Watch Illinois…And Do The Reverse

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My beloved State of Illinois is a shining example of what not to do if a state wishes to be prosperous, cursed as it is with probably the worst state government in the Union.  George Will sums up the state of my State in a column this week:

After trying to tax Illinois to governmental solvency and economic dynamism, Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has been governor since 2009, now says “our rendezvous with reality has arrived.”

Actually, Illinois is still reality-averse, so Americans may soon learn the importance of the freedom to fail in a system of competitive federalism.

Illinois was more heavily taxed than its five contiguous states (Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin) even before January 2011, when Quinn got a lame duck Legislature (its successor has fewer Democrats) to raise corporate taxes 30% (from 7.3% to 9.5%), giving Illinois one of the highest state corporate taxes, and the fourth-highest combination of national and local corporate taxation in the industrialized world.

Since 2009, Quinn has spent more than $500 million in corporate welfare to bribe companies not to flee the tax environment he has created.

Quinn raised personal income taxes 67% (from 3% to 5%), adding about $1,040 to the tax burden of a family of four earning $60,000. Illinois’ unemployment rate increased faster than any other state’s in 2011.

Its pension system is the nation’s most underfunded, and the state has floated bond issues to finance pension contributions — borrowing money that someday must be repaid, to replace what should have been pension money it spent on immediate gratifications.

Go here to read the depressing rest.  Illinois is now rated A2 by Moody’s, the lowest credit rating of any state.  When it lowered Illinois’ bond rating Moody’s made the following observation:

Illinois’ general obligation bond rating was lowered to A2 from  A1 on January 6 because of the state’s failure last year to implement  solutions to its largest credit challenges: severe pension under-funding  and chronic bill-payment delays. It remains to be seen whether  the state has the political will to impose new pension reforms and other  measures that restore fiscal strength in the near term.

Not a chance.  No serious reforms will be undertaken until State payroll checks begin to bounce.  Illinois has the worst, most feckless political class in the country.  Louis XV, he of apres moi le deluge, was a dedicated reformer compared to the idiots, crooks and empty suits who misgovern the Land of Lincoln.

 

46 Responses to Watch Illinois…And Do The Reverse

  • “No serious reforms will be undertaken until State payroll checks begin to bounce.”

    Actually, it’s more like “No serious reforms will be undertaken until the bond markets say “jump” and the State has no choice but to ask “How high?” because the State is so dependent upon short-term borrowing.

    The threat of a bond downgrade was sufficient to get pension plans changes for FUTURE employees (i.e. those hired after 1/1/11) rammed through the General Assembly and signed into law in less than a week last year, before the unions even had a chance to organize a serious protest.

    Now the threat of a further downgrade has Gov. Quinn proposing changes for CURRENT employees and retirees that include raising the retirement age for most state employees from 60 to 67 (That’s actually the age at which one CAN retire though not necessarily with the greatest possible benefits; many wait longer in order to maximize their benefits or get on Social Security or Medicare before retiring). Other possible changes include increasing the share of salary workers contribute to their pensions by 3 percentage points (the employee’s share will go up from 4% to 7% if you are in Social Security, and from 8% to 11% if you are not, like many teachers and university employees) and requiring retirees to pay for all or part of their health insurance.

    Of course, how much of this actually becomes law remains to be seen, as does how much of what DOES become law survives a court challenge based on the clause of the Illinois Constitution that says pensions are a contracted benefit that “cannot be diminished or impaired.”

    If nothing else, however, the proposal has already had one tangible effect: it’s gotten just about every state employee who is eligible to retire now but had been delaying for whatever reason, to consider getting out NOW while the getting is good. My own agency, which has less than 2 dozen people, has had 2 retire in the past year and there are 3 more getting ready to bail out if the pension plan is changed. If one of Quinn’s goals was to trigger a mass exodus of older and higher-paid state workers, he seems to be succeeding in spades.

  • I’ll bet Lincoln is spinning fast enough in his grave to turn a turbine big enough to provide enough power to make fossil fuels obsolete.

  • Meaningful fiscal reform will remain unlikely if the federal government makes
    bailouts an option for irresponsible states like Illinois. With this administration’s
    ties to Illinois, I’d say the politicians in that state have a reasonable expectation
    of not being made responsible for their poor choices.

    Even if a bailout never happens, the perception that the federal government
    would step in, that Illinois is ‘too big to fail’, acts as a drag on meaningful reform.

  • “the perception that the federal government would step in”

    Sorry, but I’m not seeing ANY such perception here on the ground in the Land of Lincoln. I think it MAY be finally starting to sink in that the bag of fiscal tricks is empty and we are on our own.

    A subtle but potentially significant clue: a bill has been introduced and sponsored by none other than powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan, that would abolish the current statutory obligation the State has to subsidize retiree health insurance. If passed and signed, the state COULD, legally, abandon retiree health insurance completely (currently, retirees get subsidized coverage based on their years of service; those who worked 20 years or more get a 100% subsidy and pay nothing for their health insurance).

    My suspicion is that since a direct attack on pension benefits may be hamstrung by the “no diminishment” clause in the State Constitution, the powers that be will instead use health insurance as the vehicle for pension reform. If all the current pension rules stay the same but retirees have to pay full freight for their health insurance, then no one in their right mind will retire until they are old enough to go on Medicare. This would in effect raise the baseline retirement age to at least 65 and prevent people from retiring in their mid to late 50s or early 60s under the current provisions — which is what’s really killing the pension system.

  • Illinois, like the countries of the Eurozone is in trouble. because it is unable to monetize its debt.

    After all, for a government with its own currency, such as the UK or USA, it is immaterial whether its debt is in the form of government bonds or banknotes, except that bank notes are issued in smaller denominations and pay no interest. It is simply exchanging one liability for another.

    Indeed, there is an advantage in replacing bonds with notes, as this increases inflation and erodes the real value of both domestic and foreign debt (providing it is denominated in the currency in question), as a comparison of the purchasing power of the pound or the dollar over the last hundred years will make abundantly plain.

  • George Will has absolutely no political motives. Nor does the Church hierarchy. Politics is the antithesis of Faith, at it best it is hypocritical; it’s only concern is self interest. To mix Faith with political agendas or parties ends with a corruption of Faith. To me it is becoming more and more evident in Catholic culture. A political ideology with a cover of religiousity. Trust in the Holy Spirit not in political motives.

  • Well, Pesqueira, I suppose you have a political agenda judging from these comments that I assume were left by you at the National Catholic Register:

    “Posted by Pesqueira on Friday, Apr 27, 2012 3:08 PM (EST):

    I found the Bishop’s remarks offensive.

    Posted by Pesqueira on Friday, Apr 27, 2012 3:23 PM (EST):

    In the name of the Holy Spirit, I found the Bishops remarks purposely inciting and offensive.”

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/bishop-jenkys-assessment-of-religious-liberty-battle-raises-question-about/#ixzz1tMaKMSW2

    How you pulled in the Holy Spirit to support your opposition to Bishop Jenky’s comments attacking the HHS Mandate is beyond me, but I assume that you and the Holy Spirit, in your opinion, see eye to eye on politics.

  • I stand by my statements. Unlike some my Faith dictates not politics. Nor do I not hide an agenda or use my Faith to express a political opinions unlike some.

    My “beloved state” sounds designed to garner sympathy. Perhaps sympathy for a political agenda? Your words.

  • As far as the Bishops words, his defenders state he was alluding to a progression of a policy when comparing the President to Hitler and Stalin. Is the Bishop a prophet that he sees the future? If not he has maligned the President. Maligning someone is tantamount to bearing false witness, a mortal sin. I donot condone his statement. I do not stop anyone else from invoking the Holy Spirit. Perhaps if you were so certain of your rhetoric you not be so fearful about doing so.

  • My use of the phrase “beloved state” Pesqueira was to convey that I love my native state where I have lived all but three years of my life.

    “Unlike some my Faith dictates not politics. Nor do I not hide an agenda or use my Faith to express a political opinions unlike some.”

    Yep, just you and the Holy Spirit handing down the Truth from on high. Got it.

  • correction – Perhaps if you were so certain of your rhetoric you might not be so fearful about doing so.

    Thanks for the interest in my comments. I wish I could say the same.

  • “Perhaps if you were so certain of your rhetoric you not be so fearful about doing so.”

    I tend to think that my political opinions and those of God might not coincide, so I tend not to invoke the Holy Spirit when expressing a political opinion as you did. In regard to Bishop Jenky, he mentioned Hitler and Stalin as granting some churches tolerance as long as the churches limited themselves to performing religious services while the State is controling everything else. That is the type of religious freedom that Obama believes in.

  • I often invoke the name of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Do you have a problem with that?

  • “Thanks for the interest in my comments. I wish I could say the same.”

    You came to my blog Pesqueira and I did not seek you out. I assume you read the post you commented upon, so that indicates some interest on your part. As to your comments, yes I found them fascinating as I rarely see anyone invoking the Holy Spirit to lend support to what they are stating in a combox.

  • “I often invoke the name of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Do you have a problem with that?”

    Not at all Pesqueira. You were not praying however when you attacked the comments of Bishop Jenky and enlisted the Holy Spirit to support your statement.

  • “That is the type of religious freedom that Obama believes in.’

    I have no idea what President Obama believes in these regards. What I know is that the Constitution limits the power of the executive in many ways, one being term limits. Term limits would never allow any President to become a despot as implied by the Bishop.

    Religious freedom is also guaranteed by the Constitution so your argument that the President can supercede the Constitution is fear mongering.

  • “You were not praying however when you attacked the comments of Bishop Jenky and enlisted the Holy Spirit to support your statement.

    “That is the type of religious freedom that Obama believes in.”

    Assumptions on you part. You seem to think that you know what people are thinking.

  • Assumptions on you part. You seem to think that you know what people are thinking.

    It tells me something about a person when they make assumptions about people they do not know.

  • “Term limits would never allow any President to become a despot as implied by the Bishop. ”

    Obama is a symptom Pesqueira and not the disease. The mentality he reflects, that the Church must bend to whatever the State dictates, is very much alive among the elites in our society.

    “Religious freedom is also guaranteed by the Constitution so your argument that the President can supercede the Constitution is fear mongering.”

    Which is not an argument that I nor the Bishop have made Pesqueira. Our argument is that the HHS mandate violates the First Amendment. However, the fact that a law is unconstitutional is no guarantee that it will not be enforced. It was clearly unconstitional for the Supreme Court to overturn all laws against abortion in Roe v. Wade, but the Court did it nonetheless and deemed the laws to be unconstitional rather than the Court’s usurpation of power.

  • “Assumptions on you part. You seem to think that you know what people are thinking.”

    No, I know what Obama has done in this area and that is why I made my statement.

  • “It tells me something about a person when they make assumptions about people they do not know.”

    It tells me rather more when someone clearly has a political agenda, claims not to have a political agenda, and enlists the Holy Spirit to support that political agenda.

  • Just say in the name of the Holy Spirit I believe all that I have stated is not done for a political purpose as I have done. Much like testifying in a court of law, then I will believe you are sincere. If you can not do that I will continue to doubt your veracity.

    Stop with the accusations and assumptions.

  • Politics hiding behind religiousity.

  • “Just say in the name of the Holy Spirit I believe all that I have stated is not done for a political purpose as I have done.”

    No, for two reasons. First, because I believe it is near blasphemy to invoke the Holy Spirit in almost all political discussions, and your doing so I find extremely distasteful. Second, I have a political agenda. I want the State of Illinois to elect new leadership since the current political class has spent the State into near bankrupcy.

  • “Politics hiding behind religiousity.”

    Yes, Pesqueira, you really need to stop doing this.

  • “Obama is a symptom Pesqueira and not the disease. The mentality he reflects, that the Church must bend to whatever the State dictates, is very much alive among the elites in our society.”

    Sympoms of a disease. I am reminded of a glass house and a parable about a twig and a log. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. I make no apologies for expressing a truth and have no problems enlisting the protection of the Holy Spirit when doing so.

  • “Yes, Pesqueira, you really need to stop doing this.”

    You first.

  • “I make no apologies for expressing a truth and have no problems enlisting the protection of the Holy Spirit when doing so.”

    You expressed no truth, but rather an opinion. I doubt if the Holy Spirit has any interest in protecting your political opinions, but you obviously have a direct pipeline to what is on the mind of the Holy Spirit so perhaps I am mistaken.

  • “In the name of the Holy Spirit, I found the Bishops remarks purposely inciting and offensive.”

    Is this statement you consider political? I don’t see it.

  • “You first.”

    Truly a bizarre comment since you intervened in a combox discussion about a purely secular topic.

  • We all have a direct line, some chose not to use it. Tell me that’s not true.

  • “Is this statement you consider political? I don’t see it.”

    More is the pity.

  • “We all have a direct line, some chose not to use it. Tell me that’s not true.”

    On almost all political topics Pesqueira, it isn’t. The Holy Spirit has bigger fish to catch.

  • “Truly a bizarre comment since you intervened in a combox discussion about a purely secular topic.”

    Resorting to attacks again instead of defending your use of religiousity to promote a political agenda.

  • R”esorting to attacks again instead of defending your use of religiousity to promote a political agenda.”

    Nope, making a simple statement of fact. My post was on a purely secular issue and no one breathed a word about religion until your initial comment.

  • On almost all political topics Pesqueira, it isn’t. The Holy Spirit has bigger fish to catch.

    The Holy Spirit doesn’t care about the size of the fish. None too small.

  • “The Holy Spirit doesn’t care about the size of the fish. None too small.”

    I keep forgetting that the Holy Spirit guides your political stances, so I guess I will have to stand corrected.

  • Mac!

    Don’t you have something more pleasurable to do?

    Like cleaning out the gutters, or scouring the toilets?

    I’m watching ND Men’s (#4) Lacrosse play Syracuse on ESPNU.

  • After getting paid all week to argue T.Shaw, one would think that I would have my fill of it, but, alas, that is often not the case!

  • I get it.

    I get paid to annoy people, as necessary.

    Pity my poor wife.

    ND defense is excellent and the goalie has made two spectacular saves. Our Lady is ahead 4 – 0.

  • “I believe it is near blasphemy to invoke the Holy Spirit in almost all political discussions”

    Then Gov. Quinn himself might have skated pretty close when he said, in reference to the pension reform plan, “I know that I was put on earth to get this done.”

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-20/news/chi-quinn-wants-government-workers-to-pay-more-toward-retirement-20120420_1_state-pension-pat-quinn-today-pension-funding-crisis

  • Quinn and blasphemy are old drinking buddies Elaine:

    “Governor Quinn recently announced that, on November 17, he will be presenting an award during a luncheon sponsored by Personal PAC, a pro-abortion, non-partisan political action committee.

    Quinn’s argument in defense of his decision is that it is the “proper, Christian thing to do.” The female recipient, Jennie Goodman, to whom Quinn is presenting the award is a victim of rape who, according to Quinn, is a very strong advocate for helping women who have been sexually assaulted. But regardless of this woman’s heroism and desire to help other victims, the point is that even though Goodman did not have to choose to abort her own child because she did not get pregnant as a result of the rape, she associates herself with a state-wide pro-abortion organization. She appeared in a political ad prior to the last election, speaking out as a victim of rape and against the pro-life Republican running against Quinn. ”

    http://www.all.org/article/index/id/OTQ2OQ

  • Getting back on topic, consider this: the proposal that caused teacher’s unions all over the nation to go nuclear on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was to have teachers START paying their 6.2% (of income) share of their pension instead of making local school districts pay that. In Illinois, teachers ALREADY contribute 8% or more (unless the local school district picks up the cost — some do, some don’t) and Quinn’s proposal would raise that to 11% or more. Also, Illinois teachers are NOT in the Social Security system, while (I think) Wisconsin teachers are. So tell me again, who’s the real bad guy here (from a labor union point of view)? Methinks the union protesters who turned out in Springfield to protest Gov. Walker’s speech to a business group should have focused their wrath a bit closer to home….

  • T Shaw.

    Mac!
    Don’t you have something more pleasureable to do?”

    Oh, I think, after a hard week plying his profession, Don was having some light relief fun, T Shaw. A bit like a cat playing with a mouse ;-)

  • Pesqueira,

    If you do come back, I remind you that it is a cardinal sin to take the Lord’s name in vain specifically in support of one’s own idiosyncratic interpretations. It is a violation of the Second Commandment. Since Jesus Christ alluded to the terrible fate awaiting those who go against the Holy Spirit, I am rather afraid of Him and would counsel you not take these matters lightly.

  • Pesqueira

    “We all have a direct line, some chose not to use it. Tell me that’s not true.”

    As Joseph Butler, the celebrated Anglican divine, philosopher and apologist, as Bishop of Bristol said to John Wesley, the noted ranter and enthusiast, “Any pretension to revelations or gifts of the Holy Spirit is a horrid thing, sir, a very horrid thing.”

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