property taxes

Illinois Governor Talks Taxes In Budget Address

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R-Winnetka) gave his third budget speech on Wednesday, saying the following regarding taxes:

As for revenue, we’ve always said that we’d consider revenue if it comes with changes that create jobs and grow the economy.

The current Senate proposal calls for a permanent increase in the income tax rate but offers only a temporary property tax freeze in exchange. That’s just not fair to hard-working taxpayers across the state.

We need a permanent property tax freeze in Illinois, just like the one the House passed last month. Over time, as our economy grows and revenues expand, any increase in the income tax could be stepped down – dedicating future surpluses to taxpayers, not more government spending.

The current Senate proposal would expand the state’s sales tax to cover everyday services, and raise taxes on food and drugs. We’re open to a broader sales tax base to mirror neighboring states like Wisconsin, but let’s make sure it’s best for the people of Illinois, not for the lobbyists in Springfield. We cannot raise taxes on people’s groceries and medicine – just as we cannot tax people’s retirement incomes. We can find a way to balance the budget without hurting lower-income families and fixed-income seniors…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In short, Governor Rauner appears to be open to raising the state income tax rate as long as a permanent property tax freeze is implemented. Furthermore, Rauner looks to be open to expanding the state sales tax to various services, but is against raising taxes on food, medicine, and retirement income.

You can read the entire budget address on the Illinois Government News Network website here.

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

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Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Recognizes ‘Illinois Diaspora’

“You mean that oft-repeated yarn about the state’s population loss being predominantly due to residents being fed up with our winters and moving to warmer destinations like Florida and Arizona isn’t true?”

Survival And Prosperity post yesterday afternoon regarding 86,000 Illinoisans “escaping” to Wisconsin from 2006 to 2015 (hat-tip Illinois Policy Institute)

I had to chuckle when I spotted the following on the Chicago Tribune website this afternoon. The Tribune Editorial Board penned last night:

Property taxes here are among the highest in the nation. And certain parts of the state aren’t just jobs deserts, they’re becoming depopulated deserts. More people moved away from Illinois during the last two years than from any other state in the country. Many moved to other Midwestern states. So don’t repeat the lie that it’s the weather.

Here’s what else a prospective employer sees in Illinois: No state budget in nearly two years. A credit rating nearing junk status. Inability to pay bills as they come due, a basic definition of insolvency. And political impasse in the General Assembly. An attempt at compromise legislation to get a budget passed hit a snag in the Senate on Wednesday. Senators, keep working…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Great minds think alike?

Nope. Not at all. Just very concerned Illinois residents who have arrived at the same conclusion regarding where this is all heading if Springfield and voters can’t get their act together. Like, yesterday.

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

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Moody’s On Chicago Public Schools Crisis: Consider Tax Levy, Pension Contribution Stoppage, Or Bankruptcy

“Chicago and New York rank at the bottom of a new analysis of fiscal strength based primarily on data from 2015 financial reports issued by the cities themselves. The analysis includes 116 U.S. cities with populations greater than 200,000.

Chicago’s position at the bottom of the ranking is no surprise to anyone who follows municipal finance. The Windy City has become a poster child for financial mismanagement, having suffered a series of ratings downgrades in recent years. Aside from having thin reserves and large volumes of outstanding debt, Chicago is notorious for its underfunded pension plans…”

The Fiscal Times, January 9, 2107

Moody’s Investors Service recently weighed in on Chicago’s well-publicized financial crisis. Last Thursday its Global Credit Research division published the following on the Moody’s website:

While unfunded pension liabilities will continue weighing on the City of Chicago’s (Ba1 negative) credit profile, plans to significantly increase contributions with higher taxes is a favorable departure from prior funding practices. However, the liquidity crisis at Chicago Public Schools (CPS — B3 negative) is worsening amid a continued budget impasse at the state level, Moody’s Investors Service says in two new research reports released today…

In “City of Chicago: Frequently Asked Questions,” Moody’s says despite the city’s expanding economy, revenue growth, and healthy liquidity, its pension burden is likely to remain among the highest of any rated, major local government for many years.

“While Chicago’s recent tax increases will provide revenue to significantly increase pension funding, the city’s unfunded pension liabilities exceed seven times its revenue and are projected to grow for at least 15 more years,” says Matt Butler, Vice President of Moody’s…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The well-known credit rating agency added this about the city’s public school system:

In a separate report, “Chicago Public Schools: Frequently Asked Questions,” Moody’s states CPS’ fiscal pressures are intensifying due to depletion of reserves following years of imbalanced operations, unrealistic budget assumptions, and escalating pension costs…

Moody’s says CPS could consider more difficult options to address its finances should the State of Illinois (Baa2 negative) be unable or unwilling to provide additional relief: levy for debt service on GO alternate revenue bonds, stop making employer pension contributions, or seek state authorization to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

MarketWatch news editor Rachel Koning Beals expanded on Moody’s suggestions for dealing with the CPS situation. She wrote Saturday:

Moody’s has a revised shortlist of painful fixes for the public school system in Chicago.

One idea is to approve another increasingly politically unpopular property-tax levy to pay off debt, as the nation’s third-largest school district just issued another batch of high-interest bonds.

The second idea from the credit-ratings agency is to skip a pension payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, which would come just months after the district and its teacher‘s union hammered out an 11th-hour contract to avoid a second labor strike in a span of four years.

And last resort? Just declare bankruptcy already

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Who’s the say the City will act on any of these suggestions (at least, right away)? That being said, Chicago taxpayers and CPS employees/retirees might want to take heed of all this.

Head on over to the Moody’s Investors Service website here to read the entire release from the Global Credit Research division. It ain’t pretty.

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

Source:

Koning Beals, Rachel. “Maybe Chicago schools should declare bankruptcy and get it over with, says Moody’s.” MarketWatch. 14 Jan. 2017. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/maybe-chicago-schools-should-declare-bankruptcy-and-get-it-over-with-says-moodys-2017-01-13). 16 Jan. 2017.

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2017 Tax Hits To Chicagoans

“Broken record” time.

“New/higher fees, fines, and taxes, and less government services.”

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity (and older ones from my Boom2Bust days) know I’ve been warning about this for years now (since 2008?) concerning Chicago- as well as Cook County, Illinois, and lots of other places aroud the country.

And it’s pretty much what has transpired from what I’ve seen.

Particularly in the “Windy City”- where the hits keep on coming. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Chicago property owners hoping for a respite from rapidly rising taxes will be disappointed in 2017, when city government and Chicago Public Schools will continue digging deeper into their pocketbooks.

Two more major property tax increases are coming. So is a new tax on water and sewer service. And some city dwellers will face other rising costs: a fee for each store-provided disposable bag and slightly higher Park District fees.

Come mid-year, city and suburban residents will be paying a new sweetened beverage tax effective in all of Cook County, and another round of Metra fare hikes is coming soon. Here’s a look at what to expect…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dardick did a good job summarizing the dents Chicagoans (and Chicagoland residents) could expect to their finances in the new year. Head on over to the Tribune website here to get the entire story.

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

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Taxing Time For Chicagoans

The elections are over. So it’s time for “higher/new fees, fines, and taxes,” as I routinely point out in Survival And Prosperity.

Chicagoans found out yesterday what kind of impact City Hall’s latest “revenue enhancements” will have on their personal finances. Julian Crews, Dan Ponce, and Dana Rebik reported on the WGN-TV Chicago website Wednesday:

The Chicago City Council voted unanimously to pass Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $8.2 billion 2017 budget Wednesday…

For taxpayers, the hardest pill to swallow in the budget may be a nearly 30 percent increase on water and sewer bills. The hike will be phased in over four years, and is expected to raise nearly $240 million to help shore up the municipal workers pension fund.

But the big impact to taxpayers will come in the form of a tiered increase in property taxes to fund police and fire pensions approved by the Council last year.

Other new fees include:

7-cent fee for all plastic AND paper bags to encourage people to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
3.5 percent amusement tax for tickets to concerts, sporting events and musicals…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Crews, Ponce, and Rebik also pointed out coming higher fees with parking rates downtown, around Wrigleyville, and at both Midway and O’Hare airports. More parking meters will be popping up in the Loop and in city neighborhoods as well.

Anyone who’s been paying attention might have observed a disturbing trend lately with Chicago’s fees/fines/hikes. John Byrne and Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

The average family will pay nearly $1,700 more a year to the city and Chicago Public Schools than they did before the mayor took office in 2011 once all of Emanuel’s tax and fee increases take full effect. There’s been a series of property tax hikes. There was a water and sewer rate increase, plus a new tax on top of that. Not to mention a new garbage hauling fee, 911 phone tax hike, vehicle sticker fee increase and a tax on cable television…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“$1,700 more a year… than they did before the mayor office in 2011”

Ouch. Byrne and Dardick added:

Even with all of that, taxpayers may be asked for more money in the coming years. Emanuel’s plans for shoring up long-neglected city worker pension funds will require the city to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars more by the early to mid-2020s

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In the meantime, the reporters calculated the “typical” Chicago homeowner ($250,000 residence) can expect to see their tax bill rise another $400 in 2017.

As a former resident of Chicago, I can understand why people would want to live there. That being said, Chicagoans have been required to “pay to play.” And that trend might not be their friend if that Tribune analysis plays out.

For those choosing to remain in the “City By The Lake,” it might be wise for these individuals to take a good, hard look at their finances to figure out if they can keep residing there should the cost of living continue its upwards trajectory.

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

Sources:

Crews, Julian, Ponce, Dan, and Rebik, Dana. “City Council unanimously passes $8.2 billion budget, including new taxes and fees.” WGN-TV Chicago. 16 Nov. 2016. (http://wgntv.com/2016/11/16/chicago-city-council-expected-to-pass-mayors-2017-budget-today/). 17 Nov. 2016.

Byrne, John and Dardick, Hal. “The tab on Emanuel’s series of tax hikes: $1,700 a year for the average family.” Chicago Tribune. 17 Nov. 2016. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-chicago-city-council-budget-vote-met-1117-20161116-story.html). 17 Nov. 2016.

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Chicago Police Department Manpower Shortage Latest

“Chicago readers take note: The ‘thin blue line’ that exists in the Windy City will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future. Carry on accordingly.”

Survival And Prosperity, October 3, 2011

With the help of the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop, I became aware several years ago of the manpower shortage going on in the Chicago Police Department.

Subsequently, I started blogging about the situation from time to time.

As shootings in the city march past 2,300 for the year, attention is being drawn to Chicago’s “cop shortage” again. Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on July 20:

After three shootings this week in a gang-ridden South Side ward that includes Englewood and Back of the Yards, Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) is demanding that Emanuel finally make good on his 2011 campaign promise to hire 1,000 additional police officers.

In the meantime, Lopez wants Chicago Police officers now working in pairs for their own safety to get reinforcements from the Illinois National Guard, the Illinois State Police, the Cook County Sheriff’s office or all of the above

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

No DHS or other federal agencies?

On the subject of paying for more police, Alderman Lopez brought up taxes. Spielman added:

When Lopez was asked where he would find the money to hire 1,000 more police officers, he offered to raise property taxes- again.

That’s on top of the $588 million property tax increase approved last fall for police and fire pensions and school construction and the $250 million increase the Board of Education is about to approve for teacher pensions…

Remember what I’ve been saying for years now about new/higher fees, fines, and taxes for Chicagoans?

With news yesterday that the Fraternal Order of Police is urging its members to turn down all requests for “non-mandatory overtime” over the fast-approaching Labor Day weekend, Second City Cop blogged:

It is most certainly is a message to the administration- “Hire more cops!” seems to be what we’re reading. And that’s a perfectly appropriate message to be sending to the city- the Department is badly understaffed

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Shooting of 6-year-old girl revives demand for 1,000 more cops.” Chicago Sun-Times. 20 July 2016. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/shooting-of-six-year-old-resurrects-demands-for-1000-more-cops/). 26 July 2016.

SCC. “OT Boycott Gets Media Coverage.” Second City Cop. 26 July 2016. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2016/07/ot-boycott-gets-media-coverage.html). 26 July 2016.

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City Of Chicago’s Total Unfunded Liabilities Grew To Nearly $24 Billion In 2015

It’s been a while since I last blogged about the Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based non-partisan research organization “generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois.” Yet earlier this week, Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner published a sobering piece on the Institute’s website about Chicago’s mounting financial woes that just needs to be disseminated. From their article:

Chicago property owners concerned about their future property-tax bills have had plenty to worry about over the past year- but a new report on the city’s crumbling finances has all but ensured that property-tax hikes will continue to be a painful reality for local homeowners.

The city already passed a $700 million hike in October 2015 to help plug the hole in police and firefighter pensions, and the city is expected to raise property taxes by another $250 million to fund ailing Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, pensions. And with billions more in other health care and pension shortfalls still unfunded, more hikes are on the way.

But the newest debt numbers in the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, show that without massive pension reforms, the city’s tax hikes are just beginning. The report found that the total city debt Chicagoans are on the hook for has more than tripled since 2014.

Chicago’s total unfunded liabilities have jumped by over $17 billion, growing to nearly $24 billion in 2015 from $6.5 billion in 2014. The increase is mostly due to new accounting standards and the fact that in March the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the city’s recent attempt to reform its broken municipal-workers and laborers pension funds.

Add to that their share of sister-government and Cook County pension and health care costs and long-term debt, and Chicagoans are on the hook for over $65 billion

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Disturbing stuff. But that’s reality for you.

You know, last week I read an “interesting” anonymous comment on the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop. From the July 7 post entitled “And There it is….”:

Millennials as they are called are falling over themselves to move here. Look at Ukrainian village, Buck town south loop West loop, Lincoln Park. The city is becoming gentrified. Major companies are moving their headquarters here. City is on the upswing like it or not.

“City is on the upswing like it or not.”

Never mind its financial cancer that’s bound to metastasize in due time…

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

Sources:

Dabrowski, Ted and Klingner, John. “Chicago’s Total Debt More Than Triples To Over $24B In 2015.” Illinois Policy Institute. 11 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

SCC. “And There it is…” Second City Cop. 7 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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