Illinois Senate

Signs Of The Time, Part 85

Monday at lunch I finally got the chance to read my Sunday paper. From the Chicago Tribune “Perspective” section, in the part entitled, “Voice Of The People”:

Do not allow silencers

I cannot believe that there is serious consideration to permitting gun silencers to be used by gun owners in Illinois. Anyone with an ounce of common sense will recognize that guns with silencers are the weapon of choice for assassins, terrorists and murderers. What would happen if a nut entered a school and starting shooting randomly with such a weapon? No noise to alert the rest of the teachers and children?

Two things came to mind when I saw the above:

1. The author has quite an imagination.

2. Yet another argument leaning heavily on emotion (plea for “common sense” is often a giveaway), but devoid of facts.

Emotionally-driven arguments. Very much a sign of the time.

But now the facts on this subject.

An ABC7 Chicago I-Team Investigation recently looked into suppressors as legislation legalizing such devices has been introduced in the Illinois House (HB0433) and Senate (SB0803). Chuck Goudie reported on the ABC7 website on April 30:

Silencers used by criminals on TV and in movies; this is how most people know of the device.

Sponsors of a bill to make them legal in Illinois say the Hollywood interpretation is pure fiction…

A 2007 study found silencer use in crime is rare…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Guns with silencers are the weapon of choice for assassins, terrorists and murderers.”

Whatever you say.

And all those “assassins, terrorists and murderers” will be lining up for silencers if they’re legalized in Illinois, right?

As I blogged back on February 11:

Firearm suppressors (or sound suppressors and silencers as they’re also known) are highly-regulated in the United States. J. Guthrie reported on the Guns & Ammo website back on May 13, 2012:

If you lived in Scotland, they would be required for hunting. If you lived in Finland you could saunter down to the local gun shop and buy one over the counter—one more reason to like Finland. In the U.S., suppressors are regulated by the National Firearms Act and you have to first make sure they are legal in your state, fill out a federal form and send it, a couple of photos and some fingerprints into the BATFE for approval. Once approved—the process can take six or seven months—the BATFE sends you a little stamp and some paperwork and you can take possession of the suppressor from you dealer. There are legal considerations for interstate transportation and transferring the suppressor too…

Just like most felons don’t acquire their firearms lawfully, neither will they be obtaining suppressors legally- particularly in a highly-regulated environment like the one that currently exists.

Fears of a proliferation of legally-manufactured, lawfully-obtained suppressors among the bad guys in the “Land of Lincoln” are unfounded.

As for the “Voice Of The People” on these devices? I sure as hell hope it isn’t.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Goudie, Chuck. “Are Gun Silencers A Threat To Safety?” ABC 7. 30 Apr. 2015. (http://abc7chicago.com/news/are-gun-silencers-a-threat-to-safety/689952/). 18 May 2015.

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Cook County Public Pension Fix Could Mean Property Tax Hike

Blog readers in Cook County, Illinois, should prepare themselves for the possibility of higher property taxes shortly. Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia reported on the Chicago Tribune website Friday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is trying to revive a plan to overhaul government worker pensions, with supporters arguing the proposal is vastly different from changes to state retirement benefits recently struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The proposal would cut benefits and raise retirement ages but also guarantee health care benefits for workers when they retire. It calls for the county to put almost $147 million more a year into the pension fund, though Preckwinkle continues to be vague about how she’ll fund that increase by repeatedly saying “all options are on the table.”

If the County Board chooses to foot the bill with a property tax increase, the average homeowner would pay up to $65 more a year starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained when Preckwinkle sought the same legislation last year.

That measure was approved by the Senate last year but stalled in the House. It is now scheduled to be heard by a panel of House lawmakers next week…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Readers shouldn’t be surprised about the prospect of higher property taxes. I blogged back on January 13:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also gave a speech yesterday in which she hinted at county residents having to make future sacrifices. John Byrne reported on the Chicago Tribune website Monday:

Preckwinkle gave a speech to the City Club of Chicago about her first-term achievements and laid out a blueprint for her second four years in office. Asked afterward about the likelihood she will be forced to raise taxes, Preckwinkle said only that it will be “a challenge” to meet the county’s financial obligations.

“We have significant challenges, both around the spike in our debt obligations and our pension obligations, and my charge to our chief financial officer is that he has to do everything he can to be creative in figuring out how to address these problems,” she said…

Preckwinkle crafted a $4 billion budget for 2015 that includes no new taxes, fines or fees. She has warned that the 2016 budget will be far trickier to balance because debt payments will increase and the county could need to come up with $144 million more to pay into the county workers retirement system if she gets the pension fund changes she has asked for from the General Assembly.

“I can’t predict now, because we don’t even have a pension bill, how much it’s going to cost or what it’s going to take, but it’s going to be a real challenge, I’ll say that,” she said Monday.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Garcia, Monique. “Preckwinkle tries again on Cook County pension changes.” Chicago Tribune. 15 May 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-pension-proposal-met-20150515-story.html). 17 May 2015.

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Chicago-Area Democrats Push To Expand ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban Throughout Illinois

After a federal court upheld an “assault weapons” ban by the City of Highland Park, gun “control” supporters in Chicago’s far north suburbs are trying to expand the ban on these military-pattern semi-automatic rifles throughout the state of Illinois- under the guise of “local control.” Deb McCarver reported on the Illinois Senate Democrats website Tuesday:

In response to a recent federal court ruling in support of Highland Park’s assault weapons ban, state Senator Julie Morrison introduced a measure to restore the right to ban assault weapons to every city and village in the state.

“This is about local control,” the Deerfield Democrat said. “Highland Park decided to protect its citizens by banning assault weapons. Every other city and village in Illinois should have that same right.”

The highly controversial 2013 law that allowed Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons also prohibited local governments from banning assault weapons…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to the “synopsis” of Illinois Senate Bill 2130:

the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Deletes provision that the regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons are exclusive powers and functions of this State. Deletes provision that any ordinance or regulation, or portion of that ordinance or regulation, that purports to regulate the possession or ownership of assault weapons in a manner that is inconsistent with the Act, shall be invalid unless the ordinance or regulation is enacted on, before, or within 10 days after the effective date of Public Act 98-63 (July 9, 2013). Deletes provision that any ordinance or regulation described in the stricken provision enacted more than 10 days after the effective date of Public Act 98-63 is invalid. Effective immediately…

This Tuesday I noted something Robert McCoppin reported on the Chicago Tribune website April 28. From his piece:

A federal court Monday upheld Highland Park’s ban on assault weapons — possibly setting the stage for a showdown over the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court…

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said he was confident the law could be overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court, but the National Rifle Association would have to decide whether to make a costly appeal.

“The Second Amendment is about the right to keep and bear arms,” Pearson said. “The government doesn’t get to pick the list.”

After Senator Morrison’s action- supported by Highland Park Mayor and Democratic candidate for Congress (10th Congressional District) Nancy Rotering (as evidenced later on in that McCarver piece)- don’t be surprised if an appeal is now launched by pro-gun rights forces- costs be damned.

As for Highland Park, which is making a strong bid for wrestling away the title of “Ground Zero for Gun ‘Control’” from Oak Park, Illinois, these days, I suspect they could be on the hook for some astronomical legal fees after all is said and done.

You can track the status of SB2130 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

McCarver, Deb. “Morrison: Illinois should let cities ban assault weapons.” Illinois Senate Democrats. 5 May 2015. (http://www.illinoissenatedemocrats.com/index.php?option=com_tag&task=tag&tag=sb2130). 7 May 2015.

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Illinois Democrat Introduces Statewide Gun Registration, Ammo ‘Control’ Bill

“A list, record, or registry of legally owned firearms or law-abiding firearm owners is not a law enforcement tool and can become an instrument for profiling, harassing, or abusing law-abiding citizens based on their choice to own a firearm and exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Further, such a list, record, or registry has the potential to fall into the wrong hands and become a shopping list for thieves.”

-State of Florida Statutes, 790.335 Prohibition of registration of firearms; electronic records

The push for more gun “control” is on the march in the “Land of Lincoln.”

Last year around this time, State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) spearheaded statewide gun registration and ammunition “control” in Illinois with HB4715. Creating the “Firearms Registration Act,” the legislation eventually went nowhere.

This time around, State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) is the torch-bearer of more gun and ammo “control” in the Midwestern state, filing the resurrected Firearms Registration Act legislation in the Senate (SB1413) on February 20. From a synopsis of the bill over on the Illinois General Assembly website:

Creates the Firearms Registration Act. Provides that every person in the State must register each firearm he or she owns or possesses in accordance with the Act. Provides that a person shall not purchase or possess ammunition within this State without having first obtained a registration certificate identifying a firearm that is suitable for use with that ammunition, or a receipt demonstrating that the person has applied to register a suitable firearm under the Act and that the application is pending. Provides that the Department of State Police must complete a background check of any person who applies for: (1) a registration certificate for a firearm that was lawfully owned or possessed on the effective date of the Act, was brought into the State by a new resident, or was acquired by operation of law upon the death of the former owner; or (2) a renewal of a registration certificate unless, within 12 months of the date the renewal application is submitted, the applicant passed a background check conducted by the Department in connection with the applicant’s acquisition of another firearm. Provides exceptions. Amends the Criminal Code of 2012. Provides that it is a Class 2 felony to sell or transfer ownership of a firearm to another person without complying with the registration requirement of the Firearms Registration Act.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Before Illinois gun owners dismiss the chances of such legislation becoming law in the state, it should be noted that:

• 2014 was as an election year for state senators and representatives
• Illinois Democrats maintain a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly in 2015- 71 Democrats to 46 Republicans in the House and 39 Democrats to 20 Republicans in the Senate
• A future mass shooting along the lines of Newtown or some other mass casualty event on American soil “featuring” firearms could be all it takes for the public to get behind the Firearms Registration Act

For more information about Illinois Senate Bill 1413 and to track its status, you can visit the Illinois General Assembly website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Bill Would Legalize Firearm Suppressor Use

“By definition, the primary role of a suppressor is to reduce the overall sound signature of the host firearm to hearing safe levels. They do so by trapping the expanding gasses at the muzzle and allowing them to slowly cool, in a similar fashion to car mufflers. Their muffling capabilities intrinsically make them a hearing protection device for both the shooter and those around them.”

-American Suppressor Association website

Illinois firearm owners might be interested in the following. Brian Brueggemann reported on the Belleville News-Democrat website last Friday:

Hunters and other shooting enthusiasts would be allowed to have silencers on their guns under a bill filed in the Illinois legislature.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said gun owners want silencers for a simple reason: to avoid hearing loss.

“There are a lot of veterans, a lot of hunters and shooters, who have suffered hearing loss,” Phelps said.

Phelps acknowledged that gun opponents are likely to challenge the bill.

“I’m used to that. They said that about concealed-carry — they said everybody was going to be running around shooting each other, like the wild west,” Phelps said. “That’s the movies.”

Firearm suppressors (or sound suppressors and silencers as they’re also known) are highly-regulated in the United States. J. Guthrie reported on the Guns & Ammo website back on May 13, 2012:

If you lived in Scotland, they would be required for hunting. If you lived in Finland you could saunter down to the local gun shop and buy one over the counter—one more reason to like Finland. In the U.S., suppressors are regulated by the National Firearms Act and you have to first make sure they are legal in your state, fill out a federal form and send it, a couple of photos and some fingerprints into the BATFE for approval. Once approved—the process can take six or seven months—the BATFE sends you a little stamp and some paperwork and you can take possession of the suppressor from you dealer. There are legal considerations for interstate transportation and transferring the suppressor too…

The suppressor legislation sponsored by Phelps is Illinois House Bill 433 (you can check on its status here). State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) has filed the same bill in the Senate.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Brueggemann, Brian. “Bill would allow Illinois gun owners to use silencers.” Belleville News-Democrat. 6 Feb. 2015. (http://www.bnd.com/2015/02/06/3649514_bill-would-allow-illinois-gun.html?rh=1). 11 Feb. 2015.

Guthrie, J. “G&A Basics: How Suppressors Work.” Guns & Ammo. 13 May 2012. (http://www.gunsandammo.com/gear-accessories/suppressors/ga-basics-how-suppressors-work/). 11 Feb. 2015.

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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 Firearms, Gun Rights, Health, Hunting, Legal, Shooting Sports No Comments

U.S. Senator Michelle Obama (D-IL)?

“SUPER WIN FOR CHICAGO AND AMERICA!”

-Comment on website of Chicago NBC affiliate Channel 5 tonight regarding speculation surrounding a U.S. Senate run by First Lady Michelle Obama

Could First Lady Michelle Obama be our next United States Senator here in Illinois?

I spotted the following on The Great Debate blog on Reuters.com earlier this evening. Keith Koffler wrote last night:

Speculation about a possible political future for Michelle Obama has naturally centered on the White House. But that’s the wrong place — at least for now.

Illinois has a Republican senator, Mark Kirk, and he is up for reelection in 2016. He’ll be formidable, particularly given his brave recovery from a stroke. But Illinois is a heavily Democratic state, and the race could be close.

No Illinois Democratic candidate would bring the star power and nationwide fundraising capacity that Obama would.

She has proven herself a superb speaker on behalf of her pet projects and is now a veteran campaigner for her husband. She’s also remained highly popular — even as the president’s ratings have plummeted.

She could represent the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a desperately needed — and winnable — seat. A December 2012 Public Policy Polling survey put her ahead of Kirk, 51 percent to 40 percent. Democratic leaders’ pressure on her to run might get intense…

Personally, I believe that if Mrs. Obama runs for Senator Kirk’s seat, she might just win it.

Nothing against Kirk. But Koffler isn’t kidding when says the “Land of Lincoln” is a heavily Democratic state. A super-majority in both the Illinois House and Senate attests to that. And there’s always “The Machine,” which is still in good working order in Chicago.

That’s not the say the city or state is, though.

I previously thought the Obamas would bid farewell to the “Windy City” after POTUS leaves the Oval Office. But if Michelle decides a Senate seat is something she wants, then it could be several more years still…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Koffler, Keith. “Is Michelle running for the Senate?” The Great Debate. 4 Jun. 2014. (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/06/05/is-michelle-running-for-the-senate/). 5 Jun. 2014.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2014 Government, Political Parties 2 Comments

Chicago’s Monthly Phone Tax To Rise 56 Percent?

New and higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

That’s what Chicagoans should expect going forward considering the city’s fiscal health and who’s running the show.

Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday: Chicago wants to raise the monthly fee tacked on to hardline telephone and cell phone bills by 56 percent — to $3.90…

(Editor’s note: “After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday…” Beautifully worded; bold added for emphasis.)

Spielman continued:

Instead of simply asking the General Assembly to renew a $2.50-a-month surcharge due to expire July 1, cash-strapped Chicago is seizing the opportunity to get more money — by asking state lawmakers to raise the cap to “the highest monthly wireline surcharge imposed by any county or municipality” in Illinois.

The highest monthly telephone tax around the state is the $3.90 imposed in Putnam County. Under the bill Emanuel is hoping to push through in the waning days of the Legislature’s spring session, Chicago would be empowered to match that $3.90 — and go higher if any other city or town goes first.

The new and higher tax would apply to both cell phone bills and wireline phones, according to a summary sheet of the legislation distributed by City Hall. The bill would also empower the city raise the fee imposed on prepaid cell phones from the current “seven percent of the transaction amount” to nine percent…

According to Spielman, a 56 percent increase in the monthly phone tax would generate an additional $50.4 million for the City’s coffers.

John Byrne, Monique Garcia, and Ray Long added on the Chicago Tribune website Thursday:

Emanuel’s late push for a measure that would allow the City Council to raise 911 fees by as much as $1.40, which could bring the monthly charge on landline and cell phone bills to $3.90 a month, cleared its first hurdle in the Senate.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the increase was needed because the current $2.50 fee isn’t raising enough money to pay for operating the city’s emergency response center, forcing the Emanuel administration to dip into other pots of money to keep it running. How much more the fee hike would bring in depends on whether aldermen vote to increase the fee and to what level.

The city collected about $90 million last year through the current $2.50-per-month phone fee, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. This year’s budget for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications is $123 million. Quinn did not directly answer whether the mayor wants to raise the 911 fee to an amount that will bring in more revenue than the city needs to cover the OEMC budget or how the city would use any extra revenue

Let’s see. Assuming the City of Chicago collects the same amount ($90 million) as last year from their monthly phone tax, adding the projected $50.4 million from a 56 percent hike totals just over $140 million. That’s enough to pay for OEMC operations plus tax- although something tells me that’s probably not where all the money would be steered to.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Emanuel seeks 56 percent hike in telephone tax.” Chicago Sun-Times. 29 May 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/emanuel-seeks-56-percent-hike-telephone-tax/thu-05292014-434pm). 30 May 2014.

Byrne, John, Garcia, Monique and Long, Ray. “Emanuel makes late push to raise 911 fees paid by those own landlines, cell phones.” Chicago Tribune. 29 May 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-emanuel-makes-late-push-to-raise-911-fees-paid-by-those-own-landlines-cell-phones-20140529,0,6958184.story). 30 May 2014.

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Comprehensive Anti-Gun Legislation Introduced In Illinois

Last night, I received the following e-mail from the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA):

Illinois: Anti-Gunner “Wish List” Legislation Introduced

This week, Senate Bill 3659, misnamed the “Illinois Public Safety Act,” was introduced by notorious anti-gun state Senator Dan Kotowski (D-28). SB 3659 seeks to ban the possession, delivery, sale and purchase of many semi-automatic firearms and accessories, as well as .50 caliber rifles and cartridges unless the items have been previously owned and registered within an arbitrary period of time. SB 3659 would also amend the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act to require background checks for private transfers of firearms, except those between family members, and would restrict magazine limits to those with a capacity of 15 rounds and smaller.

SB 3659 embodies the anti-gunner “wish list” in Illinois. This legislation is a comprehensive anti-gun package which echoes the unconstitutional legislation passed in New York and Connecticut last year. The laws passed in those states are currently subject to lawsuits due to their significant infringement on Second Amendment rights.

With the 2014 legislative session winding down, this bill has not yet been assigned to a policy committee. However, your NRA-ILA will continue to keep you updated when more information is available on this legislation.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Graduated Income Tax Plan To Be Voted On Tuesday

Next week, the Illinois Senate looks to be taking up the issue of income taxes. Rick Pearson reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

A key Democratic state senator said Thursday he will seek a vote Tuesday on his controversial plan to ask voters to amend the state constitution to replace Illinois’ flat-rate income tax with a graduated tax based on the amount of income earned.

“We understand it is a difficult choice, but we’re simply asking that the voters be allowed to weigh in and make a decision about tax policy and how Illinois should tax income,” Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park said during an appearance between proponents and opponents of the plan before the Tribune editorial board…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Opponents claim a graduated income tax would just be a substitute for the expiring temporary income tax hike Illinois Democrats pushed through at the beginning of 2011. I blogged back on January 13, 2011:

The legislation that was pushed through by Democratic lawmakers, who have controlled Illinois state government since 2003, hikes the 3 percent personal income tax rate to 5 percent until 2015, when the rate is supposed to drop to 3.75 percent…

As for the chances of the graduated income tax becoming reality? Pearson added:

Prospects for achieving a three-fifths vote of senators in the Democratic-controlled chamber are considered good, getting the same super-majority in the Democratic-led House is believed questionable at best…

Still- any Illinois readers out there not liking the proposed changes should contact their state legislators ASAP.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Pearson, Rick. “Illinois graduated income tax vote next week.” Chicago Tribune. 25 Apr. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-illinois-graduated-income-tax-vote-next-week-20140424,0,3929251.story). 25 Apr. 2015.income tax

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Chicago Public Pension Crisis Latest

Last Tuesday, I blogged about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to address some of the City’s public pension woes via larger contributions by City employees and $50 million tax increases for five straight years- beginning next year and continuing through 2019- for Chicago property owners.

There’s been a lot of chatter regarding this proposal and other pension “reform” activity today. Karen Pierog reported on the Reuters website:

Legislation to ease funding shortfalls in two of Chicago’s four retirement systems is a modestly positive credit step but not a permanent fix, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday

Moody’s said that if enacted into law, the measure would immediately reduce the unfunded liabilities in the two funds.

“However, we expect that the (liability) would then escalate for a number of years before declining. Accrued liabilities would exceed plan assets for years to come, and if annual investment returns fall short of the assumed 7.5 percent, the risk of plan insolvency may well reappear,” the credit rating agency said in a report…

After breezing through an Illinois House committee on April 2, the bill has stalled. Moody’s said that even if the bill makes it out of the legislature, Governor Pat Quinn must sign it. The law would then face potential challenges to its legality under the Illinois constitution, which prohibits the impairment of retirement benefits for public sector workers…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So will the Illinois Governor and fellow Chicago Democrat sign off on Mayor Emanuel’s proposed legislation?

John Byrne and Monique Garcia reported on the Chicago Tribune website this afternoon:

Gov. Pat Quinn today came out against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to raise Chicago property taxes and cut retirement benefits as a way to shore up some of Chicago’s government worker pension systems.

The re-election seeking Democratic governor called the bill floating around Springfield “a sketch” that “kept changing by the hour” and blasted the property tax as a “lousy tax” because it is not based on the ability to pay…

“I don’t think that’s a good way to go,” Quinn said of hiking property taxes. “And I say it today and I’ll say it tomorrow, they’ve got to come up with a much better comprehensive approach to deal with this issue. But if they just think they are going to gouge property tax owners, no can do. We’re not going to go that way.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now, as I pointed out in last week’s post about Chicago’s public pension crisis:

There’s still a state-required $600 million contribution due next year from the City to stabilize police and fire pension funds that this proposed property tax hike doesn’t address and has to be dealt with…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Plus, I read the following this morning by Chacour Koop on the website of The State Journal-Register (Springfield):

After addressing Illinois’ own employee pension crisis, lawmakers now face an equally challenging task with the state’s cities, as mayors demand help with underfunded police and firefighter pensions before the growing cost “chokes” budgets and forces local tax increases.

The nine largest cities in Illinois after Chicago have a combined $1.5 billion in unfunded debt to public safety workers’ pension systems. Police and fire retirement funds for cities statewide have an average of just 55 percent of the money needed to meet current obligations to workers and retirees…

The problems — a history of underfunding, the expansion of job benefits and the prospect of crushing future payments — mirror those that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned about when he asked the legislature for relief last week.

In 2016, state law requires cities to make required contribution increases — in some cases, more than an additional $1 million annually — so they’ll reach 90 percent funding by 2040. If they don’t, the state will begin doing it for them, diverting grant money now used by cities elsewhere directly into the pension funds…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Just like the Illinois General Assembly- dominated by Democrats- barely passed legislation on December 3, 2013, that was touted as a “fix” for the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis (it isn’t), something tells me an accommodation may be reached with fellow Democrats running the City of Chicago so they don’t have to pay the full amount of the state-required $600 million contribution due next year to stabilize police and fire pension funds.

That goes for those large Illinois communities as well.

Watch all the back-patting go on should that “fix” materialize as well.

And the inevitable “blowback” down the road.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

UPDATE: From Fran Spielman over on the Chicago Sun-Times website early Tuesday morning:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and House Speaker Michael Madigan Monday stripped out controversial language from city pension legislation that had authorized the City Council to impose a property-tax hike, putting the stalled measure back on the fast-track at the state Capitol.

Madigan, D-Chicago, filed an amendment to Senate Bill 1922 after the House adjourned Monday without taking any action on the stalled legislation. Sources now expect the legislation to be voted upon as early as Tuesday.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sources:

Pierog, Karen. “UPDATE 1-Proposed Chicago pension changes positive step but no fix -Moody’s.” Reuters. 7 Apr. 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/07/usa-chicago-moodys-idUSL2N0MZ1AP20140407). 7 Apr. 2014.

Byrne, John and Garcia, Monique. “Quinn blasts Emanuel’s property tax hike for pensions.” Chicago Tribune. 7 Apr. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-quinn-blasts-emanuels-property-tax-hike-for-pensions-20140407,0,5432729.story). 7 Apr. 2014.

Koop, Chacour. “Illinois’ next pension issue: Police, firefighter funds.” Associated Press. 6 Apr. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140406/NEWS/140409562/-1/json/?tag=1). 7 Apr. 2014.

Spielman, Fran. “Analysis: Rahm’s pension bill revisions solve—and create—problems.” Chicago Sun-Times. 8 Apr. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/analysis-rahm%E2%80%99s-pension-bill-revisions-solve%E2%80%94and-create%E2%80%94problems/mon-04072014-728pm). 8 Apr. 2014.

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Illinois Millionaire Tax Moves Out Of Committee, Goes To House For Vote

This Monday, I blogged about Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) pushing for an income tax hike on the estimated 13,000 or so millionaires residing in the state.

The proposed legislation is making progress in the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly. Doug Finke reported on The State Journal-Register (Springfield) website last night:

An Illinois House committee Thursday signed off on a measure that would allow voters to decide if millionaires should pay more in state income taxes…

The committee voted along party lines to approve the proposed constitutional amendment by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, that would impose a 3 percent surtax on incomes above $1 million. Income up to $1 million would continue to be taxed at the state’s personal income tax rate, currently set at 5 percent…

The proposed amendment now goes to the full House, which must approve it by a three-fifths vote. The Senate will then have to approve it by the same margin for the issue to appear on the November ballot

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Opponents of the tax hike claim it not only unfairly penalizes successful residents of the state, but hurts everyone else in that it may drive away wealth from Illinois.

Speaker Madigan’s response? He was quoted by the Chicago Tribune last Friday as saying:

Well, if they’re in Illinois today, they’re probably so much in love with Illinois that they’re not going to leave.

Eye-roll please…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Finke, Doug. “Millionaire tax amendment advances to House; progressive income tax rejected.” The State Journal-Register. 27 Mar. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140327/NEWS/140329457/-1/json/?tag=2). 28 Mar. 2014.

Garcia, Monique, Long, Ray, and Zurich, Maura. “Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme.” Chicago Tribune. 21 Mar. 2014. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-21/news/chi-speaker-madigan-proposes-asking-voters-to-raise-taxes-on-wealthy-20140320_1_tax-hike-bruce-rauner-income). 24 Mar. 2014.

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Wisconsin Cuts Taxes While Illinois Looks To Make 2011 ‘Temporary’ Tax Hikes Permanent

Throughout the years, I’ve known/met a number of Illinois residents who can’t stand Wisconsin. Mostly from the Chicago area, they equate Wisconsin and its residents as being unsophisticated clowns.

I wonder if they haven’t noticed by now that the only circus around is in the “Land of Lincoln.”

While Illinois falls deeper into an economic abyss (public pension fix my butt), Wisconsin seems to have gotten their finances under control and look to be on the path to prosperity.

So much so they’re cutting taxes. Again.

Patrick Marley and Jason Stein reported on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website Monday afternoon:

Lowering taxes for the third time in less than a year, Gov. Scott Walker signed his $541 million tax cut bill in a ceremony Monday at a farm in Cecil as he travels through central and northern Wisconsin touting it.

Speaking at Horsens Homestead Farms, about 35 miles northwest of Green Bay, Walker called it a great day for Wisconsin taxpayers and a sign of the state’s shifting financial fortunes in recent years.

“Now, instead of billion dollar budget deficits, we have a surplus — and today that money is on its way to the workers, parents, seniors, property owners, veterans, job creators and others. You deserve to keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible — because after all, it is your money,” Walker said.

With growing tax collections now expected to give the state a $1 billion budget surplus in June 2015, Walker’s tax proposal will cut property and income taxes for families and businesses, and zero out all income taxes for manufacturers in the state.

Though the state’s tax revenue is increasing, GOP lawmakers and Walker are trimming state spending slightly for the next three years rather than increasing it

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Meanwhile, across the Cheddar Curtain in Illinois there’s this on the website of The State Journal-Register (Springfield). Doug Finke reported Friday:

Hundreds of employees would be laid off, state facilities would be closed and thousands of prison inmates released without supervision, state agency directors told senators Friday during a hearing to gauge the effect of possibly severe spending cuts next year.

During a more than three-hour joint hearing of the two Senate Appropriations committees, agency after agency warned of drastic consequences should they be forced to cut their current budgets by 20 percent.

“There would be extreme consequences for the economy across Illinois,” warned Ben Winick of Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office. “Over a dozen state facilities would have to close. Thousands of state employees would have to be laid off.”

The hearing occurred just days before Quinn is scheduled to finally deliver his budget outline for the fiscal year that starts July 1…

Translated? Illinois residents, this is what will happen if you don’t support making the Democrat-led temporary 67 percent personal income tax hike and 46 percent corporate income tax hike implemented in January 2011 permanent next year.

I hear Governor Quinn will be delivering his budget plan tomorrow.

Instead of ridiculing Wisconsin, us FIBs (F***ing Illinois Bastards as we’re known by up there) might want to start emulating our neighbors to the north in certain respects before we completely destroy Illinois.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Marley, Patrick and Stein, Jacob. “Scott Walker signs tax cut legislation.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 24 Mar. 2014. (http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/scott-walker-set-to-sign-tax-cut-legislation-b99231851z1-251936261.html). 24 Mar. 2014.

Finke, Doug. “State agencies outline cuts if forced to make 20% reductions.” The State Journal-Register. 21 Mar. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140321/NEWS/140329821). 24 Mar. 2014.

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Illinois Gun Owners To March, Lobby In State Capital Tomorrow

Wendesday, March 5, is Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day, or IGOLD. From the Illinois State Rifle Association website this morning:

All Illinois gun owners are invited to join in Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD) in Springfield in 2014. This is an annual event where everyone goes to lobby` their representatives in the Illinois House and Senate. IGOLD is sponsored by ISRA and IllinoisCarry.com. Other participating organizations are, Guns Save Life, Sangamon County Rifle Association, and the McHenry County Right To Carry Association. Get your local organization involved as well!

We will meet at the Prairie Capital Convention Center – Doors open at 10:45 with the program set to begin at 11:30 am. We will have a legislative briefing, then we will all march to the Capitol Building to locate and talk with our representatives.

Please join us for Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day, you won’t regret going…

More information on tomorrow’s event is located on the ISRA website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thoughts On Illinois State Lawmakers Passing Public Pension ‘Fix’

The Illinois General Assembly barely passed legislation yesterday that’s been touted to “fix” the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign SB0001, declared in a press release Tuesday:

Since I took the oath of office, I’ve pushed relentlessly for a comprehensive pension reform solution that would erase a $100 billion liability and restore fiscal stability to Illinois.

Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won.

Not so fast, big guy.

First off, as I blogged yesterday, the Wall Street Journal recently picked apart the legislative “fix,” and concluded not only was it “fake” but:

Even under the most optimistic forecasts, these nips and tucks would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion- which is where it was after Governor Quinn signed de minimis fixes in spring 2010 to get him past that year’s election…

Second, this legislation is almost certainly headed to court, as in the Illinois Supreme Court. As I noted on December 1, a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution defines public pension benefits as “an enforceable contractual relationship” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

Even the top-ranking Democrat in the Illinois Senate wonders if SB0001 can pass legal muster. Ray Long and Monique Garcia reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Senate President John Cullerton, whose earlier union-backed plan to curb pension spending was stymied by House Speaker Michael Madigan, said he remained concerned that the package passed by lawmakers violated a state constitutional ban on diminishing or impairing public pension benefits.

Cullerton, whose Senate Democrats had been viewed as closer to the unions than Madigan’s House majority, said he viewed it important to get something before the courts to decide whether the approach is legal.

“I think the bill has serious constitutional problems, I’ve made that clear from the start, but now it’s in front of the court and they can decide,” Cullerton said.

And decide they will, meaning this supposed “fix” for the state’s public pension crisis might eventually amount to nothing.

I thought Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times summed it all up well. Brown wrote on the Sun-Times website yesterday afternoon from Springfield:

Oh, how I wish I could tell you that the long fight to fix Illinois’ grossly underfunded public pension plans was at an end with Tuesday’s historic votes by the state Legislature.

But that wouldn’t be true.

First, there will be a court challenge — or more likely challenges — brought by state workers, teachers and their retirees, along with the unions that represent them.

And before those cases can even work their way through the system, state lawmakers will have to decide in early 2014 how they are going to handle Chicago’s pension problems — beginning with those of city teachers.

Other local officials, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are clamoring for pension relief as well, which will combine with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s priorities to keep the issue on the front burner.

If the courts strike down the pension reform plan approved Tuesday on narrow votes by both chambers, or even if they rule out parts of it, we could be back here within a year or two to start over.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

What transpired Tuesday in the Illinois General Assembly might be a first step in “fixing” the state’s public pension crisis, but much more work and sacrifice will eventually be required to arrive at a real solution.

Question is, is the will even there among Illinoisans and their elected state officials to do this?

I kind of doubt it.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Garcia, Monique and Long, Ray. “Unions vow legal fight as lawmakers OK pension overhaul.” Chicago Tribune. 4 Dec. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-illinois-pension-vote-20131203,0,5070497.story). 4 Dec. 2013.

Brown, Mike. “Brown: State’s financial problems far from over.” Chicago Sun-Times. 3 Dec. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/24156150-761/brown-states-financial-problems-far-from-over.html). 4 Dec. 2013.

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Revised Illinois Gun Crime Penalties Bill Could Still Cost $549 Million Over 10 Years

Illinois readers- remember that legislation at the state level that’s been backed by the Emanuel administration in Chicago and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez that would have raised mandatory minimum prison sentences for gun crimes and require offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentences? I understand it’s been revised.

Still, a major roadblock remains.

From the Associated Press this morning:

Illinois prison officials say revised legislation stiffening penalties for gun crimes would still cost hundreds of millions of dollars and add inmates to the crowded correctional system.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports the figures come from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The agency says the latest version of the gun bill would add nearly 2,500 inmates to the state’s prison system and cost another $549 million over 10 years. That covers operating and construction costs.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Another $549 million over 10 years.”

Remember- this projection is coming from a State of Illinois agency.

If these figures are kosher, this legislation will be incredibly hard to justify in light of the State’s serious financial problems.

Anyway, I thought Illinois law already mandates a minimum 15-year sentence when a person with a firearm commits any felony offense and a minimum 1-year sentence for unlicensed gun possession and licensed possession of a loaded gun? At least that’s what Illinois State Senator and Illinois Senate Criminal Law Committee member Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), said in a Chicago Tribune commentary back on October 23.

Sources:

“Revised gun bill still could be costly, prison officials say.” Associated Press. 19 Nov. 2013. (http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x529851355/Revised-gun-bill-still-could-be-costly-prison-officials-say). 19 Nov. 2013.

Van Pelt, Patricia. “Mandatory minimum sentences well-meaning but ineffective.” Chicago Tribune. 23 Oct. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-1023-guns-20131023,0,4533465.story). 19 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 Crime, Debt Crisis, Firearms, Government, Legal No Comments


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