The McDermed Dispatch for April 24th

The legislature has been on ‘Spring Break’ for the past two weeks. I’ve been out and about touring the district, meeting with groups, and talking with constituents.
We return to begin voting on bills today.

Don’t Forget, Student Art Contest Deadline This Week!
‘Tax Freedom Day’
Our Income Tax Filing Deadline has come and gone for another year, but our obligation to pay a portion of our incomes to multiple levels of government goes on and on.
At what point in the year has your tax obligation been met, and your earnings truly yours? The Tax Foundation, a DC area think tank founded before WWII, collects and studies tax data at the federal and state level. Using this information they calculate when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year. This day has unofficially been dubbed “Tax Freedom Day”, which this year was yesterday, April 23rd. Because the total tax burden varies considerably from state to state, The Tax Foundation ranks them. In Illinois we will not reach our tax freedom day until April 30th. This puts us at 44th place in the rankings.

Most of our neighbor’s Tax Freedom Days are considerably earlier than ours; with Missouri ranking #12, Iowa #14, and Indiana #19. Connecticut, the state with the highest aggregate incomes and taxes, ranks last at #50, with their Tax Freedom Day occurring on May 21st.

Transportation Townhall
Thank you to everyone who was able to make our townhall last week, I had an enjoyable discussion with many constituents on the transportation needs of our district. I wanted to address a few of the questions/concerns brought up in the townhall:
  • A recent study says Chicago has the longest commute, beating LA. The study said that an average of 32.4 minutes is spent commuting to work, or 280 hours a year. Other studies have Chicago ranking high, but lower on the list than cities like NYC and DC.
  • Is the state working on transitioning free roads to toll roads?
    • This constituent’s question refers to an IDOT initiative recently highlighted in the news to add, through a public-private partnership, managed lanes to I-55 to alleviate the congestion. These new, additional lanes would charge a toll, but the current lanes on I-55 would remain free. State law allows these public-private partnerships as long as the General Assembly gives approval through the passage of a resolution. So far no such resolution has passed.
    • Other states like Georgia are implementing similar congestion reducing paid lanes. However, I am not aware of any other efforts to “transition” free roads to tollways
I’ll talk about some of the other issues in coming weeks.
Illinois Pension Outlook Drags Down Entire Country
According to a new brief from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the gap between the total assets reported by state pension systems across the U.S. and the benefits promised to workers reached $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2015, the most recent year with complete data available. Illinois’ total liability for that year was $111.55 billion, 10% of the nation’s TOTAL problem. In addition Illinois has the 3rd worst pension funded ratio at 40.2%. South Dakota and Wisconsin have the best funding ratios at 104.1% and 98.3% respectively. To say that Illinois has a pension problem is a massive understatement. Pensions are constitutionally protected, but we are in a situation which requires us to consider everything we can to achieve real reform.

Last month Republican House Leader Jim Durkin filed HB4207, which I co-sponsored. While not perfect, this bill attempted to seriously address our pension crisis, but was not given a chance to be discussed, debated, or amended in the Illinois House of Representatives.

CMAP Opportunity for Teens

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning offers a free week long program for teens to have a voice in the future of the Chicago region. If you know a high school student who wants to help make their community a better place, encourage them to apply for CMAP’s Future Leaders in Planning (FLIP) program. Application materials are due May 15 for the July program.