Wednesday, March 21, 2007

We will not be posting March 22 - March 30

We will not be posting March 22 - March 30. We suggest the following sites in the mean time.

The Family Taxpayers Network

Education Intelligence Agency

Education Matters

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

House panel vote today on school tax swap plan?

The income tax increase is one step closer to passing.

House panel vote today on school tax swap plan?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

By Phil Kadner
Source: Daily Southtown
Searching for signs of life in the state Legislature can be like interpreting Da Vinci's "Last Supper."

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, a master political artist, may be whispering important secrets about school funding into the ears of key committee members today.

Then again, he may merely be creating an illusion.

The Illinois House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations -- Elementary and Secondary Education
is expected to hold a public hearing today on House Bill 750.

This is a measure that would change the way public schools are funded by increasing the state income tax
from 3 percent to 5 percent while providing property tax relief to homeowners.

There are some other tax and tax relief components to the plan as well, but this stuff is confusing enough
without getting into all the details.

I mean, sponsors of this bill are calling it the Education and Fiscal Responsibility Act. If you like
that title, you can find the details for yourself online.

The important thing here, I think, is that Madigan is allowing the bill to be heard by a House committee.

Last year, the speaker refused to take the measure seriously.

Even while the measure, sponsored by state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) was passing out of a Senate
committee, Madigan's staff was laughing at its chances of ever getting a hearing in the House.

Turns out they were right.

Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), who had boasted of supporting school funding reform and a tax
hike, refused to let the measure onto the floor for a vote of the full Senate.

Well, things have changed in a year.

Now Jones is supporting Gov. Rod Blagojevich's school funding plan, which includes a new gross receipts tax
on businesses.

State Rep. David Miller (D-Calumet City), the sponsor of HB 750 in the House, is delighted Madigan has
decided to allow a public hearing on his bill.

Miller even expects the committee to vote on the measure today.

Since Democrats control the House and Madigan controls the Democrats, he likely wouldn't embarrass Miller by
allowing a vote that would result in the bill's defeat.

If there is a vote, it's because Madigan wants the bill pushed out of committee.

And the timing suggests Madigan wants an alternative to the governor's gross receipts tax.

"I don't think the speaker has any position on the gross receipts tax at this point," said Steve Brown,
Madigan's spokesman.

"He just doesn't know enough about it. All we have are speeches and press releases.

"The speaker needs to know what the plan would actually do, the details, before he takes a position."

But the speaker is allowing HB 750 to be called for a vote. So something in his position has changed since
last year.

"It's a new year," Brown said. "It's obviously time to discuss this issue now."

It also is possible that Madigan is seeking leverage in negotiations with Blagojevich and Jones.

Whatever the case, Madigan may now be the last and best hope for the so-called tax swap proposal.

Jones has said that as far as he's concerned the measure is in the Senate's "Hospice Committee.'

When I asked Meeks about that, he said, "I reminded the Senate president that hospice is not for the dead,
but for the living. My bill is still alive."

Looking at the political picture in Illinois is like studying one of Seurat's paintings at the Art

At a certain distance, the image has clarity.

But the closer you look, the more obvious it becomes that you're just looking at a jumble of dots on

The governor has vowed to veto any bill that includes a tax increase.

The governor has proposed a gross receipts tax that's going to result in higher prices for consumers, but he
claims that's a tax on big business, not consumers.

In the meantime, Mayor Richard Daley, who has said he wants the Legislature to pass school funding reform
this year, has yet to take a position on either of the bills.

He did ardently defend businessmen, ripping the governor for calling them "fat cats."

"You have to be optimistic," Miller said.

"House Bill 750 has been assigned to committee. I expect a committee vote (today).

"That's more than we've gotten in the past."

Will Madigan be there?

"I don't know, but his top legal guy will be running the meeting," Miller said. "That's significant."

You know, it must be because when I looked at the "Last Supper" again, there was Madigan's guy whispering in someone's ear.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ten ways to cut school spending

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Daily Herald.

Daily Herald Letter to the editor -- 3/18/07
Ten ways to cut school spending
Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants a new “value-added” tax on Illinois businesses to support more education spending.

Before I move my engineering business to another state to escape this onerous tax, here’s my “Top 10 Ways To Cut Education Spending.”

1) Eliminate teachers’ pensions. Pensions don’t exist in the private sector. Why can’t teachers have a 401(k) or Keough plan?

2) Cut teachers’ salaries. A friend just retired after serving as the “weight room” teacher for a local high school. He was nothing more than a glorified personal trainer, but with his Ph.D. in education, he earned more than $110,000 per year.

3) Raise the retirement age to 65. That same friend worked 30 years and retired with an annual pension of about $80,000 per year plus cost of living adjustments. The pension is guaranteed until the day he dies, and he’s only 56.

4) Stop the “advanced degree” scam. The main reason teachers get advanced degrees is to get a salary increase. If you were qualified to teach with only a bachelor’s degree, you don’t need an advanced degree.

5) Eliminate AP classes. If you want college credit, go to college.

6) Don’t start all-day kindergarten. We already have all day kindergarten. It’s called first grade.

7) Increase class size. When I was in school, the average class size was 30-35 pupils.

8) Eliminate teacher’s aides. Why do teachers need aides? You’re the teacher, so teach!

9) Cut health care expenditures. In the private sector, employees pay a greater share of their health insurance and so should teachers.

10) Take computers out of grade school. Just like calculators did not improve math competence, computers do not improve penmanship, language or writing skills. Software spell- and grammar-check features do not teach anything.

At the last Democratic National Convention, one-third of the delegates were teachers. The governor’s plan is nothing more than a political payoff to the teachers union — his biggest constituency — and we shouldn’t have to pay for his votes. And you wonder why Democrats keep asking for more education spending.

John Schadl

Arlington Heights

Fight or pack up

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Northwest Herald.

Fight or pack up

To the Editor:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is pushing the largest expansion of state government in Illinois history.

And he’s doing it in classic Blagojevich style, with vague bold strokes. He has no detailed plan for this massive proposal, just a partisan speech, a news release, and a new straw man, the Illinois businessman.

The gloves are off now, it’s his second term. His budget address sounds like a declaration of war against Illinois businesses. Blagojevich wants free health care, piles of money for overdue bills, and another $10 billion for education. And instead of real working people (i.e. union labor), he’s going to make you pay for it.

But Blagojevich isn’t raising taxes, he’s just expanding them – expanding them to everything you do with a gross receipts tax. The average voter won’t understand economic ramifications of the all-inclusive taxes and the multiplier effect, but should understand that Illinois is the eighth-worst state to do business in, and it’s about to get much worse. The most aggravating part of all this is putting more good money down that bottomless pit in Springfield.

This is a fight-or-flight situation. Stop Blagojevich or start researching new state residency requirements.

Drew Veeneman


Gross receipts taxes are extremely destructive for a state's economy for more information we refer you to the The really gross ‘Gross Receipts really Tax’ article by the Illinois Policy Institute.