August 26, 2014



built in Chicago: Governor Quinn vetoes Uber bill

On Aug. 25 Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a bill pushed by the taxi lobby that would have restricted ridesharing services such as UberX and Lyft in Chicago.

The veto is good news for ridesharing consumers and drivers. Uber will now move forward with its plan to bring 425 new jobs to Illinois.

The bill’s champion in the Illinois House, state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, claimed this legislation was all about consumer safety. In fact, it was really about protecting the taxi industry from ridesharing competition.

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Chicago Tribune: Chicago is overpaying for Divvy

Urban cyclists on blue bikes will soon be seen pedaling along the shores of Lake Michigan — but in another major city, and at a much lower price than in Chicago.

Recently, Milwaukee launched a public bike-sharing program called Bublr. The concept and look of the bikes are identical to Chicago’s Divvy, but that’s where the similarities end.

When Divvy was launched in June 2013, taxpayers funded 100 percent of startup costs. Only in May did Divvy secure private funding, from a single company. To administer the program, City Hall awarded a lucrative contract to the for-profit Alta Bicycle Share of Portland, Ore.

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Crain’s: Quinn spikes ridesharing rules

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed two related bills that would have placed statewide rules on the unregulated industry that connects passengers and drivers through a smartphone app.

The governor vetoed the measure Monday, saying it would have prevented local governments from adopting rules that fit their communities.

In a statement, Quinn said the legislation was “a one-size-fits-all approach” and ridesharing is “best regulated at the local level.”

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Crain’s: Illinois renews Get Covered PR contract after cost criticism

Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration has renewed its contract with the public relations firm that handled promotion of Get Covered Illinois in the first year of greatly expanded health insurance coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The $25.6 million contract with St. Louis-based FleishmanHillard includes tighter controls over who gets paid at the highest rate of $282 per hour. The first-year contract drew criticism for its hourly rates, which far exceeded contracts other states signed for similar work, when first reported in June by The Associated Press.

“We negotiated very aggressively on this point as to who can bill at what rate” in the renewed contract, said Jose Munoz, the state’s chief marketing officer for the Get Covered Illinois campaign. The new contract was obtained Friday by the AP as a result of a public records request.

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Chicago Tribune: Time to build Peotone Airport or walk away

State leaders are talking again about that little town 44 miles south of Chicago. Peotone. Followed by “airport.”

Peotone has been the designated site for a new regional airport for more than 20 years. On paper. Not a single spade of dirt has turned.

The state has spent more than $85 million since 2001 to buy land for the airport, including the $34 million purchase in June of Bult Field, a small, private airfield in Monee that’s near the Peotone footprint. That spending doesn’t include the piles of consultants, legal fees and other resources devoted to the project dating back to 1992, when Gov. Jim Edgar got behind the location.

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New York Times: One Way to Fix the Corporate Tax: Repeal It

“Some people are calling these companies ‘corporate deserters.’ ”

That is what President Obama said last month about the recent wave of tax inversions sweeping across corporate America, and he did not disagree with the description. But are our nation’s business leaders really so unpatriotic?

A tax inversion occurs when an American company merges with a foreign one and, in the process, reincorporates abroad. Such mergers have many motives, but often one of them is to take advantage of the more favorable tax treatment offered by some other nations.

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Forbes: Burger King’s Tax Inversion and Canada’s Favorable Corporate Tax Rates

In an unexpected and interesting move, Burger King is in talks to buy Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Horton’s Inc., a merger that would be structured as a “tax inversion” which would effectively move Burger King’s headquarters to Canada (more specifically, my hometown of Oakville, Ontario). For those who are unfamiliar with Tim Horton’s, the brand is tantamount to Canada’s version of Dunkin Donuts that could just as easily adopt its own version of the tagline “America Runs on Dunkin” (think “Canada Runs on Tim Horton’s”). Tim Horton’s is no small coffee-shop chain. Tim Horton’s, Canada’s largest coffee-shop chain, has a market capitalization of about $8.4 billion, while Burger King’s market capitalization is about $9.6 billion; the proposed merger would form a new entity worth about $18 billion.

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Chicago Sun Times: ‘Rigorous’ meetings for CTA pension officials — in Hawaii, Vegas

Pension officials with the Chicago Transit Authority need much more than a Ventra Card for some of the taxpayer-funded travel they’ve been doing in recent years.

The CTA’s retirement plan and health care trust spent close to $60,000 since 2010 to travel to places such as Honolulu, New Orleans, San Diego and Las Vegas for pension-related conferences.

That’s according to public documents the CTA plan turned over only after we sued the agency earlier this year for allegedly violating the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the state law that guarantees public access to certain government records.

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Kiplinger: 10 Least Tax-Friendly States in the U.S.

Considering a move to another state? Not so fast. Be sure to weigh state taxes when calculating the difference in cost of living.

Here is our updated 2014 list of the ten least tax-friendly states. Our choices remain the same as last year. Almost all these states levy property taxes well above the national median of $1,324. State income taxes are high, as are combined state and local sales taxes that could cost you up to an additional 10% per purchase, depending the municipality in which you live or shop. Finally, some of these states have the highest gas prices in the U.S., in part because they charge above-average fuel taxes and fees.

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CNBC: Cadillac ‘whack’: Employers prep for Obamacare’s looming levy

Obamacare’s “Cadillac tax” doesn’t kick in until 2018, but that isn’t stopping companies from worrying about it now—and taking steps to avoid it later.

Nearly 3 out of 4 companies polled in a new survey by employee benefits consulting firm Towers Watson said they’re either “somewhat” or “very” concerned they will get whacked with that hefty tax targeted at high-cost health plans, either because of what those plans already cost or where they are headed.

Forty-three percent of those mid- and large-sized companies said that avoiding the Cadillac tax is “the top” priority for their health-care strategy in 2015, according to the survey.

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Daily Herald: College of DuPage board: Trustee embarrassed members

The College of DuPage board voted Thursday to censure Vice Chairman Kathy Hamilton for “inappropriate conduct.”

The vote was not unanimous, however. Hamilton and Trustee Kim Savage voted “no.” Trustee Nancy Svoboda abstained.

The resolution censuring Hamilton says she publicly embarrassed board members and college administrators and that she voices her disagreements “by making erroneous statements reflecting negatively against her fellow board members and the administration in an inflammatory, insulting, discourteous and defamatory manner.”

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New York Times: The Growing Blue-State Diaspora

Californians have moved to Colorado and Nevada. Massachusetts natives have moved to New Hampshire. New Yorkers have moved to North Carolina and Virginia — and, of course, have continued moving to Florida.

Over the last few decades, residents of many traditionally liberal states have moved to states that were once more conservative. And this pattern has played an important role in helping the Democratic Party win the last two presidential elections and four of the last six. The growth of the Latino population and the social liberalism of the millennial generation may receive more attention, but the growing diaspora of blue-state America matters as well.

The blue diaspora has helped offset the fact that many of the nation’s fastest-growing states are traditionally Republican. You can think of it as a kind of race: Population growth in these Republican states is reducing the share of the Electoral College held by traditionally Democratic states. But Democratic migration has been fast enough, so far, to allow the party to overcome the fact that the Northeast and industrial Midwest contain a smaller portion of the country’s population than they once did.

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WSJ: Calpers’s Play for PayCalpers’s Play for Pay

When one door closes, government unions crack open a window. So it was last week when the labor-controlled board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) approved counting 99 categories of supplemental pay toward workers’ pension calculations.

One objective of the de minimis reforms Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2012 was to curb egregious abuses such as “pension spiking.” Defined-benefit pensions in California are calculated as a percentage of the average of workers’ highest compensation over three years multiplied by the numbers of years worked. Many employees have goosed their pensions by loading up on overtime and cashing out vacation and other add-ons during their final working years. In one famous example, a fire chief in Northern California who made $186,000 retired after 26 years with an annual pension of more than $230,000.

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