Brady & His Tax Returns

While the hoo-ha over State Sen. Bill Brady’s reluctance to disclose his tax returns is understandable — we are the transparency crowd here, after all — I also understand his reluctance under the circumstances. Additionally, the actual content of the returns don’t concern me much. We all are careful to pay only what we have to, right? If you have a problem with what he paid, or didn’t pay, your gripe is with the feds, really.

What we should be paying close attention to IMO is his legislative record, on its own merits and perhaps within the context of his businesses and donors as well. How about conflicts of interest?

Which reminds me: Check out the improved Illinois State Board of Elections website. The link is under the Good Government heading on the lower right of this page. Navigability is better, and we can now link to individual search result pages, like this.

SB 189 > Public Act 096-0542

Gov. Quinn signed Senate Bill 189, the upgrade to FOIA. The full text can be read at this link. It takes effect January 1, 2010. It seemed to take him a while to get around to signing it but I see that his office created a new Web site which is here: http://accountability.illinois.gov/.

This is very important legislation, important enough to throw a party. There should be a FOIA-writing party on the afternoon of January 1, 2010. Read the rest of this entry

[Updates 8/2: Handy ARRA map w/links to state summaries and Illinois' ARRA site.]

We love Good Jobs First because it’s taught us about development subsidies and TIF. This week, GJF released a report rating the quality of each state’s disclosure of its use of funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Good Jobs First study examines the quality and quantity of disclosure by official state websites on the many ways ARRA funding is flowing through state governments to communities, organizations and individuals. Looking at both spending programs and individual projects, it evaluates the general ARRA websites that all states have created as well as their website reporting specifically on ARRA highway projects. Based on ten different criteria, each state (and the District of Columbia) is graded twice on a scale of 0 to 100.

Six states score 50 or better for their main ARRA site: Maryland (80), Colorado (68), Washington (63), West Virginia (60), New York (53) and Pennsylvania (50). Thirteen states score 50 or better for their highway reporting, led by Maryland (75), Washington (73), Colorado (65) and Nebraska (60). The average score for the ARRA websites is 28, and for highway reporting 38.

Where do you suppose Illinois ranked? Read the rest of this entry

Illinois’ Own Darn Fault

According to Pro Publica, Illinois is the 16th state to have to borrow to keep paying out unemployment benefits, but — just as is true of the City of DeKalb — the primary problem apparently is not due to the state of the economy:

Going into the recession, Illinois had a dangerously low level of reserves, a situation that’s gone on for years. Indeed, Illinois was forced to borrow federal money in 2005, relatively good economic times.

To make matters worse, the tax rate on employers was not high enough to sustain benefits paid, let alone to accumulate a safe level of reserves to prepare it for a recession — even one much milder than the current train wreck.

The graphs will make you want to hurl. Check them out anyway, to reinforce your sense of urgency to put some grownups in office at the earliest opportunity. Read the rest of this entry

Rally for Human Services Tomorrow

DeKalb Community Coordinated Child Care (4C) is planning a rally at Rep. Bob Pritchard’s office Thursday (tomorrow) at noon. The reason: social service agencies expect to be funded by the state this coming fiscal year at half the usual levels.

If this happens, agencies such as Children’s Learning Center daycare, which serves many low-income families with subsidized childcare, would have to close its doors. This would affect the livelihoods and well-being of hundreds of families.

Now, I’ve never visited Rep. Pritchard in his local office because he is just so very good about responding to e-mail, but I see it is listed as being at 2600 DeKalb Avenue in Sycamore–oh! I do believe that’s also where the DeKalb County Community Foundation is headquartered.

State Employee Database

Pantagraph.com has compiled a database of State of Illinois employees using information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It includes salaries. It does not include university employees. You can search by agency, by county of residence or both. DeKalb County lists 383 residents who are state employees such as tollway workers, correctional officers, child welfare workers, and agricultural inspectors.

That’s a lot of neighbors who could be affected directly by a “doomsday” state budget. Many–most?–work here, too.