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Illinois Hoping Citizens Drink State’s Debts Away with Statewide Soda Tax

Skyrocketing costs, financial crisis make the Land of Lincoln very thirsty.

soda fountainEverett Collection Inc. / Dreamstime.comMoody's economic forecast for Illinois for 2017 is remarkably blunt, even a little grim. This is just the first paragraph of the summary:

Illinois is one of the Midwest's weakest links, reflecting both soft job creation and the state's descent into fiscal quicksand. The state trails the nation in most metrics and political gridlock is imposing significant economic costs. The jobless rate has resumed its descent after rising late last year into early 2016, but much of the decline owes to a sharp drop in the labor force and population losses.

The state's unemployment rate for December, 5.7 percent, is one full percentage point higher than the national average. The state is losing jobs among all employment sectors, blue collar and white collar alike. Manufacturing jobs had been recovering slowly with the economy in Illinois, but are now dropping again. The state's population is also shrinking. Illinois' population growth has been dropping since the 1990s. It hit negative numbers three years ago and has stayed under since. Illinois is losing tens of thousands of its residents to other states and elsewhere.

The state is a fiscal disaster, partly due to its complete inability and unwillingness to get a handle on its spending, particularly on its own employees. Illinois' pension liabilities are tied with Kentucky's as the worst in the nation. The state's obligations jumped to $130 billion in 2016, an increase of 17 percent, due to poor returns and lowered return assumptions.

So when you've got a citizenry who is not recovering the way the rest of the country is (to the point that they're leaving) and you've got a humongous state debt problem, one would assume that even the most progressive, spend-happy government official would realize they have to rein it in.

But not Illinois. They just need to find more money! One legislator's brilliant idea: soda taxes. Yes, this monster again. State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (a Democrat from the greater Chicago area) has proposed Senate Bill 9, which would add a one cent tax for each ounce of every sale of a sugar-sweetened drink statewide. Almost all that money will go into the state's coffers. A small amount (2 percent) would be sent to the state's Department of Revenue to administer the program. The rest goes into the general fund.

Much like Philadelphia's passage of a soda tax, this doesn't appear to be a nanny state effort to "nudge" people to healthy drinking choices by forcing up costs. The proposal really does seem to be focused on raising revenue for the state. They predict the tax will bring in $560 million annually for the state. Which means that if their pension obligations never get any worse and the revenue doesn't decline because people stop buying soda (or a black market develops), this money can cover the state's pension liabilities in a mere 232 years. And that's not even counting the state's other financial debts!

Of course, Illinois pension crisis undoubtedly will get worse, and this entire soda tax proposal is a way for legislators (and public sector union leaders) to deflect away from the problems that plague the state that aren't being addressed. And in this case, they're pursuing a regressive tax that's more likely to affect poor people more than rich people. They're taking money from their poorest residents in order to bankroll their highly paid government employees. Brendan Bakala at the Illinois Policy Institute notes how consumption works out in the real world:

While retailers would face heftier costs from the new tax, it would be poor and lower-income Illinoisans who would be hurt the most. A poll from Gallup shows that 45 percent of people making less than $30,000 a year consume regular, sugary soda. And as incomes rise, consumption of regular soda decreases. Only 34 percent of those making $30,000-$74,999 a year consume regular soda, and only 20 percent of people making $75,000 a year or more drink regular soda.

For poor residents of Cook County (the Chicago area) this would be on top of another soda tax approved and set to begin in July. It's also a penny per ounce tax.

Though Illinois is heavily dominated by Democratic rule, citizens voted in a Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, who took office in 2015 with a focus on getting the state's economy back in order. Unfortunately the Democratic control over the legislatures has prevented any changes, and the state's Supreme Court has tossed out pension reforms as a violation of the state's constitution. Michael Lucci, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute, bluntly tells Reason there isn't any good news about the state's finances he can tell us, and in fact he believes the state is in worse shape than people even think. Much as what happened with California's municipal bankruptcies, keep an eye on the cities first.

"A lot of localities are a lot worse than the state," Lucci says. "Localities will have a significant problem and there will be a domino effect. There's not really anything going on that will change that course. We are kind of shouting from the rooftops, 'This is serious.' We might not have any way out of this soon."

Because the entrenched Democratic and public employee union interests are so resistant to any changes, Lucci said the Illinois Policy Institute has sent memos to the incoming Donald Trump administration asking them to improve and streamline bankruptcy code so that cities will actually be able to fix their debt problems if they become insolvent.

Lucci noted the recent job losses in the state and mapped out differences in communities. Chicago has seen jobs recover, but the rest of the state is still losing ground. The counties surrounding Chicago have seen a net increase in jobs over the past eight years (up 110,100) while the rest of the state lost jobs during that same time frame (down 42,700). The community Hutchinson represents has been improving (Chicago has a whole host of financial problems of its own), but the taxes she's proposing are going to hit hard those who still have not recovered.

Unsurprisingly, while Hillary Clinton took Illinois on the strength of the popular vote in the Chicago area, most of the counties outside of the metropolis went for Trump. Analysis of county-by-county votes over time shows the non-urban parts of Illinois growing redder and redder. Trump's economic populism struck a chord with folks outside the cities. Note though, Lucci sees a much bigger problem in the cost of attempting to do business in Illinois, not the foreign trade Trump likes to point to.

"Manufacturing jobs have been lost, but we also have a state government that just crushes guys who are trying to produce," Lucci says. "Our guys pick up their facilities and move to Indiana, or move to Wisconsin. Mexico would be a secondary problem for Illinois." He points to property taxes and workers compensation costs as major barriers to business-building when compared to other nearby states. Illinois is second only to Nevada in the share of homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages, owing at least 25 percent more than the market value of their houses.

And yet, Lucci notes that the legislative debate seems to be entirely about how much taxes should be raised, a discussion of how much the state can get away with, not about cutting back. He has heard that the proposed soda tax could get abandoned (in favor of income tax increases) out of fears of how citizens will respond when they see the immediate consequences.

"When people actually see what happens, they're going to start asking, 'What is my government doing?'" Lucci says. "There's going to be such sticker shock. It's gonna be one of those issues where people are like, 'Wait a minute, my government has gone insane.'"

Ultimately, it's going to take state constitutional amendments to permit the state and cities to reform pensions and collective bargaining agreements. Lucci notes that there are Democratic lawmakers who understand the reforms are necessary—Democrats did actually vote for the pension reforms that the state's Supreme Court tossed out. But until that actually happens, leaders will continue to try to extract more and more money from citizens rather than tighten their belts.

"People are getting hit so hard from so many directions," Lucci says. "They're getting angry."

Photo Credit: Everett Collection Inc. / Dreamstime.com

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  • UnCivilServant||

    I predict smuggling.

  • The Last American Hero||

    How long before the cops kill a couple of kids running a lemonade stand and failing to collect the sugary drink tax?

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    I predict a green tax strip pasted over every soda can and bottle.

    And I predict negroes getting murdered by police over selling Indiana soda.

  • wagnert in atlanta||

    "Persons of color," you insensitive clod.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If you can't turn to a Democrat from the greater Chicago area to fix your fiscal woes, who can you turn to?

  • Charles Easterly||

    The Blues Brothers?

  • UnCivilServant||

    +1 "Mission from God"

  • Citizen X||

    Ghostbusters?

  • The Last American Hero||

    The old ones right?

  • UnCivilServant||

    The old only ones, right?

    Fixed that for.... oops

    *permabanned from twitter*

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Beelzebub?

  • wagnert in atlanta||

    Allee same-same as "Democrat from the Chicago area."

  • GILMORE™||

    Illinois is one of the Midwest's weakest links, reflecting both soft job creation and the state's descent into fiscal quicksand

    also, Deep Dish is not pizza

  • Just Say'n||

    Deep dish is pizza and it's better than anything the rest of the country has. Ketchup should never be put on a hot dog and Jordan is the best. Just watch the infamous 'flu game'.

  • UnCivilServant||

    You are clearly too diseased to be permitted anywhere but the lake Mischigan quarantine zone.

  • WTF||

    If "deep dish" is pizza, then so is fucking "hot dish". Hell, in that case anything can be pizza.

  • H man||

    Deep dish is pizza. If it wasn't we'd be calling it a pie.

  • UnCivilServant||

    It's a casserole, not a pie.

  • DaveSs||

    Who cares, its the greatest combination of bread, cheese, tomato and customary toppings.

  • robc||

    I know next to nothing about basketball advanced stats, but basketball-reference.com has his career VORP as #2 all time behind Lebron James.

    Karl Malone is #3 for those who get in a tizzy over these things.

  • robc||

    Vorp starts in 1973, so that leaves out some options too.

  • robc||

    Win shares he is 4th, behind Kareem, Wilt and Karl.

  • ||

    Roger Murdock: ROGER MURDOCK. I'm an airline pilot.

    Joey: I think you're the greatest, but my dad says you don't work hard enough on defense.

    [Kareem gets angry]

    Joey: And he says that lots of times, you don't even run down court. And that you don't really try... except during the playoffs.

    Roger Murdock: The hell I don't! LISTEN, KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night! Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!

  • robc||

    Malone has zero championships

    Atlanta, 1996.

  • robc||

    But it should be.

  • robc||

    Unless we are going to declare Sam Jones the 2nd best player ever without any further discussion.

  • robc||

    KC Jones was a fine player and a good coach, but no one seriously thinks he is tied for the 3rd best player in history.

  • robc||

    Someone who thinks Championships are the stat to use would have to explain why it doesnt apply to Jones and Jones.

  • robc||

    I didnt say you said that,

  • Jimoxe||

    Apples to oranges.
    Best ever is an individual accomplishment.
    Championships are a team accomplishment.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Jordan is definitely the best. If you look at the guys who produced more value than him, they played longer and got more minutes. Jordan twice quit basketball while he was at his peak. There's nobody in the history of the game who provided more value on a per-minute basis. The closest would be Wilt Chamberlain.

    My tendency, when approaching something that's really hyped, is to assume it's overrated. Not everything can be overrated, though, and Jordan is deserving all the praise he gets for his inherent basketball ability (though his gambling issues are another story).

  • Just Say'n||

    That's bull (pun intended). The game was FAR more physical back then. Now if you breath too close to LeBron it's a technical foul.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    ^this is true, flagellant fouls weren't a think until '89 and the Detroit Bad Boys. Thanks 30 for 30.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Correct. Jordan played in a much more physical league.

  • The Last American Hero||

    He has an entire country named after him.

    /Ali G.

  • ||

    Deep dish is pizza...

    ...if you're a tard.

  • Swiss Servator||

    *balls up fists*

    IT IS TOO!

  • ||

    I live in Chicagoland. I have no love for deep dish pizza.

    Cracker thin crust for life, yo.

  • kinnath||

    And Michael Jordan isn't the best player ever.

    He never made it out of the minor league.

  • robc||

    Crust, tomato sauce, cheese, optional ingredients.

    That is pizza.

  • robc||

    No. unless you cook the soup on the grilled cheese, then sure. But its really bad pizza.

  • robc||

    I didn't change the rules, I thought it was clear it had to be cooked in a single dish to qualify. Not everything needs to be stated explicitely.

  • UnCivilServant||

  • robc||

    sigh, see above. if the soup is made in the breadmaker at the same time as the bread, sure.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Taxa, even food taxa need to be as explicit as possible about the traits that make up members.

    Adding in a corrective rule just shows your three piece rule inadequite for defining pizza - especially since your definition still includes calzones and pepperoni breads, but excludes 'white' pizzas which use a cheese-based sauce. While the inclusion of white pizza into the pizza taxa is a matter for debate, it shares more of the key traits than some other contenders your definition would permit.

  • robc||

    A calzone is a folded pizza, I am okay with including it.

    I am a big tent pizzaist. But white pizza and chicken bacon ranch pizza are right out.

    I love pesto, but that a pesto pizza isnt pizza either.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I willingly eat deep dish, but that does not make it no longer a casserole.

    Pizza is an open-faced food product related to the Italian tomato pie. Close the dough and you're no longer making pizza.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Not so fast. What is that thing the New Yorkers do with their pizza before stuffing it in their mouth? Oh yeah, they fold it in half, turning it into a calzone.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Folding a slice after it is cooked and cut is a structural necessity if you've gotten the proper thinness of crust to have a pizza, it does not get cooked that way, and thus is no calzone.

  • ||

    A calzone is a folded...

    ...item. It is not a pizza, any more so than a burrito is a taco.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Apparently it is in New York

  • UnCivilServant||

    Not to this New Yorker.

  • jack sprat||

    Wow a lot of comments on this.
    I'm here to settle this. Deep Dish is not only pizza it is the BEST pizza.
    And Michael Jordan was without a doubt the greatest basketball player of all time.
    You're welcome.

    *I live in NYC so I am not biased


    ** I grew up in Chicago but that isn't relevant here.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    one would assume that even the most progressive, spend-happy government official would realize they have to rein it in.

    Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnope. If North Korean and Venezuelan leadership believes they're doing everything right, it's hard to imagine what the metric for failure is.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Being sane.

  • Bra Ket||

    The metric is wealth inequality. North Korea and Venezuela are successful examples approaching optimality.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Just start taxing brutality settlements from the Chicago PD. That's like a fifth of Illinois' economy.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    brutality settlements
    never heard of that.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    While retailers would face heftier costs from the new tax, it would be poor and lower-income Illinoisans who would be hurt the most. A poll from Gallup shows that 45 percent of people making less than $30,000 a year consume regular, sugary soda. And as incomes rise, consumption of regular soda decreases. Only 34 percent of those making $30,000-$74,999 a year consume regular soda, and only 20 percent of people making $75,000 a year or more drink regular soda.

    For poor residents of Cook County (the Chicago area) this would be on top of another soda tax approved and set to begin in July. It's also a penny per ounce tax.

    This is where Vice News does a breathless report with ominous music about the powerful lobby of Big Soda.

  • bacon-magic||

    I live in Illinois. *self-immolates

  • bacon-magic||

    Mmmmmmmmm, smells like bacon. - last words

  • UnCivilServant||

    Have you thought about a lucrative career in sugar smuggling?

  • bacon-magic||

    I live near the Missouri/Illinois border so...that would be illegal. *Halo twinkles

  • UnCivilServant||

    We have truck rental options...

  • The Last American Hero||

    Time to open up a convenience store in Gary.

  • Swiss Servator||

    -1 tire fire.

    Try Kenosha.

  • albo||

    I guess half the population can argue that they will not ever pay a "soda" tax, because Illinois is a split "pop vs. soda" state, like PA and Wisc.
    http://popvssoda.com/

  • UnCivilServant||

    "pop" is a quick punch to the face.

    "soda" is a carbonated beverage.

  • Rhywun||

    *narrows gaze from from Western NY*

    I actually changed from "pop" to "soda" after I moved to NYC. It just isn't worth the hassle.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I say soda pop just to be cool.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Obv you got to hear it in person, body language adds a lot to the cool factor.

    Half-Vice smoking a cig with one hand in his pocket, "Babe, grab some soda pop or whatever."

  • Spartacus||

    Savages. Civilized people know that it's "co-cola".

  • Private Chipperbot||

    Heard in Texas.

    "What kind of Coke do you want?"

    "Sprite."

  • kinnath||

    ditto in Hotlanta

  • robc||

    Ive been involved in both sides of that conversation in Atlanta.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    sweet Dixie champagne
  • ||

    My wife is from Western NY. You people have a really grating accent. Not as bad as Chicago, but close.

  • Rhywun||

    It is something else, isn't it. I've been away so long it's pretty much gone. But it comes out when I get agitated in some way (like, shouting at a co-worker...).

  • Rasilio||

    What about Tonic, growing up in Massholia we called generic carbonated sugary beverages Tonic

  • Zunalter||

    Illinois is losing tens of thousands of its residents to other states and elsewhere.

    Many of whom are retardedly voting for the same policies that sunk their home state.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    They merely want to treat their public sector with the fairness and financial security it deserves.

  • Zunalter||

    Which in a rational universe would mean they would target long-term solvency. But, feelz > maths.

  • The Other Kevin||

    In Indiana there are still people who hold up Illinois as an example of what our state should be like. These are mostly teachers and union members.

  • Trshmnstr, Grump Apprentice||

    This. Some of the most annoying high school classmates of mine are teachers in IN who bitch and moan about anything that Indiana does differently from Illinois.

  • robc||

    "Last gas before Illinois" is a sign you see in Indiana.
    "Last gas before Indiana" is not a sign in Illinois.

    Most of Indiana is sensible on this issue.

  • juris imprudent||

    Scott continues to dominate the alt-text.

  • Charles Easterly||

    Indeed.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Sevo and his date after the sadie hawkins dance?

  • GILMORE™||

    but before he locks her in his basement dungeon

  • GILMORE™||

    scott will be the first Nobel Prize for Alt-Text recipient

  • Swiss Servator||

    Split with Ed, mayhaps?

  • ||

    Half my family makes their living working for the prison system in southern Illinois (there isn't a lot of opportunity there). They start at twice what Texas prison guards make, and told me how they scam overtime by showing up early for briefings, etc.

    My cousin was telling me he's worked for the state as a prison guard for 7 years, and with his GED makes $60k - $65k a year depending on overtime. Though he did assure me that 1) since he started they've lowered the starting wages & reduced the pension benefit, and 2) since he got in while the benefits were still super sweet, they're going to fight like wildcats to force the state to accept a federal bailout rather than take a haircut.

    I felt like a sucker for going to college & trying to get a real job.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    they're going to fight like wildcats to force the state to accept a federal bailout rather than take a haircut.

    Why take a haircut when you can just extract the money from Indiana and Kansas?

  • ||

    That's what you get for reading books, fag.

  • ||

    And he voted for Trump! The whole state conversation about his maybe not getting a golden untouchable pension and automatic raises every year is, in his mind, the oppression of the rust-belt working class that he believes Trump speaks to.

    Truth is so much stranger than fiction.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I know prison guards who try their best to work nights in the guard tower so that they can sleep through their shift.

  • ||

    It doesn't make much in Texas (I looked it up for comparison), but by god, you can get to be upper middle class by the standards of the region doing it in Illinois, they pay those fuckers so much.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I know some prison guards that have explained the perks; the one caveat is the uber boredom of getting stuck of a crap shift, like standing guard on the door between visitation and prison interior -- 8 hours of looking at the wall.

  • kV||

    My sister in law is a public school teacher (as is most of my extended family) who has so heavily bought into the NEA propaganda that she actual believes that public school teachers have worse benefits than private sector workers (her case in point: her school district doesn't offer a vision insurance program worth approximately $300 annually to the insured in the form of "free" eye exams and discounted lenses/frames).

    I've found that the best way to shut her up is to remind her that a private sector employee with a similar income would have to sock away at least 20% of his before-tax income (more if you really want to risk-adjust his investment earnings) to enjoy the retirement she has been promised (while she pays 1.4% of her before-tax income to the pension fund and is exempt from SS taxes, making her retirement contribution, relative to that of our private sector chump, -25% of income).

    I know it's mean, but I'm going to laugh the day she finds out that she isn't actually going to get everything she has been promised, starting with a 3% annual COLA.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    She'll get it, because they'll take it out of your hide.

  • ||

    My librarian wife hates public school teachers and she calls herself a liberal. When they went on strike in Chicago, she bitterly said that she would kill to make what they make and have the benefits that they have, so what the fuck are they complaining about?

  • The Last American Hero||

    Does she wear the glasses? Please say she wears the glasses.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Democrats in Illinois are in a contest with Democrats in California: who can bring their state to total collapse first?

  • Swiss Servator||

    We in IL will win. We have less to fall back on.

  • The Other Kevin||

    I live close to the Illinois border in Indiana. Gas stations near the border are still a booming business. They are going to make even more money as a result of this soda tax.

  • ||

    Precious memories.

    When my nuclear family moved to western Kentucky, the rest of my family was still in southern Illinois. Every time they came to see us I remember them talking about making sure to fill up on gas before heading back because it was so much cheaper in KY.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    So they didn't want to contribute to their own pension either.

  • ||

    I live close to the Illinois border in Indiana.

    If it's Gary, I hope you're well-armed.

  • cavalier973||

  • UnCivilServant||

    That die is rigged.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    +d20

  • UnCivilServant||

    '1'

    huh.

  • Charles Easterly||

    Is that Gary Gygax?

    + D20.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Yes, Charles, and he's running a really strange campaign.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    G.U.R.P.S. could handle all those different settings in the same campaign.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Are you suggesting that he'd be running a Steve Jackson game?

  • UnCivilServant||

    (Also, GURPS is a d6 system.)

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    For real? I guess I never went through my GURPS books in enough detail. Only bought it as a novelty really.

    When I hear Steve Jackson I think Munchkin.

  • Rasilio||

    Wait, as libertarian how can you not think of Car Wars or Illuminati first

  • Swiss Servator||

    Oh yeah!

    *applauds*

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It could work.

  • bartzman86||

    O how fun. I live in Indy, and we already have a ton of freaking Illinois based crime due to their regulations on guns and drugs. But hey, why not have Chicago add soda to the list of crap people are going to come over here and get as well. You stay classy annoying cousin to the west!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Get into the soda selling business.

  • Swiss Servator||

    "we already have a ton of freaking Illinois based crime due to their regulations on guns and drugs."

    Um, wut?

  • mashed potatoes||

    I live in the quad cities and new people to the area are about 9 to 1 buying in Iowa instead of Illinois. even life long residents, local businesses are just picking up and moving across the river to iowa. housing prices in Bettendorf and parts of davenport have really jumped meanwhile you can buy in rock island for a song and dance..

    there is a network of Iowa patriots organizing to detonate the bridges before this gets too out of hand..

  • Sukkoi19||

    Same here. Its amusing how many people in this area make it a goal just to get out of Illinois.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Swiss Servator||

    "Betterdorf"

    Bah.

    *sticks nose in air*

  • Just Say'n||

    I live in this state and in the miserable metropolis that is mentioned. The City is in terrible shape too. More than half of the jobs are government (more state jobs are in Chicago than the state capital of Springfield). But, it is hard to find any Democratic controlled state that is well run.

    Illinois is beyond repair, though. The central and southern portion of the state were pushing to succeed from the north of the state and they were roundly mocked by the condescending liberals. States cannot declare bankruptcy, because they are sovereign, but Illinois will be a test experiment to see what happens when Democratic policies are put into place unfettered. Epic disaster

  • ||

    As a fellow Illinoisan and Chicagoan, I feel your pain. My wife and bought a place in Roscoe Village and it's a great neighborhood but the taxes are starting to get up there.

    As you said though, Illinois is beyond repair because the politicians are awful and the electorate are dumber than a pile of rocks. I had a friend who worked for the state and was on the AFSCME negotiating team and the sense of entitlement from him and his cohorts were mind blowing. I mentioned that the state is broke and perhaps they need to rethink their pension system and he freaked out at me. They would rather raise taxes on individuals and businesses then actually try to reform their pension system. Even though raising taxes would just make more people move out of state and businesses refusing to operate here.

  • Just Say'n||

    I'm in Edison Park (the only area that elects Republican aldermen). I think the City has become a good microcosm of what the Democratic Party has become. I grew-up in the City and the blue-collar workers were always the strong Democrats, while the people along the lakefront, for the most part, were either pro-business Democrats or liberal Republicans. Now, it's just the opposite. The more gentrified the community you live in the more far Left your politics and out in the few working class areas left in the City the people are all Trumpists, to a large extent.

    The public employees are such a large part of the employment base that they get what they want. If state jobs were moved down to Springfield, the federal government reduced its hiring, and the City stopped hiring, you'd have an economic depression in Chicago. It's a nasty ponzi scheme

  • ||

    I grew up on the Southside and my Dad was a firefighter for the city. I love the man to death but he has a blind spot for public sector unions even though they will be the reason why his pension is in danger of being lowered or taken away.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    This is what is maddening, Ed. Basically the entire area from 63rd street & Cicero to the Will County border & Indiana state line is a mirror image of Detroit - and for as long - and the people are in worse denial than Detroit is.

  • thom||

    Why doesn't the Federal government just give them whatever money they need? The Federal government has unlimited funds. These local budgets can easily be offset with Federal funding.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • creech||

    From all reports, the outrage about the 1 1/2 cents per ounce soda tax in Phila. is already fading. People just seem to be accepting it. Some supermarkets are still publicizing the tax but the "it's for the Kids" rationalization seems to have won the day. Turn up the water a tenth of a degree at a time and most of the "frogs" won't notice until it is too late.

  • ||

    My wife is from Ohio so if things get too crazy, we might move there near her parents. The downside of doing this is that she is from the Cleveland area.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Every country has a city they make fun of. In America, they make fun of Cleveland.

    In Russia, they make fun of Cleveland.

  • ||

    The real estate prices in the Cleveland suburbs are unbelievable and the schools are pretty decent. If we were to move, we would live in the Shaker Heights/Cleveland Heights area. Saying that though, it would be fruitless to escape one liberal utopia and end up in another liberal utopia.

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    My brother, who is smart but not bright, is planning on moving from Miami to Chicago this summer. I'm planning on filing papers to have him declared mentally incompetent.

  • ||

    Sweet Jeebus!! Why would he move from Miami to Chicago?

    Does he hate mild (non existant?) winters and low taxes?

  • Swiss Servator||

    If he makes enough, Chicago is a wonderland o' fun. If not, it can be ....grim.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    If he makes enough, he'll be a target.

  • NoVaNick||

    Why is it that whenever I think that democrats can't possibly be so mentally challenged, they prove me wrong?
    Related-I have friends who moved from a very hip Philly neighborhood to a suburb because the wife, who is self-employed, got tired of paying the Philly city taxes, and she is an uber prog dem. I guess why pay taxes yourself when you can dump them on soda drinkers (or smokers)?

  • Mr. Flanders||

    "The state's obligations jumped to $130 billion in 2016, an increase of 17 percent, due to poor returns and lowered return assumptions."

    Can someone tell me if the link to reuters tells us how long of a timeline we're looking at? (my work internet browser just crashes when I click on the link) Just saying that the obligations jumped to $130 billion doesn't tell us anything without knowing what the timeframe is. If the obligations are what is owed in one year, than its a number to be extremely worried about. If the obligations are representative of what is owed over the entire future of the program (eternity), than its a different story.

    This is the same as people who say we have $100 trillion in unfunded social security obligations but fail to tell you that is inclusive of all future time. The reality is that social security is underfunded by 2% - 4% each year, which is a problem, but not a $100 trillion problem.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You don't owe the balance of your mortgage just the monthly payment. 1-200TT in unfunded liabilities over 70 years ('infinite horizon') still means 25-50% increase in federal spending not 4%.

  • DaveSs||

    If I'm not mistaken its based on

    How much is going in each year + a realistic rate of return (not the rose colored glasses estimate the gov uses) - promised payouts projected out over like 40 years or so.

    Thing is, they base what they need to contribute each year on the rose colored glasses estimate of expected return and thus are perpetually under-funding it.

    Every year they do this compounds the problem in the future.


    Of course even if they wanted to they can't afford to put any more in since being a bunch of spend-thrifts they also have about $11B in unpaid bills to hospitals, local schools, and service providers that they still have to pay. If I remember correctly this was closer to $4B a few years ago.

  • ||

    Not sure this has been discussed, but don't forget that a significant portion of soda appears in grocery carts pushed by SNAP customers; in effect, a large part of the "revenue" will come not from paying customers, but from taxpayers who foot the bill for SNAP. If you ask me, that was one of the cleverest aspects of the soda tax, since lots and lots of SNAP customers buy lots and lots of soda Win, win.

  • NoVaNick||

    I don't know about Illinois, but in NYC, Bloomberg banned soda purchases with SNAP (or maybe he just tried to)

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    I cannot wait for the headline -

    TRUMP TO ILLINOIS: DROP DEAD

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    It will cost more to buy Coke than coke.

  • UnCivilServant||

    It's the carbon credit, man, they drive up the cost of processing.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I think I spent $80 for 1 gram on New Years.

  • Billy Bones||

    After this election and all the whining and crying about the Electoral College, I often argued with people that the Electoral College system would greatly benefit many states, Illinois being my prime example. The politics in Cook County control the entire state, which is the premise of the EC, no one state (or in this case, county) has unfettered control of the government. It has been a few years ago and to lazy to look it up, but I recall Illinois looking into whether or not they could force Cook County to secede and become their own state.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    The northwest quadrant of cook county has wanted to become its own county. But they're racists.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    IL drives people to drink, and it's not the soft stuff.

  • jbsnc||

    Would someone please educate the people in Illinois about the median retirement self accrued yearly wealth retirement of non government employed blacks in the state versus the median retirement income of state employees? Very roughly about $20,000 versus $50,000? Would government offices have to increase the number of armed guards? Politicians go into hiding?

  • Rockabilly||

    hey man, like the progs don't want you to be fat. the soda tax is for your own good.

    A Soda Tax Is a Good Policy to Reduce Obesity in the United States

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....30528.html

    Next up look for a tax on all fatty foods like cheeseburgers and donuts

    It's for your own good.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    I enjoy seeing Illinois reduce the value of high fructose corn syrup. Should make its own farmers poorer.

  • ||

    The worst thing is they drive their citizens into poison sweetner hell.

  • Mudhen||

    The Democrats must be so proud they've turned Chicago and Illinois into the cesspool it is today. IL is already losing 1 person every 4.6 minutes and the Soda tax along with the eventual slew of other taxes that will be required to pay off the public employee unions (State, County & Municipal) will only accelerate the outflow. The trick is to leave before they put an exit tax in place. Counting the days till I can leave myself and I know many others who are doing the same thing.

  • General Disarray||

    Pretty good summary of the problems here in Illinois. What the article did not cover is the systemic corruption in state government and how House Speaker Madigan has managed to rig the system so thoroughly over 30+ years that there's not much that can be done to improve the situation.

    The electorate is ignorant and the pols are mostly corrupt. Typical for this state. Now we're paying for it. We got what we deserved.

  • FrankHerbert||

    taxes (and oppresive regs) are major reasons i moved from chicago to houston in 2012. things are better than ever.

  • Jennifer90||

    Well, strange things are happening in Illinois. I'm surprised to hear about quite high unemployment rate and it's sad that the state is losing its jobs. I think that the local government should make better conditions for job creators and help them to develop business in Illinois. On the other hand, this soda tax is just ridiculous! How do they want to make the nation healthier if they make healthy drinks more expensive. What's next? People will have to check the blog about finances to learn how to save money to buy soda?

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