What a state to live in! What a state to die in. With nearly the full complement of lifely civic benefits for the deceased—voting and welfare receipt—Illinois is the place for the active, modern expired citizen. Until today. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has begun his attack on this recently vibrant Prairie State constituency by cutting benefits to them. Even food stamps will no longer flow to those who until recently needed daily sustenance.
Only in Illinois.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 3311 on July 21, requiring the Department of Human Services to conduct a monthly crosscheck of its aid recipients with the death records kept by the Department of Public Health.
If the crosscheck yields a death record, the department will immediately cancel all public aid benefits to the recipient. To hedge against the hardship of a head of household passing away and a family being left without a safety net, the benefits will continue to flow if individuals in the “assistance unit” in question rely on the payments. The unit includes spouses and children.
The fact that the state needed a law to codify this, at this late date, is indication of exactly zero commitment to even attempts at good government or responsible stewardship of the people’s resources. Yes, correcting the course for Illinois will be a long and difficult task for any Republican who might get the chance to undertake it, as Rauner has, but it also has the advantage of being so far gone that the low-hanging fruit is no doubt copious. Good start, Gov., saving millions:
Two recent state audits have found millions of dollars have been paid in Illinois to dead people. One found $3.7 million was paid last year to 1,111 people recorded as deceased and another found $12.3 million was paid for medical care to 2,850 dead people in 2013.
But as the ship of Illinois turns a click in the right direction, Chicago can be counted on to barrel in the other direction. The city of Chicago is going after something even more sacred to the youngest cohort in the country. Streaming. Behold, the Amusement Tax. I’m not making this up:
As of July 1, 2015, citizens of Chicago who enjoy their Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime, Xbox Live, and/or PlayStation Network subscriptions are now subject to the city’s 9 percent “Amusement Tax” for the privilege. Further, should you decide to digitally rent a movie or videogame via these services, the 9 percent tax would be applied for every rental. In other words, Chicago now taxes its citizens 9 percent on their $99 annual Amazon Prime subscription because of its instant video/music service, plus 9 percent for each $3.99 digital rental through the same service. The same applies for rentals and music services offered directly from Microsoft and Sony. Fans of Sony’s PlayStation Network ecosystem are hit hardest: a 9 percent tax each on their PlayStation Plus subscription, PlayStation Music, PlayStation Now (videogame streaming), and Sony’s recently introduced PlayStation Vue live-TV service. Throw in other rental/subscription services such as Hulu, Gamefly, Google Play, HBO Go, iTunes, and Vudu, and you get a sense of the sheer breadth of this tax on Chicago consumers’ digital lives.
This as the presumptive nominee of the party of the young bashes innovative and widely enjoyed businesses such as Uber and AirBnB. Because going after a company that literally brings ice cream to your door is a great populist brainstorm if I’ve ever heard one.