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Isabel’s morning roundup

Thursday, Feb 9, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here you go…

    * SJ-R | Here’s why thousands lacking access to broadband in central Illinois is important: A map compiled by the DCEO found that about 5,000 households in Sangamon County do not have internet reaching speeds of 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload - the standard broadband speed determined by the Federal Communications Commission.

    * Crain’s | Bill surfaces in Springfield to crack down on auto insurers: A coalition of 15 consumer and community groups is pushing for passage in Springfield of a bill just introduced to give the Illinois Department of Insurance the power to reject auto insurance rate hikes. The measure, called HB 2203, authored by state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, also would bar insurers from setting rates based on non-driving attributes like consumers’ credit scores. Guzzardi was flanked at a press conference today by state Sen. Javier Cervantes, D-Chicago, and leaders from Illinois PIRG and Citizen Action Illinois.

    * Sun-Times | Illinois must move forward on digging out of its pension problem: Illinois’ five statewide pensions are underfunded by about $140 billion. The state now is on a “ramp” that requires ever-increasing payments into the pension funds each year until 2045, when the state will pay some $18 billion in 2045 alone. That will make it hard to pay for all the other things the state does, including education, public transportation and roads and bridges.

    * Crain’s | New Vallas ad spending raises questions about potential campaign finance violations: Mad River is owned by, and according to Maryland state records, legally represented by political media consultant Joe Trippi. That’s the same Joe Trippi who serves as Vallas’ senior strategist and media adviser and has helped develop a Vallas ad campaign that according to some polls has put the former Chicago Public Schools chief into first place in the race for mayor.

    * Triibe | ‘Get down, boy!’ Paul Vallas’s son is one of 3 police officers who fatally shot a man in Texas in 2022 after chase: In June 2022, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) amended its foot pursuit policy as a result of the fatal shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who had dropped a gun and raised his hands when he was shot, and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, who was fleeing with a gun and was shot in the back. The updated policy prohibits foot chases for minor offenses or simply because someone is fleeing. It allows officers to use their discretion in cases where someone has committed or is committing a crime that poses “an obvious threat to any person.” When the amended policy was announced, candidate Paul Vallas was critical of it. In a tweet at the time, he wrote: “@ChiefDavidBrown unveils new policy: @Chicago_Police no longer allowed to chase people on foot “b/c they run away.” This will embolden criminals & make the city even more dangerous. We need MORE proactive policing, not less! #ChiMayor23”

    * Sun-Times | Supt. David Brown likely to leave Chicago Police Department: Even if Mayor Lori Lightfoot is reelected and allows CPD Supt. David Brown to keep his job, he could be forced out anyway. In October, Brown turns 63, the mandatory retirement age for Chicago’s police officers and firefighters.

    * CBS Chicago | More than 23,000 ballots cast so far for 2023 Chicago Election: New numbers from the Board of Elections said 23,718 ballots have been cast, including more than 21,000 vote by mail ballots and more than 2,400 early votes.

    * Tribune | Jesús ‘Chuy’ García congressional campaign says it will return Bankman-Fried money to investors: The news came as lawyers representing former clients of the FTX exchange said earlier this week they would try to get back the tens of millions of dollars indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried lavished on political candidates across the U.S.

    * Crain’s | This weed shop deal shows how values are dropping : The declines in stock prices and canceled deals will impact the value of 192 new retail licenses that have been issued in Illinois. Under state rules, holders haven’t been able to sell their licenses until their stores are open. At least one owner has sued to challenge those rules in a case that’s still working its way through Cook County Circuit Court.

    * Sun-Times | Johnson’s education plan includes free CTA rides, City Colleges tuition for CPS students: “Why are we making children pay for a ride to get to a school that’s not in their neighborhood?” Johnson asked. “Children should be able to focus on learning and not trying to figure out how they’re gonna get a ride to school.”

    * Block Club | 50th Ward Candidate Mueze Bawany Talks Anti-Israel Tweets, Public Safety At Community Forum: “I want to say explicitly that there is no excuse for those words, and I’m never going to hesitate to apologize when I’ve created harm,” Bawany said. Bawany said he has reached out and spoken with Jewish constituents who have contributed to his campaign, including JCUA Votes, which has previously endorsed him. During Thursday’s forum, he also disavowed the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which is a Palestinian-led movement calling for actions against Israel.

    * Tribune | Waukegan and its soon-to-open casino missing out on Super Bowl betting revenue: Executives of the American Place casino may feel the same as Illinoisans are expected to bet more than $86 million on the Big Game, with the seven sportsbooks currently operating across the state. The early betting line has the Philadelphia Eagles favored slightly in Super Bowl LVII over the Kansas City Chiefs.

    * NPR Illinois | Decatur pilot will be part of Super Bowl flyover: During the National Anthem performance, three Navy tactical squadrons will conduct a unified flyover. Capt. William Frank from Decatur is one of those supporting the flyover as a member of Strike Fighter Squadron 122.

    * Illinois Farm Bureau | Illinois Farm Families to be Featured in Super Bowl LVII Commercial: A Mercer County farm family will be featured in a commercial airing on Feb. 12, during the first half of this weekend’s big game. Chad Bell, his wife Brittany, and children Amelia and Charlie, will appear in the commercial, titled “The Corporation,” to bring awareness of Illinois’ family-owned farms.

       

29 Comments
  1. - Perrid - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 7:59 am:

    I know politically every politician almost needs to give back any money they got from SBF, but is there actually a legal argument? It seems weird to me that a company can just demand donations back. I’d like to be able to call “take backsies” when I run into a rough time.

    Anyway, thanks for the roundup.


  2. - Bothanspied - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 8:01 am:

    Is there any way to solve the pension problem with graduated tax rates? Assuming we lobbied and tried to pass it again?


  3. - rtov - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 8:18 am:

    Is there anything more Illinois than the cannabis license fiasco? Probably, but still…


  4. - JoanP - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 8:43 am:

    Since I’m sure Isabel won’t toot her own horn, I’d like to note that Eric Zorn had a nice shout-out to her in his Picayune-Sentinel.

    “Another daily local/state news aggregator to check out is Isabel Miller, who writes regular, link-intensive briefings at her uncle Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax blog.”


  5. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 8:44 am:

    Perrid,
    I know if someone (even a vendor) received money from a company that enters bankruptcy within 6 months that can be considered a preferential payment under section 547, maybe they’re using that? In that case, the bankruptcy law does allow clawbacks.

    It’s to keep a bankrupt firm from paying it’s favorite debtors before bankruptcy.


  6. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 8:52 am:

    == The state now is on a “ramp” ==

    We are almost at the top of the ramp now. Yes, there are some balloon payments right at the end in 2045. If inflation and normal revenue growth (plus mortality) won’t let the State accommodate the needed payments, I expect the State will go to the anticipated Plan B when the ramp was set up: resetting the last part of the ramp to a lower / longer slope.


  7. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 9:00 am:

    == Is there any way to solve the pension problem with graduated tax rates? ==

    Anything is possible, but I wouldn’t count on it. EVEN if you did manage to pass such a tax, the compromises necessary to pass it (likely more school funding / property tax relief) would siphon off a significant portion of any increased revenues. And 50+ years of history,including the implemention of the State income tax set to generate excess revenues and subsequent rate hike, tells us the Legislature won’t be able to restrain from additional spending on new or expanded programs. Realistically / politically, we are probably going to have to just live with what we have and run out the ramp, or eventually do a reset on the ramp.


  8. - JS Mill - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 9:22 am:

    =We are almost at the top of the ramp now.=

    Something else not considered is the impact of Tier 2 on the annual cost of the pensions. The annual payments (not the legacy debt payments) continues a very rapid decline. I have to look it up, but my latest newsletter from TRS stated that Tier 2 is now something like 40% of active employees. In only 10 years. That is saving the state a ton, even with adjustments to stay in good standing with safe harbor.


  9. - mch - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 9:50 am:

    =We are almost at the top of the ramp now.=

    The CST Editorial Board wrongly compares the required 2045 payment of $18 billion to this year’s $50 billion budget. By 2045 the budget could well be $100 billion after 22 years of 3% growth making the problem not look quite so bad.


  10. - Former ILSIP - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 9:53 am:

    @JS Mill A bit of a modification to your remarks; the annual payments are (if nothing else happens) expected to stay in line with inflation, meaning that they aren’t expected to take up a higher percentage of total state revenues in future years. Unfortunately, the benefits from Tier Two are already baked into the cake as far as the payment schedule goes. Absent some miracle funding increase or liability decrease, things shouldn’t get significantly better/worse in regards to pension payments.

    One thing to keep in mind about all this, though, is that the mandated payment is not same as the actuarially recommended payment. We are paying what we committed to paying, but actuarially, we are paying less than we should to cover total liabilities. To be fair, absent a “black swan” event, it shouldn’t make a difference for pension payments or checks sent out to annuitants.


  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 9:56 am:

    ===wrongly compares the required 2045 payment of $18 billion to this year’s $50 billion budget===

    Also, there’s no way the state will make that full payment. Either they’ll pay it down ahead of time or stretch it out.


  12. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 10:04 am:

    “pay it down ahead of time or stretch it out.”

    Maybe both.


  13. - Back to the Future - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 10:07 am:

    With underfunding by taxpayers through their elected representatives, historically underperforming investment markets by Pension Fund Trustees and underfunded contributions by employees, it is probably an overall good thing Governor Quinn pushed the Tier 2 idea.
    Hopefully things will come together in a way that benefits employees in the long run.
    The idea that we should honor contractual obligations to state employees should binding on all of us. Not only is it the proper thing to do it is also the law in Illinois.


  14. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 10:19 am:

    “Get down, boy.” The video is disturbing. Twitter is talking. If it is true that Vallas deleted texts that have links, why if you think this is a fine shoot?


  15. - JS Mill - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 10:22 am:

    =things shouldn’t get significantly better/worse in regards to pension payments.=

    If this was true, then the annual cost wouldn’t be DOWN over $500 million, and that cost will continue to go down as Tier 1 employees move to retirement or die. Tier 2 costs are covered by schools and employees not the state.

    =historically underperforming investment markets by Pension Fund Trustees and underfunded contributions by employees=

    I can only speak to TRS. Over 30 years TRS investments have performed at or above the industry markets.

    You statement about employee underfunding for TRS and an absolute falsehood. Schools and employees automatically send the required payments to TRS every single pay period. We are audited every year by TRS, we have made our full payments for the last 100 years.

    Tier 2 is a good thing so long as you don’t want schools properly staffed.


  16. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 10:38 am:

    == statement about employee underfunding … ==

    Let’s be perfectly clear here. The employee portion of the pension payment, whether made by the employee or sometimes by the school, has always been paid into the pension fund. The shortages, when they occurred, were always on the employer side … regardless of which of the 5 systems we are talking about.


  17. - Back to the Future - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 10:53 am:

    Employees have certain benefits and the amount that is taken out of their checks was insufficient to cover the benefits. Simple math.
    Everyone in the process was to some degree at fault.
    In terms of performance, didn’t Crain’s have a story on performance review done by a well respected disinterred party showing that performance did not beat markets?
    Some taxpayers point to high benefits and increasing costs and Employees point the finger at taxpayer representatives not taxing enough to pay the benefits that were agreed to.
    You don’t get to be the worse funded public employee pension systems in the country without all parties involved being to some degree at fault.
    At least Gov. Quinn came up with something to try to fix the finding issue. Decades of pointing fingers at each other really accomplished nothing.


  18. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 11:00 am:

    “why if you think this is a fine shoot?”

    Fine, who is saying fine? The word you are looking for is justified. Loss of life is always a terrible outcome, the Tribune has some details not found in the Tiibe article…

    “Police said the officers had been searching for him because he was wanted on warrants for felony possession of a firearm and parole violation, according to the newspaper report.
    Johnson fled and the officers chased him into a creek, with one cop caught on video shouting, “Get down, boy,” according to the newspaper and a video that included bodycam footage released by the San Antonio Police Department. Police said they saw a gun in his hand and shouted, “Drop your hands.” Johnson stumbled and briefly faced police, who shouted, “He’s got a gun,” according to the newspaper. All three cops opened fired, according to the newspaper. Video from the scene afterward shows a gun besides Johnson’s body, and San Antonio police said the gun found at the scene was forensically linked to multiple violent crimes.”


  19. - Back yo the Future - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 11:04 am:

    I do agree Tier 2 may affect staffing or the quality of candidates that are drawn to our educational system.
    Lot’s seem to be going wrong in the Chicago system (where I live) as well as other educational systems in terms of test scores.
    Perhaps we can agree we have overall the worse funded public pension funds in America as well as some pretty poor outcomes for children.


  20. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 11:11 am:

    == we have overall the worse funded public pension funds in America as well as some pretty poor outcomes for children. ==

    And some of the highest amount of administration / related cost in the school systems.


  21. - Rudy’s teeth - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 11:15 am:

    Brandon Johnson should research his talking points regarding free college tuition at City Colleges.

    There are two programs which provide free college tuition, transportation, and fees: Partners in Education for CHA residents and those with a voucher and the Star Scholars program for students with a B average (established in 2015).

    Many CPS and charter school graduates are not eligible for college level class work as their test scores fall below the requirements.

    Also, there are no IEPs or 504 plans in college. Once a student graduates from high school, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) no longer applies once a student graduates from high school.


  22. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 11:29 am:

    @Donnie Elgin, agree that some details were not in the Triibe….so close to Trib….article. and whether the police hit the bike seems a question. but the video of that shooting feels very different than most that I’ve seen and for which I feel police were justified. scrambling down and up a small creek, slipping in the grass, the gun turn barely perceptible and then shooting at him 9-10 times and the body twitching. terrible. his mother describes it as being shot like a hog.


  23. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 11:56 am:

    Rudy’s Teeth,
    Does Partners in Education consider section 8 users CHA residents? I think that’s more common now among poorer folk than CHA.
    I consider Jr Colleges to be an important step up for people who don’t have the scores to go to 4 year college. Also Jr Colleges are sometimes more amenable to accomodations of disabilities. Not IEPs but at least accomodations like assistive technology and coaching.


  24. - JS Mill - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 12:08 pm:

    =And some of the highest amount of administration / related cost in the school systems.=

    5% is high? That is what schools average on Admin costs. And that includes office staff liek admin assistants as well as benefits.

    Compare that to the private sector. Last I read, the average was in the area of 15%. Admin body counts in public ed are low.

    I cannot speak to CHS, but outside of that, admin costs are actually low compared to private sector costs.


  25. - Rudy’s teeth - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 12:45 pm:

    To Cermak Road …
    During the semester, students in E101 are required to write a paper with an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, a rebuttal, and conclusion.

    Within the paper are cited references from sources. References are direct quotations, indirect quotations, and paraphrased material.

    Online resources are available and depending on the topic, use APA or MLA format for structure. Then, References or a Works Cited page concludes the paper.

    Tutors are available to guide students and to provide support but students must complete the project independently. If students struggle with academic skills, the work can be daunting.


  26. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 12:59 pm:

    “And some of the highest amount of administration related cost in the school systems”

    Most definitely true. IL has 1,052 districts, compared to a similar population state of PA with 784 districts. Each district has its own superintendent/admin staff and pension costs.

    https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018052/tables/table_02.asp


  27. - DHS Drone - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 1:49 pm:

    “Employees have certain benefits and the amount that is taken out of their checks was insufficient to cover the benefits. Simple math.”

    No. Pay and benefits were negotiated in
    a legally binding agreement. Employees have often forgone raises in order to keep the benefits near or at where they are. A contract was signed by both parties laying out who paid what. One side has always paid everything they were supposed to pay. The other side did not. That fact is not the employees’ fault.


  28. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 2:41 pm:

    This killing illustrates just how far America has moved from Slavery…and slave catcher mentality.


  29. - JS Mill - Thursday, Feb 9, 23 @ 3:54 pm:

    =Most definitely true. IL has 1,052 districts, compared to a similar population state of PA with 784 districts. Each district has its own superintendent/admin staff and pension costs.=

    Well, not really. Many districts are starting to share a superintendents.

    The link does not include costs or admin number or costs. The student/teacher ratio in Illinois is .3 lower than the national average. That tells me that the number of people is just average compared to everyone else and completely undermines your point.

    Self own.

    And of course the 5% avg admin costs in schools versus the 15% average in the private sector.


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