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Rebate

Must be election season

Called an election-year gimmick by some, tax rebate checks start going out to Illinois taxpayers Monday. Critics say permanent tax relief is needed in one of the highest taxes states in the country.

The money is being given back as part of the Illinois Relief Plan, a $1.8 billion aid package Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law in the spring.

To qualify, a person must have been an Illinois resident in 2021 with an adjusted gross income under $200,000 for individual tax filers and under $400,000 for those who filed as couples. 

Taxpayers who filed as a single person on their returns will be eligible to receive $50, and those who filed joint returns will receive $100. If you claimed dependents, you will receive an additional $100 per dependent with a maximum of $300.  

“Whether you had to pay or you got money back, it doesn’t matter,” Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza said. “Everyone who filed will be getting a tax rebate.” 

Illinois residents who paid state property taxes last year on a primary residence will be getting rebates as well. Adjusted gross income must be under $250,000 for single filers and under $500,000 for those who filed as couples. The amount of this rebate depends on the amount of property taxes paid.

State officials said the distribution of the checks should take about two months. 

State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, thinks the rebates are all about election year posturing.

“The plan has checks arrive just before the election and then tax reductions expire right after the election,” McConchie said.   

More here.

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JB Trust

The governor’s promises to divest his vast portfolio of state contractors has not extended to his so-called blind trust, which has the governor’s money in at least a dozen companies with billions in state business

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast investment portfolio includes interests in a dozen for-profit companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office in 2019, a Better Government Association investigation has found.

In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state’s chief executive held enormous sway over their contracts.

The intersection between Pritzker’s personal bottom line and his role as governor comes despite his 2019 promise to divest his personal fortune of investments in state contractors and to transfer his multibillion-dollar portfolio into what he called a “blind trust.”

A BGA investigation of Pritzker’s holdings — including an examination of his annual economic interest disclosures, thousands of pages of state contracts, corporate filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Illinois secretary of state and gubernatorial email communications — shows at least 12 cases large and small in which the governor’s office and the agencies he oversees took action that created a potential conflict of interest for Pritzker.

Authorities on trust law and government ethics told the BGA because Pritzker must disclose each year what is in his blind trust, his promise to avoid conflicts of interest by remaining blind to his investments was both impractical and oversold.

“The term ‘blind trust’ is being used here as a thin shield to conceal the governor’s pursuit of personal profits,” said Bridget J. Crawford, a professor at Pace University’s law school who reviewed the BGA reporting. “This is not a blind trust in any meaningful sense of the phrase.”

Pritzker declined a BGA request to be interviewed for this report.

Read the full BGA report here.

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JBP

As the November election nears, campaign finance totals show Illinois Republican candidates lag behind state Democratic candidates as Gov. J.B. Pritzker continues his large spending.

According to campaign finance numbers collected by Illinoissunshine.org, Illinois Democrats are leading the way in funding their candidates with over $110 million.

Since his first campaign, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has given himself more than $303 million to fund his political ambitions.

This election cycle, Pritzker started the year with $90 million in his campaign fund and he added an additional $35 million in March. After spending millions during primary season, the billionaire has $61 million on hand. His opponent state, state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, has raised about $10 million.

Alisa Kaplan of Reform for Illinois said that having one wealthy candidate can help the rest of the party.

“The money raised can be transferred to other candidates, it can be transferred to party committees, the money that goes to party committees can be transferred into candidate committees, or it can be spent directly on messaging for the candidate,” Kaplan said.

The numbers also show a significant difference in the other November races.

Read more here.

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(Morbidly obese) Gov. JB Pritzker, second from right, unveils the 2022 State Fair BUTTER COW. Also pictured are Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, (also obese) first lady MK Pritzker and Ag Director Jerry Costello II. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Peter Hancock)

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois State Fair organizers unveiled the 101st State Fair butter cow Wednesday, an unofficial kickoff of the fair which begins Thursday and runs through Aug. 21.

The sculpture – by Iowan Sarah Pratt – consists of more than 800 pounds of recycled butter in the shape of a cow munching on a sunflower. It also pictures a farmer tending the land and growing sunflowers, one of which was eaten by the cow.

The theme of the 2022 fair and butter cow is “Grow with Us.”

It’s a nod to the state’s agriculture industry as well as $58.1 million in construction that is planned at the fairgrounds, according to Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II. The renovations are funded by the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure program, approved on bipartisan lines in 2019.

Pritzker, at the unveiling Wednesday, said the theme for the year was fitting for Illinois, pointing to job growth and infrastructure investment.

Rebecca Clark, who was named the new fair manager this year, said the theme also touches on the fair’s agricultural roots.

“That theme is really indicative in so many ways out here on the fairgrounds, from the improvements that you see on the grounds to the youth exhibitors that show year after year in our celebrated barns,” Clark said.

Read more here.

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JBP

With recent speeches in Florida and New Hampshire, the speculation won’t go away that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is eyeing the White House.

As a speaker at a Florida Democratic Party conference, Pritzker attacked Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron Desantis, calling him Donald Trump with a mask. DeSantis himself is considered a potential Republican presidential candidate.

Pritzker’s Florida appearance came a month after his keynote speech before New Hampshire Democrats, who historically have been the ones to cast the first votes in presidential primary elections.

“Here is where the Republican game plan is the most audacious,” Pritzker said. “They want to distract you into believing that gay marriage, Black history, Disney World and library books are more of a threat to our children than an AR-15.”

He also grabbed the national stage following the Fourth of July shootings in Highland Park.

“I’m furious that this is happening in communities all across Illinois and America,” Pritzker said. “I’m furious because it does not have to be this way.”

Pritzker then got into a highly publicized Twitter feud with the National Rifle Association.

Pritzker faces Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, an avid gun rights advocate, in the November election for Illinois governor.

More here.

Related: “Illinois Gov. Pritzker rallies New Hampshire Dems

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PritzkerTaxPlan_0307

A typical middle-class family in Illinois faces the highest tax burden of all 50 states and a pandemic recovery that lags the nation, so what have Illinois’ elected leaders decided to do about it

Handed billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly passed a budget that provides tax relief of $556 for the typical family. Most of it expires by this time next year.

Hooray?

While $556 is better than nothing, the changes mainly serve to let Pritzker air re-election ads touting his “relief plan.” He also made sure his largesse was noted through mandatory signs at grocery stores and on gas pumps.

A quick glance at the map shows Pritzker should be anything but proud. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, 33 states, including most of Illinois’ neighbor states, have made long-term changes to help grow their economies. They’ve implemented permanent, pro-growth reforms and tax relief for their residents and businesses.

Illinoisans already pay the second-highest property tax in the nation, live under the most units of local government, face the worst pension crisis in the nation and failed to recover 136,400 jobs lost to the pandemic. They need real relief, not gimmicks.

Read more here.

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JBP

“Pennies from Pritzker”

Illinoisans will receive some modest tax relief starting (today) when the state’s new fiscal year begins.

That includes some income tax rebates, property tax rebates, a suspension of the state’s 1 percent tax on groceries, and a six-month pause on the scheduled inflationary increase in the state’s motor fuel tax.

Tax relief measures beginning today include:

  • An income tax rebate of $50 per individual with income below $200,000 a year, or $100 for couples filing jointly with income below $400,000 a year, plus $100 per dependent child, up to three children.
  • A suspension of the 1 percent sales tax on groceries through June 2023.
  • A suspension of the scheduled inflationary increase in the motor fuel tax through Dec. 31, which has been estimated at 2.2 cents per gallon. Instead, the motor fuel tax will increase twice at the rate of inflation next calendar year.
  • A sales tax holiday on back-to-school items, to run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 14, when the rate will be imposed at 1.25 percent instead of the regular 6.25 percent.
  • And an additional property tax rebate of up to $300 for homeowners who were eligible to claim the property tax credit on their 2021 state tax returns. The rebate is available to joint filers earning $500,000 or less and single filers earning $250,000 or less.

In addition, the tax relief package included a permanent expansion of the state’s earned income tax credit, or EITC, to 20 percent of the federal EITC while also extending eligibility for that credit to noncitizens who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number instead of a Social Security Number.

Republicans criticized that package as an election-year gimmick, noting that the rebate checks would show up in people’s mailboxes or bank accounts before Election Day, while motor fuel tax suspension would disappear soon after Election Day.

Read more here.

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Grif

Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel, in 2014. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

At the end of this week, moving vans will block Chicago’s alleys and all of those college hunks, man-with-a vans and two guys with trucks will find themselves gainfully employed. Chicago is a huge city. People come and go, each and every day. They take a job out East, hanker for the mountains or maybe, bones wearying and climate change rationalized, they head to warmer places.

But the voluntary exit of one individual, Ken Griffin, has sucked up more attention in recent days than anyone we can remember.

There are two reasons. One is that Griffin, founder of Citadel, is extraordinarily wealthy ($25 billion says Forbes), so much so that his fortune greatly exceeds that of our billionaire governor. His departure has a meaningful impact on the amount of money Illinois collects each year in taxes.

At some $200 million, Griffin’s personal tax bill is more than 1% of the total revenue Illinois draws from income taxes. When you think Illinois has a population of close to 13 million, that’s a remarkable impact and indicative of Griffin’s extraordinary financial success.

The other reason is that Griffin, with whom we met last month, has been using his potential departure as a bargaining chip to urge reform of the things he believes are very wrong with Illinois. His primary concern, as articulated in numerous forums, is the rise in violent crime and its impact on the quality of life for residents and also its detrimental impact on hiring people at places such as Citadel, which must compete for talent in the global marketplace.

To put it mildly, Griffin believes that the state’s leadership, especially Gov. J.B. Pritzker, is inattentive to these issues which Griffin sees as raging so far out of control as to undermine the city he loves.

Read more of the Chicago Tribune editorial here.

Related:Citadel 3rd major company to leave Illinois in 2 months

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Citadel Leaving

Hedge-fund firm Citadel is moving its headquarters to Miami. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin said many employees have asked to move out of Illinois.

BoeingCaterpillar and now the $50-billion hedge fund, Citadel, all within two months said they were moving their headquarters out of Illinois.

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin announced to employees June 23 the firm’s headquarters is leaving Chicago for Miami after 30 years. Griffin, Illinois’ wealthiest resident, is picking Florida for its better corporate environment.

Citadel will retain its Chicago office and employees, but many will transition out of Illinois in the next year. Griffin has moved, and said he didn’t make the business decision on his own: His employees asked to work elsewhere.

“Chicago will continue to be important to the future of Citadel, as many of our colleagues have deep ties to Illinois,” Griffin wrote. “Over the past year, however, many of our Chicago teams have asked to relocate to Miami, New York and our other offices around the world.”

While he has multiple issues with how Illinois treats its corporate citizens, he also in April said he was bothered by Chicago’s inability to control crime.

“If people aren’t safe here, they’re not going to live here,” Griffin said. “I’ve had multiple colleagues mugged at gunpoint. I’ve had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Countless issues of burglary. I mean, that’s a really difficult backdrop with which to draw talent to your city from.”

CNBC ranks Illinois as the third-least friendly state to businesses. The Tax Foundation found Illinois’ business climate declined 10 spots in the past five years – the only state to drop in the Midwest. Gov. J.B. Pritzker added $5.2 billion in new taxes on Illinoisans, specifically targeting businesses with $650 million in new taxes amid a pandemic recovery.

Read more here.

Related: “Illinois Combine Heads Explode as Irvin Fades in Republican Race for Governor

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JBNH

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker addressees the New Hampshire Democratic Convention on Saturday, June 18, 2022

MANCHESTER, N.H. — New Hampshire Democrats zeroed in on abortion rights during their annual convention here Saturday, bringing in Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker to prop up the campaigns of Sen. Maggie Hassan and governor candidate Tom Sherman, who will likely ease through September’s primary but face tough races heading into November’s general election.

“The Republican Party is so afraid of the power and influence women have achieved in our society that they are seeking to shame and criminalize your very autonomy,” said Pritzker, who leads a state that has a law that codifies Roe v. Wade.

It’s a subject that generated the most applause throughout the day, including during a speech by Marty Walsh, Secretary of Labor and the former mayor of Boston (Massachusetts also has codified Roe). For the record, Walsh told the crowd, he’s not running for president.

Pritzker’s name, on the other hand, has popped up repeatedly as a potential future presidential candidate, most recently when it was announced he’d be speaking Saturday in New Hampshire. But the Democratic governor’s political team says Pritzker is only focused on his reelection and on helping elect Democrats across the country who support abortion rights.

Pritzker, a self-described “Ukrainian-American, Jewish, Democratic, billionaire, businessman,” was scheduled to travel to Maine after leaving New Hampshire to campaign for Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

By the end of his speech, Pritzker had won over a cadre of Belknap County delegates who enthusiastically told a POLITICO reporter that they’d like to see him run for higher office.

“I think he should be our next president,” Johnna Davis, co-chair of the Belknap County Democrats, said as a couple other delegates seated in her row nodded along. “He’s got great energy. He’s perfect.”

Oy. Read more of the story here.

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