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Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* I’m taking next week off, but I’ll stay somewhat connected, so I’ll let you know if anything important happens.

* Here’s your Moment of Zen. Oscar the Puppy got a head start on our vacation this afternoon, lazily chewing on a stick in the back yard

* Anyway, I hope to be doing a whole lot of pontooning over the next several days, so gimme a call and stop on by if you want to hoist a few

And an outdoor carpet dance floor

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Those are some serious boo-birds

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* Chicagoans love to boo politicians at public events. As I noted in comments earlier, I took my brother to Blues Fest many years ago and he was surprised to hear Harold Washington roundly booed. I had to explain the tradition.

But the reception for Gov. Pat Quinn at the Blackhawks victory rally today appeared to go beyond the normal tradition. If the embed doesn’t work (it doesn’t for some people), then click here to watch


View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

They did cheer a little at the end, though.

…Adding… From commenter Darienite…

A couple of minutes prior, they ran a video montage, and Emanuel began his speech without being introduced. Pat Foley introduced PQ, hence the booing. Points for Rahm.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* Let’s “welcome” Sen. Bill Brady into the governor’s race, shall we? In the photo below, Brady mops his brow while answering a Chicago reporter’s question…

* The Question: Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


“Why Illinois’ Bond Ratings Don’t Add Up”

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* Marc Joffe over at Real Clear Markets has a must-read piece on Illinois and the bond rating agencies

With all the bad news about state pensions, how can one possibly conclude that Illinois bonds are not as risky as rating agencies and the markets seem to think? The reason for the different conclusion is the confusion produced by the rating scales themselves.

As I report in the study, Illinois last defaulted on bond payments 170 years ago. In fact, no state has defaulted on general obligation bonds since 1933, and most states weathered the Depression scot-free. This means that state general obligation bonds have a very strong historical track record.

How does that compare to other types of bonds-especially those rated AAA? In the years before the financial crisis, rating agencies assigned AAA ratings to tens of thousands of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. At the time, these asset classes had only been in existence for 20 years or less, so none of these types of “structured finance” obligations had established a payment record comparable to state general obligations.

During the crisis, many of these AAA-rated structured finance bonds defaulted, yet states continued to pay their general obligation bondholders on time and in full. Today, issuance of structured finance assets is rebounding and many still receive AAA ratings-yet Illinois bonds are thought to be so risky that they merit only a single A. Notably, this ratings inconsistency doesn’t only involve structured finance. Some kinds of companies also seem to be rated more leniently. Perhaps the strangest example of this phenomenon involves companies that insure municipal bonds.

Before the crisis, Ambac and FGIC-two municipal bond insurers-were rated AAA. During the crisis, both went bankrupt. A third AAA-bond insurer, MBIA, was downgraded well into the “B” range-substantially below where Illinois sits today. In the pre-crisis world, these firms rented their AAA ratings to states and cities. Government bond issuers would pay the insurers a premium to guarantee payment on their bonds; allowing their debt to trade as if it were AAA rated.

It was a great business for the bond insurers, since so few municipal bonds defaulted. In fact, these companies felt so confident about the safety of government bonds that they levered themselves to the hilt. According to hedge-fund titan Bill Ackman, MBIA had 139 times more insurance than capital back in 2002. Ackman tried to convince rating agencies to downgrade MBIA, but his arguments fell on deaf ears.

The municipal bond insurance industry might have survived the financial crisis and continued to profit from the misalignment of municipal and corporate ratings if the companies had stuck to their core government bond business. Instead, they diversified into insuring structured finance securities-perhaps becoming bedazzled by the inflated ratings of these instruments. Ultimately it was defaults among insured mortgage-backed securities that marked the undoing of these formerly AAA rated firms.

Returning to my findings, I don’t dispute that Illinois has uniquely bad fiscal policies and the worst outlook of any state. However, because of constitutional limitations, most states have relatively little debt. Illinois’ state debt is only 6 percent of economic output; the analogous ratio for the federal government is 74 percent. Pension underfunding is a serious issue, but because state workers and teachers only account for about 2 percent of the Illinois’ population, it is a much more limited problem than the underfunding of social security and Medicare at the federal level. Finally, unlike depressed cities such as Detroit, a large state such as Illinois has a very diverse and growing revenue base.

Just as the worst swimmer at the Olympics is probably better than anyone at the neighborhood pool, the worst state bonds are probably a lot safer than bonds issued by entities that can’t guarantee revenue by taxing their customers. If rating agencies are going to rate the Olympian and the weekend warrior on the same scale, they need to keep this in mind.

This is, by the way, the same, basic argument that our commenter Wordslinger has been making here for years.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Fun with numbers

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* Scott Reeder writes about House committee chairman stipends

Imagine being paid $10,327 to show up for just one meeting.

Most people would call that a pretty sweet gig— unless you’re the one footing the bill. […]

One of those committees was the Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development Committee chaired by state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago.

Ford’s committee considered no bills this year and met for discussion purposes only.

And yet he was paid $10,327 to chair the committee. State Rep. Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, who was the Republican spokesman on the committee, also received $10,327 for serving on the board that voted on nothing.

“I would chair this committee— even if I didn’t get paid,” Ford told INN in a recent interview. “I think committee chairmen ought to get paid more because they do more work. “

He added that because he also chairs the Restorative Justice Committee he would be collecting a $10,327 chairman stipend anyway. Only one chairman stipend is given out per year— even if a representative chairs more than one committee.

Ford is under federal indictment for bank fraud.

Ford is right. He chairs two committees. So, to highlight this as the only example of a committee chairman who allegedly got paid to do nothing is ridiculously unfair, since Ford’s other committee did quite a bit of work this year. Was it because he’s under indictment? Sure looks that way. But what does that have to do with the story, other than to undercut the guy and/or the process?

Also, Rep. Tryon is not currently listed as the minority spokesperson on Ford’s committee. Rep. David Reis is the spokesman. Reis is also the spokesman on the Insurance Committee, which met quite a lot.

Look, there’s more than enough material to whack these people with. Why resort to making stuff up?

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


We’re not alone, but that’s no excuse

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* We all know how difficult the Democrats have had it this year here, despite their super-majority status. Well, Governing.com took a look at three GOP legislatures which have also struggled with super-majority status. First up, Tennessee

The last day of Tennessee’s 2013 legislative session wasn’t a day that the state’s political leadership will remember fondly. It was a day of revolt and revenge in the legislature. Republican factions fought with one another. The house fought the senate. Very little was accomplished, leading to widespread complaints that scarcely anything of importance had been achieved in the entire three-month session.

Lt. Gov. and Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey spent the whole session working on a bill to redraw state judicial districts, something that hadn’t been done since 1984. But when the bill moved across the hall to the house, Ramsey’s own Republicans repudiated it. They said it had been rammed down their throats. Some 40 of them voted no, consigning it to a 66-28 defeat. Then, in retaliation, Ramsey and the senate killed a house bill that was supposed to pass easily, a bill making it less difficult for the state to approve charter schools. By the end of the day, members on opposite sides were scarcely speaking to one another. About the only group happy with the debacle was the legislature’s relatively small cadre of Democrats. “The result could not have been better for the people of Tennessee,” one said.

Asked what he thought of all this, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam gave the legislative session about the faintest praise imaginable: “I certainly wouldn’t call it a waste of time.” Haslam had his own reasons for being miffed at how the legislature had handled itself. One of his top priorities for the session had been a bill creating school tuition vouchers for impoverished students. The senate and house passed it, but added a bunch of riders. Haslam said the resulting bill wasn’t what he had in mind, and pulled it from consideration. No voucher program became law this year in Tennessee. […]

“It’s easier to hold your party together when your majority is small,” Vanderbilt political scientist Bruce Oppenheimer told a reporter at the end of the Tennessee session. “As it gets larger, it gets harder to control.”

* Missouri

House Speaker Tim Jones started the year with a single-minded priority: changing the state’s education rules to make teacher evaluations contingent on student performance. The GOP house majority wouldn’t give it to him. So Jones dumped two members of his caucus who refused to vote with him on education and scaled down his bill so that it would apply only to school principals. He still didn’t get what he wanted. Meanwhile, house and senate Republicans continued to argue over tax credits for economic development.

* Indiana

When incoming GOP Gov. Mike Pence began promoting a 10 percent income tax cut as the central item on his legislative agenda, Republican lawmakers made it clear they weren’t going along. For one thing, they said they weren’t sure the state’s budget could handle the revenue loss. But for another, they weren’t willing to ram it through on a partisan basis.

Other states, however, didn’t do so bad at all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


The perils of making the leap

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* Attorney General Lisa Madigan agreed yesterday with the growing belief that Gov. Pat Quinn would likely try to rewrite the concealed carry bill

Madigan said she had supported legislation that would give law enforcement more leeway to issue concealed carry permits — so-called may-issue legislation — rather than the way the compromise was written. The measure awaiting Quinn’s action puts the onus on law enforcement to deny a permit, which is known as shall-issue.

Still, she said, lawmakers “put in a lot of good protections in it, including increased mental health reporting (and) a very good list of where you cannot carry a concealed weapon.”

She noted, however, that restaurant owners have been lobbying Quinn over a provision that would allow people to carry concealed firearms into their establishments if at least half of their revenues do not come from alcohol sales. She also said restaurant groups don’t want to display signs to say they prohibit carrying concealed firearms.

But Madigan dodged on whether she would sign the compromise legislation if she were governor, saying she did not want to inject politics into the issue. She said she expected Quinn to act on the bill by early next week.

That’s another reason why she doesn’t want to announce anything yet. Candidates often prefer to let hot-button issues play out before they jump in.

Sen. Bill Brady discovered this the hard way yesterday during the pension reform hearing

State Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican who announced his gubernatorial bid this week, questioned why the committee didn’t have a concrete plan, but said he didn’t have one either when [Chairman Kwame Raoul] asked committee members.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Daley heading south

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* Bill Daley travels to the Metro East today

His first political foray downstate since this month’s announcement of his candidacy will come today, when he attends a Madison County fundraiser with former Judge Ann Callis, who is running for Congress.

Callis’ campaign Facebook page says the kickoff fundraiser features former NFL great Marshall Faulk. No mention of Daley.

You gotta wonder if Callis wanted that highlighted. Just sayin…

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** The father problem and the rumor mill

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* David Axelrod says the obvious: Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s father issue is gonna be a big problem if she runs for governor

“I think Lisa is a tremendous public official. I have a maximum high regard for her,” he said. “I think this is a genuine problem. I think it’s one she has to resolve before she makes a decision.”

How she resolves it is between her and her father, he said.

“I think as talented and as strong a candidate as she is, it’s going to be hard to make the case that the governor and the Speaker of the House can be father and daughter . . . particularly when the Speaker is as powerful as this Speaker is,” he said. “People want the branches of government to be independent. No matter what your intentions, it’s going to be very hard for them to persuade people that’s going to be the case. I think it’s an issue for her to resolve. I’m sure there are many reasons for her to consider running but this seems like an issue for her to resolve.”

It was difficult to think of a politically palatable scenario where Michael Madigan remained in his position while his daughter ran for governor, Axelrod said.

“I think that’s very hard, I really think that’s really hard,” Axelrod said. “I say that without a trace of animus at all. I really admire her, I like her, she’s a great person and great political official.”

It was a real problem in 2002, when she ran for attorney general, but the decision was made to forge ahead regardless. It’ll be an even bigger problem now. The question is, does she want to deal with such a brutal campaign.

* For her part, at least publicly, AG Madigan says her father can stay right where he is

Madigan, after serving on a panel Thursday hosted by the influential Emily’s List at Willis Tower, was unequivocal when posed the question now being constantly raised. “He wouldn’t have to. He wouldn’t have to step down,” she retorted to a reporter, emphasizing the move would not be a requirement.

Asked then — if not a requirement — whether she believed he should step down should she make a 2014 gubernatorial bid, Madigan was more cagey.

“I’m not going to give my father political advice,” she said.

* I’m gonna give you the same advice I gave to subscribers this morning. Do not read too much into the tea leaves and ignore the rumors. Nothing is confirmed so far. Just let it play out.

With that in mind

Moderated by MSNBC’s Karen Finney, [the “Strength in Numbers: Women Leading the Way,” forum] was a frank and intimate discussion of the challenges facing women running for and managing life in political office, by a group dedicated to increasing their numbers nationwide.

On stage, Madigan was asked by Finney the other frequent question. Will she run?

“Well, here’s what I will say. First and foremost, there are other pieces of this that are absolutely a necessity if you’re a woman, and that is the support of other women. I’m very lucky that that base is there,” Madigan responded.

“In terms of decision-making, a lot of fundraising is going on, and now I have a treadmill in my office so I can walk as I make those calls. Yes, you will have a decision sooner rather than later,” she said. […]

“Emily’s has been proud to support Lisa from the beginning. We think she’s done a fantastic job as attorney general, and we do think she would make a fantastic governor,” Schriock said.

* Also keeping that admonition in mind, Sneed

Sneed hears Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who continues to be the recipient of big bucks fundraisers, has told people privately she plans to wait another four years to run for governor.

Isn’t that because her father, powerful Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan — who is considered a political liability for her — has no intention of retiring in the near future? Betcha.

Isn’t that a sigh of relief Sneed is hearing from Dem gubernatorial hopeful Bill Daley? Betcha.

I heard the same rumor yesterday, and worked it but was unable to find anyone she’d talked to.

That LMadigan revelation, by the way, was the third Sneedling down, behind two Blackhawks-related items.

I love Sneed. Truly, I do. She’s invaluable. But what she wrote today is just a rumor at this point.

*** UPDATE *** After some commenters wondered aloud where AG Madigan was using a treadmill to make campaign calls, I checked with her office and was told the treadmill is at her campaign office. So, there ‘ya go.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Shifting sands

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* The Tribune recently ran this story about pension reform and Gov. Pat Quinn

During the past 14 months, Quinn has made a dozen or so major pivots on the pension reform issue. He’s also twice called lawmakers into special sessions. So far the state’s chief executive has come up empty while Illinois’ public pension debt is set to eclipse $100 billion by the end of the month.

* A buddy of mine with way too much time on his hands forwarded me the following, which traces the history of the governor’s stance on pension reform. I’ve done this before, but this timeline has even more links for your perusal…

* January, 2012 (Bloomington Pantagraph): Quinn aides downplay cost shift. “Just a concept”

* April 25, 2012 (Daily Herald): Quinn says no hurry on cost shift. Says it’s not “essential” to reform.

    “We want to deal with that accountability principle, but we’ll do it on a separate track,” Quinn said.

* May 30, 2012 (WBEZ): Quinn backs off cost shift requirement in meeting with legislative leaders as House is positioning a vote.

    “I was surprised that the governor disagreed with me on the issue. He agrees with the Republicans,” Madigan said.

* Aug. 7-8, 2012 (Peoria Journal-Star): Quinn and top aides push hard for cost shift, announce special session. Quinn tells Peoria crowd the Peoria schools would be better off with cost shift.

* Aug. 9, 2012 (Illinois Issues): Quinn calls for approval of Nekritz pension proposals with cost shift component.

    “It shouldn’t take that long really. It’s something that everybody’s talked about all year,” Quinn said. “We just cannot postpone this matter any longer. It isn’t an election calendar that we’re looking at here, I think some members may be in the legislature. But we’re dealing with the bond rating agencies.” He said that if lawmakers don’t pass pension reform soon, the state may face a downgrade of its credit rating. “If we don’t act, we’re asking for trouble.”

* Nov. 18, 2012 (Chicago Tribune): Quinn launches a “grassroots” campaign called “Thanks in Advance,” featuring the now-famous Squeezy the Pension Python.

* Feb. 6, 2013 (transcript, via governing.com): In his State of the State speech, Quinn declares support for Senate President John Cullerton’s Senate Bill 1 – then a hybrid of the “House plan” and the president’s choice model, with the choice model taking effect if the House plan was declared unconstitutional.

    “President Cullerton, thank you for recognizing this, and thank you for your leadership in providing us a path forward through Senate Bill 1, a comprehensive bill that stabilizes our pension systems and fixes the problem.

    And thank you, Leader Tom Cross and Representative Elaine Nekritz for working together on a bi-partisan basis to make sure that pension reform is Job One for this General Assembly.

    I urge all of you to be part of the solution. And while refinements may come, Senate Bill 1 is the best vehicle to get the job done.”

* Feb. 20, 2013 (Chicago Tribune): Quinn shoots down Rep. Lang’s plan to fix pensions by making tax increase permanent, increasing employee contributions and raising the retirement age. The governor also criticized the plan’s 80 percent funding target.

    “We can’t just be meandering along,” Quinn said. He added that lawmakers must move quickly so the state’s economy won’t be “held hostage” by the current “pension cloud.”

* Feb. 27, 2013 (Crain’s Chicago): Quinn endorses Nekritz-sponsored pension reform plan similar to her original but that puts newly hired teachers and university employees in a 401k hybrid.

    From Gov. Pat Quinn: “We welcome comprehensive pension reform proposals with bipartisan support that move the ball down the field.”

* Mar. 5, 2013 (FY 14 budget address transcript, via scribd.com): Quinn claims he must cut school funding by $400 million to pay pensions and outlines his qualifications for “comprehensive pension reform.”

    “As you know, to make up for that failure, we’ve had to issue two pension obligation notes under my administration. The debt service on these notes will expire in 2020.

    Once those notes expire, all of that revenue – nearly $1 billion annually – should be dedicated to the unfunded pension liability.

    In addition, employees should adjust their own contributions to their pensions.”

    “These adjustments should include reforms to the pension cost of living adjustment. The COLA is currently 3% compounded annually. That’s unsustainable for taxpayers.

    For those with higher pensions, the cost of living adjustment should be suspended until the entire pension system achieves better balance.

    The basic pension amount that has already been accrued by our current and former employees should not be touched.”

* Mar. 14, 2013 (Daily Herald): Speaking on the original SB 1, Gov. Quinn says, “That’s pretty fair.”

* Mar. 20, 2013 (Chicago Tribune): After the House plan failed in the Senate for the first time, the governor said, “If we do it [pension reform] together, we’ll be better off.”

* May 1, 2013 (Chicago Tribune): A Quinn spokeswoman calls the House plan, Madigan’s new SB 1 “the way forward.”

    “This is the way forward,” said Brooke Anderson, spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn, who has promoted several elements in the Madigan plan. “This is the fastest way to pension reform.”

* May 2, 2013 (Springfield State Journal-Register): After the House plan (SB 1) passes the House, Gov. Pat Quinn called the vote “the biggest step to date towards restoring fiscal stability to Illinois.”

    “With the passage of this comprehensive pension reform solution, Illinois is closer than ever to addressing a decades-long problem that is plaguing our economy, our bond rating and the future of our children,” Quinn said.

* May 9, 2013 (Chicago Sun-Times): After the Senate passes SB 2404, Quinn says:

    “I was very impressed by the fact that the principles I annunciated more than a year ago for comprehensive pension reform were contained in [Madigan’s bill], and that passed the House last week. And I want to make sure [the bill] gets a vote in the Senate by the end of the month,” Quinn told reporters after a ceremony honoring the state’s firefighters in Springfield.

* May 30, 2013 (Reuters): After the Senate votes down the House plan (SB 1), Quinn says, “The people of Illinois were let down tonight.”

* June 6, 2013 (NBC-5 Ward Room):Quinn calls June 19 special session on pensions.

    “Will two downgrades in one week be enough to convince the General Assembly that our pension crisis can’t be ignored anymore?” Quinn said in a statement.

* June 10, 2013 (Bloomington Pantagraph): Quinn calls for a return to original SB 1-style compromise.

    “I appeal to them to work together to put this priority on my desk,” Quinn said.

* June 14, 2013 (Chicago Tribune): Quinn changes strategies again, turns away from hybrid plan and now calls on Senate to pass House plan it previously voted down.

    “The people of Illinois are frustrated with the failure of the legislature to enact a comprehensive public pension reform bill,” Quinn said following a nearly two-hour long meeting with legislative leaders on Friday. “So as governor of Illinois I am prepared to do whatever necessary to get this bill on my desk. But they are the legislature. They have to do their job so I can do mine. Their job is unfinished. And we’re going to keep pushing them and pushing them until they do their job.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Boo the opposition, not your friends

Friday, Jun 28, 2013

* My Sun-Times column

If you’re heading to the Pride Parade this weekend, you might be tempted to boo some of the state politicians who’ll be marching.

If you want to boo them for screwing up the state’s finances, then go right ahead.

But don’t jeer because the marriage equality bill failed to pass the General Assembly.

First of all, the people who stopped the marriage bill won’t even be at the parade, let alone marching in it. The politicians marching in front of you on Sunday are on your side. They support marriage equality or they wouldn’t be there.

The Illinois Senate passed the gay marriage bill by a wide margin back in February, so there’s no need to boo any marching state senators. The bill came up short in the House, and while mistakes were surely made, those to blame are the state representatives who opposed the bill, not the people who supported it.

And don’t buy into the bizarre hype that the bill might’ve passed had it been called for a vote in the House. It wasn’t gonna happen. The roll call was going the other way fast by the end of the spring session.

There are just so many rumors about this bill. Almost none of them are true, and most have been spread by well-intentioned folks with little to no experience differentiating idle Statehouse gossip from fact.

For instance, the rumor mill was rampant about a vote occurring on May 30, the day before the session ended. But the truth is that the bill lost crucial momentum a few days before when it became known that a prominent House Republican who’d been leaning toward voting “Yes” had switched to a firm “No.” It was the first time that the supporters publicly lost a backer, but it wouldn’t be the last.

The groups supporting the marriage bill hadn’t bothered to do any real ground work in African-American districts, so some initially sympathetic black legislators found themselves targets of a ferocious and well-funded counterattack from their churches. The pro-marriage equality groups didn’t even hire any House-affiliated black lobbyists until the last two days, but by then it was just way too late.

Look, plenty of mistakes were made on this bill. But nobody made those mistakes out of malice.

The attacks on the bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Greg Harris, are particularly out of line. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted that bill to pass more than Harris did. He is widely respected as a competent legislator. But the Statehouse game is a lot like baseball. No one has a perfect batting average.

House Speaker Michael Madigan made some crucial errors, for sure. The vote probably should’ve been held much earlier in the session, before the opposition ramped up. But an honest person cannot tell you for sure that it would’ve passed back then. And, besides, I kinda doubt Madigan will be at the parade.

Gov. Pat Quinn claimed in early May that the bill had enough votes to pass, but his headcount was discovered to be bogus. His was just another false rumor which ultimately helped poison the well. Despite his bungles, Quinn means well on this issue, too. No sense in booing him.

If you want to heckle somebody, then pile some friends in a van and head to a parade in a House district represented by somebody who opposes gay marriage. That probably won’t do a lot of good, either, but at least the anger will be properly focused.

* Meanwhile, Senate President John Cullerton wants people to know that he’s not the problem

State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told the Sun-Times on Thursday that he was willing to call same-sex marriage for a vote — for a second time — if that meant it would boost momentum in the Illinois House.

“Inaction is in the House,” he said when asked whether the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling would spur action in Springfield. The state Senate passed same-sex marriage on Valentine’s Day. But the House adjourned on May 31 without calling the measure for a vote.

`”I am working with the House sponsor to see if there’s anything that I can do,” Cullerton told the Sun-Times, who caught up with the lawmaker after a City Club of Chicago luncheon where David Axelrod headlined. “If they want us to repass the bill which would require another vote in the Senate with a changed effective date. If that would help, we’d be more than happy to try to do that.” […]

“Usually the second chamber, it’s easier to vote for a bill because your senator has already voted for it. A lot of people have said we’ll wait to see what the U.S. Supreme Court, well they’ve acted. This is such an inevitability, figure it out guys. Let’s get this done.”

* New York Times

Gay rights groups say they think the votes are there for a win at a brief legislative session this fall.

Maybe. Maybe sooner. Maybe later. But I still don’t think that this thing will get a vote in the veto session, which would be during the candidate filing process.

* Related…

* Mark Brown: Illinois needs to finish what Supreme Court started: What was really going on was that Republican strategists had identified the threat of gay marriage as a wedge issue that could be used to motivate conservative voters to come out more strongly in that November’s national election. Democrats meekly went along to blunt the impact. The Illinois bill’s chief sponsor, a young state senator named Peter Fitzgerald, went so far as to close the debate with a story about a third-grade boy adopted by two gay men. “Every day this boy is dropped off at school by his parents, and the other kids make fun of him. And he’s constantly crying. He’s in the principal’s office. He’s constantly fighting,” Fitzgerald said disapprovingly, offering his story as an argument in favor of further discrimination against gay couples. How wonderful then that the Supreme Court observed quite the opposite in the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act.

* Durbin was for DOMA before he was against it

* Caprio: Congress must decide federal benefits for homosexual couples

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


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Friday, Jun 28, 2013

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Must-watch video: Duckworth rips “injured” contractor to shreds

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* Military Times

Braulio Castillo broke his foot in a prep school injury nearly three decades ago at the U.S. Military Preparatory School, which he attended for nine months before playing football in college. He owns a technology business certified as a service-disabled, veteran-owned company eligible for government set aside contracts.

* Castillo testified in Congress this week and Tammy Duckworth was having none of it

Castillo’s VA doctors gave him a 30 percent disabled rating; he never saw combat. Duckworth wasn’t pleased. It was clear Castillo he was in for a rough ride when Duckworth started off by asking him, with faux politeness, if his foot hurt, before describing her own phantom pains. But the tensest moments come late in Duckworth’s time:

    DUCKWORTH: Do you feel that the 30 percent rating that you have for the scars and the pain in your foot is accurate to the sacrifices that you’ve made for this nation, that the VA decision is accurate in your case?

    CASTILLO: Yes ma’am, I do.

    DUCKWORTH: You know my right arm was essentially blown off and reattached. I spent a year in limb salvage with over a dozen surgeries over that time period. And in fact we thought I would lose my arm, and I’m still in danger of possibly losing my arm. I can’t feel it, I can’t feel my three fingers. My disability rating for that arm is 20 percent.

* What follows is an absolute must-watch video of one of the greatest takedowns I’ve ever seen

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* We’ve talked about this loophole before, but Tom Kasich wrote about it not long ago

What campaign committees do is collect dozens of fat checks, let them sit for weeks or months, then deposit them in a bank on one day and report them within five business days.

That, in fact, is what Citizens for Lisa Madigan did in the first quarter of the year. It disclosed 198 separate contributions of $1,000 or more all at once, on April 5. The checks had been deposited on March 29.

Ditto Taxpayers for Quinn. The governor’s campaign fund reported 112 contributions of $1,000 or more, including $20,000 from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, on April 2. But the trial lawyers reported that the donation was made on March 20.

Madigan’s campaign, for its part, said it reports contributions in one big batch so that it can thoroughly vet all donations and return any checks that create potential ethical problems.

And lawmakers, at the time a new campaign disclosure law was being discussed in 2009, said they wanted to avoid problems with checks that were sent to post office boxes but may have go uncollected for days or weeks.

“Legislators were upset about it — they felt there was the potential for ‘gotcha moments’ — a check in a post office box, and they would get fined for not checking a post office box,” said David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “I don’t know how often that actually happened. I think they might have been inflating the problem a bit.”

So the law was written to allow campaign committees to sit on contributions for long periods, although they also could disclose them quickly. A law that supposedly was written to foster public disclosure and benefit voters ends up favoring the pols.

“That means that the committee gets to determine when the public finds out about when they received money,” Morrison said. “In the context of an election, it means that a committee can have the check and know the money is in hand, but not tell voters about it until the polls are closed. That’s a very dangerous precedent.

“At the time, the folks in the Legislature said, ‘No, no, no. People won’t actually play that game. Trust us on this.’ I don’t know that that’s true. I think we are seeing some gamesmanship.”

Pretty much everybody is doing this except Bruce Rauner, who is spending money and therefore needs to deposit the checks right away, and Bill Daley, who wants to show he’s viable.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel just reported $470K on a signle A-1, for example.

* The Question: Should Illinois law be changed to require reporting campaign contribution checks within a few days of their actual receipt, rather than after their deposit in a bank account? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


free polls

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


St. Clair County implodes

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* This is just the latest twist in what has been a totally bizarre month in St. Clair County

A former state lawmaker who’s the new clerk of southwestern Illinois’ St. Clair County says his new job will pay about $20,000 less than what he is making, but he’s fine with that.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Tom Holbrook will make $100,800 as St. Clair County clerk. He’s now making $120,000 a year as chairman of the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

The county’s board on Monday night unanimously appointed Holbrook as the replacement of Bob Delaney, who resigned last week after an employee accused him of discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Delaney denied any wrongdoing.

* The Delaney incident was really awful

Employees of St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney, who resigned abruptly this week, complained that their boss grabbed their breasts and buttocks, kissed them and made inappropriate comments at work, according a copy of an investigative report released Thursday.

The report, by county Equal Employment Opportunity Officer Laura Beasley, also said workers accused Delaney of drinking on the job, using racial slurs and cultivating a climate of fear and racial discrimination.

Beasley determined that the complaint was “overwhelmingly founded.”

The investigation was prompted by a May 16 complaint from Laura Romero, a 25-year-old employee who had been fired. The report was released Wednesday by Romero’s lawyer, Thomas Kennedy III, but parts were missing due to a faxing error.

The complete report says that four other employees were mulling complaints against Delaney. It says seven employees told Beasley that Delaney had grabbed the buttocks of workers, two employees said he grabbed their breasts and 13 said they had been kissed by Delaney “on the face, cheeks, and lips.”

* But that was nothing compared to what happened in late May. The judge who presided over the county’s drug court, and whose father is a major trial lawyer and bigtime Democratic campaign contributor, was arrested. From May 24th

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook is the target of a federal investigation. […]

The investigation has raised new questions about the death of Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who died in March while at a hunting cabin in Pike County, Ill., owned by Cook’s family. The Pike County coroner, Paul Petty, confirmed Friday that Christ died of cocaine intoxication, and that traces of cocaine and drug paraphernalia were found near his body.

Christ, 49, a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor, had only been on the bench about a week before his death.

* Later in the day

A southwestern Illinois judge already under scrutiny after a colleague died of a cocaine overdose at his family’s hunting lodge was charged Friday with possession of heroin and guns.

Wearing cutoff shorts and a T-shirt with the slogan “Bad is my middle name,” St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook pleaded not guilty to federal counts of possessing heroin and having a firearm while being an illegal user of controlled substances. The criminal complaint alleges those offenses took place Thursday, and that Cook is an addict.

Earlier Friday, the county coroner said toxicology tests showed that Cook’s colleague, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Joe Christ, overdosed on cocaine while staying with Cook at the Cook family’s 2,500-square-foot cabin near the Mississippi River in western Illin

* Apparently, the two went easy on an alleged heroin dealer who sold them drugs

First Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter blames St. Clair County justice for the absence of criminal convictions against alleged heroin dealer and addict Sean McGilvery of Belleville. […]

Porter said he was aware that a report from probation officers listed no convictions.

“We are also aware that the reason is because of the people he dealt with in the courthouse,” Porter said.

“He simply hasn’t been made to pay for any of the things he has done in the past.”

McGilvery allegedly supplied heroin that addicted former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook.

* Christ dismissed tickets

In his final days as a St. Clair County prosecutor, Joe Christ recommended that traffic tickets be dismissed for two men accused in federal court documents of selling cocaine and heroin to Christ and his friend, Circuit Judge Michael Cook, and then Cook obliged.

* The scale is just mind-boggling

Suspended Circuit Court Judge Michael Cook’s long-time friend, Sean McGilvery, has been named a co-defendant in a high-volume heroin distribution case allegedly run by a mother and son team from Fairview Heights previously charged with concealing the drug overdose death of a 30-year-old woman.

McGilvery, 34, of Belleville, was charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute more than two pounds of heroin. McGilvery, who pleaded not guilty, resided at 309 N. 38th St. in Belleville, the same address where the home’s owner, McGilvery’s mother Linda Gibson, said Cook was arrested Wednesday evening by federal agents.

On Friday, Cook was charged with possessing heroin and a felony weapons charge. He pleaded not guilty.

Also charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin are Deborah A. Perkins, 64, and her 46-year-old son, Douglas W. Oliver. They were charged Sept. 5 with moving the body of Jessica Williams from their Fairview Heights home and dumping it in Washington Park. An autopsy showed Williams died from a heroin overdose. […]

In addition to being friends for years, McGilvery is also linked to Cook through a 1999 injury liability case where Cook was his lawyer, and in a 2011 drug possession case where Cook was the judge. Cook dismissed the felony drug possession charge in May 2012 after McGilvery completed a drug treatment program.

* And the irony is too thick to be imagined

The St. Clair County Circuit judge at the center of a drug scandal and charged with heroin possession, handled 90 percent of the circuit’s drug court cases. Judge Michael Cook decided if felons were complying with their rehabilitation efforts. Ironically, it is the judge who is in rehab right now.

* A probation officer was also involved

On Tuesday, St. Clair County Probation Officer James K. Fogarty, 45, of Belleville, appeared in federal court to answer to charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He pleaded not guilty and waived his preliminary hearing. He remains in federal custody until a bond hearing set for next week.

During an interview with FBI agent Joe Murphy at Fogarty’s home, Fogarty said he used cocaine with Cook and newly elected Associate Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who was a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor.

Fogarty told Murphy that he sold an “eight ball of cocaine,” or about an eighth of an ounce, to the judges with each paying about $140 apiece. The cocaine was purchased by the judges the day before Christ was found dead at Cook’s family’s hunting cabin in Pike County, Ill. The Pike County sheriff has said that Christ died of cocaine toxicity.

* And that probation officer reportedly squealed

In asking a judge not to release a former St. Clair County probation officer on bond, a federal prosecutor said the defendant “implicated a number of prominent people up in Belleville and the area around.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter said the government was concerned that these people might encourage James K. Fogarty, of Belleville, to flee so that he could not further implicate them. He said Fogarty, in his job as a probation officer, committed “a jaw-dropping and extraordinary breach of trust,” and is a flight risk.

* The rot appears to be quite widespread

The daughter of a former St. Clair County judge was a co-defendant in a drug case against a man who federal prosecutors say provided heroin to another county judge, Michael Cook.

Katherine C. O’Malley, 33, of Belleville, the daughter of retired Circuit Judge Michael O’Malley, is listed as a co-defendant in the 2011 case of Sean McGilvery of Belleville, who was charged with possessing crack cocaine.

Cook, a longtime friend of McGilvery’s, ordered McGilvery to complete a drug treatment class, then dismissed the case.

O’Malley’s case has been expunged and is no longer listed in the circuit clerk’s records, but her attorney, Greg Skinner, said she was ordered to complete drug school, then Circuit Judge John Baricevic dismissed the case on May 23, 2012. It was the same punishment as McGilvery received.

* The US Attorney is expanding the probe

U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton told reporters the investigation into who else might be involved is “wide open,” and continues within St. Clair County Courthouse and beyond

* Did that federal probe include a local police chief, who killed himself?

No one has implicated the late Caseyville police chief J.D. Roth as a suspect in a federal investigation, except Roth himself.

After his June 13 suicide, those close to him told Fairview Heights police that he had been depressed for months about an investigation.

Public records show Roth was arrested on May 8, when state police picked him up on two charges of official misconduct.

Roth shot himself in his back yard, at 9704 Avalon in Fairview Heights..

Ugh.

* Related…

* Departing clerk Delaney faces action over bad debt

* Bound in handcuffs, Belleville woman is interrogated by FBI about Judge Michael Cook

* Judge grants Cook’s motion to continue trial on drug charge; Grand jury returns indictments of McGilvery, Fogarty

* Mothers of women who died from heroin blame Cook: ‘If (he’d) been doing his job …’

* ‘What’s the difference between him and me — the black robe?’: Former addict resents being sent to prison by Cook

* Fallout from Cook case: St. Clair County may expand drug testing

* Accused drug dealer at heart of courthouse scandal won’t go to rehab

* Steven McGlynn named to St. Clair County bench

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


A big surprise in the wake of DOMA ruling

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* The Sun-Times has an excellent roundup of the US Supreme Court DOMA ruling’s impact on Illinois, including this

Wednesday’s court rulings brought signs of some movement, including within the 20-member House Black Caucus. At the end of May, only five lawmakers in the caucus had publicly committed to voting in favor of the same-sex marriage bill.

State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago), a vocal critic of Harris’ plan, told the Chicago Sun-Times that she now is “much more inclined” to vote for it because gay couples in other states will now have access to federal benefits but those in Illinois will not.

“I don’t want to hurt their Social Security,” Davis said. “Surely you cannot have people in one state getting Social Security and have people in another who do not. That cannot go.”

Rep. Monique Davis was a harsh, harsh critic of gay marriage. For instance

Asked if the same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue, Davis didn’t bat an eye.

“Have they ever hung from trees?” she asked. “Were they ever slaves for 500 years, then I don’t think so. I don’t think [the issues are] equal … Simple as that.”

So, obviously, a position change by her would be huge.

* Rep. Ken Dunkin makes a valid point

“Part of the big challenge with the gay community on this issue is that it’s seen as a white issue,” Dunkin said, adding that activists have yet to create a program to help educate lawmakers and the African-American community about why same-sex marriage is a valid issue.

* Windy City Times

Many felt the [black] caucus was taken for granted, with two lobbyists hired in the final 48 hours to target Black lawmakers.

Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity Community Services, also said that Black LGBT leaders were not called on to aide in outreach to Black representatives.

“We could have been educating and mobilizing our constituents,” said Hunt. “We did have some constituents that we knew of that were very interested in going to Springfield. We don’t have the resources for that. There could have been things that we could have done in the Black press, which we tried to do a little bit … but it wasn’t part of a larger strategy. It was just us stepping in because we weren’t seeing anything visible in terms of support marriage equality.”

Hunt and O’Connor were among a group of Black LGBTs to travel to the capitol independent of the coalition to lobby lawmakers.

The lack of African-American outreach in the House and in the districts has been a stupendous failure.

* Related…

* State Sen. Cullerton talks marriage progress in Illinois

* Choking back tears, Tunney urges Il. House to “get its act together” on gay marriage

* Same-sex marriage advocates in Illinois see court ruling as a boost for their cause

* No clear direction on gay marriage in Illinois after court ruling

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Today’s quote

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* From Sen. Bill Brady’s gubernatorial campaign home page

On Wednesday, Senator Bill Brady will officially launch his campaign for Governor in 2014 with announcements of my candidacy in Chicago, Springfield, Marion and Bloomington.

Um, perhaps a proofreader could be hired?

* Roundup…

* Brady announces he’ll run again for governor

* Brady eager for rematch with Quinn

* Brady would respect marriage ruling if elected

* Bill Brady weighs in on gay marriage rulings in announcing bid for governor

* IL gov candidate Brady: I have the base to win

* Bill Brady Announces His Third Run for Illinois Governor

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


*** LIVE*** Pension reform conference committee coverage

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* Click here to watch live video of the pension reform conference committee meeting.

* Let’s do some ScribbleLive coverage as well. Blackberry users click here

* Meanwhile, at first blush, I dismissed this press release yesterday as mere political posturing from a likely gubernatorial candidate…

State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) today called on Gov. Pat Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan to publicly testify in front of the recently appointed Conference Committee established to deal with the state’s pension crisis.

“Gov. Quinn said that if he could fix the pension crisis by Executive Order he would. Therefore, Gov. Quinn should appear before the Conference Committee and tell its members what his Executive Order would look like and how his solution to the state’s nearly $100 billion pension crisis would be drafted,” said Dillard. “As Governor, Quinn has not offered his own plan but reacted to the General Assembly. Now it’s time for the Governor to lead and show us his plan.”

Dillard said that as chief legal counsel of Illinois with a staff of attorneys, Attorney General Lisa Madigan should also testify in front of the Conference Committee on the constitutionality of the competing pension proposals being pushed by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

“Importantly, as the state’s chief legal officer Attorney General Madigan should appear before conferees and give legal guidance as to whether Speaker Madigan’s plan or Speaker Cullerton’s plan are able to pass constitutional muster. The Attorney General must have an opinion as to which of the two plans are more constitutional, and she should share this with the Committee,” said Dillard.

But, the more I thought about it, the more this made sense, even considering the partisan source.

As noted below, most legislative committee hearings are far more show than go, and, by the looks of things, this pension reform conference committee will be no different.

So, why not shake things up and heed Dillard’s advice? It couldn’t hurt.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Highway robbery

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* Have you ever offered something for sale and the buyer agreed to the price right away? It’s happened to me a few times and I’ve always felt stupid, believing - with justification - that I should’ve asked for more.

So, let’s go back to yesterday’s press release from Gov. Pat Quinn on the state’s bond sale

The state received more than $9 billion in bids Wednesday from 145 investors for $1.3 billion in General Obligation bonds. The average interest rate on the bonds was 5.042 percent.

That $9 billion in offers is seven times the amount of the bond issuance.

* The governor lamented the additional cost of the bonds to taxpayers in that release…

“When I took office, my top priority was to enact the first capital construction plan in 10 years,” Governor Quinn said. “Today’s bond sale ensures that the work continues on much-needed improvements to roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects across Illinois. But legislative inertia has a price, and today the price for taxpayers was an extra $130 million. As I’ve warned repeatedly, this is an emergency. That’s why the General Assembly needs to get the job done by July 9 so we can stop the bleeding, prevent future downgrades and jumpstart Illinois’ economy.”

Totally understandable concern.

* The New York Times adds a bit of context

States and cities across the nation are starting to learn what Wall Street already knows: the days of easy money are coming to an end.

Interest rates have been inching up everywhere, sending America’s vast market for municipal bonds, a crucial source of financing for roads, bridges, schools and more, into its steepest decline since the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008.

For one state, Illinois, the higher interest rates will add up to $130 million over the next 25 years — and that is for just one new borrowing. All told, the interest burden of states and localities is likely to grow by many billions, sapping tax dollars that otherwise might have been spent on public services. […]

The sell-off in the municipal bond market has followed the general rout in the overall bond market, which was set off when Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, indicated that the strength of the economic recovery might allow the central bank to pull back on its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program earlier than anticipated.

The Fed was not buying municipal bonds, but the market reacted anyway. Investors expected interest rates to rise, and because prices move in the opposite direction, the values of the municipal bonds they already held dropped.

Investors apparently started selling, not wanting to be the last one out. That caused a flood of bond sales. For the week ended June 19, $3.368 billion flowed out of mutual funds that hold tax-exempt municipal bonds, according to the Investment Company Institute. The outflow for the previous week was $3.236 billion.

Such sell-offs tend to hit the municipal bond market hard because it has many individual investors who buy bonds to hold them, either directly or through mutual funds, rather than financial institutions that trade them quickly.

* So, it’s abundantly clear that Illinois’ bonds most certainly had to be priced yesterday to attract buyers in a crazy market where people were dumping bonds left and right. Totally understandable.

But seven times over-subscribed?

There’s no doubt Illinois would have to pay higher interest rates than other states, but seven times over-subscribed is just ridiculous. The Quinn administration has some real fault here.

* This all reminds me of an old Johnny Rotten quote

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

I did yesterday.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Quinn: Act now “or else”

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* Or else what?

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is taking a hard line when it comes to pension reform and refusing to budge from the deadline he set.

The Governor tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine that the bill better be on his desk July 9 or else. […]

“It’s disappointing. It’s time for the legislators all 10 of them to get to work,” said Quinn. “I’ve seen conference committees in the past the moment they were appointed they got to work. We’ve passed eight days and tomorrow I guess they are meeting for the first time. I think that have to be put on notice that they people of Illinois expect them by July 9 to have a plan that the members of both house can vote on to reform the pensions.”

“It’s disappointing. It’s time for the legislators all 10 of them to get to work,” said Quinn. “I’ve seen conference committees in the past the moment they were appointed they got to work. We’ve passed eight days and tomorrow I guess they are meeting for the first time. I think that have to be put on notice that they people of Illinois expect them by July 9 to have a plan that the members of both house can vote on to reform the pensions.”

Quinn could hold up capital projects in retaliation, but he’s consistently refused to do that in the past. I asked a top aide months ago whether the governor would be willing to kill construction projects until the GA approved pension reform. I was told Quinn didn’t want to hurt Illinois’ economy further. Not to mention that doing so would deprive a governor in reelection mode an opportunity to cut ribbons.

Could he call them back for more special sessions? Sure. That would be “punishment,” but it would likely be as futile as Rod Blagojevich’s endless summers and probably backfire on him.

* The Tribune agrees with Quinn that the conference committee is moving too slowly

This committee was supposed to be different. It is the first conference committee, with members from both chambers, formed to address pension reform. The idea behind it was a good one. Get House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton out of the room, and let reform-minded rank-and-file legislators find common ground on the No. 1 issue strangling taxpayers and state budgets.

But Madigan and Cullerton have never been in a rush. It’s clear their appointees aren’t either.

Never mind that the testimony the committee will hear Thursday is the same information lawmakers have been hearing for years. Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, doesn’t need to dust off his speech. It’s still fresh from the testimony he gave in May, and before that in March and before that at, literally, dozens of meetings and committee hearings on pensions during the last decade.

Cullerton chose state Sen. Kwame Raoul, Democrat of Chicago, to chair the committee. He’s a smart guy who’s been involved in pension negotiations for months. But he’s a can-kicker. Big foot. Long, sailing punt. Raoul voted against the only bills that would have begun to substantially rescue the retirement funds. And now he’s allowing his committee to meet weekly, or less, based on an opinion from Democratic staff that the committee must give six days’ notice between hearings.

Most public committee hearings mean little to nothing. All the best lobbyists and legislators know this. You do your work behind the scenes and then let the show play out at the hearing.

But these guys just have to scream about something, so here we go again.

* Let’s look at some facts. This paper was written by Marc Joffe of Public Sector Credit Solutions

When considering the impact of underfunded pensions on Illinois’s solvency, it is worth evaluating the implications of the extreme case, in which the assets of all five systems are exhausted. If that were to happen, the state government would have to cover all benefit payments and administrative expenses from revenues on a pay-as-you-go basis. Offsetting these annual costs would be the contributions withheld from the salaries of current employees and (in the case of the Teacher’s Retirement Fund) school district contributions.

In 2012, the state contributed $4.9 billion to its various pension funds, but it would have been compelled to contribute $6.7 billion if it had been operating on a pay-as-you-go basis… By 2045, the state’s potential burden almost quintuples to $24.6 billion.

It is important to place these numbers into the context of the overall budget picture. According to figures provided to the author by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) Fiscal Futures project, the state’s consolidated revenue was $66.4 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2012 (IGPA, personal communication). The state’s actual pension contributions totaled 7.3 percent of revenue, and would have been 10.0 percent in the absence of pension funding. Thus the debate over pension funding revolves around $1.8 billion, or 2.7 percent, of state revenue—a substantial amount, but not one that would likely trigger insolvency.

Projecting into the future shows some surprising results. While pension costs are expected to increase, state revenues will also rise. In the 31 fiscal years from 1981 to 2012, appropriated state revenues (which approximate consolidated revenue4) increased at an annualized rate of 6.32 percent. This is somewhat higher than the 4.82 percent yearly growth in nominal personal income over the same period, with the difference largely explained by tax hikes imposed during the period. Although revenue growth may be slower over the next three decades (due to lower fertility rates, population aging, and disincentives arising from higher income taxes), it is still likely to be substantial—if for no other reason than simple inflation. Moody’s Analytics (2013) projects that Illinois’s annual personal-income growth will average roughly 4.5 percent through 2021. […]

These revenue growth rates are plausible without further tax increases, since they bracket the Moody’s Analytics forecast of personal-income growth. [Emphasis added.]

It’s more than 2.7 percent of state revenues, because basing this projection on all revenue is misleading. You can’t use Medicaid dollars for pension funding, for instance. You can’t use FOID card application fees for pension funding, either.

But you get the idea.

Joffe also writes convincingly that “Illinois bonds carry very little credit risk.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


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* 1 winning ticket sold in New Hampshire for $487 million Powerball jackpot
* On the Air
* Lollapalooza day three: Red Hot Chili Peppers on cruise control, Vic Mensa rises above
* Malia Obama spotted at Lollapalooza


* Bernard Schoenburg: GOP activist Proft involved in papers across the state
* Angie Muhs: A snapshot of evolving photojournalism at SJ-R
* Jimenez, Bourne hold campaign fund edge over opponents
* Statehouse Insider: Remap amendment is in trouble, so let's try term limits
* Our View: Voters need to carefully weigh voices of dissent on Trump
* John Kelker: Great things happen when we work together
* A snapshot of evolving photojournalism at SJ-R
* Great things happen when we work together
* Rauner vetoes bill to keep seniors in their homes
* Dr. Thomas Kerins: Ending high school PARCC a good first step


* Priority Staffing Group to expand outside of Illinois
* Boom and betrayal: Retired coal miners losing health benefits as companies file bankruptcy
* Millikin offering nursing program online
* Longtime local dentist retiring after 50 years
* Ruben Pinto
* William 'Bill' Chaney
* Betty Smith
* Evelyn Litton
* Shawn Holbrook
* Edward 'Ed' Stevens


* Police: Elgin man charged after 7-hour standoff
* Chapman may throw fast, but Mariners get best of Cubs
* Bulls may be Butler's team, but what does that mean?
* McKnight: Moving Sale, Quintana may be better in winter
* Ostrowski: Opportunity knocking for White Sox

* 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

* Dems want Durbin in 2018; Missouri's GOP r......
* Dems want Durbin in 2018; Missouri's GOP r......

* Senate and House bipartisan effort to help......

* Sunday Is The Last Day for Inspiration Kitchens (At Least For Now)
* CTA Tattler now can be found at ChicagoNow.com
* Update: The Tattler is cruisin' to ChicagoNow with the Trib
* The Tattler is cruisin' to ChicagoNow with the Trib
* Weekend work: A Blue Line "ditto"
* News pickup: CTA complaints; passengers falling on tracks
* "This is only a test!" Emergency exercise to shut Washington Blue Line stop, nearby bus routes
* CTA I-Go smart card earns Chicago Fast Cities nod
* CTA avoids fare hikes by using capital funds to balance budget
*


* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Governor Announces Appointments
* Governor Rauner and Illinois Lottery Seek New Management Partner
* College Changes Everything™ Conference Highlights Critical Role Of Higher Education In Economic Recovery And Growth
* Summer Camp Builds Bonds between Incarcerated Moms and Children




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