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Flash Index rises slightly

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* Institute of Government and Public Affairs…

The University of Illinois Flash Index in November rose slightly to 105.5 from its 105.4 level last month. However, the reading from November does not reflect the economic impact of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

“This suggests the economy may remain in a twilight world for some time in which concerns about the virus remain unresolved,” said University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the monthly index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

But, Giertz said that longer-term prospects for the economy remain positive. “There is strong pent-up consumer demand, although the picture is clouded by supply chain problems, the threat of inflation and, now, the new virus concern,” he said.

All the components of the Flash Index (individual income tax, sales tax, and corporate tax receipts) were up slightly compared to the same month last year after adjusting for inflation. The Illinois unemployment rate fell to a post-recession low of 6.0% compared to the 8.1% rate a year ago. The Illinois rate is still well above the national level of 4.6%.

The Flash Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income as estimated from receipts for corporate income, individual income, and retail sales taxes. These are adjusted for inflation before growth rates are calculated. The growth rate for each component is then calculated for the 12-month period using data through November 30, 2021.

Even though more than a year has passed since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, ad hoc adjustments will still be needed for some time because of the timing of the tax receipts resulting from state and Federal changes in payment dates both this and last year.

More here.

* Meanwhile, I found this piece interesting because it upends so much conventional “wisdom.” From Matthew Boesler, Joe Deaux and Katia Dmitrieva

Fattest Profits Since 1950 Debunk Wage-Inflation Story of CEOs

In the past two quarters, U.S. corporations outside of the finance industry posted their fattest margins since 1950 — one reason why stock markets keep hitting all-time highs.

On earnings calls, plenty of executives complained about the squeeze from rising costs of labor as well as materials. But overall, profits were up 37% from a year earlier, according to data out last week from the Commerce Department.

Businesses have been paying out more cash to their employees too, with total compensation up 12% in the last quarter from a year earlier. That’s partly because millions of Americans went back to work — but also because many got a raise when they did so. Hourly earnings broadly kept up with the fast-rising cost of living, and in some low-pay industries like leisure and hospitality they comfortably outpaced it. […]

U.S. consumer prices rose 6.2% in the 12 months through October, the most since 1990. The new data on corporate earnings suggest business can comfortably pass on all its higher costs, which means there may be more inflationary pressure to come.

That seeming willingness by businesses to pass along higher costs rather than try to keep prices low and, therefore, eat into their record profits is likely gonna trigger action by the Federal Reserve.

…Adding… I meant to add these stories and forgot…

* EV versions of Dodge muscle cars may be on track for Belvidere factory. The expected move to build the Charger and Challenger where Stellantis now manufactures Jeep Cherokees is part of a reshuffling of plants as the automaker develops a new platform for its electric vehicles.

* Finally, a tech sector Chicago can call its own. Why the city appeals to startups and giants in the growing agriculture technology sector.

* Natural gas plunges on demand-killing weather outlook. Forecasts shifted warmer through the middle of next month, allaying concern about tight domestic natural gas supplies.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


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Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

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The bridge that almost wasn’t

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* 2011

U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, said Monday that Illinois is “reprogramming” money that could possibly be used to fund construction of the I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River.

Rep. Schilling, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, state Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, and state Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, appeared at a joint news conference to urge the Illinois Department of Transportation to fund the project.

“Give us our money,” Rep. Schilling said.

That’s back when LaHood was concerned about transportation needs.

* 2012

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has instructed the state Department of Transportation to devote $72 million to the Interstate-74 bridge, a surprising development given the agency had only a small amount of funding for the project in the six-year plan it announced last week.

It’s not clear whether the new financial commitment will convince the state of Iowa to maintain construction funding in the state’s long-range transportation plan, which the Iowa DOT’s staff recommended earlier this week be moved out of the plan.

* 2013

It won’t be voted on for another couple of months, but Iowa’s long-range transportation plan is expected to include construction money for the Interstate-74 bridge, restoring funding that was removed last year in the midst of doubts over the project. […]

That’s a big change from last year at this time, when Illinois was balking at devoting funding for construction of a new span, a development that prompted Iowa to remove the money it had programmed for construction.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, after pressure from local officials, reversed the state’s course and ordered that last year’s plan include $72 million for the construction.

Illinois upped the ante last week, when the governor unveiled a six-year plan that included $175 million through 2019 for I-74.

* 2014

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn unveiled his six-year, $8.6 billion infrastructure plan to improve roads and bridges throughout the state on Wednesday. […]

This includes building a $308.6 million new I-74/US 6 bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Moline.

* 2015

The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce is heading to Washington D.C. on Thursday, April 30, 2015 to lobby for more funding for economic development projects in the area.

One of those projects is the I-74 Bridge. In February, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO Tara Barney said the area still needs $400 million more in Illinois, Iowa, and federal funding for the project. Thursday, City of Moline Planning and Development Director Ray Forsythe said, the Illinois Department of Transportation is still buying up properties where the bridge and interstate will go in Moline. Barney also said Illinois’ fiscal problems will not affect construction of the bridge.

* 2016

The Interstate 74 bridge and John Deere Road projects look likely to be the latest local casualties of the Illinois budget impasse.

Both projects are among many in the state expected to grind to a halt July 1 unless state lawmakers agree on a new budget.

Moline Mayor Scott Raes said he received assurances in May from Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randall Blankenhorn that work on the Illinois side of I-74 bridge and John Deere Road would continue this summer.

“So I was a little surprised to see the notice of the shutdown,” the mayor said.

* 2017

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds were in the Quad Cities Monday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the I-74 bridge.

The new bridge is the biggest traffic need in the Quad City area.

It’s expected to take the next three years to build which will be four lanes going in both directions, but Governor Rauner took some heat for making the trip while Illinois struggles without a budget.

“He needs to know that there are people everywhere who are going to resist and who are upset about the budget,” Collin West said. “Currently I live in East Moline and right now the East Moline school district is owed millions of dollars and there’s a chance that they won’t even open for the fall,” West said. “That all goes back to the budget and right now he’s down here in Iowa for a photo op and he’s not passing a budget,” said West.

* 2018

I-74 Mississippi River Bridge, Bettendorf/Davenport, Iowa, and Moline, Ill.: This $1.2 billion project has now begun, and the project timeline looks to make major progress before the weather turns icy at year’s end. Within the river, all 279 drilled shafts will be completed and the westbound bridge piers and roadway will take shape. In Bettendorf, steel will be set across the piers, forming the WB roadway and exit ramp. Fourteenth Street, along with the existing ramp to WB I-74, will be reconstructed and thus reduced to one lane through summer’s end.

* 2020

Current and former workers on the new Interstate 74 bridge say the primary contractor intentionally kept bridge construction off schedule over the summer in a clash with the [Iowa state government] over funding.

As of Thursday, the Iowa DOT was acknowledging for the first time that construction is likely to lag about a year behind schedule. The westbound (Iowa-bound) span was to be finished this season. Bad weather and other delays pushed the schedule to the middle of next year. But that target may be missed too. […]

While Lunda has maintained the design for the bridge is “not constructible,” the project manager for the Iowa DOT said the state disagrees.

* September

All of the steel beams for the new bike and pedestrian path are installed, connecting both sides of the river. A scenic overlook with a glass floor will provide an amazing view of the sunset as well as the boats and barges traveling under the bridge. Lighting crews are also finishing installing the colorful new LED lights that will ensure you see the beautiful new arches for miles.

Video

* Today…

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation today joined with the Federal Highway Administration, community leaders and residents of the Quad Cities to celebrate the upcoming completion of the new Interstate 74 Mississippi River Bridge, one of the biggest projects in state history and a transformational investment in infrastructure for the region. The new bridge is the latest project delivered under Gov. Pritzker to improve safety and mobility, enhance quality of life, and position an important region of the state for economic opportunity for future generations.

“The I-74 Mississippi River Bridge has long been a critical east-west link in the nation’s transportation network. Alongside our Iowan and federal partners, we’re taking a critical piece of infrastructure that has been mainly untouched since 1960 and turning it into the centerpiece residents deserve,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is one of the largest projects in state history – and proof that Illinois is laying the foundation for safer and shorter commutes, while creating and sustaining hundreds of thousands of jobs across the state. It’s a win for the businesses and people of Illinois, a win for the businesses and people of Iowa, and a win for the entire Midwest.”

After more than four years of construction, the I-74 Mississippi River Bridge is anticipated to open to traffic in early December, delivering four lanes in each direction and providing improved safety for all travelers. The bridge includes a 14-foot-wide bike and pedestrian path, with a scenic overlook and connections to existing paths in Bettendorf and Moline.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


News from the campaign front

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* Jeff Kolkey at the Rockford Register Star

A Belvidere Republican who thinks schools should leave sex ed to parents and teach students more respect for the founding fathers of the United States wants to represent the 68th District in the Illinois General Assembly.

A former Marine, retired disabled truck driver and former children’s behavioral health counselor, Keith Brodhacker, 51, describes himself as deeply conservative. Although he said he is a newcomer, Brodhacker says his politics are a mix of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

“They are trying to take our past away from us,” Brodhacker said of progressive politicians and educators. “They are trying to change history. They are trying to change who we are as a nation.”
[…]

Brodhacker said he would like to see taxes and spending on new programs reined in, that he supports police and favors gun rights. Although he has no children or grandchildren, Brodhacker said education reform is one of the big reasons he is running for office.

“The way the schools are leaning left wing and indoctrinating children into left wing ideology has got to stop,” Brodhacker said.

A whole lot to unpack there, but I’ll leave it up to y’all in comments. Expect to hear many of these themes often from now until the election.

* Speaking of “taking our history away,” here’s a sharp analysis of the Virginia governor’s race

Surveys conducted before the election showed that Democrats were vulnerable to attacks over the way public schools treated race. In July, shortly after Youngkin began to raise CRT in speeches, the American Principles Project, a conservative organization, commissioned a poll to test the issue. It found that when CRT was framed in Youngkin’s terms—teaching “white children that they are oppressors” and teaching “minority children that they are victims”—a two-to-one majority of likely Virginia voters, 58 percent to 26 percent, said it shouldn’t be taught in schools. When the poll described Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe as soft on CRT, he lost support. When the poll informed respondents that Youngkin had promised to ban CRT, he gained support. These shifts—measured by how many respondents said the information made them more or less likely to vote for each candidate—were about 10 percentage points.

In August, the APP poll was backed up by another survey, this time from the left. This survey of likely voters in Virginia, conducted by Change Research for Crooked Media, found that 68 percent of independents and 52 percent of undecided voters said the teaching of CRT in schools posed a threat to the state. A narrow majority of undecided voters, when presented with Youngkin’s anti-CRT message, said it was a convincing reason to support him. The pollster’s report concluded: “Messaging about Youngkin never allowing critical race theory to be taught in Virginia schools was the most effective pro-Youngkin message among all voters and undecided voters.” […]

The exit poll didn’t ask voters about CRT, but it did ask about Confederate monuments on government property. Sixty percent of white voters said the monuments should be left in place, not removed, and 87 percent of those voters went to Youngkin. That was 25 points higher than his overall share of white voters. The election had become demonstrably polarized, not just by race but by attitudes toward the history of racism. All the evidence indicates that Youngkin’s attacks on CRT played a role in this polarization.

So, yes, there was a backlash against “critical race theory” in Virginia. And, yes, it helped Republicans win. Their strategy of hyping, distorting, and attacking CRT worked. But it didn’t work by appealing to parents. It worked by appealing to race.

* Speaking of the next election…


Cindy and I had a wonderful time at the dedication of the Nativity Scene in Springfield.

Posted by Darren Bailey for Governor on Tuesday, November 30, 2021

* From the SJ-R’s coverage

Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Tuesday railed against a number of Illinois governors on issues like same-sex marriage and taxpayer funding of abortion and decried satanic public displays.

Paprocki’s remarks came as the featured speaker at a dedication of a Springfield nativity scene in the Illinois Statehouse rotunda in Springfield. […]

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, thanked the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee for making sure that “Christ is honored in such a beautiful place.” […]

Bailey is running for governor, but nativity scene committee chairwoman Julie Zanoza said Bailey was speaking as “a private citizen.”

Paprocki blessed the manger with holy water and said a prayer that a Springfield priest described as “a supplication against the power of evil.”

* Speaking of emerging themes

Event by Palatine Township Republican Organization

Public · Anyone on or off Facebook

Cook County Republican Organization Presents the “Guardians of the Vote” Election Integrity Seminar From the Illinois Conservative Union

Wednesday, December 1 – 6:30 to 8:30 pm
PTRO headquarters, 765 North Quentin Road, Palatine

Members and friends of Cook County Republican Townships are cordially invited to attend this timely and free seminar as we gear up for the 2022 primary and general election cycles.

But

A recount of the fall 2020 DuPage County Auditor election still has Democrat Bill White with more votes than former auditor Republican Bob Grogan, according to a county clerk report released Monday, and Grogan maintains the race still isn’t over.

The report showed that White has 232,710 votes and Grogan has 232,652 following the recount — a 58-vote difference, according to unofficial recount returns. The original difference following the 2020 election was 75 votes.

Even if about a dozen disputed, uninitialed ballots all went Grogan’s way, it wouldn’t be enough to overturn the results, the report said. White was sworn in and has been serving as auditor since late 2020.

* Sen. Bailey talked about the “election integrity” topic earlier today. He also got in a dig at Pritzker over this comment last night

The governor got a big laugh when he described being at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and meeting people from other countries who didn’t understand what it meant to be “the governor of Illinois.” He found it was easier to describe himself as “the governor of Chicago

“I think many of you would agree that he would fit that role quite well,” Bailey said. “He doesn’t seem to get throughout and about the state and doesn’t seem to represent the entire state very often. He seems to hibernate in Chicago instead of Springfield where he should be working. Anyway, we’re gonna change that.”

The ad writes itself.

* One more GOP theme…

Rob Cruz, candidate for Congress (R-6th), blasted news from the Cook county Medical Examiner that the county has passed over 1,000 homicides so far this year. As of Tuesday stands at 1,009, more than 75% of which occurred in Chicago, according to the Medical Examiner.

“This is a 40% increase from the pre-Covid numbers, in 2019 and a direct consequence of our elected officials setting the wrong course for our communities “, stated Cruz. “Voters in Cook County must now acknowledge, it is time to elect new representatives, at all levels, particularly our States Attorney, Board President and the Mayor of Chicago”, he continued.

Nationally renowned law enforcement expert and commentator, Sheriff David Clarke will join other community leaders and be the keynote speaker at a fundraising event kicking off the campaign for Rob Cruz, Candidate for Illinois 6th Congressional district on December 3rd at Cork & Kerry, 10614 s. Western av. At 7pm.

Cruz is a successful small businessman from Oak Lawn who is Frustrated with the direction and overreach of current elected officials, Rob seeks office only to find better solutions for public safety, education, and support of small businesses.

* More…

* U.S. Rep. Sean Casten gets backing of colleagues Foster and Schneider in primary bid against Marie Newman

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


The numbers are pretty clear, so don’t believe 14-3 is a safe bet

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is in DC through Friday, kicking off her visit on Tuesday night with a dinner Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., hosted for the delegation in his Capitol office, and – to my surprise – since usually only Democrats show up at this sort of thing – in walked GOP Rep. Rodney Davis. […]

Before he left, Davis made a bold political prediction […]

Not so fast on that 14-3 outcome Democrats are claiming they will have [with the new congressional district map], Davis told me. […]

Some of those 14 districts have Democratic supermajorities; the Democratic edge in two or three other districts outside of Chicago is much thinner, and I asked Davis – we were out of earshot from the others - about their potential as swing districts.

“I’ll be happy to say very loudly here, we are going to compete in a lot more districts then what the Democrats in Springfield who drew this map thought we would,” he said.

The only people who are publicly saying this is a 14-3 map are some discredited DC “experts” who have said all sorts of weird and flat-out false things since the remap process began.

It’s probably 14-3 in an optimal Democratic cycle, but I don’t know anyone who believes that the Democrats will reverse the overwhelming historical trend and actually gain seats nationally next year.

* Look at the off-year numbers on this chart…


Remember, 2018 was a great year for Democrats in Illinois because it was an off-year for an unpopular Republican president and the Republican governor up for reelection here was a walking dumpster fire.

I tend to look at the AG results, the closest of the bunch. There are three “Democratic” congressional districts on this chart where Kwame Raoul won by about 3 points. That’s the best place to start: Casten/Newman, Foster and the new 17th (formerly Bustos). And then go from there, perhaps even to the 2016 comptroller’s special election. Factor in a likely Democratic slump, and you can see that anyone who claims this is definitely a 14-3 map might wanna lay off the weed.

* Here’s what Rodney Davis told Dave Dahl when asked about that purported 14-3 split

I certainly hope the Democrats thinks that. I certainly hope that the Illinois Democrats believe that that Republicans are only going to have three members of Congress after this next election. Because I think they’re going to be shocked, just like many in the media might be shocked.

We’re going to win. We’re gonna win more seats than the three that they’ve planned. Esther Joy King will be a member of Congress in the 17th district. We will have candidates in all of the districts that we see that are competitive, be it the new 13th district, we will have Republican candidates there that will be able to compete and win that district. And then the suburban districts. We saw in Virginia, we saw in New Jersey that even safe Democratic districts are no longer safe in a year where the American people are very frustrated with the Democrats lack of willingness to address the violent crime that’s plaguing our major cities in our country right now.

…Adding… McHenry County Blog

On Monday, Cook Political Report with Amy Walter issued its initial ratings for the 2022 congressional elections for Illinois’ 17 congressional districts.

Based on Cook‘s estimated partisan voting index (PVI) of the new districts, the following ratings were assigned:

    IL-17 (open): Tossup, estimated PVI of Democrat +3
    IL-13 (open): Leans Democrat, estimated PVI of Democrat +4
    IL-14 (Underwood): Leans Democrat, estimated PVI of Democrat +4
    IL-06 (Casten & Newman): Leans Democrat, estimated PVI of Democrat +5
    IL-11 (Foster): Likely Democrat, estimated PVI of Democrat +5

All 12 other districts are rated “safe” district, based on the Democrat or Republican incumbent representing them currently or who’ve declared their reelection.

Cook’s famous PVI is based on presidential election years, however.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* WICS TV

A new house bill (HB4230) would allegedly help solve the bus driver shortage in Illinois.

Currently, the law says anyone applying for a bus driver’s permit must have a driver’s license uninterrupted for three years prior.

Bill sponsor Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, said this bill changes that and allows for people who lost their licenses for circumstances unrelated to driving can still get their bus drivers permit.

“You know, with the bus driver shortage I think we need to do everything that we can to keep safe and friendly drivers in our school busses,” Rep. Davidsmeyer said.

I reached out to the secretary of state’s office to ask what sort of non-driving offenses could result in the loss of a license. Some of the examples I was given included failure to pay child support and fraud involving a driver’s license (like being caught with a fake ID or applying for a driver’s license in someone else’s name). There are also medical reasons, like suffering seizures, but licenses can be restored by obtaining a physician’s consent.

* No doubt this is needed. But maybe we as a state could help schools get to the recommended ratio of 1 counselor for every 250 students before moving to 1 for 150

A newly filed House bill hopes to get more counselors into Illinois’ schools.

Right now, state law says that districts may employ enough counselors to meet the recommended ratio of 1 counselor for every 250 students.

The new bill would mandate a counselor for every 150 students, and counselors would be required to meet with their students every month.

In the 2019-2020 school year, the statewide ratio was 1 counselor for every 592 students, according to the Illinois School Counselor Association.

This costs money, and the Illinois School Counselor Association’s executive director made that clear in his response to WICS

The ASCA national model recommends a 250:1 school counselor to student ratio. In 2019-2020, the school counselor to student ratio in Illinois was 592:1. We hope to engage Rep. Cyril Nichols, sponsor of HB 4208 to advocate for an increase in school counselors with the funding to support such a mandate.

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Maybe things really are changing

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* She makes a good point…


Not that he’d likely be opposed to it, but I’m thinking Mike McClain never took Anne Pramaggiore to the Hideout to meet a governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Open thread

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* Do what you do.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Flash Index rises slightly
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* The bridge that almost wasn't
* News from the campaign front
* The numbers are pretty clear, so don't believe 14-3 is a safe bet
* It's just a bill
* Maybe things really are changing
* Open thread
* Yesterday's stories

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