Sunday, June 30, 2013

Told you so: Illinois smoking tax falls short of revenue projections

Sheesh, I warned Illinois' tax-raisers that this would happen. But they wouldn't listen to me--they never do.

When taxes go up on tobacco products, revenue forecasts always fall short. Some people quit smoking, but those that continue the habit drive across state lines to buy cigarettes or purchase them from smugglers.

And my fellow Illinoisans are adept at gaming any system. It's in our blood.

From Gatehouse News:
Illinois' one-dollar-per-pack cigarette tax increase that took effect a year ago this month is expected to fall $130 million short of initial estimates, meaning it won't raise quite as much as projected for school capital projects because of the way the funding formula is set up.

The increase, which hiked the state’s 98-cents-per-pack tax to $1.98 last June, is expected to bring in about $212 million in additional revenue for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

That’s well short of the $350 million in additional revenue originally projected, according to a monthly report released at the end of May by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
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Quinn: ILL-inois pension debt only growing by $5 million per day

Fresh off his well-deserved booing at the the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory rally on Friday, Governor Pat Quinn announced yesterday that Illinois' public pension debt is growing by only $5 million a day--it had been accumulating by $17 million every 24 hours.

Is Quinn being truthful? Perhaps not. For instance, Moody's, which regularly lowers Illinois' credit rating, claimed that the state's unfunded pension liability in 2011 was in fact $133 billion, not $81 billion, which is what ILL-inois said it was then.

When in doubt, always believe the money guys over the politicians.

Related post:

(Audio) Gov. Pat Quinn loudly booed at Blackhawks Stanley Cup rally

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The War on Plastic Bags: Chicago Front

Watch out for that pothole!
Via Naked DC, I came across a blog from an environmental extremist group, the National Resources Defense Council. On it, there is a blog post entitled, "Ban da bag." I am a fifth generation Chicago area resident, almost all of my very large extended family lives here. And do you know what? None of them talks like the SNL "Superfan" characters.

By misinterpreting a Chicago Sun-Times headline, the NRDC blog says that there is "broad support" for a plastic bag ban in the city.

Wrong. However, if plastic bags are banned in Chicago, I believe there will be broad support to bring them back.

I work on Chicago's North Side and most of my client base lives in the city. They care most about: Cutting taxes, improving crappy schools, fighting crime, and repairing pockmarked and warped streets. What's easier? Fixing these problems or banning plastic bags? That is what Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st Ward) is trying to achieve in the Chicago City Council. If that name sounds familiar, he's the alderman who made a national name for himself with his battles with Chick-fil-A over gay marriage.

I will think about that and plastic bags if my car breaks an axle on a Chicago pothole.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

(Audio) Gov. Pat Quinn loudly booed at Blackhawks Stanley Cup rally

Illinois' failed governor, Pat Quinn, was loudly booed at today's Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory rally in Grant Park earlier today. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also spoke--and he wasn't booed.

As for Rahm's fellow Chicago Democrat, the heckling was not a reflexive action--it was a long and sustained booing.

It's been 435 days since Quinn said he was "put on earth" to fix Illinois pension system, which is underfunded  by $100 billion.

The Blackhawks had One Goal this season--bringing the Cup back to Chicago..

As for Quinn, he belongs in the Prairie State's penalty box. And he deserves to be booed forever.

Oh, wait for the final two seconds when someone shouts, "Go away, jackass!"

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Conservative groups telling union members how to quit Big Labor

Quit now
In some cases, it's relatively easy for union members to say "No" to Big Labor.

From the Wall Street Journal:
A coalition of 60 groups in 35 states has begun a national campaign to tell workers they have the right to opt out of a labor union, and are providing instructions on how and when to do it.

The campaign, which launched Sunday, is the brainchild of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, libertarian think tank. The group last year ran a local campaign informing teachers in the Las Vegas area how and when to opt out of the Clark County Education Association, a union affiliate of the larger National Education Association. To opt out, members had to submit a written notice during a two-week window in July, which many did, campaign leaders say.

“It got us thinking, how many other millions of union members across the country are interested in leaving their union and don’t know if it’s even possible or don’t know when to do so,” said Victor Joecks, communications director of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which is spending $25,000 on the “Employee Freedom Week” campaign.

Mr. Joecks said he’s not accusing unions of withholding the information from their members but said they are burying it deep inside contracts. “The unions are doing a very good job of recruiting people. What we see this as is the counterbalance of the information” they emphasize, he said.
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