‘The chickens have come home to roost in Illinois’

(Editor’s Note — This is a column I wrote on March 16, 2016 — only 15 months ago — about the tax and spend mentality that has been created by the Illinois General Assembly. There is a lot of discussion about who made the right vote in the recent budget vote in Springfield. Please take a few minutes and read this. It gives a great example of the mess that has been created in Illinois.    JM)

Everybody – from the wealthiest to those just barely scraping by – has a household budget. Those budgets are based on the amount of revenue coming in versus the amount of expenditures going out and when things get out of whack, working families are faced with three choices – spend less, increase revenue or some combination of the two. There’s no other way out.

As we’ve sadly learned year after year here in Illinois that same philosophy doesn’t apply. In the Land of Lincoln lawmakers can squander money like drunken sailors, and then when revenue doesn’t match expenditures they simply raise taxes to refill the coffers. Tax and spend … tax and spend.

This past week Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger went on a statewide tour to educate the public about the current financial mess in Illinois. Munger broke down the numbers in a way that can be related to a monthly household budget and easily understood. Munger explained the bleak picture by removing six zeroes from all revenue and expenditures. If you thought it was a bleak picture in billions, it’s even more dismal in dollars we can related to.

The state’s backlog of bills is more than $7 billion, so that’s comparable with you having $7,000 in bills on your kitchen table. There’s another $2 billion in unpaid bills, so that’s the same as going to the post office and finding another $2,000 in bills.

And on top of that the state has an unfunded pension system – worst in the nation – that totals $110 billion. Munger said that’s like having $110,000 in credit card debt. She added that the state’s daily revenue is approximately $100 million, which is like having $100 in your bank account. Clearly, a household or business would be bankrupt facing a financial mess like that.

While the media has done a great job of reporting all the proposed cuts to state government very few have reported the ‘why’ or ‘how come’ to the story.  First, Gov. Rauner has been in office 14 months, so he’s trying to clean up a mess he didn’t create.

For decades, Democrats and Republicans in Illinois have been digging a hole financially. Lawmakers would overspend, raise taxes, overspend some more and raise taxes again. And nobody during that time frame ever had the courage to say ‘put the shovel down and stop digging’ until Rauner came along and said the current path is unsustainable and cuts have to be made. And because of that, he’s the villain, he’s the bad guy.

Some of you might be wondering why the state just doesn’t raise taxes again instead of making budget cuts. Let me show you another layer to the current misery in Illinois that has been conveniently overlooked. According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust Research & Analysis, since 2008 Illinois has shown a 22.5 percent increase in tax revenue, tops in the nation. As a comparison the remaining states in the nation had an average increase of 2.5 percent. And that increase wasn’t because of an increase in jobs it was because of the tax-and-spend mentality in Springfield.  In fact, for every job created in Illinois last year, two families went on food stamps.

So, during the past eight years while there has been a 22.5 percent increase in tax revenue in Illinois the budget deficit has more than doubled from $3 billion to $7 billion and the pension deficit has increased from $48 billion to $110 billion.

Despite those numbers that show Illinois in a financial abyss there are those who continue to say that the state simply needs to raises taxes and continue down the clearly unsustainable road we’re on. The state has been without a spending plan for more than nine months, yet Munger said the biggest problem is that lawmakers want to continue to spend money … even though there is none.

“They (lawmakers) don’t understand the problem. We are out of money,” Munger said. “We’re at a breaking point.”

In other words, after years of tax and spend and tax and spend some more … the chickens have come home to roost in Illinois.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muir’s Musings May 28, 2015

Rand Paul in Chicago: Crime ‘not a racial thing, it’s a spiritual problem.’

More Texas towns brace for high water; death toll climbs

Senate rejects Bruce Rauner agenda; see how you state senator voted

See how your state rep voted on budget that overspends by $4 billion

Baltimore residents fearful amid rash of homicides

‘I’m not crazy’: 62 animals found inside Creal Springs’ woman’s home

Is ‘Charlie Charlie’ a harmless game? Exorcist says ‘absolutely not’

The other ‘showdown’ in Springfield

Muir’s Morning Motivational Minute

‘Every test in life makes us bitter or better, every problem comes to make us or break us. In the end the choice is ours whether we become victim or victor.’

It’s funny how one quote will sometimes cause me to think of another quote. I recently found one that parallels this one. It states: ‘The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s not about circumstances but what we’re made of.’

With God’s grace and strength and a healthy dose of our own determination and common sense we have the ability to face any ‘test’ and be better and not let any ‘problem’ break us. And in the end we be a victor and not a victim.
God’s blessings to you on this day! Have a great Thursday and a blessed day!

Muir’s Musings – May 27, 2015

‘Today is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.’

I read this quote and I thought about a comment made by a minister years ago. He said most people he counsels that are going through a tough time want to continually look back and dwell in the past – rehashing all the bad things that happened. He said he always encouraged them to remember how they feel today but to look ahead exactly one year and then strive to be better, healthier, stronger, etc. 365 days later. His comments really made sense to me. And just like today’s quote says, we all have a blank 365-page book in front of us and today is the first chapter. The key thing is that you are the author of that book and you can write the story anyway you choose. And remember, don’t look back … you’re not going that direction!

God’s blessings to you on this day! Have a wonderful Wednesday and a blessed day!

Franklin County Farm Bureau News – Pork Loin Sales and FOID Cards

 

Gay Bowlin, Manager

You may have heard that the Firearm Owners Identification Card process has changed and I am not exactly sure if it is for the better but none the less we have to deal with it. We have always filled out applications and taken pictures for people but now that process is a little more involved.

Gay Bowlin

Gay Bowlin

First of all you can apply on line or on the phone but either way you must be able to pay with a debit, credit or checking account. If you apply on line you must have a valid email address (not sure about on the phone) and then the 15 minute process begins. You must still have a current picture and a driver’s license or state ID. If you apply online you must be able to pay over the phone.

If you come to the Farm Bureau office we will be able to help with this – we will take your picture and fill out everything online for you and then print out the confirmation. If you do not have a debit, credit or checking account then we will use our information to pay on line for you. This entire fee for this process will be $20 – that includes the $11 to the state. If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 435-3616.

Our breakfast with Representative John Bradley was well attended on Monday. We had a total of 28 in attendance with 21 of those from Franklin County. Also Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau Director of State Legislation and Chris Lowery, Administrative Assistant to Representative Bradley.

Many items were discussed including the Juvenile Detention Center in Benton and the uncertainty that surrounds it – John assured us that he and Senator Forby are doing everything they can to keep the center running as it is today.

Representative Bradley is looking to the future and working with Governor Rauner on keeping Southern Illinois in the forefront. If you need to get in touch with him his office number is (618) 997-9697.

As soon as this weather dries up you will begin to see the farmers on the roads once more. Please take into consideration that these are very large pieces of equipment and there is limited space where they can get off the roadways – drive slowly when approaching and be aware of their limitations.
This is the last chance to place your order for Smoked Pork Loin for your Easter dinner. They will be ready for pick up on Thursday April 2nd – that is the day before Good Friday.  1/2 loin is $30 and a full is $45 please call the office or stop by to order yours today.  We will take orders ending March 30 and we don’t have extra. This is a Young Leaders Project with all proceeds going to fund scholarships. See a Young Leader or call 435-3616 to place your order.

This year we will have our Antique Tractor Drive on May 9th and for the first time we will be in the Rend Lake Water Festival Parade.  The tractors will be near the front of the parade.  We will drive the parade route then continue on to the Barren Township Building on 154 stopping for a fish dinner then continue back over the Rend Lake Dam back to the Rend Lake Plaza in West City.  Entry fee is $20 and this covers the cost of meal and a t-shirt.  For more information call the office at 435-3616.
Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.

 

Concealed carry classes set

INA, Ill.  – Time is running short to prepare for your Illinois Concealed Carry license before the end of the year. Rend Lake College has two classes open on Nov. 8-9 and Dec. 6-7 on the Ina campus.

The two-day sessions last from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. both days at RLC. The first day is lecture-based, focusing on safety, marksmanship, cleaning, and loading and unloading. Firearms are not allowed during day one of the training course. On day two, attendees will practice shooting while learning about weapon handling and state and federal laws at the RLC Shooting Range. Everyone is asked to bring two boxes of unopened factory ammunition to Sunday’s class.

To qualify for licensure, attendees must achieve 70 percent accuracy in a live fire qualification of 30 rounds at five, seven, and 10 yards. A qualifying shot consists of a shot placed inside the seven ring of a B-27 target. You must be at least 21 years old to qualify. Also required for licensure is a valid FOID card and driver’s license.

Concealed Carry courses at Rend Lake College cost $150 for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students. For more information, contact the RLC Community and Corporate Education Division at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1714, or smithst@rlc.edu.

RLC board adopts 2015 budget

 

The board adopted the final Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which was provided in tentative form at the August board meeting. A public hearing on the budget was held at 6 p.m., prior to the regular board meeting. There were no comments from the public.

In a related action, the board accepted the 2014 tax levy (payable 2015). The levy represents a slight increase – 1.39 percent – over last year. The Corporate and Special Purpose levy went from $3,003,038 last year to $3,083,318 this year, a increase of 2.67 percent. The Debt Service levy dropped from $1,820,902 last year to $1,807,794 this year, a decrease of 0.72 percent. The total of the two levies rose slightly, from $4,823,940 last year to $4,891,112, an increase of 1.39 percent.

Because the total of the proposed Corporate and Special Purpose and Debt Service levies is not greater than 105 percent of last year’s levy, no Truth in Taxation hearing is required.

Bevis Construction to replace campus sidewalks

The low bid of $24,300 from Bevis Construction Inc. of Mt. Vernon was accepted for replacement of concrete sidewalks throughout campus.

Two PHS projects submitted to ICCB

The board granted permission to submit Protection, Health and Safety project applications to the Illinois Community College Board for HVAC replacement in the North Oasis and roof replacement of the Theatre and art building.

New courses approved, sent to ICCB

The board approved five new courses and authorized their submission to the Illinois Community College Board for action. Among the new courses are Basic Handgun Training, Advanced Handgun Training and Low-Light Handgun Training. Also approved were Principles of Taxidermy and Selected Topics in Automotive Technology.

O’Daniel to take reins of Recreational Center

The board appointed Tyler O’Daniel as Director of the Recreational Center effective Sept. 16. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science from the University of Indianapolis as well as Associate in Science and Associate in Arts degrees from Rend Lake College. He most recently was the event coordinator for Dugout Media / Baseball Youth in Morehead, Ky. Last month, the facility was renamed with the intent to repurpose it to maximize the athletic offerings provided by the college, including individualized lessons, athletic camps, intramural sports and the Wayne Arnold Fitness Center. O’Daniel possesses the necessary knowledge in athletic training, exercise science and marketing along with the strong background in event and camp coordination desired for this position. He has coordinated athletic scouting combines, individualized training programs for youth athletes, and baseball camps throughout the Midwest.

Anselment appointed to CCR&R staff

Appointed Jacquelyn Anselment as Provider Recruitment / Quality Specialist for Project CHILD, the Child Care Resource and Referral program housed at the RLC MarketPlace. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale as well as Associate in Science and Associate in Arts degrees from Rend Lake College. She most recently served as Assistant Director at Bumblebee Child Care Center in Mt. Vernon.

Children’s Center’s Rancuret moving on, Gatimu joins staff

The board accepted with regret the resignation of Emily Rancuret, Lead Child Care Provider at the RLC Foundation Children’s Center, effective Aug. 13. “I have formed lasting friendships at Rend Lake College and feel honored to be a part of this family,” Rancuret wrote in her resignation letter.

In a related action, the board ratified the appointment of Kaitlyn Gatimu as a Lead Child Care Provider effective Sept. 15 to fill the vacancy left by Rancuret. Gatimu holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and most recently worked at Logan Street Day Care and Preschool in Mt. Vernon. She previously worked at the Children’s Center as a part-time Assistant Child Care Provider.

CNA’s Hudgens retiring

The retirement resignation of Aurelia Hudgens, Certified Nurse Assistant Associate Professor, was accepted with regret effective Feb. 28. “I have enjoyed my tenure at Rend Lake College immensely and have had great satisfaction in taking on the challenges given to me and teaching the hundreds of CNA students in my classes,” Hudgens wrote in her retirement letter.

In other business, the board …

Adopted a resolution appointing Terry Wilkerson, RLC President, and Angie Kistner, Vice President of Finance and Administration, as representatives of the RLC Board Secretary for the purpose of accepting candidate nominating petitions.

Approved revisions to board policy and procedure concerning Internet, laptops / laptop data encryption, and information security policy framework and guidelines (all second readings).

Approved revisions to salaries for three employees.

Approved the Jeanne Clery Act Compliance Policy Manual effective Sept. 16.

Mark your calendars …

Visiting Artist Series: Hillary Remm, works on display in Theatre Lobby through Oct. 10.

RLC Foundation Golf Outing, Thursday, Sept. 18, 12 p.m. shotgun start, Rend Lake Golf Course.

Fun Fest, 12-3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, RLC campus.

Rend Lake College Open House, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, RLC Campus.

RLC Foundation Scholarship Dinner, 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, Rend Lake Resort.

Poetry Reader: Matt Rotman, 12 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, Pat Kern Private Dining Area.

Warrior Fest, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, RLC campus.

Halloween Concert and Party, Thursday, Oct. 30, Theatre and Student Center; 6 p.m concert, 7 p.m. party.

Therapeutic Massage Conference to cover Pillossage Nov. 7-8

INA – Massage Therapists can get hands-on with their continuing education this fall at the Therapeutic Massage Conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Nov. 7-8, at the Rend Lake College MarketPlace, Room 354, in Mt. Vernon.

The theme of the conference will center on Pillossage, a new treatment sweeping the hearts and hands of massage therapists across the country. Guest speaker and Registered Nurse Karen Kowal, LMT, will discuss the Pillossage techniques with several modules, including Shoulders to Hips; Hips, Glutes, ITBand to the Toes; The Forgotten Chest; Shoulder Therapy; Sinus Therapy; Cervical Therapy; and Self-Care Techniques.

RLC Massage Therapy Professor Michael Adamson said Pillossage is one of the newest and greatest techniques in the field.

“Pillossage is a nice addition to any massage therapist’s tool box because it can provide clients with an effective, comfortable, and memorable massage experience that is easy on the client and therapist as well,” said Adamson.

Pillossage and Mother Earth Pillows are self-care products that treat pain while decreasing the strain on the therapist. Pillossage Bodywork reduces numerous types of painful client conditions, directly treats dysfunctions that cause pain, improves mobility and flexibility, softens connective tissue, relaxes and lengthens muscle fibers, softens scar tissue, decreases stress and anxiety, and stimulates the release of Endorphins and Oxytocin.

The conference is sponsored by RLC, Stress Knot Massage of Mt. Vernon, and the South Central Illinois Area Health Education Center (SCI-AHEC). Certificates and 16 continuing education hours will be provided for those who complete the class. Massage tables will be provided; however, participants are asked to bring a flat sheet and face-rest cover. Comfortable clothing is suggested.

Adamson added, “Illinois Massage Therapy license renewal is due at the end of this year. This conference will provide 16 of the 24 continuing education hours required for licensure renewal at a very affordable cost that is close to home.”

The conference costs $200 per person and includes lunch both days. To register, contact Stephanie Smith in the RLC Community and Corporate Education Division at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1714 or smithst@rlc.edu. Spots at the conference are limited to the first 20 who register by Friday, Oct. 31.

Shimkus accepting applications for military academies

Maryville, Illinois — Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) is now accepting applications from young men and women interested in attending one of the United States military academies.  High school seniors, college students, and anyone interested should apply now for summer 2015 admission.

“As the school year begins, many students are thinking about what’s next.  As a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, I am eager to provide information and assistance with nominations to the military academies,” Shimkus stated.

To be eligible for appointment, you must be a United States citizen; at least 17 and not more than 23 years of age on July 1, 2015; unmarried; not pregnant; have no dependents; and a legal resident of the 15th Congressional District of Illinois.  Average acceptable ACT scores are 24 in English/reading and 25 in math.

Applications are accepted for the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York; U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York.

Those seeking more information or who are interested in applying for any or all of the academies should write or call for an application packet from Congressman John Shimkus, 15 Professional Park Drive, Maryville, IL 62062; (618)288-7190.

Completed applications must be received by November 5, 2014.  The Congressman nominates to the academies; however, academy officials actually make the final selection regarding admission.  Those accepted into an academy will be notified in early 2015.

“I encourage young men and women with any level of interest to contact us now,” Shimkus added.  “There are several steps in this process, and applications must be filed with both my office and online with the individual academies.”

Science Center in need of volunteers

The Science Center of Southern Illinois, located in the University Mall in Carbondale, will be holding an orientation for potential volunteers on Wednesday, September 10 and Thursday, September 11 at 3:30 p.m. at The Science Center.  Individuals who are interested in volunteering but who can’t attend one of the sessions are encouraged to contact the Science Center at 529-5431.

Artisan’s program deadline is Oct. 12

The Illinois Artisans Program is looking for talented artisans.

All areas of arts and crafts, including folk, traditional, contemporary, and ethnic, as well as fine art forms are eligible.

Created in 1985 by Governor James R. Thompson, the program provides economic and exhibition opportunities for Illinois artists. Once juried, artisans participate in art sprees, craft festivals and exhibitions.

The Illinois Artisans Program focuses national attention on the rich heritage of the fine crafting that exists in Illinois. Over its 30-year history, the program has expanded across the state from The James R. Thompson Center to inside The Illinois State Museum’s Museum Store and The Southern Illinois Art & Artisans Center.

For additional information, call the Southern Illinois Art & Artisans Center at 629-2220.

The Artisans Center is located at 14967 Gun Creek Trail next to the Rend Lake Golf Course