There are a lot of uniquely bad budgetary practices in Illinois that if ceased now, could save taxpayers millions.
This is important to remember not only in the context of budget negotiations, but also when judging different groups’ complaints about the budget impasse. If nothing else positive, the impasse has brought certain bad practice to light.
This could not be more evident than with a lawsuit this week coming from Chicago Public Schools, or CPS. CPS is suing Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Board of Education, accusing the state of employing “separate and unequal systems of funding for public education in Illinois.”
The lawsuit asks that the state be found in violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act for maintaining what CPS calls “separate and unequal” systems for funding school districts and pension obligations. The lawsuit points out that most CPS students are minorities and poor, while public school students in the rest of the state are “predominantly white.”
CPS could be right that there is some sort of discriminatory element to the district – but more so in the fact that poor and minority students are sentenced to terrible schools by their zip code. And that CPS has blocked charter school expansion in the city at the Chicago Teachers Union’s wishes.
But what CPS is not right about is the reasons for fiscal crisis. The district’s financial problem is not due to a lack of money. The district spends an exorbitant amount of money, including on some of the highest paid teachers and administrators throughout the country. Beyond that, the district – like many others across the state – engages in the irresponsible practice of pension pickups.
Since 1981, when it was negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement, CPS has been picking up part of teachers’ pension payments each year, meaning the district (and by extension, taxpayers) has been paying 7 percent of the teachers’ 9 percent payment. This practice has cost the district $1.2 billion alone in the last decade.
It’s unsustainable, reckless practice that pushes money out of classrooms.
Pension pickups are just one part of the burden teachers’ pensions impose on taxpayers. Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS, does the pension system for teachers outside of CPS, does the same thing and has admitted it can’t meet the lofty investment return targets it previously had set for itself, leaving taxpayers with the tab for the shortfall. And TRS’ mismanagement mirrors CPS. TRS’ pension pickups cost taxpayers $134 million in fiscal year 2015 alone.
TRS’s investment return failures combined with pension pickups mean taxpayers are getting hit by pension costs on three sides. First, taxpayers pay the state’s employer pension contribution through income taxes. Second, many pick up their teachers’ required contributions through local property taxes. And finally, taxpayers have been solely responsible for bailing out the billions in pension fund failures.
Now, at the crux of CPS’ lawsuit, is the district asking for more funding, which would be at the expense of taxpayers throughout the state. Downstate taxpayers – who are already paying for their own districts – would have to bail out a failing district in CPS.
As we examine budgetary priorities during the state’s budget impasse, complaints like that in CPS’ lawsuit should be met with heavy skepticism. The district has been mismanaged and is failing financially, as well as in the classroom. The district needs significant fiscal and educational reforms before asking for a bailout from Illinois taxpayers.
By: State Senator Kyle McCarter
Last fall, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU-Carbondale surveyed 1,000 Illinoisans about state government issues. 84% of registered voters told them Illinois was heading in the wrong direction. The poll, released on Oct. 10, 2016 found that taxes (27%) were the single biggest reason for leaving.
That level of dissatisfaction is not a surprise when you see what’s going on under the State Capitol Dome. The leadership in the Senate is pushing a “Grand Bargain” budget deal that is only “grand” in its demand for more taxpayer dollars. It’s certainly no “bargain.”
It calls for billions of dollars in higher taxes on income for individuals and corporations and new sales taxes on services. Working families and employers will be hit with tax rates back up to the level they were the last time income taxes were raised. That’ll cost you and I about two weeks of pay each year that the new higher tax rate is in place. In addition to the higher income taxes are dozens of new taxes on common everyday services we purchase. The Grand Bargain calls for sales taxes on cable and satellite TV, car repairs, dry cleaning, tickets to sporting events, club memberships, landscaping and many more services, too many to list without running out of space.
The last time we had a major income tax hike, 200,000 people fled Illinois to other states and Illinois continued to hemorrhage jobs, especially good-paying manufacturing jobs. While other states made adjustments to improve their business/jobs climate, following the 2008/2009 recession, Illinois kept it “business-as-usual.”
There is amazing creativity in Springfield when it comes to taking money out of people’s pockets, but there appears to be no creativity when it comes to reducing government spending and fiscal responsibility. Shrinking the size of government means more Liberty for the people. Unfortunately, it appears some people haven’t learned from past mistakes and instead are once again taking the path of penalizing the taxpayers.
I’ve heard from many people who are upset about what’s happening in Springfield. Here are just a few of the comments:
- “Our company employs over 30 people…Our disgust with this state, the excess of Workers’ Comp and tax costs has reached a boiling point. With the introduction of the Grand Bargain…we had a vote of our board members…and made a unanimous decision to take the costly step of moving our entire business to Indiana.”
- “Since I’m an owner of a 20-employee business and it looks like Illinois is not going to help me, I’m moving 12 miles west across the river. Just sad.”
- My son-in-law and I own and operate a landscaping business in Fairview Heights. We are struggling with Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums. We have an excellent reputation…But, the burden is being placed on us by the State of Illinois. This burden is almost too much to bear, so much so that we are discouraged from growing the business and hiring more employees.”
While none of the tax increases included in the Grand Bargain have passed, just the talk of new and higher taxes is driving businesses out of state. It’s a signal that Illinois government just doesn’t get it. There’s no respect for those who are working hard and paying the taxes in this state.
There are options to the raise-taxes-or-the-sky-will-fall attitude at the Capitol that surrounds the Grand Bargain budget deal, but establishment politicians don’t want to consider alternatives.
Since 2011, I have offered ideas to balance the state budget, pay off billions of dollars in old bills, eliminate budget debt and address the public pension debt bomb Illinois is leaving to our children and grandchildren. None of these plans includes taking money from the pockets of Illinois taxpayers, rather they would ensure taxpayers keep more of their money. Unfortunately, these ideas were rejected because they required smaller government and less power for Springfield. Smaller government equals greater freedom for the people. Illinois government cannot demand a level of government the people cannot afford. Good things can come out of smaller government. Churches can do more and private charities can do more.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who successfully shrank state government and championed fiscal responsibility once said, “You will be amazed how much government people can live without, once it’s gone.”Changing the budget process to make taxpayers the priority and get Illinois’ fiscal house in order is just one step of reform state government needs and Illinoisans deserve. As the comments above indicate, there are burdensome regulations – like Workers’ Compensation – that hamstring employers, limit business growth and squash job creation.
Illinois has the highest Workers’ Comp rates in the Midwest. We are losing employers, especially manufacturers, to other states where they can save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Our current Workers’ Compensation System lacks one key component that could make a positive difference. It’s called “causation.” Adding a causation standard to the System would ensure employers are treated fairly and injured workers would receive the medical care they need to quickly to return to work. Causation is defined as the workplace being the majority cause of the injury or illness. Such a standard appears logical, but under current Illinois law an employer who is found to be only 25% responsible for an injury or illness, would still have to pay for 100% of the claim.
Why does Illinois government stubbornly refuse to address the fundamental causes of its economic decline? Why would we repeat the mistakes of the past and run people out of this state? Let’s demand Illinois’ leaders move us in the right direction. Let’s demand this government live within its means, just like you and I have to in our families and businesses. Let’s remind Republicans who claim to be against big government that the solution to this problem is smaller government instead of higher taxes.
I urge you to contact your Representatives and Senators. Ask them to answer these questions and respond to our demands. Tell them to vote no on the Grand Bargain’s new and higher taxes. Tell them, #HandsOFFMyMoney!
The Illinois Conservatives PAC were founded in 2008 and is led by a leadership team made up of mostly under 30 year olds. The Illinois Conservatives believe in limited government, balanced budgets, and lower taxes. The group is headquartered in Oregon IL and led by Zach Oltmanns. The race to replace retiring Rep. Mike Tryon in the 66th Illinois State House seat is a four-way primary race pitting conservative interests against liberal, big government agendas. The clear standout in this Republican primary contest is Allen Skillicorn. Skillicorn is enthusiastically endorsed by Illinois Conservatives PAC.
Although we have a Republican governor dedicated to turning our state around, there’s a veto-proof Democrat majority in the house unwilling to move one iota for meaningful reform. Illinois’ needs conservative leaders who can restore Republican leadership in Springfield and challenge Chicago Democratic rule.
“In a crowded primary full of local officials, the March 15 primary is about substance. Talk vs. Action. Nobody’s perfect, and I haven’t won every fight, but I’m the only proven conservative reformer in this race.“ Skillicorn continued, online casino julietta “We need a state representative committed to turning our state around, not simply winning a new job. Being your state representative is not a birthright or somebody’s next step in public service. The whole state of Illinois is at stake. Which candidate is actually going to work against Speaker Madigan? I’ve been doing it for years. If elected I’ll charge up mountains to help Governor Rauner save Illinois. That’s why I’m running.”
Allen Skillicorn is a Republican candidate running in the 66th State House District. He faces Paul Serwatka, Dan Wilbrandt and Carolyn Schofield in the March 15th Primary. The 66th Legislative District represents areas in McHenry and Kane Counties, including Algonquin, Carpentersville, Crystal Lake, East Dundee, Elgin, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Sleepy Hollow, and West Dundee. For more details on Allen Skillicorn’s proven conservative reform agenda, please visit www.allenskillicorn.com
(Oregon, IL) Illinois Conservatives Endorse First Candidate of 2016
State Representative Avery Bourne has been a fresh and conservative voice in Springfield since being appointed in February 2015. A graduate of Pawnee High School she has been able to give a local voice of reason to the debate on how to fix Illinois. Bourne has been a strong voice for the agriculture and veteran communities.
Avery Bourne is a strong conservative – strong supporter of the 2nd amendment and unashamedly pro-life. Avery, believes that government should get out of the way so small businesses can create jobs.
For more information you can also visit AveryBourne.com
Rock Island, IL – Surrounded by family and friends, Neil Anderson, a Moline firefighter, announced his candidacy to be the next State Senator for the 36th District.
“I am running for the State Senate because it’s time for new leadership, new energy and a new direction in Illinois,” said Neil Anderson. “I am not a politician, I am just a dad that wants to take the fight to Springfield and challenge the status quo.”
Anderson, a Republican, was joined at his announcement by his wife Brandi and their children, Steele and Sophia.
“I am not running to make a career out of elected office, I am running to make a difference for our families,” Anderson added. “On day one, I will refuse to accept the pension and healthcare perks offered to state legislators and I will work to enact term limits for state officeholders.”
Also joining Neil at his announcement was Sen. Christine Radogno, the IL Senate Minority Leader, Congressman Bobby Schilling, State Senator Darin LaHood, State Senator Tim Bivins and numerous local community and business leaders.
“Neil Anderson is exactly the kind of new leader this state needs to be successful again,” said Radogno. “Neil can genuinely relate to the challenges that families are facing in Illinois and will bring that perspective to the legislature.”
Congressman Schilling added, “I’ve known Neil for a long time. He is a leader that understands the value of service to others and I have no doubt that residents of the 36th district would be proud to call him Senator.”
The 36th District has been represented by Mike Jacobs since 2005. In that time, Illinois has been in a steady decline and currently owns the nations 2nd highest jobless rate, worst credit rating, record levels of debt & billions in unpaid bills. In 2011, Senator Jacobs supported the largest tax hike in Illinois history.
“Neil understands the devastating effect misguided policies are having on our state,” stated Sen. LaHood. “He is committed to rolling back the 2011 income tax hike and enacting meaningful tort reform, both of which will create jobs and grow the economy in Illinois.”