Daily dose: Local history, President picks the Bears, Rep. Tim Johnson on health care repeal, Joan Dykstra, big income tax increases elsewhere, state finances, Illinois' regressive taxes, Zelema Harris
In 1911, Champaign School Superintendent W.W. Earnest spoke to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union about “Child Protection.” He said that in Illinois no boy or girl can be employed under the age of 14, and not at night under the age of 16. Eight hours is the maximum work shift for either. They cannot be employed where liquor is served, nor work on a stage after 7 p.m.
In 1961, the Champaign-Urbana Jaycees honored the 10 outstanding young men of Champaign-Urbana last night at the Urbana-Lincoln Motor Inn. The 10 are: Stanley Chagnon, Pete Elliott, Ray Livasy, Bill Lyon, the Rev. Malcolm Nygren, J. Michael O’Byrne, Tom Stewart, Urbana Mayor Stanley Weaver, John Whitman and Virgil Wikoff. In addition the Outstanding Young Farmer award went to W. Arthur Clark of rural Homer.
Obama sees a Bears win Sunday
From the Chicago Tribune ...
Barack Obama weighed in Thursday on the upcoming clash Sunday between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers for the NFC title — and he’s going with his hometown Bears.
Obama’s guessing the Bears win, 20-17, according to White House spokesman Matt Lehrich.
Johnson votes to repeal Obama health care law
U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, explains his vote to repeal President Obama's health care reform legislation. The repeal passed the House but likely won't even get heard in the Senate.
"This is step one in the fulfillment of a promise to the American people," Johnson said. "They have spoken loudly and enthusiastically in favor of getting this health care monstrosity off our backs. Whatever happens with this particular legislation, it is only the beginning of our work to dismantle the damage that has been done to our Constitution and to our country over the last two years.
"We are just now beginning to comprehend the full ramifications of the Democrats' health care law. "Premiums are increasing. Medicare payroll taxes are increasing. Flexible Savings Accounts and Health Savings Accounts are being curtailed. Government bureaucracies are mushrooming. Private jobs are threatened because employers cannot meet the mandates. Seniors are losing Medicare benefits and doctors are refusing to take on more because the government won't cover their costs.
"What is particularly disturbing about this whole process is that there are better ideas, more creative reforms that never got to see the light of day in the previous Congress," Rep. Johnson continued. "It does not require a wholesale abandonment of market-based principles to make our health care system better. In fact, expanding the market approach through legislation such as the Association Health Plans would lead to more competitive health care plans. Allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines would lower costs for all. There are many ways to improve access and lower costs for all but unfortunately few are contained in the Democrats health care reform. We need to start over and do it right."
Joan Dykstra's new job
Former Champaign County Board member Joan Dykstra is Rep. Tim Johnson's new district director. She will start Monday, leaving a longtime elementary school teaching position in the Mahomet-Seymour school district.
Jeremy Cirks had been Johnson's district manager. He and several other Johnson staffers, including chief of staff Jerry Clarke, left after the November general election.
What a 2 percentage-point tax increase would do in other states
From The New York Times ...
Set aside for a moment the ever-charged argument about whether income tax increases spook the wealthy and consider this question: What would an increase in the personal income tax of a size similar to that of Illinois do for other fiscally troubled states? The New York Times examined this question in three embattled places, New York, California and New Jersey.
In New York, an increase of two percentage points in the state income tax could raise about $9 billion and perhaps tip the state into surplus.
In California, a similar action could raise more than $13 billion, which would cover just a portion of that state’s yawning $25 billion deficit.
In New Jersey, a jump of two percentage points in each of its income brackets could raise nearly $5 billion, which would probably leave the state with a $4 billion to $7 billion deficit. Under these assumptions, a household with the median income would pay at least $1,000 more a year in each of these states; a family making $200,000 would pay $4,000 more.
That an income tax increase of such a size could not close budget gaps in California and New Jersey underlines the vast challenge confronting these states. In California, Mr. Brown has proposed a deep, billion-dollar cut in higher education and $4 billion worth of cuts in services for the poor and unemployed. Even a substantial increase in its state income tax — already much higher than in Illinois — would only soften the harshest blows.
In Illinois, too, the income tax increase will not cover all the accumulated ills, from a multibillion-dollar deficit to a backlog of unpaid bills to its huge pension problems.
For other states, though, such a tax increase would go much further in addressing at least the short-term problems. In Arizona, for instance, legislators during the last 17 years repeatedly cut income taxes, opening an annual hole of nearly $2 billion. That sum, according to Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, approximates the size of the state’s annual deficit without taking into account the recession-driven drop in revenue.
Matthew N. Murray, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who has studied state fiscal problems for the Brookings Institution, said: “In Illinois, the stark reality of the cataclysmic nature of their budget reality drove this income tax increase. But we’re going to see more states raising taxes over the course of the next few years largely because there’s only so much cutting you can do.
Financial Times on state budget woes
From the Financial Times ...
Across the US, the recession is confronting state and local governments with revenue shortfalls that threaten their solvency. The harder you look at their budgets, the worse their plight seems. Years of relying on accounting gimmicks disguised what was a bad underlying fiscal position even before the recession began. The downturn is a budgetary calamity in any event, but it is uncovering problems of much longer standing.
Undue budget tightening will jeopardise recovery whether applied at federal level or lower down. In principle, just as Washington should combine continued stimulus in the short term with a credible commitment to subsequent fiscal discipline, states and cities should avoid excessive tightening in 2011. But the federal government, for now at least, can borrow on favourable terms. Anxiety over state and local government debt is growing. Spreads on bonds issued by troubled states such as Illinois and California have widened in recent months. For many, a crunch is at hand.
Illinois' regressive tax system
From the University of Illinois ...
Richard L. Kaplan, an expert on taxation and retirement issues, says the state of Illinois has a seriously outmoded tax structure that’s in dire need of reform.
“Tax reform is often very difficult because tax changes necessarily alter the burden of taxation, and some people end up paying more,” he said. “That makes legislators hesitant to undertake the process of tax reform, whether on the state or federal level. But with the Illinois Legislature finally agreeing to make unpopular tax increases, there was an unusual opportunity to do genuine tax reform that they failed to capitalize on.”
Illinois has one of the 10 most regressive tax structures in the nation, Kaplan said.
“That means that the tax burden falls disproportionately on lower-income taxpayers,” Kaplan said. “For example, the income tax has a single rate, as mandated by the state’s constitution, but the personal exemption amount has not been adjusted for inflation in many years, thereby diminishing its ability to shift the burden of taxation to higher-income persons.”
Former Parkland chief Zelema Harris retired from post at St. Louis Community College
From the St. Louis Business Journal ...
Chancellor Zelema Harris plans to retire from St. Louis Community College after four years at the helm.
Harris’ retirement will be effective at the end of her current contract, June 30.
“She has led St. Louis Community College through major challenges during a period of extraordinary growth for our institution, and has done an outstanding job in her leadership role," said Denise Chachere, chair of the STLCC board of trustees. "She brought us through a successful reaccreditation process with the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation, a successful reaffirmation process with the prestigious League for Innovation and a successful strengthening of our strategic and financial positions in a time of great economic hardship."