Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

Paid Leave

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the Paid Leave for All Workers Act

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed 90 bills into law Friday. Hundreds more are being lined up for his pen.

Among the 43 House bills his office announced were signed, one prohibits insurance companies from increasing premiums if someone owns a certain breed of dog. Another makes Constitution Day a commemorative holiday. Music venues over certain sizes must have opioid antagonists starting June 1, 2024 with one measure.

  • House Bill 1596 “Replaces certain pronouns with the nouns to which the pronouns refer.”
  • House Bill 2389 “Prevents stops and searches by the police if a driver has an object hanging from the rearview mirror.”
  • House Bill 2907 “Prevents striking workers from being sued for unintentional property damage as a result of a strike.”
  • House Bill 3396 “Provides that any person with the intent of obstructing, impeding, or otherwise interfering with a picket line commits a Class A misdemeanor and a minimum fine of $500.”

Of the 47 Senate bills Pritzker enacted Friday, Senate Bill 40 “Establishes requirements for electric vehicle capable parking spaces.” Senate Bill 201 “Provides that the court may seal any foreclosure action filed during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery period.” Senate Bill 1351 “Allows a retiring teacher to forgo an evaluation in their last evaluation cycle before they retire.” SB 1527 “Requires insurance coverage for medically necessary compression sleeves” beginning Jan. 1.

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There is no end to the further damage Kim Foxx may inflict on Cook County in her final years.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday unilaterally announced that County prosecutors will no longer object to waiving court-ordered fines and fees “when motioned by defense attorneys on behalf of defendants with little-or-no income.”

In plain English and practice, that means just ask and you need not pay fines and fees.

That action alone may or may not be a big deal. We don’t know how much cost will thereby be shifted to county taxpayers. Foxx didn’t say and surely does not care.

The broader lesson is more important: Kim Foxx earlier announced that she won’t seek reelection, giving her two years to do what she wants with no concern about consequences.

And she is dangerous.  For example, she made a point of listing among her accomplishments, in her new press release about fees, that she increased “the non-violent shoplifting felony threshold to $1,000.” That made it open season on retailers to steal up to that threshold. Have no doubt about the mindset of progressives like her. In California, as reported by Newsweek, lawmakers are hoping to push through controversial legislation that would ban retail staff from stopping thieves stealing from their stores.

She has expressed no regret for her attempt to let Jussie Smollett off free, bringing international ridicule on Cook County. In his faked hate crime in Chicago, Smollett happily tried to throw under the bus both the supposed perpetrators, who had been his friends, as well as the entire criminal justice system.

Read more here.

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Gov. Pritzker signs a law to prevent his policies from being overturned in court. |PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER DILTS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Progressives are on the march in Illinois, and they want to make sure their new policies can’t be overturned in state court. Solution: Pass a law that requires any constitutional challenge to a state law, rule or executive order to be filed in only two counties.

Yes, that’s really happening, thanks to Illinois Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s brainstorm. Democrats in Springfield passed it, and on Tuesday Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed it. The bill means any constitutional challenge to the Democratic agenda can only be heard in Cook and Sangamon counties. Cook includes Chicago, and Sangamon surrounds the capital of Springfield.

The measure’s proponents were transparent in saying the change is meant to prevent conservative “venue shopping,” a tool pioneered by progressives and trial lawyers when seeking venues favorable to jackpot justice. In the case of conservatives, any choice of where to file would be to seek judicial brakes on the Democrats’ legislative steamroller.

Mr. Raoul’s spokesman says the change is appropriate because “inconsistent court decisions about important public issues have repeatedly caused confusion.” Yes, but that’s how the judicial system is meant to work. Conflicting lower-court decisions are resolved through appeals.

Mr. Pritzker’s infamous plan to end cash bail was rejected by Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington, who ruled the law unconstitutional in December. It’s now on appeal at the state Supreme Court. Mr. Pritzker is expected to sign more than 500 bills this summer, according to Capitol News Illinois, and he wants to neuter the courts.

Read more here.

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed the state’s $50.6 billion budget, which includes pay raises for state lawmakers, health care for undocumented migrants, and new taxpayer-funded programs for education.

Pritzker was in Chicago alongside city officials and other state lawmakers to sign the state’s fiscal 2024 budget. The investments in the most expensive budget in state history include $200 million extra for pension payments, $250 million to fund the first year of Smart Start Illinois, which seeks to end childcare deserts, and another $80 million in state funds that will go toward affordable housing.

According to Pritzker, the budget is another step in undoing the work of previous governors.

“From the beginning, I promised to work together with the General Assembly to restore fiscal responsibility to our state government after years of mismanagement,” Pritzker said. “Thanks to our firmer fiscal foundation, we have been able to put billions of dollars back into the pockets of Illinois taxpayers while investing in our future.”

National studies rank Illinois has having among the highest local and state tax burdens in the country.

Another provision in the budget that has received pushback from some Republican lawmakers provides undocumented migrants with health care that was part of a larger medical omnibus bill that makes changes to the state’s Medicaid system.

A recent audit estimated that the subsidies for migrant health care could cost taxpayers more than $1 billion. State Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, said Pritzker and Democratic lawmakers do not have their priorities straight regarding what the state needs.

“I think the amount of money that the Democrats have understated fairly significantly is going to undocumented immigrants,” Marron told The Center Square. “I think it’s a problem. I think they have mixed up priorities.”

Pritzker claims that this change will save the state money.

Read more here.

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JB Smart

High property taxes, the state tax on gasoline and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s handling of COVID-19 are all factors in the state’s lack of job growth, according to an analyst.

report by Wirepoints looks at Illinois’ overall economic performance since Pritzker took office in 2019. The report shows 70,000 fewer jobs in that time frame and that its real GDP growth was 3.2% from 2019 to 2022, which ranked 10th worse in the country.

Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski told The Center Square that many factors have contributed to the lack of growth in jobs.

“We will never have the most jobs as long as we have the highest property taxes in the country. We will never have more jobs as long as we have the second-highest gas taxes in the country. We will never have more jobs if we have the biggest pension debt in the country, and we will never have more jobs if our home values continue shrinking relative to the rest of the country,” Dabrowski said. “We have so many things that are wrong in Illinois.”

In March 2020, Pritzker issued his first stay-at-home order in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. That resulted in many businesses having to close their doors. Overall, Illinois had some of the strictest executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dabrowski said the governor’s handling of the pandemic has hindered growth.

“Governor Pritzker had one of the most draconian, strict responses to the pandemic in the country,” Dabrowski said. “That really hurt jobs, and it really hurt entrepreneurs. He tried to pick and choose who should stay open and who couldn’t.”

More here.

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Illinois lawmakers passed 566 bills through both chambers of the General Assembly in the recently concluded legislative session – all but one of them in May.

It sets the table for an approximate three-month bill-signing season for Gov. JB Pritzker. That’s because the state’s constitution gives legislative leaders 30 days from a bill’s passage to send it to the governor, who then has 60 days to sign or veto it.

If the governor takes no action in that time frame, the bill would become law automatically. Historically, the legislature has sent bills to the governor in batches, allowing his staff ample time to review the proposals.

Below are some of the bills that Pritzker will consider signing in the coming months.

Noncitizen licenses: A measure backed by Democratic Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias would allow residents of Illinois to obtain a standard driver’s license, rather than the “temporary visitor driver’s license” that is currently allowed under law.

Noncitizen law enforcementHouse Bill 3751 provides that noncitizens can become law enforcement officers in Illinois if they’re authorized by federal law to work in the country or if action on their immigration status has been deferred under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process.

License plate readers: Another measure backed by Giannoulias would prohibit any “user” of an automated license plate reader from sharing data collected by the device with out-of-state law enforcement officers who are investigating activities related to abortion care or someone’s immigration status.

Native American repatriationHouse Bill 3413 would streamline the process through which Illinois returns Native American remains and materials to their communities.

Probation drug testing: Senate Bill 1886 would limit the circumstances under which a judge could order a person to refrain from cannabis and alcohol use and submit to testing while on probation. A judge could still mandate testing if the person is under 21 or was sentenced for an offense that included use of an “intoxicating compound.”

Child influencersSenate Bill 1782 aims to protect “child influencers” who are under the age of 16 and featured in at least 30 percent of money-making internet videos, or vlogs, published by a family member in a 30-day period.

For an expanded description of these and more click here.

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A polling station on Staten Island in 2022.Anna Watts for The New York Times

Young and active

In the 2018 elections — the midterms of Donald Trump’s presidency — turnout among younger voters surged. Almost twice as many people in their late 20s and early 30s voted that year as had done so in the midterms four years earlier. And they strongly backed Democratic candidates, helping the party retake control of Congress.
At the time, it was not clear whether the newfound political engagement of younger adults would last beyond Trump’s presidency. So far, though, it has — and it’s emerging as one of the biggest stories in American politics and a major advantage for the Democratic Party.
After each election, the data analysts at Catalist, a progressive research company, publish a post-mortem report based on months of analysis of election returns, voter files and other sources. A central theme of the latest report, covering the 2022 midterms, was that “Gen Z and millennial voters had exceptional levels of turnout,” as Catalist’s experts wrote. In the 14 states with heavily contested elections last year, turnout among younger voters rose even higher than it was in 2018.
This chart, by my colleague Ashley Wu, offers a nice way to see the trends:
Source: Catalist | By The New York Times
Since 2014, turnout among people born before 1950 has declined, mostly because more have died or been unable to get to the polls. (Experts refer to this dynamic euphemistically as “exiting the electorate.”) Turnout among middle-aged people rose, and turnout among young voters rose even more sharply.
Older Americans still vote at higher rates than younger Americans, but the gap has narrowed substantially over the past two decades.

Fear, not love

Why? Many younger voters have become more politically active because they fear for the country’s future. Those on the left — who are a majority of younger voters — worry about climate change, abortion access, the extremism of the Republican Party and more. Those on the right worry about secularization, political correctness, illegal immigration and more.
“What seems to be driving younger voters to the polls isn’t love, but anger,” Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report has written.
Source: Catalist | By The New York Times
Contrary to conventional wisdom, younger voters throughout U.S. history have not automatically been liberal. In 1984, Americans under 30 strongly backed Ronald Reagan’s re-election. In 2000, they split almost evenly between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
It’s true that people often become somewhat more conservative as they age (and millennials are following this pattern, as my colleague Nate Cohn explained). But the more significant factor is that generations tend to have distinct ideologies. People are shaped by the political zeitgeist during their adolescence, as research by Yair Ghitza, Andrew Gelman and Jonathan Auerbach has shown.
Americans who came of age during the Depression and New Deal, for example, leaned Democratic for their entire lives. Those who grew up during the Reagan era (many of whom are part of Generation X) lean to the right. In recent decades, major news events, including the Iraq war, the financial crisis, Barack Obama’s presidency and the chaos of Trump’s presidency, appear to have created a progressive generation.
For four straight national elections dating back to 2014, Democrats have won at least 60 percent of the vote among 18- to 29-year-olds. It’s longest such run of success since at least the 1970s, when Catalist’s data begins.
The pattern offers reason for Democratic optimism. Millennials and Generation Z are growing parts of the electorate, while older, more conservative generations are gradually exiting the electorate. Even in the short term, the age dynamics matter: A Republican will have a slightly harder time winning the presidency in 2024 than in 2020. In the long term, Republicans will struggle to win national elections unless they can appeal to more Americans born since 1980.

Still a contest

With all this said, a coming period of Democratic dominance is not guaranteed. The party has other weaknesses that could eventually alienate more millennial and Gen Z voters.
Another theme of the Catalist report is that working-class voters across races have recently drifted toward the Republican Party. Many of these less affluent voters seem bothered by the increasing social liberalism of the Democratic Party. Many younger voters are also not sure which party offers more promising economic policies.
These concerns help explain why Florida and Texas have remained solidly Republican, to the disappointment of Democrats. The chart below compares the Democratic Party’s performance by class and race in the past two midterm elections when a Democrat was in the White House.
Source: Catalist | Asian includes Pacific Islanders. | By The New York Times
I realize that the combination of trends is complex. The Democratic lean of Americans under 40, combined with their recent increase in voter turnout, has become a huge advantage for the party. Yet not all these voters are committed Democrats. Many identify as independents and are more conservative than the highly educated, affluent officials who dominate the Democratic Party and progressive groups.
In the competitive world of American politics, Democrats are in a stronger position than Republicans among younger voters, but the contest is not over.

Source: The New York Times

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Indoor shot of handsome stressful overworked man covers face with palm, has displeased expression, dressed in casual clothes, poses against white background with copy space for your promotional textHave mercy if this list is woefully incomplete. The recently concluded session of the Illinois General Assembly sent a blizzard of some 560 bills to Gov. JB Pritzker for signature, so we certainly don’t know what all is in them (and most lawmakers don’t, either.)

Below, however, are some of the more foolish bills that caught our attention. Keep in mind that each will require Pritzker’s signature before becoming law.

What’s clear from the session is that progressives were unrestrained, passing laws supposedly providing government answers to whatever they see in the world that they don’t like. Take just the output of lawmakers from my area, for example, who are all progressives. Rep. Robin Gabel sponsored 65 bills and resolutions, 44 of which passed. Sen. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz sponsored 92, 61 of which passed. But Rep. Laura Fine beat them both – 203 of which 92 passed. That’s according to a compilation by the Daily Northwestern.

We’d like to hear from you if you know of others we missed:

Converting deserts to oases – at taxpayer expense. Don’t have a decent grocery store near your home? SB 0850 directs the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity to establish the “Grocery Initiative” to study “food deserts” in Illinois and give grants to grocery stores in those areas. This bill is a nice illustration of the statist mentality prevailing in the General Assembly. Illinois, being mostly rural or empty, is covered with deserts of all kinds – areas lacking a nearby pharmacy, dentist, car mechanic, public transit, healthcare specialists and countless other goods and services. Is it now the taxpayers’ obligation to assure that these are conveniently in reach for everybody?

Unknown cost of unfunded kindergarten mandate means unknown property tax increase. House Bill 2396 will require school districts around the state to provide full-day kindergarten by the 2027-2028 school year. Nice idea, provided the schools don’t extend their political indoctrination down to that level. But the bigger problem is the legislature didn’t bother to tell taxpayers or anybody else how much that will cost local school districts. Why bother when they can just impose another unfunded mandate? The Illinois Principal’s Association opposed the bill because of those unknown, unfunded costs.

Another mandate on schools – to enforce antiracism and anti-harassment. SB 0090 will make school districts liable for a civil rights violation if they “fail to take appropriate corrective action to stop harassment” or fail to comply with reporting requirements imposed by the bill. Along with the onerous reporting requirements, the bill lays out lengthy details on required anti-harassment and anti-racism training. The state will be required to produce a model training program.

Find more here.

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Grocery Up

After an election cycle freeze on the state’s taxes for groceries and gasoline, the two taxes, among others, are set to increase beginning July 1.

Next month, the state’s gas tax will increase by 6.2 cents to a total tax of 45.4 cents, the second increase since Jan. 1. The state’s tax on groceries will also go back into effect after Gov. J.B. Pritzker put a hold on the tax during last year’s election cycle.

Bryce Hill of the Illinois Policy Institute said the gas tax has continued to increase since Pritzker has been in office.

“Previously, it used to be 19 cents in 2018,” Hill told The Center Square. “Beginning in July of 2019, he doubled that to 38 cents, and then he also indexed the gas tax to inflation, meaning that it automatically increases every year.”

Certain local municipalities can also set their tax on gas, which means some areas of the state will be paying even more on top of the already increased state tax.

“At the local level, on top of the gas tax, you have the ability for localities to tax gasoline, which many do,” Hill said.

Read more here.

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Despite statehouse corruption on full display with guilty verdicts against four individuals in the “ComEd Four” bribery trial, Illinois legislators left Springfield without sweeping ethics reforms.

A former Commonwealth Edison executive and three lobbyists, one being a close confidant of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, were convicted last month. The scheme involved giving do-nothing jobs to Madigan associates in exchange for favorable legislation for the utility. Madgian has pleaded not guilty and faces trial next spring.

Early Saturday morning just before the budget was approved, state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said it’s “crazy” to leave town without addressing the issue.

“Four convictions all swirling around the person that presided at this rostrum, at this dias, for 38 years and we as a legislature are adjourning without doing anything on the topic of ethics reforms,” Spain said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said prosecutors have the tools they need to catch corrupt actors.

“Everybody that’s been tried and now convicted is being tried and convicted with laws that are already on the books,” Pritzker said during an unrelated event last week.

More can be done though, he conceded.

“And I think that there is as I have seen an effort to address red-light camera contributions,” Pritzker said.

House Bill 3903 will establish ethical parameters and guidelines for how the technology can be used and how the industry interacts with state and local elected officials. Among other regulations, one element prohibits contractors for such technology from making political donations.

More here.

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