SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
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.


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        

  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:

  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.

* Question of the day
* The Financial Times reports from... Ottawa?
* Caption contest!
* Nope. That was the Russians, not us
* Another Republican touts Green Party vote to help Rauner
* The opposite of transparent
* Tribune attempts Kirk diagnosis
* Wagers made on World Series
* A good question
* Could the SJ-R move the needle for DelGiorno?
* Chicago appears to account for most of state's net voter registration gain since '08
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Dold demanded DCCC ad linking him to Trump be taken off the air
* Yesterday's blog posts

Visit our advertisers...






Search This Blog...

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

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

* [TA Deals] Get the Martian Notifier Smartwatch for just $30!
* Analysts say Sprint and T-Mobile are acquisition targets
* Google’s Pixel margins are a lot like Apple and the iPhone’s
* Samsung sending out battery limiter update to Galaxy Note 7 in Europe
* [Video] Unboxing the Google Pixel
* Could the global smartphone market shrink in 2017?
* Duet Display for iPad Gains 'Pro' Drawing Features

* White Sox developing promising OF prospects
* Podcast: 2016 White Sox Outfield Review
* mikecws91's Offseason Plan
* The ten best developments of the 2016 White Sox season
* KenWo4LiFe's off-season plan
* Getz to oversee White Sox Minor Leagues
* Getz to oversee White Sox Minor Leagues


Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
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


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0


* Question of the day - The Capitol Fax Blog (blog)..
* Free-tuition activists stoked over arrests for .....
* Rauner's plan to get the lead out - IllinoisHom.....
* NEIU students tell lawmakers to fund education .....
* In World Series bets, Rauner wagers pizza, Kasi.....
* Ohio, Illinois governors place bets over Cubs-I.....
* Ohio, Illinois governors place bets over Cubs-I.....

* Company asks pipeline protesters to leave North Dakota land
* Oh, what a night: Cleveland ready to rock sports world
* Trial delayed for man accused of fatal robbery in Illinois
* Trial delayed for man accused of fatal robbery in Illinois
* Fearing Election Day trouble, some US schools cancel classes
* Next year here: Lovable losers Cubs, Indians meet in Series
* Ohio, Illinois governors place bets over Cubs-Indians series
* Ohio, Illinois governors place bets over Cubs-Indians series
* EXCHANGE: Eagle Scout establishes new campsite
* Hand, foot and mouth disease spreads on Illinois campus

* Feds end lease with Illinois for state park, citing neglect
* Statehouse Insider: Tomorrow's a new day; in Illinois, that may not be good
* Cook County lawyer who posed as judge criminally charged
* 1,100 non-union state workers getting $3,016 bonuses
* Springfield veteran honored for volunteer work
* Central Illinois soldier killed in Afghanistan
* Rauner administration awarding more than $3 million in bonuses to non-union workers
* SIU injury-prevention program reinstated through stopgap budget
* Survey: 386 state jobs could relocate to Springfield
* SIU injury-prevention program reinstated through state's stopgap spending plan

* Obama administration confirms double-digit premium hikes. What happens next?
* A tale of two ballparks: Wrigley vs. Progressive
* Caterpillar beats 3Q profit forecasts
* Caterpillar rally imperiled as sales recovery proves elusive
* U of I biz school gets Deloitte gift to help fund transformation

* His family’s connection to the Cubs? Naming the team
* 30-year-old man dies after I-57 crash in Blue Island
* Chicagocentric adult coloring book just may help you de-stress
* Rodent Control gets its own bureau — again — in war on rats
* Schwarber at DH, batting fifth for Cubs in Game 1 of World Series
* Jay Cutler: Bears future ‘conversations for the end of the year’
* A stripped, emotional Lady Gaga comes to life on ‘Joanne’
* Fantasy football: Trading Wilson provides points, lesson
* Plenty of ‘Magic’ at play in Goodman’s world premiere
* Opinion: In Iowa, my radio crackles alive again for the Cubs

* Trump can't just be defeated. He must be humiliated.
* Trump says Obamacare is 'blowing up' after gloomy report
* Great America, Cedar Point parks bet on the Cubs-Indians World Series
* Colin Powell says he's voting for Hillary Clinton
* ESPN snubs White Sox in Cubs' World Series coverage
* A Washington ritual: Reading John Podesta's stolen emails
* Murder suspect's sister: She told me about plot to kill husband in '79
* Judge: Statement 'Simpsons' graffiti suspect gave cops is inadmissible
* Jay Cutler on having John Fox's support: 'He doesn't have a choice'
* Game 1: Kyle Schwarber bats 5th, Chris Coghlan 7th in place of Jason Heyward

The widget AQL4JYGHIY powered by Feed Informer does not exist.

* Our Opinion: Endorsing Bourne, DelGiorno for the Illinois House
* Kathleen Parker: You can dress him up, but Trump is Trump
* Our Opinion: Leslie Munger endorsed for Illinois comptroller
* Feds end lease with Illinois for state park, citing neglect
* Our Opinion: With poor choices, Clinton gets nod for president
* Statehouse Insider: Tomorrow's a new day; in Illinois, that may not be good
* Bernard Schoenburg: DelGiorno apologizes for backer's vulgar Facebook post
* Cooler temperatures lead to greater needs
* Women for Women tops half million mark
* Cook County lawyer who posed as judge criminally charged

* Q-C blogger tries all the pumpkin things, so you don't have to
* Road closed: Oakland Avenue
* SIU's Rodriguez out indefinitely with knee injury
* Man arrested after allegedly intentionally damaging crops with a pickup truck
* McLean County agencies seek 2,000 Thanksgiving turkeys
* Hot chocolate race mixes new and old fall traditions for Lagomarcino's
* Illinois Theatre: The Minotaur
* Update: Passenger dies after semi-trailer crash on Internstate 57 that had killed driver
* Update: Passenger dies after semi-trailer crash on I-57 that had killed driver
* Who's in the news? William Albracht

* Kyle Schwarber to hit fifth for Cubs; Coghlan replaces Heyward
* Mundelein merchant threatens to sue over proposed pet-sale restrictions
* Chicago Cubs set lineup for Game 1 of World Series
* World Series snapshot: The game before the game
* First-round playoff matchups

* 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

* Sheila Simon, Sen. Dick Durbin talk budget......
* Sen. Durbin addresses Will County's heroin......
* Opioid Epidemic Symposium Gathers Experts ......

* Democrats see path to Senate control in Il......
* GOP senator flip-flop-flips on supporting ......
* Health questions remain, but Sen. Kirk won......

* Fundraiser Thursday evening for Judge Ketki "Kay" Steffen
* Where's Weyermuller? Reviewing Evanston bakery's presidential "cookie polling"
* DNA Info: Pride Cleaners, Chatham 'Architectural Icon,' For Sale
* World Series tix sellers asking $100k to $1M for Wrigley Field seats
* Thorner/O'Neil: Political correctness sets the path towards totalitarianism tolerance
* Thorner/Clarke: It's not about Hillary or Trump, it's about ending corruption
* Steve Goodman: A Dying #Cubs Fan's Last Request #postseason #flythew
* Illinois REALTORS® urge voters to reelect Sen. Rezin
* Morning Minute: First-time buyers help push U.S. home sales higher in September
* Vote for Sen. Forby says Illinois REALTORS®

* Governor’s Children’s Cabinet Makes Lead Poisoning Prevention A Priority - October 23-30, 2016 - National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
* Illinois EPA Sponsors Interactive Environmental Education Event with Riverton Elementary School - Riverton Third and Fourth Graders “Dive In!” to Celebrate the Environment
* Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Honors Veteran Mr. George Pempek
* Illinois Partners with State of Telangana, India to Strengthen Smart State Initiatives - State to state agreement to accelerate opportunities and service to citizens
* Illinois EPA Announces Vehicle Emissions Testing Network Updates - New Contract to Offer More Efficient, Less Expensive Tests

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