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Mas Fines

Illinois’ state and local governments collect some of the most fines and fees in the country on a per capita basis, a new study shows.

The Reason Foundation found that Illinois is second highest in the nation, averaging about $50 per resident in 2020. That is compared to less than $3 per resident in Kentucky.

In 2019, local fines and fees revenue accounted for less than 2% of pre-pandemic general revenue in all 50 states. The year 2017 is the most recent year for which local revenue data is available. During that year, 28,159 U.S. cities, townships and counties reported a total of nearly $5 billion in revenue from fines and fees after excluding jurisdictions without sufficient data.

Data for the study was obtained from the Census Bureau’s annual survey of state and local government finances.

“In Illinois, local governments retain a fairly substantial portion of the revenue generated by citations and traffic tickets within that jurisdiction,” said Vittorio Nastasi, director of Criminal Justice Policy with the Reason Foundation.

Nastasi notes that fines and fees have turned many courts into revenue centers for state and local governments, creating what he calls undesirable conflicts of interest.

Read more here.

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Switzerland Davos Forum

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is making free college a priority in his second term. Tuition is driven up by pension costs, which Pritzker routinely ignores.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is making affordable college a priority in his second term, but so far he’s ignored the surest way to ensure it can happen: pension reform.

“It’s also our obligation to make college more affordable by removing financial barriers. That’s why we need to bring down the cost of higher education. Since I took office, we’ve increased scholarships by more than 50%. Now let’s focus on making tuition free for every working-class family,” Pritzker said.

The biggest barrier to affordable college in Illinois is pensions. Rising pension costs push up Illinois tuition, forcing students to pay the difference.

Pension Costs Education

It’s why Illinois has the fourth-highest in-state tuition and fees for public universities in the nation at $14,455 a year. Pritzker boasts increased scholarships, but scholarships are like a coupon: they help people but do nothing to change the price tag.

Other big states keep their universities affordable. Public colleges in California, New York, Texas and Florida all cost under $9,000 a year for residents.

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JBP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is in Switzerland for the 2023 World Economic Forum to tout his agenda. Some back home say the governor should be more focused on the state’s issues.

Pritzker is making his second trip out of the country during his time as governor of Illinois. He’s is one of 52 heads of state attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

During a panel discussion on domestic politics with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and members of the U.S. Congress, Pritzker touted his energy and social policies, including a gun ban and abortion expansion, and was asked about a possible U.S. recession.

My expectation is that it will not be a deep recession if there is one,” Pritzker said. “Business, though it may be moderating, we will not see a major dip.”

Pritzker also spoke about bipartisanship within American politics.

“Certainly, if you asked the public if they think Congress or the state should work in a bipartisan fashion, the answer is yes,” Pritzker said. “What they really mean, in my view, is that they want to get things done.”

Before Pritzker’s appearance, state Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, criticized the governor’s travels.

“For him to fly his private jet, go over there and sit with all the elite globalists of the world and tell us how we should live our lives is completely hypocritical,” Niemerg told WMAY.

More here.

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Charging

Union-tied research group pushes for mileage tax to shore up road-building funds

Despite Illinois’ efforts to smoothly integrate electric vehicles into the state’s economy, a new report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute is warning of a potential steep decline in transportation revenue as the process of electrification accelerates.

The primary issue is motor fuel taxes, which will see a significant drop as more electric vehicles make their way to the road and fewer people fill their cars with gas.

Since motor fuel taxes make up the backbone of state funding for road and bridge projects, ILEPI, which has strong ties to organized labor, warned in its report that new revenue sources will have to be identified to ensure the state’s 10-year capital improvements plan remains on track.

“There’s absolutely a benefit to having EVs but it will ultimately have a strong impact on transportation funding,” Mary Tyler, the author of the report, said in an interview. “It’s something that I don’t think is talked about enough.”

Motor fuel tax is the state’s leading source of transportation funding and makes up 52 percent of Illinois’ total transportation revenue and 82 percent of its contributions to the federal highway trust fund.

The report’s main policy recommendation is implementing a vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, fee which would replace the existing motor fuel tax with a fee determined by the number of miles a car travels on Illinois roads.

Read more here.

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Boomers

Staying power

The U.S. job market has staged a remarkable rebound since the start of the pandemic almost three years ago. The latest government data, released on Friday, showed that 2022 was the second-best year on record in terms of raw job growth, behind only 2021.

Yet the number of people available to work remains substantially smaller as a share of the population than before the pandemic, and some key economic policymakers seem to have all but given up hope that it will grow much in the years ahead. The country has a “structural labor shortage” that is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said last month.

If Powell and his colleagues are right, their prediction has big implications for the U.S. economy. A smaller pool of workers makes it harder to rein in inflation because companies have to raise pay — and, most likely, prices — as they compete for workers. And beyond the inflation debate, an economy in which fewer people are working is one that cannot grow as quickly as in the past.

Are they right? Many economists offered similar warnings of a labor shortage after the last recession ended in 2009. Instead, the work force staged an impressive rebound.

In today’s newsletter, I want to talk about one reason the workers defied expectations a decade ago but are unlikely to now: baby boomers.

Working late

The share of adults who were working or looking for jobs plummeted during the brutal recession and anemic recovery that followed the 2008 financial crisis. Many forecasters expected it to keep falling as the enormous baby boom generation moved toward retirement.

Many boomers put off retiring, however. In 2019, just before the pandemic, 57 percent of Americans in their early 60s were still working, compared with 46 percent of that age group two decades earlier. Improved health and shifting industry patterns — more jobs in offices, fewer in factories — played a role. So did sheer financial necessity: The housing bust and stock market collapse left many people without enough savings for retirement.

Instead of dropping, the share of workers and job seekers leveled off starting in about 2014, then began to rise slowly toward the end of the decade. That shift partly reflected the strengthening economic recovery, which drew workers off the sidelines as wages rose and opportunities improved. But the importance of the baby boomers is hard to overstate: Virtually all of the growth in the labor force between the end of the Great Recession and the start of the pandemic a decade later came from workers 55 and older.

Read more here

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JB Gun

Gov. JB Pritzker signs a bill banning the sale and manufacture of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines on the Senate floor Monday. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Peter Hancock)

On the first full day of his second term, Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed a bill banning the sale, distribution and manufacture of high-power assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles and ammunition, and large-capacity magazines while still allowing people who already own such weapons to keep them.

The House had passed a similar bill early Friday morning and sent it to the Senate, where it appeared over the weekend to run into roadblocks. But negotiations continued behind the scenes throughout the weekend and into Monday when a final deal came together just as Gov. JB Pritzker, who campaigned on a pledge to pursue  an assault weapons ban, was being inaugurated into his second term in office.

As recently as Sunday, the House and Senate seemed to be far apart, both on the weapons ban and a bill expanding access to reproductive health services, two of the biggest items being considered in a lame duck session that will conclude Tuesday.

But by Monday night, he, Pritzker and Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, announced that they were all in agreement on a final proposal.

One of the key sticking points concerned a requirement that people who currently own such weapons register them with the Illinois State Police. Those individuals would be required to disclose the make, model and serial number of the specified weapons to obtain a special endorsement on their Firearm Owners Identification, or FOID card. The House had included that in the bill it passed shortly after midnight Friday morning, but an early draft of a Senate plan reportedly proposed dropping it.

The final version of the bill, contained in a package of amendments to House Bill 5471, includes the requirement but extends the deadline for compliance to Jan. 1, 2024, instead of 180 days after the governor signs the bill into law, as the House had proposed.

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Springfield

Illinois state lawmakers are looking to give themselves a $12,000 raise with a bill that spends more than $1.7 billion of taxpayer money.

Just before 9 p.m. Friday, the Illinois House approved an amendment to Senate Bill 1720. The measure now goes to the Illinois Senate, which returns Sunday evening.

Alongside giving pay raises to state legislators, constitutional officers and executive agency directors, the measure puts $850 million into the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund known as the rainy day fund, gives hospitals statewide a one time $460 million payment to help with the increased cost of nursing, puts $400 million into the Large Business Attraction Fund and deposits $72 million into the Disaster Recovery Fund, among other things.

“A hundred and seventy-four pages on a Friday night, the audacity of what we are doing,” state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said in opposition. “Pay increase, Christmas in January, for legislators.”

In the 102nd General Assembly that ends Jan. 10, base pay for legislators is $72,906 a year. Legislative leaders get extra stipends ranging from committee chairman and minority spokesman receiving an additional $11,098 to the Senate president and House speaker getting an additional $29,530 a year. If Senate Bill 1720 as amended is approved by the Senate and is enacted by the governor, starting with the 103rd General Assembly that begins Jan. 11, the base pay for part-time state legislators will increase to $85,000.

The measure also increases the salaries of the governor from $181,670 to $205,700, the lieutenant governor from $140,000 to $160,900, the secretary of state from $161,500 to $183,300, and the attorney general from $161,000 to $183,300. The comptroller and treasurer would each get their salaries increased from $140,000 to $160,900.

More here.

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Nicor

Higher gas bills could be in the pipeline for Chicago-area customers next year after Nicor filed for a $321 million rate increase Tuesday with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

If approved, the rate hike would raise the average residential gas bill by $9.28 per month beginning in January 2024, Nicor spokeswoman Jennifer Golz said Wednesday.

Naperville-based Nicor Gas, which is owned by Atlanta-based Southern Co., has 2.3 million customers in suburban Chicago and across northern Illinois.

In November 2021, the ICC granted Nicor a $240 million rate increase to modernize its distribution, transmission and storage infrastructure. That increase added about $3.70 per month to the typical residential customer bill, Golz said.

Peoples Gas and co-owned North Shore Gas may be seeking a rate increase as well, after submitting a waiver request with the ICC to file for it electronically. The requests are on the ICC public utility meeting agenda for Thursday, which is published on the agency’s website.

David Schwartz, a spokesman for Peoples and North Shore Gas, would not confirm if a rate increase request is in the offing.

Source

Related:Gas bills will increase 48%? Suburban households could be facing a tough winter (10/4/2021)”.

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LMP

The long-awaited completion of the Longmeadow Parkway should arrive this year. Now county leaders are working to pay off the debt that helped fund it. (Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2022)

Kane County will see many economic initiatives come to fruition or continue to advance in 2023, Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog said.

They include regional economic planning grants to pay for the Longmeadow Parkway so it does not need to be a tollway, the development of workforce housing, support for small businesses and more electric vehicle charging stations.

As the Longmeadow Parkway on the county’s north side nears completion, the next step is to pay off the debt that helped fund it, Pierog said.

“Because of its regional nature, we were able to lobby the governor and … the allocation of $17.5 million should be coming through shortly to pay down the bond,” Pierog said. “We are advocating for another $17.5 million. We are actively working with our legislative partners and other counties to work on bringing down the rest of that bond so we won’t have to have a toll bridge.”

Read more here.

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BC

With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still fresh in their minds, Arlington Heights Finance Director Tom Kuehne and the rest of the village’s budget team are used to playing it safe with revenue estimates.

“We always try to be really conservative with our revenue projections, especially right now, because we really can’t be sure what’s going to happen in the future,” Kuehne said. “And we saw that uncertainty with sales taxes.”

Illinois Department of Revenue records show Arlington Heights saw sales tax revenues climb 30% in one fiscal year. From July 2021 to June 2022, Arlington Heights received $5.7 million more in sales taxes than it did during those same 12 months a year prior.

Kuehne and crew had accounted for a modest increase, but they got about $4.5 million more than what was forecast. And they weren’t alone.

A Daily Herald analysis of 95 suburban sales tax receipts during the state’s 2021 and 2022 fiscal years shows the towns combined to average a 28.6% increase in sales tax revenues, resulting in nearly $230 million more.

In Barrington Hills, sales tax revenue grew from $66,587 in the state’s 2021 fiscal year to $214,071 in 2022, a 222% increase.

Inverness and Wayne, also small bedroom communities, more than doubled sales tax revenues last year.

Read the full Daily Herald story here.

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