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UIUC still waiting on federal approval to expand saliva test beyond campus community

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Numerous folks here and elsewhere have been wondering why the UIUC saliva test isn’t being used throughout the state. Elyssa Cherney at the Tribune answers that question

The directions are simple: Step into a tent on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, drop dribbles of saliva into a test tube and wait for the results within about 24 hours.

The new COVID-19 test, developed by researchers at UIUC, debuted Tuesday as students and faculty were invited to experience it for themselves. School leaders have set a goal of offering 10,000 tests per day by Aug. 24, when in-person classes start up again. […]

The ability to conduct a large volume of tests and process them quickly is a core feature of UIUC’s reopening plan, which aims to allow thousands of college students to return and safely resume their studies on campus amid the pandemic this fall. Students can choose to remain off-campus and take classes online.

But questions about the tests linger: It’s not clear if students will be required to undergo testing, and the school has yet to receive federal approval to expand testing beyond the university community, though one of its labs is certified to analyze results.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

587 new cases, 37 additional deaths, positivity rate of 2.5 percent

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 587 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 37 additional confirmed deaths.

    - Cook County: 2 females 50s, 2 females 60s, 4 males 60s, 4 males 70s, 3 females 80s, 2 males 80s, 1 unknown 80s, 2 males 90s, 1 unknown 90s
    - DuPage County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
    - Kane County: 1 female 70s
    - Kendall County: 1 female 90s
    - Lake County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 90s
    - Madison County: 1 female 70s
    - McHenry County: 1 male 60s
    - Peoria County: 1 female 70s
    - Rock Island County: 1 female 90s
    - Sangamon County: 1 female 90s
    - St. Clair County: 1 female 50s
    - Stephenson County: 1 male 80s
    - Will County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 80s
    - Winnebago County: 1 male 90s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 148,452 cases, including 7,063 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 26,994 specimens for a total of 1,809,834. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from June 20 –July 6 is 2.5%. As of last night, 1,385 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 320 patients were in the ICU and 153 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions. IDPH will update these data once a week.

Ever so slight downtick on the positivity rate. Hospitalizations are still stabilized.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* AP

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday assailed plans by some local districts to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week and said schools must be “fully operational” even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Anything less, she says, would fail students and taxpayers.

DeVos made the comments during a call with governors as the Trump administration launched an all-out effort to get schools and colleges to reopen. Audio of the call was obtained by The Associated Press.

“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how. School must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders,” DeVos told governors.


Florida, the new US hotspot for coronavirus, will require schools to reopen in August.

The state’s Commissioner of the Department of Education, Richard Corcoran, issued an emergency order on Monday requiring all “brick and mortar schools” to open “at least five days per week for all students.”

Florida, which initially avoided the worst of the pandemic in its first few months, now has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the US at 206,000 and counting.

Under the order, schools must reopen in full to “ensure the quality and continuity of the educational process, the comprehensive wellbeing of students and families and a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride.”

* The Question: Should Gov. Pritzker mandate that all K-12 schools fully reopen on schedule, regardless of local school board opinions? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…

bike tracks

* Related…

* ‘Nobody should hide behind CDC’s guidance’ to avoid reopening schools, Azar says

* Face masks in school likely to be mandatory, so it is time kids get used to them now: officials

* Teachers have their own concerns as District 186 grapples with in-person learning

- Posted by Rich Miller   84 Comments      

Cable yakker tries to pull a Max Cleland on Duckworth

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* I despise national politics, particularly the talking heads on the cable teevee. And I hate feeling like I need to post stuff like this, but I dinged Duckworth yesterday, so here we go

Before launching a broadside against Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Fox News host Tucker Carlson acknowledged that it’s not easy to go after a Purple Heart recipient who lost both her legs while serving her country in Iraq.

“You’re not supposed to criticize Tammy Duckworth in any way because she once served in the military,” Carlson said Monday night.

That didn’t stop him from calling Duckworth, a contender to be presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, “a deeply silly and unimpressive person” and suggesting that she and other Democratic leaders “actually hate America.”


“It’s long been considered out of bounds to question a person’s patriotism. It’s a very strong charge, and we try not ever to make it. But in the face of all of this, the conclusion can’t be avoided. These people actually hate America. There’s no longer a question about that,” Carlson claimed.

His full remarks are here.

* First of all, she didn’t just serve in the military

Maj. Ladda “Tammy” Duckworth remembers seeing a ball of flame after an RPG hit her helicopter, and wondering why her legs couldn’t work the control pedals.

“I found out later the pedals were gone, and so were my legs,” she said.

The 36-year-old Illinois Army National Guard pilot was returning from a mission Nov. 12 when the attack occurred. Before the attack, Duckworth said, she had flown more than 120 combat hours during her eight months in Iraq without incident.

But that day insurgents scored a direct hit on her Black Hawk, seriously wounding her and another guardsman inside. Doctors told her she lost nearly half the blood in her body and almost lost her right arm as well.

“I didn’t know I was hurt,” she said. “We had started taking some small-arms fire, and I turned to my co-pilot and said we could be in for some trouble. As the words left my mouth, there was a big fireball at my knees.”

To be clear, her records in politics and in government are totally fair game. Her political abilities ought to be questioned.

* Her response…


[Headline explained here.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   65 Comments      

Everyone has their own priorities

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Let’s stipulate right off the bat that there’s a strong argument against the Illinois sex offender law’s prisoner release requirements

After serving 10 years in prison for criminal sexual assault, Marcus Barnes was counting down the days until his release date on Dec. 17, 2018. […]

But when his release date finally arrived, he was told that the Chicago apartment he was planning on moving to was too close to a home day care facility. It would be a violation of housing restrictions imposed on him as a person on the sex offender registry, and, therefore, he would remain in prison. […]

Barnes’ family scrambled to find alternatives. They say they found 11 different housing options for him, only to have each of them rejected by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). And so, 16 months after his original release date, he was still at Graham Correctional Center when a guard there tested positive for COVID-19. […]

Now, a coalition of 45 local and national criminal justice reform organizations, led by the Chicago 400 Alliance, is calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to ease conviction-based housing restrictions for the duration of the pandemic. The move would allow people who have completed their sentences to finally leave prison. […]

She is hoping the governor will issue an executive order.

I doubt the governor has the power to override state law on this. Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Frankfort) has been working on a bill to streamline the mandated release process and federal judges have ordered the release of 33 sex offender inmates who should’ve been released earlier, but had trouble finding suitable housing under the state’s restrictive laws. That’s likely the better way to go.

* Meanwhile, from the Center Square

Experts Gov. J.B. Pritzker is relying on to help him manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the state sent the governor’s staff emails in March that recommended coronavirus testing in prisons should be an area of focus, but a new survey released by a prison watchdog group found 89 percent of workers said they had not been tested prior to May.

Pritzker has said his management of the COVID-19 pandemic has been based on science and data from medical experts, including epidemiologists. Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show about March 21 at least three experts told the Pritzker administration that testing in prisons should be a focus.

Nigel Goldenfeld, a Swanlund Endowed Chair at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with appointments in the Department of Physics and the Institute for Genomic Biology, wrote in an email to Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz and senior counselor Mollie Foust that testing should be focused on nursing homes and congregate living facilities such as group homes and prisons, among other groups. At the time Goldenfeld sent the email, the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity was limited.

The emails encouraged testing to prevent “super-spreaders.” Among that group was “Populations that are necessarily high density and cannot practice social distancing, such as prison population,” the emails said. “These will also be hot spots if … a guard gets infected.”

On March 30, Illinois’ prison system announced the first death of an inmate from COVID-19. As of June 9, IDOC reported thirteen inmates have died from COVID-19. […]

The most recent data from the Illinois Department of Corrections showed 198 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 171 had recovered. The department reported 324 confirmed cases for IDOC inmates. Of those, 251 had recovered.

* It’s getting bad in California

The top medical officer for California’s corrections system has been replaced amid a growing coronavirus outbreak among the state’s inmates. […]

The move comes while more than 2,350 inmates are currently infected — more than half of whom are inside a single facility, San Quentin State Prison.

According to the state’s department of corrections, there are currently more than 1,300 active cases at San Quentin with nearly 70 percent of those cases popping up in the last two weeks. Six prisoners there have died from the virus, according to state data.

Some inmates were transferred to San Quentin after an outbreak at their own prison. Probably a bad idea.

* Related…

* Report: Conviction Registry Rules Cause Racial Disparity

* Jim Dey: Courts still grappling with details in juvenile murder cases

* Prosecutors question credibility of publishing CEO bankrolling Marni Yang exoneration effort

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Secretary White shows again why he’s such a class act in response to “lynching” tweet

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* I tagged the Illinois State Police in a reply when I saw this tweet yesterday and sent the link to the secretary of state’s office as an FYI…

* From Secretary of State Jesse White…


Thanks for bringing to my attention the hateful social media post by an Illinois resident who used the term “lynching” in his criticism of me and my office. Having attended college and played professional baseball in the south in the 1950s, I experienced the ugliness of racism firsthand and know how deeply it cuts. I’m saddened that in 2020 there are still people out there who knowingly or unknowingly use historically despicable terms like “lynching” to fuel the hate and divisiveness that are plaguing our country today. Frankly, I question whether the term “lynching” would have been used were I not African American.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was my minister while I attended Alabama State College and I learned from him not to dislike anyone because of their race, creed or color. I have lived my life adhering to this philosophy. I proudly served our country as a member of the military three times, worked as an educator and continue to help guide our young people as the founder of the Jesse White Tumbling Team. And to this day I continue to teach our children what Dr. King taught me many years ago.

I’ve been in elective office long enough to know that with the territory comes criticism. Since taking office we have made significant strides to streamline and improve customer services and office operations. Certainly the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unique challenges to an office of our size, but we are providing services while also ensuring that safety precautions are in place to protect the public and employees. While we are doing our best under these challenging circumstances, I recognize not everyone will be satisfied. I do not have a problem with that.

However, I do have a problem with people who make disparaging and hateful comments intended to inflict pain in a racially provocative way. This needs to stop.

I’m especially troubled because there appears to be a resurgence of this type of hateful rhetoric in this country. To be clear, it is never acceptable to use any type of hateful language designed to hurt each other over our real, or perceived, differences. We are in this world together—only by treating each other with respect and human dignity will we make it a better place.

Jesse White
Illinois Secretary of State

Pritzker tagged AG Raoul in his own tweet, so they were alerted to it and are also taking a look at this.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Dueling “Fair Tax” press releases

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Press release…

Today, in an unprecedented coalition effort, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Farm Bureau, National Federation of Independent Business - Illinois, and Technology and Manufacturing Association joined together to urge Illinois voters to vote no on the Progressive Tax Constitutional Amendment. Leaders of the coalition held simultaneous press conferences at four locations throughout Illinois among the very people this tax would hurt most: small businesses, farmers, manufacturers, and workers.

Their message was heard loud and clear: Illinoisans are already overtaxed. Families, workers, seniors, and small business owners struggle under the weight of the highest overall tax burden in the entire country, yet politicians in Springfield are trying to hike taxes again. The progressive tax will do nothing to address our sky-high property taxes; will cost jobs, slow wage growth, and hurt Illinois workers; and will end up raising taxes on the middle class and the working poor. Illinoisans can’t afford another tax hike, especially as working families and small businesses struggle to recover from COVID-19.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch said, “The progressive tax increase is the same thing as leaving a huge bag of taxpayers’ cash at the backdoor of the statehouse and city hall. None of the money is dedicated to property tax relief, increased funding of education, public safety or pension debt relief. Politicians arrogantly demand that hard-working taxpayers trust them to spend the money wisely. We don’t.”

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr remarked, “What this new progressive tax will actually do is take us down the same route that these proposals have gone in other states. To cover all of Springfield’s spending and debt, the tax brackets and rates will have to be changed to raise taxes on the middle class and even the working poor, with higher rates starting at incomes as low as $25,000 per year. So while proponents claim the progressive tax would only tax ‘the rich,’ many of whom are local leaders like family farmers who are investing in their communities and creating jobs, the truth is that this amendment will open up every Illinoisan to tax increases.“

National Federation of Independent Business Illinois Leadership Council Chair Cindy Neal commented, “Let us not forget that Illinoisans already pay the 2nd highest property taxes in the nation, and these local taxes increase every single year. We pay three to four times the property taxes of our neighbors in Indiana and Wisconsin, and our taxes go up every year even though property values are stagnant. This progressive tax will do nothing to address our biggest problem in Illinois: our sky-high property tax burden. It simply piles additional taxes onto already overburdened Illinois taxpayers. All of these taxes have serious and real-life consequenc­­­­­­es for our families and small businesses, especially as we struggle to recover from COVID-19.”

Technology and Manufacturing Association President Steve Rauschenberger noted, “The progressive tax will cost jobs, slow wage growth, and hurt Illinois workers when we’re already facing the highest unemployment since the Great Depression due to the coronavirus. Our Illinois economy continues to lag our neighbors and the rest of the country because of high taxes. The progressive tax will further hurt our economy, costing Illinois up to 286,000 jobs and $43 billion in economic activity. This means fewer jobs for Illinois workers, slower wage growth and higher costs for families, and less opportunity for our children at a time when we can least afford it.”

About the Vote No on the Progressive Tax Coalition:
Leading small business and pro-taxpayer organizations from throughout Illinois have formed a grassroots coalition to defeat the Progressive Tax Amendment because Illinoisans are overtaxed. Families, workers, seniors, and small businesses struggle under the weight of the highest overall tax burden in the entire country. Illinois’ Progressive Tax Amendment proposal does nothing to address our sky-high property taxes, will cost jobs, slow wage growth, and hurt Illinois workers, with the result being a tax increase on the middle class and the working poor.

* Press release…

Vote Yes For Fairness Chairman Quentin Fulks released the following statement in response to this morning’s press conference from a self-described grassroots organization against the Fair Tax:

“Today’s press conference was the height of hypocrisy, put on by a group masquerading as a grassroots organization whose sole purpose is to protect the millionaires and billionaires who have benefited from Illinois’ unfair tax system for far too long. It’s despicable that they’re trying to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic to protect the wealthiest Illinoisans, while so many families are struggling to make ends meet. Sadly, it comes as no surprise given these organizations have spent decades advocating for policies that decimated critical services, left our education system criminally underfunded, and hurt our nurses, grocery store clerks, paramedics, and other essential workers.

“Since the truth isn’t on their side, this press conference was filled with lies from start to finish. Contrary to what they say, the Fair Tax will only affect small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year in profit, while at least 97% of Illinoisans will see no income tax increase or a tax cut.

“Now more than ever, we need to change our tax system from one where our essential workers pay the same tax rate as millionaires and billionaires to one that finally makes the wealthiest Illinoisans pay their fair share. It’s clear from today’s press conference that opponents of the Fair Tax can only use desperate lies to try and mislead Illinois voters to keep the status quo in place, and Vote Yes For Fairness won’t let them go unanswered.”

…Adding… Another press release…

Vote Yes for Fair Tax chairman John Bouman issued this statement:

    “It’s no surprise that wealthy special interests like the unfair old way of taxing income in Illinois, because it’s given them a sweet deal for way too long.

    “Working people overwhelmingly support the Fair Tax amendment because everyone who makes under $250,000 will get a tax cut or pay no more.

    “Fair Tax reform also means fair funding for every community and the important services we need now more than ever. When wealthy people pay their fair share, our state will have $3 billion more to invest in health care, schools, human services and jobs to rebuild our communities stronger and more fairly than before.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Scientists take fresh look at indoor air

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* I’ve told you before about how some folks are hypothesizing that the south and southwest are being hit so hard because the heat is driving people to the air conditioning at indoor venues. New York Times

The coronavirus is finding new victims worldwide, in bars and restaurants, offices, markets and casinos, giving rise to frightening clusters of infection that increasingly confirm what many scientists have been saying for months: The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby.

If airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant. Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially distant settings. Health care workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients.

Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences and businesses may need to minimize recirculating air and add powerful new filters. Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.

The World Health Organization has long held that the coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that, once expelled by infected people in coughs and sneezes, fall quickly to the floor.

But in an open letter to the WHO, 239 scientists in 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendations. The researchers plan to publish their letter in a scientific journal.

* Meanwhile…

* From Harvard

Drawing on insights from another deadly airborne disease, tuberculosis, a Harvard infectious disease expert suggested Friday that air conditioning use across the southern U.S. may be a factor in spiking COVID-19 cases and that ultraviolet lights long used to sterilize the air of TB bacteria could do the same for SARS-CoV-2.

Edward Nardell, professor of medicine and of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and professor of environmental health and of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that hot summer temperatures can create situations similar to those in winter, when respiratory ailments tend to surge, driving people indoors to breathe — and rebreathe —air that typically is little refreshed from outside. […]

Germicidal lamps, a technology that Nardell said is almost 100 years old, have been proven effective in protecting against tuberculosis infection and are already in use in some settings to fight SARS-CoV-2. Compared with mechanical ventilation and portable room air cleaners, the lights, according to one study, have been shown to be up to 10 times more effective, Nardell said.

* From the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.

Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.

* From late last month

New York malls will need high quality air systems that can filter out the coronavirus before they will be allowed to reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

“Any malls that will open in New York, large malls, we will make it mandatory that they have air filtration systems that can filter out the Covid virus,” Cuomo said at a press briefing.

High efficiency particle air filters, or HEPA filters, have been shown to help reduce the presence of Covid-19 in the air, according to a presentation from Cuomo.

Gov. Pritzker should give this serious consideration.

* In the meantime, wear a mask, particularly when you’re indoors to protect everyone else. Unfortunately for frontline workers, a national PPE shortage is looming once again

The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running low again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs. […]

In a letter to Congress last week, the health department in DuPage County, Illinois, near Chicago, said all hospitals in the county are reusing protective gear “in ways that were not originally intended and are probably less safe than the optimal use of PPE.”

The DuPage County department is a supplier of last resort that steps in when facilities have less than two weeks’ worth of gear. As of Monday, it had only nine days of some supplies at the current request level. A rise in new infections could make the supply go much faster.

The American Medical Association wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress calling for a coordinated national strategy to buy and allocate gear.

This is a national defense issue. We need a national response.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

State public works hiring law triggered by two consecutive months of high unemployment

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* This state law took effect in 2010

Employment of Illinois laborers. Whenever there is a period of excessive unemployment in Illinois, if a person or entity is charged with the duty, either by law or contract, of (1) constructing or building any public works, as defined in this Act, or (2) the clean-up and on-site disposal of hazardous waste for the State of Illinois or any political subdivision of the State, and that clean-up or on-site disposal is funded or financed in whole or in part with State funds or funds administered by the State of Illinois, then that person or entity shall employ at least 90% Illinois laborers on such project. Any public works project financed in whole or in part by federal funds administered by the State of Illinois is covered under the provisions of this Act, to the extent permitted by any applicable federal law or regulation. Every public works contract let by any such person shall contain a provision requiring that such labor be used: Provided, that other laborers may be used when Illinois laborers as defined in this Act are not available, or are incapable of performing the particular type of work involved, if so certified by the contractor and approved by the contracting officer.

* From the Illinois Department of Labor

The law comes into effect following two consecutive months of a state unemployment rate above 5 percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois’ unemployment rate during the COVID-19 pandemic increased from 4.2 percent in March, to 17.2 percent in April, and 15.2 percent in May. Given the unanticipated and large unemployment increase, IDOL wants to alert public bodies to the details of the law.

“As we all deal with the far-reaching impact of this pandemic, the Illinois Department of Labor wants to remind public officials and employers of the requirements of this law, which has not been triggered in recent years due to low unemployment,” said IDOL Director Michael Kleinik.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul pledged to work with IDOL to enforce the law.

“As the nation faces record levels of unemployment, the people of Illinois should be assured that government is using all available tools to put Illinois residents back to work,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “The Employment of Illinois Workers on Public Works Act requires contractors on public works projects to prioritize Illinois workers, and my office stands ready to work with the Department of Labor to enforce the law and ensure that public works projects – which are funded by Illinois taxpayers – are completed using the best workforce in the country.”

The above press release was issued last week and I missed it. A subscriber sent it to me this morning.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

State revenue down $1.135 billion, but there were a few bright-ish spots

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

Illinois’ general funds revenue was off by $1.135 billion at the end of FY 2020 as compared with FY 2019, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s monthly report published last week. The total drop was close to what COGFA and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget had predicted for the state when Illinois’ revenue estimates were adjusted due to the state’s screeching halt in economic activity due to Covid-19, but slightly exceeded expectations. Moving Illinois’ deadline for income taxes from the traditional April 15 to July 15 to match the federal tax delay accounted for some but not all of the $765 million net drop-off in personal income tax revenue for FY 2020. Gross corporate income taxes dropped $308 million net, sales taxes were off by $154 million net from last year’s levels, according to COGFA. In the next six months, Illinois will borrow up to $5 billion from the Federal Reserve to make up for lost revenues through a first-of-its-kind program set up by the Fed this spring and borrowing authorized by the General Assembly in the budget approved during the legislature’s four-day special session in May.

* June wasn’t as horrible as some might’ve though, according to COGFA

Only a few revenue sources experienced increases for the month. As indicated above, gross personal income taxes fared well, rising $173 million, or $150 million net. Again, it is assumed that some final payments [which usually would have fallen in April] have instead been spread over May/June and will extend into July to coincide with the revised deadline. Public utility taxes increased $12 million in June, while other sources grew $12 million and inheritance tax receipts $7 million.

Despite the overall monthly gain, most revenue sources suffered declines in the last month of the fiscal year. Gross sales taxes fell $83 million, or $74 million net. Gross corporate income taxes were down $48 million, or $33 million net. Insurance taxes continued a very volatile pattern of receipting by dropping $44 million. Cigarette taxes were down $19 million for the month, corporate franchise taxes were off $10 million, and interest income dipped $3 million.
Overall transfers grew $26 million for June. Other miscellaneous transfers posted a $60 million gain, but was partially offset by a $9 million decline in lottery transfers and $25 million loss in riverboat transfers [as casino and video gaming was temporarily halted until July 1st]. As mentioned earlier, federal sources had a strong month, rising $184 million. That gain was made possible due to proceeds from June’s short-term borrowing being directed to reimbursable Medicaid spending.

* FY 20 year end

The “Big Three” revenue sources felt the brunt of COVID-19. For the fiscal year, gross personal income taxes fell $947 million, or $765 million net. Gross corporate income taxes dropped $430 million, or $308 million net, while gross sales taxes were off $206 million, or $154 million net from last year’s levels. In total, the combined net drop of the “Big Three” was $1.227 billion.

Most of the other revenue sources experienced a down year as well, with all other revenue sources dropping a net $255 million.
Aided by gains associated to Refund Fund and Capital Projects Fund transfers, overall transfers to the general funds managed to grow $396 million. That gain was significantly muted by COVID’s impact on the lottery as well as riverboat gaming activities. Federal sources, despite ending the year with a flourish, experienced wide monthly swings in performance this fiscal year and finished down $49 million.

* Finke

Benjamin Varner, a senior analyst and economic specialist for COGFA, said the Illinois and national economies have shown signs of improvement, but the danger is not over.

“Although the improving economy may have seen a trough and begun to expand again, it does not mean that the economy is in a good place or could not tumble further,” he said. “The economy remains well below its peak. It will need continued strong growth to return to previous levels.”

That outlook was seconded by Comptroller Susana Mendoza in a recent interview with Capitol News Illinois. She told the news service that managing the current state budget may be even more challenging than dealing with the budget impasse because the state must now deal with the effects of less revenue.

Illinois lawmakers approved a budget for the current fiscal year that avoided steep cuts to state programs. Instead, it relies on the state borrowing up to $5 billon from the Federal Reserve in order to keep state government operating. It is relying on further assistance from the federal government to ensure the budget is balanced.

* Related…

* Record reefer revenue for state coffers in June - State collects almost $12M from taxes for recreational cannabis, topping total for April

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Rate the new Vote Yes for Fairness digital ads

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Press release…

Today, Vote Yes For Fairness launched its digital advertising program with a statewide digital ad campaign to educate Illinoisans on why we need the Fair Tax. The seven ads highlight how our current tax system is broken and fundamentally unfair, forcing our essential workers like nurses and grocery store clerks to pay the same tax rate as millionaires and billionaires. The Fair Tax will set things right, while bringing our tax system up to date with the one used by a majority of states and the federal government and ensuring at least 97% of Illinoisans see no income tax increase.

The seven new ads will run across digital platforms and devices, including Facebook, YouTube, Hulu, and a number of news sites. […]

“It’s long overdue that Illinois had a tax system that works for all Illinoisans, not only the wealthy few. That’s why we need to pass the Fair Tax in November,” said Quentin Fulks, Chairman of Vote Yes For Fairness. “Nothing is more important to the future of our state than passing the Fair Tax, and Vote Yes For Fairness is dedicated to ensuring Illinoisans know the facts about how the Fair Tax will help our families, our communities, and our state.”

Remember, these are digital ads. They’re different than TV ads.

* Set Things Right

* Definition

* Fair Share

And then there’s “Upgrade,” “Per Year,” “More Fair,” and “Step Up.”

* The group is also pushing vote by mail, according to the Sun-Times

Pritzker on June 26 contributed $51.5 million to the Vote Yes for Fairness committee, according to campaign finance records. He previously kicked in $5 million in December. Pritzker donated a record-setting $171.5 million to his own gubernatorial campaign.

Vote Yes for Fairness spokeswoman Lara Sisselman said the ads are not in response to critical TV ads paid for by the dark money group, Illinois Rising Action. She said efforts by her group have been stalled by the pandemic.

“We felt the most important thing we could do as an organization was get information out to Illinoisans on the resources out there and safety precautions they should be taking,” Sisselman said. “If you take a look at our social media channels, you’ll see the overwhelming majority was COVID-focused over the last 4 months.”

The group also launched and to encourage voters to vote-by-mail in November.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

I’m not sure why this is being treated almost like a scandal

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Yeah, he’s a conservative Republican. But the forgivable loan was for payroll. The idea was to keep people working during the most momentous economic downturn in American history. He didn’t pocket the money

A dairy owned by Illinois Republican congressional candidate Jim Oberweis received a loan worth $5 million to $10 million from the federal rescue package aimed at helping small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released Monday.

Oberweis Dairy, the North Aurora-based business where Jim Oberweis is chairman, was approved for the Paycheck Protection Program on April 8, according to Treasury Department data.

Oberweis won the March GOP primary to challenge Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood for a Chicago-area congressional district that is one of Republicans’ top targets this fall. The businessman, who also is an Illinois state senator and an investment manager, has loaned his campaign $1.1 million so far this election cycle, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. His campaign has repaid $500,000 of that money, FEC reports show.

Oberweis bought the family business from his brother decades ago. The company operates over 40 ice cream stores and restaurants and has over 1,200 employees, according to his campaign website. The business is currently operated by Oberweis’ son, who is the company president. Oberweis says his role with the company is advisory and he does not receive a salary. His campaign website says his wife also works for the family business.

Oberweis said in a statement Monday the loan was used to pay for salaries and benefits for employees.

And, yes, a whole lot of small business owners, including lots of people of color, were locked out because their banks focused on big clients. And some companies applied for the money simply to avoid depleting huge reserves. But just because somebody’s name turns up on a list doesn’t mean they’re automatically bad. You do what you gotta do to keep the doors open. You may have a different take, and I’d love to hear it.

Now, if Oberweis opposes helping others after his own company was assisted and doesn’t have a sound explanation, that’s a different story and makes him fair game.

* Some major media outlets also applied for and received the loans

Chicago Public Media, the nonprofit that operates WBEZ, got $2.8 million in PPP funding, a spokeswoman said. Federal help “enabled us to avoid layoffs or furloughs for any staff members during these past few months,” the spokeswoman said in June. Chicago Public Media ultimately laid off 12 employees.

The publishers of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald also got loans of between $2 million and $5 million, as did many other familiar names in local business and culture, including:

    The Buona Beef fast-food chain.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica.

    Home Run Inn pizzerias.

    Rosebud Restaurants.

    Navy Pier Inc.

    Shedd Aquarium

    Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

* More from Politico

Schiff Hardin law firm in Chicago received between $5 million and $10 million. The firm counts Maggie Hickey as a partner — the attorney monitoring how the Chicago Police Department complies with a court order laying out reform.

Forde & O’Meara LLP, which represented Rahm Emanuel’s residency case when he first ran for mayor; and Finkel, Martwick, Colson P.C., where Sen. Robert Martwick works when he’s not in Springfield, are also on the PPP list.

And though House Speaker Mike Madigan’s law firm is listed, his spokeswoman tells Playbook that the Democratic Party leader withdrew his loan request so “no PPP funds were received.”

* Madigan spokesperson Eileen Boyce…

This SBA list represents applications submitted and approved, not loans processed. Like many businesses, an application for a PPP loan was submitted, but was withdrawn at the request of Speaker Madigan and Bud Getzendanner. No loans were processed and no PPP funds were received.

* Sun-Times

According to a Sun-Times analysis of all PPP loans in Illinois:

    174,745 were below $150,000.
    14,965 ranged from $150,000 to $350,000.
    8,487 ranged between $350,000 to $1 million.
    2,558 ranged between $1 million to $2 million.
    1,147 ranged from $2 million to $5 million.
    255 ranged from $5 million to $10 million.

* But I will admit I smirked hard when I read this

Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, which says it “educates taxpayers on the true cost of government” and “the realities of costly government programs,” received between $150,000 and $300,000 in loans.

In a statement, Americans for Tax Reform claimed it “never opposed” the PPP program and defended the foundation’s decision to take government loans, which it said allowed the foundation to “maintain its employees without laying anyone off” after it was “badly hurt by the government shutdown.”

But ATR founder Grover Norquist has criticized the unemployment insurance provision of the CARES Act, which he said “delays recovery,” and signed a letter urging lawmakers not to approve a second stimulus bill.

The Ayn Rand Institute, named for conservative philosopher Ayn Rand, received a loan of between $350,000 and $1 million, which it called “partial restitution for government-inflicted losses.”

“It would be a terrible injustice for pro-capitalists to step aside and leave the funds to those indifferent or actively hostile to capitalism,” Ayn Rand Institute board member Harry Binswanger argued in May, stating that the organization would “take any relief money offered us.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

The Tribune finally kinda gets it

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Tribune editorial board

It’s clear that policy adjustments are not enough to breathe vigor back into the economy. “The virus is the boss,”says Austan Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. A study he conducted with colleague Chad Syverson found that state and local shutdown orders were not the main reason for the plunge in consumer traffic to stores and other businesses.

“The vast majority of the decline was due to consumers choosing of their own volition to avoid commercial activity,” they write. And the more COVID-19 deaths occurred in a given county, the bigger the decline.

Governors and mayors obviously need to strive to tailor rules to local conditions and make them no tighter than necessary. But if they ease up too much, fueling the pandemic, they are likely to scare consumers into staying home and curbing their expenditures, at a high cost in sales and jobs.

The pandemic will be a serious obstacle to economic recovery until we get a vaccine, cheap mass testing or extensive contact tracing, if not all three. A lot of businesses that thrived before won’t survive, and businesses geared to the changed commercial landscape won’t sprout up immediately.

* From the study’s abstract

The collapse of economic activity in 2020 from COVID-19 has been immense. An important question is how much of that collapse resulted from government-imposed restrictions on activity versus people voluntarily choosing to stay home to avoid infection. This paper examines the drivers of the economic slowdown using cellular phone records data on customer visits to more than 2.25 million individual businesses across 110 different industries. Comparing consumer behavior over the crisis within the same commuting zones but across state and county boundaries with different policy regimes suggests that legal shutdown orders account for only a modest share of the massive changes to consumer behavior (and that tracking county-level policy conditions is significantly more accurate than using state-level policies alone). While overall consumer traffic fell by 60 percentage points, legal restrictions explain only 7 percentage points of this. Individual choices were far more important and seem tied to fears of infection. Traffic started dropping before the legal orders were in place; was highly influenced by the number of COVID deaths reported in the county; and showed a clear shift by consumers away from busier, more crowded stores toward smaller, less busy stores in the same industry. States that repealed their shutdown orders saw symmetric, modest recoveries in activity, further supporting the small estimated effect of policy. Although the shutdown orders had little aggregate impact, they did have a significant effect in reallocating consumer activity away from “nonessential” to “essential” businesses and from restaurants and bars toward groceries and other food sellers.

The full paper is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Open thread

Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Keep it polite and Illinois-centric, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Tuesday, Jul 7, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

* UIUC still waiting on federal approval to expand saliva test beyond campus community
* 587 new cases, 37 additional deaths, positivity rate of 2.5 percent
* Question of the day
* Cable yakker tries to pull a Max Cleland on Duckworth
* Everyone has their own priorities
* Secretary White shows again why he's such a class act in response to "lynching" tweet
* Dueling "Fair Tax" press releases
* Scientists take fresh look at indoor air
* State public works hiring law triggered by two consecutive months of high unemployment
* State revenue down $1.135 billion, but there were a few bright-ish spots
* Rate the new Vote Yes for Fairness digital ads
* I'm not sure why this is being treated almost like a scandal
* The Tribune finally kinda gets it
* Open thread
* Yesterday's stories

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