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Fitch removes state from “Rating Watch Negative,” explains what could trigger downgrade

Monday, Jul 17, 2017

* From Fitch Ratings, with all emphasis added by me…

Fitch has removed the state’s IDR [Issuer Default Rating] and related ratings from Rating Watch Negative and assigned a Negative Outlook. […]

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The affirmation of Illinois’ ratings follows the passage of a fiscal 2018 budget that incorporates a permanent increase in taxes to more closely align revenues with spending and that should significantly reduce the near-term liquidity stress that had threatened the state’s investment-grade rating. The state’s financial resilience has been materially weakened by the two-year period in which it spent far in excess of tax revenues while accumulating an extraordinary level of budgetary liabilities, adding to the strain presented by the state’s unfunded retiree benefit liabilities and rising contribution burden. These factors result in a rating well below the level that the state’s solid economic base and still substantial independent legal ability to control its budget would support. The Negative Outlook reflects the uncertainties related to successful implementation of the budget, particularly given the contentious political environment in the state. These risks include reducing the accounts payable backlog in the near term, including by coming to market with bonds that were authorized in the budget; completing the sale of a state building assumed in the budget; meeting revenue targets in a slow growth environment; and achieving near-term pension contribution savings, partly at the expense of worsening the state’s long-term liability picture.

Economic Resource Base

The state benefits from a large, diverse economy centered on the Chicago metropolitan area, which is the nation’s third largest and is a nationally important business and transportation center. Economic growth through the current expansion has lagged that of the U.S. as a whole.

Revenue Framework: ‘aa’ factor assessment

Illinois’ broad revenue base, primarily income and sales taxes, captures the diversity in its economy and has shown modest growth since the end of the recession. Fitch expects revenue performance to continue to track slow economic growth. The state has unlimited legal ability to raise revenues.

Expenditure Framework: ‘a’ factor assessment

Illinois has adequate expenditure flexibility despite elevated carrying costs for debt service and retiree benefits, with much of the broad expense-cutting ability common to most U.S. states. Contribution demands associated with retiree benefits will continue to be a pressure as these benefits are constitutionally protected. Further, a recent federal court ruling that limited the state’s ability to defer Medicaid spending poses some concern about the extent of the state’s budgetary control, although Fitch believes that the ability of the court to make such a mandate remains subject to challenge.

Long-Term Liability Burden: ‘a’ factor assessment

Liabilities are an elevated but still moderate burden on Illinois’ resource base, even when considering the large accounts payable backlog that the state has accumulated. The state has very limited flexibility with regard to pension obligations following a May 2015 Illinois Supreme Court decision that found 2013 pension reform unconstitutional.

Operating Performance: ‘bbb’ factor assessment

Illinois’ operating performance, both during the great recession and in this subsequent period of economic growth, has been very weak. The passage of a permanent tax increase that much more closely aligns revenues with current spending is a positive step, although structural action on the expenditure side was limited. The budget assumed savings from pension funding changes for which achievement of budgetary savings is uncertain even as funding progress is delayed. The state will also be challenged to rebuild its financial resilience given the likelihood that a sizeable accounts payable backlog will persist.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

MEETING BUDGET ASSUMPTIONS: An inability to meet the assumptions incorporated in the fiscal 2018 budget that results in failure to reduce budgetary liabilities and materially improve the state’s stressed liquidity environment would lead to a downgrade. Specific risks to successful implementation include pension contributions above the level assumed in the budget, a failure to take significant steps to reduce the accounts payable backlog including by issuing bonds, a return to political gridlock specifically related to school funding, and a significantly slower growth revenue environment.

ONGOING BUDGETARY BALANCE: Stabilization of the rating is sensitive to the state’s ability to maintain budgetary balance over multiple years, indicating more sustainable fiscal management. Upward rating momentum is unlikely until the state more comprehensively addresses its accumulated liabilities.

CREDIT PROFILE

Illinois is a large, wealthy state at the center of the Great Lakes region. It benefits from a diverse economy centered on the Chicago metropolitan area. Illinois’ economy has gradually shifted, similarly to the U.S. in general, away from manufacturing to professional business services. The remaining manufacturing sector includes more resilient non-durables, and is less concentrated in the auto sector than surrounding states, but remains vulnerable to cyclical downturn. By most measures the economy has grown slower than the nation for many years and population levels have been stagnant.

Revenue Framework

Illinois has a diversified revenue base. It relies most heavily on personal income taxes and sales tax, which combined provide approximately three-quarters of general revenue fund revenues. The balance consists of corporate income tax, lottery and gaming revenues, and a variety of other smaller taxes and transfers. The state permanently raised the personal income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95% and the corporate income tax rate from 5.5% to7% in the fiscal 2018 budget; these are slightly below the temporary tax rates that were in effect from 2011 to 2014. Historical revenue growth, adjusted for the estimated impact of policy changes, has been slightly above inflation but has lagged national economic growth. With Illinois’ economic performance also lagging national growth, Fitch expects a continuation of this trend of flat to modest real policy adjusted revenue growth.

Illinois has no legal limitations on its ability to raise revenues through base broadenings, rate increases, or the assessment of new taxes or fees.

Expenditure Framework

As with most states, Illinois’ spending is largely for social services and education, although its carrying costs for debt service and pension contributions are comparatively high and retiree benefits have unusually strong legal protections.

Spending growth, absent policy actions, is likely to be higher than revenue growth, driven mainly by increasing pension contributions. Illinois has chronically underfunded its pension system based on a statutory formula that permitted a slow incremental build-up to higher contributions and targeting only 90% of full actuarial funding over the long term. Pension costs are unusually large and will continue to grow under the recently enacted budget, including due to the deferral of contribution increases triggered by lower investment returns.

As with most states, other spending drivers include Medicaid and education. Federal action to revise Medicaid’s programmatic and financial structure, including a basic restructuring of federal Medicaid funding to a capped amount remains a possibility. Whether a change in Medicaid funding has consequences for Fitch’s assessment of a state’s credit quality would depend on the state’s fiscal response to those changes. Responses that create long-term structural deficits or increased liability burdens could negatively affect both the expenditure framework assessment and the IDR. Despite carrying costs that are among the highest of the states and rising, Fitch believes that Illinois retains adequate expenditure flexibility that could be used in the budget process. There is little flexibility to control spending outside of the budget process in part because the governor cannot unilaterally make many changes. Illinois funds a broad range of services for its citizens and did not significantly reduce spending either during or since the recession. The state has ongoing capacity to make spending reductions should it choose to; however, Illinois has no ability to unilaterally modify retiree benefits following the May 2015 Illinois Supreme Court decision that found 2013 pension reforms unconstitutional. Given the magnitude of annual pension contributions, this notably constrains the state’s expenditure flexibility compared to that of most other states. The enacted fiscal 2018 budget reduces near-term spending for pensions by deferring the impact on contributions of actuarial assumption changes, including from lower return assumptions, and implementing a less costly third tier hybrid defined contribution/defined benefit plan that will also shift costs to school districts and universities for new employees. The latter change has structural benefit to the state’s budget while the former defers higher contributions into future years, allowing liabilities to rise further.

Long-Term Liability Burden

Illinois’ long-term liabilities, particularly pension liabilities, are very high for a U.S. state. As of Fitch’s October 2016 State Pension Update report, the state’s combined debt and pension burden of $147.8 billion was 23% of personal income, well above the 5.1% state median and the highest of the states. Using a more conservative 6% return assumption for pensions, instead of the 7% rate assumed under the state’s accounting valuation, would raise the burden of long-term liabilities to $181.7 billion, or 27% of personal income. The state’s three largest pension systems, covering teachers, universities, and state employees, have low funded levels driven by a history of weak contribution practices. Unfunded pension liabilities, and related contribution demands, are expected to grow as the state continues to underfund the systems.

In addition to its long-term liabilities, the state has a sizeable accounts payable balance that has accumulated through multiple years of operating at a deficit. As of the end of fiscal 2017, the accounts payable balance is estimated to total $14.7 billion. If the state issues general obligation bonds to reduce this budgetary liability, as is provided for in the enacted fiscal 2018 budget, Illinois’s debt levels would be further elevated but remain within the moderate range.

Operating Performance

Illinois’ budget management during the current period of expansion has been exceptionally weak. Temporary increases in personal and corporate income tax rates in place for four years, from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014, closed or partially closed the budget gap across five fiscal years. However, with their expiration, and the failure to enact a spending plan within expected revenues, the budget gap ballooned over the course of fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017.

The state achieved a break in its ongoing budgetary impasse with the passage of the fiscal 2018 budget through legislative override of the governor’s veto. The budget is narrowly balanced and relies on approximately $5 billion in additional revenues to be generated by the increase in personal and corporate income tax rates and other more modest adjustments. The budget limits general revenue fund spending growth but does not make significant reductions in spending after two years of spending deferrals. The largest sources of savings are expected to come in the form of lower pension contributions as noted earlier as well as shifts in spending from the general revenue fund to other state funds. An announced 5% reduction in appropriations to state agencies and a 10% reduction to universities are expected to generate only $303 million in savings, less than 1% of general revenue fund appropriations. The budget also assumes sale of a state building in Chicago for $300 million.

The greatest risk to successful implementation of the budget is likely to be the assumed pension contribution savings, in particular related to the establishment of a third tier of benefits for new employees that also shifts the normal cost of pensions to school districts and universities. The budget assumes $500 million in savings in the first year of implementation that may not immediately materialize. The budget also delays the impact of lower investment returns on employer contributions by phasing in the impact over five years, increasing the state’s liabilities in the future.

Despite the significant increase in expected tax revenues, Illinois remains poorly positioned to address a future economic downturn. Illinois’ approach to revenue shortfalls has historically been to delay payments, as it did during the great recession when it accrued an accounts payable balance that at its peak reached 20% of the operating budget. With a backlog that is now approaching 40% of the operating budget following the inaction of recent years, the state’s ability to respond to a change in the economy is even more limited. Although it is Fitch’s expectation that the state would look to address future deficits by again deferring payments, its ability to do so may be limited by the extent to which the current backlog persists or priority payment demands reduce that flexibility. While the enacted budget package begins to address the backlog with authorized bond issuance, inter-fund borrowing, and application of federal Medicaid matching funds, it does not provide funds or a means to reduce the backlog to what might be considered a more normal operating level. Fitch expects that even with these measures, the state will carry an accounts payable balance into the foreseeable future above the peaks seen in the great recession. One source of future flexibility will arise in fiscal 2020, when annual debt service of approximately $1 billion on bonds issued previously to fund annual pension payments rolls off as the bonds mature. The state has not communicated a plan for how these freed up monies will be applied.

In Fitch’s opinion, the state will continue to be challenged to reduce budgetary liabilities that accumulated during the impasse and then to prevent a similar build-up in the future. The enacted fiscal 2018 budget authorizes up to $6 billion in general obligation borrowing to reduce the backlog, although it only provides for debt service for a lower borrowing level and the borrowing plan has not yet been determined. By applying borrowed funds to Medicaid payables, the state will generate federal matching revenues that will further reduce the backlog while also addressing a federal judge’s order to increase and bring current Medicaid payments. The state is also authorized to utilize another $2.1 billion in interfund borrowing and use of other state funds to reduce the backlog. While these sources will begin to address the accumulated budgetary liabilities, the state is likely to be left with a still very high balance that will keep pressure on its liquidity.

Asymmetric Additional Risk Considerations

Illinois has demonstrated a repeated inability to address its structural challenges due to an absence of consensus and resistance among key stakeholders. The political environment in the state remains a negative rating consideration.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments »
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:25 pm:

    This is what happens when ILGA overrides a radical governor.


  2. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:35 pm:

    What a mouthful to essentially say what a teacher says to the repeat troublemaker in class, “I’m watching you…”


  3. - DownstateKid - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:38 pm:

    The state itself is in such a poor spot when the next recession arrives. Real wage increase is weak, property growth is weak, unemployment lags natural average and more people leaving the state than entering.

    All that equals hell to pay when a recession is likely over the next 3-5 years. We are already at one of the longest economic expansionary periods in US history.


  4. - Phil King - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:41 pm:

    ==Spending growth, absent policy actions, is likely to be higher than revenue growth,==

    “Absent policy actions.”

    Or in Gov’s words, “structural reform.”


  5. - Morty - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:44 pm:

    Imagine what could have been done with a governor looking to improve conditions in the state instead of trying to burn it down


  6. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:55 pm:

    @Phil King:

    The Rauner Agenda would save taxpayers’ how much exactly?

    Please, when estimating growth in economic activity or tax revenue from term limits, show your work.

    Fitch might be right that Rauner has done so much damage that illinois cannot recover, at least not in the immediate future.

    Alive, but just barely, we may slowly die like a campfire, not by cataclysm. It’s been my fear since Rauner killed the Grand Bargain the first and second time.

    I hope they are wrong though.


  7. - anon2 - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:56 pm:

    === The political environment in the state remains a negative rating consideration.===

    It’s all Madigan’s fault. — Gov


  8. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 4:57 pm:

    Rauner neither supported the 5% income tax, nor proposed budget cuts to offset the tax cut. He didn’t do anything. This says that it will take years to fix Rauner’s inaction.

    Rauner reforms if completely implemented wouldn’t pay for the damage he caused, the difficulties ahead, nor the costs of running Illinois.

    Rauner has been a complete disaster and his attempts to destroy Illinois cost more than any promises he made to us in 2014 or now.


  9. - Montrose - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:15 pm:

    *==Spending growth, absent policy actions, is likely to be higher than revenue growth,==

    “Absent policy actions.”

    Or in Gov’s words, “structural reform.”*

    Talk about seeing what you want to see. The policy action could be a progressive income tax.


  10. - Common sense - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:42 pm:

    I’m still confused at those that “blame” a governor who we have had for less than one term, yet the controlling political class has been their for decades. Please justify that with facts please.


  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:44 pm:

    PK, please, fill us in on how the “structural reforms” (whatever they are today) address state “spending growth.”

    We’ve been waitin’ years for the skinny. Sounds like you have the Book of Secrets.


  12. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:45 pm:

    Rauner killed the Grand Bargain? Nice revisionist history

    What happened in the House?

    It was ignored by the Speaker, who did not even engage.

    The Governor was actively involved the Grand Bargain and was working to improve the legislation. The Speaker was busy killing it.

    It will take years to fix the Governor’s inaction? You are assuming the Governor’s budget is rubber stamped by the legislature. That has never happened.

    Rauner never supported the income tax hike? Wrong, he supported it with property tax freeze and other reforms that would make the increase tax burden easier to handle for businesses and individuals.

    Believe it or not, a permanent income tax with no reforms is not popular with the general public or the ratings agencies.

    The Governor cannot line item the budget to balance without help from the legislature and the courts.

    Only the ratings agencies or a Republican legislature will save Illinois.

    One thing we have learned from the past two and half years, no significant reforms will pass while the Speaker is running the House.

    Democrats will not do any reforms unless the ratings agencies demand them.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:49 pm:

    ===Rauner killed the Grand Bargain?===

    Ask former Leader Radogno. I’ll show you the quotes if you’d like.

    ===Nice revisionist history===

    You keep trying to pretend it wasn’t Rauner, that’s the only revisionist history that you keep dredging up, lol


  14. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:53 pm:

    I know how you managed to keep your job LP. You’re going to fit right in with the new team.

    And at least it’s after 5:00pm, but I’d love a shot of whatever you’re having. Make it a double and we can toast to Christine Radogno. I’m pretty sure she remembers who torpedoed the Grand Bargain.

    Slainte.


  15. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:56 pm:

    The Grand Bargain was never voted on in the House.

    That is not killing it?

    Inconvenient facts OW. The Senate passed reforms all be it without Republican votes.

    The House did not and the Speaker publicly trashed the concept of the reforms in the Grand Bargain.

    Love to see a quote from Leader Radogno who said the Governor killed the Grand Bargain after it passed the Senate.

    She said it was the Speaker who was just writing the ratings agencies for show, remember?


  16. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:03 pm:

    LP,

    The “grand bargain” was a series of bills linked together such that, unless all become law, none becomes law. That plan did not pass the Senate. Individual pieces of it, which had been de-linked once it became clear that Rauner pulled off SGOPs, made it over to the House. IIRC, SB9 and SB 1 passed the House.

    I’m pretty sure Rich wrote about it too. Lol.


  17. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:06 pm:

    What makes you think I work for the Governor?

    News flash, I don’t work for the City, State or anything related to politics or government.

    I am just a small business person who tries to point out how our state government for decades has been openly hostile to job creation and economic growth.

    The Fitch report confirms this. Read the text in bold and tell me where I have it wrong.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:09 pm:

    ===The House did not and the Speaker publicly trashed the concept of the reforms in the Grand Bargain.===

    The Grand Bargain never made it out of the Senate, at all.

    The Grand Bargain never got to the House, at all.

    ===Love to see a quote from Leader Radogno who said the Governor killed the Grand Bargain after it passed the Senate.===

    Radogno’s text to Rich?

    ===No Governor’s spokesman, even Goldberg speaks for the Senate caucus. Also, the Grand bargain is not and never has been “take it or leave it” from Cullerton. We are still working on final version with more give and take.===

    Here’s the post too

    http://bit.ly/2o2FS4h

    Rauner blew up the Grand Bargain. Not Cullerton, not Madigan.

    Then there’s this…

    ===“Illinois’ credit rating has been downgraded 13 times under Pat Quinn and now, because of his failed leadership, our state’s economy and finances are still broken. Pat Quinn put special interest politics ahead of Illinois workers. We need to change direction before it’s too late.” – Rauner campaign spokesperson Mike Schrimpf […]===

    Governors own downgrades and issues to destroying the state that could lead to downgrades.

    Ask Mike Schrimpf, lol


  19. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:10 pm:

    Geez, LP, have some self-respect, dude.

    Let’s see what the governor’s pals at the tronc edit board had to say about “The Mystery of Who Killed the Grand Compromise”:

    –Republicans derailed the package last week. This is theirs to fix.

    A recap: The fragile budget compromise in the Senate, which includes a dozen bills strung together and an income tax hike, collapsed when Republican senators backed away. They abandoned their leader, Sen. Christine Radogno, who had negotiated the compromise with Senate President John Cullerton.

    Rauner, along with the right-leaning Illinois Policy Institute and its allies who want more pro-business, pro-growth reforms in the deal, began pressing to stall it. Senate Republicans who supported the compromise were threatened with potential primary opponents in 2018, a strong-arm tactic not unlike those employed by House Speaker Michael Madigan. –

    This just in, LP: You don’t threaten to primary lawmakers for going along with a compromise you support.

    And if the tronc edit board can’t spin it for Rauner, you, my-happily-stuck-and-sticking-in-the-middle, are way off the map.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-springfield-rauner-madigan-cullerton-bargain-budget-edit-0307-jm-20170306-story.html


  20. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:11 pm:

    ===I am just a small business person…===

    … retired, living on a modest pension.

    Hyman Pierre?


  21. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:14 pm:

    Just think if we hadn’t dropped the state tax rate and the slash and burn hadn’t occurred. We wouldn’t have to repay and rebuild what has been destroyed in the last 2 years. Under QUinn, bills were being paid, pension contributions were made. Just think of what the bond ratings would have been.

    A lot of bad stuff has been accelerated over the last 2 years. No doubt we had debt to pay. But today it is astronomically exploded compared to pre Rauner.

    Has it been worth it?


  22. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:20 pm:

    No, because Madigan increased taxes without giving up anything.

    Illinois will continue its long decline


  23. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:24 pm:

    No I don’t live on a pension OW. I work in the private sector, and companies realized 30 years ago pensions are unsustainable.

    The Speaker only admitted it 4 years ago.

    As far as the Grand Bargain being killed, I had no idea the legislative sessions ended on March 1st.

    Nothing is “killed” in March. Let’s see there were bipartisan “negotiations” in April, May, June right up to the last minute.

    Be honest the Governor was a much bigger supporter of the Grand Bargain than the Speaker . You guys somehow forget the Governor has to sign it and yet you don’t think he can negotiate the terms. That is only reserved for the Supermajority Democratic Senate apparently.

    Now that the budget is passed the reforms can be passed, right?


  24. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:34 pm:

    ===No I don’t live on a pension OW. I work in the private sector, and companies realized 30 years ago pensions are unsustainable.===

    You don’t know your Godfather II. What a shame. lol

    ===As far as the Grand Bargain being killed, I had no idea the legislative sessions ended on March 1st.

    Nothing is “killed” in March. Let’s see there were bipartisan “negotiations” in April, May, June right up to the last minute.===

    Both Gravd Bargsins were killed by Rauner.

    Rauner trotted out the “Capitol Compromise”, after blowing up the “Grand Bargains”

    ===Be honest the Governor was a much bigger supporter of the Grand Bargain than the Speaker===

    … and yet it was Rauner himself that blew both of them up, lol

    Your constant dishonesty is tiring.

    I bet you think the purge is swell too… Or… “the purge… that’s on Madigan”, lol


  25. - lost in the weeds - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 6:38 pm:

    ===Only the ratings agencies or a Republican legislature will save Illinois.===

    “…ratings agencies will save Illinois.” Not so. They are just rating agencies who report on the financial condition of the state or other entities. They have much less power than the GA or the Governor.


  26. - RNUG - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 7:54 pm:

    == I’m still confused at those that “blame” a governor who we have had for less than one term, ==

    The simple answer, without citing every specific action he took, is that Rauner took a State that was treading water, shoved it underwater, and stood on it.


  27. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:37 pm:

    “The state has unlimited legal resourced to raise revenues.”

    First the Democrats.
    Second the Republicans.
    Third the Rauner.

    Lastly. Moodys.

    Everybody sticking it to the working poor and middle classes. Makes you understand how Trump got elected.


  28. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:43 pm:

    Lastly. Fitch..


  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:10 pm:

    Blue Dog

    THere’s no free stuff. As much as cheapskates want it, they gotta pay


  30. - Tequila Mockingbird - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:19 pm:

    Further credit downgrade could be avoided if madigan cullerton and Rauner all commit seppuku on the capital steps. followed by all the state legislators of the past 20 years


  31. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:18 pm:

    Anyone blogging here as long as Lucky Pierre should be wise enough not to repeatedly dredge up disproven garbage.

    No one has time or patience to retry a lot of the nonsense he injects into these posting threads.

    If you have a new angle, sure - we’re game, but enough regarding the Grand Bargain and Rauner’s interpretation of the facts surrounding it. Ms. Rodagno didn’t do what she did, or say what she said if Rauner’s version was valid.


  32. - UIC Guy - Tuesday, Jul 18, 17 @ 9:06 am:

    I was puzzled by this sentence: ‘Illinois has no legal limitations on its ability to raise revenues through base broadenings, rate increases, or the assessment of new taxes or fees.’
    Surely the requirement to have a flat income tax is exactly such a legal limitation.


  33. - Generic Drone - Tuesday, Jul 18, 17 @ 9:17 am:

    In other words. The ship’s still sinking.


  34. - Generic Drone - Tuesday, Jul 18, 17 @ 9:26 am:

    == I’m still confused at those who blame a governor who we have had for less than 1 term==

    Rauner tripled the debt by actions and inaction. I am confused how you want more of this.


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* Under the Dome Podcast: Will schools get state funding before summer is over?
* Our View: Lawmakers need to get moving on school funding reform
* Foundation gets legal OK to sell naming rights at state fair


* Voegele Studio, Quality Paint Co. started in Highland in the 1920s
* ARC to add Saturday services, credit card payments
* 1931: Circus elephant shoves car through garage wall in O’Fallon
* Despite budget accord, schools may not see any money by start of classes
* PODCAST: Tom Kacich 07/20/17
* Sharing the bounty
* Play takes humorous look at marriage
* Council approves fire services contract with VA
* Gubernatorial candidate to host town hall
* Police Reports


* Sears cuts deal to sell its appliances on Amazon
* Abbott tops Street 2Q forecasts
* 5 questions about John McCain's brain cancer
* Metra: More fare hikes, service reductions possible
* Nine families relaunching Wynstone as private golf club of future in North Barrington

* Hultgren seeking applicants for STEM Schol...
* Hultgren meets five Yorkville workers who ...
* Editorial: We need answers on Trump and Ru...
* LIVE: US hearing on human rights and Duter...
* Chamber Exchanger: St. Charles Chamber Gol...
* Letter: Proposed health care reforms turn ...
* Randy Hultgren: US should remain on UN cou...
* Rep. Randy Hultgren constituents decry sec...
* Hultgren praises teamwork in fighting rece...
* Hultgren, Helsinki panel call on Trump to ...

* Sens. Graham, Durbin To Lead Bipartisan Dr......

* Tammy Duckworth: Trump is derelict in his ......

* Explaining The Rise In Hate Crimes Against Muslims In The U.S.
* The [Friday] Papers
* Former Battles front man Tyondai Braxton plays his first solo set in Chicago since 2006
* A teenager who disappeared in the 1970s identified as a victim of John Wayne Gacy, and other Chicago news
* Third Argyle Night Market Is This Evening: Lion Dance At 6pm
* Pensions Tier III: Your future 401K will likely not be protected under Article XIII, Section 5, the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.
* White Sox rebuild progressing, but will Yankees will to win get in the way?
* 6th Ward Shred-a-thon tomorrow
* “The Driver’s Side” – News From The Motorist’s Perspective
* A Statement From City Pads On Wilson Men's Hotel Acquisition


* Illinois Awarded Funds to Offer Advanced Training on Detecting Impaired Driving
* Illinois EPA Announces Upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
* IEMA Highlights Emergency Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs in May - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
* First Lady Launches Illinois Family Connects
* Governor and Lt. Governor Unveil 2016 Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices

  
* OxygenOS Open Beta 20/11 for OnePlus 3 and 3T brings optimizations and bugfixes
* Best Buy's 'Black Friday in July' Sale Includes Deals on iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and BeatsX
* Viber acquires Chatter Commerce, the startup behind its shopping keyboard
* Dreamy new Apple patents imagine personalized 911 fingerprint calling, smart Siri dock with wireless charging
* Wi-Fi Mesh System Luma Launches $5/Month Service With VPN, Priority Tech Support, and More
* You Can Now Pay For iTunes and App Store Purchases With Your Phone Bill in Three More Countries
* T-Mobile adds more than 1m new subscribers for the 17th quarter running

* Moncada debuts in loss to Dodgers
* Sox Century: July 19, 1917
* Moncada hitless as White Sox fall to Dodgers
* Moncada embracing excitement of callup
* Dodgers 9, White Sox 1 (7½ innings): Sweet, merciful storm
* Moncada embracing excitement of callup
* Moncada hitless as White Sox fall to Dodgers


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