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Construction season means high costs for Illinois taxpayers

From Illinois Policy April 2017

Construction season means high costs for Illinois taxpayers

Workers’ compensation increases construction costs and often traps injured workers in a harmful system.

Insurance premiums cost 20 percent of payroll for concrete construction workers in Illinois.

As warm weather ushers in a new construction season, Illinois governments can advance critical infrastructure projects.

But public policy makes construction especially expensive for public works projects, and causes unfair outcomes for minority workers.

Illinois’ construction laws are outdated. Two issues in particular – prevailing wage law and workers’ compensation – are largely to blame. These policies drive up taxpayer construction costs and drive minorities out of work.

Here’s how it goes.

First, Illinois’ prevailing wage law mandates high union wages on public construction projects. Prevailing wage laws emerged from the Great Depression, and are tainted because they drive up taxpayer costs and were enacted for racist reasons.

These laws still have racist effects. Illinois’ prevailing wage law gives unions an unfair advantage, making it difficult for minority workers to compete for construction work.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Illinois has the highest black unemployment rate in the U.S.

The next construction cost driver is Illinois’ workers’ compensation law.

Workers’ comp insurance covers the wages and medical benefits of injured workers. But Illinois’ law is written to maximize the profits of special interests.

Workers’ compensation increases construction costs and often traps injured workers in a harmful system. Special interests – including some trial lawyers and medical providers – have rigged Illinois’ system to turn injured workers into profitable commodities.

Injured workers become special interest profits when injuries are prolonged to boost settlements, unnecessary drugs are prescribed for financial gain, and medical care programs are designed to focus on especially profitable procedures.

To understand how this impacts taxpayers, consider a construction laborer in Cook County.

Illinois’ prevailing wage law mandates an hourly wage of $38 for laborers in Cook County. On top of that are $13.78 per hour for health and wellness and $10.12 per hour for pensions. That adds up to a package of $61.90 per hour for public works laborers in Cook County. Similar rates exist across the state.

Yet the average hourly wage is $26.90 for a laborer in Cook County, according to federal data. The prevailing wage rate is 40 percent above the average wage.

Illinois’ prevailing wage law mandates a nearly 40 percent premium above what federal sources say is normal across covered occupations.

Union officials argue that a high prevailing wage mandate attracts productive workers. But the trade-off between productivity and wage rates should be decided through competitive bidding, not through government mandates. Neighboring states agree – Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky have recently repealed their prevailing wage laws, while Illinois continues spending billions each year at the inflated union rate.

Illinois’ workers’ compensation law tacks on still more costs, especially compared to surrounding states.

Insurance premiums cost 20 percent of payroll for concrete construction workers in Illinois, according to 2016 data from the State of Oregon. The same insurance premium averages less than 9 percent of payroll in surrounding states. In Indiana, it’s less than 5 percent of payroll.

These two policies cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year in extra construction costs. They also have an unfair effect on minority workers.

Research from economists Lawrence Katz from Harvard and Daniel Kessler from Stanford shows that prevailing wage laws slash the wages and job opportunities for black construction workers.

In fact, one of the historical reasons for passing prevailing wage laws was to keep black workers off the job. Even today, fewer minority workers belong to trade unions, and prevailing wage laws are an obstacle to minority contractors that pay lower wages. Yet Illinois lawmakers are strangely protective of Illinois’ prevailing wage law. Indiana, Wisconsin and Kentucky lawmakers recently decided these laws are unfair.

Construction season should bring hope and a sense of economic opportunity for Illinoisans. But because of state laws, both taxpayers and minority workers are treated unfairly.

Before next construction season rolls around, lawmakers should fix these laws. Taxpayers deserve a fair price for public projects, and minority workers deserve a fair chance at construction work.

TAGS: construction, jobs, prevailing wage, unemployment, workers compensation

 

Source: Will County News

Trump News April 25, 2017

The White House

FEATURED
In his first 100 days, President Donald J. Trump has taken bold action to restore prosperity, keep Americans safe and secure, and hold government accountable. At an historic pace, this President has enacted more legislation and signed more executive orders than any other president in over a half century. With a focus on rebuilding the military, ending illegal immigration, and restoring confidence in our economy, the President is keeping his promises to the American people.

MORNING:

  • 11:20AM: President Trump gives remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance – Watch LIVE
  • 11:35AM: President Trump participates in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance

AFTERNOON:

  • 1:45PM: President Trump meets with Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin
  • 2:15PM: President Trump has a meeting on tax reform
  • 3:00PM: President Trump participates in a farmers’ roundtable and signing of the Executive Order Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America
  • 5:30PM: President Trump meets with National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster
OVAL OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS
President Trump speaks with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Read More

President Trump hosts a working lunch with United Nations Security Council Ambassadors.
Read More

WHITE HOUSE UPDATES
Photo of the Day:

Service Members from the Military District of Washington participate in an Honor Cordon on the South Grounds of the White House for Newly Appointed Ambassadors to Washington, D.C. arriving for their Credential Ceremony with President Donald J. Trump. (Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum).
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PRESS ROOM
Watch yesterday’s press briefing with Sean Spicer:

Read Transcript

Read the press briefing on the President’s Executive Order Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity here.

Today’s press briefing will take place at 2:00PM ET in the White House Briefing Room with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Watch it LIVE here.

NEWS REPORTS
  • The Hill: “Trump calls NASA astronaut to congratulate her on space record”
    Read More
  • Fox News: “Trump makes space call to record-breaking NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson”
    Read More
  • Washington Examiner: “Trump: North Korea is ‘a real threat to the world’”
    Read More

Source: Will County News

Homer School District 33C is teaming up with a local business owner to raise money for programs that support students with special needs.

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High

 

Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628

 

For Immediate Release:

April 25, 2017

 

Autographed Hawks jerseys, Cubs baseballs up for grabs

Get your raffle tickets today

 

Homer School District 33C is teaming up with a local business owner to raise money for programs that support students with special needs.

 

Now through May 1, Mike Dixon at Kenwood Liquors is selling raffle tickets for an opportunity to win various prizes, including four Chicago Blackhawks jerseys autographed by team greats: Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Five baseballs autographed by Cubs Manager Joe Maddon and players Javier Baez, Jon Lester, Jake Arrietta and Ben Zobrist also will be raffled off.

 

All proceeds will benefit Homer 33C children with developmental disorders, including autism.

 

Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20. They may be purchased at Kenwood Liquors on 159th Street – just one block west of Will-Cook Road in Homer Glen.

 

All proceeds will be used within Homer School District 33C schools, enabling students to continue receiving high-quality services that support their educational needs.

 

The event is being held in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month.

 

 

 

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/homer33c?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

 

Source: Will County News

Press Release: How to close $2B of the 2018 IL. budget shortfall

Sealsmall

News From

State Representative Mark Batinick

For Immediate Release                                                               Contact: Debbie Kraulidis

        April 25, 2017                                                                                         (815) 254-0000

 

How to close $2B of the 2018 budget shortfall

 

Anyone following the Illinois budget impasse knows that our pile of unpaid bills is growing; up to $12.9 Billion and counting.  This creates added pressure on the state because those bills will eventually have to be paid.  In the meantime, we are paying 12% interest on many of those bills.  That’s a big amount.  We are literally incurring hundreds of millions of dollars of late payment penalties.  That is money that doesn’t help balance the budget, fund social services, higher ed, or any of the other things state government does.  There is a way to pay off most of our debt, eliminate late fees, and significantly increase state revenue all without raising taxes.  Here’s how:

First let me be clear – I don’t like debt.  I don’t support unnecessarily increasing it.  Yet all debt is not the same.  If you have it, it needs to be managed the best way feasible.  Right now Illinois has a lot of it.  Some of it needs to be consolidated.  That consolidation can free up a lot of money.

Our unpaid bills are essentially debt.  We also have other debt taken out during the Blagojevich regime and during the last capitol bill.  Some of that debt is about to be paid off.  Our bond payments drop from $2.418 Billion in FY 2018 to $2.091 Billion in FY19 then $1.536 Billion in FY 2020.  If the difference of those debt payments (roughly $1.5 Billion) was essentially consolidated on a 10 year note with the bulk of the unpaid bills we can essentially use the same line item to make the new consolidated loan payment.  Because the debt can’t be called early, the logistics would be slightly different, but the effect would be the same.  Use the line item for the old debt in 2018 to make the new consolidated loan payment.

Paying off our unpaid bills helps close the budget shortfall in many ways.  First, we will stop paying hundreds of millions in late fees.  Second, injecting nearly $10B into the economy paying money we owe to vendors and medical providers in the state will have a massive effect on revenues.  All of the people and companies will now see gains that have been deferred.  Income tax revenue should also increase by hundreds of millions.  Third, much of the money we owe is for Medicaid payments.  Those Medicaid payments come with a federal match.  Our federal source of revenue could increase by as much as $1.5 Billion!

Now there are a couple of things that should be done before bonding out our back bills.  First, we need to balance the rest of the budget.  Freeing up $2B helps significantly, but there is still more work to be done.  Plus, having a true balanced budget plan also should help us get a better rate on any bonds we do get.  Second, we need to place a constitutional amendment referendum on the 2018 General Election ballot strengthening the balanced budget clause. Illinois voters should be given the opportunity to hold legislators accountable to follow the state constitution and pass a balanced budget every year so this never happens again.

It’s far beyond time to act.

Source: Will County News

Judicial Watch Sues for Records about Government Funding of George Soros’ Political Foundation

Judicial Watch Sues for Records about Government Funding of George Soros’ Political Foundation

One reason George Soros is so active in the political scene – both in the U.S. and worldwide – is that he is handed a lot of our tax dollars to fund his activities. And your Judicial Watch is hot on the trail of exposing this corruption.

This past week, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for records and communications relating to the funding and political activities of the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia. We want to learn why the Macedonia organization, part of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, received nearly $5 million from USAID from 2012 to 2016. We filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (No. 1:17-cv-00729)).

We sued after both the State Department and USAID failed to respond to a February 16, 2017, FOIA request seeking:

  • All records related to any grants, contracts, or disbursements of funds by the State Department to the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia and/or any of the Foundation’s subsidiaries. This request includes all related requests for funding, payment authorizations, or similar records, as well as all related records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the State Department and any official, employee, or representative of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • Any records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the State Department and any officer, employee, or representative of the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia and/or any of the Foundation’s affiliated organizations. This request includes responsive records of communication sent from or directed to U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess L. Baily.
  • All analyses or similar records regarding the political activities of the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia and/or any of the Foundation’s affiliated organizations.
  • All messages transmitted via the State Department’s SMART system sent from any U.S. Government employee or contractor operating under the Chief of Mission’s authority at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje that pertain to the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia and/or any of the Foundation’s affiliated organizations.

The USAID website reports that between February 27, 2012, and August 31, 2016, USAID gave $4,819,125 in taxpayer money to Soros’s Open Society Foundation – Macedonia (FOSM), in partnership with four local “civil society” organizations. The USAID’s website links to www.soros.org.mk, and says the project trained hundreds of young Macedonians “on topics such as freedom of association, youth policies, citizen initiatives, persuasive argumentation and use of new media.”

Earlier, in February, in Judicial Watch’s Corruption Chronicles we reported:

The U.S. government has quietly spent millions of taxpayer dollars to destabilize the democratically elected, center-right government in Macedonia by colluding with leftwing billionaire philanthropist George Soros, records obtained by Judicial Watch show. Barack Obama’s U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess L. Baily, has worked behind the scenes with Soros’ Open Society Foundation to funnel large sums of American dollars for the cause, constituting an interference of the U.S. Ambassador in domestic political affairs in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

***

Here’s how the clandestine operation functions, according to high-level sources in Macedonia and the U.S. that have provided Judicial Watch with records as part of an ongoing investigation. The Open Society Foundation has established and funded dozens of leftwing, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Macedonia to overthrow the conservative government. One Macedonian government official interviewed by Judicial Watch in Washington D.C. recently calls it the “Soros infantry.” The groups organize youth movements, create influential media outlets and organize violent protests to undermine the institutions and policies implemented by the government. One of the Soros’ groups funded the translation and publication of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” into Macedonian. The book is a tactical manual of subversion, provides direct advice for radical street protests and proclaims Lucifer to be the first radical. Thanks to Obama’s ambassador, who has not been replaced by President Trump, Uncle Sam keeps the money flowing so the groups can continue operating and recruiting, sources in Macedonia and the U.S. confirm.

According to InsidePhilanthropy.com, Soros’ Open Society Foundation “may be the largest philanthropic organization ever built, with branches in 37 countries. While the Gates Foundation spends more money, OSF has a larger footprint worldwide thanks to its many local offices, including throughout Africa.” OSF’s budget will be around $930 million …”

The activities of Ambassador Bailey and USAID’s funding of the Open Society Foundation have recently come under Congressional scrutiny. On January 17, 2017, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) sent a letter to Baily asking him to explain the State Department’s relationship with Open Society Foundation. On February 24, 2017, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and others called on the Government Accountability Office to conduct an investigation and audit of the State Department and USAID’s activities in Macedonia, including funding of Open Society Foundation entities and potential interference in domestic Macedonian political affairs in potential violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

It’s clear from what we have already learned that the Obama administration freely used our tax dollars for political purposes, including support of the Soros operation. Let’s hope the Trump State Department and USAID will get their act together and disclose the details of the Obama-Soros spigot.

Source: Will County News