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Illinois’ financial grade an F/Dan Proft and Chicago Tribune editorial board member, Kristen McQueary Discuss

Why is Illinois’ financial grade an F? Are the bond agencies taking too rosy a view of our finances? How does Illinois have $200 billion in debt with a balanced budget requirement in the Constitution? What does this mean for the 2018 gubernatorial election? Sheila Weinberg, Founder & CEO of Truth in Accounting, offers the facts on Illinois’ finances to Dan Proft and Chicago Tribune editorial board member, Kristen McQueary.

Source: Will County News

Russia touts ‘electronic bomb’ capability

Russia touts ‘electronic bomb’ capability

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Signaling that modern warfare between developed nations would come with a heavy focus on destroying information technology infrastructure, Russian state-run media is touting the country’s ability to disable U.S. military assets electronically.

The Russian propaganda report claimed that some Russian war planes are already equipped with jamming devices capable of rendering electronic-based military equipment useless.

“Today, our Russian Electronic Warfare (REW) troops can detect and neutralize any target from a ship’s system and a radar, to a satellite,” one report claimed.

The Russian propaganda also included claims (which remain unverified by the Pentagon) that Russian fighter planes were able to disable systems on the USS Donald Cook, crippling the ship’s capabilities, during a 2014 encounter in the Black Sea.

Based on Russia’s amped up focus on electronic warfare capabilities stemming back to the Cold War, that the country has the technology to jam and destroy critical infrastructures is not only plausible but very likely.

Here’s what U.S. defense contractor Leonardo DRS has to say about Russia’s capabilities:

The Russians now have a full Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership & Education, Personnel, and Facilities (DOTMLPF) Electronic Warfare Capability, based around the doctrine of Radio Electronic Combat (REC). “REC combined signals intelligence, direction finding, intensive jamming, deception, and destructive fires to attack enemy organizations and systems through their means of control. The purpose of REC is to limit, delay, or nullify the enemy’s use of his command and control systems, while protecting Russian systems by electronic counter-countermeasures. An estimated goal of the system is to destroy or to disrupt a majority of the enemy’s command, control, and weapon system communications, either by jamming or by destructive fires…

Russia’s boast about its electronic warfare capabilities follows news that U.S. officials are getting serious about protecting the U.S. from the growing probability of an attack on the homeland designed to shut down communication assets, the electric grid and other critical infrastructure.

As we reported last week:

Currently the Pentagon’s tech development wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is working with BAE Systems to develop a system that would identify major targets of an attack and reroute military and civilian vital infrastructure to minimize damage.

DARPA’s Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems (RADICS) project is in the early stages of development and not likely to be ready for use until around 2020.

Meanwhile, a number of private sector companies are also innovating in the rapidly growing infrastructure defense industry with the backing of some of the nation’s wealthiest investors. Learn more about those efforts to avert a grid-down crisis.

Source: Will County News

Illegals destroying federal lands, unsafe for camping

From Judicial Watch April 2017

Park Service: Illegals destroying federal lands, unsafe for camping
Source: The Washington Examiner

Illegal immigration and drug running have destroyed border parklands, further threatened two species on the endangered list and led federal officials to bar visitors and campers in areas considered too dangerous to visit.

 

Background Notes from Judicial Watch

 

    
06/16/2010 03/07/2006 06/06/2007
U.S. Park Visitors Warned Of Mexican Smuggling Violence

Source: Judicial Watch

In yet another solid argument for securing the southern border, American families planning to visit national parks are being warned of the imminent danger created by Mexican drug and immigrant smugglers.

Read More


Illegal Immigrants Destroying National Wildlife

Source: Judicial Watch

A nonprofit group dedicated to protecting all native wild animals and plants has published a detailed report documenting how illegal immigrants crossing through the 350-mile Arizona-Mexico border have destroyed hundreds of acres of national forests and their habitat.

Read More

U.S. Pays Millions To Clean Illegal Immigrant Trash

Source: Judicial Watch

American taxpayers will dish out $63 million to clean up 25 million pounds of trash and human waste left by illegal immigrants who cross through federal and state parks during their trek from Mexico to the U.S.

Read More

Source: Will County News

Census data reveal that St. Clair and Madison counties saw combined population losses of more than 1,600 people

From Illinois Policy April 2017

The shrinking Metro East

Census data reveal that St. Clair and Madison counties saw combined population losses of more than 1,600 people due to out-migration to other states.

Recently released census data reveal that St. Clair and Madison counties saw combined population losses of more than 1,600 people due to out-migration to other states.

The Metro East region of Illinois is shrinking.

Comprising a handful of counties on the Illinois side of the greater St. Louis area, the Metro East region borders Missouri with the Mississippi River separating the two states. Belleville, the largest city in the Metro East, is less than a half-hour car ride from St. Louis. Because of its proximity to St. Louis, the Metro East is home to many residents who cross the border in their daily commute. But a large number of Illinoisans are leaving the state altogether for Missouri.

With the exception of Monroe County, every county in the Metro East saw its population shrink. From July 2015 to July 2016, two counties in Metro East – St. Clair and Madison – saw a combined drop in population of more than 1,600 people. St. Clair County suffered the brunt of the decline, losing 1,320 people, while Madison’s population decreased by 312.

illinois outmigration

 

St. Clair and Madison counties’ population losses come overwhelmingly from out-migration – the areas saw more births than deaths and even gained residents on net from international migration. St. Clair County had 3,282 births, 2,678 deaths and 127 immigrants arrive. However, St. Clair County lost 1,910 residents due to net domestic migration, and suffered a population loss of 1,320 residents. Madison County had 3,032 births, 2,814 deaths and 148 immigrants arrive. Far fewer people left Madison County; it lost only 572 people on net to domestic migration.

Missouri does not have this problem. Of the Missouri counties in the greater St. Louis area, only two counties ̶ St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis ̶ lost people. And though the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County lost more than 6,000 residents combined, the Missouri counties of the greater St. Louis area saw net growth. The other Missouri counties in the greater St. Louis area all saw population gains from July 2015 to July 2016. St. Charles County saw the biggest growth, where the population increased by 5,747 between July 2015 and July 2016.

illinois outmigration

Crossing state lines: Illinois lost 73,000 people on net to Missouri in the last decade

In 2015, Illinois saw a net loss of more than 8,500 people to Missouri. Although 15,000 Missourians came to Illinois in 2015, nearly 24,000 Illinoisans left the Land of Lincoln in favor of the Show Me State. And it’s not just Metro East; from July 2015 to July 2016, 89 out of Illinois’ 102 counties shrank in population.

And 2015 wasn’t an outlier.

From 2006 to 2015, Illinois lost nearly 73,000 residents on net to Missouri. That’s more people than the populations of Jersey and Clinton counties combined.

Why Illinoisans are fleeing: Taxes are No. 1 reason

Illinoisans have been fleeing the state for several years now. In 2015, half of Illinois’ migration losses were the result of Illinoisans moving to other states in the Midwest, including Missouri. In addition to Missouri, Wisconsin and Kentucky both saw net migration gains from Illinois in 2015.

One of the biggest causes of this exodus is taxes. According to a poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Illinois’ high taxes were the No. 1 reason nearly half of those surveyed wanted to leave the state. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country and one of the costliest overall tax burdens in the nation. Since 1990 residential property taxes in Illinois have grown 3.3 times faster than median household incomes, and the homeowners’ property tax burden as a percentage of median household income has skyrocketed 76 percent.

Missouri, on the other hand, has much lower property taxes. In 2016, the property tax rates for Illinois homeowners were 2.25 times higher than property tax rates in Missouri.

On Election Day, people in Madison County voted on a referendum on whether to reduce and cap property taxes, despite two challenges submitted to the electoral board to prevent the question from appearing on the ballot. Madison County residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of reducing the amount of property taxes the county can collect to 0.20 percent from 0.25 percent of home value.

While homeowners in Madison County made important progress in the last election, the battle for more affordable property taxes is nowhere close to over. Though currently stalled, lawmakers in Springfield are seeking to resurrect the “grand bargain” Senate deal which would’ve implemented a two-year property tax freeze in exchange for a permanent income tax hike. And the proposed property tax freeze would’ve been ineffectual because it excluded the biggest cost drivers, such as debt service, pension payments and public safety.

Raising taxes will not solve the state’s education funding problems, and doing so will simply hurt Illinois residents who are already overburdened with taxes. Residents of the Metro East counties and the rest of Illinois should take a lesson from Madison County and fight for real property tax relief at the state level. Metro East residents should hold their elected officials accountable and demand more, instead of trading permanent tax hikes for weak reforms and watered-down, temporary property tax freezes.

TAGS: Madison County, Metro East, missouri, Monroe County, outmigration, population, St. Clair County, St. Louis, U.S. Census Bureau

Source: Will County News

After mass layoffs, a chilling look back at CAT’s plea for reforms

By Illinois Policy April 2017

In February 2012, Caterpillar’s then-CEO Doug Oberhelman outlined needed reforms to save Illinois manufacturing jobs. State lawmakers have failed to act, and the Land of Lincoln is the only state in the region to lose manufacturing jobs since.

For years, Illinois lawmakers have ignored cries for reform from Illinois manufacturers – an insult to more than half a million manufacturing workers who rely on a healthy industry to forge the state’s middle class.

One of those workers is Rick Schock. He’s been on third shift in assembly at Caterpillar’s Aurora plant for 12 years. But he will soon lose his job as part of the company’s plans to shutter production facilities there.

“When I first started you’d go in to a local bar on a Friday morning at 7 a.m. [after your shift ended] and it was like a Friday night. It was nice, the camaraderie,” Schock said. “We were a big family.”

“But now with the layoffs my stress level has been so high. When I look at the people at work, everyone looks defeated.”

One of the most straightforward pleas from one of manufacturing’s largest players came five years ago in February 2012, when Caterpillar’s then-CEO Doug Oberhelman penned an op-ed outlining how Illinois government must act in order to bring back manufacturing jobs.

His recommendations included real workers’ compensation reform and a balanced state budget that would provide long-term tax certainty and tax relief.

The mass layoffs at Caterpillar’s Aurora plant offers a chance to reflect on Oberhelman’s plea and how the state has fared since.

The results are in: Illinois is the only state in the region to suffer a net loss of manufacturing jobs in the last five years.

 

illinois manufacturing

“Business leaders are making decisions today on where to invest in the future,” Oberhelman wrote in 2012. “Illinois must act now, with a bipartisan sense of urgency, to position itself for future job creation that is being discussed in boardrooms all across this country.

“When Caterpillar and most other companies look to locate a new factory in the United States, Illinois is not in the running for such projects. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Illinois’ high property taxes and high workers’ compensation costs hit manufacturing harder than any other sector of the state economy, discouraging investment and even pushing manufacturers out of Illinois to other states.

The Illinois Policy Institute has put forward a state budget plan that addresses both of these major cost drivers, while balancing the budget without tax hikes.

Until politicians focus on tackling foundational reforms, Illinois will continue to bleed jobs – and hardworking men and women will suffer.

TAGS: Aurora, Caterpillar, manufacturing, workers compensation

Source: Will County News