May 20, 2016

Illinois Is Set to Be First in Line …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:16 am

… in the coming battle over whether a broke federal government should be compelled to bail out a broke state (HT Zero Hedge):

A new report released today by the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute finds that state government workers in Illinois are the highest paid in the nation, when wages are indexed for cost of living. The average annual salary of state government workers in Illinois is $59,088 – approximately $10,000 more than the national average for state workers. This is in addition to other benefits such as health insurance and pensions.

The report also found that salaries for state workers in Illinois have increased by 41 percent since 2005, according to state and federal data. Meanwhile, earnings in the private sector have remained nearly flat.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been negotiating for more than a year with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a government union that represents more than 35,000 state workers in Illinois. AFSCME is seeking more than $3 billion in higher salaries and benefits for government workers, including raises that range from 11.5 to 29 percent. The governor has instead asked AFSCME for a temporary salary freeze in return for new merit pay and incentive bonuses, to bring the contract in line with what taxpayers can afford.

“AFSCME claims it’s ‘middle-class’ salaries and benefits are under attack, but the numbers say otherwise. Not only do state workers in Illinois make more than the private-sector workers who pay their salaries, the average pay for state workers in Illinois is out of step with their peers in the other 49 states,” said Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute. “Illinois taxpayers simply cannot afford the contract AFSCME is fighting for, and it is wrong to ask everyone to pay more so that a mere .5 percent of the workforce can get another round of raises and benefit increases.” …

AFSCME wants $3 billion the state doesn’t have.

Illinois’ deep blue model inevitably points to bankruptcy.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052016)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: Official Statement From the Little Sisters of the Poor on Monday’s Supreme Court Ruling in HHS Mandate Case

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Washington, in full (links are in original; bolds are mine):

May 16, 2016

Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously protected the Little Sisters of the Poor from draconian government fines and recognized that the government does not need the Little Sisters to provide services such as the week after pill. The Court also noted the government finally admitted it could indeed meet its goals without involving the Little Sisters.

In its decision, the Supreme Court held that after its unprecedented call for supplemental briefing that the lower courts should again review the cases.

“All we have ever wanted to do is serve the neediest among us as if they were Christ himself,” said Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial for the Little Sisters of the Poor. “We look forward to serving the elderly poor for another 175 years to come.”

“This is a game-changer,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The Court has accepted the government’s concession that it can get drugs to people without using the Little Sisters. The Court has eliminated all of the bad decisions from the lower courts. And the Court has forbidden the government from fining the Little Sisters even though they are refusing to bow to the government’s will. It is only a matter of time before the lower courts make this victory permanent.”

Less than a week after the Supreme Court heard the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor in March, the Court made an unprecedented move asking both sides to provide additional arguments about whether the government could find ways to distribute contraceptives without the involvement of religious non-profits and their health plans. The religious non-profits responded to the Supreme Court: “Yes.”

The government exempts 1 in 3 Americans from the HHS mandate. It also exempts large corporations such as Exxon, Visa and even the government’s own military family plan. A total of 100 million Americans are exempt from this regulation.

The Little Sisters’ win was also a win for other Becket clients, including Christian Brothers Services, Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, Houston Baptist and East Texas Baptist UniversitiesReaching Souls International, Truett-McConnell College, and GuideStone Financial Services of the Southern Baptist Convention. Other parties in this case include Geneva College, Southern Nazarene University, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, and the Most Reverend David A. Zubik. All of these clients also had the adverse decisions in their cases vacated and sent back to the lower courts.

Paul D. Clement of Bancroft, PLLC presented the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. Noel J. Francisco of Jones Day also presented arguments on behalf of several other ministries. The Little Sisters of the Poor are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Locke Lord LLP, and Professor Kevin Walsh of the University of Richmond Law School.

For more information about the case, visit www.thelittlesistersofthepoor.com.