July 31, 2015

Illinois' political class needs to make changes


by Jared Labell, Guest Commentator


Taxpayers need Illinois’ political class to properly address the current budget impasse by enacting meaningful reforms. But if the bureaucrats in Springfield insist on upholding the status quo, which has brought the state to financial ruin, then a continued budget deadlock is preferable to higher taxes, new state income and sales taxes, more debt, and increased spending.


Jared Labell
Illinois’ state pension systems total nearly $200 billion in unfunded liabilities and the whole racket is inevitably unsustainable, as we discuss in Part I of TUA’s budget analyses. The politicians have shown for years that they cannot be trusted to manage other peoples’ money, let alone their savings for retirement, nor should this be the role of government. Each day that passes without transitioning new government employees from the current defined benefit plans to 401(k)-styled defined contribution plans is another lost opportunity to manage this ever-growing economic catastrophe. Not only would this change shield taxpayers from great financial risk, but it enables government employees to better manage their finances for their retirement needs and allows portability as they save for their own retirement.

Spending reform must be made a priority, as is clear in Part II of TUA’s budget series. The proposed level of appropriations for all state funds in fiscal year 2016 tops $60 billion. As TUA president Jim Tobin put it, “The political class and some media outlets frame the budget crisis as an issue of revenue, but that’s just not the case. The problem with Illinois’ budget is the result of years of profligate spending by the General Assembly and a series of governors who encouraged it.

The budget appropriations game is one that is played by both members of the Illinois General Assembly and the governor. Even though Gov. Rauner has put forth a serious effort to make cuts to the bloated Illinois budget, in the Part III of TUA’s budget analyses, we point out that more than $15 billion in spending remains constant from fiscal year 2015’s actual appropriation totals compared to Gov. Rauner’s 2016 proposed appropriations. The time has come for more budget cuts.

The Illinois State Police are the Praetorian Guard for the political class and are inessential. Sweeping cuts to the superfluous Illinois State Police force would save taxpayers untold billions in expected salaries, benefits, and pension costs, as outlined in Part IV of TUA’s budget series.

Although there appears to be a growing bipartisan consensus in Springfield to cut loose the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCEO) from the clutches of the state government, it’s hard for politicians to give up on old habits. So they are only proposing to turn some of its functions into ‘public-private partnerships,’ instead of abolishing the agency altogether. Part V of TUA’s budget overview encourages the complete privatization of this department’s operations, rightfully leaving the economic prosperity of Illinois and its businesses to the market, not the whims of bureaucrats. The government should not be in the business of doling out corporate welfare or subsidizing politically connected firms with our tax dollars as Illinois faces such grave financial difficulties.

The state of Illinois has been without an operating budget for nearly a month, and the sky has not fallen. The members of the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Rauner can work together to protect taxpayers from further economic calamity, or the political gridlock should persist. The government cannot expect Illinoisans to continue to send their tax dollars to Springfield if the political class is intent on fiddling while Rome burns, all the while using taxpayers’ hard-earned money as kindling.

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To read Taxpayers United of America’s complete series of Illinois state budget analyses, visit taxpayersunited.org

July 30, 2015

Who will be America's next President?


by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


Most Americans cannot tell you how many Republicans are running for President. If they are like me at this point, they don't care. I suppose if ten more people announce their candidacy we would just nod our heads sort of like Linda Blair did in the movie The Exorcist. If you didn't see the movie it wasn't pretty.

There is not much pretty right now about all the political rhetoric in our country. I guess we shrug our shoulders and say, "That's politics in America."

Actually it's entertaining and will become more so. We have Lindsey Graham shattering his cell phone after Trump gave out his phone number. Rand Paul tried to become theatrical sawing up a copy of the tax code. Ted Cruz recently called Mitch McConnell a liar and Mike Huckabee has the Jews at the door of a furnace if the Iran nuclear arms deal goes through.

Personally I don't like the idea of trusting anything to Iran either. If they get a bomb we will be the second people they will drop one on, right after Israel. All the while Trump's hairdo has not changed. If I had $10 billion dollars I would at least get a different haircut. While the Republicans get louder Hillary is still dealing with her email problems and Bernie Sanders is turning up the chase just a bit.

Trying to answer the question of who will be our next President is a little scary. Just exactly who will be our next Commander in Chief? Who really has the best ideas and the leadership ability to pull this country together and save us from going the way of Greece?

While politicians slug it out Americans are dealing with their own worries. How long will we have Social Security for retirement? How will Medicare ever pay all the growing medical bills?

My wife recently had three tests done in one of our esteemed clinics and the bill was over $10,000! Fortunately our insurance paid $7,700 but that left us with a nice balance. In my opinion the three tests were worth about $2,300.00. I suspect we paid the bill and our insurance company was slammed for the $7,700 of gravy money. Stuff like this is happening all around.

We have University Presidents in this nation making close to a million dollars a year while 22 year old kids try to pay back their $60,000 college loans. All the while many of the corporations and unions that promised to pay generous lifelong retirements plus all the medical bills are trying to renege or at least edit what they promised.

Many Americans watch the news and they know that ISIS and terrorism are growing. They know our jobs are leaving America. They know education is expensive. Even with Obamacare going to the doctor is often cost prohibitive. They know our country is being flooded with illegals and they have realized that in many cases our kids may not have the American life that our parents did.

In the midst of all this many Americans are depressed and feel hopeless and many don't give an iota about who is a Democrat or a Republican. They want somebody that gives them a feeling of hope. The man or woman who for the next sixteen months can convince the average American that he or she can pull this country together and truly make us a leading and prosperous nation again will be our next President.

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Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues: Every American Has An Opinion. He is also the author of other books including Fitness Is A Mind Game, The Adventures of Russell Walter and Spiritual Chocolate: Inspirational Delights for the Heart. You can hear him each Sunday night on XM radio 131 at 8 EST. Follow Glenn Mollette on Facebook here.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of PhotoNews Media. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Click here to learn how to submit your commentary, opinion, letter to the editor or response to this piece.

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Teacher Central

This video clip was uploaded to YouTube a few days ago and is both funny and entertaining. In fact, we think it is pure genius. How cool would the teaching profession be if their were shows like this and society valued - in terms of dollars and lots of cents - the women and men who mold us in our youth to help us become who we are today?