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Taxing Tuesday Podcast: Chicago Teacher and Illinois Dreams: Tax and Spend

Taxing Tuesday Podcast: Chicago Teacher and Illinois Dreams: Tax and Spend

There's already a huge debt hole and losing population

Recently, the Chicago Teachers Union took a little field trip to Springfield, Illinois to lobby for a bunch of goodies. Too bad that Illinois can’t really afford all the stuff it already promised in the past, as taxpayers scatter to other states.


Episode Links

WSJ editorial: The Chicago Teachers Union Plays Hooky

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) professes to care about students, but the lessons it cares most about are political. On Wednesday hundreds of teachers played hooky and abandoned their students to lobby lawmakers in Springfield for an extra $1 billion they say the state owes the city.

The Chicago Public Schools granted the field trip as a paid day off at the union’s request. Nice non-work if you can get it. The CTU claims the state “isn’t fully funding its own equity formula.”

The “equity formula” in question is the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) Illinois uses to determine how it allocates money to schools statewide. The law was signed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner as part of an agreement that launched Illinois’s Invest in Kids scholarship program. Lawmakers did the union’s bidding last year and killed Invest in Kids, which allowed the deduction from state taxes of a portion of donations for scholarships.

Wirepoints: Pritzker squeezes Democratic legislators: support tax hikes or expect cuts – Wirepoints

If you’ve been in Illinois long enough to go through a school district tax hike referendum, you’ll understand what’s going on right now as state lawmakers prepare to vote on the 2025 state budget.

In those tax hike referendums, local residents are often faced with threats from school administrators that go something like this: Support the multi-million property tax increase or else face cuts to popular activities including art, music and sports. The tactic works, as all too often voters give in to the false choice. (Real spending reforms, like cutting administrative bloat, are never offered.)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is doing a version of that right now with state lawmakers who don’t agree with the nearly $1 billion in tax hikes he’s put into his proposed $52.7 billion budget. The governor wants to hike sports betting taxes by $200 million. He’s pushing for another $500 million from tax hikes on companies. And there’s another $93 million tax hike on ordinary residents. The governor is not allowing the individual income tax standard deduction to fully rise with inflation.

To get his way, the governor, via his proxy Sen. Andy Manar, has sent out a letter to his agencies and lawmakers that effectively says “vote for the tax hikes or I’ll cut your district’s grants by $800 million.” Those are grants in the budget, typically of several million dollars, that lawmakers get for their districts to butter up their voter base. If those grants get cut, those lawmakers can become targets. As the Belleville-News Democrat reported: “While Manar’s letter was addressed to “Agency Directors,” it was just as much a message to rank-and-file lawmakers – particularly those within the supermajority Democratic party.”

Oh well, I guess that almost $200 billion is gone with the wind.

Census links

Population Rebounds for Many Cities in Northeast and Midwest

Large cities in the Northeast and Midwest grew in 2023, reversing earlier population declines, according to Vintage 2023 Population Estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Cities with populations of 50,000 or more grew by an average of 0.2% in the Northeast and 0.1% in the Midwest after declining an average of 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively, in 2022. Those in the West went up by an average of 0.2% from 2022 to 2023. Cities in the South grew the fastest – by an average 1.0%.

“The population growth across the South in 2023 was driven by significant numeric and percentage gains among its cities,” said Crystal Delbé, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “Thirteen of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in the South, with eight in Texas alone.”

Topping the list of fastest-growing cities with a population of 20,000 or more: Celina, Texas, (near Dallas), whose population grew by 26.6%, more than 53 times that of the nation’s growth rate of 0.5%.

Meanwhile, San Antonio, Texas, added more people (roughly 22,000) than any other city in 2023, reclaiming its No. 1 spot on the list of gainers and pushing it close to the 1.5 million population milestone.

Amid these notable examples of growth in the South, other fast-growing cities saw their rates of population change slow. For example, population growth in Georgetown, Texas, slowed by more than one-fourth its population growth in 2022, from 14.4% to 10.6%. The same can be said for Kyle, Texas, whose population growth decreased by nearly 2.0% to 9.0% in 2023. 

Top 15 Fastest-Growing Cities
Top 15 Largest-Gaining Cities

How is Population Shifting in Cities/Towns in your State?

Illinois Policy Links



Public Plans Database: Illinois

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STUMP - Meep on public finance, pensions, mortality and more
STUMP - Death and Taxes with Meep - Podcast
Public finance, pensions, mortality trends from the perspective of Meep (Mary Pat Campbell), a life-annuity actuary. Less frequent topics: data visualization, actuarial politics, literature, opera, and sumo.
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