View as PDF Chicago—The president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today urged the Illinois General Assembly to abolish the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), rather than adopt ineffectual measures that would only perpetuate what he called “a corporate welfare institution of monstrous proportions.”
“While the Ill. House of Representatives passed House Bill 574 on June 23, 2015, and sent it to the Illinois Senate, which would allow the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to turn some of its functions into a ‘public-private partnership,’ such a move is inadequate and will not make a dent in Illinois’ fiscal emergency,” said Jim Tobin, TUA president.
“The State of Illinois is broke; it is going down the drain, and it’s time to put entire bureaucratic state programs on the chopping block,” said Tobin.
“House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their caucuses passed a budget for the 2016 fiscal year beginning July 1 that is at least $4 billion in the hole. The upcoming budget deficit would be more than double that of last year.”
“The DCEO is responsible mainly for disbursing funds to local businesses and local governments. In addition to $528 million in state funds, the DCEO also disburses about $1.25 billion in federal funds.”
“These are nothing but welfare payments to politically connected business firms. All corporate welfare should be immediately ended. But if the members of the Illinois General Assembly insist on handing the federal loot to their corporate friends, the federal funds should be collected and disbursed by the Illinois Department of Public Aid as welfare checks. That would at least be honest.”
View as PDF Chicago—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released its analysis of the impact of the Illinois State Police on the state’s budget.
“Illinois has the most bloated state police force in the region,” stated president of TUA, Jim Tobin.
“According to the most recent BLS Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, Illinois has 2,105 sworn officers, by far the most in the Midwest. Trailing Illinois are Michigan with 1,732; Ohio 1,560; Indiana 1,350; Missouri 1,028; Iowa 669; Minnesota 530; and Wisconsin with 492.”
“The vast majority of these sworn officers do nothing but generate revenue for their own overly-generous salaries and pensions by issuing expensive traffic tickets with unreasonable fines while the rest run illegal road blocks and checkpoints for local police. Many Illinois State Police even work the precincts for powerful politicians,” added Tobin.
“According to the Illinois State Police Merit Board, trooper trainees get a starting annual salary of $32,076 while in the training academy and jump to a whopping starting salary of $57,708!”
“It’s ludicrous that we would hire so many ticket writers, but then to pay them so lavishly really shows the lack of common sense and concern for the taxpayers’ money and the state budget.”
“Time magazine reports that the national average salary, for all police officers, is $56,980 and yet here in Illinois we start state police pay well above the national average.”
“Our most recent study of the ISP pensions revealed that all of the top 200 state police pensions were over $102,000! And that rich pension starts around the age of 52 and comes with fully paid Cadillac-healthcare.”
“Here are some numbers all of us can understand and why the pension system is bankrupt: John Lofton, of the Ill. State Police, retired at a ripe old age of 58. His annual pension is a stunning $134,026, which will accumulate to about $4.2 million over a normal lifetime. Not a bad return for a 3.6% personal investment!”
“Timothy Becker’s annual pension is $120,672. Over a normal lifetime, his total payout will exceed $7.3 million because he retired at only 50 years of age. His personal investment in his estimated lifetime payout is only 2.8%.”
“We could save billions by putting the Illinois State Police in line, both in numbers and in pay, with the majority of state police departments.”
“And of course, we need to end the defined benefit pension system for ISP and all state employees,” concluded Tobin.
View as PDF Chicago—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of its analysis of the State of Illinois’ General Funds, Special State Funds, Revolving Funds, and the Highway Funds appropriations, outlining the scope of the ongoing budget crisis and the failure of the Illinois General Assembly to enact serious spending cuts.
“The taxpayers of Illinois are finally beginning to reap the rottenness sown by their elected representatives in Springfield,” said TUA operations director, Jared Labell.
Gov. Rauner (R) proposed a budget in February that cut spending by more than $5 billion and balanced the state’s budget for the first time since 2001. In May, however, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the government pension reforms in SB 1, necessitating further cuts from the proposed budget. Since then, the Illinois General Assembly has continually submitted unbalanced budget proposals for the fiscal year during the regular session and has proposed one-month unbalanced budgets during the continuous summer session.
“Taxpayers need only look to the current budget battle to gauge how unserious the General Assembly is when it comes to dealing with Illinois’ finances. Legislators have neglected their responsibilities for far too long and the public is becoming more aware of their political posturing as the budget negotiations continue.”
“If the Illinois General Assembly does not reform its spending habits and work with the Rauner Administration to pass a balanced budget, Illinoisans will continue to see their economic health rapidly deteriorate,” said Labell. “Taxpayers are now keenly aware of the fact that while the politicians in Springfield shriek about the sky falling whenever spending cuts are mentioned, these same bureaucrats continually defer to special interests and fake taxpayer advocacy groups when justifying higher taxes and their next proposed spending increase.”
Gov. Rauner’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget keeps billions of dollars in appropriation recommendations constant with last year’s actual appropriations, neither increasing nor decreasing proposed spending for these programs.
Comparing fiscal year 2015’s actual appropriations with fiscal year 2016’s proposed appropriations, spending for nearly 1,300 programs remains unchanged, totaling more than $15 billion.
“More than $15 billion in untouched spending for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 means that there are billions of opportunities to thoroughly evaluate these appropriations and make substantive cuts to reach a balanced budget,” said Labell.
The proposed 2016 budget contains the following fund appropriations, which remain constant with the actual fiscal year 2015 spending levels:
- General Funds: one hundred one appropriations, totaling $2,247,278,766
“If members of the Illinois General Assembly are legitimately concerned with the well-being of their neighbors, they will recognize that Illinois cannot continue down this same path and that reforms must be implemented immediately.” said Labell.
“Cutting just 10% from these unchanged appropriations would save taxpayers more than $1.5 billion. If members of the Illinois General Assembly believe that across the board cutbacks are too drastic, then they need to do their jobs, comb through the budget, evaluate the necessity of each expenditure and determine if each dollar spent is essential. Failure to do this will result in more budget cuts down the road, as Illinoisans are now seeing for themselves as current tax revenue is used to pay for past services rendered.”
“Article XIII Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution protects government employees above all Illinois taxpayers, further broadening Illinois’ already entrenched political class. Every taxpayer should remember that while government employees are shielded from having their pensions reformed, there is no protection for taxpayers. Government pensions might be legally protected from diminishment, but every service your tax dollars pay for is not, and these are the services that the politicians will cut first.”
“Speaker Madigan (D) has repeatedly said that Gov. Rauner’s budget proposals and agenda are ‘extreme,’ but I would argue that the Illinois General Assembly is operating in the extreme, as the legislature has presided over Illinois for more than a decade without a balanced budget; accrued billions of dollars’ worth of unpaid bills; accumulated more than $111 billion in government pension debt; and in the meantime, these politicians have earned Illinois the lowest credit rating among the fifty states.”
“So who is really the extremist – the guy who just arrived to try to put out the fire or the guy who has been dousing the house in gasoline for decades while playing with matches?”