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Things that make you go “Hmm…”

Monday, Feb 4, 2013

* From a Daily Herald story about the legality of pension reform

Just as Gov. Pat Quinn has used an orange cartoon snake named Squeezy to try to illustrate the harm the state’s pension debt does to the state budget, a 1960s report on the same topic included a tornado, sucking up cash.

And your little dog, too!

* I’ve never heard this General Assembly reform ever suggested before the Alton Telegraph did so

What we find objectionable is that the “leaders” get an extra $20,000 just for serving in purely party posts. If these duties are so important to the goals of the individual parties, why shouldn’t the party organizations be responsible for the compensation, rather than taxpayers?

No extra leadership stipend? Well, that would sure make things different.

* Speaking of reform, here’s somebody who ain’t quite ready for it

Set for trial in less than nine months, indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith dipped into his campaign fund to pay at least $37,500 to the criminal defense lawyers representing him in his federal bribery case, newly filed state campaign records show.

Smith made that expenditure to the Henderson Adam law firm on March 29, 2012, just days after being arrested for allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI informant in exchange for offering to help a fictitious daycare center operator in his district obtain a $50,000 state grant.

He waits until now to reveal this payment to his lawyers? Over nine months after he was required to report it? What the heck?

* The media will probably have a field day with the proposed Sneaker Tax

The cost of a new pair of basketball shoes could jump by 25 cents under a proposal floated this week by anIllinoislawmaker.

State Rep. Will Davis, D-Hazel Crest, wants to create a new tax that would generate an estimated $3 million annually for a youth job preparation program. He said the added cost would likely go unnoticed by most consumers, while helping finance a program for kids during tight budget times.

It’s not necessarily a horrible idea, if you don’t mind taxes, but I just don’t see it going anywhere. Why? This

Rob Karr, senior vice president of Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said the organization will fight the proposal because it would create an unnecessary amount of additional paperwork for store owners.

“It imposes significant administrative burdens on the retailer,” Karr said.

Don’t mess with IRMA.

Also, it’s just a bill. Remember that. It ain’t a law. Bills get introduced all the time and never go anywhere. For example

“I think we need drug testing for welfare recipients. I think the savings to the state can be tremendous, in the multimillions, for sure,” [State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur] said.

Take it away, Jon Stewart. Seriously, though, Florida’s welfare druggy law is still tied up in federal court.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


29 Comments
  1. - Ahoy! - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    –I think we need drug testing for welfare recipients.—

    Maybe this could be an olive branch to the right-wing in exchange for some decriminalization and treating drug addiction as a health issue instead of a crime? Let’s see if their actually interested in this or just like the media attention.


  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    ===or just like the media attention===

    Hate to burst your bubble.


  3. - BCross - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 2:59 pm:

    Dear Rep. Brown — Great idea! Maybe we should check out the experience in other states who have tried this. For example: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/20/2758871/floridas-welfare-drug-tests-cost.html


  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:04 pm:

    –“I think we need drug testing for welfare recipients. I think the savings to the state can be tremendous, in the multimillions, for sure,” [State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur] said.–

    If he really thinks that, then what is he on?

    That’s just nasty, red-meat stuff for what used to be called the lunatic fringe. Rep. Brown, give Gov. Jindal a call. I think he has some advice for you about what kind of party the GOP should not be.

    But in the spirit of cooperation, I think a pilot program should be started for a certain class that receives state funds — GA members who would vote for this.

    Fill er up, boys.


  5. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:05 pm:

    - multimillions, for sure -

    When I first read that this morning all I could picture was Adam following up by saying “kazillions even!”.

    Way to use that big brain for some heavy lifting, Adam. Maybe next you can tackle the major concerns with the water supply in Decatur, you know, before those big stinky plants have to relocate somewhere that has more water for them.

    http://herald-review.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/dawson/water-talk-dominates-decatur-discussions/article_d55c81be-e722-11e1-aa80-0019bb2963f4.html


  6. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:12 pm:

    Pensions are sucking up cash! And in other foresightful flashbacks, “Blagojevich is living up to his promise”: www.uillinois.edu/clips/2003%20summaries/april-20-2003.pdf (page 5)


  7. - Billy - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    I spend my winters in Florida, which is where I am now. Florida had a budget surplus last year and gave the extra money to the state’s teachers for raises! A Republican led state. Low property and sales taxes, and no state income tax. Go figure!


  8. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:19 pm:

    ==Low property and sales taxes, and no state income tax.==

    If we were able to tap millions of people for billions of dollars to visit our beaches and amusement parks, maybe we could do the same.


  9. - walkinfool - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:19 pm:

    Pure nonsense, Mr. Brown. What on Earth have you been reading?


  10. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:27 pm:

    - I spend my winters in Florida, which is where I am now. -

    I’m glad you were apparently successful enough in Illinois that you’re now able to winter in Florida. Can’t imagine why anyone would live somewhere that afforded them that opportunity.


  11. - OurMagician - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:49 pm:

    Don’t be too hard on Adam Brown, he’s just reading off the card Bill Mitchell gives him.


  12. - Jaded - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 3:54 pm:

    I’d be willing to bet that about 85% of the people who voted for Adam Brown would agree with his proposal, so why shouldn’t he propose it? As Rich has pointed out, it doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere.

    If I had a dollar for every stupid idea introduced by a member of the GA for press, constituent, or idealogical purposes, I could retire somewhere even better than “Republican led” Florida.


  13. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 4:03 pm:

    In other News of the Weird, the Cook County judge that smacked someone has been ruled not guilty of battery by reason of insanity….Only in Illinois.


  14. - DINO - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 4:11 pm:

    Drug testing for welfare reciepants is the dumbest idea ever thought of. The overwhelming majority of them abuse illicit drugs. Taking food out of their childrens mouth will not help anything. It’s not a republican only thought, the majority of democrats I know post that crap on facebook and elsewhere all the time.


  15. - Montrose - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    *The overwhelming majority of them abuse illicit drugs.*

    You have data to back up that statement, right? The Florida experience, as linked to by others, tells us otherwise.


  16. - ZC - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 4:31 pm:

    Billy, if I could also tap into the billions of dollars in federal government checks that go to Florida’s retiree population, in the form of Social Security and especially flagrant cases of Medicare waste in the form of over-charging the system, I might be able to make my state look more “fiscally responsible” too.

    The latter is fitting since it’s led by that great fiscal conservative Rick Scott, whose primary claim to fame before being elected governor was that the company he CEO’d had to settle one of the largest Medicare overbilling / fraud cases with the federal government in US history.

    And ditto what Montrose said, DINO, I’ve never seen a study supporting that claim and the FL data certainly doesn’t.


  17. - geronimo - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    Interesting that before the costitutional amendment guaranteeing pensions the fund at about the same level of percentage of funding as it is now. Somehow payments have never been skipped and it’s survived in spite of the constant raiding by legislators. Not to say proper allocations of money should be made every year and repaid from the plundering that occurred, but I have to wonder why today it is being portrayed at epidemic alarmist crisis level when it really has been all along. What’s changed?


  18. - geronimo - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 4:59 pm:

    Really should proofread more diligently….not too intelligible. Sorry. I meant that in spite of all the pension holidays and plundering, the state has not missed a payment to it’s retirees. It has never been adequately funded. How many decades? So why, now, are we at crisis level? It should be funded properly and monies repaid but it just seems like there’s some other motive here for all the alarm bells ringing.


  19. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 5:41 pm:

    geronimo, here’s my take on the why the “crisis” now. Rich will certainly correct or add to it if I’m off a little.

    - “The Ramp” - In an effort to “fix” the pension underfunding, the ramp law was enacted to require to increase pension funding until a set ratio was met. Unfortunately, the payments started low and increased to higher levels in later years. This ballooning payment has caused a pressure on state spending during the recession and post-recession period.

    - The Early Retirement Initiative decreased the number of state employees saving payroll money, but put more folks on the retirement books. Plus, the’re fewer folks contributing to the system.

    - The recession/weak economy has hit the funds earnings and decreased the amount of money available to governments. The angst about the economy has led to increasing criticism about government spending.

    - Illinois was unfortunate to have the incompetent Blago/Quinn administrations come at a time when leadership was needed to deal with these economic troubles.

    - The rating agencies are looking to make-up for their poor performance that gave favorable ratings to institutions that went belly-up or needed massive bailouts. Some would call this scapegoating government.

    - The 1%er’s have used the economic problems as a bully pulbit to complain about government spending so that their tax expense is lowered. Pensions are a part of this expense and they want government to take away benefits from public workers the way they wrongfully took benefits from their own employees.

    You can put these in any order you want. You will also note that these are not problems caused by the public employees.


  20. - Old and In the Way - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 6:50 pm:

    Anybody notice that the Feds went after Standard and Poors today with a suit over their failure to properly rate mortgage backed securities?


  21. - Old timer - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 7:04 pm:

    The state is in a budget crisis. In 2007 the legislature created the Illinois Latino Family Commission. Plenty of GRF money $750,000 to fund this in fy 2013 and more money to come from other state agencies.


  22. - Sgtstu - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 7:44 pm:

    Norseman

    Looks like that pretty well sums it up.


  23. - steve schnorf - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 7:51 pm:

    I would only offer that the “ramp” has been over for a couple of years now.


  24. - Concerned Voter - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 7:57 pm:

    Well said, Norseman


  25. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 9:16 pm:

    Steve, I bow to your superior knowledge of the “ramp” law and realize my description was poorly written. However, while the 15 year ramp part of the law is over, it still requires burdensome annual payments in an amount to ensure a 90% funding level. I applaud the intent behind the law, however, it remains a major factor in the “crisis.”


  26. - FrankS - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 11:08 pm:

    I’d be interested to know what percentage of proposed bills ever become law. Many bills never even make it out of committee, much less got approved by both chambers and then signed into law by the governor.


  27. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 4, 13 @ 11:56 pm:

    FrankS,

    Go to the General Assembly website and go to previous General Assemblies. The formula for percent enacted = (# of Public Acts)/(# of House Bills + # of Senate Bills)

    The website also has a report on Bills sent to the Governor.


  28. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 9:43 am:

    Another blast from the past: the State Fair is now online! (http://access.ncsa.illinois.edu/Archive/backissues/94.3/MosaicUpdate.html#StateFair)


  29. - UISer - Tuesday, Feb 5, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    Weird… DINO hasn’t responded yet.


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