SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
New “think tank” push experiences strong push-back

Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014

* From the Decatur Herald & Review

Calling the city’s pensions “dangerously underfunded,” the Illinois Policy Institute released a report intended to highlight a statewide problem stemming from the rising costs of pensions for police, firefighters and local government workers. […]

“Despite more money being thrown into pension systems, the relative health of those pensions systems aren’t that much better, or they’re worse. They’re worse in most cities,” [Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute] said. “You’ve got a lose-lose situation where taxpayers are throwing in more money and yet they’re not getting any benefit from that.”

In a news release issued Thursday, the institute said “every penny” of property tax revenue in Decatur goes to pay for local government pensions.

But

In fact, about $7.6 million of the city’s $11.7 million property tax levy is designated for pensions. The remaining money is pledged to the Decatur Public Library, municipal band and general obligation bond debt. […]

The fire and police pension funds have a cash balance of about $130 million. They are now 62 percent and 69 percent funded, respectively, [Decatur City Manager Ryan McCrady] said.

“If we stop putting a penny into those pension funds today, employees that would not get a pension are probably in high school,” he said.

* SJ-R editorial

The Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based think tank and lobbying organization that makes no secret of its advocacy for 401(k)-style public pension plans, injected itself into the local pension conversation this week by offering Springfield aldermen an embarrassingly flawed assessment of the city’s pension picture.

Aldermen politely sent packing the institute’s representative, Ted Dabrowski, who appeared at Tuesday night’s council meeting to present its study of Springfield’s pension system.

For the study, the Illinois Policy Institute used publicly available data from Springfield and 113 other Illinois cities to score and rank how much of an effect pensions are having on taxpayers, property taxes and municipal budgets. Springfield, the study declares, has the worst-funded municipal pension system of the state’s 20 largest cities and spends 100 percent of its general fund property taxes to pay for police, fire and city pensions.

Not so fast.

Among other flaws, the study accounted for all city pension payments, including those for enterprise funds, such as City Water, Light and Power. It did not, however, account for revenue from those enterprise funds, which skewed the institute’s conclusions. […]

The report also asserts Springfield’s property taxes have “skyrocketed” because of unwieldy pension payments. In fact, property tax rates in Springfield haven’t increased since 1984, but revenue meanwhile has increased because of property appreciation and development.

* Good journalism from the two Downstate papers. Not so much from WGN TV

It’s not just the state of Illinois as a whole that’s dealing with a huge, pension problem.

Municipal pension systems are also in rough shape. A new audit by a conservative think-tank says pensions are wreaking havoc with municipal budgets. […]

If you wonder why you’re having more potholes than ever, it’s not just the weather,” says John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute. “It’s the pension crisis in your own community.”

Tillman says a new audit of 114 Illinois cities and towns reveals an alarming problem. ”It doesn’t matter if you’re a low income community or a high end community,” he says. “All these towns are having trouble keeping up with their pension obligations because the amount of the obligation is growing way too fast.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


32 Comments
  1. - Daryl - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:21 pm:

    One of the first things my editor told me on my very first day working in Illinois: “The Illinois Policy Institute is not a credible source.”


  2. - G'Kar - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    From what I can tell reading IPI’s research over the years, they first come up with a solution, ie: turn all public pensions into 401k-like plans and then do the research to support that solution–just the opposite of how research should be done.


  3. - Jorge - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    Ha. I love seeing the IPI finally get what they deserve.


  4. - YO - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    Damn workers. Why can’t they just die before they retire?


  5. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    It’s too bad the IPI doesn’t just stick to facts and good data. The local pension issue is pretty troublesome to taxpayers, but it’s not a doomsday issue and misrepresentation of facts do not help the policy discussion. It also doesn’t help to throughout extremes, if they offered feasible solutions they might actually be useful.


  6. - Bill White - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    === Damn workers. Why can’t they just die before they retire? ===

    From Bruce Rauner’s lips to God’s ears . . .


  7. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    It’s more like a stink tank if you ask me. Glad someone is finally fact-checking their BS.


  8. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    The sad thing is that Illinois desperately needs a group like the IPI… just not the IPI.


  9. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    I agree with G’Kar in that IPI identifies the premise and then gears its research to prove that point. Clearly IPI is a joke, not a think tank. Unfortunately, there are still lazy journalists who don’t bother to check the facts. At least, they need to call the subject(s) of the report to get their reactions. That is what I was taught by the NIU Journalism Department. I don’t like like the SJR, but I do have to give them a pat on the back for this catch. Normally, they are the ones falling for this kind of sensationalism.


  10. - Steelerfan - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    Illinois does have a first class think tank that follows wherever the numbers lead…that is called integrity. Just check out the studies, including those on pension matters, done by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.


  11. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    As someone with a 403b, I would love to see government workers move to something like what I have. All of my money–what I put in and what my job(s) have put in–is there. It’s fully vested, if I left this job tomorrow I get all of it except what I haven’t paid in income tax on it. Every time I’ve left a job and moved to another university, my 403b has moved with me.

    And by move to, I mean be able to move the pension money they’ve already earned, or perhaps start out new hires in a 403b but somehow phase out the older pensions in a way that doesn’t mess with anyone’s retirement funding.


  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    The most depressing aspect of this is that state government reporters have, for the most part, allowed this alleged think tank to get away with all sorts of crud. State reporters tend to look down their noses at small-town local government reporters, but it was two of those local-beat folks who showed the staties how to write a real article about this stuff.


  13. - JSlim - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    JustObserving- You are so right.


  14. - Ray del Camino - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:53 pm:

    Every time my local paper runs Illinois News Network stuff on the front page, or swallows so-called “research” like this, it just makes me gag.


  15. - iThink - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    “Just check out the studies, including those on pension matters, done by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. ”

    You got some evidence for that?

    “Every time I’ve left a job and moved to another university, my 403b has moved with me. ”

    That’s the flipside to the benefit, it’s designed to keep people from leaving as the pension doesn’t carry. Traditionally alot of these jobs are underpaid, but they make up for them in benefits - it keeps talented people from jumping ship.


  16. - Local Guy - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    Problem is the truth is in the middle.

    In 12 years, our fire pension levy has increased more than 6 fold and the police more than 3 times in those 12 years. In that same time the funding ratio has dropped over 20% points in both in those 12 years.

    We will spend more on fire pensions than we will on regular salaries for our fire department this year.


  17. - Local Guy - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Oh, and we were still better funded than most when the last COGFA study was done. It’s not pretty.


  18. - Commander Norton - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 3:14 pm:

    Mr. Tillman - yes, the potholes really are caused by the severe winter weather. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, not an unfunded pension liability.


  19. - From the 'Dale to HP - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    Potholes are caused by pensions? IPI gots to go.


  20. - Priceless... - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    It’s unbelievable that donors continue to line the pockets of this organization. These guys are the ultimate con men! Lawmakers laugh at their lobbying efforts, their studies are almost always seriously flawed or at the very least geared towards an outcome of whomever is paying for it. It amazes me that they continue to exist and donors are so blinded by their con.


  21. - just pandering - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 4:14 pm:

    The IPI is what it is, which is not exactly credible. But Warren Buffett and the Wall Street Journal are saying the same things as IPI when it comes to the vulnerability of municipal pension systems. Anyone who dismisses deep-rooted problems with municipal pensions simply because IPI says there are problems is being somewhat foolish.


  22. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 4:27 pm:

    Who or what is funding these studies?

    Noticed Bruce picked up more donations from IPI folks recently. Is he the one funding this junk science?


  23. - just pandering - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 5:11 pm:

    No one knows who pays the bills at IPI, which is one of IPI’s bigger credibility problems. But be careful about calling it junk science. Wall Street Journal didn’t use junk science, it hired a bona fide research firm with no dog in the fight that concluded Springfield is facing one of the worst municipal pension problems in the nation. The problem is real, even if IPI is a ventriloquist for Rauner.


  24. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 5:30 pm:

    When bonding companies keep sounding the warnings, and the people in Springfield
    keep kicking the can. Then you know there’s
    a problem.
    Bankruptcy soon becomes an option. Ask Stockton,
    California and Detroit. We should negotiate
    before it’s to late.


  25. - Finally Out (formerly Ready to Get Out) - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 5:46 pm:

    The Wall Street Journal, another great source for information, owned by the “unbiased” Rupert Murdoch!


  26. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 5:57 pm:

    This Illinois farm boy has no use for the wild-eyed misanthropes from Illinois Police Institute.

    This is where I’ve always lived and am raising my family. A great life, by the way, better than 99% of the rest of humanity, ever.

    Half-assed skinheads get no scraps in my scrapbook.

    And the horse you rode in on, losers.


  27. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 6:02 pm:

    @Anonymous 5:30:

    How’s life in your little fantasyland? Enough with the bankruptcy garbage. Springfield isn’t anywhere close. The ignorance out there amazes me.


  28. - J. Nolan - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 6:07 pm:

    I take no position but here is IPIs response:

    http://illinoispolicy.org/illinois-policy-institute-responds-to-the-state-journal-register/


  29. - YO - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 6:10 pm:

    Amazing what people will believe without looking into motivations of those screaming that the sky is falling. Even more frightening is how willing they are to buy it hook, line and sinker without informing themselves.


  30. - Pensioner - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 7:29 pm:

    === Damn workers. Why can’t they just die before they retire? === Right BEFORE they die, otherwise who would pay the taxes?


  31. - Raymond - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 8:27 pm:

    Interesting observation on WGN swallowing IPI’s “think tank” drivel, while the other news outlets actually did some reporting and challenged it. But unfortunately, I’d bet the majority - perhaps the vast majority - of news outlets (print, broadcast, whatever) just take that drivel and run with it.

    Just as Bruce Rauner is relying on ignorant voters to accept his “government union bosses” demagoguing without perceiving that he’s actually planning to pummel the retirement benefits of hard-working teachers and tens of thousands of honest public workers, and just as Travis Akin surgically focuses his goofy “lawsuit abuse” stumping on small and medium-sized news outlets less likely to challenge him, so too does the IPI know that most news outlets don’t realize (or don’t care) that it’s a right-wing lobbying shill merely dressed as a “think tank.”

    If the corporate elite are throwing money at IPI, sorry to say there must be a reason for that - most of the time, the shtick works.


  32. - Bourbonrich - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 9:20 am:

    I think our local funds are fine but if the State reduces the amount it sends to local units of government, which I think is likely, then funding for local employees may become problematic without an infusion of new fees or taxes.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* *** UPDATED x1 *** Has the haymaker punch arrived?
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - State Senate fundraising report
* Third straight poll shows Rauner leading Quinn
* Last call for tickets!
* Vast Majority of Illinois Voters Support Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency
* Sun-Times reporters want you to sign their petition
* Same song, different century
* Question of the day
* Quinn finally wins a newspaper endorsement!
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's cable TV buy report
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition: Crosstabs, TV ads
* Report: Another tie between Rauner and CS-T chairman
* Bost's "anger," Cook's ratings, Foster's ad
* $580 MILLION EXELON RATE HIKE?? That’s the price tag for their nuke bailout…EVERY YEAR!
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner pumping dollars
* Rauner pushing IDOT back into the news stream
* Gov. Quinn runs new TV ad featuring FLOTUS
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* No, your eyes didn't deceive you
* Good morning!
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

          
        * Moto X (2014) Review
        * Monster Strike arrives for North American Android users
        * Etsy releases Credit Card Reader for budding entrepreneurs
        * How to Get 'Handoff' Working in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8
        * AT&T spoils Apple’s multi-carrier SIM by locking it down
        * Apple mum as Mac owners tussle with Yosemite over Wi-Fi problems
        * Apple Pay tops Tim Cook's to-do list in China

        * What Developers Should Know About Apple Pay
        * Here's a List of More Than 30 Free Image Sites That Don't Look Stock-y
        * Sundar Pichai becomes second-in-command at Google with major reorg
        * Roku could file for IPO soon, raise as much as $150 million
        * Find Battery Saving Tips for Almost Any Phone Model with This Index
        * Exclusive: Google CEO Larry Page Reorgs Staff, Anoints Sundar Pichai as New Product Czar
        * The NYPD will give smartphones to its officers, and it looks like they’ll run Windows

        * Alexei Ramirez and Adam Eaton Gold Glove finalists, but maybe not f...
        * Longtime scout Provas passes away after battle with cancer
        * Eaton, Ramirez named AL Gold Glove finalists
        * Gold Glove Awards finalists revealed
        * White Sox AFL class features talented Anderson
        * Nori Aoki: The White Sox Killer of 2014
        * World Series Game 2: Notes and discussion


        Main Menu
        Home
        Illinois
        YouTube
        Pundit rankings
        Obama
        Subscriber Content
        Durbin
        Burris
        Blagojevich Trial
        Advertising
        Updated Posts
        Polls

        Archives
        October 2014
        September 2014
        August 2014
        July 2014
        June 2014
        May 2014
        April 2014
        March 2014
        February 2014
        January 2014
        December 2013
        November 2013
        October 2013
        September 2013
        August 2013
        July 2013
        June 2013
        May 2013
        April 2013
        March 2013
        February 2013
        January 2013
        December 2012
        November 2012
        October 2012
        September 2012
        August 2012
        July 2012
        June 2012
        May 2012
        April 2012
        March 2012
        February 2012
        January 2012
        December 2011
        November 2011
        October 2011
        September 2011
        August 2011
        July 2011
        June 2011
        May 2011
        April 2011
        March 2011
        February 2011
        January 2011
        December 2010
        November 2010
        October 2010
        September 2010
        August 2010
        July 2010
        June 2010
        May 2010
        April 2010
        March 2010
        February 2010
        January 2010
        December 2009
        November 2009
        October 2009
        September 2009
        August 2009
        July 2009
        June 2009
        May 2009
        April 2009
        March 2009
        February 2009
        January 2009
        December 2008
        November 2008
        October 2008
        September 2008
        August 2008
        July 2008
        June 2008
        May 2008
        April 2008
        March 2008
        February 2008
        January 2008
        December 2007
        November 2007
        October 2007
        September 2007
        August 2007
        July 2007
        June 2007
        May 2007
        April 2007
        March 2007
        February 2007
        January 2007
        December 2006
        November 2006
        October 2006
        September 2006
        August 2006
        July 2006
        June 2006
        May 2006
        April 2006
        March 2006
        February 2006
        January 2006
        December 2005
        April 2005
        March 2005
        February 2005
        January 2005
        December 2004
        November 2004
        October 2004

        Blog*Spot Archives
        November 2005
        October 2005
        September 2005
        August 2005
        July 2005
        June 2005
        May 2005

        Syndication

        RSS Feed 2.0
        Comments RSS 2.0
        WordPress

        Loading


        * IL Gov. Quinn Announces WIU-QC Expansion - KWQC 6..
        * Gov. Quinn annouces $3 million investment in Me.....
        * Illinois governor race turns to support of women..
        * Quinn for Illinois TV Ad - Bruce Rauner "Carolyn"..
        * Quinn Announces $5 Million Investment for WIU-Q.....
        * Madigan, Rauner spend big on Illinois House races..
        * Feminist Gloria Steinem endorses Quinn for gove.....
        * How Well Does the Clinton Brand Still Play in t.....


        * Illinois gov's race focuses on women voters
        * Judge rules against Ameren in power line dispute
        * Feminist Steinem endorses Illinois governor
        * Madigan, Rauner spend big on Illinois House races
        * Cockroach visits Chicago's City Council chambers
        * Chicago police to check bags on transit system
        * Toddler taken from family found in Illinois
        * Man, 2-year-old boy killed by truck in Bloomington
        * Off-duty Chicago police officer shot and wounded
        * Illinois employees rescue woman from house fire

        * Feminist Gloria Steinem endorses Quinn for governor
        * Madigan, Rauner spend big on Illinois House races
        * Officials rethink early vote-counting after Madigan ruling
        * Minimum wage increase supporters urge early voting
        * Sun-Times political reporter resigns following Rauner complaint
        * Minimum wage hike supporters urge early voting
        * Federal judge orders court-appointed monitor for IDOT hiring
        * Rep. Raymond Poe to undergo stem cell transplant
        * Bill Clinton campaigns for Quinn, Durbin
        * Quinn, Rauner spar over jobs, taxes

        * Rauner, the reporter, the Sun-Times and 'appearance of impropriety'
        * Chicago police to check bags at CTA stations
        * Shire CEO Ornskov 'dumbfounded' by collapse of AbbVie deal
        * Tests show child in Chicago does not have Ebola
        * Sun-Times reporters to owners: We want answers


        * Back to the past with mayor’s move
        * Illinois needs better way to deal with terminally ill inmates
        * At panel on school closings, board acknowledges more planning needed
        * Marina City residents reminded to watch their step during Wallenda’s walk
        * Republican senators question Quinn’s IDOT scandal response
        * Child who became ill on plane tests negative for Ebola
        * Tollway might permanently lower cost to open I-Pass account
        * Killer gets 27 years for throwing woman out 3rd-floor window
        * CPS wants to delay new standardized test, even though state already has said 'no'
        * Father Bob Botthof, teacher who became priest after losing wife, dies at 85


        * FBI searches Chinatown restaurants, at least 2 owned by famed chef Tony Hu
        * Des Plaines man who tried to hire killers to burn wife, friends alive gets 17 years
        * Man charged with DUI in 2013 crash that killed woman, 78, in Aurora
        * Craft brewery on tap for Oak Park?
        * Police to screen CTA train passengers for explosives
        * Former radio host convicted of mortgage fraud
        * Chicago police to check CTA passengers for explosives
        * Police release surveillance photo in Loop armed robberies
        * Englewood 5K race organizers seek to inspire peace and good health


        * Listen to State Week - October 24, 2014
        * 2014 Election Coverage: Citizens, here's your homework!
        * 2 dead, including gunman, in high school shooting
        * Prosecutors want more of indicted police commander’s 'bad acts' in court
        * Prosecutors want more of indicted police commander's 'bad acts' in court
        * Bedrock 66: Charlie Parr Plays Springfield Friday
        * Oberweis Would Back Federal Same Sex Marriage Law
        * Wild Bison Return To IL
        * Scary Story: The Diviner by Susan Vondrak
        * Artist Profile: Local Troubadour Tom Irwin


        * Feminist Gloria Steinem endorses Quinn for governor
        * Madigan, Rauner spend big on Illinois House races
        * Our Opinion: Bell, Manar, Davidsmeyer endorsed in state legislative races
        * Craig Burns: Honesty, integrity in great supply at CWLP
        * E.J. Dionne: Ebola, pandering and courage
        * Esther Cepeda: Benefits of closing the word gap
        * Officials rethink early vote-counting after Madigan ruling
        * Our Opinion: Frerichs has the expertise to be Illinois treasurer
        * Robert Kaestner: Good education policy is good health policy
        * Eugene Robinson: Warren makes the case for a presidential run


        * Blotter
        * St. Jacob trustee calls for investigation over sizzle in former mayor's spending
        * Politics Notebook: Report names Enyart as vulnerable
        * Music will create a 1920s Parisian experience Friday at JALC
        * State Farm wants to test drones
        * Man to prison for heroin case
        * Coroner identifies Caseyville man killed in crash with police car
        * Woman extricated from vehicle after rollover crash near Walcott
        * No tickets issued in crash that led to woman's death
        * McCrady switching roles; set to become new president of EDC


        * Veteran Daily Herald reporter honored as "Best of the Best" by Illinois parks association
        * Pink squad car in Rosemont is all about breast cancer awareness
        * Sunday package delivery:
        * Police: Carpentersville man groped woman, 22, on sidewalk
        * Governor race focuses on female voters

        * Patrick Cannon defense strategy rare but n...
        * Feds fine Jesse Jackson Jr.'s campaign com...
        * Ex-Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. faces sen...
        * Representative Jan Schakowsky Sends Letter...
        * Rep. candidate pushes to uphold marriage b...
        * Reps. Schakowsky and Waxman Introduce Bill...
        * Statement by Representative Jan Schakowsky...
        * U.S. House Passes Resolution Condemning An...
        * FAA Rejects Call For New O'Hare Noise Stud...
        * Representatives Quigley, Duckworth, Schako...

        * Republican Senate candidate Oberweis favor......
        * Military immigrant program halted...
        * Military immigrant program halted...
        * Military immigrant program halted...
        * Military immigrant program halted...

        * U.S. Senator Mark Kirk to talk with Triton......

        * Durbin, Oberweis To Debate Tonight
        * First-Time Candidate Seeks GOP Incumbent's Defeat In 20th State House District
        * Mo Khan, Democratic Candidate For 20th District State Representative
        * The College Football Report: Area Police Top Poll
        * The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #23: It's All Cutler's Fault
        * Durbin, Oberweis debate Tea Party, immigration, veterans, and gay marriage
        * Illinois judicial candidate encounters signature snafu when attempting to vote
        * The latest from the Blue State Cowboys: Plutocrat: The Ballad of Bruce Rauner.
        * Beverley Holden Johns: SB 16. Why so hard to change special ed funding?
        * Forward to IEA Retired members. We are candidates for the IEA Representative Assembly.


        * Rauner rips Quinn on IDOT patronage oversight
        * New Ad: Labor leader backs Rauner
        * Jewish Newspapers Endorse Rauner for Governor
        * Statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Chicago Ebola Resource Network
        * Coordinated Care Enrollment Begins In Chicagoland Region




            Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller