This is my first blog about useful things like youtube
This is my first blog about useful things like youtube
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By: Senator Neil Anderson State Senator for the 36th District
This spring, I introduced legislation to repeal the outdated and redundant Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Act. The FOID Act is nearly 50 years old. Advancements in technology and changes in the law over the last 50 years have made it a redundant, unnecessary burden on the citizens of Illinois.
The FOID Act was put in place back in 1968 to identify people who were eligible to own firearms and ammunition, and to meet the requirements of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968. A lot has changed since then. Now, we have access to instant background checks and web-based criminal databases operated by law enforcement. The requirements set out in the FOID Act have outlived their necessity.
Today, Illinois is the only state in the nation that requires such a permit to purchase or possess guns and ammunition. My legislation would repeal the FOID Act in its entirety. However, it will not change Illinois’ current concealed carry law, or change any of the current restrictions against felons possessing firearms. Federal background checks that are required before a firearm can be purchased will remain in place to ensure those who are not legally eligible are not allowed to buy a gun.
My legislation doesn’t expand concealed carry or make it easier for criminals to buy guns. It simply repeals an outdated law that places unnecessary burdens on the citizens of this state.
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.
The biggest issue in Illinois is building to a volcanic crescendo. That issue is the state budget. As everyone knows, there has been a deadlock on the budget since Bruce Rauner was elected governor. The pressure to pass a budget has become so great that Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R) and Senate Majority Leader John Cullerton (D) met to devise a “Grand Bargain.” The plan consisted of 13 separate bills that were heavy on revenue increases in the form of tax increases and borrowing, and light in spending cuts and reforms. The public outcry was so great that the planned votes were tabled until new bills could be created to be voted on the week of February 7th.
In the meantime, the credit agencies have responded to our budget impasse with yet another downgrade of our credit rating. This means that borrowing for the state is more expensive than it was when the “Grand Bargain” was formulated. Even if every provision of all 13 bills could be passed, the “Grand Bargain” as constructed is not balanced. It loses money. Every Illinoisan knows that when times are tough, we need to cut back. We do it in our personal lives all the time. This is nothing new. Unfortunately, in the Twilight Zone that is Springfield, the thought of cutting spending is laughed at. We are told that any serious budget proposal must have a significant revenue component. We are told that this revenue is in the form of additional taxes and borrowing from our future. Growth is not a consideration. These budget schemes and perceptions are what have driven the exodus of citizens from our great state. There is a plan that can reverse this trend. There is a plan that can grow the tax base… a plan that can reduce the scope of government… keep pensions solvent AND hold to the state constitution… a plan that can balance the budget without raising taxes or going further into debt.
This past Tuesday, the Illinois Policy Institute released their plan: Budget Solutions 2018. The IPI budget proposal is a plan that really looks at the budget cost drivers, shows how out of line they are with our neighbors, and what can be done about them with the least impact on rendering services to Illinoisans. All of the news stories and op-ed columns recently have pushed the narrative that we have to accept that revenue (tax) increases will and must be part of any budget solution. We submit that this is a false narrative. One can look at the tax increases in 2010 under Governor Pat Quinn as the proof. The rates were slightly higher than what was proposed in the “Grand Bargain.” Did it balance the budget? No. Did it expedite the outward migration of our citizens and dwindle down the tax base? You bet it did. Will the “Grand Bargain” do the same? Without a doubt.
Raising taxes is the easiest thing for politicians to do. They know they have a captive audience that can’t lobby Springfield, while they can assure their donors that they will not need to make changes in their pet programs. We elect our representatives to make tough, adult decisions. The Illinois Policy Institute budget plan maps out these slightly tough, but decidedly adult decisions. Illinois Conservatives endorses this plan.
State Representative Allen Skillicorn was elected to his first term in the Illinois House of Representatives last November, defeating Democrat Nancy Zettler in a race that was a key hold for Republicans seeking to break the Democratic supermajority in the State House. Representative Skillicorn now represents the 66th Representative District. Skillicorn ran as a “Real Deal Reformer,” and promised to fight for lower taxes, jobs, and government reform. Illinois Conservatives reached out to Representative Skillicorn as part of our interview series of conservative leaders in Illinois. The interview is presented below.
Q. What is your position on the “Grand Compromise” being discussed in the State Senate?
A. First, I cannot and will not support a tax hike without SIGNIFICANT reforms. Illinois spends too much on pensions and Medicaid. Illinois’ economy is shackled by high workers compensation costs and restrictive employment regulations. We need reforms far more than additional revenue to waste on inefficient government. Second, this Grand Compromise doesn’t even balance the budget for a few years. I took an oath to uphold the Illinois Constitution, that Constitution requires a balanced budget. Every Senator that supports this is violating the Constitution.
Q. If your position is “For” what are the attractive aspects? If “Against” what are the non-starters for you and what would you fight for as a necessary part of any compromise?
A. Against – Higher taxes, lack of real reform. Even the property tax freeze includes loopholes that allow taxing bodies to continue violating the intent of the tax cap law.
Q. What are your goals to accomplish during your first term in office?
A. I am optimistic that other reformers and I can pass some legislation, but more importantly transform the narrative of the Republican Caucus. Too many times in the past decade Republicans have been content to take the scraps left out from Madigan. We need to challenge the bad policies on every front and in every committee hearing. We also must challenge our own leadership when necessary. There are already some great conservative leaders like Representatives Ives, Morrison, McSweeney, Batinick, and others. We need to expand this Conservative Caucus every cycle going forward.
Q. Do you believe that State Legislatures deserve a pension?
A. Hell NO! No government employee or politician should get special treatment different from their private sector constituents. All politicians should use self-directed defined contribution retirement plans like the private sector uses. Part time politicians like county board or township trustees should never receive any pension.
Q. What does being a conservative mean to you?
A. The modern definition should be to follow a strict interpretation of the Constitution and free market capitalism. How would George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Ronald Reagan define to role and scope of government? Milton Friedman would call this a Classical Liberal position, William F. Buckley could use the term Paleo-Conservative. I would use the term Constitutional Conservative. We should be reminded of Barry Goldwater’s quote, “A Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of the social order.”
Q. How do you believe we should fix the workers compensation mess in Illinois?
A. First, we need to repeal former Governor Blagojevich’s sweetener legislation from 2005. Twelve years ago, Illinois was middle of the pack for Worker’s Comp costs. Twenty-four months after passing that sweetener law, Illinois was the 4th highest in the nation according to a study from the University of Oregon. Second, we need a strict causation standard preventing non-workplace injury abuse. Literally one suburban village has a public employee on permanent disability from a Jet Ski accident. I’m not making this stuff up.
Q. Do you support the bill currently in the State Senate (SB50) that would legalize the use
of suppressors in Illinois, as well as provide for some new aspects of gun control?
A. I fully support the use and sale of suppressors for hearing protection. Currently the federal government regulates suppressors and even taxes them. There is no reasonable excuse why Illinois needs to ban them.
Q. What is your position on term limits for Illinois State Legislators?
A. I support term limits and have introduced legislation to put the question on the ballot.
Q. You just filed a bill (HB501) that would allow Illinois municipalities to file under Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. What are the key advantages and what are the chances this bill will get out of committee and be voted on?
A. Some local taxing bodies like Chicago Public Schools are in such poor fiscal position, and they will never recover without massive tax hikes or Chapter 9 bankruptcy. My intention is to let the courts decide, without political restrictions, if collective bargaining agreements, pensions, and other contracts will be renegotiated to benefit the taxpayers. Detroit was saved by Chapter 9 and I believe many Illinois municipalities are in a similar situation.
By: Connor Kaeb
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:
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!