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Strong interest in Illinois bonds shows muni hysteria is way overblown

Thursday, Feb 24, 2011

* This article pretty much tells us all we need to know about how the muni bond hysteria is overblown and how it’s costing taxpayers a pretty penny

Investors skimmed over Illinois’ well-known financial troubles to vie for a piece of a $3.7 billion taxable pension bond sale on Wednesday.

The state received $6.1 billion in orders from a record 128 investors, according to John Sinsheimer, the state’s capital markets director.

“Well, I have $6.1 billion of bids to tell me the market was comfortable with the budget. And 128 investors must have reached that conclusion as well,” he said. […]

Bonds due in 2014 were priced at a 280 basis point spread over comparable Treasuries, versus 285 basis points from Tuesday. The spread on the longest bonds, due in 2019, also narrowed 5 basis points to 240 basis points over Treasuries.

The amped-up hysteria causes prices to jump, and smart investors know a good buy when they see one. They understand, unlike the freaked out tribe, that Illinois hasn’t missed a bond payment since 1818. The problem is, the hysteria causes prices to jump, which means taxpayers are on the hook for higher interest rates.

…Adding… This is just a ridiculous Wall Street mindset

The longest maturity in the Illinois bond deal, due in 2019, was sold at a yield of 5.877%. In comparison, a $400 million “junk” bond issued by auto-parts maker Dana Holding Corp. and maturing in 2019 had a yield of 6.24%.


* Speaking of the state’s budget troubles, right now, Downstate and suburban school districts pay only about half a percent of payroll to the Teachers Retirement System. Senate President John Cullerton wants the districts to increase their payments by about $700 million a year

The shift from the state being entirely responsible for downstate and suburban teachers’ pensions to a hybrid of state and local funding would be phased in, Cullerton told The State Journal-Register’s editorial board on Wednesday.

School districts would be responsible only for the “normal costs” of pensions – the cost of paying out benefits to retirees for the current fiscal year and funding part of the future benefits for teachers still on the job. The state would continue to pay down the debt created by decades of underfunding by legislatures and governors, Cullerton said.

Cullerton estimated that normal costs account for one-third of the state’s annual ($2.1 billion) payments to the state Teachers’ Retirement System.

Teachers currently contribute 9.4 percent of their salary to the pension fund.


* Meanwhile, the furor over the governor’s decision to immediately zero out all funding for substance abuse programs continues to resonate

Jacksonville’s Wells Center is preparing to shut down by the end of March unless Gov. Pat Quinn changes his mind about drastically cutting funding for addiction treatment and prevention.

Providers of such services were notified this week that state funding will end March 15.

“For us, the cuts began on Tuesday,” said Bruce Carter, Wells Center executive director. “We have already begun to prepare layoff notices and patient discharges, creating medical risks involved in the sudden disruption of a patient’s addiction treatment.”

* Other stuff…

* CS-T Editorial: Cut pensions but don’t bust unions

* IL advocates for disabled plan rally to protest Quinn’s proposed budget cuts

* ‘Dire consequences‘ predicted if treatment programs are cut

* Legislators call on Quinn to reverse cuts for drug programs: A Chicago legislator says she will request a symbolic vote in the Illinois House today that calls on Gov. Pat Quinn to rescind an immediate $28 million cut in state funding for substance-abuse treatment programs.

* Lawmakers trying to block cuts to treatment facilities

* Mitchell, school leaders blast merger plan

* Galva, other area schools could be in Governor’s cross hairs

* Support for Quinn’s schools’ plan

* Quinn signs crackdown on organized store thieves

* Ex-Bear Kurt Becker pushes head trauma bill

* Illinois 6th Biggest Polluter According To EPA Records

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 8:50 am:

    Completely off topic but related to discussions from the past week, I was thinking of a way to reduce school costs while incentivizing home school testing, registration, etc with the added bonus, for those who are advocates of home schooling, of supporting an increase in home schooling. I believe an average teacher makes about $50k/yr and has about 25 kids in class at a time. How about we give parents a $1k/yr check in exchange for them registering and testing their home schooled child? They’d still have the option of skipping that money and not registering. The school saves $1k/yr by higher fewer teachers because there are fewer students to teach. They also save on overhead such as training and administration of the teachers and students that aren’t there and having to build new facilities because they won’t fill up as soon as if those home schooled kids were there. I’m not sure I see any downsides to this but I’m sure someone will point out a few for me here. :-)

  2. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 8:52 am:

    sorry, higher=hiring

  3. - Illinois Mom - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:02 am:

    Regarding this school merger/consolidation proposal, is there a hit list of possible districts floating around somewhere? Did I miss this? Thanks.

  4. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:04 am:

    Of course we won’t miss a bond payment, we’ll just default on our contracts with social service providers instead.

    You can screw the taxpayers, you can even screw retirees, they won’t ever screw the banks.

  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:08 am:

    –They understand, unlike the freaked out tribe, that Illinois hasn’t missed a bond payment since 1818.–

    Something never mentioned in any credit ratings report or breathless “business” cable yakker.

    –The problem is, the hysteria causes prices to jump, which means taxpayers are on the hook for higher interest rates.–

    Problem for taxpayers, swell for investors.

    Makes you wonder about all the hysterical press.

    JB, have any retirees been stiffed on a pension payment, ever?

  6. - Anonymouse - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:08 am:

    TCL: you don’t really ‘get’ home educators, do you.

    They’d likely tell you to take your 1K and, well,(these are nice folks, so we’ll say) “keep it”.

    If you think these folks are going to trade their freedom for a lousy buck, you’re mad.

  7. - Anonymouse - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:10 am:

    Words, not yet, but it won’t be long. How’re you gonna suggest we make up the shortfall? I still like my buckabushel idea. Farmers are making the real dough. Hit them to pay for the state largess to pensioniers. They can’t leave, after all.

  8. - Truth Seeker - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:11 am:

    Rich and all….has anybody done the calculation on what percentage of teacher payroll the tax payers contribute to the pension plan? I assume it is much less than the teachers contribution.

  9. - cassandra - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:14 am:

    I’m not sure that there is a lot of public sympathy for drug addicts, especially those who aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. The fact that many if not most of those affected are young single men without health insurance probably doesn’t resonate much either. Even in generous, blue, Democratic Illinois there may be limited sympathy for young males on drugs who don’t work and pay for their treatment.

    Of course, this problem will not exist in 2014 when all will be eligible for Medicaid or some other form of health insurance. The young unemployed single addicts can get on Medicaid.

    Still, you have to wonder why Quinn picked this group for unshared sacrifice. Least sympathetic interest group? They’ll have to wait for Medicaid? The workers aren’t repped by AFSCME?
    Or, perhaps, he’s assuming that there will be a public outcry and he’ll respond by allotting some cash from his huge $8.7 borrowing spree upcoming–if it passes. I wouldn’t be absolutely sure of the latter-at leasst in the jaw-dropping amounts Quinn and Vaught want. And, from a political standpoint, how much waffling can he do. Is there a waffle limit, even in all-Democratic Illinois.

  10. - amalia - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:20 am:

    so, do I have this right, Chicago Schools take care of business and downstate and suburban do not when it comes to pensions?

  11. - Frank - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:21 am:

    Hardly anybody in the media got the actual facts concerning Meredith Whitney right.

    Whitney’s claim-to-fame, a bearish bank call on Citi, was over-hyped. Her Citi call was late. Jim Rogers, a world famous investor with a provable track record, appeared with her in early 2007 on “Cavuto on Business” and explained why he was short (bearish) on Citi. Whitney refuted him and continued to rate Citi sector “perform”, yet Citi underperformed the sector during this time period. It wasn’t until October 31, 2007, that she took Rogers’ hint and made her call.

    Likewise her Bear Stearns call was late, and her Lehman call was tardy and she or her PR people seemed to take credit for an apparently nonexistent early call on AIG. (See: “Reporting v. PR: Meredith Whitney and AIG,” TSF, March 23, 2009 .)

  12. - Capncrunch - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:29 am:

    There must be some reason that the sovereign state of Illinois which hasn’t missed a bond payment since 1818 had to pay 2.01 percent more than a private corporation (ConocoPhillips) to float a bond issue with the same A1 rating and maturity. Somehow I doubt hysteria is the reason.

  13. - Ghost - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:38 am:

    I oppose pension reform built around reducing pension benefits or the defined benefit system. Getting rid of defined benefit pensions is just pushing off the burden to the federal systemand creating a rapidly expanding class of poor/impoverished elderly. 401(k) plans are supplements for defined retirment plans, they are not supposed to be the retirmenet plan.

    That said, I fully support phasing in a process where employee’s pay a greater share of the contribtuion. I do not know what the teacher total contribution amount (employer and employee) is supposed to be to comment on their current payment of 9%.

    For most State employees, the ttal contribution is supposed to be 14% combined, and the employees pay 5% - 7 % depending on the agency and which fomula they are under.

    The State pick up used to be 11% with the employees only paying around 3%…but the State never put in the 11% and here we are today.

    I would have the employee pay the entire 14%, ramped up over time. Thus the State would never delay or borrow form the payments as they come staright from payroll.

  14. - Fed up - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:43 am:

    Rich maybe the only way Illinois can get buyers is by paying the higher interest thus costing taxpayers millions. I know it’s everyones fault but the actual persons in charge of Illinois. All of this debt can’t be Quinn/blago cullerton/jones and madigans fault.

  15. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:56 am:

    Fed Up,
    Don’t forget Thompson who started the magic balanced budgeting act that in reality shorted the pension funds. A practice continued by Edgar and Ryan.

  16. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:59 am:


    Yes, I mentioned on an earlier post on this subject that addicts were a highly unsympathetic group of people.

    I wouldn’t be so sure that they are men, though. I believe from stats I’ve seen that women’s use of addictive substances had rapidly increased.

  17. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 10:29 am:

    Way too many people still don’t get it. They keep asking why is Pat Quinn doing these terrible things to these programs. The programs are so important.

    Anyone who has paid attention over the past few years knows the answer. He doesn’t have any choice. We don’t have enough revenue coming in to state government to pay for all our expenses. There, is that still too hard to understand?

    People who know what they are talking about have been saying for 2 or 3 years it was going to take tax increases and cuts in spending to get us out of our mess. All the easy cuts are long since made. All cuts negatively effect someone, just like all tax increases negatively effect someone.

    Did anyone bother to read Ralph Martire’s recent column? He said it very well. Governor Quinn has only bad choices left to choose from. Just because Martire is more liberal than most of us doesn’t mean he doesn’t know the numbers and speak the truth.

    Hold on. There are going to be more significant cuts because the math says there have to be.

  18. - Champaign Dweller - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 10:38 am:

    What is it going to take to get people in Illinois to understand that drastic cuts in spending have to be made–every time I open the newspaper, there’s a letter from someone complaining that cuts to this or that program shouldn’t be made because it will adversely affect some group. Maybe Quinn needs to be blunter in his speeches, rather than dwell on what a great STate we are, etc.

  19. - cassandra - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 10:46 am:

    Maybe there will be more significant cuts. Or maybe just more significant borrowing. The public as a whole (and Dems and Quinn/Vaught in particular) seem not to care about the enormous costs (to the taxpayer) of borrowing huge sums of money while only minimally restraining spending. Didn’t it cost much more to borrow for the pension this year than last year–because of the way the 2011 offering was structured.

    I guess it’s up to the Repubs now to rein in the borrowing. But since the public doesn’t understand the negative side of borrowing and the Dems don’t care, why would they bother.

  20. - BW - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 10:49 am:

    Quinn needs to give up the populist rhetoric and stick to his guns. If you are going to make cuts, target the cuts, be realistic and stay the course. While Gov. Christie is clearly an idiot, he at least has the stones to stand behind his actions and not fold like a cheap lawn chair under a 500 lb gorilla.

  21. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 10:53 am:

    Wall Street know a lot more about our bond history than our state leaders. It is also their money. They understand opportunities. Wall Street has been buying our bonds at a normal pace until this week. Because while they may feel pity, they will go out of business if they do charity work for Illinois.

    Our Illinois state builders and leaders from our glorious past would recognize our situation and would not expect pity or charity because back then Illinois was a kingmaker on Wall Street and ruled LaSalle Street with similar hand.

    I guess we forgot those lessons.

  22. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:04 am:

    ====Wall Street know a lot more about our bond history than our state leaders. It is also their money. ====

    That money is no more “theirs” than tax money is Pat Quinn’s.

  23. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:07 am:

    –Wall Street know a lot more about our bond history than our state leaders. It is also their money. They understand opportunities. Wall Street has been buying our bonds at a normal pace until this week. Because while they may feel pity, they will go out of business if they do charity work for Illinois.–

    The history: never missed a bond payment. Ever. Pretty simple.

    Your child-like faith in the wisdom of Wall Street wizards is touching. But you might want to leaven your faith with some history: for starters, see Sub-prime mortgage-backed securities, rated AAA (that’s the most secure investment possible — or so we were told).

    As far as it being “their” money (whoever “they” are), well you might want to read a little history from, say, about September 2008 until about now.

    Also, there’s that neat little trick where banks can go to the Federal Reserve window, “borrow” freshly minted money for virtually nothing, and turn around and lend it the next day for whatever they want. I bet you and I could make money that way.

    Will they go out of business if they fail? History teaches a different lesson there, as well.

    Other than that, you spin an interesting story.

  24. - MikeMacD - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:13 am:

    “There are going to be more significant cuts because the math says there have to be.”

    That’s too bad. I would rather see higher revenues such as through legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. Which has about as much chance as a constitutional amendment to do away with the flat income tax.

  25. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:15 am:

    –That’s too bad. I would rather see higher revenues such as through legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.–

    You’d need federales help to tax a substance banned by the federal government.

  26. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:33 am:

    c, there’s going to be borrowing too. Maybe cash flow, maybe longer term, but borrowing.

  27. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:34 am:

    I like Cullerton’s proposal. Giving the local school districts some pain in the process would probably go a long way toward preventing last minute raises before retirement. I do not suggest that money is unfair for an overall career but that the local districts can pay lower wages then they should and fob off the retirement bump on the state. This would probably also go a long way towards forcing school consolidation by making the local districts have to be responsible for more of the real costs.

  28. - Ghost - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    === Anyone who has paid attention over the past few years knows the answer. He doesn’t have any choice. We don’t have enough revenue coming in to state government to pay for all our expenses. There, is that still too hard to understand?====

    absolutly. But cut say 1 million for ahigh school rodeo and suddenly the local fiscal conservatives are opposed to the cut.

    The GOP’s campaign and adamant refusal to support bonds to eliminate the back log of debt, or even to capture federal money which will bring in more then we pay in interest, is part of isinformation campaign which makes this issue difficult for people to understand.

    To many GOP politicians pushing forward with the idea that things can be solved without bons, tax increases or cuts to specific programs, and peppering the air waves wth such rhetoric, bing us to this point.

  29. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    Really, Vannie, it might be time to seek some help or at least try some Xanax.

  30. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:48 am:

    Vanilla M….please understand much of the mess in IL pension comes from revenue drops and asset value declines attributed to the predatory lenders and their allies on Wall Street. Include the so called rating agencies that gave the junk housing bonds AAA+ ratings.

    Hope the truth does not ruin your day

  31. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:56 am:

    Ghost, the objections came from local legislators, whose obligations I understand. Do you? You didn’t hear the R caucuses rise up about the cut did you?

  32. - Capitol View - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:17 pm:

    Speaker Madigan took the first big step towards modernizing our revenues base when he took action on the income tax increase, once redistricting was locked up. The next steps should come later this year, as an alternative to more cuts as Steve Schnorf acknowledges are otherwise necessary.

    These remaining steps are taxing seniors with pension income over $50 or $75,000 (their payments into their pensions go towards the exempt amount); spreading more sales tax to more services, and going with the Governor’s request in his Budget Message that the income tax needs to be more fairly set - meaning a graduated income tax State Constitutional Amendment.

    The prospect of terrible cuts will make these revenues restructuring actions more palatable.

  33. - Ghost - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:33 pm:

    So the local legislators are not part of the caucuses? I speifically did not hear the R Cacuses come out in support of the cut as a good start, or even as an example of cuts that can be made. I would say the silence stood as a deafening affirmation.

  34. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:33 pm:

    CV, maybe the Ds will pass a second tax increase this Spring, but I doubt it. I doubt if they try, even though the measures you suggest are good ones.

  35. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:36 pm:


    Well that’s even better for the school districts because they get to keep the full $2k. Sounds like a win-tie.

  36. - One of Three Puppets - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:46 pm:

    I thought my increased income tax would pay for state government. Now they want to come after my property taxes too? Prioritize the budget and don’t shift things around!

  37. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:46 pm:

    On cutting state funding for human services, I’m surprised to see no talk of local governments picking up the slack. If it will be as devastating as everyone says, the communities that will be most impacted could push through a referendum to increase taxes to pay for these services with local dollars. The state could even give them a hand by allowing a special emergency referedum at next month’s consolidated election.

  38. - One of Three Puppets - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:47 pm:

    I don’t mean to sound naive.

  39. - justsickofit - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 1:56 pm:

    @bigtwich, there is now a penalty to the locals for career bumps above a set amount, plus coughing up the added cost to the system. As far as consolidations are concerned, by law, the pay scale goes up to the highest paying school for all the teachers in the consolidated district — it means more costs for beleaguerd property tax payers in some situations (that was the case where I live). I am with One of Three.. — I knew the tax increase would mean cuts, but I didn’t think you were going to tax us AGAIN for the pensions — go Wisconsin!

  40. - Truth Seeker - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 2:10 pm:

    Below is an article from an individual that did an analysis of the retirement system in Rockford.

    Illinois Teacher Retirement System - Who actually pays the 9.4% retirement?

    January 31st, 2011 at 02:00pm Ted Biondo

    There are two schedules in the Rockford Education Association’s online collective bargaining agreement at Appendix A is entitled “Salary Schedule” and consists of 8 lanes and 20 steps representing the salary at various educational levels attained and years of service.

    Appendix B is entitled Computation Schedule for Illinois Teacher Retirement Syetem Purposes and includes salary (A) from the Salary Schedule and the ITRS contribution (C), which is (A) multiplied by 9.4%. The teachers are paid the salary (A); the (C) contribution is sent directly to the state teacher’s retirement system by the district.

    No income taxes are paid on the TRS (C) contribution. The TRS contribution is never given to the teachers to contribute to the state plan; it is paid directly to the state by the district. Some teachers say this contribution is part of their salary, and therefore, the teachers pay for their retirement not the district.

    Let’s look at the contract and the law - you make up your own mind who is paying the 9.4% retirement. I know it’s the taxpayers, but lets go through the exercise, anyway.

    First, look at your paycheck. Social Security and Medicare contributions (C) are taken out of your check as a percentage of your gross salary (A). The company pays half and you pay the other half of the contribution (C). In the school district, the state pays half and the district pays half. There is no contribution made directly from any check received by the teaching staff.

  41. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 2:12 pm:

    ==there is now a penalty to the locals for career bumps above a set amount,==

    Thanks. forgot that.

  42. - ispretired - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 2:23 pm:

    Truth Seeker:

    What are you smoking, yes the teacher pays 9.4 % taken out of each pay check and most don’t get SS.
    That means that their pay check is less 9.4 % besides all the other deductions.

  43. - Barry H - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 2:42 pm:

    I think Circular Firing Squad (11:48 am) is right about the mountain peak of our fiscal train wreck. Pension asset balances were devastated by the collapse after the Bush era and the uncertainty of investments of every form. They have come back but the defined benefit pension liabilities never went away. Without giving deference to our Wisconsin Governor to the north, the unions are part of the solution, and part of the problem. They realize this and may never have the leverage they once had.

    Nobody likes to pay taxes, or health insurance premiums for that matter. I have a neighbor who is a proud Tea Partier and we are both shocked at the range of issues we agree upon considering I am a moderate Democrat.

    I believe there is both truth and fiction to Quinn’s devastating cuts to social programs but what is completely true is the State’s deficit hole that we need to crawl out of. I believe that allowing a scaled down bond issue for the State’s vendors and creditors is morally imperative. I don’t believe we need to make everybody current but the social service providers have borrowed, scraped, and financially wiped themselves out to provide services for our state need our gratitude and their cash back.

    Float the bond, pay the creditors, engage participation with Republican ideas, cost cutting, and union givebacks to narrow the gap.

    Citizens have to be more patient with the fragile recovery, pay more for their pensions and healthcare, and pay more in taxes for high income earners.

    Republicans are forcing their agenda by not participating in the middle ground. Please work for the greater good of the state.

  44. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 2:57 pm:

    –On cutting state funding for human services, I’m surprised to see no talk of local governments picking up the slack. If it will be as devastating as everyone says, the communities that will be most impacted could push through a referendum to increase taxes to pay for these services with local dollars.–

    In Oak Park, the K-8 teacher’s union voted 4-1 to give up a contractually mandated pay raise next year to show sacrifice and good faith for an upcoming tax referendum. (The unions in Wisconsin have offered that, too).

    Oak Park doesn’t get that much state funding to begin with, not like Chicago and Downstate. Our property taxes pretty much support the schools. But we knew that when we purchased. And our property values have gone up immensely, even with the blip downturn engineered by the greedheads on Wall Street.

    As Yellow Dog has pointed out, locals better get prepared to start towing the line. A lot of the state budget is just redistribution of income from the suburbs, and rich pockets in the city and elsewhere, to the rest of the state.

  45. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 4:58 pm:

    Somebody needs to start voicing the truth to the public about the whole deficit / pension shortfall / budget cutting process instead of the myth the recent tax hike fixed everything. It’s a mess, it can’t be ignored, and because people didn’t pay a little years ago, they’re going to have to pay a lot now.

    If the powers in charge are unwilling to cut spending, then all of us will end up paying more in taxes of one kind or another. If they are going to keep the current income tax structure, the hike should have been to a temporary 7% or 8% instead of the 5% level. Since we’re “stuck” with 5%, then the tax base needs to expand. If it is expanded, hopefully the legislation will include a ban on ANY new spending or expansion of existing programs unless an independent study shows it would save money.

    The income tax needs to spread to services. Or tax pensions over a certain level (but taxing state pensions may bring up a court case over the whole diminishment issue). If state payments levels are cut to local entities (counties, cities, schools, etc.), then local taxes (sales, property) are going to go up. Simple mathematical fact if spending cuts are not made at every level; after all, the money has to come from somewhere. All of those changes will hit everyone, including government and non-government retirees. I don’t want to pay more taxes or “fees”, but I recognize Illinois will never get out of the hole unless something more is done.

    One of the “low hanging fruit” cuts nobody seems to be too excited about would be to get 100% of Illinois Medicaid in to a managed care program immediately. A ton of money is wasted every year by using the emergency room as the first line of care for Medicaid. Plus the current structure is basically “fee for service”. I think the latest “reform” requires half of the Medicaid recipients to be in managed care by either 2014 or 2015. Why are we waiting? It wouldn’t be that hard to do; the ER’s are already doing triage every minute to sort out the true emergencies. It might require a legislative change to cover liability, but just have the hospitals refuse to serve the non-emergencies. Send the non-emergencies off to the local “prompt / urgent” care facility and, once they get there, make them choose a primary care physician (or group practice) before they are treated. It may take a year of refusals to retrain people, but it can be done.

  46. - 2 sides of the coin - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 5:59 pm:

    If the local school district has the added expense of paying the employer (formerly state paid) side of the pension payments for teachers, it will cost the local taxpayers more. However, this is how IMRF works for the non-certified staff at schools, and that pension system is considered “fully funded”. Perhaps keeping more money local isn’t such a bad idea, given that the GA hasn’t been making the obligatory pension payments with the money we’ve been sending for the last 30 years. Of course, if the State is paying less and we pay more locally, they should be looking at backing down on State revenue collection.

  47. - OldIllini - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 6:22 pm:

    Illinoi hasn’t missed a bond payment since 1776; i.e. never.

  48. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 6:34 pm:

    Actually, we may have missed some in 1838. Checking.

  49. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 9:26 pm:

    Missed pension contributions - no problem

    Service cuts - no problem

    Making bond payments on time - priceless!

    For everything else, there is borrowing …

  50. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 11:05 pm:

    Retired Non-Union Guy, that really did make me laugh out loud.

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* Rauner names contributor to preservation agency.....
* Anti-violence programs shut down as Chicago sho.....
* Anti-violence programs shut down as Chicago sho.....
* Anti-violence programs shut down as Chicago sho.....
* Anti-violence programs shut down as Chicago sho.....

* Rauner names contributor to preservation agency
* Ex-governor says ex-convicts shouldn't be labeled felon
* Rockford University looking to finish raising $17.3 million
* Corruption arraignment Tuesday for ex-Chicago schools CEO
* Chinese students bring new business to Champaign-Urbana
* ISU president calls for end to budget turmoil in Springfield
* EXCHANGE: Many point with pride at World War II service
* NIU to rededicate plaque honoring fallen WWII veterans
* Chicago State names Alabama university official to top post
* Mural, crosswalk art project underway downtown Springfield

* More than 400 press passes issued for this year's Illinois State Fair
* Rauner names new chair of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board
* Rail work to shut down Chicago-St. Louis Amtrak trains for two weeks
* Rail work to shut down Amtrak trains for two weeks
* Ex-governor Ryan says ex-convicts shouldn't be labeled felons
* Anti-violence programs shut down as Chicago shootings climb
* The Papers of Abraham Lincoln project still in jeopardy; memo paints discouraging picture
* Democrats say Rauner 'needs to get serious' on budget
* Democrats: Illinois could go broke without budget
* Gov. Rauner ends quarter with $19M in campaign fund

* Notre Dame gets $20 million for global investing institute
* The Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots approach to governing
* Cubs World Series tickets would be most expensive in history
* Union files lawsuit on Chicago Park District pension bill
* Paul Ryan said to weigh speaker bid under GOP pressure

* Patrick Kane spoils Islanders Brooklyn debut
* Jonathan Toews sets up Patrick Kane with ridiculous no-look pass
* Ryan says ex-cons shouldn’t have to wear ‘felon’ label
* Watch: New Blackhawk Artem Anisimov scores shorthanded goal
* Tearful Ald. Carrie Austin on health crisis that nearly killed her
* Emails: Ex-CPS CEO was outraged City Hall questioned no-bid deal
* Artemi Panarin’s personality, skill breaking down language barrier
* Parents blast CPS for cuts in special ed programs
* Mayor tells U.S. attorney general that Chicago cops are in “fetal” position
* Blackhawks’ success further motivates Nick Leddy

* Cubs faithful gather in Wrigleyville to cheer on team in NLDS Game 1
* Emanuel supports principal training amid CPS scandal fallout
* Elmhurst police ask for help identifying woman killed by Metra train
* Bomb threat at GSU cancels classes
* Man, 62, found dead outside on Far South Side
* Teen is charged in killing of longtime Chicago police civilian employee
* Ryan says 'felon' hurts convicts' chances of finding work
* Police charge father after incident that left infant son seriously injured
* Black bear that visited Indiana this summer returns to state
* Mother cleared of endangerment charges in death of infant daughter

* More than 400 press passes issued for this year's Illinois State Fair
* Charles Krauthammer: Another massacre, another charade
* Rauner names new chair of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board
* Rail work to shut down Chicago-St. Louis Amtrak trains for two weeks
* Ex-governor Ryan says ex-convicts shouldn't be labeled felons
* Anti-violence programs shut down as Chicago shootings climb
* The Papers of Abraham Lincoln project still in jeopardy; memo paints discouraging picture
* Mike Lang: 'Racial Taboo' screening will advance local unity efforts
* Democrats say Rauner 'needs to get serious' on budget

* HS Football: Champaign Central vs Danville
* LIVE! IlliNOISE Night
* Rantoul man charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse
* Final Word: Cubit returns to Kinnick
* Tate: Big Ten QBs miss mark
* PODCAST: Sports Talk 10-09-15
* Wetter days ahead by mid-month across the Corn Belt
* High school football scoreboard, Oct. 9, 2015
* VIDEO PICK: UI 21, Iowa 14
* UI Volleyball vs. Penn State

* Rozner: Cards execute plan to perfection to take Game 1
* Boy Scouts closing Woodstock's Camp Lakota, two in Wisconsin
* Officials: Five people hospitalized after Long Grove crash
* Lackey, home runs too much for Chicago Cubs
* Priest who led Mundelein retreat, served in Des Plaines, Schaumburg, dead at 79

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Boulder Rep. Jared Polis introduces afford......
* Senator Durbin Calls on VA and Department ......

* Kirk supported money to Illinois waterways......

* McHenry board cancels health insurance of striking teachers.
* Keeping retirement weird. A little place in Michigan.
* Speaker Softly and Carry a Big Stick
* Parents, Advocates Speak Out Against CPS Special Need Education Cuts
* Special education
* Marine Drive To Undergo Repaving
* Schakowsky Introduces Bill To Make Renewable Energy Tax Credit Permanent
* Byrd-Bennett Arraignment Scheduled For Tuesday
* Illinois' first lady appears in domestic violence PSA
* Roseburg Oregon protesters tell Obama: "Go Golf!"

* Board’s New Rules Will Reduce Risk of Tire Fires and Disease-Carrying Mosquitos
* Illinois Hosts Inaugural Interstate Medical Licensure Compact - Aims to increase health care access through multi-state physician licensure program
* IEMA Announces Elgin Community College Attains ‘Ready to Respond Campus’ Designation - Elgin one of five Illinois campuses to receive distinction
* New Mortgage Loan Interface Increases Efficiency, Compliance
* State Fire Marshal Ushers In Fire Prevention Week - “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep!”

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