Vote NO 2 TAX APRIL 7th

Vote NO 2 TAX APRIL 7th

Friday, October 7, 2016

Voters must remember what's at stake on November 8

Rock Island County Republican Chair BILL BLOOM had this op-ed published in the September 26, 2016 Dispatch Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "We are approaching the 30-day mark to the election. Never ha there been more at stake for the people of the United States, Illinois and Rock Island County. ..... Our county has lost 20 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2000. The state has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs. The only sector where jobs have grown is in the government, and since government jobs are paid for by taxes, this does nothing to grow the economy, but does remove money from those of us in the private sector. In face, the tax environment encourages people to move to other states. ..... We now have the highest property taxes in the nation and, if you consider the cost of living, the highest paid public union workers, according to the Illinois Policy Institute ( ..... We have the worst credit rating in the nation and one of the largest percentages of population on public aid. The debt per citizen in Illinois puts each of us $44,000 in debt. ..... As I write this, AFSCME is looking for billions more to funnel to its workforce. They may get it. Democrats in elected office count on AFSCME for "volunteers" to help campaign. They look to them for donations. It's a cozy relationship. Democrats vote for pay raises for AFSCME. AFSCME campaigns and funds Democrat campaigns. Taxpayers foot the bills. ..... Locally, taxing bodies, when confronted with intolerably high property taxes, have turned to sales taxes to "raise revenue". Our sales taxes are already higher than neighboring states. Our taxing bodies are run like a straw in an empty soda can, circling the bottom looking for those last drops of juice. ..... People should consider the thinking behind this trend. Taxes have hurt the property value of every homeowner in Illinois. Sales taxes already hurt Illinois businesses, but the thinking seems to be these can be raised higher. Businesses and jobs are already leaving. What will this accomplish? ..... Once they have raised the property taxes and the sales tax to an intolerable level, where will they go next? We must see this trend to know where it will go next. ..... It does not have to be this way. Cut the cost of government. ..... At the county level, divest operations that are not typically part of government. Reduce the number of taxing bodies. ..... At the state level, make Illinois more appealing to manufacturers. Make Illinois more competitive and these jobs will return. Elect representatives to Springfield who will not play the game of tax hikes in return for campaign donations. Reduce property taxes and watch home values rise. .... In the county and in the state, more Republicans in office will increase fiscal responsibility, transparency and voter accountability."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nov. 8 our chance to send message to elites in office

CAROL BAY of Port Byron had this published in the July 31 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks "With every daily newspaper, and every property tax bill, it seems like everything is getting worse. That the "elites" in government have total power over us and there is nothing we can do about it. ..... Recently we found that one judge can undo the work of thousands and prevent the remap vote. What can we do? ..... Donald Trump has established himself as our messenger. If you are dissatisfied with the elites who seem to have total control of our lives and want to gain even more control by ever-increasing regulations, you can send a clear message by casting a vote for Donald Trump. ..... If you are dissatisfied with ever-increasing taxes, Rock Island County voters can send a clear message with a vote of NO on the sales tax referendum. .... If you are dissatisfied with Michael Madigan's super-majority stranglehold in Springfield you can break that stranglehold by electing Tony McCombie and Brandi McGuire. ..... If you are dissatisfied with the Rock Island County nepotism and ever-higher taxes you can break that monopoly by electing Republicans to RICo office. .... November 8 is our chance to send a clear message to the elites in Washington, Springfield, and here in Rock Island County that we are mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore, ..... What can we do? ..... We can use our vote to send a message to these elites by voting for Donald Trump and the entire Republican ticket and voting no on the sales tax referenda."

Tax hikes will hurt business, county taxpayers; vote no

DAVID KIMBELL of Rock Island had this letter published in the August 31 Dispatch Argus. "Do the schools and Rock Island County care if they are hurting businesses, the poor and the middle class? How many small businesses will go out of business if two sales taxes are passed? ..... Do the schools and county care that the raise in the sales tax will devastate business and tax the middle class during hard economic times? ..... Vote no on the two sales tax increases."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Was Wal-Mart failure tied to Illinois, RICo taxes?

RICHARD ROGERS of Rock Island had this letter in the September 13 Dispatch Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "The elected officials of Rock Island worked very hard to get Wal-Mart to come to Rock Island; thank you for your efforts. .... What caused Wal-Mart to back out? Perhaps the impending sales tax increases played a large part in their decision. Illinois already has higher sales tax than Davenport and Rock Island County voters are being pushed to raise it another 1.5 percent. Couple that with state legislators, after doing nothing to solve the budget impasse because of after the election, contemplating raising the income tax and adding a 1 percent "sugar" tax, and Illinois is becoming an even an unhealthy climate for businesses. ..... Schools want more and more money. Last year the voters defeated the sales tax increase and some schools raised property taxes. Schools do not make any attempt to save the millions that could be saved by having one office of the superintendent for Rock Island County, instead of 10 offices. ..... Blame legislators who do not do the jobs for which they were elected. ..... Vote no on the increase of sales tax and vote out all incumbents in the Illinois Legislature. ..... As long as Illinois has an unfriendly resident atmosphere, more businesses will leave for the short trip across the river. Where did Mills Chevrolet go? Across the river. Where is development of retail? Across the river. ..... Vote out those who do not do what is right, but rather follow the political party leader's ideals."

County improving, but he still says no to sales tax

BILL LONG of Rock Island has this letter in the September 13 Dispatch Argus and September 8 Quad City Times. "Rock Island County government will have a referendum on the November ballot asking for a half cent increase in the sales tax. ..... This should be an easy no vote. ..... Our county administrator has made several positive changes since he came to Rock Island County. Most of these are a definite savings to the taxpayer. ..... Some examples are refinancing several bonds at a savings of $700,000; the firing of the group that had been hired to manage Hope Creek, which was costing us $40,000 per month; eliminating benefits for the part-time county board members; the trimming of a few employees and an effort to change the cumbersome and costly committee system. ..... These changes coupled with recent 16-plus percent increase in the county property tax levee and the recent statement that the assessed valuation of the county is increasing should provide additional revenue enhancements. ..... While we have to be aware that Dave Ross is making positive strides, he has limited jurisdiction over elected personnel. The fact is the cost of county government must be lowered. ..... During a discussion at a recent committee meeting, it was apparent that there were some resisting changes to the committee system. Those resisting the changes were primarily against, them because they saw them as a loss of power, control and compensation. ..... These are primarily those who continue to resist any positive changes. ..... It is my opinion that with the pending changes and continued efforts on the administrators part, we can continue to show improvements. ..... I am again encouraging a no vote on this tax increase and asking you to do the same."

Until schools fix pensions, just say no to new taxes

RICHARD L. Phillis, M.D. of Milan had this letter in the September 13 Dispatch Argus. "Taxes in Rock Island County are again in the news and in letters to the editor. ...... To understand this one needs to look at the tax bill and the various taxing bodies that are noted ..... The part of the bill that the county board has any control over is 14 percent. By far the largest portion of the total is the school systems and Black Hawk College. Together those two are about 70 percent of every property tax bill. ..... To lower the property tax bill there would need to be a reduction in the amount of money spent for the school systems. Part of the Sherrard school system, where I live, is in Rock Island County. In the Sherrard system, referenda are required for increasing the tax rate, new buildings, multiple building additions, and bonds for nonsafety concerns. ..... A petition signed by 20 percent of the school-area voters in the district could put another topic on the ballot. Thus the taxpayer has little control over school funding. ..... One of the largest expenses is salary and retirement benefits of the employees. ..... This must be reduced if there is to be any significant reduction in property taxes. ..... Many of the employees pay no more than 10 percent of their retirement to the school system and the state paying the rest. The present system of defined benefits must be changed to defined contribution, such a an IRA type of account. ..... Until this is done, I will vote no on any tax increase."

Friday, September 2, 2016

Vote no on RICo, schools sales tax referendums

JANET LONG of Rock Island had this letter in the August 18 Dispatch/Argus. "There will be two referendums to take more of our hard-earned dollars for increased taxes on the November ballot. This is nothing new. It seems there is never an election that goes by without someone trying to get hold of our money. ..... This time we are being attacked by both the Rock Island County government and the county school system. Does anybody in the school system ever read the news? ..... Recently Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed a panel to develop a plan to get more money to local schools. He also signed a 2017 budget that assures the county schools an increase of more than $2.5 million from the state. ..... The haven't received this yet, and they are asking for more! Perhaps some school districts should look at the Moline school system! Lo and behold, a balanced budget! They didn't join the effort to promoter the 1 percent increase in the sales tax. We are taxed enough now and it is time the schools looked into trimming their personal budget. ..... There is no reason for all of the number of superintendents and principals that we have in the county. They are costly and leave plenty of room to trim the budgets. However it seems that "budget trimming" is not a class offered in the school systems of this county. ..... This is the fourth time they have tried to pass this off on us. Another "NO" may get the message across. Vote no on the referendums."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Vote 'NO' to save Illinois dollars

LAWRENCE BAY had this letter printed in the July 10, 2016 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. " Once again our Rock Island County schools are putting a referendum on the November 8 ballot requesting an additional one percent countywide sales tax. This is the same sales that the voters have wisely thrice rejected. It appears that Rock Island County will also ask for a .5 percent sales tax. ...... So far there does not seem to be much opposition to the sales tax referenda. Perhaps many voters are getting tired of the seemingly futile effort to resist ever higher Illinois taxes. Perhaps many would prefer leaving Illinois if they could just get a decent price for their homes. Many consumers may have already resolved to do almost all their shopping in Iowa where the sales tax is only 7 percent and let some other suckers pay the higher sales taxes in Rock Island County. ..... It is really tempting to let the school and county sales taxes rise to 9 percent on most purchases in Moline and Rock Island and to 10.5 percent on prepared food and liquor while we do almost all of our shopping in Scott County and pay only 7 percent sales tax. ..... Tempting, but short-sighted, because on every dollar spent in Iowa, Illinois would lose 6.25 percent in sales taxes. This would result in higher Illinois taxes or reduced services. Moline or Rock Island would also lose 1.25 percent on every dollar plus an additional 1.5 percent on every restaurant or liquor dollar. ..... To save Illinois dollars we must vote NO on the school sales tax."

Monday, July 4, 2016

Too many Illinois governments add up to an inflated tax bill

RON KOPKO of Cordova had this op-ed in the July 4 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Now that most of us have paid the first installment of our inflated 2016 Rock Island County property taxes, it's a time for reflection. For most of us, our 2016 taxes wen up hundreds of dollars. For some, it was more than a thousand d dollars. ...... Have you ever wondered where all those millions of dollars are going or how they are being spent? Are we getting true value for our hard-earned tax dollars? ..... We would hope that our tax dollars would be paying for good roads, maintenance of public buildings good education for kid, nice parks, plowing of streets and roads, equipment and police and fire protection. We do get some of that. However, a large portion of our real estate taxes go for high wages, large pensions and great health care benefits for township, county, state and school bureaucracy employees. ..... A recent task force report states that Illinois has 7,000 units of government -- far more than any other state. This bureaucracy starts at the township level and goes on up. Do we really need all these levels of government? .... You will see that well over half of your property taxes go to the school system. We all want good schools, but are we overpaying for what we are getting? As an example, Florida has a population of about 18.8 million. They have 67 school superintendents for the state. Illinois has a population of about 12.9 million, but we seem to need 859 superintendents for our schools. ..... A little closer to home, Scott County has five school superintendents, while we here in Rock Island County seem to think we need 10 superintendents. Rock Island County also has fewer students than Scott County. ..... These superintendents are not minimum wage. Some in Illinois might make more than $300,000 per year. The average in Rock Island County is about $171,000 salary plus health and other benefits. But that's not the end of it. Then there are the assistants and other subordinates. Many of these jobs pay $100,000 per year or more with pensions of between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, something the average working man can only dream about. ..... We will not talk about summers off, the spring and Christmas breaks and every holiday on the calendar. ..... This fall, the school districts are going to ask us again to vote on a countywide sales tax. Why should we pay out any more tax dollars to fund high wages, large pensions and good health care in a state where the school system has an 86 percent graduation rater, and only 46 percent of our students are ready for college coursework? ..... We also have to ask ourselves why in Illinois we need so many township, county and state employees, plus one of the largest school bureaucracies in the country? ...... Many states get along just fine or better than Illinois with less people expense and lower taxes. ..... Nobody ever seems to want to talk about this subject. All they ever want is higher taxes. I think we pay more than enough already."

Time to repeal Prevailing Wage Law

LAWRENCE BAY had this letter published in the May 13 Dispatch/Argus. "Each June, by state law, every Illinois governmental body has to consider the prevailing wage. Most mindlessly pass a Prevailing Wage Ordinance thus endorsing this wasteful use of the taxpayer dollars. Others simply ignore the issue since the state determines the prevailing wage rate anyway and there is no need to take any action. ..... A third way is being used by many Illinois local governments: passing a resolution calling for the Illinois Legislature to repeal the Prevailing Wage Law! This tells the taxpayers that the local government is only paying prevailing wage on construction projects because it is required by Illinois law. ..... Regardless of which course the local government takes, current Illinois law requires that an artificially inflated "prevailing wage" be paid on all government-financed construction projects. This adds greatly to the cost of building schools, roads, libraries, courthouses and every other governmental improvement. ..... Prevailing wage is why taxes in Illinois constantly increase. Improving the Rock Island County courthouse would be a lot cheaper without prevailing wage. So would a lot of other county improvements. The same is true for our municipalities and schools. Property taxes would not be as high if prevailing wage were repealed. ..... Demand that your school boards pass that resolution urging the Legislature to repeal prevailing wage. There would be no need for the one percent sales tax increase if prevailing wage were repealed. Iowa has no prevailing wage law. Indiana repealed theirs. To be competitive, Illinois must follow.

Broken Illinois: It doesn't have to be this way

Rock Island County Republican Chair BILL BLOOM had this op-ed in the June 13 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. " Illinois must change direction. We must become a place that welcomes businesses to our land, and which encourages people to succeed. ..... The Democrats try to blame Illinois' problems on Gov. Bruce Rauner. History disputes this assertion. Illinois has been in dramatic decline for almost 30 years. Manufacturing has been leaving. People have been leaving. According to Allied Van Lines, their No. 1 customer is families moving out of Illinois. ..... Before Gov. Rauner took office, Illinois had the worst credit rating in the United States. Before Gov. Rauner took office, we had the largest debt per citizen in the country. We already had lost much of our manufacturing and almost all of the steel industry. Caterpillar considered relocating its headquarters out of Illinois before Rauner was elected. ..... Before Rauner, Illinois was showing a net loss of people to every other state in the union. All of this puts the lie to the Democrat assertion that somehow Rauner is responsible. ..... Mike Madigan personifies the thinking that has put Illinois into a malaise. He tried to push through a budget with a $7 billion deficit. Democrats in the House voted in lockstep, passing a 500-page budget without reading it. ...... It doesn't have to be this way. ..... Gov. Rauner would make Illinois more attractive to businesses. He would like to see Illinois grow its way out of its economic mess. He would make it easier to start a company here. He understands that in order to have private sector jobs, you need a thriving business climate. A growing economy would raise tax revenues without raising tax rates. ..... Members of private sector unions need to consider the direction Illinois and the country are taking. ..... The United Mine Workers used to be a pillar in the Democratic Party. Now it has been cast aside in favor of the environmentalists. ..... Older members of the UAW can remember when the Quad-Cities was the farm implement capital of the world. Deere and Caterpillar have since built plants, just not in Illinois. ..... This is the legacy of the anti- business environment Democrats have created to "help" unions. Members of the building and trade unions should consider the volume of construction taking place in "anti-union" Iowa (or Indiana) and compare that to what is happening in Illinois. ..... A more welcoming environment would make Illinois more competitive. New business creation would return, and private sector jobs would grow. Growth would open opportunities for unions. Union jobs in Indiana and Iowa are growing. ..... They are shrinking in Illinois. There is an alternative approach to solving Illinois' problems. It's called growth and prosperity. We must stop the relentless rise of taxes in Illinois and choose another path.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Policymakers, not Moses leading Illinois Exodus

GARY SNYDER of Rock Island had this letter in the April 13, 2016 Dispatch/Argus. "Moses isn't leading this Exodus. Instead, it's being led by the professional politicians who seem oblivious to out-migration occurring in Illinois. ..... Illinois is not alone in this decline in population. In what should be the clarion call for public policymakers, the Illinois Policy Institute reports, "New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that in terms of domestic migration .... Illinois saw roughly 105,200 more people leave than arrive." ..... Coincidentally, a declining population potentially means a reduction in the number of U.S. House members, since they're apportioned by population. Politicians in Springfield shouldn't ignore the loss of revenue to the state, cities and county treasuries as productive taxpayers depart for greener pastures. ..... Illinois isn't the only state losing population. But this is where we live. There are common threads which run through the individual's decision to relocate, however. ..... A recent study conducted by Northwestern University stated Illinoisans are relocating to: Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa and Michigan, as well as several other states considered more conducive to their lifestyle. ..... According to the Washington Free Beacon, the reasons most often cited for relocating were, "taxes and regulations {that} are crushing businesses, and there are more opportunities .... for people to start new companies, get good jobs and create better lives for their families". ..... Nathan Nascimento at Freedom Partners stated, "When tax and regulatory climates are bad, people will move to better economic environments -- this phenomenon isn't a mystery, it's how marketplaces work .... state governments {should} take note of this, but so should the federal government".

Monday, May 9, 2016

What people of R.I. need is no new taxes

DAVID KIMBEL of Rock Island had this letter in the May 7 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Rock Island Ald. Josh Schipp said Rock Island needs to raise more taxes. Virgil Mayberry wants the aldermen to have a pay raise and what are the Rock Island aldermen doing to the people of Rock Island, raising the water rate? ..... They are against a property tax freeze. They are for raising the sales tax 1 percent. They want to keep the food tax. The city of Rock Island wants to raise taxes on our property, food and water. What the people of Rock Island want is no more raising taxes."

Saturday, April 9, 2016

RI school problem isn't budget; reject sales tax

CHARLES FISHER of Rock Island had this letter in the April 9 Dispatch/Argus. Mark Schwiebert has asked for passage of a 1 percent sales tax for Rock Island County schools. What our former mayor has not revealed is that Rock Island already has the most expensive schools in the area, and the worst performing: 2012 data from the Federal Education Budget Project indicates that Rock Island District 41 budgeted $11,563 per student, while Pleasant Valley's much lower figure of $8,593 per student includes funds from the Scott County local option sales tax. ..... Pleasant Valley's academics far exceed Rock Island at strikingly lower cost. Rock Island offers an extremely expensive educational product that is of very poor quality in higher grade levels. If this were a commercial product in a free market, nobody would buy it. Indeed, even District 41 school board members send their children to Pleasant Valley. ..... Local unions and construction firms have contributed tens of thousands in advertising for the three previous efforts to pass this tax. Passage would greatly benefit them, but it will not help us, nor our students. ..... We heard very recently that Rock Island school board president Linda Dothard was "very disappointed in the fact we've spent this much money (($13.5 million from the federal government. Test scores have not gotten better, but we spent all this money". Hardly a surprise. ..... Rock Island schools have no budget problems -- they have management and performance problems. Management already has seized upon every tax increase they can possibly grasp, and the voters of Rock Island County must once again (for the fourth time!) tell them to stop."

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tax-happy local leaders should hang heads in shame

BILL LONG of Rock Island had this letter in the March 17 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "April Fools joke? Some businesses are closing, others relocating and a population decline, are not the only sure things in Rock Island County. You can also count on every taxing body asking for a tax increase! ...... The Rock Island School Board is again asking for its usual tax increase! For the fourth time, members are asking for a 1 percent sales tax for school facilities. The voters have vetoed this proposal every time it is presented. ..... Being persistent is one thing, but being foolish is another story. A board member stated that if voters approved the tax, he hoped they would use the funds for both capital improvements and paying off bonds for past projects. Scott County has had this tax for some time and is still trying to find ways to cut its budgets. A tax increase isn't always the answer. ..... With the Rock Island County Board taking a 16.8 percent increase for "better governance", and another increase for the courthouse project, it would seem another tax increase proposal is completely out of line. ..... Remember when we were the "farm implement capital of the world"? Remember when Rock Island had a population of over 50,0000? Remember when you were proud to be from Rock Island? It seems that now the only thing going up in Rock Island County is our taxes. When will it end? ...... In the news recently there were three more restaurants that were closing. Rock Island recently told a catering service to look elsewhere to locate. ..... Apparently they don't want the additional jobs and tax revenue. Our elected officials should hang their heads in shame."

Get ready for Sales Tax Referendum, Part 4

The Rock Island-Milan and Rockridge school boards have passed a request that the infamous school sales tax referendum be placed on the November 8 ballot. This is the same referendum Rock Island County voters rejected in 2009, 2014 and 2015. We must get ready to defeat it again. The arguments for and against remain the same. We need to continue to point out that this would make the sales tax in Moline 8.5 percent in Moline and Rock Island, ten percent on prepared food and liquor, causing many consumers to go to Scott County where the sales tax is 7 percent, this would harm our merchants and cut the sales tax revenue in Illinois, Moline and Rock Island, other taxes would have to be raised or services cut to compensate for this lost revenue. Proponents will promise property tax relief but we need to point at Henry County which passed this sales tax and property taxes continue to skyrocket. We need to point out the many money-wasting inefficiencies in Rock Island County schools, more money is not needed, money just needs to be spent wiser. We need to compare Rock Island County schools which achieve better academic results at a far lower cost per pupil with those of Rock Island County. With another voter education program we can once again defeat this ruinous sales tax increase.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How much more must Illinois Q-C taxpayers pay?

LAWRENCE BAY had this letter published in the February 24 Dispatch/Argus. ..... indicates paragraph breaks. "Illinois and Rock Island County are losing population. ..... New home construction in Illinois is almost nonexistent. Existing homes can only be sold at a steep discount. Many homeowners are unable, or unwilling, to put more money into improving or maintaining homes that are steadily losing value leading to decay in many areas of RICo. ..... How did our once-proud state and county get in this sad condition? ..... One of the first things area prospective homeowners receive is a listing of property taxes, which are much higher in RICo than in Iowa. They see nicer looking neighborhoods, schools and shopping in Iowa, compare reputations of governments and schools, compare taxes and usually decide to relocate to Iowa. ..... What is the usual answer from Illinois governments to this problem? RAISE TAXES! Almost every year most of our RICo school boards and many municipalities, libraries, townships and other taxing bodies raise property taxes close to 5 percent. RICo raised property taxes 16.8 percent plus an increase for the Forest Preserve District. Now RICo wants another increase of only $10 per year for the courthouse. ..... Look at your property tax bill. How much more can our poor, beleaguered taxpayers pay? Look at all the other taxes in Illinois. And Illinois taxes are going to increase. Isn't there a better way? ..... Why are taxes lower in Iowa? Iowa has more efficient government and no prevailing wage. Illinois governments can reduce taxes by implementing what works just across the river. Make Illinois great again by cutting wasteful spending."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Union actions, not Gov. Rauner made this mess

Rock Island County Republican Chair BILL BLOOM had this Op-Ed in the February 12 Dispatch/Argus. "Illinois is currently embroiled in a deadlock over its budget. Democrats support a $5 billion deficit. Unions fear Gov. Rauner is trying to hurt or even doing away with Illinois unions. They see the solution in tax increases. ..... It is not the governor who is hurting unions. Illinois unions are struggling because of their own actions. Instead of providing a value proposition for reasons to willingly join a union, unions have been teaming with Democrats to legislate away alternatives. How has that worked? ..... Illinois state law has made it harder and harder to open a major enterprise that isn't unionized. The same Democrats have driven up the cost of worker compensation. Has this helped unions? No. Businesses have reacted by leaving. ..... "Pro-union" Illinois has watched union enrollment fall as companies cut, pull up stakes or expand elsewhere. ..... "Anti-union" Indiana and Iowa have watched manufacturing jobs and union membership grow. Indiana actually puts up signs saying "Move to Indiana" aimed at the Illinois business community. ..... Democrats have been threatening that a more open competitive Illinois is an attack on the middle class, which will hurt the economy. The statistics tell a different story. ..... Housing starts and home values in Scott County far outstrip the same measures in Rock Island County. According to an NIU study on population shifts, in the past four years has grown by 6,000 people. Rock Island County has shrunk by 1,500 people in the same time frame. What could possibly account for this dramatic change but government and perceived opportunity? Last year Illinois lost citizens to every state in the union and the District of Columbia. ..... There is value in company unions and trade unions. Trade unions obviously help ensure the people engaged in their craft know what they are doing. They contribute to quality. Likewise, unions for major corporations help ensure a safe work place and often participate in projects designed to improve productivity. ..... I remember speaking with union guys who were visiting John Deere dealers. It was clear they were concerned about the quality of the product they put out, and they understood that a shoddy product hurt Deere, Deere dealers and farmers. They understood that in order to provide good wages and benefits Deere had to succeed. They had a stake in Deere's success. ..... Gov. Rauner's Turnaround Agenda is good for Illinois. Adopting it will start growth in Illinois again. ..... For unions to thrive in Illinois, unions should look hard at stepping back from "union shop" legislation. Count on their value proposition to recruit members. They need to make it easier for companies to come to Illinois, invest and thrive. If they do this, manufacturing will start to grow again and the opportunities for unions will also grow. ..... Stop counting on crony politicians to legislate union growth. ..... If you are uncertain about this, I suggest a drive through Scott County."