Thursday, April 06, 2006

Letters From: Illinois Review's Fran Eaton

April 05, 2006
Running low on funds isn't always a bad thing

Voices for Illinois Children and Ounce of Prevention want $2 million more dollars from this year's state Department of Human Services budget to screen more children (ages birth to 18 years) for mental health issues. They also want $6 million from the State Board of Education's budget to determine whether our children have social and emotional hangups.

Mind you with $8 million from you and me, more
newborns, more toddlers, more preschoolers, more children, more teens, and more young adults will be exposed to busybody psychological questionnaires. And if that's not offensive enough, Illinois law does not require parents know their children are being psychologically interrogated.

Indeed, the vast majority of parents will not know their children have been psychologically screened until they get a note from their local school recommending their child see a psychiatrist or get professional help. All this session and last, Eagle Forum of Illinois and Concerned Women for America of Illinois have been pleading with the Illinois General Assembly to force schools and public agencies to notify parents or guardians before their children are screened for mental health issues.

The bill, HB 3130, is laying dormat in the Senate Rules Committee today. Its Senate sponsor is a Democrat -- a legislator who grabbed up State Rep. Patty Bellock's HB 3130 as soon as it passed the House unanimously last spring. But Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Chicago) has decided that HB 3130 will not become law this session.

Parents will not be notified or allowed a chance to say no to their children being screened by public school staff. Children simply don't have a natural way to gauge for themselves whether questions being asked of them are inappropriate. In general, most children innocently trust adults and try to please them. Screening for mental health issues and determining a child's social and emotional development is an intimate relationship between humans -- one that can be easily misused. Misdiagnosis by well-meaning but misguided minimally-trained mental health screeners can result in undeserved lifelong stigmatizations for otherwise healthy children.

Our only hope is that the state's budget is too tight for the funds Voices and Ounce of Prevention are demanding to expand this intrusive program. In this case, running low on funds isn't always a bad thing.

Noooo Meddling Now . . .

With the recent election to the Woodford County Board of a few "new" voices, our prediction that "PTELL ain't dead yet" seems likely to prove correct. We already have a sense of the opposition girding their loins. This, along with the virtual torrent of speakers from the public sector spouting their "talking points" from their lobbying organizations' respective websites at the last Board Vote on putting PTELL to a public vote, we wish to remind citizens of something. School districts are prohibited by law from allowing any public expenditure (including personnel time) to be used in support of a particular candidate or referendum choice. They are allowed to provide "information" but cannot make a specific endorsement or ask for a certain vote. Obviously, the distinction between "information" and an endorsement is a slippery one, so one an eye must be kept on these kinds of activities. Here is the section of the Illinois code that applies:

(10 ILCS 5/9-25.1) Sec. 9-25.1. Election interference.

(a) As used in this Section, "public funds" means any funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly or by any political subdivision of the State of Illinois.

(b) No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition, or be appropriated for political or campaign purposes to any candidate or political organization. This Section shall not prohibit the use of public funds for dissemination of factual information relative to any
proposition appearing on an election ballot, or for dissemination of information and arguments published and distributed under law in connection with a proposition to amend the Constitution of the State of Illinois.(c) The first
time any person violates any provision of this Section, that person shall be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Upon the second or any subsequent violation of any provision of this Section, the person violating any provision of this Section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Illinois Tax Facts

From Rich Miller over at

Tax stuff Monday, Apr 3, 2006

From the AP:
The U.S. Census Bureau says Illinois residents paid $2,060 in state taxes per capita in 2005, the 29th highest amount in the country.
The Census Bureau says the national average last year was just over $2,192.That puts us just $20 higher than Indiana, $130 higher than Iowa, $361 lower than Wisconsin, $429 higher than Missouri and $336 lower than Michigan, to name a few neighbors. (Quick math, may be some minor errors.)

Also from the Census Bureau:
State government tax collections reached nearly $649 billion in fiscal year 2005, a $57 billion (9.7 percent) increase from 2004, the Census Bureau reported today.
According to data from the 2005 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections, taxes on individual income were $221 billion, up 12.6 percent; and general sales taxes were $212 billion, up 7.2 percent. These taxes made up more than two-thirds of all state tax collections.- posted by Rich Miller

District 150 Follies

We were dismayed and somewhat amused by District 150 and the Peoria Park District "announcing" their (done) deal for the new school adjoining Glen Oak Park, with a nod to "new urbanism". Needless to say, the homeowners and businesses which would need to sell their property to enable completion of this "vision" were a little surprised.

Whatever happened to the "Open Meetings Act"? If they're hanging their hat on the clause which allows closed meetings when discussing selling prices, one must ask WHAT prices. If there were prices to discuss, it would imply that a decision had already been made in a CLOSED meeting! If there were no prices to discuss, it would imply the decision was being made in a CLOSED meeting!

Now, "co-incidentally", we see State Senator Shadid's idea for school construction funding taking the form of a bill introduced by a CHICAGO legislator - a Democrat - which would give the Public Building Commission of Peoria the authority to issue bonds. No messy voter referenda required. We're no longer amused.

There isn't a shred of transparency in sight here, folks. It's a voter end-run, pure and simple; and it's not right. Perhaps the need is there and the plan is right. Fine - make the case and ask the voters for their money. That's the way it works.