Tag Archives: debt

Is an Illinois Flat Tax a Fast Track out of Debt?

It’s no secret Illinois is in a financial bind: A stack of unpaid bills totaling more than $8 billion is proof. Some people say the state would dig itself out quickly if it switched from a flat, 5-percent income tax for everyone to a progressive tax in which the wealthiest Illinoisans pay a higher percentage. But opponents say this is just a ruse for a huge tax increase that will only feed lawmakers’ desire to spend beyond the state’s means. We’ve got both sides at rebootillinois.com today. What do you think?



Squeezy-Mania Hits Illinois

In a mere 24 hours, Illinois has caught a severe case of Squeezy-mania, thanks to the Illinois’ pension predicament’s new mascot, Squeezy the Pension Python. Through no fault of his (her?) own, Squeezy attracted mostly derisive commentary when he/she debuted Sunday. Really, though, the video in which Squeezy appears offers a pretty good explanation the problem. Plus, it opens the exciting possibility of a pension reform bill written in Parseltongue.

Squeezy The Python Reboot Illinois Pension Issue



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SJR: With Supermajorities Comes Super Responsibilities

With supermajorities in the state House and Senate, Illinois Democrats now have super responsibilities, says Springfield’s State Journal-Register. They may have won the exclusive right to make some of the toughest decisions in state history — like reforming the pension system and figuring out how to pay $8 billion in unpaid bills on a $33 billion budget. And Dems alone may live with the consequences. “(I)f the GOP decides to sit out, the Democrats have earned the right and responsibility to make those decisions on their own, and whatever happens now will be on them.”


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Blago’s All Kids insurance program is a total mess

Illinois can’t blame all its problems on Rod Blagojevich, but one of the disgraced former governor’s proudest accomplishments remains one of the state’s most costly and troublesome headaches. The All Kids insurance program has seen its costs rise 22 percent since 2006 and its record-keeping is a mess, reports Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland. In one example, the state lost out on federal reimbursement for 11,000 All Kids enrollees because they were mistakenly categorized as undocumented immigrants.

Illinois Blames Politicians, not Unions on the Pension Crisis

Illinoisans aren’t stupid when it comes to the cause of the pension crisis: They blame the politicians, not the unions.  And they’re right. It was lawmakers who skipped nearly $30 billion in payments to pension systems over the years and failed to take any action as the state’s liability exceeded $83 billion. Your thoughts?

Illinois’ Monumentally Bad Decisions: Documented

Warning: This story veers into the weeds a bit about the national pension debt picture. We recommend scrolling quickly to the section on Illinois about midway down. In two paragraphs, it gives a nice snapshot how Illinois made monumentally bad decisions that turned its pension system into a threat to the entire state budget.

Great News! Illinois is only $7.6 Billion Behind in Paying its Bills

Great news, Illinois! In nine months, state government will be only $7.6 billion behind in paying its bills. That’s a 14 percent reduction, reports the Civic Federation, reports the Civic Federation of Chicago. But it’s also the most fragile of reductions – pension costs that continue to rise and other variables could delete it, the group warns.

Illinois’ Debt.

Every wage-earner in Illinois carries $55,000 in state debt, according to one analysis. “Illinois has $271.1 billion worth of debt, among the worst states in terms of total debt,” reports Illinois Watchdog. The study focuses on per-worker state debt because, “Private sector workers are at increased risk, as they are the ultimate tax base for reducing state debt.” 

Rutherford’s Figured out the Illinois Budget Out

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has a simple strategy to fix Illinois’ budget: Stop borrowing to pay the state’s operating expenses and reform the public pension system. Well, it sounds simple anyway.

Illinois’ State Debt Problem

Reboot Our Finances – Year upon year, deal-cutters in the General Assembly collect fat donations from gambling interests and dutifully write legislation to massively expand the industry’s reach in Illinois communities.

The sponsors promise that massive expansion will bring vast new revenue to Springfield. They don’t boast, though, about how they buy the votes for passage by earmarking a huge share of that revenue for their fellow legislators’ pet causes and projects. Most dangerously, the sponsors punctuate thick expansion bills with sneaky ethical loopholes.

Gov. Quinn told the deal-cutters — once more — that he will not let them sell out the integrity of the state. His bottom line: “My two predecessors, who are in jail, did not focus on ethics.”

Illinois today is right where it ought to be: A bad bill wears a veto stamp. And, to borrow a phrase, smarter minds now are free to “start over!”

Quote of the Day – “We’re not going to have loopholes for mobsters in Illinois.” – Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Illinois) on his veto of the gambling expansion bill.

Reboot Our Schools – The Chicago Teachers Union plans to file a 10-day strike notice later today, meaning a teacher walkout could begin after the majority of the city’s students finish their first week of school, sources said.

The union and CPS have been in talks for months but have failed to reach agreement on a number of matters, among them salary, pay hikes based on experience, a re-hiring policy for teachers who’ve been laid off and job evaluations.

Our children belong in the classroom, not the streets. We extended the school day so that ours is not the shortest day in the country anymore. The CPS raised property taxes, cut costs and drained all its cash reserves just to make ends meet this year. The money they had set aside for salary raises was used to hire 477 additional teachers to fill the longer school day instead.

Stat of the Day – Illinois has the 5th highest debt in the nation, according to State Budget Solutions’ State Debt Report 2012. Our total outstanding debt is now $271 billion, or $21,000 per Illinois resident – over 70% of which comes from Illinois’ unfunded pension liability.


Reboot Our Transparency – Two boards appointed by Mayor Emanuel took steps to tighten city ethics rules and enforcement. An ethics reform task force appointed by Emanuel released its second report, making 21 new recommendations designed to ensure greater compliance with city ethics and campaign finance rules. Meanwhile, a controversial board set up to lure private investment for public works agreed to fall under the jurisdiction of the city inspector general.

Among the ethics reform task force recommendations were proposals to broaden the definition of lobbyist to include agents for nonprofit organizations and allow anonymous complaints to be filed against aldermen and their staffs.  It also recommended making the city Law Department the prosecutor of alleged ethics rules violations and campaign finance infractions. And it suggested that the Board of Ethics determine if violations have occurred and mete out sanctions.

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