Eastland School District Superintendent Mark Hansen recently reported at the school board meeting that the district’s education and transportation funds will have projected deficits for this school year and next. I believe this means that the funds will spend more than they take in, not that there is no money left in the funds. It was not reported in the news release that Mr. Hansen is in the final year of a three year contract which increased his base salary by $10,000.00 for the year. That brings his annual salary to $137,175.00. I hope the board knows that many residents of the district are on fixed incomes, are unemployed, or work $20,000 jobs with no benefits.
The board should not be writing deficit budgets while signing contracts with $10,000 a year raises. What are Eastland educators doing to sacrifice in these hard times? Nothing. It’s business as usual, full steam ahead. The website is projecting a 2% increase in expenditures for next year with a decreasing enrollment. According to the district administrators’ compensation report, the district pays $18,899 for health insurance for the superintendent, contributes $14,915 to his pension fund, provides life insurance and reimburses mileage and conference expenses. The other two administrators are salaried in the $90,000 range, have pension contributions of just under 11% of their salaries, health insurance costs of over $14,700 each and other benefits similar to the superintendent’s. The average teacher salary at Eastland is $63,754. And, don’t forget the public cost of paying for pensions for those no longer in the school system. These pensions will far exceed the social security most taxpayers will receive.
Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp recently took a 10% pay cut. I challenge Mr. Hansen to do the same. It’s time for educators to join those making sacrifices rather than adding to the tax burden of citizens. Compare the above costs with those of the Freeport Catholic School system. They have two administrators with pay in the range of $49,000 to $60,000. The average teacher salary is $24,000. Guess which system is failing to meet the No Child Left Behind Act. Eastland.
Would parents pay to send their students to a private school system if it did not do a good job of educating children? Does double pay equal a better education? I doubt it. The crisis in funding public education is a lie.
Pearl City, IL
Carroll County’s Pet Population Control Fund
The recent newspaper report on the Carroll County Animal Control/Highway Commission meeting raised a few questions for me. (Page 6, Dec. 15 Prairie Advocate) Apparently the Pet Population Control Fund was begun some time ago to provide spay and neuter assistance for dogs and cats whose owners could not afford those services. There is reportedly over $10,000 in the fund currently and it is not being used according to the report. Is the public even aware of the assistance program? Has it been advertised enough? Is it too complicated to implement the current system? Is there any reason that some of these funds could not be used to spay and neuter the county’s strays?
Most people know that it is essential to spay and neuter the stray population, as well as pets, in order to reduce the number of homeless animals. There are 4 animal organizations in the county that are involved in caring for and/or providing spay/neuter assistance. These groups could do a lot with that $10,000. Adrienne’s Angels is one group that has been very vocal in publicizing the need for spaying and neutering as the humane way of reducing the number of homeless dogs and cats. They have accomplished much in the last few years and have brought the issue before the public more than any other group. They should also share in any funds that may be available through the county’s animal control system.
Another organization that has been active for several years is the Humane Society of Carroll County. I want to thank them for helping us to spay 4 female cats and neuter 1 male that were abandoned in an area of Savanna. We appreciated their quick action to prevent an even bigger problem from developing. The cost of doing this without help would have been more than we could afford on our own.
We know it is costly to be involved in helping homeless animals since my husband and I founded an organization in 1999. We featured spay and neuter assistance for dogs and cats as well as caring for and finding homes for homeless animals, mainly cats. We personally furnished the funds for many of the organizations expenses in order to make it a success, as well as planning the shelter currently in use today. We are no longer associated with that organization but we do hope they realize that it is very important to constantly encourage spaying and neutering all year round and actively advertise their assistance programs and make them easily accessible in order to be effective.
Unfortunately, situations with homeless cats and dogs are still occurring frequently. Those of us who want to alleviate the suffering of these animals cannot be expected to personally bear the cost of vet bills and care of these animals indefinitely. It is hoped that the goal of all of us would be to reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs by the humane method of spaying and neutering and that the county funds would be used towards that goal. A more expedient method may possibly be needed to access the county funds either through the humane societies, animal welfare groups, etc. or some other system. Please call your county officials with your ideas on this matter.
Help With Neutering
Did you know that you can get you dog or cat neutered by calling the Illinois Dept. of Public Health at 217-782-3984.
For $15.00 your pet will be neutered, vaccinated and given pain medication. Call to see if you qualify. There has been some confusion as to what is covered and we have heard that some clinics are charging more than $15.00. Please check your receipt if you have used this program. Chances are your clinic got paid twice and you are owed money.
Joe Grimm, Animal Control Officer of Carroll County, also has $10,000 in a fund for neutering cats and dogs. To see if you qualify, call Joe at 815-244-9705.
Spring is the worst time for litters of kittens. These litters can be prevented which would end a great deal of suffering and death. Spay/Neuter also keeps the feral population under control. If you have a cat or dog that has not been neutered, please call both of these numbers for information today. These animals need our help!
Adrianne’s Angels - St. George Pet Rescue
Publisher’s Note: I spoke with Melanie Arnold, Communications Manager in the Springfield office of the IL Dept. of Public Health (IDPH), who confirmed that through the IDPH’s “Animal Population Control Program,” participating veterinarians throughout the state charge the $15 fee to spay/neuter and administer pain medication during the operation, and vaccinations for the animal. Arnold said that any other services completed by the veterinarian, such as de-clawing, are not covered by the program, and may be the reason for any discrepancies in the amount charged. For more information on this program, visit the IDPH web site at idph.state.il.us, click on the “Publications” icon on the left side of the home page, then scroll to the “Animal Population Control Program.”
Joe Grimm confirmed that the IL Animal Control Act (510 ILCS-5/3) states that the money placed in the county fund can be utilized to spay or neuter dogs or cats owned by low-income residents that are eligible for the food stamp program.
Surprise, surprise. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), The Republican’s House Bill which proposes the repeal of the Health Care Reform Bill will increase the deficit by $230 Billion Dollars over the next 10 years and will add some higher amount after that time. And we thought the Republicans were elected to reduce the deficit. The lies, the lies!
But we should not worry about it since Speaker Boehner says the repeal won’t boost the deficit and CBO is entitled to its “opinion”. Really? The CBO is entitled to their own opinion? This is the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office that marks up all Congressional Bills so Congress can make informed decisions. If we don’t believe what the CBO is saying who are we to believe? The Republicans and the Fox propaganda network? I don’t drink their cool aid.
I wonder what the people in Medicare would say when they are told that the Republicans are going to take away the just implemented annual checkups and assistance with the Medicare part D doughnut hole. Or the 21-26 years old who can’t stay on their parents insurance or the people with pre-existing conditions who will not be able to get insurance or the other millions of people who for any reason cannot get insurance.
I haven’t seen this high level of ignorance since Nixon was elected. Welcome to the land of OZ.
Lake Carroll, IL
If You Raise Taxes, Get It Right
Both Illinois and the United States are broke, and many seem to feel that spending cuts are an inappropriate solution, so let’s examine what tax increases would be required, as the math isn’t rocket science:
According to the Congressional Budget Office, 2009 federal revenue was $2.1T (trillion) and expenditures were $3.5T. The federal debt is about to hit $14T. If we’re going to raise taxes, we should also plan for paying down a small portion of our debt. After all, it’s our generation which created it, not our children’s generation, and we shouldn’t expect them to pay it all.
Let’s start with 10% per year. We know that spending is increasing much faster than economic growth, but these are really unknowns, so we’ll start with the known figures, fully realizing that another tax increase will be required in four or five years when we have better data.
10% of the debt is $1.4T + expenditures of $3.5T, for a total of $4.9T. This is 233% of revenue, so simply multiplying federal taxes by 233% will put us in balance. Note this is not just income tax, but all taxes, FICA, the federal gas tax, and dozens more.
The same math can be applied to our bankrupt state as well: Per the Illinois Comptroller, 2009 state revenue was $30.3B (billion), and expenditures were $32.7B. Illinois’ debt is $160B.
10% of the state debt is $16B + expenditures of $32.7B for a total of $48.7B. This is 160% of revenue, so, again, multiplying state taxes by 160% will put the state in balance. Again, this is not just income tax, but sales taxes, cigarette taxes, each and every one of the hundreds of taxes and fees collected by the state.
As with the federal government, expenses are growing faster than the economy, so we’ll be re-figuring another tax increase in a few years.
Or, we could cut spending.
The Flu Vaccine Controversy
With the recent reports of “doctored” test results, here is an article from American Free Press for you to consider entitled “Exposing Mainstream Propaganda on Flu Vaccines” by Pat Shannon:
Doctors and “Big Pharma” like to report that the flu shot is very effective with a high success rate, but that was disproven recently when a Vancouver reporter, writing about the overload in local emergency rooms, said that out of 32 people who had received the flu shot, 30 of them got the flu, strongly suggesting that the flu shot is dangerously ineffective. This is a vaccine that has only a 6.25 percent success rate, a major under-achievement, considering that the average reaction to placebo injections of distilled water is about 30 percent.
Nor is it true that the flu shot is safe and contains no harmful ingredients. Just ask Desiree Jennings, the former Washington Redskins cheerleader who was immediately stricken with a crippling illness after her shot later diagnosed as dystonia, a bizarre neurological disorder that includes involuntary muscle contractions that cause a distorted posture or appearance.
H. Hugh Fudenberg, M.D., who’s among the world’s leading innumogenetics specialists, is the chief editor of the journal Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology, and at one time or another has been on the editorial boards of 35 other journals dealing with immunology, aging. hematology, cancer, toxicology, etc. He says that if a person had five flu vaccinations between 1970 and 1980, he is 10 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease than if he had only one or two shots. Fudenberg says that this is because of the aluminum and mercury that almost every flu vaccine contains. The gradual accumulation of aluminum and mercury in the brain leads to cognitive dysfunction.
Flu vaccines consist primarily of viruses and cultured bacteria. This includes aborted human fetal cells, chick embryos, pig blood, monkey kidney tissue, cowpox pus and calf serum. When all of these foreign proteins get injected straight into your bloodstream, it could be as shocking to the immune system as would be chemotherapy. The flu shot also contains neutralizers, stabilizers, carrying agents and preservatives such as mercury, aluminum and formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is something that is used for embalming the dead and is known to cause cancer. There is no amount of formaldehyde considered safe when injected into a living organism.
The flu shot could actually weaken the immune system, making catching the flu virus more likely than avoiding it. It has absolutely no value and should probably be rejected for one’s own safety. It is loaded with toxic chemicals, and the negative effects of the induced chemicals can be long lasting.
Dr. Viera Scheibner, a highly visible and controversial scientist who has gathered vaccine medical data, stated the following from her research and writings on vaccine science and history, “We see it in vaccinated children within days, within two or three weeks. (Most of them) develop runny noses, ear infections, pneumonitis, (and) bronchiolitis. It is only a matter of degrees, which indicates immuno-suppression, (not immunity). It indicates the opposite. So I never use the word immunization because that is false advertising. It implies that vaccines immunize, which they don’t. The correct term is either vaccination or sensitization.
She added, “Vaccines damage internal organs, particularly the pancreas.” Therefore, she says that everyone vaccinated, including for seasonal flu, is vulnerable to contracting severe autoimmune diseases like diabetes, Addison’s Disease, arthritis, asthma, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, hepatitis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), lupus, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, polio and dozens of others.
According to allergist-immunologist Dr. Jesse Stoff, human health is comprised four ways: Poor nutrition, man-made environmental toxins, disease-causing organisms and their toxins and immune system trauma from factors like x-ray radiation and stress.
Other factors include a lack of sleep and exercise, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and various excesses that throw the body out of balance, making it susceptible to a host of debilitating illnesses.
The research staff from whom this writer gleaned much of this information at the website preventdisease.com tells us, “It is long past time to end the travesty of jabbing adults and children (with vaccine shots) without a shred of evidence showing real benefit in spite of trying to find it and with evidence of crippling harm, in spite of trying to mask it.”
Afghanistan: War of Choice Not Necessity
By Sheldon Richman
In December President Barack Obama received his annual assessment of the war in Afghanistan, then reported to the American people that the mission is “on track” and troops would begin to withdraw next July. But the semi-upbeat assessment was less than persuasive because, as the Washington Post reported, “The overview of the long-awaited report contained no specifics or data to back up its conclusions. The actual assessment document is classified and will not be made public.”
In other words, if we are to believe the president, we have to take him on faith. But even Obama noted during a media briefing, “the gains we’ve made are fragile and reversible.”
Yet that is way too optimistic. As University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole writes in “Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010,” “A recent National Intelligence Estimate by 16 intelligence agencies found no progress. It warned that large swathes of the country were at risk of falling to the Taliban and that they still had safe havens in Pakistan, with the Pakistani government complicit.”
Casualties, including civilian, were higher last year than the year before.
In August 2009 Obama declared before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.” Is that true? It is useful to take a look back to 2001–02.
Anand Ghopal, who has covered Afghanistan for both the Wall Street Journal and Christian Science Monitor, reports that after the Taliban government fell in Kabul in 2001, members of the ruling group, resigned to Afghanistan’s new situation, expressed a willingness to surrender to U.S. forces. The surrendering Taliban leaders offered not to participate in politics if the new government would not arrest them. “But [but U.S.-picked leader Hamid] Karzai and other government officials ignored the overture — largely due to pressures from the United States and the Northern Alliance, the Taliban’s erstwhile enemy,” Ghopal added. The surrendering Taliban were subject to “widespread intimidation and harassment.... Many of the signatories of the letter [offering surrender] were to become leading figures in the insurgency.”
Thus the resistance was largely of the U.S. government’s own making. It was surely made more robust by the brutal treatment. “The alienation of leading former Taliban commanders in Kandahar would become a key motivating factor in sparking the insurgency there. Kandahar’s governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, had initially taken a conciliatory attitude toward former Taliban figures. But his close ties with U.S. special forces, who often posted rewards for top Taliban leaders, as well as isolated attacks against the government and the possibility of exploiting his position for financial gain, eventually led to a retaliatory approach,” Ghopal wrote. “These commanders targeted men formerly associated with the Taliban, often torturing them in secret prisons, according to numerous tribal elders, government officials, and Taliban members.”
Many of the former Taliban escaped to Pakistan, but even after insurgency activities they were still open to making peace with the American-backed Karzai regime. “But lack of political will by the central government in Kabul and opposition from some sections of the U.S. leadership meant that such approaches were ultimately ignored,” Ghopal wrote (emphasis added). Repeated subsequent peace overtures were also rebuffed.
That is startling information. U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union was. Between October 2001 and mid-December 2010, nearly 2,200 U.S.-led coalition troops have been killed in the invasion and occupation. Of those, 1,361 were American. Using various estimates, Wikipedia calculates that 14,643–34,240 civilians have died directly and indirectly because of the war. Most of those people would be alive today if the Taliban offer of surrender and peace had been accepted.
Today virtually no al-Qaeda operate in Afghanistan, and U.S./NATO forces are mostly fighting warlords who were allies during the Soviet invasion. Staying even one more day is immoral — and criminal.
Obama is wrong. Afghanistan was and is a war of choice.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org).
Senate Week in Review
As the 96th General Assembly winds to a close, Gov. Pat Quinn and Democrat leaders are working behind closed doors to fashion a reported 75 percent increase in state income taxes. Republicans have not been asked for their input in these discussions and are generally opposed to any hike in income taxes.
On a more positive note, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a major Medicaid reform measure that State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) said is a good step forward in restructuring Illinois’ health care program for low-income citizens and persons with disabilities. The Medicaid reform was the product of a bipartisan committee process and incorporated changes long advocated by GOP lawmakers.
Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) were keeping details of their planned 75 percent tax hike under wraps at the close of the week, but details that did emerge indicated income taxes could be increased from the current flat 3 percent to at least 5.25 percent. While the tax hike has been characterized as mostly temporary, it would remain in effect for at least four years. One “temporary” portion would remain in effect for 14 years, while a .25 percent increase would be permanent and used to provide property tax rebates of about $325 to property owners.
Bivins noted that the Illinois Democrats’ tax hike would be imposed just weeks after President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans agreed to a temporary cut in employment taxes to put more money in workers’ pockets and stimulate the economy. The Illinois tax hike would more than offset the federal tax break, deny Illinois workers the small pay increase from the federal tax cut and effectively isolate recession-battered Illinois from the benefits of the federal stimulus.
One of three bipartisan reform efforts announced last year, the Medicaid reform measure appears to be the only one that will move forward before the next legislative session begins. For years, the Senate Republican Caucus has said the state simply can’t keep up with the growth of the Medicaid program, which has consumed more of the budget each year. Currently, there are 2.8 million Illinois residents enrolled in Medicaid – an all-time high.
House Bill 5420, which now proceeds to Quinn for consideration, targets inefficiencies in the system that will not only help contain the unmanageable growth of the program, but also ensure program recipients are receiving the best possible health care.
In particular, the measure embraces the national trend toward managed care principles. Senate Republicans have consistently urged a movement toward managed care, which has been shown to reduce costs while improving patient care. If signed into law, utilization of managed care principles will increase dramatically over the next four years. Eventually 50 percent of all people will be required to be in a system of care coordination, or managed care.
The measure also seeks to phase out the “Section 25” loophole that has allowed the state to pay Medicaid providers late. Over the years, this loophole has enabled Illinois government to defer payments to doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and nursing homes while portraying deficit spending as “balanced.” House Bill 5420 will eliminate the ability of state government to do that.
Notably, House Bill 5420 imposes a two-year moratorium on any new Medicaid programs or expansions of Medicaid programs. In the past, Democrat leadership has been reluctant to impose stricter eligibility and verification measures for Medicaid enrollees, which has contributed to the unsustainable growth of the program.
Bivins noted the bill also requires more extensive income reporting to better reflect an applicant’s true income, mandate proof of Illinois residency, and require active redetermination on an annual basis to verify that a Medicaid enrollee still qualifies for assistance.
Another key provision will impose reasonable income restrictions on the state’s “All Kids” programs, which previously did not contain any income limits. An Auditor General review last year found that even at the highest income levels, which could exceed $100,000, taxpayer dollars were subsidizing health insurance costs.
Similar bipartisan committees that focused on workers’ compensation and education reform appear stalled as Democrat legislative leaders and the Governor refocused their efforts on raising taxes.
The General Assembly also advanced legislation to reclaim millions in sales taxes the state currently fails to capture from Internet shopping sites. If House Bill 3659 is signed into law, Internet retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com could be required to charge customers Illinois’ retail sales tax, which would then be given to the state.
At this time, Illinois can only collect sales taxes from businesses that are physically located in the state, though individuals are supposed to report and pay state tax on online purchases. The measure would allow the state to use “affiliate” relationships to claim that a vendor has a physical location in the state and make it the responsibility of the online merchant to pay sales taxes due to Illinois.
Opponents said online retailers could circumvent the law by simply canceling affiliate relationships with Illinois-based businesses. They also cited legal concerns associated with the measure; similar laws in other states have been subject to legal appeals. However, proponents contend that in addition to the economic benefit to the state, it’s an issue of parity—online businesses should be held to the same standards as traditional businesses.
Other bills approved by the Senate this week include:
Business Tax Credit (HB 4599): Expands the Small-Business Job Creation Tax Credit to include applicants who hired an employee who had participated as a worker-trainee in the 2010 Put Illinois to Work Program.
Chronic Disease (HB 1444): Creates a Chronic Disease Nutrition and Outcomes Advisory Commission to advise the state how to promote nutrition as key to maintaining good health. The Commission will also advise the state on how to measure health care outcomes likely to be required by new federal legislation.
Collective Borrowing (HB 5424): Provides that no collective bargaining agreements entered into between an executive branch constitutional officer or any agency or department of an executive branch constitutional officer, and a labor organization, may extend beyond June 30 of the year in which the terms of office of the executive branch constitutional officers began and increase wages, salary or benefits starting the first day of the terms of office and ending June 30 of that same year.
Ethical Gifting (HB 1410): Allows a state ethics commission or auditor general to adopt rules that further define the value of a “gift.”
Expungement (HB 6460): Reduces the waiting period from five years to two years for the expungement of a criminal record on retail theft, if the defendant was granted supervision. Also beefs up criminal provisions to allow law enforcement to pursue organizers of ongoing retail theft ring operations.
Mobile Homes (HB 476): Clarifies property or privilege taxes that apply to mobile homes located in a mobile home park, and tax requirements applicable to mobile homes outside of a mobile home park.
Parole (HB 6881): Allows a person released from prison on parole or mandatory supervised release to reduce their parole/mandatory supervised release time by 90 days if he or she receives a high school diploma.
Redistricting (HB 5727): Allows Kane, DuPage, Madison, St. Clair, LaSalle, Tazewell, Winnebago County Board Chairmen and the Will County Board Executive to develop and present a redistricting proposal to the county board, and conduct a public hearing the on plan.
School Facility Sales Tax (HB 2376): Makes changes to the current county sales tax for school facilities, including lowering the referendum threshold for certain school bonds.
Sex Offenders (HB 4122): Incorporates gubernatorial amendatory veto provisions that call for a person who is required to register as a sex offender in another state who has taken up Illinois residence, to also register as a sex offender in Illinois; requires a sex offender to register within three days of being released from incarceration or within three days of receiving notification of a duty to register; and mandates that a person who previously had to register as a sex offender but who completed their period of registration, will be required to register again if he or she is convicted of any felony or misdemeanor criminal offense.
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
Many tell me it is absolutely time for a tax increase. They say the state cannot survive without a major injection of cash. Certainly our survivability is at stake. I simply and fundamentally disagree that a tax increase without a decrease in spending and a debt pay down provision is the way to go. That concept seems almost mystical to some. One of the great organizations out there that shares volumes of information with us is the Illinois Policy Institute.
A recent article by J. Scott Moody, a Senior Fellow for Budget and Tax Policy at the Institute, dated December 15, 2010, captioned “How to lose jobs and alienate people”, hits the nail right on the head. Moody notes that “fundamentally personal income comes from two sources: The private sector and the public sector. The distinction between the two sectors is important because only the private sector creates new income. The public sector, in contrast, can only redistribute income through taxes and spending. More specifically, public sector spending consists of personal current transfer receipts (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.) and government employee compensation (federal, state, and local).”
Mr. Moody does a nice job of sharing what the Governor proposed, a 33-1/3% tax increase (from 3% to 4%) for personal income. Budget Director David Vaught proposed a tax increase to 5% for both personal and corporate taxpayers (up from 3% personal and 4.8% corporate). The Governor’s proposal will raise $2.8 billion per year, while Mr. Vaught’s will generate $5.7 billion per year. Let me bring it to your pocketbook - $596.00 per year for the Governor’s plan and $1,205.00 per year for Mr. Vaught’s. The Illinois economy will suffer a drop in personal income over the next three to five years of $6.5 billion to $13.2 billion depending on which increase moves forward.
Ok Sacia, what do we propose as an alternative? Again my admiration for the work of the Illinois Policy Institute goes to the heart of the problem. Kristina Rasmussen, the organization’s Executive Vice President, is proposing the “Pension Funding and Fairness Act”, which is an amendment to SB 2874. The proposal, highly synopsized, states that state spending cannot exceed the inflation and population adjustment. The pension payment must be made first every year. Revenues above the spending limit go to pay down past due debt.
Every credible study shows that to create jobs you have to lower taxes. Take a nationwide look at states rebounding from the recession. The ten lowest taxed states have staggering increases in population and job growth over the ten highest taxed states. Why do we try so hard to avoid learning from others when the answer is so clear?
As always, you can reach me, Sally or Barb at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at email@example.com. You can also visit my website at www.jimsacia.com. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.