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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:18 am 
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Well, what does one expect with massive tax evasion, massive overcompensation of public employees, weird retirement rules that allow employees to bank vacation hours, claim them in their last year of employment, and effectively double their pensions, etc?

Illinois should just declare bankruptcy. It'd stink to be an Illinois state pensioner but what can Illinois otherwise do?

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:45 am 
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mdiehl wrote:
Well, what does one expect with massive tax evasion, massive overcompensation of public employees, weird retirement rules that allow employees to bank vacation hours, claim them in their last year of employment, and effectively double their pensions, etc?

Illinois should just declare bankruptcy. It'd stink to be an Illinois state pensioner but what can Illinois otherwise do?


I do think that bankruptcy could eventually be on the horizon for IL, but does wiping out the debt, without changing/fixing what got them there in the first place really fix anything?

It could just give them a fresh start to continue their "business as usual".

Additionally, if I recall, they tried to tinker with the pension system before and employee/beneficiaries sued the state, arguing that their benefits are constitutionally protected under the IL state constitution...and the employees/beneficiaries prevailed.

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:37 pm 
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Maybe. It depends on how much of their cash outflow is dedicated to servicing interest on their debt. Bankruptcy could at least force the hand of the pseus in re reasonable benefits terms and could result in adjusting downward hyperinflated state employee wages.

Ultimately, every state needs fundamental restructuring. The premise that supervisory positions in gov't employment must pay half again or more of the next tier down is idiotic. All states should immediately switch from a defined benefits plan to a defined contributions plan for those who are still actively employed.

The idea that all of these debt problems can be fixed just by ratcheting up taxes on the middle class is morally a bust. Yet it is the wealthy who set state spending priorities and the wealthy who make sure the law offers them lower tax rates than everyone else.

The really weird thing is that apparently most state constitutions either as originally ratified or amended require balanced budgets. But few.. none?.... actually HAVE balanced budgets.

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:35 am 
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ ... story.html

Quote:
Fed-up Illinois homeowners consider moving: 'It’s not just the property taxes on my home; it’s all of them'

Gail MarksJarvis and Corilyn Shropshire
Chicago Tribune

Even after watching Hurricane Irma wreak havoc on Florida, Rik Mallin is sticking to his plan.

Mallin is fixing up his Villa Park home so that he can sell it, move to the Florida Panhandle and escape Illinois’ rising taxes.

“I’m getting out,” said Mallin, 67. “It’s not just the property taxes on my home; it’s all of them.” He figures his taxes in Florida, where there is no personal income tax, will be about a quarter of what he’s paying now.

Mallin’s not the only one leaving the state. In 2016, Illinois lost 37,508 people, putting the state’s population at its lowest level in nearly a decade, according to U.S. census data. It was the third consecutive year the state lost more residents than any other state. The state’s population count for 2017 won’t be released until December.

Some of those who are leaving Illinois say they’re frustrated with their tax burden and the state’s financial situation. After going more than two years without a budget, Illinois lawmakers passed a spending plan over the summer, one that involved a 32 percent income tax hike for residents. The state is still digging itself out of the financial disarray that accumulated during the budget impasse. A Forbes listing of the best and worst states for taxes in 2016, before the tax hike, ranked Illinois 46th, signifying a heavier tax burden.

But demographers aren’t ready to chalk the outmigration up to tax pressures entirely.

Brookings Institution demographer William Frey said that when people move, it’s usually for employment, and not necessarily because of taxes. Most of the people moving are in their 20s and 30s, are establishing themselves in careers, and are relocating for job opportunities.

“When you have more people moving out than in, it means the employment is somewhere else,” Frey said.

Regardless of whether or not they are the primary factor behind relocations, high tax rates still affect the housing market by cutting into the amount of money residents have to spend.

Lance Ramella, president of Housing Trends, a Chicago-based housing market consultant, said weak growth in the Chicago economy, unresolved government fiscal issues and high taxes are all tied together, and are resulting in a “stagnant” housing market.

“Entry-level buyers shop based on what they can afford monthly,” Ramella said.

Ultimately, if those shopping for homes can’t afford the mortgage payments plus taxes, they’ll settle for lower-priced residences. They may even skip buying a home altogether if there aren’t enough affordable homes on the market. This could cause a deterioration in housing prices, he said.

Chicago property tax bills going up 10 percent this year

Housing construction already is being affected, he said. With construction costs high and demand muted, only 7,511 single-family homes were built in the Chicago metro area during the 12 months ending with July.

Before the recession, 40,000 new homes were being constructed each year. Normal demand is closer to 15,000 to 20,000 new homes a year, Ramella said.


“We really need stability in our government, and I don’t know how that’s going to happen,” he said.

Ramella contrasted most of the Chicago metro area with Lake County, Ind., which has experienced heavy housing growth that Ramella attributes to a flight from Illinois taxes. Housing construction in northwest Indiana increased 18 percent this year over last, and in 2016 the number was up 19 percent over 2015. Meanwhile, Cook County is down 6 percent this year over last, and home construction in many other Illinois counties is flat, he said. DuPage County experienced an upturn of 5.9 percent this year.

Sheila Tracy, a Chicago optician, said the recent income tax hike as well as the sweetened beverage tax implemented by Cook County in August both seem like desperate governmental attempts to deal with unresolved financial problems.

“It was the last straw,” said Tracy, who plans to relocate away from the state once she retires in three years. “They say the soda tax is about my health, but they aren’t fooling people.”

Cook County’s commissioners are expected to vote on repealing the sweetened beverage tax Oct. 10, though it’s unclear at this point if there are enough votes to overturn the measure.

Even though it’s difficult to determine how much of an impact tax concerns are having on real estate, the weakness in the local housing market is clear, said Geoff Smith, executive director of the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University. Home prices in many major metropolitan areas have recovered and hit new highs since the 2008 housing crash, but in the Chicago area only a few suburbs and select city neighborhoods have rebounded, he said.

According to CoreLogic, a global property information firm, the Chicago area is one of the U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of homeowners underwater with their mortgages, meaning they owe more than their homes are worth. During the second quarter of this year, 10.8 percent of residences in the Chicago metro area were underwater, compared with 13.5 percent during the second quarter of 2016, according to CoreLogic.

The day after the Illinois legislature voted to raise the individual income tax rate from 3.75 to 4.95 percent, Northfield-based financial planner Ellen Rogin said she started getting phone calls from clients who are residents of Chicago with second homes in Florida.

The clients, according to Rogin, were saying “I’m worried about Illinois. Should I be moving to Florida?”

Rogin said anyone considering a move has to look at lifestyle, not just taxes.

Chicago certified public accountant Debbie Lessin said that when people consider a move for tax reasons in retirement, they may be missing a crucial element of Illinois’ tax system.

Illinois doesn’t tax retirement income from Social Security, pensions and IRAs, an advantageous provision for retirees living in the state, she said.

BMO Private Bank Chief Investment Officer Jack Ablin is among those with residences in both Chicago and Florida. The seriousness of Illinois’ budget and tax issues became clear to him, he said, when he tried to sell his Highland Park home a couple of years ago. The house was on the market for a year and priced right, he said, but potential buyers kept raising concerns about property taxes.

After struggling to sell the home, he challenged the assessment and was able to substantially lower the taxes. A few months ago, he found a buyer for the home, but the offer was contingent on seeing documentation of the assessment and the lower taxes.

“Taxes are rising so much it’s crowding out the value of homes,” Ablin said. “In many respects a person could argue that housing is cheap in Chicago, and in many respects it is cheap. But it is cheap for a reason.”

Ablin, who works in both Florida and Chicago, said he ultimately decided to make Florida his primary residence. He rents an apartment in downtown Chicago that he uses when in the city on business.

crshropshire@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @gailmarksjarvis

Twitter @corilyns


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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:17 pm 
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https://www.yahoo.com/news/apnewsbreak- ... ction.html

Quote:
APNewsBreak: Billions in Illinois bills not sent for payment

Associated Press
JOHN O'CONNOR
Associated PresOctober 10, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois is chasing a moving target as it tries to dig out of the nation's worst budget crisis, and a review obtained by The Associated Press shows $7.5 billion worth of unpaid bills — as much as half the total — hadn't been sent to the official who writes the checks by the end of June.

Although many of those IOUs have since been paid, a similar amount in unprocessed bills has replaced them in the last three months, Comptroller Susana Mendoza's office said Monday. That's in addition to $9 billion worth of checks that are at the office but being delayed because the state lacks the money to pay them.

The mound of past-due bills tripled over the two years Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly were locked in a budget stalemate, which ended in July when lawmakers hiked income taxes over Rauner's vetoes.

In some cases, agencies were waiting to send their receipts to Mendoza because lawmakers haven't approved the spending. For example, the Department of Corrections had $471 million in unpaid bills on hand as of June 30 largely for that reason.

"Ascertaining the precise nature of the state's past-due obligations and liabilities is an essential component of responsible cash and debt management," the Democratic comptroller wrote in a letter to Republican Rep. David McSweeney, a budget hawk from Barrington Hills who requested the review.

Mendoza and McSweeney plan to use the findings to urge lawmakers to override Rauner's veto of legislation that would require monthly reporting of bills not yet submitted for processing. The measure, authored by Mendoza's office, would include a breakdown of how old each bill is and which ones have received legislative approval to be paid.

"The governor supports more transparency on the state of our finances," Rauner spokesman Hud Englehart said in an email to AP. "He vetoed this bill because the State does not have adequate technology in place to cost effectively provide this information monthly."

The age of bills is important because many that are 90 days or older face a 1 percent-per-month late-payment fee; about $5.5 billion of the current $15.9 billion backlog is subject to the penalty. Mendoza estimates the state will ultimately pay $900 million in late-payment fees on the existing pile of debt.

The Department of Central Management Services, which handles personnel, procurement and employee health care, has most of the June 30 bundle, with $5.8 billion. That's mostly doctor's bills owed to employee medical providers under the state group health insurance plan.

McSweeney's call for the overview coincided with the current Oct. 1 deadline for publicizing the amount of bills held at agencies at a fiscal year's end. McSweeney said with Illinois swimming in debt, including a $130 billion shortfall in what's needed to pay employee pensions and other long-term borrowing, check-writers need more exact information.

"With a $16 billion backlog of unpaid bills, and $200 billion in total liabilities when you add in the pension debt, I don't trust this governor, I don't trust this administration," McSweeney said. "We need monthly reporting."

Typically, when a governor and Legislature agree on a budget, the legislation authorizing it includes appropriations bills. If money is spent that isn't approved, lawmakers must do it after the fact in a supplemental appropriation. Rauner has complained that the budget legislative Democrats approved in July is $1.7 billion short of being balanced. Democrats have countered that the governor spent money last year that wasn't approved. Neither side has elaborated.

Democrats have signaled they plan to attack Rauner's budget management during his 2018 re-election campaign

Mendoza, who beat Rauner's hand-picked candidate in a special election for comptroller last fall, has wrangled with the governor over issues related to the deficit and the backlog, including one spat over which fund to use to pay particular bills.

The Legislature returns for its fall session Oct. 24.

___

Contact Political Writer John O'Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/john%20o'connor




The situation appears to be getting worse, with no 'light at the end of the tunnel' in sight.

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:53 pm 
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca ... story.html

Quote:
In budget speech, Emanuel starts sales pitch on tax hikes for phones, Uber

Bill Ruthhart, John Byrne and Hal DardickContact Reporters
Chicago Tribune


Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday began selling his latest round of tax and fee hikes, thanking “taxpayers for doing their part to solve Chicago’s financial problems” and warning aldermen that “now is not the time to take our eye off the ball.”

The mayor’s lengthy budget speech to the City Council was mostly a recitation of the progress he says Chicago has made in the last year, from taking on President Donald Trump on immigration to winning more money for Chicago Public Schools out of Springfield.

“Chicago has not let those headwinds shift us off course,” the mayor said. “We charted a better course.”

But the purpose of Wednesday’s council meeting was for Emanuel to introduce his 2018 budget blueprint. The $8.6 billion plan would spend about $289 million more than this year. It includes a $1.10-a-month increase in the 911 phone tax — for cellphones and land lines — to balance the budget, and a 15-cent fee hike for Uber and Lyft rides to pay for CTA upgrades.

The mayor also wants to increase the amusement tax to 9 percent from 5 percent on concerts, comedy shows and plays in venues with more than 1,500 seats to raise $15.8 million a year. Ticket buyers at venues with 750 to 1,500 seats, who are now paying the 5 percent tax, wouldn’t have to anymore.

In addition, Chicago property owners will be hit with a previously approved $63 million city property tax increase next year, the fourth and final consecutive annual hike in that levy approved in 2015 to dramatically increase annual contributions to the pension funds for police officers and firefighters. That doesn’t include a total CPS tax increase of $224.5 million.

Taken together, those hikes could boost local property tax bills by more than $230, but a newly increased homeowners exemption approved in August by state lawmakers at Emanuel’s request would lower the bill on a $250,000 home by about $148 next year, city financial spokeswoman Molly Poppe said.

“Now is not the time to take our eye off the ball or become complacent. We must continue to build on the foundation of progress that we made together,” Emanuel said in his budget address.

Emanuel inherited a financial mess from former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has been an occasional target in Emanuel speeches, though not by name. That continued Wednesday.

“The days of fiscal smoke and mirrors are behind us. The days of selling off assets to balance the budget and pay Chicago’s bills are behind us,” said Emanuel, a reference to Daley’s unpopular selling of the city’s parking meters for an upfront cash infusion nearly a decade ago. “The days of raiding the rainy day fund to keep the city afloat are behind us.”

The 911 fee increase was authorized this year by the state and is a component of Emanuel’s budget even though his top spokesman said this year that the 2018 budget would not include “a citywide tax increase.” For a family with three telephone lines, though, the new 911 tax amounts to an additional $39.60 in taxes to the city next year. It comes after Emanuel and the City Council in 2014 raised that fee by $1.40 per month to the current $3.90, money he used to help shore up the city’s worker pension fund.

The current 52-cent fee on all trips arranged with ride-hailing apps would rise another 5 cents in 2019 after the 29 percent increase next year, Fields said. That’s expected to provide an extra $16 million for the CTA in the first year and $5 million more in the second, she said.

The Emanuel administration maintains that the ride-hailing industry has drained $40 million from city and other local government coffers, in part by shifting some commuters away from the CTA. Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins also said the the Uber fee increase was negotiated with “the ride-share industry.” Emanuel’s brother, Hollywood talent agency CEO Ari Emanuel, is an investor in Uber.

Things could have been worse for the ride-share companies. Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, who chairs the City Council Transportation Committee, was calling for a 50-cent per-ride increase. Uber spokeswoman Molly Spaeth released a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to the Emanuel budget plan, saying the company believes “that the future of urban transportation will be a mix of public transit and ride-sharing, and that by encouraging residents to use a variety of options, we can all ride together to build a better Chicago.”

Here’s how Emanuel will bridge a budget gap of about $288 million, including spending to hire new cops, continue Police Department reforms and pay Chicago Public Schools building security costs:

* In addition to about $30 million from the 911 tax hike, Emanuel expects $94 million in lower debt payments achieved through a new bond restructuring approved this year by state government, city Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown said.

* The mayor also plans to declare a $166.9 million surplus in tax increment finance district money. Out of that, the city will dedicate $66 million toward its commitment to pay $80 million in CPS building security costs, Fields said.

CPS gets nearly half of all TIF surplus money. The city keeps nearly one-fifth, with the rest going to other local governments like Cook County, the Chicago Park District and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

* The debt savings, TIF surplus and increased 911 and amusement taxes close about $215 million of the budget hole. Cost-cutting, better debt collection and expected growth in some revenue areas plug the rest.

Emanuel closed his speech with a pep talk that included references to the Great Chicago Fire, Barack Obama becoming president, former Education Secretary William Bennett’s description of CPS as the worst school system in the country, and even Mark Twain noting that Chicago “outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them.”

“Make no mistake about it. Rising to meet challenges is what Chicago does,” Emanuel said. “We reinvest. We reinvent. We reimagine what is possible and then go about making it a reality.”

bruthhart@chicagotribune.com

jebyrne@chicagotribune.com

hdardick@chicagotribune.com



A taxers gotta tax...

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:01 pm 
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Check kiting is the last step before insolvency.

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:07 pm 
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jack t ripper wrote:
Check kiting is the last step before insolvency.


Well, at least the people living in Cook County can use the money they saved from the recently repealed soda tax, to pay for the new/increased taxes from Mayor Emanuel. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:17 pm 
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Good thing Lake Michigan does not have hurricanes. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Illinois: Greece on Lake Michigan
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:55 pm 
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jack t ripper wrote:
Good thing Lake Michigan does not have hurricanes. :lol:


Well, no hurricanes but the Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, certainly are subject to storms:

Quote:
The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, historically referred to as the "Big Blow," the "Freshwater Fury," or the "White Hurricane," was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and the province of Ontario in Canada from November 7 through November 10, 1913. The storm was most powerful on November 9, battering and overturning ships on four of the five Great Lakes, particularly Lake Huron. Deceptive lulls in the storm and the slow pace of weather reports contributed to the storm's destructiveness.[1]

The deadliest and most destructive natural disaster to hit the lakes in recorded history,[2] the Great Lakes Storm killed more than 250 people,[3][4][5][6][7] destroyed 19 ships, and stranded 19 others. The financial loss in vessels alone was nearly US $5 million (or about $121,162,000 in today's dollars).[8] This included about $1 million at current value in lost cargo totalling about 68,300 tons, such as coal, iron ore, and grain.[9]

The storm, an extratropical cyclone, originated as the convergence of two major storm fronts, fueled by the lakes' relatively warm waters—a seasonal process called a "November gale". It produced 90 mph (145 km/h) wind gusts, waves over 35 feet (11 m) high, and whiteout snowsqualls. Analysis of the storm and its impact on humans, engineering structures, and the landscape led to better forecasting and faster responses to storm warnings, stronger construction (especially of marine vessels), and improved preparedness.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lakes_Storm_of_1913

Image

Image

Several of these ships were over 500 ft long and displaced more than 6-7,000 tons.

Those are some big ass ships.

Image
The 504-ft (154 m) Charles S. Price, upside down on the southern end of Lake Huron.

Quote:
The greatest damage was done on the lakes. Major shipwrecks occurred on all but Lake Ontario, with most happening on southern and western Lake Huron. Lake masters recounted that waves reached at least 35 feet (11 m) in height.

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