Friday, November 11, 2016

2016 Ballot Initiatives Results

2016 Ballot Initiatives: Largely Positive Results for Taxpayers
While the presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump garnered much of the media’s attention, taxpayers scored some significant victories on consequential ballot measures decided at the state and local level, with some notable exceptions.
Earlier this fall, National Taxpayers Union issued its 2016 Ballot Guide, which detailed 74 consequential state and local fiscal policy ballot questions. Below you will find a brief recap of how some of the major initiatives fared on Tuesday.
Income Taxes
In California, by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin, voters approved Proposition 55, which extended by 12 years, temporary income tax increases for their top tax bracket.
In Maine, a bare majority supported Question 2 – increasing the top marginal tax rate by three percent – from 7.15 to 10.15 percent – on income above $200,000.
Tobacco and Soda Taxes
In California, by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin, voters supported Proposition 56, which will raise cigarette taxes $2 per pack – from $0.87 per pack to $2.87.
In Colorado, voters rejected Amendment 72 by a 12 percent margin, which would have raised cigarette taxes from $0.84 per pack to $2.59 per pack.
Voters in Missouri rejected two cigarette tax increases (Proposition A and Amendment 3) by a 45-55 margin and 40-60 margin, respectively.
North Dakota voters soundly defeated Measure 4 by a 38-62 margin. If enacted, Measure 4 would have drastically increased cigarette taxes from$0.44 per pack to $2.20 per pack.
By a 62 to 38 percent margin, voters in Oakland supported Measure HH, which will institute a one cent per ounce excise tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Across the bay, by a similar margin, voters in San Francisco backed a one cent per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.
Voters in Boulder, Colorado, supported Measure 2H by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Measure 2H will institute a two cents per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
Other Tax Issues
By an 18 point margin, voters in Oregon rejected Measure 97, which would have imposed a very high gross receipts tax on business earnings over $25 million.
In Oklahoma, voters rejected Question 779 by nearly 20 points. If enacted, Question 779 would have increased the state’s sales tax from 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent.
By a 16 point margin, voters in Washington rejected Initiative 732, which would have implemented a carbon tax offset by a reduction in other taxes, including sales and business taxes.
Health Care
In a stunning defeat, voters in California rejected Proposition 61 by an 8 point margin. If enacted, Proposition 61 would have essentially implemented price controls on pharmaceuticals by prohibiting the state from paying more for any prescription drug than the highest price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Voters in Colorado wisely rejected Amendment 69 by a 60 point margin. Amendment 69 would have doubled the size of the state budget and drastically raised taxes on virtually all forms of income in order to create essentially a single-payer healthcare system in the state. 
ICYMI: Election Updates from NTU and NTUF

Taxpayers Spoke on November 8 
"The stage has been set for genuine progress on behalf of the people who pay government's bills." - In a recent statement, NTU President Pete Sepp comments on the election, victories for Taxpayers' Friends, and the need for "constructive participation in the legislative process, principled cooperation, and plain persistence in the face of inevitable obstacles."

What to Expect on the Policy Agenda in the Next Senate
National Taxpayers Union Foundation tracked 208 fiscal proposals offered by candidates in five close Senate races and offered a detailed look into what to expect from the Senate in 2017.

Budget Realities Await President-Elect Trump
NTUF Associate Policy Analyst Spencer Woody looks at the fiscal and legislative barriers facing the new President and argues sober-minded governance will be needed to address budget realities.
 
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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

In our rush to proclaim Community Colleges as the "solution" to our higher education dilemna let's not forget that, unlike State Colleges and private colleges the burden for these facilities rests squarely on the local property tax payer.

Is it any wonder that the state and federal governments LOVE community colleges?
Shifting students there shifts the costs to the "yokels".

Saturday, May 25, 2013


NEARLY 10,000 ILLINOIS PUBLIC SECTOR PENSIONERS MAKE $100K A YEAR OR MORE


100 dollar bills
By Ulysses Arn - 

Illinois is broke, and an analysis of the states pensions by Taxpayers United of America shows us why - 9,900 public sector pensioners make $100,000 a year or more.
Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of its annual study of the top government pensions in the State of Illinois.
“Illinois House Speaker, Michael Madigan (D), and Senate Majority Leader, John Cullerton (D), continue their political charade of pension reform while the number of six-figure pensioners grows 47% in one year to 9,900”, according to TUA president, Jim Tobin.
“Illinois is quickly running out of time to deal with the government-created crisis of unfunded pension liabilities. Madigan and Cullerton engage in a carefully choreographed pension reform debate that provides political cover for their allegiance to the union bosses who keep them in power.”
“The reality is that they have crafted legislation packaged as sweeping reform that will do more harm to taxpayers than no reform at all. The Madigan version of pension reform will provide a funding guarantee that places the cost of this elite group of government pensioners squarely on the backs of taxpayers and make these outrageous pensions the first priority of the budget – before any other services or obligations of the state.”
“Real pension reforms were proposed in HB3303 which was introduced by representatives Tom Morrison and Jeanne Ives, but that bill did nothing to help the union bosses maintain favor with their rank and file and was quickly rejected by Boss Madigan.”
“The purpose of our study is to put some perspective around individual pensions, to put them in terms to which the average taxpayer can relate. Illinois taxpayers, whose average household income is $53,234, and struggle with 9.3% unemployment need to know how much Illinois’ government retirees are being paid not to work and the astronomical accumulation of those payments over an average lifetime.”
“We actually expanded our list from the top 100 to the top 200 since there are so many six-figure pensioners now. The top 200 are all over $189,000a year.”
“Still topping our list of Illinois’s government elite in annual payouts is Tapas Das Gupta, retired from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He collected a cool$439,672 in his last annual pension payment and will accumulate a stunning$5.2 million in lifetime pension payments.*”
Beverly Lopatka retired from DuPage Government HSD 88 at the ripe old age of 56 and has an annual pension of $399,652, with a staggering estimated lifetime payout of $11,524,643. Her contribution of the estimated lifetime payout would be only 0.8%.* ”
“The highest lifetime payout estimate goes to Larry K. Fleming, retired from government school district Lincolnshire-Prairie View 103. Having retired at theage of 55 with a cushy annual pension of $258,163, he will accumulate a breathtaking $11,868,155 in pension payments over a normal lifetime.”
View Pension Amounts Below
“Illinois’ financial condition is in the tank. We have the worst credit rating, the highest unfunded pension liabilities and one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We had a net loss of 74,000 productive, taxpaying residents last year.  What does it take to get serious about pension reform that will solve problems, not create new ones?”
“Without sweeping and immediate reform, Illinois’ government pension system will collapse by 2015. It’s mathematically impossible to tax your way out of this problem. Illinois has more than 9,900 retirees collecting more than $100,000; in 2020, that will be over 25,000 six-figure pensioners. Real pension reform must include raising the retirement age to 67, increasing employee contributions by 10%, increasing healthcare contributions to 50%, eliminating all COLA’s, and replacing the defined benefit system with a defined contribution system for all new hires.”
*Lifetime estimated pension payout includes 3% compounded COLA and assumes life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590).

Saturday, May 11, 2013

southtownstar
 
 

Kadner: A travesty of a mockery of a sham

Last Modified: May 11, 2013 12:10AM
Mike Madigan really wants to raise suburban property tax bills.
“This is going to happen,” the speaker of the Illinois House said last week, referring to the shift in funding pensions for suburban teachers from the state to local school districts. “There will be a new plan.”
The Legislature has been busy crafting a pension reform plan in Springfield. While the Senate and House each passed their version of reform, neither included the dreaded shift in funding to suburban and downstate school districts.
Legislators from those areas, beset by angry residents, had made it clear they would not go along with any pension reform plan that included shifting a larger burden of the pension costs to their constituents.
Last year, I cautioned readers that Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Gov. Pat Quinn all supported the idea of sticking suburban homeowners with the tab for the state’s decades of neglect.
For 30 years, the state of Illinois has underfunded its five pension systems, but the Teachers’ Retirement System has suffered the most.
Billions of dollars for the pension funds were lost, misplaced or spent somewhere they shouldn’t have been. Nobody seems to care what happened to all that money.
Few seem to remember that the state had the legal obligation of funding the pension systems, and elected officials simply failed to do their jobs.
You paid tax money to fund the pensions. But your elected leaders chose to spend the money on something else.
The politicians, watchdog groups and newspaper pundits all seem to say it’s way too late to demand accountability.
The only thing to do now is reform the pension systems, shaft the government employees and stick taxpayers with higher bills.
It isn’t enough that Illinois workers were hit two years ago with the largest income tax increase in the state’s history.
The $7 billion a year raised by that “temporary” tax increase can’t even pay all of the state’s current bills, let alone the $100 billion or so owed the pension systems down the road.
Adding injury to trauma, the state also has failed to adequately fund its public education system. The Illinois Constitution assigns the state the “primary responsibility for financing the system of public education,” but it supplies less than 30 cents of every dollar spent on the public schools.
If you heard that a parent had been legally designated the primary responsibility for financing a child’s education and he was contributing only 30 percent of the cost, you would say the fellow ought to be hauled off to prison for violating a court order.
But this is Illinois. Laws don’t matter. Children don’t matter.
And taxpayers exist only so the politicians can suck the marrow from their bones.
Madigan says pension funding for downstate and suburban teachers must be moved to school districts because the current system is unfair to Chicago.
Chicago finances its teachers’ pension system, the argument goes, and Chicago taxpayers also contribute to the system for teachers outside the city.
What Madigan and the other Chicago politicians don’t say is that Illinois’ education funding system always has been rigged to shift more money to the city.
For nearly two decades, education experts, business leaders and financial watchdog organizations said the state had to raise the income tax to adequately fund public education.
But the Legislature raised the income tax and cut education funding.
And if the Legislature does shift the pension burden onto the backs of school districts, the districts will be faced with two choices: Cut school programs or raise property tax levies.
The governor’s response is to suggest that he would only sign a gambling expansion bill if the revenue went to education funding. The same ploy was used regarding money from the state lottery, and that resulted in yet another scandal.
This is a travesty of a mockery of a sham, to quote Woody Allen.
I have written about all of this many times, but each time the dust settles our inept, lazy and incompetent public officials revert to form.
As someone who believes that government is necessary, as a person who knows that taxes are the price of living in a civilized world, it is impossible to watch such mendacity without retching.
If suburban residents don’t let their legislators know they will not stand for a shift in pension funding, it’s going to happen.
With Madigan, Cullerton, Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel all pushing for the shift, it’s likely to occur no matter the volume of dissent downstate and in the suburbs.
The goal is to spread the cost shift over so many years, 10 to 15, that school districts won’t initially object and taxpayers won’t care.
The cost initially will be a small fraction of your local school district’s budget. But over time those costs will compound and eventually amount to billions of dollars.
It’s very similar to the scheme the Legislature used to drive the pensions systems to near collapse.
By the time the financial crisis hits the school districts, the lawmakers today no longer will be in office. No one will remember who is to blame.
If a finger of blame gets pointed at all, it will be in the direction of your school board.
In fact, the Legislature has had great success with that tactic already in regard to increasing property tax bills, caused in large part by the state’s refusal to fund education.
Let your representative in Springfield know that you will not turn a blind eye to further skullduggery.
Stealing money from children is not an acceptable way for the state to pay its debts.

Copyright © 2013 — Sun-Times Media, LLC

Friday, May 10, 2013


Kadner: A factor in multiplying tax confusion

Last Modified: May 10, 2013 05:26PM
There may be someone who can explain how the property tax is calculated in Cook County, but chances are you wouldn’t want to talk to him.
The property tax is probably the chief gripe of people who live and own businesses in the suburbs. Nobody understands how it’s calculated, and tax bills keep going up.
In a news release this week, the Illinois Department of Revenue announced that it has determined that the 2012 final equalization factor for Cook County is 2.8056.
The equalization factor also is known as the “multiplier,” but as Shakespeare once said, “An apparently random number by any other name still stinks.”
Here’s the really important thing the revenue department wants you to know: “The equalization factor does not cause individual tax bills to go up.”
I find that humorous because everyone who gets paid for handling property tax stuff in Illinois seems to be in a hurry to say, “Don’t blame us for any of this.”
The Cook County treasurer collects property tax payments and mails out the bills but always emphasizes that she is not responsible for those ever-increasing tax bills.
The Cook County assessor may assess your property and determine its “fair market value,” but don’t blame him when your bill arrives in the mail.
In fact, he’s the guy who handles your property tax breaks. There’s the standard homeowner property tax exemption, a senior citizen exemption, a senior tax freeze exemption, a retiring veteran exemption, a disabled veteran exemption and a disabled person exemption.
Everybody who owns a home in Cook County gets a property tax break, so you’ve got to wonder why everyone is so unhappy.
There’s a hint at the core problem in that news release from the revenue department about the final calculation of the equalization factor/multiplier.
By law, all property in Illinois is supposed to be assessed at one-third of its value. But Cook County doesn’t do that.
It has a classification system that places separate value on vacant lots, residential property, apartments, commercial land and industrial property.
Homes, condominiums and apartment buildings of six units or less are assessed at 10 percent of market value, as are vacant lots. Apartment buildings of more than six units are assessed at 13 percent of their value.
Property owned by nonprofit corporations and commercial and industry properties are assessed at 25 percent.
And, oh yes, there’s another designation for commercial or industrial property being developed in economically deprived areas, usually assessed at 10 percent.
You may have noticed that none of these are assessed at one-third of their value, as required by the state.
In fact, all of these types of properties in Cook County combined were assessed at 11.9 percent of their value, according to the state revenue department, or about a third of what they should have been.
That’s why you have to multiply everything by 2.8056 in the county “to achieve uniform property assessment throughout the state.”
In other words, Cook County tries to cheat, so the state is forced to make sure there’s an even playing field.
All the average guy knows is that nothing makes sense to him. The fair market value of his home doesn’t seem to resemble the amount of money he could get if he put it up for sale.
And a guy in a similar house down the street may be paying a lot less in property tax.
Of course, there’s a solution for that. You can appeal your tax assessment to the Cook County Board of Review.
You don’t need a lawyer to do that, county officials will tell you, although somehow entire law firms seem to stay in business by getting lower assessments for their clients.
And if you don’t like the decision by the board of review, you can take your case to the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board. That’s where large companies often cut millions of dollars off their tax assessments.
But here’s the thing that most people never seem to notice about this entire tax process. As the revenue department says in its news release, “local taxing bodies determine tax bills when they request the dollars needed to provide services to citizens.”
In other words, if a town or school district needs $1 million, it sets its tax levy on property owners within its boundaries that will raise $1 million.
Even if 5,000 of those homeowners have senior exemptions and 10,000 have homestead exemptions and ACME Gunpowder just got a $500,000 break on its tax appeal, the town or school district levy is $1 million.
Someone has to pay it.
By the way, in my list of public officials who want you to know they have nothing to do with the amount on your property tax bill, I forgot to mention state legislators.
They do not assess your property, set a levy or collect the tax payments. But in reality, the Legislature plays a huge role.
You see, even though the Illinois Constitution gives the state a mandate to finance the public schools, the state provides less than 30 percent of the money needed to support public education.
Most of the money for the public school system comes from the property tax — on average more than 60 percent of a homeowner’s tax bill goes to his local school districts.
Municipalities, which get a lot of money from the local sales tax, generally represent around 10 percent of your property tax bill.
If you have any questions about all of this, you could always go to a township assessor.
In Cook County, unlike the rest of the state, the township assessor does not assess anything. So, he or she is not responsible for your tax bill.
It does sometimes seem that the entire purpose of the Cook County property tax system is to create jobs for people who have nothing to do with the tax.

Copyright © 2013 — Sun-Times Media, LLC

Monday, May 06, 2013


Vote ‘No’ on Knox Community Schools’ Property Tax Increase Referendum!
MAY 6, 2013, 12:35 PM
from National Taxpayers United of Illinois by admin
CHICAGO—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) is working with taxpayers in Indiana’s Knox Community School District to oppose the district’s property-tax-increase referendum that will appear on the district’s May 7, 2013 ballot.
“This referendum is a money grab for the bureaucrats of the Knox government schools,” said Jim Tobin, TUA president. “Homeowners are being hit-up for a property tax increase to fund a new building that just isn’t necessary.”
“The average value of a home in Starke County is $99,400, so this referendum, if passed, would increase such a home’s annual real estate tax bill by about $279 every year.”
“It’s amazing that even with the decline in property values, resulting in homeowners losing a significant portion of their assets, the Knox Community School bureaucrats still want a sizeable increase in property taxes to build their work-palace.”
“Eighty-percent of government-school revenues go to salaries and benefits of these government employees for their nine-months-a-year employment. An increase in property taxes will not help students, but it will keep funds available to well-to-do teachers and administrators for their lavish pay and benefits.”
“Taxpayers in Knox Community School district are dealing with 12.3% unemployment- one of the highest in the country. They have also been hit with a 44% increase in their Social Security taxes but these government school bureaucrats want even more. After all, these government bureaucrats have no need to worry about job security or economic strife – they have nearly iron-clad job security with a guaranteed lifestyle that is greater than those in the community they serve.”
‘We urge Knox Community School homeowners to turn out in force for the May 7 election and vote No on the property-tax-increase referendum. You can bet that the government employees will show up to vote in favor of their buddies’ shiny new workplace.”
Click here to download our ‘VOTE NO’ flyer to share with friends and neighbors in the Knox Community Schools district.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Your Federal Tax Dollars At Work In Aurora...MAY 1, 2013, 12:58 AMfrom ILLINOIZE by OneMan

A bit over two years ago Aurora got some federal money ($117,400) to buy and put up two smaller wind turbines to power two sets of stoplights on the east side of town.

The two turbines have been up for a while and as someone who drives by them both virtually every day I as well as others have noticed they don't seem to spin too much.

The Beacon News has an update and things are not going real well, in fact they are going poorly.  They are barely covering the electricity used by the stoplights. Read the whole thing, it isn't going real well.

They seem happy that between the two turbines we are producing about 50 KWh a week or about 200 KWh a month... So how much is the city "saving"...

Well using data from here  it appears and using the the summer rate of 5.511 cents per KWh the city is saving about 11 dollars a month.  Not the $50 they say, using my ComEd bill after the electrical costs, the transmission costs and everything else besides the taxes and other listed on my bill I pay net about  9 cents per KWh, using that number it comes to about an $18 dollar a month savings.

Or to think of it another way it will take 543 years to pay for itself.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

We're Back!

With the recent defeat of the Woodford County ballot initiative proposing a 1percent "Facility Sales Tax" it has occurred to us that this site should be dusted off and updated for future property tax battles.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Can You See Me Now?

When I was a child, “learning one’s colors” was an important pre-cursor to first grade. Fortunately, at that age, there are no fuchsias or peaches to worry about – just pure primary colors which I had no trouble with.

A few years later I realized that what I was seeing in color was not what others were seeing. I was “color blind”. It amazes me that people still think that the “color challenged” (the current politically correct name) see in black and white; that’s dogs, not people. We see the exact same colors that you do. We perceive them differently and have trouble distinguishing shades and hues and thus have trouble naming them the same as you would. A purple to me is purple to you as well – until you add a little less or more red and then it’s still purple to you but I can’t name it anymore. A bright red is red to me but add a little blue and I don’t know what it is. Make it brighter or darker (intensity) and it may change its color as far as I am concerned. When does it go from red to "brick red" to brown? I haven't a clue. It’s as much a labeling problem as anything else.

Anyway, when you’re a child, not “knowing your colors” is quite the embarrassment so I became very clever in getting others to name them for me and going from there.

Now, in my 50’s, I am outing myself. I’m color blind with regard to some reds, greens, and ambers. Think about that for a moment.

A quick drive to Radio shack to pick up a computer part passes me through stop lights with, you guessed it, red, green, and amber. The wires on the part are – red, green, and amber. When I get home and talk to the customer service person for my home server the diagnostic lights he’s asking me about flash red, green, amber. Just about all computer software and electronic hardware have some versions of red, green, and amber built in for health indicators or action indicators. I always would have preferred things that look different to me like blue, yellow, and red. But I don’t run the world.

This is not your usual Blogger demanding program dollars for those poor unfortunate children who deserve a level playing field. It is a notice that most “color challenged” have managed to squeak through life fairly successfully without special laws, programs, consideration, or money.

People are not all the same. We shouldn’t want to be.

In this and most other matters - We’ll be fine. Stop helping so much. I don’t know if we can stand any more help.

Ehh, but could you just tell me, what color would you say that is . . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No Coat Tails


In light of the Massachusetts senate election is now official:

Barack Obama has the political coat tails of a naked midget.