English Articles

/English Articles

Still No Budget for Illinois but Pension Deal Back in the News

    Illinois politicians are still vacillating on their budget. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton have shaken hands on pension reform legislation, and that bill is now being drafted. Let’s hope. Because pension bills in the past have run the gauntlet of controversy and opposition. The union, for one, may not so readily accept this new plan. The plan seems simple and passably attractive.  It focuses on giving state employees a choice. For instance, an employee who wants to keep the 3 percent, compounded cost-of-living benefits payable in retirement would have to accept a lower pensionable salary. On the other hand, the employee could take the higher salary while working but get smaller cost-of-living raises while in retirement. Supporters of the Cullerton plan say it could save Illinois about $1 billion annually. They expect the plan to be opposed. Cullerton is more optimistic. Certainly the Illinois [...]

By |2016-02-09T17:08:26-06:00February 2nd, 2016|English Articles|Comments Off on Still No Budget for Illinois but Pension Deal Back in the News

State Without a Budget

  Illinois is in a fix. Thousands of Illinoisans and organizations have been terribly affected by the Illinois budget crisis, and that number continues to grow every day. Apparently, the state will have to notch its belt since rumblings from Springfield indicate that money will only be produced by March or April if at all. Background Ever since 1215, on the fields of Runnymede, when the barons of England forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, the legislative branch has held the power of the purse in the Anglo-American tradition of government. The budget is renewed every three years and is collated from the budgets of the various agencies who send their lists to the Office of Management and Budget. The results reflect the governor’s priorities and interests as well as the projected money the state has to spend in a given fiscal year. Problem is that in an [...]

By |2016-02-05T16:11:08-06:00January 28th, 2016|English Articles, Local Events|Comments Off on State Without a Budget

What’s Your City’s Credit Score?

It’s amazing how much the three digit number of a person’s credit score tells about the financial habits of that person as anyone would know if they try to rent or buy a home, seek a loan, or otherwise find themselves in a situation where another wants to run your FICO score. WalletHub did just that the other week using TransUnion to compare the average credit scores of residents in 2,570 U.S. cities as of September 2015. To their figurative credit, they listed each of these cities and pointed out the 30 that were in the top 99th percentile. Curious to know how your financial habits compare with your neighbors or maybe you wonder where the people who are most likely to repay their debts live? Wonder no longer. Turn here for the news. The Villages in Florida top the list hitting an almost 800 score (the average score of [...]

By |2016-02-09T17:17:52-06:00January 17th, 2016|English Articles|Comments Off on What’s Your City’s Credit Score?

Here’s Your Turf for Retirement!

Here are the ten best places in Illinois that Niche - a research site that helps people  explore what a place is really like - determined would suit you if and once you retire. Niche came to their conclusion by evaluating several factors that may interest retirees. These include similar age population, housing costs, property taxes, crime rates, weather and access to things like restaurants, golf courses and doctors. You'd think that Northfield, Highland Park, or Deerfield would match the profile. Strangely enough, Niche omitted these suburbs. Niche analyzed more than 4,200 towns and ranked more than 1,600. Here are their results. 10) Carlinville, IL Macoupin County 9) Benton, IL Franklin County 8) Fairfield, IL Wayne County 7) Du Quoin, IL Perry County 6) Flora, IL Clay County 5) Jerseyville, IL Jersey County 4) Metropolis, IL Massac County 3) Olney, IL Richland County 2) Eureka, IL Woodford County 1) Marion, [...]

By |2016-02-09T17:12:07-06:00January 6th, 2016|English Articles|Comments Off on Here’s Your Turf for Retirement!

Poll Shows Majority Of Illinois Voters Oppose Tax Hikes

A new poll shows that most registered voters in Illinois want to close the state’s $4 billion budget gap through spending cuts rather than tax increases, and more than half want to see public pensions cut to address the deficit. The pension problem has been enduring.  Illinois is barely able to pay its employees - firemen, police, park workers and so forth - their pensions. It owns a $30 billion debt. MarketWatch says it has the worst pension reform situation in the nation. Senators have been creating and eliminating plans for years. Toni Preckwinkle suggested a sales tax; Bruce Rauner wants to cut pension benefits. Politicians remain undecided. Meanwhile,  a poll produced by Americans for Prosperity of Illinois surveyed 600 registered Illinois voters. Sixty-six percent called for state-spending to be cut while only 15% - not even a third of the people surveyed - proposed raising taxes. Four percent elected [...]

By |2015-12-02T17:56:29-06:00November 27th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Poll Shows Majority Of Illinois Voters Oppose Tax Hikes

How Much Do We Pay Teachers in Illinois and Chicago?

The University of Illinois's Labor Education Program worked out that the average Illinois teacher works about 207 days a year or about 2,165 hours per year.  Teacher benefits: Teachers get 2.5 months off in June, July and August, 1 week paid time off in December, 1 week paid time off in April and 10 paid vacation days on the CPS calendar. Illinois teachers receive 10 sick days per year. Illinois teachers receive health coverage and are required to pay 1.8 percent of their salary toward the plan. (The range in employee contribution is from 1.3% - 2.8% depending on the level of coverage selected). Figure that the average teacher pays $1,282. Teachers hired after 1986 also pay the Medicare Tax which would mean that the average Illinois teacher pays another $1,033. The average Illinois teacher also has to contribute 2% of his or her base salary (approximately $1,425) to the Chicago Teachers Pension [...]

By |2015-11-17T21:07:46-06:00November 17th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on How Much Do We Pay Teachers in Illinois and Chicago?

Medical Marijuana Debuts in Illinois

Medical marijuana dispensaries opened their doors in Illinois for the first time in state history this week. The eight clinics served hundreds of patients across the state most waiting for hours to get inside. From Mundelein, a reporter chirped that it was so busy that the Mundelein clinic actually sold out their products in one day. The place was supposed to close at 6.00pm but they remained open until every last patient was served. It serviced over 200 cardholders. Patients like Laura Bailey who had been suffering from pain, spams and insomnia for the past 15 years and had been living on prescription pills could barely wait for the clinics to open. Monday she and patients like her flocked to one of the eight clinics in various parts of the state and walked out with the ‘miracle plant’ with veins like blue cheese. After smoking it, Laura said that the [...]

By |2015-11-12T17:22:13-06:00November 11th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Medical Marijuana Debuts in Illinois

Illinois & Lake County Property Taxes

Are You Going To Get A Break On Illinois & Lake County Property Taxes? More news on tax. Mayor Rahm Emanuel plotted a tax hike for property, but insiders are gossiping that if you’re a middle class owner, your burden may plummet. It is the same old reason. Soaring pension payments and a chilling budget deficit caused the mayor, earlier this month, to jack property taxes to $450 million to cover unpaid liabilities for the police and firefighter pensions, plus $50 million for the Chicago Public Schools. The result: a proposed record-breaking $500 million property tax gift. US Effective Tax Rates by Income This is the highest yet since 1996. It is 50 percent more than we paid in property taxes five years ago. It raises our tax rate from $774.4 million in 2014 to $1.22 billion Ironically – and of small consolation to Chicagoans – the mayor’s [...]

By |2015-10-16T18:06:19-05:00October 16th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Illinois & Lake County Property Taxes

Illinois Small Business Grades

Sorry, Owners: Illinois Small Business Is Not Too Friendly For You. If you’re planning to set up shop in Illinois, think again. Thumbtack shows that our local government innocently makes some things very, very hard for us. Last week, Thumbtack ran its fourth annual Small Business Friendliness Survey on 18,000 small business owners across the nations. They considered the following: • Ease of starting a business • Ease of hiring • Regulations • Health and safety • Employment, labor and hiring • Tax code • Licensing • Environmental • Zoning • Training and networking programs Jon Lieber said, chief economist of Thumbtack.com “Given that there is a crisis of entrepreneurship in the United States, seen in the broad collapse of self-employment across industries and states, creating the right environment for business start-ups is more important than ever.” Merchant St in Decatur IL New Hampshire, Utah, Louisiana, and Colorado [...]

By |2015-10-14T20:32:09-05:00October 14th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Illinois Small Business Grades

Newsweek’s Best Colleges – 17 of Them are Here in Illinois

Last month, we mentioned that Newsweek selected ten high-schools that they rated to be the best in the North Shore area. Not to be ignored, this week we turn our attention to colleges. Forbes ranks colleges according to what students get out of them. It evaluates them according to five factors: • Student Satisfaction (25 percent) • Post-Graduate Success (32.5 percent) • Student Debt (25 percent) • Four-year Graduation Rate (7.5 percent) • Academic Success (10 percent) Illinois Top Colleges Forbes 2015 concluded that the 17 best colleges in our state are the following: 1. Northwestern University (#16) 2. University of Chicago (#20) 3. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (#68) 4. Wheaton College (#86) 5. Knox College (#165) 6. Bradley University (#251) 7. Illinois Wesleyan University (#253) 8. Illinois Institute of Technology (#256) 9. Augustana College (#284) 10. DePaul University (#291) 11. Loyola University Chicago (#294) 12. Lake Forest [...]

By |2015-10-12T14:59:11-05:00October 12th, 2015|English Articles|Comments Off on Newsweek’s Best Colleges – 17 of Them are Here in Illinois