxes have grown to the highest in the nation. Income growth is stagnant compared to other states. All those additional facts would tell a similar story to what’s already included above.

In the end, virtually every fiscal and economic statistic serves as a powerful condemnation of Illinois’ status quo.

They should be used as ammunition to repel any proposed tax hikes and to promote tax relief.

They prove, in combination with Wirepoints’ recent research on pension benefit growth, that Illinois needs aggressive action to cut the cost of benefits today and to end pensions going forward.

And the manufacturing jobs numbers speak for themselves. Illinois needs aggressive workers’ comp and labor reforms to stay competitive when compared to its neighbors.

All these reforms, and more, should be bipartisan. These changes aren’t about left or right, Republican or Democrat.

They’re about making Illinois livable again for all Illinoisans.

Download a PDF of the report


[spoiler]
pdf link:
http://www.wirepoints.com/wp-content...ts-2.22.18.pdf

a couple graphs/charts

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http://www.wirepoints.com/ten-trends...ints-original/

Quote:
Ten trends dragging Illinois toward insolvency – Wirepoints Original
Spoiler:
With Illinois’ decline in full display for the nation to see, proposals for fiscal and spending reforms should dominate the campaign and political landscape. After all, virtually every budget and economic trend in Illinois is pointing towards insolvency sometime in the near future.

But that’s not the case, certainly not on the campaign trail. Some ads are trying to make pension reform proposals toxic, while others promote billions more in tax hikes and fees. Both worsen the burden on Illinoisans and perpetuate Illinois’ crisis.

The majority of ads are attack ads. Almost entirely missing from the airwaves are the reform proposals Illinoisans desperately need.

The situation is just as bad legislatively. Financial and accounting gimmicks keep the games going. Whether it’s creating shell structures to borrow more or issuing bonds to pay down unpaid bills, lawmakers continue to hide the state’s deepening problems from Illinoisans.

It’s time candidates were challenged on their actual policy proposals. Illinoisans should demand that candidates clearly state their plans to make Illinois’ economy vibrant, its tax burden smaller and its government less corrupt.

If their answers sound like the same old things Illinois’ been doing for the last thirty years, Illinoisans should consider themselves warned.

The decline in Illinois has gone on long enough – certainly long enough to know the status quo isn’t working. To demonstrate, we’ve put together a list of trends that capture much of Illinois’ collapse.

The list could be much longer and more depressing, but the ten items below encapsulate just how desperately Illinois and its residents need reforms.



The first four trends revolve around the state’s chronic budget deficits. Illinois’ budget is being swallowed by out-of-control Medicaid, pension and state worker costs that far exceed Illinoisans ability to pay for them.

1. Medicaid. Medicaid is supposed to be a safety net for our most vulnerable populations – children, seniors and disabled adults. They should be our priority. Instead, enrollment in Medicaid has ballooned to include 3.1 million Illinoisans – nearly 25 percent of the population. The program is now collapsing under its own weight and those being squeezed out of access to health care are, ironically, Illinois’ most vulnerable.

Booming enrollments, including 675,000 able-bodied, single adults, have led to booming expenditures. Medicaid spending more than doubled between 2000 and 2018 and now consumes more than 20 percent of the state’s general budget. Medicaid, combined with ever-rising pension costs, threatens to bankrupt Illinois.

Lawmakers should scrub the Medicaid rolls to ensure only eligible people receive services, request a block grant from the Federal government, and institute work requirements so Medicaid can focus on those most in need. Most importantly, Illinois needs jobs and a thriving economy. Financial independence is the best way to get people off Medicaid.



2. State worker salaries. State AFSCME worker salaries continue to grow in good times and bad. Meanwhile, the private sector earnings that pay for state workers have stagnated.

State worker salaries grew more than 40 percent between 2005 and 2015, the last year AFSCME had a contract with the state. During that same period, median private-sector earnings in Illinois grew only 11 percent, half the rate of inflation.

The governor’s last, best contract offer to AFSCME – which calls for a salary freeze and for workers to pay for 40 percent of their healthcare costs – would cut down on the disparity between state worker compensation and taxpayers’ ability to pay for those benefits.

3. Pension promises. Total pension benefits owed to state workers and retirees are swamping the Illinois economy and taxpayers’ ability to pay for them. Benefits grew 1,061 percent between 1987 and 2016. That’s eight times more than household income growth (127 percent) and nearly ten times more than inflation (111 percent) over the period.

A full fourth of the state’s general budget now goes to pay for pension costs. And according to projections, things will remain that way for the next 25 years.

Salary freezes, headcount reductions, consolidation of governments, the elimination of pensionable perks, and restructuring/bankruptcy options – all need to be implemented until a constitutional change can be made.



4. Unpaid bills. Illinois politicians have spent more than they take in year after year. It’s why Illinois has been running an unpaid bill backlog since at least 2001, the last time Illinois had a truly balanced budget.

Unpaid bills reached as high as $9 billion in 2013, three years before the recent budget impasse even began. At their peak, unpaid bills hit a high of $16.7 billion.

Today, the backlog is back below $10 billion, but don’t let that number fool you. It’s only lower because the state borrowed $6 billion from the bond market to pay down the bills. In the end, the state borrowed from the mortgage to pay down the credit card.





The next three examples revolve around keeping people in Illinois. People are finding it hard to stay due to a lack of jobs, growing tax burdens and high education costs.

5. Manufacturing: Since 2000, Illinois has lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs, or nearly a third of its manufacturing base, to other states and countries.

Since the Great Recession, Illinois has recovered just 24,000 manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile, Wisconsin and Indiana, both half the size of Illinois, have recovered over 56,000 and 96,000 jobs, respectively. Michigan has recovered 150,000 jobs.

Every day that lawmakers refuse to pass commonsense reforms to workers’ comp, property taxes and labor rules is another day Illinois becomes less competitive compared to its neighbors. And that means fewer good middle- and working-class jobs for Illinoisans.

df30ca13-e748-44be-9c86-a6d6e89f2d82.png

6. Property taxes. Illinoisans’ incomes have been stagnant for years. Between 2000 and 2015, median household incomes increased by just 24 percent, far short of inflation. In contrast, total property taxes across the state have grown 100 percent over the same time period.

The average property tax bill now consumes 6.7 percent of household incomes. That’s up 55 percent compared to 2000. It’s why Illinoisans now pay the highest property taxes in the nation.

Lawmakers can cut tax burdens by enacting a comprehensive property tax freeze. The freeze should remove burdensome state mandates on localities and give communities control over their retirement systems.



7. Higher Ed tuition. A near doubling of higher ed tuitions are pushing thousands of Illinois students out of state each year. In 2014 alone, The New York Times reported Illinois lost a net 14,000 students. That year’s loss was part of a long-term trend.

High tuitions aren’t due to a lack of state funds. The state appropriates far more to higher ed than its neighboring states do. Instead, they’re using tuition dollars to fund more high-paid administrators. Since 2005, the number of university administrators in Illinois has grown 26 percent even as student enrollment has dropped 3 percent.

Too many administrators, executive style pay and excessive pensions are pushing up higher ed costs. Keeping students – Illinois’ future – in the state means bringing down those costs in line with peer states.





The last three trends demonstrate the impact of Illinois’ decline. Nothing better captures Illinois’ collapse than the state’s collapse toward a junk rating. Except, of course, the fact that residents are leaving in droves.

8. Credit downgrades. Illinois’ credit rating has been downgraded 21 times by the big three rating agencies since 2009. It’s clear they don’t like what politicians are doing, and yet politicians continue to do the same things.

Illinois was already the nation’s worst-rated state by 2010. Today, it’s just one notch away from being the nation’s first ever junk-rated state.



9. Outmigration. Residents have been leaving at an alarming rate to find better opportunities in other states. From 2000 to 2017, Illinois lost a net of more than 1.3 million people to other states. That’s the equivalent of wiping Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield, Peoria, Elgin, Waukegan, Cicero, Champaign and Bloomington off the map.

It will only get worse without reforms. A 2016 survey by the Paul Simon Institute found that 47 percent of Illinoisans polled said they want to leave the state. Their number one reason for wanting to leave? Taxes.



10. Population loss. What’s worse, domestic outmigration has reached such a high level that births and international immigration no longer offset those losses.

Illinois’ total population has now shrunk four years in a row. That’s a sad distinction shared only with West Virginia.



All the facts above point to a state in steep decline. The single fact that Illinois has actually lost population four years in a row is evidence enough that Illinois is in deep trouble.

Yet all politicians do is offer Illinoisans more of the same. Overborrowing, overspending, higher taxes and corrupt budget practices haven’t turned around Illinois. It’s time to try the opposite.


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Old 03-05-2018, 03:02 PM
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https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamand.../#1d13678e4221

Quote:
The 'Big Dogs' of Illinois Municipal Government: 2017 Edition
Spoiler:
Who are the 'Big Dogs' in 2017 – our list of the most highly compensated public employees in Illinois local government? It's a who's who of public servants – but most you've never heard of – who learned how to game the system for personal gain.

The latest salary and compensation data captured by our organization and posted at OpenTheBooks.com from fiscal year 2017 shows Illinois local governments needs far more scrutiny. With many Americans focused on Washington, D.C., citizens aren’t doing enough to stop taxpayer abuse in their own backyards, in their own neighborhoods.

In Illinois, 144 employees at local units of government made more than $190,000 and out-earned every governor. These highly compensated public employees work for municipalities, counties, health clinics, forest preserves, water, park, airport, and mass transit districts, and even some school districts.

See the highest to lowest 2017 municipal salaries here.

Let’s consider a few areas in detail:


Village and city managers out-earn every governor of the 50 states
In Illinois, there are 89 small-town and village administrators receiving salaries that exceed $190,000. Last year, the top five pensionable salaries went to Michael Ellis ($273,289) – Village of Grayslake (pop. 21,101); Robert Kiely ($263,287) – City of Lake Forest (pop. 19,375); Richard Nahrstadt ($261,582) – Village of Northbrook (pop. 33,170); and two administrators from the Village of Rosemont (pop. 4,236), Patrick Nagle and Christopher Stephens ($255,648).

Rounding out the top 10 were William Wiet ($255,257) – City of Aurora (pop. 201,110); Reid Ottesen ($253,137) – Village of Palatine (pop. 69,350); Kenneth Schroth ($251,870) – City of Aurora (pop. 201,110); Michael Cassady ($248,281) – Village of Mt. Prospect (pop. 54,171); and Dane Bragg ($244,024) – Village of Buffalo Grove (pop. 41,346).

OpenTheBooks.com
The top 10 Illinois City and Village Managers and Administrators (2017). Compiled by OpenTheBooks.com.

Not only are taxpayers forced to fund these administrators’ massive salaries, but, in some case, they also fund the pricey mortgages for their homes. Taxpayers are literally subsidizing housing expenses with loan forgiveness built into employment contracts.

For example, in Lake Bluff Village, village manager Drew Irvin received a $200,000 housing loan when he took the job in 2007. In the same year, Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street signed his contract, receiving a $100,000 housing loan. When asked, Street said “the down payment requirements for moving to Deerfield were significant and this was part of the compensation agreement reached with the Mayor and the Village Board.” We also asked Irvin for comment but received no response.

For small-town administrators, the compensation is sweet all the way up to the end of their service. For instance, before retiring at the end of 2017, Aurora Development Director William (Bill) Wiet received a $84,672 bump – up from $170,585 in 2016. His final year salary ($255,257) is pensionable, and taxpayers foot the bill.

Many other administrators swung hefty pay raises even without retirement on the horizon:

Aurora Public Works Director Kenneth Schroth received a $55,000 pay raise as his salary spiked from $196,296 (2016) to $251,870 (2017). We asked for comment and an PR representative issued this response, citing a change in the city’s department size.
In the tiny Village of Rosemont (pop. 4,200), Mayor Bradley Stephens’ salary shot from $169,999 (2016) to $222,960 (2017). This pay raise came after Stephens ran unopposed for re-election, adding another four-year term to his 10-year mayoral career. In 2018, Stephens is set to make more than $260,000.
Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli received a $49,699 bump as his salary jumped from $173,907 (2016) to $223,606 (2017). We reached out to Zuccarelli twice for comment, but he did not respond.
Michael Cassady, Village Manager of Mt. Prospect, received a $37,301 raise. Cassady made $248,282 (2017) compared to $210,9981 (2016).
When Dane Bragg signed a contract extension as village manager in Buffalo Grove, he set himself up for another four years of steady pay raises. In 2017, Bragg’s salary rose by $26,862. By 2019, Bragg can expect to make $267,000.
OpenTheBooks.com
The top 10 Illinois Municipal Employee Salary Spikes (2017). Compiled by OpenTheBooks.com.

At the local level, it’s not just the municipal managers getting in on the action. Park District bosses are raking in huge salaries: James Pilmer ($239,396) – Fox Valley Park District; Dean Bostrom ($217,446) – Hoffman Estates Park District; Liza McElroy ($217,075) – Park District of Highland Park.

Water, airport, mass transit, and forest preserve district bosses are also bringing home big bucks. Here are a few: Brian Dorn ($238,610) – North Shore Water Reclamation; Jeffrey Nelson ($220,855) – Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District; Alex Kovach ($215,429) – Lake County Forest Preserve.

Legal corruption – Illinois top “municipal salaried” employees don’t even work for government
Even private employees schemed for public dollars. Here’s how it happens.

Politically-connected private nonprofits are clouted into the public retirement system with taxpayer-backed pensions. Taxpayers have no control over the amount of annual salary awarded to these private organizations, but the salaries drive the massive lifetime retirement payouts.

In 2017, two of the top rank-and-file ‘municipal’ salaries went to Peter Murphy ($325,313) – Illinois Association of Park Districts and Brett Davis ($320,684) – Park District Risk Management Agency. Murphy has earned approximately $3.36 million since 2005. Davis received “only” $155,324 in 2005, and since then, he has more than doubled his salary.

In 2015, former Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal League (IML) Larry Frang retired on a $169,900 annual pension. In Frang’s final ten years of employment, his wage tripled from $130,812 to $392,423. His successor, Brad Cole, brought home $244,675 in 2017 after just two years on the job. IML is so unaccountable that they haven’t filed an IRS income tax return since 1979.

Nerds that glitter – school district treasurers
There are 11 township school treasurer employees in Cook County tallying up six-figure salaries. Bloom Township’s Robert Grossi pulled down $287,593 last year, the largest of these pricey treasurer paychecks. Bremen Township Treasurer Joseph McDonnell made $218,189.

We found two top-paid township school treasurers dabbling in private sector endeavors. Eugene Varnado made $249,760 as Thorton Township’s treasurer while also running his own certified public accounting firm, Eugene Varnado, LLC. Scott Wheaton made $121,376 as the treasurer of township No. 36 on top of his private law firm, Scott R. Wheaton & Associates. We reached out to Wheaton twice for comment, but he did not respond.

There are high-ranking administrators foregoing the Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS) – a system with a $100+ billion unfunded liability – for the more fully-funded Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). At Waukegan Community SD 60, General Counsel Thomas Morris made $256,292 while Bloomington SD 87 paid its Chief Financial and Legal Officer $230,445. Tony Sanders, the “CEO” of Elgin Area School District U-46, made $230,445.

Two cable TV producers employed at Niles School District 219 are making six-figures to run the district’s cable TV channel. Michael Hoffman, made $102,432, while his coworker Robert Henderson’s salary spiked from $102,766 in 2016 to $220,542 in 2017. We contacted the superintendent of Niles School District 219 twice for comment, but he did not respond.

OpenTheBooks.com
The top 10 Illinois Township School Treasurer Employees (2017). Compiled by OpenTheBooks.com.

Rank-and-file county employees raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars
DuPage County employees have a history of living large on the taxpayer dime. In 2002, county administrator Donald Zeilenga pulled in $383,156. In 2009, the chief of the state’s attorney’s criminal bureau Michael Wolfe hauled in $240,630. In 2011, county engineer Charles Tokarski made $340,147. This year, DuPage County “Chief of Staff” Tom Cuculich pulled down $209,526, up from $98,350 in 2003.

Retirement in DuPage County is a sweet deal. In his final year as chief deputy, Dewey Hartman, received $324,431 – a $159,574 bump on his way out the door. Chief Sheriff Steven Flanagan’s salary skyrocketed by nearly $100,000 in his final year. In 2017, Flanagan retired with a $258,774 pensionable salary, up from $159,506 the year before.

It isn’t just DuPage. We found other county administrators bringing home huge paychecks. In Lake County, Administrator Barry Burton pulled in $245,005; Deputy Administrator Amy McEwan made $175,265; and Sheriff Deputy John Forlenza received $176,658.

In Will County, Administrator Richard Ackerson made $193,544; Sheriff Deputy Juliann Budde made $163,578; and Undersheriff Robert Contro brought in $159,595.

The managers of Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) are racking up terrific pay hikes
The very people managing and investing municipal public servant retirement money are racking up huge gains of their own. We call it salary spiking: when salaries are jacked up for a short period to increase pensions and milk the system.

Over the last four years, IMRF Chief Investment Officer Shah Dhvani’s pensionable salary increased from $208,003 to $391,442. Executive Director Louis Kosiba’s salary increased from $126,703 in 2001 to $270,563 in 2017. That’s a $143,860 pay hike for the same job and title. These salaries are literally funded with employee retirement dollars.

At OpenTheBooks.com, we publish our comprehensive Illinois salary data in our award-winning mobile app, free for Apple and Android. Look up your hometown here.

Public service is literally defined as “serving the people.” Today, however, our public servants have figured out how to serve themselves, gaming the system to line their pockets. Until taxpayers demand change, the gravy train will continue to roll.

Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO and Founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Learn more: our comprehensive coverage of the 63,000 Illinois public officials earning more than $100,000 in FY2016 published at Forbes, click here.
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Old 03-09-2018, 11:03 AM
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https://www.ilnews.org/news/schools/...f.html#new_tab

Quote:
Transparency group finds pay spiking practices continue to cost taxpayers in Illinois
Spoiler:
A new report of Illinois public employee pay by government transparency advocate Open the Books shows 144 local government employees in the state making more than $190,000, out-earning every governor.

This is according to records they received from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Some got raises of more than double their salaries from the previous year of work.

“This is purely and simply public employee greed,” Open the Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski said. “Our report shows citizens better start paying attention locally.”


One of the notable public salaries Open the Books found in the IMRF disclosure was Robert Henderson, a cable TV producer for Niles Township High School District 219. In 2016, he was paid $102,766. In 2017, he received $220,542.

Jim Szczepaniak, District 219 Director of Community Relations, said the reason for Henderson's boost in pay last year was a settlement over unpaid overtime from 2014-15 to the tune of $102,905.05. His base pay is $94,203.20.

In the private sector, the median wage for a producer or director is $70,950, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Niles Township District 219 will get $2.6 million in state funds in the current fiscal year. The district's annual budget is $150 million, largely funded by local property taxes.

The district’s contribution to IMRF was $9,924 for Henderson in 2017, according to Andrzejewski’s data.


State law requires Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund contributions to be paid in full by the municipality, given precedent over basic daily operations.

Andrzejewski said those pay hikes are the responsibility of all Illinoisans because the cities get state money.

“They all receive a portion of the state income tax through the [Local Government Distributive Fund],” he said. “That means all of us across the entire state are helping fund these excessive pay packages.”

Some of the pay spikes resulted from employees logging tens of thousands of dollars in overtime. DuPage County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Flanagan has a base pay of $260,000 but logged a countywide high of $95,719.53 in overtime, bringing his total pay to more than $355,000 last year. This is according to the county’s ledger.

DuPage County Circuit Clerk Chief Deputy Dewey Hartman saw a pay increase of $160,000 in 2017, bringing his salary to nearly $325,000. This was the highest pay spike that Andrzejewski’s group found.

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The clerk’s office representative, John Larson, said the pay spike was because Hartman is retiring after more than 30 years with the county. His 2017 pay included a retention bonus as well as cash value for his sick and vacation days.

He cashed out that pay last year to allow that extra money to apply to his IMRF pension, according to Larson. Any increases in pay in the final three months of employment do not apply to the IMRF retirement rate.

Larson’s last day with the county is March 31.
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:34 PM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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http://www.wirepoints.com/new-rankin...den-quicktake/

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New rankings show Illinois dead worst on total state and local tax burden - Quicktake
Spoiler:
We now have the first study on total state and local tax burdens done since Illinois raised its income tax rate last year. Illinois has the highest burden — 51st among other states and DC. That’s no surprise since previous rankings done before the tax hike already had Illinois at or near the highest tax burden.

Illinoisans pay a staggering 38% more in state and local taxes than the average American with median national household income, according to the study. And that’s the right metric to look at in the study: total taxes in different states on a given amount of income.

The fully report by WalletHub is linked here. Some have questioned their conclusions in the past but this new report lays out their methodology and it’s pretty straightforward. For Illinois, while income taxes are still middling, the primary drag is high property tax rates. The study has easy to use tools to sort by different elements of total tax burden.

If this doesn’t expose the utter madness of raising taxes further, which is the central theme of Illinois Democrats, nothing will.

Another interesting lesson from the study is what it says about the Minnesota Myth. That’s the notion peddled by many Illinois Progressives that we just need to be more like Minnesota — raise taxes to match theirs to provide comparable services. They dishonestly focus on income tax rates only. In fact, Minnesota is a low tax state by comparison to Illinois. It’s ranked 31 on total state and local burden.

Either Illinois regains a competitive tax burden with competitive services or it’s doomed.

–Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.


https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst...2416/#detailed
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