The General Assembly has held several meetings across the state on legislative redistricting. The public was invited to these hearings to participate in the remap process, but the real work of the legislative remap process has been done behind closed, locked doors.
There is a room on the 4th Floor of the Stratton Building in Springfield where the new districts are being drawn. Democrat legislators are being allowed to see what their new districts could potentially look like. Of course, the same courtesy is not being afforded to Republican members.
The Democrats have promised a fair and transparent remap process but unfortunately, all we are getting is business as usual. The room the Democrats are using is the same room that former House Speaker Michael Madigan and his staff used to draw the maps 10 years ago.
Few people participated in the public hearings not because they don’t care about the remap process but rather because they know the hearings were nothing more than a ruse. The real work in drawing the new legislative districts is being as it always been done – in secrecy.
This week’s newsletter highlights the Illinois’ growing pension crisis; a resolution of support for D.C. statehood; and a letter of support for scholarships for low income kids.
As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.
New study shows growing pension burden is hurting local communities
Growing pension debt and the accompanying tax increases are hurting communities across Illinois according to a new a study.
Wirepoints, an independent, nonprofit company, providing original research and commentary about Illinois’ economy and government, has released a new report on the burgeoning pension crisis in Illinois communities. According to the report 102 of Illinois’ 175 largest cities get an “F” for their local pension crisis.
The report analyzed the negative impact of Illinois’ local pension crisis by examining the finances of 175 cities with their own independent police, firefighter, and Illinois Municipal Retirement (IMRF) pension funds and comparing the years 2003 and 2019. The analysis was based on ten equally weighted metrics, ranging from the funded ratio of each local pension system to the pension debt each household is on the hook for, to the share of city budgets consumed by pension costs. All cities were given an “A” through “F” grade based on a 100-point scale (10 points per metric), with 100 being the best score. Overall, 102 cities received “F” grades in 2019, 64 cities got a “D” grade and only nine cities received an “A,” “B,” or “C” grade. In contrast, two-thirds, or 120, of the cities analyzed received an “A,” “B,” or “C” grade in 2003.
Locally, Champaign and Paris both received a “C” grade in 2003 and a “D” grade in 2019.
The pension problem is real, and it is right here close to home. This report is not a partisan report. The report is based on real numbers and it should serve as a wake-up call to the leaders in the House and the Senate. We must take the pension crisis seriously.
I believe the solution is a Constitutional Amendment because the courts will continue to block any kind of meaningful pension reforms until we change the Constitution. Our state and our communities will collapse financially unless we act, and the only path forward is a Constitutional Amendment.
To read the full report, log onto https://wirepoints.org/.
The House this week approved House Joint Resolution 16, which is a symbolic resolution of support for Washington D.C. to become a state.
Our founders intentionally chose not to make Washington D.C. a state so that no single state would be the seat of federal power.
The movement to try to make Washington D.C. a state is nothing more than an attempt to give Democrats two additional United States Senators. It is an attempt to give Democrats permanent control of the U.S. Senate.
Not surprisingly, House Joint Resolution 16 passed strictly along partisan lines.
Advocates urge Governor Pritzker to leave Invest In Kids Tax credits in place
Gov. Pritzker in his budget address called for reducing the tax breaks for scholarship donations from 75 percent to 40 percent.
The Governor says this will generate $14 million in revenue for the state.
The Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program allows individuals and corporations to donate money to scholarship granting organizations to pay for kids to escape failing schools and attend private and parochial schools. The program has been a huge success and has helped some of the poorest kids in the state get the kind of education they deserve.
In a letter to parishioners Illinois' Catholic Bishops, are asking for the program to be saved. They wrote:
"Over the past three years, the Invest in Kids program has proven to be a resounding success. Unfortunately, Governor Pritzker has recommended severely cutting the Invest in Kids program. If his budget recommendation is enacted, the program will struggle to remain viable."
This is a good program and one that has helped many students throughout the state. The Governor should heed the advice of Illinois’s bishops and keep the program intact.