--As long as the tax payers allow the politicians to continue to play the political party blame game nothing will ever be fixed in Illinois.
People across the country are held hostage by a split government (Democratic President, Republican House, Democratic Senate) that cannot get anything positive done for tax payers.
In Illinois, we are held hostage by a government that is under complete Democratic control and still nothing can get done.
So, this is NOT a party issue, it is a money issue.
As long as the politicians in Springfield are allowed to continue to make money off the misery of the tax payers, nothing will ever change.
There is plenty of money in Illinois to fix the problems if we start taking away all the pet projects and money making scams being run by the politicians.--
Story at Chicago Tribune
By Rafael Guerrero
Chicago Tribune reporter
6:27 PM CDT, March 18, 2013
— During the long debate on Illinois pension reform, House Speaker Michael Madigan has argued that suburban and downstate school districts get a "free lunch" because the state picks up the $800 million-a-year tab for teacher pensions.
Chicago taxpayers, the Southwest Side Democrat contends, shouldn't have to pay for Chicago Public Schools pensions and the retirement costs for teachers in the rest of the state. So Madigan wants districts outside Chicago to start picking up those costs as part of a solution to the state's massively underfunded pension system.
Now Senate Republicans are pushing back at that idea by citing numbers they say show CPS is "supersizing" on school funding relative to other Illinois districts.
CPS has 18 percent of the schoolchildren in Illinois but gets 88 percent of an extra pot of state education money earmarked for students who live in poverty or participate in early childhood education, special education and other programs, according to the GOP analysis.
In raw dollars, Chicago gets $772 million of this extra money every year, and the rest of the state collects $104 million, the Republicans said. That pot is part of the $6.55 billion in state money sent to schools, according to state budget figures.
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said CPS gets so much extra state money that Chicago Democrats shouldn't be pointing fingers. And she doesn't think Madigan's proposed shift of pension costs from the state to the local school districts should be tied to the overall attempt to fix the state's $96.8 billion pension debt. Republicans oppose the cost-shift idea, saying it could lead to property tax increases outside the city.
"Let's not derail the pension discussion with an additional extremely complicated issue that doesn't need to be part of our pension resolution," said Radogno, of Lemont.
Republican Sen. Karen McConnaughay of St. Charles delivered a more blunt message in a newsletter sent Friday to constituents: "Not only are downstate and suburban schools not receiving a 'free lunch,' but there are gross inequalities greatly favoring the Chicago public school system."
Gov. Pat Quinn framed the issue a different way, calling it the "principle of accountability." The Democratic governor said local school districts can raise teacher salaries and push up pension costs and the state has to pay the bill. Districts outside Chicago, Quinn said, should have "skin in the game."
Quinn also said it is "more expensive to teach poor children" who need extra resources to overcome poverty or lack of early childhood education. "It's not just Chicago," Quinn said. "It's many other parts of Illinois that are poverty-stricken and have many large numbers of poverty students."
The cost-shift proposal has remained a key obstacle to reaching a pension reform agreement, with the fear of property tax increases leaving some lawmakers from outside Chicago in both parties unable to support a broader deal.
House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego and Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook have offered a different and potentially slower phase-in of the teacher pension cost shift. It would apply only to new teachers and university employees hired after the pension package they are pushing is signed into law.
But Madigan spokesman Steve Brown called that proposal a small start that falls far short.
Republicans perennially use a political tactic of attacking Chicago over school funding discrepancies, and the Republican study has not changed the speaker's mind about the need to shift costs away from the state, Brown said.
"The state just can't afford it anymore," Brown said. "And it's causing many of the problems we have regarding the pensions."