Saturday, March 3, 2012

It's tax time (raising) here in Chicago land - so, what's in the budget?

Hoo boy, isn't this a swell time of the year.

Because I am an idiot, am drunk and watching soccer on FSC, I'm going to keep it simple.

Illinois has a problem. That problem is called the state budget.

The problem is, that the budget is big, while the revenues that pay for it are smaller than it.

The solution, of course, is to raise taxes.

Illinois House Passes Big Income-Tax Increase, Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2011, by Lauren Etter And Douglas Belkin;

The Illinois House passed a massive income-tax increase to help the state dig out of a $13 billion deficit, despite opposition from Republicans and business groups.


Among the increases in the bill, the individual income-tax rate would jump to 5%, from 3%. That would cost a family of three making $60,000 about $1,080 more each year in income taxes, according to figures from the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan free-market think tank.


And jump it did.

From 3% to 5%.

Rejoice, o plebes,

THE BUDGET!

SHALL!

BE!

BALANCED!

(Please read the capitalized text in an epic, biblical voice for effect).

Well, not so fast.

That is not enough, it seems, because the business' tax was also raised;

Illinois Braces for Tax Increases, Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2011, by Lauren Etter And Douglas Belkin;

the new corporate rate would move the state into the top 10 among corporate taxers nationally.
.

Reactions to this were, in general, ecstatic and full of approval.

Illinois House Passes Big Income-Tax Increase;

Gov. Pat Quinn came to the House floor to shake hands and congratulate lawmakers after the vote.

"So far so good, but we have work to do; we've got to work with our senators," he told a reporter before getting into an elevator after the vote.


Proponents said the bill was necessary to forestall a wave of public and private defaults, layoffs and foreclosures if the state didn't start paying its bills.

"The wolf is at the door ladies and gentlemen," said Democratic Rep. Greg Harris.


Indeed, the wolf - or, rather, the wolves - are at the door.

Needless to say, there were some naysayers and doom and gloom fringe rightists, fascist nazi Andrew Breitbart lovers who opposed this correct and necessary action:

But the leadership failed to win over some rank-and-file members or a single member of the Republican minority, who said the measure would hurt economic growth and working families. Opponents also objected to a spending provision within the bill that would hold growth to 2% a year, arguing the state needs actual cuts.

"We're not taking responsibility for our irresponsibility," said Republican Rep. Roger Eddy. "We're saying to the people of Illinois we're making up for our mistakes on your back."


Boo! Hiss! At the Illinois Republicans!

The measure would hurt working families?

Those have jobs - in today's economy, that means that you have it gooooooood!

The measure would hurt economic growth?

We are in a recession; there is little to no economic growth anyway!

Insert snickering, giggling, then insane laughter and the sound of ice melting in cheap whiskey in a dirty, unwashed glass here.

But for years, the state has avoided tax increases or significant budget cuts by covering its deficits with short-term measures, putting off bills and paying less than is recommended into the state's pension fund.


The teachers and firemen and policemen - sorry guys, you guys are fucked screwed

The state's debt exploded in 2003, under then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, when Illinois sold $10 billion in 30-year bonds to shore up pension systems and reduce the deficit.


How do you reduce the deficit in Illinois?

The answer is oooooooooooooooobvious, one simple borrows more money to pay to pay for today's debt.

Fortunately, Rod B. is in jail now, for unrelated reasons, and so we don't have to deal with this... oh.... well.... shit... .

Today, lawmakers are scrambling to dig out of a hole that equals half of the general-fund budget of $26 billion.

"What we have to do is pay our bills," said state Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat. "That's a huge, important part of our national image as well as important to our economy. We also have to make sure our bond rating is improved."


Please note the order of importance attached to money matters in this person's brain; image takes precedence, then what follows is the actual ability to pay what one owes.

Lets go to the other article, the one written a day later, by the same duo of apparent Illinois haters from WSJ;

But the failure in the legislature of a proposed $8.75 billion restructuring bond means the state won't immediately be able to start paying off its backlog of about $6 billion in unpaid bills. That leaves hundreds of state vendors, including hospitals, schools and the maker of bullets for the state prison system, facing continued uncertainty

"We're left in the lurch," said Harry Wells, president and chief executive of Chicago Youth Centers, a nonprofit owed $500,000 by the state.


Just on a whim, lets go on a tangent, because I am curious what exactly is, or perhaps are, the "Chicago Youth Centers" and, if they are owed $500 grand by the state, what kind of a budget do THEY have and exactly what do they do and for how much?

Pretty easy to google that organization, and this is from their web page:

What We Do


We invest in youth in underserved Chicago neighborhoods to help them discover and realize their full potential--from early childhood education to and through college.

HERE'S WHY ... Young people are most at risk for delinquent behaviors during the after-school hours of 2:00 to 6:00 pm. This is compounded in neighborhoods where poverty, drugs, violence, and under-performing schools are the norm. The good news is that these underserved children experience the greatest gains in academic performance and social and life skills development when they participate in after-school programs that are fully implemented and they attend regularly. That's why we're here--and have been for more than half a century.


Obviously, after leaving schools, kids these days are at risk for committing delinquent behaviours, and when we say kids, what we mean is babies all the way through college students.

Because, apparently, in certain neighborhoods, this organization must help babies, children and college students to not commit "delinquent behaviors" (sic! behaviours).

To wit; "these underserved children experience the greatest gains in academic performance and social and life skills development when they participate in after-school programs that are fully implemented and they attend regularly".

I was under the impression that schools pay for their own after school programs from taxes paid for by the local citizens who are interested in their kids well being, and... uhh... ummm... "neighborhoods where poverty, drugs, violence" ... . Right, I reckon the tax base that one can lay taxes on in those kind of neighborhoods is mighty slim, and so the state of Illinois magnanimously volunteered my taxes to help those in greater need.

Hooray!

Unfortunately, the scumbag folks like myself were not paying our fair share to help those less fortunate than ourselves, what with our privilege et al... So now, presto! That is fixed!

What does CYC (that word means "tit", as in a nipple, in the region I am from) do?

HERE'S HOW ... CYC welcomes at-risk, low-income youth ages 3-18 into eight neighborhood-based centers and a residential camp where they receive one-on-one and small group guidance from well-trained, caring adults. Our centers and unique camp are oases of encouragement and support for these children.


The kids - and by that it is meant children all the way to college student age people - have one-on-one and small group sessions to... ummmm... help them to not commit "delinquent behaviors" (sic! behaviours).

Being an idiot, I do not know what a professional tutor charges per hour, so I googled it.

Apparently, Private Tutors,

Individuals generally charge according to their level of education and experience. Expect to pay $10 to $15 per hour for a high school student, and up to $75 per hour for a certified teacher with experience. A teacher trained and qualified to work with children with special needs will likely charge more. Rates can vary quite a bit depending upon your location.


At first I did not know if these kids at risk of committing crimes, muggings, rapes and beatings "delinquent behaviors" (I give up, behavior it is) are what is considered "special needs"... then it hit me.

Of course they are - they have a whole state funded programme (Hah! Not "program") for them.

But wait, that is for private tutors.

We are dealing with an agency, and so, for Tutoring Centers, we find
A tutoring or learning center typically offers a list of classes and corresponding rates. A class that meets once a week might cost $50 per month; more intensive classes that meet more frequently could cost up to $150 per week.


But herein a "class" is mentioned, whereas the CYC organization proudly mentions that they, lets quote it again, provide for the "kids" "one-on-one and small group guidance from well-trained, caring adults."

Well trained, one on one and small group "guidance", from "2:00 to 6:00 pm".

I am assuming that this is done only after school (indeed, the site states that is so), and so I would advise my fellow Illinosians (Illino...esians... Non-Hoosiers) and especially my fellow Chicagoans to consider staying at home and barricading their doors for the whole Saturday and Sunday days of the week, when these programs are not provided.

But I am now very curious about the actual cost of this operation and, perhaps more importantly (being a selfish prick who hoards my cash for my own nefarious purposes instead of sharing with the proletariat like a good Illinosian... Illino...esians... Non-Hoosier should) just who pays for all of this highly important and necessary programme.

At the webpage of CYC, there is a proud article about Chicago's faaaaaaaaaaavourite company, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (CPM), giving a grand total sum of $10,000 donation to support programming of, well, CYC.

But in the budget article, the very important person said that the state owns CYC $500,000 mullahs.

Compared to that number, the ten grand seems more of a propaganda exercise than anything substantial.

It would be akin to me saying that I proudly give one cent each Sunday for the well being of my church, halleluyah! (That is, if I wasn't a dirty atheist... or an agnostic... or confused, unlike those nice men in weird clothes in churches, synagogues and mosques who have ALL the answers).

On the CYC webpage, there is a section entitled "Ways to Give", which is self explanatory.

But what is not clear is the state owing CYC $500 grand mullahs; how does that square with a plea for donations?

Is it a charity?

Apparently not if, sorry to repeat this, the state owes this organization half a million.

I cannot find their operating budget nor how and how much they are paid; this is the one time that google is failing me.

I shall return in a jiffy, off to grab another dirty glass of ice sploshed with cheap whiskey; feel free to hum to yourself your favorite ditty or find the time to donate to CYC helping at risk children.

Goddamit where's my whiskey.... oh... out of ice.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I am an idiot.

I was searching for the properly spelled "Chicago youth centre" but obviously, here in the colonies I should have googled for a "Chicago youth center".

Wait a moment.

I am currently looking at the Illinois Department of Corrections web page, and there, or rather therein, is the "Chicago Youth Center" in blue and white.

Wait a moment, what is Advocates applaud plan to close Ill. youth centers, by AP, Karen Hawkins, Feb. 25 2012;

CHICAGO — Illinois houses juvenile offenders in eight detention centers across the state, including one in downstate Murphysboro that is only a third full, has little outdoor recreation space and costs $84,000 a year per youth to operate. It has nearly 100 staffers for its 53 inmates.


100 staffers for 53 kids inmates.

Talk about one on one and small group sessions.

Gov. Pat Quinn's proposal to close that Murphysboro detention center and another in Joliet is winning the praise of judicial reform advocates, who say the move will not only save the state money but allow young offenders to stay home and receive treatment.


This closing of these "youth centres", which are in reality prisons youth gulags detention camps for underage criminals places for underserved kids makes perfect sense because not only does it save my tax money to be given to more deserving underserved kids but also, and I quote, "allow young offenders to stay home and receive treatment", releasing the young offenders back into my very own neighborhood.

This makes perfect sense to me... I am out of whiskey... mixing alcohols is bad, but I do have some cheap Christan Bros. Brandy. It's going to be horrible when it is so warm - perhaps I will put it in a fridge... Or even better open a window and let it cool outside...yeah, that makes sense... I could be a politician in Illinois... no sweat... ice... fridge... breasts... Michael Jordan Jackson...

Where was I?

Apologies.

I am a complete idiot.

The "Illinois Youth Centers" is something completely different than the "Chicago Youth Centers" or CYC.

The first one is a prison for young criminals, and, so, to save money, Governor Quinn and the funky bunch decided to close two of them to save taxpayer money and release the convicted criminals back into our neighborhoods.

Whereas the second one is an organization that organizes programmes for kids (ages 3 to 18) to NOT go home after school so that they do not become criminals and DO go home after school.

I am drunk at this point and let me assure you, dear reader, that this makes perfect sense to me.

Searching for the CYC budget, we find a (warning! PDF!) 2008 CYC annual report, which proudly lists private donors, called "mentors" ($10K to $24,999 donations) all the way down through to "friends" (up to $99).

On the top there is a section called "Governmental Sources", which in my inebriated state, considering the fact that the state owes CYC $500K and the private sources do not come close to $500,000; in 2008, roughly, using my wet whiskey/brandy fingers banging on the calculator, they roughly come to $106,000, with the margin of error of $20,000, give or take (I am drunk - you do the math yourself, smart guy!).

Unfortunately, on the 2008 annual report, it is not stated how much the "Governmental Sources" have contributed to the organization (natch!).

But, those who seek, shall find (I just made that one up).

And, success!

Fucking A, man, success!

The 2007 Chicago Youth Centers and the Benjamin J. and Hannah S. Rosenthal Camp, Inc., official audit by McGladrey & Pullen, Certified Public Accountants (PDF warning, fucking A here).

Total cash money of this programme in 2007 was $16,019,533 mullahs, with governmental funding of $905,247.

This sum includes the "property and equipment" current value estimation of $2,836,078.

Also, it is clarified that "Chicago Youth Centers is a nonprofit comprehensive youth service agency providing programs to economically disadvantaged youths in the Chicago area.".

Splendid.

It is a nonprofit - with some generous charitable donations of my tax dollars, volunteered not by myself.

At this point it makes perfect sense, because, you see, I am on my fifth glass of whiskey brandy sprite.

Apparently I AM a charity giver - and I thought I was a tight wad miserly asshole.

I am sure a government donating to nonprofits is legit and has no conflict of interest whatsoever, nor can it be used as a vehicle to launder monies or.... I need a drink, be right there...

Right, well, back now.

Thing is, this is just one of the many points in the very extensive Illinois budget.

There is, for example, something called HeadStart, which
is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families
.

I assume the two programmes overlap in the neighborhoods "where poverty, drugs, violence, and under-performing schools are the norm".

Whereas the relatively cheap CYC has a simple aim to keep kids (ages 3 to 18) locked in after school programmes so that they do not, presumably, bash your head in and take your IPOD (What?! Is that racist?! Fine, then, put in the delinquent behavior (sic! fuck!) of your choice here, namby pamby!), the HeadStart programme is somewhat more ambitious.

It aims to teach families about nutrition, health and how-to-raise-your-kids - my parents did not have such a programme, and, well, fuck, look how I turned out.

Fortunately, this is a federal programme, and falls beyond the state of Illinois discussion (may I just point you to the Illinois HeadStart association web page, which has a picture of a group of smiling black kids and then another picture of a very hot blonde in a tight business suit, who is a featured key note speaker - apparently she wrote a book about feelings and such).

I am sure her speaking fee is very low, considering as this is a federal non profit, and that the audience for her address will not be a slobbering bald, fat white males with names like Rosenthal but the smiling, cheerful black kids from the ghetto Chicago.

But moving back to the state budget, there are numerous nonprofit organizations with similar aims and methods that I cheerfully donate to without my knowledge.

For example, an article posted on 10/18/2011 about an Community Crisis Center in Elgin, has a picture of a banner with the number of $327,928 mullahs needed to keep operating the centre (apologies - center).

The article states:

Workers at the center, which relies on the state for half of its funding, were forced to take four weeks of unpaid furlough days because of the state falling behind in its payments.


Half of the funding for this non profit is through state government.

What does the center do?

A mother of two children with autism, Wanda Malone needs a little help balancing their care with the rest of life's tasks.

So a few times a week, a trained helper watches Jayden, 6, in their Aurora home or takes him to planned social activities, leaving Malone time to spend with DJ, 7, or to tend to other necessities.


Sounds great.

Basically, the big crisis is that there is no grandma (I am so heartless! Boo!).

The cost of the helper is supposed to be reimbursed through the Lisle-based Ray Graham Association. But that association sees months-long delays in state payments and, as a result, so does Malone.


The center is proudly paid for by donations from the Lisle-based Ray Graham Association.

Unfortunately, that organization is not paying the nonprofit crisis center, because the government did not pay the "Lisle-based Ray Graham Association" on time.

Boo!

Interestingly, the Lisle based Ray Graham organization has the Monarch Consulting services.

Now, that is not creepy at all and it is simply my alcohol addled brain making insane connections that associates the word "monarch" with mind control experiments on children.

I am simple insane, stupid and drunk, thash alsh!

The point is, that there is a large number of nonprofit organizations that receive half (if not majority) of their operating expenses not by voluntary donors, but by simple tax donations.

Now, I have nothing against kids (3 to 18) having one on one after school programmes guided by trained professionals, so that those kids do not bother me from 2:00 to 6:00 pm, as I am trying to make my way home from work so that I can continue to pay for kids (3 to 18) to have special programmes so that they do not bother me while driving home from work.

Far from it - I positively encourage this!

I want poor families to learn about nutrition, health and how to raise your children from Head Start - better that these services are provided here than, say, in a foreign country like Africa or Latin Amrika.

Americans first I say.

It's just that the budget, you see, is so big that the Illinois big wigs had to raise my taxes and it sorta, kinda gets me... miffed.

Now, with the higher taxes on businesses, I foresee a great, glorious road for Chicago and the surrounding suburbs (indeed, the whole state) to prosperity, or at least to budget hole fillinging... ing.... fillin'... I need a drink.

Say, I want to buy some ice cream cone with one flavor ball, which would cost me, about, roughly, umm... $5 (I know, cheap, I do not know how much ice cream cost that are not produced en masse and stocked in a Jewel).

To buy said ice cream, I would have to drive my car and park it in a (Privately operated! Nothing to do with local government, and unanswerable to it!) pay-to-park zone.

Say, I want to take my time and spend an hour - it will cost me (cheapest rate) $1.75 to park on a street side (...but that is some areas; some have over $5 an hour street parking costs).

Coming back from my walk, I notice with alarm that a tow truck is in the process of hooking my car to it, as, alas, your watch and the parking meter time keeping are from different universes.

So my $5 ice cream will cost me... after parking, towing and fees... ummm... more than $5.

My point is (There is a point?!) that it is haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard for a small business to succeed, and raising taxes and with paid street parking the customer base dries up.

I do not even go to a pizza place, because (surprise!) they only have metered parking... and the hassle is just not worth it.

Que another business to fail.

One thing that I do applaud is that while one can say many things about Illinois ruling elite politicians, at least they recognized the crisis, the deep, sucking black hole and took steps to combat it.

While raising taxes for schmucks like myself and small businesses...

Side note tangent ahoy!

Big businesses in Illinois do not pay taxes.

For example, Caterpillar has run an extortion scheme on our fantastic politicians (Extortion scheme is the correct word usage here, yesssss?) and so will pay no corporate taxes - after all, they bring a net gain to the state, namely, jobs.

I, a Joe "Loser" Schmuck, and small mom and pop business bring absolutely no benefits to said state, and so, to make up for the loss of corporate tax revenue, our taxes were (and will be.... and will be again.... and...) justifiably raised.

There is one bright spark in all of this mess, and his name is Rahm Emmanuel.

I remember when I believed him to be a person groomed for presidency, when finally (finally!) an openly zionist Jewish guy will be able to openly and without any checks and balances lead this country (and my state!) into an even glorious future (in the Middle East).

I was wrong.

This person is a hero!

Rahm is cutting the budget.

All these bloated programmes will be cut, as well as, unfortunately, some needed ones will have less funding - a necessary evil.

Back in May 2011, a triumphant article proclaimed that, ahem, this is glorious:

Rahm Emanuel cutting budget by $75 mil.

Even better, in December, Huffington Post proclaimed that:

Rahm Emanuel: City Exceeded His Cost-Cutting Goal, Saved $83 Million This Year

The one year plan, set by the government, was exceeded!

This, incidentally, reminds me of the five year plans back in my beloved, decrepit, corrupt little country, and how on TV a smiling TV announcer in a tie and a suit would boldly proclaim that the production quotas of such and such outfit set by the state were exceeded by the workers (here the smiling workers' mugs would be shown, and to reward them for busting their tails and enriching others a small ceremony with a gift of one tin medal per person was scheduled).

But Rahm is not the only one cutting.

Rahm is a city fuhrer dictator beloved father figure; we are talking about the state budget.

There are cuts all over!

Home health care workers protest proposed Illinois budget cuts

‘Toughest’ Illinois Budget May Cut Medicaid by $2.7 Billion.

Hell yeah!

Fuck my grandparents!

If you are not drunk while reading this, you may have noticed that these two, and if you are not lazy and use "the google" other stories, mention about proposed cuts, and are dated roughly, about February 2012.

Proposed does not equal "already cut".

It equals "political posturing", to be followed by the inevitable protests from, say, Ray Graham Crisis Center personnel, and then a smiling politicians on TV stating his name and solemnly declaring that "I (state your name) saved (such and such) community organization for y'all (Vote for me, Quimby!)".

Even with cuts in the proposed FY2012 Illinois state budget, the deficit WILL INCREASE from $4.6 billion to $5 billion.

Per the article, this will happen "by June 2012", which means NOW, RIGHT FUCKING NOW(today is March 3, by the way).

But don't worry, the really, REALLY important programmes (unlike, say, Medicare or employee pensions) will not only be kept in, nay, they will sometimes have an increase!

Quinn budget address focuses on deficit, MAP grant;

There is somewhat of a silver lining: room in the budget for education.

According to an Illinois government press release, "The Monetary Award Program, which provides college scholarships for needy students, will also see a funding increase of more than $50 million during fiscal year 2013 to help deserving students achieve higher degrees."


Hoooooooray!

Yeeeeeeeey!

I am double plus good sure that my (Caucasian, White, natch) and my friend's (ethnic Chinese, alas) kids will be first in line to these monies paid for by us.

Yey.......

I am out of drinks.

Fuck this.

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