* I told subscribers about this 11th Hour move last week…
A proposed hike in Chicago’s tax on cellphones has surfaced in Springfield — one of a series of last-minute developments as lawmakers rush to pass a budget and take up other business before their scheduled adjournment May 31.
The phone tax, which would apply only to cellphones and not land lines, is being pushed in the Illinois General Assembly by lobbyists for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and reportedly would take the levy from $2.50 a month now to $3.90.
A spokeswoman for the city budget office would say almost nothing about the move, saying only that the current surcharge for operation of the city’s 911 emergency center expires July 1 and “we are working with the General Assembly on an extension bill.” […]
Steve Brown, House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman, confirmed the matter is pending, but “I don’t know that the (tax) numbers have been finalized.”
As of the other day, the mobile phone folks appeared grudgingly willing to settle for a $1 hike. We’ll see where it ends.
The city originally asked for no cap at all.
* In other news…
Cook County leaders said Tuesday they’ll offer a plan to the Legislature this week to shore up a pension system expected to go into the red “in a big way” in the decades to come.
But Ivan Samstein, the county’s chief financial officer, could offer few specifics to explain how the county would fund the proposed $146.9 million increase in its contributions during the 2016 fiscal year — other than by trying to “make county government more efficient.”
“You do those things first and then you talk about taxes afterward,” Samstein said.
Tax and fee increases are a last resort in fixing the county’s pension system, he said — but not off the table.
For the first time since slot machines began to appear in bars and taverns across the state in summer 2012, video gaming recorded its first month-to-month drop in tax revenue last month. Illinois’ cut of the industry’s profits fell about 2 percent in April from March, records show.
That decrease in revenue amounted to about $300,000 less in taxes paid. And that’s despite the continued rise in the number of video gaming licenses in Illinois, which grew 4.5 percent from 15,667 in March to 16,380 in April.
But individual machines still took in about $106.45 in net income on a per-day basis — above the monthly average of $96.16. And the tax revenue collected last month outpaced February’s numbers by about 19 percent.
The bottom line: Video gaming experienced only its second-best month in April.
It should also come as no surprise that the boat people want lots more restrictions on video gaming establishments to protect their former monopolies.