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Added Jul 06 2017

The hard part of figuring out how climb out of the hole is just beginning.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/06/535811049/illinois-lawmakers-override-governor-pass-budget-for-first-time-in-2-years

    Illinois Lawmakers Override Governor, Pass Budget For First Time In 2 Years
    Lawmakers in Illinois have enacted a budget for the first time in more than two years, overriding a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner and overcoming a last-minute delay at the Capitol. The crucial override vote was delayed after authorities received a report of possible hazardous materials, prompting an investigation, The Associated Press reports.
    http://www.npr.org
  • Mad About RP Proved right... again

    Enjoy your tax hike. Congrats. 32% historically high increase is quite a feat.

  • Rob

    Why do you keep calling the increase historic?

  • Mad About RP Proved right... again

    It is historic.. When has there been more?

  • Mad About RP Proved right... again

    So? Waiting?

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    Enjoy your high taxes.

  • Mad About RP Proved right... again

    My. My. They love their taxes.

  • Madigan > Rauner.

  • Mad About RP Proved right... again

    Most of us are 2k + per year.i don't know about you but that is coming out of my entertainment budget.

  • There were significant budget cuts, too, and they're going to hurt. University funding was cut 10%, government departments were cut 5% across the board. Illinois government spending per capita will now sink even lower than what it was. We were already ranked #37 among the other 49 states in per capita spending, which is WELL below the national average. Now we will probably be ranked down in the forties. Illinois has been spending about $4,990 per capita each year, which is peanuts. Compare that figure to the nearly $8,000 that Scott Walker's "fiscally conservative" state of Wisconsin spends each year--nearly twice as much as us. Wyoming, another great Republican "lean government" state, spends $15,000 per capita, three times as much as Illinois.

    Bottom line: Illinois is not a big spending state. And that means there was no fat left to cut. The tax hike was cold, hard reality: we have an immediate deficit of $15 billion to cover, to say nothing of the pension crisis that is also looming. No Republican, no Democrat, no genius and no divinity could ever have closed that gap without implementing a tax increase of some kind.

    That's why Rauner himself supported raising the Illinois income tax rate up until this week. Five percent was in fact the figure he recognized as necessary. But now he has come out against the increase because he didn't get any of the (relatively frivolous) legislative changes he wanted and that he was determined to insist on even at the cost of precipitating the state into junk bond status. So now he is pretending to be the governor who was against the tax hike. In fact he's a fraud who didn't get a cherry on his ice cream, so now he's whining like a 5 year old--even as the Illinois Senate and General Assembly have played the (surprising) roll of the only adults in the room.

  • role

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    High taxes for all. Hurrah!
    (Sarcasm)

  • Rob

    Though MARP isn't around to respond, allow me to answer his question regardless since he seems to not be able to do some basic math and instead relies on headlines from inforwars.

    This increase went from 3.75% to 4.95%, that is indeed a 32% increase.
    In 2011, it went from 3% to 5%. That is.... drumroll please, a 66% increase.

    So, as you drift off into the sunset MARP, thank you for allowing me to prove you wrong and ruin your narrative one last time. See ya on your next one!

  • JohnL Retired old foggey.

    With all the tax loving Democrats in Cook County and Illinois we should be called Taxinois.

  • Nothing like Trumpster tears in the morning.

    ---

    Boss Madigan won. He's the Khan of Madiganistan for a reason. He works harder, he's more ruthless, he's smarter, and he's cautious, until he strikes.

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    Sounds like you have a theory, manticore, but you're confused. On the national level, our leader, President Trump, keeps winning and winning.
    It's here in IL where we're all paying the price (literally) for years of catastrophic liberal policies.
    IL is falling apart and Chicago is the next Detroit and Democrats can be very proud of it.

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    BTW, have fun with your high taxes!

  • Kass also listed the names of the "Brave Fifteen" from the GOP who originally voted for the budget so that they can be harassed today. You know who else made lists?

  • And I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of winning.

    ---

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that if his party fails to muster 50 votes for its plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, it will have no choice but to draft a more modest bill with Democrats to support the law’s existing insurance markets.

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    Manticore, our leader, President Trump keeps winning and winning. #winning
    We, who voted for him, are very happy!

  • From the looks of it, Thing Two is having to work especially hard on here ever since they booted Thing One!

  • People who complain about paying the Obamacare fee for non-compliance are basically admitting that they can't afford it or are free-riders. I like people who can pull their own weight.

  • As I mentioned in another thread, this new agreement will accelerate the loss of productive people and businesses, in which we lead the nation, while doing nothing with the totally dysfunctional tax structure of spending more than Illinois takes in.
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-census-population-loss-met-20170322-story.html
    When the day of reckoning finally comes, and it will, the remedy will be worse. And sadly, it will affect the most vulnerable, the poorest and the weakest, the hardest.

  • We still need to reform the way Illinois budgets and spends money. The truth is that the tax increase will not fix this mess, and we can expect our legislators to pat themselves on the back and return to business as usual. We still need a comprehensive plan for eliminating our huge deficit and for funding the programs from which our legislators have been stealing in order to avoid tax increases.

    The solution is going to be a package of both unpopular cuts in programs and unpopular means of raising revenues,incentives for promoting growth, and yes, pension reform. In other words, thoughtful planning, compromise, and a willingness to make hard decisions. Illinois has traditionally voted in legislators incapable of performing these tasks. They did one right thing, but that doesn't mean they can handle the work that needs to be done. Has anything changed? Not really. We slowed down our accelerated descent. For now.

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    Now that we have an income tax increase (don't forget we also have a property tax increase), for those who support the increase, will you now favor constitutional reform so we can cram down the public sector pensions which are killing this state?

  • Yes, our state is a mess and there is a lot we need to do to fix it. Has anyone upset about returning to a slightly lower income tax rate than we were in 2014 (5% then vs 4.95% now) compared the tax policies of Minnesota vs Kansas and looked at how those have played out? Investing in our state and our own interests is not the worst thing in the world. Let's hold our politicians accountable for where that money goes.

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    No more Link cards.

  • Nice to see that Adam Andrzejewski is able to soak up some of that wing nut welfare after failing in electoral politics.

  • Hi Manticore, I'm not sure what you mean by that. I didn't support him in his political career but I found this part of the article pretty easy to object to no matter which side you lean:

    Here are just some of the Illinois lawmaker ‘big-dogs’ from both parties:

    Retired Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (D) makes $132,384 a year in state lawmaker pension – from a short eight-year ‘career’ as a state senator (plus some pension spiking tricks).

    Former Governor Jim Edgar (R) costs taxpayers $337,816 per year: a $156,324 pension, plus an $181,492 salary (FY2013) at our flagship University of Illinois at Champaign.

    In 2010, former Governor George Ryan (R) had a $197,028 annual pension ($16,419/month), but it was stripped away by the successful public corruption prosecution conviction.

    Even former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (R) cashed in for a $28,020 ($2,335/month) legislative state pension before heading off to his congressional career.

  • Rauner has personally cost the state a lot more than those four individuals did with their pensions.

  • Agreed. I'm not a republican. That doesn't change the huge financial strains our state is under. Asking our government to be responsible with our tax dollars is a fair request. There are plenty of dem's who have feathered their nests while letting the city go bankrupt too.

  • The city isn't bankrupt.

  • I'm happy to see these kinds of pension scams become a issue, but it should also be pointed out that the vast majority of state workers are only getting relatively modest pension checks. For most of them, getting a pension means they don't qualify for Social Security in retirement, so their state pension is roughtly what other retirees get with their combined 401k savings + SS.

    A $3,000/month state pension (for example) might sound really high, but it comes in lieu of a $2,000 SS check, so it's really only worth $1,000. And mid-level private sector workers very often get around $1,000 retirement income from their 401ks, so both groups are in fact in a similar place.

    People see these political pension grabs by powerful legislators and then blame teachers, garbage collectors, etc., for excess pensions, but that's inaccurate and extremely unfair.

    And Manticore is right: the amount the state loses from the pumped-up pensions of these Illinois politicos is actually minimal compared to the billions of dollars of damage we suffered during the budget stalemate. A thousand people pulling $50K more than they deserve still only amounts to $50 million. Sure, that's money, but it's nothing compared to the billions we lost due to credit downgrades and so on.

    We really only have ONE big problem in this state. Our various pensions were set up to operate perfectly well. All the state had to do was continue to operate them the way they were designed. But instead, legislators and governors--Dems and Repubs alike--colluded to raise their estimates for future pension fund returns in order to divert pension moneys to other projects. That is literally the ONLY big budget "goof" Illinois has made and that has gotten us into such a mess. The pensions themselves are not to be blamed; excessive state spending is also not the problem. "It was the pension funding formula, stupid" (T-shirt message).

  • So how do you propose we get out from under this?

  • When you add up all the unfunded pension debt in Illinois--both local and state--every IL resident owes $15,785. That should give an idea of the ceiling of the problem. It's horrifying and also kind of reassuring to look at this number. It's a lot of money, but at least it's a concrete number. It's not the infinity of a black hole that will devour us all.

    $15,785. If we all gave Illinois $15,785 the problem would be solved. But of course it's not that easy. And we don't all have $15,785.

    Illinois has 3,000 people who are each worth upwards of $30 million. If each of these people gave the state $66,000, the pension crisis would be solved. Presto! They wouldn't even feel it. But of course it's not that easy.

    So everything will be affected. New pension contracts will have to be cut. More department budgets will have to be trimmed. There needs to be some indirect federal aid (but that will only happen only after Trump, if ever). Taxes will have to be raised again, and the increase will be spread out among many economic sectors, products, assets and services. Fees for automobile registration will go up. If it were up to me, I would institute some kind of special tax on the rich, to make up for the cruelty of our flat state tax (that guarantees the rich pay so little compared to other states).

    I wouldn't cut a cent from education, child welfare or children's healthcare, because that would rob future generations of their qualify of life.

    The key will be to raise the money from as broad a spectrum as possible, because the poor simply can't pay as much as the middle class and the middle class can't pay as much as the rich.

    Also, remember that it will all happen over many years, which will minimize the immediate effects on state residents. No one is asking anyone for fifteen thousand dollars all at once.

    But yes, it's going to be hard.

  • oops, big goofup: I did my math wrong on the rich: if all of Illinois's super wealthy people donated 66 MILLION, the pension problem would be solved (200 billion divided by 3,000). Not $66,000. So it's even more difficult! Some of our billionnaires could easily afford this amount, but of course not all multimillionaires could afford $66 million without going into bankruptcy. And that might be a bit too much to ask. It's very difficult to convince people to go into bankruptcy for the good of others.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    One can tax wealth in many different and fair ways. Tax profits, tax services, reduce tax loopholes, and reduce special favors and supplements and so called incentives. No need to think the 1% are suffering. They will still be fat and greedy in the end.

  • I'm contemplating this and trying to figure out how to be reassured by that number but I'm just not getting there, even if it's spread out over time. Most I know aren't able to contribute to their own retirement savings let alone make up the shortfall to try and cover someone else's. If we need to ask everyone to pitch in, won't some concessions have to be made? There are a number of high paid positions that receive pensions - pensions bigger than what I earn full time and hope to support a family with. I can't imaging trying to muster to the political will to pass more tax increases without finding some middle ground.

  • Rob

    "our leader, President Trump keeps winning and winning. "

    Man, I read that this morning and it's STILL making me laugh. Trump couldn't even win a game of pin the tail on the giant limousine right in front of your face.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Ellie,

    Your mistake is to think you are covering civil service workers' pensions. You and I are expected to pay for the elite and politicians "borrowing" from pensions for thirty some odd years because revenue was not sufficient to pay for state services. You got a bit of a tax break and corporations and the elite got HUGE tax breaks. All was seemingly fine until the bill came do. What is the political answer? Blame it on the guy who can't get Social Security or only very limited Social Security because he did us the favor of lowering our taxes but he mostly funded--without his permission--big tax cuts for corporations and the super rich.

    I only have looked at the SURS pension and if the state had paid what it was supposed to there would have been no problem paying the pensions.

    I think the average state pension last time I looked was about $32,000. The ones who are used as the poster children for pension abuse are the buddies of politicians and the wealthy who got nice favors using the system because they did the bidding of these special interests. They were ably to leave the system with gigantic pensions. They are the exceptions but yes they should be made to answer.

    By the way, the other culprits are the pols. They can leave office with a legislative pension, a university pension, a city pension, a county pension and a judicial pension to boot if they play their cards right. They typically introduce laws to cut pensions protecting their own. The loyalists affiliated with power can get fat pensions and add more pensions by crossing the border and picking up one or two more.

    .

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Part Two

    Physicians' pensions are usually used to demonstrate how unreasonable pensions are. Physicians might say that 1. they pay a great deal into the pension system to get what they get 2. they add out of their own pocket more investment money into a special investment fund to add to their pensions, and 3. they pay throughout their lifetimes a great deal for insurance and other costs. You can debate whether the head surgeon from UIC is getting more than his pension due, but the question is not as simple as you might think.

    To ask pensioners to pay for the underfunding of tax revenue is like asking those with 401ks or Bs or whatever other private investment plans to pay for the irresponsibility of the wealthy and politicians because they potentially made money on tax shortfalls--what you saved and made profit from over 30 years should be paid back. (It can be argued that we already do in a round about way.)

    Now, where does that leave us? We can blame the saps who funded state services (pensioners), decide that everyone needs to equally pay for bad tax policy or hold the politicians and businesses responsible for getting the lion's share of the rewards and cut back on their historic prerogatives. Your choice.

    I want what's behind door number 3.

    Many politicians want number 2.

    The wealthy like Rauner want to continue to suck more wealth by supporting some form of number 2 and cutting services for all. This means they continue to win big.

  • I'm not sure why some people are braying that Illinois has suddenly raised its taxes to an outrageous level. If you look at the Tribune, all they are talking about this week is the tax increase (without mentioning the spending cuts), and they make it sound like we are taxing our way toward doom. But with its new rates, Illinois will still be well within average ranges for both corporate taxes and personal income taxes. Our new corporate rate is 7% and our personal income rate is 4.95%. Compare that to:

    Wisconsin, our great Republican-led neighbor, which has a corporate income tax of 7.9%.
    Indiana's is 7.75%
    Iowa's is a whopping 12%
    Minnesota is 9.8%
    The average seems to be around 6.5%, and most of our Midwestern neighbors tax corporations more than we do. We could definitely raise our rate higher.
    https://taxfoundation.org/state-corporate-income-tax-rates-brackets-2017/

    The new personal income tax rate of 4.95% does put us in the upper third of the states, at number 16. But many of the states that have rates higher than ours have been mostly Republican-led, such as North Carolina (5.49) and Utah (5.0), and we are not that much of an outlier at all.
    http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/tax-hike-means-illinois-has-fourth-highest-flat-income-tax-rate/

    We've hardly entered seriously high taxation territory. Yes, our property taxes are high, at #2 in the nation, but on property taxes we are really not that significantly far ahead of Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and others.
    https://taxfoundation.org/how-high-are-property-taxes-your-state/

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    We're just paying more and we know our money will be wasted. No changes.

  • Wazzup not available

    higher taxes will increase the cost of living and hopefully resolve some of our "problems"

  • What, if you can't afford the "cost of living" you just curl up and die? Get swept away by the street cleaners? Shame on you!

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    That's a SJW attitude.

  • It's not unfair to be concerned about taxes when there's a quarter trillion dollars to be accounted for. That's going to land on us and i haven't seen any suggestions to bring that number down. Sure, if it's only 50 million in abuses that's small in comparison but that's hardly a satisfactory answer and certainly doesn't make gaming the system ok. Going back to my first comment, I'm in favor of the new rate if it means having a budget. I'm in favor of funding education and services for those in need. And I'm very much in favor of government accountability and transparency if it's means the policies that brought us here won't be continued. This started a lot earlier than two years ago.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Yes Ellie, using pensions as a slush fund started a long time ago. There are other abuses of pension money that have and still might again blow up in people's faces.

    Daley went after Miriam Santos mainly because she refused him access to city pension money so he had to put an even more slavish loyalist in so he could play with that fund.

    Politicians in many states then use city pension money to attract donors who give pols. big bucks so they can have the use of pension dollars, which end up getting invested in more dangerous (chancy) ways like hedge funds. This has already caused problems in some states.

    What do you think Emanuel is doing? I expect taxpayers will bear the brunt of this gaming of city revenue streams. Guess who will be blamed? Not the financiers making millions. Those greedy city workers!

    Do some research on this practice. The Nation and others have covered this form of greedy finance and politician opportunism. And no, bad practices have not stopped. One reason is because people like to blame other people rather than look up.

  • well to be precise, the pension debt is really "only" a fifth of a trillion, not a quarter trillion. Might sounds like a rhetorical difference, but if it were a quarter trillion then we'd each owe another $3,500 on top of the 15. Not so rhetorical :)

  • and you're right, Ellie; taxes being raised does mean real hardship for many, especially in an already relatively high taxation context. Not trying to diminish that fact. I just wanted to emphasize that we are not heading into some kind of tax nightmare or twilight zone.

    Again, the most important thing in Illinois right now is to find some way to levy more taxes on the wealthy so that future increases are distributed better among those who can actually afford them. We are one of only 5 states that has a flat income tax. It was enshrined in our constitution long ago by clever rich people who knew it would guarantee them low taxes well into the future. But now we are in a state of crisis, and we need a new taxation distribution model in order to get out of it.

  • Does this mean we don't need a Governor and can just return his salary to the general fund now?

  • There is a very good, brief commentary on the budget/tax issue in Chicago Magazine this week, including an explanation from one of the Republican reps who voted to end the impasse. It kind of puts everything into perspective. Voting against the measure and seeking a non-tax solution would have required ALL Illinois expenditures be cut by a whopping 45%. Doing nothing at all would have resulted in immediate junk bond status--which would not have meant higher borrowing rates, but the inability to borrow any money at all:

    "It is not an exaggeration to say that there was the very real possibility that the state of Illinois would not be able to survive this added burden":

    http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/July-2017/The-Price-of-Compromise-in-Illinois-Politics/

  • and a fascinating read from Crane's Chicago Business about how Rauner's new chief of staff might signal more of an extreme-right, Trumpian turn for the governor.

    "Her [Kristina Rassmussen's] appointment does make one wonder whether the Democrats were right in suggesting that, whatever his public stance, Rauner never was interested in doing a deal that did not give him total victory."

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170710/BLOGS02/170719993/illinois-gov-rauner-signals-war-with-new-chief-of-staff-pick

  • Well good for Gov Rauner. Thanks to the Democrats, under Michael Madigan, and a few cowardly Republicans who couldn't stand up to him, our state is beyond broke so even adding a few more taxes to the already high taxes won't help. Meanwhile the most productive are leaving and so are jobs.
    The financial foundations and the structure of this state have to be changed, not tweaked.

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    ^Pretty much.

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    I will now ask the question for a second time:

    Now that we have an income tax increase (don't forget we also have a property tax increase), for those who support the increase, will you now favor constitutional reform so we can cram down the public sector pensions which are killing this state?

    I can only presume that by not answering, those in favor of the tax increase are not interested in reforming this state and instead choose to tax their way to financial insolvency.

  • Bill in Rogers Park Rogers Parker - co-founder of Glenwood Neighbors

    Looks like the same gullibles who allowed themselves to be tools of the Russians and voted for Trump are the same gullibles who think Rauner is doing something good. Rauner is confused: he is not a CEO - he is a governor. Two different roles. The first thing that people overlook - and former republican Gov. Jim Edgar pointed out - is that Rauner failed as governor to do his job and present a balanced budget to the legislature for debate. Instead he demanded they present to him a budget - and oh, by the way, he demanded that non-budget items be included (reforms that are dubious and no guarantee of anything other than meeting Rauner's agenda). He held the budget process hostage and harmed the financial credit of the state, cost tax payers more as penalties piled on and hurt universities, the poor and small businesses that do business with the state. He is a disaster and needs to be voted out of office.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Please define what exactly you mean by "so we can cram down the public sector pensions"

    Do I support reform? Yes.
    Do I want to "cram" anything? Well, no.

    There are plenty of things that can be done -- workmen's comp reform; transition all new State employees to 401k (this cannot be done to current employee contracts -- the supreme court has already ruled on that); and progressive income tax.

    Rauner could have been working on all of these items. Instead, he tied all of these nonbudget items, plus things like term limits and the very unpopular right to work, to the budget. That was foolish. It cost the taxpayers millions of dollars for which we received absolutely no return. Plus several credit downgrades. Rauner's ill-advised "my way or the highway" approach did more damage than good.

    I don't like the idea of him "cramming" anything upon anyone.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Some of you have bought the bridge and focus on spending as if this is the problem. Or maybe I should say spending on education, social services and infrastructure maintenance.(Illinois is not at the top in spending on these things.)

    But rarely is there a peep from the right wing bunch when millions are given in subsidies for corporate benefits and millions are granted for trinkets like sports stadiums and other favors to wired interests. Oh yeah, they go numb whenever some pol. says it generates income (it also generates big profits) or we must kiss the behinds of business to stay in illinois. Economic blackmail has become the go to card when we need to be told "Can't Touch This!"

    You don't hear a peep from the trolls when our taxes are used to pay lawsuits because yet another cop has committed another atrocity.

    So trolls should at least be silent when we are forced to bite the bullet again to pay for the exploits of the elite. It's partly the result of your jaundiced perspectives.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Nick, if new state workers were transitioned to 401ks, wouldn't this harm current employees' pensions in the future. I'm thinking in terms of the fact that current workers in the private sector pay my SS benefits. Don't public pensions work that way at least to some extent?

  • What Rauner has proposed is that future state workers accept a 401k plan and also be eligible for (and obviously have to pay into) Social Security at the same time.
    Of course, his proposal has come with a total lack of resolve, because he will never accept any reform whatsoever unless it's packaged along with one of his pet concessions. He could actually get a lot done if he wasn't such a stubborn idiot. The more I see of him, the more convinced I am that there's something fundamentally unbalanced about this governor.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Requiring new employees to accept a 401k would not affect current employees. They would have to pay into SS, of course, and there are some various payroll taxes. But, overall it would reduce State costs.

    Could have been an easy win for Rauner to get that done, but he tied all kinds of strings to the budget and got none of them. He is not very good at his job. And now we have experienced even more credit downgrades since he became Gov. That is taxpayer money down the drain with absolutely nothing in return.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    I am not sure if you hear yourselves talking about downgrading public worker benefits. Maybe we should cut all employee salaries by adding an additional tax that would have you pay for the true cost of public services. BTW, lowered benefits for one group tends to lower salary ranges for all over time.

    If you downgrade state employee benefits, then they will reasonably demand market salaries. Why would a professor, for example, work at a state institution if a private one will pay more or s/he could work in another state where benefits were more competitive. Benefits were one way folks were encouraged to accept slightly lower wages given their credentials.

    Downgrading benefits overtime would lead to a downgraded education since stellar employees could go elsewhere. (They could then compete for your own jobs.) If you want to downgrade benefits, you should be ready to do the same to your own.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    It is certainly true that downgrading benefits at a state institution, say a University, would lead to demands for more market salaries. Of course, the hiring trends in public Universities, including in IL, have been dramatically skewed towards administration positions rather than faculty.

    "The number of administrators in Illinois’ universities grew by nearly a third (31.1 percent) between 2004 and 2010. At the same time, faculty only increased 1.8 percent, and the number of students only grew 2.3 percent."

    https://www.illinoispolicy.org/reports/pensions-vs-higher-education/

    You could pay faculty more competitive salary with fewer admin hires. What are all those admin staff doing, anyway?

    FYI, I teach at a IL public university.

  • Tenured faculty are very expensive. Universities are trying to cut costs by using adjuncts and replacing outgoing senior faculty with junior faculty or adjuncts. This does nothing to improve the quality of the education offered or their ability to attract students.

  • I don't think that diminishing the value of pensions is a good idea. But if we have a $200 billion pension shortfall going forward, it's hard to imagine a scenario where future pensions in Illinois don't get restructed and cut.
    But as far as universities go, it's quite common throughout the U.S. for professors to get a 401k plus SS, so I really don't think that particular change would harm Illinois universities.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    The "adminstrative" position title is dubious. It includes what people assume: dean, vice chancellorships, and presidents. The majority are student advisers, accountants, nurses, library aides etc. Non-teaching jobs are often categorized as "administrative."

    Growth at the very top is a smaller subset and includes ex-politicians who get favors after they leave office and get integrated into the educational system in some way.

    BTW, many "admistrative" titles are given to someone who might be a civil service worker. Often you can pay an academic professional less money than a civil service worker and squeeze more work hours out of them. They are paid a flat salary for often inordinate amounts of work. Reducing administrative titles might increase costs because of the default into civil service categories. The explosive increase in these "administrative" positions was often done to save money.

    Now if you want to attack the very, very top have add it. These are the ones often protected by the pols. However, the low guy/gal will probably be the one kicked in the butt because of the misnomer and the manipulation of the issue. And we'll end up paying more.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    There are already repercussions for the state of illinois being so currupt. If you could be guaranteed a competitive salary and benefits elsewhere why wouldn't you go someplace else? This has affected the most accomplished faculty members.

    Most people do not appreciate the talent at state universities. These are the folks that often get recruited eventually to elite institutions across the country.

    It's not just high end faculty. If you are getting less benefits at public institutions then you chase the highest salaries, moving as often as you encounter a better option. So it creates less stability at educational instions where stability is so essential.

    And remember public pensions were seen as a cost saving alternative. One state left pensions only to return to them. The problem is not pensions but the misuse and borrowing from pensions.

    By the way, the same argument to some extent is being used to lower all salaries. Many people have been "right sized." Why pay for a US engineer? They expect to much. You outsource their job to another country where they take less. Why pay to have a business in illinois when the work can be done in a right to work state? That's what Rauner wanted for Illinois. Lower salaries for everyone in a right to work state.

    Labor solidarity helped build the middle classes. Now they have been turned against themselves and weakened. When will someone make an argument to rightsize your job?

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Gabriel, in spite of your defense of admin positions, the growth in management and admin positions in IL public universities has far outstripped any growth in faculty positions and enrollment has declined. The question remains: Why all that need for admin when faculty growth is low and enrollment is lower?

    I could see there is some growth in Admin positions, but 31 percent? That's bloat.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Aim you attack on top leadership positions, not lower level civil servants. Aiming at"administrators" covers too many people, hopefully not you intended target.

    BTW, the civil service is and has forced a review in the growth of academic professions, not teaching "administrators." So yes this category has grown in order to pay folks less and demand more hours.

    But who do you think will be cut using such broad strokes?

    Also, Illinois is no longer at the top of higher education spending. The latest cuts will place it even further down the pecking order. And there have been many cuts over the past decade. Staff salaries are typically at lower than the cost of living. Aiming for the bloated salaried officials is your target not the poor "administrative assistant'" running the office until past normal working hours.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Running the office doing what? Enrollment is declining. Faculty are doing more and more admin work, yet the admin staff has grown more than 10 times the rate of all other positions.

    Sure there are more assistants -- because there are more Deans. The tenured faculty have no secretaries. We have a single part-time (often student) employee in our Dept. office. Get rid of all those extra Deans.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    It is not true that student enrollment has dropped at all institutions. Enrollment has dropped especially at places where budget cuts have hurt the most. UIC, the largest public university in the city,keeps getting larger. Part of the reason is because other state institutions have had reductions leading to fewer courses, programs and services.

    Illinois exports many because students are discouraged from choosing Illinois because of institutional instability. .

    People often do not understand what makes an institution attractive. It is full-time faculty, but it is often travel abroad programs, easy registration and admissions processes, good counseling programs, internship and research opportunities, campus housing, athletics, health services, hospitals, research labs, outreach to underserved communities such for health purposes, focused institutes such as in media and graphic design and computing and various areas of engineering; institutes that focus on disabilities and special education and I could go on and on and on. If you want great options that improve your education, you need more than classroom faculty. There are many PhDs, MAs and those with undergraduate degrees that make universities run properly.

    If faculty were expected to do it all (virtually impossible) this, they would get on the first jet out of Illinois or at least to another institution. Using UIC as an example, there are about 29,000 students plus or minus in any given year. Add faculty and employees, professional and technical and service, and you are talking about a city within the city. U of I Urbana is even larger.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Part 2

    Higher education institutions do not only absorb money, they are major economic engines of the state. They employ thousands who pay taxes, are a center of consumption and site of development and research and small business incubation. They are sites for launching small business initiatives that are spun off and employ people in a variety of areas. The research faculty and staff's discoveries lead to industrial uses that make the state and the US competitive.

    Not to mention innovation, creative production in the arts and producers of doctors,dentists, lawyers, etc.

    You can't run these institutions on bitterness. Cut the salaries of top academic officials and limit the highest paying titles if you think it is called for but slicing off the heads of so many others is myopic and is plainly poor economic decision making.

    It is only the propaganda of the politicians and their voice boxes in the media that have fueled this silly notion. Choose your targets wisely. By the way, many ill informed faculty sometimes repeat this ridiculous notion until it comes to cutting the lab, institute, incubating center, or services they use and think absolutely necessary.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Gabriel, I work at a public University. Enrollments are down and will go down further this year (everywhere but UIC and UIUC). SIU had a decline of 23 percent!

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-illinois-universities-enrollment-met-20160908-story.html

    None of the programs you mention can account for the fact that Admin positions grew at 31 percent in a decade while faculty positions grew at 2 percent and enrollment declined overall. We still had study abroad programs more than a decade ago, and registration is now done mainly Online, so less staff is needed. Many departments are staffed by a single support staff person -- often a part-time student employee. Yet we still get things done.

  • Gabriel, many of these highly paid administrative positions are mandated by federal law eg, diversity officers, more student counselors, etc
    http://www.chronicle.com/article/Administrator-Hiring-Drove-28-/144519

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    But what people critique are the non-mandated deans, associate deans, assistant deans, executive vice chancellorships, associate vice chancellorships, assistant vice chancellorships or their equivalents in other systems. These are the real administrative positions that pay very well and have increased over the years.

    These positions are up for debate with regard to number and salaries.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Here are the main points to consider. 1. Higher education budgets in illinois have drastically shrunk over the years. Illinois in comparison to other major state systems is not at the top of the spending list. 2. Universities are like small cities. They have become more complex, and they cannot be run by a skeletal staff like a mom and pop store despite the fact that some offices are bare bones. 3. Much of institutional growth is in areas that make colleges major resources and economic engines.

    While folks are upset that they have not seen tenured faculty positions grow, teaching is often done by adjuncts and this is partly due to pressures to cut budgets.

    Continuing to bleed educational budgets will not lower your taxes. Any money saved will only go to supplement neoliberal strategies whose goal is economic concentration. It is also counterproductive since it can affect the economic contributions of education.

    Debate all you want HOW educational dollars should be spent. That, I believe, is fair game.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    By the way, I have worked in higher education for many years.

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    The trade off for a lower salary by working in the PUBLIC sector is job security. You are working for the public good. That is the social contract. As soon as public sector unions became a reality, the social contract was broken. The public sector unions lobby the legislature for increased benefits with the threat of a non-working government if the benefits are not given. The legislature gives the benefits, the public sector union members vote for the legislators,and it is a never ending cycle of self-interested corruption.

    Cram down the pensions. Stop the automatic 3% increases. Don't allow a pension amount to be more than the last salary. Stop the pension stacking. Increase employee contributions to their own pension funds. Increase employee contributions to their healthcare costs. The corrupt Illinois Supreme Court, with their own self interest in one of many state pension funds, has ruled pension form must come in the form of constitutional reform. Mike Madigan and the Democrats have blocked that reform.

    Yes, Rauner should have presented a balanced budget. But it is absurd to blame a less than one term governor for our problems. The fact is Mike Madigan controls this state and does so through his positions as House Speaker and head of the Democratic Party has done so close to 40 years. UNTIL YOU STOP VOTING FOR PEOPLE WITH "Ds" AFTER THEIR NAMES, THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY REFORM IN THIS STATE!

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Gabriel, you write: "2. Universities are like small cities. They have become more complex, and they cannot be run by a skeletal staff like a mom and pop store despite the fact that some offices are bare bones. "

    I reject this analogy completely. How are they like small cities? They EXIST in cities. How have they become more complex? Who ever said they could be run like a Mom and Pop store?

    Quit with the straw men.

    You say you've worked in higher education, well I provide sources for my statements. The sources demonstrate that Admin positions have grown 31 percent in a decade. How many orders of magnitude of increased complexity can account for that, while faculty growth is less than 2 percent and enrollments actually declined?

  • Rauner is a wrecker.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Yakov - Rauner is entering his 3rd year as Governor. He has yet to sign a single budget. He's the one said he was bringing in a roster of business superstars. So stop covering for his failure. The fact that previous Governors also failed is no excuse for his failures, which include several credit downgrades due to his inaction.

    The IL Supreme Court has already ruled that IL cannot renege on contracted obligations regarding pensions. The "cramming" you'd like to do can only be done with new hires.

    Tell Rauner to cram it.

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    I am well aware of the SC's rulling, hence the need for constitutional reform, which Mike Madigan and the Democrats have blocked. They have the power to inact reform, yet choose not to do so.

    The one consistent factor in Illinois fiscal collapse has been Mike Madigan and his Democratic legislators.
    Why have Mike Madigan and his Democratic legislators allowed this state to slip into financial ruin? They want to keep their own pensions? They like the power and prestige that comes with public office?

    Blaming Rauner is like blaming the bandaid for not allowing the knife wound to heal. It is short sighted and myopic- much like Madigan's and the Democrats' financial planning for the last 30 years. For three years Rauner has talked about the need for structural reform, including constitutional change. Again, it has been Madigan and the Democratics who have fought for the status quo.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    Seeing Rauner as the hero takes a leap of faith. That's what the supporters' posts are, faith-based genuflections.

  • Rauner blew it.

  • Gabriel Resident of PRRP

    The anti-union rant notwithstanding, yes the politicians can be blamed for giving the financial and corporate elite what they wanted, 30 odd years of tax gifts. Now you want to punish the pensioners but want to continue to provide giveaways to the fat cats at the expense of those who did the favor. If you want to give corporate gifts, you should be glad to raise your own taxes.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    Yakov -- I've heard all this "Constitutional change" business before. The process to amend the IL constitution is not an easy one. It has been tried 6 times and only successfully once. So, blame the IL founders who wrote it.

    Now, has Rauner taken a single step towards a constitutional convention? No. It remains a distant fantasy. Something that is talked about but never acted upon.

    He has already tried to "cram" his policies through by tying them to the budget and holding the entire State hostage unless he got his way. He failed in this childish tactic and IL experienced 8 credit downgrades because of it.

    How about Rauner actually govern? Where is the leadership he promised? Hostage-taking is not leadership. Even Republicans turned and overode him when it became clear he was taking the state on a path to ruin.

    Instead of assigning blame, why not ask Rauner this: What are your solutions to the current problems of the State that are legally and constitutionally valid?

    On that, Rauner's got nothing.

  • Pedro Garciano Hillary lost. We dodged a bullet.

    How can you claim to be a Democrat and hate unions?

  • Rauner is turning into Kurtz before our eyes.

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    Anne Burke and her merry band of Democratic pensioners have blocked one form of attempted constitutional reform. Mike Madigan and his loyal foot soldiers have blocked the other. See the pattern? The Democratic Party in Illinois don't want constitutional reform, i.e., the only manner in which public pensions can be altered, because it effects their power base. The cost of a Con-Con shouldn't matter when those living off of the taxpayer's dime will cost us 10x more. Denying the need for constitutional reform is being complacent with the status quo. We can complain about "corporate welfare" all we want, but don't forget, it is corporations and businesses that provide the jobs and the tax base for those not fortunate enough to be on the public dole. You raise taxes to stop people from smoking or using plastic bags, it works the same way with jobs. Raise taxes and jobs go away. It is simple economics. People and jobs are leaving Illinois and a record setting pace because Mike Madigan's policies and leadership for the past 30 years Blaming Rauner and "businesses" for our financial dire straits simple can't be more short sighted.

    Regarding the GOP voting against Rauner in the latest budget fiasco: Madigan gave them no choice. Madigan successfully shifted the blame to them because he is a master manipulator of the political system. If you think this latest budget is anything but a band-aid for a bullet wound, you are incredibly naive. The GOP members even said as much: they had no choice because the Democrats are not interested in reform, only the status quo. Many members expressed their dismay and stated they will not run for re-election because Madigan's politics makes it impossible to get anything done. Madigan had a super majority for many years and did nothing. He will probably have a super majority again after this next election cycle. The blame lays with him and those that support him.

  • The Republicans in the Assembly who voted against Rauner did so because the only alternative was a 50% across-the-board cut in ALL state spending. Rauner was willing to play chicken with that apocalyptic scenario; but they were not. They were not "forced by Madigan" into voting against Rauner. They were just willing to sacrifice their own political futures for the survival of the state of Illinois.

    No amount of "structural reform" could have solved the problem of an immediate budget debt of $15 billion. In the face of Rauner's inaction (he's actually the one who's supposed to propose a budget, and he never has), the Assembly managed to pay the bill with a combination of significant spending cuts (5% cut to all spending) and an increase in the state income tax rate to around the level it was a few years ago--and which is also the same rate as Utah and numerous other states.

    Rauner has consistently turned down good opportunities to make structural reforms in Illinois, because he refuses to let them happen without tying his own (relatively insignificant) pet proposals to them.

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    Rauner has consistently turned down opportunities to effect reform? What the heck has a Democratic controlled legislature been doing for the past 30 years? Blaming a less than 1 term governor for the lack of reform is partisanship at its worse.

  • Nick in Irving Park Condo Owner

    You're right. I blame Rauner for more than 2 years without a budget and numerous credit downgrades. Any time he wants to actually do something is fine with me.

  • It doesn't make sense to obsess over the mistakes "of the last 30 years." Focus on the politicians who are in power right now and what they can, can't, aren't or should be doing: Madigan and Rauner.

    Sure, the last 30 years was a period during which Democrats in the Assembly made a lot of stupid moves--but more than one Republican governor did as well. In fact, it was Republican Gov. James Thompson who made the first fatal decision leading to the current pension crisis (1989) and then Republican Gov. James Edgar was the one who cast the second fatal blow (in 1994) and then piled on with a series of horrible blunders. In both cases, these governors were working with the Assembly, but they were the governors responsible for the decisions that were made and they were proposing them.

    In fact, the entire pension crisis has unfolded exclusively from political decisions that were made under the two Republican governors in question. The state was set during the 1990s. (There's a good argument to be made that worse things tend to happen when the governor and the Assembly in IL are controlled by different parties.)

    "The History of Illinois' Pension Disaster"
    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/pensions-timeline#0

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