|Question of the day
Wednesday, Mar 13, 2019
* Marni Pyke at the Daily Herald…
Republican Sen. Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods said, “there is nothing in this [Pritzker graduated income tax] proposal that would protect taxpayers, especially middle-class families, from future tax increases after the new structure goes into effect.”
There are no such guarantees in the current tax law, but I digress.
* The Question: What constitutional provisions, if any, would you support to “protect” middle-class families from future tax increases after the new graduated tax structure takes effect? Make sure to explain your answer, please. Thanks.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* David J. Roberts, an associate professor of accountancy at DePaul University, writes in the Tribune that the governor’s graduated income tax proposal is “severely flawed and would have serious negative consequences.” How? Well, the “millionaire’s tax” for starters…
Think of this as a progressive rate structure with a cliff. At the million-dollar threshold, one extra dollar of income puts you over the cliff. Ignoring the effects of any other tax provisions, that one dollar of income would cost $8,565 in additional tax, an incredible marginal rate of 856,500 percent on that dollar. Imagine the efforts that taxpayers would go through to avoid being taxed on extra income if they were close to that threshold. And a tax like this might cause some wealthy individuals to flee Illinois altogether.
“Oh, please, won’t anyone think about the millionaires?!” /s
Loo, somebody obviously didn’t run the numbers. As we’ve already discussed, the tax avoidance window is a mere $9,305…
The cutoff point above which tax avoidance wouldn’t make sense would be $1,009,305. State taxes would be $80,239.75 for an after-tax income of $929,065.25 - exactly what you would’ve paid if you made a million dollars.
Increase that income by just a dollar, to $1,009,306, and your state tax would be $80,239.83, with an after-tax income of $929,066.17 - 92 cents more than you’d have made with a million dollars in earnings. After that, the gravy gets thicker.
* Back to Associate Professor Roberts…
Under the proposal, the same rates apply to both single and joint filers. So, for example, two single individuals who each have $250,000 of net income would each pay at a rate of 4.95 percent on income above $100,000. If they marry one another, their combined $500,000 of net income means that the second $250,000 would be taxed at 7.75 percent. Ignoring the effects of any other tax provisions, this results in $7,065 of extra tax, a giant marriage penalty.
* I asked the Pritzker administration the other day about this “marriage penalty” issue…
Current Illinois tax code does not distinguish between married and single filers.
There’s little to no evidence to support the claim that people base their decision to marry on tax rates.
More married couples - especially low-income married couples - receive marriage bonuses at the federal level because of the structure of the federal tax code.
The wealthy - not low-income working families - are more likely to benefit from a higher income threshold for married filers.
Doesn’t sound like the governor is much interested in this particular topic to me.
* Roberts again…
If the plan would double the size of the rate brackets on a joint return, that would eliminate the marriage penalty, but it would result in much less tax revenue. And it would create big potential marriage bonuses. A single person with high income might marry someone with little or no income, and that couple could benefit from lower brackets.
Um, what? A bunch of rich people are gonna suddenly rush out and marry poor people so they can lower their state income tax bills? That’s… not how real life generally works.
A good rule of thumb is that if you have to stretch reality that much to make a point, you should probably avoid making the point.
Instead, perhaps the Republicans could simply demand during negotiations that married couples be allowed to file separate state tax returns or new married filing jointly rates are devised. That is, if they don’t walk away from the talks.
- Posted by Rich Miller
|It’s just a bill
Wednesday, Mar 13, 2019
* Four Senate Republicans voted in favor…
Illinois lawmakers have resurrected and are moving ahead with legislation that would make creating local right-to-work zones at the municipal level a criminal offense.
While reporters in the Capitol building were peppering Gov. J.B. Pritzker with questions about his newly-unveiled progressive tax rates, state Senators voted to send a measure to the House that would make it illegal for local governments to create right-to-work zones in their jurisdictions. Such zones allow employees to refuse union membership and still be employed.
Sponsor Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, said the bill will support economic development, protect the quality of essential services and confirm a commitment to a highly-trained workforce. […]
The bill, which is similar to one Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed in 2017, says any local official who supports a [private employer] right-to-work zone will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. That carries a sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
The roll call is here.
* Interesting roll call here…
…Adding… As you might imagine, the Illinois Family Institute isn’t happy…
This afternoon, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 60-42 to pass HB 246, which would mandate that all students in K-12 public schools be taught about the “roles and contributions” of homosexuals and opposite-sex impersonators and that textbooks purchased include discussions of the roles and contributions of homosexuals and opposite-sex impersonators.
* Fracking is back in the news…
Republican state lawmakers from southern Illinois pushed back Tuesday against a bill that would require more public disclosure from oil and gas drilling companies whenever they use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” in their operations in the state. […]
Rep. Chris Miller, a Republican from Oakland, in eastern Illinois, argued that the bill, like its earlier predecessor, was intended only to turn public opinion against the oil and gas industry.
“It was bad then. This is bad now,” Miller said. “I personally have signed an oil lease and I know a lot of the things you said were just fear-mongering, trying to create fear and animosity.”
Rau and Gabel, however, said the bill would not impose new requirements on oil and gas producers. They said producers would continue providing state regulators with the same information they provide now. The only difference would be that the information would be made publicly available.
* Other stuff…
* Memo to self: Next time, pick up the phone: While scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw the column had indeed been read outside the NewsTribune circulation area: “Meanwhile, a columnist who apparently can’t pick up a phone and doesn’t come to Springfield says he somehow has a ‘sense’ for why the legalization bill hasn’t yet been introduced…” Uh-oh.
* Should Young Adults Be Sent To Juvenile Courts?: State Sen. Laura Fine, a Democrat from Glenview, is sponsoring the legislation. She said more than a third of emerging adults in Cook County Jail were charged with misdemeanors. “Many of them get stuck in the jail because they’re either homeless or don’t have a job and they can’t pay their bail,” Fine said. “They’re at an age where, if they did have those proper services, they could be put on another direction in their lives.”
* Deadly suburban kennel fire prompts legislators to call for new safety regulations, but some kennel owners are wary: Following a devastating suburban kennel fire earlier this year that claimed the lives of 31 dogs, two state legislators have introduced bills aimed at making such facilities safer. One bill would require kennel operators to install fire alarms that automatically notify emergency responders; the other would require kennels to install sprinklers or some other fire suppression system.
* LGBTQ advocates ‘deeply disturbed’ by bill that would punish doctors for certain procedures: Asked whether it was necessary to make the medical procedures illegal, rather than promoting outreach efforts and ensuring accurate information available, [Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine] said, “I need to give that more thought.”
* Unpacking Pritzker’s Tax Proposals: Bag Tax
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Press release…
Children’s Home & Aid works every day to help children and families to thrive. Our deep commitment to their success is fueled by an equally strong commitment to delivering services in a sustainable way. We tackle challenges and do our best to meet the needs in light of the community dynamic, resources, etc. However, there are times when we face hard decisions that call for downsizing or in some situations, program exits. This is just such a time.
Effective immediately, we have started the process of phasing out foster care and intact family services in the Central Region.
The current child welfare environment in the Central Region has posed increasingly difficult challenges and it is clear that our foster care and intact family services are not sustainable for us in Bloomington, Champaign and the surrounding communities.
This difficult decision will impact 19 staff members. We have asked Central region child welfare staff to stay with us to help ensure the smoothest possible transitioning of 170 foster care cases and 11 intact families to other community-based providers. We anticipate completing this process by the end of May.
Children’s Home & Aid has started the process of working with DCFS to transition the families to another agency, [Jassen Strokosch, the agency’s director of communications] said. […]
The two programs are funded by the state but there has been no rate reimbursement increase in two decades, Strokosch said. Children’s Home & Aid has been covering the difference.
“In the last three years, we have averaged losing $150,000 a year on foster care and intact family services,” he said. “We’re losing too much money providing the services … That’s not sustainable.”
In addition, the low reimbursement makes it difficult to attract and retain quality staff, he said.
* Illinois Collaboration on Youth…
When providers are unable to pay enough in wages and benefits to attract and retain a qualified workforce, it is ultimately the children, youth, and families who suffer.
Not only does high workforce turnover divert resources away from service provision toward recruitment and training, it negatively impacts the very people who are supposed to benefit from this work. For example, everyone agrees that children and youth are best raised in permanent, safe, and loving homes, however, high worker turnover is strongly correlated to increased lengths of stay in the child welfare system. This constant changing of caseworkers and supervisors is an impediment to achieving that goal, whether it is to return children to their biological families, develop formal guardianship with extended kin, or find new adoptive homes for them.
From a child’s point of view, a change in caseworker is yet another time when an adult who is supposed to care for them has let them down.
Illinois was once a national leader in child welfare, but today, we rank last in the nation on important measures of child safety and permanency. For too long we have asked providers to do the impossible with shockingly insufficient funding. We cannot continue to ignore their warnings. The child welfare workforce does difficult and demanding work. They deserve to be fairly compensated for it, and to receive adequate supervision and training so they can do their jobs well.
Providers need an emergency rate increase to stop the bleeding. We are seeking approximately $37 million with HB2524/SB1730 to help address the historic underfunding and begin to turn this system around.
But, yeah, let’s do across-the-board state budget cuts. Right.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Kyle Thomas at the Illinois State Board of Elections…
As reported orally at prior Board meetings, earlier this year, an effort was made to identify individuals who potentially cast more than one ballot in the General Election of 2016. Utilizing the Statewide voter registration database (IVRS), duplicate registration records were identified where more than one record for that individual had been marked as voted. The results of this effort were forwarded to the election authorities for investigation.
The majority of the records identified were found to have been mistakes made by jurisdiction staff whereby they (some dating back as far as the inception of IVRS), accepted duplicate registration matches for records that were, in fact, for separate individuals. This accounted for 765 of the 1,379 total records identified (each record reflects one voter registration record not one voter). We asked the election authorities to provide us the information on those cases and State Board staff took the steps necessary to unlink the records within the IVRS database. The next largest portion of records, found through the investigations by the election authorities, were record keeping errors at the time of voting. In many of those cases, a voter signed the wrong person’s ballot application (for instance a son may have signed a father’s application mistakenly). This accounted for 357 of the records.
However, the election authorities did report that of the 1,379 total records, 257 registration records appear to be double voting, which involves approximately 130 individual voters. Thus far, 65 of the records have been forwarded on to the appropriate law enforcement authority for further action and the remainder are still under review by the election authority or their internal counsel.
Click here for the accompanying spreadsheet. Lots more info in there. Of the 65 records forwarded so far to law enforcement, 18 were in Champaign County, 8 were in suburban Cook and 7 were in Chicago.
Over 5.5 million people voted in 2016, so this represents a miniscule 0.001 percent (one thousandth of one percent). But races can be super close (the Macon County sheriff’s race is still not decided), so vigilance is necessary. Kudos to the Board for taking a look at this.
Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) says he filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the names of the alleged multiple-voters, but was denied.
* The Board’s spokesperson explains the law enforcement referrals…
We compiled that spreadsheet based on our contact with the local authorities, but the local authorities did the investigations and referrals to law enforcement where their legal counsel determined it was warranted. We don’t have legal authority to prosecute – that rests with the state’s attorneys in the jurisdiction in which the alleged offense was committed. We also are prohibited from giving legal advice to local election authorities, so our action here was limited to making the initial referrals to the locals.
* Illinois News Network…
There were seven possible double vote records identified in Sangamon County, but they were found to not be the same person and none were reported to law enforcement.
Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray said he understands the concern.
“We would never tolerate a double vote here in Sangamon County, no county clerk would throughout the entire state of Illinois,” Gray said. “We go through great lengths to ensure that the protocols at the moment of issuing a ballot are followed” […]
[Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee] used the numbers to promote a measure to stiffen penalties for double voting. He also said he wants to get Illinois back into the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck system meant to help find voter registration irregularities. Illinois recently pulled out of the multistate Crosscheck program.
Gray said getting back in is not necessary. He said the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, Illinois and all neighboring states but Indiana are a part of is superior.
Dietrich said the state board is “hopeful that we can create a data-sharing agreement with Indiana for voter list maintenance efforts in both states.”
Crosscheck is worthless and even harmful. The state shouldn’t get back into it.
* State Rep. Skillicorn considering 2020 congressional bid
* Rauschenberger says Skillicorn is ‘right fighter for the 14th’ District
- Posted by Rich Miller
[The following is a paid advertisement.]
Small businesses create two-thirds of the new jobs in Illinois. And more than 270,000 Illinoisans are looking for work. But a new report shows just how much Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s tax proposal would harm the state’s most important economic engine.
The nonpartisan Tax Foundation projects Illinois’ business tax climate ranking would plummet to 48th in the nation – and the worst in the region – under Pritzker’s “fair tax” rates. Only California and New Jersey would rank worse.
This massive hit for small businesses is one of the reasons Pritzker’s rates would cost the state at least 30,000 jobs. And it’s no wonder family-owned businesses like Piasa Motor Fuels near Alton, Illinois, would look for relief across state lines. State lawmakers representing districts with strong small business communities should be wary of following the governor’s lead.
- Posted by Advertising Department
Wednesday, Mar 13, 2019
The leader of alternative teacher preparation program known as Teach for America drew sharp criticism from one Democratic state lawmaker Tuesday as he appeared before a House committee seeking continued funding from the state of Illinois. […]
[Aneesh Sohoni, executive director of the Teach for America program in Illinois] said the program recruits young college graduates, particularly students of color, who have degrees in fields other than education, and puts them through an intensive seven-week training program to prepare them for teaching in a classroom. He said it also continues to provide coaching and support for the first two years of that new teacher’s career.
But that is a significantly shorter training period than most teachers receive through traditional programs, which usually require five years of study and student teaching to earn a bachelor’s degree, or at least three semesters to earn an education degree on top of some other bachelor’s degree. […]
State Rep. Katie Stuart, an Edwardsville Democrat and a former math teacher, said she could not believe that Teach for America can provide the same level of professional training as a formal training program at a college or university. She said programs like Teach for America diminish the professionalism of the teaching occupation.
“Part of the reason why we don’t have our young folks going into our colleges and universities saying, ‘You know what, I really want to be a teacher because my teachers really made a difference in my life and I want to be able to do that for others,’ is because we don’t respect the profession,” Stuart said. “And I think many times, organizations like yours take away from what we view as the professionalism of teachers. It disrespects the degree that our education professionals are earning, and it kind of belittles the research that goes behind all of that.”
OK, but if you click here you’ll see a copy of Rep. Stuart’s 1998 resume, which was obtained via FOIA request.
Notice that Stuart earned a BA in Mathematics in May of 1991 and then from August of 1991 through May of 1993 she headed the middle school math program and taught several other classes at St. Paul Lutheran School in New Orleans. She did not earn her teacher certification in Math until May of 1993 - after she’d been teaching and running a math program for two years.
Also, if you click here and here you’ll see two job-seeking letters Stuart sent in 1998 to Edwardsville’s Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and the principal of Edwardsville High School dropping the name of her late father-in-law, who had retired as the district’s superintendent two years earlier.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. But it might possibly undercut her otherwise strong argument for teacher professionalism.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Site Selection Magazine…
Greater Chicago once again has finished No. 1 in the nation in Site Selection’s annual Top Metros rankings, based on qualified corporate facility investment projects during the previous calendar year. The projects range from the massive distribution cluster in Will County populated by such firms as Diageo and IKEA to the office and manufacturing projects landing in such places as Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Bolingbrook, Elgin, Carol Stream and Naperville from the likes of Faber-Castell, IHerb, G&W Electric and Givaudan Flavors.
But the core of activity is in Cook County, where projects last year came from Facebook, Walgreens, Northrop Grumman and Komatsu, among others. Joining their ranks early this year (with a project to be counted toward the next year-end tally) was Ford Motor Company, which pledged to invest $1 billion and create 500 new jobs at its Chicago Stamping and Assembly plants that will bring total payroll to 5,800. […]
In addition to hosting the second highest concentration of computer science graduates in the U.S. and ranking sixth in the number of STEM workers who live there, Greater Chicago startups lead the nation in venture returns, with an 8.5x multiple on invested capital. Some of that capital has come thanks to the efforts of venture capitalist and billionaire J.B. Pritzker, Penny Pritzker’s brother and the newly elected governor of Illinois.
- Posted by Rich Miller
Pritzker, repeating talking points he used last week when launching his tax proposal, said the plan would help the state address its $3.2 billion budget deficit, $8.4 billion backlog of unpaid bills and $134 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. He presented two alternatives: across-the-board spending cuts or an increase in the current flat tax rate. The governor so far has ruled out extending the sales tax to consumer services or taxing retirement income, moves that would put Illinois more in line with other states but are politically unpopular.
Pritkzer’s plan has been met with unified opposition from Republican lawmakers and large business organizations including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. They argue that raising taxes on the wealthy will push residents and businesses out of the state.
Rather than just criticize his plan, Pritzker said, opponents should offer “a specific counter-proposal.” So far, none has been forthcoming.
* It’s a different tax, but still on-topic…
Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 32 cents. That’s expected to raise $55 million in revenue, the administration said.
Illinois Association of Convenience Stores Executive Vice President Bill Fleischli represents thousands of convenience stores around the state. He said Pritzker proposal will make Illinois’ taxes on cigarettes about $2.30 a pack in Illinois. He said that would push Illinois’ taxes on cigarettes to the highest in the region, behind Wisconsin. […]
Instead of increasing taxes, Fleischli said the state should find other ways to shore up the budget.
“Look at anything, look at a reduction in spending,” Fleischli said. “Look at other areas, not just the sins. We ought to go someplace else.”
It’s not really fair to expect Fleischli to propose an alternative revenue or spending plan. That’s not what he does. But it is a useful rhetorical device to make the opposition sputter.
- Posted by Rich Miller
|Tobacco 21 roundup
Wednesday, Mar 13, 2019
* I know we discussed this yesterday, but there’s not a lot of news out there, so let’s take a look at the Tobacco 21 coverage…
The state of Illinois is a big step closer to raising the age to buy cigarettes or other tobacco products. The Illinois House yesterday approved the Tobacco 21 plan. It raises the age to buy cigarettes, dip, or vape products to 21. Supporters say the new law would stop older teens from buying tobacco for younger teens.
Interestingly enough, the Senate read the bill into the record late yesterday and could start hearings as early as this week and might possibly even have a floor vote by Thursday. But, that’s a pretty ambitious schedule and the SDems haven’t caucused on this yet. Either way, it’s now in position for a very fast track.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker did not directly comment on the bill, which still has to get through the Senate, but said the governor “believes in order to help build a healthy society we have to work to prevent young people from smoking.”
“He looks forward to reviewing the legislation to raise the smoking age, spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in an email.
While the bill would raise the legal age for purchasing cigarettes and vaping products, it would do away with penalties for underage possession. Retailers still would be fined for selling restricted products to underage customers.
“This is a public health issue, not a criminal issue,” said Democratic state Rep. Camille Lilly of Chicago, the bill’s sponsor.
Lilly did a very good job with this bill. I was told the last soft roll call had 72 votes in support. It received 82, which is 21 more than it received last November.
Lots of parents are freaked out these days about the explosive rise in teenage vaping. That could’ve explained a lot of these flips…
Republican state Rep. Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, said he has fought against the issue for many years. Now, he said, he credits his 17-year-old daughter for helping him change his mind about what she called an issue “out of control”.
“She said you guys need to do something. I said Caroline, I’m doing something, I’m changing my mind.”
* Capitol News Illinois…
The bill leaves in penalties for merchants who sell to minors. Bill Fleischli, executive vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and the state’s Association of Convenience Stores, finds fault with this logic.
Fleischli said merchants then become the policers, because law enforcement would be unable to do anything if an officer saw a minor with a cigarette, for example.
Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, who is a chief co-sponsor of the measure, said he knows “this isn’t a perfect bill.”
“For those who wonder about the decriminalization aspect of it, I’d like you to ask a member of our law enforcement how many kids they actually bust for smoking a cigarette every day,” he said. “It doesn’t actually happen today.”
* Illinois News Network…
Republican Toni McCombie said the law is likely to have unintended consequences.
“We have got to quit chipping away at our personal liberties and our tax bases,” she said.
Estimates on the bill say the state would lose up to $40 million per year in tobacco tax revenue, but Lilly said that estimate isn’t accurate because it assumes everyone would suddenly abide by the law. […]
“Research shows that Tobacco 21 laws can make a tremendous impact on the health of our communities as well as reduce healthcare costs from tobacco-related diseases,” said Kathy Drea from the Lung Association. “This law is proven to protect children, reduce smoking rates, save on healthcare costs and save lives. In fact, Chicago saw a 36 percent decline in the use of tobacco products among teens after passing Tobacco 21 in 2016.”
I’m now wondering where Rep. Toni “Personal Liberties” McCombie will be on the cannabis legalization bill. Just sayin…
Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville, speaking against the bill, said his concern on the bill is mainly philosophical. Davidsmeyer’s district borders the Mississippi River, which means businesses would be competing with Missouri, which has a lower cigarette tax.
“I believe if a person is old enough to decide who the most powerful person on the planet, the president of the United States, is, I think they’re responsible enough to look at the package of cigarettes or look at the can of chewing tobacco and see that it says it can kill you,” Davidsmeyer said.
So, if an 18-year-old should be allowed to decide whether to smoke cigarettes or vape nictoine, should a 21-year-old be allowed to decide whether to smoke or vape legal cannabis? Rep. Davidsmeyer will be letting us know soon enough.
* From JUUL Labs CEO Kevin Burns…
We applaud the Illinois House of Representatives for passing legislation to raise the purchasing age for all tobacco products, including vapor products, to 21 and we will continue to work with lawmakers in Illinois to get this policy signed into law.
We cannot fulfill our mission to provide the world’s one billion adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in this country, if youth-use continues unabated. Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem – sharing by legal-age peers – and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth-use rates. That is why we are committed to working with lawmakers to enact these effective policies and hope more jurisdictions follow in Illinois’ example.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Bruce Dold, the publisher and editor in chief of the Chicago Tribune, wrote an unusual clarification late yesterday afternoon about the Tribune’s Sterigenics coverage. Excerpt…
Some articles have discussed industry research that shows there are other, potentially safer methods that could replace ethylene oxide across the medical equipment industry. To clarify, some devices are currently approved for use only if they are sterilized with ethylene oxide. Under current FDA approvals, Sterigenics and other companies are required to use ethylene oxide to sterilize those devices.
A story published online Jan. 25 and in print the next day has been updated with the following sentence:
Despite readily available alternatives that industry research shows are potentially effective, Sterigenics and Medline Industries note that ethylene oxide is currently the only FDA-approved option to fumigate certain medical equipment used in surgeries and other medical procedures.
A story published online Oct. 26 and in print the next day discussed pollution control at the plant, stating: “Federal officials say the company released uncontrolled amounts of ethylene oxide from building vents for more than 30 years.”
There’s more, so go read the whole thing.
- Posted by Rich Miller
Visit our advertisers...