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Archive → January 19th, 2016

Illinois’ biggest budget problem is taxpayers leaving the state.

Every five minutes, Illinois loses a resident to another state. And data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal what’s at the top of movers’ minds.

Here’s a hint: It’s not the weather. Survey data point to economic reasons.

Among Americans who made moves of 500 miles or more from 2014 to 2015, nearly half cited employment-related reasons as the primary motivation for moving, according to census survey data. Another 21 percent of long-distance movers said housing-related reasons spurred them to pack up and ship out.

Family reasons caused 27 percent of respondents to move, and the remaining 3 percent of long-distance movers said “other” reasons drove their decisions. Virtually all of these 500-mile-plus movers left home for a different state.

Proponents of Illinois’ status quo often seek to dismiss the state’s migration woes as the inevitable loss of retirees to warmer climates. But while retirement is considered an “employment-related” reason for moving, and could drive a sizable share of long-distance moves, census data show a mere 1 percent of all moves between 2014 and 2015 were driven primarily by retirement. Even fewer moves were driven by climate.

For all moves of any distance from 2014 to 2015, movers cited each of the following reasons more often than retirement and change of climate combined:

  • New job or job transfer
  • Lost job or looking for work
  • To be closer to work
  • Other job-related reason
  • Wanted a new or better home or apartment
  • Wanted a better neighborhood or less crime
  • Wanted cheaper housing
  • Other housing reason
  • Wanted to own home, not rent
  • Change in marital status
  • To establish one’s own household
  • Other family reason

In terms of both jobs and housing, Illinois is one of the worst places in the nation to put down roots. The Land of Lincoln finds itself in a 17-year jobs depression while residents shoulder the nation’s second-highest property tax bills – often more expensive than a homeowner’s mortgage.

And losing residents isn’t just a people problem. Losing border wars means budgets become harder to balance. If Illinois had simply broken even on domestic migration between 1995 and 2014, there likely wouldn’t be much of a budget problem in a state making national headlines for lacking one.

Illinois’ biggest budget problem is taxpayers leaving the state.

And census data demonstrate that stemming the flow of residents to greener pastures means Illinois lawmakers must pursue bold, pro-growth solutions to right their state’s economic ship.

Until then, expect moving vans to continue leaving the Land of Lincoln in the dust.

Austin Berg


Source: Will County News

Iran deal Implementation Day: How it works

On 16 January, the IAEA confirmed that Iran has fully undertaken its nuclear related commitments necessary to begin Implementation Day, including:

  • Reduced the numbers of its centrifuges at the Natanz and Fordow facilities. Capped its uranium enrichment to lower levels. Significantly reduced its low enriched uranium stockpile through shipping the majority to Russia. These measures combined extend the time it takes for Iran to obtain enough bomb grade material for one nuclear weapon (from roughly three months to over a year).
  • Redesigned and rebuilt the Arak heavy water reactor and by doing so blocked a pathway for plutonium weaponisation.
  • Provided the IAEA with enhanced access to inspect and verify that Iran’s nuclear programme is peaceful, thereby increasing the chances of detecting covert activities.
  • Cooperated with the IAEA on completing the possible military dimensions (PMD) roadmap. The IAEA issued its assessment in December and its board of governors voted to close the file.

The E3+3, (that is, France, Germany, the UK, Russia, China and the US) will now ease sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme. The following JCPOA provisions will be pertinent for European entities seeking to do business with Iran:

In advance of Implementation Day:

  • The UN, EU and US coordinated necessary paperwork for removing sanctions pursuant to the JCPOA. These were held in escrow but are now enforced. The easing of sanctions is subject to snap-back provisions (see more below).

UN sanctions:

  • Under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, endorsing the JCPOA, all previous UN resolutions targeting Iran’s nuclear programme have terminated. This means that the only international frameworks now applicable to Iran’s nuclear programme are the Non Proliferation Treaty and Resolution 2231.
  • Sanctions on conventional weapons that were linked to Iran’s nuclear activities will remain for 5 years while UN sanctions on Iran’s missile programme related to nuclear activities terminate in 8 years.

EU sanctions:

  • Under Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1861 sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme have terminated (i.e. the oil and gas embargo imposed by Council Regulation No 267/2012 no longer applies).
  • EU restrictions on financial and banking transactions with Iran have lifted. Iran expects that its banks will be reconnected to SWIFT within weeks.
  • The EU has removed certain (but not all) individuals and entities designated under its nuclear related sanctions.
  • The EU’s arms embargo and restrictions on transfer of ballistic missiles remain intact for 8 years.
  • On 16 January, the EU published its guidance on how EU sanctions are to be lifted under the JCPOA.

US sanctions:

  • The application of sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme have been suspended (rather than terminated) through executive orders, waivers and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) actions.
  • Nuclear related secondary sanctions are lifted on non-US persons. It is therefore no longer sanctionable for European companies to purchase oil and petroleum goods from Iran or transact with a specified list of persons previously designated under US nuclear related sanctions.
  • The US will issue licenses to non-US persons that are owned or controlled by a US person to engage in activities with Iran permitted under JCPOA.
  • The US will remove designation of certain (but not all) entities and individuals from sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear programme.
  • Iran can now access its previously restricted/frozen funds abroad. Iran is expected to actually only access roughly $50 billion out of a total $100 billion.
  • The US will allow Iranian banks and companies to reconnect with international systems like SWIFT.
  • US companies are now permitted to receive licenses to sell commercial passenger aircraft to Iran.
  • US sanctions on Iran related to human rights, terrorism and conventional weapons and missile capabilities remain intact.
  • On 16 January, OFAC published its long-awaited guidance on the lifting of US sanctions pursuant to the JCPOA. The EU, member states and Europe’s business sector have contributed to these guidelines through a substantial consultation process.


Source: Will County News

AFSCME Impasse: Will Rauner Show the Political Ruling Class Who’s Boss?

AFSCME Impasse: Will Rauner Show the Political Ruling Class Who’s Boss?

By Dan Proft, Featured in the Chicago Tribune on 1/15/2016

Gov. Bruce Rauner is interviewed at the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, about his first full year in office. On Friday, he announced that his administration has asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board to determine whether or not the the state and AFSCME are at an impasse. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)

A study done last year by the think tank State Budget Solutions found that total compensation for Illinois state employees was on average 27 percent higher than their counterparts in the private sector.

Illinois state employees made nearly $4,000 more in wages and $13,000 more in benefits than the private-sector employees.

More than half of Illinois state workers will retire before age 60 with guaranteed state pensions that average more than $42,000 and compound at 3 percent annually.

Here’s what you already know: The state is in a financial death spiral with ground impact imminent.

All of this is useful to consider against the backdrop of Gov. Bruce Rauner breaking off contract talks with AFSCME, the state’s largest public sector union representing some 36,000 state workers.

AFSCME has been unwilling to give on its demands for annual salary step increases of 3.8 percent in addition to annual general wage increases. The step increases alone represent a raise of more than seven times the rate of inflation in 2015. AFSCME has been unwilling to give on payment of overtime after 37.5 hours of work in a week.

The lowball estimate of the cost of what AFSCME demands is $1.6 billion. That’s $1.6 billion more from Illinois families, who pay the highest property taxes in the nation, who are already on the hook for $8.5 billion in unpaid state bills and $111 billion in unfunded state pension liabilities.

The fiscal reality of the state was not lost on unions that represent smaller groups of state workers. The Teamsters, representing nearly 5,000 state employees, agreed to a four-year general wage freeze, a four-year freeze on step increases and starting overtime compensation after 40 hours of work.

This is not an attack on public sector workers. This is not an attack on public sector unions. The Teamsters, and many rank-and-file AFSCME workers with whom I have spoken, have proved eminently reasonable.

This is a story of the funding arm of the Illinois Political Ruling Class that preaches fairness but enjoys being downright spoiled by those it has bought, paid for and sent to Springfield. AFSCME has always gotten what it has wanted — no matter the price. It likes it that way. And it’s not particularly keen on changing the cozy arrangement it’s had with both parties for generations.

This is Rauner’s moment of truth.

Even more important than a fiscal-year budget is sending the unmistakable message to AFSCME (and its SEIU and teachers’ union cohorts) that the balance of the nearly 13 million residents of Illinois not in their ranks do not exist as spare parts for the machine that spits out compensation packages 27 percent higher than their own.

If that involves a siege on Springfield like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker confronted in Madison, so be it.

If that requires layoffs and outsourcing of state work to contractors, so be it.If that requires losing an election, so be it.

Rauner ran for governor saying he is not a politician. He said he is a businessman who will make the difficult decisions to turn around the state he loves.

We’re about to find out if that’s true.

Dan Proft is a talk show host on WIND-AM 560.

Source: Will County News