Of the hundreds of songs Charlie Richardson has recorded in his decades as a local audio technician, one still stands out for him as the best representation of Maryland.
“The (Naval Academy) Glee Club was singing it and they were singing around the state and I heard the thing at one of the concerts and it caught my attention and ear.”
The approximately two-minute “My Home, My Maryland” was composed and performed in 1976 for the glee club’s bicentennial concerts.
“There’s no finer place on Earth than my home sweet home, my Maryland,” the choir sang, the recording made in the Naval Academy Chapel resounding in Richardson’s living room Wednesday. The Annapolis resident, the founder of Richardson Records, has been recording local songs for about 50 years.
“It doesn’t have all that political stuff in it,” Richardson said.
The actual state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” has come under fire for its strong pro-Confederate slant — it uses phrases like “Northern scum” and “sic semper.” There have been attempts to change it over the last five decades; all have failed.
* Before Rod Blagojevich was elected governor in 2002, Illinois had an unwritten rule that higher education received $1 for every $2 received by K-12. Blagojevich believed universities were too top-heavy, so he cut their budgets year after year. That trend continued through two successive governors. From the Illinois Board of Higher Education…
2002 was the peak year for state appropriation support for Illinois public universities ($1.5 billion). When accounting for inflation and new, unfunded mandates public university operations funding for Fiscal Year 2018 is less than half of what it was in Fiscal Year 2002 ($736 million in 2018 relative to $1.5 billion in 2002). [Emphasis added.]
Yikes. Let that sink in for a moment. Less than half.
In Fiscal Year 2017 general funds covered just 37.8% of public university revenue, with UIF covering the remaining 62.2%. In comparing 2010 and 2017, total revenue is nearly identical in both years (difference of +0.1%) after making an inflationary adjustment using the consumer price index (CPI). The decline in state appropriations to public universities from 2010 to 2017 (-22.8%) roughly parallels the increase in university income funds (+22.2%)
* So, adjusted for CPI, overall higher education spending has leveled off, but state funding has plummeted. They gotta pick up the slack somewhere else.
And, according to IBHE, if you adjust for the Higher Education Price Index, total higher education spending has lagged by 4.5 percent, meaning the universities are doing their part to control costs while the state slashes its own funding.
* Robert Bruno writes in the Sun-Times about what public employee unions can do in the wake of Janus. Here’s one of his ideas…
New York recently amended its state public employee’s law. It allows public employee unions to deny representation to non-members in any disciplinary cases as well as any legal, economic or job-related services beyond those provided in the collective bargaining agreement, without violating the duty to fair representation.
The Court majority opinion endorsed this approach by stating that individual “nonmembers could be required to pay for the [grievance] service or could be denied union representation altogether.” In a footnote, Alito cited a California labor relations law as an example. Other states including Oregon, Hawaii, New Jersey and Florida have passed or are considering post-Janus measures. Illinois could do the same.
*** UPDATE *** Hannah Meisel had a similar story at the Daily Line today. They’ve taken it out from behind the paywall…
Ed Maher, a spokesman for Local 150, said Alito’s suggestion “seems to leave crack to charge nonmembers for grievance cost, arbitration costs.”
Pierson said that charging nonmembers for such services — which are as high as $5,000 for an arbitrator and $1,000 for one day of work for a court reporter — may cause a nonmember to “think twice about not paying dues,” and to see the dues as an “insurance policy” instead of money taken from a paycheck.
* JB Pritzker has been on statewide publicity tour ostensibly designed to showcase his meetings with veterans. Here’s the end of a Peoria Journal Star article…
Alex Browning, a Rauner spokesman, said the governor is committed to helping veterans of Illinois.
“When the Quincy Veterans Home needed him, he took action. He worked hand-in-hand with the CDC from day one and secured $53 million for new construction at the home. Gov. Rauner has also led efforts to help veterans who have fallen on hard times, increased veteran access to education, and created a pilot program for temporary childcare services for veterans who have medical appointments or job interviews,” he said.
The Rauner campaign is claiming that “when the Quincy Veterans Home needed him, he took action.” Let’s take a look at the real record:
* In 2015, Rauner’s administration waited six days to publicize the first Legionnaires’ outbreak — even though they recognized it looked like the “beginning of an epidemic.” In a span of weeks, 12 Veterans and spouses died and 54 were sickened.
* In 2016, Rauner shows up in Quincy to announce “we’re really on top of the situation” as his Veterans Affairs department confirms two new Legionnaires’ cases. Sixteen days later, a third case is confirmed.
* In 2017, a Korean War Veteran dies, bringing the death toll to 13. Weeks later, three cases are confirmed. In December, a media investigation exposes Rauner’s fatal mismanagement, and Rauner launches into cover-up mode.
* In 2018, Rauner holds a week-long press stunt at the Quincy Veterans’ Home and proposes a task force instead of concrete, long-term solutions to end the crisis. While Rauner has no regrets and blames Quincy staff for his fatal mismanagement, Rauner’s administration skips a legislative hearing into the Legionnaires’ crisis hours before the fourth case in 2018 was confirmed. Rauner claims “nothing has taken long” days after his administration says it will take “three to five years” before the problem will be solved.
“When Quincy Veterans needed him, Bruce Rauner was busy covering up his fatal mismanagement instead of ending the Legionnaires’ crisis he let spin out of control,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “It is deeply troubling and frankly a disgrace to the memories of our fallen heroes for Rauner or his campaign to rewrite history on a crisis caused by his failed leadership.”
* The Chicago mayor’s election is next February. Fiscal Year 2020 begins the following January 1st. The city’s pension contributions will rise $400 million (a 31 percent increase from the previous year) because of state statutes requiring minimum funding levels for various pension funds.
The city’s budget this year is $10 billion. So, $400 million is about a four percent budget increase.
Natural revenue growth ain’t gonna cover it and, remember, other spending pressures will increase as well.
* Amanda Kass, one of the most talented numbers people in the business, wondered what the mayoral candidates had to say about tax hikes and here’s some of what she found…
* Lori Lightfoot: In an interview with Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman, Lightfoot stated, “Our taxes are way too high.” Spielman followed-up by asking Lightfoot what choice Mayor Emanuel had since without the tax increases the “pension funds were going belly up.” Lightfoot didn’t directly answer, but said she wanted to “reduce the tax burden on middle-and lower-income people.”
* Gary McCarthy: His campaign website states that, “After years of borrowing against our city’s future, Mayor Emanuel can no longer kick the can down the road. Chicago needs real reform. Shady accounting tricks and constant tax hikes will not help fund our municipal and teacher pensions.” It also states, “Our police, fire and teacher pensions have to not only be protected, but funded in full.”
* Paul Vallas: I haven’t seen anything that’s specific to the City’s four pension systems, but Vallas has explicitly critiqued the Chicago Public Schools’ pension holidays and cited past “failures to think and plan proactively” as a reason he’s running. (CPS is an especially hot topic for Vallas because he was its CEO from 1995-2001. CPS’s pension fund is a whole different topic though, so I’m largely tabling that issue for now.) He also pointed out how the pension holidays ended up costing the City more in the long-term.
As of June 2018, I didn’t see any campaign statements specifically about the City’s pensions and the upcoming pension payments from the other four declared candidates (Rahm Emanuel, Ja’Mal Green, Troy LaRaviere, and Neal Sales-Griffin).
So, the fiery progressive Lightfoot says taxes are way too high. Gary McCarthy is talking out of both sides of his mouth. The alleged fiscal geek Vallas has no plan. And nobody else has even addressed it yet.
The lowest composite [property] tax rates in Cook County are in Hinsdale (6.5 percent), Burr Ridge (6.8 percent) and Barrington (7.2 percent), according to the Cook County clerk.
The tax rate in Chicago on residential homes is 7.2 percent, according to Orr’s office. The average tax rate in the north suburbs is 9.3 percent. The average in the south suburbs: 11.9 percent, actually a decrease from previous years.
The average tax bill on a single-family home increased 4.78 percent in the south suburbs (an increase of $247), 3 percent in the north suburbs ($213) and 2.75 percent in Chicago ($109), where there has been a lot of squawking about property tax increases.
So, even after the recent increases, Chicago is tied with Barrington for third lowest composite property tax rates in Cook County.
The increase in assessments also may not be due to an overall correction to the flawed assessment system. In other words, assessed values may increase even more when a new, improved assessment system is put in place
An unprecedented analysis reveals that Cook County’s unique property tax system created an unequal burden on residents, handing huge financial breaks to more affluent homeowners while punishing those who have the least, particularly people living in minority communities.
Translated: Lakeview homeowners had better brace themselves.
* The Fiscal Firebomb Looming for Small Cities in Illinois: I would suggest that Illinois also create, as Virginia has, an independent state fiscal oversight commission to assess specific fiscal/budget issues and recommend, if warranted, further assistance to help stabilize areas of concern. It should implement, as Rhode Island did in the wake of Central Falls’ municipal bankruptcy, a quasi-SWAT team of city managers and legislators to provide technical assistance and potential state assistance to assess municipal operations and develop long-range financial forecasts for revenue. And finally, the state should adopt a revenue-sharing program, modeled after the one signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan, which assessed relative fiscal need, local tax effort and population.
In not paying the equivalent of dues, these non-joiners will no longer have to subsidize the political causes and candidates the union spends dues money to advance.
Fair share fees couldn’t be used for campaigns.
However, because people can now get full union service for free, that could very well cause the union to spend more member dues on servicing the freeloaders. And that, in turn, could cause them to spend less on everything else.
We’re intrigued — and hopeful — about the implications of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. If government workers don’t have to contribute, maybe this begins a reckoning for the political class of Illinois. We’re not great fans of that symbiosis between one party and the public’s workforce. Unions
AFSCME and the IEA in particular had a long history of backing Republicans. For crying out loud, the IEA endorsed conservative Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) in 2014. But when Rauner was elected, Kay and others went with Rauner.
Unions, like everyone else, don’t endorse their enemies. To expect otherwise is ridiculous. It’s like wringing your hands over the fact that the NFIB didn’t endorse Jan Schakowsky.
The court ruled broadly for the plaintiffs, requiring the unions to adopt an “opt in” system to join up and pay dues rather than merely allowing workers to opt out of doing so. “Nobody out there is going to be paying money to a public sector union unless they affirmatively want to,” said Charlotte Garden, a law professor at Seattle University.
AFSCME already has an opt-in system here. From Anders Lindall…
The court case changes nothing in this regard. In Illinois a represented employee has always had to sign a card to join the union; we provide the signed cards to the employer who then deducts dues.
Despite Rauner trying to sow confusion and drive people to his anti-union web site, it’s critically important that every union-represented employee understand they need take no action: Union members have already opted in by signing a card. Fair share payers aren’t opted in and their fees will no longer be deducted.
The only action necessary is if you were fair share and now want to join the union: You should contact your local union leader or steward, or reach out to Council 31, and we’d be more than happy to provide a membership card for you to sign.
*** UPDATE *** Pat Hughes from the Liberty Justice Center vehemently disagrees with AFSCME…
We interpret the Janus ruling as a sweeping win for government workers. The opt in portion of Justice Alito’s opinion means exactly what it says - post Janus, governments should stop collecting union dues of any kind for any member or non-member. It doesn’t matter whether or not someone previously opted in, the conditions upon which that happened - forced agency fees regardless of whether you opted in- made the decision making process for each state employee very different in a pre-Janus world.
* Remember yesterday when I told you about the backlog at Illinois’ Medicaid long-term care (LTC) program? LTC covers 55,000 eligible residents in 738 nursing homes. The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services has to approve coverage, and they currently have a backlog of 14,572 pending admissions this month. So, the nursing homes are forced to pay for care out of their own pockets, and that amount has reportedly reached $300 million.
Why is this happening? A few reasons, according to the comptroller’s office (click here). Nursing home residence applications are rising as the population ages. The state has a shortage of case workers. And the snazzy data system launched late last year apparently isn’t performing as well as hoped.
Pleasant Hill Healthcare [in Girard] said they will have to almost immediately shut down due to the lack of state funding.
It’s part of the Pleasant Hill Village, which includes the Healthcare and Assisted Living department. The Healthcare department, which includes a Dementia unit and Skilled Care unit, will shut down.
The facility opened in 1905, about 113 years ago. Some residents describe the place as a serene and peaceful home. […]
[Executive director Paulette Buch Miller] said the state owes them over $2 million in pending and approved Medicaid payments.
Aside from the human factor, the worst part of all this is that it’s Medicaid, so there’s a federal match that the state isn’t tapping.
* From the comptroller’s office…
We haven’t had any hardship letters from this nursing home. But we don’t have any vouchers here in our system for them. So even if they did reach out for help through our hardship process, as it stands now, there’s really nothing we can do.
The state webpage, titled “Change Union Membership Status,” begins as a notification that Wednesday’s Janus decision no longer obliges Illinois public workers to pay what’s known as “fair share” fees for the services such as collective bargaining that they receive from unions — the basic substance of the high court’s Janus decision.
But it soon goes on to explore the ramifications if an employee chooses to “opt-out of the union.” That crosses a line, according to unions and labor academics.
Calling the entire website “strikingly partisan,” Prof. Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said Thursday that it goes far beyond the high court’s ruling in the Janus decision.
“The most that the state should do, if it’s complying with the letter and the spirit of the court’s decision, is to simply notify employees that fair-share designation no longer exists,” Bruno said.
The Janus decision pertains to “fair share” fees for those who don’t belong to unions, Bruno pointed out. The state-funded website uses that as an entryway to address union members directly.
“Who are they talking to?” Bruno said. “Who is the audience? Well, the audience is not fair-share members. The audience for this is union members. Clearly, clearly the state should not be involved in a campaign to solicit union defections.”
But the Illinois Central Management Services Department acknowledged state employees were confused on Thursday. The department said hundreds of employees went onto the website, believing they would have to take action to ensure the fees were no longer deducted. But under the new Supreme Court ruling, the state said they would automatically stop deducting the fees from non-unionized workers.
That apparently caused issues that could impact workers paychecks. But the department said it hoped the confusion would be settled by Monday.
About 75,000 state workers are represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31, with fewer than 10 percent of that number being non-union members still covered by collective bargaining, according to AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall.
Afscme, which in 2015 privately estimated that half the workers it represents could be “on the fence” about whether to pay dues, said it’s trained 25,000 members who’ve helped conduct 800,000 face-to-face conversations with co-workers on the topic.
The American Federation of Teachers said that more than 500,000 of its members in the 10 states most affected by the ruling have recommitted to their union over the past six months, and that educators won’t be swayed by anti-union ads or canvassers funded by right-wing groups. […]
But while such groups as Nevada’s casino union have flourished in the absence of mandatory fees, the big picture for organized labor is bleak following the high court’s ruling. In states with “right-to-work” laws, where it’s illegal to require workers to fund unions that are required to represent them, employees are already half as likely to have union representation—or less.
Such laws, and the Supreme Court opinion, have significant electoral consequences. “Right-to-work” laws already reduce the Democratic Party’s share of a state’s presidential vote by 3.5 percent and cut turnout by 2 percent to 3 percent, according to a working paper published this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Those policies, often put in place by Republican-controlled state legislatures, help dampen union political participation—the ultimate goal of anti-union initiatives at all levels of government, labor supporters said.
The Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7, would like to advise its members that the recent Supreme Court ruling Janus vs. AFSCME, will likely not have a significant impact upon the membership or finances of our Lodge.
The ruling, which stated that certain union-imposed fees are unconstitutional because they violate the First Amendment rights of union members, will likely not affect Lodge members because our members can only receive legal defense if the officer is a member of F.O.P.
The Supreme Court ruling means that government unions may no longer extract fees from members who do not want to pay them. The members will now choose whether they will financially support their union.
But because the Lodge provides so many crucial benefits to members, particularly legal representation, FOP President Kevin Graham stated that he does not believe many members will opt out of paying their union dues. Lodge members now pay $5 a check for the Legal Defense budget.
* Greg Hinz asks around about how the Janus decision helps Gov. Rauner’s reelection campaign…
The decision in the Janus case “gave him a good press pop. It helps him with the conservative base,” which is still outraged that Rauner signed a bill beginning Medicaid funding of abortion, says one top GOP official, who asked not to be named. “But in the end in this year, it won’t make a difference.”
“Maybe it’ll help him get up every morning and realize he’s made a difference,” quipped a top party activist. “It’s still very much up hill.” […]
“I’m surprised he’s as well-positioned as he is,” said [consultant Thom Serafin], noting a recent poll that shows Pritzker leading by less than 10 points. After the big win over organized labor, “He’s got more to talk about” with the GOP’s conservative base, added Serafin. “He’s still got quite a bridge to cross.” […]
Asked if Rauner’s Supreme Court victory is enough to bring her aboard and get her endorsement, [Rep. Jeanne Ives] had a clear answer: “No. I’m not going to endorse the governor. I’m going to let him buy back his voters.”
Chris Mooney, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said unions have been strongly against Rauner since he made it clear at his inaugural address in 2015 that he was taking on the power of public-sector unions.
“Even if they won this Janus case,” Mooney said, “they would have still been there to fight Rauner tooth and nail. It’s a death match between them.”
But to some conservatives who may not be enchanted with Rauner, Mooney said, “With this, maybe it looks like Rauner [is] not completely ineffectual. Maybe he can get something done.”
Rauner still is looking to unify a socially conservative Republican Party base that split in the March primary over his signature on laws expanding abortion, immigration and transgender rights. His campaign already is touting media coverage of the ruling to help try to heal the rift.
But the court decision on its own may not help unify the party. Third-party governor candidate Sam McCann, a Republican state senator from central Illinois, is a supporter of organized labor who espouses socially conservative views. McCann attacked Rauner over the court ruling, and he symbolizes Downstate areas that are largely Republican but peppered with state institutions and the union members who work there. […]
Yepsen said that while Rauner and “a lot of people who do not like unions … are going to be gloating” about the court decision, “they need to be careful what they wish for.” He and others see the ruling as benefiting Pritzker and Democrats at the ballot box.
“I think it will have an energizing and radicalizing effect on the (union) members. This has been the history of the labor movement all along. You start messing around trying to threaten unions and break unions and what’s the effect of it? It’s a mobilizing effect,” he said. “I think it’s an organizing tool, it’s a mobilizing tool, not just with public-sector unions but with all of labor, which is threatened.”
Today, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police endorsed JB Pritzker for governor. The Illinois FOP is the second largest in the nation, representing over 34,000 active and retired police officers.
“I’m proud to have the support of the Illinois FOP and the working families they represent,” said JB Pritzker. “With workers’ rights under assault, Illinois needs a governor who will stand up for working families. Instead, Bruce Rauner has fought against them at every turn, attacking the right to collectively bargain, working to lower wages, and attempting to slash pensions. As governor, I will fight tirelessly to defend the rights of our working families and work with law enforcement to increase accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve so we can strengthen relationships and ensure safer communities across our state.”
“Law enforcement officers, like all other working men and women in Illinois, want a leader who won’t bankrupt the state by trying to dictate his own personal agenda at all costs. Moreover, it is often law enforcement officers who must pick up the pieces in the aftermath of Bruce Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis that caused deep cuts to key state programs,” said Illinois FOP State Lodge President Chris Southwood. “The 34,000 members of the Illinois FOP have confidence that J.B. Pritzker is the best candidate to shake up Springfield and return civility, decency and a true sense of public service to Illinois. JB is truly different. Illinois needs a fresh start and JB is the man to do it.”
The ILFOP endorsed Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014, but backed his Republican opponent Bill Brady in 2010. They endorsed Rod Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006.
Rauner’s anti-union stances and the Janus decision no doubt played a role in this, but it is interesting they went with the guy who openly and firmly supports legalizing marijuana.