Last week Elgin Council candidate Mitch Esterino mailed out a campaign advertisement to residents of Elgin. He probably spent a few thousand dollars on the mailing, but should have spent more time proof reading it instead. People make mistakes daily (myself included), but attention to detail is a valuable skill.
By Warner Todd Huston
You may have caught wind of this story last week, the story that unveiled that millions a year that the IRS wastes on faux training films and its own TV studios. But now the video of its schlocky, badly acted Star Trek parody is finally out.
The IRS pawned off this cringe inducing film on the country calling it a “training film,” but it really is just fluff and waste. There isn’t a second of any training perceivable in this $30,000 waste of tax dollars. It is supposed to be a parody of Star Trek, but, well, you watch and cringe at every bad second of this six-minute waste of money…
Suburban homeowners pay 33% of their accessed value, while in Cook county homeowners are only taxed 10% of their accessed value. That’s a big difference in school funding and for seniors trying to stay in their homes.
We also talked to some Elgin area candidates including one who claimed that cops and firefighters would have to be laid off before making any cuts in Elgin. Sorry, the majority of voters are smart enough not to believe scare tactics…
by Whet Moser | Chicago Magazine
You’ve seen the headlines: In late January, the bond ratings agency Standard & Poor’s declared Illinois the least creditworthy state in the nation, behind even longtime basket case California. (While a grade of A minus may be pretty good in school, it’s not in the credit world; see sidebar below.) In February, the Tribune’s editorial board pointed out that another prominent ratings agency, Moody’s, ranked Illinois’s credit equal to that of the African nation of Botswana.
Why is this such a big deal?
Here are three big reasons:
Because roads and buildings around you could start crumbling.
On January 30, five days after S&P downgraded Illinois’s credit rating, Governor Pat Quinn pulled the plug on the planned sale of $500 million worth of 25-year bonds. The proceeds would have gone toward projects such as transportation upgrades and school construction.
by Brian Costin | Illinois Policy Institute
With the downturn in the economy, you’ll occasionally hear stories about thieves who steal public property – such as manhole covers – and sell the materials to scrap yards.
But rarely do you hear of government employees who are charged with similar crimes.
But now nine Northern Illinois University employees have been charged in, as the Chicago Tribune describes:
“An alleged scheme to sell university scrap materials and deposit the proceeds in a private bank account.”
The Tribune piece revealed other details:
Two years ago COMED and Ameren over-rode Governor Quinn’s Veto against a rate hike by contributing to most of Illinois’ legislators. A couple hundred thousand dollars goes a long way. Last week another rate hike swept through both the Illinois House and Senate. The only local holdout was Lake Barrington Senator Dan Duffy.
By Scott Reeder
Illinois News Network
Sangamon County Circuit Court Associate Judge Stephen Nardulli dealt a blow today to government employee unions who have long contended that retiree health benefits are protected by the Illinois Constitution.
Nardulli granted the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former appellate Judge Gordon Maag and other plaintiffs seeking to overturn a new Illinois law allowing the state to charge state retirees for health insurance.
“There is nothing surprising here,” said Jonathan Ingram, an attorney and a senior fellow for pension policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. “We have been saying for at least two years that retiree health insurance and pension benefits are different and that Gov. [Pat] Quinn could act on his own to have retirees pay more for their health insurance.”
Nardulli noted that retirees are not parties to collective bargaining agreements.
“They can appeal this but I’m confident that the appellate court and the state Supreme Court will agree with the lower court,” Ingram said.
One item this article misses is that IL is a double gas tax state. IL doubles the motor fuel tax to fund programs other than roads.
By Joe Cahill of Crains Chicago Business
If you pay more at the gas pump this summer, thank an ethanol lobbyist.
By all rights, gasoline prices should decline in coming months. Crude oil supplies are up and demand is down. Yet gasoline futures prices keep rising.
What gives? The answer, at least in part, is a federal mandate requiring refineries to mix ever-increasing amounts of ethanol with petroleum to make gasoline. In 2013, this mandate is expected to reach 13.8 billion gallons, up from 13.2 billion last year.
The mandate exists because of the politically powerful ethanol industry, which stretches from Illinois cornfields through executive suites at giant corporations like Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. to the corridors of Capitol Hill. Its lobbyists convinced Congress and the Bush administration about a decade ago that subsidizing an alternative fuel would help assure energy independence and reduce pollution. Ethanol makers needed the mandate because their product can’t compete profitably in energy markets where prices are based on the cost of a barrel of oil, which is cheaper to produce than ethanol.
By requiring refiners to buy ethanol, the mandate buttresses an industry that would struggle to survive on its own. The requirement also boosts food prices by raising demand for corn.
In his budget address on Wednesday, Gov. Quinn touted the number of jobs that have been created during the past two years. The governor would have you believe that Illinois’ job crisis is over. But that’s far from the truth.
As today’s labor release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, Illinois’ unemployment rate jumped to 9 percent, a 0.4 percent increase over December’s 8.6 percent rate. Even before the increase in January, Illinois had the 9th highest unemployment rate in the nation.
The increase is due to almost 23,000 Illinoisans rejoining the workforce to look for work again. Unfortunately, Illinois’s worsening economic climate means there is very little work to find.
The state’s unemployment rate is now nearly the same as it was one full year ago, when the unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent.