Understanding Illinois: Stemming the Population, Wealth drain from Downstate

Nowlan•November 25, 2015•

By Jim Nowlan
NP Guest Columnist

How do we stem the erosion of population and wealth from downstate Illinois?

Illinois lost 50,000 persons between 2010 and 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There has been an even sharper net out-migration during the period (more people moving out than moving in), which has been covered up largely by high birth rates among Hispanics in the state.

The libertarian (very small government) Illinois Policy Institute has been blaming this all on high taxes. The IPI fails to note, however, that nearby Minnesota, with its much higher income taxes on the wealthy and even colder weather, grew by three percent during the period. The IPI work reflects “analysis” shaped by ideology rather than objectivity.

In fact, Illinois has seen a dramatic shift in our population makeup going back to the 1960s. In a 1982 article for Illinois Issues, demographer Cheng Chiang estimated that Illinois had a net out-flow of up to 900,000 whites in the 1970s alone.

I extrapolate that two million or more whites left the state on a net basis between 1970 and the present. This has been offset by the inflow of Hispanics and Asians and by natural births, so Illinois has grown, but slowly, since.

In effect, we have been exporting population to other states, often to states with no income tax and sunny warmth such as Florida and Texas, while we have been importing residents from other nations. Read More

Thinking About Health: Obamacare Policyholders Question Rising Deductibles

•November 25, 2015•

By Trudy Lieberman
Rural Health News Service

Is health insurance really affordable?  That’s the question thousands of Americans who signed up for policies under the Affordable Care Act are beginning to ask as third year open enrollment gets underway.

A few weeks ago a 63-year-old woman, a reader of these columns, contacted me about the health insurance policy she had bought through the Illinois exchange. She lost her coverage after her husband died and had been uninsured for nearly two years before Obamacare came along.  She had some health problems and worried, she said, that she was “playing the odds.” She was just the person the law was intended to help.

Realizing she could lose everything if she had a serious illness, she signed up for a Blue Cross Blue Shield bronze plan, the kind with the lowest premiums and highest deductibles. Her monthly premium for the first year was an affordable $93 because her low income—about $25,000 a year working part time at an insurance agency---qualified her for a tax subsidy of $451.

The catch, of course, was the $6,000 deductible. She also had to pay the full price of her drugs, which didn’t count toward the deductible, although once other medical bills exceeded the deductible, drugs were covered in full. She didn’t use the policy because she didn’t “have $6,000 lying around” for some recommended tests.    Read More

Obituaries 11-25-2015: Bill Williams

FlagForWebsiteBill Williams

Bill G. Williams, 83, of Assumption died Nov. 15, 2015 in Decatur Memorial Hospital.

Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Friday Nov. 20 in Assumption Christian Church. Burial will full military rites by Assumption Honor Guard was in Pleasant View Cemetery in Assumption. Seitz Funeral Home in Assumption handled arrangements. Read More

Prospective Students Invited to Laker Visit Day

•November 25, 2015•

Visit Lake Land College and find out all the college offers at its upcoming Laker Visit Day. The event will be held Friday, Dec. 4 with activities starting in the Luther Student Center lobby at 9 a.m. and running until noon.

The event is for potential students who are interested in learning more about Lake Land College. Parents/guardians and spouses are welcome to come along and attend the Parent and Spouse Session. Read More

Lovington Public Library December News

•November 25, 2015•

The “Reading Redbirds” Youth Book Club for 4th-8th graders meets 3:30-4:30 p.m. the first and thirdTuesday of each month. This club plans and assists with events that are held at the library and discussing books.

“Wee Readers Storytime” meets 10-10:30 p.m. Thursday mornings for preschoolers 2 years. and older. Dates and themes are Dec. 3-“Gingerbread Man”, Dec. 10-“Rudolph, Dec. 17-“Christmas Party”, and Dec. 24-No Storytime. Read More

ALAH School Board Deals with Uncertain Funding

4.97% Levy Increase Ahead

•November 25, 2015•

By Ariana Cherry
for the News Progress

The checkbook currently has $7,169, 575.50, and all funds are in the black,” stated superintendent Ken Schwengel at the most recent Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond School Board meeting. “The state aid payments are scheduled through December 20, but after the first of the year, I am not sure what will happen,” he stated. “We’ve received 90% of the property taxes and have not received any incentive funding yet,” he added.

The board also discussed and approved a tentative 2015 tax levy for property taxes paid in 2016. The levy is set at a 4.97% increase in property taxes. There won’t be a Truth in Taxation hearing since the increase is less than 5%. The levy was calculated from the estimated 3% increase in the district’s assessed value. In 2014 it was $193,270,479 and in 2015 it increased to $199,068,593. The tax rate for Arthur and Lovington will be $3.56 per $100 assessed value and those in the Atwood-Hammond area will be $4.62 per $100. The board will vote on the final tax levy at their December 9 meeting.

Other matters that were discussed or voted upon:

-The district received $3,700- their first check from Piatt County sales tax. Read More

Veterans Honored at Sullivan Schools

Photo by Mike Brothers Careers student Brad Kay introduces WWII veteran Myron Haney.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Careers student Brad Kay introduces WWII veteran Myron Haney.

•November 18, 2015•

By Mike Brothers

Veterans Day observations filled Sullivan schools on Nov. 11 with a musical tribute to attending veterans at the elementary school followed by the high school program featuring veteran speakers.

Coordinated by the careers class at Sullivan High School who were emcees of the event, the high school program began as a middle-high school assembly  at 10:30 a.m. in the gym.

The American Legion Post 68 Color Guard presented the flag with Sullivan High School band performing the Star Spangled Banner to open the assembly.

World War II Veteran Myron Haney opened recalling his service in Europe with the 9th Army at the end of the war.

Haney served in Europe, was discharged and called up again during the Korean Conflict when he returned to Europe as part of the U.S. occupying force.

Haney had left high school during his junior year to join the Army and received his diploma along with his oldest grandson in 2003.

Brandi Binder is a 1996 Sullivan graduate and veteran of two National Guard tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  She received her bachelors in psychology from EIU in 2014 and is currently pursuing a masters in social work at the U of I. She is currently working on forming a non-profit organization called Harbored Veterans.

Binder recalled her road to gain respect from cadets as a sergeant in the Guard. Read More

Moultrie County Board Approves Budget for Next Year

•November 18, 2015•

Moultrie County board members learned of the progress of the No Job Left Behind initiative at the November 12 meeting.

Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development Director Stepheny McMahon explained that the initiative to promote jobs and job training for local businesses has grown since 2013.

“We have grown to include 160 different people from business, manufacturing and education,” McMahon said. “ During our recent No Job Left Behind manufacturing tour, Okaw Valley took the whole school.”

The partnership between area schools, manufacturing and business has led districts to implement new vocational offerings for those wishing to enter the workforce right out of high school.

McMahon explained the $5000 investment by the county continues to produce results with the No Job Left Behind initiative.

“We are implementing a new program at the eighth grade level to help get students thinking about their future goals,” McMahon said, indicating they were working to expand into the lower grades to increase awareness.

Central Illinois Public Transportation mobility manager Jennifer Moore responded to questions from board member Roger Glazebrook concerning the service to which Moultrie County contributes $1000 annually. Read More

New Rules for State Retirement Savings Plans

•November 18, 2015•

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs on Monday announced sweeping new rules outlining the path forward for state-sponsored retirement savings initiatives. Secretary Perez and Treasurer Frerichs listened to leaders who worry that the looming retirement savings crisis will have a profound impact on lower-income workers’ quality of life in retirement and become an untenable burden on states.

The Department of Labor’s proposed rules will dismantle barriers for state-based solutions to the retirement savings crisis, including Illinois’ Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. Already, 26 states, including Illinois have taken some type of action to pursue state-based retirement savings solutions that will increase access to employer-based savings programs.

“Secretary Perez’s leadership today will benefit generations of Americans,” Frerichs said. “In Illinois nearly 1.2 million workers are poised to benefit from our Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. With these new federal rules, my administration can move forward with helping some of our state’s most vulnerable workers. I applaud Secretary Perez and the Department of Labor for partnering with states like Illinois to craft a solution.”

Nationally, only half of working Americans save for retirement, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation by the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those who do not save, 84 percent work for an employer that does not offer a retirement savings vehicle. A lack of retirement savings increases the likelihood that workers will be over-reliant on social security or retire into poverty, creating significant future burdens on state and federal social safety nets. Read More

Remember When? 11-18-2015

Compiled by Bekki Ferguson-Stevens

25 Years Ago This Week

Sullivan High School seniors Terri Caruthers, Amy Raymer, Christy Seeley and Janice Standerfer are vying for the title of Miss Merry Christmas. One of the four will be selected by a vote of students this week. Announcement of the winner will be made Friday night during halftime activities of the Sullivan Turkey Tournament.

Mark Righter of Sullivan was one of more than 50 Lake Land College Foundation scholarship recipients who attended a recent reception at the college in honor of recipients and donors. Righter received an agriculture scholarship from the State Bank of Sullivan.

Two Sullivan students are among 30 at Lake Land College who will have their names included in the 1991 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges. They are Sandra K. Chaney and Shari L. Shackles.

Lisa Crawley of Dalton City is a freshman at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind. The daughter of Rose and Larry Crawley, she is a pre-physical therapy major.

Three Sullivan students at Lake Land College are members of the school’s jazz ensemble which will perform at the first home game Nov. 27. The local ensemble members are Dawn Skidmore on saxophone, Lynn Bickers on brass and Marc Isaacs on percussion. Read More