Required Reading

Village of Downers Grove 2011 Consolidated Annual Financial Report.

Budgets are projections, plans of what will be done and how. CAFR’s are reports on the results-what actually happened. I’ll be reading this, and you should too.


Just Give It To Us Straight

We’re big boys and girls, we can handle it.

Last night a County Board member, from District 3, asserted in front of the DGTRO folks in attendance that DuPage County had reduced it’s spending by $45 million dollars. This struck me as an odd statement, so I looked it up.

In 2005 the Total Appropriation for DuPage County was $608,910,218. In 2010 the Total Appropriation was $689,093,552. That’s a net increase $80,183,334, a 16.4% increase that out-stripped the chained CPI for the same six year period of 12.5% (BLS’s table HERE). You can access Consolidated Annual Financial Reports HERE to verify it for yourself. CAFR’s are useful things; uniform reports filed at the State that allow for apples to apples comparos of results. Budgets are intentions, CAFR’s are results. CAFR’s make it hard to hide promises and boasts that aren’t true.

Credit where credit is due: the efforts to hold the line on taxes at the County level have worked better than any other level of govt. They’ve plenty of good things they can accurately report on.

Accuracy. One of the continuing items that nags at supporters of either political party is a basic lack of accuracy by our elected officials. It feeds suspicion that either a) they are not in command of basic facts, b) they don’t understand the difference between things like cuts, savings, and spending reductions, or c) they’re liars. I doubt that County Board member is a liar.

It’s not just DGTRO members at a monthly meeting that deserve the unvarnished truth when we’re getting supposedly reliable information from our elected officials, all residents deserve it all the time. Accurate information is paramount. Continuing the norm of blowing smoke up our figurative skirts doesn’t accomplish that.

US Senator Kirk’s Debt Report

“While Illinois is an American state with substantially stronger institutions than Europe, its debt load per person is higher than for citizens in Spain, Portugal, Ireland or Greece.”
Click on the cover page to read the report.

Required Reading

Don’t read articles about the reports, read the reports.

And We Want This In Illinois?

Required reading from the WSJ Opinion section:

President Obama has bet the economy on his program to grow the government and finance it with a more progressive tax system. It’s hard to miss the irony that he’s pitching this change in Washington even as the same governance model is imploding in three of the largest American states where it has been dominant for years — California, New Jersey and New York.

A decade ago all three states were among America’s most prosperous. California was the unrivaled technology center of the globe. New York was its financial capital. New Jersey is the third wealthiest state in the nation after Connecticut and Massachusetts. All three are now suffering from devastating budget deficits as the bills for years of tax-and-spend governance come due.

These states have been models of “progressive” policies that are supposed to create wealth: high tax rates on the rich, lots of government “investments,” heavy unionization and a large government role in health care.

Here’s a rundown on the results:

Government spending as economic stimulus. State-local spending per capita is $12,505 in New York (second highest after Alaska), $10,136 per person in California (fourth) and $9,574 in New Jersey (seventh).

Has all this public sector “investment” translated into jobs? Not quite. California had the nation’s third highest jobless rate in May (11.5%). New Jersey and New York had below average unemployment rates in May compared to the national average of 9.4%, but one reason is that so many discouraged workers have left those states. From 1998-2007, which included two booms on Wall Street, New York and New Jersey ranked 36th and 31st in job creation. From 2000 to 2007, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association calculates that nine out of 10 new Garden State jobs were in the government.

Instead of balanced budgets, these high taxes have produced record red ink. California’s deficit for 2010 is projected at $33.9 billion, New Jersey’s $7 billion and New York’s $17.9 billion, despite multiple tax increases this decade. The Manhattan Institute finds that three-quarters of the loss in revenues this year in Albany is a result of reduced income tax payments by rich people even though the state keeps raising taxes on high earners.

Powerful unions. Mr. Obama believes union power is a ticket to the middle class. The middle class is getting creamed in all three of these “progressive” states, where organized labor is king. The unionized share of the workforce is 20% in California, 19% in New Jersey and 27% in New York compared to 13% across the country. All three are non-right-to-work states, have super-minimum wage requirements and provide among the nation’s most generous public-employee pensions.

Workers in these paradises are indeed uniting — by leaving. New York ranks first, California second and New Jersey third in moving vans leaving the state. A study by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research found that over the past decade these and other high-union states (mostly in the Northeast) had one-third the job growth of states with low union penetration.

Have government controls and Medicaid expansions (“the public option”) lowered costs? Here is what the American Health Insurance Plans found. For family coverage annual premiums in 2006-07, the national median cost was roughly $5,300; in California it was $5,884, in New Jersey $10,398, and in New York $12,254. New York’s coverage mandates cause families to pay more than twice what they do in other states for insurance.

As a result, California and New York have more than one-third of their residents uninsured or in Medicaid — much higher than the national average of 25%. More government involvement in health care in California, New Jersey and New York has raised costs and often reduced private coverage. That’s hardly a model for the nation.
* * *

So goes the real-life experience of progressive governance, with heavy tax burdens financing huge welfare states, and state capitals dominated by public-employee unions. Formerly rich states, they are now known for job losses, booming deficits and debt, wage stagnation, out-migration and laughing-stock legislatures. At least Americans have the ability to flee these ill-governed states for places that still welcome wealth creators. The debate in Washington now is whether to spread this antigrowth model across the entire country.

Balancing the State Budget Without Tax Hikes

IPI 2010 budget cover

Click on image to go to report page.

Required Reading

When Quinn came to the rescue of a s(t)inking state budget by throwing us all an anchor, he was quick to demand that any naysayers provide a complete alternate solution.

The Illinois Policy Institute has done exactly that. All that’s required is the will, the moral and ethical fiber, and leadership.

In other news, in a bipartisan effort of will, moral and ethical fiber, and leadership, the Illinois House voted for expanded internet horse race gambling.  More on that later.

NOTE: Still mainly writing over at, but right now Elaine Johnson  just put up an editorial on the increasingly odd behavior of our high school Board of Education (CHSD99), and I don’t want to bump it.  I’ll dump it further down the page if I can.

Play Budget Hero


Can you do what the federal government can’t?

Click on the image and find out…