Wednesday, January 18, 2017

VenuWorks: Coliseum Will Likely Never Make Money

Managers at Bloomington's coliseum say the building likely never make money. The coliseum's new management team went before the city council last night to explain a 674-thousand dollar loss last year. City Manager David Hales says he hopes to break even in about two years. But VenueWorks officials say that may be tough as well. Last year's loss is just the latest six-figure loss for Bloomington since the coliseum opened about a decade ago.

Schock Trial Moved to July

Aaron Schock is looking at a trial after the fourth of July. A judge in Springfield yesterday set a July 11th trial date. Schock wanted to push his case to the summer, he said to prep about a hundred witnesses. Federal prosecutors say Schock stole from taxpayers when he lied on campaign expense reports and government reimbursement forms. Schock is facing fraud and theft charges.

Rauner to Miss Inauguration

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner doesn't think his absence at Donald Trump's inauguration will cost the state. Rauner yesterday said he doesn't think his decision to skip the inaugural to work on Illinois' budget crisis will have a negative impact. The governor says he thinks the new president understand the situation Illinois is in, and can respect his decision to stay home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mayoral Debate Highlights

Bloomington's four candidates for mayor have four different views of taxing. The question of 'Will you raise taxes' became the central theme of last night's debate. Mayor Renner said maybe. Ian Bayne again said he wants to slash taxes, but didn't offer any specifics about how the city could cut spending. Kevin Lower and Robert Fike told the crowd the biggest problem is how Bloomington spends money. Both men say they'll hold the line on city spending. Alderman Diana Hauman didn't make the event.

Bloomington City Leaders: Tax Increases Worked

City leaders in Bloomington say their tax increases worked City council members are expected to get a briefing tonight on Bloomington's police and fire pensions. The city's finance director says a 2014 utility tax increase is on track to fully fund retirements for cops and firefighters by the state's deadline in 2041. Illinois law requires all local pensions have 90-percent of the money they need by then. Bloomington will pay about 12-million dollars for pensions next year alone.

Lawmakers Working on School Funding

Lawmakers working on a new plan to change how the state pays for schools say they could be the key to a new state budget. Governor Rauner's education funding task force is due to have a new plan by the end of the month. Last week, State Senator Andy Manar [[muh-NAAR]] said the changes in how Illinois pays for schools could open the path to a new state budget. But he says there's still more work to do.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sugary Drink Tax Push-Back Growing

Critics say a 12-pack of soda could soon cost as much as a 12-pack of cheap beer in Illinois.  They blame a proposed sugary drink tax.  Lawmakers are thinking about the penny-per-ounce tax as a way to get Illinois out of its fiscal dungeon.  But groups, including the Illinois Retail Merchants, say the tax is regressive and won't make anyone healthier.