Sweating the little stuff
Monday, Jan 31, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller
* The Pantagraph editorializes in favor of small budget cuts like this one…
Meanwhile, the idea of going from two license plates to one, another action that should be easy, is met with hemming and hawing.
When this issue has been raised previously, law enforcement officials have objected because having two plates increases the opportunity for identifying a car that’s been stolen or involved in a crime or accident.
But many other states — including our neighbors in Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky — get along fine with just a rear plate.
The savings are limited — an estimated $800,000 a year. But we have to get away from this mindset that if “only” a little under $1 million is saved, the action is unworthy of attention.
* But the SJ-R is quite upset with one of those small budget cuts…
Now we learn that the Illinois Department of Agriculture, without consulting city tourism officials, canceled one of the biggest potential tourism events of 2012 and 2013: the National High School Finals Rodeo.
The reason? Ag officials say the state can no longer afford the $1 million annual cost of hosting the event.
Keep in mind, this is an event that brings thousands of people — spectators, competitors and their families — to Springfield for a long stay. Long enough to generate an estimated $8 million for the local economy, most of which goes back to the state in sales tax.
We’re baffled at the logic behind the decision, but we’re especially annoyed that it appears to have been made without any consultation with local officials outside of state government. The ag department owes an explanation to Springfield on that communication gaffe.
* Doug Finke is unimpressed with the fury…
Well, gee, you’d think [the Illinois Department of Agriculture] would be praised for what it did. The mantra we’ve heard for months, if not years, is that state government must cut spending. Spending’s out of control, we’ve got to cut.
So ag cut. That’s what people have been clamoring for, right? The department’s allotment of state money (it also doles out a lot of federal funds) is down 30 percent since 2007. Something had to go. It was the rodeo.
That’s the thing about cuts. Someone or something somewhere is going to be affected by them. That’s not to say the state shouldn’t make cuts in spending, but when it does, it’s going to have an impact. This time it’s in Springfield. The next time it could be Peoria or Rockford or wherever. We’ll have to see how popular cuts will be when they start hitting home.
* If people are getting so riled up about budgetary peanuts, you can imagine the firestorm which will be created by this next topic…
Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration plan to make another attempt to get state retirees to pay more for their health care during this legislative session.
The legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability will meet Wednesday to talk with two Quinn administration officials about how the state can craft an income-based formula for how much retirees will have to pay. Also on the commission’s agenda is approval of a request-for-proposal to study the best way to implement the new charges. […]
There are five cost tiers for current employees’ health care premiums based on their income, Schoenberg said. The top tier, for those making more than $74,901, costs $59 a month for those employees in managed care and $84 a month for those employees in the state’s preferred-provider plan.
The average retiree/survivor’s premium is just $10.22 per month. But here’s what the plans cost the state…
Managed Care / Quality Care Health Plan
Medicare retiree $294.55 / $332.47
Non-Medicare retiree $791.08 / $964.10
One Non-Medicare dependent $450.16 / $722.39
One Medicare dependent $299.35 / $344.52
Two or more dependents $773.85 / $978.19
Two-thirds are enrolled in the higher priced plan. The average retiree income is about $31K a year. But average household income is $78K a year. Click here for more detailed info.