Illinois revenue and urban legends.



You state: “It is a problem of a state that won’t raise sufficient revenue to pay its bills. There is too little revenue and too little spending on the real needs of the state.”

But Illinoisans are the highest taxed state per capita in the nation. How can we not be raising sufficient revenue unless our bills are “even higher”?

Isn’t the real issue, the corrupt bargains between politicians (Republicans and Democrats) and Union leaders? The ever escalating pensions and tricks and gimmicks that allow state and municipal workers to generate a pension that in some cases is higher than the highest salary these individuals ever had? That state and municipal workers in Illinois are the only slice of the middle class that has continued to see strong net income (including benefits and pensions) increases, while the rest of the middle class saw stagnant if not declining total compensation?

While revenue likely should be increased to pay down the horrendous debts we’ve accumulated as a state, city and municipal workers should shoulder their part as well. If not, this remains a stalemate that will end with the first bankruptcy of a state. Not to put to fine a point on it, but if both sides don’t come together on this issue the state “WILL”  go bankrupt, whether Rauner is there, or another future ex-convict of a governor.

Josh McClure


As a guy interested in taxes, revenue and finances, I wonder what list you are citing that puts Illinois as number one, the highest taxed, in the nation.

Your comment to this blog is full of urban legends.

No matter. I agree that the working people of Illinois are over-taxed. But that is because the richest people are under-taxed.

You must be aware that Illinois has a flat income tax. That means that the heaviest tax burden falls on those that earn the least. It means that members of the Pritzker family who own the Hyatt Hotel chain and live in Illinois, are taxed on their huge income at the same rate as the maid that cleans the Hyatt’s rooms.

It also means the local city and county governments must rely on property taxes to make up for the fact that the state doesn’t raise enough revenue, leaving the state to rely on the taxes of its least wealthy citizens.

How can a state pay its bills when it taxes the people the most who have no extra money? You can’t raise revenue by taxing people who have no money.

Reliance on property taxes is an additional burden on those who can least afford it.

Those like Bruce Rauner have no trouble paying their property taxes on their multiple homes. Plus they have the accountant and lawyers to find tax loop holes. But those of us in Chicago, who struggle every month to meet our mortgage payment, have just seen a massive increase in property taxes.

Again it is a burden on those who can least afford it.

To pay for their schools, local school districts must tax the maximum the law allows to make up for the fact that the state doesn’t have the money to take care of what the Illinois Constitution says is a primary responsibility: Funding public education.

This is less a burden on towns on the North Shore than it is on towns like Robbins and Harvey.

The result is that the support for an Illinois student’s education depends on their zip code.

Or really their skin color and their economic class.

That is the real reason for the current situation, Josh. Not pensions and labor contracts.

Ask the members of AFSCME, faced with a take-it-or-leave-it bargaining position by the Governor, about the so-called sweet-heart deals for state workers.

I agree with you about the declining living standards of the working class in this state. But your solution is to pull state workers down into the pit instead of stopping state giveaways to private companies.

You must know that the largest corporations in Illinois collect and keep the state income tax they collect. They have done it for years under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

My pension is a contract. You believe in the sanctity of a legal and mutually agreed upon contract, don’t you?

But again. No matter. The Illinois Supreme Court believes in it and has ruled that our pensions are a legal contact and guaranteed by our state’s constitution.

As to who has and who has not paid their share, as a financial expert you are aware that state workers and teachers have never missed a payment into their pension funds while the state went decades without making any of their payments.

If the state were a private corporation they would be charged with a federal crime for failing to make their payments.

Someone would go to jail.

I’m no lawyer, but your threat of state bankruptcy goes counter to my understanding of the law. Since the state has the power to raise revenue, the courts will order it to if they, the legislature, does not raise revenue on their own.


CPS and “Wrong-way” Claypool.


Is it a reach to compare Trump’s bizarre response to North Korea’s nuclear testing and Rahm’s response to the CPS budget crisis?

You know that Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have sent $215 million to CPS. In response CEO Forrest Claypool, under apparent orders from Rahm Emanuel, has threatened to close schools June 1.

This is all the micro side of the macro problem of a state that hasn’t passed a budget for two years and probably won’t pass a budget until the current governor is gone.

It is a problem of a state that won’t raise sufficient revenue to pay its bills. There is too little revenue and too little spending on the real needs of the state.

It is also part of the bigger problem of national, state and political leaders, Democrats and Repugs, that don’t give a crap about public schools, especially public schools that Black, Brown and poor kids go to.

For parents, teacher and students, it is not so much the macro issue that is immediately important.

Students and teachers need to be in school for a full school year.

Pretty simple.

Back to the comparison to Trump and North Korea.

Friday, Trump threatened North Korea with a naval fleet led by an aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson.

The only problem was that Trump’s general, “Mad Dog” Mattis sent the Carl Vinson in the opposite direction of North Korea.

Mad Dog is supposed to be one of the brightest stars in Trump’s military galaxy.

It seems that “Wrong-way” Mattis might be a better nickname.

And so it is with Rahm’s CPS CEO, “Mad Dog” Claypool.

The threats of a Chicago school shutdown is like a ship going the wrong way.

By the way, Claypool is one of those guys, like Arne Duncan, who never runs for office but is always around. Or, in the case of Claypool, did run for office, lost, and is always around.

Paul Vallas is another one of these guys. Ran. Lost. And keeps coming back like a case of Herpes.

Think about that the next time someone lectures you about teacher accountability.

Finally some Chicago Aldermen have had enough with “Wrong-way” Claypool and the Mayor.

“People in this city need an answer. This is getting ridiculous. … Where’s Mr. Claypool? Where is the board? And when are we gonna get an answer about the future of our children?” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), one of the Chicago Teachers Union’s staunchest City Council allies.

Waguespack said he is “sick and tired of taking all the calls without being able to give an answer” to parents who want to know whether the school year will be cut short.

“It’s just getting to the point of insanity where there is zero leadership from the people who are supposed to exhibit that leadership. What are we supposed to tell our kids and our parents? Wait another day? Wait another week? Wait until June 1, and let’s see if you’re lucky enough to have a parent who stays at home?” Waguespack said.

“If somebody from CPS, namely Mr. Claypool, would step up here once in a while — at least once a year — and tell us what’s going on, that might be a little more helpful. But we’ve gotten zippo from those guys.”

North Korea and the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. What message is Trump sending?


The New York Times is reporting late this afternoon:

As worries deepened last week about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior.

The problem was, the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the four other warships in its strike force were at that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.

White House officials said on Tuesday they were relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from a premature announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that an American armada was racing toward the waters off North Korea.

Which is not to suggest that the Trump gang that couldn’t shoot straight is any less dangerous.

It does suggest other world leaders are laughing or shaking their heads.

It makes me wonder if he meant to send Tomahawks into Afghanistan and the Mother Bomb into Syria. Or could find either on a map. With the help of Mad Dog Mattis.

Remember Mattis was described as the smart one.

They will have to change is nickname to Wrong Way Mattis.

“No-choice” Rauner promises to veto women’s rights.


Illinois’ HB40 was introduced by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and will likely pass both chambers of the Illinois legislature.

Governor Rauner, in spite of running as a social moderate, says he will veto the bill.

Being anti-choice on abortion rights for women is what passes for moderation in a Republican Party that is into vaginal probes and death sentences for women who seek an abortion.

Google it if you don’t believe me.

Pro-choice advocates are justifiably concerned that Trump may get enough votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

If that happens and abortion rights laws become states rights, Illinois will be a no-choice state. Anti-choice laws are still on the books in Illinois and only Roe has kept them from being enforced.

HB40 would stop the so-called “trigger law” that makes abortion illegal in Illinois should Roe vs. Wade be overturned.

Need a reason to get Rauner gone before an anti-choice Supreme Court majority rules?

Spelling test.

The White House posted a picture of Betsy DeVos at that Easter Egg thing on Snapchat and misspelled her job title.


A couple of months ago, the Department of Education (sp?) posted a tweet about the great African American historian and American hero, W.E.B. du Bois and misspelled his name.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 8.27.43 AM

Spelling correctly seems to be a problem. And not a new one. When I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, they spelled my degree incorrectly.


I received the diploma in the mail a few months after I finished the program and noticed the error. I made a copy of it, circled Bachelor of Arts in Art Educaton with a red marker, and sent the copy back to the Chancellor.

One of the things you learn to do in any quality educaton program is how to use a red marker to humiliate someone.

The Chancellor wrote me back.

He demanded I return the diploma so they could send me a corrected one.

No friggin’ way!

That kind of mistake on a stamp makes it more valuable.

Who knows what this diploma is worth today in auction?

Download Hitting Left podcast #11.


Corporate childcare looks like an Arby’s. Put in the middle of the worst traffic arteries. But it’s all about the money.


It will be a Learning Experience, for sure.

Now that it is almost summer I will bring my old Schwinn up from the basement and start riding it to the gym.

It is a nice ride along the boulevards until I get to the intersection of Western and Logan. Then it is holy shit! I ride under the expressway were there is no bike lane. With the roar of highway traffic above me, I go up on the little strip of sidewalk, covered in pigeon dung, doing a slalom around the highway pillars until I arrive at one of the busiest, most dangerous  intersections on the north side of Chicago.

A perfect spot for a child care center?

Rob Horton of Red Cedar Partners LLC, said his team is aiming to finish construction by July and open the facility shortly thereafter.

The two-story, 10,900-square-foot facility, catering to children six-weeks to six-years old, will offer a fenced-in rooftop playground, which is mostly the result of limited space.

“Having an onsite playground was a requirement of The Leaning Experience so you have to make due with the space you have when your developing in an urban environment,” Horton said in an email.

A fenced-in rooftop playground at the intersection of a major highway artery and two heavily trafficked boulevards.

When the kids get picked up their lungs will know what it feels like to smoke a pack a day.

The drawings of the day care center make it look more like an Arby’s. It looks like I can get a sandwich at the drive-thru.

What the poor and working families of Logan Square need is affordable public child care. Not a franchise on the spot where a 7-Eleven was slated to go, staffed by minimum wage employees, charging over $12,000 a year.

Reports Forbes:

Asking an average tuition of $860 a month, the company (one of our Best Franchises To Buy in 2015) generated $42.6 million in revenue last year from its 200-plus locations, capping off a 3-year, 73% growth spurt. “A majority of our growth started happening in this last Great Recession period – 2008 through 2011,” says Weissman. “That really put us at an even greater footing as a foundation for the company because we got started in the worst of times. I’ve always been a believer that the best time to build a company is in the worst of times.”

In working with children, The Learning Experience must adhere to laws and regulations pertaining to childcare and education that sometimes differ by state. Weissman says the added complexity is not a problem and doesn’t stand in the way of profitability. “If the business acumen is strong, profitability ensues.”

 Those who The Learning Experience chooses to take on a new franchise – for a cost of about $500,000, including working capital (our sources peg the figure at almost $768,000) – are not necessarily experienced educators of toddlers. Weissman is seeking operators that know how to run a business and can follow The Learning Experience way without question. “You can’t have franchisees start experimenting outside the box; you dilute the brand and the customer experience.” The actual educators are hired by franchisees.

In a city of corruption at the top, they go after an activist teacher.


CPS teacher Sarah Chambers at an opt-out rally in front of Saucedo Academy, 2014. Photo: Fred Klonsky

On a cold February afternoon in 2014, dozens of parents, teachers and students gathered on the front steps of old Harrison High School in Little Village. The Harrison building now houses several small schools including Saucedo Academy where CTU member Sarah Chambers taught special education,

Until last week.

300 Saucedo parents had signed letters opting out of the standardized state test, then known as ISAT.

“The Saucedo educators have taken a bold step in refusing to administer a test that is of no use to students and will be junked by the district next year,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has already said the ISAT will not be used for selective enrollment, and therefore this serves no purpose other than to give students another standardized test. We know that parents all over the city are opting their children out of this unnecessary test, and we commend them for doing what is in the best interests of their children.”

Sarah Chambers was a union teacher and activist in that fight, and for battles over testing and special education.

Barbara Byrd-Bennet, by the way, is now facing 7 years in prison for corruption.

Sarah Chambers has now been suspended by the CPS board and faces termination for her activism.

That’s pretty much Chicago in a nutshell.

What else is the suspension and charges against Sarah Chambers but a message sent to all teachers, a Mother of All Bombs, targeting teachers who speak out against corporate reform and the cuts to special education.

I have no doubts that the Chicago Teachers Union will defend their member with all the tools that they have.

But never underestimate the power of our voices and the need to defend those who speak out for our kids.

Here’s the petition.

Easter Sunday links.


Of the top 100 US newspapers, 47 ran editorials on President Donald Trump’s Syria airstrikes last week: 39 in favor, seven ambiguous and only one opposed to the military attack.

In other words, 83 percent of editorials on the Syria attack supported Trump’s bombing, 15 percent took an ambivalent position and 2 percent said the attack shouldn’t have happened. Polls showed the US public being much more split: Gallup (4/7–8/17) and ABC/Washington Post (4/7–9/17) each had 51 percent supporting the airstrikes and 40 percent opposed, while CBS (4/7–9/17) found 57 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed.

A list of the editorials with quotes showing support or opposition can be seen here. The list of the top 100 editorial boards in the country was taken from a 2016 Hill piece (10/5/16) on presidential election endorsements. FAIR



Eve Ewing will be our in-studio guest on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers on Friday at 11AM on, 105.5FM in Chicago and streaming around the world.. Eve’s book coming in September from Haymarket Books, and available for pre-order now!