Jim Dey | Both gubernatorial candidates’ personal finances doing just fine – News-Gazette


It’s time once again to dive in to another round of quick takes on the people, places and events that were being talked about over the past week:

They’re in the money

Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey recently released copies of his tax returns that revealed huge fluctuations in his income as a farmer.

But Bailey acknowledged that, considering his land holdings, he qualifies for status as a millionaire.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn’t have to bother to include his hard assets to find a spot among the nation’s financial elite. The billionaire has so many millions of dollars in ready cash that he hardly knows what to do with it all.

His disclosure of his federal income taxes proves that.

Pritzker released limited copies of his 2021 tax filings. They show he and his wife earned more than $18.5 million and paid $4.7 million in federal taxes and another $883,000 in state taxes.

For Pritzker, heir to a multibillion-dollar family fortune, that $18.5 million barely scratches the surface his net worth, much of which is held in family trusts.

The Pritzker campaign noted that trusts benefiting Pritzker paid $68.6 million in federal income taxes in 2021 and $14.6 million in state income taxes. How much they benefited him was not disclosed.

To demonstrate how small a part of the Pritzker fortune his 2021 income of $18.6 million is, note that Pritzker spent an estimated $171 million from his personal fortune on his 2018 campaign. So far, news reports state he’s pumped $110 million into this year’s race.

Those staggering numbers do not reflect the huge financial contributions he made to Democrats in Illinois and throughout the country this year.

But that is irrelevant. Compared to his overall fortune, Pritzker’s political spending — as staggering as it is — is chump change.

Public opinion nuanced

Media often report about public opinion on abortion as if it’s all one or the other — people oppose it or people support it.

That kind of political shorthand can be misleading. It’s much more complicated.

A recent WBEZ poll reports that only a decided minority of Illinois residents — 34 percent — take an all-or-nothing position, believing it should either be prohibited outright or allowed without any conditions.

The poll reported that 54 percent believe it should be legal but with exceptions, like allowing it in cases of rape or incest or prohibiting it after a certain point in the pregnancy.

The WBEZ/Sun-Times Poll said it was “conducted by Public Policy Polling from Oct. 10-11 and surveyed 770 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.”

The poll reported that “only 10 percent” said abortion should be illegal in all cases, while 24 percent said it should be legal in all cases.

The numbers reveal the issue of abortion in the public mind is mixed. But those favoring abortion under a range specific restrictions hold a solid majority.

The poll said 12 percent of respondents were not sure of their position.

Outside agitators

The Wall Street Journal usually sticks to world and national issues on its editorial page. But it’s shown interest from time to time in highlighting what it regards as dysfunction in Illinois’ state government and finances.

This week, it couldn’t resist writing about Amendment 1, the proposed state constitutional amendment that would give Illinois’ politically powerful public-employee unions even more power.

The unions say Amendment 1 is necessary to enshrine collective bargaining as a constitutional right that cannot be taken away. It’s already enshrined in state law and has been for decades.

No one has seriously suggested undoing current law, and there would be little to no support for it if some Don Quixote came long and decided to joust with union windmills.

The Journal is not so much concerned about collective bargaining. But it asserted that the amendment’s additional language that would “expand collective-bargaining subjects beyond wages and benefits to the broad catch-all that affects workers’ economic welfare and safety at work.’”

The Journal said unions are spending many millions of dollars to pass this innocuous-sounding proposal.

“If Amendment 1 succeeds in Illinois, expect to see it on the ballots in many states,” the Journal warned.

Oh, deer!

It’s that time again when the minds of thousands of deer in Illinois turn to love. Or if not love, as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources call it, “mating.”

That’s why the departments of natural resources and transportation issued a joint statement warning that this is the season when “deer become more active, mainly at dawn and dusk from October to December.”

So the agencies are warning motorists to be “prepared for the unexpected” and watch out for deer crossing roads and highways.

“Deer often travel in groups, so if a deer crosses the road ahead of you, there is a possibility another will follow,” said transportation Secretary Omer Osman.

Readers should take note, because there were 14,511 deer-vehicle collisions in Illinois last year. Two involved fatalities and 484 caused personal injuries.

That number — 14,511 — was for the full year. But officials warn that “42 percent of crashes … occurred in October, November and December, with November being the highest-risk month.” They said “rural environments were the site of more than 72 percent of all motorist crashes involving deer.”

The top-five counties for deer crashes were Cook, Madigan, Will, Sangamon and Peoria. Effingham came in at No. 7.

The state’s top advice is that “if a collision is inevitable, don’t veer. Try to glance your vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into opposite lanes of traffic or off the road.”

Ups and downs

It’s been a while since examining the stock prices of a couple companies with local ties — Rivian and Portillo’s.

One makes electric cars and the other popular food, but they both have been up and down since going public in 2021.

Rivian, a Normal-based electric-vehicle manufacturer, has stirred tons of investor interest as a company of tomorrow. But, so far at least, it hasn’t made a dime.

It may or may not have made investors a few bucks, depending on when they bought.

Investors were in a frenzy when Rivian went public, driving the share price up to as high as $179. But then reality sunk in — Rivian was way overpriced — and the bottom fell out.

Rivian fell to as low as $19.25 a share but had crept up to around $31 Friday.

That’s way below its all-time high and somewhat above its all-time low. But it’s still overpriced for a company that, according to Yahoo Finance, lost more than $14 a share last year. Investors clearly are betting on a bright future for Rivian and big profits for themselves. To do that, it first must start making money.

Portillo’s is a different kind of venture, one that depends on the restaurant making food people want to eat.

The popular Chicago-based chain was sold to private investors who want to open the restaurants all over the country. Since the company went public, its stock price, like that of Rivian, has bounced around — as low as $14-plus and as high as $57-plus.

It was selling for roughly $20 a share on Friday.

Like Rivian, Portillo’s has been losing money — roughly $1.51 a share last year.

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October 22, 2022 at 01:31PM

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