Texas Slashes Business Taxes… Again

“Competition is good for everybody!” – Allen

Texas legislature passes tax cuts for businesses
by Corrie MacLaggan | Reuters

AUSTIN, Texas, May 27 – Texas lawmakers sent Governor Rick Perry more than $1 billion in proposed business tax cuts shortly before the end of the biennial legislative session on Monday.

The tax-cut package – the final piece of which was approved by the House and Senate late on Sunday – includes an extension of a business franchise tax exemption for small businesses and a rate cut for businesses of all sizes.

The Republican-majority legislature also approved about $300 million in electricity rebates.

Track Government Spending With Your Phone

by Adam Andrzejewski | Wall Street Journal

With the United States drowning in runaway spending and debt now nearing $17 trillion, Americans might like to know where Uncle Sam is stashing their cash. Now they can. As long as you have the Web or a smartphone, you can track federal spending down to your own neighborhood. Be prepared, though, because the results aren’t pretty.

I’ve lived in Illinois since I was born, and I’ve watched as politicians from both parties wasted taxpayer money and profited from public largess. In 2010, I even ran for governor in the Republican primary on a platform of “Every dime, online, in real time.” I lost—but I didn’t give up on my goal.

I started a nonprofit focused on government transparency, and this March we released our transparency app, Open the Books. It’s free on Apple and Droid platforms and can be accessed on the Web at www.openthebooks.com. The app gives every taxpayer access to 12 years of federal spending.

Our work was made possible by the 2006 Google GOOG -1.22% Your Government Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and then-Sen. Barack Obama. Before this legislation, federal government spending was staggeringly difficult to track. The law posted the line-by-line transactions of federal spending since 2000 online at usaspending.gov. We built our app by taking the federal government’s unwieldy text file of 100 million rows, reorganizing it and uploading it to a searchable database that allows citizens to see the ballooning federal spending and debt right in their backyards.

Here are just three tidbits I found out using the new app:

A Reminder of What Happens in a TIF District

by Cal Skinner – McHenry County Blog

Since McHenry County Blog was started in reaction to the Crystal Lake City Council’s putting Route 14 next to the Vulcan gravel pit in a Tax Increment Financing District, perhaps you will excuse me for returning to the subject once in a while.

For those with memories that don’t go back to 2005, the Vulcan Lake TIF District was going to finance the Three Oaks Recreational Area (TORA, for short).

But right after picking Bill Cellini’s firm to do the development work, Cellini was identified as one of those “Person A” or some other designation in a U.S. Attorney’s indictment.

Cellini, who made substantial sums for the Teachers Retirement Fund from real estate investments pulled himself out of the TIF District management and, eventually, his firm withdrew as well.

Of course, anyone who drives past that Route 14 TIF district knows there has been no real estate appreciation that could possibly have paid for TORA’s development.

So, the City Council decided to high its share of the sales tax by 75% to do the same thing.

That brings us to the question of who pays for TIF-financed projects.

The answer is you, if you live or own property in McHenry County.

9,900 Illinois Government Pensioners With Annual Pension Over $100k Per Year

Chicago—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of its annual study of the top government pensions in the State of Illinois.

“Illinois House Speaker, Michael Madigan (D), and Senate Majority Leader, John Cullerton (D), continue their political charade of pension reform while the number of six-figure pensioners grows 47% in one year to 9,900”, according to TUA president, Jim Tobin.

“Illinois is quickly running out of time to deal with the government-created crisis of unfunded pension liabilities. Madigan and Cullerton engage in a carefully choreographed pension reform debate that provides political cover for their allegiance to the union bosses who keep them in power.”

“The reality is that they have crafted legislation packaged as sweeping reform that will do more harm to taxpayers than no reform at all. The Madigan version of pension reform will provide a funding guarantee that places the cost of this elite group of government pensioners squarely on the backs of taxpayers and make these outrageous pensions the first priority of the budget – before any other services or obligations of the state.”

“Real pension reforms were proposed in HB3303 which was introduced by representatives Tom Morrison and Jeanne Ives, but that bill did nothing to help the union bosses maintain favor with their rank and file and was quickly rejected by Boss Madigan.”

“The purpose of our study is to put some perspective around individual pensions, to put them in terms to which the average taxpayer can relate. Illinois taxpayers, whose average household income is $53,234, and struggle with 9.3% unemployment need to know how much Illinois’ government retirees are being paid not to work and the astronomical accumulation of those payments over an average lifetime.”

BGA: Democrats have plunged Illinois “into a fiscal and ethical sewer”

* From the Non-Partisan Better Government Association

“Democrats, who control the House and the Senate, have drawn the last two maps and reaped the benefits of their gerrymandering.

They’ve also completed the ignominious task of plunging Illinois into a fiscal and ethical sewer.

So the voters replaced them with Republicans, right?

Hardly.

The Dems actually picked up enough new legislative seats last fall to amass veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

Counterintuitive, but true.”

Click here for more…

In some districts the Dems fielded stronger candidates or ran better campaigns, but in others gerrymandering made the difference.

5-16-13 Left Right and You With The Red Light Doctor

May 16, 2013

Another great show! The Red Light Doctor Barnet Fagel joined us to discuss constitutional and technical problems with the red light camera racket.

To learn more about red light cameras and your rights behind the wheel see www.motorists.org today.

We also discussed the most scandalous administration in the history even though Jeff still has a man crush on the President. Either listen here or download the show!

RIGHT CLICK TO DOWNLOAD left-right-and-you-05162013-red-light-doctor

New Report Casts Doubt On Safety Claims Of City’s Red Light Camera Program

Posted at The Expired Meter

For years, opponents of Chicago’s red light cameras have argued the program was not based on improving traffic safety, but on generating tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Critics say, a report released Tuesday by the Chicago Inspector General’s Office backs up their claims and, according to one alderman, undermines the basis for the program’s existence.

“Our audit uncovered little evidence that the overarching program strategy, guidelines, or appropriate metrics are being used to ensure the [Red Light Camera] program is being executed to the best benefit of the City or the general public,” the report summarized.

IDNR Awards Grant For Brunner Forest Preserve Near Algonquin

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This weekend Governor Pat Quinn announced $15.3 million in local park project grants including one to help develop the Brunner Family Forest Preserve just south of Algonquin.  The grants, through the state’s Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program, covered 45 park projects, most in Northern Illinois

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County won $400,000 for the initial development of 384 acres of the 741-acre Brunner Preserve on Route 31.  Development components include parking, two shelters, trails along the edge of the Fox River, fishing stations, interpretive signs, and habitat/wetland restoration.

The District bought the land five years ago between the 29-acre Buffalo Park Forest Preserve at the south edge of Algonquin and the the 396-acre Fox River Shores Forest Preserve at the north edge of Carpentersville.  The OSLAD program, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is funded through the Real Estate Transfer Tax on every property sale in Illinois. Grant recipients pay for at least half of the total project cost so the District plans about $800,000 worth of upgrades at the Brunner Preserve.

AARP Fights Against Utility Rate Increases

Press Release from AARP’s Legislative Arm:

UPHOLD THE GOVERNOR’S VETO OF SB9!

SB 9 is follow up to the controversial 2011 legislation (SB1652) passed by the Illinois General Assembly writing utility company profits into state law by guaranteeing companies a return on equity of over 10 percent, and nearly automatic annual rate increases.

SB 9 further tilts the balance in favor of Illinois utility companies by allowing them to circumvent Illinois’ regulatory process and avoid paying back a multi-million dollar rate cut ordered by the Illinois Commerce Commission last year. The language in SB 9 allows ComEd and Ameren to not only avoid paying refunds to consumers; it allows them to instead receive a retroactive rate hike with interest.

Illinois General Assembly passage of SB9 was premature since the utility’s objections to the ICC rate cut decision are currently under consideration by the Illinois Appellate Court. SB9 also further ties the hands of the ICC by deeming ComEd and Ameren to be in compliance with their promised performance metrics, despite ComEd’s delayed implementation of smart meters.