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Increasing the estate tax would hurt family farms and businesses, drive wealth and investment out of Illinois. Most states are ending their ‘death taxes.’

Many states have moved away from taxing assets after people die because of the harm to family businesses and farms, but a new proposal before state lawmakers would double Illinois’ estate tax.

House Bill 3920 would hike the existing state tax on estates of over $4 million to 9.95% from 4.95%. Unlike neighboring Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Missouri, Illinois is one of just a dozen states that still have an estate or inheritance tax. Tax Foundation analyst Katherine Loughead noted, “The top marginal estate tax rate under this proposal would become the highest in the country at 21%.”

While the bill’s sponsors intend the extra revenues to be used to support Illinoisans with disabilities, hiking the estate tax would squeeze family farmers, reduce the accumulation of productive assets, encourage spendthrift behavior, fuel tax avoidance and evasion, and drive wealth to other states.

When someone dies, the federal government taxes the estate by up to 40%. Then Illinois piles onto that with more taxes of up to 16%.

The Tax Foundation notes the harm of estate taxes: “They disincentivize business investment and can drive high-net-worth individuals out of state. They also yield estate planning and tax avoidance strategies that are inefficient, not only for affected taxpayers, but for the economy at large. The handful of states that still impose them should consider eliminating them or at least conforming to federal exemption levels.”

Research shows higher estate tax rates increase efforts to avoid those taxes and reduce wealth accumulation. People employ more complex estate planning techniques that carry economic costs.

Read more from Illinois Policy here.

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“Dear Barrington 220 Community:

Earlier this week I shared that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released revised public health guidance for schools.

I also shared that due to these revisions, particularly the recommendation for social distancing in schools to be defined as 3 to 6 feet instead of the previous 6 feet, all Barrington 220 students enrolled in the Hybrid model would be able to return to in-person instruction 5 days/week for the entire school day. Today I am announcing the start dates for that return at all levels. All families who chose the Distance Learning model will continue with that model for the remainder of the school year, except for families at Sunny Hill Elementary, who have received special instructions from their principal.

EARLY LEARNING CENTER

  • No Changes. Students will continue to follow their current schedule.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Principal Michelle Acosta at macosta@barrington220.org

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

  • Thursday, March 18: Asynchronous distance learning day for ALL elementary students, in order to implement operational changes in the buildings
  • March 19-March 28: Spring Break
  • Monday, March 29: First day for elementary students to return 5 days/week, full day in-person learning

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school principal.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • Monday, March 15: Asynchronous distance learning day for ALL middle school students, in order to implement operational changes in the buildings
  • Tuesday, March 16: First day for middle school students to return 5 days/week, full day in-person learning
  • March 19-March 28: Spring Break

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact school administrators.

HIGH SCHOOL

All Barrington High School students who are participating in the Hybrid model already have the option to attend school five days a week for an entire school day. This has been possible due to lower in-person student attendance at the high school. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact school administrators.

TRANSITION CENTER

Monday, March 29: First day for students to return 5 days/week for modified full day in-person learning, with students returning to their job placements.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Director of Student Services, Sharon Jacobellis at sjacobellis@barrington220.org.

Mitigation Efforts

Please keep in mind, strict adherence to 6 feet social distancing still must be maintained when face masks are removed for lunch.

Additionally, another important mitigation effort that has not changed with this new guidance is contact tracing. If there is a positive case in a school, the same rules and guidelines are still in effect. Any unvaccinated person who is within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period will be subject to quarantine. Therefore, with the change to the 3 feet distance in our classrooms, it is critical that the daily COVID-19 Symptom Screening is completed by all students. Please do not send your child to school if these symptoms exist.

We are excited to implement this transition over the next couple of weeks. Please remember, Barrington 220 will continue to follow these 5 CDC mitigation strategies:

  • Consistent and correct use of masks
  • Social distancing to the largest extent possible
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department”

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Illinois households pay nearly $9,500 on average in state and local taxes, which at 15% of their income is the nation’s highest. WalletHub finds gasoline taxes pushed Illinois to No. 1.

Illinois households spend 15% of their income on state and local taxes, according to a new analysis by personal finance website WalletHub.

The cost is $9,488 in Illinois state and local taxes applied to the median U.S. household income of $63,218. Illinois also ranked as having the second-highest property taxes and third-highest gas taxes.

Analyst Jill Gonzalez said it was those gas taxes, which the state doubled in 2019, that pushed Illinois to the top tax spot.

“I think so because now Illinois has the third-highest gas taxes in the country, and that’s five times higher than Arizona, or New Mexico or Mississippi,” Gonzalez told The Center Square.

Illinois in 2019 doubled the state gasoline tax, but also authorized certain counties near Chicago to increase or establish their own gas taxes. Lake County was the latest to use that law and just hiked taxes by 4 cents per gallon, effective July 1.

July 1 is also when the state’s gasoline tax is set to automatically increase by as much as a penny a gallon. It is currently 38.7 cents per gallon after initially doubling from 19 cents a gallon in 2019.

Read more here and see state-by-state comparisons.

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“Today the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released revised public health guidance for schools. 

The key update in this guidance is that IDPH has revised its recommendation for social distancing in schools, defining it as 3 to 6 feet when students and staff are masked, instead of 6 feet that was previously recommended. This revision will give us the opportunity to welcome back all K-8 hybrid students for five days/week, full-day instruction. All Barrington High School students who are participating in the Hybrid model already have the option to attend school five days a week for an entire school day. This has been possible due to lower in-person student attendance at the high school. All students who selected the Distance Learning model will remain in Distance Learning.

We are currently finalizing operational plans prior to announcing the start date for a return to full in-person instruction at all grade levels for our hybrid students. We will send out a communication later this week to inform you of the date. Your child’s school will send out additional details about the transition. 

A few additional revisions to note in the updated health guidance include:

  • Universal masking must be ensured regardless of whether schools use social distance of 3 feet or 6 feet. 
  • Capacity limits for in-person learning, including non-academic school hour activities such as lunch, are now determined by the space’s ability to accommodate social distancing, and not a set capacity limit number or percentage. 
  • Bus capacity remains at no more than 50 people per bus.
  • Unvaccinated staff should maintain 6 feet social distance as much as possible because adults remain more susceptible to infection than children. 

This guidance has been updated to be consistent with the CDC’s mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in schools, therefore Barrington 220 will continue to follow these 5 CDC mitigation strategies: 

  • Consistent and correct use of masks
  • Social distancing to the largest extent possible
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department”

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Illinois again ranked second for highest property tax rates in the nation in 2021, behind only New Jersey.

Illinois homeowners average $4,942 in property taxes on the U.S. median valued home of $217,500 – exactly double the national average. That’s a tax each year of 2.27% of the house value, according to the 2021 state rankings by WalletHub.

“The first property tax bill I opened was sticker shock,” said retiree Jerry R. McDonald, who moved to Springfield in 2012 when he married his wife, Nancy, a lifelong Illinois resident. “The difference was about two and a half times what I had been paying in central Kentucky. It was very disconcerting.”

This is the fourth year Illinois has ranked second-highest in the WalletHub survey. The new survey found Illinois property taxes $237 higher than in the 2020 survey.

Illinois is surrounded by states with lower property taxes, a driving factor behind Illinois’ continued population loss. The state just saw its worst year of population loss since World War II. A move to Indiana would save an Illinoisan $3,089 in property taxes on that $217,500 house, based on WalletHub’s data. The savings would be $915 in Wisconsin, $2,831 in Missouri, $1,535 in Iowa, $3,076 in Kentucky and $1,599 in Michigan.

McDonald said since 2012 he’s seen his taxes rise too quickly in the Springfield area.

“Our property taxes have increased, at a rough guess, by about 15%. The state’s finances are a mess … The backlog of the pension fund is draining the state and the solution … is long term and complicated.”

Read more here and view state-by-state comparison data.

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Illinois state lawmakers recently approved a rule requiring Illinois teacher training programs to adopt ‘culturally responsive teaching and leading’ standards. Critics say a political litmus test is the wrong focus when students are underachieving on the basics.

new rule that requires “culturally responsive teaching and leading” standards to be incorporated in all Illinois teacher preparation programs will take effect in 2025, because the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to approve the proposed rule on Feb. 17. Eight of the committee’s 12 members would have needed to vote to suspend the rule to prevent its implementation, and only the six Republican members voted to do so.

The Illinois State Board of Education adopted the new standards to “prepare future educators to teach diverse students [and] to foster classroom and school environments in which every student feels that they belong.”

Critics of the new standards, however, have said they require educators to embrace left-leaning ideology and prioritize political and social activism in classrooms at a time when Illinois students are underperforming on basic skills tests. Others, such as the Chicago Tribune, have praised the goal of preparing teachers to engage with students from diverse backgrounds, while also warning that there is reason to worry the new rule “embeds politics into teacher training” and that it is unwise to impose controversial new standards in “today’s highly charged political environment.”

Read more from Illinois Policy here.

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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

Following is a statement from Michael J. Madigan:

“Today I am announcing that I will resign as state representative of the 22nd district at the end of the month. It has been my great honor to serve the people of Illinois as speaker of the House and state representative of the 22nd District. This journey would not have been possible without my wonderful wife, Shirley, and children, Lisa, Tiffany, Nicole and Andrew, who have stood by my side year after year, providing their love and support despite the pressure of growing up in the public spotlight. I am fortunate to have them in my life.

“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service. Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life. These ideals have been the cornerstone of my work on behalf of the people of Illinois and the driving force throughout my time in the Illinois House.

“As speaker, legislator and member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention, I worked to make the General Assembly a co-equal branch of government, ensuring it acted as a check on the power of the governor and the executive branch, especially around a governor’s abuse of the amendatory veto. Many heated battles were fought to keep governors from rewriting legislation sent to them by the General Assembly.

“I am particularly proud of our work to increase the diversity of voices in the House Democratic Caucus to include more women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. In my tenure as Illinois House speaker, we worked to elect representatives across all backgrounds and beliefs to truly represent the interests of the people of our state.

“With the partnership of this diverse and talented group of Illinois Democrats and with our colleagues across the aisle, we were able to level the playing field and strengthen the middle class while workers in other states saw their wages diminished.

“We achieved school funding reform to increase investment for schools in need and address inequalities in our state’s education system. We made Illinois a welcoming state by passing the Illinois Dream Act and providing drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents.

“We strengthened the rights of workers, increased the minimum wage, expanded access to health care for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, and protected a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.

“We upheld the rights of all Illinois residents by passing marriage equality, finally recognizing the rights of men and women to marry the people they love. We enacted criminal justice reforms to break down laws that too often target people of color and led the country in expanding voting rights as other states weakened them.

“Collaborating with leaders in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing, health care and other industries, we built a partnership with job creators to encourage economic development and address crises in our unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems. We also expanded opportunities in the tourism and film industry, created the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority that reinvented McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and established the Illinois Sports Facility Authority that kept the White Sox in Chicago.

“When were confronted with the Rauner administration and the interests of the wealthy, who sought to weaken unions and the labor movement in Illinois, we stood up for working people.

Rauner went on to plunge our state into a budget crisis, nearly bankrupting social service agencies, eliminating funding for higher education, and racking up billions of dollars in state debt in the process. House Democrats stood as the last line of defense to protect our state from collapse.

“Under my leadership, we increased transparency of state and local government by creating the Freedom of Information Act and protecting it from attempts to water it down, impeached Rod Blagojevich and repeatedly strengthened the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws.”

“It’s no secret that I have been the target of vicious attacks by people who sought to diminish my many achievements lifting up the working people of Illinois. The fact is, my motivation for holding elected office has never wavered. I have been resolute in my dedication to public service and integrity, always acting in the interest of the people of Illinois.”

“My achievements would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of many members of my staff through the years. I thank them for their efforts on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus and the people of Illinois. I also want to thank the many volunteers and supporters who worked on behalf of the residents of the 22nd District. It is with the collective support of many that we have made Illinois a bastion of Democratic values.

“I leave office at peace with my decision and proud of the many contributions I’ve made to the state of Illinois, and I do so knowing I’ve made a difference.”

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s team announced last week it will enlist federal Disaster Survivor Assistance teams to help at COVID-19 vaccination sites in Cook and St. Clair counties. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency will give Cook County $49 million to help with vaccine distribution.

That’s entirely appropriate because so far, Illinois’ rollout of vaccinations has been flat-out disastrous.

It’s as if seniors across the region have had to come out of retirement to take on a new full-time job — tracking down the ever-elusive vaccine injection. They’re spending hours — and days — cold-calling potential vaccination sites and scrolling through the internet for injection appointments. Refresh. Refresh.

And how about these optics? At the same time elderly Illinoisans maddeningly scour their communities for a shot at a shot, Pritzker put state lawmakers at the front of the line. On Wednesday, members of the General Assembly were offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a state police facility in Springfield. One Tribune reader, Phillip Tutor of Schaumburg, wrote to us, “How about we have a law that no Illinois politician gets his or her COVID-19 vaccination until all Illinois residents get theirs? I then would bet that this vaccine rollout fiasco gets fixed in record time.”

The vaccine rollout in Illinois has been, well, as Tutor says, a “fiasco.” As of late last week, Illinois ranked 37th among states and D.C. in terms of rate of shots injected and that was actually an improvement. Of the vaccines it has received from the federal government, Illinois has injected 66.2% of those doses, which puts the state under the national average of 68%. As of late, distribution has been improving in Illinois, but the question remains: Why has Pritzker’s vaccine distribution management been so subpar, compared to other states? And why does he keep pretending it hasn’t been?

Read the full Chicago Tribune editorial here.

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The worst-governed state — Illinois had triple the population loss of the state with the second-highest out-migration between 2010 and 2020 — is contemplating another incentive for flight. On Feb. 16, a joint committee of the state legislature will decide whether to turn into a legal requirement the State Board of Education’s recommendation that — until a slight rewording — would mandate that all public-school teachers “embrace and encourage progressive viewpoints and perspectives.” If the board’s policy is ratified, Illinois will become a place congenial only for parents who are comfortable consigning their children to “education” that is political indoctrination, audaciously announced and comprehensively enforced.

Imposing uniformity of thought is the board of education’s agenda for “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading” (CRTL). This builds upon Illinois’ 2015 law requiring teachers to implement “action civics,” which means leading their pupils in activism on behalf of various causes. CRTL would make explicit that only woke causes are worthy causes.

Fortunately, a member of the state legislature’s joint committee, Rep. Steve Reick (R), is resisting CRTL. He notes that it will further burden teachers with mandates, and diminish teachers’ autonomy and hence job satisfaction, during the state’s teacher shortage: At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Illinois schools were short 2,000 teachers. Already mandated teaching subjects include Black history, women’s history, the “history, roles, and contributions of the LGBT community,” anti-bias and anti-bullying, “disability history and awareness,” “social and emotional learning,” “violence prevention and conflict resolution,” and “contributions of a number of defined ethnic groups made to Illinois and the U.S.” Literature, science, writing, arithmetic? Presumably, if there is any spare time.

Chicago’s public schools are already implementing the curriculum of the 1619 Project, the malevolently conceived and incompetently executed New York Times lens for seeing U.S. history as all about racism. After the project won a Pulitzer Prize with the splashy contention that the nation’s true founding was the arrival of enslaved people in Virginia 402 years ago, the Times revised its demonstrably absurd contention that protecting slavery was a “primary reason” for the American Revolution. Instead, the Times said “some” colonists rebelled to defend slavery, and termed this a “small” revision.

Read more of The Washington Post’s op-ed here.

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Barrington Hills… State Representative Martin McLaughlin (R-Barrington Hills) released the following statement:

“After just two weeks in office, I am embarrassed.  I am embarrassed to call myself a member of this Illinois State Legislature.  I am ready and eager to help our state turn things around.  I spent 15 months running a campaign to change the dismal course that Illinois has been on for decades. I did it because we need to address the real problems facing every hardworking Illinoisan. The General Assembly must work collaboratively to find real solutions.  We need to reform pensions and the property tax system, and we need to come up with a major initiative to provide assistance to small businesses.  This can only happen if we are allowed to go to work!

Instead, the new Speaker has cancelled the scheduled February session days for all but one constitutionally required day to accept the House rules.  I am incredulous that we cannot meet to do our jobs. This is after 10 months of executive orders with only two packed session weeks, where we saw extensive mandates and transformative bill packages rammed through in the middle of the night with limited time for review.

Nevertheless, the new Speaker has deemed our work “unsafe”. Come on!  It is no more unsafe for legislators than it is for the checkout cashier at the Jewel, the Speedway gas station attendant, the delivery driver, the toll worker, the TSA agent, the Costco employee or the Dunkin Donut order taker.  These folks do their jobs EVERYDAY.  I could go on and on with this list, but it comes back to the sheer audacity of the majority party and their satisfaction with the status quo. 

Why are we, members of the General Assembly, so special that we cannot go do our jobs? Governor Pritzker says we should not be vaccinated early, which makes sense to him, because the longer we are away from Springfield, he has more excuses to continue to run our state into the ground by issuing illegal executive fiat after fiat. 

The people elected us to be in Springfield working on the massive problems that existed long before Covid-19 and to address the serious fallout from the many failures from the Pritzker Administration. We need to be able to work together and collaboratively. We will continue to fail our constituents if we do not get back and open the books Madigan has held closed for decades. I will continue to do my best to call out the corruption and bad behavior when I can. As always, I will continue to work tirelessly for all of us in the 52nd District.

xxx

Jack Ivansek
House Republican Staff
JIvansek@hrs.ilga.gov

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