The Illinois Budget Battle

Today in my email, I got a notification from the University of Illinois Alumni Association to call my legislator.  They want action on the Illinois budget battle.  If I called, I would tell a Democratic legislator to change the way Illinois does business.  I’d tell a Republican legislator to stay the course.  Here is how their email started.

Today is the day! “Light Up the Lines” is on.

We need you to take five minutes out of your day right now to make a call to legislators and urge them to make higher education funding their priority.

Robust funding is simply a must—for both today’s students and for the long-term vitality of Illinois’s education system.


Higher education in the state of Illinois remains at a crossroads. The sting of this year’s budget standoff already is being felt by thousands of students and families associated with our state’s public universities.

When legislators return to Springfield tomorrow—Tuesday, Oct. 20—for session, they’ll continue negotiating about the budget impasse. We need your help to get—and keep—higher education at the top of the lawmakers’ agendas when they begin their discussions.

It’s an epic battle between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Republicans in the Senate and House versus Mike Madigan, John Cullerton and the Democrats.  It’s a battle Rauner chose to fight and I am glad he did.

I donate to the University of Illinois.  It’s my alma mater and where I met my wife.  But, I don’t think the University and I would see eye to eye over this budget battle.

Illinois politics is 100% screwed up.  If you want to understand things like crony capitalism, pay to play, and corruption simply trace how things get done in Illinois. Rauner ran and was elected to change all that.

Illinois is broke.  The city of Chicago is broke.  The counties are broke.  Individual cities are broke.  Why?  Public pensions pure and simple.

Everyone is for “good government”.  But, in Illinois we have had Machine government.  Both parties have fed at the trough, but the Democrats have run the show for quite some time.  The Republicans that were in charge back in the day weren’t much different than the Democrats-except in some cases they had different cronies.

This link will explain it all to the layman.

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Chicago Alderman Ed Burke both run law firmsspecializing in the lucrative field of Cook County property-tax appeals, one of the most inefficient, corrupt systems in urban politics. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is a member of a large law firm that handles a range of issues, including property-tax law. The three have held political office in Illinois for a combined 126 years.

Investigative reporting from the Illinois News Network revealed Madigan’s six-person firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, earned close to $10 million in tax refunds for its clients from April 2013 through April 2014.

They have rigged the game so they make money off of it.  They have no incentive to change.  They are getting rich on the backs of middle class taxpayers and small businesses.  Madigan also owns the actuaries that run the numbers for pensions.  Those actuaries aren’t running the numbers the way they should be run, so the pension problems in Illinois are severely understated.

Here is another link on political corruption in Illinois.  Cronies benefit from Illinois paying late fees on bills.   Talk about a perverse incentive.

When I was thinking about which organization I wanted money to go to in a World Series bet, I had to think hard.  I didn’t want the money to be funneled through any organization run by the government because I knew the money wouldn’t get to the charity.  Instead, we used PublicGood, and you can donate straight to Maker Girl.

This is only scratching the surface.  The state has been run like that for a long time.  Governor Rauner is trying to change it.  He knows where the bodies are buried, and he isn’t beholden to anyone since he practically self financed his own campaign.

Illinois is an economic sleeping giant.  It’s not only pensions that are a problem, but workman’s comp rules and other regulations that stop middle class people from even having the opportunity to get a job.  The things that the Combine have put in place are not only hurting the people of our state, but it’s hurting the United States as well.

Let’s hope Rauner can win.


To give folks that don’t live in Illinois a flavor of what I am talking about, here is an example.  There is a house in Elmhurst, IL that is in foreclosure.  It’s a 3 bedroom 1.5 bath house.  1679 square feet.  Cape Cod.  It’s not on a quiet street, but it’s not on a super busy one either.  The house costs $254,000.

The property taxes are $8118.00 per year.  They aren’t going down.

Why would you buy it?  Even if you didn’t have a mortgage you’d never really own it.  You’d be renting it from the government.

  • Dan Kunze

    A mill rate of $31.96 in Elmhurst? Wtf? We have high property taxes in Wisconsin but not THAT high. The mill rates in Dane County range from $15 in the sticks where I live to $25 for downtown Madison. And we get very good schools and services to boot. And a balanced state budget. And fully funded pension system. And….

    • But a high income tax. Would love to see Walker decrease your income tax in half. You’d hear a sucking sound.

      • Dan Kunze

        We already hear the sucking sound. Walker is on a (good) rampage since he got back from the presidential trail.