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Tax hike outline emerges - Madigan lashes out at critics

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* Keep in mind that nothing is set in stone yet. Here’s the Sun-Times’ take on what’s going on

Gov. Quinn and the two Democratic legislative leaders honed in on a potential tax-hike deal Tuesday that could raise the state’s share of workers’ paychecks to as much as 5 percent, a 66 percent jump.

Multiple options remained on the table and nothing had been finalized, but Quinn administration sources held out hope a tax-increase pact with House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) could be struck as soon as today.

Among the proposals discussed during two rounds of closed-door meetings between the three Democrats were increasing the individual income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent or increasing it by as little as one half of a percentage point. In both cases, the leaders were contemplating making at least part of the increases temporary, sources said.

Publicly, no one in the talks would divulge specifics on a tax plan, though Cullerton late Tuesday characterized both tax-hike scenarios as “pretty accurate.”

* And that’s not all

The governor also is floating the idea of borrowing approximately $14 billion, to be repaid over 14 years, largely to catch up on a backlog of unpaid bills, fully fund state worker pensions this budget year and help pay the costs for next year, a key lawmaker said. The borrowing would be repaid by raising the income tax rate by a quarter- or half-percentage point, above any other tax hike lawmakers might approve.

* Tribune

But internal polling of Madigan’s House Democrats showed significant support for a temporary 1-percentage-point increase in the state’s 3 percent personal income tax rate, with some arguing the hike would be too small to fix Illinois’ long-term budget imbalance, said a source familiar with the vote-counting effort who was not authorized to speak publicly. […]

One factor that could hurt Democratic support is Quinn’s reluctance to agree to limit state spending at current-year levels or lower. A spending cap has been a condition for some downstate Democrats to back an income tax hike.

It’s not an argument, it’s true. If they don’t make big cuts, a one-point hike ain’t enough.

* Rep. Joe Lyons hit the nail on the head

“It’s political suicide for a lot of people, and we all know that, but the right thing has to be done here,” Lyons said. “Being popular isn’t always right. Being right isn’t always popular. The old cliche is so applicable toward this thing. It’s sad.”

* Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan advanced his latest constitutional amendment yesterday

A state constitutional amendment aimed at making it harder to sweeten public employee pensions moved to the floor of the Illinois House Tuesday, but its sponsor, House Speaker Michael Madigan, couldn’t answer key questions about the measure.

If approved by voters, the amendment would require three-fifths votes by legislators to increase pension benefits for employees of state and local governments and school districts. Such changes now take only majority approval.

The bill passed out of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee on a 7-3, party-line vote with all Republicans, including Reps. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, and Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, voting “no.”

The two Republicans listed, it should be noted, have a whole lot of state employees in their districts.

* Madigan also took a shot at interest group types who oppose what he’s been doing lately

Lawmakers last spring and last month approved slimmed-down pension benefits for new teachers, state university employees, state workers, judges, legislators, firefighters and police officers. But Madigan said he’s worked on his proposal for the past two years so the sins of the past aren’t repeated – especially after he’s left the Legislature.

“Certain representatives of those organizations have been telling people in casual conversations ‘We’re just going to wait it out until Madigan’ s out of there, and then we’re going to run bills to repeal all of it.’ That’s their attitude, and that’s what you’re looking at going forward,” he said. “And so this is designed to raise the bar. And simply say, ‘Look we now know, given the fiscal condition of the state pension systems and the local systems, that this is an extraordinary situation. This is not something that should be handled in the ordinary course. There ought to be a high bar to move these bills.”

* Madigan video

* Roundup…

* Charlie Wheeler: Lawmakers had a productive two-year session

* Hynes will lead consulting office after he exits as comptroller - Firm offers guidance on public pensions, health benefit plans

* Redistricting tweaks head to the governor

* State lawmakers sign off on redistricting roadmap

* 10-year redistricting plan heads to Ill. governor

* Democrats crafting tax increase proposal that includes spending restraints; GOP not impressed so far

* Dem leaders talk tax hike

* Lame-duck lawmakers will help decide key issues

* State considers upping cigarette tax $1 a pack to raise $377 million

* Pension borrowing a step closer to a reality

* Casino Could Become Reality in Rockford

* More gambling not the answer to state’s financial woes

* State law gives Evanston officials more time to pay pension debt

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 5:20 am


  1. And here I thought Quinn ran on the promise of only a 33% increase in the Illinois income tax. I guess after the election though he realized just how much more it will cost the taxpayers to continue to support the pensions of Illinois’ public sector employees and has to ask for more taxes

    Comment by Laaughing_all_the_way Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 5:28 am

  2. You’ve got it backwards, Laughing.Public sector employees have been subsidizing state gov’t with their pension contirbutions while the state pilfered their funds to keep taxes artificially low.
    It is time for the taxpayers to pay their mortgage payments. It is the pensioners money. Quinn, to his credit, has put forth several plans to pay off state debt. It is time for the legislature to pick one and start to pay back the people it owes.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 5:48 am

  3. LOL, Bill. Expect some jingle mail re: the taxpayers mortgage. LOL…even if you get your precious tax increase, it’s not going to help, Bill. Just gonna drive more people/businesses from the state. Higher taxes+fewer businesses, wealthy folk=same crap, different day. Zero sum game, my friend. Hope you’re not counting on that state pension, down the road…

    Comment by Anonymouse Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 6:25 am

  4. BTW Bill: watch how quickly Hapless Pat makes ‘deals’ with businesses who threaten to leave.

    He’ll let them off the hook for the ‘mortgage’ as quick as can be, via special tax ‘deals’. So Hapless will raise income taxes, then renege on the deal to keep the big tax producers in the state.

    So how much extra dough will this really bring in? Not much.

    All you’re doing is hurting the little guy. But, I guess some animals are more equal than others, no?

    Comment by Anonymouse Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 6:30 am

  5. Are they still looking at expanding sales taxes to include services? If I remember correctly, that was in the original senate bill that included the 2% income tax increase.

    Comment by Pelon Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 7:24 am

  6. Anonymouse: i see you’ve never owned a business or sat at a business roundtable. moving a business, no matter how small, is not the impulsive decision that you imagine. there are all kinds of costs to moving, especially to another state (even if you are just going across state lines).

    your theory might be appropriate for owners of small businesses that have no employees, but even then, there are costs to moving of which you seem to be ignorant. small businesses like that have leases (it’s much more difficult if you own the building in which you work), would have to come up with deposits, all kinds of costs associated with leaving a location that you are quick to overlook. most businesses are careful with locating their business, and it’s not so easy for them to move. imagining that a tax increase would cause businesses to move out of the state is not only folly, it is a knee-jerk, ideologically-driven response wholly divorced from the business environment…

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:25 am

  7. Whoa…

    Did Madigan just concede that he is leaving soon?

    Comment by Jo Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:38 am

  8. Also agreeing with Bill… Public employee pensions have cost Illinois very little. Some years, they have been free!

    Because the state has figured out the best way to keep pensions from overloading the budget all these years - not paying for them.

    Comment by Jo Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:42 am

  9. “One factor that could hurt Democratic support is Quinn’s reluctance to agree to limit state spending at current-year levels or lower. A spending cap has been a condition for some downstate Democrats to back an income tax hike.”

    Not to mention Republican or taxpayer support! Is Quinn still in LaLaLand?

    If current levels of spending are unsustainable then why is a cap vs. significant cuts being offered? A course of significant spending cuts would seem to be a prerequisite for earning support for any tax increase by the legislature and by the public.

    Comment by vole Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:45 am

  10. I think one logical problem with the cap as proposed is that if you make the large, needed cuts you need to make in the next couple of years to account for the current economic downturn, then you can’t restore some of those cuts when the economy improves and you have that revenue back. You effectively eliminate any ability to do temporary cuts - which is going to be politically necessary.

    Also - many are predicting that average income (the determiner of the allowable spending increases under the madigan proposal) will DECLINE over the next couple of years as new people start to get hired at lower paying jobs to start. So, revenue and costs will go up, but the state will be hamstrung by a completely unrelated statistic - the average wage growth.

    Comment by Jo Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:53 am

  11. –If approved by voters, the amendment would require three-fifths votes by legislators to increase pension benefits for employees of state and local governments and school districts. Such changes now take only majority approval–

    That’s long overdue. The GA can act as sugar-daddies for local government employees without having to foot the bill. It’s a strange phenomenon that goes on all over the country, not just Illinois.

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:54 am

  12. Bored: all big biz has to do, hun, is to make noises. Hapless Pat will be there with a nice ‘tax relief package’ for ‘em.

    I am sure businesses don’t like to move if they can finagle a deal to stay where they are and bypass the laws the little guy abides by.

    However, I wonder why Texas has grown soo big, while IL is shrinking, business-wise. Any ideas, bored? ;)

    Small biz owner, Bored. I won’t get a tax relief package, I’ll just have to shut down. That’s okay. I’ll suck the teat for a while. Good gov’t milk. Mmm mmm.

    Comment by Anonymouse Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:59 am

  13. bored now isn’t it a bit early to be using your

    i see you’ve never owned a business or sat at a business roundtable


    Comment by OneMan Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 9:02 am

  14. “Public sector employees have been subsidizing state gov’t with their pension contirbutions while the state pilfered their funds to keep taxes artificially low.”

    I never thought I’d say this, but… I agree with Bill :-)

    Comment by Secret Square Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 9:07 am

  15. “I think one logical problem with the cap as proposed is that if you make the large, needed cuts you need to make in the next couple of years to account for the current economic downturn, then you can’t restore some of those cuts when the economy improves and you have that revenue back.”

    Jo, if the cuts are needed, why would they ever need to be restored? Quinn has never followed up on his pledge to cut all nonessential spending. The dead wood needs to fall.

    Comment by vole Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 9:25 am

  16. Anonymouse-

    We have the lowest tax burden in the midwest (basically tied with MO). See page 15-16. ” Illinois has the sixth lowest comprehensive state and local tax burden in the nation. Illinois is also tied with
    Missouri for the second lowest state-only tax burden as a percentage of income in the entire Midwest.”,%20Tax%20and%20Revenue/FINAL%20Funding%20Our%20Future-CTBA%20Report%2010.29.2010.pdf

    Comment by chi Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 9:52 am

  17. Not to beat a dead horse, but why should citizens send more of their money to the Governor and General Assembly before a lot more reforms are ushered in? There is no better time to make sweeping changes than now, and no one elected official should be let off the hook this easily. And yes, a tax increase first is the easy way out on this, as difficult as some want to make it sound.

    Comment by Shemp Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 10:08 am

  18. An increase in the state individual income tax rate without broadening the tax base is a futile effort toward generating income significant enough to dent the current fiscal problem. The legislature needs to have enough “intestinal fortitude” to bring those currently exempted from paying taxes, such as those receiving retirement income back onto the tax roles. A floor level of untaxable retirement income can be established with tax being paid on the amount over the floor. Also, eliminate the credit for property taxes against income taxes. And begin to tax services as well as retail sales. These are all unpopular and potentially career killing ideas for politicians, but are the only way to avoid the further death spiral of the Illinois economy. These are ideas on the revenue side, and must be done in conjunction with reform of pensions, medicare and other state services.

    Comment by WRMNpolitics Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 10:14 am

  19. The only problem with raising the income tax rate to 5% is that it probably won’t raise enough revenue to balance the budget and eliminate old debt. I’m betting on catastrophic failure to occur before any of the real hard decisions are actually made on spending cuts and tax increases. The state politicians have demonstrated time and time again they can always find a way to kick the can down the road; unfortunately we are starting to run out of road.

    Comment by Angry Republican Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 10:20 am

  20. Props to Bill for hitting the nail on the head.

    I also think that another part of the problem has to be considered.

    First of all we must pay our bills, many vendors who used to do business with the State and even some who have contracts are refusing to allow us to purchase anything unless they are guarenteed their money in a 60 day turnaround. Tie that to the many services for the most vulnerable in our society that are not being funded, and the burden being placed on schools and municipalities and the debt becomes the most important.
    But before we agree to no spending above current levels there has to be some money for repairs to existing infrastructure. With no real Capital Plan for decades, and little money for maintenance many facilities and systems are either on the verge of collapse or they are not functioning properly and are violating laws everyday. Example; we have sewage systems that are allowing polluted water to enter streams and rivers because it would cost too much to bring them into compliance and there has been no money. There are hundreds of these very scenerios across the State. These are the real costs of years and years of kicking the can down the road. So before the GA enacts a law to raise the income tax and cap spending they better be sure these infrastructure issues are addressed or they will be cominmg back to the table.
    The real problem to budgeting and creating a fund to fix the infrastructure problems is that we have to trust the legislature to use those funds for existing State owned facilities and not for pork projects. And I don’t know how that can be done.

    Comment by Irish Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 10:28 am

  21. “We have the lowest tax burden in the midwest (basically tied with MO).”

    Perhaps the real problem is not that our taxes are all that high, but that we have so MANY of them, due to the vast number of local government bodies (counties, townships, districts of various kinds) we have. Each individual layer of government may not charge that much in taxes, but add them all up and it seems like a lot.

    Comment by Secret Square Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 10:36 am

  22. While Bill is right in that we public employees (I am one) have been subsidizing state gov’t with the pols siphoning off the pension payments to pay for their (our) programs, it is also important that we voters accept responsilibity for electing the pols in the first place. We get the gov’t we deserve.

    Comment by dupage dan Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 11:26 am

  23. To compare income taxes with other states is only part of the apple that is being compared with the orange. One has to consider the total tax packages including property taxes, fees, insurance rates, unemplyment insurance and of course the dreaded Illinois workman’s comepnsation insurance rates. Then from all of that consider the tax incentives being offered here vs there when one considers tax burdens on an employer when considering a stay or go decisions. Oh, and did I mention Illinois is highly unionized in certain areas…

    Comment by Bond_player Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 11:56 am

  24. upping the income tax to 5%, with the promised spending cuts and caps, and then the borrowing, would get you VERY VERY far in covering both the current structural deficit, and paying down the huge unpaid bills backlog.

    Comment by George Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 12:22 pm

  25. I’m a state worker in a public-sector union. I’ve been reading with alarm about governors and other elected officials wanting to end collecive bargaining. If groups/people making political contributions are legally considered individuals and are protected by the U.S. Constitution, can this protection be extended to workers seeking to collectively bargain? This worries me more than anything right now, because as long as there are unions, negotiations can happen in which we may not get much of what we want, but we get to exist and live to fight another day.

    Comment by Grandson of Man Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 12:23 pm

  26. As someone who’s long fought tax increases, I’m willing to go along with one this year PROVIDED:

    1) The income tax increase will be specifically, and unalterably, but used ONLY to pay off bonds to make the state current with its bills. This is the pennance the people and businesses of Illinois have to pay for electing the people in Springfield who sold us out to the special interests that created this problem.

    2) All discretionary spending will be stopped until the bill payment bonds are paid off and the budget is balanced without gimmics and borrowing.Only capital work that meets an immediate and demonstrated public safety need can proceed.

    3)All non-contractual increases in pensions (such as those in TRS)will end for any public pension exceeding the average income in Illinois, including all “double dipping” public pensions from public pension funds.

    4) Medicaid and “All Kids” health incurance/care subsidies will meet the average eligibility requirements of adjacent states.Also, any applicant for these programs must demonstrate that they don’t have access to another health insurance program through work or other organizations to which they belong before receiveng the benefit.

    5) Workman’s compensation must be reformed to make benefits contingent upon proving that the preponderance of the injury cause was due to the company, and premiums and benefits are no more than the average of adjacent states.

    6) The ability of schools and municipalities to raise real estate taxes without referenda through working cash, life safety, and funding bond sales will be prohibited.

    7)Schools and municipalities will be prohibited from approving collective bargaining agreements that cannot be funded through exisiting revenues and projected “capped” revenue growth.

    8) Prevailing wage requirements for capital work in Illinois at the state and local level will be waived for a period of 5 years.

    9) All raises and increases in benefits described in public collective bargaining agreements shall have an “escape clause” that will allow the authority to forego the increases if it can be shown that the increases will result in a budget deficit.

    9) Public retiree health insurance will be paid by the state on a sliding scale from $0 for pensioners not in Medicare receiving SSC and public pensions less than $30,000 (single) and $45,000 (jointly) going to 100% by pensioner at $65,000 (single) to $80,000 (jointly)

    That shouldn’t be a hard sell, should it?LOL

    Comment by strengthandhonor Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 12:23 pm

  27. As a state employee working with Medicaid, SNAP and TANF, I can tell you that many of us do not giddily give away your tax dollars. Some of us rigorously pursue fraud cases with limited resources, so that we can do the underemphasized part of our jobs–keeping ineligible people from getting benefits.

    What I do is check other databases for info such as allegedly-absent fathers’ addresses and Social Security Numbers. If I find something that’s questionable, I make fraud referrals to the Office of the Inspector General. The OIG will make as many as three home visits per case. Many of these return to me “dirty,” that is, people lying about the whereabouts of responsible relatives and their income, or even about their own whereabouts. At this point I take corrective action in cases, which often results in cancellation of benefits.

    Some of us really want to save your money and help the budget; after all, we’re taxpayers too. We need more fraud-fighting tools. In 2009, Rep. Mell told me in her Chicago office that she was part of a budget committee and asked for suggestions. I told her that we need more fraud-fighting tools. The fraud at DHS is very frequent and needs to be fought, because it’s a token of respect for you, our employers.

    Comment by Grandson of Man Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 12:52 pm

  28. So, I take it that some good ideas regarding reform of property taxes in exchange for a state income tax hike are history? So I can expect my property taxes to double in the next ten years as they did in the last ten? Along with higher state income taxes? And with the low paying service sector showing the best job growth in Illinois, and with stagnant wages, and with increasing gas and other energy costs, and with 10,000 baby boomers a day turning 65, etc. Well, I’m curious to see what the bond raters have to say about Illinois debt in the next few months. Well, maybe Rep. Lang will put a slot machine in every gas station and all will be solved.

    Comment by Cook County Commoner Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 1:01 pm

  29. The public employee unions have become the new boogeyman thrown about by the Republicans and lapped up by the media.

    They need some excuse for why their promises of using magic beans to solve the huge deficits across the country aren’t going to materialize.

    “Sorry folks, I tried my hardest to make the deficit disappear while cutting our primary sources of revenue, but it was those public employee unions who got in the way. Get this - they refuse to take pay cuts and benefit cuts! How socialist!”

    Comment by George Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 1:13 pm

  30. Now George, in all fairness a lot of the major anti-union proponents are forced to survive an meager mutli million dollar bonuses, and forced to live off of investment income which is taxed at less then half the income tax rate, even though it is income to them….

    The private sector model shows the way state employees pay andpensions should be paid. We just need to implement Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Chicago Tribune etc 7 figure bonus plans and multimillion dollar stock option plans to reward our employees and get away from these costly fixed pay and benefit plans….

    Comment by Anonymous Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 1:28 pm

  31. George… Bill… and others,
    While you may be factually correct in what you say I say that we had had idiot politicians and overreaching public employee unions, at all level, making deals that have been good for them in the short term but unaffordable in the long run.

    I am not a public employee nor am I a politician and I have never been party to a pension plan in my life. That said, while I don’t begrudge public employees or politicos a decent retirement, I don’t want to be taxed out the wazoo to pay for, what in my view are, pension and benefit plans that from the onset were unrealistic, unaffordable and never should have been hatched.

    I am sick of hearing Quinn talk about how we need to raise revenue. If he does… God bless him, he will make a great one term Governor. I will do my damndest in my little world to be sure people don’t forget about it and get rid of his sorry and lame rear end.

    Comment by Wondering... Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 1:30 pm

  32. Has anyone here seen the amendment filed for HJRCA61 filed by Rep. Bost? Interesting approach but it won’t go anywhere. At least someone is trying to have a dialogue it seems.

    Comment by Anonymous Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 1:55 pm

  33. The quote of the day has to be Kent Redfield’s description of the Madigan fiscal restraint plan: “It’s kind of like (as if he were saying) ‘Stop me before I legislate again.’”

    Comment by Secret Square Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 2:06 pm

  34. @Wondering: I have never been party to a pension plan in my life.

    Do you participate in Social Security? It’s a defined-benefit pension plan funded by workers, employers, and investment gains. Exactly like the TRS, SURS, etc.

    80 percent of public employees in Illinois are ineligible for Social Security. Their pension is their sole chance to have the same guarantee of dignity in retirement as every working American in the private sector.

    As a bonus to taxpayers, public pensions in Illinois are cheaper than private sector retirement benefits.

    Comment by Reality Check Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 2:07 pm

  35. You cannot read a national newspaper anymore which doesn’t highlight Illinois’ financial problems AND how out of the mainstream Quinn/Madigan are from what other State officials are doing to clamp down on runaway state expenditures mostly for personnel- Granted we need to raise income taxes to 4 percent BUT where are the discussions on cost containment and reigning in employee benefit costs- Last year more people moved out of illinois then moved in- this is a scary trend- WAKE UP

    Comment by Sue Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 3:11 pm

  36. ===BUT where are the discussions on cost containment and reigning in employee benefit costs===

    Where have you been? Look around. There’s tons of discussion about those things right now.

    Comment by Rich Miller Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 3:14 pm

  37. On a somewhat related topic, has any Medicaid reform legislation surfaced yet?

    Comment by Secret Square Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 3:24 pm

  38. Never mind, I think I found it … looks like it’s in the proposed amendments to HB 5420.

    Comment by Secret Square Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 3:45 pm

  39. Pass a tax increase, more tax payer money for pork projects.

    Comment by JJ Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 3:48 pm

  40. ==Do you participate in Social Security?==
    Nothing is more ironic than seniors at tea parties demonstrating against defined benefit plans and single payer health plans. Its the typical “mine is ok but everbody elses has to go and don’t you dare take away my senior property tax exemption.” “We paid for our social security when we worked. We paid for our medicare!”

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 4:00 pm

  41. –Nothing is more ironic than seniors at tea parties demonstrating against defined benefit plans and single payer health plans.–

    Now that the watermelon in the boa’s belly — the Baby Boomers — are hitting retirement age, it will be interesting to see how they break, politically.

    They have been the most pampered and pandered to generation in world history. They needed schools, the country built schools. They needed to go to college, Pell Grants and student loans fells from the sky. They needed to buy houses and fund their lifestyles, easy credit was the order of the day.

    Now they’re retiring. My guess is they’ll do what they’ve always done: look out for themselves and pull the ladder up behind them.

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 4:08 pm

  42. OneMan: i don’t know, i guess i’ve been using that line since i sold my business to microsoft (and moved up here because of my wife). but i’m flattered that you think i’m young!

    for me, secret square hit the nail on the head. there are too many taxing/government bodies in illinois (well, at least, cook county). i get that they were a function of democracy, but their purpose seems to have run its course. in rich township, we have a road department in charge of 8 miles of road. we could easily combine the road departments of surrounding townships into one entity and save a lot of money. school districts, at least where i live, are also incredibly small. why are grade school districts separate from high school districts? i’ve never understood the reasoning for that…

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 4:27 pm

  43. If income taxes must be raised, so be it, but they had better start taxing retirement benefits as well. Old folks use state services at a pretty good clip, and demographics indicate that the retired class is rapidly going to become a very much more sgnificant slice of the population. It is outrageous to damand more money from the hard-pressed working families trying to raise and educate kids with ever less state support while well-heeled grandma and grandpa pay nothing on their pensions and investment incomes.

    Comment by Skirmisher Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 4:49 pm

  44. Just got off the phone with Joe Lyon. He couldn’t answer why Carol Ronen and Art Berman’s six figure pensions should be tax free while he sticks his hand in my pocket for more of my money.

    Comment by Gil Franco Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 5:03 pm

  45. The thing is that seniors vote at about an 80% clip while these hard pressed working families go to the polls at about 35%. Politicians can count(except when it comes to budgets).

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 5:03 pm

  46. Bill,

    I read the other day that Medicare costs are several times higher than contributions. I’m not sure how this works, but if this is true, what would tea party members and other conservatives say if their Medicare was audited and they were cut off after they reach their contribution limits, or if their SSA income was garnished due to overpayments?

    Comment by Grandson of Man Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 6:52 pm

  47. An increase without visible, publicly understandabel program cuts will doom the Democrats two years from now.

    Comment by park Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 7:44 pm

  48. My clock says it’s 8:50. I just got home and ate dinner.

    Comment by JustMe Wednesday, Jan 5, 11 @ 8:51 pm

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