Policy Group Proposes State Pension Go To 401k

By Benjamin Yount, Illinois Watchdog

Illinois’ $90B pension debt can either be paid by reforming the system or long-term tax increases.

As Illinois lawmakers struggle to find a way to manage a nearly $8 billion pension payment, $9 billion in unpaid bills and a $130 billion pension debt, one policy group this week said it had some simple solutions. The biggest change in The Illinois Policy Institute’s proposed budget would immediately switch Illinois’ five pension systems from defined benefit plans to a 401(k) style retirement system, where the employee manages his own money.

“Everything (public employees) have earned up until today they would keep,” said state Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine, who wrote the pension proposal at the heart of the institute’s budget. “This makes so much sense to people back home. It is a simple plan; it doesn’t need to be a 300-page piece of legislation,” Morrison said Thursday.

Illinois has been trying to contain the skyrocketing costs of its pension plans, but lawmakers can’t agree on a single plan. There is also the question of which plan would survive a court challenge. Illinois has a constitutional guarantee that pension benefits will not be reduced.

Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman said anything that passes the Legislature will end up in court, anyway, so he’s not worried about the Institute’s plan.

Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force Making Progress

First posted at First Electric Newspaper

The deadline’s approaching for a report from the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force on how to save governments money.  The 24-member board’s supposed to make recommendations by Dec. 31 but so far the only one unlikely to raise opposition is a plan to change the oil in government cars less frequently.  As long as it’s with good oil.

Grafton Board Votes “No Confidence” In Township Assessor’s Process

from the First Electric Newspaper

After a half-hour closed session marked by raised voices, the Grafton Township Board unanimously passed a resolution of “no confidence in [Assessor Al Zielinski’s] assessment process [for 2015]” and ordered him to post McHenry County property sales data on the Township website by “close of business [today].”

Zielinski was in the closed session initially but returned to the Board Room about 15 minutes later after Supervisor Jim Kearns could be heard through a closed door and own the hallway shouting about “incompetence.”

Grafton OK’s Flat Township, “Almost Flat” Road Levies

from the First Electric Newspaper

The Grafton Board Monday unanimously passed a flat levy for the Township against property taxes due next June and an “almost flat” one for the Grafton Road District.  The Township levy was $1,158,939, exactly the same as last year’s.  The Road District levy was $834,686, a roughly $1,500 increase over last year covered by “new growth”, according to Highway Commissioner Tom Poznanski.

Governor Suspends Syrian Refugee Relocation To Illinois

from the First Electric Newspaper

Three days after deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that Illinois will temporarily stop accepting new Syrian refugees. He joined 25 Republican governors, including those in Massachusetts and Texas who’ve vowed to block the entry of Syrians into their states.

French authorities believe at least one of the Paris attackers entered France with other refugees from Syria. “Our nation and our state have a shared history of providing safe haven for those displaced by conflict, but the news surrounding the Paris terror attacks reminds us all of the all-too-real security threats facing America,” Rauner said in a statement Monday. “We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens.”

Public State Budget Meeting Postponed to Dec. 1

from the First Electric Newspaper

Scratch next week’s first meeting about the State’s budget stalemate since May between Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders. House Speaker Michael Madigan said Saturday he couldn’t attend because of a family funeral so Rauner postponed the session until Dec. 1.

Madigan said in a statement that he’d send Revenue and Finance Committee Chairman John Bradley to represent House Democrats at the meeting scheduled Wednesday in the Republican governor’s Springfield office. However, Mike Schrimpf, Rauner’s deputy chief of staff, extending condolences, said Rauner would delay the meeting almost two weeks “out of respect for the speaker’s family obligations and to help facilitate the attendance of all.”

Growth Offsets Algonquin Levy Hike

from First Electric News

Algonquin trustees didn’t even blink Tuesday as they passed along for next week’s formal approval, the Village’s first property tax levy increase in five years. The reason: thanks to a boost in the tax base, the $5.7 million levy on 2015 taxes due next year should work out to exactly the same tax rate as this year’s.

D300 Foundation Wins Casino Funds For Music Instruments

from First Electric News

The Kane County Riverboat Grant Fund awarded a $9,593 grant Friday to the District 300 Foundation For Education Excellence to purchase new musical instruments for the D300 middle schools. On hand to receive it was was Carpentersville Middle School Music Teacher Michael Kasper who taught himself to be a grant writer and lobbyist to help secure the funds.

Algonquin Calls For State To Pass Along Pass Through Funds

from the First Electric Newspaper

The Village of Algonquin sent a resolution to the Illinois Municipal League Wednedsay for the group to bale up with dozens of others from other communities complaining that the State government owes them $150 million in pass-through money tied up in the budget stalemate on a technicality.