COGFA: Consumer spending slump could lead to bad things; and more INN Radio

COGFA: Consumer spending slump could lead to bad things

Among other problems, a slowdown in consumer spending could lead to bad things for Illinois’s economy, according to the state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

During a hearing Tuesday COGFA’s Revenue Manager Jim Muschinski said income tax is down from last year because of the decrease in the income tax rate but it has performed better than they expected. However, corporate income tax has underperformed. When it comes to a slump in sales taxes, Muschinski said it’s an indication that consumer spending is starting to fade.

“When the consumer starts to fade, bad things typically follow.”

COGFA’s Chief Economist Ed Boss Jr. said there are three different outlooks for the state. One would be optimistic growth while another would be a pessimistic outlook.

“This month for the first time, they no longer call it pessimistic. They haven’t changed their numbers but they now call it a mild recession.”

A final outlook Boss said is most likely would be for the economy to chug along at a moderate pace.

COGFA: Labor-force participation rate lowest it’s been in decades

Meanwhile COGFA says Illinois’ labor force participation rate is the lowest it’s been in decades.

Boss said the state’s labor force participation rate — the number of people employed or actively looking for work — is the lowest it’s been since the late 1970s.

“They are not looking for jobs. They can’t find it for economic reasons. They are working part time but would like to have full time. So I think what you really need to look at is how much of the population is really in the labor force.”

Boss says if those who have stopped looking for word reenter the labor force the unemployment rate would increase. Illinois already has a higher unemployment rate that the rest of the country and the rest of the midwest. The hearing highlighted the state’s struggling manufacturing sector and the state’s slowest growth since World War II.

Bipartisan group pushes for three criminal justice reform measures

Illinois’ governor and a bipartisan group of lawmakers say three measures they’re promoting will make Illinois smart on crime instead of tough on crime.

One measure proposed Wednesday would allow for an alternative form of state identification to be offered to offenders just getting out of prison. The ID is intended to help offenders get access to various resources and services.

Another measure, from Democratic state Senator Kwame Raoul, would expand the use of electronic monitoring. Raoul says his proposal also would expand rehabilitation program credits for people who find themselves back behind bars.

“They can’t access program credit. So what is the incentive to get into the rehabilitated programming if you don’t get the program credits?”

A third measure requires judges to explain why they’re handing down sentences in cases where the individual has no prior record. The sponsor, Senator Michael Connelly, says first-time offenders who find themselves behind bars often come out seasoned criminals.

“Before you do that, let’s make sure we put on the record exactly why, without any prior convictions, this individual is going to the Department of Corrections.”

Governor Bruce Rauner said the proposed bills are from 14 recommendations found in a report to reform the state’s criminal justice system.